The acting world is definitely a confusing one. Many actors and actresses are taking on more than one project at a time in the current climate, which means that sometimes they are forced to choose one role over another and are then replaced in one of these shows. This has happened a lot over the past few years. Producers and directors have tried their hardest to find actors who are similar in looks and ability to the star that was once part of the show, but obviously, fans have picked up on the switch and then voiced their concerns on social media about the whereabouts of their favourite cast members.
Sometimes this can’t be helped; series go on for a number of years and the personal and professional circumstances of many actors change in that time, so they will ask if they can be written out of the show for personal reasons. If the show is based around this actor, then it becomes much harder and then replacements are required if the character in question was set to be part of some big storylines moving forward.
The following list looks at just 15 times when show producers or directors have attempted to switch an actor mid-way through a TV series or series of films and expected fans not to notice. As you will see throughout this list, some of these are much more noticeable than others and many have you wondering how they thought they would get away with it in the first place.
15. Becky Conner – Roseanne
Roseanne became a popular TV series back in the late 1980s up until 1997 and was a show focused on the Conner family and the lives they led on a limited household income back in an era much different than the current one.
One of the strangest things about Roseanne was the role of Becky in the show. The character was portrayed by Alicia Goranson from 1988 until 1996, when she went off to college and the show decided that they could retain her role but put her down as a recurring cast member instead. Alicia later got a lot busier and was unable to fulfil the role anymore so it was then recast and Sarah Chalke was added to the show. Incredibly, Alicia was then free again and the show decided to bring her back in, but when she was forced to miss a few episodes, Sarah was brought back in to replace her. It was a complete mess and the people behind the show had to know that the fans picked up on it because there were a number of jokes in the show about it too.
14. The Mountain – Game Of Thrones
One of the most noticeable changes in Game of Thrones over the past few years is that of The Mountain. The intimidating Gregor Clegane, the brother of The Hound, was originally portrayed by stuntman Conan Stevens, who gave the star the dominant physical presence that was needed at the time.
Conan was cast in The Hobbit before he was really able to do very much with his role in Game of Thrones, and so Ian Whyte stood in for a number of scenes before the show was able to cast Icelandic Strongman Hafþór Júlíus “Thor” Björnsson in the role. Hafþór is the perfect fit for a man who is supposed to be a giant and looks the part in a way that Conan never did. It seems that Game of Thrones managed to spin this forced switch in their favour in the end, but it was obviously something that a number of hardcore Game of Thrones fans picked up on.
13. Vivian Banks – Fresh Prince Of Bel Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was one of the biggest shows of the 1990s and is remembered as the series that launched Will Smith‘s acting career. Despite this, the show wasn’t only about Will. It also focused on his extended family, which included his aunt Vivian.
Janet Hubert portrayed Mrs Banks from 1990-1993 before she was then replaced by Daphne Maxwell for the last three years of filming. Obviously, fans of the show picked up on the fact that one of the main characters had been replaced, and it was reported that issues between Janet and Will were the main reason why she didn’t renegotiate her contract and decided to leave the show. Even though Daphne was a fantastic replacement, she didn’t have the same kind of air around her that Janet did and many fans found it hard to adapt to the switch in character so late in the show.
12. Vincent Crabbe – Harry Potter
Harry Potter fans were shocked to see that during Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final instalment of the Harry Potter saga, one of the characters had been switched.
The role of Vincent Crabbe had been portrayed by Jamie Waylett throughout the seven previous Harry Potter films, so when Crabbe was replaced by Louis Cordice in the final film, many fans were left scratching their heads. The reason behind this change was the fact that Waylett had got himself into a lot of trouble when he was arrested for growing marijuana in 2009. He pleaded guilty to possession and was sentenced to 120 hours unpaid community service. This went on to cost him his role in the film. Waylett was later arrested again the same year when he was seen being violent during the London riots and photographed holding a petrol bomb. Interestingly, filmmakers decided to replace the role of Crabbe altogether rather than recast his role for the final film.
11. Kaitlin Cooper – The O.C.
The O.C. was perhaps the most popular teen series of its time when it was first aired in the early 2000s and centred around the lives of Marissa Cooper, Ryan Atwood and their friends Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts.
It wasn’t until the fourth season of the show that the role of Marissa’s younger sister Kaitlin became much bigger and it was quite noticeable that the actress who played her had been switched. The role was originally given to Shailene Woodley throughout season one, but when she returned from boarding school and was given a much bigger role in the show, the role was instead switched to Willa Holland. Woodley went on to star in The Secret Life of The American Teen and is a Golden Globe-nominated actress for her role in the Divergent Series, so she won’t feel too disheartened about this recast.
10. Baby Lily – Modern Family
It is quite easy for many shows to recast children while they are young and still growing so many fans don’t actually notice the switch. One child that was able to be switched under the radar was Baby Lily in Modern Family.
Lily was first played by twins Jaden and Ella Hiller, who weren’t actors at the time and didn’t come from a family of actors. They just answered an ad on Craigslist and were given the job. After a few years, the novelty of the show must have worn off and the twins were no longer having fun, so the role was recast and in came Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who is still portraying the role of Lily right now. It seems that the best option was to recast this character while she was young because many viewers weren’t originally aware that she was played by twins, so they wouldn’t have noticed the fact that her character was recast either.
9. Laurie Forman – That ’70s Show
As with a number of shows that became quite lengthy series, That ’70s Show was forced to recast one of their main stars in their final series. Laurie Forman was played by Lisa Robin Kelly from 1998-2003.
It was then decided by the show’s producers that the role should be recast for the final series and that was when Christina Moore was brought in for the final few episodes. It was well known at this point that Lisa had a drinking problem, and she sadly passed away a decade later; it was speculated that her drinking was one of the main reasons why she was kicked off the show, but it was never actually reported as to why the executives felt the need to replace one of the main stars of the show just for the final series. Christina Moore did do the role justice, even if her time on the show was short-lived.
8. Meg Griffin – Family Guy
Fans of Family Guy will have noticed that Meg’s voice changed after the first season. Mila Kunis has become famous for voicing the strange member of the Griffin family over the past few years, but she wasn’t the original voice of Meg.
When the show first started Lacey Chabert was the voice of Meg and the character did seem different throughout the first season. It was only when Lacey ran into a number of time conflicts with school and her other series Party of Five that the people in charge of Family Guy decided that it was much easier to just replace the actress behind the character. Mila has been the voice of Meg ever since she was cast in the role following Lacey’s departure after filming for season one had been wrapped up. While Mila has used this as a stepping stone throughout her career, Lacey was already quite a well-known actress and has continued to appear in hit films over the past few years.
7. Reggie Mantle – Riverdale
Riverdale has become a popular Netflix show over the past year, with the second season of the show currently available to stream. The show stars Cole Sprouse and KJ Apa and focuses on the small town of Riverdale, where nothing is as it seems.
Throughout season one, the role of Reggie, a member of the school’s football team, was played by Ross Butler. When season two of the show began a few weeks ago, fans realized that Reggie had been replaced by Charles Melton. It was revealed that because Butler is working on another Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, he reprised his role as Zach for the second season and this led to a number of time conflicts with filming Riverdale season two, which meant that he made the choice to leave Riverdale. The show managed to cast someone who looks very similar to the old Reggie, but it was still easy to see that he had been replaced.
6. Jesus Foster – The Fosters
The Fosters has become a family-friendly show ever since it premiered back in 2013. The show focused on a family that was led by lesbian couple Stef and Lena and looked after five children; one was Stef’s biological son, while the other four were adopted by the couple.
Jake T. Austin had an important role on the show as Jesus, one of the adopted children of Stef and Lena, and was already well-known to the age group that the show was aimed at because of his Disney Channel background. He was starring in Wizards of Waverly Place before he was cast in the show. It came as a shock when he decided to move on from his role and not return to the show in season three. Austin reportedly wanted to move on from teen roles and a few months after the announcement, Noah Centineo took his place after Jesus returned from boarding school.
5. Carol Willick – Friends
Friends is still one of the most popular TV shows that was ever created, despite the show ending almost 15 years ago. Friends premiered in the early 1990s and finished airing in 2003. Many fans have found bloopers and continuity errors throughout the show over the past few years, but one of the biggest was the fact that they replaced one of the characters and hoped that no one would notice.
Carol Willick was the ex-wife of Ross Geller who realized after marrying him that she was a lesbian. The couple has a son together called Ben, who is a constant reminder of Ross’s failed marriage. When Carol made her debut on the show back in season one she was played by Anita Barone. It was only when the show producers wanted to use Carol as a recurring character that they recast the role and brought in Jane Sibbett.
4. Miss Ellie – Dallas
Miss Ellie on Dallas was one of the most iconic roles that was ever created on a TV show and it was quite obvious that if she was switched, then the audience would notice. Barbara Bel Geddes portrayed Miss Ellie from 1978 until 1984 when she was forced to undergo heart bypass surgery after doctors picked up on an underlying medical condition and decided not to return during recovery.
The show decided to cast Donna Reed in her place, but this didn’t go down to well with viewers since Barbara had become a much-loved character over the years. The show somehow managed to talk Barbara back into reprising her role and once again she returned to the show for the 1985-86 season. Geddes was one of the biggest stars of the show and she remained a main part of the cast until the later stages of the penultimate season, which was released in 1990.
3. Bo And Luke Duke – The Dukes Of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard was a hit American show from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. It centred around two brothers Bo and Luke Duke, their uncle Jessie, their cousin Daisy Duke and their lives in Hazzard County under the watchful eye of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane and Mayor Boss Hogg.
Even though the show was centered around Bo and Luke Duke, when the two who were played by John Schneider and Tom Wopat, they tried to negotiate more money from their contracts before the fifth season. The producers of the show refused and decided to bring in Coy and Vance Duke for the fifth season of the show. Fans were aware that these stars were trying to replace the original stars and ratings were hit hard; the show finally decided to give in to the stars requests and they made a return in the final few episodes of season five.
2. Marylin Munster – The Munsters
The Munsters was a popular TV show that was considered to be a satire of monster movies. The show ran from 1964 until 1966 when the show was cancelled due to low ratings. For the first season of the show, the role of cousin Marylin was played by Beverly Owen.
After the first season of The Munsters ended in 1964, Beverly fell in love and moved to New York to get married to writer and producer Jon Stone. She broke her contract to do this and had to then be replaced before the second season. Pat Priest was brought in to continue portraying the role until the show was cancelled a year later. Because of her breach of contract, Beverly was given a five-year ban from the studio and the sad part is that she and her husband divorced in 1974.
1. John-Boy Walton – The Waltons
The Waltons became one of the biggest shows throughout the 1970s and early 80s, before it was cancelled. The show mostly revolved around The Walton’s family and their eldest child John-Boy Walton. The show follows the family throughout The Great Depression and World War II as they live their lives in rural Virginia.
Despite being the lead actor on the show, Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy for the first five seasons, decided to leave the show to pursue other interests after being tied down in the role for several years. Robert Wightman took over the role for the final few seasons before Thomas returned to reprise his role for the three spin-off movies. Even though Wightman portrayed John-boy for two seasons, the role is more commonly associated with Thomas, who was well-liked by the audience throughout his time on the show.
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