Jeanne Tripplehorn and Paget Brewster, Criminal Minds
Tripplehorn has yet to debut as Alex Blake, but since she pulls double duty as a linguistic professor, we expect her to be an ambitious and tough new presence in the BAU. Lest we forget, Brewster was also a replacement, joining the procedural in Season 2 after original cast member Lola Glaudini left. But Brewster's dry, oft-mysterious Emily Prentiss became a fan favorite and had many yearning for a Hotch-Prentiss hookup. (Don't worry, Alex will have a longtime boyfriend.)
Add to Watchlist: Paget Brewster, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Photo by: Monty Brinton/CBS; Cliff Lipson/CBS
Ashton Kutcher and Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
It's no easy task to fill a tiger blood-fueled warlock's shoes, but Kutcher's bumbling Walden Schmidt did his best. Extra points for doing away with the shaggy facial hair and not sleeping around (as much) as Charlie Harper did. But you know what would help exorcise the Ghost of Sheen Past? If the show doesn't constantly keep concocting plots about the late bachelor.
Add to Watchlist: Charlie Sheen, Ashton Kutcher
Photo by: Robert Voets/Warner Bros., Greg Gayne/CBS/Landov
Ted Danson and Laurence Fishburne and William Petersen, CSI
CSI was always anchored by Gil Grissom, so it's no doubt that the aging CBS procedural had trouble replacing him when William Petersen decided to leave the show in the middle of Season 9. Though Fishburne was a high-profile replacement, his Dr. Ray Langston never quite clicked with viewers, even though his rivalry with serial killer Nate Haskell took up lots of screen time. When Fishburne didn't renew his contract after Season 11, the producers reinvigorated the show with Danson's D.B. Russell a quirky iconoclast whose by-the-book style brought focus to the team while also keeping things light.
Add to Watchlist: CSI, Laurence Fishburne, William Petersen, Ted Danson
Photo by: Sonja Flemming/CBS; Sonja Flemming/CBS; Robert Voets/CBS
Joe Mantegna and Mandy Patinkin, Criminal Minds
Producers didn't have to brainstorm that hard to write Patinkin's exit. After the actor failed to attend the Season 3 premiere table read, he negotiated out of his contract and his character, Jason Gideon, doesn't show up to work in the second episode, burnt out by the job. Mantegna's David Rossi joined a few episodes later and proved to be a stark contrast to Gideon. Though he lacks Gideon's leadership, Rossi's relaxed approach has been a welcome change to Gideon's intense and overdramatic antics.
Add to Watchlist: Mandy Patinkin, Joe Mantegna
Photo by: Michael Yarish/CBS; CBS/Landov
Liam McIntyre and Andy Whitfield, Spartacus
McIntyre had the unenviable task of replacing Whitfield in the title role after the former dropped out when his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma returned. Whitfield gave Starz his blessing to continue the show without him, and while McIntyre doesn't carry the same gravitas as Whitfield did, he's doing a respectable job of filling in some very big sandals. Whitfield died in September 2011, four months before Season 2 of Spartacus premiered.
Add to Watchlist: Andy Whitfield, Liam McIntyre
Photo by: STARZ
Daphne Maxwell Reid and Janet Hubert-Whitten, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Reid and Hubert-Whitten might as well have played two different characters. The latter's original Aunt Viv was feisty and stern with a take-no-prisoners 'tude, but Viv turned into a softer, more genial character when Reid joined the show in Season 4 after Hubert-Whitten was fired. And don't think she's over it yet. Hubert-Whitten had a notorious falling-out with Will Smith and NBC, who she claimed fired her when she refused to agree to episode count and salary reductions.
Photo by: Warner Bros. Television/Everett Collection; Warner Bros. Television/Everett Collection
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Shannen Doherty, Beverly Hills 90210
After feuding with her castmates (ahem, Jennie Garth), Doherty left the famous zip code after the fourth season and was replaced by Thiessen's Valerie Malone, a Buffalo bad girl who was the polar opposite from Doherty's Minnesota good girl Brenda Walsh and Thiessen's most famous role, Saved By the Bell's effervescent Kelly Kapowski. Valerie kept things juicy for four years and unlike Brenda, she came back — reformed and happy — in the series finale.
Photo by: Everett Collection; Everett Collection
Rose McGowan and Shannen Doherty, Charmed
For the second time in her career, Doherty left a TV series (because of a feud with co-star Alyssa Milano, if you believe reports) and it again lasted longer without her than it did with her. Charmed continued for five more seasons following Doherty's exit and McGowan's fierce and fun Paige Matthews jelled better with her bewitching sisters than Doherty's Prue ever did.
Add to Watchlist: Charmed, Shannen Doherty, Rose McGowan
Photo by: Viacom/Everett Collection; Paramount Television/Getty Images
Charlie Sheen and Michael J. Fox, Spin City
One of the few actors who's been both a replacement and a replacee, Sheen joined the sitcom in Season 5 when Fox left after his Parkinson's disease symptoms worsened. The show lasted two more seasons and won Sheen a Golden Globe, but his womanizing (what else is new?) Charlie Crawford was not an adequate substitute for the all-American charm of Fox's Mike Flaherty.
Add to Watchlist: Michael J. Fox, Charlie Sheen, Spin City
Photo by: Paramount Television/Everett Collection; ABC Archive/Getty Images
Sela Ward and Melina Kanakaredes, CSI: NY
Viewers were stunned when original cast member Kanakaredes chose not to renew her contract just a few weeks before production on Season 7 was set to begin. (The producers wrote her character, Stella Bonasera, out of the show, noting that she'd taken a job running a crime lab in New Orleans.) The show replaced Stella's hard-charging attitude with Ward's Jo Danville, who took a softer, more psychological approach to her work. As a result, the team at the crime lab seems to function more as a family.
Add to Watchlist: CSI: NY, Sela Ward, Melina Kanakaredes
Photo by: Monty Brinton/CBS; Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov
Robert Buckley, Shantel VanSanten and Chad Michael Murray, Hilarie Burton, One Tree Hill
Buckley (Clay) and Van Santen (Quinn) were introduced in Season 7 after Murray (Lucas) and Burton (Peyton) rode off into the sunset in the Season 6 finale with their baby daughter. But despite the show's best attempts to make the Clay-Quinn love story compelling (Clay has a secret son and a sleep disorder!), Lucas and Peyton remain Tree Hill's ultimate couple.
Photo by: The CW
Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long, Cheers
Sam and Diane came to an end when Long left the sitcom after five seasons to focus on her movie career. Alley's neurotic and awkward Rebecca Howe never captured (or tortured) Sam's heart like Diane did, but their relationship thrived on the same sexual tension without the pretentious snobbishness that Diane had. The show lasted longer with Alley (six years) than with Long.
Add to Watchlist: Shelley Long, Kirstie Alley, Cheers
Photo by: Paramount Television/Everett Collection; Everett Collection
Goran Visnjic and George Clooney, ER
ER replaced one hunk with a European one after Clooney's Dr. Doug Ross left midway through season 5. Both Dr. Ross and Dr. Luka Kovac had dark pasts, but Ross' fun-loving (and sometimes drunken) ways provided more levity than the brooding Kovac did. Besides, Ross is one-half of ER's royal couple of Doug and Carol (Julianna Margulies). At least Kovac ended up with Margulies' replacement, Maura Tierney's Abby Lockhart.
Add to Watchlist: George Clooney, ER, Goran Visnjic
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Cheryl Ladd and Farrah Fawcett, Charlie's Angels
Despite the breakout success of the show, Fawcett chose not to return to the series after one season, leaving big shoes (and even bigger hair) to fill. Enter Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe, the younger sister of Fawcett's Jill. Though Fawcett made intermittent guest appearances, Ladd's youthful energy worked for audiences and she remained on the show until its cancellation.
Add to Watchlist: Cheryl Ladd
Photo by: ABC Archive/Getty Images
Jimmy Smits and David Caruso, NYPD Blue
John Kelly, we hardly knew ya. Caruso infamously left NYPD Blue after the first season to pursue a film career that never flourished. But that allowed Smits to join as Bobby Simone and create one of the best cop duos with Dennis Franz's Andy Sipowicz. His soulful performance anchored the drama for four and a half years, and Bobby's death from a heart ailment is still one of TV's most emotional deaths.
Add to Watchlist: Jimmy Smits, David Caruso, NYPD Blue
Photo by: ABC Archive/Getty Images; 20thCentFox/courtesy Everett / Everett Collection
Priscilla Barnes and Jenilee Harrison and Suzanne Somers, Three's Company
Suzanne Somers was Three's Company break-out star … until she asked for more money and found herself (almost) entirely out of a job in Season 5. We say almost because — in one of the most awkward transitions in TV history — Somers continued to film semi-regular scenes for the comedy's fifth season featuring her character, Chrissy, phoning home and see how her ex-roommates were doing. As unlucky in love nurse Terri Alden, Barnes was slightly more well-received than Harrison, who played Chrissy's cousin, but neither were ever really able to fill Somers' shoes.
Photo by: ABC Archive/Getty Images; ABC Archive/Getty Images; ABC Archive/Getty Images;
Sandy Duncan and Valerie Harper, The Hogan Family
When a TV show is named after you, you're practically irreplaceable, right? Wrong! Harper learned this the hard way when NBC fired her from Valerie for not showing up to work during a much-publicized salary dispute. Her character was killed in a car accident and the comedically gifted Sandy Duncan joined the show as Valerie's on-screen sister-in-law who returned home to help her brother and his three children deal with their grief. The move gave new emotional depth to the previously ho-hum comedy and gave it enough steam to last four more seasons as The Hogan Family.
Add to Watchlist: Sandy Duncan, Valerie Harper
Photo by: Lorimar Television/Everett Collection; Lorimar Television/Everett Collection;
Dick Sargent and Dick York, Bewitched
Perhaps the most famous TV replacement, Bewitched traded one Dick for another when York bowed out after five seasons because of a back injury he suffered while filming They Came to Cordura. Unfortunately, York's sparkling chemistry with Elizabeth Montgomery couldn't be duplicated with the too-stiff, all-too-serious Sargent. Ratings plummeted and the show was canceled after the eighth season.
Add to Watchlist: Dick York, Dick Sargent
Photo by: ABC Archive/Getty Images; ABc Archive/Getty Images
Sarah Chalke and Lecy Goranson, Roseanne
You won't find a more complicated switcheroo than this one. Goranson left the series at the beginning of the fifth season to attend Vassar, but made sporadic appearances as Becky. Producers eventually decided to recast her with Chalke, a move that didn't go over well with fans because she lacked Goranson's blue-collar, Midwestern appeal. Even worse? Goranson later came back, and she and Chalke alternated the role before Chalke took it over completely in the final ninth season. The show often made inside jokes about the swap. "I can have you replaced, you know," Roseanne told Becky No. 2 once.
Add to Watchlist: Sarah Chalke, Lecy Goranson, Roseanne
Photo by: ABC Archive/Getty Images; Carsey-Werner/courtesy Everett Collection