And that is the real human calculus here: the companies are being forced to pick sides between Mr. Sheen and Mr. Lorre. In a town that lives for hits and can’t seem to find them, Mr. Lorre has helped create not only “Two and a Half Men,” but “Grace Under Fire,” “Cybill,” “Dharma & Greg,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Mike and Molly.”

So the message from CBS and Warner Brothers seems clear: abuse yourself and the women around you to your heart’s content, but do not attack the golden goose.