Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
In Hollywood, actors are often interchangeable on our favorite TV shows. Many come and go, whether it be the actor's choice, the producers' decision, or a character just isn't making a strong enough impact. While some characters are written out, more often than not they can simply be replaced. This can be a challenge for audiences, who grow accustomed to a certain face representing a character. Here are 11 of the biggest character replacements in TV history.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Aunt Viv
Perhaps one of the most iconic and discussed recasts is that of Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Janet Hubert-Whitten was replaced after 4 seasons by Daphne Maxwell Reid. It was rumored that Whitten was difficult to work with, and often had issues with fellow cast mates, primarily Will Smith. The actress was then fired, which she attributed to being the target of a "vendetta" from network officials.
Shortly after the recasting, Smith had told an Atlanta radio station: "I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show because I knew she was going to dog me in the press." In the over two decades since her firing, Whitten has been extremely vocal about her distaste for Smith.
Despite only running for three seasons, the TV show Batman would have two different cat-women. The role was originated by Julie Newmar, who portrayed Catwoman for the first two seasons. Newmar famously modified her Catwoman costume, placing the belt at the hips instead of the wait in order to emphasize her hourglass figure. Due to scheduling conflicts, Newmar was unable to return as Catwoman and was replaced by singer and actress Eartha Kitt.
Boy Meets World: Morgan
The cute little sister of Cory and Eric Matthews, Morgan, was portrayed by actress Lily Nicksay for the first two seasons of the show. She was then replaced by a slightly older Lindsay Ridgeway from Season 3 onward. Nicksay was only four when she filmed the pilot, and according to the actress it was a mutual decision to leave the show. Co-star Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter) reflected on the topic, expressing that Nicksay "was not very happy...At that time she was a little girl who did not want to be on the show."
Ridgeway stepped in as Morgan, and with her portrayal the character got a little more bratty and sassy, as opposed to Nicksay's cute, tea-party hosting persona.
Game of Thrones: Daario Naharis
Ed Skrein originated the character of Daario Naharis in Season 3 of the show, but was subsequently replaced by Michiel Huisman in Season 4. The recasting took audiences by surprise due to how dissimilar the actors look, and fans had to actually hear Huisman called Daario in order to realize the switch. Of his departure from Game of Thrones, Ed Skrein had said, "It was a wonderful experience, but politics led to us parting way."
Any Whitfield starred as the titular character in the show Spartacus for the first season. He had to leave the series due to battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Although declared cancer-free in June 2010, a routine check-up revealed a relapse and Whitfield abandoned the role to focus on his health. Liam McIntyre took over as Whitfield's successor for the final two seasons. Sadly, Whitfield passed away in 2011 due to his illness.
Once Upon a Time: Robin Hood
Tom Ellis portrayed the legendary outlaw Robin Hood in the Season 2 episode "Lacey" on Once Upon a Time. He was unable to reprise the role for a Season 3 recurring arc, leading to Sean Maguire taking over the role. Maguire's previous acting credits included appearances on Criminal Minds, Cold Case and East Enders. Ellis would go on to star in his own show, Lucifer.
Bewitched: Darrin Stevens
Dick York starred as the first Darrin Stevens in the 1960's sitcom Bewitched. He was nominated for an Emmy Awards in 1968 for his role, who he portrayed for 5 seasons. Due to an often debilitating back injury, York decided to leave the hit show in order to focus on his recovery. Dick Sargent took over the role in Season 6 until the completion of the series. With the departure of York, ratings for Bewitched took a dive and never recovered.
Arguably one of the most confusing character replacements of all time was Becky on Roseanne. Actress Lecy Goranson played the character of Becky for five seasons, exiting in 1992 in order to pursue an education at Vassar College. Sarah Chalke then took over the role for seasons six and seven. However, when the show reached its eighth season, Goranson was able to manage her schedule so she could once again play Becky. Both Goranson and Chalke alternated playing Becky in the eighth season, and Chalke would once again take over the role of Becky Conner full-time for the ninth and final season.
That 70's Show: Laurie
Eric's older sister Laurie, was originally portrayed by actress Lisa Robin Kelly. She abruptly left the show midway through the third season, and her character was written out of the show to "attend beauty school." Kelly would return to the show in the fifth season, but was subsequently replaced in the sixth. There was much speculation that the actress had been dealing with a drug and alcohol addiction, and was therefore fired. The role of Laurie was then taken over by Christina Moore. Sadly, Kelly passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 2013. She was 43.
The Munsters: Marilyn Munster
Actress Beverly Owen portrayed Marilyn Munster for the first 14 episodes of the series. Owen had been convinced the show would never succeed but ultimately took the role of Marilyn. The actress had issues leaving New York and was seen on set depressed and crying. She left her role on The Munsters in order to get married to writer and producer Jon Stone. Pat Priest took over the role after her departure and remained on the show until its finale. Since both actresses looked so alike, many viewers didn't even notice the change.
Though many associate Jane Sibbett as the role of Ross Gellar's ex-wife Carol on Friends, the part was originally portrayed by Anita Barone. However, Barone left the show because she wanted to pursue a more full-time role. She was therefore replaced by Jane Sibbett, who became the Carol we all know and love.
© 2018 Rachel M Johnson