Created By: normal on May 30, 2012 Last Edited By: normal on July 9, 2012

Under-Age Casting

When the actor/actress who is cast to play a character is actually too young to be that character

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You know how sometimes you're watching a show and you think, "Hey, isn't that person too young to be a doctor?" This is an example of under-aged casting, and it happens when an actor or actress is not actually old enough to be their character, for instance, when a twenty-three-year-old actor plays a character with a PHD.

This happens most frequently to characters who are doctors, lawyers, or some other profession that requires a lot of schooling, and actresses tend to be cast in older roles more often than actors.

This can cause Playing Gertrude if the character has a teenage or adult child. However, it can also result from Playing Gertrude if the actor or actress portraying the parent is physically too young to have bore the child in question (i.e. a character played by a forty-year-old actress having a thirty-year-old daughter).

This trope is subverted when the character has actually skipped grades in Canon. It is not simply the opposite of Dawson Casting, because it doesn't only require that the actor is younger than the character. The actor must be too young to be the character.



  • Olivia Wilde was twenty-three when she started as Thirteen on House, M.D.. Doctors typically graduate from medical school at twenty-six. Similarly, Jesse Spencer and Charlyne Yi were both cast at twenty-five and Odette Annable was twenty-six (her character had previously worked in a prison and thus, was clearly not right out of medical school).
    • Interestingly, Amber Tamblyn, who was cast as Teen Genius, Martha Masters, at twenty-seven, is an example of Dawson Casting.
  • When she was cast on Law & Order, Jill Hennessy was twenty-four. The minimum age at which a normal person can graduate from law school is twenty-five.
  • Gillian Anderson was cast as Dana Scully on The X-Files at twenty-four. The character in question had not only graduated from medical school, but worked a year at the FBI afterward. However, this trope is still possibly subverted due to the fact that she lied about her age to get the part.
  • On Miami Vice, Helena Bonham-Carter was twenty when she played a doctor who was supposed to be about thirty. At the time, she looked like she was twelve.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • May 31, 2012
  • May 31, 2012
    Doesn't that trope refer specifically to the age difference between actors and the actresses who are younger than they are supposed to be?
  • May 31, 2012
    On Miami Vice, Helena Bonham Carter was twenty when she played a doctor who was supposed to be about thirty. At the time, she looked like she was twelve.
  • May 31, 2012
    I think this would just be an inversion of Dawson Casting.
  • May 31, 2012
    On That70s Show the character of Jakie was played by Mila Kunis, who at the time was 14, she got the part by lying about her age in the casting (the story goes that when the producers asked for her age, she just said "I'll be turning eighteen on my birthday" omitting the fact that said birthday was four years from then)

    Of course the difference in age between her and her character is not that great but it still counts.
  • June 21, 2012
    Angela Lansbury was only three years older than the actor playing her son in the original The Manchurian Candidate.
  • June 21, 2012
    Oracle Of Tao had characters doing multiple roles, and had an actual 60-year-old as voice actress of God. Later, a Time Skip happened, and the male and female protagonists became elderly, who was used to do the voices? Two women in their twenties.
  • July 8, 2012
    How is this distinct from Improbable Age?
  • July 9, 2012
    Improbable Age seems to be when the character is stated to be the wrong age for their job/skill level/level of power (like a ten-year-old CEO, or a 13-year-old surgeon). This is when the actor is much younger than the character is meant to be (ie, the actor is 15. The character is 30.)
  • July 9, 2012
    Wouldn't this be Trivia, IE interesting information that is not actually a trope?