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.
This 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 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.
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.
Compare with Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Fake Shemp, The Other Marty, and Obvious Stunt Double. Directly related to Character Outlives Actor. Contrast with You Look Familiar. Can be Hand Waved by the Literary Agent Hypothesis. 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.
- Anime & Manga
- Live-Action TV
- Professional Wrestling
- Puppet Shows
- Theme Parks
- Video Games
- Web Animation
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- 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.
- The foreign animated adaptations of Disney and Cartoon Network's properties:
- Lilo & Stitch franchise:
- Stitch!: None of the original English voice cast from the Lilo & Stitch movies and Lilo & Stitch: The Series such as Chris Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Kevin Michael Richardson, Frank Welker or Rob Paulsen reprise their roles for the English dub. Ben Diskin replaced Sanders as Stitch, and Jess Winfield, one of the executive producers and writers of The Series, is really the only real connection between this anime and the original franchise, with him providing the voice of Dr. Jumba Jookiba instead of David Ogden Stiers. Averted in the original Japanese version, where everybody else returns from the Japanese dub of the Lilo & Stitch franchise.
- Stitch & Ai: Once again, none of the original cast from the films or The Series return to reprise their roles, although Diskin and Winfield reprise their roles as Stitch and Jumba, respectively. Winfield has also now taken over the role of Jumba entirely after the death of David Ogden Stiers in 2018.
- Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z: Most of the voice actors from the Japanese-language dub of The Powerpuff Girls were recast. For example, Emiri Katou replaces Kaori Aso as Blossom. Also, none of the original cast from The Powerpuff Girls reprised their roles in the English dub. Instead, voices were recorded in Vancouver by The Ocean Group. However, Tara Strong did express interest in reprising her role of Bubbles for a dub, as unlikely as that is to happen.
- Lilo & Stitch franchise:
- In SilfofinaDragon's Sengoku Basara fanfics, some of the characters have different voice actors, while some reprise their roles.