Pretty much every actor can spend a few weeks or months filming a movie. Sometimes they might not get along with their co-stars, sometimes they might have to go to some strange location for filming – but at the end of the day, it really doesn’t take a huge time commitment. When it comes to television, however, it’s a bit different.
If an actor gets a role on a successful television series, they’re often stuck playing the same character for several years. If one of the main cast members decides that they just can’t take it anymore, the writers will often remedy the situation by writing them out of the show – you know, they take a new job in a city across the country and are never heard from again.
It seems that with minor characters, the producers think that the audience isn’t quite paying attention, which is why they tend to swap out the actor playing a more minor character without mentioning it whatsoever. They think viewers won’t notice.
Oh, but we notice. And we wonder why on earth a certain character suddenly looks entirely different, with no explanation. Here are 10 actor recastings they thought we wouldn’t notice (but obviously did).
10. Carol Gellar/Willick – Friends
Apart from the core six, it can sometimes be hard to remember exactly who was on Friends – countless actors and actresses guest starred on the popular sitcom for at least a one episode arc. The ones who were lucky enough to get prime gigs as a girlfriend or boyfriend of one of the main characters, however, are a little bit more memorable – which is why it’s surprising that the writers thought that they could swap out someone who was such a huge part of Ross’ storyline. Anita Barone was initially cast as Carol, Ross’ lesbian ex-wife. Apparently, Barone wanted a bigger role, so the much blonder, slimmer Jane Sibbett stepped in to play Carol for the rest of the season.
9. Kaitlin Cooper – The O.C.
Okay, children on television shows have a bit more leeway than adults. After all, no one knows exactly how someone is going to look as they age, and many child actors decide to leave the entertainment industry to pursue normal careers (or to just have fun in regular after-school activities like soccer). However, Marissa Cooper’s little sister on The O.C. was a bit too much of a swap, even for Hollywood. One season, Kaitlin Cooper was a very young looking Shailene Woodley who looked straight out of grade school. Then, all of a sudden, the tall, gorgeous Willa Holland returned from boarding school to become a regular part of the cast. Couldn’t they have just said Marissa had another sister rather than trying to make us believe Kaitlin aged about ten years in a few episodes?
8. Becky Conner-Healy – Roseanne
Becky on Roseanne was one of the most puzzling cases of actor re-casting that has ever occurred. Why? Well, not only did they swap the actress who played Becky once – they swapped over and over again. The role was originally played by Lecy Goranson, and when Goranson wanted to leave the show in order to attend college, they brought in Sarah Chalke to play the blonde daughter. In season eight, Goranson returned; in season nine, Chalke returned. Towards the end it became so ridiculous, the writers had to include a few in-jokes about the constantly switching Beckys.
7. Vivian Banks – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a huge hit when it was on the air, and audiences would have definitely noticed if Will, Carlton, or even Geoffrey were played by new actors. However, apparently the producers figured that no one really paid attention to Aunt Viv, and no one would notice if they swapped her out with a new actress. The switch is understandable – apparently Smith and the original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert-Whitten, had a lot of beef – but still, they thought that no one would notice when someone with an entirely different look and skin tone showed up as Will’s aunt? Everyone noticed.
6. Daario Naharis – Game of Thrones
Most of the main characters on HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones have become so recognizable and beloved that swapping them out would result in an audience revolt. I mean, can you imagine anyone but Emilia Clarke playing the badass Daenerys Targaryen? However, there was one character (Daario Naharis) who the writers thought would perhaps be less recognizable. Actor Ed Skrein played Naharis when he was just one of many minor characters on the show, but as Naharis’ role became larger, the producers swapped Skrein for Michael Huisman. I mean, Skrein had longer hair and no scruff, so perhaps they just wanted audiences to think that he looked like a totally new man with a different style of grooming?
5. Laurie Forman – That ‘70s Show
Everyone remembers the main cast of the sitcom That ‘70s Show – who could forget the red-headed girl-next-door Donna, played by Laura Prepon; dorky Eric Forman, played by Topher Grace; or the lovably dim-witted Kelso, played by Ashton Kutcher. However, Eric’s hot older sister was a recurring character throughout the show, and she was initially played by Lisa Robin Kelly (who tragically passed away a few years ago after some struggles with addiction). When Kelly disappeared during the third season, she was eventually re-cast by another young blonde actress, Christina Moore. Sure, both were gorgeous blondes, but they looked completely different.
4. Mr. Lawrence – Boy Meets World
We get it – when it comes to Boy Meets World, it was pretty much all about Cory and Shawn’s bro-mance and Cory and Topanga’s epic romance. However, can we talk about Topanga’s dad for a second? The focus was on the kids and their journey from middle school to post-college life, but the role of Topanga’s dad was pretty much a revolving door of guest stars. First there was Peter Tork, and then Michael McKean, and then Mark Harelik. Mr. Lawrence wasn’t really a significant part of the show, but still – the three actors all look wildly different! It’s like the producers weren’t even trying.
3. Helene Beesly – The Office
When it comes to The Office, it’s hard for anyone with a small role to outshine the talented group of comedic geniuses that make up the main cast. Perhaps the producers figured we’d be so busy laughing at Jim’s latest prank and Michael Scott’s ridiculous comments to notice that Pam’s mother was played by two completely different people. When she first stopped by the Dunder Mifflin offices to visit her daughter, Helene Beesly was played by Shannon Cochran. Then, when Pam’s mom came to her wedding, she was played by Linda Purl. Perhaps we’re supposed to think that Pam’s mother decided to treat herself to a whole lot of plastic surgery?
2. Mr. Morris – Saved By The Bell
Look, we get it – in many teen-centric shows like Saved by the Bell, the focus is on the teens and not on their parents. Sure, the parents pop up from time to time, but they mostly fade into the background. However, the producers took things a little bit too far when it comes to Zack’s dad. Zack Morris was arguably the lead of the show, so you’d think his parents would be the most important, right? Well, not exactly – not only did they switch out the actor who played Mr. Morris, they switched out his first name, switching him from Peter Morris to Derek Morris. Uh… would the real Mr. Morris please stand up?
1. Marta Estrella – Arrested Development
Casting changes often occur several seasons into the show, when certain actors or actresses realize they want to branch out and do something a little different than the same television show for the eighth season in a row. However, before its recent reboot, Arrested Development was only on the air for three seasons – and two actresses played Marta within the span of one season! For two episodes, Leonor Varela was Marta. Then, for five episodes, Patricia Velasquez was Marta. I mean, sure, both are gorgeous Latina actresses, but seriously? They’re nothing alike!
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