Unlike live-action productions, fans do not see the true appearances of voice performers while they play the characters. Here are 10 instances of iconic characters that you may not have realised were recast.
The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy and many others Classic cartoons with long-running, enduring characters that fans have grown to love over more than a decade. However, while the cartoon characters depicted on these series may have stayed the same, a lot different can be said for behind the scenes. For a number of reasons, actors providing the voice of a character may be replaced – or recast – with an actor capable of replicating what came before taking over.
This is a look at 10 examples from famous cartoons where the actor behind an important character was changed, rather than just an incidental.
10. Courtney (Total Drama)
For almost all of the character’s appearances, Total Drama’s Courtney has been voiced by Canadian voice actress and singer, Emilie-Claire Barlow. While Barlow did portray Courtney for most of Total Drama Island, she was not the original actress. Instead, Rochelle Wilson provided the voice for the first two episodes – Not So Happy Campers, Parts 1 and 2. Wilson would go on to play ‘Sugar’ in later seasons of Total Drama.
9. Ferb Fletcher (Phineas and Ferb)
Since Disney Channel’s animated series Phineas and Ferb premiered in 2007, Ferb Fletcher has been one of the co-leads. The British-born youngster, alongside his step-brother Phineas Flynn (Everybody Hates Chris’ Vincent Martella), use every day of their summer vacation to build a new, fantastical invention to entertain themselves, their friends and other local citizens.
For the entire run of the show, actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster, known as ‘Sam’ in Love, Actually or ‘Newt’ in The Maze Runner, played Ferb. When the character returned for an episode of Milo Murphy’s Law, he was now portrayed by David Errigo Jr. The latter reprises the role in upcoming Disney+ film Candace Against The Universe.
8. Meg Griffin (Family Guy)
On FOX’s long-running adult animated sitcom Family Guy, Megatron ‘Meg’ Griffin, is the oldest of three children, the unappreciated only daughter of protagonist Peter (Seth MacFarlane) and his wife Lois (Alex Borstein). For Season 1, Meg was voiced by Lacey Chabert. At the time, she was also playing the live-action role of ‘Claudia Salinger’ on FOX’s live-action series Party of Five.
Chabert exited Family Guy after one season, owing to her commitments to school and Party of Five. In 2000, Mila Kunis, who had also previously appeared on a FOX series (That ’70s Show) was hired as the new voice of Meg.
7. Chuckie Finster (Rugrats)
Charles ‘Chuckie’ Finster was a main character on Rugrats from the show’s premiere in 1991. The best friend of main character Tommy Pickles (EG Daily), Chuckie is more cautious than the other babies. For the first eight seasons, spanning 1991 to 2002, actress Christine Cavanaugh voiced Chuckie on the Nickelodeon series.
Cavanaugh retired from acting in 2001 and was subsequently replaced by Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson) for the final two seasons. Sadly, Cavanaugh passed away in 2014 at 51 years of age.
6. Turanga Leela (Futurama)
Turanga Leela, known mainly by her last name, fulfils many functions on Futurama: ship captain, female lead and eventually, love interest to main character Fry (Billy West). Throughout the show’s run, 1999 to 2013, Leela is voiced by Katey Sagal, known for playing Peggy Bundy on Married… with Children and Gemma Teller Morrow on Sons of Anarchy.
However, it is a little-known fact, including to Sagal at one point, that she was not the original actress cast in the role. That honour goes to comedian Nicole Sullivan, who was replaced before the show went into production.
5. TJ Detweiler (Recess)
Recess premiered in 1997 and focused on the misadventures of six fourth-grade friends in their school playground. Although the show featured a large ensemble cast of students, those six were the main focus and were led by troublemaker TJ Detweiler. For the first season, TJ’s voice was provided by Ross Malinger, who is also known for playing Jonah in the film Sleepless in Seattle.
However, Malinger went through puberty during the second season and could no longer play TJ. In his stead, the youngest Lawrence brother, Andrew, (Brotherly Love, Another Me) was cast and continued in the role until the television series ended in 2000. Lawrence played TJ again in 2003 for Recess School’s Out until he was later replaced in direct-to-DVD movies for the same reason as his predecessor.
4. Philip J. Fry (Futurama)
Similarly to Leela, the voice actor for Futurama lead character Philip J. Fry also changed in the show’s early stages. Billy West played the role for the entire run of Futurama and despite auditioning, did not originally land the part. West did, however, secure The Professor and Doctor Zoidberg from those auditions.
Originally, the role of Fry went to voice actor Charlie Schlatter. However, just like Nicole Sullivan with Leela, Schlatter was replaced by West in a casting change.
3. Daphne Blake (Scooby-Doo)
Daphne Blake has been a member of Mystery Incorporated ever since Scooby-Doo began in 1969. However, while Fred Jones (Frank Welker) is now the only character to still have his original voice actor, Daphne was the first to gain a new portrayer. For the first year, actress and singer Indira Stefanianna Christopherson portrayed the role.
However, Christopherson moved to New York with her husband in 1970, thus requiring a new actress for Daphne. Ultimately, the role went to Heather North, roommate of Nicole Jaffe (Velma), who last played the character in 2003. The latest actress to voice Daphne is Grey DeLisle Griffin, also known for Danny Phantom and other cartoons. Sadly, North died in November 2017 at 71 years old.
2. C. Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons)
Harry Shearer has starred on The Simpsons since the beginning. Among his most well-known roles is C. Montgomery “Mr.” Burns, the multi-millionaire owner of Springfield’s Nuclear Power Plant. Despite being on the show from the first season, Shearer, who also plays characters including Ned Flanders and Waylon Smithers, did not originally play the role.
The original voice actor was Christopher Collins (1949-1994), who voiced Mr. Burns for three episodes: “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, “Homer’s Odyssey” and “The Telltale Head”. Collins was replaced by Shearer after being deemed “difficult to work with” by producers of the show.
1. Moe Szyslak (The Simpsons)
Aside from Mr. Burns, Christopher Collins voiced another important character on The Simpsons: bartender Moe Szyslak. Unlike his tenure as Mr. Burns, Collins’ recorded lines as Moe never made it to air. The eventual replacement, Hank Azaria, was not aware of this fact for many years.
Moe was the first character that Azaria played on The Simpsons. His later additions include various roles such as Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, Superintendent Chalmers, Carl, Snake, Kirk van Houten and Professor Frink, among others.