TV is an interesting business. Unlike movies, which are jobs that come together and dissolve, being a TV actor playing TV characters is like having a real job. You show up every day and film your scenes and go home. You come back year after year to get the chance to do it all over again. Most of the time, the stability of that job makes it a rewarding one. Actors form families and get to rely on a consistent paycheck.
Sometimes, though, things don't work out that well. Sometimes, the actors working on a show quit, either because of creative differences or because a new opportunity arises. When that happens, the people running a TV show only have a couple of options. They can either write the character out of the show or cast someone else to play them. In these 23 cases, the showrunners elected to recast the character.
Becky Conner is one of the oddest cases on this list. One of Roseanne's daughters on the show, Becky was initially played by Lecy Goranson. Lecy left during the show's fifth season to pursue an education at Vassar College in New York. As a result, Sarah Chalke stepped into the role. That's not where this story ends, though.
Lecy became available again during the show's eighth season, but her availability wasn't consistent. As a result, she and Sarah alternated playing the role. Sarah took over again full-time during the show's ninth season when Lecy decided she was done for good. Hopefully Sarah Chalke understood why there had been so much confusion.
For three seasons, the role of Aunt Vivian was gamely played by Janet Hubert. After three seasons, though, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star decided she'd had enough of the show, and left.
Instead of writing in her absence, the show chose to cast Daphne Maxwell Reid on the show for the remainder of the series. Later on, Janet told TMZ that her costar Will Smith was an egomaniac. It seems like that hatred of Will may have led to her quitting the show. (Some say she got fired.) Even Will Smith, one of today's most beloved movie stars, has managed to make a few people angry along the way.
Ross's ex-wife on Friends doesn't play a huge role on the series, but it is a pivotal one. Her decision to leave Ross for Susan is the reason Ross and Rachel happened at all. On the first season, Carol is played by Anita Barone for a single episode. From then on, she was replaced by Jane Sibbett.
Reportedly, Anita left the show in order to take larger parts in other projects. Considering the huge success that Friends went on to become, it may have been the wrong move. A small part on a legendary show is better than nothing.
Riverdale's cast has been pretty consistent so far, but one major swap did happen. On the first season, the role of Reggie Mantle was played by Ross Butler. Reggie wasn't a major character that season, so when Ross was forced to choose between his role on Riverdale and his role on Netflix Original Series 13 Reasons Why, he chose the latter.
As a result, Charles Melton was cast in the role for season two. The people behind Riverdale did an excellent job on this particular casting. By no means are the two twins, but they look an awful lot alike — and Charles clearly fit in well with the reast of the Riverdale actors.
When Greg left Crazy Ex-Girlfriend early on the show's second season, it seemed like it was going to be the last we saw of the character. The actor who played him, Santino Fontana, left the show amicably to pursue other opportunities.
When it was announced that Greg would be returning for the fourth season played by Skyler Astin, it threw some fans for a loop. Though most shows don't acknowledge recastings like this, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend chose to make it part of the text of the show. It's a sly comment on how our perceptions of the people around us change as we ourselves do.
Robin Hood made for a charming addition to the world of Once Upon a Time, but there were a few inconsistencies that had to be sorted out. When the character first appeared on the show on season two, he was played by Tom Ellis.
When the character was asked to return because of his warm reception, Tom found himself unavailable because of scheduling conflicts. As a result, Sean Maguire was cast in the role. By the show's fifth season, Robin Hood was promoted to a series regular. Taking the role of Robin Hood ended up being a very smart decision for Sean Maguire.
For the first three seasons of That '70s Show, Lisa Robin Kelly played Eric Forman's older sister. On the fourth and fifth seasons, the character disappeared completely. Eventually, it was revealed that Lisa had been struggling with addiction, which was why she hadn't appeared on the show.
On the sixth season, the character was recast and Christina Moore stepped into the role. Lisa eventually died as a result of her addiction in 2013. This role wasn't recast as a result of her death, but it does cast a pall over the character. The power of addiction is terrifying and great, even and maybe especially for actors.
There have been a number of cast recastings on Game of Thrones over the years, but none is more jarring than the change in the role of Daario. Ed Skrien was originally cast in the part, and was introduced on season three.
When the show returned for a fourth season, Ed had been replaced by Michael Huisman. When asked about the change, Ed told Entertainment Weekly that he left the show for "political" reasons. That's about as vague as you can get while still being intriguing. We may never know exactly why Ed Skrein left one of the biggest shows on the planet.
Family Matters is most well-known today for Steve Urkel, the famous character it created. When the show began, though, Urkel was merely a side character. The show was supposed to be focused on Harriette Winslow, a character who had first appeared on Perfect Strangers. Family Matters was a spin-off of that show.
As the focus shifted towards Urkel, JoMarie Payton eventually decided to step away from the role. She played the character through the first half of season nine and was then replaced by Judyann Elder for the rest of the show's run. JoMarie certainly played that part long enough. She deserved to try something new.
This recasting is probably most notable because of Noah Centineo, who has blown up since The Fosters. It's hard to believe, but Noah didn't originate the part of Jesus on that show. In fact, he was hired to replace Jake T. Austin, who had played Jesus through the first two seasons.
Jake decided not to return to the role in favor of pursuing other projects. He also discovered that Jesus would only be featured on a few episodes in the show's third season, and didn't want to have his part reduced. Thankfully, Noah was able to step in and turn himself into a heartthrobby movie star.
Although Sense8 acquired something of a cult following, it was ultimately canceled after two seasons on Netflix. Afterward, the show did film a holiday episode as well as a two-hour series finale to wrap up its storylines. In those additional specials and the second season, the role of Capheus Onyango was played by a different actor than on the first season.
Initially, the part was played by Amil Ameen, but Toby Onwumere played him on the second season, plus the Christmas special and the finale. Apparently, Amil left the show due to creative differences, whatever that might mean.
Apparently, the actress originally tasked with playing Cousin Marilyn really hated the job. Beverley Owen was under contract at Universal and she felt like she had been forced into the role. She was miserable because her fiancé lived in New York and the show shot in Hollywood.
After a season of misery, Beverley was released from her contract and allowed to return to New York. She was replaced from then on by Pat Priest, who played Marilyn for the rest of the series. Meanwhile, Beverley got married and had to deal with the career consequences of leaving the show early.
One of the very first superhero TV shows had two different Lois Lanes. The Adventures of Superman aired from 1952 to 1958 and starred George Reeves. Initially, the role of Lois was played by Phyllis Coates, a popular B-movie actress who had a distinctive take on the character.
Ultimately, Phyllis decided not to return for the second season because she was committed to something else. Thankfully, there was already an experienced Lois waiting in the wings. Noel Neill had played Lois in the serials in the 1940s, and took over on the TV show when Phyllis left. As a result, the character lost her equal billing.
Shameless is not often a very subtle show, but it can have really interesting things to say about its characters. When the show first premiered, the character of Mindy, a sister to Ian Gallagher's boyfriend, was played by Jane Levy.
Jane's portrayal leaves quite an impression, but when the show returned for a second season, she had left to star on Suburgatory. As a result, Emma Greenwell stepped into the role and was eventually promoted to a series regular. This was Emma's first ever acting work. It's a pretty nice job to have right out of the gate, especially because someone else laid the foundation.
Every character on Hannibal is twisted in one way or another. In the case of Mason Verger, his internal demons become external eventually. The character was actually played by two different actors over the course of the show. On season two, Michael Pitt stepped away allowing Joe Anderson to step in.
Michael simply decided not to return to the part, but his decision came at a good time. When he last played Mason, his face had just been deformed. This meant that Joe could take the role without much trouble. The switch from one actor to another was hardly even noticeable.
Luke Grimes was originally cast in the role of James Kent, Jess's boyfriend on season six of True Blood. Luke left the show after season six ended, though, and his initial claim was that he wanted to pursue bigger projects. Eventually, Buzzfeed revealed that Luke didn't want to make out with guys, even though it was part his character's bisexual storyline.
As a result, he was replaced by Nathan Parsons, and order was restored to True Blood. The show barely even skipped a beat. When actors leave for bad reasons, it's best to just let them go and move on.
There were some outcries online when Jackie Geary, Adam Goldberg's love interest on The Goldberg was recast. The role had originally been played by Rowan Blanchard, but at the start of season six, Alexis G. Zall had taken on the part.
Some fans thought that the part had been recast at the discretion of the producers, but Rowan had actually passed on the season, according to the show's creator. Because Jackie couldn't easily be written out of the show (it's based on a true story!), the real-life Adam Goldberg was forced to recast her. That's show business for you. Even if somebody in the cast quits, at the end of the day, the show must go on.
The character of Allison Stark on the Fox sitcom 'Til Death was recast no less than four times! In the first two seasons, Allison, the daughter of main characters Eddie and Joy Stark, was played by Krysten Ritter, in the third season she was played by actress Laura Clery, and in the fourth season she was played by actresses Lindsey Broad and Kate Micucci. The fourth season recast was never meant to fly under the radar though. It was played as a deliberate joke, meant to lampshade the multiple recastings of the character. 'Til Death ended after four seasons in 2010.
The massively popular Bewitched ran for eight seasons from 1964 to 1972. The show followed the misadventures of witch Samantha and her mortal husband Darrin. Actor Dick York played Darrin Stephens for the first five seasons of the show but after an on-set accident exacerbated his chronic pain condition and addiction to pain killers, he was replaced by Dick Sargent for the following three seasons. The show suffered a major ratings decline after Dick York was recast. During its run, Bewitched would be plagued by accidents and actors deaths, which caused many beloved characters to be recast or simply disappear.
Sitcom Last Man Standing has been through a lot of recasts in its time. But when the show was canceled by its original network, ABC, in 2017, many of its orignal actors looked for work elsewhere. When FOX announced that it was picking the beloved show back up in 2018, actress Molly Ephraim wasn't available to continue playing the role of Mandy Baxter. Instead, actress Molly McCook took on the role of the middle Baxter child. Molly's version of Mandy is a little taller and a little blonder than original, but the things that make Molly Baxter Molly Baxter have stayed the same.
HBO / Clemens Niehaus/Future Image/WENN.com
Even the most dedicated Game of Thrones fan probably doesn't know that Irish actress Michelle Fairley wasn't the original choice for the role of Catelyn Stark on the hit HBO series. The role of the Stark matriarch was originally offered to Jennifer Ehle, who left the show shortly after filming the pilot episode. Producers later confirmed that Jennifer's departure from the show wasn't due to any bad blood, but rather the fact that she had just given birth to a daughter, and didn't want to commit to such a long-running series while her daughter was so young. Given that Game of Thrones became such a massive hit, there's no word on whether Jennifer Ehle regrets her choice.
Actress Alyssa Milano played Phoebe Halliwell on all eight seasons of the WB series Charmed, which ran from 1998 to 2006. Few fans realize that Alyssa was not the original choice to play the youngest Halliwell sister. Actress Lori Rom played Phoebe in the unaired pilot episode. After Lori quit the series for unspecified reasons (some rumors said that the show conflicted with her Christian beliefs while others said that she clashed with castmate Shannon Doherty) the pilot was reshot with Alyssa filling the role of Phoebe, and Charmed as we know it was born! The Halliwell sisters would be shaken up again when Shannon Doherty left the show after season three and Rose McGowan was brought in to play long lost half-sister Paige Mathews.
Sheri Determan/WENN.com/Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com
ER actress Maura Tierney was originally cast as Sarah Braverman on the NBC drama Parenthood but she had to bow out of the role due to her breast cancer diagnosis. Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame then took over the role and became the Sarah Braverman we all know and love. Parenthood ran for six seasons and aired its series finale in 2015. In the end, this recast might have worked out for the best. Maura went on to be cast in a staring role in the Showtime drama The Affair, and Lauren married her Parenthood costar Peter Krause. All's well that end's well!