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I Am Not Spock

"It was Captain Kirk playing TJ 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:

  • 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 — and one of them laments that he used to be in Shakespeare plays before he started on 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, the actor who plays the complaining character who says this.
    • Despite his hatred for the role, Rickman's character is never seen without his make up on. He even wears it at home by himself.
  • A tragic in-universe example of this trope is actress Mary Dahl a.k.a. Baby Doll from Batman: The Animated Series. She 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 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.
    • Also in "Beware the Grey Ghost." Initially Simon Trent, the actor who played the Grey Ghost, feels this way towards the role. After learning that it inspired Batman, however, he feels differently. Incidentally, Simon Trent was played by Adam West.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • When Richard Wilson guest starred in Father Ted As Himself, he beat Ted up for using Victor Meldrew's catchphrase on him.
  • 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!
  • In one episode of Family Guy, Brian meets a washed-up 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 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.
  • 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 trope in-universe.
  • 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".
  • In an episode of Frasier, Fraiser and Neils 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.

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 albums tended to feature at least a few songs essentially sung (or spoken) as Spock, such as "Highly Illogical."
    • 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 trope. He wanted to give him a chance to show his range as an actor.
    • In his autobiography, James Doohan tells of casting calls 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. 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 TNG, he said that for the rest of his career, he would be "That guy who played Data!"
      • 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 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).
      • LeVar's zigzagged around this, since he's also famous for starring in Roots and hosting Reading Rainbow. In fact, when TNG first premiered, he was the biggest name in the cast (in the United States; in Britain, veteran Shakespearean actor Stewart was better known). 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, since the man our heroes were on the run from was another hero.
      • 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.
  • On the note of sci-fi shows, the cast of Babylon 5 have 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.
  • 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 - Later on, Rickman had declined interviews, realizing that reporters are 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 Alan 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. So when Daniel Radcliffe did Equus, it opened the floodgate for many "Harry Potter shows his wand" jokes. The only exception is Robert Pattinson, though only because he's instead Spocked as Edward Cullen. 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.
    • 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 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 a sizable number of people would also recognize 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.
  • Robert Englund has been permanently Spocked as Freddy Krueger. To a lesser degree he has also become type cast 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.
  • David Duchovny as Fox Mulder from The X-Files. 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 trope. 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. 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 a UPN show, Grown Ups, that crashed and burned after 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!
  • Tom Baker will forever be seen as the fourth Doctor, from the TV series Doctor Who, no matter how much he wants not to (and he really, really doesn't want to). 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. (Contrary to popular belief, the show didn't take a break so that he could play Hamlet; it did so to ease the change of production teams in 2010 and Tennant simply put the massive gap to good use.)
    • 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 also suffers from this. "Hey, Princess Leia wrote a book!" 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 can't call her a "victim" of it, though, since her fame as Leia almost certainly helped launch her successful writing career.
    • 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 nineties, 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." Aww.
    • 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.
    • 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!".
    • 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", 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's currently parodying 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, try as he might, will always be "the campy Batman". He seems to be taking it well. Judging from a lot of his later roles, he started appearing to be typecast as the guy who was typecast. He follows 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 was probably the best thing ever, as it 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 a similar way, 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.
    • He seems to have traded in I Am Not Spock for Type Casting 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 trope — 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.
  • Kelsey Grammer will probably always be identified with his eponymous role in Frasier. 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.
  • 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 recognised 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.)
  • And to most other people, Terence Stamp is Zod!!!
  • "And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver!"
    • SCTV satirised 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.)
  • Bert Lahr will be always remembered as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, 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.
    • Pretty much all the actors from Oz apply here.
  • Parodied on The Simpsons 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." Apparently, Lucy Lawless can fly. 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.
  • Michael Richards will forever be known as Kramer from Seinfeld, 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.
  • 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."
    • The fact that Anderson has since then managed to truly be O'Neill 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.
    • 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 "Don't call me Ash" Campbell also qualifies, 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 may have gotten past this now 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.
  • 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.
    • Buffy castmate and title star Sarah Michelle Gellar has even 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.
    • 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 seems to fit this more, because Josh Peck had some success with Red Dawn, Drake hasn't seen any major roles since the show ended.
  • Tom Wilson would like you to stop asking him the questions about Back to the Future, you maniacs!
  • Linda Blair, the Exorcist. Especially tragic because she was a child when the typecasting happened, and later got into drugs.
  • 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.
  • The entire Gilligan's Island 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.
    • 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.
    • Lampshaded in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie when they notice that Russell Johnson (aka 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?"
      • It's easier to say that if Russell Johnson appeared in any movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, then chances are they will repeatedly mention his role as The Professor, usually referencing devices made out of coconuts.
  • To some, Eugene Levy is most known for being Jim's dad in the American Pie 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. Baby, you're the greatest!
    • Some might 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.
  • Pat Morita is known to most as Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid films. 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!".
    • Before that, he was Arnold from Happy Days.
    • Lampooned in a Simpsons comic where Homer (as the superhero Pie-Man) is framed when someone masquerading as him commits crimes. The person doing it is revealed in the end to be Krusty the Clown who explains that pies are his second best gag next to his Pat Morita impersonation. When the people of Springfield give him a blank look, he says, "You know, the little guy from Happy Days?".
    • Also, Ralph Macchio. He's always 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.
  • 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 in Avatar, 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.
  • 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. In fact, people don't even remember him as Fogell.
    • Good luck with that one (also featuring Stiffler as a slightly older Stiffler).
  • Haley Joel Osment sees dead people, when he's not swinging a Keyblade around.
  • Sean Marquette is always Mac. Keith Ferguson is always Bloo, when he's not Basch/Garbranth or Marluxia.
  • Jon Heder = Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Travis Willingham = Roy Mustang.
  • 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, which brought unGodly amounts of Hate Dumb and Fan Dumb.
  • 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".
    • Reeve wasn't typecast in the strict sense of the word, as he was given several very un-Superman-like roles. For one example, watch Deathtrap where he plays a sort of naive hayseed mystery writer fanboy. Who turns out to be a murderous sociopath. He also played opposite Morgan Freeman in the flick which made Freeman a star, Street Smart.
    • Christopher Reeve's case — where the "typecasting" was enforced by reporters who just couldn't pass up the cutesy-tragic "irony" of Superman in a wheelchair — is a kind of horrifying injustice.
    • Brandon Routh is rarely seen in any new movie because of this. For fans of Chuck, Routh has become Daniel Shaw.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Dean Cain will always be Superman of Lois and 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.
  • 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 US 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.
  • Most of the actors from Mash got stuck with this. Larry Linville in particularly could never escape the shadow of Frank Burns. Spectacularly averted by Alan Alda, though.
    • However, 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".
      • Although, to be fair, he has mocked the role a couple of times, most notably in 30 Rock.
  • 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".
  • Ron Livingston will always be "that guy from Office Space". He even said in an interview once that he had trouble getting another acting job for several years after that movie because producers thought he wouldn't be able to act differently than that character.
  • 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.
  • 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 Harold Lee is based on a real-life Harold Lee, who was a friend of the writers. John 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.
    • John 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 John 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.
  • Chris Noth. He was a cop for a long time (Law and Order) but 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.
    • Everybody knows Zac Efron is Kira.
    • Zac Efron may actually be a subversion of this. Everyone thought that he would be the High School Musical cast member most affected by this, but he's on his way to being the one it affects least. 17 Again doesn't help his image much, but in Hairspray he's just different enough that you don't immediately think "Oh, that's Troy Bolton." And his roles in Me and Orson Welles and Charlie St. Cloud are probably about as far from High School Musical as he can possibly get.
  • 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.
  • Any character from the British soap EastEnders, 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.
  • Zachary Quinto, who plays Sylar on Heroes 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.
    • 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.
  • Though he has 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 Horshack- lampshaded brilliantly 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Now he's Liddy too.
  • There is no "Elijah Wood"! There is only FRODO!
    • Or the Artful Dodger.
    • It could be worse. He could be remembered as North.
    • Probably averted now that he has a steady role as one of two leads on the FX version of Wilfred.
  • Elijah Wood isn't the only Lord of the Rings 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."
  • The Friends 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 humour as a defence 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 Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Perry is always a Deadpan Snarker characer and Leblanc has resorted to playing himself. However Cox pulled off the Jerk Ass Gale in the Scream films and ditzy Jules on Cougar Town with aplomb.
  • Macaulay Culkin will likely never escape being known as "The Home Alone Kid".
    • Which is a huge shame as he was excellent in Saved!.
    • He was also pretty good in Kings.
    • He even tried early to shake the association by playing the evil-as-all-hell cousin in The Good Son. Then he did Getting Even With Dad, The Pagemaster, and Richie Rich, and the typecasting was solidified.
    • It's worth noting that Culkin himself wasn't too sad about his career hitting the skids when he was a kid. His father was an infamous Stage Dad, but Culkin just wanted to enjoy being a normal kid during what was left of his childhood.
  • 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 and 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.
  • Jean Stapleton has 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.
    • Rob Reiner has claimed to suffer this trope, 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 tropers too young to have seen All in the Family 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.
  • 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.
  • Ricardo Montalban will always be remembered for wearing a white suit and waiting for "ze plane" or as Khan.
  • Rowan Atkinson will always be Mr. Bean in the US 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.
  • 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.
  • Most of the Power Rangers. Johnny Yong Bosch escapes this fate by becoming a well known anime voice actor, and though Amy Jo Johnson is still doing well in showbiz, she still 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 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 trope. He ended up committing suicide as a result of it.
  • 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.
  • Kristen Bell will always be Veronica Mars. Fortunately, her role as Anna seems to be changing that. Gamers may also remember her as Lucy Stillman.
  • Gabourey Sidibe used her monologue while hosting SNL to explain how she is nothing like her character Precious, and that she does in fact live a normal, well adjusted life having grown up in a loving family with both parents.
  • This could possibly affect Kiefer Sutherland for younger viewers who only know him as Jack Bauer. While Sutherland was involved in numerous movies prior to 24 (mainly The Lost Boys and cult hit Dark City), he never really stood out in the medium, and was often in the shadow of his actor-father, Donald Sutherland. Even 24 co-creator Howard Gordon was initially hesitant to give him the role because of his former "Brat Pack" years. The movies he was involved in during 24's airing (i.e., the sniper in Phone Booth and a Jack Bauer Expy in The Sentinel) only served to exacerbate his former reputation. Nevertheless, despite the exhaustion Kiefer Sutherland felt during 24 (which might've attributed to his off-screen antics like tackling Christmas trees, and his constant drinking leading him to buzzed interviews and 45 days in jail)), he remains extremely grateful and humble for the years he spent on 24, and wouldn't want to take them away for the world.
    • Though many anime fans of the '90s will always remember him as Detective Ross Syllabus first.
    • It's also quite weird to watch Will Wheaton, a typecast actor in his own right, stand up to Kiefer in Stand By Me.
    • Depending on your point of view, he's either playing into his typecasting or breaking away from it by being cast as the voice of Big Boss/Punished Snake in Metal Gear Solid V, replacing David Hayter.
  • Jake Weber, aka Joe Dubois on Medium. Same for Sofia Vassilieva, aka Ariel DuBois.
  • Inverted in this webcomic.
  • In the radio world, some presenters live off this trope. Namely:
  • Danny Smith, Brandon Quinn, and Aimee Castle are Merton Dingle, Tommy Dawkins, and Lori Baxter.
  • Danny Bonaduce is, and always will be, a partridge in a pear tree.
  • Nathan Fillion gets this along with most other members of the Firefly cast. It was parodied in this xkcd arc. Summer Glau is alternately identified as River Tam or Cameron Phillips, depending on which show people are fans of.
    • Lampshaded on The Big Bang Theory when the guys actually meet Summer on a train and completely embarrass themselves by taking turns practically throwing themselves at her and refer to her by her character names just out of her earshot.
    • Nate went from Malcom Reynolds to Rick Castle. He's fine. Given that Firefly didn't have a huge following, he was probably much better known for his time on Desperate Housewives prior to starring in Castle.
      • He's deliberately poked fun at himself on Castle for this, as well as saying if he won the lottery he'd pay to produce more episodes (though the actors have probably timed out of the roles now).
  • To a minor degree, Rand Miller (co-founder and CEO of Cyan Worlds Inc.) is identified with his role as Atrus, which he played in all of the live-action Myst games. He's not even an actor; he's a game designer and programmer. For bonus points, he dislikes playing the role and only kept doing it for four games (the others use CGI characters) because he could not possibly have been switched out without a major discontinuity and fandom uproar.
  • Back in the heyday of pre-Christmas series on German TV, and actually even quite a while after those times, Tommi Ohrner was Timm Thaler, period. And Patrick Bach was Silas. Almost nobody ever called these actors by their real names. In order for this attitude to fade, these shows had to remain unaired for some two decades.
  • In spite of the many films in which he starred as someone entirely different, Götz George is and will forever remain Horst Schimanski, Tatort's most badass cop ever with a knack for insane stunts and Cluster S Bombs.
  • Applies to the whole The A-Team main cast. Only sci-fi geeks would associate Dirk Benedict with the ace pilot under the command of the man otherwise known as Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene), for the rest, he's Templeton "Faceman" Peck. Only a few 80s movie freaks remember that B. A. Baracus once clobbered the snot out of Rocky in Rocky III. And seriously, who knows that John "Hannibal" Smith was the male main actor in the classic Breakfast at Tiffany's?
  • For most people, Roger Moore is James Bond - or at least one of several James Bonds- although he also played Lord Brett Sinclair, and some older British viewers think of him primarily as Simon Templar from the 60s TV series The Saint.
    • This is parodied in The Cannonball Run where Moore stars as a character called Goldfarb who thinks he's Roger Moore, but then acts like James Bond, complete with a tricked-out Aston Martin DB7, which car was actually only used in Sean Connery films.
    • Further parodied in 2002's Boat Trip where Moore plays Lloyd Faversham, an older gay man who once served with the British special forces ("You may think of me as simply a flamboyant old queen, but I spent over 30 years in the SAS, serving Her Majesty, the real Queen.")
    • Sean Connery had to let his hair turn gray and grow a beard to not be James Bond anymore.
    • However, there is the story about Roger Moore's daughter asking her father to meet James Bond. "But I'm James Bond" said Moore. "No, the real James Bond" replied his daughter.
    • On a related note of Bond henchman, Harold Sakata appeared in later films with the credit of "Oddjob."
    • Pretty much all the Bonds have gone through this.
      • Pierce Brosnan went through it even before playing the role, as he was identified as far back as Remington Steele as "the next/real James Bond" by his fans.
  • Ed O'Neill, aka Al Bundy. That is, him and all the rest of the cast.
  • William Atherton will always be Walter "Dickless" Peck. Word of God says this plagued him for a long time, as he'd have people yell "Hey, Dickless!" wherever he went. Unless you remember him as Jerry Hathaway or Dick Thornburg, who are both also Jerkasses.
  • Michael Ironside recounts one time he was on a plane and a guy came up to him, immaculately dressed in a suit, and said, "Hey, you're Sam Fisher." Lost for a second his reply is, "No, I'm...wait a minute, yes I am."
  • Clayton Moore (the Lone Ranger), although he was apparently comfortable enough with the role to maintain kayfabe that Moore was the Ranger in his personal life. He had a Crowning Moment Of Awesome with it which is recounted annually on Letterman where he was being giving a ride to his hotel by two young men in the 60s after a personal appearance when they were hit by another car. The driver of the other car insisted that he was not at fault and asked who the cops would believe, him or a couple of hippies. Moore reportedly then got out of the car, in full Ranger get-up and announced "They'll believe me, citizen!"
    • (One can only imagine the other driver's face at this point.)
    • This story was told in The Late Show by Jay Thomas, who is perhaps best remembered by many viewers as Eddie Lebec.
    • In a 1969 interview with Johnny Carson, Jay Silverheels told him that he played Tonto for "thirty lousy years."
  • Miley Cyrus was frequently referred to as Hannah Montana. Since the 2013 VMAs, she's thrown that off and is now known as "that time when Miley twerked with her tongue hanging out."
  • When people say "starring Michael Cera", what they probably mean is "starring George Michael Bluth." Since then he's essentially become typecast in roles as "quirky, adorable indie guy" in movies like Superbad, Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Which makes it more hilarious when he portrays himself as a total asshole in This Is the End.
  • Reese Witherspoon briefly had this problem after Election — her performance as the crazy, controlling Tracy Flick was so good that producers thought that that was her real personality, and she had trouble getting work for a few years afterward. Later roles helped her break out of that typecasting.
  • James Rolfe is almost always referred to as The Angry Video Game Nerd, even though he has stated that the AVGN is not him, but a character.
  • Even after To Boldly Flee, Fan Dumb of The Nostalgia Critic have a hard time accepting that he's a fictional character and nothing like Doug Walker.
    • The same has been going for The Nostalgia Chick and Lindsay Ellis lately. The fans think that she really does treat Nella badly and that she really is a neurotic mess. Lindsay's even said that maybe she needs to go even more hyperbolic to hammer the differences in.
  • Tom "Tiny" Lister, who was cast as Hulk Hogan's antagonist Zeus in the movie No Holds Barred became so associated with the character that it was worked into a WWF storyline and all of his subsequent acting roles had him credited as Tiny "Zeus" Lister until he became Deebo.
  • Charles Martinet will always be known as the voice of Mario. He also voiced one of the dragons in Skyrim.
  • The late Captain Lou Albano thanks to The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Other than, of course, being a legendary pro wrestling figure.
  • Maria Antonieta de las Nieves will always be La Chilindrina, even in sketches where she does not play the character.
  • Voice actors in the Spanish speaking fandom will always be remembered for their roles in famous series. Notable character roles in Mexico include:
  • Joseph Mazzello: Most famous for playing Tim in Jurassic Park, today he's found on The Pacific and in The Social Network.
  • Heinz Schubert, star of the German cult sitcom Ein Herz und eine Seele, could never escape his role as "Ekel Alfred" (Alfred, the jerk), despite having a varied and critically acclaimed career.
  • Tommy Piper, German voice of ALF, will always be ALF to German viewers, no matter what role he plays. He was highly popular while the show ran (probably one of the most famous voice actors Germany has produced) but his career took a serious jump after ALF concluded, as people didn't accept him in any other role, especially not a serious one.
  • Gethin Jones became solely associated with Strictly Come Dancing to many people. They forget he was promoting driving safety in Police, Camera, Action!, and doing various other shows!
  • Alfonso Ribeiro will always be Carlton Banks. Smith reveals that Ribeiro himself gave Will the advice to name his character on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air "Will Smith", because that's what people would be calling him for the rest of his life. Even on Catch 21, it's referenced.
    Will Smith: When we go out together, people are like: "Will, Will! Carlton!"
    • Before Fresh Prince Alfonso had a memorable role on Silver Spoons, which you'd have to have been a kid in the 80s to remember.
  • Pauley Perrette has stated that she was once called Abby by her dad.
  • Vince Vaughn nailed his role in Swingers. Rave reviews, the next golden goose. Now he can't play anything else (except one creepy murder role). See also: Old School, Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
  • Most of the cast of LOST (though two managed to add and/or replace a role, ex-Party of Five Matthew Fox and ex-hobbit Dominic Monaghan), but especially Jorge Garcia and Josh Holloway.
  • Sigourney Weaver shall always be Ellen Ripley.
    • Galaxy Quest straight up subverted the Ellen Ripley characterization.
  • Jack Webb was Sgt. Joe Friday. He even received an LAPD funeral on his death, though he never served, and Joe's Badge 714 was officially retired.
  • Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa will always be Shang Tsung for many people, no matter how many nice grandpas he plays. There's something about that fierce stare.
  • Michael C. Hall is Dexter, a sociopathic serial killer with a Creepy Monotone that sends chills down your spine. Now imagine him doing a car commercial in the same voice and not feel a little scared.
  • For viewers old enough to see the original release of Star Wars without an accompanying parent, George Burns is God. For moviegoers of a younger vintage, Morgan Freeman fills that role.
  • Merle Dandridge, the voice actress of Alyx Vance reports in the commentary saying that co-workers tend to peek out of the corridor when they hear her talk.
  • It's generally agreed within the anime fandom that Rie Kugimiya will be always be associated with Tsundere characters (particularly flat-chested lolis who are very sensitive about it). So much so that most of her non-tsundere roles have long been forgotten, including Al. Apparently, this could be JC Staff's part.
  • John Laurie once lamented that, as much as he'd want to be remembered for his roles in Shakespeare plays, he'd always be remembered for playing Private Frazer in Dad's Army.
  • Gary Sinise has been so strongly identified as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump that he called his band "The Lieutenant Dan Band". May be subverted by younger viewers of CSI:NY.
  • All the main cast of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise really suffer from the same thing. William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger seem to have left at least in part for that reason. And who thinks that David Caruso will be remembered for anything but CSI: Miami, even with his role on NYPD Blue?
  • Dennis Haysbert as President David Palmer on 24. So much so that ever since then, he's mostly been cast in the "authoritative, deep-voiced leader" roles in projects like The Unit, Kung Fu Panda, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and the Allstate commercials. This, despite a good chunk of his earlier work being in comedic roles, most notably as Pedro Cerrano in Major League.
  • Amongst Tokusatsu fans, the prime example is Joe Odagiri, who played Kamen Rider Kuuga's Yuusuke Godai. After that show got him into more serious roles, Odagiri started looking back at his time as Kuuga as an Old Shame, refusing to talk about it ever again. Presumably this was the primary reason that Milestone Celebration Kamen Rider Decade replaced Godai with an Alternate Universe version, Yuusuke Onodera (played, ironically enough, by a Promoted Fanboy of Odagiri).
  • This is what happens to many Disney Channel stars after they leave the network. For example, Hilary Duff's career post-Lizzie McGuire has consisted mostly of box-office flops and Direct-to-Video movies.
  • Jim Caviezel will always be known as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. However, he doesn't seem to mind. He considers the role his calling, and it changed him.
    • Similarly, Ted Neeley in Jesus Christ Superstar. He's still playing the role in stage productions, for crying out loud!
  • This may be the case with Cliff Arquette who was more recognized as Charley Weaver from The Tonight Show.
  • Lou Ferrigno is best known for being The Incredible Hulk of the 70's tv show; he's famous for signing autographs in numerous conventions mostly riding on that alone.
  • Kevin Sorbo is Hercules. Even when he was on Andromeda, he was still Hercules IN SPACE!.
    • Another case where the actor doesn't seem to mind, since he also played Hercules for God of War III. He found it interesting to play a Hercules who was so different from his Hercules.
  • Frank Oz is an interesting case. He has refused to use his Muppet voices in public, and has for the most part refused to reprise his roles, the characters Darrin'd by Eric Jacobson (With the exception of his Sesame Street characters, which he has reprised on occasion.). Beyond that and voicing Yoda for the prequels, he focuses on his directing career, but despite directing several excellent films, he will forever be known as Ms. Piggy and Fozzie Bear, much to his chagrin.
  • Amanda Tapping moved decisively to head this off by taking on the role of Dr. Helen Magnus on Sanctuary, who is brilliant and a scientist but is otherwise quite different from Samantha Carter. Time will tell how well this works.
  • Neil Patrick Harris will forever be known as Barney Stinson, in spite of the fact that he's completely different in real life. Interestingly, before this he was only known as Doogie Howser, M.D..
    • That may be a bit of a step up. He struggled to find acting roles for years after Doogie was cancelled, and How I Met Your Mother was considered his big comeback. Though in an scenario similar to the Adam West episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Harris guest-starred in an episode of Static Shock as a washed-up teen sitcom star who turned to crime after his career tanked.
  • The late Bill McKinney was so strongly recognized as the mountain man who sodomized Ned Beatty in Deliverance that it cost him the opportunity to star as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick didn't want to meet with him because he was that scared of him. R. Lee Ermey, however, remains Gunnery Sgt. Hartman. However, may not be a straight example because Ermey actually was in the military (Marine Corps) and lends his voice to other military-based roles (Toy Story, cameos on The Simpsons and X-Men: The Last Stand).
  • Time will tell if Jim Parsons, Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, can break out of this trope.
  • Thomas Lennon continues to play roles similar to Lt. Jim Dangle from Reno 911!, although not as a police officer.
  • Callie Thorne, who played Sheila Keefe in Rescue Me, mentioned in an interview that fans act wary when they meet her, expecting her to be as crazy as the character she plays.
  • David Boreanaz has spoken of this type of problem with Angel. Fans had a tendency to want to ask him about it while he was trying to move on and play other roles, ie Booth on Bones.
    • Then you have Charisma Carpenter, who's had mostly Alpha Bitch-styled roles since playing Cordelia in Buffy and Angel.
  • Paul Gross will probably always be identified with Due South, and it was rather a shock to many fans when he played a completely different type of Mountie, real life accused killer Patrick Kelly- in the docudrama Murder Most Likely
  • The entire cast of The Andy Griffith Show. A few got around it-Don Knotts is also remembered for The Incredible Mr Limpet and Three's Company, and Ron Howard is remembered for Happy Days as well as his directoral projects. Andy himself got around it with Matlock, though he was catering to approximately the same crowd that watched him on The Andy Griffith Show. Frances Bavier, however, was pretty much stuck as Aunt Bea.
  • Dick Van Dyke and The Dick Van Dyke Show, plus all the other main cast members. Mary Tyler Moore was known so well as Laura Petrie that the producers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show decided not to have Mary Richards be divorced, as fans would think that she was divorced from Rob.
  • Ted Knight struggled with this quite a bit during and after The Mary Tyler Moore Show run. People couldn't separate him from Ted Baxter and he hated it.
    • Betty White was known so well as Sue Ann Nivens that she was asked initially to play Blanche on The Golden Girls.
    • Edward Asner as Lou Grant. It didn't help that he also played the character in a spin-off (where Lou Grant became a newspaper editor). He was so well-known for it that he even guest-edited at least one real life newspaper. Though people who were kids/teens in the 90s might think of him as Cosgrove.
  • The Golden Girls itself has this-though Betty White has gotten around it somewhat.
  • Leslie Nielsen as either the doctor from Airplane! or Frank Drebin. Most people don't know he ever had a dramatic career.
  • One television critic described a version of this phenomenon as "The Curse of The House of Windsor" — once he'd seen an actor playing a member of the Royal Family, he'd still see them as that Royal in their subsequent roles.
  • Calista Flockhart is Ally McBeal.
  • It has been etched in a stone no amount of Oscar Bait can even so much as chip away at: Christian Bale is Batman.note 
  • No matter how hard he tries, Dustin Diamond will always be Screech. He has resented the role so much that he was the only major cast member not to show up in a Saved by the Bell reunion.
    • Elizabeth Berkeley did Showgirls to try to avoid this. She succeeded.
    • Lark Voorhies is still Lisa Turtle to most people. Same with Dennis Haskins and Mr. Belding.
  • Fans of Mara Wilson have been known to address her on Twitter as "Matilda", years after she quit acting. In August 2012, she lampshaded this fact by pointing fans on Twitter to this very page.
  • Gene Wilder seems to be an interesting case. He was well-known for memorable (and quotable) roles in Young Frankenstein and the original movie version of The Producers, and a series of films pairing him with Richard Pryor, but his (currently) best known role, playing Willy Wonka in the 1971 film ''Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory'' was not even a financial success at first. It later became Vindicated by Cable through repeat showings on HBO and TBS. The Wonka "cult" seemed to grow enough by The Nineties that Wilder's role in Will and Grace incorporated Wonka's "Strike that, reverse that" Catch Phrase.
  • Dutch actor Joop Doderer became so famous as the character "Swiebertje" in the eponymous television series, that people kept adressing him with this name. Because of this, this trope is known as the "Swiebertje-effect" in Dutch.
  • Over forty years after it was made, Hanna-Barbera's Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines is still called by its working title, Stop That Pigeon. This was even lampshaded in an episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt.
    • And Paul Winchell will always be either Dick Dastardly or Gargamel.
  • Some rare non-TV/movie examples comes out of the Mass Effect video game franchise. Though none of them particularly seem to mind.
    • Poor Brandon Keener will perhaps never escape the Type Casting from his voice-acting role as the turian Badass, Garrus Vakarian. He hasn't been in anything major ever since aside from a few commericals and a few guest movie/show appearances, but pretty much anything you come across that Brandon shows up in in any shape or form will have, no doubt, been overrun by Garrus jokes In addition, it doesn't help that Brandon's actual real-life voice sounds just like an in-game turian without the need of a voice-modulator. The voice is what connects people to Garrus everytime they hear Brandon speak. Some Mass Effect fans even joke that it's acually Garrus that voice acts for Brandon, because his voice is just that unique.
    • Seth Green gets some Type Casting due to his role as the Normandy's pilot, Joker, but because of how distinguished his acting career is compared to Brandon's, it's a much rarer occurrence.
    • Jennifer Hale has gotten some of this for her portrayal of Female!Shepard, though her already-established career helps matters.note 
    • Mark Meer, on the other hand, once made a convention appearance cosplaying as Male!Shepard. Make of that what you will.
    • Thanks to Mass Effect 2 and 3, Martin Sheen has become famous to a new generation of fans who know him as the Illusive Man.
  • To many of his viewers, Larry Hagman will be fondly remembered as either J.R. Ewing or Major Tony Nelson.
    • The same goes for Barbara Eden (and Jeannie).
  • Nearly anyone in Only Fools and Horses ended associated with their characters from the show. It's most notable with David Jason (who said he didn't want to be only remembered as Del Boy) and Nicholas Lyndhurst (associated with Rodney), but it's also the case with just about everyone else who was part of the regular cast.
    • David Jason has avoided this by playing Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May, as well as DCI Jack Frost and Danger Mouse.
    • Nicholas Lyndhurst also may well be remembered as Gary Sparrow.
    • Roger Lloyd-Pack (Trigger) has carved out a successful stage career, as well as being Owen in The Vicar of Dibley.
  • While Peter Sellers avoided this by playing famous roles other than Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the same is not quite as true for the rest of the cast, save David Niven and Robert Wagner.
  • Latin rap one-hit wonder Gerardo Mejia will always be known by the same name as his one hit - Rico Suave. This was reflected in his music video for We Want The Funk, where a cameo apperance by funk performer George Lopez calls out to Gerardo, "Hey, you're that Rico Suave guy!", as well as Gerardo appearing in the mockumentary Pauly Shore Is Dead as Rico Suave. Despite all this evidence that Gerardo is happy with his reputation, however, one song on his second album was named My Name Is Not Rico, very much mirroring the style of Leonard Nimoy.
  • Long-time fans of Hugh Jackman know him as having a rich, established Theater career. Everyone else knows him as Wolverine. His attempt to become Jean Valjean/24601 has been met with comments about Wolverine singing.
  • Even voice actors aren't immune. Mari Iijima, of Super Dimension Fortress Macross fame: "Every time I speak my mind about Macross or Minmay, people take it negatively. Like I don't like it / like her or I haven't accepted it as a part of my life. Maybe you guys have never been typecast as one thing for years and years in life?"
  • David Hayter has no shame of being known primarily for his role as the English voice of Solid Snake and the young Big Boss in the Metal Gear series, and is actually quite proud of the fact (despite his extensive screenwriting work; most famously the X-Men film trilogy). In fact, when Konami announced that they would be replacing him with Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Snake in Metal Gear Solid V, Hayter wasn't too pleased.
  • Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark: "I am Iron Man". He seems to be okay with this, though.
    • Enough that he once remarked that, "Someone should tell Chris Evans NOT to take his role so seriously that he actually thinks he is Captain America. Like I think I'm Tony Stark right now. It's a problem. Ask my wife." Fortunately, being the Human Torch saves Evans from this status.
  • Noomi Rapace doesn't want anything to do with Lizbeth Salander anymore. According to a New York Times article, as soon as she finished shooting her last scene in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, she ran to the bathroom and vomited for 45 minutes straight as a way of purging the character from her body. Rooney Mara hasn't been affected the same way; then again, Mara has only finished one of the three films.
    • Michael Nyqvist also falls into "I Am Not Spock" territory. Averted with Daniel Craig, as he is first and foremost James Bond.
  • Mel Blanc credits this trope as having saved his life. A bad accident left him in a coma for months, and everyone feared the worst. Then, one day, his doctor thought to ask him: "How are you today, Bugs Bunny?" Mel answered back in Bugs' voice and went on to have a full recovery.
  • Regardless of the character now being played by Andrew Garfield (and regardless of whether or not he's better at it), most people will automatically think of Spider-Man when they see Tobey Maguire. Garfield himself also can be considered this.
  • It doesn't matter how long his career goes on and what roles he plays, Shuichi Ikeda will forever be Char Aznable to fans all over the world. Unlike many examples though, Ikeda actually revels in this, having said that "Gundam has been very kind to me" and that he'll gladly return to play Char in any project (be it anime or video games) for the rest of his life. He's even had a bit of fun with it by playing Char Expies in other Gundam shows, such as Gilbert Durandal in SEED Destiny and Full Frontal in Unicorn.
  • R. Lee Ermey has made a decent career playing nothing but expies of his first ever film character, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket.
  • Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe will never escape their Emergency! roles as Johnny Gage and Roy Desoto. Kevin has distanced himself by playing villain roles and rarely speaking much of the show, although Randolph has both tried to move into other roles and ran with his role. He still works with EMS and firefighter groups and charities and is a frequent firefighter convention keynote speaker. He's also trying to find funding for an urban rescue series idea of his own.
  • Raul Julia was a respected actor who had appeared in dozens of Broadway, film and television productions, but to much of today's audience, Julia will forever be remembered and recognized as Gomez Addams. (And M. Bison.)
  • Richard "John-Boy" Thomas. He actually left The Waltons to avoid this trope. Though he has kept himself rather active over the years, needless to say, he's still John-Boy to many.
  • Eric McCormack is more remembered for his role as Will in Will and Grace. His starring role in a different series, Perception, where he plays a paranoid schizophrenic professor, may be his attempt to escape this. Interestingly, one of his co-stars in said series is Rachael Leigh Cook, also marked by this trope for a very infamous anti-drug ad involving eggs.

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