Credit: John Paschal Photography, John Paschal/JPI (3)
Ashley Abbott, The Young and the Restless
We get it — it’s hard to fill a legend’s stilettos. Y&R kinda pulled it off when it first replaced Eileen Davidson with lookalike Brenda Epperson; if you only glanced at your screen, you could almost think they were the same actress. But subsequent Ashley Shari Shattuck — at the time Mrs. Ronn Moss (then Ridge, The Bold and the Beautiful) failed to strike a match, much less catch fire.
Belle Black, Days of Our Lives
By the time Kirsten Storms (now General Hospital fashionista) left Salem in 2004, she’d become so well-loved by fans of the NBC soap that she seemed irreplaceable. But it turned out that she just couldn’t be replaced by Charity Rahmer. She lasted… um… about a month before Martha Madison took over and made the role her own.
Duke Lavery, General Hospital
After the mobster’s first death in 1989, the show resurrected Ian Buchanan’s character with Greg Beecroft (formerly Tony on Guiding Light) in the role — a move that so royally ticked off fans that Duke was killed off again and then said not to have been Duke in the first place!
Thorne Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful
Winsor Harmon admitted that “it was a bit of a shocker” when he was fired in 2017 after two decades. And he wasn’t the only one taken aback. Fans who’d gotten used to him as Jeff Tracta’s successor did a double, then a triple take when suddenly his part was played by Ingo Rademacher, who split in 2019 to return to General Hospital as Jax.
Kyle Abbott, The Young and the Restless
Lachlan Buchanan’s gone on to a promising career in primetime (in 2020 alone, he appeared on Station 19, Grey’s Anatomy and Dynasty). But he was a flop in the role that Michael Mealor has since made very much his own. Come to think of it, Buchanan’s predecessor — disgraced Flash co-star Hartley Sawyer — had also been a short-lived dud as Kyle.
Vivian Alamain, Days of our Lives
You just don’t mess with a classic — and Louise Sorel, folks, is a classic. So, despite the fact that the show picked a wonderful actress to replace her in 2019 — One Life to Live Emmy winner Robin Strasser (Dorian) — the recast didn’t take, and Sorel was brought back when Vivian returned in 2020.
Greg Nelson, All My Children
The ABC soap should’ve let our memories of supercouple Greg and Jenny die when it killed off Kim Delaney. Instead, following the departure of Laurence Lau, they recast Greg with Jack Armstrong, who you may also there’s absolutely no chance you’ll remember as one of the shorter-lived Kevin Buchanans on One Life to Live.
Bridget Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful
When three-time Emmy winner Jennifer Finnigan left in 2004 to try her luck in primetime, Emily Harrison was chosen to slip into her lab coat. Alas, the fit was so poor that she lasted all of six months before the soap prescribed itself a re-recast and replaced her with Ashley Jones, who’s been playing Bridget ever since.
Jill Abbott, The Young and the Restless
Nowadays we think of Jess Walton and only Jess Walton as Billy’s Mommie Dearest. But in the 1970s and ’80s, Brenda Dickson owned the role of the man-eating manicurist. When she exited stage right in 1980, first Bond Gideon, then Deborah Adair (later Kate, Days of our Lives) tried to fill in…but fell so flat that Dickson was lured back three years later.
Max Holden, One Life to Live
Nicholas Walker, best known for playing Trey Clegg on Capitol, is so talented that we would’ve thought he could play any part. But when he was tapped to replace James DePaiva as Llanview’s foremost playboy in 1990, we were reminded that nope, some roles can only be played by one actor — in this case, DePaiva, who was enticed to return in ’91.
Jack Deveraux, Days of Our Lives
Well, he was very handsome. That’s probably the best we can say of Steve Wilder, who was brought in to replace Mark Valley (who’d replaced Matthew Ashford) and wrap up the late-’90s story arc that found Jennifer Horton being played by Stephanie Cameron (who let’s just say isn’t in the same league as the estimable Cady McClain).
Heather Stevens, The Young and the Restless
The words “What were they thinking?” come to mind when we reflect upon the show’s decision in 2010 to replace Vail Bloom with All My Children Emmy winner Eden Riegel (Bianca). No contest, Riegel is the superior actor. But, as she admitted to Soaps.com a dozen years later, Heather “was kind of a vixen and a cheater… Those are not personality traits that I’m extremely comfortable playing.”
Sharon Collins, The Young and the Restless
When the character was introduced in 1994, she was played — briefly — by future Parenthood star Monica Potter. Then somehow the show got it in its head that the only actress with the chops to play Nick’s true love was Playboy Playmate Heidi Mark; she lasted eight weeks before Y&R finally found a Sharon with staying power: eventual Emmy winner Sharon Case.
Alexandra Spaulding, Guiding Light
As stunt-casting ideas go, it wasn’t half bad: In 2002, the CBS soap hired Dynasty‘s Alexis, Joan Collins, to play its Alexis, Alexandra. Trouble was, the rigors of daytime were far greater than the rigors of primetime — and fans weren’t pleased to see previous Alex Marj Dusay kicked to the curb, either — so halfway through her six-month contract, Collins quit, only to be replaced by the actress she’d replaced.
Malcolm Winters, The Young and the Restless
Don’t blame Darius McCrary for this recast’s failure — the guy’s a fine actor who brought a cool edge to the role of Malcolm. Unfortunately, predecessor Shemar Moore had been so extraordinarily popular in the part that no way, no how were viewers going to accept anybody else playing it. In fact, after McCrary’s two-year stint ended, Moore came back for not one but two visits.