Eric Forman Was Almost Recast on ‘That ’70s Show’ Following Topher Grace’s Exit

That ’70s Show was one of the most popular TV shows of the 2000s, making stars out of actors like Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Laura Prepon. The cast was led by Topher Grace, who played the main character Eric Forman, but he left the show after its seventh season. His character was given a story to explain his absence, but did you know the showrunners considered recasting Eric?

Topher Grace smiling
Topher Grace | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Why did Topher Grace leave ‘That 70s Show?’

Grace played Eric Forman on That ’70s Show, a dweeby high school kid who had fun and got into trouble with his gang of friends. By the end of the show’s seventh season, Eric realizes he’s tired of just hanging out with his friends and decides to become a teacher. 

His high school guidance counselor tells him he can get a full scholarship for a teaching degree if he first goes to Africa and teaches there for a year. Eric decides to go and leaves his friends behind at the end of the season. 

Why did Grace leave? His decision sort of mirrored Eric’s. While starring on That ’70s Show, Grace was able to also appear in movies like Ocean’s Eleven, Mona Lisa Smile, and Win A Date With Tad Hamilton! 

RELATED: ‘That ’70s Show’: Why the Show’s Success Made Topher Grace Feel ‘Guilty’

Grace decided that he wanted to pursue more movie roles, and the rigorous shooting schedule of the sitcom meant he would have to choose between movies and TV. Grace chose movies and left the show before the eighth — and final — season. He did return for the series finale of the show, reconnecting with his friends and ex-girlfriend Donna (Laura Prepon), which made fans happy. 

Showrunners planned to recast Eric Forman with another actor

The actor might have left, but the showrunners weren’t sure if they were ready to say goodbye to Eric Forman yet. According to ScreenRant, the original plan was to recast the role of Eric with actor Josh Meyers. 

Meyers would join the show as Eric, and the show planned to explain the character’s different look by joking that his time in Africa had changed him. However, that idea was scrapped after fears that dedicated fans would be angry that Eric has been recast. 

That doesn’t mean Meyers didn’t join the show, though. Instead of making him Eric, the showrunners wrote a new role for him: Randy Pearson, a new employee at Hyde’s record store. 

Randy soon became friends with the gang, started dating Donna, and even had a close relationship with Eric’s parents. Meyers’ character didn’t seem to charm viewers, though, and the eighth season of the show was the last. 

What is Topher Grace doing now?

After leaving the show, Grace went on to star in movies like Spider-Man 3, Valentine’s Day, Interstellar, and BlacKkKlansman. The actor has also returned to the small-screen, starring in ABC’s Home Economics. The sitcom has been picked up for a third season, set to start airing this fall. 

Grace will also reprise his role as Eric Forman in the upcoming That ’70s Show Netflix spinoff That ’90s Show. The new show will follow Eric’s daughter, Leia, as she spends a summer in Point Place, Wisconsin, with her grandparents and new friends. Prepon, Kutcher, Kunis, Wilmer Valderrama, Kurtwood Smith, and Debra Jo Rupp are all set to return. 

Fans of That ’70s Show were disappointed when Grace — and Eric — left the show, so this new spinoff is an exciting chance to see him back in Point Place with his old co-stars! 

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