1. Betty White as Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls
Betty was originally cast to play Blanche. Instead she chose to switch for the role of Rose, she was afraid of being typecast as another man-hungry character (she had played that role as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show).
2. Rue McClanahan as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls
Rue was originally cast as Rose! Betty White suggested they switch roles as both were being typecast. Rue had played the naive neighbor on Maude.
3. Elaine Stritch as Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls
4. Tea Leoni as Rachel Green on Friends
Tea Leoni was the producers first choice to play Rachel, but she ended up passing on the project.
5. Jon Favreau as Chandler Bing on Friends
Yup, Jon Favreau turned down the part of Chandler, but he did eventually appear on to the show as Monica’s boyfriend.
6. Janeane Garofalo as Monica Geller on Friends
Janeane reportedly passed on the role of Monica (a role the writers had written with her in mind) and instead joined SNL for the ’94-‘95 season.
7. Courteney Cox as Rachel Green on Friends
Courteney was originally asked to play the role of Rachel, but she asked for role of Monica Geller instead. The writers ended up rewriting the Monica character to better suit Courteney.
8. Louie Anderson as Cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers
Louie actually had the role of Larry and even filmed the pilot, but producers felt he was wrong for the role. He was dropped from the show and the pilot was re-filmed.
9. Whitney Houston as Sondra Huxtable on The Cosby Show
At the beginning of her career she was offered the role of Sondra. Afraid to commit to a weekly series she wisely chose to continue her music career.
10. Rosie O’Donnell as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld
Rosie was an old friend of Larry David from the New York stand-up scene and he brought her in to audition.
This casting choice would have really changed how we all relate to Elaine.
11. Paul Shaffer as George Costanza on Seinfeld
According to Paul, Jerry Seinfeld personally offered him the role of George.
12. Steve Buscemi as George Costanza on Seinfeld
Steve auditioned to play George when the show was casting.
13. Fred Dryer as Sam Malone on Cheers
Originally Sam Malone was a former football player, so it made sense to cast Fred, who was a former NFL player. The role went to Ted Danson and Sam’s background was re-written as a former baseball player.
14. John Lithgow as Frasier Crane on Cheers
John was the producers first choice to play Fraiser, he turned it down.
15. Lisa Kudrow as Roz Doyle on Fraiser
Lisa was originally cast as Roz on Fraiser and even appears in the pilot. Peri Gilpin was recast in the role and Lisa got Friends as consolation prize.
16. Dana Delany as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City
Hard to believe that anyone other the Sarah Jessica Parker could have walked in Carrie Bradshaw’s Manolo Blahniks. But, Sex and the City creator Darren Star first offered the part to Dana Delany.
17. Bonnie Hunt as Jamie Buchman on Mad About You
Bonnie was very close to getting the role, it of course went to Helen Hunt.
18. Paul Giamatti as Michael Scott on The Office
NBC executives really wanted Paul for the role of Michael Scott, he passed and the network eventually offered the role to Steve Carell.
19. Michael Richards as Adrian Monk on Monk
Richards passed on the role because he hated the pilot script.
20. Nicolette Sheridan as Grace Adler on Will & Grace
Nicolette was one of three actresses in final consideration for the role.
21. Pamela Anderson as Dana Scully on The X-Files
Yup, you read that right, Pamela was originally approached to play Dana Scully!