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14 Surprisingly Dark Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Lighthearted Shows

John Stamos tried to have the Olsen twins replaced!

Warning: This post includes topics of sexual harassment, violence, and addiction.

1. John Stamos tried to get Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fired from their role as Michelle Tanner on Full House.

John Stamos on the set of "Full House" with the Olsen twins as Michelle
Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives / Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

After becoming frustrated with how often the Olsen twins would cry and ruin a shot, John Stamos asked producers to replace them. Stamos verified the story at the Television Critics Association’s semiannual press tour in Beverly Hills. "That is actually 100 percent accurate. They brought in a couple of unattractive redheaded kids. We tried that for a while, and that didn’t work. [Producers] were like, all right, get the Olsen twins back." Ironically, the twins were originally cast as Michelle in Full House because they were the only children who didn't cry in their audition. 

2. David Angell, a creator and executive producer of Frasier, was tragically killed along with 91 other passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11.

A title card reading "In loving memory of our friends Lynn and David Angell" and Martin Crane calling Niles and Daphne's baby "David"

David Angell joined Cheers as a writer in 1983 before developing its famous spinoff, Frasier, with Peter Casey and David Lee. Angell and his wife, Lynn, were returning to California from their summer home in Massachusetts on Sept. 11 when their plane was hijacked and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The first episode to air after the attacks included a tribute to David and Lynn. Later in the series, Niles Crane and Daphne Moon named their son "David" to honor the original creator. 

3. Chevy Chase regularly made “non-PC” comments directed at Donald Glover on set and famously feuded with showrunner Dan Harmon on Community.

Chevy Chase and Dan Harmon being interviewed with the cast of "Community"
Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Chevy Chase, who played Pierce Hawthrone on Community, often made inappropriate comments at the expense of his costars. Dan Harmon, the creator of the show, once had to apologize to Donald Glover on Chase's behalf after an especially rough night of "non-PC verbiage." Harmon and Chase then had their own feud after Chase stormed off the set on the last day of shooting Season 3. Chevy left some less-than-kind voicemails for Harmon, who, in turn, referred to Chase as a "befuddled old man." It should be noted that Harmon was also difficult to work with on set. It's no surprise their larger-than-life personalities clashed!

4. In the original pitch of Bob’s Burgers, the Belchers were supposed to be cannibals who served their customers patties made of human flesh.

A crowd standing around a sign reading "food may contain human flesh" in the original pitch of "Bob's Burgers"
Loren Bouchard / Via

Loren Bouchard, the creator of Bob's Burgers, originally intended for the show to be a lot less family friendly. The Belchers were essentially going to be an animated family of Sweeney Todds. The cannibalism plot didn't seem too out of pocket for Bouchard, who had previously worked at Adult Swim, a network known for its darker and more shocking humor. Fox executives quickly scrapped that plot for an overall more wholesome series. However, the pilot episode, titled "Human Flesh," focused on a food inspector who believed Bob was serving human meat but could not prove it.  

5. Will Smith only starred in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air because he owed millions of dollars in backdated taxes to the IRS.

Will Smith talking about being broke and famous
Will Smith / Via

After becoming a Grammy Award–winning artist alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff, Will Smith began living a lavish Hollywood lifestyle. Unfortunately for Smith, this meant overspending his earnings and disregarding his taxes. “Before I was in trouble with Uncle Phil, I was in trouble with Uncle Sam,” Smith shared on his YouTube series Storytime. Luckily, his girlfriend at the time encouraged him to branch out in order to revive his career. So he ended up auditioning for Quincy Jones at a house party, and that's how he became known as "the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"! 

6. Lisa Bonet was allegedly fired from her role as Denise Huxtable after just one season of A Different World because she was pregnant in real life.

Lisa Bonet with the cast of "A Different World"
Carsey-Werner Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Lisa Bonet reprised the role of Denise Huxtable in The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World for just one season. When Bill Cosby learned she was pregnant with her daughter Zoë Kravitz, he fired her. In his memoir, Let Love Rule, Lenny Kravitz explained that Denise becoming pregnant on the show was pitched, but Cosby turned it down, saying, "Lisa Bonet is pregnant, but Denise Huxtable is not." 

7. Matthew Perry struggled with addiction while filming Friends.

Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, and Courtney Cox on "Friends"
Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Matthew Perry became addicted to Vicodin after a Jet Ski accident in 1997. He continued to play Chandler Bing on Friends throughout his struggles"I don’t remember three years of it," Perry told BBC Radio 2. "Somewhere between Season 3 and 6 … I was a little out of it.” Eventually his dependency on alcohol and painkillers escalated to dangerous levels. In 2001, he spent two and a half months in treatment. One year later, Perry told People magazine, "I learned that a happy life is possible without alcohol or drugs.” 

8. Northern Calloway, who played a recurring Sesame Street character, was charged with aggravated assault in 1980 after he beat a Nashville woman with an iron.

A newspaper clipping from Arizona detailing the attack committed by Northern J. Calloway
Arizona Daily Star / Via

Northern Calloway first appeared on Sesame Street as David and later played the shopkeeper at Hooper’s Store. Despite playing a friendly neighbor onscreen, Calloway had a shocking criminal past. As reported by the Arizona Daily Star, Calloway went on a naked rampage and beat a woman so badly with an iron, she was sent to the hospital with head wounds and broken ribs. Calloway sought treatment after the incident and returned to Sesame Street for nine more seasons. 

9. Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick dated while playing brother and sister on The Brady Bunch.

Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick with the rest of the cast on location in Hawaii
ABC / Courtesy Everett Collection

When Maureen McCormick penned her memoir, Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, fans of The Brady Bunch were surprised to learn she had an off-camera romantic relationship with her TV brother played by Barry Williams. The family sitcom was filming in Hawaii when Marcia and Greg Brady, aka Maureen and Barry, began their affair. "It was our first kiss, and it was long, passionate and deep," McCormick shared in her memoir. "It was wonderful, too, though as we continued to kiss and press against each other so closely that we could feel each other's body heat, a part of me — a tiny part, admittedly — said to myself, 'Oh my God! I'm kissing my brother. What am I doing?'"

10. Tisha Campbell filed a sexual harassment against her onscreen husband, Martin Lawrence, in 1997, thus ending the series Martin.

Martin and Tisha from "Martin" with recent comments about each other made on Instagram
Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection / Via

Tisha Campbell played Martin Payne's wife, Gina Waters-Payne, for five seasons on Martin. Campbell filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her costar Martin Lawrence for “repeated and escalating sexual harassment, sexual battery, verbal abuse and related threats,” as reported by People magazine. Campbell quit the show in November 1996 but agreed to film her remaining scenes of the final season under the condition that Lawrence would not be allowed on set. Lawrence posted a photo of himself and Tisha on Instagram in 2020 with the caption, "Regardless of the past or any misrepresentation of it In the press, I have nothin but love for Tisha then and now. We are good and always will be!" It seems the pair has since reconciled, as Tisha replied, "YOU GO BOY My fam fo life." 

11. The creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show, John Kricfalusi, was sexually abusing underage girls.

John Kricfalusi storyboarding for Ren
Gravitas Ventures / Courtesy Everett Collection

John Kricfalusi, widely known as John K, had a 16-year-old "girlfriend" in addition to grooming multiple underage girls throughout Ren & Stimpy's five years on Nickelodeon. Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice, two women preyed upon by Kricfalusi in their teens, came forward against him in a Buzzfeed News story in 2018.  

12. Roseanne Barr mistreated the writing staff of Roseanne.

Roseanne eating a chocolate cake in an episode of "Roseanne"
ABC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Stan Zimmerman, a writer on the original run of Roseanne's show in the 1990s, revealed to CNN, "We were told when we were hired, 'Don’t let her see the whites of your eyes’ because she could point and fire you." Additionally, a TV executive informed the Sun that "lower-paid" employees were forced to walk on eggshells on the set of Roseanne due to the derogatory statements Barr would make at their expense. When the series was rebooted in 2018, it debuted as the No. 1 show on television. However, it was swiftly canceled following a racist tweet from Barr

13. Angela Watson sued her parents after they spent most of her Step by Step earnings.

The cast of "Step by Step"
Warner Bros. Television / Courtesy Everett Collection

Angela Watson captured the audience's attention as aspiring model Karen Foster on the ABC sitcom Step by Step. Watson was only 16 when the show premiered, so her parents controlled her finances. However, after the TGIF series wrapped, Watson sued her parents, who apparently had spent "$2.5 million of her earnings over a 10-year period." In 2000, Watson founded the nonprofit organization CAST (Child Actors Supporting Themselves) to help child performers coordinate accountants, investigators, and attorneys. 

14. And Ron Howard took the role of Richie Cunningham in the pilot of Happy Days in order to avoid being drafted in the Vietnam War.

Ron Howard with some of the cast of "Happy Days"
Paramount. Courtesy Everett Collection

Ron Howard told the Television Academy his draft number was as low as 41 or 42 for the Vietnam War. He had been accepted into the USC School of Cinematic Arts, but the US government stopped accepting educational deferments. Howard would need a work deferment to avoid going to war. "I remember thinking, You know, I just don't believe that Paramount will let me go to Vietnam. I think they'll help me figure something out." Paramount ended up casting Howard in the pilot of Happy Days, which didn't originally get picked up for a series but did save Howard from the draft. Fortunately, years later, ABC picked up the show, and the rest is history! 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search your local center here.

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