Double Vision: Sitcoms & the Great Recasting

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – you’re watching a TV show and you notice that one actor who was on the show in its first few seasons, is back as somebody else. Well, I recently noticed this with Golden Girls when in one of the episodes Rose was dating a guy named Arnie Peterson who looked really familiar. Turns out the character was played by Harold Gould who would go on to portray another of Rose’s love interests with Miles Webber. A whole dissertation could be devoted to the way Golden Girls reuses actors or has several actors playing the same characters, but it’s not just Golden Girls that I’ve picked up on this, it’s sort of a whole thing…


Harold Gould as Arnie Peterson (left) and Miles Webber in The Golden Girls.


Friends also did this with the two different Carol Willicks, but oddly enough it was literally only for one episode as Anita Barone was replaced by actress Jane Sibbett. The show also featured two actresses playing Rachel’s friend Mindy Hunter. Initially, the character was played by Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing), but was later portrayed by Jana Marie Hupp.

Anita Barone (left) and Jane Sibbett as Carol Willick on Friends.


Other 90s shows have also experienced several actors playing one character, but perhaps the best example is shown with Roseanne. The character of Becky was first portrayed by actress Lecy Goranson for the first few seasons until a swap was made. While Goranson attended Vassar College, Sarah Chalke (Scrubs) had assumed the role of Becky Conner. Goranson has since resumed the role of Becky Connor which you can watch on ABC Tuesday nights at 8 o’clock on The Conners (which in my opinion is the original comedic wits of Roseanne but with more of a focus given to the dynamic of the rest of the family).

Lecy Goranson (left) and Sarah Chalke as Becky Conner on Roseanne.


Both Frasier and Seinfeld encountered characters being recast. The character of Nanette Guzman/Nanny G was played by three different actresses with Emma Thompson (Love Actually), Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne), and Dina Waters (The Haunted Mansion) both on Cheers where Doctor Frasier Crane was first introduced as well as on Frasier.

Emma Thompson (left), Laurie Metcalf (middle), and Dina Waters as Nanette Guzman “Nanny G” in Cheers and Frasier.


On Seinfeld, Jerry’s father was recast after one episode with actor Phil Bruns being swapped with Barney Martin’s iconic portrayal of Morty and honestly, I can’t see it any other way!!

Phil Bruns (left) and Barney Martin as Morty on Seinfeld.


As some of you may have read I recently finished watching The Office for the first time and I completely forgot about there being two different actresses who portrayed Pam Beesly’s mom Helene. Initially, Helene was played by actress Shannon Cochran in the S2, E2 titled “Sexual Harassment” before later being replaced by actress Linda Purl in later appearances. Personally, I think I prefer Shannon Cochran’s portrayal of Helene Beesly.

Shannon Cochran (left) and Linda Purl as Helene Beesly on The Office.


Of course, there’s also some pretty iconic re-casting in the cinematic world too (don’t even get me started on the whole two Rachel Dawes in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies…), but I think personally it’s always amusing to me when it is done with TV shows. It’s just kind of funny to me because you know it’s a different actor or actress portraying the character yet on-screen everyone looks totally unphased by the switch. Which show’s recasting do you think was most jarring? Are there any I may have missed? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments or on social media!! You can find me on Twitter here.

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