George: Me new George. Studio too cheap to pay Brendan Fraser.
This is when a new actor is brought on to play the same character as a previous actor who has left the series, with no explanation for the switch given to the audience. Named for the famous Darrin swap case: Dick York to Dick Sargent, on Bewitched.
Sargent-York became a notable phenomenon only with the rise of series television. Prior to TV, there was no expectation that a role in a theater production would be played by the same actor. It was, and still is, assumed that any production of a particular work would seek out whatever actors it wanted for the roles, and a single production can feature different actors in the same role on successive nights.
However, TV broadcasting made a bond between a role and a particular actor. Television audiences, unlike theater audiences, found it more difficult to suspend their disbelief in this respect. Maybe this was because reruns existed which would forever tie the appearance of a character to the actor that played them. Or maybe because a TV series, however long, is still perceived as a single, continuous narration — as opposed to multiple performances of a theater play.
In daytime soaps, there are several standardized ways this is done:
- The new actor takes over with no announcement. In this variety, the actor is playing a character who has not recently been on the show. The audience is initially unaware that this person is the character we know, as his/her first interactions are always with characters who have joined the show since he left. Then someone he/she knew addresses him by name, and we are surprised. Though rarely seen outside daytime, this was done on CSI in the episode "Hollywood Brass", in which Brass's daughter was played by a new actress with a different hair color.
- The new actor takes over a major recurring character, and the characters make a point to address them as such from the very beginning of the episode.
- The first shot of the new actor will be accompanied by a short narrator announcement explaining that "the part of (character) will now be played by (new actor)." This is a more common method in telenovelas.
Contrast The Nth Doctor, which is the trope for cases where a character's new voice and appearance are explained in-universe. If there's a Time Skip and most of the cast remains the same then it can be a Time-Shifted Actor if the age difference justifies the particular change. For long-term cast attrition in general, see Long-Runner Cast Turnover. Flashback with the Other Darrin is a subtrope where a previous scene is reshot with the new actor.
This often is the case for spinoff series and video game versions of animated films. Celebrities typically do not reprise their roles in these cases, either because the producers cannot afford them, or because they work solely in films.
Unsurprisingly, this tends to be the cause of many cries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! from the fandom, especially if the previous actor had been associated with the character for so long that they're considered to be the actor for that character. Sometimes though, the new actor can be wholly embraced by the fandom, with the new actor being regarded as the actor instead of the previous one. Unsurprisingly, when these two sides meet, the results tend to be predictable.
Compare Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Fake Shemp, The Other Marty, Obvious Stunt Double. Directly related to Character Outlives Actor. Contrast with You Look Familiar for when the actor returns as a different character in a later installment. Can be Hand Waved via Direct Line to the Author. Often subject to Replacement Scrappy-ism. Or on the other hand, look to The Pete Best when replacement surpasses the original in popularity. Often done with Continuity Reboots. Occasionally explained away with Magic Plastic Surgery. Usually the replacement is a Poor Man's Substitute.
Defiance of this leads to Role Reprise. If the original actor returns to the role later on after being recast, see The Original Darrin.
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- Common in 3000 Whys of Blue Cat. Blue Cat alone has been voiced by Wang Feng, Ge Ping, Zeng Ling, Song Xiaoyu, etc.
- Two seasons of Happy Heroes were dubbed by Lookus. The second of the two dubbed seasons switches some of the voice actors for unexplained reasons.
- Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: The English dub. They keep changing the voices of the characters with each season they dub.
- In SlifofinaDragon's Sengoku Basara fanfics, some of the characters have different voice actors, while some reprise their roles.
- Animorphs essentially did this with most of the cover models, as the original models grew up and went off to college. The re-release, of course, did it again, replacing the original covers with updated ones and cover models who are the right age at the time of re-release.
- Steve O'Brien illustrated the first four Dave Barry books. For the rest of his writing career, Jeff MacNelly (creator of the comic strips Shoe and Pluggers) illustrated both the books and Barry's recurring newspaper column. After MacNelly died in 2000, the illustrations were done by Gary Brookins, also MacNelly's successor on his two comic strips.
- An in-Universe example occurs in the Dream Park novel The California Voodoo Game, when the role of Bobo the guide is commandeered by Alex Griffin so he can keep an eye on Bishop. The players take the exchange in stride, assuming that Bobo's original Game-actor came down with the flu or something.
- Twilight Zone: Tim Kitzrow, who voiced Rod Serling in the game. Justified in that Serling had died twenty years prior.
- Michael J. Fox denied permission for Data East to use his likeliness for their Back to the Future pinball. Data East ended up using a substitute actor for the voice, and artist Paul Faris had his son play Marty on the playfield and backglass art. By all accounts, neither effort succeeded.
- Stern Pinball's Batman, which used substitute voice actors for all of the characters.
- In Junk Yard, the Time Machine modes "Mamushka" and "Payback Time" (in early revisions) have noticeably different voices, presumably because the original voices were licensed, and thus could not be used.
- Part of the reason production of the Shrek pinball was delayed was due to the time required for Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and the other actors to give final approval for their substitute voices.
- In The Shadow, Tim Kitzrow provides the voice for Lamont Cranston/The Shadow, though Alec Baldwin's speech from the film itself appears as well.
- In Jack*Bot, Lia Mortensen replaced Stephanie Rogers as the voice of The Machine.
- Alien (2017): MU/TH/UR 6000 is voiced by Carol Thiel instead of Helen Horton (as in Alien).
- Toy Story 4 (2022): Instead of Tom Hanks, Woody's voiced by his younger brother Jim (who frequently acts as a soundalike for the character in media outside of the original films).
- Welcome to Night Vale had Carlos's first lines (a voicemail left for Cecil) spoken by show creator Jeffrey Cranor. Later episodes would feature Dylan Marron voicing Carlos.
- During her brief appearance in season 1 of Batman: The Audio Adventures, Harley was voiced by Heidi Gardner. Season 2 sees Harley voiced by Gillian Jacobs.