TV’s Six Worst High School Age Miscastings

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When casting a high school show, the vast majority of the time you’re not going to pull actors who are literally fourteen and fifteen years old. However, the least you can do is at least try to find someone who looks age appropriate. Nothing against these six actors, but often I was concentrating more on their wrinkles and age spots than I was on their acting.

6. Ryan Atwood on The O.C.

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Played by Benjamin Mackenzie (age 25-29 while filming)

For the first season, Ryan was passable as a high schooler, but he aged absurdly fast, and by the time the show ended he looked like he could have been Seth Cohen’s father. I mean he was 29 when he was supposed to be a freshman in college, and that has to show at least a little bit. He only looks in place in the last five minutes of the series, where he is all grown up as an architect helping struggling youth. No faux-age makeup required.

5. Serena Van Der Woodsen on Gossip Girl

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Played by Blake Lively (age 20-22 while filming)

OK, you know what? I don’t care that Blake Lively is pretty damn close to high school age in real life because she constantly looks and mostly act like she’s about 35 (except when she’s off on drunken benders). I think they were going for a lead girl who was “relatable” (read: not too hot) but she really just comes off…old. And that’s bad when she’s definitely the youngest person on this list. Most female actors can play younger easily, but not Miss Lively.

4. Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights

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Played by Taylor Kitsch (age 25-29 while filming)

I didn’t want to make a CosmoGirl image the lead picture for Taylor, but seriously, are we supposed to believe that this guy is in high school? He looks like he should be off swimming the Olympics, cutting down trees, or fighting evil with a trench coat and bowstaff, not playing high school football.

3. Clark Kent on Smallville

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Played by Tom Welling (age 24-32 while filming)

This has been one of the most horrendous age miscastings on TV ever for me, but the only reason it’s not higher is because it actually got better as time went on. The above picture was taken when Clark Kent was supposed to be a freshman in high school. Have you seen freshman in high school? Even the big ones will be staring directly at your chest, quaking at the possibility that you might stuff them in a locker.

As time went on, Tom Welling never really looked any older than he did at the beginning of the show, so eventually the age gap narrowed, but the “high school” seasons of the show were an absolute joke in terms of his towering physique.

2. Dylan McKay on 90210

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Played by Luke Perry (age 25-35 while filming)

Did Dylan creep anyone else out as much as he did me? In high school he looked like a senior in college and after graduation he just got to be dad-aged and downright off-putting. You got used to it over time, I mean the show was on for ten years, but every once in a while it would just hit you and you’d shudder at how horribly out of place he looked.

And while we’re on 90210 here, I feel obligated to mention Andrea Zuckerman, who looks much more soccer mom than high school student. Her and Dylan should get a nice house in the suburbs together.

1. Arther Fonzarelli on Happy Days

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Played by Henry Winkler (age 29-39 while filming)

Yes, Fonzie was almost FORTY when the show finished wrapping. I mean, I never really knew if Fonzie was supposed to be older than Richie and the gang. I figured a few years at most, but seriously, if he wasn’t the Fonz he would certainly have been “creepy old guy who hangs out around high school.” But most of the time he just looks like Edward James Olmos.

In contrast, the BEST example of appropriate high school age casting? Take a look at the entire cast of Degrassi: The Next Generation. Kids playing the age they actually are? Unheard of!

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24 Comments

  1. As for the Tom Welling one. Of course he’s going to have a “towering physique” over people and look more mature, he’s not human and he’s also freking SUPERMAN (or going to be).

  2. When I think about people who are too old for High School. i think about the blonde guy from Napoleon Dynamite, not that Jon Heder looks to old, he looks incredibly old…his name is Trevor Snarr i Think and he was 26

  3. @Sub-Zero

    Dude, he’s SUPERMAN, and he does look young in the pilot, only that he’s bigger and more ripped than everyone else, because, again… he’s AN ALIEN and he’s SUPERMAN.

    Also, his abs are clearly photoshopped to look more ripped so the ladies will watch.

  4. I’m going to have to disagree with you on some of these. Mainly on the Tom Welling/Clark Kent one. There’s some freshmen in my high school who look like their supposed to be a freaking freshmen in college!!

    They tower over my 5 foot 5 body with no problem at all!

  5. “And while we’re on 90210 here, I feel obligated to mention Andrea Zuckerman, who looks much more soccer mom than high school student. Her and Dylan should get a nice house in the suburbs together.”

    Yeah, man … in fact I think Andrea should have gotten her whole damn entry. I was in middle school when that show started airing so the other people managed to pass my muster … but even at 13 I could only dwell on how middle-aged Andrea looked.

  6. Another one that had people who mostly were/looked the right age was Freaks and Geeks. Sam (John Francis Daley) almost seemed too young, which fit nicely with his nerdism. Also, Claire Danes in My So Called Life, now that I’m thinking about it.

  7. really? one tree hill didnt make the list? that cast our 90210 where the entire cast did not look like they belonged in high school. was the same age as them when that show started going through my freshman year and i was stunned when i saw what the wb was trying to pass off for high school freshman. serena honestly is not bad at all considering three things, 1) we meet her in her jr year 2) she is wealthy 3) and lives in new york. throw in the arbitrary luck of the draw that is genes and its totally believable. every one has a the girl in high school that looks like she could 19 or 20 when shes really 17. plus throw in all the clothes and stylists money gives her access too…i could buy she in high school.

  8. I couldn’t agree more about Blake Lively. Granted, she’s attractive but I remember sitting with my wife watching show and saying to her, she’s suppose to be in HIGH SCHOOL? yeah, right. what is she 40? Then I found out 2 weeks later she was only 20.

  9. How about old Roswell with Max and Isabell Evans, Max just looked 25+ from the get go and Isabel also looked early 20’s in the first 2 seasons but aged rapidly to 30’s in 3rd!

  10. On who looks right for their age id say the whole Skins cast (UK show), cant say I ever thought any of them were older than portrayed, 1st and 2nd generation.

  11. Tom welling had that baby face on him for a while there from season 1 to season 5 after that he lost that baby face.he was the best clark kent that ever was to me

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