TV recastings aren't uncommon, but most times, the reasons behind replacing one actor with another are disappointingly mundane. Not always, though.
Sometimes, there's a juicy backstory behind a telly face-swap – join us now as we revisit a few of the most controversial, involving on-set feuds, clashes with the network and even (alleged) communism.
1. Aunt Viv - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The first Vivian Banks, Janet Hubert alleged back in 1993 that she was given the boot from The Fresh Prince at the end of its third season because of "some sort of vendetta against her" on the part of Will Smith.
Smith hit back, alleging that Hubert had been difficult to work with ("She's mad now, but she's been mad all along"), and she in turned called him a "snotty-nosed punk".
Hubert later spoke out against Smith in her 2009 memoirs, and since then she's branded her former co-star an "egomaniac" and an "asshole" and alleged that he and Carlton actor Alfonso Ribeiro did "heinous, horrible things" to her on set. Cripes.
She was replaced, somewhat unsurprisingly, for seasons 4-6 by Daphne Maxwell Reid, with Smith diplomatically insisting that "both of the Aunt Vivs were really, really fantastic" in a 2016 interview.
2. Mickey Argyll - Ordeal by Innocence
Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick was originally cast in BBC One's Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal by Innocence as key character Mickey Argyll. However, in November 2017, actress Kristina Cohen made a rape allegation against Westwick, which he denied. He also denied a second allegation of sexual assault from former actress Aurélie Wynn and vowed to clear his name publicly.
Shortly afterwards, the BBC announced that it would be pulling Ordeal by Innocence from its planned Christmas slot. "These are serious allegations which Ed Westwick has strenuously denied," a spokesperson told Digital Spy in a statement. "The BBC is not making any judgement but until these matters are resolved, we will not include Ordeal by Innocence in the schedules."
Two months later, it was confirmed that actor Christian Cooke would be replacing Westwick as Mickey. Westwick's original scenes were removed from the two-parter and replaced with new footage featuring Cooke.
3. Laurie Forman - That '70s Show
Christina Moore replaced Lisa Robin Kelly in the sixth season of That '70s Show, with Kelly exiting the series amid reports of substance abuse. "With That '70s Show, I was guilty of a drinking problem, and I ran," she would later admit to Good Morning America.
She'd appeared in 45 episodes of the nostalgic sitcom as Eric Forman's manipulative older sister before show bosses took the decision to recast.
Tragically, Kelly died in her sleep at a rehab facility in California on August 14, 2013.
4. Daario Naharis - Game of Thrones
Daenerys's lover Daario is far from the only Game of Thrones character to be recast – two different actors, Conan Stevens and Ian Whyte, played Gregor Clegane before Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson became the definitive Mountain from season four onwards.
For the most part, though, hiring a new actor has been down to availability, or needing an older actor to tackle more mature storylines: see Dean-Charles Chapman replacing Callum Wharry as Tommen Baratheon.
However, Ed Skrein, the original Daario, seemed to suggest that there was something else at the root of his departure and subsequent replacement by Michiel Huisman.
"My plan was to stay with Game of Thrones for the long haul," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2015. "That was always my plan. I would have loved to. It was a wonderful experience, but politics led to us parting ways."
5. Cagney - Cagney & Lacey
Sarah Drew of Grey's Anatomy will play Cagney in a new reboot of the female-fronted '80s cop show, but this isn't the first time that the character's been recast.
Loretta Swit played police detective Christine Cagney in the original 1982 pilot, but had to drop out of the series due to her commitment to another show, M*A*S*H. Nothing unusual there. But the fate of the second Cagney is decidedly more murky.
Meg Foster stepped in for Swit, but was herself replaced by Sharon Gless after six episodes. Foster was allegedly deemed "too tough" and "not feminine" enough for the part, with an "unnamed CBS suit" telling TV Guide: "They were too harshly women's lib. These women on Cagney & Lacey seemed more intent on fighting the system than doing police work."
6. Claire Kyle - My Wife and Kids
Damon Wayans co-created and starred in this early noughties sitcom as Michael Richard Kyle Sr., father of three who teaches his kids life lessons in unorthodox (and hilarious!) fashion.
Michael's middle child Claire was originally portrayed by Jazz Raycole, but she departed the role when, according to Complex, her mother objected to a storyline in season two's premiere which saw Claire's friend Charmaine fall pregnant.
Jennifer Freeman took over ("I don't know what it is, but you look like a whole new person!" Michael deadpans in her first episode) and the character of Claire was given an overhaul, from sweet pre-teen to superficial young woman.
7. James Kent - True Blood
Recurring in True Blood's sixth season, James Kent as originally played by Luke Grimes was a sexy vampire who hooked up with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll).
The character was promoted to series regular for the HBO guilty pleasure's seventh and final season, but was now played by Nathan Parsons (who wasn't a bad physical match for his predecessor).
The reason for the switcheroo? According to Buzzfeed, Grimes had concerns about "the creative direction of the character" – i.e. the character's new romance with Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis). Grimes's publicist, however, blamed his departure on a scheduling conflict, insisting "it had nothing to do with storylines" or any aversion to playing out a gay relationship.
8. Marilyn Munster - The Munsters
Marilyn ranks as one of TV's most frequently recast characters ever – the "plain" (read: "normal") one in the Munster family – was portrayed by four different actresses across the original series, a spin-off film and a 1981 TV reunion.
The most dramatic recasting was the very first, though, with Pat Priest stepping in for Beverley Owen after 13 episodes.
Owen was said to be unhappy working in California away from her fiancé, who lived back on the East Coast – according to Complex, she was "often seen crying" on the Munsters set. Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) and Al Lewis (Grandpa) apparently intervened on Owen's behalf, convincing producers to release her from her contract.
9. Alice Kramden - The Honeymooners
From 1951 to '52, Pert Kelton played opposite Jackie Gleason in a series of comedy sketches on Gleason's variety series Cavalcade of Stars. These skits, which inspired classic sitcom The Honeymooners, starred Gleason and Kelton as married couple Ralph and Alice.
But when The Honeymooners went to series, Kelton was replaced by Audrey Meadows. Producers alleged she was suffering from heart problems, but in fact Kelton had been "blacklisted" by Hollywood after becoming one of many artists accused of having Communist ties or sympathies.
(Famously, US Senator Joseph McCarthy led a campaign at the time spreading fear of Communist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents.)
Kelton's co-star Gleason apparently fought for her to stay on the show, but was unsuccessful. She did, however, continue to work in film and television until her death in 1968.
('You Might Also Like',)