Although normal people don’t get to see the ins and outs of the acting world, acting has a lot in common with every other job. Actors apply for jobs, they quit jobs, and sometimes even get fired. Often times acting jobs are even harder because you don’t know the end date or if a show or movie will be successful.
Switching a character out mid-series is actually fairly common. It doesn’t make sense to scrap a whole storyline when a show can just switch out the actor and pick up where they left off. While this is often times due to an actor choosing to leave, sometimes an actor has to be fired.
Here are 10 TV actors who were forced to leave mid-series and 10 who left willingly.
20 (Forced) Lisa Robin Kelly – That ’70s Show
Lisa Robin Kelly played the role of Laurie Forman on That 70’s Show for five seasons. In the middle of the third season Laurie went away to beauty school and rarely made an appearance. When Laurie returned from school in the sixth season, she was played by actor Christina Moore instead. Lisa Robin Kelly was forced to leave due to her substance abuse issues.
19 (Left Willingly) Ross Butler – Riverdale
You probably recognize Ross Butler from 13 Reasons Why and the first season of Riverdale. When 13 Reasons Why was renewed for a second season, Ross had to choose between the two shows. After playing the role of Reggie Mantle for one season, he decided to leave Riverdale and was replaced by Charles Melton.
18 (Forced) Shannen Doherty – Beverly Hills, 90210
Shannen Doherty isn’t known for her meek spirit. In fact, she caused trouble for the cast and crew of Beverly Hills, 90210 fairly often including tardiness and not getting along with other cast members. She played the role of Brenda for four seasons before getting fired for being disrespectful and cutting her hair midway through the series.
17 (Left Willingly) Luke Grimes – True Blood
Luke Grimes played the role of James Kent on True Blood who was introduced to the show in season six. However, Luke lasted less than a season before he quit and was replaced by Nathan Parsons. While Luke claims that he left to pursue other opportunities, both HBO and cast members claim the real reason was because he was uncomfortable playing a gay character.
16 (Forced) Janet Hubert-Whitten – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
One of the most well known mid-series character changes is Aunt Vivian Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Aunt Viv was played by Janet Hubert-Whitten for the first three seasons before being replaced by Daphne Maxwell. Rumor has it that she was forced to leave because she didn’t get along with Will Smith.
15 (Left Willingly) Anita Barone - Friends
Anita Barone is probably kicking herself for leaving the set of Friends now that it’s known worldwide. Anita played Carol, Ross’s ex-wife, for only one episode before leaving because she didn’t think the role was large enough. She was replaced by Jane Sibbett who played Carol for the reminder of the show.
14 (Forced) Nathalie Kelley – Dynasty
Nathalie Kelley played the role of Cristal on the show Dynasty for only one season. CW president Mike Pedowitz said it was a creative decision to have Nathalie leave. While her character wasn’t killed off, the storyline is that she was an imposter and the real Cristal, played by Ana Brenda Contreras, replaces her in season two.
13 (Left Willingly) Jaden and Ella Hiller - Modern Family
Some die-hard Modern Family fans might not even be aware of this actor switch since the character was still a baby. The adopted daughter of Cam and Mitchell was played by twins Jaden and Ella Hiller for the first two seasons before being replaced by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. The twins weren’t enjoying their time on set so their parents decided to leave.
12 (Forced) Nick Jonas – Last Man Standing
After season one of Last Man Standing there were quite a few cast changes and Nick Jonas was just one of them. Jonas played Ryan for only one episode. After the series changed networks from Fox to ABC, there were three cast changes probably due to preferences by the new network.
11 (Left Willingly) Laura Benanti – Supergirl
Laura Benanti played to role of Alura Zorel on Supergirl, the biological mother of Kara. After two seasons, the show announced that Benanti would be replaced by Erica Durance in season three. The producer announced the leave was because of prior work commitments while Benanti tweeted that she also wanted to be with her family.
10 (Forced) Erinn Hayes – Kevin Can Wait
Erinn Hayes played the role of Donna on Kevin Can Wait who was the wife of Kevin James. She was killed off during the first season and replaced with Leah Remini. Erinn and Kevin were lacking in the chemistry department, and the show was running out of ideas. Now Leah and Kevin can reprise their role of husband and wife like they were on The King of Queens.
9 (Left Willingly) Jake T. Austin – The Fosters
For the first two seasons of The Fosters, the role of Jesus was played by Jake T. Austin. It was announced that he was being replaced by Noah Centineo and fans were stunned. Jake T. Austin eventually addressed the issue saying that he was only asked to return for three episodes so he left for other opportunities.
8 (Forced) Alessandra Torresani – Arrested Development
So why was Alessandra Torresani replaced after just one episode on Arrested Development? The creator originally had an idea to have a different actor play the role of Ann Veal every episode since the character is so unmemorable. However, it was too complicated to keep up the idea so they decided to keep Mae Whitman in the role.
7 (Left Willingly) Santino Fontana – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Santino Fontana played the role of Greg on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for two seasons before choosing to leave the show. His reason was that he originally signed on for one season since no one knew if the show would be a hit and he couldn’t stay on for the third season because he had prior commitments.
6 (Forced) Shailene Woodley – The O.C.
Marissa’s little sister on The O.C., Kaitlin Cooper, was originally played by Shailene Woodley. However, she was only present in a few scenes before her character was shipped off to boarding school. When they decided to bring her character back in season three, they wanted her older and decided to cast Willa Holland instead.
5 (Left Willingly) Ed Skrein – Game of Thrones
Fans were extremely confused when Daario Naharis from Game of Thrones was replaced at the beginning of the fourth season. Ed Skrein left to pursue other work opportunities and was replaced by Michiel Huisman. Not only was Daario the love interest of Daenerys Targaryen, but the two actors looked nothing alike.
4 (Forced) Philip Bruns – Seinfeld
Philip Bruns started out playing the role of Jerry Seinfeld‘s father, Morty, on the TV show Seinfeld. After appearing in only one episode, they decided to get rid of Bruns in favor of Barney Martin. They didn’t feel like Bruns was a right fit for the part and wanted someone more cantankerous.
3 (Left Willingly) Lily Nicksay - Boy Meets World
If you’re a fan of Boy Meets World, you probably noticed the character change for little sister Morgan Matthews. Lily Nicksay started in the role when she was four years old. After two seasons, she was replaced with Lindsay Ridgeway. Lily’s parents said that she just did not like being on the show so they left.
2 (Forced) Charlie Sheen – Two and a Half Men
It’s unlikely that anyone escaped hearing about the drama that surrounded Two and A Half Men. After becoming the number one TV show, Charlie Sheen started having anger outbursts and became difficult to work with backstage. He was fired and replaced by Ashton Kutcher who stayed with the show for the remaining four seasons.
1 (Left Willingly) Lecy Goranson – Roseanne
True Roseanne fans already know about the joke surrounding the role of Becky. Lecy Goranson originally played the role of Becky for the first five seasons until she left for college and was replaced with Sarah Chalke. After Lecy returned from college, she and Sarah both played the role, continually switching for different episodes.