You know your favorite shows backward and forwards. So when a character is suddenly a little different, you’re bound to notice! Many beloved TV characters have been recast without notice and without comment! All of the sudden there’s a new actor playing a character that had been totally defined by a completely different actor. It’s hard not to wonder what in the world happened and how no one is commenting on the fact that someone on the show is literally a changed person!
So many TV characters have been replaced mid-series by different actors — way more than you’d think! It changes the entire tone of that character, from their mannerisms to comedic timing. Sometimes it’s a welcome change, and sometimes it’s a bit tough to get accustomed to something new. Either way, so many TV characters were recast like it was no big deal!
The One Where Carol Was Replaced and We Barely Noticed! The first time Carol, Ross’s (David Schwimmer) ex, was introduced she was played by Anita Barone. By the time Carol got a larger part on the series she was played by Jane Sibbit. Allegedly, Barone was replaced because she wanted a bigger role on the show than the showrunners were willing to give her character! In the end, Sibbit was perfect as Ross’s first love-turned-lesbian ex-wife and fans (and Susan!) wouldn’t have it any other way.
Adam’s (Sean Giambrone) geeky girlfriend Jackie was a highlight in the budding teen's storylines. Played by Roward Blanchard on seasons four and five, Jackie is based on the real Jackie Geary who dated the real Adam Goldberg! The real woman has even appeared in post-credits scenes of the series to talk about her youth with Adam! But according to Goldberg, Blanchard passed on season six and therefore the role was recast. Jackie started the sixth season with a new punk aesthetic and a new face — that of Alexis G. Zall! Some of the characters made some very meta comments about the whole thing, but otherwise Jackie is still the same as she ever was!
Yeah, you read that right, the title character was replaced! The reasoning is pretty tragic, though, as the original Spartacus, Andy Whitfield, had to leave the show when he was diagnosed with cancer between the first and second seasons of the show. They originally made a prequel miniseries to bide their time while Whitfield entered treatment in the hopes that he would recover and they would resume filming. Unfortunately, Whitfield passed away in 2011 and was never able to return to the show. After his passing, the role was recast with Liam McIntyre who played the role for two more seasons before the show ended.
When Twin Peaks returned in 2017 after a 27-year absence from our TV screens, fans wondered if the entire original cast would be returning. Unfortunately, not everyone could come back. Michael Ontkean declined to reprise his role as Sheriff Truman simply because he enjoyed his retirement! A new sheriff came into town (*wink* *wink*) when Robert Forester stepped into the role vacated by Ontkean — with a twist! While Forester was technically playing a new character he was still playing the town's sheriff so it counts as a recast! Oh, and he was Sheriff Truman’s brother!
PLL is almost on par with Game of Thrones when it comes to cast recasts! We don’t blame you if you missed this one, Kate had some dramatic plotlines but she wasn’t a huge part of the show. So when they swapped out blonde Natalie Floyd for also-blonde Naralie Hall (both blonde, both Natalie!) we almost didn’t notice!
After the third season of Fresh Prince, something was decidedly different about Banks matriarch Aunt Viv. She was suddenly a whole different actress! Janet Hubert was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid after the third season of the show and it was not an amicable parting. Hubert has made no secret about her feelings about Will Smith — she hates him! She blames him for her being fired from the show, has accused him of “lies,” and, when her son attempted suicide in 2018, insinuated that Smith destroying her life was the cause! She definitely hasn’t let it go, but luckily the second Aunt Viv has been drama-free!
Everyone's fave PLL hunk started out as a completely different person! In the pilot, the role of Toby was played by actor James Neate, who was cute but pretty much just a mysterious figure on the show. By the third episode, Toby was played by Keegan Allen, who brought life to Toby and turned him into one of our fave characters on the show (and a constant voice of reason!). It’s easy to miss since the OG Toby was only in the show for a solid five minutes of the pilot, but superfans still noticed the switch!
Ann Veal was constantly forgotten about on Arrested Development, so it’s easy to assume no one really noticed that she was a totally different actress when she first appeared! The first actress to play George Michael’s (Michael Cera) first girlfriend Ann was Alessandra Torresani. By the second season of the series, she was replaced with Mae Whitman and we’re not gonna lie — this is one switch-up we can totally get behind. Whitman was perfect for the role!
The role of Becky didn’t switch just once, but multiple times over the series' run! The original Becky was Lecy Goranson, who played the role up through season five and into part of the sixth season. She left the show for good reason though — Goranson started attending college! It was too hard to work around her schedule, though, and they auditioned and hired Sarah Chalke to replace her throughout the rest of season six and into season seven. To make things more confusing, Goranson came back on season eight! But, again, her schedule was too much to continue doing the show full-time and they shared the role for the remainder of its original run. When the show was revived in 2018, both actresses appeared (though only one as Becky!) in a silly nod to all their swapping!
The demonic Ruby was originally played by The CW mainstay Katie Cassidy in the show's third season. By the next season, she was a different (brunette!) actress! Genevieve Cortese replaced Cassidy and the fan reception was... lukewarm at best. She grew on fans eventually, but there was definitely love there for Cassidy’s iteration! Cortese’s time on the show had a great outcome though — she was able to meet Supernatural star Jared Padalecki and the two are now married with kids!
Time jumps are the biggest culprit in character recasts, and that’s exactly what happened here. When the show decided to turn the Scavo kids into teens and young adults in the fifth season of the show, all four of them were replaced! The twins were originally played by Brent and Shane Kinsman but were replaced by Charlie and Max Carver (who grew up to be super hunks!). Joshua Logan Moore took on the role of Parker from Zane Huett. Lastly, Penny was formerly played by Darcy Rose Byrnes, then replaced by Kendall Applegate. Sometimes when you have to age your child characters quickly, you just have to completely recast them!
It can be hard to keep track of all the characters on Game of Thrones, so when it comes to the smaller characters, you may not even notice that several of them have changed actors over the years! One such character that was recast was Myrcella, daughter of Cersei (Lena Heady) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) Lannister. On the first few seasons, she was played by Aimee Richardson, but after falling off the radar for a bit, she reappeared on season five - this time played by Nell Tiger Free. Richardson was upset about being recast, but responded to the news hilariously by posting a Vine (RIP) begging for princess work. At least she has a sense of humor about it!
Another Lannister child recast on Game of Thrones! Tommen Lannister grew up on the series and eventually, his role expanded as the series went on. This is probably why Callum Wharry, who played Tommen on season one, was eventually replaced by Dean Charles Chapman. An older actor reflected the aging boy and implemented an actor capable of dealing with the craziness Tommen goes through!
Another Game of Thrones recast! The time the character was replaced by three different actors. Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane has been played by several actors over the course of the show. The first season he was played by Conan Stevens. By the second, he was played by Ian Whyte. But from season three on wards, he’s been played by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, an actor and professional strongman. So, yeah, exactly who you’d want playing this formidable man! It’s easy to miss the changes in the actor since The Mountain is usually armor-clad and under a helmet, but who would have guessed he’s been recast so many times!
The middle Draper child is forgotten about quite a bit (middle child syndrome!) which is probably why no one notices that he is seven different actors over the course of the series! With time jumps and the need for rapid aging, Bobby was recast several times, with some of the actors only playing the character for an episode or two! The original Bobby was Maxwell Huckabee, but he was only on the pilot. Three more uncredited Bobby’s appeared after him and then Aaron Heart appeared throughout seasons one and two. Seasons three and four Bobby is actually a recognizable face! Pre-Once Upon a Time Jared Gilmore took his required young-actor turn at playing Bobby Draper! The final Bobby was Mason Vale Cotton, who played the character from season five on through the end of the series.
Can you imagine anyone but Jerry Stiller playing Frank Costanza on Seinfeld?! We can’t! But he originally wasn't the man in the role, and in the first appearance of Frank on season four he was played by John Rudolph. Rudolph was unable to commit to a long stint on the series so he was replaced and the rest is sitcom history!
Over the course of Bewitched, there were two Darrin’s — and it wasn’t a work of magic that the role was recast! The original Darrin was Dick York who played the role through the fifth season. York had awful back pain which would sometimes make him unable to move or work. There were even episodes where Darrin was in bed the entire time to accommodate his pain! Eventually, he had to quit the show and was replaced with Dick Sargent, who played the role through the series finale.
When Sara Lance was first introduced on the first episode Arrow, during a flashback no less, she looked totally different. She was even brunette! That’s because Jacqueline MacInnes Wood was originally cast to play Sara as a one-off appearance on the episode. When she ended up having a much larger role on the overall series, she was recast and played by Caity Lotz. Sara not only grew to have a huge presence on Arrow, but even got her own spin-off as one of the leads in Legends of Tomorrow!
The original Laurie on That ‘70s Show was always hilarious, sarcastic, and the cool older sister we wish we had. But in real life the actress who played her, Lisa Robin Kelly, had some very serious issues with alcoholism. Her drinking led to her being asked to leave the show after the sixth season. She was replaced by Christina Moore for the remainder of the series. Kelly’s issues didn’t end after she left the show and she unfortunately passed away in 2013 due to an overdose.
Kaitlin Cooper didn’t really become a big part of the show until the third season, and by then, she was a completely different actress than the first time we encountered her! The original Kaitlin in the pilot was played by Shailene Woodley (who is now, of course, a superstar!). By season three she was all grown up and unrecognizable ‐ mostly because now she was played by Willa Holland. Both Holland and Woodley have gone on to have successful careers, so there must have been some luck in playing Kaitlin!
Yep, you guessed it, another Game of Thrones recast! When Daario was first introduced, he was played by long-haired Ed Skrein. But by the next season, Daario’s hair and the actor who originally played him were gone! He was replaced by Michael Huisman who, if possible, was even hunkier than Skrein! Things didn’t work out too bad for Skrein post-Game of Thrones, though, and he was the hilariously-named villain in Deadpool!
The Baxter kids have all gotten a little different over the years of the show! The first to be recast was Kristin. On season one she was played by Alexandra Krosney, but by the second season, she was replaced by Amanda Fuller. When a new showrunner took over the show, it was reported that Krosney was let go for creative reasons. Drama.
Boyd was the next Baxter child to get recast for the second season! Originally played by twins Luke and Evan Kruntchev, the new Boyd was played by Flynn Morrison. The switch was to age-up Boyd going into the serie's second season and that was the reason they decided to recast him again for the seventh. After being canceled over at ABC and being picked up at Fox, the show was retooled a bit and part of that was aging Boyd up. The newest Boyd is played by Jet Jurgensmeyer. Let’s hope we don’t have another Bobby Draper on our hands!
Mandy is the last Baxter sibling to be recast, and her recasting is mostly to blame for the show moving from ABC to Fox. The original Mandy was played by Molly Ephraim throughout the show's six-season run on ABC. Coming into the Fox-era of the show, she was replaced by Molly McCook (at least the cast and crew didn’t have to learn a new name!). From season one to season seven you’ll barely recognize the Baxter kids!
Sometimes the best way to age a child character is to just completely recast them! The original infant Lily was played by twins Jaden and Ella Hiller in the first two seasons. But when they wanted to make Lily a walking, talking, part of the cast they had to get an older kid into the role to do so. The twins were replaced with Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who is so perfect as Lily we can barely imagine anyone else playing her!
This one was attributed to some good old fashioned behind-the-scenes drama! The original Claire was played by Jazz Raycole throughout the first season. She would have continued with the role if it were not for her mother objecting to a story line on the show depicting teen pregnancy. Raycole left the show at the urging of her mother and Jennifer Freeman was cast to replace her for the rest of the series. A perk of the recasting is that they were able to age the character up a bit. A drawback is that some fans weren’t so welcome to the change!
Desperate Housewives has seen a few major recasts! Oh, and some major drama. The original Caleb was played by Page Kennedy, but Kennedy was fired from the show for “improper conduct” which was later reported to be him flashing people on set! He denied the claims, but regardless, he was not longer going to play Caleb! The role was recast with NaShawn Kearse after the incident, though the character was phased out after the recast.
This role is probably the most recast in history! But, that’s kind of the point. The show has been on since 1963 and in that time there have been thirteen different actors playing the titular doctor! From the original Doctor William Hartnell to today’s first female iteration played by Jodie Whittaker, there have been countless actors who have taken up the mantle of the famed character. Some have been better than others, but even through the not-so-great ones you know a new Doctor is probably right around the corner!
Sure, the actor who played this sexy vampire was replaced. But he was replaced with an equally as sexy actor, so it’s not all bad! James Kent was played by Luke Grimes when he was introduced on season six of the drama series. He left the show after that season and cited wanting to branch out into other roles as the reason. Rumors behind-the-scenes are that he didn’t want to take place in Kent’s upcoming bisexuality story line. Nathan Parsons took over the role for season seven and on, and listen, we’re not complaining!
This recasting was a total loss for the series. The role of Alura was originally played by living legend Laura Benati, but when she decided to leave the series, the role of Supergirl’s mother had to be recast. Erica Durance took over the role for season three and after, and she already has roots on a super show — she played Lois Lane on Smallville!
Here’s another Pretty Little Liars switcharoo for you! When Alison DiLaurentis, the DiLaurentis family matriarch, first appeared on the series, she was a more severe-looking blonde woman played by Anne Marie DeLuise. After that initial appearance, Alison was played by the softer, darker-haired Andrea Parker who continued on with the dramatic role throughout the series!
Can’t stop, won’t stop telling you all about PLL recasts! Next up is Ian Thomas, the older (creepy) guy about town who basically never stopped getting into some sort of trouble. He was introduced right in the pilot but at that point, he was played by Carlo Marks. The next time viewers see him, Marks is out and Ryan Merriman (of Disney Channel Original Movie fame!) is in. We can’t imagine anyone else playing the charismatic, dangerous, and totally hunky Ian!
The old Batman TV show has some of the most iconic Batman scenes, characters, and actors of all time. The show is so iconic that Catwoman was recast three times and each woman who played her is known for the role. Julie Newmar was the first to don the classic catsuit, and she was followed by Lee Meriwether. The last actress to play the role was Eartha Kitt — actress, singer, dancer, and the woman who penned “Santa Baby”! Maybe that’s why Catwoman was such a formidable foe — she was so many different strong women!
While Meg has always looked the same, her voice was completely different during the first season of the show. When Family Guy first aired, Lacey Chabert from Mean Girls was the voice behind the surly Meg. She ended up leaving the series after the first season to focus on school and her other series Party of Five. By the second season, Mila Kunis was in role giving Meg the voice fans have come to know throughout the series long run!
Here’s a classic case of recasting a child to age them up and get a different vibe out of them! The original Morgan Matthews was played by the adorable Lily Nicksay. She was a precocious little girl who rounded out the Matthews family. She played the role through the first two seasons but disappeared after that. The next time fans saw Morgan, she was sassier, a bit older, and played by Lindsay Ridgeway. Ridgeway played Morgan the longest and is definitely the most well-known version, but we still love the cute early days of the youngest Matthews!
What, did you think we were done with PLL recasts?! The older DiLaurentis sibling was played by a totally different actor for the first two episodes he appeared on. Originally Jason was played by Parjer Badley, but on those episodes, he didn’t have enough of a presence to make an impact. Drew Van Acker took over the role from there and fans barely remember there was ever a different actor in the role!
Catwoman wasn’t the only Batman villain to be recast several times! Mr. Freeze also went through several casting changes over the course of the series. On the first season, the villainous role was played by George Sander. By the next season, Otto Preminger was playing the role and the look of the character changed along with him (what’s up blue skin!). Soon after, the role was recast again, this time by Eli Wallach, who stayed on as Mr. Freeze for the rest of the series.
Mandy was our fave in the early days of Shameless. She was unabashedly herself and never took any crap from anyone. That never changed, but the actress who played her did! When the series began, Jane Levy was playing Mandy, but she left after the first season in order to headline her own sitcom, Suburgatory. She was replaced by Emma Greenwell, who took on the role for the next few seasons.
This recasting has a bit of ~drama~ behind it. Jake T. Austin played Jesus for the first two seasons, right up until the season two finale that left his character's life in limbo. But he abruptly left the series after the finale, eventually taking to Twitter to reveal he wanted roles that gave him more screen time. Luckily, they recast the role instead of killing the character off! Noah Centineo stepped into the role after season two. Because of his role on the show, he was also able to step into our hearts in the Netflix film To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before!
The Charmed Ones are such forces (literally!) on the show that you almost don’t notice that their father was recast! Victor was originally played by Anthony Denison, but he was reportedly fired for mysterious reasons. James Read took over for Denison during season three and finished out the series recurring as the mortal father of some seriously magical ladies!
This one gets a bit complicated, but much like the role of Becky on Roseanne two different people flip-flopped between playing Lionel on The Jeffersons! The original Lionel was played by Mike Evans when the character was introduced on the show All in the Family. When the show was spin-off into The Jeffersons, he continued with the role through the first season and then left the series. He was replaced by Damon Evans (no relation!) from 1975 to 1978 but then, Mike Evans came back! Mike finished off the series as Lionel.
When we first meet Reggie he’s played by a familiar face: Ross Butler from 13 Reasons Why! But conflicts with the two shows' second season led to Butler leaving Riverdale and choosing his Netflix series as his full-time gig. He was replaced by Charles Melton, who was reportedly told not to watch Butler's depiction of Reggie so that he could make the role all his own!