Ever turn on a TV show only to discover that your favorite character has morphed into a completely new person? Unfortunately, this happens quite often, sometimes with actors getting fired mid-series due to conflicts behind the scenes. As popular as these shows were – these abrupt switcheroos threw people for a loop.
1. Becky Conner – Roseanne
The producers of Roseanne had some real nerve. They didn’t just switch actresses on their audience once – they did it multiple times with the same two actresses, and thought no one would notice. For the first five seasons, young actress Lecy Goranson played the role of the Conner family’s eldest daughter, Becky.
When Goranson decided to leave and go to college, she was replaced by Sarah Chalke, an actress now famous for starring in popular shows like Scrubs and Rick and Morty. Here’s where it gets weird… They actually brought Goranson back, and had her switch off with Chalke multiple times. This was extremely confusing to fans of the show, who really just wanted some consistency.
2. Aunt Vivian – Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
No casting director wants to switch an actress with another. It’s messy, and it upsets fans. But if you’re gonna do it, you better make sure it’s a clean switch. You want to find another candidate who resembles the original star – but, unfortunately, the producers of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air completely whiffed on that one.
Aunt Vivian was originally played by Janet Hubert, but she got into a reportedly heated feud with Will Smith behind the scenes. Since Smith was the star, Hubert got the boot – but instead of finding another actress who resembled her, they found Daphne Maxwell Reid, and tried to convince us she was the new Aunt Viv. Yikes. At least they didn’t change Uncle Phil.
3. Carol – Friends
Whether you love or hate Carol, you probably associate her with Jane Sibbett, the actress who portrayed her for most of the series. Since Carol is the mother of Ross’ son Ben, she was one of the biggest recurring side characters on the show. However, if you rewatch the show from the very beginning, you might notice something strange.
In the first season, Carol is actually played by another actress named Anita Barone. We see Barone in the ultrasound room while she’s pregnant with Ben, but otherwise, she doesn’t appear much. The funny thing is that leaving the show was her decision. Barone felt her role was too small, lacking the foresight to realize that Friends was about to blow up.
4. Myrcella Baratheon – Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is notorious for changing actors all the time. In fact, at least ten actors on the show were replaced by other stars mid-series. One of these characters is none other than Princess Myrcella Baratheon, who we think is the daughter of King Robert Baratheon and Queen Cersei Lannister (only to discover later that Jaime Lannister is her real dad).
Since the show spans across a multitude of years, with characters getting older, it makes sense that they’d switch the original actress, Aimee Richardson, with one who looks older. However, her replacement, Nell Tiger Free, is actually younger than Richardson!
5. Ginger Grant – Gilligan’s Island
Well sit right back and hear a tale… of a show that confused its fans pretty early on. When the pilot for Gilligan’s Island originally aired, people certainly loved it. But there was one character who the producers felt needed to change. Ginger Grant was actually portrayed by actress Kit Smythe in that first episode, but she was about to get off the island.
The showrunners wanted to go in a different direction, and replaced her with Tina Louise. Glamorous, red-haired, and somehow holding an endless supply of glitzy dresses on an abandoned island, Louise’s portrayal of Ginger ended up being one of the best parts of the show.
6. Lily – Modern Family
Modern Family has emerged over the years as one of the most intelligent, progressive, and enduring sitcoms on television today. Three families all intertwined through blood, marriage, and their perfect blend of strangeness, it’s easy to fall in love with them.
One of these families is led by Mitchell and Cam (played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, respectively), and rounded out by their adorable adopted daughter Lily. Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who played Lily for the majority of the show’s run, really won over the fans’ hearts. However, not many people know that Lily was actually played by two other actresses in the first season – twin babies Jaden and Ella Hiller.
7. Chuck Cunningham – Happy Days
Perhaps one of the most iconic and pioneering sitcoms of all time, Happy Days shined as bright as the Fonz’s million dollar smile. There was nothing quite as warming to the soul than curling up on your couch and seeing what Joanie, Ritchie, and the entire Cunningham gang were up to. Speaking of the Cunningham gang, ever notice something a bit fishy about the elder siblings?
How about the eldest sibling in particular, Chuck Cunnigham? See, there was just that one issue of him transforming into a completely new person at some point. He was originally played by Gavin O’Herlihy, and not long after replaced by Randolph Roberts.
8. Jenna Wade – Dallas
Jenna Wade was so popular on the Southern drama series Dallas that she withstood three casting changes. The first actress who played her was Morgan Fairchild, who seemed inclined to keep the role. However, it was soon decided by the producers that she be replaced with actress Francine Tucker.
Tucker’s stint as Jenna didn’t last long either, with Priscilla Presley (daughter of rock legend Elvis) taking over the role and solidifying herself as the final choice. Even though fans could’ve done without the inconsistency, they still loved the character for her tendency to stir turmoil and conflict with the rest of the characters.
9. Morgan Matthews – Boy Meets World
It doesn’t get much more wholesome than Boy Meets World. Give us a cute bonding moment with Cory and Shawn, and a wise speech from Mr. Feeny, and we’re good to go. However, there was one recurring character who raised a few eyebrows after a few seasons.
Morgan Matthews, who made us cry from laughter in the first few seasons with her sassy remarks as Cory’s little sister, was switched on us. Lily Nicksay had portrayed the young little devil brilliantly – but once it became time for Morgan to “grow up,” Nicksay was replaced by Lindsay Ridgeway. And we all just thought, “We’re gonna pretend like that didn’t just happen?”
10. Father Mulcahy – M*A*S*H
The long-running and long-beloved M*A*S*H features some of the most memorable characters television has ever known. One of the characters was Father Mulcahy, known for his exuberant personality and wacky charm. For most of the show’s run, he was played by the talented William Christopher, and that’s the face that fans think of when they think of Father Mulcahy.
However, diehard fans alone remember that there was a miniscule time period on the show where he was actually played by George Morgan. Perhaps when they made the switch, they justified it to their audience by telling them all to simply have faith!
11. Kristin Baxter – Last Man Standing
A wholesome family sitcom is an art form that never gets old, and Last Man Standing delivered exactly that when it first aired in 2010. Starring Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, and a bevy of respectable actors, people liked it so much that it lasted for eight seasons.
However, as traditional as the show was, there was definitely something going on behind the scenes. A shockingly high number of actors were switched by others. For example, Amanda Fuller, who’s known for playing the role of Kristin, actually wasn’t on the show in the first season. She was brought on board to replace original actress Alexandra Krosney.
12. John Boy – The Waltons
If one wants to talk about nostalgia, The Waltons provide that by the wagonload. Based on the trials and tribulations of the Walton family during World War II and the Great Depression, it taught us moral lessons while warming our hearts as well. And yet, what was the deal with John Boy after that fifth season?
The Waltons’ eldest son had been played marvelously by Richard Thomas for five seasons, before mysteriously “leaving town,” never to be seen again. Well, the character was seen again, but Thomas wasn’t. When John Boy had returned, he was now played by Robert Wightman, and of course looked a lot different.
13. Laurie Forman – That 70s Show
In the eyes of Kelso, Hyde, and Fez, Laurie Forman was the ultimate girl next door. Sister of their best friend Eric, all she would have to do is walk down to the basement before all eyes were on her. Portrayed by the talented Lisa Robin Kelly, Laurie actually ends up entertaining the advances of Kelso (played by Ashton Kutcher).
Kelly, as Laurie, was a staple on the show for six seasons, but things took a turn off-camera. Kelly struggled with substance abuse, and eventually was let go in favor of Christina Moore. Even more tragic, Kelly ultimately passed away in 2013. Many fellow cast members have since spoken fondly of her.
14. Sydney Shanowski – Hope and Faith
With a string of devoted followers from day one, Hope And Faith was a force to be reckoned with from the years 2003 to 2006. It also didn’t hurt that there were some truly brilliant actresses on screen, from Kelly Ripa, to Faith Ford, to Megan Fox.
Indeed, many fans of Fox don’t know that she got her start here, playing the role of Sydney Shanowski. Even funnier is the fact that she replaced another actress who had played the same character – Nicole Paggi. While Paggi did a great job, unfortunately her career didn’t skyrocket like Fox’s did subsequently.
15. Chris Partridge – The Partridge Family
When you talk about classic sitcoms, it doesn’t get much better than The Partridge Family. Who from that era didn’t want to jam out with David Cassidy and Susan Dey? And let’s not forget their talented drummer, youngest sibling Chris, played by Brian Forster. However, something strange was going on with Chris in the early seasons.
That is to say, he was a completely different person. This is because he was originally played by young star Jeremy Gelbwaks. Unfortunately Gelbwaks didn’t quite vibe with the other people on set. Said Cassidy, he “had a personality conflict with every person in the cast and the producer.” Yikes.
16. Meg Griffin – Family Guy
Every show needs a punching bag, and Meg Griffin is just that for the characters on Family Guy. Many episodes will find Peter, Stewie, and especially Lois, ridiculing her or making fun of the oldest Griffin child in some way. Of course, Meg is so much more than just the family punchline.
Voiced by the hilarious Mila Kunis, she often shows her confident (and slightly manic) side. However, in the first season, you might want to take a closer listen to her voice. She was actually not voiced by Kunis back then, rather by veteran actress Lacey Chabert (of Mean Girls and Party Of Five fame).
17. Kaitlin Cooper – The O.C.
The O.C. was the perfect show if you wanted to vicariously experience the life of rich high schoolers living in the suburbs. With drama through the roof, hanging out with Summer, Marissa, Seth, and Ryan, was a wonderful way to spend a Monday night. Speaking of drama, there was one character who often caused it – Marissa’s younger sister, Kaitlin Cooper.
At first she’s played by a young Shailene Woodley (now famous for Divergent), and seems pretty harmless. But after disappearing for a while, she returns much older, this time played by Willa Holland. Scene-stealing Holland’s character acknowledges that she’s grown – but the difference was a tad over the top.
18. Sarah Braverman – Parenthood
The hour-long drama has become prevalent in today’s TV world, making way for shows like Parenthood, This Is Us, and many more. But while this show has both warmed souls and taught lessons, there was one character who only sparked confusion – Sarah Braverman.
Yep, that’s right. While we all know that Lauren Graham embodies that character like it’s no one’s business, she actually almost didn’t play her at all. In the pilot episode, Maura Tierney actually had the gig. But a decision was made that ousted her, and that episode never aired.
19. Cousin Marilyn – The Munsters
The Munsters is a 60s black and white comedy with an interesting premise. With a family composed of werewolves, vampires, and Frankenstein’s-monster-lookalikes, a regular human girl might feel a little out of place. And that’s exactly the situation that cousin Marilyn finds herself in on the show. However, it seems as though she’s not as normal as everyone else might say.
How normal is it when you’re one person, and one season later, you’re someone completely different. Such was the case here, with Beverley Owen being replaced by Pat Priest. Interestingly enough, this was Owen’s decision, because she had flown to New York to be closer to her romantic partner, Jim Stone (a writer on Sesame Street).
20. Ann Veal – Arrested Development
The fact that Alessandra Torresani was replaced by Mae Whitman after only one episode was actually something that was planned. Indeed, the entire character of Ann Veal was based around the idea that she had a “forgettable face,” and thus she was intended to be played by a barrage of different actresses.
However, after the Whitman switch, this concept lost a lot of fire, and they simply stuck with her. As Whitman herself told People TV, “They were like, ‘No, no, you’re making the whole not-memorable thing work, we’ll just go with that.’” Indeed, Whitman’s portrayal of Ann Veal ended up being a truly memorable aspect of the show.
21. Delores Pasternak – Two and a Half Men
If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the long-running Two and a Hlaf Men, we’ll expalin. Charlie Sheen played the role of Charlie Harper, who lives in his Malibu “bachelor pad” with his brother and nephew, Alan and Jake. Multiple young women are frequently seen in and out of Charlie’s life, and one of these women is Delores Pasternak, Jake’s fifth grade teacher.
She was originally played by the brilliant Missi Pyle, showing a kooky side that fans certainly loved. However, for whatever reason, the showrunners switched Pyle with another actress named Alicia Witt. Since she wasn’t a main character, it wasn’t such a big deal – but we could’ve done without the change.
22. Lois Lane – The Adventures of Superman
How many versions of Superman have we seen over the years? Quite a few, which means that we’ve seen many versions of Lois Lane as well. His fellow reporter, best friend, and sometimes lover, Lane is one of the most popular supporting characters of all time.
In the 50s TV adaptation, The Adventures of Superman, Lane showed us that she could be just as compelling in black and white. However, it took a while for the producers to find the perfect fit. Phyllis Coates originally did a respectable job, but eventually she was replaced by Noel Neill, who simply hit it out of the ballpark.
23. Morty Seinfeld – Seinfeld
For lovers of dry comedy and intellectual dialogue about nothing, Seinfeld is arguably the greatest sitcom of all-time. The brain-child of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld himself, the show is filled to the brim with zany characters with amusing dispositions. One of these said characters is the titular protagonist Seinfeld’s father, Morty Seinfeld.
He was magnificently played by Barney Martin most of the time, and that’s how most fans know him. But after doing a rewatch of the first season, you may find yourself looking twice at the screen. Instead of Martin, Philip Bruns is actually the one playing Mr. Seinfeld – a funny tidbit of the show for major fans.
24. Penny – The Big Bang Theory
To get as popular as The Big Bang Theory has, they had to have done something right. From the superb writing, to the inspired casting choices, to the overall theme, it’s a show that has stood the test of time for its diehard fans. Speaking of casting choices, they actually almost went in a different direction with Penny.
Not only was Penny originally called “Katie,” she was almost played by a completely different actress. For the pilot episode, Sheldon and Leonard’s new neighbor Katie was played by Amanda Walsh, and she actually did a stellar job. But the showrunners were uncertain, and didn’t air the episode. They switched her out for Kaley Cuoco, and she ended up being exactly what the show needed.
25. Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane – Game of Thrones
With a show as epic as Game of Thrones, it stands to reasons it would be filled to the brim with epic characters. One of those characters is Gregor Clegane, more aptly known as “The Mountain.” A knight of the House of Clegane, and the older brother of Sandor Clegane, he’s a warrior no one in their right mind would want to mess with.
Of course, this is probably because you never know who you’re gonna get with him. Will it be Conan Stevens, who originally played him? Or how about his next replacement, Ian Whyte? Finally, Game of Thrones seemed to settle on a third, final option. Icelandic actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson was the ultimate choice – and let’s be real, he looks the most like an actual mountain.
Walt Disney: Intriguing Facts About Animation’s Biggest Icon
Magic. Joy. Pure happiness. Walt Disney’s creations have given us all of these feelings and more.
But what was going on inside the heart and brain of Mr. Mickey Mouse himself? Even the most hardcore Disney-heads won’t know all of these facts about Uncle Walt.