17 TV Show Characters Who Were Recast in the Middle of Their Shows
When an actor leaves a TV show, writers have two options: write them off or recast them. Recasting actors on TV is an old practice, but it doesn't happen as often as you think, especially when it comes to important characters (as opposed to minor or background roles). That's why it's so notable when a show actually does decide to replace one of its recognizable actors with someone else entirely. In some cases, it's been absolutely necessary for health or scheduling reasons, but there have also been a few instances of major behind-the-scenes drama. Keep reading for the stories behind some of TV's most noticeable recasts!
Dick York as Darrin Stephens on Bewitched
Dick York played the put-upon mortal husband of witchy housewife Samantha in the popular 1960s sitcom. He played the role for the first five seasons until his health problems (largely stemming from a back injury he suffered on a movie set) forced him to step away.
Dick Sargent as Darrin Stephens on Bewitched
Following York's medical departure, the writers realized they couldn't really write out one of their main characters, so the solution was to recast in one of the most famous moves in TV history. Sargent stepped into the role and played Darrin for the show's final three seasons.
Jane Levy as Mandy Milkovich on Shameless
Levy was cast in the first season of Shameless as the recurring character of Mandy, Mickey's sister and, eventually, a friend of several of the Gallaghers. Although the role had potential to grow, Levy had to leave after five episodes due to being cast in the ABC sitcom Suburgatory.
Emma Greenwell as Mandy Milkovich on Shameless
Greenwell quickly replaced Levy and continued playing the role of Mandy through six seasons until she was written off the show.
Ed Skrein as Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones
Season three introduced us to the handsome mercenary who sparked something in Dany, but Skrein only remained in the role for a single season. The reasons for his departure differ depending on who you ask: the show said it was due to scheduling conflicts, but Skrein suggested it was more personal.
Michiel Huisman as Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones
For the remainder of Daario's stint on the show, he was played by Huisman. Unlike other recasts on TV, this time, the show didn't even bother to try to cast someone who looked like the original actor!
Aimee Richardson as Myrcella Baratheon on Game of Thrones
The young princess was only a minor character in the first two seasons, where she was played by Richardson before being sent off to Dorne.
Nell Tiger Free as Myrcella Baratheon
For the fifth and sixth seasons, where Myrcella actually had a more significant role in the main plot, Free took on the role of the now-grown princess, who's waiting for the political situation to calm down, so she can marry the prince she's in love with.
Struan Rodger as the Three-Eyed Raven on Game of Thrones
The Three-Eyed Raven's first appearance was a brief one, when Rodger played him in season four.
Max von Sydow as the Three-Eyed Raven on Game of Thrones
Later seasons gave the Three-Eyed Raven a much bigger and more pivotal role in the arc of Bran Stark, and screen icon von Sydow took over the expanded character.
Conan Stevens as The Mountain on Game of Thrones
Stevens, who was mainly a stuntman, not an actor, played the fearsome knight when he was just a minor character in the first season.
Hafþór Julius Bjornsson as The Mountain
The Mountain actually went through another recast in between Stevens and Bjornsson: Ian Whyte briefly played the character in season two (before going on to play other background characters). When the role became a pivotal one, strongman Bjornsson took it on just in time for the character's most iconic (and gruesome) scene.
Tom Ellis as Robin Hood on Once Upon a Time
Before he was playing the literal devil on Lucifer, Ellis appeared in one episode of Once Upon a Time's second season as the legendary archer of Sherwood Forest.
Sean Maguire as Robin Hood on Once Upon a Time
When the character of Robin Hood became a bigger part of the plot, the role was recast with Maguire, who remained with the show for several seasons.
Jake T. Austin as Jesus Adams Foster on The Fosters
The former Disney Channel star made the leap to a bigger role for the first two seasons of The Fosters. Following season two, Austin left the show, and his character's fate was left up in the air following an accident in the season finale.
Noah Centineo as Jesus Adams Foster on The Fosters
When The Fosters season three returned, they revealed that Jesus had survived but was now played by a new actor. Centineo continued in the role through the final season, before getting launched to young-adult stardom as Netflix's latest go-to rom-com leading man.
Janet Hubert-Whitten as Aunt Vivian on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Hubert-Whitten originated the role of Aunt Vivian, but a now-infamous feud with series star Will Smith resulted in her leaving the show after three seasons. "There will never be a reunion ... as I will never do anything with an a**hole like Will Smith," she told TMZ as recently as 2011.
Daphne Maxwell Reid as Aunt Vivian on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Instead of writing Aunt Vivian off the show, they simply replaced her, adding Maxwell Reid to the cast beginning in season four and running through the show's sixth and final season.
Lily Nicksay as Morgan Matthews on Boy Meets World
Nicksay played the youngest Matthews sibling in the beginning, but eventually, her parents and producers decided it was time for the role to be recast.
Lindsay Ridgeway as Morgan Matthews on Boy Meets World
Starting in season three, Ridgeway played Morgan (albeit a slightly aged-up version of her), and she stayed in the role through the seventh and final season. Fun fact: in the sequel series Girl Meets World, the show winked at the dual Morgans by having both of them appear in the same episode — both playing Morgan!
Alexandra Krosney as Kristin Baxter on Last Man Standing
Krosney was the first actress to play the eldest Baxter sister on the ABC sitcom. After just one season, though, she left the show, but her character remained.
Amanda Fuller as Kristin Baxter on Last Man Standing
Fuller took on the role of Kristin beginning in season two, and she's still playing the character today!
Molly Ephraim as Mandy Baxter on Last Man Standing
Ephraim played Mandy, the fashionista middle Baxter daughter, for a full six seasons before the surprise recasting ahead of season seven.
Molly McCook as Mandy Baxter on Last Man Standing
McCook began playing Mandy in 2018, with the show winking on screen to her sudden brand-new appearance.
Santino Fontana as Greg Serrano on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Fontana, who's probably best known as Frozen's Prince Hans, acted and often sang as the grumpy bartender on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend through the second season. He left the show in 2016 (with a memorable send-off song) to focus more on his return to theater.
Skylar Astin as Greg Serrano on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Fontana wasn't available to reprise his role for the final season due to his commitments to Hello Dolly and Tootsie on Broadway, so instead, the show opted for a fourth-wall-breaking recast with Astin. Only the character of Rebecca can "see" that he looks different, as a metaphor for how people change.
Jo Marie Payton as Harriette Winslow on Family Matters
Payton's character of Harriette was, actually, the reason Family Matters existed in the first place. Her character first appeared as a fan-favorite elevator operator on Perfect Strangers and was picked for a spinoff. After a network shift to CBS, Payton was reluctant to continue and eventually left partway through the ninth season.
Judyann Elder as Harriette Winslow on Family Matters
Elder (pictured here in 2018) took over the role of Harriette, but didn't get to enjoy her leading lady status for long. She only played the role for eight episodes before the show was cancelled.
Luke Grimes as James Kent on True Blood
Grimes unexpectedly left the vampire drama ahead of season seven. While his reps insisted it was due to scheduling conflicts with his movie roles, Buzzfeed later reported that Grimes disagreed with the direction his character was set to take: a romance with Lafayette.
Nathan Parsons as James Kent on True Blood
For the final season, Bunheads actor Parsons stepped into the role of James (and, yes, he did have that romance with Lafayette).
Ross Butler as Reggie Mantle on Riverdale
On the first season of the dark Archie Comics adaptation, Butler played jock Reggie Mantle. The character didn't have much to do in the first season, so Butler chose to leave and take a role on 13 Reasons Why instead.
Charles Melton as Reggie Mantle on Riverdale
From season two on, Melton stepped seamlessly into the role of Reggie. And, as it turned out, he got more than a job out of it: he and costar Camila Mendes dated for over a year.
Lisa Robin Kelly as Laurie Forman on That '70s Show
Kelly's version of Eric Forman's older sister was an iconic part of the sitcom. She recurred throughout the first several seasons, but had to leave before season six due to battling some health issues, including alcoholism.
Christina Moore as Laurie Forman on That '70s Show
For Laurie's final appearances in season six, Moore stepped into the role.