While filming a movie generally only takes a few weeks or months, shooting a TV show can stretch on for years. Just like with any other job, some people quit or get fired. Then, the studio has to decide whether they're going to write their character out of the show or hire a new actor to play them.
Here are 14 TV shows the replaced an actor in the middle of filming (and why):
1. On the second episode of Friends, Carol Willick, Ross's ex-wife, was played by Anita Barone, who had initially auditioned for a main role. She allegedly quit because she wanted to pursue a more full-time role, which lines up with the fact that she eventually starred on The Jeff Foxworthy Show.
Jane Sibbett played Carol for the remainder of the show.
Jane was actually cast as Rachel Green originally. However, after producers found out she was pregnant, they told her that "it wouldn't work out."
She told News.com.au, "So I got home from hospital after giving birth to my son, and I got a phone call saying that they were replacing Carol and could I come to work the next day. Two days after I delivered my son, he and I were on the set. I was in a milky haze. But it was funny. It was only supposed to be a two-week job, so I'm very grateful."
2. On Family Matters, Jo Marie Payton played Harriette Winslow until midway through Season 9, when she left because she was unhappy on set.
She told Entertainment Weekly, "I actually made the decision to leave the show two years before I left. I was unhappy about a lot of things; I was going through a divorce, I wasn't happy on the show — it didn't mean I did not want to perform as an actress or an artist. The way I explain it is that, when you're a baker, you don't always want to bake cakes or cookies; you want to bake pies, you want to bake bread. I wanted to do something else. I don’t regret that I left."
Judyann Elder took over the role for the final nine episodes.
3. For Modern Family Seasons 1 and 2, Jaden and Ella Hiller, who are identical twins, played Lily Tucker-Pritchett. However, their parents allowed them to quit because they no longer enjoyed acting, becoming irritable and unhappy on set.
Their mom, Michelle Hiller, told People, "Ella and Jaden are enjoying new toddler adventures in swimming, dance, gymnastics, and rock climbing. They are happy with the freedom of being 3 [years old]!"
The show quietly aged Lily up, making her six at the end of Season 4 when she should've been four or five.
4. On The Baby-Sitters Club, Xochitl Gomez played Dawn Schafer in Season 1, but she left to play America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
She told Entertainment Tonight, "I felt really sad, but I knew that, just because of COVID, I couldn't be at one place and then another and then have to just switch all the time."
Kyndra Sanchez played Dawn in Season 2.
In Kyndra's first scene as Dawn, who'd just returned from a trip, she said, "Three weeks in southern California, where the sun shines as advertised. I feel like a whole new person!"
5. In the Dynasty reboot, Nicollette Sheridan was originally cast as Alexis Carrington Colby. However, she left near the end of Season 2 "in order to focus on some personal family responsibilities."
In an official statement, Nicollette said, "Working on the Dynasty reboot and reprising the iconic role of Alexis has been thoroughly enjoyable, but the chance to spend precious time with my terminally ill mother is more important to me right now. I am profoundly grateful to Mark Pedowitz (The CW) and David Stapf (CBS) for graciously allowing me to return to Los Angeles to be with her, and I wish them and everyone associated with the show nothing but continued success. I am hopeful that my fans will embrace my successor with as much passion as they embraced me."
Then, Elizabeth Gillies — who already starred as Alexis's daughter, Fallon Carrington — temporarily took over the role for three episodes at the end of Season 2.
She wore face prosthetics to play Alexis post-plastic surgery.
Explaining how she transformed into Alexis, Elizabeth told TV Line, "I had to get a life cast done, and I'm a little anxious and claustrophobic, so I was worried how I would do with that. They make a mold of your face and you have to breathe through your nose for an hour and a half. The prosthetics we ended up going with were incredibly thin and very impressive; it was done by Blue Whale Studios, run by Matthew Silva and Jonah Levy. It took five hours to get into them and about 45 minutes to get out. I started to get used to it, though. It became like a very calming face mask towards the end of it. I would sometimes fall asleep, which was very strange. It was oddly therapeutic. And I knew it was worth it. The detail they went into — you'll see they painted my chest, my arms, my hands. I’ve never done anything like that."
Having Elizabeth play two main roles was "challenging" production-wise, so for Season 3, they recast Elaine Hendrix as Alexis.
6. In Dynasty Season 1, Nathalie Kelley played Cristal Flores, but she announced her departure during the summer hiatus, telling E! News, "I know that I'm not going to Atlanta in July, that I'm staying here [in LA], and I've got my life back."
She later told TV Insider, "I signed on before I ever read the script. There was a basic outline. I think I wasn’t up to the challenge of a nighttime soap. I wasn’t prepared for that genre. It wasn’t something I had experience in...I felt limited and I felt stuck. At the same time, the writing was boxing me in a little bit. And I think the best thing they felt they could do is start afresh....That's obviously a hard phone call to get as an actor [telling me I was not returning]. It took me by surprise. It send [sic] me into a lot of soul-searching and a realization that I could have dug deeper."
The Cristal that Nathalie played was killed off, and the show brought on the "real" Cristal.
She told People Spain, "It was a decision I made with the producers, and it took a lot of work. I had been carrying a heavy workload, stress, and personal things that made my stay in Atlanta very difficult and had an impact on my health. I'm taking with me the nicest things from my character and my cast mates. I am very grateful to CW, and we are on the best terms. In fact, I keep in touch with the creatives, and I don't doubt that we will work together again."
And lastly, for this show, Daniella Alonso played Cristal for Seasons 3–5.
7. Santino Fontana left his role as Greg Serrano on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend early in Season 2 because, when the show's future was still up in the air, he signed on to other projects.
As a result, his character left for business, dramatically breaking up with Rebecca at the airport.
Describing the plans for the show if he hadn't left, series co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna told Entertainment Weekly, "We always imagined they would break up because their thing was so toxic and terrible, and that they would become close friends."
When Greg returned in Season 4, he was played by Skylar Astin.
The show explained it as Rebecca seeing Greg differently. Now emotionally healthier, he was basically a new person.
8. After playing Jesus for two seasons on The Fosters, Jake T. Austin learned that his role was going to be significantly reduced in the next season, so he left.
He didn't want to be held back from taking on other projects.
Noah Centineo took over the role in Season 3.
The show explained away Jesus's new look as the result of surgeries he had after the car accident he had in the Season 2 finale.
9. On My Wife and Kids Season 1, Jazz Raycole played Claire Kylie, but she reportedly left the role because her mom objected to a storyline about one of her character's friends getting pregnant.
Jazz told the Christian Post, "I was 12 years old when I got that job. The producers wanted a different thing, they wanted someone a little bit older. I wasn't ready for that."
Jennifer Nicole Freeman then played Claire for Seasons 2–5.
The show jokingly acknowledged the recasting. Her dad, Michael, said, "Claire, what's different about you?"
She replied, "What are you talking about? I just pulled my hair back, that's all."
He said, "Whatever it is, you look like a whole new person."
10. For the first two seasons of Boy Meets World, Lily Nicksay played Morgan Matthews.
On Pod Meets World, William "Rusty" Russ, who played Morgan's dad, said, "I think there was some issues that had to do with growing up. I'm not sure she was very happy at the time and [series creator] Michael Jacobs, to his credit, could see that. He decided what was best personally for her was to let her try something else, go somewhere else."
Costar Danielle Fishel added, "We were talking about the pressure. You really have to want it. It's a lot on your shoulders, and she was six years old. I think eventually she just got to a point where she was like, 'This isn't as fun as you guys all think it is.'"
For Seasons 3–7, Lindsay Ridgeway took over the role.
She didn't appear until Season 3 Episode 14. It was written off as a joke.
Cory told his mom and older brother, "You know, why can't you guys learn from Morgan? She is a great sister. I mean, she stays in her room, you don't hear from her, you don't see her, and best of all, she stays out of my personal life." When Morgan came downstairs to stick her nose in his business, he said, "Morgan, long time, no see!"
She replied, "Yeah, that was the longest timeout I've ever had!"
Both actors reprised the role on the series finale of Girl Meets World.
11. On The Goldbergs Seasons 4–5, Rowan Blanchard played Jackie Geary. However, she passed on Season 6.
On Twitter, series creator Adam F. Goldberg said, "Let me make this clear. I didn't fire her and never would've. She turned us down, and that meant having the character vanish, and this is my life, and Jackie didn't vanish suddenly. Their story continues."
Alexis G. Zall took over the role for Season 6 then returned in Season 10.
The show gave a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment to the change in Jackie's casting as well as her new style and interests.
When she returned from NYU on Season 6 Episode 2, Adam narrated, "Turns out, there was one person who changed a ton over the summer — my sci-fi loving, theater geek girlfriend, Jackie Geary."
12. On American Housewife, Julia Butters left the role of Anna-Kat Otto after four seasons so that she could go after new opportunities.
For the final season, Giselle Eisenberg played Anna-Kat.
The first episode of Season 5 opened with the new Anna-Kat's face popping out from behind her laptop. Breaking the fourth wall, her mom, Katie, quipped, "Yeah, kids change."
13. After playing Reggie Mantle for one season on Riverdale, Ross Butler made the decision to have a bigger role on 13 Reasons Why rather than continue playing two small parts on both shows.
He told Vulture, "Reggie's a great character, but it's a different tone. I connected with Zach on a much more real level where I didn't have to create so much of a character for him. Reggie's more outspoken, like that jock archetype. Zach is too, but Zach has more colors, at least from what I saw."
In the 100th episode, Ross returned as Reggie from an alternate universe. He saw Charles's Reggie with Veronica Lodge, then the two Reggies fought to the death.
Charles Melton played Reggie for the remainder of the series.
14. And finally, on Supernatural, Katie Cassidy played Ruby in Season 3. Series creator Eric Kripke reportedly said that she wasn't brought back for "purely budgetary" reasons, but Katie said that she left for a different role.
Katie told TV Guide, "Warner Bros. wasn't exactly sure what they were going to be doing with my character, and I had the option to stay or leave. When Harper's Island came about, I was really into it, so I asked them to let me go. Luckily, they did."
In Season 4, she was replaced by Genevieve Padalecki (née Cortese), who went on to marry lead actor Jared Padalecki. She reprised the role on Season 15.
She told Entertainment Weekly, "Danneel [Ackles, who played a recurring role and is married to lead actor Jensen Ackles] and I both from way back, probably around the time we got married, we've always joked about wanting to be a part of it in the end. And so I feel like it's always been out there. The show is a huge thing in our life and in my life, and so initially they approached Jared, who never told me. We were up there for Thanksgiving or something, and Kevin Parks, who is the AD on the show, was like, 'Hey, Gen. I'm trying to schedule when you're coming up to Vancouver.' And I said, 'What? What are you talking about?' He's like, 'What do you mean? Aren't you confirmed?' I was like, 'Dang it. Of course I'll do it.' There was a communication breakdown in our family. Jared knew I really wanted to be a part of it. It's part of my family. So for me, it's always been a no brainer."