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I'm thinking more along the lines of a long-running soap than a normal TV series, but I know that in soaps, if an actor or actress leaves, and they need to bring the character back they will re-cast the role.

Has a situation ever occurred where someone leaves a soap, the role gets re-cast, but then the original actor or actress comes back as a different character to their original character?

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Changed the title as you seem to be after something more specific than simply "Same Actor, Different Character", which happened plenty of times as this list proves (and to which we can add Laura Palmer and her "identical" cousin on Twin Peaks). – Walt Aug 12 '14 at 0:20
And as to the more specific question, here's one example. – Walt Aug 12 '14 at 0:45
There are probably hundreds of possible answers. TV shows recycle extras all the time. Maybe you should instead ask about major roles. – Jeff-Inventor ChromeOS Aug 12 '14 at 2:51
Extras aren't identifiable characters. – Ben Plont Aug 12 '14 at 14:49
@Walt why not add that as an answer? It's correct. – Ben Plont Aug 12 '14 at 14:51

On Days of Our Lives, the character of Roman Brady was originally played by Wayne Northrop.
The character was re-cast and played by Drake Hogestyn.
Northrop then returned as Roman and left again.
The character was again re-cast and played by Josh Taylor. Finally, Northrop returned as Dr. Alex North.

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My wife watches Days, this was the first example to come to mind. – Michael Itzoe Aug 13 '14 at 14:16

In Star Trek (2009), Spock, who was originally played by Leonard Nimoy was re-cast and played by Zachary Quinto, but Nimoy returned to play Prime Spock.

Does that count?

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it works for me... – Ben Plont Aug 12 '14 at 18:23

Majel Barret, wife of series creator Gene Roddenberry, had several roles in several incarnations of the Star Trek series. She was the original "First Mate" (referred to as "Number One") in the pilot episode, and then came back as Nurse Chapel in TOS. She also played Deanna Troi's mother Lwaxana in TNG, as well as being the voice of ships computers in several series' and movies.

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But her roles were never recast. – Ben Plont Aug 12 '14 at 14:40
Technically, Number One became Spock. So, she was replaced by Spock and came back as Nurse Chapel. And the computers. – Johnny Bones Aug 12 '14 at 15:23
Leonard Nimoy played Spock in "The Cage" and the rest of the series... – Ben Plont Aug 12 '14 at 17:57

There was a very popular TV serial in India called Dill Mill Gayye where this sort of thing happened. It's a love story involving a group of young doctors interning at a hospital.

The main leads were Armaan Malik played by Karan Singh Grover & Riddhima Gupta played by Shilpa Anand/Jennifer Winget/Sukriti Kandpal.

Shilpa Anand playing Riddhima, the female love interest of Armaan Malik was recast due to her on-set tantrums & demanding a fatter paycheck after her popularity & fame. The character was played by Sukriti Kandpal for a short period. The character was recast again due to the lack of good acting skills & played by Jennifer Winget till the end of the show.

But at a later point in the show, a new character was introduced, namely Shilpa Malhotra, played by Shilpa Anand to add a love triangle between Armaan & Riddhima.
The move to bring back Shilpa Anand & cast her into a different character was made to salvage falling TV ratings & bring back some loyal admirers of the said actress.

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Karen Gillian was an extra on Doctor Who, prior to returning to the show in the role of the Doctor's companion.

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Peter Capaldi also previously played a small role on Doctor Who and will now be returning as the 13th Doctor.

Coincidentally, both actors appears in the same episode, "Fires of Pompei".

enter image description here

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But it's missing the 're-cast' part, isn't it? – Walt Aug 12 '14 at 3:12

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