Actors leave their shows for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they have another role they want to pursue. Sometimes it is about the show; actors do not always like the roles they play or the people they work with.
Sometimes they leave for personal reasons such as to be with their families. And sometimes, as with the recently late and great Luke Perry, they leave the show because they have left this world behind.
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But the show must go on. When an actor wants or needs to leave a show, the writers have to cook up a reason for their departure. They might kill the character off, have the character move away, or they might simply replace the actor.
Seeing a new actor playing a beloved role can be unsettling but also intriguing. Fresh blood can put a fresh spin on an old character and it can be fun to compare the old interpretation with the new. Of course, sometimes the change may go by unnoticed and unacknowledged; this was easier to pull off before IMDB.
Take a look at our list of actors who were replaced mid-series. If we missed your favorite, let us know in the comments.
Darrin Stephens -- Bewitched
One of the first and most famous switcheroos took place in the 1960s on the show Bewitched. Beloved actor Dick York had to leave the show due to a chronic back issue. His replacement looked nearly identical to him and even had the same first name. In spite of this, Sargent was never as popular in the role as York and the show only lasted a couple of seasons with him as the leading man.
The Doctor -- Doctor Who
Instead of letting William Hartnell's deteriorating health spell the end for this time-traveling series, the people behind Doctor Who found a fun way to keep the show going for decades. They came up with the zany idea that this elderly time-traveler was a member of an alien race who, when suffering a fatal experience, would regenerate as a new and often younger actor. As of 2019, there have been thirteen doctors, the most recent addition the first woman to tackle the role.
Fallon Carrington Colby -- Dynasty (Original Series)
Before Elizabeth Gillies entered the role in 2017, Fallon Carrington was made iconic as played by Pamela Sue Martin. Martin wanted out of the show, so the writers had her die in a car accident at the end of Dynasty Season 4. She reappears near the end of Season 5 with amnesia; but this time, Fallon is played by Emma Samms.
Morgan Matthews -- Boy Meets World
After two years on a popular television show, Lily Nicksay's parents decided that it was too much for the adorable five-year-old and that she deserved to be a regular kid. The Morgan character was absent for half a season, reappearing as Lindsay Ridgeway who was three years older. Her brother Cory acknowledges her absence with a casual "Morgan, long time no see." to which she responds, "Yeah. That was the longest time out I've ever had."
Aunt Viv -- Fresh Prince of Bel Air
This switch-up was due to some infighting within the cast. The original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert, did not get along with the show's lead and vice-versa. She left the show at the end of the third season and was replaced by Daphe Maxwell Reid.
Carol Willick -- Friends
The first Carol left the show because she wanted to have a bigger role on a show. While Carol Willick, later Willick Bunch, was not in a lot of episodes, she did pretty well for a guest star. She was in fifteen episodes scattered throughout the series up through season seven.