Top 20 Extreme TV Series Makeovers

It didn't start with Charlie and Ashton! Take a look at 20 TV shows that replaced key cast members—with mixed results.

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Two and a Half Men: Before

Charlie Sheen was the highest paid actor on television before an infamous fallout with Two and a Half Men’s creator led to Sheen’s firing in March 2011.



Courtesy of CBS

Two and a Half Men: After

On September 19, Ashton Kutcher debuts in the sitcom, playing an Internet billionaire. The final nail in Charlie Sheen’s coffin? The first episode reportedly opens at his character’s funeral—after he was hit and killed by a train. Ouch!

Courtesy of CBS

Bewitched: Before

Dick York played witch Samantha’s (Elizabeth Montgomery's) husband, Darrin, for the first five seasons of this successful 1960s sitcom.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Bewitched: After

After a back injury forced Dick York to quit the show, actor Dick Sargent took over the role until the show ended in 1972. The case of the “Two Darrins” remains one of TV’s most famous switcheroos.

Courtesy of

Charlie's Angels: Before

Though she’s always thought of as an Angel, Farrah Fawcett actually left Charlie's Angels, the show that made her a star, after only one season.

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Charlie's Angels: After

Luckily, when Farrah Fawcett's character, Jill Munroe, decided to leave and become a racecar driver, she had an equally blonde and beautiful sister to fill her shoes. Cheryl Ladd took over as the third Angel, playing younger sis Kris Munroe for the remaining four seasons of Charlie's Angels.

Courtesy of

Roseanne: Before

Lecy Goranson may have left Roseanne in order to attend college in 1992, but her character, eldest daughter Becky Connor, mysteriously remained.

Courtesy of Casey-Werner Productions

Roseanne: After

Sarah Chalke (later of Scrubs fame) stepped into Becky Connor's shoes for seasons six and seven of Roseanne. When Lecy Goranson’s schedule allowed her to return to the show for season eight, the cast handled her reappearance with typical humor. During the first episode Goranson was back, her character was repeatedly asked, “Where the hell have you been?” by the rest of the Connor clan.

Courtesy of

Batman: Before

Meow! Julie Newmar originated the role of Catwoman—Batman’s enemy/love interest—on the 1960s show.

Courtesy of

Batman: After

Starting in the third season of Batman, the sultry Eartha Kitt stepped into Catwoman's paws. On the big screen, Lee Meriwether, Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry have all portrayed the famous feline. Next to slip into the catsuit? Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises.

The Tonight Show: Before

The Tonight Show, which debuted in 1954, has naturally changed hosts over the years (from Steve Allen to Jack Paar to Johnny Carson). But the most controversial—and ultimately disastrous—transition came in 2009, when Conan O’Brien inherited the show from Jay Leno. After a ratings dip, NBC proposed moving the show to 12:05 a.m. and bumping Leno’s poorly rated Jay Leno Show to the earlier slot.

Courtesy of TBS

The Tonight Show: After

After weeks of public feuding (and the memorable “I’m With Coco” campaign), Conan O’Brien gave up the Tonight Show gig—and reportedly walked away with $33 million. He now hosts Conan for TBS, while Jay Leno is back in his old seat on the Tonight Show—a curious case of the replaced becoming the replacement!

Courtesy of NBC

The Brady Bunch Variety Hour: Before

How do you capitalize on a beloved show after it’s canceled? For The Brady Bunch, the answer was The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, which debuted in 1976 and featured the original cast singing, dancing and appearing in comedy sketches. The only problem? Eve Plumb, who played attention-starved middle daughter Jan Brady, refused to participate in the new show.

Courtesy of Barry Williams/

The Brady Bunch Variety Hour: After

Geri Reischl slipped into Jan Brady's groovy clothes, playing her on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. Dubbed “Fake Jan” by rabid Brady fans, Reischl and the rest of the cast were put out of their misery when the variety show ended after one year in 1977. Reischl has a sense of humor about the switch: She hosts a "Fake Jan" site and even celebrates an annual "Fake Jan Day"—when people dress as their favorite fakes—with fans.

Courtesy of Geri Reischl/

NYPD Blue: Before

In a career decision he undoubtedly came to regret, David Caruso left his Golden Globe–award winning role of Det. John Kelly on NYPD Blue in 1994 (after only one season) because of a salary dispute.

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NYPD Blue: After

Jimmy Smits joined the force in David Caruso's place, playing Det. Bobby Simone for the next decade. Caruso’s career didn’t recover until 2002 when he landed on CSI: Miami.

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Valerie: Before

This 1986 sitcom was created (and named) for Valerie Harper, who starred as Valerie Hogan, a mom raising three sons and working while her husband, an airline pilot, was away. But Harper left her own hit show after the second season following arguments with producers.

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Valerie: After

Proving the show can go on with or without its namesake, the sitcom was simply retitled The Hogan Family. Actress Sandy Duncan took Valerie Harper’s place, playing the kids’ aunt, who steps in to care for them after their mom dies in a car crash—yikes!

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Partridge Family: Before

When The Partridge Family began in 1970, Jeremy Gelbwaks played the role of Chris Partridge, the family's adorable drummer. But Gelbwak's tenure hit a sour note when his family decided to leave Los Angeles, where the show was filmed.

Courtesy of

The Partridge Family: After

Diehard fans of the Partridges had a hard time getting happy when the show's second season opened with a new Chris Partridge. But actor Brian Forster remained in place until The Partridge Family ended in 1974.

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The Fresh Prince of Bel Air: Before

This 1990–96 sitcom is best remembered for launching Will Smith’s career, but not without some upheaval along the way. Janet Hubert-Whitten, who played Smith’s Aunt Viv, was replaced after the third season. But she didn't go quietly. In her memoir, Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom, she blamed Smith for sabotaging her career, saying he “had people around him who made sure no one outshone him.”



Courtesy of TBS

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air: After

After the third season of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, actress Daphne Reed took over as Will Smith's sassy Aunt Viv. The show went on for three more years before being canceled in 1996.

Courtesy of TBS

Cheers: Before

Shelley Long won an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her role as feisty Diane Chambers—the waitress who gave bartender Sam Malone (Ted Danson) a run for his money—on Cheers, which premiered in 1982. But Long left the hit comedy after its fifth season.

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Cheers: After

When Shelley Long left Cheers, Kirstie Alley took over as Sam’s new foil Rebecca Howe. Long did return, however, for the series finale in 1993.

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Beverly Hills 90210: Before

After battles with the cast and producers, resident bad girl Shannen Doherty departed the hit series after its fourth season (her character, Brenda Walsh, was said to have moved to London to study acting).

Courtesy of

Beverly Hills 90210: After

After Shannen Doherty left, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen moved into the 90210 zip code as troublemaker Valerie Malone—even moving into Brenda Walsh's old bedroom and dating her former love, Dylan McKay (Luke Perry).

Courtesy of Silver09/

Spin City: Before

Spin City star Michael J. Fox, who played Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty, left the sitcom in 2000, after four seasons, to concentrate on raising money for his Parkinson's research foundation.

Courtesy of

Spin City: After

After Michael J. Fox left, Charlie Sheen was elected to take office as new Deputy Mayor Charlie Crawford. So before he was the replaced (on Two and a Half Men), Sheen was the replacement!

Courtesy of

The View: Before

When Barbara Walters launched her morning gabfest in 1997, she was joined by Meredith Vieira, Star Jones and Debbie Matenopoulos. But Matenopoulos, a twentysomething who had previously worked at MTV, was consistently called out by critics as having no news experience. On Saturday Night Live, Claire Danes and Cameron Diaz were among the actresses who spoofed Matenopoulos, playing her as an uniformed flake.

Courtesy of

The View: After

It was no surprise when Lisa Ling was brought in to replace the much-lampooned Debbie Matenopoulos in 1999. When Ling left in 2002, Elisabeth Hasselbeck joined The View's roundtable and has remained ever since. Ling now hosts the documentary show Our America on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Courtesy of The View/ABC

American Idol: Before

The smash reality show faced an identity crisis when sharp-tongued Brit Simon Cowell departed in 2010 to develop his own show. Original judge Paula Abdul had already left Idol after contract negotiations failed.






American Idol: After

Idol proved indestructible: Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler joined Randy Jackson on the judging panel for Season 10 and viewership increased. As for Simon Cowell, he’ll reunite with fellow former Idol judge Paula Abdul when his new show, The X Factor, debuts on September 21. 

American Idol/FOX

A Different World: Before

This 1987 Cosby Show spin-off was created to follow Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) to college. But Bonet left the show after one season when she became pregnant by then-husband rocker Lenny Kravitz.

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A Different World: After

Supporting actress Jasmine Guy (playing southern belle Whitley Gilbert) became the star of A Different World until it ended in 1993.

Courtesy of Casey-Werner Productions

The Price is Right: Before

Bob Barker was the host who had invited contestants on this uber-popular game show to “Come on down!” since 1972. He retired in 2007

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Price is Right: After

Comedian Drew Carey took over as host, continuing animal activist Bob Barker’s signature sign-off, which asks viewers to have pets spayed or neutered.

Courtesy of CBS

Desperate Housewives: Before

What a way to go! Edie Britt, Nicollette Sheridan's troublemaking character on Desperate Housewives, drove into a pole and was electrocuted in 2008 after the show's fifth season. Sheridan later filed suit against the show's creator, Marc Cherry, and ABC, claiming wrongful termination.

Courtesy of ABC

Desperate Housewives: After

Vanessa Williams happily moved into Edie Britt's house on Wisteria Lane in 2010 and will stay through the end of Desperate Housewives in 2012.

Courtesy of ABC

Live with Regis and Kathie Lee: Before

For 15 years, viewers of the morning talk show tuned in to hear Kathie Lee Gifford's signature shout of "Reeege!" Fans were shocked in 2000, when Gifford annouced she was leaving to pursue a singing career.

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Live with Regis and Kelly: After

In 2001, soap star Kelly Ripa took over as co-host and the show was renamed Live with Regis and Kelly. Since then, ratings have reportedly gone up. But Live faces a bigger challenge now: Regis Philbin is scheduled to retire in November 2011.


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Courtesy of CTV

First Published August 10, 2011

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