Stars Who Were Almost On Your Favorite Television Shows

It’s pretty incredible to think that a single casting decision or one single scheduling conflict could have changed the shows that we know and love completely. There are shows that just seemed to work so perfectly and uniquely that it doesn’t seem like they could have worked any other way. The shows that we love have become a part of our weekly routines, and they have also taken newcomers and made them into big Hollywood stars. Production of shows and movies can change even after shooting begins, so studios are always incredibly quiet about any creative decisions before the productions hit the big or little screen. We’ve given you a list of the most shocking cast decisions that could have completely changed some of our favorite and most iconic television shows. See who could have taken the place of your favorite characters!

Seth Rogen/Rainn Wilson

Seth Rogen is a big name now, and he was just one of the big names that auditioned for a role in ‘The Office’. His audition took place years before he was a big name in Hollywood, and way before his role in his comedies like Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express. Rainn Wilson, on the other hand, landed the now iconic role of ‘Dwight’ after appearing as secondary characters in shows like ‘Charmed’ and ‘Entourage’.

Elisabeth Shue/Julianna Margulies

It’s very hard to believe that anyone could have played the role of Alicia Florrick other than Juliana Margulies. Well, you may be incredibly shocked to know that producers were actually thinking about Leaving Las Vegas star Elisabeth Shue to play the tough cookie attorney in ‘The Good Wife’. Margulies played Alicia off the back of ’90s medical drama ER. Both shows ended up being a hit for the actress because Margulies is now one of the highest grossing TV actors of all time.

Jim Parsons/Neil Patrick Harris

Before Jim Parson played the role of Sheldon Cooper on ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Jim Parsons came incredibly close to playing Barney Stinson on ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ Well, the role ended up going to Neil Patrick Harris obviously, but CBS actually brought in Parsons for the audition. Good thing both of the series received critical acclaim, so no hard feelings.

David Cross/Hugh Laurie

The British actor, Hugh Laurie landed the famous role of the arrogant and all-knowing Dr.House on the medical drama ‘House’. The show was a great success and critics had it on every top 10 list as the best show of the year throughout its entire 8-season run. However, things could have easily gone a different way when David Cross auditioned for the role. At the time, he was famous for playing the goofy and out-of-touch Dr.Tobias Funke on ‘Arrested Development’. Apparently, Cross was only a few auditions away from grabbing the big role in ‘House’.

Ethan Embry/ Andrew Lincoln

The Californian actor Ethan Embry was very famous for his roles in rom-com ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and the musical drama ‘That Thing You Do’. He finally managed to make the transition from television to movies when he auditioned for the role of Rick Grimes in ‘The Walking Dead.’ Of course, the role eventually went to Andrew Lincoln, who had a role in ‘Love Actually.’ After the premiere of the show, ‘The Walking Dead’ is considered to be Lincoln’s biggest break yet.

Lindsay Lohan/Hilary Duff

These two Disney stars were fighting over the role of Lizzie McGuire in the television series ‘Lizzie McGuire’. The role of the title character went to Hilary Duff, but Lindsay Lohan did audition for the part. Hilary Duff was a well-known actress and singer who has a number of albums and now stars on ‘Younger’. Lohan’s acting skills were recognized when she starred in ‘The Parent Trap’ and she was then all over the media for the number of scandals she was apart of through the 2000s. She starred in the films, Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, and Herbie: Fully Loaded.

Michael Keaton/Matthew Fox

Michael Keaton was originally set to play Jack Shephard on the drama ‘Lost’. When writers told Keaton that Jack Shephard was only meant to be in the pilot, he decided to drop out. Matthew Fox was then brought in to play the part. Producers were so impressed with his talent that they decided to expand the character into other episodes. The show finished its last season in 2010 and Fox had a lot of trouble trying to land other roles after he dealt with a very public DUI and assault allegation. Keaton went on to play former McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc in ‘The Founder’

Rob Lowe/Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey was just about ready to quit acting completely after he felt as though he couldn’t match his popularity in the 80s. He was quite a heartthrob in the 80s in films as ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘Loverboy’. He was just about to leave it all behind when he nabbed the part of ‘McDreamy’ on Grey’s Anatomy. However, another heartthrob, Rob Lowe, was also considered for the part, but he eventually dropped out of the running and Dempsey was signed on.

Megan Mullally/Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Jerry Seinfeld told Howard Stern that before Julia Louis-Dreyfus had also auditioned for the role of Elaine Benes on the famed sitcom ‘Seinfeld’. Megan Mullally was also seriously considered for the role. He told Stern that he loved her audition, but they offered the role to Dreyfus after she killed her audition. Mullally seemed to have found success with her hilarious role as Karen Walker on the sitcom Will & Grace.

Paul Shaffer/Jason Alexander

The Seinfeld co-creator and actor Jerry Seinfeld once said while on Late Night With David Letterman that Paul Shaffer was actually confronted about playing George Costanza. Shaffer was too busy to check his answering machine to hear about the news, and so the part was then offered to Jason Alexander. When the series ended, he decided to direct and he worked on series such as Mike & Molly, Franklin & Bash, and Criminal Minds. He was nominated for seven Emmys for playing the role of George.

Matt LeBlanc/Ty Burrell

Before Ty Burrell had even signed on to play the hilarious Phil Dunphy in the sitcom ‘Modern Family’ the show’s producers had another guy in mind for playing the part. It was Friend’s star, Matt LeBlanc! LeBlanc told USA today “I remember reading it thinking, this is a really good script, but I’m not the guy for this.” The part then went to Ty Burrell, who ended up winning two Emmys for the role of Phil.

David Duchovny/The Cast Of Full House

X-files star David Duchovny told Jimmy Kimmel that he didn’t just try out for one role, but three roles on Full House. He told the host that the producers couldn’t find a place for him on the show, which is why they brought him in three different times for auditions. The roles went to Bob Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier.

Rainn Wilson/Will Arnett

Before starring in ‘The Office’ and becoming a star, he almost played Gob Bluth on ‘Arrested Development’. Of course, the role eventually went to Will Arnett who became famous for a lot of his voice work roles. He has guest starred in a number of sitcoms such as ‘Will & Grace’, ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ and ‘The Sopranos’.

Leah Remini/Courteney Cox

Leah Remini was considered early on to play the role of Monica Geller. The star, known for her role in ‘King of Queens’ made it to the final round of auditions to play Monica. Obviously, we can’t see anybody else playing our beloved Monica. But it was soon revealed that Courteney Cox auditioned for the role of Rachel Green. She had previously starred in ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’.

Sam Claflin/Kit Harington

Game of Thrones has become a hit show over the past few years. It’s extremely hard to imagine anyone else playing someone in the cast that we love so much. This especially includes Kit Harington who plays Jon Snow. The ‘Hunger Games’ star, Sam Clafin auditioned for the role but he told reporters that he knew very early on that he wasn’t the person for the role. He has since said that he truly admires Harington’s performance. Clafin made his film debut in the 2010 Pirates of the ‘Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ along with Johnny Depp.

Matthew Broderick/Bryan Cranston

There were tons of A-listers that were anxious for the role of Walter White on ‘Breaking Bad’, and one of these actors was John Cusack. There was another star, Matthew Broderick who was also at the top of the list anxious for the role. The creator of the show, Vince Gilligan ended up offering the role to Bryan Cranston who was most known for his role as the dad in Malcolm in the Middle. In 2016, he got his first Academy Award nomination for his performance in ‘Trumbo.’

Jennifer Lawrence/Blake Lively

Blake Lively certainly made a splash in Gossip Girl, but her breakout role was in ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ franchise. However, it seems a lot could have gone differently for Jennifer Lawrence, who auditioned for the part of Serena. The creator of the show told Vulture that he remembered when Lawrence came in for the audition and was disappointed when she didn’t get the job. Of course, things obviously worked out for Lawrence.

Taraji P. Henson/Kerry Washington

Soon after earning an Academy Award for playing Brad Pitt’s mother in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’, Taraji P. Henson auditioned for the role of Olivia Pope in Scandal. Kerry Washington obviously got the part and Henson has even admitted that the part belonged to Washington. She eventually went on to star as Cookie Lyon on ‘Empire’.

Katie Holmes/Sarah Michelle Gellar

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of the most beloved sci-fi shows in history. The show went off the air in 2003, but it still has a huge following. So, it’s pretty hard to believe that anyone other than Sarah Michelle Gellar could have played the role. Well, before she was offered the role, Katie Holmes went through several rounds of auditions. After Gellar accepted the role, Holmes got the part of Joey Potter on ‘Dawson’s Creek’.

Octavia Spencer/Retta

It was set in the original pilot that Retta was only supposed to play an extra in ‘Parks & Recreation’. However, after she improvised a line and the entire cast and crew laughed, she was cast as the role of Donna Meagle. However, when they were first holding auditions, Octavia Spencer was brought in to read for the part.

Nicollette Sheridan/Debra Messing

The ‘Desperate Housewives’ star, Nicollette Sheridan auditioned for the role of Grace on the hit NBC sitcom ‘Will & Grace’. Of course, Debra Messing landed the role and now it’s incredibly hard to picture anybody else playing Grace.

Taylor Momsen/Miley Cyrus

It’s hard to believe that the part of ‘Hannah Montana’ was written for anybody else but Miley Cyrus. Well, before she got the part of Jenny in ‘Gossip Girl’, Taylor Momsen auditioned for the role. She was also a singer of rock group The Pretty Reckless.

Pamela Anderson/Gillian Anderson

There’s no direct relationship between the two, but there is a link. They battled it out for the role of the investigator Dana Scully on The X-Files. Of course, Gillian Anderson got the role over the Baywatch star two years after she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in screen acting. The show was revived so many times, and the 11th season was critically acclaimed.

Thomas Jane/Jon Hamm

Yes, it is true. Jon Hamm wasn’t the first choice to play Don Draper on ‘Mad Men.’ Initially, the role was offered to Thomas Jane, and then he turned it down last minute. Thomas Jane is known for his role in ‘Boogie Nights, The Punisher’ and ‘The Thin Red Line.’ Hamm won the part over 80 actors for the role.

Sandra Bernhard/Cynthia Nixon

Comedian Sandra Bernhard auditioned for the role of Miranda Hobbes on HBO’s legendary ‘Sex And The City’. However, she decided to give up the role after she found out they were offering her less money than what her rate was. She told Howard Stern that she thought the script was awful and she did not want to work with Sarah Jessica Parker. Nixon went on to win an Emmy for her role as Miranda.

Gillian Anderson/Elizabeth McGovern

Gillian Anderson has had her share of playing period pieces, and she almost played Lady Cora Crawley in the British series Downtown Abbey. In the end, Elizabeth McGovern got the role and it’s pretty hard to imagine anybody else playing the role. She has since been in quite a number of period films which include ‘Ragtime’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in America.’

Whitney Houston/Sabrina LeBeauf

Whitney Houston was actually the first pick to play Sondra on ‘The Cosby Show’. The director was so close to signing her on 100%, but he backed out the last minute due to conflicts between the series and Houston’s bustling singing career. Sabrina LeBeauf was then offered the role and she played Sondra throughout the entirety of the show’s duration. Houston rose to stardom and she released a number of best-selling albums.

Ray Liotta/James Gandolfini

The late James Gandolfini wasn’t the only actor who had his eye on the role of Tony Soprano on ‘The Sopranos’. Liotta just didn’t want to work on the small screen at the time and then Gandolfini signed on as Tony. Liotta is currently starring on ‘Shades of Blue’ with Jennifer Lopez. While Gandolfini was mostly known for playing extremely tough characters, he was also in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and ‘Enough Said.’

Michael Richards/Tony Shalhoub

Seinfeld’s Michael Richards was extremely close to playing another character on ‘Monk’. The actor is mostly known for playing Kramer on the sitcom and he actually almost played Adrian Monk. Shalhoub went on to win three Emmys for his performance. These days, he is starring in the comedy series ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with Rachel Broshanan. The show took home the Golden Globe award for Best Comedy Series.

Micky Dolenz/Henry Winkler

Micky Dolenz is best known for being the lead singer of the ’60s rock group. However, he also did some acting and he almost grabbed the role of Fonzie on Happy Days. Unfortunately, producers thought the rocker was too tall and so Winkler was then offered the role. Fans loved Fonz so much at the time that he was promoted to a series regular. Winkler said in a 2008 interview that, “The Fonz was everybody I wasn’t. He was everybody I wanted to be.”

Tamzin Merchant/Emilia Clarke

Before ‘Game of Thrones’ became the most watched show on television, it was a very different show. It was first a pilot that had started out with an entirely different cast. The original pilot was rejected by HBO, forcing the production to change it completely. They had to recast the show and they recast Tamzin Merchant as Daenerys “Khaleesi” Targaryen, even though George R.R. Martin enjoyed her performance of the character. Emilia Clarke was then brought in to play the part after producers fell in love with her audition.

Paul Rudd/Andrew Shue

Before Andrew Shue was cast as Billy Campbell on ‘Melrose Place’, Paul Rudd was actually supposed to have played the part. He went on debut as Alicia Silverstone’s love interest in ‘Clueless’, which ended up being his first major breakthrough role.

Lisa Kudrow/Peri Gilpin

Before she played the iconic role of Phoebe on ‘Friends’ Lisa Kudrow was actually hired to be Roz Doyle on ‘Frasier’. However, the network decided that it just wasn’t working and so Kudrow was then replaced with Peri Gilpin. Kudrow was then quickly cast in Friends. Most recently, she was in ‘The Boss Baby’ with Alec Baldwin and ‘The Girl on the Train’ with Emily Blunt.

Halle Berry/Claire Danes

Although Claire Danes was the first actor to sign onto ‘Homeland’, the show’s producers had another major celeb in mind, Halle Berry. Apparently, she turned down the role of Carrie Mathison because she wasn’t ready to dedicate her time to a television series.

Dwight Yoakam/Kyle Chandler

When Peter Berg was approached to adapt his movie ‘Friday Night Lights’ into a television series, he first wanted country singer Dwight Yoakam to play Coach Taylor. However, Berg said it was impossible to offer him the role after the musician made way too many demands for the show. Apparently, he requested a lot of days off and he wanted more money than they could offer him. So, they offered Kyle Chandler the role even though Berg didn’t want to hire anyone ‘too pretty’ to play the coach.

Ed O’Neill/Ian McShane

When he was casting the television western, ‘Deadwood’, the creator of the show Alan Sepinwall wanted Ed O’Neill to play Al Swearengen. Producers quickly passed on this because they didn’t think that audiences would be able to see O’Neill as anyone besides Al Bundy, his character on ‘Married With Children.’ Ian McShane then slipped into the role.

Arnold Schwarzenegger/Lou Ferrigno

For the 70s Incredible Hulk series, newcomer Arnold Schwarzenegger almost played the infamous green hero. Richard Kiel was originally cast in the role, but he was fired for mysterious reasons. Producers were then able to dwindle it down to two actors, Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.

Emma Stone/Hayden Panettiere

Before she made her Hollywood debut in ‘Superbad’, Emma Stone was extremely close to playing Claire in ‘Heroes’. Producers fell in love with her audition but they felt that there was just something a little off about her audition. Well, it looks like she became a movie star soon after and became an Oscar winner.

Alexandra Daddario/Krysten Ritter

Alexandra Daddario is mostly known for playing sweet girls, but she almost played the dark character in ‘Jessica Jones’. Krysten Ritter ended up getting the part, but it looks as though Alexandra will have a chance to play a dark character in ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle.’

Liam Neeson/Sam Heughan

Before the producers of ‘Outlander’ chose Sam Heughan to play Jamie Fraser, they very much considered Liam Neeson for the main role. Neeson has quite a resume in the acting world and he has starred in more than 100 projects in film, TV, and theater. The Irish actor starred as the action hero Bryan Mills in the ‘Taken’ trilogy.

Rachel Dratch/Jane Krakowski

Tina Fey decided to cast her BFF in her first project after she left her head writer position at Saturday Night Live. Dratch played the role of Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock but was later replaced by Jane Krakowski.

Stephen Tobolowsky/Richard Karn

Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky was brought in to play Tim Allen’s best friend on ‘Home Improvement.’ However, when he found that he wouldn’t be able to commit to the schedule, he dropped out and so Richard Karn was hired to play Al Borland.

Kathy Griffin/Lisa Kudrow

Before Lisa Kudrow got the role of Phoebe Buffay on ‘Friends’, there was another comedian who auditioned for the part. It was stand-up comedian Kathy Griffin, and she even made it to the final rounds of auditions but eventually lost out to Kudrow. But it looks like things worked out in the end since Griffin became one of the most successful touring comedians.

Jon Cryer/Matthew Perry

Friends was a huge hit at the time, and it still is! So it seems very hard to imagine any actor or actress filling in the roles that we love so much. Chandler is incredibly hilarious and it seems difficult to believe that someone else could have played him. Well, Jon Cryer came incredibly close. He auditioned to play Chandler during the casting of the show but he couldn’t commit because he was starring in a play in London.

Janeane Garofalo/Courteney Cox

The showrunners for ‘Friends’ originally had the stand-up comedian in the back of their minds for the show. Originally, Monica was originally written as a dark character. They decided to change directions with the character and then Courteney Cox landed the role.

Timothy Olyphant/Jeffrey Dean Morgan

The role ofNegan on ‘The Walking Dead’ is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but back in the day things almost went differently. Timothy Olyphant came incredibly close to getting the part and the actor was even flown back and forth between L.A and Atlanta, where the show was being filmed.

Jenna Fischer/Liza Snyder

‘The Office’ star was first hired to play Matt LeBlanc’s wife in ‘Man with a Plan.’ After they shot the pilot, the producers felt as though there was lacking chemistry between the two. So, the production recast.

Jennifer Ehle/Michelle Fairley

In 2009, HBO created a ‘Game Of Thrones’ pilot. However, the pilot tested negatively with audiences and so the show went back into production and there was a huge recast. They rewrote most of the episode and Jennifer Ehle starred as Catelyn Stark, but was soon replaced with Irish actress Michelle Fairley.

Alex Borstein/Melissa McCarthy

Before Gilmore Girls put Melissa McCarthy on the map, there was another comedian that almost played the part of Sookie St. James. Alex Borstein, who is known for voicing Lois in Family Guy and for her characters on Madtv, and the producers at MADtv rejected her from taking any new projects.

Riff Regan/Alyson Hannigan

Back in the day when Buffy the Vampire was still in production, the original pilot of the show had quite a few differences, especially when it came to the cast. The witchy woman, Willow Rosenberg was actually originally played by newcomer Riff Regan. The creator of the show then made some changes and replaced Regan with ‘How I Met Your Mother’ star, Alyson Hannigan.

Lacey Chabert

Lacey Chabert actually voiced the role of Meg Griffin for the entire first season of ‘Family Guy’. However, Seth MacFarlane felt that her tone just wasn’t it, so he brought in ‘That ’70s Show’ star, Mila Kunis to give the character her voice. The change was a success.

Candice Azzara/Sally Struthers

‘All in the Family’ was a total hit in the ’70s and it went through quite a number of changes before it made it onto the small screen in 1971. In fact, a number of roles were cast and recast as the show went through its beginning phases. Before Sally Struthers became a household name, Candice Azzara actually played her in one of the pilots. Azzara continued to work after her departure including films ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and ‘In Her Shoes’.

Florencia Lozano/Margaret Colin the ‘Gossip Girl’ pilot, the actress Florencia Lozano actually played Blair Waldorf’s mother, Eleanor. The show’s producers said that Lozano actually looked too young to play a mother and so her role was cut from the series. Margaret Colin was then hired to play Blair’s mother instead.

Amanda Walsh/Kaley Cuoco

It seems pretty difficult to picture anyone other than Kaley Cuoco play Penny. Well, in the pilot, however, Amanda Walsh was actually cast as Penny. She was tougher and more assertive and the show’s producers decided to take the character a different direction and so they called Cuoco in to audition and they immediately cast her.

Jane Krakowski/Jennifer Aniston Jennifer Aniston got the iconic role as Rachel Green in ‘Friends’, there was actually another actress who almost got the part. Jane Krakowski was extremely close to playing the role of Rachel. Aniston eventually went on to win an Emmy and Golden Globe, while Krakowski continued a successful television career.