Which TV Replacement Character Was the Biggest Upgrade?
Today, I’m looking for which TV replacement character that you think was the biggest upgrade over the character they were replacing.
Pop Culture Theme Time is a feature where I put a question to you to see what you think about a particular theme. I might later revisit the theme for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns or Top Five.
Obviously, a regular thing in episodic television is characters leaving the show and thus other characters being brought in to replace them. It is a common thing, and the best shows tend to have REALLY good replacements. M*A*S*H, for instance, replaced two beloved characters after Season 3, Trapper John and Colonel Blake, and their replacements, BJ Honeycutt and Colonel Potter, were amazing, perhaps better than the originals. However, as good as BJ and Potter were, Trapper and Blake were ALSO really good, ya know? So even if there WAS an upgrade, it wasn’t substantial. Similarly, Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel was clearly the best partner to John Steed on The Avengers, but Honor Blackman’s Cathy Gale was excellent, as well.
Thus, I’m looking for the biggest improvement in a replacement character. The original character has to have at least appeared in one season before being replaced.
I’m going with Peter Graves’ Jim Phelps replacing Steven Hill’s Dan Briggs on Mission: Impossible. Hill wasn’t BAD, but Graves added a great deal more star quality to the role as Phelps.
That’s my pick. How about you?
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21 thoughts on “Which TV Replacement Character Was the Biggest Upgrade?”
Jimmy Smits over David Caruso in NYPD Blues?
Does after just the pilot count? If so I’d have to go with William Shatner replacing Jeffrey Hunter on Star Trek.
Parks and Recreation, Mark Brendanawicz for either Ben or Chris would be a massive upgrade but we got both.
Even though Debbie Allen had interesting ideas for Denise on A Different World (I know this from you), the show improved when Whitley replaced her as the focus. Does that count as a replacement?
Jefferson D’Arcy over Steve D’Arcy on Married with Children.
For the record, David Garrison’s character on MARRIED WITH CHILDREN had the surname of Rhodes, not D’Arcy. The creators of the show deliberately gave both families the surnames of wrestlers: King Kong Bundy and Dusty Rhodes. The former even guest starred in two episodes.
Jo over all those annoying season 1 girls on The Facts of Life. The show was so much better after she replaced them.
On Law & Order, Paul Sorvino was fine (as was George Dzundza before him), but Jerry Orbach MADE that show. Honestly, the only other actor to truly define L&O in the way Orbach did was Sam Waterston, who was ALSO a replacement (for Michael Moriarty).
So I’ll go with both Orbach and Waterston here.
First instinct is Bruce Boxleitner in Babylon 5 replacing Michael O’Hare. I’m aware of the background reasons for the replacement, which is why I was nervous about mentioning it, but the show really picked up from there
I’m not sure if the uptick in the show was because of the change, I think they got a bigger budget in Season 2. I always liked Sinclair, but the character of Sheridan added so much.
Brian Perler appears to have found the right answer. Orbach and Waterston were huge upgrades.
Replacing Kes (Jennifer Lien) with Seven (Jeri Ryan) in Star Trek: Voyager strongly improved characters interactions dynamics and impacted Star Trek right to present day, also, Seven was far better a character herself; besides, it made Neelix completely redundant.
Steven Williams as Captain Fuller replacing Frederic Forrest on “21 Jump Street.” He was a much better “adult in the room” figure than Forrest’s aging hippie Capt. Janko.
I’m looking for more established ones, like at least a season.
I loved Smits on NYPD Blue, but boy, I dug Caruso, too!
Fascinating question. I don’t THINK I’d see her as Denise’s replacement, but I guess she sort of was.
Forrest didn’t even make it through Season 1, right? Yeah, Williams was a BIG improvement.
I would have thought the big improvement on M*A*S*H was when they replace Frank Burns (Larry Linville) with Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) in season 6.
Winchester was a much more rounded character with a pomposity that made him the target of Hawkeye and B.J.’s jokes but also with good qualities making him, at times, likeable.
Woody over Coach on Cheers! Coach was great, but Woody was amazing.
Woody WAS amazing, but Coach was amazing, too. I think Coach was good enough that Woody, although he was a GREAT replacement, wasn’t a gigantic upgrade as a result.
That’s fair. Both were great.