Top 10 TV Replacement Characters



Top 10 TV Replacement Characters

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Brandon William Peach.

Sometimes change is a good thing: TV shows can easily grow stale, and bringing in some new blood in the form of a new actor can shake things up and breathe new life into the series. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 TV replacement characters. For this list, we're looking at actors or even entirely new characters who were brought in to fill a void left by a departed actor on a TV show.

Special thanks to our fan @silver_84 for suggesting the idea on Twitter, and to our user Rob Welch for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Brandon William Peach.

Top 10 TV Replacement Characters

Sometimes change is a good thing. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 TV replacement characters.

For this list, we’re looking at actors or even entirely new characters who were brought in to fill a void left by a departed actor on a TV show.

#10: Sarah Chalke for Lecy Goranson
“Roseanne” (1988-97)

When the original Becky Conner Lecy Goranson decided to attend college, she shared the role of Becky with Sarah Chalke, whom you may recognize for her turns on “Scrubs” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Jokes about Becky’s changing face abounded until the ninth season, when Chalke replaced Goranson – for better or worse. And, because her shape-shifting ceased, so did the jokes.

#9: Various Bad Guys
“Batman” (1966-68)

These are some huge shoes to fill: Julie Newmar originally played Catwoman, Frank Gorshin was the Riddler, and George Sanders and Otto Preminger shared Freeze. While that’s tough to top, Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman was brilliant. John Astin, best known as Gomez Addams, also delivered as the Riddler. And who could forget screen-legend Eli Wallach taking on Mr. Freeze? “Batman” replaced so many characters, it became almost a running gag.

#8: Charlie Sheen for Michael J. Fox
“Spin City” (1996-2002)

When Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease began to worsen, he decided to leave “Spin City,” which moved to a new filming location and centered on a new Deputy Mayor: Charlie Sheen as Charlie Crawford. Although the effort was appreciated, fans didn’t join the new cast. “Spin City” was cancelled after limping along for two seasons. But don’t worry, Charlie Sheen makes his comeback later on this list!

#7: Jenilee Harrison & Priscilla Barnes for Suzanne Somers
“Three’s Company” (1977-84)

Suzanne Somers called it quits after five successful seasons of this beloved series, with her character Chrissy Snow replaced by her clumsy cousin Cindy. Jenilee Harrison only lasted a couple of seasons, before Cindy was replaced by a sweet nurse named Terri, played by Priscilla Barnes. Although there was some overlap between the characters, the loss of Somers affected the show’s dynamic, and it ended after season 8.

#6: John Lovitz for Phil Hartman
“NewsRadio” (1995-99)

The news of Phil Hartman’s murder reverberated throughout the American comedy scene. In his honor, his longtime friend Jon Lovitz stepped in to fill the unfillable void on the critically-acclaimed show. Lovitz never claimed to be able to live up to Hartman’s Bill McNeal – but he hit the right notes as his replacement, Max Louis, a complete buffoon with a personality disorder. However, the role only lasted one season.

#5: Kirstie Alley for Shelley Long
“Cheers” (1982-93)

When waitress Diane Chambers leaves Boston to become a writer, only to be replaced as Sam Malone’s love interest by sexy businesswoman Rebecca Howe, it wasn’t the first time “Cheers” swapped a major character: Nicholas Colasanto, who played the aging bartender called Coach, passed away between seasons. His death was written into the show, and his job behind the bar was assumed by the dimwitted and lovable Woody. Both new characters fit the series like a glove.

#4: Liam McIntyre for Andy Whitfield
“Spartacus” (2010-13)

The critically acclaimed “Spartacus” was dealt a blow when Andy Whitfield, who played the titular role, passed away 18 months after being diagnosed with cancer. Liam McIntyre took the mantle of the Thracian slave, and knocked it out of the park for two seasons as the score-settling Gladiator. While McIntyre’s performance didn’t make up for Whitfield’s absence, he was the perfect successor to the role.

#3: Ashton Kutcher for Charlie Sheen
“Two and a Half Men” (2003-)

Love it or hate it, this series was made by Charlie Sheen, the alcoholic lady-killer with a heart of gold buried… somewhere. Sheen’s real-life, headline-making meltdown caused Charlie Harper to be written off the show in explosive fashion, after which his role was filled by Ashton Kutcher. That move kept the show’s viewership steady, despite the fact that the rest of the cast shifted around in subsequent seasons. Winning.

#2: Daphne Maxwell Reid for Janet Hubert-Whitten
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

Now this is the story all about how a show got flipped, turned upside down… when Aunt Viv was replaced without warning. Both leading ladies have their fans, but it’s hard to deny that the almost-completely-unacknowledged shift was bold. In 2013, the original Vivian revealed that the swap-out was contentious: she left due to a salary cut and wasn’t invited to reunion, but she does hope to make amends.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- James Spader for Steve Carell “The Office”
- Dick Sargent for Dick York “Bewitched” (1964-72)
- Cheryl Ladd for Farrah Fawcett “Charlie’s Angels” (1976-81)
- Robert Patrick for David Duchovny “The X-Files” (1993-2002)
- Josh Meyers for Topher Grace “That ‘70s Show” (1998-2006)

#1: The Doctor
“Doctor Who” (1963-89, 2005-)

The undisputed champion of cast shifts, Doctor Who built its fanbase based on the inevitable replacement of its main character – and every incarnation, from the “Dandy” Third Doctor Jon Pertwee to fan-favorite 10th David Tennant, put a unique spin on the role. For a British television icon to survive since 1963 is remarkable, but more remarkable is the textured storytelling and “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey” twists that tie all the Doctors together.

Did we miss any of the greatest replacement characters of all time? Tell us who you’d include on your list! For more off-the-wall Top 10 lists published every day, subscribe to!
No mention of MASH and the replacements that turned it from a canned laugh comedy into an award winning drama/comedy? For shame.