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"So in this story, Uta has an accident, then he has a plastic surgery. Now, I can simply change his actor. Easy, isn't it?"
Akbar, Mimpi Metropolitan, Episode 58

Some element of a show's Applied Phlebotinum causes a character's appearance, voice, and sometimes even their personality to change completely. On Speculative Fiction shows, this can be almost anything. On real-world shows, this is almost always Magic Plastic Surgery — which, on TV, works much better than it does in reality.

This is a catch-all for the recasting of a character using an in-continuity explanation. It takes its name from Doctor Who, whose eponymous Doctor is an alien capable of "regenerating" into a new form when on the verge of death. This trope, both in the original show and others which employ it, has two benefits; not only can it increase the series' run by offering a method to depict a functionally immortal main character on a long-running show, it is also a wonderful way to derive drama, with the added bonus of implying that Anyone Can Die, without having to lose major characters. Depending on the importance of the character, changing them in such a way can serve as a "soft reboot" of an ongoing production.

Compare to: Suspiciously Similar Substitute (which introduces a totally new character much like the old one), The Other Darrin (where the actor is replaced without an in-universe explanation), and Legacy Character (which introduces a different character to the "title" of the previous character). See also Dying to Be Replaced (which this can involve if, as in the trope naming example, the process amounts to the death of the original) and Replacement Scrappy, which can be a reaction. For tropes where a character changes because of a transformation, see Mid-Season Upgrade, Evolution Power-Up, and Plot-Relevant Age-Up.

This is a casting trope, not a Reincarnation trope. This trope only requires the recasting to be explained in-universe, not necessarily by reincarnation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Yasuhiko Kawazu voiced Goku and his son Gohan's Great Ape forms in Japanese as opposed to Masako Nozawa. For the English dub of the original Dragon Ball, Justin Cook provided Great Ape Goku's roars while Shane Ray would voice Gohan's ape form in Dragon Ball Z.
    • For the first Dragon Ball anime, Piccolo was given this treatment in the Japanese original with Takeshi Aono voicing the original Demon King Piccolo (and later his good counterpart Kami-sama) whereas Junior (the Piccolo that most people are familiar with) was voiced by Toshio Furukawa, who made the character his own going forward.
    • In the Funimation dub of Dragon Ball GT, Goku is played by Stephanie Nadolny in his kid form, Sean Schemmel in his Super Saiyan 4 transformation, and Shane Ray in his Golden Ape transformation.
      • The One-Star Dragon, known as Li Shen Long in Japan, was given this treatment in America. By himself, with only the one-star ball, he was christened Syn Shenron and played by Bob Carter. Upon absorbing the other six balls into himself, he is then known as Omega Shenron and is voiced by Christopher Sabat. ADR director Christopher Bevins' logic in this choice was that since he became an amalgamation of all seven dragon balls, Omega would have the original Shenron's voice which was played in Funimation's English dub by Sabat.
  • In Dragon Ball Super, Zamasu is voiced by Shin-ichiro Miki. An alternate version of him switched bodies with Goku to become Goku Black, leading to his voice actor being changed to Masako Nozawa.
  • In the English dub of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, when the homunculus Greed was reabsorbed into Father then brought back into a new body, he changed voice actors from Chris Patton to Troy Baker. Said plot element was in the manga long before the story was adapted into animation and dubbed into English, and it's actually a good old-fashioned case of The Other Darrin, as Patton at that time had quit the business for a few years (both had the same voice in the Japanese version, and later on a character recognizes Greed by his voice) but the timing serendipitously makes it look like this trope.
  • In the original Japanese version of Inuyasha, Naraku was originally voiced by Hiroshi Yanaka in his early appearances. At the end of the anime's first season, he takes over the body of a prince named Kagewaki, and upon doing so he is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa for the rest of the series' run.
  • King of Prism focuses on an all-male cast but still attempted to keep elements of its predecessor series, Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live. In doing so, Louis plays the same role Rinne did in Rainbow Live, but since he is male, he is voiced by Shouta Aoi. In Shiny Seven Stars, the third part of the series, it is explained that Louis is built from Rinne's data and was turned into a new male Prism Messenger since both Shine and Rinne failed to guide male Prism Stars.
  • In the English dub of Pokémon: The Original Series, when Ash upgrades his Pokédex from Professor Oak, he's told that it will also have a new voice.

    Comic Books 
  • The Bouncing Beatnik of Astro City also works like this, a new incarnation manifesting whenever a counterculture trend of sufficient emotional strength comes along — ragtime, jazz, beatniks, hippies — then eventually fading away. Different incarnations can be different genders and appear as different races (although they're not actually human).
  • Eternals (2021) establishes a resurrection process for the Eternals, which sometimes leads to characters being given vastly different appearances. Sprite and Makkari, for example, change from male to female, while the latter also gains a darker skin tone than previously depicted with. This coincided with the release of the MCU film that same year, giving them justification to depict the characters more in line with the actors playing them.
  • As worship for the gods faded away in Fine Print, some of the gods took on new forms and identities in order to adapt. For example, the two matriarch/patriarch arcubi of the Alaris Family were once known as Alecto of the Furies and Charon (The Ferryman).
  • John Constantine of Hellblazer is revealed to be a Laughing Magician, a spirit that reincarnates after each death.
  • The Mighty Thor: This is how Loki works since he erased his name from Hela's books some years ago. Thanks to this move, Loki has no afterlife, basically making death as permanent as it's even possible in a comic book for the character. A Loki will come back sooner or later if the current one happens to die... it just won't be the same person (changed design, personality, etc.).
  • In The Sandman (1989), it's revealed that the current Despair is not the original – she was killed, and somehow, a new one replaced her. (A popular but unconfirmed theory is that her murderer was punished with the position.) The other Endless still consider Despair II their sister, however. Eventually, Morpheus dies too, and his appointed heir, Daniel Hall, takes his place. He refers to himself as "Dream", claiming that both "Morpheus" and "Daniel" are, or at least feel like, different people than who he is now.
  • Solomon Grundy works like this. As explained in Starman, every time he dies, he comes back with a different personality and/or intelligence level (and sometimes even a new appearance). This means he can go from being an evil Genius Bruiser one issue to a Kindhearted Simpleton the next.
  • John Ostrander's run on The Spectre applies this to Uncle Sam of the Freedom Fighters. Over the centuries, the Spirit of America has taken physical form as the current masculine Anthropomorphic Personification of the United States: the Minuteman, Brother Jonathan, Billy Yank and Johnny Reb, and Uncle Sam. It was Patriot for a brief period in the late 90s, but soon reverted to Uncle Sam again.

    Fan Works 
  • The Chronicles of Narnia fic "And Ye Shall Receive" basically uses this to reveal that Caspian’s star-wife was actually Susan; she made a deal with Aslan where she would be allowed to return to Narnia with the understanding that her family would come to revile her memory. Back on Earth, Susan’s body was possessed by the spirit of a spoilt noblewoman from Narnia while her spirit took on a new form in Narnia, only assuming her original appearance after the other seven friends of Narnia return following The Last Battle.
  • A Colder War explains that the change in Howard Stark's appearance (from Dominic Cooper to John Slattery) is the result of a plane crash in 1972; Howard had to have reconstructive surgery afterwards and he jokes that the doctors were missing some of the best bits of his face when they put him back together.
  • This is the main mechanic of Projection Quest, with the titular projection shifting between various fictional characters who teach Taylor new powers and skills. Notably, while the personality varies between iterations, Taylor grows close enough to 'Emmy' to notice a consistent identity throughout.
  • Eleutherophobia: A Straight Line Down Through the Heart has an In-Universe example. Jean says that in the cheesy soap opera she writes for, an evil scientist injected a character called Emily with a drug that turned her into a different actress.
  • In one Danny Phantom fanfic, it's shown that every time a decade ends, Clockwork, the Ghost of Time, undergoes a transformation into a form that fits the tone of the new decade.

    Film – Animation 
  • Parodied in Bolt. When Penny decides to quit acting, the TV show she works for replaces her and explains her change in appearance as the result of reconstructive plastic surgery. Not explained, though, was her sudden de-aging, as she is shorter and has not gone through puberty like the original Penny.

    Film – Live-Action 
  • Parodied in the 2008 Get Smart movie. Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) is shown to have undertaken extensive plastic surgery after her cover was blown. She used to look like a 40-year-old blond woman. Now, she's a brunette in her mid-twenties.
  • Heath Ledger's death was dealt with in his unfinished movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus this way. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell played his character in different dimensions.
  • James Bond:
    • Blofeld, arch-nemesis of Bond, is a villainous example. He was played by several actors over the years, with his changes of appearance being explained by plastic surgery. His portrayal in Spectre, played by Christoph Waltz, needs no such justification because there was a Continuity Reboot in Casino Royale (2006).
    • Bond himself is generally considered more an example of The Other Darrin, since the films don't explain his change in appearance. However, in the first movie where Bond's actor changed, the film begins with Bond being rejected by a woman. He then remarks "this never happened to the other fellow!" Some fans have taken this as evidence for the theory that "James Bond" is an alias passed from one 007 agent to the next. The producers of On Her Majesty's Secret Service did briefly consider the plastic surgery idea for Bond, but (wisely for the long run) dropped the idea. Still, the series was always more episodic and not as worried with continuity before the Daniel Craig era, due to the above mentioned reboot, to make the actor changes less questionable.
    • This theory does happen in the non-canonical parody movie Casino Royale (1967), where plenty of people are assigned the codename "James Bond".
  • Jobe Smith was played by Jeff Fahey in The Lawnmower Man and Matt Frewer in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace. The clever rationale is that the explosion at the end of the first film badly burned him, and so he looked different after his face was reconstructed using skin grafts. Less clever when, in the ending of the original film, Pierce Brosnan's character discovered that Jobe had completely uploaded himself into the mainframe, leaving only his skin behind in the real world.
  • The Matrix:
    • In The Matrix Revolutions Mary Alice replaced Gloria Foster as The Oracle because the character's appearance had changed due to The Merovingian being given her "termination code". In reality, this was an ad hoc handwave made up by the writers because Gloria Foster had died.
    • Because scheduling conflicts prevented Hugo Weaving from returning in The Matrix Resurrections, Agent Smith has been reintegrated into the new iteration of the Matrix and given a new avatar now played by Jonathan Groff.
  • The twist in Predestination is that Ethan Hawke's and Sarah Snook's characters are the same person from different parts of the same timeline. The change is the result of a skin graft after the character is badly burned attempting to contain an explosion.
  • Rogue Assassin had the whole point of the mystery of the eponymous Assassin having plastic surgery to remain unknown. We don't actually see any of the eponymous Assassin's face, and instead the one we THINK is the Assassin was actually his last target who took over his identity.
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For features Josh Brolin as Dwight McCarthy instead of Clive Owen. Dwight's story involves him being shot in the face and receiving surgery, resulting in a noticeably different appearance. Originally, Brolin was to play Dwight pre-surgery and Owen was to play him post-surgery, but due to a scheduling issue Brolin ultimately played both versions.
  • A tie-in comic for Star Trek Into Darkness shows Khan Noonien Singh getting Magic Plastic Surgery to explain his Race Lift.
  • Terry O'Quinn declined reprising the role as the eponymous Axe-Crazy in Stepfather III and was replaced by Robert Wightman; the change in appearance is dealt with via a Squicky backalley plastic surgery scene at the beginning of the film.
  • Tomie from the live-action adaptations of Junji Ito's comic of the same name is this. Due to cloning and regeneration no two Tomies look alike.
  • White Wolves: Brian from the first movie (although he gets a Sudden Name Change) and Ben from the second are each played by different, older actors in the sequel.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the TV series The Adventures of Superboy, Lex Luthor was Nth Doctored through plastic surgery while Superboy himself was Other Darrined. In this case, Luthor's plastic surgery also somehow involved a change in built and an age-up from late teens to at least mid-thirties.
  • The Chronicoms in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are semi-robotic aliens with the ability to change their appearances and voices. In season 7 the Chronicom Hunters are able to disguise themselves in the past by forcefully and violently erasing the faces of humans and replicating their appearances. However, the only actual example of this in the show is with the Chronicom Luke, who is originally played by Luke Baines then is replaced by Tobias Jelinek after Luke steals the face of a police officer in 1931.
  • ˇAla... Dina!: When Paz Padilla exited the series and was replaced by Miriam Díaz-Aroca in the role of the titular genie, it was explained as her body transforming through some form of The Power of Love.
  • On 'Allo 'Allo!, Herr Flick was played by Richard Gibson until series 9, when he was replaced by David Janson. To explain the change in actors (who looked NOTHING alike) Herr Flick had plastic surgery to radically alter his appearance so he would not be captured by Allied forces.
  • In Altered Carbon, one's consciousness is contained in a small device implanted at the base of the skull. This has many implications, one of which is that the body has come to be regarded as merely a "sleeve". Kovacs goes through at least four sleeves (and countless others offscreen) over the course of the show.
  • Trance from Andromeda is interesting in that it was to change her makeup design instead of her actress. Part way through season two she's replaced with a future version of herself who looks completely different (even having a different skin colour), but she's still the same actress behind the makeup.
    • She still does act fairly differently however (presumably due to her being older and more mature than her previous self).
    • Indeed, the change is so convincing, and done in such a way that is seems like a straight-up example of the trope, you really have to go over the credits to convince yourself it's the same actress!
  • Arrowverse:
    • Mxyzptlk from Supergirl is an ultra-powerful being who can shapeshift at will. In Season 2, he took the form of the young and handsome Peter Gadiot when he was trying to woo Kara. In Season 5, he was instead played by the middle-aged and homely Thomas Lennon, as he had long moved on from Kara and approached her as a friend.
    • China Anne McClain departed from Black Lightning midway through the final season to pursue other venues. Jennifer Pierce was subsequently recast with Laura Kariuki for the final seven episodes, with an in-universe explanation of Jennifer experiencing a power overload and turning into raw energy. When she was reconstructed, she had to live with a new body. However the Grand Finale reveals that this isn't true, with McClain's Jennifer returning, and Kariuki's being exposed as an Energy Being posing as her.
    • After Ruby Rose departed from Batwoman, her character, Kate Kane, was recast with Wallis Day. The creators bothered to explain the change in-universe: Kate was disfigured during a plane accident between Season 1 and 2 and her face was reconstructed to resemble another (dead) person.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Inverted at the end of Season 1. Delenn uses an ancient machine to transform herself into a being with both human and Minbari characteristics, radically changing her appearance, but is still played by the same actress.
    • Babylon 5 also messed with the trope in a couple other ways. When the first actor to play Draal was unable to return due to illness, a new one was cast, the difference being remarked upon by Sheridan. Delenn replies that the Great Machine had restored to him his youth and appearance of thirty years prior. When the original actress to play Anna Sheridan was unavailable, they recast her with the real-life wife of the actor playing her onscreen husband, and although the backstory involved would have made it ridiculously easy to hand-wave the change in appearance, they instead played it as The Other Darrin. Fortunately, it was easy not to notice that it was a different actress.
      • Helped that they had a convenient replay of the only scene Anna Sheridan had been in, with the new actress instead of the old. JMS ALMOST did an Orwellian Retcon on DVD.
    • The characters migrate with actor availability as well... Carolyn Sykes becomes Catherine Sakai, becomes Anna Sheridan. JS becomes JS. Rather like the senior telepath/s and the second/s in command.
  • German 90's TV show Balko used this. Following the departure of Jochen Horst, the first actor to play the main character, the next season started with a near fatal car accident, forcing the till then unseen character to undergo plastic surgery, turning him into new actor Bruno Eyron (among the possible new faces given to choose from was also a famous German shepherd dog, 'Kommissar Rex').
  • In Beetleborgs, Jo becomes the victim of a botched magical spell that alters her face from that of Shannon Chandler to that of Brittany Konarzewski. The change is permanent but a new spell makes everyone but the other heroes (and the viewer, of course) see her old face.
  • Villain Al Hawke returns to Birds of Prey (2002) played by a different actor, his new face explicitly the result of Magic Plastic Surgery to erase the scars of his burns from a previous episode. Unlike other examples, this doesn't explain why his personality, height, etc. all change between appearances, but hey.
  • In Blake's 7, the character of Travis (first played by Stephen Greif in the first season, then replaced by Brian Croucher in Season 2) was given a combination of plastic surgery and psychological re-conditioning.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: After Greg Serrano (as played by Santino Fontana) left early in Season 2, he later came back in the fourth (and final) season, but this time played by Skylar Astin. Co-creators Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom explained the swap as it being a result of Greg's original completed character arc, and a reflection of how your perception of people (in this case, protagonist Rebecca's) can change over time.
    Valencia: Okay, you want to talk about change? Let's talk about change. Greg has also changed a ton! He's practically a completely different actor now. And of course I'm saying "actor" in the political and legal sense.
  • At the conclusion of the tenth season of Dallas, Victoria Principal chose to leave the series and as a result her character Pam was severely burned in a tanker explosion. Pam later reappeared in one episode two seasons later, now played by Margaret Michaels, with some plastic surgery to explain the change in appearance.
  • Dead Ringers: The Trope Namer was parodied in one sketch, when Tony Blair collapses during an interview, and regenerates into David Tennant.
    "Tony Blair": New Labour... that's weird.
  • The Trope Namer is the Doctor from Doctor Who, as mentioned above. The show has its own page.
  • Played with in Dollhouse. Many of the "characters" are, or become, artificial constructs (imprints) that can be moved from body to body. Multiple actors interpret Topher, Dominic, "Taffy", Dr. Saunders, Clyde Randolf, "Kiki", Margaret, the serial killer in "Belle Chose", and Caroline in this way. Generally as much as possible is done to retain the voice and mannerisms of the original, with the exceptions of Clyde and Dr. Saunders, who change and evolve as they go along.
    • In particular, Victor was imprinted with Topher enough times to count as a recurring character.
    • In the post-apocalyptic episodes, Ambrose and Harding are played by different actors than normal, explaining that they now jump bodies ("getting a new suit") regularly and have multiple copies of each other. The same thing was done to Rossum founder Clyde when Rossum was first starting.
  • Due South is a rare non-scifi example of this trope: after being Un-Cancelled for a third season, it transpired that David Marciano, who played Raymond Vecchio, had already relocated with his family and been hired for a new role and so wasn't able to rejoin the show. This being a Buddy Cop Show between Marciano and Paul Gross's character Fraser, they were left with something of a problem, but came up with a unique twist. Marciano was replaced by the utterly dissimilar Callum Keith Rennie... and only Fraser, who's just come back from vacation, appears to notice that his partner has become a completely different person. He spends the entire first episode believing he's the Only Sane Man while "Vecchio" and all their co-workers, and even Vecchio's own sister, profess ignorance to anything unusual. His boss eventually sets him straight: the real Ray Vecchio has been sent deep undercover in the mob due to his uncanny resemblance to a presumably deceased boss whose gang he's infiltrating. The new Ray is a cop with the same first name and no family ties following a recent divorce, who's been brought in to take his place, so that if anyone gets suspicious and goes looking they'll find a Ray Vecchio active within the Chicago PD.
  • Good Witch has Tara's first few appearances she is played by Ashley Leggat, who was reprising the same role from the made-for-TV movies. She is then replaced by Rebecca Dalton for all subsequent appearances.
  • In Gotham, Poison Ivy was onto actor number three as of mid-season four. First, she was a teenager played by the 12-to-13-at-the-time Clare Foley, until a villain who drains people's Life Energy and causes Rapid Aging got a hand on her, not long enough to leave her as the usual ancient-looking corpse but long enough to turn her into the 28-year-old Maggie Geha. note  After a season and a half as Geha, Ivy gets tired of not being taken seriously (she's pretty badass but nowhere near the league of those who control the city's underworld) and concocts a potion to amp up her powers. It causes her to go into a giant pod, and she emerges with a power set more akin to her comics self... and yet a third face, that of Peyton List.
  • In Heroes, Master of Illusion Candice's favourite form was originally played by Missy Peregrym, but in her brief appearance in season 2 she had decided to change identities, and her new preferred form was Rachel Kimsey. When she died at the hands of Sylar, her true body was revealed as neither of the two.
  • In Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: The TV Show, the Szalinskis' family dog, Qwark, is originally a sheep dog. However, in one episode, he becomes a mutated canine beast after accidentally eating some mutated vegetables Wayne created. The Szalinskis' manage to undo the mutation, but as a side effect, Qwark is transformed into an Irish setter for the remainder of the series.
  • In the second season of Jessica Jones (2015), Jessica's mother Alisa is unrecognizable to Jessica after having extensive facial reconstruction surgery.
  • Joan of Arcadia and The Collector have different actors play God and The Devil, respectively. Lampshaded in the first example, where God points out that he/she/it is in reality, beyond all comprehension and so is simply taking A Form You Are Comfortable With, one that's not always going to look the same. Sometimes they're even snippy, because it's what Joan understands.
  • Two cases in Kamen Rider Den-O: When Hana's actress Yuriko Shiratori left the show for unknown reasons, she was replaced by the much-younger Tamaki Matsumoto, and it was explained that her timeline had been rewritten to make her younger. When Ryotaro's actor Takeru Satoh moved on to other roles after the third movie, he was replaced with Takuya Mizoguchi (who previously played Ryotaro's younger self in the first movie), and the Timey-Wimey Ball was again used to explain it. Interestingly, both Matsumoto and Mizoguchi bear a striking resemblance to their predecessors, a fact which becomes more pronounced as they grow up.
  • In Lexx, the change from Zev Bellringer (Eva Habermann) to Xev Bellringer (Xenia Seeberg) was explained via the former dying and melting into a puddle of goo, from which the latter was incarnated via the sacrifice of a few hapless astronauts. The reason given for her being so different in behavior and appearance after the resurrection is that the alien who brought her back was working from the imperfect memories of Zev's friends. It's worth noting that Xev still appears to have all of Zev's original memories, and is still part cluster-lizard due to Zev's botched love-slave transformation. Also, in a later episode Xev is briefly reverted to her original "ugly Zev" body, but later restored to Xev.
  • Subverted in a HUGE way by the Australian lifestyle show parody Life Support. In Season 3, Doctor Rudi changed actors, from Simon Van Der Stap to Jack Finsterer. However, it turned out that this new Dr. Rudi, who had allegedly had Magic Plastic Surgery, was actually an impostor, and the old Dr. Rudi was out for revenge. It culminated in a fist-fight between the Rudis at the new Dr. Rudi and Sigourney's wedding.
  • In one episode of Married... with Children, the family dog passes away, and at the end of the episode he's reincarnated as a puppy to live with the Bundys (much to his horror) by a jerkish cat who was in charge of his reincarnation case.
  • British children's comedy Mike & Angelo had Angelo – an alien – turn into another actor via a regeneration process that was a direct reference to Doctor Who.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: Invoked in the production of a Soap Within a Show. When Akbar fires Juna yet keeps Juna's character, Akbar says that it will be said in-universe that the character has a Magic Plastic Surgery, demonstrating that Juna is not irreplaceable to Akbar.
  • George Sunday from My Hero (2000) is a Starfish Alien using a fake human body, so when Ardal O'Hanlon quit the show in the final season, George lost his body in a poker game and got a new one that looked like James Dreyfus. Characters who didn't know he was an alien were told that he left his wife and that she got a new lodger called George Monday.
  • In Series 1 and 2 of My Parents Are Aliens, Sophie Johnson was played by blonde Barbara Durkin. From Series 3 onwards, she was played by brown-haired Carla Mendonça, having "got stuck" morphed that way.
  • On Mystery Science Theater 3000: Replacement of voice actors/puppeteers for the robots, as in most puppetry and animation, was usually unexplained. However, the difference in Tom Servo's voice from one actor to another was so severe that it was given an on-screen nod as Joel replaced Servo's voice module. Similarly, in the eighth season Crow T. Robot was the only one who'd stayed on the satellite for five-hundred-odd years, and thus had gone slightly mad; any other vocal differences were given a Hand Wave in the tenth season when Joel (appearing as The Cameo) suggested that Crow had replaced the bowling pin that formed his mouth.
    • This was also lampshaded in episode 905, where Mike cut himself on Crow, becoming a Were-Crow. In giving Mike the rundown of what being Crow would entail, Crow mentioned that "your voice is gonna change inexplicably every seven years or so."
      • This was also joked about in an interview with Bill Corbett where he explained his initial lack of puppetry skills (as compared to Trace Beaulieu) by stating that "Crow had a stroke."
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Rita Repulsa was originally portrayed using stock footage of Machiko Soga as Witch Bandra from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger (with Barbara Goodson dubbing her voice) until the beginning of Season 2 when she was shrunken and imprisoned inside a small space dumpster by her master Lord Zedd. When she returned to full size later during the same season (now played by Carla Perez in all new American-made footage), her servant Finster gave her a magical makeover in order to explain her different appearance.
    • Alpha 6's voice chip was damaged when the Power Chamber was destroyed at the end of Power Rangers Turbo, necessitating a repair that gave it a new personality, a new voice and familiar mannerisms (from Totally Radical Scrappy to Alpha 5 Expy), also explaining away the voice actor switch from Katerina Luciani to Wendee Lee. Alpha 6 would get Other Darrined without explanation in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, where it is voiced by New Zealand-based American actor Campbell Cooley with a deeper voice than any Alpha has had before, with a flanging effect that makes him sound more like he's going for Alpha 5.
    • When David Yost walked off the set of Power Rangers Zeo due to homophobic bullying, never to return, Billy was briefly recast as a middle-aged version of himself (due to belated effects of the age regeneration he used to escape child form in the "Alien Rangers" story arc). After a couple of episodes spent seeking a solution to Billy's continued aging, Billy's youth was restored and the character written out via stock footage.
  • Holly, the A.I. from Red Dwarf, became a female character at the end of Series 2 and stayed female for the next three series, before later switching back to male.
    • Less noticeable was the recasting of the android Kryten (with Robert Llewellyn replacing David Ross, who originally was to return but was unavailable). This was mainly achieved when the look of the series was entirely redesigned, with a greatly improved budget allowing for better costumes and prosthetics, plus the fact that Kryten was only in one episode previously. Llewellyn played the part very differently, with this being explained in an Opening Scroll as Lister rebuilding him but being unable to restore his personality, this was further explored in Series VIII Episode 2 "Back in the Red: Part 2" when Kryten's behaviour is 'reset' and his actions and mannerisms noticeably revert to the 'Ross' Kryten (before being restored to his old new self).
  • Sliders:
    • Quinn Mallory's replacement by his non-identical counterpart from another universe, when Jerry O'Connell left the show, is half this and half Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
      • They actually almost never refer to the replacement as "Quinn" or "Q-Ball" (Rembrandt's nickname for the original). Instead, it's always "Mallory". He doesn't seem to mind. Remmy eventually takes to calling him "Fog Boy".
      • However, before she warmed up to the gang, Maggie called Quinn "Mallory". As she defrosts she gets to First-Name Basis. Now she gets to go back to calling him "Mallory" despite being on friendlier terms.
    • On the other hand, third-season Big Bad Rickman is replaced by a new actor after his first appearance, and this is explained as a side-effect of his vampiric medical condition: in his first appearance, his facial features change momentarily whenever he injects brain tissue from his victims. This transformation turns out to have a small but cumulative permanent effect as well. In reality, Roger Daltrey was simply too expensive to keep on as a recurring character.
  • In Smallville, the recurring character Morgan Edge is initially played by Rutger Hauer, and after a near-fatal accident and Magic Plastic Surgery, he is played by Patrick Bergen, leading to this priceless quote:
    Lex Luthor: You can change your face, your hair, your voice... but not your DNA. You still sweat the same.
  • Most Soap Opera actor changes are simply The Other Darrin (or the result of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome for the younger set), but occasionally they can be Nth Doctors. Example: Jerry Jacks of General Hospital had his Magic Plastic Surgery turn him from Julian Stone to Sebastian Roche... and it was good enough for him to successfully use an alias for a few months.
    • One of the most infamous (and convoluted) versions of this occurred on Days of Our Lives: When Wayne Northrop — the actor portraying Roman Brady — left the show in 1984, his character was Put on a Bus via shooting/body snatching. Two years later, the younger, taller Drake Hogestyn took over the role. Playing this trope straight, they explained his physical differences by plastic surgery needed to recover from the injuries suffered at the hands of Stefano DiMera. Then Northrop returned four years after that... as Roman Brady. He'd been held prisoner by DiMera, while DiMera sent brainwashed mercenary John Black (who, in an extra dash of Soap Operaness, turned out to be Stefano's half-brother) to take over Roman's life and be his spy (that didn't work so well for Stefano). But Northrop only stuck around three more years before leaving again. This time they went straight The Other Darrin and brought in Josh Taylor to play Roman (which he has done since 1997).
      • Parodied on Friends (and crossing over with The Bus Came Back) where Days of Our Lives exists as a Show Within a Show when Joey is brought back to the show by having his character (who had been in a coma for five years) receive a brain transplant from a female character who was being killed off. Dr. Drake Remoray was back, but with Jessica Lockhart's mind.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • On Stargate SG-1, you'd think you'd see this with the Goa'uld and Good Counterparts the Tok'ra, as they live in human hosts, but it doesn't really happen much (notably, the original Big Bad, Apophis, keeps his original host even after years of torture at the hands of Sokar left him horribly scarred.) However, partially-ascended Anubis tends to cause Possession Burnout. As such, he's got one actor when in a containment suit, followed by a succession of human servants he possesses when the last burns out (after his suit is destroyed in one season finale battle.) At one point, a withered Anubis is talking to The Dragon Baal as a fresh host is brought in. He switches to it and picks up where he left off as the old host falls dead and is dragged out.
    • Used in Stargate Atlantis for Elizabeth Weir. Previously played by Torri Higginson, Weir returned first as a faceless, fuzzy-voiced Virtual Ghost, who then built herself a replicator body played by Michelle Morgan, who had in the previous season played F.R.A.N., a replicator McKay made. This allowed them to explain that to save time, Weir simply used the last template in the replicator machine, rather than try to remake her own appearance from scratch.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • The episode "The Host" plays this trope completely straight with regard to the Trill symbionts, which were portrayed at completely taking over the new host and replacing the existing personality. This dynamic, not to mention the species' appearance, was completely changed from the beginning of Deep Space Nine.
      • The Borg Queen's hard to tell. She appears to be destroyed in almost every appearance — even by way of retcon, revealing herself to have been on the cube in "The Best of Both Worlds". Yes, her debut is an Unexplained Recovery. She's indicated and proven repeatedly that physical death is a minor inconvenience to her, and it's easy to imagine that her data just goes elsewhere when one body's in mortal danger, though that's not said outright. Coincidentally or not, she's sometimes Alice Krige and sometimes Susanna Thompson, and with so much make-up it's hard to tell who is who.
      • The Star Trek Encyclopedia jokes that Data's cat, Spot changes appearance and gender between episodes because it's an alien shapeshifter or was caught in a Teleporter Accident.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began with the character Jadzia Dax, played by Terry Farrell, who was a joined Trill: she was a merged consciousness of the humanoid host Jadzia and the long-lived sluglike symbiont Dax, forming a single new personality that retained Jadzia's memories pre-joining as well as those of Dax's previous seven hosts. Upon Jadzia's death, the Dax symbiont was implanted in a new host: the show thus introduced Ezri Dax, played by Nicole de Boer. Slightly different from the usual approach to this trope since a joined Trill retains something close to their host's original identity, so they're not exactly (or legally) the same person as the previous hosts. Ezri is therefore treated as a different character, albeit with Jadzia's and the previous hosts' memories and some aspects of their personalities, and she has to grapple with integrating them with her own.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: A particularly unusual case: Adira (though a human), in a flashback, is shown to have become the subsequent host of their own Trill boyfriend's symbiont after he was tragically killed in an accident. However, very much contrary to standard Trill experience, the boyfriend keeps appearing vividly in Adira's thoughts, an A.I. detects him as a separate presence and gives him a holographic form, and he may be somehow regaining physical existence later on. On top of that, Adira also turns out to be a subsequent host of an admiral who the crew is trying to find.
  • Supernatural:
    • Demons can possess different human bodies, so any demon character can be played by more than one actor. It happened with Lilith in Season 3 and 4, and then with Ruby/"Kristy" between seasons 3 and 4.
    • It also occurred with villains Azazel and Alastair, and the possibility exists for this to happen with the angels as well. However, it's explicitly avoided with the character of Anna, whose human body was destroyed when she became an angel again, but replaced with an identical one as she'd become attached to it and arranged for it to be remade.
    • The angels don't just switch bodies, they also don't care about the sex of their physical vessels. Castiel's alternative vessel was a 12-year-old girl, Lucifer appeared as a woman in both Sam and Nick's dreams, and Raphael's second vessel was female. Fan theories vary on whether angels simply don't recognize gender in the way humans do or if they have a particular gender preference. But whatever you do, don't bring up the question of what this means for the hetero/homosexuality of ships involving angels.
    • Meg has also gone through several bodies, including Sam's.
    • The difference with demons is that they used to be human, so they understand gender perfectly well.
  • The Terminator known as Cromartie is reduced to a metal skeleton in the first episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, in which he was played by Owain Yeoman, and slowly creates a new flesh covering for himself over the course of the first season, being played by an uncredited stunt artist in the interim stages, and Garret Dillahunt once the work is complete. This was due to Real Life Writes the Plot, as Dillahunt was always the showrunners' first choice for the role, but was unavailable for the recording of the pilot episode.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look: Parodied in the live show's "Numberwang" sketch. On the TV series, the two contestants, Julie and Simon, were played by Olivia Colman and Paterson Joseph. Since the live show couldn't get them, Julie and Simon are noted by the host to have "regenerated into two less expensive actors".
  • The death of Philip Gilbert shortly into Big Finish's The Tomorrow People (1973) line was framed by having TIM require some repair work after damage received in Gilbert's last episode. John had to rebuild TIM's voice synthesizer, and couldn't quite reproduce the original voice. Gilbert's other recurring roles (He also voiced a family of clones on whose voice TIM had been modeled) were not so lucky, and became Fake Shemps.
  • Twin Peaks: Between the original series and The Return, the actors that played BOB (Frank Silva) and Philip Jeffries (David Bowie) died, while the actor for the Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson) refused to reprise his role. However, all three characters are in some way connected to the Black Lodge, providing a justification for appearances different enough to be played by different actors.
    • BOB spends most of his time possessing the bodies of others, so they mostly just show his host and some brief glimpses achieved with archival footage.
    • The Man From Another Place changed form to a bizarre creature that looks like a tree branch made of flesh.
    • Philip Jeffries is eventually revealed to have become some kind of steam-blowing Mechanical Abomination with his voice provided by a soundalike.
  • In The Worst Witch, Katy Allen replaced Felicity Jones as Ethel Hallow for Seasons 2 and 3, which was explained by Ethel having given herself a "witch-over". She undoes this spell for the fourth season (Weirdsister College), when Jones returns to the role.

  • When bassist Masokiss left UK all-character cult band Deathsex Bloodbath, they circumvented it by having the performer die onstage and (through low-budget effects) regenerate into her replacement.

  • Used as a major gameplay mechanic in the Doctor Who pinball game: The Master has effectively trapped six of the (then) seven Doctors in different places, and the Seventh must get them to safety in order to confront the Master, the Daleks, and ultimately Davros.

  • Dead Ringers: The radio show has David Dimbleby, outgoing host of Question Time, regenerate much like the Blair / Tennant example in Live Action, mimicking the Twelfth Doctor's regeneration, since David Dimbleby was replaced by Fiona Bruce.
    Dimbleby: Question Time... I let you go...
    Fiona Bruce: Oh, brilliant. I'm a woman now. The BBC will get letters!
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978):
    • To replace the late Peter Jones in the Tertiary Phase, the guide receives an "update" during the first scene of the play. Thanks to some clever editing, the voice of the Guide changes in mid-sentence, and occasionally reverts back for a second, using recycled audio from the original series.
    • Following the death of Susan Sheridan, the Hexagonal Phase explains that Trillian has been merged with her alternate-Earth counterpart, Tricia Macmillan, who had appeared in the Quintessential Phase played by Sandra Dickinson (the TV Trillian).
  • In the radio adaptation of How the Marquis Got His Coat Back, the Marquis (played by Patterson Joseph instead of David Harewood from the radio adaptation of Neverwhere) explains to Richard that he sounds different as a side-effect of having his throat cut. He also mentions he sounds like his "younger self", a reference to Joseph playing the Marquis in the TV version.
  • The first actor to play The Lone Ranger on the radio died tragically in a car crash. To further a) a seamless transition of the character and b) to keep young viewers from being freaked out by the Ranger's sudden vocal change, the producers decided to have the Ranger be seriously injured and spend a few episodes first unconscious and then unable to talk coherently, before introducing the new voice of the Ranger, Brace Beemer. For those who noticed the change, his injuries could provide an in-universe explanation.

    Video Games 
  • Dawn of War explains the difference in Space Marine voice actors between installments as a product of a mutation in one of the many extra Bio-Augmentation organs that differentiates Space Marines from normal humans. Specifically, the organ in their throat which usually allows a Space Marine to spit acid doesn't work properly, and instead causes their voice to change every few years.
  • Ingress: Whatever the Shapers did that brought Roland Jarvis back from the dead also changed his appearance significantly, as the Roland Jarvis that died and the one that came out to greet his agents, thanking them for his revival, were entirely different, despite being the same mind.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The player can do this to Shepard between the games. The second game justifies this with Shepard dying in the opening and then being reconstructed by Cerberus. The third game, however, has no justification. Other characters will also easily recognize you just by your voice.
    • Ashley gets this between the second and third game. Her Ambiguously Brown got swapped for a hotter, obviously Hispanic look.
    • Due to being The Faceless, Tali changing suits between the first and second game has a similar effect.
  • In Tekken, when Heihachi Mishima's old voice actor died and was replaced with a new one, they justified it in-universe by having Heihachi reverse his age with an experimental drug. This plot point is introduced in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and re-iterated in Project × Zone and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for those out of the loop. However, both Street Fighter X Tekken (which released after Tag 2 but before PXZ and PSASBR) and Tekken 7 have the elderly Heihachi with his new voice, which might come across as strange or dissonant to some players, though Tekken 7 at least has a few flashbacks which feature Heihachi as his younger, Tag 2 incarnation (thereby implying the new voice has always been his).

    Visual Novels 
  • According to Disgaea Infinite, the Prism Rangers often die and people are often recruited or kidnapped to replace them, explaining why their voice actors constantly change throughout the Disgaea series.

  • The Insecticomics uses the trope to justify characters being represented by new toys. The most major would be Dreadmoon's upgrade to a repaint of Energon Mirage from a sculpted model, although Starscream's gone through several new bodies as better toys for him have come out.
  • The Order of the Stick goes through several art changes that, because the characters are aware they're in a comic strip, inherently affects how the universe looks. Pointed out several times, such as when Elan remarks that Roy and Elan each got new accessories from a dragon's den before Haley points out that it's just an art upgrade, and they're supposed to pretend they've always looked like that. So while the appearance of the characters (to us) doesn't change drastically, to the characters, it does.
  • In the Luna arc of Quantum Vibe Dr. Seamus O'Murchadha undergoes a treatment to fix his screwed up metabolism from his last rejuvenation treatment. It also makes him look less like Tom Baker with a weight problem and more like an eight-foot-tall William Hartnell. A later arc showed that he's changed his appearance, with both rejuvenation and conventional plastic surgery, several times in the past.
  • In Roommates, because it's a Mega Crossover and has a whole cast of Living Dreams, when a different adaptation of the source material becomes more well known the powers of the universenote  change the appearance of the characters. It's generally not permanent, though, as they are Composite Characters and by definition encompass all their portrayals. (They possess a very limited shapeshiftingnote  ability thanks to this too.)

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in the ClickHole article "All The Seinfelds, Ranked", which straight-facedly pays tribute to the various actors who supposedly played the character of Jerry Seinfeld in various seasons, including John Cusack, George Lazenby, Kadeem Hardison ("the first black Seinfeld") and Louis C.K., among others. Also, in one season, the supporting cast is mentioned as "Elaine (Khandi Alexander), George (LeVar Burton), and Kramer (Eddie Murphy)", without further explanation. What makes this all the more amazing is that the actual Jerry Seinfeld is on the list... as "Peter Harrick".
  • Eddsworld: After Edd Gould's death, Edd the character got zapped by an alien voice changer in Space Face Pt. 2 to explain Tim Hautekiet taking over as the his voice actor.
  • Inanimate Insanity Invitational: After Bow's voice actress was replaced due to a Role-Ending Misdemeanor, the creators took advantage of the fact that the character in this season is a robot to provide an explanation for her voice change in episode 10, that of her choosing a new voice out of a catalogue of voices Test Tube gave her (which is also why she does not speak for most of the episode, as her new voice had been processing for that time).
  • In the third installment of A Very Potter Musical, Hermione is first seen wearing a Death Eater mask, which gets her punched in the face by Neville and her nose broken. After a faulty Reparo charm is cast on her face, only then does the mask come off to reveal that she's now played by Meredith Stepien instead of Bonnie Gruesen. Ron notes that she's much hotter, and she asks him (and the audience) to treat her as if she's the same old Hermione.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale, Carlos's change of voice actors is explained by his having replaced his own vocal chords to prevent throat spiders, which is apparently important for scientists to do.
  • Used straight but with props in World's Greatest Adventures, for the Living Hat Gordon, who turns from a straw hat to a velvet hat after falling in a time vortexnote . Complete with Doctor Who-esque golden light and sound effect.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "The Prince Who Wanted Everything", Ice King reads Lumpy Space Prince's dialogue in Lumpy Space Princess' normal voice. After she complains, Ice King uses a different voice, resulting in LSPrince's voice changing from Pendleton Ward's voice to Peter Serafinowicz's voice.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • The third season premiere "The Kids" has Gumball and Darwin's voices (both provided by child actors that were outgrowing the character) cracking extensively, leading them to come to terms with becoming adults. At the end of the episode, their voices finally break even with new voice actors... who sound younger than they did before. They then realize they're part of the previously mentioned 1% of people in the world ("most of them on TV") that don't age.
      Gumball: [enthusiastically] We're stuck in these bodies for the rest of our lives!
      Gumball and Darwin: [enthusiasm dies] ... yay?
      • The same thing happens again partway into the fifth season, though much more suddenly, at the end the "The Copycats".
      • Though even less of an "explanation" than previous cases, Darwin's voice changing again in the sixth season occurs right when Darwin clears his throat.
    • In "The Nemesis", Darwin and Gumball help Rob become a better villain. Part of this involved using a remote control to change Rob's voice to sound "more evil", which changes his voice from Hugo Harold-Harrison to David Warner. When he tires of this voice at the end of the same season, he uses another remote control to change it back.
  • The Ben 10: Omniverse episode "Universe Vs. Tennyson" establishes Celestialsapiens, the source species of Alien X and a species of Reality Warpers, as the cause of the various redesigns and The Other Darrins throughout the franchise, with Azmuth cited as an example (going from Robert David Hall in Secret of the Omnitrix and Destroy All Aliens, to Jeff Bennett doing a René Auberjonois impression in the Alien Force/Ultimate Alien era, to Auberjonois himself voicing Azmuth in Omniverse).
  • Ninjago:
    • A non-actor example. In Season 8, the ninja were redesigned to match their movie counterparts. It's implied in the first episode of Season 8 that time travel effects from the previous season caused this. However, the ninja still sport their old designs in photographs and flashbacks from before Season 8, calling this explanation into question.
      Cole: If someone goes back in time and alters the past, our reality as we know it would change. We could look totally different and not even know it. (Takes off mask to reveal new face and hair design)
      Jay: But we don't. (Also takes off mask to reveal new design)
    • An actor example also happened in the same episode. As Samuel Vincent replaced Jillian Michaels (to make him sound older like in the movie), the Ninja remark on how Lloyd getting older has deepened his voice.
  • Retroactively applied in ReBoot: at the end of season two Bob is sucked into the Web, and when he came back in season three, slightly degraded by his experience, he switched voice actor from Michael Benyaer to Ian James Corlett because the former was unavailable. When Benyaer became available again while producing season four they had him do the voice for Bob in a flashback, a second Bob (possibly the original, possibly a copy, actually Megabyte), and the real Bob after the damage done to him by the Web is repaired, implying the different voice was caused by said degradation.
  • Glossaryck from Star vs. the Forces of Evil was originally voiced by Jeffrey Tambor. Following being destroyed in "Book Be Gone" and being revived in "Rest In Pudding", he spent the whole third season just saying "Globgor". When Glossaryck finally started speaking in complete sentences again, after which he was voiced by Keith David, Star asked "Is his voice different?", implying he literally does sound different.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Leonardo spends the time between the season two finale and season three premiere in a coma. Once he wakes up, his voice actor is different (Seth Green instead of Dominic Catrambone, who himself was a temporary replacement for Jason Biggs). Casey comments on his voice being different and Donatello says it's a result of his injuries.
  • Toonami, an action block originally on Cartoon Network, now on [adult swim], had robotic show host TOM 1.0, voiced by Sonny Strait, get destroyed by an alien Blob Monster during a special event, and was replaced by TOM 2.0, voiced by Steve Blum. Subsequent versions of TOM's body (usually) had their own explanations via similar on-air events and comics, but Blum would continue to voice all of them.
  • Autobots and Decepticons in Transformers often upgrade, and occasionally mutate, into newer, more powerful bodies. While generally a way to advertise new toys, this is occasionally (though not usually) used to justify new voice actors:
    • When Megatron was rebuilt as Galvatron in Transformers: The Movie, his voice changed from Frank Welker to Leonard Nimoy. Galvatron in the series proper is again voiced by Welkernote  and this vocal change is explained by him undergoing Sanity Slippage due to taking a plasma bath.
    • Scourge and Cyclonus had new voice actors instead of those of Thundercracker and... either of the two characters Cyclonus could be. (Long story.)
    • Beast Machines Jetstorm has a different voice than Silverbolt, because it'd ruin the surprise.
    • Casey Kasem, who was of Lebanese descent, left The Transformers in protest over the stereotypical portrayal of an evil dictator of an Arab state called "Carbombya". As a result, Teletraan-1, which he voiced, was replaced with Teletraan-2, voiced by Frank Welker.


The Doctor

UNIT recruitment film clip introduces the Doctor... several of him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheNthDoctor

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