Hypothetical Casting

When someone involved in a fictional project makes a list of actors who would best represent a cast of fictional characters.

The purpose of a hypothetical cast may be to give the reader of a fictional work a better picture of how a character looks and acts. This is common practice for online virtual series and sometimes used by authors of commercially published works. It can also be part of a hypothetical discussion by fans of a work. Many times, when a creator is pitching a work to a production company (such as a new series to a TV network), the creator will use existing photos from previous works to help others visualize the characters (as mentioned below, Jeff Eastin used a photo of Leonardo DiCaprio circa Catch Me If You Can, to help visualize the gentleman rogue con man of White Collar's Neal Caffrey.

Compare Comic-Book Fantasy Casting, where the appearance of a character in a visual medium is overtly derived from a real celebrity without being an explicit parody of that celebrity; No Celebrities Were Harmed, where a character is a blatant parody or fictionalized version of a real person, and Textual Celebrity Resemblance, where a character's resemblance to a celebrity is mentioned within the work.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Anime Insider has a regular column that listed whom the editors would like to see in a live-action adaptation of an anime.
  • This is a very popular past-time in many anime and voice actor sites in Spanish-speaking countries, partly due of the long voice-acting tradition of those countries.
  • Saiyuki - Previous to its animated adaptation Artist Kazuya Minekura (jokingly) suggested that resident Stepford Smiler Cho Hakkai be voiced by Akira Ishida, and so when time came to actually cast him, the animators decided that Ishida was indeed the best candidate for the job.

    Comic Books 
  • Scud the Disposable Assassin always lists the voices of actors that the creator of the comic imagines will be voicing the characters in animation.
  • Wizard Magazine has a regular column about what actors should play what roles in comic book movies.
  • In-universe example: At one point in The Ultimates, the characters sit around talking about who would play them in the movie of their lives. Naturally, Nick Fury says Samuel L. Jackson (on whom Ultimate Nick Fury was based). Things get awkward (and then very much worse) when Hank Pym starts suggesting Steve Buscemi should play Bruce Banner in the most unintentionally insulting way possible.

    Fan Works 
  • Common in virtual series, such as The Nyazian Prophecies, Creed, Watchers and most shows at MZ Ptv.
  • iCarly's Father and its sequels, a Nick Verse fanfic series which is mainly a crossover between iCarly and Victorious, has the hypothetical casting of Joe Flanigan as the adult Steven Shay, and Ariana Grande with her natural brunette hair colour as Taylor Dorfman in flashbacks set during her and Col Shay's romance during high school. The hypothetical resemblance between Taylor and Cat Valentine (Ariana's redhaired character on Victorious) is brought up when Steven meets Cat for the first time.
  • Oh so common in Pretty Cure fics. A good portion of these have Emma Watson thrown in somewhere.
  • The Harmon Verse has its OC's played by real-life actors and actresses, mostly from either talent shows or from Broadway productions.
  • A lot of OC's in Glee fanfics are played by contenders from The Glee Project, and bring a lot of Casting Gags with them.
  • The writing site Wattpad encourages its users to do this with a feature allowing them to pick their ideal cast from a list of celebrities.
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry, and by extension Thor's James Potter form, is fancast as Tom Welling. The Casting Gag inherent in this (Clark Kent also exists in this world, as a contemporary of Harry's), is noted indirectly in the narrative and directly in the Author's Notes, and is hinted to be a plot point - though Word of God has noted that he might alter it somewhat, with Harry changing as he ages, and a young Henry Cavill being cast instead (the Casting Gag here also being intentional). Other characters are also cast:
    • Wanda Maximoff - Rachel Weisz
    • Doctor Strange - Viggo Mortensen (for lack of better ideas, according to Word of God.)
    • Gravemoss - Cillian Murphy
    • Warren Worthington III – Orlando Bloom
    • Michael Carpenter – Nathan Fillion
    • Mister Sinister – Benedict Cumberbatch
    • Sean Cassidy - Sam Heughan
    • Carol Danvers - Elisha Cuthbert/Katheryn Winnick
    • Diana Herculeis - Bridget Regan
    • Jean-Paul Beaubier - Gaspard Ulliel
    • Uhtred Ullrson - Sean Bean (young)
    • Sharon Carter - Rachel Nichols
    • Alison Carter/O'Neill - Grace Kelly
    • Lily Potter a.k.a. the White Phoenix of the Crown - Bryce Dallas Howard
    • Harry Dresden - Clint Eastwood
    • Lt. Karrin Murphy - Kristen Bell
    • Thomas Raith - Ian Somerhalder
    • Bruce Wayne - Christian Bale
    • Jean Grey and Maddie Pryor/Rachel Grey - Jaime Ray-Newman
    • Victor Von Doom - Mark Strong
    • Nicodemus Archleone - Jeremy Irons
    • Remy LeBeau - Ben Barnes
    • Death of the Endless - Gemma Arterton
    • Dracula - Charles Dance
  • In the author's notes of My Immortal, Tara Gilesbie suggested that Gerard Way (!) should play Draco in the next Harry Potter film.
  • Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy has both a Japanese and English language hypothetical voice cast list.
    • Japanese:
      • Asumi Nakata as Chloe Auriville/Cure Rosa.
      • Asami Shimoda as Chiara Auriville/Cure Vanilla.
      • Satsuki Yukino as Mayonaka Ayameko/Cure Jasmine.
      • Natsuko Kuwatani as Mitsukawa Hanae/Cure Tangerine.
      • Rio Natsuki as Torino Ikuko/Cure Cardamomo.
      • Tomoko Kaneda as Lavvie.
      • Rie Iwatsubo as Lotus.
      • Yusuke Tezuka as Pittan/Daidai Pitari.
      • Yuriko Yamaguchi as Ashley McFly/Leather Ashes.
      • Akio Ohtsuka as Stankou.
      • Unshou Ishizuka as Francheese.
      • Takeshi Aono as Gaabeiten.
      • Bin Shimada as Shashincame.
      • Miyoko Aso as Komorah.
      • Chiemi Chiba as Nekoshippo Lori/Lapinyuu.
      • Toshiko Fujita as Romona McFly/Raflesina.
    • English:
      • Sherry Lynn as Chloe Auriville/Cure Rosa.
      • Luci Christian as Chiara Auriville/Cure Vanilla.
      • Sandy Fox as Mayonaka Ayameko/Cure Jasmine.
      • Bridget Hoffman as Mitsukawa Hanae/Cure Tangerine.
      • Philece Sampler as Torino Ikuko/Cure Cardamomo.
      • Tony Oliver as Lavvie.
      • Rebecca Forstadt as Lotus.
      • Steve Blum as Pittan/Daidai Pitari.
      • Jamie Marchi as Ashley McFly/Leather Ashes.
      • Lex Lang as Stankou.
      • Kirk Thornton as Francheese.
      • Richard Epcar as Gaabeiten.
      • Mark Hamill as Shashincame.
      • Catherine Battistone as Komorah.
      • Tress MacNeille as Nekoshippo Lori/Lapinyuu.
      • Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Romona McFly/Raflesina.
  • The Arrow fic Guardians of Star City: Season 1 features a cast list the author is personally picturing, but he encourages readers to stick the show's actors if they so desire. Most of the characters are played by the same actors in they are in the show, the changes (explanations for why such changes were made are provided) are:
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series did this, playing on its status as a fake Calvin and Hobbes TV show. The central cast includes:
    • Pamela Segal as Calvin
    • Tom Hanks as Hobbes
    • Ryan Stiles as Socrates
    • Andrew Lawrence as Andy
    • Colin Mochrie as Sherman
    • Norman Lovett as the MTM
  • madsthenerdygirl's MCU Rewrites features this cast list for Marvel characters who have not yet appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 

  • In the back of Inkheart, Cornelia Funke mentioned that she always imagined Mo to be a bit like Brendan Fraser, and then the casting went like that for the movie.
  • In the back of Dark Fire, Cris D'Lacey made a list of all the actors he imagined playing each of his characters in response to a question.
  • This fan-made credit sequence for a hypothetical Good Omens movie.
  • In Stephen King's novel The Regulators, after Johnny Marinville and his black neighbor, Brad Josephson have a hard time climbing a fence to escape from monsters, Johnny jokingly suggests that they should make a movie called Black Men Can't Clmb Fences, where Brad would be played by Laurence Fishburne.
  • J. K. Rowling had her own ideal cast for Harry Potter long before the first movie was made, and was lucky enough to see several of her choices (Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, for one, and Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, for another) actually used.
    • Rowling's first choice for Severus Snape was Tim Roth, who turned down the role. It subsequently went to Alan Rickman, who then inverted this trope by gradually overwhelming Rowling's own image of Snape and influencing how she wrote his dialogue (just try not hearing some of Snape's dialogue in the books written after the first film was made in Rickman's voice).
  • Stephenie Meyer's choice for Bella was Emily Browning. Meyer also said she pictured Henry Cavill when writing Edward Cullen, but by the time the movies were made, he was considered too old for the role, making it the second part he's lost to Robert Pattinson (the first being Cedric Diggory.)
  • In Usenet discussion, Terry Pratchett has suggested Pete Postlethwaite as his conception of Sir Sam Vimes, and James Spader for Havelock Vetinari.
    • He's also reportedly specified "the bad guy from Die Hard" (Alan Rickman) for the role of Vetinari.
  • Virtually every fan of Star Trek: New Frontier seems to think that Joe Flanigan would make an ideal Mackenzie Calhoun. Just go look at all the fan-made intro vids on Youtube!
  • Lot of Fifty Shades of Grey fans wanted to see Matt Bomer in the role of Christian Grey. A producer said that Matt wasn't straight enough for it causing many outrage.
  • Neil Gaiman says that Shadow from American Gods is supposed to look like Dwayne Johnson.
  • The author of The Hearts We Sold used a gif of Matt Bomer to represent the Daemon in one blog post. A fan on Twitter also proposed Tom Ellis as a potential alternative, which she approved of.

    New Media 
  • The chromatic recasting meme on LiveJournal and Dream Width, in which posters recast parts in TV shows and films with actors of color to prompt conversations about race in the media.
  • On deviantART, this is known as a casting call.
  • In online RPGs, players often use pictures of real people (actors or otherwise) to represent their characters. This is called a PB, or "played by".
  • Amusing things happen when this is done with Harry Potter characters before they are cast for real:
    • Before the third film, Ralph Fiennes was a popular fan casting choice for Lupin. Ironically, Ralph Fiennes went on to play Lord Voldemort, which is about as far away from mild-mannered Professor Lupin as you can get. There are still plenty fans who think Ralph Fiennes would have been a better Lupin than David Thewlis.
    • In this 2006 Fan Vid about Barty Crouch, Jr., Bellatrix Lestrange is represented by footage of Helena Bonham-Carter from Merlin. Carter would go on to play Bellatrix in the actual films.
    • This 2005 Entertainment Weekly article speculates on who should play characters in the then upcoming Potter films. Helena Bonham-Carter is suggested... for the part of Merope Gaunt.
  • In-universe within the Whateley Universe, Phase - having just bought out Marvel Comics (in 2007) - ends up in a discussion with his teammates about a possible Iron Man movie and why it wouldn't work because of the casting difficulties.
  • Whole groups on Polyvore are dedicated to "dreamcasting" characters, mostly from the Disney Animated Canon.
  • Towards the end of At War's End, that guy from that show started working on a cast list for a hypothetical film adaptation and asked his fellow players for actor suggestions. Note that this cast list is largely based on the actors' credentials rather than their appearances, so the casting picks are not intended to give readers a better mental image of characters' appearances.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer tabletop RPG makes a lot of hay out of the televised nature of its inspiration; the GM position is called 'The Director', and individual adventures are called 'Episodes' and meant to be part of a larger 'Season'. To top it all off, the rulebook encourages players to identify the actor who would play their character if the game they were in was actually a TV show.

  • In a PBS documentary on the making of The Producers (stage musical) cast album, Nathan Lane jokes with Mel Brooks about who will star in The Movie. Lane says Danny DeVito will be playing Bialystock. Brooks promises that Lane will be in the movie.

    Video Games 
  • The original Castlevania has for the credits a list of well-known horror movie actors "cast" as the bosses of the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend, as a Doujin game, has no voice work, but each love interest's introduction names a voice actor whom the creator would like to play them if it did.

    Web Original 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has an in-universe example: In response to a remark about who should play Homer in a live-action "Angry Dad" movie, Bart suggests John Goodman, but Homer strangles him and exclaims, "Isn't it obvious?! It should be Gary Oldman!"
  • During season 5 of The Venture Bros., [adult swim] encouraged fans to submit their ideas via Twitter and the official message boards for who would play the characters in a hypothetical live action version of the show. As one would expect, the ideas were all over the place, but a few stood out as good fits, including Michael Cera as Dean Venture, Hugh Laurie as Phantom Limb, Edward Norton as the Monarch, and Peter Dinklage as Jonas Jr.
  • In many sites, even in This Very Wiki, many fans suggested the hypothetical Japanese voice cast for the dub of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. One of the most interesting voice choices were Mariya Ise as Twilight Sparkle and Arisa Ogasawara as Applejack, partly due both VAs worked in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt as the titular heroines, and both characters resemble quite a lot like those characters from MLP. Ironically enough, when the proper Japanese dub came out, Ise did work in the dub, but as voicing Scootaloo instead, while Ogasawara did not get any role there.

Alternative Title(s): Virtual Cast, Hypothetical Cast, Wishful Cast, Hypothetical Voice Casting