It's hard out there for a pimp. Or at least a warlock like Charlie Sheen. When it was announced that CBS had begun looking for actors to replace his role on Two and a Half Men, the cogs started turning and the rumor mill spit out one replacement after another. Jeremy Piven? Downgrade. John Stamos? No way; he's too busy with Glee. What about Rob Lowe?
There's only one highly speculated rumor that we'll get behind. And that's Steve Carrell as Charlie Harper. Nothing says sticking it to the man -- especially when you are the man at Dunder Mifflin -- like jumping ship from one major sitcom on one network to TV's number-one comedy on a competing network. Now, that would be "winning."
Will Two and a Half Men continue without Charlie Sheen? Only time will tell. Until then, don't be a victim of the Sheen Machine, waiting beside your television in hopes that production for Two and a Half Men will kick back up again anytime soon -- we're talking to you, Jon Cryer. Instead, spend your time with Westword as we look at ten memorable sitcom characters whose actors were swapped out.
10. Darrin Stephens on Bewitched Dick York played Darrin Stephens, the husband of the ever-lovable witch with the wiggly nose, Samantha, for five years. They kissed. They laughed. He put up with her witchiness. But after 156 episodes, Samantha cast her charms on York one too many times, and suddenly, POOF! No more Dick York. Dick Sargent continued on as her husband instead. But what really happened? York suffered from a back condition, so Samantha just went from one Dick to the next. Girl has her needs. 9. The Fake Becky on Roseanne Sarah Chalke, of Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother fame, appeared on Roseanne as one of TV's most complicated replacements. When Chalke took over the role of Becky from Lecy Goranson in season six of the show, some fans were up in arms about which Becky they liked better. Others were quick to brand Chalke as "the Fake Becky."
8. The Real Becky on Roseanne When Lecy Goranson, the original Becky, returned to the series during season eight, fans were no longer frustrated about the instability of Becky's casting, they were just confused. Goranson and Sarah Chalke, who took over the Becky role in seasons six, seven and nine, alternated playing Becky for most of season eight. Even more confusing: They hardly looked similar. Chalke, with her traditional blond locks, went on to become a sitcom character staple as Dr. Elliot Reid on Scrubs from 2001 to 2010. The platinum-blonde Goranson most recently went on to play "Tattoo Girl" on Fringe in 2009. Fake Becky for the win.
7. Vivian Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air We all know the theme song, sure. But you probably didn't know that Vivian Banks, or Aunt Viv, was replaced during season three. Yep, Janet Hubert-Whitten, the woman who played Will's aunt on Fresh Prince, swapped Bel-Air for another B word, "baby," and was out. It was around this time that Hubert-Whitten started showing, so it was no coincidence that Aunt Viv became pregnant on the show, too. But when Hubert-Whitten had her baby before Vivian Banks could in the show's timeline, the producers shed that baby weight, and Daphne Reid took on the role of Vivian Banks instead. 6. Steven Daniel Carrington on Dynasty Al Corley originally played one of the first openly gay characters on television. Struggling with his homosexuality throughout the series, Steven had relationships with both men and women. This dualistic nature to his sexuality, however, could be traced, at least in part, to the duality of his casting. Corley played Steven in 1981 and 1982, then Jack Coleman took over from 1983 to 1988, or just as Steven was truly coming into his own as a gay television character. 5. Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island The pilot episode for Gilligan and co. was drastically different from that of the first broadcast episode. Why? The sexy movie star, Ginger Grant, wasn't played by Tina Louise. As much as it pains us to reveal, the role was originated by Kit Smythe. And Ginger wasn't originally a movie star, either; she was a sarcastic yet seductive secretary. Call it the S.S. Minnow's very own rags-to-riches story. 4. Fallon Carrington on Dynasty Her character development may not have been as dynamic as her brother Steven's, but it sure as hell was fun to watch. Fallon Carrington, originally played by Pamela Sue Martin from 1981 to 1984 then Emma Samms from 1985 to 1989, was the talk of the town as a promiscuous young Carrington heiress who cavorted with what seemed like all of Dynasty Denver. You don't have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude, but you sure as hell should try to. This stuff puts recent soaps, like The O.C., to shame. And everyone could benefit from a lesson or two in 'tude from Miss Fallon Carrington. 3. Chris Partridge on The Partridge Family Wait a second -- there were other roles on The Partridge Family besides those played by David Cassidy and Danny Bonaduce? Believe it or not, yes -- because even the ever-musical Cassidy and Bonaduce needed a drummer to complete their family band, and Chris Partridge was that kid. You know, the one overlooked for a Keith Partridge/David Cassidy lunch box. When Jeremy Gelbwaks left the show and his Chris Partridge past behind -- for reasons unknown, but presumably because of Cassidy envy -- Brian Forster stepped in to play the drums and sit in the shadows. 2 and a half. Barney Rubble on The Flintstones Yabba dabba d'oh! Barney Rubble was originally voiced by the venerable Mel Blanc. However, when the legendary voice actor -- whose other credits include Woody Woodpecker, Pepé Le Pew, Daffy Duck and, most notably, Bugs Bunny -- was injured in a car accident in 1961, Daws Butler replaced him as Barney Rubble.
2. Barney Rubble on The Flintstones again Barney returns on our countdown, but only because Mel Blanc returned to voice Barney when he healed up from his accident. Rumor has it that the cast and crew of The Flintstones even went into the hospital to tape some episodes while Blanc was bedridden. Like the tight-knit Flintstone and Rubble households, nothing could break up this crew -- not even a hospital. When Blanc died years later, five other voice actors took over as Barney at one point or another.
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1. Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour Here we have another case of an awkward, neglected child growing up in a famous family. Everyone's favorite Marcia Brady hater was back...or not. When Eve Plumb, better known as Jan Brady throughout The Brady Bunch series, was the only member of the original cast to not sign on to sing and dance during The Brady Bunch Hour, a Donny-and-Marie-style variety show, no one was surprised. Plumb had finally freed herself from her damned older sister, Marcia Marcia Marcia, and wasn't looking back.
So Geri Reischl assumed the role of Jan on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, with her big, unwavering, un-Jan voice. Nine episodes later, the variety show was canceled. Eve Plumb eventually returned to the Brady franchise, however, for a Jan and Marcia spinoff, The Brady Brides. The theme song here explains it all -- literally, it explains it ALL.
End of List bonus: check out this clip from The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, and watch for late-1970s television amazingness when Florence Henderson descends the stage on a very-Brady crescent moon. Tiger blood!