It has been announced Ashton Kutcher will replace the self-destructing Charlie Sheen in the popular television comedy “Two and a Half Men.” Kutcher will be joining the ninth season of “Two and a Half Men” scheduled to air in the fall. Kutcher also starred in the hit comedy “That 70s Show,” and had film roles in “Dude, Where’s My Car” and “Killers.” Producers are keeping tight-lipped about how his character will be integrated into the show. This is just one of several popular television shows that have replaced lead roles with another actress or actor.
In 1987, Kirstie Alley replaced Shelley Long in the hit comedy “Cheers.” Long wanted to work on her movie career and spend more time with her family. The character Diane (Shelly Long) left Sam (Ted Danson) at the altar to run off and write her novel. Alley was not hired to replace Shelly’s character Diane but was hired to put a fresh spin on a new character. Alley’s character Rebecca was hired to run the bar that Sam sold. Eventually, she was seen as one of the gang on “Cheers.” Alley’s character Rebecca brought fun twists to the storylines. Her chemistry with Sam (Ted Danson) was undeniable, and made for great comedic moments. For the next five seasons “Cheers” remained a top five show.
In the sixth season of Bewitched Dick Sargent replaced Dick York, who played the character Darren Stephens. Darren was the mortal husband that married Samantha a witch, played by Elizabeth Montgomery. The irony of this situation is Dick Sargent was first offered the role when “Bewitched” began in 1964. He declined the role due to other obligations. Dick York was on “Bewitched” for the first five seasons, and was replaced because of health issues. Viewers had a hard time warming up to Dick Sargent playing Darren. Viewers felt Sargent lacked emotion. Sargent remained on Bewitched until the show ended in 1972.
Lecy Goranson played the eldest child Becky in the hit comedy “Roseanne.” Goranson wanted to attend college so in the sixth season she was replaced with Sarah Chalke. Chalke and Goranson would alternate playing Becky throughout the seasons, and would often make humorous references throughout the shows to explain the change in Becky’s character. At one point both Goranson and Chalke did an entertaining parody o the “Patty Duke Show,” which was based on twin girls. The constant changing in characters went on until the ninth season when Chalke was once again hired full time to play the character Becky.
Cheers, Entertainment Weekly
Bewitched, Yahoo! TV
Roseanne TV Show, Crazy About TV