Top 5 soap opera recast reversals

Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2017 2:58:34 PM
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Top 5 soap opera recast reversals

Find out which popular soap roles were recast but then recast once again when an earlier or original portrayer was (woo hoo!) able to return.

The soap opera world is going wild over the exciting news that Steve Burton is returning to General Hospital -- and speculation that he will once again be playing the role of Jason Morgan. However, as soap fans probably already know, this isn't the first time a soap opera has brought back a wildly popular portrayer after having given the role to someone else.

In light of Burton's return and Days of our Lives' recently announced resurrection of Will Horton, Soap Central is listing the top five moments when a daytime drama recast a popular character then changed their minds when a beloved earlier portrayer or an original portrayer was able to return. Check out the list below then let us know which recast reversal you were most thrilled to see.

PS: Yes, we realize there have been many more of these recast cases in soap history, but these are the ones that stood out to us. If you feel different, let us know in the comment section below which cases you would have put in the top five soap opera recast reversals.

That time AMC's REAL Greenlee returned

Original Portrayer: Rebecca Budig (1999 to 2005)
Replacement: Sabine Singh (2007 to 2008)
Budig's Return: 2008

Jaws dropped in 2007 when ABC announced that All My Children's Rebecca Budig would be resuming the role of Greenlee Smythe du Pres -- not necessarily because the beloved actress was stepping back into the shoes of her fiery alter ego after having walked away from the role two years earlier (though that was definitely worth dancing over), but because the network began airing advertisements with the slogan "The real Greenlee returns" while Greenlee's new portrayer, Sabine Singh, was still airing! The controversy led to Budig's homecoming being one of the most widely reported soap opera returns in the genre's history.

Though Singh eventually garnered a fan following during her stint with the show, she got off to a rocky start with viewers complaining she was "too whiny" and weak to be the strong, independent Greenlee fans were accustomed to. New head writers James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten helped fans warm up to Singh by writing the part specifically for her. Said Esensten to TV Guide: "We saw some little things in Sabine Singh, so we wrote for her accordingly. But you get into real trouble wen you completely change the character for a recast."

Ultimately, AMC fans felt there was no way Budig could be replaced, and neither did the powers that be. Even casting director Judy Blye Wilson said Budig brought a special mix of qualities to the role. "She has this unique way of playing the bad girl, if you will, but making her very likable," said Blye. "You love to watch this bad girl, and that's not an easy thing to make people do."

The case of Y&R's revolving door with Billy Abbott

Original Contract Portrayer: David Tom (1999 to 2002)
Replacement: Ryan Brown, Scott Seymour, and Billy Miller (split between 2002 to 2014)
Tom's Return: 2014

The Young and the Restless' Billy Abbott has one hell of a history. The character has had thirteen (yes, thirteen) different portrayers over the years. The first contract player was David Tom, who starred in teenage storylines that brought the character of Billy to the forefront of the Y&R canvas for the first time. After Tom left in 2002, both Ryan Brown and Scott Seymour went on to play the character. But when Billy Miller took on Billy in 2008, everything changed. Suddenly, Miller was Billy, and memories of previous portrayers quickly disappeared. Therefore, it was quite crushing news for viewers when Miller announced his desire to depart the show in 2014.

The powers that be scrambled to fill the role, ultimately deciding that earlier portrayer David Tom would be the perfect choice. Sadly, he turned out not to be as popular with viewers as he was back in the day and only lasted a couple of months in the role -- one reason, according to Tom, being because he looked "too young" opposite Cady McClain's Kelly.

As soap fans know, Y&R replaced Tom with daytime newbie Burgess Jenkins, who played the role from 2014 to 2016, and ultimately brought in Jason Thompson, who has been playing Jill Abbott's son since.

When DAYS' Austin Reed was recast with an earlier portrayer twice

Original Portrayer: Patrick Muldoon (1992 to 1995)
Replacement: Austin Peck (1995 to 2002; 2005 to 2006)
Muldoon's Return: 2011
Peck's Return: 2017

A lot of Days of our Lives fans are split about who they believe is the "real" Austin, simply because both Patrick Muldoon and Austin Peck have shared the role pretty equally over the years. Muldoon originated Carrie Brady's other half in 1992, but when he left for primetime roles in 1995, Peck stepped into the role and played him on-again, off-again until 2006.

The really interesting action started happening in 2011, when DAYS brought Muldoon and Carrie's portrayer, Christie Clark, back to Salem. Much to long-term viewers' chagrin, the powers that be changed their minds shortly after and let the pair go -- just ten months after having reintroduced Muldoon in the role of Austin.

Flash forward to 2017, when DAYS once again decided to bring back the character of Austin. Only this time, they decided to once again cast Peck as Carrie's love. Talk about a case of mixed up identities!

Supercouple Luke and Laura's son makes a super GH return

Original Portrayer: Jonathan Jackson (1993 to 1999)
Replacement: Jacob Young (2000 to 2003) and Greg Vaughan (2003 to 2009)
Jackson's Return: 2009

Luke and Laura's son has a moniker that doesn't actually fit. After all, Lucky has gone through a lot of unlucky events in his life due to his connection to his super famous parents. However, fans of original portrayer, Jonathan Jackson, felt pretty darn lucky in 2009 when the actor decided to make a return to the ABC soap ten years after having left the role. But as with most things soap opera related, the transition wasn't so simple.

After Jackson left the role of Lucky to pursue other projects in 1999, the soap cast Jacob Young (now Rick Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful) in the role. At the time, Young stated that taking on the part of Luke and Laura's son was quite nerve racking.

"At first I was a little bit insecure about [taking the role after Jackson], but now that I've started to think about it, Lucky was such a great character, and Jonathan did such a great job that [fans] wanted him to come back," he told Soap Central. "[Lucky] being in such demand, I think it was great that it opened up and allowed someone else to come in and give this character a shot."

Due to what was later revealed as monetary disagreements, Young departed the role in 2003, leaving the door open for Greg Vaughan (now Eric Brady, DAYS) to step in. He played the role for a full six years before ABC decided to bring back Jackson -- a casting decision that was bittersweet, considering the move cost Vaughan his job. Though Jackson reveals he didn't realize it at the time.

"It was a tough situation," Jackson said to "I was not under any sort of headspace that someone was losing their job; it was that the role was opening up... It was more of a confusing thing for me coming back and not knowing exactly what was going on, on the other end of things."

And things only got more complicated as time went on. After only playing the role for two years, Jackson announced he was leaving due to the heavy amount of work he was receiving.

"I love to work hard but I've been at maximum capacity in terms of mental and emotional output for months on end and it has become too difficult," he told TV Guide. "I am extremely thankful that they wanted to give me all those storylines with so much depth, but there's just no balance... I have a wife and three kids and other things in life I have to think about. I just knew I couldn't sustain the schedule at GH and that kind of emotion for much longer. It was just too intense."

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When OLTL's Todd Manning turned out to be Victor Lord Jr.

Original Portrayer: Roger Howarth (1992 to 2003)
Replacement: Trevor St. John (2004 to 2013)
Howarth's Return: 2011

Roger Howarth quickly became a fan favorite actor in the role of love-to-hate (and hate-to-love) Llanview publisher Todd Manning. And that was quite a feat, considering the character raped Marty Saybrooke and was originally slated to be a short-term villain before the powers that be realized he actually had a fan base. Doing their best to keep bad boy Todd on the canvas, the show's writers penned several redemption stories for the character -- which ultimately drove Howarth, who was uncomfortable with Todd's transformation, to leave the show in 2003.

Cue Trevor St. John, who stepped into the role in 2004. Much to everyone's initial surprise, most viewers and critics alike immediately took to St. John's version of the character. Some even preferred his version of Todd to Howarth's during his seven-year stint as the character, though there were just as many who preferred Howarth in the role. So, what's a team of writers to do with an audience that loves two actors in the same role? Bring back Howarth in the role of Todd and reveal that St. John was actually Todd's twin brother, Victor Lord, Jr.! Only on soaps, people.

Honorable mention: When one soap's misfortune was B&B's gain

Original Portrayer: Jacob Young (1997 to 1999)
Replacements: Justin Torkildsen (1999 to 2006) and Kyle Lowder (2007 to 2011)
Young's Return: 2011

Jacob Young hadn't yet hit the height of his popularity during his first run as Rick Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful. And when it was revealed that Young was jumping ship in 1999 to take over the role of Lucky Spencer on General Hospital... well, let's just say that there was a lot of concern that viewers would not warm up to anyone other than Jonathan Jackson as the son of iconic soap supercouple Luke and Laura.

Young was not intimidated, saying at that the time that he had "big shoes to step into, but I'm bringing my own set of 'em, if you know what I mean. I'm going to go out there and do my very best job and bring my perspective of the character to the show." Young was right. In 2002, he received a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Young Actor category.

From there, Young hopped to All My Children and took on the role of Adam Chandler, Jr. Young earned two more Daytime Emmy nominations and some argued that the fan favorite should have won at least one other Emmy. When ABC unceremoniously canceled All My Children in 2011, B&B came a-calling.

"When I started talking to B&B I didn't think it would happen so fast. But I guess it's good that way," Young explained. Success also came fast as Young has racked up two more Emmy nominations since he returned to B&B.

How do you feel about the above "just kidding" character recasts? Which soap opera recast reversal excited you the most? Do you think another original portrayer's return should have made our list of the top five? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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