It might surprise you to know some of your favorite after school TV shows started as completely different projects. Their original pilots may have been completely transformed, from plot lines to casting to sometimes even creating completely new characters altogether. More often than not, those new characters clinched the show, turning it into the iconic version you know and love today.
While this isn't the case for all shows — as evidenced by 7th Heaven and The Secret Life of the American Teenager creator Brenda Hampton, and Life with Derek actor Michael Seater, who both confirmed to TVGuide.com their respective shows' characters were established from the get-go — TVGuide.com spoke with several series creators and actors about the characters who almost weren't.
1. Rico Suave from Hannah Montana
Believe it or not, the ever quippy Rico wasn't originally part of the plan for the Disney Channel series. The comic relief character and mini business tycoon didn't appear until Season 1, Episode 5. "I think the biggest addition to Hannah Montana after the pilot was Rico. RICO!!!!" Jason Earles, who played Rico's pal/arch-nemesis Jackson Stewart, told TVGuide.com.
"He was only in 6ish episodes the first season, but we all loved Moises [Arias] so much that he eventually became a series regular on the show! He was originally just supposed to be a mildly annoying kid for Jackson to work for, but he eventually became a major player in both Jackson and Miley's stories. Jackson and Rico actually became best friends, even if they pretended to still hate each other. I can't imagine Hannah Montana without him!"
2. Sheen from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
If you were to look up "fanboy" in the dictionary, you'd most certainly find Sheen's name. The weird middle schooler was Jimmy Neutron's BFF, not to mention Ultra Lord's No. 1, but we almost lived in a world where Sheen didn't exist.
"Sheen was not part of the original pilot, but was created (along with others) for the feature film [Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius]," series creator John A. Davis told TVGuide.com. "Carl was in the pilot, but not Sheen. I added Sheen to the mix because I wanted there to be this 'three amigos' vibe — three core friends felt right."
Davis further added, "Sheen also gave me the ability to flex my 'fanboy' side of my brain. Sheen proved so popular (as voiced by Jeff Garcia) that he was eventually given his own spin-off show, Planet Sheen. But my favorite is when Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen are together... a really fun ensemble."
3. Gibby Gibson from iCarly
Goofy and lovable Gibby (Noah Munck), who loved to take his shirt off, wasn't part of the original iCarly gang. "Gibby had nothing to do with iCary in the beginning. I had never even thought of Gibby when I wrote the pilot," series creator Dan Schneider told TVGuide.com. However, once the idea of Gibby came to fruition, he was still only supposed to be a one-off character.
"It was just a guest star. But, we loved him and we all just really loved his face and we thought he was really funny and we loved the name 'Gibby,' and it was just a good character so we brought him back," Schneider revealed. "After we brought him back probably five, six, seven, eight times, something like that, I went to the network and I said, 'Hey, I wanna make him a recurring.' And then soon after that, I went to the network again and said, 'Let's make him a regular.'" And the rest is history.
4. Denzel Crocker from The Fairly OddParents
Timmy Turner's evil teacher (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) who's hellbent on exposing his fairly godparents is definitely a staple of pop culture, which is why it's shocking to learn we almost didn't get him. "Mr. Crocker was never intended to last one or two [episodes] but he was so funny we eventually ended up having him in as many shows as possible," series creator Butch Hartman told TVGuide.com.
Hartman also shared that though Timmy's parents were also meant to be a part of the show, they weren't supposed to be in as many episodes as they have been. "Once we saw how crazy they could be as characters we took full advantage of their hilarity!"
5. Esteban Julio Ricardo Montoya de la Rosa Ramírez from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
His name may have been long, but the Tipton Hotel's trusty bellhop's employment was originally super short — as in, non-existent. Actor Adrian R'Mante gave TVGuide.com the scoop. "Esteban was not even in the original pilot. The pilot episode was 'Grounded on the 23rd Floor' but was changed to the 4th overall episode aired," he said.
"There was another bellhop character named Tuck played by Vince Rimoldi, [who] was hired as a series regular but Disney let him go after one episode... This was the rumor so when it got picked up for a series, the bellhop was the first role they had to replace."
6. Schwoz Schwartz from Henry Danger
The genius inventor (Michael D. Cohen) behind all the gizmos and gadgets used on Henry Danger didn't come about until nearly midway through Season 1. "There was no Schwoz in the pilot," series creator Dan Schneider told TVGuide.com, admitting the reason he eventually wrote in the character was out of necessity.
"On James Bond, there's somebody who makes [the toys and the weapons]. And I'm like, 'Well, who made the Man Cave? Who made all these cool gadgets that they use?' And I thought there needed to be a character who was a genius who could build all that stuff," Schneider revealed. "So, he's sort of their engineer and inventor and creator."
7. Simon "Cookie" Nelson-Cook from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide
Nerdy Cookie on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide "was originally a different actor and was named Boogie," star Devon Werkheiser told TVGuide.com. "He was a white actor. After the pilot, Nickelodeon auditioned new Neds, Mozes, and Cookies, so they could recast at least one of those characters as ethnically diverse. Daniel Curtis Lee came in and just knocked the role out of the park and the rest is history."
8. Auggie Matthews from Girl Meets World
Cory and Topanga's precocious child wasn't originally their son. In the unaired pilot, they still had two kids, but Riley Matthews (Rowan Blanchard) had an older brother named Elliot (Teo Halm), with no Auggie in sight.
Eventually, the network decided it wanted Riley to have a younger brother instead, so Elliot was scrapped and Auggie was born, bringing in August Maturo.
9. Quinn Pensky from Zoey 101
Pacific Coast Academy's resident science genius (Erin Sanders) had zero to do with the show at its inception. Sanders initially read for a different role, but wasn't right for the part. But after watching her audition with wife Lisa Lillien, series creator Dan Schneider shared how he loved her as an actress so much, he wrote the character Quinn specifically for her.
"We had already budgeted the show, so I didn't have enough money for another series regular," Schneider told TVGuide.com. So, they agreed to have her be a recurring guest star on the first season. Schneider told Sanders's parents, "After the network and the audience sees her as Quinn, she'll be a popular character and I'll be able to get her as a regular" — which is exactly what transpired.