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Animation in General
- Ben 10 had a Time Skip aging up the main and recurring kid characters. In addition, it was decided that Dee Bradley Baker should voice all of Ben's aliens, then later the crew decided "nah, give the guy a break." The result is many characters (and alternate forms of characters) having three actors, even when actor availability isn't an issue.
- In addition to The Other Darrins taking over in its English dub after 8 production years, The Pokémon Anime characters themselves qualify: Outside of Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket, only Brock has been a co-star in multiple series and even he is currently inactive. The Inexplicably Identical Individuals don't count.
- The eighth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) did away with Irma, Casey Jones, Mondo Gecko, the Punk Frogs, the Neutrinos, Leatherhead, Baxter, Groundchuck, and Dirtbag, in favor of new characters like Titanus. The ninth season eliminated the newbies from season 8 as well as the Rat King, replaced Shredder and Krang with Dregg, and Bebop and Rocksteady with Hi-Tech. April was replaced with Carter. In the tenth season, April came back to replace Carter while Hi-Tech was replaced with Mung.
- The James Bond film series has four major recurring roles: Bond, M, Q, and Miss Moneypenny. Eighteen actorsnote have played these roles over the twenty-four official movies. Two more intermittently recurring roles, Blofeld and Felix Leiter, have been played by seven actors apiece.
- The Little Rascals film series' cast significantly changed at least every two years throughout its 20+ year span. This was almost always due to the actors quickly becoming too old to portray cute little kids.
Live Action TV
Genres and Production Blocks
- Most Soap Operas are run on this trope. Since many have been running 40+ years, and people don't want to spend the entirety of their lives on one show, they tend to leave the soap after a few years to pursue alternative employment options. To replace them, either the character actors are changed or new characters are brought in. This means that the main casts of soaps tend to change drastically every few years. As an example, New Zealand-produced soap opera Shortland Street first aired in 1992, and as of 2011 only one of the original cast members remains (Dr Chris Warner).
- NBC's Late Night block has gone through this a bunch of times:
- The Tonight Show has gone through at least five different hosts, all of whom brought in their own people to run the show in a new direction. The only exception may be when Jay Leno was brought back to the show in 2010.
- Late Night has gone through a similar situation but with only three hosts - four if you count its predecessor, Tomorrow with Tom Snyder.
- Later. First it was a one on one private interview on a simple set between Bob Costas and another person. After Costas left it became Later with Greg Kinnear with a live audience. A series of rotating guest hosts each brought their own sensibilities to the show. Now it's Last Call with Carson Daly which is completely different than any of the others.
- Saturday Night Live's cast and crew turnover is as legendary as its peak-and-valley history. In fact, the near-constant changing of cast members and writers is the reason why this show's quality shifts, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.
- Happy Days: Of all the regular characters that were billed at one point or another during the series' 11-year-run, just four remained from the first through last seasons: Henry Winkler (Fonzie), Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham), Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham) and Anson Williams (Potsie Weber). Two of the other original characters – Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham) and Don Most (Ralph Malph) – left after the seventh season, while Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham) briefly left for the 1982-1983 season. Of the remaining characters, we all know what became of Chuck Cunningham, later addition Scott Baio (as Chachi Arcola) left along with Moran in 1982 but also returned, and various other characters came and went through the years.
- Sesame Street: Much of the cast has rolled over many times, with the exception of Carroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar), Bob McGrath (Bob) and Loretta Long (Susan), who have been there since Day 1 in 1969, although appearances for McGrath and Long have become less frequent since the mid- to late-2000s. Aside from them, Emilio Delgado (Luis), Sonia Manzano (Maria) and Rosco Orman (Gordon) are by far the longest-tenured actors at 40 or more years, and several Muppet performers have been on the show since almost the very beginning, joining no later than the early 1970s.
- The Bill lasted for 26 years, starting in 1984. Nearly the entire original cast were still present as of the 1992 season, but there was a gradual erosion from that point onwards. A fair portion of the original cast were still in the show in 2000, but a massive cast clean-out seen the removal of some of these characters (notably Peter Ellis as the Chief Super, who had been a regular since 1984), after which nobody seemed to have contracual immortality anymore. At least one original cast member (Jeff Stewart as PC Reg Hollis) still managed to stick around until the 24th season in 2008 however, while one cast member from the original 1983 pilot episode (Trudie Goodwin as Sergeant June Ackland) was there until the 23rd season in 2007.
- Since the original CSI premiered in 2000, its later seasons have seen the departure of three of its leads (Grissom, retired, and Catherine, new job, and Ray Langston (who replaced Grissom), forcibly resigned), two of its secondary leads (Sara, quit from PTSD but now back as effective regular, and Warrick, Killed Off for Real) and a number of its recurring supporting roles (Wendy, Sofia, and the very short tenure of Riley, meant to replace Sara). Most of the departures were of the "actor wanting to move on" variety, but contract disputes and in Warrick's case, personal problems, also factored. As of the series' conclusion in 2015, the only actor to be a part of the regular cast for all fifteen seasons was George Eads as Nick Stokes, and this was only because of the show's abrupt cancellation, he was Put on a Bus in the finale and would no longer have been with the cast had the show continued. Because of this, he did not appear in the 2-hour Grand Finale, even though Grissom, Catherine, and Brass all did make return appearances.
- In Degrassi, the cast has changed once since the show started in 2001 (not including Archie "Snake" Simpson):
- Season 5 had the first block of characters graduate from the school, but maintained most of the cast in college. Season 7 had the second half of the initial cast graduate, and they cut down a lot of the older cast leaving four.
- By Season 10 the entire original cast (save Snake) was gone, leaving Chantay as longest time on set (starting in Season 4).
- Clare (introduced in Season 6, made a regular in Season 8) has been on the show longest right now, her class graduated in season 14.
- Season 15 is rebranded as Degrassi: Next Class and marks the second time the cast turned over.
- Doctor Who of course invented The Nth Doctor in order to survive 50 years and counting but also rotates though a long list of the Doctor's companions; the show's time travel premise makes it fairly easy to write old companions out and new ones in.
- The longest-lasting regular cast members have been Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor (six years, two months), Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor (four years, six months), and Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka (three years).
- A special mention for Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Although he was only a regular cast member for Seasons 7 and 8, he first appeared in Season 5 and made occasional return appearances for years afterwards in Doctor Who, having one last appearance in the Spin-Off The Sarah Jane Adventures before Courtney's death. Meaning he started his role in 1968, and last played the character in 2008 40 years after he was first cast. Not only that, one of the Cybermen in the penultimate episode of 2014 was implied to have been made from the Brigadier's body, meaning that his role kept on going for several years after his death.
- Not only that, senior production staff rotate on a regular basis; the end of 2009 (when Russell T Davies and David Tennant both left) saw the entire creative team and regular cast replaced.
- ER transplanted most of its original cast over the fifteen seasons; while some (Susan Lewis) came back and then went away again, and some of the characters came back in the final season, the final cast was composed of none of the members of the original cast. This even gets lampshaded in the final season. One of the new characters meets one of the original characters and they realize that the staff of the hospital changed so much over the years that they have no common acquaintances. All the people who worked in the hospital when the original character left already stopped working there by the time the new character arrived.
- Only James Arness and Milburn Stone lasted through all twenty seasons of Gunsmoke.
- The cast of Kids Incorporated, which ran from 1984-1993, changed almost every season, and had at least one member drop out with new replacements every season.
- Lassie saw the cast regularly change every few years which resulted in Lassie changing from owner to owner in its 19-year run, from living on a farm to traveling with some park rangers to eventually winding up at a ranch. The "Timmy" era was the longest and most well known, lasting 7 years in total.
- Law & Order ended with a completely different cast than when it started. The first major cast departure happened at the end of season one. The series lost its last original cast member at the end of its tenth season, when Steven Hill's Adam Schiff retired, at which point he'd been the only remaining original for 5 years. So half of its run was done with no one from the first season cast. The Other Wiki has an entire section dedicated to the cast/character changes and overlaps.
- Its spin-off Law & Order: SVU has now, having completed its 17th season, almost completely overturned its original cast. Only Mariska Hargitay remains as a constant from season one until now; Ice-T from season two until now. Though unlike its parent program it actually maintained nearly the entirety of its original cast, with the exception of one departure in the second season, for its first twelve seasons.
- Law & Order: UK has them all beat with all bar Bradley Walsh having left by the end of the eighth season. When he quit, ITV cancelled the show.
- M*A*S*H had a significant cast turnover during its eleven seasons. Alan Alda (Hawkeye), Loretta Swit (Margaret), and William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) were the only main cast present for the entire run (although only Alda and Swit were in both the first and last episodes as the role of Mulcahy was Recast After The Pilot, and Alda was the only one to be in every single episode). Jamie Farr (Klinger) was also present for the entire run of the show, but he started off as an extra. The military hospital setting made it easy to write characters in and out with the excuse of them getting drafted, transferred, and discharged.
- In the first season of Mission: Impossible, the core cast consisted of Steven Hill (Dan Briggs), Barbara Bain (Cinnamon Carter), Greg Morris (Barney Collier), Peter Lupus (Willy Armitage) and Martin Landau (Rollin Hand, who technically wasn't a permanent cast member until season two, but was in just about every season one episode as a special guest star). In season two, Hill was replaced by Peter Graves as Jim Phelps. This cast lasted two seasons, after which Landau left and was replaced by Leonard Nimoy as The Great Paris, and Bain left without getting a permanent replacement until season five, which introduced Lesley Warren as Dana, and also had Lupus' character occasionally replaced by Dr. Doug Robert, played by Sam Elliot. Warren and Elliot were both gone in season six, with Lynda Day George taking over the role of the team's female member, and Lupus cementing his place on the team. In the seventh and final season, George missed out most of the first half of the season due to being pregnant and was temporarily replaced by Barbara Anderson as Mimi. Thus only two members of the cast - Morris and Lupus - lasted the entire seven season run of the show, and one of them was intermittently written out of half the episodes of one season. Number of cast members to appear in every episode: zero.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 lasted long enough to see every actor walk away for personal reasons. It began as a Mad Scientist and his assistant tormenting a janitor and his robots, but eventually ended as a megalomaniacal woman, a Doctor Zaius expy, and a brain guy tormenting an erstwhile temp worker and... well, the same robots, but with different voices. Joel, the creator and main host character, left the show to Mike in the middle of season five, neatly dividing the series (and fans) into two eras. Both hosts went on to start their own movie-mocking franchises in Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax. Both of those shows feature a mutually exclusive subset of MST3K's cast (except for Mary Jo Pehl and Trace Beaulieu, who have appeared in both series).
- New Tricks had no original cast members left by the end of the series. James Bolam (Jack Halford) left after the first episode of Series 9, while Alun Armstrong (Brian Lane) followed after four episodes of Series 10, and Amanda Redman (Sandra Pullman) left four episodes later, and finally Dennis Waterman (Gerry Standing) left two episodes into Series 12 (the final series).
- Only three regulars of Night Court made it all the way through the show's nine-year run: Harry Anderson as Judge Harry Stone, Richard Moll as Bull the bailiff, and John Larroquette as prosecutor Dan Fielding. Three different actresses filled the role of the second bailiff (as different characters). Karen Austin, who played the court clerk and was Judge Stone's original love interest, left before the first season was over and was eventually replaced by Charles Robinson as Mac. Four different actresses played public defenders—Gail Strickland in the pilot, Paula Kelly for the rest of Season 1, Ellen Foley for Season 2, and Markie Post for the rest of the series' run.
- Power Rangers had a few scattered cast changes its first few seasons; most notably Power Rangers Turbo (Season 5) overhauling the entire roster sans the newly Kid-Appeal Character introduced that season at the midpoint. After the show's "Zordon Era" concluded with Power Rangers in Space (Season 6), the show adopted a Sequel Series format ala its source material Super Sentai (which always changed casts every season since its inception in 1975); there would be occasional crossovers with prior Rangers but otherwise each season starts fresh with a new story and new cast.
- The original UK version of Shameless had this in spades. Originally it centred around the Gallagher family and a few neighbours and friends, but as various cast members left, the show shifted focus towards the Maguire family starting around seasons 4-5. The two shared the central role for a few seasons before focus shifted away from a central family and more towards the ensemble cast that had gathered over time. For the final season, only two Gallaghers remain (one of whom wasn't even born until season five) and only three of the original Maguire family. The US version has almost completely averted this so far, in part because of its much more serialised approach to storytelling.
- Spooks went through a very large number of cast changes in its run. Only one character, Harry Pearce, appears in all ten seasons and every other position in Section D had at least three different occupants over the show's run.
- Stargate SG-1, almost. Despite three members of the original Four Man Team making it to the series cancellation (one of them having spent a year dead for tax purposes), most of the surrounding cast and all of the big bads were gone two seasons earlier. Only Walter remained unchanged.
- Of the 17 cast members to appear throughout Smallville's run, only Clark and Chloe remained series regulars in all ten seasons. It should be noted that Allison Mack (Chloe) was credited only when she appeared in the final season (less than half the episodes), and was also absent from the credits for the first two episodes of Season 4 to make it seem as though Chloe was dead, so technically Clark was the only character to be a series regular for the entire show.
- 24 had only Jack Bauer as a main character in all seasons. The first 5 seasons had a pretty consistent cast but after that only Jack Bauer and Chloe (added in season 3) are constants in the remaining seasons.
- After 7 seasons, Spanish series Siete Vidas had only one character left from the first episode, Sole. She got the last scene in the finale along with two of the most iconic characters introduced in Season 2.
- You Can't Do That on Television, whose premise required that most of its cast be kids, would retire its regulars as they got too old, or at least came to look to old. Hostess Christine McGlade got to stay into her twenties, because she still looked convincingly like a youngish teenager. By its end, the show had a completely new cast except for the two adult regulars (Les Lye and Abby Hagyard).
- Wheel of Fortune has gone through four hosts since it first hit the airwaves in 1975. The show had a daytime version from 1975-91, hosted by Chuck Woolery (1975-81), Pat Sajak (1981-89), Rolf Benirschke (1989), and Bob Goen (1989-91), with Susan Stafford as hostess until Vanna White replaced her in 1982. Averted with the 1983-present nighttime syndicated version, which has been hosted by Pat and Vanna on all but a handful of special occasions. However, the announcer post has changed a few times: Charlie O'Donnell (1975-80), Jack Clark (1980-88), M.G. Kelly (1988-89), O'Donnell again (1989-2010), and Jim Thornton (2011-).
- Similarly, The Price Is Right has not had a lot of hosting changes: on daytime (1972-present), the only hosting change was Bob Barker to Drew Carey in 2007, while various nighttime incarnations have had Dennis James (1972-77), Bob Barker (1977-80), Tom Kennedy (1985-86), and Doug Davidson (1994-95). However, the announcer post has changed three times (Johnny Olson from 1972-84, Rod Roddy from 1985-2003, Rich Fields from 2004-10, and George Gray from 2011 onward, plus Burton Richardson for the 1994 nighttime version), and countless numbers of models ("Barker's Beauties") have rotated in and out of the cast over time.
- The game show Family Feud has also gone through many hosts. Richard Dawson was the original host from 1976-85, and after a three-year gap, the show was revived from 1988-94 with Ray Combs. Dawson returned for the 1994-95 season. After another hiatus, the show came back in 1999, with the hosting duties going to Louie Anderson (1999-02), Richard Karn (2002-06), John O'Hurley (2006-10), and Steve Harvey (2010-present).
- The American version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has gone through this as well. The original ABC version (1999-2002) had Regis Philbin, while the syndicated version went to Meredith Vieira (2002-13), Cedric the Entertainer (2013-14), Terry Crews (2014-15), and Chris Harrison (2015-).
- The world's longest-running Sitcom, the BBC series Last of the Summer Wine (1973-2010) went through many major characters over the course of its run. As well as the sheer length of the series, this was because most of the characters were elderly, and so had to be replaced whenever an actor died or became too infirm for regular work.
- Waterloo Road ran for 200 episodes over ten series for nine years. By the time the final episode aired in 2015, all of the cast who had begun the show in 2006 had left. In fact, Waterloo Road's cast turnover rate was so high that when the series ended the longest-serving current cast member - Melanie Hill - had only joined three years earlier.
- Technically, all sports franchises can count. The examples are therefore limited to teams under a given coach or with long successful stretches.
- The Boston Celtics from 1957 to 1976. Bill Russell was the only player to win all 11 titles. John Havlicek was a member for the latter half of the 60s and the two titles from the 70s. (Nobody from the 1981 championship roster was a member from the 1976 title team, making the '80s a Reboot.)
- The Chicago Bulls under Phil Jackson saw the entire roster (aside from Scottie Pippen) turnover between Michael Jordan's 18 month retirement between 1993 and 1995. Jordan and Pippen were the only leftovers from the first three peat (1991-3) in the second one (1996-8).
- The Houston Rockets had a long-runner cast turnover from 1981 to 1995, a period that covered their four NBA Finals appearances. Robert Reid was the only player to play for the Rockets in the 1981 and 1986 Finals. Hakeem Olajuwon was the only player from the 1986 Roster to win the 1993-1994 title with the Rockets.
- The Los Angeles Lakers had a turnover beginning with the 1979-1980 title. A.C. Green was the only player from the '80s to win a Lakers title in the next three-peat (even the coach had changed, from Pat Riley to Phil Jackson).
- Similarly, only Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and Derek Fisher were present in the Lakers 2000-02 three-peat and the two-title run by the decade's end.
- Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich were the only ones present in all of the five San Antonio Spurs titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014).
- Four players managed to appear in four Olympic Games: three unlucky men that never got a medal - Teófilo Cruz of Puerto Rico, Andrew Gaze of Australia, and Oscar Schmidt (who also holds records of most points ever and longest basketball career) of Brazil - and Theresa Edwards of the USA, who won four golds and a bronze.
- While many footballers managed to appear in at least four editions of The World Cup, a few are standout cases.
- Mario Zagallo won the first four of Brazil's titles (player in 1958 and 1962, coach in 1970, assistant coach in 1994), and his teammate Pelé was the only one fielded in the first three. Another Brazilian, Cafu, played in the 1994 and 2002 titles (and is the only man to play three Cup finals), while Ronaldo was in the bench in the former and the top goalscorer in the latter.
- Miroslav Klose was in the Germany team that lost to Brazil in 2002 and was the only reminder once the team returned to the final and won in 2014.note And Germany has a tradition for keeping players for long - five players were 1966 runners-up and 1974 champions (though only Franz Beckenbauernote and Wolfgang Overath played both finals), Paul Breitner scored in the 1974 and 1982 finals, and Pierre Littbarski lost the 1982 finals and won in 1990 (teammate Lothar Matthäus was in the 1982 squad too).
- Italy has three players who won in 1982 but appeared in only one final: Dino Zoff (didn't play in 1970, played 1982 at the age of 40), Daniele Massaro and Franco Baresi (both went unused, but played the 1994 final Italy lost).
- On the women's side, the USA has a few standout cases.
- Six of the USWNT's starting 11 in the inaugural final in 1991 (which they won) were also starters in their second final win in 1999—Michelle Akers, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, and Carla Overbeck. On the bench in 1991 was Brandi Chastain, who started and scored the winning penalty kick in the 1999 final. (However, Fawcett, Foudy, and Hamm were the only ones among this group who appeared in four World Cups.)
- Christie Rampone, who played in five World Cups, has the longest gap between World Cup wins for a player of either sex. In her first World Cup, she was on the 1999 squad, but didn't play in the final. In her last in 2015, with her being the sole holdover from the 1999 champs, she came on as a sub late in the final with the USWNT safely ahead.
- Germany's Birgit Prinz, who also played in five World Cups, is the only woman to have appeared in three World Cup finals. She was on the losing side in 1995 (to Norway) and on the winners in 2003 and 2007 (respectively over Sweden and Brazil).
- The 2015 World Cup was also the sixth for Brazil's Formiga and Japan's Homare Sawa. They only missed the inaugural Cup in 1991, when both were just 13. Formiga is also set to in 2016 be the only woman present in all six women's soccer Olympic Games tournaments.
- For a case where the gap is due to World War II, the only players to appear in the 1938 and 1950 tournaments were Erik Nilsson of Sweden (who ironically lost to Brazil in both tournaments) and Alfred Bickel of Switzerland.
- The Detroit Red Wings had a mini-dynasty with four Stanley Cup titles, only two consecutive (1997-98, 2002 and 2008), to the point the last had a different coach. Five guys remained in all championships (Nicklas Lidström, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Darren Mc Carty, and Tomas Holmström), while Chris Osgood was absent from the third one.
- In an indirect way, only three people were present in the first three Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cups (1991-2 and 2009): Mario Lemieux (The Leader in the first two, owner in the third), Gilles Meloche (goaltender coach in all) and Kevin Stevens (player in the first two, scout in the third, to the point he wasn't engraved on the Cup). By the time the Penguins won again in 2016, just Lemieux remained to get his name a fourth time, and the roster had only 5 reminders of 2009 (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, and the only one that didn't get ice time in the second series, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury).
- The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim lost the Stanley Cup in 2003, and won as Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Only Jean-Sébastien Giguere, Rob Niedermayer, and Samuel Pahlsson were Ducks in both series (in 2003, Andy McDonald was the playoffs but missed the finals to injury). Rob's older brother Scott won twice, with the Devils in 2003 and as Anaheim captain. Counting non-players, Bryan Murray lost both (Ducks GM in 2003 and Senators coach four years later).
- Martin Brodeur was the only player in all five New Jersey Devils finals, a stretch that runs from 1995 to 2012.
- On an international level, Teemu Selanne played in 6 Winter Olympics from 1992 to 2014 (equaling compatriot Raimo Helminen, who played his last 3 tournaments as Selanne's teammate), winning one silver and four bronzes for Finland. Among the seven players who went to 5 Olympics, only three won medals, two Finns (Jere Lehtinen - 1994-2010 - and Kimmo Timonen - 1998-2014) and the great Czech Jaromir Jagr, who not only won a Gold in 1998, but managed to appear in the annual World Championship (which he won in 2005 and 2006) in both 1994 and 2015, at 43 in the latter.
- The New York Yankees had two such stretches: The Joe McCarthy era from 1931-45, where the team won 7 World Series and featured all-time greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio, and the Casey Stengel era from 1949-60, where they won another 7 World Series and featured all-time greats like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra. The third best stretch was under Joe Torre in the 1990s-2000s, though Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera were the only two players to win all four World Series championships with him.
- Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick were the only ones present in the four New England Patriots Super Bowl victories (from 2002 to 2014).
- Three nations have won more than one Rugby World Cup—Australia (1991, 1999), South Africa (1995, 2007), and New Zealand (1987, 2011, 2015). All three nations illustrate this trope to a greater or lesser extent:
- Australia: Only five players from the 1991 squad were there for 1999—Dan Crowley, John Eales, Tim Horan, Phil Kearns, and Jason Little.
- South Africa: Os du Randt was the only member of the 1995 squad, featured in Invictus (though he wasn't mentioned in either the film or the book it was based on), to play in the 2007 Cup. He retired as a player immediately after the 2007 final (in which he played the entire game).
- New Zealand: While the trope doesn't apply between 2011 and 2015, with 14 players appearing on both of those title teams, it definitely holds true with respect to 1987 and 2011. Five of the players on the 2011 title team had yet to be born when the All Blacks won the first RWC in 1987note . The oldest member of the 2011 squad, Brad Thorn, was 12 during the first RWC (and more than three years older than any of his 2011 teammates).