As the old adage states: The show must go on. Although this might have originated in the world of theater, it seems this mentality is also certainly true for television shows and films.
There are countless examples in Hollywood and beyond of actors and actresses abandoning roles, only for that same role to be recast almost immediately. Often, this change is never referred to and we must simply carry on like nothing has even changed. Usually our suspension of disbelief can handle these necessary alterations, but sometimes the changes are so jarring it can take quite a while to get over. Here are some of the more, and less, jarring changes made in films and television:
Daario Naharis - Game of Thrones
The change of the character of Daario Naharis between Seasons 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones is certainly one of the most jarring of recent years, primarily because HBO appears to have made little effort to keep the original look of the character.
Originally played by former-rapper Ed Skein, Daario Naharis was later re-cast with Dutch actor Michiel Huisman in the role. Gone was Naharis' long, light platted locks and in was a new beard, darker hair and a slightly less pervy/sex obsessed attitude towards Daenerys. Apparently, Skein left the show after being offered the lead role in the rebooted Transporter film franchise.
Personally, I like to think Daario went through some kind of mental breakdown/period of self-reflection between the events of Seasons 3 and 4 and decided to fundamentally alter his appearance and attitude. However, actually mentioning this to him is punishable by death.
Which Daario Naharis did you prefer?
Aunt Viv - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The recasting of Aunt Vivian on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of the most oft quoted examples of jarring recasting. Not only did Aunt Viv suddenly change appearance, she also seemed to fundamentally change her attitude.
Aunt Viv was played by Janet Hubert-Whitten for the first three seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, while she was replaced in Season 4 by Daphne Maxwell Reid. Rumor has it, Hubert-Whitten was replaced due to disagreements between her and Will Smith.
The Hubert-Whitten Aunt Viv was usually much more of an outspoken, ambitious, no-nonsense, career driven woman, while the Maxwell Reid Aunt Viv seemed more subdued, family orientated and sympathetic with the desires of her children.
Unlike most television shows which just go on as if nothing has happened, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air does slightly break the fourth wall following the introduction of the new Aunt Viv. Check out that scene below:
Which Aunt Viv did you prefer?
Rachel Dawes - The Dark Knight Trilogy
Katie Holmes' character of Rachel Dawes was a pretty big deal in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Although created purely for his cinematic trilogy, Dawes acted to ground Bruce Wayne in a humanizing way by providing a love interest outside of the usual 'superhero' community.
However, although reviews were almost universally positive for the film, some critics did point out Holmes' performance as a potential weak spot. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on your opinion), Holmes opted to drop out of the sequels in favor of starring in the quickly forgotten Mad Money. She was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who took over the role in perhaps the most popular Nolan Batman film, The Dark Knight. From what I gather, not many people minded, although I think everyone did notice. Check her out going toe-to-toe with The Joker below:
Which Rachel Dawes did you prefer?
Becky - Roseanne
Another show which didn't mind drawing attention to its recasting was long-running family sitcom, Roseanne. In fact, this one's a bit strange since the show would frequently cut back and forth between the actress who played Becky.
Originally, Lecy Goranson was cast in the role of the eldest daughter of the Connors, however she left in the fifth season to attend college. Initially, she was written out of the show with her character apparently moving away. However, Becky returned in the sixth season with Sarah Chalke in the role, although Goranson would occasionally return as her schedule allowed.
This resulted in one of the longest running gags, with characters often mentioning her change in appearance. For example, when Goranson returned in Season 8 after a particularly long stretch of the Chalke version of Becky, many characters reacted by asking,"Where the hell have you been?"
Which Becky did you prefer?
Dumbledore - The Harry Potter Franchise
Signing onto the role of Albus Dumbledore was always going to be a lengthy commitment. The headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would appear in all eight of the Harry Potter movies, although, unfortunately, the original Dumbledore actor, Richard Harris, only appeared in two before his death.
He was replaced by another British thespian veteran, Michael Gambon, who continued to play the character for the remainder of the franchise. Luckily, Dumbledore's large facially obscuring beard meant the shock of the physical change was dampened somewhat, although there were other areas where it was more marked. Firstly, Gambon, perhaps wisely, didn't try to imitate Harris' iconic voice, while generally it was also stated Harris may have played the role slightly darker than Gambon. You can compare the two performances below:
Which Dumbledore did you prefer?
Marta - Arrested Development
The Colombian off-again-on-again girlfriend of G.O.B and star of Spanish-language soap opera El Amor Prohibido was also played by two actresses over her seven episode Arrested Development story arch.
Initially, Marta is played by Leonor Varela in two episodes of the Mitch Hurwitz comedy, while she is later recast for five more episodes with Patricia Velasquez. A third 'Marta' is also introduced in a flashback scene in Season 3 as someone Michael Bluth formerly dated. However, it's unclear if this is another recast, or a joke suggesting Michael is filling the void left by the first Marta, by dating a similar looking woman also called Marta. Interestingly for a show that breaks the fourth wall frequently, no direct reference is made to the change.
Which Marta did you prefer?
Darrin Stephens - Bewitched
Now to a recasting that didn't go so well.
Bewitched was a major show back in the 1960s, with it's various stars understandably becoming icons in their own right. However, actor Dick York, who played the hapless husband Darrin Stephens for five seasons of the show, was eventually forced to drop out of the series due to reoccurring back pain.
After a few Darrin-free episodes, the character was eventually reintroduced, although this time with Dick Sargent in the role. Unfortunately for Sargent, the recasting of Darrin also coincided with a general drop in quality of the show as well as a ditch in ratings. Of course, it would be unfair to place the entire blame at the feet of Sargent, although for many he was a convenient scapegoat at the time.