Have you ever been watching one of your favorite shows and noticed something different? It wasn’t the tone of the show, or the sets. When you think about it some more, you realize that one of the characters has been recast… and no one mentioned anything about it. You didn’t notice right away because it has been a long time since the last season aired, or you thought that there might be a new character. Now, you’re wondering what the heck happened.
It’s easy to think that this is a rare thing in TV land, but it has happened a number of times and with a lot of popular shows. The fine details of the situations may change slightly but the thing that remains is that suddenly our favorite character has a new face and voice, and no one really had the courtesy to tell us about it. Maybe they thought we wouldn’t notice, or maybe they thought we wouldn’t care. Well, most of us did notice and we did care which is why we still cannot believe that these 40 characters were randomly recast like it was no biggie.
Aunt Vivian on Fresh Prince of Bel Air
The Fresh Prince was a beloved show, so when a character changes after three seasons, we’re going to notice. That’s what happened when Janet Hubert-Whitten was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid. There have been a number of rumors about what happened and various cast members have spoken out about it. Some say that they cannot discuss what happened, others allude to it, but the statements make us believe Whitten was difficult to work with or broke a rule in her contract.
Toby on Pretty Little Liars
There was plenty of drama on Pretty Little Liars. (No spoilers here.) But some of the drama unfolded behind-the-scenes with a few different casting changes. One switch PLL fans might have missed is when James Neate played Toby in the pilot but was replaced by Keegan Allen is the later episodes. They were both babes and looked pretty similar, but some eagle-eyed viewers still caught on.
Ann on Arrested Development
No one could remember poor Ann on Arrested Development, but fans did realize that there were two different Ann’s on the show. Alessandra Torresani originally played George Michael’s girlfriend in season one, but it was Mae Whitman who began playing her in season two. Whitman also came back as Ann in the Netflix revival of the show.
Becky on Roseanne
If you watched Roseanne, you might have had a hard time keeping up with who exactly played Becky because it kept switching. Lecy Goranson originally played Becky from seasons one to five, but she wanted to go to college. Producers tried to accommodate her part-time with different plot lines, but Sarah Chalke took over the role for seasons six and seven. Things got confusing when Goranson came back for some episodes in season eight, before giving up the role again because she had too many scheduling conflicts. The role went back to Chalke for season nine. Poor Sarah was really given the run-around.
Ruby on Supernatural
A recast in Supernatural could have been fairly simple to explain give that the show is… well, supernatural. Katie Cassidy played the role of Ruby until season three when Genevieve Cortese took over. We won’t spoil the show for you, but let’s just say that fans had mixed reactions to the switch.
The Scavo Kids on Desperate Housewives
There was so much drama between the ladies on Desperate Housewives but there were still some big changes happening backstage when the show decided to recast the Scavo kids so they would be teenagers in the fifth season of the show. Teen Wolf twins Charlie and Max Carver played twins Porter and Preston in their older years, Joshua Logan Moore took on the role of a more grown up version of Parker Scavo, and Kendall Applegate played daughter Penny. Brent and Shane Kinsman were the original twins and Darcy Rose Byrnes was the original Penny. The OG Parker was played by Zane Huett.
Myrcella on Game of Thrones
Did you think that Myrcella in Game of Thrones looked a bit different in later episodes or did you just think she looked different because she was all grown up? Well, Myrcella didn’t just grow up, she also got recast. Aimee Richardson played Mycrella in seasons one and two but she was replaced by Nell Tiger Free in season five. That explains it, doesn’t it?
Tommen on Game of Thrones
There are lots of characters on Game of Thrones so it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Those who weren’t too busy staring at Jon Snow’s curls blowing in the northern breeze will have noticed that Tommen grew up… and changed actors. Callum Wharry originally played Tommen in season one then Dean Charles Chapman took over.
The Mountain on Game of Thrones
Here’s another Game of Thrones switcheroo for you… this time with THREE different actors playing ONE character! Sheesh. Conan Stevens played the formidable character in season one. Fast forward to season two and it was Ian Whyte, but then we had Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson come along and play him from season three. It’s okay if you missed one or two of the actors since The Mountain is often under a helmet.
Bobby on Mad Men
And we thought two recastings was bad. The unfortunate thing about long-running shows with kids is that sometimes the plots don’t work with how fast (or slow) the child actors are growing up. That seemed to be the case with the role of Bobby in Mad Men because the character was recast a whopping eight times. Mad Men superfans might have missed some of them considering a few were only in one episode each. There was one Bobby for the pilot, then Maxwell Huckabee played him, then there were three random uncredited Bobby’s followed by Aaron Heart and Jared Gilmore. Mason Vale Cotton made it to the end of the show. Good for him! That’s no easy feat.
Frank on Seinfeld
John Randolph played the original Frank Costanza but the character was recast with Jerry Stiller filling his shoes. The character was introduced in season four and Randolph ended up only playing him for one episode before Stiller took the reins. They looks completely different, so it’s probably a good thing audiences only saw the first Frank in one ep.
Darrin on Bewitched
Not counting Will Ferrell‘s Darrin in the Bewitched movie, there were two different actors who played the lovable Darrin in the TV show. First, there was Dick York. Then came Dick Sargent in season six. Sadly, York had to leave the TV production because of a worsening back condition.
Sara Lance on Arrow
The pilot episodes of TV shows are often interesting things. One thing that’s interesting about the first-ever episode of Arrow is that Sara was actually played by a brunette Jacqueline MacInnes Wood. The actress was then replaced by a blonde Caity Lotz. Rumor has it the character was meant to be a guest in the pilot episode, but things obviously changed in a few ways as Arrow grew. Sara’s now a major character in another Arrowverse show, Legends of Tomorrow.
Laurie on That ’70s Show
Laurie was Eric’s promiscuous older sister with some classic moments that made her a memorable character. She was originally played by Lisa Robin Kelly, but for the sixth season, she was replaced by Christina Moore. Moore didn’t have a lot of time on the show, but fans caught on right away. There wasn’t much of explanation given but Robin Kelly sadly passed away in 2013, and she had a troubled past with arrests and alcoholism.
Kaitlin Cooper on The O.C.
We were so focused on the drama with Marissa, Ryan, Seth and Summer that it was hard to remember a minor character from the pilot episode of season one. Kaitlin, who was played by Shailene Woodley, was briefly shown before disappearing off to boarding school. Fast forward to season three and Kaitlin was all grown up… and looked very different. That’s because she was played by Willa Holland. The show may have lost Shailene, but things didn’t work out that bad for her, did they?
Daario on Game of Thrones
…Aaaaand another one from Game of Thrones! The confident Daario was played by a long-haired Ed Skrein in season three. Then the next season, GoT fans were surprised to find Michiel Huisman as a bearded and short-haired Daario. Once the initial shock wore off, everyone was okay with it because they were both babes.
Kristin Baxter on Last Man Standing
Tim Allen‘s daughter, Kristin, was originally played by Alexandra Krosney in season one. However, she was reportedly let go over “creative differences” (so classic) and replaced by Amanda Fuller. [Insert your joke about Alexandra not being the Last (Wo)man Standing here.]
Lily on Modern Family
Not even a comedy like Modern Family is immune to a bit of recasting drama. Lily was originally played by twins Jaden and Ella Hiller for two seasons. Then Lily “grew up” and 4-year-old Aubrey Anderson-Emmons took over the role.
Carol on Friends
A recast in Friends couldn’t get by superfans, even if it was a minor character. Anita Barone originally played Ross’s ex, but she was replaced by Jane Sibbett after one episode. Remember that tidbit for your next Friends trivia night.
Claire on My Wife and Kids
While some characters were recast for fairly undramatic reasons, this one was definitely talked about. The beloved Claire was intially played by Jazz Raycole in season 1, but when her mother objected to a teen pregnancy storyline for one of Claire’s friends, Jazz was out and Jennifer Freeman took the part for the remaining four seasons. Even though backstage drama was the reason for Jazz’s departure — the showrunners also decided to age the character up two years when they put Jennifer into the part and her personality drastically changed. Let’s just say many fans didn’t think the switch was for the best.
Caleb Applewhite on Desperate Housewives
The big Desperate Housewives kids switcheroo actually wasn’t the first major recast. Back in 2005, it was revealed that Page Kennedy was fired from the show after an investigation. He played Caleb Applewhite, a character being held in the basement of Betty Applewhite, who was played by Alfre Woodard. Both characters appeared in the second season of the show, but we didn’t get to see much of Caleb given the character’s situation, but he was still replaced by NaShawn Kearse.
The Doctor on Doctor Who
We’d like to give props to Doctor Who for actually incorporating a bunch of different Doctors since the show has been on since 1963. During its decades-long run, 13 different people have played the title character. The latest one to fill the Time Lord’s shoes, Jodie Whittaker is especially notable, as it marks the first time that a female is playing the lead. She takes over from Peter Capaldi who took over from Matt Smith who took over from David Tennant who took over from Christopher Eccleston…and you get the point. If you’re a longtime fan, you’ll know the actor who started it all was William Hartnell.
Spartacus on Spartacus
Replacing the title character on a show is a major move, but it happened with Spartacus. Sadly, Andy Whitfield, who originally played the lead role, was diagnosed with cancer between the first and second seasons of the Starz production. While Whitfield was battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the producers made a prequel miniseries with the idea that they would resume filming after Whitfield’s treatment. Unfortunately, this never came to be as the actor passed away in September 2011. The role of Spartacus was then given to Liam McIntyre who took over for two seasons.
Boyd Baxter on Last Man Standing
Go on and insert a new last man standing joke here because there was another cast replacement on Tim Allen‘s Last Man Standing. Boyd Baxter got a “makeover” along with Kristin Baxter. Boyd was originally played by adorable twins Luke and Evan Kruntchev. The role was then recast after season one with Flynn Morrison stepping in to go along with the character aging.
James Kent on True Blood
There were a lot of smoking hot vampires on True Blood, but we were still going to notice when one of them went missing. Luke Grimes originally played James Kent in season six of the HBO drama. He left the show stating that he wanted to take advantage of other opportunities, but it was reported that he didn’t like the idea of his character’s bisexual story line in the seventh season. He was replaced by Nathan Parsons. Parsons’ hair might have been shorter and darker, but it still had major flow. And he was a very sexy vampire.
Alura on Supergirl
It was announced in July 2017 that the character of Alura was getting recast on Supergirl. Kara/Supergirl‘s late mother was originally played by Laura Benati, but Erica Durance is taking over the role for season three. They look very similar so you might not have noticed the casting switch. As for the reason for the recast, Benati’s schedule apparently conflicted with Supergirl‘s filming.
Lionel Jefferson on The Jeffersons
If we’ve learned anything by now it’s that it’s not only new TV shows that undergo recasts. Old classics also had casting changes. Just take a look at The Jeffersons. This one is actually a bit complicated. Mike Evans originally played Lionel Jefferson on All in the Family and continued with the role when the show spun off into The Jeffersons. He left after the first season of The Jeffersons and Damon Evans (no relation) was recast as the character. Damon played him from 1975 to 1978. Then Mike returned and stuck with the role for two more seasons.
Jessica DiLaurentis on Pretty Little Liars
Let’s be honest: Pretty Little Liars almost became as famous for its character switches as its dramatic plot lines and fashion inspiration. The DiLaurentis clan experienced a few different switches alone. One notable switch was the recasting of Jessica DiLaurentis, aka Mrs. DiLaurentis. Allison’s mom was originally played by a very blonde Anne Marie DeLuise. Fans were surprised when they suddenly saw Andrea Parker with her darker blonde hair taking over the part.
Kate Randall on Pretty Little Liars
And the Pretty Little Liars recasts just keep on coming. The show should have realized that just because they got an actress with blonde hair to replace another one with blonde hair didn’t mean that we would let it slide. Kate Randall was originally played by Natalie Floyd on the first season of Pretty Little Liars. Then in season two, Natalie Hall took over the part. You’re not the only one who had difficulty keeping up with the switches.
Ian Thomas on Pretty Little Liars
What, you thought we were done with the Pretty Little Liars casting changes? Come on. We’re just warming up. If you can think back to the pilot episode of the show, you’ll remember that Carlo Marks originally played Ian Thomas. Then the next time we see Ian, he looks a little different because he is now portrayed by Ryan Merriman. They both had flawless eyebrows and were easy on the eyes so it was a pretty decent recast.
Catwoman on Batman
In Batman, Catwoman is an iconic and fierce AF lady. Therefore, everyone is going to notice when she was recast. And she was recast three different times in the Batman TV series. First, Julie Newmar donned the black catsuit and pointy ears. After her, it was Lee Meriwether. Finally, the role went to Eartha Kitt. If it felt like Batman always had new people to deal with, it wasn’t you. It was partly because of the new adversaries and partly because of all the cast switches.
Meg Griffin on Family Guy
Okay, you cannot technically recast a cartoon character, but you can recast the actors and actresses who voice them. That’s what happened with Meg Griffin on Family Guy. Way back in 1999 during season one of the show, Meg was voiced by Lacey Chabert. Yes, Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls. She ended up leaving the show because she was in school and she was also doing Party of Five stuff. If that hasn’t blown your mind, Cree Summer, aka the voice of Elmyra in Tiny Toon Adventures, was supposedly the original voice of Meg for the pilot. She got fired and Seth McFarlane supposedly had his sister do Meg’s voice for the pilot.
Morgan Matthews on Boy Meets World
Television shows sometimes think that we won’t catch on if secondary characters randomly disappear and then get recast. However, we definitely noticed when Morgan Matthews went through an actress switch. Cory and Eric‘s younger sister was originally played by Lily Nicksay in seasons one and two. Then Morgan apparently went through a big growing up stage as she was replaced by Lindsay Ridgeway.
Jason DiLaurentis on Pretty Little Liars
Yup, there was another Pretty Little Liars recast. Are you surprised? If you’re an eagle-eyed fan, you shouldn’t be. We won’t blame you if you missed this one given the number of character switches that happened. This is another DiLaurentis switcheroo. Jason DiLaurentis was originally played by Parker Bagley. He was credited for two episodes before he was replaced by Drew Van Acker. Both actors were babes, but the giveaway was that Drew had more hair.
Mr. Freeze on Batman
Batman had more trouble than just enemies. The 1960s TV show also went through a number of casting changes. We’ve already discussed the multiple Catwomans, now it’s time to talk about Mr. Freeze. Just like Catwoman, the icy cool villain was recast three times. The part was originally given to George Sander in season one. The next season, Otto Preminger took over and the character got a new makeover complete with blue skin and orange eyebrows. It wasn’t long before Eli Wallach took over and Mr. Freeze had another makeover. What can we say? It looked like third time was a charm.
Mandy Milkovich on Shameless
Think back to 2011 and you will remember that Shameless‘s Mandy Milkovich was a fierce bad girl. She was also played by Jane Levy. She made a few appearances throughout season one, but she left to pursue other opportunities, aka Suburgatory. It worked out pretty good for everyone because she snagged the lead in that while Emma Greenwell got to take over portraying Mandy.
Jesus Adams Foster on The Fosters
Jake T. Austin was starring as Jesus Adams Foster on The Fosters. After season two (and a big cliffhanger) Austin took to Twitter to reveal that he wasn’t going to be coming back to the show. People began to wonder whether his character would end up perishing in the car crash from the season finale, but it was then revealed that Noah Centineo was filling the role of Jesus.
Victor Bennett on Charmed
Do you remember Victor Bennett on Charmed? You know, the mortal father of The Charmed Ones? Do you remember that the character was also recast? Yep. He was originally played by Anthony Denison, but it was reported that producers asked him not to return. He was then replaced by James Read. Viewers could have blamed the changing faces of the character on magic or they could have just blamed it on Hollywood.
Reggie Mantle on Riverdale
Let’s get one thing straight: We’re not talking about the comic book character being “recast” as a real person. If that were the case, we would have to include all of the Riverdale cast. We’re actually referring to how Reggie Mantle was originally played by Ross Butler in season one. He decided not to return for season two to pursue other opportunities (*cough*13 Reasons Why season two *cough*). So, he was replaced by Charles Melton. Fans didn’t seem to mind too much because they’re both super hot and they’ll still get to see their boy Ross on another fav teen show.
Sherriff Truman on Twin Peaks
Everyone was stoked that they were going to be doing a Twin Peaks revival in Summer 2017, a mere 27 years after it first hit our TV screens. However, fans were bummed to find out that Michael Ontkean decided against reprising his role as Sheriff Harry S. Truman because he supposedly didn’t want to come out of retirement. We ended up literally getting a new sheriff in town, with Robert Forester stepping in to play Harry’s brother who’s also a sheriff, Sheriff Frank Truman. ~*Spoiler alert:*~ The show explained the sheriff switch by revealing Harry was ill.