The Top 10 Sitcom Characters Who Suddenly Changed Faces
5. Laurie Becomes a Moonie or Something on That '70s Show
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Remember That '70s Show? You know, the show that inflicted Ashton Kutcher on us all? Yeah, we're trying to forget it too. But bring back the repressed memories long enough to remember Laurie.
Basically, Laurie was an incredibly popular character that one day the writers decided to disappear for no apparent reason (although drug problems have been rumored). Whatever happened, the actress, Lisa Robin Kelly, came back before getting replaced by Christina Moore...and then the character disappeared again.
We're guessing it was because she escaped Fez's basement and he recaptured her. That vacant stare, that latent homosexuality, that empty smile...something about that guy just tells us he's a serial killer.
4. Everybody Loves Raymond Thinks Pee Wee Herman and Cabin Boy Are One and the Same
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Everybody Loves Raymond, early on, had a one-off comic shop character, Russell, and because they had the taste, class, and willingness to break stereotypes Raymond was known for, they hired frightening man-child Paul Reubens, who you know better as Pee Wee Herman, to portray him (and maybe snack on a bit of your soul while he was there).
A couple of seasons later, they wanted to bring the character back...except they changed his name to Peter, suddenly he was Ray's brother-in-law, he was played by Hollywood's other go-to man-child, Chris Elliot, and for some reason they decided to keep the comic shop thing even though it made no sense.
In other words, the writing staff was out to prove there was more reason to hate this show than launching the career of Kevin James.
3. Family Matters Dumped the Actress That the Show Was Spun Off For
You kind of have to feel bad for JoMarie Payton. Accomplished singer and actress, she’d put in 33 episodes on Perfect Strangers before finally getting the lead in her own show with the cop from Die Hard. And what happens? The entire show gets hijacked by a nerd character who was only supposed to show up, be a dweeb and leave.
When the show got cancelled from ABC, Payton probably thought she was finally free of “Did I Do That?”, much like the rest of America. Then CBS swooped in and renewed, so she split for a better career as a guest star in just about everything under the sun, while Judyann Elder got stuck with having to put up with Urkel for another year.
2. Pam's Mom Switches From Creepy Lady to Matlock's Daughter
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We expect sitcoms like According to Jim to be sloppy and lame, but not The Office, so it was weird when Pam's mom switched from being the scary woman in The Ring to the girlfriend of several Happy Days characters.
Turns out that creepy lady, a.k.a. Sharon Cochran, was on stage and couldn't get out of her contract, so they hired Linda Purl to fill in.
Or maybe it was a curse fulfilling itself: Linda Purl was a lead on Matlock and had to bow out after a season herself. We're mourning the missed opportunity here: Michael Scott could watch the cursed video and then Matlock could come and investigate the murder. NBC, you missed out on a chance to create pop culture brilliance.
1. Gary from Cheers Switches Between Two Faces On a Regular Basis
Cheers is probably America’s best loved sitcom about alcoholism, broken relationships, and futility. That last was best symbolized by Sam constantly losing out, almost every year, to Gary, who somehow manages to be the single most obnoxious bar owner in Boston despite not being anywhere near the Fenway.
But what was weird about Gary is that he was first played by Joel Polis, who you probably know better as Fuchs from The Thing, and then by Robert Desiderio…and then by Polis again…and then by Desiderio…and so on.
Yep, you read that right: Polis and Desiderio actually took turns playing Gary. The Spike.com research team spent an entire hour looking around for any reason these two guys took turns playing the same character, and the best we can figure is that they were setting up some sort of epic mind screw where the two Garys suddenly appear and break what’s left of Ted Danson’s sanity after Kristie Alley and Shelley Long got done wrecking it.