Unlike movies, TV actors have jobs that come together and dissolve at a fixed period of time.
Actors show up every day and film their scenes, come back year after year to get the chance to do it all over again.
That’s the stability and commitment every TV actors get which movie actors don’t.
Unfortunately, sometimes actors are unable or unwilling to continue in a role for various reasons.
So what’s a showrunner to do? Recast the character, of course!
The decision to recast a role can get complicated when it’s a popular character in public eyes.
Despite that, some series don’t even bother trying a recast, opting to write off a character entirely and add new one.
Whatever the reason might be, many shows have managed to successfully pull of the recasting trick.
With that said, here are the 12 TV actors who were shockingly replaced by other actors in mid-series:
Lecy Goranson (Roseanne)
Becky Conner is one the oddest recast in this list. One of Roseanne’s daughters on the show, Becky was initially played by Lecy Goranson.
Lecy left the show during its fifth season to pursue her education at Vassar College in New York.
Later, Sarah Chalke took over the role of Becky Conner. The story doesn’t end here.
Lecy became available again during the show’s eighth season, but her availability wasn’t consistent.
Scheduling conflicts meant Chalke had to step in for a few episodes when Goranson wasn’t available.
The “new Becky” took on the role full time once again for the show’s ninth and final season.
Hopefully Sarah Chalke understood why there had been so much confusion and everything went good for the show.
Janet Hubert (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
For three seasons, the role of Aunt Vivian was gamely played by Janet Hubert.
After three seasons, though, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star decided she’d had enough of the show and left.
Janet controversially left the show after its third season due to a contract dispute, though the jury is still out on what really happened.
Instead of writing in her absence, the show chose to recast Daphne Maxwell Reid on the show as Aunt Vivian.
Later on, Janet told TMZ that her co-star Will Smith was an egomaniac. It seems like the hatred of Will Smith may have led her to quit the show.
Anita Barone (Friends)
Ross’s ex-wife on Friends doesn’t play a huge role on the series, but it is a pivotal one.
Her decision to leave Ross for Susan is the reason Ross and Rachel happened at all, which you might have certainly noticed.
On the first season, Carol was played by Anita Barone for a single episode. Later, the recast was done by Jane Sibbett.
Reportedly, Anita left the show in order to take larger parts in other projects and a more full-tine role.
Considering the huge success that Friends went on to become, it may have been the wrong move by Anita Barone.
Ross Butler (Riverdale)
Imagine being cast in two shows at the same time, both of which are a massive success.
Riverdale’s cast has been pretty consistent so far, but one major swap did happen on the first season.
The role of Reggie Mantle was played by Ross Butler which wasn’t a major character that season.
He was forced to choose between his role on Riverdale and his role on Netflix Original Series 13 Reasons Why, he chose the latter.
As a result, show re-caste the character as Charles Melton for season two. It worked pretty well, since Reggie’s character arc really didn’t pick up until the second season.
Santion Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
When Greg left Crazy Ex-Girlfriend early on the show’s second season, it seemed like it was going to be the last character.
The actor who played Greg, Santion Fontana, left the show amicably to pursue other opportunities.
When it was announced that Greg would be returning for the fourth season played by Skyler Astin, it threw some fans for a loop.
Lisa Robin Kelly (That ‘70s Show)
Lisa Robin Kelly played the role of Eric’s promiscuous and freeloading older season for the first three seasons of That ‘70s Show.
On the fourth and fifth seasons, the character disappeared completely. Eventually, it was revealed that Lisa had been struggling with addiction.
Kelly was replaced in season six by Christina Moore as a recurring character. Laurie was never seen again after that, supposedly having moved to Canada.
Lisa Kelly eventually died at the age of 43 due to drug overdose and addiction. This role wasn’t recast as a result of her death, but it does cast a pall over the character.
Ed Skrien (Game of Thrones)
Game of Thrones has gone through its fair share of replacements. There have been a number of cast recasting on the show over years.
Ed Skrien was originally cast in the part as Daario Naharis, and was introduced on season three of Game of Thrones.
When the show returned for a fourth season, Ed had been replaced by Michael Huisman.
Reportedly, he left the show for political reasons. That’s about as vague as you can get while still being intriguing.
We many never know exactly why Ed Skrein left one of the biggest shows on the planet earth.
Jake T. Austin (The Fosters)
Following the season two finale of Freeform series The Foster, Jake T. Austin revealed via twitter that his role was being recast.
This recasting is probably most notable because of Noah Centineo, who has blown up since The Fosters.
Jake decided not to return to the role in favor of pursuing other major projects. He also discovered that Jesus would only be featured on few episodes in the show’s third season.
Thankfully, Noah was able to step in and turn himself into a hearth robby movie star.
Amanda Walsh (The Big Bang Theory)
Kaley Cuoco has become synonymous with the central female character of The Big Band Theory.
But, the role of Penny was originally played by Amanda Walsh. The role was actually recast after the original pilot.
Before Cuoco took over, the female lead’s name was Katie. Unlike Penny, Katie was far more hardbitten, sarcastic, and quite mean.
The second version of the character, with her softer, sweeter side is a far more appealing option for the fans.
Rowan Blanchard (The Goldberg)
There were some outcries online when Jackie Geary, Adam Goldberg’s love interest on The Goldberg was recast.
The role was originally been played by Rowan Blanchard, but at the start of season six, Alexis G. Zall had taken on the part.
Some fans thought that the part had been recast at the discretion of the producers, but Rowan had actually passed on the season.
Because Jackie couldn’t easily be written out of the show, the real-life Adam Goldberg was forced to recast her.
Jennifer Ehle (Game of Thrones)
Even the most dedicated Game of Thrones fans probably don’t know that Irish actress Michelle Fairley wasn’t the original choice for the role of Catelyn Stark.
The role was originally offered to Jennifer Ehle, who left the show shortly after filming the pilot episode.
Reportedly, producers confirmed that Jennifer’s departure from the show wasn’t due to any bad blood.
It was rather the fact that she had just given birth to a daughter, and didn’t want to commit to long-term projects.
Maura Tierney (Parenthood)
Sarah Braverman was originally offered to Maura Tierney on the NBC drama Parenthood, but she had to bow of the role due to her breast cancer.
Later, the show recast her role to Lauren Graham of Gilmore Gils and became the Sarah Barverman.
Parenthood ran for six seasons and aired its series finale in 2015. In the end, this recast might have worked out for the best.
Maura went on to be cast in a starring role in the Showtime drama The Affair, and Lauren married her Parenthood co-star Peter Krause.