10 TV Shows That Switched Main Characters

A series finale may not be the only time you say goodbye to beloved characters.

Homeland TV Show

A television show can have as original and interesting a concept as it wants, but what keeps the viewers coming back, and what will always be remembered, is the characters.

In writing classes, you are told that television viewership retention is the lowest in any creative medium. Where films and video games often have the opening twenty minutes to convince the audience to carry on with it, television scripts are given just the opening five minutes to really grab the attention of the audience before they are likely to turn off.

A strong lead character can make all the difference in that respect.

Whether it is their personality or an immediate action, a great protagonist will invite a viewer to become attached to them, but will also allow them to live in that fictional world vicariously. Seeing Rick Grimes explore an apocalyptic wasteland for the first time allows the audience to journey through the world of The Walking Dead right alongside him.

Television with multiple seasons can be huge commitments though. Many television shows, whether thanks to decisions in the writer's room, real-world controversies or the actor simply growing tired of playing the same role year after year, are forced into the most drastic change any series can undertake: passing the position of lead onto a different character. Sometimes it works, but sometimes, it's as much of a gamble as you'd think.

Beware major spoilers ahead.

10. The Walking Dead

Homeland TV Show
Gene Page/AMC

Adapted from Robert Kirkman's 2004 comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead was always Rick Grimes' story. Yes, the show had to compensate for an ever-growing cast and so Rick would be entirely missing in episodes that explored other subplots, but Rick has still featured in the second most episodes of the entire show.

After awaking from his coma and finding his family at the Atalanta camp in season 1, Rick quickly became the leader of their group, and this stayed in place the entire way through the show. Although they would enter other communities with existing hierarchies, it was Rick that all would eventually turn to keep them alive and safe.

Andrew Lincoln's performance is undoubtedly incredible, portraying Rick's joys and despairs and quickly creating a character that all TWD fans loved. Real-world responsibilities caught up with Lincoln, and his duties to his young family outweighed his ambitions with The Walking Dead.

Initially wishing to be killed off in season 8, Lincoln was convinced to stick around to give the character a proper send-off. He agreed and was last seen being choppered away to parts unknown in S09E05, and the baton for the lead role was passed on to co-star Daryl Dixon (played by Norman Reedus).

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Lover of all things zombie. Secretly wishing for the apocalypse, but only on easy difficulty. Top of the world leaderboards for a couple of songs on Pro Drums on Rock Band 4. Can name every world flag. Currently doing my MA in Creative Writing in an attempt to do something with my life.