You know when you’re watching an episode of your favorite show and you kinda just expect the characters to continue being played by the same people who played them the week before? Yeah, apparently that’s not a thing. The number of shows that have blatantly recast prominent characters with zero explanation (@ Game of Thrones) is truly staggering. We’re rounding them up, ahead, in case you are bored and need something to get annoyed about. Enjoy!
Kate Kane from 'Batwoman'
Fans of this CW series were shooketh when Ruby Rose announced her exit from the show after only one season. According to "sources" (i.e., rumors), Ruby reportedly couldn't deal with the demanding schedule of leading her own TV series. Producers are already looking for someone to fill her shoes for season two.
Mateo From 'Jane the Virgin'
There wouldn’t have been Jane the Virgin without Jane’s little bundle of joy, her son Mateo (who was the result of her accidental insemination?!). The season 4 poster donned a new face to the character Mateo, played by Elias Janssen. The role was previously played by Joseph Sanders, who simply was too busy with school to continue with the show. Homework, people!
Jackie Geary From 'The Goldbergs'
Fans were not happy when Jackie Geary, a.k.a Adam Goldberg's love interest, was recast on The Goldbergs. Originally played by Rowan Blanchard, the role was taken over by Alexis G. Zall at the start of season 6. Rumors swirled that the recast was the decision of the producers, but Rowan is the one who passed on the season.
Allison Stark From 'Til Death'
Allison Stark, the daughter of 'Til Death's central couple Eddie (Brad Garrett) and Joy (Joely Fisher) was recast throughout the show, a total of four times! After the first three changes, the show started referencing the actress swaps on-screen. Krysten Ritter (a.k.a. Jessica Jones) played Ally for seasons 1 and 2, with Laura Clery tagging in the following season, and Kate Micucci carrying the role out in the fourth and final season.
Mandy Milkovich From 'Shameless'
The character Mandy Milkovich in Shameless contributed to the hot mess-ness of this highly dysfunctional family drama. For the first five episodes of the first season, Mandy was played by Jane Levy, but she left the show to star in the ABC sitcom Suburgatory. Actress Emma Greenwell took on the role until she was written off the show in season 6.
Toby Cavenaugh From 'Pretty Little Liars'
Toby Cavenaugh went from being seduced by his step-sister Jenna to being blackmailed to eventually becoming a cop and finding love with Spencer Hastings. In the pilot episode, Toby Cavenaugh was actually called Toby Marshall (a name change came with the recast), played by James Neate. Keegan Allen took over the role and made it his own as Neate went on to star in Amazon's The Man in the High Castle.
Kaitlin Cooper From 'The O.C.'
Let’s begin with this WTF-ness: Turns out Shailene Woodley originally played Kaitlin Cooper on The O.C. before the role was given to Willa Holland. Creator Josh Schwartz told the Huffington Post they replaced Shailene because “the version of Kaitlin Cooper that we were going to bring back to the show was a little bit older than Shailene would’ve been able to achieve on her own.”
Meg From 'Family Guy'
You wouldn’t know this unless you were mining IMDb on a very chill Monday night (hello, me), but Meg was originally played by Lacey Chabert before being replaced by Mila Kunis. Apparently, Lacey was too busy with school and Party of Five, two things of equal importance, to be sure.
Morty From 'Seinfeld'
Jerry’s dad, Morty, is one of the best parts of Seinfeld, thanks to Barney Martin’s truly iconic performance. But Morty was briefly played by Phil Bruns back in season 1, who was replaced because Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David wanted the character to be crankier. On brand.
The Night King From 'Game of Thrones'
Apparently, Game of Thrones didn’t think anyone would notice when an entirely different Night King rolled in during season 6. But hey, they also didn’t think anyone would notice that Starbucks coffee cup. Richard Brake played the original Night King before being replaced by Vladimir Furdik, who—get this—had previously played the first White Walker Jon Snow killed.
Ryan Vogelson From 'Last Man Standing'
That’s right, friends, Nick Jonas was on that Tim Allen show that everyone spent the last eight years side-eyeing. Nick briefly played Kristin’s deadbeat boyfriend in season 1 before being replaced by Jordan Masterson who, let’s be clear, looks literally nothing like him.
Reggie From 'Riverdale'
It’s hard to imagine a world where Charles Melton doesn’t play Reggie on the criminally-deranged saga that is Riverdale—especially since he and Camila Mendes dated IRL! But once upon a time, Reggie was played by Ross Butler, who didn’t return to the show because (according to speculation) he was too busy with season 2 of 13 Reasons Why.
Sarah Braverman From 'Parenthood'
I know you’re currently like, “Wait...Maura Tierney was literally never on this show,” but! She was actually cast as Sarah Braverman on Parenthood’s pilot episode—it just never aired. Maura ended up bowing out for health reasons, and not only did Lauren Graham step in, but she also ended up finding IRL love with Peter Krause.
Beric Dondarrion From 'Game of Thrones'
Yup, of course another Game of Thrones cast member is on this list. And fun fact, he’s number two of freakin’ ELEVEN recast actors, because apparently this show cannot commit. Case-in-point: replacing David Michael Scott after one episode with Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion and hoping no one would notice.
Ann From 'Arrested Development'
The best part about Arrested Development replacing original Ann actress Alessandra Torresani with Mae Whitman is that Ann is meant to be unmemorable. Mae told People TV, “They were originally going to keep replacing the actress that played Ann, just so you were always on your toes. And then they stuck with me, which I feel like is a real insult. They were like, ‘No, no, you’re making the whole not-memorable thing work, we’ll just go with that.’”
Carol From 'Friends'
I KNOW, RIGHT? For just *one* episode, Carol was played by Anita Barone—and her scene was pretty important considering Ross found out he was going to be a dad during it. Anita ended up opting out of the series to pursue more full-time acting jobs (RIP, Friends residual checks) and the show cast Jane Sibbett.
Jesus From 'The Fosters'
Before Noah Centineo was breaking hearts in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, he was busy replacing Jake T. Austin on ABC Family’s The Fosters. Jake issued a pretty salty explanation about his reason for leaving, saying, “I was only asked to return for three episodes and wasn’t going to be able to work on anything else, so I left....”
Jason From 'Pretty Little Liars'
Literally nothing made sense about Pretty Little Liars, including the fact that Alison’s brother Jason was played by Parker Bagley during season 1, only to return with a new face and floppy hair later in the show. But whatever, Drew Van Acker was hot.
Robin Hood From 'Once Upon a Time'
So, this dude on the left is Tom Ellis, and he played Robin Hood for one episode in season 2. Turns out, he couldn’t return due to scheduling conflicts, which is why my husband Sean Maguire stepped into the role and simultaneously stepped into my heart.
Aunt Vivian From 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'
Ready for some drama? The original actress who played Aunt Vivian, Janet Hubert-Whitten, had an insane feud with Will Smith and told TMZ—AND I QUOTE—“I will never do anything with an asshole like Will Smith.” Not shocking that she was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid.
Daario Naharis From 'Game of Thrones'
Oh, look, yet another Game of Thrones character who was casually recast. I cannot emphasize enough how little Ed Skrein of the Magnificent Hair and Michiel Huisman of the Fulsome Beard look alike. To be fair, apparently Ed is the one who decided to leave the show to be in Transformers, but still!
James From 'True Blood'
First of all, hello to Nathan Parsons’ sinister goatee. Second of all, get this: Luke Grimes reportedly left the show because he wasn’t comfortable playing a gay character, which is supremely disappointing. Sources say writers and cast members were “baffled and angered” by the decision, and truly, same.
Laurie From 'That ’70s Show'
Sadly, Christina Moore took over for Lisa Robin Kelly due to Lisa’s self-admitted drinking problem. “With That ’70s Show, I was guilty of a drinking problem,” she told ABC. “And I ran.”
The Three-Eyed Raven From 'Game of Thrones'
Well, well, well, look who it is with another inexplicable recasting. To be fair, up until Max von Sydow took over, the role basically consisted of Struan Rodger dramatically sitting in a tree like some sorta low-budget Gandalf. So it wasn’t a complete shock to the system.
Dickon Tarly From 'Game of Thrones'
Let’s go ahead and get another Game of Thrones recasting out of the way! You probably remember Dickon Tarly best for that time he looked super hot on a horse. So, like, good job, Tom Hopper! But reminder that this poor unfortunate soul was also played by Freddie Stroma, who left the show due to scheduling conflicts.
Becky From 'Rosanne'
Lecy Goranson peaced out of Rosanne to go to college after five seasons and was replaced by Sarah Chalke from my favorite show Scrubs (feel free to judge me). Then Lecy came back, was replaced by Sarah again, and came back A-G-A-I-N for the reboot. I’m exhausted.
Black Canary From 'Arrow'
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood played Black Canary during Arrow’s pilot episode, but was rumored to be too busy to continue the job. The role eventually went to Caity Lotz, woman who can fully pull off an eye mask.
Mason From 'Hannibal'
Apparently, all of Mason’s self-cannibalism was too much for Michael Pitt (dude was literally eating his own face) because he stepped away from Hannibal during season 3 and was replaced by Joe Anderson. Understandable.
Delores Pasternak From 'Two and a Half Men'
Nothing ever made sense about Two and a Half Men, including why it was ever green-lit in the first place. Sorry! But high on the list of WTF was actress Missi Pyle being replaced by Alicia Witt, only for Missi to inexplicably return for the series finale. Like...make up your mind, Two and a Half Men.
Bobby Draper From 'Mad Men'
Fun fact: Like, 8,000 kids played Bobby Draper on Mad Men. This is literally just two of them. A ton of child actors cycled in and out of the role, include Maxwell Huckabee, Aaron Hart, Jared Gilmore, and Mason Vale Cotton—all while Kiernan Shipka managed to retain her job as Sally for the entire series. Speaking of Kiernan, she says all the Bobbys had different nicknames, like Bucket Head Bobby and Slurpee Bobby. At least they made an impression?
Catwoman From 'Batman'
When Julie Newmar ditched her iconic Catwoman costume to pursue a movie role, Eartha Kitt was hired and claws-out nailed it. “That character to me was so much fun,” Eartha said. “I was in dire need of tremendous help at that time, and like a starving cat, I had to find a way to survive....People recognized my name and still do because of Catwoman.”
Supergirl’s Mom From 'Supergirl'
Supergirl endured a pretty major recasting during season 3, when Smallville star Erica Durance replaced Laura Benanti. Laura left the show because of her Broadway schedule, and executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told EW, “We are so blessed that Erica has come aboard to offer her own interpretation of Kara’s mother....We know Erica will continue the proud tradition of legacy actors joining our shows and creating new and exciting takes on classic DC characters.”
Darrin From 'Bewitched'
Dick York is best known for playing the husband on Bewitched, and fans weren’t here for it when the show replaced him with Dick Sargent so that York could recover from his chronic back pain. Sure, the show lasted a few more years, but ya know what didn’t? Its ratings.
Capheus From 'Sense8'
Craving drama? Cool, come hither. Apparently, Sense8 replaced Aml Ameen (who played Capheus) with Toby Onwumere in the middle of season 2 because of—as Deadline reports—“some sort of conflict between Aml and Sense8 cocreator/executive producer/director Lana Wachowski that flared up at the season 2 table read in Berlin and worsened as filming progressed in India.”
Lothar Frey From 'Game of Thrones'
Oh, you thought we were done with Game of Thrones recastings? Think! Again! The show replaced Tom Brooke with Daniel Tuite as Lothar Frey—even though Tom’s face was definitely famous among the fandom thanks to the Red Wedding, where he killed Talisa Stark.
Myrcella Baratheon From 'Game of Thrones'
Nope, still not done with Game of Thrones. The show replaced Aimee Richardson with Nell Tiger Free in season 5—and get this mess: Apparently, Aimee learned about her recasting during a San Diego Comic-Con panel ahead of the fifth season and posted a photo of herself holding a “princess for hire” sign in response.
Chris From 'The Partridge Family'
Brian Forster replaced Jeremy Gelbwaks because Jeremy’s fam moved to Los Angeles. But that’s far from the whole story. In a truly shady moment, David Cassidy said Jeremy “had a personality conflict with every person in the cast and the producers”—which is a pretty bold statement about a literal child.
Jenna Wade From 'Dallas'
Ready for this casting journey? Morgan Fairchild played Jenna for one episode of Dallas, until she was replaced by an actress named Francine Tacker for two episodes in 1980 (not pictured). Then, when Jenna made her triumphant return to the show in 1983, she arrived with Priscilla Presley’s face. Truly, a roller coaster of Jennas.
Lily From 'Modern Family'
Lily was originally played by two very adorable twins named Jaden and Ella Hiller, who were replaced by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. Before the recasting was official, executive producer Steve Levitan said, “We all may determine that as gorgeous and sweet as Jaden and Ella are, it’s not what they signed up to do or what they love. Maybe they don’t love to be on a set and have to listen to us do a scene 10 times. Maybe they would be happier being kids. Honestly, we can’t stress enough that it comes out of wanting to do what’s best for them. We don’t want them to be unhappy. If we feel it’s not in their best interest to stay, we will replace them and ask that people forgive us for doing so.”
Rickard Karstark From 'Game of Thrones'
Surprise! It’s yet another freakin’ Game of Thrones recasting. This time, the show decided to ditch season 1’s Steven Blount and replace him with an actor named John Stahl for season 2. Fine, whatever, but someone explain how Rickard went fully gray in a matter of months.
John Boy From 'The Waltons'
Ya know, The Waltons? That show your mom watched when you were in elementary school? Yeah, well, they recast the iconic character known as John Boy, replacing Richard Thomas with Robert Wightman in season 8. Like, imagine a character you’ve loved for eight entire seasons rolling in with a new face. Truly a bold move, Waltons.
Kristin From 'Last Man Standing'
Behold: another Last Man Standing switch-up! Kristin was played by Alexandra Krosney during the show’s first season before being replaced by Amanda Fuller. Honestly, the only thing these two have in common is a love for wearing insanely giant scarves indoors.
Lionel Jefferson From 'The Jeffersons'
This is a wild one. Lionel Jefferson was originally played by Mike Evans, only to be replaced by an actor named Damon Evans who, nope, was not related to him. But! In a plot twist, Mike came back for a couple of seasons towards the end of the series.
Lois Lane From 'Adventures of Superman'
Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane in the the first season of this classic ’50s-era show, but had other more important commitments that led to actress Noel Neill taking her place. Honestly, they both were incredible.
Selyse Baratheon From 'Game of Thrones'
Hello, just casually here to annoy you with ANOTHER GAME OF THRONES RECASTING. This time, our victim is Sarah MacKeever, who was a “stand-in” for the role of Selyse in season 2 before Tara Fitzgerald took over. Is anyone else deeply bothered by how little these women look alike?
Morgan From 'Boy Meets World'
Lily Nicksay started out as the outspoken little sister on Boy Meets World, and leaving the show was a mutual decision between her parents and producers. She was replaced by Lindsay Ridgeway, who joked she’d had “the longest time-out ever” during her first appearance on the show. Love when writers acknowledge their viewers are smart. Take note, Game of Thrones.
The Mountain From 'Game of Thrones'
Literally so sorry to keep doing this to you, but Game of Thrones recast The Mountain not once, not twice, but THRICE. He started out being played by actor Conan Stevens, who had scheduling conflicts in season 2 and went on to star in The Hobbit. At this point, Ian Whyte stepped in—also playing a giant Wildling named Dongo. Finally, Icelandic actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson took over the role for its most famous iteration in season 4 and got to do memorable scenes like the crushing of Oberyn’s skull. Fun!
Naomi From 'Private Practice'
Before Audra McDonald took on the role, Naomi was played by Merrin Dungey. Variety reported that the switch was “partly a chemistry thing between Merrin and Taye Diggs, who played Naomi’s estranged husband, Sam.” The outlet also suggested the recasting was hard for EP Shonda Rhimes, since she’s close friends with Merrin.
Teenie From 'Big Love'
Guess they were hoping fans would just see some red hair and assume Bella Thorne hadn't replaced Jolean Wejbe as Teenie? Either way, Bella said, “When I met with producers on the role, they told me to just make the character my own and not to try and match the other actress.”
Pamela Burkhard From 'That ’70s Show'
Before Brooke Shields stepped into the role, Jackie’s mom, Pamela, was played by Eve Plumb, and as you can see, the vibe was all kinds of different.
Tommen Baratheon From 'Game of Thrones'
Finally, Game of Thrones replaced Tommen Baratheon actor Callum Wharry with Dean-Charles Chapman when the role became more demanding. Dean ruled (quite literally), so I guess this was a solid choice.
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Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm. She was previously entertainment editor at Marie Claire and has covered pop culture for over a decade.
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