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I Am Not Spock

"It was Captain Kirk playing T.J. Hooker, not William Shatner the actor. You're just thinking he's taken a month off... and come down to Earth and said 'I want to be a cop for a bit'."
Eddie Izzard, Unrepeatable

One of the most severe forms of typecasting, in which an actor or actress is not only defined as a certain character archetype, but in a specific role.

This is most certainly a double-edged sword, as it often guarantees that the performer will be famous for some time to come, but on the other hand, that role may end up stifling the performer's future acting prospects, as he or she may get rejected for other roles that may be seen as being against type. This can be tough on actors who, as artists, may have a strong desire to move on. As viewers and historians, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between an actor who lucked out by getting one iconic role, and an actor whose career was hampered by an over-association with it.

This seems to disproportionately happen to actors from sci-fi and fantasy works, possibly because some casting agencies may feel their credibility as a "serious" actor has been hurt by working on such shows.

Outside live action, this may be a Pigeonholed Voice Actor.

Typecasting may have been more common in the early days of television as a holdover from motion pictures. It was common in the 1930s and '40s for a movie actor who was not a leading man or lady to make a career out of playing the same type of character.

Named for the 1975 autobiography by none other than Leonard Nimoy. An autobiography that, incidentally, didn't actually say what everyone thought it said because of the title.

See also ...But I Play One on TV. Compare Adam Westing and Never Live It Down. Contrast I Am Not Leonard Nimoy. And see Contractual Purity for those trapped in kids' show wholesomeness. Finally, see Role Association for the Just for Fun version. Not to be confused with I Am Not Shazam.

Remember that Examples Are Not Recent.

Examples in fiction:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • A major arc in Skip Beat! revolves around the fact that Kyoko's portrayal of the character Mio in her major television debut defined the roles she was offered after the fact - to the point that the directors would tell her to "just act like Mio."

  • Galaxy Quest parodied the dilemma of the cast of Star Trek, where the entire cast of the in-universe sci-fi series is known for nothing else. One of them - Alexander Dane, playing the Spock Expy Dr. Lazarus - laments that he was a respected stage actor who'd earned acclaim starring in Richard III ("There were five curtain calls!") before he was cast in the series. Not only did several of the original Star Trek cast act in William Shakespeare before their Star Trek roles (including William Shatner and Patrick Stewart), but so did Alan Rickman, who plays Alexander Dane. And despite his hatred for the role, Dane is never seen without his make up on, even when he's at home by himself.
  • In Soapdish, everyone in the dinner theater washed up soap actor Jeffrey Anderson is working at calls him "Mr. Loman", whom he plays.
    Theatre employee: Five minutes, Mr. Loman!
    Jeffrey: Don't - call me - Mr. - Loman! My name is Anderson! Anderson! ANDERSON!

    Theatre employee: Someone to see you, Mr. Loman!
    Jeffrey: (steadily getting louder) Stop calling me Mr. LOMAN!

    Live Action TV 
  • A variant happens in the first Thanksgiving episode of Friends. Joey does modeling for a stock photo company and ends up on a poster for STDs. His family then thinks he actually has one. In the spinoff, this is played with, with Brent Spiner, who's best known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. As we see Michael calling him Data, his agent just tells him to go with it. It's a bit of a Truth in Television parody as Spiner suffers from this in Real Life as well.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm had a whole plotline in Season 2 where Larry tried, unsuccessfully, to pitch a show about one of the actors from Seinfeld facing this, first with Jason Alexander, then with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. He fails with both attempts.
  • When Richard Wilson guest starred in Father Ted As Himself, he beat Ted up for using Victor Meldrew's catchphrase on him.
  • In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a martial arts instructor is famous for a series of action movies called The Dragon Killer. One scene has him arguing with his agent over the phone saying, "I just want to play the dad in the telephone commercial!" suggesting he suffers from this in-universe. For reference, the actor was Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat, Adam Westing as an expy of himself.
  • Parodied in a MADtv Halloween Episode featuring Robert Englund (best known for playing Freddy Krueger), where everyone, much to his growing frustration, keeps referring to him as "that guy who played Willie in V (1983)".
  • In an episode of Frasier, Fraiser and Niles tries to bring a Shakespearian actor from their youth back from being Spocked in a sci fi show. In a subversion, it backfired, not because no one could divorce him from the role, but because he's a dreadful actor.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Parodied in an episode where Sheldon meets James Earl Jones. Jones immediately realizes that Sheldon likely knows him as Darth Vader, and not any of the other roles he had throughout his lengthy career. Though it seems at first that he is annoyed by this attention, he quickly reveals that he too is a fan of Star Wars and does not mind that so many people immediately associate him with the franchise.
      James Earl Jones: Let me guess. You like Star Wars.
      Sheldon: nods excitedly
      James Earl Jones: You know, Iíve been in other movies.
      Sheldon: nods excitedly
      James Earl Jones: But you donít care about those, do you?
      Sheldon: shakes head
      James Earl Jones: I have one thing to say to people like you. I like Star Wars, too. Care to join me?
    • Deconstructed in another episode of The Big Bang Theory featuring "Professor Proton", a scientist who hosted a kids show that the main characters had been fond of in their youth. The unfortunate scientist, Dr. Arthur Jeffries (played by Bob Newhart), has been so famously typecast in the role of Professor Proton that the scientific community now sees him as nothing more than a kids' show actor, rather than the serious scientist he actually is. As a result, he loathes the Professor Proton role, but has been forced to perform for kids' birthday parties just to pay the bills.

    Web Original 
  • In The End, this was what defined the career of actor Victor Smart. It's also another Star Trek parallel, as his most famous role was a starship captain.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Actress Mary Dahl, a.k.a. Baby Doll, suffers a genetic disorder which keeps her from growing, leaving her trapped in a child's body, and went insane because nobody would accept her as anything but the lovable, troublesome tot Baby Doll. She strove to establish a legitimate acting career outside of the Baby Doll role, including starring in a stage production of Macbeth, but it was largely panned and ignored. This echoes the real life case of Gary Coleman, who likewise suffered from a similar health condition and was typecast.
    • Actor Simon Trent, a.k.a. The Gray Ghost, sank into poverty after typecasting kept him from getting other roles after the series ended. Things turned around for him after he helped Batman capture a criminal who was using an episode of the show as a template for a series of extortion bombings. Trent is voiced by Adam West, and the episode is a tribute to the 1960s Batman series.
  • In one episode of Family Guy, Brian meets a reclusive singer who made a fortune singing advertising jingles. When she tried to branch out into opera, her debut performance of Carmen was ruined because the audience kept shouting at her to sing their favorite jingles instead.
  • In a Robot Chicken sketch parodying Armageddon, Harrison Ford compalins that he doesn't want to go into space because he's just an actor, only for a fat nerd to shout "You go, Han Solo!" Later inverted in the same sketch, where Mark Hamill says he should have gone up to space because he "destroyed the Death Star", only for the very same nerd to tell him "It's just a movie, dude."
    • This wasn't the first time Hamill's done that - his appearance on The Muppet Show had him crash-land as Luke Skywalker, and insist on fetching his "cousin" Mark Hamill whenever he was asked to perform in a sketch.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Mark Hamill, voiced by himself, gets quite annoyed by the fact that everyone wants to see him only as Luke Skywalker - even when he is playing a role in a work as far away from Star Wars as you can imagine, such as Guys and Dolls.
    • Parodied in the Treehouse of Horror segment "Desperately Xeeking Xena", in which everyone who encountered Xena: Warrior Princess star Lucy Lawless addressed her as "Xena", much to her exasperation. Eventually, at the end of the segment when Bart and Lisa have rescued her from The Collector (Comic Book Guy as a nerdy supervillian), she offers to take them home — and so picks them up and begins to fly. "Xena can't fly!" Lisa exclaims. Lucy's response? "I told you, I'm not Xena. I'm Lucy Lawless."
  • Pepper Ann has another Mark Hamill As Himself example. Milo lines up to get his autograph, but only because he confused him with Dorothy Hamill. As Mark Hamill tries to explain who he actually is, listing various roles he's played, someone in the back of the line screams that he was Luke Skywalker. Hamill immediately has security drag that fan away, then screams that he had that role twenty years ago, people, get over it.
  • Bojack Horseman stars professional actor BoJack Horseman, who is only known as "the Horse from Horsin' Around", a Tastes Like Diabetes 90s sitcom about a horse that looks after some orphans. Series 3 reveals that in 2007 he attempted Playing Against Type as an "edgy" character whose Establishing Character Moment is a scene where he literally takes a dump on a VHS copy of Horsin' Around while shouting "wazzup, bitches!", but this was hugely unsuccessful and he regards it as an Old Shame.

Real Life Examples:

  • The entire cast of the original Star Trek: The Original Series suffered from this:
    • Most have come to accept it with some degree of dignity; witness Leonard Nimoy's later book, I Am Spock. Though it should be noted that was written partly to counter the misconception that he hated the character, rather than just being annoyed by the association. The fallout from the book title almost cost him the director's chair in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, so it wasn't so humorous then.
    • The title is taken verbatim from an encounter that Nimoy had with an eight-year-old fan in an airport; when the boy's mother introduced the actor as, "Your favorite character! Mister Spock!," the boy looked Nimoy up and down and couldn't see Spock in this loser stranger.
    • When Nimoy attempted a recording career, his first album was Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space with songs and recitations supposed to be by Spock along with a couple such as "Where Is Love" clearly meant to be by Nimoy. The second album, Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. His next three albums were all Nimoy.
    • William Shatner has managed to escape this by now, if only by being typecast instead as a caricature of himself, of which Kirk is just one example among many.
    • Even diehard Babylon 5 fans had a hard time not thinking of Walter Koenig's Magnificent Bastard, Alfred Bester, as "Evil Chekov".
      • J. Michael Straczynski stated that he hired Walter Koenig because of this. He wanted to give him a chance to show his range as an actor. Koenig later referred to Pavel Chekhov as his favorite role of his career for this reason.
      • Walter Koenig having played these two roles is spoofed in the Finnish Star Trek/Babylon 5 Crossover parody Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. Janos Honkonen was deliberately cast as both Sergei Fukov of P-Fleet (parodies on Pavel Chekov and Starfleet, respectively) and Festerbester of Babel-13 (parodies on Alfred Bester and Babylon-5, respectively) just to have the same face on these two characters.
    • In his autobiography, Scotty actor James Doohan relayed stories of casting calls he got after Star Trek where he would read for a part only to be asked by the casting directors, "So where's the accent?" He expresses gratitude to producer Aaron Spelling, who, when he was hired for a guest role on the Hotel TV series, told Doohan he was hired for his acting, not the accent, and it was up to him whether he wanted to use it or not.
    • Kirk Thatcher, a associate producer on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, played a tiny, albeit memorable role in the film. He says his gravestone will read "Punk On Bus - Star Trek IV" even if he wins the Nobel Prize.
    • The cast of the modern Star Trek series didn't do a lot better:
      • Brent Spiner wishes people would stop calling him Data. This was lampshaded in an episode of Joey where he guest starred As Himself. He saw it coming, too. In an interview with TV Guide on the Grand Finale of The Next Generation, he said that for the rest of his career, he would be "That guy who played Data!" He has also made a self-deprecating cameo appearance on The Big Bang Theory, trying to break even by selling Data collectible toys out of his car.
      • Michael Dorn's best remembered for his role as Worf. His Twitter account is even @akaWorf, so he at least seems to have a sense of humor about it.
      • Patrick Stewart couldn't escape from being Picard until he became Professor Xavier.
      • Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres) looks very strange to Trek fans without her Klingon forehead. She has tried to avoid this by quitting acting in favor of (TV) directing. Same with Robert Duncan McNeill (a producer on Chuck), Jonathan Frakes (producer on Leverage), LeVar Burton (TV director and TV educationalist).
      • Burton has zigzagged around this, since he's also famous for starring in Roots (1977) and hosting Reading Rainbow. In fact, when TNG first premiered, he was the biggest name in the cast.note  He at least accepted his role fairly well and inserted his character into an episode of Star Trek: Voyager he was directing ("Timeless"), rather than having a stand-in. It made the audience more sympathetic to both sides of the dilemma. He has also made self-deprecating cameo appearances on The Big Bang Theory.
      • Will Wheaton seems resigned to this and is prepared to send up his post-TNG life with his cameo appearances on The Big Bang Theory. In which the best acting gigs he can get are straight-to-video B-movies like Killer Gorilla and bit-parts like co-hosting Sheldon Cooper's internet podcast Fun with Flags. Wheaton is also Butt-Monkey for barbed jokes by Sheldon and others about his acting career after TNG.
      • Those who don't think of Will Riker when they see Jonathan Frakes probably think of David Xanatos when they hear him.
      • John de Lancie is having a hard time escaping his association with the iconic Q. It doesn't help that he later voice acted a Q expy, albeit a villainous one, named Discord, in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. And DeLancie later voiced another benevolent scientist whose name begins with a "Q": Professor Quadrangle from Quantum Conundrum.
      • This has suffered Robert Picardo from Star Trek Voyager; it's hard to see his character from Stargate Atlantis as anything but the EMH in a different uniform. (Of course, some of us remember him from The Howling, rendering the spaceman thing very, very weird. Bright boy.).
      • Andrew Robinson has admitted he hated the Season 5 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Empok Nor", where Garak is accidentally exposed to an experimental drug that turns him into a xenophobic, psychopathic killer. Despite having a wide range, including as a Shakespearean actor, his breakout performance as the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry was considered so convincing that he received both death threats and found himself typecast into "psycho" roles afterwards. After decades of struggling to throw off this image, he was very uneasy and disappointed to be thrust back into that kind of role and also felt it didn't make sense for a character who had become acknowledged as being one of the most complex creations in the franchise.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The cast has accepted that this has happened to them with quite a bit of grace and alacrity. It helps that they all love the show and understand the affection the fans have for the it; to quote Jerry Doyle, "If I'm typecast as a space cop, well, that's fine, because I got to play a space cop on one of the best shows ever. What, should I prefer poverty?"
    • Andreas Katsulas, who played G'kar, did manage to avoid this trap, by already being well known as a film bad guy. Although wildly famous among science fiction fans as Babylon 5's G'Kar and ST:TNG's Commander Tomalak, his most famous role is one outside of science fiction: he played Frederick Sykes, the one-armed man in the Harrison Ford film of The Fugitive (he was right up there with his castmates, though, in not caring about typecasting either way because he adored the G'kar character).
    • Bruce Boxleitner was already well-known for a variety of roles (and has continued to work steadily since). Mira Furlan is probably now better remembered as Danielle Rosseau from Lost, and like Katsulas was (and still is) tremendously well-respected in her native country (in this case, Croatia). She does gently remind interviewers that, yes, she has played characters not named Delenn or Danielle Rousseau, but like her castmates welcomes the adoration Delenn receives from fans and remains fond of the character and the show. Bill Mumy, however, will always remain Will Robinson for most people, or occasionally Anthony Fremont.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Regarding Alan Rickman, he took on the role of Severus Snape and so thoroughly claimed it that J. K. Rowling has admitted she started to picture the character looking like him in later books. Only time will tell if he can escape that shadow, especially with his death in 2016. Later on, Rickman had declined interviews, realizing that reporters were only going to ask about Snape. Earlier than that, he was due to be forever remembered as "the bad guy from Die Hard." Then again, his character's experience in the aforementioned Galaxy Quest probably helped him realize what he was up against.
    • Everybody began thinking of Marvin the Paranoid Android as "The Snape" after Rickman provided his voice.
    • Nearly all the actors to play Hogwarts students, helped no doubt by the fact that prior to being cast in the series, all of them were either unknowns or had simply never acted before, and that many of them are still only known for "Harry Potter". So when Daniel Radcliffe did Equus, it opened the floodgate for many "Harry shows his wand" jokes. The only exception is Cedric Diggory's actor Robert Pattinson, though only because he's instead Spocked as Edward Cullen, and also Barty Crouch Jr., as David Tennant is much more recognizable in a different role (though still sometimes sports the same Slasher Smile). Parodied in Get Him to the Greek, in which Tom Felton had a cameo appearance as himself with Jonah's character attempting to impress him by making lame Harry Potter jokes. Tom walked away in annoyance after a few seconds of this. See here. Emma Watson nearly left the series between the 5th and 6th films due to this.
    • Evanna Lynch is worth of a special mention: J. K. Rowling admitted that when she wrote the books none but one cast member of the movies' voice is heard inside her head and interfered with her writing process, and that cast member is Evanna. It is safe to say that instead of Evanna portraying Luna, Luna eventually became IRL Evanna.
    • Due to having an All-Star Cast play all the Loads and Loads of Characters in the series, almost any high-profile British film made since about 1990 can be turned into a game of "spot the Harry Potter characters."
    • There is a generational aspect to it. If you're old enough to have known about Dame Maggie Smith before she was in Harry Potter, you might see her in Harry Potter and think "that's Maggie Smith." If you're part of the generation which grew up on Harry Potter, you might see her in another film and think "that's Professor McGonagall." In her case in particular, it works really well both ways since McGonagall is the sort of character she always plays. Although nowadays, there's also a sizable number of people who spock her as the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey.
    • In a Toronto Star interview, Richard Harris, who played Dumbledore in the first two films, expressed concern that playing the role (something he hadn't initially wanted to do due to health issues, but was pressured into doing by his granddaughter) would overshadow the rest of his career. Following his death, whether or not that's happened is up for debate. His replacement Michael Gambon, like Maggie Smith, qualifies to the younger generation, although older audiences may know him from earlier works.
    • Although she's fairly well-known in the UK, Imelda Staunton can't escape being Professor Umbridge elsewhere.
    • Robbie Coltrane is Rubeus Hagrid to most people, although others may known him from his role in the Pierce Brosnan Bond films.
    • Lucius Malfoy tends to overshadow the rest of Jason Isaacs' career, at least to Americans. Although previously Americans just knew him as "the bad guy from The Patriot."
    • While Hermione will likely always be her most famous role, Emma Watson took huge steps to avoid this as soon as the films wrapped, cutting her hair short and taking vastly different roles in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Bling Ring to shake off any Contractual Purity. She's also starred in the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
  • Robert Englund has been permanently Spocked as Freddy Krueger. To a lesser degree, he has also become typecast as a creepy/evil/weird guy in B-grade horror films. But these movies often feature Englund, and promote his inclusion, solely because of his "horror icon" status - a status he gained from playing Freddy.
  • The X-Files:
    • David Duchovny as Fox Mulder. Although he's managed to become Hank Moody of Californication since then.
    • Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully. She lived in England as a child and moved back after The X-Files finished its run precisely to avoid this. She's managed it quite well so far.
  • Jaleel White suffers horribly from his inability to be separated from his character that he played in Family Matters. Since that show, he has held only a handful of very minor TV and movie roles due to this. He later attempted to radically change his appearance in order to disassociate with Steve Urkel. Though for a handful of gamers, he is remembered as Sonic the Hedgehog. Even then, there are a handful of people who referred that Sonic was voiced by "Steve Urkel" instead of Jaleel White.
    • Even on Family Matters, White tried to show that he wasn't just Steve Urkel. He played Myrtle Urkel, Steve's female cousin on a few occasions, and also a suave, ladies' man version of himself, seen here. Although he has tried to distance himself from the character, including starring in a UPN show, Grown Ups, which only lasted for one season, he doesn't resent the fact that he will forever be known as "Steve Urkel" and always speaks fondly about the role, which allowed him far more creative freedom than many of his later appearances. In the movie Big Fat Liar, his Adam Westing includes screaming at someone:
      How many times have I told you not to call me Urkel! My name is Jaleel White!
  • Doctor Who:
    • Tom Baker will forever be seen as the fourth Doctor no matter how much he wants not to (and he really, really doesn't want to). After playing the role he spent several decades only able to play crazy Large Hams or spooky, otherworldly geniuses, or as characters who directly inspired the Doctor's character (Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde, etc). He also came under pressure to perform these roles in the style of the Doctor ("in all but whipping out a Sonic Screwdriver"), because this was all people wanted to see him do and there was no point casting him to do anything else. Before he took the part he was considered unusually talented and was winning awards for being an up-and-coming star. After he left the part, he was (in the words of Steven Moffat) "a mad, sad, bad old ham locked away safely in a voiceover booth". Late in his life, with short, wavy white hair and Doctor Who remembered only by TV nostalgia shows and hardcore SF anoraks, he was able to get non-Expy roles in soap operas and sitcoms that allowed him to act in a different style, but interviews suggest he has a certain amount of bitterness over being forced to waste his talent simply because he was very good in one part.
    • In fact, this applies to most of the actors who have played the title role, with the exception of Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston, who both played the Doctor for very short periods, and Peter Davison, who had another starring role in All Creatures Great and Small at the same time, and has had a varied career since, thanks in part to taking Patrick Troughton's (Doctor #2) advice to leave the role after 3 seasons. David Tennant seemed to be purposely doing a varied amount of side roles in other works in order to avoid this, despite the fact he was essentially living out his childhood dream of playing the Doctor - when the show took a break of sorts in 2009 he played Hamlet.note 
    • Subverted with Patrick Troughton, the second doctor. He was a highly successful character actor before Doctor Who and became one almost immediately after leaving the program. He was always recognized as the Doctor for the rest of his life, and loved doing conventions, but he did more than enough stuff that he was often recognized for his other work too. A combination of being the most versatile and talented actor to play the part combined with always keeping a sharp distinction between himself and all of his roles probably both helped a great deal with that.
    • Jon Pertwee got a double dose of the typecasting both as the Doctor and as scarecrow Worzel Gummidge, but as both were roles he thoroughly enjoyed, he seemed to be more accepting of it. Jon Pertwee was, in fact, so fond of the Doctor that he rarely passed up an opportunity to appear in character, whether on TV, radio, or on stage at fan conventions. Most touchingly, his final formal television appearance just a few weeks before his death was on Cilla's Surprise Surprise where he granted a young boy's wish to meet his favorite Doctor. In the '60s and early '70s, he also got a small dose of it playing "CPO Jon Pertwee", a fast-talking con-artist of a Navy NCO in BBC Radio's "The Navy Lark."
    • William Hartnell may have avoided the fate by default, as he left Doctor Who because of drastically declining health and was dying and knew it when he was called back to reprise his role in The Three Doctors.
    • Sophie Aldred, Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker are also Ace, the Seventh Doctor and the Sixth Doctor.
    • In Colin Baker's case, it's almost inverted. Despite the rough time he had during his tenure, Baker never lost his love and enthusiasm for Doctor Who.
    • Elisabeth Sladen was, is, and will forever be Sarah Jane Smith.
    • Inverted with Tony Ainley, the fourth Master's actor, who after a successful string of works retired from acting except to play the Master. He would answer the phone, write letters to publications, and make public appearances, almost invariably in character.
  • The cast of Star Wars may Never Live It Down:
    • Mark Hamill could be said to suffer pretty badly from this. His role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, while famous, wrecked his acting career in Hollywood, although he's done well in Broadway and theater since then. Some of the effect may stem from the facial scarring he picked up in an auto accident during the trilogy, which made him better as the maturing Luke in Empire and Jedi, but less bankable as a leading man. He has gained recognition as a voice actor though, and has been Spocked into his role as The Joker.
    • Carrie Fisher suffered from this. She once said that she didn't sleep around in her 20s because she didn't want guys running around saying, "Hey! I banged Princess Leia!" You couldn't call her a "victim" of it, though, since her fame as Leia almost certainly helped launch her successful writing career. In addition, she seemingly embraced being Princess Leia. When called back to reprise her role over 30 years later for the sequel trilogy, she stated, "No, Iím a female and in Hollywood itís difficult to get work after 30ómaybe itís getting to be 40 now. I long ago accepted that I am Princess Leia. I have that as a large part of the association with my identity. There wasnít a lot of hesitation."
    • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) is another Star Wars victim, although you'd have thought being entirely invisible and altering his normal speaking voice would have saved him. In an interview for the biggest Star Wars fanzine, Daniels says that he doesn't get recognized too often, just often enough that "It's very pleasant and joyful and rather sweet, but I also have my privacy." He also notes that there was a time, somewhere in the late '90s, when he'd wanted to just stop doing the character, but he changed his mind; overall, "Threepio has been very kind to me all these years."
    • And there's Sir Alec Guinness, who thought the script was terrible but did it purely for the money, and hated that people started identifying him entirely as Obi-Wan rather than acknowledging his vast film and stage career before the role. That said, Guinness is an aversion since his most prominent films with David Lean (Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia) remain perennial favorites among general audiences while in England, he's still remembered for his early Ealing Comedies.
    • This is lampshaded in the Star Wars parody episode of Family Guy, when Peter Griffin, as Han Solo, introduces himself as "the only actor whose career wasn't destroyed by this movie." This is because Ford has one other very well known role.
    • Even while he's pitching Colt 45, Billy Dee Williams will always be Lando Calrissian. This was even played for laughs in Scrubs, as Turk keeps calling him Lando, despite his insistent cry of "Billy Dee!". Funnily enough, though, he's also somewhat prone to Adam Westing in TV shows (he's appeared as himself in Family Guy and Modern Family in addition to Scrubs), where he's fond of lampooning his image as an impossibly suave ladies' man.
    • David Prowse is well known mainly for the role of Darth Vader, in spite of the character's all-concealing helmet. It "helps" that he made himself so obnoxious at conventions (he's apparently been banned from Lucasfilm-sponsored conventions for torquing off George Lucas himself) that the Star Wars community only grudgingly acknowledges his part in the films. In the UK he is also well-known for being the Green Cross Code man.
    • James Earl Jones was always more of a theater actor; he did a lot of Shakespeare, was one of the first African Americans to play Othello and debuted the role of Troy in August Wilson's Fences. While he will always be known as "the voice of Darth Vader (and Mufasa)", Vader was always a side-bit for him anyway. There are some who say that he eventually ended up Spocking himself again as the voice of CNN.
  • James Van Der Beek will probably be forever be known as Dawson. It doesn't help that he parodied himself in that role on Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23.
  • The reported reason for Tiffany Brissette's early retirement from acting was her fear of being remembered only as Vicki from Small Wonder and being cast accordingly.
  • Adam West:
    • Will always be remembered as "the campy Batman" (or, if you prefer, "the Bright Knight"), and he ended up being just fine with that. Judging from a lot of his later roles, he started appearing to be typecast as the guy who was typecast. He followed William Shatner's route of "hey, it's William Shatner!" roles to the point of playing himself in Family Guy, in one of the most surreal characters this side of Homsar (Mayor West is probably his best known character besides Batman).
    • His role as the The Gray Ghost stars an actor who played a super hero on TV, and is typecast for it. At first, he hates the typecasting, but when he finds out Batman was his biggest fan and the Batcave is a replica of his home base from his TV show, he helps Batman catch someone who is imitating an episode of his show. Later on, Bruce tells him the same line he did as Batman, which clues him in on who he is. Crowning Moment of Heartwarming ensues.
  • Classic example: In the end, Bela Lugosi was Dracula, no matter what he did. However, it was his son and his fifth wife, not Lugosi himself, who decided to have him buried in a Dracula cloak. Even Lugosi's friends and coworkers couldn't help but typecast him. Vincent Price wrote in his autobiography that at Lugosi's funeral, Peter Lorre, observing the cape, turned to Price and asked, "Should we stick a stake in his heart just to be sure?"
  • In the '60s and '70s, Christopher Lee was Dracula. In the mid' 70s, he decided that this was an undesirable thing and dissociated himself from the character. He has been fairly successful in this as time has passed - younger film watchers are more likely to think of him as Saruman or Count Dooku. In the last years of his life, Lee traded this for Typecasting as authoritative villains, including King Haggard and the grouchy bishop in Corpse Bride. Lee's distaste for the Dracula character wasn't all due to this — he also got fed up with Hammer trying to keep him in the role film after film with little to no pay raises by claiming they'd have to put all the crew and staff on the street if he didn't stay on.
  • Cheers and Frasier:
    • Kelsey Grammer will probably always be identified with his eponymous role in Frasier (that, and Sideshow Bob). After all, he not only played it for 11 years in that show, but portrayed the same character for 9 years before that in Cheers. Though he has won a lot of acclaim (including a Golden Globe) for playing the main character in Boss. Mayor Kane is certainly intelligent and articulate like Frasier, but is also extremely profane, violent, cruel and calculating. A far cry from the arrogant but ultimately lovable character he's so identified with.
    • George Wendt has noted that he can't walk into bars without everyone calling out "NORM!" It got annoying after a while.
    • Shelley Long has noted that a major reason her post-Cheers roles in the '80s were limited to romantic comedies (despite her clear dramatic talent) was that studios assumed audiences wouldn't accept her in a role that wasn't at least a mild Expy of Diane Chambers.
  • ER:
    • Eriq La Salle held a press conference to talk about his TV movie, Relative Stranger, but the only questions he was being asked were about his time on ER. He'll be Peter Benton for the rest of his life. In fact, most of the stars of ER suffer from this somewhat, aside from the obvious exception. No matter what they're in, when people see Anthony Edwards, Noah Wyle, Laura Innes, Gloria Reuben, Abraham Benrubi, etc., they shout hey, they're from ER!
    • Alex Kingston decided to defy this trope by breaking out of being typecast as Dr. Corday... and breaking into being typecast as River Song.
  • Basil Rathbone's an interesting case as he also played a lot of evil aristocrats in various swashbuckler films and in fact did an Affectionate Parody of this type-casting in the Danny Kaye film The Court Jester. While Rathbone might well have wanted to insist "I am not Sherlock Holmes", if Sherlock Holmes could talk to us he'd equally be saying "I am not Basil Rathbone"! So much of what is widely regarded as 'quintessential' Holmes does not come directly from Arthur Conan Doyle's original books but either originated in or is widely recognized from Rathbone's many portrayals of him: the iconic deerstalker hat, cape and pipe combination, as immortalised for instance in silhouette throughout the decor at Baker Street's London Underground station, are pure Rathbone-movie Holmes.
    • So much so that a number of reviews of Guy Ritchie's movie criticized Robert Downey, Jr. for "not being faithful to the character", which 90% of the time translated to "he didn't play Holmes like Rathbone played him". If anything, Downey's Holmes is more faithful to the source material than Rathbone's, but more people have seen the films than read the original stories.
  • A narrow escape: Before The Matrix, Keanu Reeves reportedly feared that his gravestone would read, "He played Ted". Now it will read "He played Neo, he also played Ted". (Although he probably would have also been remembered for Speed.)
    • Reeves now will also be remembered for playing John Wick.
  • To most other people, Terence Stamp is Zod!!!
  • Jerry Mathers as "The Beaver!" SCTV satirized this with the Leave it to Beaver 25th Anniversary sketch with John Candy playing the role of Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.
  • Hervé Villechaize's suicide was heavily rumored to be in part caused by his inescapable recognition by fans as Tattoo from Fantasy Island.
  • Andrea McArdle as Annie, as well as most girls who played Annie on Broadway (except Sarah Jessica Parker). In fact, McArdle declined to be in the documentary Life After Tomorrow, chronicling many of the women who played orphan roles on Broadway. This ran the gamut from fairly well-adjusted women to actresses still in the business to women who just can't shake their association, and it's likely she declined because she fell into the latter. Sarah Jessica Parker didn't have a problem with it; neither did Kristin Vigard, The Pete Best of the musical.
  • The Wizard of Oz:
    • Bert Lahr will be always remembered as the Cowardly Lion despite every other role he played on screen and on stage.
    • Margaret Hamilton had severe trouble getting another job after her role as the Witch in the same movie; everyone hated her.
    • Judy Garland is kind of a retroactive example. She starred in many films during her lifetime, but most of them have since faded into obscurity. Oz has endured and now most people remember her only for Dorothy. If she's remembered for something other than Oz, it's Meet Me in St. Louis.
  • Lucy Lawless is always going to be known first and foremost as Xena: Warrior Princess. Ironically, Lucy Lawless didn't typecast as Xena types - her later roles have been first on Roman epic "Spartacus", and in 2013 she plays a disappointed refugee from suburbia in modern-day New Zealand (Top Of The Lake). Oh, and of course a deeply religious quasi-human robot.
  • Seinfeld:
    • Michael Richards will forever be known as Kramer. If he's lucky. The rest of the Seinfeld cast is doomed in the same manner, save Jerry himself, who wisely stayed out of acting for a long time after the end of the show. For a long-time, there was the Seinfeld Curse, in which any show that starred a Seinfeld alum would be dead on arrival and cancelled after one season, which was true until Julia Louis-Dreyfus's moderately successful The New Adventures of Old Christine.
    • Jason Alexander has actually said he is thankful for Seinfeld typecasting him; before, he was known as the 'Guy who tried to rape Julia Roberts.'
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has found success as Old Christine and Vice President Selina Meyer.
    • The "Hello Newman" thing has haunted Wayne Knight throughout his career. One time after a series of not so fortunate events happened, someone went up to him and said that very line to him; he apparently got mad and punched the guy. Although Knight is known to play other Fat Bastards.
  • Paul Zaloom, political puppeteer, is quite fondly remembered as Beakman. Woe be to any parent who brings their kids to his very adult-themed puppet shows.
  • A less extreme example: It would seem that Richard Dean Anderson could not quite shake his old role in MacGyver in the early days of Stargate SG-1. In one episode, Amanda Tapping played a prank on him by going off script and began yelling at him for being unable to find a way out of the mess they were in, pointing out that MacGyver would have been able to do it easily. Given that Tapping reportedly got her role by ad libbing a small MacGyver reference into the scene they used for her audition (which made it into the final script: "It took us fifteen years and three supercomputers to MacGyver a system for the gate on Earth"), I think Anderson's not exactly unhappy about it." Anderson has since then managed to truly be O'Neill, which is referenced in a Simpsons episode where Patty and Selma kidnap "MacGyver", who they're obsessed with. He's in Springfield because of a Stargate convention.
  • Subverted by Boris Karloff. While the falling quality of Frankenstein films caused him to stop working in them, he always acknowledged the fact that the Frankenstein monster was sole reason he became a successful actor. He also took being typecast as a compliment, since it meant everyone thought he was better than anyone else in a specific type of role. Karloff did grow annoyed at the low quality of many movies offered to him, joking that Val Lewton "rescued me from the living dead" by casting him in The Body Snatcher. One of the last films he made, Targets, is in part a study on Karloff's career and the typecasting he faced; his character is Boris Karloff with the serial numbers filed off.
  • Bruce Campbell, a.k.a. "Don't call me Ash", what with being so firmly tied to one character that people have a hard time remembering his real name at conventions, despite having had excellent roles in several television series and having done a great deal of voice acting since. This has happened so often he's gone and made a movie about it. It's called My Name Is Bruce, and it features Bruce as himself, who everyone expects to save them from an ancient Chinese demon. He later got past this due to his role as Sam Axe on Burn Notice.
  • Burt Ward had this forced on him. Director Mike Nichols wanted him for a movie, and Burt was quite keen to take it, but his bosses didn't want Robin's character diluted by seeing the same actor in a different role, so they wouldn't let him. He writes in his autobiography that every time he's seen that director since, the man laments that he wanted Burt for that role. As of writing said autobiography Burt's still annoyed. And the role? Ben Braddock of The Graduate, the role that propelled Dustin Hoffman to stardom.
  • William Boyd did this one to himself. Best known for playing the straight-arrow cowboy Hopalong Cassidy, Cecil B. Demille wanted to have Boyd play Moses in The Ten Commandments as the name recognition would be sure to bring in a large crowd. Boyd politely refused, fearing that nobody would take "Hopalong Moses" as seriously as the film demanded. The role went to Charlton Heston. And, at any rate, back in 1948, Boyd had bought all the rights lock, stock and barrel to the Cassidy character, and so for once typecasting was sort of in an actor's best financial interest.
  • Anthony Perkins. "Norman, is that you?"
  • After Diff'rent Strokes, Gary Coleman only played himself. This was likely due to the congenital kidney disorder which halted his growth in childhood as much as it's the result of his typecasting as Arnold.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:
    • Title star Sarah Michelle Gellar has said that she distances herself from the character and refused to do any spin-offs, because she was afraid of only being remembered for Buffy for the rest of her life. Her subsequent films (The Grudge, Scooby-Doo, etc.) have made sure that her career isn't gonna help her live Buffy down anytime soon.
    • Alyson Hannigan must say a prayer of gratitude every night for American Pie and How I Met Your Mother, the two roles that saved her from being typecast as Willow.
    • Charisma Carpenter has had mostly Alpha Bitch-styled roles ever since playing Cordelia.
    • David Boreanaz has spoken of this type of problem. Fans had a tendency to ask him about Angel while he was trying to move on and play other roles, i.e. Booth on Bones.
    • James Marsters is still very much associated with Spike.
  • Ardal O'Hanlon, best known for playing Dougal in Father Ted, gets annoyed by people going to his stand-up comedy gigs expecting him to perform 'My Lovely Horse'.
  • Josh Peck is well known for being the goofy stepbrother of Drake Bell's character in Drake & Josh. Although his new film The Wackness gave him the chance to break through the child star mold. He'll still be that cute kid from Nickelodeon to some though. Drake also fits, because while Josh Peck had some success with Red Dawn, Drake hasn't seen any major roles since the show ended.
  • Back to the Future:
    • Michael J. Fox has starred on not one, but two successful sitcoms, Family Ties and Spin City. He'll still be Marty McFly for all eternity.
    • Averted with Christopher Lloyd, who seems to be remembered just as well for "Reverend" Jim, Judge Doom, and Uncle Fester as he is for "Doc" Brown. It helps that "What does a yellow light mean?" is as big a meme as "1.21 gigawatts!"
    • Stand-up comedian Thomas F. Wilson will always be best known as Biff Tannen. A 2013 comedy album released by Wilson starts out by invoking this trope, as he goes over all the most well-known lines from the movie. He also sings a song called "Stop Asking Me the Questions", in which he answers the most common questions he gets asked by fans, including "Back to the Future 4? Not happening!", "Was that real manure?" "No, it wasn't." "Do those hoverboards really fly?" "It's a MOVIE."
  • Linda Blair, the Exorcist. Especially tragic because she was a child when the typecasting happened, and later got into drugs. She later spoofed her Exorcist role in Repossessed.
  • Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman, which caused considerable problems when he was busted for indecent exposure in an adult movie theater. Note that Reubens brought much of the typecasting on himself with years of rarely, if ever, appearing out of character in public engagements (talk shows, interviews, etc.) and acting jobs after the general public became aware of Pee-wee Herman; even his character in Cheech and Chong's Next Movie is a thinly-veiled Pee-Wee Expy. Even today, Reubens is on social media such as Facebook and Twitter not as himself, but as Pee-wee.
  • An even more unfortunate example in the same vein is Andrew "Dice" Clay, due to his insistence on never breaking character and playing his stage persona in all public appearances, including one-on-one interviews. His career nosedived once his brand of vulgar Testosterone Poisoning fell out of favor, as audiences were unable to divorce the real Andrew Silverstein from the "Diceman" character he played for so long.
  • Gilligan's Island:
    • The entire cast got this, with the possible exception of Jim Backus (who's best remembered as Mr. Magoo). Alan Hale and Dawn Wells embraced the recognition, but Tina Louise took it very, very hard. For years afterward, she blamed the show for ruining her "serious" acting career. This is Played with when Bob Denver guest starred on The Simpsons - "And another thing! When people come up to me and say, 'Hey, little buddy!', and hit me over the head with a hat, that's not funny. That hurts!" Cue oblivious, uproarious laughter. What's even funnier is that Bob Denver was notoriously known as Maynard G. Krebs from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis before Gilligan's Island.
    • Lampshaded in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie when they notice that Russell Johnson (a.k.a. The Professor) plays one of the characters in the old movie they're watching.
      "So, you say that you made this car out of coconuts?"
  • American Pie:
    • To some, Eugene Levy is most known for being Jim's dad in the movies (partly because he keeps taking roles in that series). Jason Biggs too, will always be remembered as "the dude who fucked a pie".
    • Similarly, Jennifer Coolidge will always be Stifler's Mom.
    • And Seann William Scott as Stifler.
  • Jackie Gleason's most memorable role: Ralph Kramden. Some might also remember him as Sheriff Buford T. Justice from the Smokey and the Bandit films.
  • Back in the early '90s, when Nintendo Power magazine had a Celebrity Profile section, Joe Regalbuto recalled in the October 1991 article for that section:
    There I was, going berserk down the mountain, falling head over heels, and someone shouts, 'Hey, Frank!' It can be kind of embarrassing.
  • Candice Bergen will always be Murphy Brown. Especially because of a certain former Vice President of the United States.
  • The Karate Kid:
    • Pat Morita is known to most as Mr. Miyagi (before that, he was Arnold from Happy Days.). It is even played with in an episode of Robot Chicken. "First of all, [I'm not Miyagi] I'm Pat Effin' Morita, you nutsack!". It was even lampooned in a Simpsons comic where Homer identifies Morita as "the little guy from Happy Days" rather than Miyagi.
    • Ralph Macchio will always be Daniel-San.
    • There's also William Zabka, who will always be Johnny Lawrence - to the point where he made a career out of blond bullies. He has taken it quite well, though, and continues to willingly talk about Johnny. The last two seasons of How I Met Your Mother featured him Adam Westing as himself after Barney revealed that he always saw Johnny as the hero of the film.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Jack DeSena will always be Sokka. That is, if you're too young to remember his time as Randy Quench: Volunteer Fireman and other characters.
    • Dante Basco, who played Zuko, barely escaped this. For 20 years he was Rufio (it didn't help that he looked and sounded the same age for over 20 years). Thanks to Homestuck's *ahem* memorable treatment, however, he's still Rufio among its fans.
    • Had Mae Whitman not landed Avatar, she almost certainly was doomed to be remembered as..."her?"
    • The Legend of Korra: David Faustino, like Dante Basco above, escaped this through Korra; until he became Mako, Faustino couldn't escape being Bud Bundy.
  • Veronica Taylor, a.k.a. Ash Ketchum, has apparently had a hard time getting other work and seems rather bitter about it all. At a panel, she said something along the lines of "Being 'the voice of Ash Ketchum' is a great party trick, but it's never gotten me a job." Still, she doesn't hold it against the character, and Ash is still one of her favorite roles.
  • Christopher Mintz-Plasse has said in interviews that he is trying to avoid being only known for McLovin. Not even Fogell. Only McLovin.
  • Haley Joel Osment (as an actor) sees dead people, and (as a voice actor) swings a Keyblade around.
  • Sean Marquette is always Mac, when he's not Spider-Man. Keith Ferguson is always Bloo, when he's not Basch/Garbranth or Marluxia.
  • Jon Heder = Napoleon Dynamite or a talking pickle.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Travis Willingham = Roy Mustang. And Caitlin Glass = Winry Rockbell.
  • Twilight:
    • Kristen Stewart is close to be permanently remembered as Bella Swan. Which is strange when you consider that the role was meant to be a place-holder for audience members. Ironically, the reason she may be remembered for it is because being a place-holder made the character look shallow and naive.
    • Taylor Lautner is either Wolf Boy (Jacob) or Shark Boy (or else just that hot guy from that one movie with his shirt off all the time). He also seems to be the member of the trio most okay with the whole Twilight phenomenon.
  • There is something called "The Superman Curse", which states that actors playing Superman either A.) Cannot get serious work after they stop playing the role, B.) befall horrible tragedies, or C.) all of the above. This also falls true to most of the cast of any adaptation:
    • Christopher Reeve was just starting to escape his role as Superman. A new generation of moviegoers was just coming up and most of them hadn't seen that movie. Then he gets crippled and the newspapers can't say anything but "best known for his role as Superman".
    • From Superman Returns, Brandon Routh is rarely seen in any new movie because of this. For fans of Chuck, Routh has become Daniel Shaw. Now he's the Atom.
    • Smallville has a history of hiring actors who played roles in previous Superman roles, banking on their fame in fandom. All still living actors who played Superman at the beginning of the franchise have appeared in some form on the series. The Christopher Reeve movies' Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen also showed up. In a bit of a subversion, Annette O'Toole was was hired for the role of Martha Kent (Superman's adoptive mother) without the producers remembering she had played Lana Lang (Superman's childhood girlfriend) in Superman III. Even Reeve himself showed up, as a Genius Cripple scientist.
    • Unsurprisingly, Smallville's Clark, Tom Welling has fallen victim to this. He specifically asked not to become Superman during the series' span to escape it. It didn't work. More surprisingly he isn't the worst example from the show: Allison Mack, who played Chloe Sullivan, has expressed on her blog that she had a much harder time escaping her most famous role than Welling has.
    • Dean Cain will always be Superman of Lois & Clark; particularly after the cartoons and comics versions of the Man of Steel took on the big-muscle chested look he put into the role.
    • According to Hollywood legend, George Reeves' (TV's The Adventures of Superman) role in From Here to Eternity was severely trimmed because audience members couldn't resist yelling "Superman!" whenever he appeared on screen.
  • Meagan Smith will always be remembered as Gwen Tennyson.
  • Christy Carlson Romano is either Kim Possible, Yuffie, or Ren Stevens.
  • Good luck finding a role from Minoru Shiraishi aside from himself or Taniguchi.
  • Harry H. Corbett, who played Harold Steptoe in the UK sitcom Steptoe and Son, in the 1960s and '70s. Could be a trope definer; before Steptoe he was considered to be one of Britain's finest actors — "The British Marlon Brando". But Steptoe was a smash hit, and he was unable to break away from it for the rest of his life, despite coming to hate the character, the show, and especially his co-star Wilfred Brambell (note for U.S. readers: "Sanford and Son" was based on Steptoe, if you didn't already know that).
  • Kevin Bacon suffered from this to the point where he would dread the eventuality of being asked to dance to Footloose. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show they were kind enought to let him sit and watch the entire audience do it instead. He was later associated with the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and any guest appearances of him on a sitcom will allude to this. To the extent that as of late 2012/13 he appears in advertisements on British television capitalising on this trope.
  • While Tim Curry may have gained a good-sized cult following for his roles as Pennywise The Dancing Clown and The Lord Of Darkness, it's safe to assume that most people will automatically picture him in fishnets, corset, and high heels whenever his name is mentioned. It even got to the point where he became very reluctant to talk about being in Rocky Horror for years since the fans started to creep him out, and he even went so far as to put on weight in order to distance himself from the role.
  • Mash:
    • Larry Linville, in particular, could never escape the shadow of Frank Burns.
    • Alan Alda averted this. That being said, no matter how many corrupt, slimey old dirtbags Alda plays; no matter how fast he jumps to mind whenever a character of that calibre is created; "Alan Alda" will still always be a synonym for "sensitive guy".
    • Wayne Rogers (who played "Trapper" John McIntyre on the show) seems to have avoided to some extent — while he has had a spotty career record since M*A*S*H (though he did go three seasons as one of the leads of the TV series House Calls opposite Lynn Redgrave), his later TV appearances has been as a financial commentator on Fox News. Early on, he saved and invested his pay and ended up with sizable wealth and financial acumen.
  • Megan Fox will probably be remembered as "that hot chick from Transformers". At the very least, that's how she's known now and considering her attitude towards Michael Bay, she's probably not very happy about it. As it had turned out, her issues with Bay seemed to have been resolved (turns out she had offended someone higher up than Bay and Bay didn't have a choice but to fire her) and is starring in Bay's TMNT in 2014; so she'll probably remembered for being "the hot chick in those Michael Bay movies". She is also as "the chick who made out with Amanda Seyfried."
  • Ron Livingston will always be either "that guy from Office Space" or Captain Nixon. He even said in an interview once that he had trouble getting another acting job for several years after the former because producers thought he wouldn't be able to act differently than that character.
  • Pulp Fiction:
    • Perhaps not for the public at large, but for many nerds, "starring Samuel L. Jackson" actually means "starring Jules Winfield". It's the entire reason why the line "Enough is enough! I've had it with these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane!" was inserted into Snakes on a Plane. However, he has begun escaping this with iconic roles like Mace Windu and Nick Fury.
    • Ving Rhames has played many roles in his career but he's all but synonymous with Marsellius Wallace.
  • John Cho:
    • Though he's slowly but surely edging away from the association because of Star Trek, John Cho is still known by many as Harold. His character is based on a real life Harold Lee, who was a friend of the writers. Cho became friends with the real Harold Lee, and has said that when they're hanging out in public, someone will yell "Harold!" and they'll both turn around.
    • Cho has also stated in interviews that before he was known as "Harold," people would recognize him from American Pie and shout "MILF!" He regarded it as an upgrade to be known by an actual name as opposed to a catch phrase. But Cho may turn it around, ironically, as the second Mr. Sulu in the new Star Trek continuity, a role that is still forever associated with George Takei.
  • Harold Ramis was a versatile comedy writer and director with a diverse career. When he died, headlines read "Harold Ramis, Egon from Ghostbusters, Has Died."
  • Chris Noth. He was a cop for a long time (Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and Mr. Big (Sex and the City) for even longer. He now plays another Mr. Big on CBS's The Good Wife.
  • Except for Ashley Tisdale, everyone from High School Musical is bound to go through this eventually, with Zac Efron already showing signs of it.
  • Phil Silvers < Sgt Bilko. More people know of the character than the actor who created him; many even forget the show was titled The Phil Silvers Show.
  • Apparently, Christopher Plummer went back and forth on this. On QI Stephen Fry told a story about how a friend of his met him and was told in hushed voices by the guy who picked him up at the airport not to mention The Sound of Music under any circumstances, "...and half an hour later he was playing 'Edelweiss' at the piano." It doesn't help his case that Julie Andrews is, to this day, one of his closest friends. Kind of ironic when he reportedly said that working with her "is like being hit over the head with a giant Valentine's Day card."
  • Claire Danes stopped the un-cancellation of My So-Called Life because she didn't want to be remembered for being Angela Chase the rest of her life. Now she's known for her award-winning portrayal of Temple Grandin and as a co-star of the Showtime series, Homeland.
  • EastEnders:
    • Any character from the British soap, but bonus points must be given to Shaun Williamson, otherwise known as Barry from EastEnders.
    • Except for Todd Carty who'll be remembered for his childhood role as Tucker Jenkins on Grange Hill.
    • Wendy Richard could've played Pauline Fowler for another 25 years, and to some of us she would still be Miss Brahms.
  • Heroes:
    • Zachary Quinto, who plays Sylar, is starting to get this way. For his first appearance in the 2009 Star Trek film, you half expect him to unleash telekinetic whoop ass on the Vulcan council. He's a good enough actor that this effect fades away after the first hour or so and he becomes Spock. Of course, going home and watching an episode of Heroes after the movie results in another jarring effect of "Why is Spock evil if he doesn't have that goatee?"
    • Also, Masi Oka is Hiro. To the point where in Get Smart, they had him use Hiro's voice. Note: That isn't his normal speaking voice, his normal voice sounds more like Future Hiro. He also sounds more like Hiro than himself as the coroner in Hawaii Five-O. In interviews, he also admits that Hiro is basically himself after several cups of coffee; later seasons and Heroes Reborn have a calmer, more mature Hiro, to the point that he's nearly As Himself.note  In some early Five-0 interviews, he seemed to distance himself from the character of Max, saying he bases many of his peculiarities on an old college professor, but as the Early Installment Weirdness faded and Max has become a beloved recurrent role, he's admitted that there's actually quite a bit of himself in that character, too. One might wonder if he isn't deliberately encouraging Actor/Role Confusion.
  • Though he never had a major television or movie role since playing Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter, Ron Palillo kept busy acting, directing, and writing for the theater, doing voiceover work, and writing/illustrating children's books for the remainder of his life. However, he will always be remembered as Horshack. This was lampshaded in Ellen, when he played a season-long recurring role as "Ron Palillo, TV's Arnold Horshack." Gabe Kaplan had a similar problem, according to his stand-up routine:
    When people see me now, they don't say, 'Are you Gabe Kaplan?' or, 'Are you Mr. Kotter?' They say 'Are you Welcome Back Kotter?'
  • Frankie Muniz is Malcolm. His entire family has gone through this, but Bryan Cranston was re-Spocked later on as Walter White.
  • In Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul is often considered inseparable from Jesse Pinkman in the eyes of many TV viewers; most of the roles he's had since then have been Jesse clones since then.
  • Michael Gross will either be gun nut Burt Gummer or Steven Keaton from Family Ties.
  • Sylvester Stallone was well on his way to being Rocky forever and ever. Now he's Rocky and Rambo, and maybe Judge Dredd, otherwise known as "action guy who talks funny, (and isn't Ahnold.)" Ironically, he was initially touted as "the next Marlon Brando" because of how well he played Rocky, the critics being unaware that he was playing himself.
  • Soleil Moon Frye will always be Punky Brewster. And she'll always have Gag Boobs, even after getting a breast reduction. To the tweens, she's known as Jade or Zoey.
  • Depending on who you ask, Stacy Keach is either Mike Hammer or Ken Titus.
  • Peter Weller will always be RoboCop, or, to a relatively small cross-section of fanboys, Buckaroo Banzai.
  • Lord of the Rings:
    • Elijah Wood isn't the only cast member to fall victim to this. Viggo Mortensen will always be Aragorn. Before that, he played a pretty good Lucifer. And watching him play opposite of Christopher Walken was fun.
      "I could lay you out and fill your mouth with your mother's feces. Or, we could talk."
    • Sean Astin is Samwise when he's not Mikey.
    • Ian McKellen has largely managed to escape being forever known as Gandalf by becoming forever as Magneto instead - a role, remarkably, that he was playing at the same time as the Rings films were coming out. He also nearly became Dumbledore after Richard Harris' death, which would have meant that he essentially cornered the market on some of the most iconic fictional characters ever, but turned it down partly for this reason and partly because Harris had criticised him and he didn't feel it would be right to take on the role.
  • Friends:
    • The cast have had mixed success since the show ended, but they are still remembered, first and foremost, as Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Ross and Rachel. Specifically Aniston fared the best with a good number of movies, and Cox and Perry are now heading their own shows (having done several others already), but they still fall prey to 'hey, is this a friends rerun?' But Kudrow's, who's been focusing on her family, has only had a few roles, and Schwimmer's disappearing behind the camera to direct (exception, Captain Sobel on Band of Brothers). LeBlanc probably had to work hardest to escape this, as he not only played Joey for ten years on Friends, but played the same character for a brief period afterwards on a positively disastrous spin-off in which he was the central character.
    • LeBlanc played himself in the show Episodes, where he tries to distance himself from Joey. The jury is still out if it'll work, but at the very least, he picked up an Emmy nod for his Adam Westing performance, and won a Golden Globe.
    • It also doesn't help that the cast, except possibly Kudrow, are eerily like their on screen counterparts. Courteney specifically asked to play Monica because she connected to her need to be in control, Matthew Perry admitted he could relate to Chandler's trouble with women and using humor as a defense mechanism, Schwimmer like Ross is the quietest and most intellectual of the gang, many stories about Matt LeBlanc ('the guys guy') could be about Joey, and Jennifer shares a lot of mannerisms and emotional reactions with Rachel. So, yeah shaking their characters off is hard.
    • Cox is the only one who has successfully played characters outside of her friends persona, which makes sense as she was acknowledged as the most versatile of the gang, even before Friends. Aniston's romantic comedy roles have been very similar to Rachel, Kudrow normally plays a quirky Cloudcuckoolander, Perry is always a Deadpan Snarker character and Leblanc has resorted to playing himself. However Cox pulled off the Jerkass Gale in the Scream films and ditzy Jules on Cougar Town with aplomb. Aniston may be moving towards an aversion in The New '10s with a drastically against type role in Horrible Bosses - even successfully fighting with producers to let them dye her hair a dark brown. In 2014 she won critical acclaim for her role in Cake, something she had already won earlier with The Good Girl, so time will tell.
  • Macaulay Culkin will likely never escape being known as "The Home Alone Kid".
  • Michael Sheen will probably have to do a lot to avoid being seen as Tony Blair, considering he's played the former Prime Minister three times.
  • Nearly the entire cast of Withnail & I, much to Richard 'Uncle Monty' Griffiths' disgust (not so much that he dislikes the film, but more because sharp financial practices by the production company, Handmade Films, have meant that he never received money owed to him). The current generation will probably think "Hey, it's Vernon!" whenever they see Griffiths nowadays.
  • All in the Family:
    • Jean Stapleton stated that she wanted to be a screen actress, but never wanted to be a star, because then she'd end up being typecast. Unfortunately, that's just what happened. Stapleton shot herself in the foot when she was offered, but declined, a role that would have saved her from typecasting as Edith: Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote.note 
    • Rob Reiner has claimed to suffer this, stating that if he won a Nobel Prize, all the headlines would read "MEATHEAD WINS NOBEL PRIZE". He may have actually averted this, however, as most may know him as a director, in particular as the director of The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally....
    • Carroll O'Connor is also remembered only as Archie. Not even a run on the television version of In the Heat of the Night was enough to break that.
    • Sally Struthers is Gloria Stivic. Fortunately, she had a moderately successful career afterwards with shows like Dinosaurs, Gilmore Girls, and TaleSpin. Nevertheless, none of them hold a candle to the fame she has achieved as Gloria.
  • Peter Cullen, Optimus Prime. Unless you grew up watching Winnie-the-Pooh, in which case he will always be Eeyore. For anyone who grew up in the late '90s and early '00s, he will also be remembered as the voice-over for many of Toonami's promos.
  • Henry Winkler will always be The Fonz, and is, at the moment, okay with it. He's played against type quite well on Arrested Development and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
  • Ricardo Montalban will always be remembered for wearing a white suit and waiting for "ze plane" or as Khan. Or for his Chrysler's reeeeech Corinthian leather.
  • Rowan Atkinson will always be Mr. Bean in the U.S. and Germany, despite an amazing career as the title character in Blackadder and a variety of other film and stage roles. It's only the select few that knew Blackadder before Mr. Bean came out who know he did other work.
  • Blackadder: Tony Robinson tends to get Bumbling Sidekick roles reprising his celebrated role as Baldrick. However, Baldrick's appearance in the show's first season is almost a preemptive case of Playing Against Type since he was the one that always came up with the cunning plans and Blackadder was the bumbling idiot. He later deliberately cast himself against type as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Maid Marian and Her Merry Men.
  • Christina Ricci = Wednesday Addams.
  • Anytime you see Ashton Kutcher, you'll see Michael Kelso. It doesn't seem to harm his career, though.
  • Rick Moranis is either Bob McKenzie, Seymour Krelborn, or Wayne Szalinski. Others recognize him as Dark Helmet, while still more recognize him as Louis Tully.
  • Most of the Power Rangers:
    • Johnny Yong Bosch escaped this fate by becoming a well known voice actor.
    • Although Amy Jo Johnson is still doing well in showbiz, she feels that her role as the first Pink Ranger is something that she can never live down.
    • Jason David Frank will always be Tommy. Subverted by the fact that he's perfectly fine with that to the point where he had custom suits made of the White and Green Rangers for him to wear at conventions and photo ops. He also holds a Power Rangers boot camp and throws Green Ranger images on his merchandise. His dojos are also filled with memorabilia.
    • Dan Ewing appeared on Dancing with the Stars Australia - that proves how successful he is. The RPM black ranger is better known now as a cast member in Home and Away.
    • On the Sentai side, Baku Hatakeyama, the original Yellow Ranger, became unable to find work because of this. He ended up committing suicide as a result.
  • William Daniels gets this a lot thanks to his famous role as Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. Little do most people know he had a very famous role as Dr. Mark Craig on St. Elsewhere. Even if he didn't get this treatment for playing Mr. Feeny, he certainly would have for being the voice of KITT. Meanwhile, Ben Savage is always going to be Cory Matthews — or Fred's little brother. Danielle Fishel and Rider Strong haven't had much luck either — but Will Friedle escaped it with a successful voice acing career, but he's still always Eric on camera.
  • Kristen Bell will always be Veronica Mars. Fortunately, the role of Anna from Frozen seems to be changing that.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Mari Iijima has certainly forever been labelled as Lynn Minmay, and for a while resented ever playing the character, since it meant that people would come to her concerts just to hear Minmay's songs, not her songs. This is said to be a major reason why she quit voice acting and focused entirely on her singing career. Fortunately, some decades later, she has come to terms with Minmay, and agreed to reprise her role for the English dub of Macross (she had been living the US for some time and could speak reasonably good, if accented, English) in part as a way of reconciling herself with the character.