The news that Charlie Harper would be returning to "Two and a Half Men" almost broke the Internet -- not because the show had already killed off the character that Charlie Sheen made famous, but because they're having someone else play the role. And that someone is Kathy Bates.
Yes, it's a switcheroo made in comedy heaven. Obviously, Sheen is less than welcome back on the show he parted ways with and has not stopped bashing since, but Kathy Bates? A 63-year-old woman playing a 46-year-old man? Sheen says he's "honored" -- Bates has won an Oscar, after all -- but fans aren't pleased. (Just look at the comments on our story for proof.)
Still, this isn't the first shocking TV character re-casting to illicit fan rage. While many shows will replace main characters (see: Kirstie Alley's Rebecca Howe replacing Shelley Long's Diane Chambers as boss of "Cheers," and so many more), there are others that choose to pull a switcheroo instead. Do they think TV viewers won't notice?
Here, some of the most memorable TV character switcheroos that left viewers scratching their heads!
Roseanne and Dan Conner's oldest child, Becky, was played by actress Lecy Goranson for most of the series, but when Goranson wanted to quit acting to go to college, the producers had Becky elope and she appeared only sporadically. Then, future "Scrubs" star Sarah Chalke "became" Becky in Season 6, until Goranson wanted to return in Season 8 ("new" and "old" Becky both appeared in Season 8). When schedules conflicted again, Chalke returned for the show's ninth and final season.<br /> <em>(Getty Images)</em>
This switcheroo was so strange, the term "The Darrin Effect" is still used to describe when shows try to pull a fast one on fans with a main character recasting, mid-run. Dick York had the role of Darrin, supernatural Samantha's mortal husband, from 1964-69. But with the subtlety of a quick twitch of the nose, the show brought Dick Sargent in to replace him, 1969-72. (The show did a switcheroo for another reason: nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz was originally played by Alice Pearce, but when Pearce died in 1966, Sandra Gould stepped in to finish out the series.)<br /> <em>(Getty Images)</em>
When Will Smith's mom told him, "You're moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air," she probably didn't anticipate dear Aunt Viv to have an identity crisis. And neither did actress Janet Hubert-Whitten, who originated the role for the first three seasons. When Whitten got pregnant (and, rumor has it, started fighting with Smith http://www.bvonbooks.com/2009/12/31/janet-hubert-book-perfection/), Daphne Maxwell Reid was brought in for the show's last three of seasons, which included several inside jokes about how different she looked. <br /> <em>(Getty Images)</em>
For "Dynasty's" first three seasons, Pamela Sue Martin originated the role of this Carrington family heiress, who was put through the soap opera ringer. Marriages, affairs, two premature babies, kidnappings, divorces, several car accidents, kissing her long-lost brother, suffering temporary psychosomatic paralysis, presumed death, amnesia, a UFO encounter and being trapped in a cave full of stolen Nazi treasures, among other memorable dramas -- it was just way too much for one actress to tackle. Emma Samms took over the role from 1985-89, which included starring on the Fallon-centric spin-off, "The Colbys," from 1985-87.<br /> <em>(Getty Images/AP)</em>
Poor Chris Partridge -- not one but two fairly forgettable child actors played this role of the family band's drummer, starting with Jeremy Gelbwaks, who quit acting after the show's first season when his family moved away from Hollywood. Brian Forster took over from 1971-74, but Chris never became a big character on the series, and Forster left acting not long after the show wrapped.<br /> <em>(ABC / Getty Images)</em>
The object of affection for both Gob and Michael, Marta became "El Amor Prohibido" for the brothers Bluth, like the Colombian telenovela she was famous for. But that didn't stop them from fighting over her -- no matter which of the three actresses was playing her. Leonor Varela originated the role for Marta's first two episodes, then Patricia Velásquez appeared in Marta's next five episodes, and we can't forget Season 3's "Forget-Me-Now" where a third uncredited actress played Marta in a flashback.<br /> <em>(Getty Images)</em>
Phil Bruns played Jerry's dad in only one episode, "The Stake Out," in the show's forgettable first season, but even he wasn't the first actor cast -- Philip Sterling was originally hired to play the role before they went with Bruns. When Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David decided to take Jerry's dad in another direction, Barney Martin stepped in to play raincoat aficionado Morty for the rest of the show's nine-season run. <br /> <em>(Denny's/Getty Images)</em>
One of the more recent examples of role recasting was little Lily on "Modern Family." Twins Jayden and Ella Hiller started playing Cam and Mitchell's Vietnamese adopted daughter when they were newborns, but after two seasons, their mother retired them saying they didn't enjoy acting. Now, Lily speaks! Aubrey Anderson-Emmons is the lucky young actress who got the role. <br /> <em>(ABC)</em>
Barbara Bel Geddes originated this role when the series premiered 1978, but left the show due to health reasons in 1984. Donna Reed stepped in to play Ellie in her absence, but only for one season. In 1985, Bel Geddes returned to the series for four more years before retiring from the show and acting altogether, after garnering an Emmy win and two more nominations for the iconic role.<br /> <em>(AP)</em>
It's not unusual for TV shows to go through a bit of recasting after their pilots are shot, but backdoor pilots (new spinoff shows and characters introduced within episodes of established shows) are a bit trickier. "Private Practice" was Shonda Rhimes' "Grey's Anatomy" offshoot, and Merrin Dungey starred as Addison's BFF and reason for moving to L.A. when the backdoor pilot aired. When the show got ordered to series, Tony winner Audra McDonald replaced Dungey, but then left the show herself after Season 4. <br /> <em>(Getty Images)</em>
While Forman's sister Laurie wasn't part of the show's main circle, actress Lisa Robin Kelly was featured pretty regularly in the show's first three seasons before disappearing entirely in Season 4, popping up for four episodes in Season 5, then being replaced. Actress Christina Moore guest starred for six episodes as Laurie in Season 6. Laurie was never seen on-screen again (the show ran two more Laurie-less seasons), but she did get a funny shout-out in the show's series finale: "Has anyone seen Laurie?"<br /> <em>(Getty Images)</em>
It's hard to think of "Cagney & Lacey" without picturing Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, but Gless was actually the third actress to get the co-lead role of Cagney. Loretta Swit -- better known as "M*A*S*H's" Hot Lips -- played Cagney in the 1981 television movie that launched the series, but her "M*A*S*H" contract kept her from doing the show long-term, so actress Meg Foster took on the role for the series' six-episode first season. Audiences didn't respond well to her (something about her seeming too aggressive), so Sharon Gless finally got the role, which she played from 1982 until the show's finale in 1988, earning two Best Drama Actress Emmys and one Golden Globe win. <br /> <em>(AP)</em>
Given that Jo Marie Peyton, who played Winslow matriarch Harriette, was the reason "Family Matters" even existed in the first place (her character was spun-off from "Perfect Strangers," where she played the elevator operator), it was shocking when she chose to leave the series (http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/family-matters-jo-marie-payton-16891/) halfway through the show's ninth and final season only to be replaced by actress Judyann Elder. Could've been worse, though: youngest daughter Judy Winslow disappeared entirely!<br /> <em>(ABC / Getty Images)</em>
Four actors in five seasons? Bobby Draper's constant re-casting is proof that Sally Draper is the only one of Don and Betty's offspring worthy of her own storylines. The last Bobby, Jared Gilmore, left after two seasons to take the lead on "Once Upon a Time" -- and to publicly dish about his ex-TV mom, January Jones. We're betting <a href="http://www.tvguide.com/News/Kecks-Exclusives-New-1036528.aspx" target="_hplink">Season 5's Bobby, Mason Vale Cotton</a>, went through a more rigorous "How to be a tight-lipped 'Mad Men' star" training. <br /> <em>(AMC/FilmMagic)</em>
[Editor's note: We tried to make this list as comprehensive as possible, but could not find decent archived images of Lionel from "The Jeffersons," a role that actor Mike Evans played off and on throughout the show's run (1975, 1979-82, 1984-85), with Damon Evans (no relation) stepping in for a few years in between (1975-79). Sorry George and Weezie!]