There are often times when the actors behind characters decide to leave shows, but producers deem their characters crucial so opt to recast rather than write them out. This was the case with Home and Away’s original matriarch Pippa, who was initially played by Vanessa Downing when the show debuted in 1988.
When her on-screen husband Tom (Roger Oakley) was killed off, Vanessa chose to leave shortly afterwards, reportedly due to missing working with the actor. She was replaced by Debra Lawrance in 1990 who made the role her own and stayed with the series until 1998 and returned for various guest stints in subsequent years.
Not every actress who graces the shores of Summer Bay becomes an iconic character but Bec Hewitt (then known as Bec Cartwright) was one such person in her role as Hayley Smith.
In 2005, Bec quit Home and Away following a lengthy stint after marrying and becoming pregnant to tennis star Lleyton Hewitt.
WATCH: Teenage Bec Hewitt gets ready for her first Logies (Story continues below)
"It's going to be so hard to leave all my friends at Home and Away," she said in a statement confirming the exit at the time.
"The last six and a half years have been amazing."
Bizarrely, the decision was made to recast the character instead of writing an exit storyline and actress Ella Scott Lynch (who later starred in Love Child and Informer 3838) became the new Hayley.
Weighing on the show’s decision to recast, Bec added: "I'm so pleased that the character of Hayley will live on and I wish the girl who takes on the role all the best.
Another major character was forced to be recast after the actor playing them quit was Sally’s (Kate Ritchie) love interest Flynn Saunders. Originally portrayed by Martin Dingle Wall from 2001 to 2002, the character was deemed important enough to keep around even after the actor decided he wanted out.
Stepping in to the character’s shoes was Joel McIlroy, who played Flynn until he was killed off in 2006 after a heartbreaking cancer battle.
Amusingly, some fans recall an under-the-weather Alf (Ray Meagher) remarking he didn’t recognise Flynn in one piece of tongue-in-cheek dialogue subtly poking fun at the switch-up when the “new Flynn” first arrived on-screen.
A character who was literally born on the show – to Summer Bay royalty Leah (Ada Nicodemou) and Vinne (Ryan Kwanten) no less – VJ had been a fixture since way back in 2000.
Played as pre-teen by Felix Dean he was often spoken about but not overly prominent in storylines. Home and Away fans were shocked when VJ disappeared off screen, only to return as the much older and much more ripped Matt Little in 2014.
The change was presumably done to accommodate more teenage storylines for the character, Ada explained at the time: "VJ does leave the screens for a while and then he comes back definitely grown up! He's quite a big boy now, as physically they wanted him to grow up a bit and look a little bit older."
While Georgie Parker has embodied Alf’s daughter Roo Stewart for more than a decade and continues to flourish in the role, the talented actress hasn’t been the only face of the character.
When Home and Away began in the 80s, Roo was a blonde wild child, involved in many of Summer Bay’s earliest scandals. Portraying this younger version of Roo was Justine Clarke.
Speaking to The Australian Women’s Weekly in 2020, Justine said of her experience in the role: "She was a bully. People started calling me 'b*tch' in the street and giving me the finger.”
When you think of Home and Away’s most iconic characters of all time it would be amiss to leave out Irene Roberts. Lynne McGranger has played the beloved foster mum for more than two decades but those with short memories might not recall it was actually another actress altogether who originally played Irene.
Initially introduced as a rough-around-the-edges alcoholic, Irene was first portrayed by Jacqui Phillips from 1991 to 1992 before Lynne took the reigns and hasn’t let go since!
Back in 2009, Dexter Walker appeared as part of a five-week stint with the Walker family, including dad Sid (Robert Mammone) and sister Indigo (Samara Weaving), with Dex being played by Tom Green.
When the family returned as full-time characters the following year, both Robert and Samara reprised their roles but Tom was nowhere to be seen. Instead, it was actor Charles Cottier who was now the face of Dex Walker.
Speaking of taking on the gig after Tom’s stint, Charles admitted to Inside Soap in 2011: "I sometimes hang out with [him] - he's a really nice guy - but I chose not to watch what he'd done. I think Dex is quite a different character now, too."
Soaps sometimes have a habit of accelerating the aging process when it comes to child characters. Much like VJ, this was also the case with Duncan Stewart. Duncan was the son of Alf (Ray Meagher) and Ailsa (Judy Nunn) and played by several child actors (including Lewis Devaney from 1990 to 1998) before Brendan McKensy took over from 1998 until the character’s exit in 2001. More than a decade later, Duncan reappeared in Summer Bay in 2016 where he was played by Benedict Wall.