main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Separated-at-Birth Casting
Adam Kolkin and Chris Colfer. No, they're not related.

Sometimes, casting directors are called upon to cast, say, a father and son, or two brothers, or a younger and older version of the same character. And sometimes, they find someone that looks so uncannily like the original actor that it comes as a surprise to the viewers that the two aren't actually related.

Not to be confused with Real-Life Relative, which is when the actors actually are related, and playing relatives.


    open/close all folders 

  • In the Kia commercials with Blake Griffin time traveling to his childhood selves, the childhood versions of him look a lot like him. This is especially strange because Blake Griffin is somewhat of an unusual looking person, being a biracial guy with brownish red hair and freckles.


    Live-Action TV 
  • On Glee:
    • A flashback depicted Kurt as a young adolescent. The actor chosen to portray Chris Colfer's character Kurt bears an uncanny resemblance to a younger Chris Colfer (as pictured above right).
      • Adam Kolkin is set to play young Colfer again in Struck by Lightning.
    • The character of Shelby Corcoran (portrayed by actress Idina Menzel) is the mother of the character Rachel Berry (portrayed by actress Lea Michele). Menzel was presumably cast due, in part, to her striking resemblance to Michele.
  • Younger versions of Sam and Dean of Supernatural nicknamed the Weechesters tend to look quite a bit like them, especially when the age gap is smaller. It's not incredibly hard to find a mop-top and chisel-chest, but it helps when they actually get the demeanors down too.
  • The character of Niles on Frasier was created after producers noticed David Hyde Pierce's uncanny resemblance to Kelsey Grammer.
    • While not necessarily intentional, John Mahoney bears a resemblance to the two as well.
  • Ant And Dec have Little Ant and Dec (their variety show Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway had trotting out "little [insert name here]" versions of various guests as a feature, including Little Little Ant And Dec).
  • The Mitchell brothers in EastEnders.
  • Jamie Walters as the younger version of Dean Stockwell's character in Quantum Leap.
  • In the made-for-tv film Hawking, Stephen Hawking (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the actors who play his parents seriously look like they could actually be related.
  • Lori Loughlin and Shenae Grimes on 90210 play a mother and daughter that actually look alike.
  • Gene Wilder had a short-lived sitcom called "Somehing Wilder" in the mid-Nineties where he played father to two little boys. One of whom was virtually a miniature clone of him.
  • The brothers Hank and Evan Lawson on Royal Pains. They're supposed to be New York Jews; while Mark Feueurstein is Jewish and from NYC, Paulo Costanzo is from Toronto and is of Italian descent.
  • Malese Jow looks so much like Miranda Cosgrove that Malese was chosen to play Carly's lookalike in "iLookalike".
  • Lachlan Nieboer, who played Gray, Jack Harkness's brother on Torchwood, looked and sounded like a younger version of John Barrowman, despite not being related.
  • Once Upon a Time does this excellently.
    • Ginnifer Goodwin from Big Love and Jennifer Morrison from House, two actresses who for years people have said shared a resemblance and have often been confused with each other, are now playing mother and daughter.
      • Hilarious note: In commentary on a season one OUaT episode, Ginnifer Goodwin said that they were mistaken for each other so often that they both, completely independently of each other, just gave up and started signing autographs and giving interviews as each other.
    • Whatever features Morrison doesn't share with Goodwin, she seems to share with Josh Dallas, her onscreen father.
    • Bailee Madison played Goodwin's character as a child and the actress could easily pass for Goodwin's daughter or young sister. She also nailed some of her mannerisms.
    • And when Rena Sofer was cast as Snow's mother, it's easy to note how much she looks like Goodwin.
    • Rose McGowan played Young Cora and bears a striking resemblance to Barbara Hershey, as well as nailing Cora's haughty demeanor.
  • The boys playing a young Earl and Randy on My Name Is Earl.
  • Victor Garber and Jennifer Garner as father and daughter on Alias.
  • Charisma Carpenter and Alexandra Chando on The Lying Game.
  • Andrea Brooks, who plays the teenage version of Amelia on The Secret Circle, looks likes she could be Britt Robertson's twin.
  • Elizabeth Penn Payne, the Masked Woman (aka Alexis Meade) on Ugly Betty has nearly the exact same eyes as Rebecca Romijn.
  • On 8 Simple Rules, Martin Spanjers and Amy Davidson, who play brother and sister, look like they actually could be (contrast Kaley Cuoco as their other sibling, who looks nothing like them or either of the parents: John Ritter and Katey Sagal).
  • Creepily averted on Full House; here all three kids look more like Dave Coulier, who plays the unrelated Joey, than either Danny (their father) or Jesse (their uncle).
    • Continued as when Jesse's kids are born, again, they look like Joey.
    • However, played straight by Candace Cameron (DJ) and Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie) who resemble each other enough that they easily pass for sisters.
  • When Teri Garr guest-starred on Friends, the producers took advantage of her resemblance to Lisa Kudrow by casting her as Phoebe's birth-mother.
    • Christina Applegate portrayed one of Rachel's sisters on the show, and the resemblance to Jennifer Aniston is hard to ignore.
  • Sal Barone, the original actor for D.J. on Roseanne, left the show after the pilot, for various reasons; but what sealed the deal in casting Michael Fishman as his replacement was that he looked just like Roseanne Barr. (In fact, in one episode, Dan even remarks, clearly gobsmacked, how D.J. looks exactly like his mother when he gives him a dirty look.
  • The actor for Al's twin brother in Home Improvement is actually of no relation to Richard Karn. The producers looked long and hard for a nigh-identical guy.
  • From Merlin, the mother/son duos of Colin Morgan and Caroline Faber (Merlin/Hunith) and Bradley James and Alice Patten (Arthur/Ygraine) are jaw-droppingly similar in facial structure and eye colour. John Lynch was also the perfect choice to play Merlin's father. See the Character Sheet for pictures.
  • The actresses who play Tim Allen's three daughters on Last Man Standing all look alike.
  • From NCIS, Abby (Pauley Perrette, who apparently invokes this trope) and her brother (Daniel Rivas) were literally separated at birth in-universe.
  • Eliza Coupe and Elisha Cuthbert as sisters Jane and Alex Kerkovich on Happy Endings.
  • Downton Abbey is noted for its excellent casting in this respect:
    • The resemblance between Lady Cora Crawley and her on-screen daughter Lady Mary is quite strong, especially considering that Elizabeth McGovern is American with no recent British relations while Michelle Dockery is English (although her father is Irish).
    • Tom Branson and his older brother Kieran have the same hair and similar facial features; Allen Leech and Ruari Conaghan are not related.
  • Scrubs: Zach Braff and Tom Cavenaugh look so alike that it is easy to believe them as brothers.
  • Exploited on Gilmore Girls as Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel play mother and daughter. Lorelai and Rory have been mistaken for sisters in-universe.
  • LOST: Sterling Beaumon, who play young Ben Linus, bears an uncanny resemblance to Michael Emerson.
  • Ray Romano and Brad Garrett on Everybody Loves Raymond could so easily be brothers in real life. It helps that both stand well over six feet tall, Garrett (Robert Barone) exceptionally so. In an episode where Romano plays a younger version of the Barones' father in a "flashback" scene, he is exceptionally convincing as a younger version of the actor playing Barone senior.
    • Fred Stoller who plays Ray's cousin Gerard looks and sounds like him which was a plot point to the episode where he first appears.
  • Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter, otherwise known as the Dunphy sisters on Modern Family both bear a strong resemblance to Ty Burrell, their on-screen dad.
    • Also subverted, as while Hyland and Winter don't look that much alike (mostly due to Hyland's darker skin tone), they sound nearly identical
    • Likewise, Ty Burrell bears a strong enough resemblance to Fred Willard that they can realistically portray a father and son.
  • Not only does Growing Pains' Tracey Gold look like she could believably be Kirk Cameron's sister, she looks like Kirk's actual sister, Candace Cameron.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Natalie Dormer looks enough like a young Diana Rigg that they could realistically play grandmother and granddaughter on the show.
    • Likewise, Finn Jones and Natalie Dormer could pass for brother and sister in real life, despite not being related.
    • Emilia Clarke and Harry Lloyd as siblings Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen have an uncanny similarity.
  • The casting department on Peaky Blinders really must be commended. Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, and Joe Cole as the three eldest Shelby brothers all share the same blue eyes and jawline, and Anderson in particular is a dead ringer for a younger Tommy Flanagan, who plays their father. Among the ladies, Helen McCrory and Sophie Rundle could play mother and daughter, not aunt and niece, and they both share similar features with the men of the family. Youngest Shelby brother Finn as played by Alfie Evans-Meese wasn't as close a fit, resemblance-wise, but Harry Kirton as the teenaged Finn looks exactly like Cole.

     Web Original 
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a setting update of Pride and Prejudice:
    • The Bennet sisters, Jane, Lizzie and Lydia. Jane's actress in particular is very similar to both her sisters.
    • William Darcy and his sister, Gigi, are two peas in a pod. It's hard to believe they are not related in real life.

Second Episode SubstituteCharacters and CastingSerkis Folk

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy