RoboCop (1987) had a cute brunette scientist with oversized glasses. She is replaced by a slightly less cute brunette scientist without glasses in RoboCop 2, and then the slot is filled by Dr. Lazarus in RoboCop 3.
The Godfather Part III: Tom Hagen is written out (died in between sequels) and is replaced by the much less charismatic and interesting George Hamilton character, B.J. Harrison. This was done thanks to a paycheck dispute with Robert Duvall, forcing Francis Ford Coppola to create this new replacement from scratch.
Beverly Hills Cop III Grumpy sidekick John Taggart from the previous movies is replaced by almost identical cop Jon Flint, since actor John Ashton had to drop out due to obligations to other pending film projects.
Lt. Mauser replaced Capt. Harris in the 2nd & 3rd movies, acting as that film's villain and having more or less the same traits has Harris had, filling the same role. They were so similar that when Harris returned in the 4th movie, he was paired of with Mauser's assistant, Proctor, and the two had the same relationship Mauser and Proctor had.
Also, when Steve Guttenberg refused to reprise his role as Sgt. Mahoney for the 5th and 6th movies, Commandant Lassard's nephew Nick was brought in to fill Mahoney's shoes, while the 7th movie had a cadet named Kyle Connors also fill the very same spot.
When the Wachowski siblings wrote the second and thirdMatrix films, they originally intended to bring back the character of Tank from the first one. But after they had a falling-out with his actor, they created Link as a replacement.
Abigail Whistler from Blade: Trinity was originally supposed to be Rachel van Helsing from the comics, but was changed to an original character to avoid comparisons to the Van Helsing movie.
Roman in 2 Fast 2 Furious replaced Dominic from The Fast and the Furious as the Anti-Hero with a criminal past. Though it's worth noting that Brian is now the main character with Roman as his sidekick, instead of co-lead with Dom. Both Roman and Dom are back in Fast Five.
Beerfest plays this one for gags, when Landfill dies and the character is promptly replaced by his twin brother, portrayed by the same actor, who asks the rest of the characters to refer to him by his dead brother's name and never speak of the death again. He then promptly sleeps with his dead brother's widow and "feels that he's already known them all his life."
A rather bizarre set of examples occurred regarding the monster Baragon. First, Destroy All Monsters was going to have Baragon be the monster seen destroying France. Unfortunately, the suit was too badly damaged and instead Gorosaurus was used (Ironically, the dub version still calls Gorosaurus "Baragon")...And Baragon himself was reduced to a mere 10 second cameo. Later, Baragon was going to appear in Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla but the suit was still too damaged to function and Anguirus was used instead. In both cases, Anguirus and Gorosaurus were given traits that were originally attributed to Baragon (IE: Jumping and burrowing).
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla was going to have Godzilla team up with the human-built Mechagodzilla previously seen in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II to fight SpaceGodzilla, but Toho realized that having Godzilla fight alongside the machine that came close to killing him would make the battle against the new villain too one-sided. Instead, they brought in M.O.G.U.E.R.A., another human-built robot that had also been controlled by alien invaders when first seen in its Showa era incarnation.
The spinoff Rebirth of Mothra trilogy apparently knew it wanted to save KingGhidorah for the role of the final film's antagonist, but also wanted to draw audiences into the series with a villain of comparable menace. The first film's solution? The totally original, terrifying, powerful, destructive, evil new monster... Death Ghidorah. ...Hmm.
Los Superagentes: Nueva Generación. Unlike the sequels to Bañeros and Brigada Explosiva, the new characters were clearly meant to replace the originals, as per the original Tiburon and Delfin show up in insultingly short cameos as opposing to joining in the action. Worse, the original Mojarrita and Chief of Acuario don't even show up.
Subverted like no tomorrow in Scream 4. Characters are thrown at us as being replacements for the characters of the original film, but most of the new characters die, the apparent Sidney replacementturns out to be the killer, and is more of a replacement of the killer from the previous film, and we even get a subverted Billy replacement who is almost successfully framed for all the murders.
Every Cenobite that follows Pinhead that is NOT Butterball, Chatterer or the Female Cenobite in the Hellraiser sequels.
Due to not having a high enough budget to render the characters' powers onscreen, Husk and Chamber were excluded from the Generation X TV movie and replaced with Buff and Refrax, two new heroes who had similar, but cheaper abilities.
"Nigel" appears to be a replacement Composite Character for Colin and Dennis Creevey. (Colin appeared in the second film, but the actor decided not to do any more after that. Dennis never appears in the films full stop, but he's a very minor character in the books anyway.)
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace had Captain Panaka (Hugh Quarshie), Queen Amidala's bodyguard. After Quarshie was unable to make it to the location shooting for Attack of the Clones, he was replaced with Captain Typho (Jay Laga'aia). Aside from the eyepatch, they're the same, both in appearance and personality, to the point that some viewers wondered why Captain Panaka was suddenly sporting an eyepatch.
Captain Phasma, with her cool armor and limited screen time, is touted by the filmmakers as Boba Fett for a new generation.
Rock Star depicts such a replacement when the main character Chris, lead singer of a tribute band, is hired to replace his idol due to his intentionally similar appearance and slightly better vocals. The film culminates in Chris picking a fan out of the audience at a concert to replace himself. This is based on actual events: Judas Priest replacing their original lead singer by picking the front man of a Priest tribute band.
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising parodies it even further. Leo's bard invariably dies from one hit whenever he participates in a fight, so the player prepares 50 copies of the same character sheet, expending them in a single fight. Eventually, the players hide behind "the mound of dead bards".
In The Room, the actor who plays Peter (essentially the voice of reason or the man who "is always playing psychiatrist") quit at some point during the shooting. Another actor replaced him and took the lines he would have had in a later scene. However the new character (named "Steven" in the credits) never has any formal introduction. It is just implied he is another friend.
In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Jim Broadbent plays a character meant to be a stand-in for Marcus Brody, who had died since the last movie, just as the actor Denholm Elliott had died in between films. Also, the character Mac, played by Ray Winstone, is essentially a replacement for Sallah (John Rhys-Davies); a Boisterous Bruiser side kick with a shady past. The reason Mac is there instead of Sallah might be that the plot calls for him to turn from good to evil, wich would be a depressing ending for the fans of the previous films.
Duke is a suspiciously similar substitute for his deceased identical twin Curly. Granted, his personality is different enough (less of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, more Machiavellian) not to be cause for viewers to truly cry foul (there are shades of the Evil Twin trope here), but he's a suspiciously similar substitute all the same.
Bruno Kirby did not return from the first movie, so his spot was filled by Jon Lovitz, playing Billy Crystal's annoying brother.
Quarrel Jr., in Live and Let Die is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for his father, Quarrel, who was killed in Dr. No. This is because the films were made in a different order from the books, where Quarrel gets introduced in Live and Let Die, before being killed in Dr. No.
Also, Megan Fox's Mikaela being replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Carly in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The script was mostly finished before Fox was fired, and it's rather obvious that most of the scenes that ultimately ended up going to Huntington-Whitely were originally written with her in mind. In particular, Carly being hired as the curator of Gould's car collection seems like a plot point that would've made far more sense for Mikaela, given that the previous films established that she has an immense knowledge of automobiles.
In the second Rescuers film (which takes place in Australia), the role of Orville Albatross is replaced by that of his brother, Wilbur.
The Third Stooge. While Shemp was not Suspiciously Similar, Joe Besser and "Curly" Joe DeRita were. All three of them had their own unique method of delivery, however, distinct from Curly.
When George Sanders grew tired of appearing in The Falcon movie series, it was decided that his Gay Lawrence character would be killed off. The series continued with Gay's brother Tom stepping into the role of the Falcon. Tom Lawrence was played by Tom Conway ... who just happened to be George Sanders' brother.
Averted in the remake of Shaft. Samuel L. Jackson didn't want to step into the iconic character's shoes, so the character was written as John Shaft's nephew who also happened to be named John Shaft. This seems to hang on one line of dialogue until Roundtree shows up in a cameo as the elder Shaft. Jackson's character is therefore not a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, but he does invite Counterpart Comparison.
In The Mighty Ducks, Coach Bombay's mentor is his late father's old friend, a kindly Norwegian sporting goods vendor named Hans. In the sequel, he is replaced by his brother Jan, who makes an offhand comment that Hans is visiting their mother in Norway. Then, in the third movie, Hans has returned, and Jan is nowhere to be seen—he doesn't even show up at Hans's funeral.
The Death Race prequels star Luke Goss as Carl Lucas, rather than Jason Statham as Jensen Ames. Like Statham, Goss is a white British man with a shaved head and Perma-Stubble. The characters aren't hugely similar, but appearance-wise they're very much alike.
Most of the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 follow-ups introduce new family members who are similar to Drayton and Nubbins, Leatherface's brothers in the first film.
Scheduling issues with Jet Li prevented him from reprising his role as Yin Yang in The Expendables 2 beyond a cameo. He was replaced by Maggie Chan, a new Chinese character played by Yu Nan.
Speaking of Star Trek VI, Spock's young, female Vulcan protégé Valeris was created as a very blatant replacement for Saavik, his young, female Vulcan protégé from the previous films. Saavik was originally going to be in the movie, but several factors (including Kirstie Alley being uninterested and worries that fans would not be happy about a popular character becoming a villain) resulted in her being replaced with a new character.
Charlton Heston requested a smaller part in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, that would require Taylor to only show up at the beginning and end. Thus the film stars James Franciscus as another time-displaced astronaut.
Malcolm from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is blatantly similar to Will from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, being a likable, sympathetic human character who tries to stop war from breaking out between the humans and the apes. The movie even has a scene where Ceasar tells Malcolm that Will was "A good man...like you."
For Carry On Up the Jungle, Kenneth Williams couldn't make the movie, so he was replaced by comedian Frankie Howerd, even though Howerd had appeared in the series before, playing a completely different character. Both actors had a lot of controversy throughout their careers from rumours of being homosexual (although they were revealed to be true after their deaths), and it was often reflected through their performances — even hinted in some of the dialog. It's debatable whether it was a Casting Gag or just pure coincidence.
When Charles Hawtrey was suspended from the cast for diva-like behaviour, comedian Lance Percival appeared in Carry On Cruising, portraying a socially-awkward chef that couldn't function on a cruise ship when he was seasick, and made a soup explode.
Barbara Windsor is the most famous one that appeared in this role, but before her were Shirley Eaton and Liz Fraser. All three were blonde but the latter two were often smarter than her characters. The brunette versions were Amanda Barrie and Anita Harris — the former portrayed the villainous Cleopatra in Carry On Cleo.
This was often invoked by the production team. When Jim Dale proved unavailable, recurring actor Julian Holloway would be brought in to replace him.
Arguably, Kenneth Cope was one of these too. Carry On Round The Bend is a perfect example of what could possibly happen if two pretty boys were in the same Carry On movie, in which he and O'Callaghan physically fought each other over the affections of Sid James' attractive daughter. When it came to Carry On Matron a year after, Cope was playing the stereotypes straight — his character being like a hybrid of O'Callaghan and Kenneth Connor.
Reluctant Fanservice Girl Angela Douglas appeared throughout most of the mid-60s' movies, mostly being the nice attractive blonde girl who often fell in love with Jim Dale. When it came to the early '70s, the attractive blonde Jacki Piper would often fall in love with Richard O'Callaghan.
The 6'7 Bernard Bresslaw was in the series for ten years. When the 6'4 Jack Douglas appeared, he would start to get bigger roles, whereas Bresslaw seemed to be getting demoted into background characters, eventually leaving the series for good in 1975.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: When Tony's AI J.A.R.V.I.S. is destroyed and later reconstituted as part of The Vision, he starts using a new program, F.R.I.D.A.Y., who serves the same function as J.A.R.V.I.S., but has a female, Irish voice.
Assassin's Creed (2016): Two of the Assassins fighting at the end fight in styles similar to Shao Jun and Arno Dorian. Naturally, they likely learned these styles from Shao Jun and Arno Dorian through the Animus.
Spider-Man: Homecoming has an odd double example with Ned Leeds: in the comics, he's a rival of Peter's, but here they're best friends, making him a substitute for Harry Osborn (probably because the lasttwo movies series already used his signature arc). In addition, this version of Ned (a chubby, geeky Asian kid) actually seems to be based on Ganke Lee, the best friend of the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man, Miles Morales.