Aside from series finales and cancellations, the most heartbreaking experience to endure as TV fans is seeing a beloved character written-off one of our favourite shows and replaced by someone entirely new.
Although it’s a rare occurrence, it does happen from time to time due to creative, tragic or ego-maniacal reasons. The show must go on, after all.
Sometimes the replacements work incredibly well on the show. And sometimes they’re just plain awful.
Here’s our ranking of 12 of the most famous TV character replacements of all time, from worst to best.
When TV replacements go terribly wrong
12. Megan Fox replaced Zooey Deschanel on New GirlAh, the most recent example. Megan is replacing Zooey as the lead on the fifth season of New Girl while ZD is on mat leave. Since we haven't seen Fox in action yet, we really don't know how she'll do. Therefore, we rank her at #12. Can she be quirky?Getty Images/Fox
11. Ashton Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen on Two And A Half MenAfter Sheen's "tiger blood" fueled public meltdown, he was fired from the show and Kutcher took his place. With Kutcher's arrival, the show went from a raunchy comedy to a… well, let’s just say it’s no longer in production. CTV
10. Josh Meyers replaced Topher Grace on That '70s ShowWhen Grace wanted to move onto other projects, he was replaced by Seth Meyers' younger brother Josh for the last season of the sitcom. Although Meyer's character Randy was a likable guy, he didn't make an impact. No one can replace Eric Forman, man!Fox
9. Ted McGinley replaced Ron Howard on Happy DaysAfter seven seasons playing Richie Cunningham on Happy Days, Howard left the show to pursue his directing career. He was replaced by Ted McGinley, who played his cousin Roger. Roger was never as loved as Richie, but the show survived with the Fonz.ABC
8. David Spade and James Garner replaced John Ritter on 8 Simple RulesThe first season of 8 Simple Rules was great, and the best part was Ritter. When he unexpectedly passed away in 2003, the show brought in Spade and Garner for some extra laughs, but it just wasn't the same. It was cancelled after season three.ABC
7. Charlie Sheen replaced Michael J. Fox on Spin CityAfter a solid four year run as the show's hilarious lead, Fox sadly had to leave due to Parkinson's disease. He was replaced by Sheen who was pretty decent and even won a Golden Globe for the role. The show lasted another two years with Charlie.ABC
6. Jon Lovitz replaced Phil Hartman on NewsRadioPhil Hartman was the star of NewsRadio. His hilariously conceited character stole the show. When he was tragically murdered, another great comedian, Jon Lovitz, was brought in to replace him. But it didn't work without Phil and the show was cancelled. NBC
5. Josh Malina replaced Rob Lowe on The West WingAfter Rob Lowe left the show due to alleged dissatisfaction with his salary and screen time, he was smoothly replaced by Josh Malina. Thanks to a great ensemble cast, Lowe's departure really didn't change anything for fans.NBC
4. Goran Visnjic replaced George Clooney on ERWhen Clooney left ER after four years to pursue his movie career, fans were devastated. So producers essentially replaced him with an actor that was equally as tall, dark and handsome, Visnjic. Goran lasted four years on the show as well.NBC
3. Tiffani Amber Thiessen replaced Shannen Doherty on 90210So long Brenda! Doherty was ousted from the 90210 cast after the show's fourth season, reportedly due to her behind the scenes drama and diva behaviour. She was replaced by Thiessen, who had a six year run as bad girl Valerie. She was great!Fox
2. Drew Carey replaced Bob Barker on The Price Is RightWhen Bob Barker retired as the long running host of The Price Is Right, Drew Carey was the perfect replacement. Not only was Carey a mega-fan of the game show, he's just as kind and welcoming as Barker was. The show is still a classic.CBS
1. Kirstie Alley replaced Shelley Long on CheersAfter five seasons and an Emmy on Cheers, Long left the show to pursue a film career. She was replaced by Alley who was completely different, but just as solid as a character. Both were equally as fantastic on the show. A terrific replacement indeed.NBC