17+ Characters Who Were Recast After The Pilot And Shook Us To The Core
The love we have for our favorite fictional characters is strong — what is Game of Thrones without Emilia Clarke's Dany, or Gilmore Girls without Melissa McCarthy's Sookie?
Before we grew to love them, those characters were actually played by very different actors.
Let's take a look what might have been, and celebrate the awesome characters we get to watch today.
1. Lisa Kudrow was the original Roz.
YouTube | Arnar Einarsson, The Take by ScreenPrism
Before she skyrocketed to international recognition in Friends, Lisa Kudrow was cast in the Cheers spin-off, Frasier.
Kudrow originally won the role of Roz, despite the part being written for the actress it would eventually go to, Peri Gilpin.
Gilpin nabbed the role when it was clear Kudrow and Kelsey Grammer didn't have the right chemistry.
I'd say Kudrow got the better deal with Friends, anyway.
2. Sookie wasn't always Melissa McCarthy.
When the pilot of Gilmore Girls began production, a very different woman took on the role of Sookie St James: Alex Borstein, who you probably know best as the voice of Lois in Family Guy.
Borstein got stuck on her show, Mad TV and the role of Sookie was recast with Melissa McCarthy.
However, Borstein eventually made it to Stars Hollow — as a very quirky harpist.
3. Michelle Fairley stepped in on "Game of Thrones".
YouTube | Bonnie Laufer Krebs, jenjaesx
Game of Thrones lost its Catelyn Stark before production for the show even began.
Jennifer Ehle was originally meant to take on the role of the Catelyn, but backed out before the pilot. Michelle Fairley stepped in and made the role entirely her own.
4. Bob Saget's house wasn't full.
YouTube | Katie Vee
When you think of Full House, you think of Bob Saget as Danny Tanner. There's no one else that could have played that role.
However, John Posey originally won the role of Danny, and was still in the role when the show was ordered to series.
The producers went ahead and screen tested Bob Saget as Danny, anyway, and ultimately gave Posey's role to him.
5. Jenna Fischer almost landed Man With a Plan.
YouTube | A2Z TV Trailers
In a move that was probably better for her in the long-run, Jenna Fischer was recast after the pilot episode of Man With a Plan was shot.
Jenna and star Matt LeBlanc didn't have the right chemistry, so the producers fired her and replaced her with Liza Snyder.
Now, Fisher is starring in her own sitcom, Splitting Up Together. We stan.
6. Home (in the middle of) Improvement: Part 1.
YouTube | Hallmark Channel, Rickey630
The sitcom mom to end all sitcom moms, Jill Taylor (and, by extension, Patricia Richardson) became a comforting presence in the living rooms of families everywhere.
Which is why it's jarring to learn that Jill was first played by Frances Fisher. She lacked chemistry with Tim Allen, and was replaced by Richardson.
7. Home (in the middle of) Improvement: Part 2.
YouTube | kevinpollakschatshow, Slegendary
Speaking of Home Improvement: Al. Tim's bearded, flannel-wearing, ever-reliable sidekick. Everyone loves Al!
Al, however, was only created as a placeholder character. The first choice for Tim Taylor's co-host was Glen, played by actor Stephen Tobolowsky.
Tobolowsky had to bow out of the pilot due to a film commitment, so Richard Karn stepped in as Al. Lucky for everyone, he never left.
8. Wherefore art thou, Willlow?.
YouTube | Brian Stowe, BTVS
Alyson Hannigan’s Willow is an intrinsic part of what makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer so special. But before Alyson inhabited the role, another actress was in her place.
Actress Riff Regan originated Willow in the pilot of Buffy, but was recast with Hannigan for undisclosed reasons.
9. Boldly recasting where no show has recasted before.
DailyMotion | Star Trek The Original Series, Enterprise, Voyager
Not only was William Shatner not the iconic first Captain in the Trek franchise, Kirk himself almost didn’t exist.
The first to “star” in Star Trek was actor Jeffrey Hunter, and he was no Kirk— literally. Hunter’s character was Christopher Pike, who was written out as the show’s main character, and written back in much later as a predecessor to Kirk’s captaincy aboard the Starship Enterprise.
10. Rachel Dratch didn't quite rock "30 Rock".
Before Jane Krakowski took on the role of Jenna Maroney in 30 Rock, Tina Fey cast her longtime friend and SNL castmate Rachel Dratch in the role.
As the pilot evolved, it became clear that Rachel wasn't the right fit for Jenna.
She did eventually end up on 30 Rock, however, in an array of different bit parts.
(My favorite was the cat wrangler, tbh.)
11. A Cheers without Ted Danson?
YouTube | Jody Hewston
Ted Danson's long-running career has had many bright spots (most recently, for his role on _The Good Place), and one of the brightest was his role on Cheers.
He almost didn't get the part. The pilot was shot with ex-football player Fred Dryer in the role of Sam.
Luckily, it was re-shot with Ted Danson, and the universe successfully corrected itself.
12. Enter Morena Baccarin.
YouTube | E! Red Carpet & Award Shows, The M Cluster
Firefly is the phenomenon that endures long past its original airing.
The role of Inara Serra began with actress Rebecca Gayheart, but her time as Inara ended after only 24 hours.
She was fired and replaced with Morena Baccarin, instead.
13. Less than Charmed.
YouTube | CharmedVids
Before Charmed was rebooted, and before it became a fan-favorite show, the pilot of the show featured a very different cast.
In the role of Phoebe was not Alyssa Milano, but Lori Rom. Rom left the show for personal reasons, and Milano was cast in her place.
14. Lauren Graham almost missed out on Parenthood.
YouTube | Jakeeenator, plokijuhzgtfrdes
We all know and love Lauren Graham from her days as Lorelai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, so it was a no-brainer that she fit into her role as Sarah Braverman in the family drama Parenthood with the same ease.
Except...that almost didn’t happen. ER’s Maura Tierney was cast as Sarah, but had to exit filming after her breast cancer diagnosis.
She went into remission in 2010, and is cancer-free.
15. Oh captain, my captain?
YouTube | Junkball
The role of the first female captain in Star Trek history is one that introduced an entire generation of women to a feminist icon.
Before Kate Mulgrew stepped into Captain Kathryn Janeway's boots, Geneviève Bujold took on the role of Captain "Elizabeth" Janeway.
Bujold hated the pace of TV production so much that she quit Star Trek: Voyager two days in. Mulgrew stepped in, Elizabeth became Kathryn, and an icon was born.
16. A very different Tara Thornton.
True Blood just wouldn't be the same without Tara Thornton, Sookie Stackhouse's best friend and fellow waitress at Merlotte's Bar and Grill.
Tara, however, wasn't played by Rutina Wesley in the pilot. Her character was Brook Kerr's, who wasn't the right fit.
Wesley won the role and stayed in it for all seven seasons of the show's run.
17. Mother of Recasts.
IMDb | SalemWGNA, Ravenbreath
Emilia Clarke is Daenerys Targaryen, and Daenerys Targaryen is Emilia Clarke. There’s no separating the two when it comes to the pop culture icon that is the Mother of Dragons.
Originally, Tamzin Merchant was set to play Dany, and shot the original Game of Thrones pilot in the role.
She was recast during the pilot reshoot, and the rest is television history.
18. 21 Ouch Street.
YouTube | Tom B, prissvegeta135
21 Jump Street is considered the key jumping off point to Johnny Depp's career. However, his role on the show almost didn't happen.
Actor Jeff Yagher was ousted from the role he originated and replaced with the more "popular" Depp. Classy.
19. In for a Penny.
YouTube | Marek Milucky
Before Kaley Cuoco introduced Penny to the world in The Big Bang Theory, another character was in her place.
Amanda Walsh was cast as Katie, Sheldon and Leonard's neighbor.
She was recast after coming across too mean, and in came Penny and Cuoco.
Hard to imagine this show without her!
20. Bye bye, Tammy.
YouTube | Jamie Gee, TheWrap
Melora Hardin's turn on Transparent has earned her critical acclaim — and an Emmy nomination.
However, before she took on the role of Tammy, Amazon had actress Gillian Vigman in her place.
Vigman became pregnant and production couldn't work around her schedule, so Hardin was cast, instead.
21. A Lance by any other name.
Sara Lance serves as a key crossover player in the CW's Arrow-verse. She has her own spin-off (Legends of Tomorrow) and has appeared in other DC CW shows, too.
Caity Lotz portrays Sara now — but before Sara became the White Canary, she was played by Jacqueline MacInnes Wood.
She was recast after the pilot, and Lotz brought Sara to life.
22. Gossip Mom ages up.
YouTube | Cordelia
During the pilot episode of Gossip Girl, it became extremely obvious that Florencia Lozano just looked far too young to have a teenaged daughter.
In stepped Margaret Colin to play Eleanor Waldorf, Blair's mother.
YouTube | Cordelia
Who was an iconic character in her own right, thank you very much.
23. Pretty Little Liars finds a new Toby.
In the pilot of Pretty Little Liars, James Neate took on the role of Toby Marshall.
For reasons undisclosed, he was recast and replaced by Keegan Allen, who took on the role of Toby Cavanaugh. I guess the new last name seemed a little more sophisticated?
24. Hulk smashes a recast.
Back when The Hulk was just a guy painted green, Marvel aimed to cast Richard Kiel as the big guy for Incredible Hulk.
It wasn't to be. Kiel was allergic to the makeup, and didn't seem tough enough to be the Hulk. The role went to Lou Ferrigno, and the pilot was reshot.