12 TV Shows That Recast One of Their Main Characters
There’s nothing more jarring than sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and turning on your favorite TV show, only to find that one of the main cast members has been replaced. Sometimes the change is told to the audience way in advance if actors have scheduling conflicts or simply want to step away from a project. However, sometimes the recasting can come out of nowhere with zero explanation and viewers simply have to take the change on the chin.
So, we gathered some examples of TV shows that had to replace one of their main characters in order for the show to go on.
Last Man Standing: Alexandra Krosney as Kristin Baxter
According to an exclusive from TVLine, Alexandra Krosney left her role as Kristin Baxter on Last Man Standing due to creative differences and Amanda Fuller stepped into the role. However, Fuller went on to explain that fans were not happy about the change and voiced their displeasure on social media. But, despite the backlash, Fuller went on to play Kristin until the series finale.
2. Family Guy: Lacey Chabert as Meg Griffin
Lacy Chabert originally voiced Meg Griffin for the entirety of Season 1 of Family Guy but, due to her being in school and filming the TV show Party of Five, she parted from the show on amicable terms. Mila Kunis then stepped in to take over the role in the Season 2 episode, “Da Boom,” and she continues to voice the character to this day.
3. Riverdale: Ross Butler as Reggie Mantle
As Ross Mantle was filming both Riverdale as Reggie Mantle and 13 Reasons Why as Zach Dempsey at the same time, he was offered a choice by both show-runners: he could stay in both shows, but his characters would be less frequently or he could have a more prominent role on 13 Reasons Why. Ultimately, Mantle decided to pursue his character of Zach on 13 Reasons Why because he connected with him more than Reggie. Charles Melton then took over the role from Season 2 and on.
4. The Fosters: Jake T. Austin as Jesus Foster
Jake T. Austin played Jesus Foster for Seasons 1 and 2 of The Fosters before suddenly announcing his departure from the show on Twitter. While there were no details given at the time about why he would be leaving, Austin later explained that he left the show because of creative differences as his character was going to be given less screen time in the following season. Not wanting to be held back from other projects for a show that wasn’t going to give him more material to work with, Austin made the decision to leave. Noah Centineo then took over the role from Season 3 until the series wrapped up two years later.
5. Game of Thrones: Ed Skrein as Daario Naharis
Ed Skrein only played Daario Naharis for three episodes in Season 3 of Game of Thrones and, while he wanted to stay on the show for longer, he was recast before the Season 4 premiere due to “political differences” leading him and the studio to part ways. It’s not known if the differences were due to creative decisions or contract disputes, but Michiel Huisman took over the role from Season 4 to the character’s final scenes in Season 6.
6. Once Upon a Time: Tom Elis as Robin Hood
Tom Elis was introduced as Robin Hood in one episode of the second season of Once Upon a Time, but he was unable to reprise the role for the character’s full arc in Season 3. Sean Maguire then stepped in to take over the role for the rest of the series.
7. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Janet Hubert as Aunt Vivian
Janet Hubert played Aunt Vivian, the matriarch of the Banks household on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, for four seasons but felt unappreciated and wanted more of a starring role among the main cast. Instead, she was recast by Daphne Maxwell Reid for the remainder of the series.
The show’s star, Will Smith, made it sound like Hubert was fired as he claimed that “Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show,” during a 1993 radio interview. He went on to say in the same interview that Hubert was jealous that he, a newcomer in the acting world, got a solo show at his young age while she had been working in the industry for 10 years without being offered the same opportunity.
However, during the 2020 Fresh Prince HBO Max reunion special, Hubert finally set the record straight on why she left, stating that the studio drastically cut her salary and offered a new contract that didn’t allow her to work on any other project. Hubert also explained that, while she was never fired, she was recast without warning after declining the studio’s deal.
8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Santino Fontana as Greg Sarrano
Santino Fontana played the main love interest, Greg Sarrano, for the first two seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend before he was shipped away off-screen. However, the character did return for the fourth and final season but with a twist: Greg was now played by Skylar Astin of Pitch Perfect fame. Thanks to the meta nature of the show, the actor switch worked, as the new Greg came back completely different: he wasn’t as self-loathing, he went into treatment for his alcoholism, and was trying to be a better person overall.
9. Last Man Standing: Molly Ephraim as Mandy Baxter
Molly Ephraim played Mandy Baxter for the first seven seasons of Last Man Standing before it was seemingly canceled by the network. Due to thinking that the show wouldn’t returning, Ephraim decided to take on other projects in the meantime. Then, when the show was slated to return, she was unable to come back to play her original character. While the showrunners were sad to see Ephraim go, they had to cast another actor to take her place. Molly McCook then took over the role for until the series wrapped in 2021.
10. True Blood: Luke Grimes as James Kent
Luke Grimes played the vampire James, who was the love interest of another True Blood character named Jessica, for the show’s sixth season. However, in the series’ final season, he was recast by The Originals’ Nathan Parsons. At first, Grimes issued a statement about his sudden department saying that it “had nothing to do with storylines,” but the truth finally came out when his former co-star, Nelsan Ellis, spoke out about the situation. According to Ellis, Grimes left the show because he didn’t like that his character’s story was heading into a gay relationship with Ellis’ character, Lafayette, saying, “You quit your job because you don’t want to play a gay part? As if it’s … you know what? I’m going to stop talking.”
11. Pretty Little Liars: Parker Bagley as Jason DiLaurentis
Parker Bagley portrayed the character of Jason, the older brother of Alison, aka the girl who goes missing and kicks off the events of the show, for a handful of episodes in Season 1 of Pretty Little Liars. However, when the character returned for Season 2, he was recast as Drew Van Acker, who continued to play Jason until the series finale. The show’s creator, I. Marlene King, said that the recast was necessary because they had a certain vision for Jason’s future arc on the show and Van Acker fit the role better as he had more acting experience than Bagley at the time.
12. Arrested Development: Alessandra Torresani as Ann Veal
Alessandra Torresani played George Michael Bluth’s hilariously named and terribly boring girlfriend, Ann Veal, for one episode in Season 1 of Arrested Development. However, she appeared again a few episodes later for a longer arc and the character was now played by Mae Whitman. Whitman did explain in an interview that the character of Ann was supposed to be recast multiple times as a running gag throughout the series. However, the show-runners love her performance so much, they scraped the idea and kept Whitman on permanently.
(featured image: Freeform)
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