Lather, Rinse, Replace: Soaps' 5 Best (and Worst!) Recasts of All Time

Knowing that nothing freaks out a soap fan faster than hearing the words, “Today, the role of [insert character’s name here] will be played by [anyone but the actor who played the role yesterday],” we wouldn’t want to be Jason Thompson right about now.

Though he’s been immensely popular as General Hospital’s Patrick Drake, he’ll soon be joining The Young and the Restless as Billy Abbott, the rich playboy whose previous portrayers include Daytime Emmy winners David Tom and Billy Miller (who, ironically, replaced Y&R’s Steve Burton as GH’s Jason Morgan) and Burgess Jenkins.

How will Thompson fare? We won’t know until his debut in January (he hasn’t even finished airing on GH yet). So, in the meantime, Team TVLine has compiled a list of the five most successful recasts in soap history — and the five least successful.

Check out the gallery below — or click here for direct access — then hit the comments with your picks for best and worst ever.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Claire says:

    The list isn’t complete without Jennifer Bransford as worst Carly recast on GH.

  2. Kat says:

    What about the girl who took over as Belle black after Kirsten storms left but before Martha madison. They fired her fast!

  3. I can’t believe Julian Moore didn’t make it for AS THE WORLD TURNS.

  4. Steven says:

    Greg Vaughan will always be Dan from Charmed and I will always dislike him for standing between Piper and Leo. (Peo? Leper?)

  5. alistaircrane says:

    I can think of a dozen Days recasts better than Greg Vaughan: Lauren Koslow, Matthew Ashford, Drake Hogestyn, Jay Kenneth Johnson, Mary Beth Evans, Susan Seaforth-Hayes. Nothing against Vaughan, but I would not count him among the best.

    • Linda says:

      Amen on mentioning Matthew Ashford’s, Jack.

    • Damianvargas says:

      I totally forgot about the Phillip before JKJ!!

    • Phlarg says:

      Jay Kenneth Johnson pretty much originated the role of teen/adult Phillip though, no? I know he stepped back into the role after the guy from the Real World left, so I guess that makes him a re-recast, but correct me if I’m wrong, wasnt JKJ the original? (not counting babies)
      ps – i am SO looking forward to JPL playing a recast Phillip!! I think he will one day make a list of GREAT recasts.

      • Damianvargas says:

        There was an actor who played the SORAS’d Phillip when the aged Shawn and Belle as well before JKJ took the role. He couldn’t have been on more than a month or so. I think this list is more of recasts of characters where the previous portrayer was also really popular.

        • alistaircrane says:

          Yes. His name was Brandon Tyler, and he was on for about a month. Jay Johnson still counts. He was indeed a recast of the SORASed Philip.

          • Phlarg says:

            Ahhhh!! Thank you for getting back to me Alistair. My memory is fading! I googled an image of him, and it seems vaguely familiar now. Couldn’t stand Kyle Brandt in the role though. Remember when he came back from the war and had his foot blown off by a land mine? Days totally dropped the ball on that one, cause I saw Phillip swimming and with a real foot in the years after! lol

  6. CAN says:

    What about Frank Grillo taking over the Hart Jessup role? He was perfect.

  7. Ally Oop says:

    I haven’t watched a soap for years since the role of Fox Crane was recast on Passions. I couldn’t accepted anyone other than Justin Hartley.

  8. Liz says:

    You can’t talk about horrible recasts without mentioning Susan Batten replacing Allison Rice-Taylor as Connor on ATWT.

  9. B.T. says:

    Alicia Minshew did the nearly impossible by making fans forget Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role of All My Children’s Kendall Hart.

  10. Mr. Tran K says:

    I don’t know whether or not Y&R is considering to recast the role of Avery Clark now that Jessica Collins has left the show back in July.

  11. Jay says:

    Totally agree about Anne Heche in her roles of Vicky and Marley on [i]Another World[/I], though technically she replaced a short-term actress named Rhonda Lewin who played only Vicky for a few months before Heche blew into town and made those twins her own. Like you said, her skills made any future recasts seem rather pale in comparison.

    As far as Worst Recasts go, no such list is complete without mentioning the mother of those AW twins, Donna Love. Anna Stuart’s Donna was a force of nature, so when they recast the role with Philece Sampler and turned Donna into a wimpy scream queen, most everyone cried foul. As is the case with Malcolm on Y&R the only way to bring Donna back to her former glory was to bring Anna Stuart back to resume the role (and bring back Donna’s backbone with her).

    • maggie says:

      I agree with you on both points. Anne Heche was so great that it was impossible to find anyone to equal her performance. And the less said about Philece Sampler as Donna the better. Anna Stuart was strong, sexy, haughty, and classy. Sampler played the part like a fragile girl on the verge of a breakdown. You could believe two brothers fighting over Stuart’s Donna, but not over Sampler’s Donna.

  12. TVPeong says:

    Good call on Peter Bergman as Jack.

    • Bonnie B says:

      Another Billy Abbott??..just bring back Billy Miller..Bold and Beautiful. .hate that Steffy..don’t even think i would like her in real fair right?..Hope needs to come back..Come back Kim Matula!

  13. D says:

    i really liked Trevor St. John as Todd Manning i was really unhappy that the show ended before they could explore more of the Victor Lord Jr. story and i can’t remember his name but the guy that played Bo on Says of our Lives before the original came back was really good.

  14. KayCeeCee says:

    Peter Bergman for the win!

  15. ChrisGa says:

    Hartley’s great but you’d be remiss not to mention his predecessor Michael Muhney, himself a recast and at the time one of daytime’s best actors. As for worst, I would add Melody Anderson as AMC’s Natalie and Ann Hamilton as GL’s Mindy to that all-time worst list.

  16. Raul J says:

    “The Edge of Night” replaced Maeve McGuire with 18 years younger Jayne Bentzen in the role of Nicole in an effort to death the character. Likewise “Santa Barbara” also recast 25 year younger Janis Paige in the role of Minx Lockridge, replacing Judith Anderson, to facilitate the character having a twentysomething illegitimate daughter in the early 1990s,,a feat which would have been impossible to believe with the then ninetysomething Anderson. And “One Life to Live” replaced Asian actress Mia Korff with white actress Kassie dePaiva in the role of Blair.

    • ToyCannon says:

      I remember that. Minx suddenly re-appeared and told her son Lionel that she had found the fountain of youth. What a terrible plot line.

  17. Matt Ashford as Jack Deveraux is the single greatest recast of most ANY genre. His name not being on the list makes the list a joke. Can’t believe he’s not mentioned.

    • Lisa says:

      +1. Even though Matt’s been fired/rehired a number of times from the show, his character still drives story on the show nearly 30 years after he was recast. The original Jacks (and Matt’s replacement Jacks) were cookie cutter.

    • maggie says:

      Ashford is one of the best actors ever on Days, and they never really appreciated him. Too bad his character seems to be actually dead, as compared ‘soap opera dead.” The show could use Ashford and Jack right now.

      • Anita Srinivasan says:

        He should come back as twin Jack brother connected to Steve and Adrienne brother. Bring Matthew Ashford back. No more killing Jack off, No one ever dies on the soaps. Keep him away from Jennifer too. It is time to resurrect Jack finally have stoyline with Steve and Adrienne.and no more being Jennifer lapdog or beck in call. Jennifer can have her own love story with her list of losers she has been and leave Jack alone. If Jennifer really love Jack she would sense her heart that he was not dead go find him but she went back to Daniel after 5 minutes after Jack died saving their daughter to his death. Jennifer does not deserve Jack anymore or his love.

  18. Jamie says:

    I would rank Bethany Joy Lenz (OTH) replacing Rebecca Budig on Guiding Light as Michelle and creating one of the best supercouples of the late ’90s early 2000’s with Paul Anthony Stewart as Danny (now on Broadway in the Carole King musical Beautiful) as one of the greatest Recasts ever.

  19. I can’t agree with the Vicky/Marley re-recast on Another World. Ellen Wheeler and Anne Heche were good, but Jensen Buchanan will always be Vicky to me. I will never, ever forgive NBC for cancelling Another World.

  20. S McMary says:

    Elizabeth Keifer replacing Sherry Stringfield as Blake on Guiding Light I thought was a great recast. She came right in the middle when the character had recently hooked up with Ross and I was sure it would take me a long time to accept her but I was wrong. The transition was pretty seamless and they soon became one of my favorite soap couples.

    • ChrisGa says:

      I always liked Sherry Stringfield as Blake but I thought Liz Keifer was actually the better actress of the two; she did a fantastic job of transitioning the character into a more mature woman.

  21. LT says:

    I still want to give Jen Lilley major props for filling in for Kirsten Storms on GH a few years ago. That was a major feat during heavy front burner storyline and she did a great job!

    • Gi Perry says:

      I agree she did a great job filling in and I still can’t get into the character of Theresa though because she’s a bore

  22. Ronnie says:

    I’m pretty sure this list is null and void because it doesn’t have Erika Slezak as the number one recast. Come on, no one can touch Vicki Nicki Jean Tori Tommy Princess and Victor.

    • ChrisGa says:

      Yeah, I think we as viewers forget sometimes that some actresses weren’t the originators of their most iconic roles (Slezak as Viki and Vicky Wyndham as AW’s Rachel Cory are two that come to mind).

  23. TW says:

    My vote is for Billy Miller as Billy Abbott. David Toms originated the role and was great as teen-Billy, but Miller made that role (adult Billy) his own. So much so, that when they brought Toms back after Miller went to GH fans were so unhappy they had to recast again. Now we are on our third recast. Billy/Victoria were my absolute favorite couple on this show namely because of the actors and their chemistry. So far none of the Billy recasts has been able to capture that spark that Miller had, which has basically ruined this couple for me and a lot of other fans. Granted the writing stinks these days, but I think the choice of actor has played a big part as well.

  24. Chad says:

    Signy Coleman was great as Annie Dutton on Guiding Light! I loved her! I never forgave the show for letting her go, she was one of the best recasts ever!

  25. ChrisGa says:

    I would also add Robin Strasser as OLTL’s Dorian and Sharon Case as Y&R’s Sharon to the best recasts list.

    • fiberlicious says:

      And the actress who replaced her on OLTL for way too long before they brought Robin back as one of the worst. ONLY ROBIN STRASSER IS DORIAN.

  26. Christine says:

    What about Lindsey Morgan replacing Lexi Ainsworth as Kristina Davis on GH? I’m not sure if it really deserves to be on the worst list because I did grow to enjoy her in the role after a few months but the backlash from fans after Lexi was fired was horrible and they completely destroyed Lindsey on social media when she took over.

  27. Maria says:

    Days of Our Lives recasting the role of Roman Brady with Drake Hogestyn is hands-down the best soap recast ever. Soon after joining the cast, Drake ascended the popularity polls very quickly, and his leading lady Deidre Hall told him he was going to be around “till the cows come home.” She was right. Drake is still on Days, although his character was revealed to be John Black, not Roman Brady, in 1991.
    He is the one and only reason I continue to watch Days 30 years after he joined the cast.

  28. Lori says:

    The worst recast has to go to Days Of Our Lives.

    Josh Taylor who played Kositchek for 10 years from 1977-1987 taking on the role of Roman Brady made infamous by Wayne Northrop? 18 years later and I still don’t buy it!

    • Maria says:

      He also has zero chemistry with Deidre Hall, so it’s a good thing Marlena ended up with John.

    • S McMary says:

      OMG, this! Which is a shame because I enjoyed him as Chris but he’s not a good fit as Roman. I never understood why they didn’t bring him back as his original character because Chris was popular and it would have made more sense. I know it’s a soap but I can only suspend my disbelief so much, even for Days LOL

    • AnnieM says:

      AMEN! I really liked Chris Kosticzek, too. Anyone remember what reason they gave him to leave Salem? I’ve forgotten.

    • maggie says:

      It still makes no sense that they brought Josh Taylor back as Roman. It’s not like his previous character, Chris Kositcheck was unpopular or forgotten. It still feels strange. It’s not the only time Days has brought back someone who played a popular character but had them play another character. Days also brought Judi Evans on as another character after she had already played Adrienne, and then brought her back as Adrienne.

  29. inmyopinion says:

    Worst Recast Ever – Any Tina besides Andrea Evans – One Life to Live…none of them worked…all bad!!! No diss to Krista Tesreau and Karen Witter, they just were not TINA!!!

  30. Znachki says:

    I was never happy with any of the recasts they did for Kate Mulgrew as Mary Ryan on Ryan’s Hope.

  31. Rochelle says:

    I didn’t look at the slide show but I don’t think I heard mention when Jeanne Cooper was out sick on the Y&R she got recast by Michaele Learned (from Waltons). Now granted Mrs. Learned didn’t forever take over that role but Katherine was a staple on Y&R – that role shouldn’t have been up for recast. That would be like replacing Victor Newman (it just shouldn’t be done)…….

  32. Ashbash says:

    This list is missing Kirsten Storms as Maxie Jones. Hands down the best decision GH ever could of made. She’s really made the character her own and has pretty much become irreplaceable

  33. Tamika says:

    Love that GV made this list as one of the BEST recasts he is so underrated!

  34. ToyCannon says:

    Kimberly MacArthur replacing Robin Wright as Kelly Capwell on “Santa Barbara” would be my pick for worst re-cast ever. MacArthur was so bad she quickly left the role and has never been heard from again.

    My picks for best re-cast would be 2 from “Santa Barbara”. Jed Allan” replacing “Charles Bateman” as patriarch C.C. Capwell, and Robin Mattson replacing Linda Gibboney as the villainous Gina DeMott.

  35. LT says:

    Can we talk about how great that pic is of Nathan Fillion?

  36. Claire says:

    Let’s also not forget that terribleness that was GH deciding to recast Jed Allan as Edward Quartermaine.

    • S McMary says:

      Yeah, that was pretty awful. I loved him on Santa Barbara but it was ridiculous to have him play the father of two actors who were I think the same age as him or maybe even older. However, your post reminded me how wonderful a recast the late John Ingle was as Edward, inheriting the role from the equally late great David Lewis. Seriously, this has to be one of my favorite TVLine columns ever. I don’t think I’ve ever commented this much before!

  37. Shay DeShade says:

    GL had a string of really good recasts in the 90s – Liz Keifer for Blake and Rick Hearst for Alan-Michael were two of the best recasts I’ve EVER seen on any soap.

  38. AnnieM says:

    I just thought of another good one from DOOL – Michael T Weiss was great as Mike Horton for many years.

  39. Jay says:

    If the show lets enough time pass between recasts, they can often cushion the blow of a major recast. When Another World floated the idea of Iris returning to Bay City after seven years away, I was certainly skeptical since Beverlee McKinsey became a soap icon while playing that role. I was pleasantly surprised when Carmen Duncan was cast and did great things with the part. I think her different take on the role was a success more because enough time had passed for viewers to accept this newer, less neurotic version…a part that would not have been considered re-castable without such passage of time.

    • maggie says:

      One of the best scenes ever on AW was when Mac Cory told Iris that he never wanted to see her again and shut the door on her. Iris was crying on the other side, begging her daddy to open up. Even though it was a long time ago, I still remember Duncan’s performance.

  40. kmw says:

    Spot on with all of your choices. I loved Nathan Fillion when he was on One life

  41. matty says:

    Pretty decent list, but here are my choices for worst recast ever:

    1. Jennifer Bransford as Carly, GH
    2. Saundra Quartermain as Angie, AMC
    3. Marj Dusay as Alexandra, GL
    4. Christina Chambers as Marty, OLTL
    5. Thorsten Kaye as Ridge, B&B
    6. Marie Elise Recanser as Ellen, Port Charles

    and my picks for the best recasts ever:

    1. Erika Slezak as Viki, OLTL (I think it worked out best for OLTL)
    2. Laura Wright as Carly, GH
    3. Robin Mattson as Janet, AMC
    4. Hunt Block as Craig, ATWT
    5. Eden Riegel as Bianca, AMC
    6. Jennifer Finnigan as Bridget, B&B

  42. diane says:

    #1 for me is Anne Heche. Only Vicky/Marley I liked. Great list. You hit the nail on the head with these picks.

  43. JK says:

    When Chandler Massey left as Will Horton on Days of our Lives and was cast with 1 of the worst actors I’ve ever seen, Guy Wilson. Was never so happy to see a character killed off. They should have written Will off with Chandler. Guy literally killed the character.

    • Gi Perry says:

      Guy did a great job and it was Chandlers decision to leave. I remember Chandler took a while to grow on viewers too but fans nowadays are so dang picky and hate a recast the day they debut

      • mooshki says:

        I tried to give Guy a chance, but he just never improved at all. When he tried to express an emotion he just looked constipated.

      • maggie says:

        They let Massey go months earlier than he wanted because they had found Wilson and wanted to get him into the role immediately. At least that’s what was reported. Wilson was terrible as Will. They should have had Will and Sonny go off in the sun together instead of killing off Will.

  44. mooshki says:

    I still want to know why Anne Heche was fired from Another World.

    Add to worst: Will Horton – The wonderfully charismatic Chandler Massey being replaced by Guy “Wooden Face” Wilson. From best on the show to worst in one re-cast.

    • Jay says:

      She did not get fired. She had reached the end of her contract and wanted to try other things. People tend to forget she took the roles straight out of high school, and though she claimed at the time that she wanted to quit AW to go back to school, she ended up being offered several great acting jobs and moved on to movies. I’m sure AW would have LOVED to keep her on, but it really was her decision to leave.

  45. Debbie Hannigan says:

    Wasn’t the orginal Blair on one life to live Asian then when recasted they had cassie depavia

  46. Dawn H says:

    Missing from the best recast list is Van Hansis as Luke Snyder on “As the World Turns.” He was amazing!

  47. Jerry says:

    Peter Bergman IS Young and the Restless!! I will always watch as long as he is on with Eileen Davidson. Amazing duo as brother and sister. Thanks for the article!

  48. Elaine says:

    Re cast of Jason bad short ugly and not good actor.bring back the other Jason or get better actor and good looking.

  49. Linn says:

    How are the two Roman Brady recasts not on this list? Drake Hogestyn on the best, and Josh Taylor on the worst list?

    I’m assuming TVLine doesn’t actually know that Matt Ashford was a recast as Jack Deveraux (as someone mentioned above, he was).

    • Anita Srinivasan says:

      Matthew Ashford was third Jack and he fleshed Jack out made him his own. I wish they would bring him back not as ghost or propping Horton shrew either. I want Jack back alive and with amnesia with different identity and away from Jennifer and her losers and her holier thou attitude. We want to see Jack and Steve and Adrienne storyline which never got. Enough of Jack being Jennifer’s lapdog let her go check herself into Bayview mental hospital stay there.

  50. Tony says:

    A lot of great post here.

    There is one recast that I was always and still remain middle of the road in and that was Jerry Ver Dorn as Clint (OLTL). Most of it was due to the writing, I admit. But I could never stomach the idea of Clint Buchanan becoming Asa-lite. It was so off putting, made no sense and always castes a cloud over his tenure in the role.

    Also, I would have put Robin Mattson on the best list for taking over the role of Janet “from another planet ” Green. She was absolutely brilliant in making a one dimensional character have develop some depth