As we all know, when it comes to television programs, recasting sometimes can be necessary. We see it all the time on Soap Operas – one day the character of “Jennifer” is played by so-and-so and then the next day she’s played by a YOUNGER so-and-so (or if they want to speed up the storyline and want to age a baby by 16 random years). But this also happens in prime time shows as well. Yet, when this occurs, it hardly escapes our attention. However, producers of a show seem to think that the viewers won’t even take notice to the change and start asking questions. It’s more common when producers make the switch after a show airs its first couple of episodes, which is because once a network approves a pilot, the budget becomes larger in order to film more episodes. This was the case with the hit series Seinfeld when his father Morty who was played by Philip Burns in the second episode of the show. Burns was officially switched out by Barney Martin in the second season because creator Larry David wanted someone more cranky to play the part and Martin could now be afforded due to the show being a hit. While that was a smooth transition, here are 15 other recastings that producers thought they could get away with without the public catching on.
15 Stan (Dog With A Blog)
Hollywood is famous for switching up actors while believing no one will notice, but they also enjoy doing this with animal actors too. Usually this happens when an animal becomes too ill due to age, or heaven forbid DIES, during the course of a show. This was the case for Eddie on Frasier, the Jack Russell pup who was recast toward the end of the series. This also happens to be the case for Kuma, the dog who portrayed Stan on Disney’s Dog With a Blog. Kuma’s owner felt that the shooting schedule was too demanding for Kuma, who was an elderly dog when the show first started. He stayed on until his younger double named Mick was trained appropriately enough to take over the role. There were rumors that Kuma was fired (he wasn’t) or that he died from a seizure (he DIDN’T!). Kuma is very much alive and only acting part time now at the age of 15.
14 Max Russo (Wizards Of Waverly Place)
This was one of the most bizarre twists I’ve ever really seen: Jake T. Austin, who played Max Russo on the show Wizards of Waverly Place, suddenly up and disappeared from the show during season eight, so the producers changed his character into… a girl. The character of Max was unexpectedly turned into a female during the season and Austin was replaced by Bailee Madison and the character’s name was changed to Maxine. Good thing the show was about a bunch of wizards, so the plot twist at least made sense to its fan base. Madison didn’t play the character for long, however, since Austin returned to take over the role. It was a very strange twist, but one that didn’t really seem to hurt the show. Madison went on to play in the show Once Upon a Time.
13 Aunt Viv (Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air)
This has to be one recasting that seemed to jar the audiences of the 1990’s hit series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. One second, Aunt Vivian Banks was played by Janet Hubert-Whitten for the first three seasons of the show and the next second she was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid for the final three seasons. Rumors swirled around that Hubert-Whitten had an ongoing feud with main actor Will Smith. Back in 1993, Smith did an interview with an Atlanta radio station and said “I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be ‘The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show’ because I know she was going to dog me in the press,” the actor complained about his co-star. “She has basically gone from (being paid) a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She’s mad now but she’s been mad all along. She said once, ‘I’ve been in this business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.’ No matter what, to her I’m just the Antichrist.” A couple weeks ago, there was even a mini Bel-Air reunion where the cast got together. And, of course, notably absent was Hubert-Whitten.
12 Laurie Foreman (That 70's Show)
Anyone who watched That 70’s Show, appreciated Eric Forman’s older, loose, snippy sister Laurie, who was then played by Lisa Robin Kelly for the first five years of the show. Kelly’s chemistry with all the characters was downright enjoyable, as was her brilliant comedic timing. She practically stole every single scene she was in, which is hard to do considering the fact that nearly every actor on the show was pretty much competing to be a scene stealer. Kelly managed to pull it off with ease and didn’t seem desperate when doing so. However, the young actress was replaced by Christina Moore and immediately fans were in an uproar. The two actresses couldn’t be more different than each other – with Moore being lost in sort of lazy haze that made her just another one of TV’s “dumb blondes”. She had none of Kelly’s snark and sharpness. Producers would go on to blame the firing on Kelly’s drug habits, which ended up killing the actress in 2013 when, tragically, the 43-year old actress died of a drug overdose.
11 Mandy (Shameless)
Showtime’s hit show Shameless has a life all its own. The show is about a dysfunctional family, led by William H. Macy boozy character Frank Gallagher. It famously stars Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin, Ethan Cutkosky, Shanola Hampton, and at one point, Jane Levy. Levy played Mandy Milkovich, the neighborhood bad girl who was born on the wrong side of the tracks, for the first season of the dark comedy. After the first season, however, Mandy was then played by Emma Greenwell. Truth is, Levy was offered a role on the show Suburgatory, so she ditched the hit show and moved over to the one that, fatally enough, only lasted all of three seasons before being axed. Greenwell went on to thrive on the show’s continuation and now the character can’t be seen as anyone BUT Greenwell, thankfully enough. Sorry Levy – it’s your loss.
10 Lily (Modern Family)
It’s said that babies are the hardest actors to cast when filming anything from a television show to a movie. Because the baby actors are so unpredictable, they tend to hire on identical twins in order to make things run more smoothly. Obviously, this was the case with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who famously played Michelle Tanner on Full House. In the first two seasons of Modern Family, the role of baby Lily was played by twins Jaden and Ella Hiller, who ended up TURNING DOWN the chance to keep playing the little girl. Well, at least their parents did. Doug and Michelle Hiller decided that it was time to “retire” their twins because they weren’t prepared for “the grueling grind of filming a hit TV show.” The twins weren’t loving it either, the parents sadly stated. The twins were replaced by the adorable Aubrey Anderson.
9 Becky (Roseanne)
Outside of the Aunt Viv switch-a-roo on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air the most famous (and noticeable) recasting in TV history was the blatantly obvious recasting of Roseanne’s oldest daughter Becky on the comedy Roseanne. For the first five seasons of the show, Becky was played by actress Lecy Goranson before she was replaced by future Scrubs golden girl Sarah Chalke. Goranson actually left in order to pursue her college education, a very worthy reason to leave a hit show. What’s something that fans of the show also remember? That Goranson actually RETURNED again during season eight and she and Chalke actually shared the role until Chalke took it over officially during the ninth and final season. Producers offered Goranson a lot of money to stay on as Becky, but she was determined to purse her education and lead a more normal life.
8 Daario Naharis (Game Of Thrones)
For the first four seasons of the HBO mega hit show Game of Thrones, hunky actor Ed Skrein played Daenerys Targaryen’s boy toy Daario Naharis, who had the long light brown hair and the steely blue eyes of a Greek god. As we know, Skrein was replaced by the just as equally intoxicating Dutch actor Miciel Huisman. Normally, producers will replace actors who look at least somewhat similar when recasting a character, but in this case, they simply look absolutely nothing alike. Fans wanted answers! And finally, Skrein spoke out about the recasting. “It was a wonderful experience, but politics led to us parting ways,” the actor told EW.com. “And from there I just said, ‘Okay, look forward, be positive. Keep calm and carry on.’ That’s my mentality when things go well, so I stay grounded and not get too overwhelmed by the hype, and it’s my mentality when the plans change.” Regardless of saying he “didn’t walk away from” the show (meaning, it was ALL the producers), it’s good to know that Skrein remains so zen about the recasting.
7 Sydney (Hope And Faith)
Today, actress Megan Fox is a gorgeous superstar and has seen her fair share of action pictures (and famously sparred with action director Michael "I Blow Up Everything" Bay after she compared him to Adolf Hitler), but back in 2004, she was the WTF recasting question of the year. Fox replaced actress Nicole Paggi in the first season of ABC’s Hope and Faith, a comedy starring Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford as two very different sisters who are forced to live with each other after the former is canned from the Soap Opera she was starring in. Paggi played the 16-year old daughter of Faith Ford’s character Hope during the first season, but was replaced by Fox in the remaining three seasons because producers claimed that Paggi looked too old to be playing a teenager. Even though Fox has long, dark tresses, her hair was given blond highlights so no one would ask questions. Uh… but that didn’t stop everyone from asking questions.
6 Alison ('Til Death)
Critics always said that the show ‘Til Death was quite genius in its execution. The show starred Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher as a married couple who constantly fight and pretty much hate each other. The show was changed again year after year after year because they pretty much knew no one was even watching the show. So why not cancel it sooner? One of the tricks producers kept playing on its six viewers who were actually watching was to replace the actress who played Ally (the daughter of the married couple) a total of FOUR TIMES. Even Krysten Ritter got in on the game! Ritter famously played a junkie in Breaking Bad and is now kicking but and taking names in Netflix’s hit series Jessica Jones. I have to say, it was pretty damn smart of the show itself when it realized literally no one was watching. The actors must have had some fun screwing around a bit. Though it seems like a huge waste of money on the part of the producers.
5 Darrin (Bewitched)
You think millennials these days even know what the show Bewitched even is? Okay, they may get it confused with the movie remake they did years ago where Nicole Kidman starred as the famous Samantha, a witch who married a human named Darrin (played by Will Farrell in the film). However, in the 1960’s, the show Bewitched was a national hit show starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha and Dick York as her skittish husband Darrin. Even though the show was a hit and York was even nominated for an Emmy award for his portrayal of Darrin, the actor was struggling with an addiction to drugs and painkillers after injuring his back while filming a movie called They Came to Cordura. The pain became so excruciating that York made the decision to quit the show. He was replaced by actor Dick Sargant, someone who looked nothing like York. After Sargant took over the role, the show’s ratings plummeted and the show was eventually canceled.
4 Toby (Pretty Little Liars)
The teen drama Pretty Little Liars became an instant hit on the ABC Family channel almost seven years ago and audience members have watched the cast grow up before their very eyes. Well, almost all the cast, that is. The mystery series has been known to switch it up from time to time and change around their actors for no apparent reason at all. The show revolves around four girls who have to keep a crap load of secrets after one of their friends is murdered in their small suburban town. While the show itself is bursting with secrets, the secrets of the producers' remain some of the most appealing. One of which was not only changing one of their actors in the role of Toby Cavanaugh, but changing his last name as well (it was originally Marshall)! This isn’t too shocking though – I remember when Jesse’s name on Full House was originally Cochron before they changed it to Katsopolis at the request of actor John Stamos. Toby was originally played by actor James Neate, who was suddenly replaced by Keegan Allen, an actor who fans seemed to like more than Neate.
3 Kaitlin Cooper (The O.C.)
Actress Shailene Woodley is one of the most recognizable faces on the planet right now. She kicked butt in the Divergent series, made fans cry their eyes out in The Fault in Our Stars, and broke ground with the ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager which aired for five seasons. Before all that, though? Woodley was actually on the popular teen drama The O.C. Even die hard fans may not know that Woodley played the original Kaitlin Cooper, the little brat sister of Marissa (Mischa Barton) in the first season. Kaitlin was famously shipped off to boarding school in that same season and returned during the third season with a completely different face (which seems about right since they do live in Newport Beach where enhancements are performed during one’s lunch hour). Willa Holland famously took over the role when Kaitlin returned, but no one really took notice since the little Cooper was such a minor part. Woodley even re-auditioned for the role, but her too-young looks prevented her from resuming the part.
2 Ian Thomas (Pretty Little Liars)
Like I said before, producers find it necessary to change up actors after the pilot episode airs. It’s extremely normal for creators to switch it up, believing that the audience will be none the wiser. While you’re flabbergasted by how much the sets have changed from the first episode (take a look at how different the set from Fox’s House in the pilot is compared to the rest of the first season), producers can pull a bait-and-switch with some of the actors. In the case of Ian Thomas in Pretty Little Liars, the switch went virtually unnoticed. Ian was the pedophile coach of the Rosewood High field hockey team and was famously killed off during the fourth season. In the pilot episode, he was seen in a flashback where he was played by Carlos Marks, but he was replaced by Ryan Merriman for the reminder of the character’s time on the show.
1 Jesus (The Fosters)
For the first two seasons of the family drama The Fosters, actor Jake T. Austin played Jesus Foster, until his character started disappearing from the show almost altogether during the third season. After the third season, the role of Jesus was recast and actor Noah Centineo took over, but not everyone really knew why. Some of the actors have spoken out about it, saying that Austin was just tired of playing a teenager (the actor was 21 when he left the role), while other co-stars refused to comment on it. Finally, earlier this year, Austin broke his silence and answered some of fans hard nosed questions via Twitter, one of which was if he was actually tired of playing a teen character: “Not true,” Austin tweeted out when asked the obvious question. “I just wanted to do roles with more substantive content.” When asked to comment on his character’s role being reduced in the third season: “I was only asked to return for 3 episodes and wasn’t going to be able to work on anything else, so I left…”