Dawson Casting

Nobody understands the teenage mind better than an adult actor. note 

"This is just like The O.C., except without 25-year-old teenagers and 35-year-old parents."
Jack, Will and Grace

High school students in television look nothing like high school students in real life (well, not always), for one good reason: they're often played by actors who are upwards of fifteen years older. This dates back to the earliest days of Hollywood, if not further, making it Older than Television. Despite this trope being a prime source for ridicule, mockery, and parody, there are actually a lot of legitimate reasons for why this is done. Among them include stricter rules for employing children and limitations on what they are allowed to perform on camera, or at the very least Ability Over Appearance. See the Analysis Page for more details.

This happens when dealing with teenage characters in the range of 14-18 years old, especially in dramatic shows. If younger, casting usually tries for children actors, and if older it is simply far less noticeable. If a show or movie carries a greater focus on the adults rather than the kids then they will usually avert this. This ought to be horribly distracting, but by and large, television audiences have learned to manage. It is so ingrained into our mindset that almost all aversions end up being notable.

It can sometimes result in a paradoxical effect: teens that look more like actual teens (either with real teenage actors or in animation) are described as looking "too young" (see Reality Is Unrealistic). Conversely, actors in their early-to-mid-twenties, especially those who make their name in these kinds of shows, often have difficulty being taken seriously playing characters their own age. Very specific actors can pull it off, usually attributing it to the character being Older Than They Look. In other cases, some stories work with this because a key plot point may be the character does not actually look their age and are trying to pass off as older than they really are. But with no such luck Hollywood will get by with appropriate clothing, hairstyles, makeup and mannerisms.

Named for Dawson's Creek, which was notorious for it — James Van Der Beek (20), Katie Holmes (18), and Joshua Jackson (19) playing 15-year-olds (at the time of the pilot's filming). 17-year-old Michelle Williams was the only one still high school aged. In season two, the new main character Jack was 16, and actor Kerr Smith was 26. While maybe not the worst case example (Jack aside), it is a joke that has filtered into the cultural mindset regarding the show.

By and large this trope requires some research, you can't know for certain that an actor/actress is a certain age unless you scour around Wikipedia or IMDb. Also consider that production time may vary greatly from release of the movie or airing of the episode. The actors are of course younger during filming. Timeline issues sometimes make this more apparent, as 5 seasons of a tv show may only cover one year within the context of the story, making an actor who was an aversion become a straight example over time. Consider also that the exact age of the character may also be in question (a generic "high schooler" can be anywhere from 14 to 19). In the case of voice acting that field has nothing to do with appearance and everything to do with vocal performance, as such only notable aversions are mentioned (consider what the point would be to list examples of Race Lift in voice acting). This is also part of why we have Crossdressing Voices.

Ultimately realize that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this trope; all forms of entertainment are about the illusion. What matters is if you believe in the character. At the same time this is not about age discrepancies, just being three or four years older doesn't neccessarily mean the production is "trying to pull a fast one" on the audience. If anything finding a 19 year old to play a 17 year old is well ahead of the curve.

Compare Age Lift, Age-Inappropriate Dress, Hollywood Old, and Three-Month-Old Newborn. Contrast Playing Gertrude. See also Artistic Age for an intentional drawn equivalent. Cross-Dressing Voices is more-or-less the animated version of this trope, as partially explained above. Also used to avert a Stage Mom situation.

Examples:

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Straight Examples

     Anime And Manga 
  • In both Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood the 15-year-old Edward Elric was voiced by 38-year-old Vic Mignogna, even in the Whole Episode Flashbacks to when he was younger.
    • Something similar happens in the Spaniard dub with male actor Ricardo Escobar (15-year-old Edward) and female actress Blanca Rada (10-12 year-old Edward). Rada voices Ed in most flashbacks, but in some short ones (two-three lines tops), Escobar keeps voicing little Ed. The results are kinda jarring, since even though Escobar's voice is believable for a teenager (although a kinda deep voiced one at that), it definitely isn't for a little boy.
  • When an established character remembers their childhood, a separate actress is often brought in to provide the younger voice; however, Soichiro Hoshi continues to voice Goku (Saiyuki) and Oujirou (Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer) in flashbacks.
    • The English dub actor Chris Patton has played the younger versions of two of his characters as well: Joshua Christopher in Chrono Crusade (who was played by a woman in the Japanese version) and Fakir in Princess Tutu. In the audio commentary for Chrono Crusade, it's revealed that they used a mixture of Chris speaking higher and some editing to make it work.
    • Similarly, in the dub of Naruto, Yuri Lowenthal voices Sasuke even when he was a kid and later he voiced Simon of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann both before and after the Time Skip, though not in the Distant Finale (which happen the same in the original language as well). The same goes for Rossiu, though only in the dub (while in the Japanese version he retains a female voice actor even when we briefly see him in his fourties)
  • In the Spaniard dub of Naruto every single main male character over the age of 10 is voiced by a male actor, and most of them are believable. Javier Balas, Naruto's voice actor, explained in an interview that it was done like that because when the series arrived to Spain, in Japan the manga had already reached the Time Skip. Hence, they casted so every character could keep their voice actors after that point.
    • Which happened for all characters... except Sasuke. Before the Time Skip he was voiced by Adolfo Moreno, a 30-something voice actor famous for voicing Ash Ketchum from Pokémon, Sora from Kingdom Hearts II and Scott Pilgrim, among many others. However, after the Time Skip he was replaced by Eduardo Bosch, whose voice sounds way more mature... so much that some people believe they overdid it.
  • It's probably worth noting that Greg Ayres (the actor of Negi from Negima mentioned above) has been cast three times in dubs for young characters voiced by Akira Ishida in the original: Kaworu Nagisa of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Chrono of Chrono Crusade and Satoshi Hiwatari of D.N.Angel. In fact, Greg himself tends to be a walking example—he was originally hired as a voice actor in the first place because his natural voice sounds so young
  • Sixteen-year-old Tsukiyono Omi of Weiß Kreuz is played by Yuuki Hiro, actually the oldest of the four lead voice actors of the series; his youthful voice means that he is often cast as cute, young boys.
  • Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z was played by his male actor, Ryo Horikawa in his young appearances. Most dubs use a female actor for this role, but the Funimation English dub, like the Japanese Version, used his adult actor, Christopher Sabat as the young Vegeta.
    • Christopher Sabat also voiced the child form of Piccolo in Dragon Ball, while in most other versions including the original Japanese version cast a woman for this part.
  • Shinji in the English dub of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and most character voiced by Spike Spencer (with a few exceptions which were old enough to be played by a male in both versions).
    • This trend was followed by most of the other dubs worldwide; in fact, the Japanese version seems to be the only one in which Shinji was voiced by a woman, which some fans perceive as Lost in Translation, as his effeminacy was a major point in his character development.
    • Other male teen characters were also voiced by men in the original Japanese: Touji Suzuhara, voiced by Tomokazu Seki; Kensuke Aida, voiced by Tetsuya Iwanaga; and, as mentioned above, Kaworu Nagisa, voiced by Akira Ishida.
  • The 2008 Yatterman series marks the only time in the franchise's entire history (the live-action movie aside, for obvious reasons) that Gan/Yatterman-1 had a male actor (Hiroyuki Yoshino in this case); otherwise, he had a female actress.
  • The Adventure of Sinbad OVA has 14-year-old Sinbad and Drakon being voiced by the same actors who play their 30-year-old selves in Magi, which just sounds unnatural combined with the more cartoonish art style.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Although there's generally no actual casting involved, many fanfics involve describing the characters (both existing and new) in terms that don't fit with eleven to seventeen years old. Sometimes there actually is casting, when the author creates banners or pictures for the cast, and generally uses "teen" models or actresses in their early-mid 20s.
  • Practically all Role Players cast their characters into age illogical celebrities.
  • In the author's notes of My Immortal, Tara Gilesbie suggested that Gerard Way (!) should play Draco in the next Harry Potter film. Gerard was almost 30 at the time.
  • Butter Up of the Actingverse in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction plays Fluttershy, and is a full adult, unlike the child stars who play the other characters.

    Literature 

    Music 
  • Alice Cooper, born in 1948, has been singing "I'm Eighteen" for over 30 years.
  • Bryan Adams had a hit with "18 Till I Die" in 1997, at the age of 37.
  • Pat Benatar, born in 1953, built an entire discography around singing about how "we are young" back in the 1980s. The video for "Love is a Battlefield" (which has the "we are young" line in question), where she plays a teen runaway. She was 30 at the time she made the video.
  • Marilyn Manson, born in 1969, has been singing, in a first person narrative, of being a disgruntled youth, since 1994 when he was 25.
  • Madonna's early musical career centered around insinuating that she's a troubled youth, being a material "girl" who was "like a virgin" and juggling youthful crushes and youthful rebellion and wants to know "where's the party", contrasted with tougher issues such as whether or not her "daddy" would be angry that she's pregnant, and running away from home because "daddy" is abusive. She was 25 years old when she released her self-titled debut. 3 years after that, she still considered herself young enough to kiss a 13-year-old in the music video for "Open Your Heart", but her critics disagreed.
  • Belinda Carlisle had a youthful-sounding voice and used it to make references about being a "kid" in "school" finding love for the first time with her band The Go-Gos. In the late 1980s, she became a solo artist at the (relatively) mature age of 29, replete with air-brushed album covers to make her look like someone born after 1958.
  • Cyndi Lauper, another 30-something in the 1980s who got famous about singing about being a "girl" instead of a woman.
  • Pete Burns was 26 when he released his album "Youthquake" and the other members of British New Wave band called "Dead or Alive" were in their late 20s and early 30s.
  • Spice Girls
  • Beastie Boys
  • The Beach Boys continued to sing love songs to teenage girls even after they became middle-aged, bearded, creepy men. Not counting the unreleased track "Lazy Lizzy", in which Brian sings about stalking an underage girl, the most pedo-worthy track to appear on a Beach Boys disc was undoubtedly "Hey Little Tomboy" — made even worse by a bootlegged outtake in which the Boys seem bent on gang-raping the title character.
  • New Kids on the Block
  • Backstreet Boys
  • Indigo Girls
  • At the age of 26, Katy Perry played a 13-year-old high school student in the music video of her song "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)".
  • Several of Taylor Swift's videos, such as "Fifteen", "You Belong With Me", and "The Story of Us", in which she plays high schoolers. Minor examples earlier, as she wasn't that much older than her characters, but it's started getting played more and more straight as she gets older (though to her credit, she doesn't look it).
  • Van Halen's members were in their late twenties when they came out with the song "Hot for Teacher", where David Lee Roth describes himself not as a college student, not as a high school student, but what sounds like an elementary school (an American school for pre-teens) student, lusting after his teacher. The video averts this by having scenes depicting the band as actual children, as well as being blatantly comedic in the first place.
  • 20-something Kesha has made an entire discography over referring to herself as a young girl who believes herself to be a rebel who is living on the wild side despite her vanilla bubblegum antics, especially her song "Die Young" (which has endless references to her youth) or the video for "TiK ToK" (which has her living with her parents and riding a bike because she's too young to drive). Her debut album, Animal, was released in 2010 when she was 23.
  • In the Music Video for "Stupid Girls" by P!nk, she rather convincingly portrays a 16-year-old girl (purging in the bathroom during a school dance), as well as other characters covering a wide age range. She herself was 27.
  • In the music video for "Sixteen Military Wives" by The Decemberists, the band members portray a high school Model UN. They all look at least ten years too old for the role. However, most of the actors in the video who aren't band members look plausibly teenage, and one of them is clearly in fact too young.
  • The music video for Fancy, featuring 24-year-old Iggy Azalea, 22-year-old Charli XCX, and their equally adult friends portraying teen characters from the high school film Clueless.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Hustle's Monster Bono was only six years younger than his "father", The Great Muta, and was seven years older than his mother, Yinling The Erotic Terrorist.
  • TNA did a storyline where "Father" James Mitchell claimed to be the father of Abyss...except taking into account their relative ages meant that Mitchell was only 9 when Abyss would have been born.

    Theatre 
  • In Pokémon Live!, the characters are pre-teens. The actors... aren't. Kind of inevitable, really.
  • In the original runnote  and film version of 1776, 26-year-old Edward Rutledge was played by then-forties John Cullum. There's even a line in the play about how Rutledge is the youngest man in Congress. But who cares about that when you've got Cullum's beautiful soaring baritone?
  • Done for artistic reasons in The Golden Ticket, an opera based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — to emphasize Charlie's innocence and kindness compared to the other kids in the story, he's the only character played by a kid. The four brats and several jealous tots who are at hand for the factory opening are all played by adults.
  • In Wicked the age range of the leads Elphaba and Glinda is about 18-23 years, and sometimes there are actresses those ages that play them; but more often than not the roles are given to women in their late-20's to mid-30's, and sometimes even older.
  • The 2015 Broadway production of Gigi has 26-year-old Vanessa Hudgens playing 18-year-old Gigi. Coincidentally, Leslie Caron was the same age when the original film was made. On the other hand, the role of Gaston, who was played by 36-year-old actor in the film, is being performed on Broadway by Corey Cott, who's only 24!

    Web Comics 
  • Tedd from El Goonish Shive invokes this in an EGS:NP strip by claiming to be twenty-one outside of continuity due to Comic-Book Time. Grace counters the gap might be up to a year, making Tedd eighteen. She then goes on to say that it doesn't matter anyways since none of them are likely to look any different before they turn 30.note 

    Web Original 
  • This was the initial reason that some viewers suspected lonelygirl15 to be a hoax. The Real Life implications of this are apparent in an episode of MaxterBexter, in which former lonelygirl15 actors Becki Gregoski and Maxwell Glick complain about needing to show ID before they would be served alcohol, even though Maxwell Glick was 29 at the time.
  • On the website hosting the Whateley Universe, the stories centering on Chau Lee (Bladedancer) are often illustrated with pictures of Zhang Ziyi. The character is fifteen, the actress at least twelve years older...
  • Mocked in A Very Potter Musical with CLEARLY College aged Darren Criss stating "I'm just a 12-year-old kid".
  • Lucas Cruikshank was 14 when he started playing six-year-old Fred Figglehorn. Justified in that he created the character to be performed by himself.
  • That Guy with the Glasses
    • 20-something Bhargav playing Ma-Ti, who is somewhere around 14. He said he was fourteen when he woke up to see MarzGurl and The Nostalgia Chick in bed with him.
    • Lindsay and Doug both play teenage versions of their characters in videos, respectively 27 and 30 as of writing.
  • Behind The Veil is an interesting case of this, with the "actors" being limited to celebrity representations of what the character's appearance would be. However several characters ages are either older or younger than the celebrities portraying them, for example the 32-year-old Jack Raven being represented by the 45-year-old Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park couldn't help but use this trope when they did the live action reenactment in "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" by casting guys in their mid 20s to play the ten year old boys. Cue the narrator emphasizing "These four 4th graders" throughout.
  • Parodied in an episode of Family Guy, in which the "older kid" on Dawson's Creek is an old lady who behaves in a stereotypically grandmotherly way (fixing Dylan's sock for him, and reminiscing about how things used to be).

    Other 
  • The Virgin Mary is usually played by an actress over the age of 20, but historians say she was about 14 when she became pregnant with Jesus. (Obviously there's no evidence for Mary's actual age, but she clearly has the status of a girl who will be married soon, but not yet, and the ancient Jews had pretty strict cultural norms about at what age you went through important milestones in life.)
  • It's a common lesson, in art class, that the more lines you add while drawing a face, the more aged your subject will look. Also, the more angular the subject in the picture is, the older they will look. Therefore, most young characters should be drawn with no lines and a rounded face. Some artists don't apply these rules.
    • In this analysis of Rob Liefeld's work...
    In "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way," "Drawing Comics in the Style of Detective Comics Comics," "Aping Shit the Valiant Way," and every other drawing tutorial I've been a part of, it clearly says that every line you draw on a person's face adds to their age. When you're drawing children or sexy young women you give them clean surfaces to suggest youth and a tightness of veins, and when you draw Clint Eastwood in an eyepatch hanging out with Gen 13 you draw all over his face to let people know he's old. Depending on who you talk to, every line can equal a year added onto the life of your character. Shaft, the young leader of rogue operative team "Youngblood," is 900 years old.

    Real Life 
  • In a rather squicky and creepy example, a 29-year-old named Neil Rodreick III was found posing as the 7th grader (12 years old) Casey Price, fooling even the two people he was living with.
  • A woman from Texas, Treva Throneberry (mentioned in the Live-Action TV section), pretended to be a teenager throughout her 20s and early 30s and moved from foster home to foster home. She got a tuition to go to college and was finally arrested for fraud. Interestingly, she didn't look especially youthful.
  • 31-year-old Patricia Dye posed as a teenage boy so that she could have sex with a teen girl.
    • A 29-year-old woman named Lorelei Corpuz did the same, passing herself as a 18-year-old boy named Mark Villaneuva to both couch-surf and hit/date teen girls.
  • Adult police officers will often pose as teens to catch sexual predators, or to catch juvenile offenders.
  • A member of the Hong Kong police force successfully posed as a 15-year-old high school student to uncover Triad recruitment of high school students. He got the idea from a movie.
  • There was an incident where a client of a prostitution ring requested an underage girl. The owner of the ring contacted the police anonymously and agreed to help set up a sting against the client. The police sent a female officer to him claiming to be 15 years old. He believed it and discussed sexual activities with her leading to his arrest.
  • Cosplayers regularly portray characters that are considerably younger than themselves. Characters in their younger to mid-teens are prevalent in many popular series; meanwhile, the skills you need to make your own costumes require time and practice to develop. Even if you opt to buy your costumes, cosplaying eats up a LOT of money either way, so you're generally much better off if you have an income level more typical of an adult.
  • Cameron Crowe enrolled as a high school student at age 22, to research his book on teen life, called Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
    • Kevin Bacon enrolled as a high school student prior to filming Footloose just to see if he was still believable as a teen at age 25, according to the DVD commentary.
  • Riley Weston was born Kimberlee Kramer in 1966. In May 1997, she changed her name and began claiming her date of birth as 1979 in order to be considered for acting roles. The deception was assisted by her small size, with a height of 4' 11" and weight of 93 pounds. In 1998, she began drafting screenplays and marketing herself to television studios as a recent high school graduate. She was soon hired by the WB Network as a writer for the show Felicity after they saw one of her scripts about teenage sisters. Hailed as a child prodigy and "wunderkind," she was featured on Entertainment Weekly's October 1998 list of the "100 Most Creative People in Entertainment," which described her as an up-and-coming 19-year-old, though she was really 31. Shortly thereafter, she was offered a half-million dollar screenwriting deal with Disney. After Entertainment Tonight began working on a segment about Weston, her real identity and age soon emerged. Soon after, her contract with WB expired and was not renewed, and her deal with Disney fell through.
  • Barbora Škrlová was a 33-year-old Czech woman suspected with child abuse and cannibalism who fled to Norway and pretended to be a 13-year-old boy named "Adam". It worked for a while, though she was eventually arrested and sent back to the Czech Republic. Before that, she has posed as a 13-year-old girl named Anicka, the supposed "adoptive daughter" of one of her Czech accomplice.
  • When Shirley Temple was signed with Fox Studios (later part of Twentieth Century Fox), the studio shaved a year off her age to make her seem more precocious, even altering her birth certificate. She was initially presented to the public as a four-year-old when she was actually almost six. Shirley didn't learn how old she really was until she was thirteen.
  • Similar to the Shirley Temple example above, Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister June Havoc had years shaved off their ages when they performed as child stars. Their mother, the legendary Stage Mom Rose Hovick, reportedly had many fake birth certificates for them and they couldn't be sure of their real ages.
  • A 34-year-old woman named Charity Johnson pretended to be a 15-year-old high school sophomore for nearly an entire school year at New Life Christian School, fooling teachers, classmates and even the woman who took her in.

Exceptions

    Theater 
  • John Owen Jones was 26 when he first assumed the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, who ages from late thirties-early forties at the beginning of the show and into his sixties by the end. Alexander Gemignani was 27 when he starred as Valjean in the Broadway revival. This kind of thing also happens to a lesser degree with Javert and the Thenardiers, who age similarly to Valjean throughout the show, and are usually cast near the younger end of that range (i.e. 40s). Valjean, however, is most susceptible to inverted Dawson Casting due to the role being written for a high tenor, and there are few men Valjean's age who can hit those high notes with the kind of power necessary for the role.
  • Similarly, this has been a respected convention for the casting of the very aged King Lear, due to the exhausting nature of the role (in one scene, Lear has to carry around Cordelia's body). However, this has not stopped many of the Shakespearean actors in their sixties and seventies from taking on the role, particularly more recently, and often multiple times throughout their lives. As a result, Lears come in all different ages.
    • Sir Laurence Olivier at 39, then again at 75.
    • David Warner at 64.
    • James Earl Jones at 43.
    • Sir Donald Wolfit throughout his (and the) 50s.
    • Orson Welles at 38, then again at 43.
    • Lee J. Cobb at 57.
    • Sir Ian Holm at 67.
    • Sir Ian McKellen at 68.
    • William Devlin at 49.
    • Christopher Plummer at 66.
    • Stacy Keach at 64.
    • Sir Michael Hordern at 59, 64, and 71.
    • Kevin Kline at 60.
    • Nonso Anozie at 22.
    • Sir John Gielgud at 26, 46, 51, and finally at 90(!), as part of an all-star radio production.
  • Both Thirteen and the recent revival of Bye Bye Birdie averted this, casting real teens to play the teen characters. Ditto for certain stage productions of High School Musical, notably those by real high school theatre departments.
  • Amy Nuttall was 16 when playing Christine in The Phantom of the Opera on the West End, and to date is the youngest leading actress ever featured in the London production. Christine is almost always played by an actress in her mid- to late 20s, because most younger singers don't have the training needed for the demanding numbers.
  • The cast of Newsies. Neil Patrick Harris made a joke at the Tonys about the "hyper-acrobatic 35-year-old 15-year-olds" in the show.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender had child characters like Aang, Toph and Katara played by child voice actors. Effects of this trope came into play, Aang's voice deepened over the course of the show because of his actor. The line producers played around to ensure the contrast wasn't too great.
  • ReBoot actually changed the voice actor for their child character Enzo several times over the course of production to ensure he kept a little kid voice. Including a separate actor for flashbacks in season four and a Plot-Relevant Age-Up for the adult version, they ended up with six different voice actors over four seasons. One early kid returned later in the series voicing a one-off character.
  • Monsters, Inc. had an actual four year old play Boo, including all of the laughter. During the door system roller coaster ride, they actually had her on their knee, bouncing her up and down.
  • Transformers Prime used older actors for the teenaged Jack and Miko, but had an age appropriate actor for the adolescent Rafael. Like other examples, a few years into production his voice started to deepen and they had to pitch shift it accordingly.

    Other 
  • Teen/18 Porn sites often feature women in their 20's who look young.
  • Incredibly, Maria Callas began her opera career at the age of 15, as the leading lady in Cavallera rusticana, which is about a young, knocked-up village girl, probably about 15-16. Since it requires performers who can sing over an orchestra, this trope doesn't have many opera exceptions, folks.
  • Although there is one other noticeable aversion in the field of opera — Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin. Tchaikovsky felt that older singers playing young, passionate lovers would cause people to be unable to take his opera seriously. He had students at the Moscow Conservatory put on the first performance of Eugene Onegin.
  • Lampshaded by the The Firesign Theatre on their album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers; High school student Porgie Tirebiter's best friend Mudhead is in court, and the prosecutor (Porgie's dad) says "So you don't go to school?" to which Mudhead replies, "Hell, no! I'm thirty years old!"
  • This one is in "Other" because it derives from Theatre, Live-Action Film, and Television: Patty Duke in three separate productions of The Miracle Worker. Duke was able to play Helen Keller on Broadway well into her teens, and played her again in the 1962 film adaptation, partly because she was very small: even in adulthood she has never grown taller than five feet. Her height presented a particular challenge to the producers of the 1979 TV remake, in which she played Annie Sullivan, because she was cast opposite fifteen-year-old Melissa Gilbert — confronting audiences with a seven-year-old Helen Keller who was taller than her teacher.
  • The Full Cast Audio book recordings, which was founded by Bruce Coville, always uses age-appropriate voice actors for every book they record.
  • In the notorious "Friday" video, 13-year-old Rebecca Black and her real-life friends (who are presumably in the 12-14 range) play characters who are at least 16, as one of them is driving a car. This has been observed and lampshaded in many parodies.
  • In the music video for Aerosmith's song "Crazy", 17-year-old Alicia Silverstone and 16-year-old Liv Tyler play two students who skip class and go on a road trip together. The fact that this is an exception is surprising because the video is fanservice-heavy and even features Liv doing a striptease at one point. Not to mention the fact that Liv is lead singer Steven Tyler's daughter.
  • Lots of examples posted on this tumblr, with comparison photos of the actors when they were actually teenagers.

    Real Life 
  • School plays and musicals usually invert or avert this. Well... mostly. A high school theatrical production will of course have all the roles played by high school students, so if they're supposed to be high school students it's an aversion (or inversion if they're supposed to be older). However, it's not uncommon for there to be a younger brother or sister in the play who's supposed to be a pre-teen, who's usually played by the shortest/youngest-looking person who tries out. If they're supposed to be 12, this can work okay; if they're supposed to be 6, it's less believable.
  • Traci Lords did adult entertainment when she was a minor. She did (and does) look older than most people who were born in 1968. When the feds tried to bust the pornographers for hiring someone underage, the case fell apart when the government admitted that it, too, had been fooled when Lords traveled to Europe on a fake passport.
    • Which is all true, but there are some 'verts going on. One being that she often played teen characters, for instance a girl skipping school and having sex with her teen lover. Another being that her teen lover was often played by someone who wasn't a teen, or at least 18 or 19. Another is that, when Lords "came out" as underaged, some of her scenes were re-shot with an adult body double, so that the character is being played by both a minor and major. Another is that she was a teen who would occasionally play an adult who was pretending to be a teen.
      "I've been 17 for the last 6 summers. And the rest of the time, I sell real estate." — Bad Girls III note 
  • One of Jeffrey Dahmer's victims, Konerak Sinthasomphone, escaped and ran down the street, drugged, suffering brain damage, and only fluent in Loatian. His nudity attracted the police, who brought him back to Dahmer's home, where Dahmer convinced them that Konerak was 19 instead of 14, despite looking more like 10.

Alternative Title(s):

Old Teenagers, Hollywood Young