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!
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.
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!
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, 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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’”
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.
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....”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?