When the star of a hugely popular, long-running TV show leaves, it’s a little hard to get used to their replacement, but what else can producers do? Eventually, fans warm to, say Kelly Ripa instead of Katie Lee Gifford, or Kirstie Alley instead of Shelley Long. But then here are some TV star replacements that didn’t happen…but almost did.
That ‘70s Show
About a year before its 2006 end, both main male stars of Fox’s retro teen sitcom That ‘70s Show decided to move on. Both Topher Grace (Eric Foreman) and Ashton Kutcher (Michael Nelson) decided to pursue their burgeoning movie careers. Producers decided to kill two birds with one stone and replace both at the same time: Actor Josh Meyers joined the cast as Randy; like Eric, he could be a romantic lead, and like Kelso, he was a bit of a doofus. The show didn’t last long enough for Meyers to really gel with the ensemble. However, when the show first signed Meyers, they didn’t consider having him play a new character — they were just going to have him portray Eric Foreman. (Just like how Dick Sargent replaced Dick York as Darrin on Bewitched…but that was a ‘60s show, not a ‘70s show.)
Two and a Half Men
In 2011, Charlie Sheen quit Two and a Half Men, the most popular sitcom on TV in a blaze of glory. After Sheen’s contract disputes and substance abuse troubles led to a production hiatus, Sheen publicly and thoroughly criticized show creator Chuck Lorre along with some of his co-stars, and he left the show for good. (Lorre killed off his character, jingle writer Charlie Harper.) In the fall of 2011, Ashton Kutcher of That ‘70s Show took Sheen’s spot in the cast as an eccentric billionaire named Walden Schmidt. But before Kutcher got the gig, CBS executives pursued movie star Hugh Grant. He met with the network and producers more than once, and agreed to a contract that would’ve paid him $1 million per episode. At the last minute, Grant changed his mind because he didn’t want to commit to arduous task of taping 24 episodes a year.
The Daily Show
Fans were surprised when Jon Stewart left the late-night institution in 2015, right before an election year. Fans were even more surprised when one of the most high-profile hosting spots on TV went to a little-known South African comic and recently hired Daily Show correspondent named Trevor Noah. He’s still hosting the show now, and has proved himself a worthy successor, but it’s still puzzling that a more famous person didn’t get the job. Extremely famous stand-up comedian Amy Schumer was offered The Daily Show but she turned it down. At the time, she was starring in her own very popular sketch comedy series Inside Amy Schumer and was about to release her first feature film, Trainwreck. She told Howard Stern on his radio show that she said no because the job was too secure. “I’m gonna bet on myself that I can do more,” Schumer said.”