So I was watching an episode of Barney Miller and I spotted Ron Carey in a bit part as a jewel burglar. As most of you know, Carey later became a series regular as Officer Leavitt. Dennis Franz first appeared on Hill Street Blues as a crooked cop before assuming the role of Detective Buntz. It made me think there are likely any number of actors with similar histories. Any come to mind?

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Raul Esparza was on an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and was a shady journalist on an episode of Law & Order before he became Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for five seasons.

Walt Handelsman had a bit part on Homicide: Life on the Street as a uniformed police officer in the first season; he showed up later as Detective (later, Captain) Gaffney, a bigoted thorn in the side of Lt. Giardello. (Col. Barnfather promoted Gaffney to captain instead of Giardello just to stick it to him; Giardello didn't make captain for a few years after that.)

Jim Nabors first appeared on the one-season sitcom Valentine's Day as "Goofy Movie Patron", and afterwards as the recurring character Hank Smith. Hat-tip: the IMDB.

Victor Buono played a one-off villain in the first episode of Wild Wild West, and Count Manzeppi in the second season, who appeared twice. He played a third role in the second reunion movie. Hat-tip: Wikipedia.

Marla Heasley had a one-off role in the second season of The A-Team, and a recurring role from later in the season as Tawnia Baker, into the early third. Hat-tip: Wikipedia.

Glynis Barber played a Mutoid in the first season of Blake's 7, and joined the regular cast as Soolin at the start of season 4. Hat-tip: the IMDB.

Lucille Ball had a starring role on the radio show My Favorite Husband from 1948-51. Gale Gordon was the third actor to play her character's husband's boss. After she moved to TV he played Ricky's boss on two episodes of I Love Lucy and a judge on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

He had key roles on Ball's next two shows: Theodore J. Mooney on The Lucy Show from the second season, and Harry Carter on Here's Lucy through the show's run. He played yet another role in the TV movie Lucy Calls the President and was a regular cast-member on the short-lived Life with Lucy. Hat-tip: Wikipedia.

William Windon appeared as a lawyer in an episode of the first season of Murder, She Wrote and joined the show's cast as Dr Hazlitt season 2.

Ron Masak had two roles on the show before he joined the cast as Sheriff Metzger season 5.

Louis Herthum also had two roles on the show before he joined the cast as Deputy Broom season 8.

Herb Edelman had three before he commenced appearing as Lt Artie Gelber season 9.

Six episodes in 1990-1991 used a recurring jewel thief/former jewel thief character named Dennis Stanton as their protagonist. In these he was portrayed as an insurance adjuster, and Hallie Todd appeared as his receptionist Rhoda Markowitz. She had had a previous role in a Jessica Fletcher episode.

Hat-tip: Wikipedia, the IMDB.

Charlie O'Connell had two roles on Sliders before he joined the cast as Colin Mallory for the fourth season. Hat-tip: Wikipedia.

Richard Keith had a one-off role on The Andy Griffith Show shortly before he commenced appearing as Johnny Paul Jason.

Jack Dodson also had one shortly before he commenced appearing as Howard Sprague.

Hat-tip: Wikipedia, the IMDB.

Jon Shepodd had a one-off role in the Miller family period of Lassie before he appeared as the first Paul Martin in its Martin family period.

George Chandler twice appeared as Chet Power during the Miller family period and played Uncle Petrie for part of the Martin family period, appearing with both versions of the Martins.

In the show's Forest Ranger period Jack De Mave had a one-off role before he appeared as Forrest Ranger Bob Erickson, and Jad Allan had two before he appeared as Forrest Ranger Scott Turner.

Ron Hayes had three roles, in the show's Forest Ranger and "Traveling on her own" periods, before he played the lead role of Garth Holden in the final seasons.

Hat-tip: Wikipedia, the IMDB.

If we had a hundred TV trivia contests between LB, the Commander and me, I'd come in third a hundred times.

Actually, I've been looking up most of these. Hence all the hat-tips. I figured I'd find cases on long-running shows with cast-changes.

In "Friends", Giovanni Ribisi played Phoebe's half-brother Frank Jr.

However, his first appearance in the series was as an unnamed passer-by that put a condon in Phoebe's coin jar when she was performing music in the open.

I don't know if it was ever canonically established that it was the Frank Jr. character at that earlier occasion.

The IMDB tells me Bernie Kopell appeared as Siegfried in 14 episodes of Get Smart. There were 138 episodes, so that's roughly one in ten.

King Moody played Starker in 7 of those episodes, for the first time in season 2. He had previously appeared in two other roles, and he had yet another before his second appearance as Starker.

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