30 Times Celebrities Were Replaced in Hit TV Shows
Have you ever started an episode of your favorite TV show to find a different actor playing your favorite character? Whether it’s due to scheduling conflicts, behind the scenes drama, or because the producers found a better person for the role, recasts are more common than you think.
Here are 30 times characters were recast in popular TV shows. Some of the reasons why the actors left may shock you.
Anita Barone — Carol Willick-Bunch, 'Friends'
Carol Willick-Bunch is Ross Geller’s first ex-wife and the mother of his son, who also left Geller for another woman. Actress Anita Barone originally played Carol. Barone landed the recurring role of Carol, but she wanted more of a full-time gig.
Ross Butler — Reggie Mantle, ‘Riverdale’
In season one of the CW’s “Riverdale,” Ross Butler starred as Reggie Mantle, Archie Andrew’s competitor and friend. He quit the show in 2017 because of a scheduling conflict between “Riverdale” and Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” where he plays one of the main characters, Zach Dempsey.
Lisa Robin Kelly — Laurie Forman, 'That ‘70s Show'
Lisa Robin Kelly starred as Eric Forman’s older sister, who loved making him suffer. Since 1998, Kelly was a regular in “That ‘70s Show” until the writers removed the character in season three, when Laurie Forman left home to attend beauty school. In 2003, Kelly returned for small appearances in season five. Later in 2012, Kelly explained her disappearance from the show, saying, “I had lost a baby. As a result of that I lost it. I lost everything and I was abusing alcohol.” After running into the law a couple of times, Kelly died from a drug overdose in 2013.
Shannen Doherty — Brenda Walsh, 'Beverly Hills, 90210'
Shannen Doherty starred as Brenda Walsh, the new girl at West Beverly High. After season four, show makers wrote off Doherty’s character, relocating Walsh to London to attend the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts. Doherty was fired after clashing with the show’s crew and co-stars on set. Reports state she would usually arrive late to work or start physical fights.
Janet Hubert-Whitten — Vivian Banks, 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'
In 1990, Janet Hubert-Whitten starred as Vivian Banks, Will Smith’s aunt and Philip Banks’ wife. For three seasons, Hubert’s strong character helped shape Smith into a responsible young man. However, when Hubert left the show in 1993, her departure was not a happy one. The show’s star, Will Smith, clashed with Hubert on the set. Smith mentioned that Hubert had a bad attitude, which made working with her extra difficult. Hubert responded that she was always professional on set.
Erinn Hayes — Donna Gable, 'Kevin Can Wait'
In 2016, Erinn Hayes portrayed Donna Gable, the female lead married to Kevin Gable, played by Kevin James. However, producers fired Hayes and killed off her character after season one. Kevin James, who portrayed her husband Kevin Gable, tried to explain Hayes’ departure. James revealed the creators were running out of ideas. James says, “The plot of the show didn't have enough drive. If we got through a second season, I wouldn't see us getting through a third one." Donna Gable’s death made fans upset.
Charlie Sheen — Charlie Harper, 'Two and a Half Men'
“Two and a Half Men” also killed off one of their main characters. For eight seasons, starting in 2003, Charlie Sheen played Charlie Harper, a bachelor and alcoholic. The producers killed Harper off the show in 2011, when Sheen got fired for making derogatory comments about the series’ creator, Chuck Lorre. After getting fired, Sheen continued to speak negatively about Lorre.
Shailene Woodley — Kaitlin Cooper, 'The O.C.'
Shailene Woodley starred as young Kaitlin Cooper, Marissa Cooper’s little sister who went off to boarding school in season one. For Kaitlin Cooper's return from school, producers wanted to cast a teenager for the role. Woodley reauditioned for the role of Kaitlin Cooper, but she didn’t get the part. "I didn't go through puberty until late. I was the 15-year-old who had no boobs... I looked like an 8-year-old," says Woodley.
Shannen Doherty — Prue Halliwell, 'Charmed'
In 1998, Shannen Doherty played Prue Halliwell, a powerful witch and the eldest sister to Piper Halliwell and Phoebe Halliwell. While Doherty’s character “left” “90210” for misconduct, her character in “Charmed” was killed off. The demon assassin, Shax, fatally attacked Prue Halliwell in the third season’s finale. The show’s producer, Aaron Spelling, allegedly fired Doherty after she frequently fought with her co-star, Alyssa Milano. However, Milano addressed Doherty’s supposed firing, saying, “I don’t know if she got fired, we never really found out what happened.”
Lacey Chabert — Megan "Meg" Griffin, 'Family Guy'
Meg Griffin is usually ignored and bullied by her family in the animated series “Family Guy.” That can be a tough role for anyone, even as a cartoon. Lacey Chabert voiced Meg just for the first season of the show, in 1999. Chabert explained her departure from the show, stating, “I actually left the show of my own accord. And only because I was in school and doing ‘Party of Five’ at the time.”
Nick Jonas — Ryan Vogelson, 'Last Man Standing'
On season one of ABC’s “Last Man Standing,” Nick Jonas guest starred as Ryan Vogelson, the atheist and politically liberal son-in-law of Michael Baxter. When Jonas stepped away from the role in 2011, he moved on to more TV series including “Smash” and “Hawaii Five-0.”
Luke Grimes — James Kent, 'True Blood'
Luke Grimes starred as James Kent, a vampire with human qualities, in HBO’s “True Blood.” HBO has stated that Grimes abruptly quit the show because he was worried about the character’s creative direction in 2013. However, Buzzfeed reported that Grimes actually refused to play a gay character. Eventually, the character James Kent would begin a romantic relationship with Lafayette Reynolds, a short order cook. The show’s writers opposed changing the script for Grimes.
Alicia ‘Lecy’ Goranson — Rebecca ‘Becky’ Conner-Healy, 'Roseanne'
For the first five seasons of “Roseanne,” Alicia Goranson portrayed Becky, a spoiled and self-centered teenager. In 1993, Goranson left the show to pursue a degree at Vassar College. After Goranson’s departure from the show, actress Sarah Chalke became the new Becky in 1993.
Peter Capaldi — The Doctor, 'Doctor Who'
The Doctor is an extraterrestrial being that regenerates into a new body when their current body is damaged beyond repair. This means that it makes sense to switch the actor who plays the role regularly. Peter Capaldi starred as the Doctor for three seasons in BBC’s “Doctor Who.” Capaldi explained his departure to Australia’s The Courier-Mail. “‘Doctor Who’ is a great show and experience, but to be at the centre of that brand is a lot of work. There’s a lot more than just acting. It was hard to maintain that level of commitment with that schedule any longer,” says Capaldi.
Stellina Rusich — Trudy Monk, 'Monk'
“Monk” initially cast Stellina Rusich as Trudy Monk, Adrian Monk’s wife who was murdered. Rusich’s role as Trudy Monk mainly consisted of small flashback scenes in season one and two. When the producers wanted to give the character a more substantial role, they sought another actress that resembled Rusich. After the producers decided to recast her role in 2003, Rusich moved on to feature in TV movies including “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again.”
Ed Skrein — Daario Naharis, ‘Game of Thrones’
In “Game of Thrones,” Daario Naharis is a sellsword who becomes the advisor, lover and enforcer of The Dragon Queen, Daenerys Targaryen. Ed Skrein first portrayed the sellsword in season three, appearing in multiple episodes. According to reports, Skrein left the show to take the lead role in “The Transporter: Refueled.” However, Skrein revealed that those reports were false. “That's what has been reported in the press but it was a lot more political than that. My plan was to stay with ‘Game of Thrones’ for the long haul. That was always my plan,” says Skrein.
Claire Foy — Queen Elizabeth, 'The Crown'
For the first two seasons of “The Crown,” actress Claire Foy brought the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign to life. In 2016, Foy began her role as Queen Elizabeth II. Foy won a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance. However, the producers pulled Foy off of the show. Since the third season features the Queen in middle age, the creators needed to recast the character to depict her age adequately.
Michael Pitt — Mason Verger, 'Hannibal'
Actor Michael Pitt portrayed Mason Verger, the twisted antagonist who has sadistic personality disorder. While Pitt starred in “Hannibal,” he earned two award nominations including a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critics' Choice Award. Pitt chose to leave the role after season two in 2014. There was no explanation on why he quit, but Pitt left right after his character’s face became mutilated beyond recognition. Following his departure, Pitt worked in some films such as “The Smell of Us” and “Ghost in the Shell.”
Jake T. Austin — Jesus Adams Foster, 'The Fosters'
For two seasons, fans watched Jake T. Austin portray Jesus Adams Foster, Mariana Foster’s loving twin brother with ADHD. Austin announced on Twitter the reason behind his sudden and shocking exit in 2015. He revealed his character would only star in three episodes of season three. Austin didn’t want less work to interfere with other possible opportunities. Austin adds, “I just wanted to do roles with more substantive content.”
Aml Ameen — Capheus "Van Damme" Onyango, 'Sense8'
Aml Ameen initially starred as Van Damme, a matatu driver who takes care of his sick mother and protects his community from bandits in the science fiction drama “Sense8.” The character is a sensate who becomes mentally and emotionally linked with seven different strangers. Ameen took on the role of Van Damme for season one.
Jared Gilmore — Henry Mills, 'Once Upon a Time'
Henry Mills is known as The Author and son of Emma Swan in “Once Upon a Time.” For six seasons, actor Jared Gilmore played the original Henry Mills. In season seven, Gilmore only made a brief appearance. The show needed to recast the role of Mills because the character aged 10 more years in season seven.
Phil Bruns — Morty Seinfeld, 'Seinfeld'
Phil Bruns was originally cast as Morty Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld’s dad. However, Bruns only had the chance to appear in one episode before being replaced. After Bruns The creators recast the role with actor Barney Martin.
Alessandra Torresani — Ann Veal, 'Arrested Development'
Ann Veal is George Michael's religious girlfriend in the comedy, who often gets forgotten. On season one, Alessandra Torresani portrayed the original Ann Veal. The series creator, Mitch Hurwitz, thought it would be funny to have multiple actresses take on the role of Ann.
Santino Fontana — Greg Serrano, 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'
Greg Serrano is an intelligent bartender who has mixed feelings for the main character, Rebecca Bunch. Santino Fontana portrayed Serrano for two seasons. Fontana requested to leave the show in 2016. He discussed his exit with Vulture, saying, “I didn’t know my future with the show regardless, and I didn’t know if the show would be coming back.” As a result, fans didn’t see Serrano at all in the show’s third season.
Laura Benanti — Alura Zor-El, 'Supergirl'
Fans saw Laura Benanti star as Alura Zor-El, Kara’s biological mother, during seasons one and two. “Supergirl’s” executive producer, Andrew Kreisberg, announced that Benanti quit the show due to other commitments. Benanti posted a tweet about her departure, saying "I loved working on this show and will miss it so much! Right now it's time for me to be supermom to my own little one in NYC.”
Nathalie Kelley — Cristal, 'Dynasty'
Cristal Carrington is the wife of billionaire Blake Carrington and a woman with a mysterious past. Actress Nathalie Kelley portrayed Cristal Carrington on the CW’s revamped version of “Dynasty.” At the end of the first season, fans didn’t know if Cristal Carrington survived a life or death situation. However, Kelley confirmed that she wasn’t returning to the show. Kelley’s statement caused fans to believe that Cristal Carrington died.
Conan Stevens — Gregor Clegane, 'Game of Thrones'
Gregor Clegane, also known as The Mountain, is a knight of the house of Clegane and a warrior in “Game of Thrones.” Three different actors have portrayed Clegane. In season one, the original Clegane was played by Conan Stevens, a stuntman and former professional wrestler.
Parker Bagley — Jason DiLaurentis, 'Pretty Little Liars'
Jason DiLaurentis is the older half-brother of main characters Alison DiLaurentis, Spencer Hastings and Alex Drake. Initially, Parker Bagley played DiLaurentis on “Pretty Little Liars.” Fans saw Bagley in two episodes of season one. However, the producers recast the role of DiLaurentis in 2011 with a different actor.
Riff Regan — Willow Rosenberg, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Did you know there’s an unaired presentation pilot of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” Many slayer fans had no idea that Willow Rosenberg’s character was recast. Before Alyson Hannigan became the Rosenberg audiences knew, actress Riff Regan originally played the geeky witch in 1996.
Lily Nicksay — Morgan Matthews, 'Boy Meets World'
For the first two seasons of “Boy Meets World,” fans saw actress Lily Nicksay star as Morgan Matthews, Cory Matthews’ funny little sister. According to The List, Nicksay quit “Boy Meets World” because she was unhappy and “a little girl who did not want to be on the show.”