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Time-Shifted Actor
Left: Ewan MacGregor in the prequels. Right: Alec Guinness in the original trilogy.

When a story spans decades, it is often not possible for the one actor to play the same character throughout. Heavy make-up might just let the 30 year old play 90, but never 10. Instead, multiple actors are used for the same role.

A time-shifted actor will usually be credited as playing 'Young Mr X' or 'Old Ms Y'.

Differentiated from the other actor replacement tropes by the passage of long stretches of story-internal time. If those long stretches of time have to pass during a short stretch of footage, an Age Cut will allow the actors to be swapped quickly.

This is especially popular in prequels and sequels, or in stories with a Framing Device in which 'Old Ms Y' recalls events of her younger days.

Sometimes the necessary resemblance between Mr X and Young Mr X will be achieved by use of a Real-Life Relative. If only a photograph is required, an old picture of the actor/actress will suffice.

Compare and Contrast Role Reprisal. See also Identical Grandson.

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Played for laughs in a Visa check card commercial, where Charlie Sheen waits so long for a store's ID verification that he ages into Martin Sheen.
    Store Clerk: This doesn't look like you.
    Martin Sheen: It did when I came in here....

    Anime 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Balto, Rosy is voiced by Juliette Brewer as child, and played (in a live action sequence) by Creator/Miriam Margolyes (Professor Sprout of the Harry Potter films) as an adult.
  • Averted in Toy Story 3 where (the now adult) Andy is actually still voiced by the same actor that played him in Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Played straight during the film's prologue, however.
  • In The Lion King (both movie and musical) Simba and Nala are played by one person as cubs (Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Niketa Calame, respectively), and another as adults (Matthew Broderick and Moira Kelly, respectively).
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Kida is voiced by Natalie Strom as a child, but by Cree Summer as an adult.
  • Bolt is an interesting example. Chloe Moretz originally voiced Penny both as a child and as a teenager. However, Disney wanted another big "name" attached to the film to attract a younger audience, so Miley Cyrus was cast... but only as a teenager. Chloe Moretz' dialogue as younger Penny remained in the film.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Titanic had Kate Winslet as Rose in the main storyline, and Gloria Stuart as "Old Rose" in the frame story.
  • In I Am Sam, sisters Elle and Dakota play Lucy at two and seven, respectively. Elle also plays the younger version of Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
  • Self-proffessed Dumb and Dumber fangirl Jennifer Lawrence will cameo as "Young Fraida Felcher" with Kathleen Turner playing older Fraida in the sequel, Dumb and Dumber To.
  • In Iris, Kate Winslet played younger version of Iris Murdoch, and Judi Dench played the older version.
  • Star Wars
    • The prequels cast Ewan McGregor as the young version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originated by the late Alec Guinness. Most of the other characters who appear in the original trilogy, however, are played by the same actors, either because they're voiceover roles or because playing the older version involved heavy makeup that disguises the fact that the actor has aged in the opposite direction from the character. Anakin/Darth Vader has the record for most actors: There's child Anakin (Jake Lloyd), young adult Anakin (Hayden Christensen), suit Vader (David Prowse in the original trilogy; Hayden Christensen in Revenge of the Sith), voice Vader (James Earl Jones), fencing stunt double, and de-helmeted Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi (Sebastian Shaw, who also played his Force ghost form later.)
    • An unusual aversion of the trope: Ian McDiarmid plays Palpatine in both the original trilogy and in the prequels. He was in his late thirties when he first appeared in Return of the Jedi but wore makeup to look older; then, by the time The Phantom Menace was being made, he had become the right age to play "young" Palpatine. (He also wears the makeup at the end of the prequels as well: the reason for the change in his appearance is not the lapse of time but rather a Force-related injury sustained during a duel.)
    • Wilhuff Tarkin. Originally portrayed by the late Peter Cushing, he appeared briefly near the end of Revenge of the Sith, portrayed by Wayne Pygram, for a brief, non-speaking cameo.
  • Ewan McGregor also portrayed young Edward Bloom in Big Fish, while Albert Finney portrayed old Ed. Reportedly, the decision was made when somebody noticed the resemblance between McGregor and young Finney. Perry Waltson portrayed Ed as a child.
    • The resemblance is remarkable, but is pretty much lost on most movie-goers, as they are not familiar with Albert Finney's early work.
  • Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, filmed in 1991, and in its prequel Red Dragon, which, despite being filmed in 2003, was set in 1980, and managed to pull it off.
  • Harrison Ford played adult Indiana throughout the Indiana Jones film series. River Phoenix portrayed "young Indy" at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Not enough for you? This spawned The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which featured three time-shifted Indys: George Hall as the elderly Indy in the framing sequences, Sean Patrick Flanery as 16-19 year old Indy for the bulk of the series, and Corey Carrier as 10-year old Indy during the first season. Not to mention Ford reprising the role as a bearded, middle-aged Indy in one episode.
  • In the Harry Potter film series, Hagrid is played in the present and the prologue of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by Robbie Coltrane. The young Hagrid in the flashback scenes of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was played by former rugby player Martin Bayfield, who serves as Coltrane's body double in wide shots of the older Hagrid (Coltrane, however, dubbed the voice of young Hagrid).
    • When he regains a body at the end of Goblet of Fire, Lord Voldemort is portrayed by Ralph Fiennes note  As "Tom Riddle", he's played by Hero Fiennes (Ralph's nephew) at age 11 and Christian Coulson (in Chamber of Secrets) and Frank Dillane (in Half-Blood Prince) at age 16.
    • Baby Harry Potter was played by the Saunders triplets (first names uncredited) in the first movie and by Toby Papworth in last movie. It's somewhat amusing to note that by the last film, the Saunders triplets would be the same age Daniel Radcliffe was in the first film. (And no, none of them played Albus Potter in the final film, despite what Pintrest seems to think).
  • Numerous actors portray Spock as he rapidly re-ages to adulthood in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Throw in a scream by yet another (Frank Welker!) for good measure.
  • Star Trek (2009) has Leonard Nimoy reprising the role of Spock in a Time Travel-related plot while Zachary Quinto plays the role of young Spock.
  • In The Movie of To Kill a Mockingbird, the voice of Scout as an adult narrator was done by Kim Stanley, while Scout as a child was played by Mary Badham.
  • The Sandlot open and closes with an adult Scotty reminiscing about his childhood. (Benny also appears as an adult in the ending sequence, played by the brother of the actor who played young Benny.)
  • The Godfather starred Marlon Brando as the eponymous Vito Corleone, while The Godfather Part II had Robert de Niro as a younger Vito, in flashback sequences. This is particularly notable because both actors received Oscars for the role, the only time the same character has received two awards for different actors. The character also appeared in the same film as a boy, played by yet another actor.
    • In the same flashback scenes, the characters of Carmela Corleone, Peter Clemenza and Sal Tessio were all played by younger actors — as were Sonny, Fredo, Michael and Connie Corleone, who all appeared as babies and young children.
    • Michael Corleone's two children were also played by different actors from movie to movie. In fact, the boy who played Anthony Corleone in the second film was the older brother of the boy who played him in the first film.
  • In Dr Zhivago, the eponymous character is played by Omar Sharif. At the beginning of the movie, there is a flashback with the young Yuri. The actor who plays the old Yuri really looks a lot like the actor who plays the young Yuri, because the two are father and son.
  • Every production of A Christmas Carol needs two young Ebenezer Scrooges, for the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence.
  • Truly averted in The Limey (1999), where the young Terence Stamp is shown by reusing footage from his earlier movie, Poor Cow (1967).
  • Almost Famous used Michael Angarano as the 9-year-old William Miller for the first 20-odd minutes and Patrick Fugit as his 15-year-old self for the rest of the movie.
  • In Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai Forest Whitaker's younger brother Damon was used as a younger version of the main character during a flashback.
  • In the Tenacious D movie, The Pick of Destiny, amazingly similar-looking child actors are used for young Jack Black and Kyle Gass.
    • The kid who played Jack Black also played a young version of Black's character in Nacho Libre.
  • X-Men:
  • Richard Linklater's movie Boyhood is an aversion to this trope. The movie takes place over 12 years, using the same cast. The catch is that the movie started production in 2002, and was not released until 2014. This means that the actors actually age with their characters.
  • Averted in Back to the Future Parts 1 & 2, each actor played the same characters and used heavy makeup to look the right age for the time period. In one example (Doc Brown) makeup was used for the 1985 Doc to look older, and in Part 2 a futuristic and offscreen medical procedure was used to youthen him...so that he looked like 1955 Doc, eliminating the need for makeup.
  • Watchmen tried to avert this to the best of their ability by casting young and then aging up. This meant that Carla Gugino and Jeffery Dean Morgan spent most of their screentime under heavy makeup.
  • In A Home at the End of the World, Colin Farrell's character is played by Andrew Chalmers and Erik Smith, and Dallas Roberts's by Jonathan Glover (no, not that one). Sissy Spacek, on the other hand, stays on throughout; eight years isn't that much when you're already over 50.
  • While a child actor had to portray the 10 year old version of title character in Little Big Man, Dustin Hoffman wore make-up to portray the character's centenarian self. He made his voice sound old by going into his dressing room and screaming at the top of his lungs for an hour.
  • In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, different actors play Benjamin as he grows younger into his "childhood". Daisy was also played by different actresses as a little girl and a teenager.
  • An interesting aversion was done in Stardust, where Michelle Pfeiffer's character goes from old to young and then ages rapidly throughout the film. Instead of using two different actors for the different ages, they used make-up to more accurately portray her aging.
    • Played straight with the character of Dunstan, who's first played by Ben Barnes (credited as "Young Dunstan") and then by Nathaniel Parker.
  • The Goddess of 1967, both for the female lead (Bree Beadman is the young version of Rose Byrne) and her mum (Satya Gumbert is the young version of Elise McRedie).
  • Dabbs Greer played the older version of Tom Hanks' character in The Green Mile.
  • The Butterfly Effect was set around three different periods where the main character is around 8-10, then around 14-16 and finally the present 20 odd. Not only did casting need to find child look-alikes for the main character, but all the other main characters; they did a pretty good job, too.
    • But because Viewers Are Morons, the character somehow kept the same haircut throughout all of his life.
  • Citizen Kane, being a fictionalized biopic, presented the title character in all ages. All of them are Orson Welles in makeup, except for eight-year-old Kane, played by Buddy Swan.
  • In the movie of The Time Traveller's Wife, the daughter Alba is played at five years old and eight years old by two sisters. This also allowed them to be on screen together.
  • In Atonement, Briony is portrayed as a child and adult by two newcomer actresses who bear a remarkable resemblance to each other. Then Vanessa Redgrave shows up as the elderly version in the final scene.
  • Averted in Ghosts Of Mississippi, which takes place over five years (1989-1994). However, neither the protagonist's children nor those of his second wife age one bit.
  • A strange case in Gangster No. 1. Paul Bettany plays the unnamed gangster in the '70s, and Malcolm McDowell plays him in modern times, but none of the other characters change actors. Also, Bettany is much taller than McDowell.
  • In the Soviet sci-fi film Moscow — Cassiopeia, a minor character is first shown as a teenager and then (due to the main characters experiencing Time Dilation) as an adult. They are, obviously, played by different actresses. This serves more to give closure to a minor subplot involving a love letter that she anonymously sent to the boy who would become The Captain that she wrote with her off hand in order to hide her handwriting. She admits it was her as an adult.
  • Bobbie Anderson, Jean Gale, Jeanine Anne Roose, Ronnie Ralph, and Georgie Nokes play the child versions of, respectively, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), young Mary Hatch (Donna Reed), Violet Bick (Gloria Grahame), Sam Wainwright (Frank Albertson), and Harry Bailey (Todd Karns) in It's a Wonderful Life.
  • A VERY unique and artistic version in the film I'm Not There inspired by the music of of Bob Dylan. Six actors depict different facets of Dylan's life and public persona: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett (yeah, the actress), Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw.
  • Notably averted in TRON Legacy, where relatively new techniques are used to make Jeff Bridges appear much younger than he actually is during the flashback sequences. Also helps him to portray Clu.
  • In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bilbo Baggins is played by Ian Holm, even during the scene in the opening sequence where he obtains the One Ring during the events of The Hobbit. The actual films of that particular book cast Martin Freeman in the role.
  • The Shawshank Redemption features a shot of Red's prison file, complete with mug shots that look like a much younger Morgan Freeman. The actor in the mugshots? One Alfonso Freeman.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has a short scene at the end with the grown up Kings and Queens of Narnia. Rachael Henley, Mark Wells, Noah Huntley and Sophie Winkleman play the older versions of the Pevensies, which are played by Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Poppelwell, respectively. Rachael and Georgie Henley, who play the two versions of Lucy, are real life sisters.
  • The 1990s film of Little Women had Kirsten Dunst play the younger Amy, and Samantha Mathis play the older Amy.
  • Played with in Walk Hard. While a young Dewey Cox is portrayed by a child actor, John C. Reilly plays him all the way from age 14 into Dewey's 70's, and Dewey's first wife is played by the same actress (in her thirties) from age 12 to her elder years. This is played for comedy.
  • Hilariously inverted in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, when Dr. Evil returns to his lair and his evil organization in 1999 after thirty years of being cryogenically frozen ... and sees that his wife, Frau Farbissina, looks exactly the same as before.
    • Played straight in the sequel, where, after traveling back in time, Dr. Evil barely recognizes Number Two (portrayed by Rob Lowe instead of Robert Wagner). Additionally, a flashback in the third film shows young actors portraying Austin, Dr. Evil, and Number Two as teenagers (and toddlers). Interestingly, despite Mike Myers portraying both Austin and Dr. Evil in all films, their teenager versions are portrayed by different actors.
  • Mission to Mars has a brief one of these in a flashback montage. Interestingly, the boy playing Gary Sinise's character as a boy was Sinise's own son, Mac Canna.
  • In Water for Elephants, the younger version of Jacob is played by Robert Pattinson, and the older version who appears in the present to set up a framing device for the story ala Titanic is played by Hal Holbrook.
  • Christa B Allen has played the younger version of Jennifer Garner's character twice, in 13 Going on 30 and Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past.
  • In Superman, the teenage Clark Kent is played by Jeff East while the adult counterpart is played by Christopher Reeve (although Reeve dubbed all of East's lines).
  • In Halloween (1978), Will Sandin portrayed a young Michael Myers at the beginning of the film, while Nick Castle portrayed "The Shape" (older Michael with his mask on), and Tony Moran played an older Michael for the brief scene without his mask.
  • Forrest Gump has Michael Conner Humphreys and Hanna Hall play young Forrest and Jenny. In fact, the story goes that Tom Hanks didn't know how he'd voice Forrest until he heard Michael.
  • Jim Carrey played "Adult Joe Wenteworth" in the framing sequences of Simon Birch (the younger version of the character being played by Joseph Mazzello).
  • In Men In Black 3, present-day Kay is played by Tommy Lee Jones. 1969 Kay is played by Josh Brolin in a notable piece of Separated-at-Birth Casting.
  • Once Upon a Time in America spanned a few decades and thus had many characters portrayed both as adolescents and adults. Among these were "Noodles" Aaronson played by Scott Tiler and Robert De Niro chronologically; and Deborah Gelly played by a young Jennifer Connelly and adult Elizabeth Mc Govern.
  • The movie Serenity has a flashback of a preteen River in an outdoor classroom setting arguing against the officially-taught premise of the Alliance war on the Independents. She is played by Hunter Ansley Wryn, while the older character in the film's present is played by Summer Glau. Glau still provides the voiceover for those scenes to make the character connection easier.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Rome, Gaius Octavian is played by Max Pirkis as a teenager and Simon Woods as an adult. The change happens while he goes to war. Upon seeing the adult Octavian for the first time, his mother makes a remarks about military rations having made an effect on him. The trope is bizarrely averted, however, with Vorenus's children, who should be in their thirties by the final episode. One is played by the same actress who played her as a fourteen-year-old, the other two are played by actors who are at most twelve.
  • In the 1996 Mini Series Rhodes, Cecil Rhodes was played by Martin Shaw and "Young Cecil Rhodes" was played by Shaw's son, Joe Shaw.
  • Similarly, in the 1998 miniseries of The Count of Monte Cristo, starring Gérard Depardieu, the protagonist was played in the prologue by Guillaume Depardieu.
  • The BBC miniseries Casanova cast David Tennant as the young Casanova, Peter O'Toole as the old Casanova and John Sandilands and Zachary Fox as Casonova as a child.
    • James Holly, Brock Everett Elwick and Tom Burke played Casanova's son at different parts of his life.
    • Leonilda appeared as a baby, and at age 20 played by Naomi Bentley.
  • Cold Case uses this extensively, as its stories are told mostly in flashbacks from cases spanning the gamut of 1 to 100 years in the past.
    • A few early episodes attempted do to this through make-up rather than casting different actors. The results were not very convincing.
  • Malcolm in the Middle had disturbingly similar-looking actors for the younger versions of the cast in the flashback episodes.
    • Amusingly, by the final episode, the flashback actors were about the same ages as the main cast had been in the first season.
  • Patrick Dennis in Auntie Mame and its musicalization Mame.
  • The Wonder Years features an adult narrator, and his childhood self the main protagonist.
  • Zac Efron played the young Simon Tam in a Firefly flashback.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Josh Radnor plays "present day" Ted, while Bob Saget is the voice of "future" Ted. Every time we've seen flash-forwards of Ted in the future, however, he's played by Radnor in makeup.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • An episode of had an older Alexander (Worf's young son) played by James Sloyan. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had then-teenage Jake Sisko (normally played by Cirroc Lofton) played by Tony Todd in a flash-forward. That and Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome results in four different Alexanders.
    • Child versions of Picard, Keiko, Guinan, and Ro appear in "Rascals", though it is not a flashback. The person who played young Guinan also played Whoopi Goldberg's character as a child in Sister Act. The actor who played young Picard earlier played Picard's nephew Rene in "Family".
  • In Pushing Daisies, two of the main characters are Ned (played by Lee Pace) and Chuck (played by Anna Friel). However, every episode opens with a flashback to Ned's childhood, where Ned and Chuck are played by Field Cate and Sammi Hanratty, respectively. Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), Emerson (Chi McBride) and Lily (Swoosie Kurtz)also got a flashback each in season 2, in which they were played by Samantha Bailey, Stephen Wash, Jr. and Mackenzie Brooke Smith, respectively.
  • Every episode of Psych also begins with a flashback, with younger actors playing Shawn and Gus. However, Corbin Bernsen, who plays Shawn's father, just wears makeup and a hairpiece to make him look younger. We get a Lampshade Hanging, of course.
  • Charmed's fourth season episode "The Three Faces of Phoebe" featured her bringing her past and future selves into the present with her which were both played by different actresses. In the finale "Forever Charmed" this is done with Piper as well, though the child form of her does not appear on screen with the adults.
    • Done even earlier in Season 1's "That '70s Episode," in which a time travel spell sends the sisters back to when Prue and Piper were children.
  • Four actors have played the eponymous character in Dexter in flashback scenes, including star Michael C. Hall.
  • LOST has needed these occasionally due to its flashback structure.

    We've seen Jack, Sun, Locke, Ben, Charlie, Sawyer, Eko, Faraday, Sayid, Kate, Hurley, Yemi, Juliet, Rachel Carlson, Alex, Jacob and the Man in Black as children in flashbacks. Locke, Ben, Alex, Jacob and the Man in Black have also been depicted as newborns. "Cabin Fever" saw Locke as an infant, a child, a teenager, and an adult.

    Walt was already a 10-year-old child during seasons 1 and 2, but also appeared as an infant in the season 2 episode "Adrift". However, the season 2 episode "One of Them" averted this by using an actual photo of a teenage Evangeline Lilly (Kate) for a flashback scene where her character's father is looking at a photo of his daughter. Emily Locke appeared as an adult and as a teenager when she was pregnant with John.
    • Due to time travel, Lost showed younger versions of characters in its fifth season without explicitly revealing who they were as a form of a twist. A younger Charles Widmore (two, one in 1954 and one in 1977), Danielle Rousseau when she was shipwrecked in 1988, Eloise Hawking (again, two, in 1954 and 1977) and Charlotte Lewis (in 1974 and 1977) appeared that year. The actress who played 1977 Eloise also appears in a flashback with Daniel Faraday the same episode that era's Eloise first appeared.
    • In the second half of the show, after pre-Island flashbacks were mostly gone, Aaron, Ji Yeon and Desmond's son Charlie appeared as newborns around 2004/05 (in-story) and as toddlers in 2007. Similarly, Clementine Phillips was shown as a baby photograph in a pre-Island flashback and as a child in 2007.
    • In season 5, Ethan and Miles appeared during the islanders' time travelling as babies in 1977 and as children in flashbacks (Ethan's while Alex was a baby around 1988).
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Season 2's "Rangers Back in Time" two-parter saw Lord Zedd turn back time. The six Ranger teens (as well as Bulk and Skull) became children with age-appropriate actors, though the school principal and their teacher were played by the same people. Master Vile tried the same trick for the final arc of Season 3, with the child actors being brought back (except for young Kimberly's, as Katherine had joined up by then). As the arc was resolved in a two-parter of its own, a young Tanya was introduced before her teenaged self appeared.
  • The Pretender uses this trope with most of its main cast. There are three different actors for Jarod (child, teen, adult), and two for Sydney, Miss Parker, and Angelo.
    • And they spun young Jarod off as a clone.
  • The Sci-Fi Channel Original Series Taken spans three generations of families, with the characters in the familes being played, mostly, by age-specific actors.
  • A couple of episodes of Good Eats feature Young Alton, played by John Herina, the same actor who plays his nephew in other episodes. They're not actually related, but Elton (the nephew) does have a shocking resemblance to his "uncle."
  • In the Season 7 finale of TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000, Dr. Forrester experiences rapid aging as part of an extended 2001 reference. Old!Forrester was played by Jack Beaulieu, Trace Beaulieu's father.
  • My Name Is Earl has had flashbacks to the title character's childhood using appropriately-aged actors.
  • The 1990s young adult series Flash Forward often intersperses home video clips of five-year-old Tucker and Becca (who are also featured in the opening credits) into the plot. The characters are 14 years old when most of the action takes place.
  • One set of Top Gear teasers featured (incredibly well-cast) child versions of the three hosts musing about what they'd do when they grew up, as well as commenting on "the new kid" - mini-The Stig driving a red wagon (aww!).
  • On Full House young Danny was played by Phillip Glasser, whose other claim to fame is voicing Fievel in An American Tail.
  • All the major non-AI characters of Red Dwarf have have had childhood versions of themselves played by different actors.
    • Adult Rimmer is played by Chris Barrie. Young Rimmer appeared in three episodes, played by Simon Gaffney. A teenage Rimmer in the series X episode, "The Beginning", was played by Philip Labey.
    • (Initially) 20-something Lister is played by Craig Charles. Lister has appeared as a teenager (played by Charles' younger brother Emile), and as a baby (played by Danny John-Jules' real-life nephew Alexander).
    • Lister, Cat and Kochanski have all appeared as young children when briefly de-aged, played respectively by an uncredited actor, Perri Michael and Holly Earl. Lister has also been turned into an old man, also played by an uncredited actor.
  • In Kung Fu's Once an Episode flashbacks young Kwai Chang Caine was played by Radames Perá. In the occasional flashback to teenage Caine, he's played by star David Carradine's younger brother Keith, with David usually (but not always) providing the voice.
    • In Kung Fu: The Legend Continues young(er) but adult Kwai Chang Caine was played by David Carradine and Peter Caine (his son) was played by Nathaniel Moreau (and later Robert Bedarski).
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episodes "The Eleventh Hour" and "The Big Bang", as well as flashbacks in "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy Pond is played as a seven-year-old by Caitlin Blackwood before being played as an adult by Karen Gillan. The two actresses are cousins. Also in "Let's Kill Hitler", a young Rory is played by Ezekiel Wigglesworth, while he's played as an adult by Arthur Darvill.
    • Michael Gambon plays the miserly Kazran Sardick in the episode "A Christmas Carol"; his younger self is initially played by Laurence Belcher, then becomes a teenager as Danny Horn. (Then back to Belcher to get "shown his future").
    • In "The Impossible Astronaut", Canton Everett Delaware III is initially played by William Morgan Sheppard, before the TARDIS crew travel back in time to meet him played by Sheppard's son, Mark Sheppard.
    • The episode "Blink" has an unusual example in which the character of Billy Shipton is played as a young man by Michael Obiora, then minutes later he appears as an old man portrayed by Louis Mahoney. The character had been sent back 38 years in time and lived out the loop to the present in order to give a message to Sally Sparrow, the protagonist of the story
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy and Rory's childhood friend Mels, in actuality River Song before she regenerated into Alex Kingston's incarnation, is played by Maya Glace-Green as a kid and Nina Toussaint-White in the present. In "A Good Man Goes to War", River, then called Melody and in an even earlier incarnation is played by twins Harrison and Madison Mortimer, while in the opening two-parter "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon", she's slightly older and played by Sydney Wade.
    • We meet Rose Tyler as an uncredited baby and as a child played by Julia Joyce in "Father's Day", and at age 19 by Billie Piper. Also in "Father's Day", Mickey Smith is played by Casey Dyer, while as an adult he's played by Noel Clarke.
    • Companion Jack Harkness is played by John Barrowman as an adult, and in the Torchwood episode "Adam" by Jack Montgomery as a child.
    • Elisabeth Sladen appears over three Whoniverse TV shows, and a Big Finish-produced audio spinoff over 38 years as Sarah Jane Smith. In The Sarah Jane Adventures, she's played by an uncredited baby as a child, Jessica Mogridge as a child in flashback and Jessica Ashworth at age 13.
    • One-off companion Adelaide Brooke is played by Rachel Fewell as a child, and Lindsay Duncan as an adult.
    • In "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", Tim Latimer is played by Thomas Sangster as a teenager, and an uncredited Huw Rees as an elderly man.
    • In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", Lady Eddison is played by Felicity Kendal in 1926 and an uncredited woman 40 years earlier.
    • In "The Girl in the Fireplace", Reinette is played by Jessica Atkins as a child, and Sophia Myles for the rest of her life.
    • "The Sound of Drums" introduces us to William Hughes (uncredited), portraying The Master as a child. Interestingly, this makes him the first Master, chronologically speaking.
    • Averted in "The Lazarus Experiment" and "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords". The former episode sees Mark Gatiss play both the young and old Professor Lazarus, the old version under heavy makeup to the point of being almost unrecognizable. The latter episodes have The Doctor be forcefully aged by The Master. He is still played by David Tennant, but again under extensive makeup. A more severely-aged version is played by CGI with Tennant dubbing the voice.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures, Rani Chandra is played by Anjli Mohindra as a teen, and Souad Faress as the Mad Old Woman of Bannerman Road in the story The Mad Woman in the Attic.
  • In Torchwood, Jack's brother Gray is played by Ethan Brooke as a child and Lachlan Nieboer as an adult.
    • In a flashback in Children of Earth, young Clem MacDonald is played by Gregory Ferguson. As an adult, he's played by Paul Copley.
    • In a Torchwood: Miracle Day flashback, Jack's past lover Angelo is played by Daniele Favili as a young man, and an uncredited actor as an old man the following episode.
    • The Quantum transducer showed flashbacks of several people in the considerable past in the episode "Ghost Machine".
    • In "Random Shoes", Eugene Jones is played by Luke Bromley in 1992 and Paul Chequer in 2007.
    • The memory alterer Adam Smith from the episode "Adam" is mostly played by Bryan Dick. When he forces himself into the memories of Jack's childhood, he's played by Rhys Meyers.
  • Blossom made good use of Joey Lawrence's real life brothers for a flashback episode or two.
  • An episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had a flashback to before the Banks became rich, in which every major character excluding Ashley, who wasn't born at the time of the flashback, were played by different actors. However, in a later episode where the cast are watching an old video tape of Vivian and Phil, they are played by the same actors. Which is bizarre when you think about it, as this footage was supposed to have been before the children were even born, and therefore Phil and Vivian would have been younger than in the previous flashback where they were played by younger actors.
  • The Golden Girls had occasional flashbacks to when Dorothy was a young adult. The casting director did a good job of finding an actress who looked like a younger version of Bea Arthur's character (Estelle Getty was simply able to take off the white wig and age makeup for her scenes).
    • An older flashback featured Sophia's mother, played by none other than Bea Arthur.
  • Adam Kolkin plays a younger Kurt in Glee, bearing such an impossible resemblance to Chris Colfer that many people were convinced that the flashbacks had been done using technology, or at the very least that the two were related in some way. They aren't.
  • iCarly had a young Sam and young Carly for a flashback.
    • Miranda Cosgrove, who plays the regular Carly, was a 'young' Lana Lang on Smallville. Making her someone who has been both a younger version of a main character, and had a younger version of one of her main character.
  • Smallville had Victoria Duffield and Jackson Warris playing the young versions of Chloe Sullivan and Clark Kent.
  • The 2011 mini-series version of Mildred Pierce had Morgan Turner as Veda in her preteen and early teenage years (through age 14-15), and Evan Rachel Wood as Veda in her late teens and early twenties.
  • William Morgan Sheppard and Mark Sheppard, mentioned above under Doctor Who, also appeared as older and younger versions of the same character in an episode of NCIS.
  • CSI NY did this during a flashback in one of the "333" arc episodes, with a teen actor playing young Mac.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation did a similar thing with a childhood flashback Catherine had.
  • Highlander "The Prophecy"-young actor as the boy Duncan Macleod subbing in for Adrian Paul who played adult Duncan.
  • Angel did it, understandably, with Connor after his Plot-Relevant Age-Up.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it twice, with a young actress playing Buffy as a girl. It was a different actress in "Killed By Death" than in "Weight Of The World", though, presumably due to age considerations.
  • Merlin had Mordred played by twelve-year-old Asa Butterfield in the first two series, after which he was Put on a Bus and not seen again until series 5, where he's now played by twenty-three-year-old Alexander Vlahos. However, this is justified considering seven years have passed on-screen, thanks to the Time Skips that occur between seasons.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "1969", General George Hammond is normally played by the late Don S. Davis. After traveling back in time, they meet Lieutenant George Hammond played by Aaron Pearl. Also, in the episode "Fragile Balance", Jack's teenage clone is portrayed by Michael Welch.
    • Others include Linea (Bonnie Bartlett as old, Megan Leitch as young), Dr. Ernest Littlefield (Keene Curtis as old, Carson Be... sorry, Paul Mc Gillion as young), Orlin (Sean Patrick Flanery as adult, Cameron Bright as child), Cassandra Frasier (Katie Stuart as child, en Rennison as teenager, Pamela Perry as old)
    • Catherine Langford takes the prize with five actresses. First, there are the two portraying her in the original film (Kelly Vint as child, Viveca Lindfors as adult). Then there are the actresses from the show (Nancy Mc Clure as young circa 1945, Glynis Davies as adult in 1969, Elizabeth Hoffman as primary appearance).
    • Because Adria grows from infancy to adulthood in a matter of days, the premiere episode of season 10 has four different actresses play the part first as a newborn, then at ages 4, 7, and 12.
  • In the Russian mini-series Wolf Messing: Seeing through time, the titular character (loosely based on the Real Life self-proclaimed psychic of that name) is played by three actors: Aleksandr Hinkis as a boy, Roman Grechishkin as a young man (voiced by Stanislav Bondarenko), and Yevgeniy Knyazev as an adult (the majority of the series including the Cold Open).
  • In Once Upon a Time, in the episode "Stable Boy", the fairytale world plot flashed back to when the teenage Regina (still played by Lana Parilla) met Snow White and her father. Child Snow was played by Bailee Madison, who could easily pass for (adult Snow) Ginnifer Goodwin's daughter or young sister.
    • Regina's mother, Cora, is played by Barbara Hershey and in "The Miller's Daughter", her younger self is portrayed by Rose McGowan as the episode tells her backstory.
  • Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
    • A time-traveling H. G. Wells was a recurring character. One actor portrayed him in season 2, another in season 3, and then both portrayed him in different episodes of season 4. The difference was explained by one being an older (by sixteen years) incarnation of the other.
    • Jimmy Olsen gets hit by an aging ray in the episode "Brutal Youth". Rather brilliantly, his aged self is played by Jack Larson, who previously played Jimmy in The Adventures of Superman.
  • The flashback-heavy series Arrested Development used this all the time for the Bluth kids, but the George and Lucille were usually the regular actors. In Season 4, flashbacks had Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig as the younger George and Lucille.
  • In episode of Supernatural with flashbacks to Sam and Dean's pasts, the younger Sam was played first by Alex Ferris and then Colin Ford while Dean was played by Ridge Canipe as a child and by Brock Kelly.
    • In two time-travel episodes the younger John and Mary Winchester were respectively played by Matt Cohen and Amy Gumenick rather than Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Samantha Smith.
  • In a non-time example, Orange Is The New Black has Laverne Cox play Sophia, while her twin brother plays her before her sex change.

    Music 
  • In the video to "The Miracle", the members of Queen are played by kids.
  • In Moonwalker, the same actor played young Michael Jackson in a sequence that parodies "Bad" and later played him in "The Jacksons: An American Dream."
  • The Spice Girls video for "Mama" has child actors playing the girls intercut with pictures of the real girls as children.
  • The video for Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher" had kids playing younger versions of the band members.

    Theatre 
  • In Follies, the four middle-aged main characters all have younger doubles, who appear in the very frequent flashbacks. Many secondary characters also have younger doubles who mimic their dance steps.
  • The musical Les Misérables requires a child to play young Cosette (whose face is on the poster) and a young lady to play adult Cosette. Young Eponine has a walk on role just after the "Castle on a Cloud" number, and grown-up Eponine becomes a major character a few songs later.
    • Notably, the two young actresses alternate between these roles.
    • The twenty-plus-year run of the show means there has been at least one case of an actress who played Young Cosette as a child returning to play grown-up Eponine.
    • Similarly, Lea Salonga played Eponine on Broadway in 1993 and then sang the part of Fantine at the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Concert.
  • In the musical Gypsy, two child actresses play Baby June and Baby Louise at the opening of the show, only to grow up (with help from some strobe lights) into the adult actresses who play Dainty June and Louise.
    • Presumably, the boys that Rose kidnaps en route to LA also grow up to be some of the Farmboys, although it's never stated outright which boy is which.
  • In the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Aspects of Love, two actresses play Jenny at age 12 and age 15. In the Broadway production they were similar-looking sisters, but the original London production had two non-related girls.
  • Mame follows Patrick Dennis, both as a 10 year-old and as a young adult. As such, there are two actors. And they sing a duet at the start of act 2.
  • In Once On This Island, Ti Moune ages from a small child to a young adult in the space of about five seconds as part of a song, requiring the use of this trope.
  • The ballet Fall River Legend casts two dancers as the Accused (Lizzie Borden), one playing her as a teenager and one as an adult. They occasionally dance together, but without the younger Accused acknowledging her older self.
  • Glen Tetley's ballet adaptation of Alice in Wonderland has two dancers as Alice, one as an older woman and one as a child.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, teen and adult Clark are not voiced by the same person. (However, in Legion of Super Heroes, the same actor voices teen and adult Clark equally convincingly.)
    • Another DCAU example is the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Kids' Stuff." Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are magically made into children and voiced by age appropriate actors.
      • Brought home in episodes of Batman Beyond set in the future, which feature a robust 60-something Superman now voiced by Christopher McDonald - the voice of Superman's father Jor-El in all his DCAU appearances.
  • Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Red Hood is played by three different actors for when the character is a child, a teen and an adult.
  • In the Ben 10 franchise, Tara Strong voiced the titular ten-year-old in the original series. When the character was aged up to fifteen for Alien Force, Yuri Lowenthal took over and continued on in Ultimate Alien. The same applies for the respective actors behind Gwen and Kevin.
  • Averted in The Simpsons, in which the actors will voice their characters' young selves in flashbacks and the children's voice actors voice the character's adult selves in future episodes.
  • Futurama averts this trope with the main crew, who are played by the same actors when we see them as children and as older adults. The trope is played straighter with many of the secondary characters (such as Fry's brother).
  • Recess: All Growed Down averts this trope during the scene when we see the nine-year-old cast as kindergarteners, however, this led to some awkward moments regarding the voices of Mikey and Vince, as their voices already broke (Mikey's during the break between the end of the series and production on the DTV movies, and Vince mid-way through the first season). Played straight somewhat as T.J.'s voice actor was replaced with a much younger kid with a higher voice (making his portrayal of T.J. loathed among the fandom), which worked well for his kindergarten scenes.
  • This was averted with A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, where Don Messick and Casey Kasem reprised their roles of Scooby and Shaggy respectively. Fred, Velma, and Daphne did have real children as their voices though, instead of their respective adult voice actors.
  • In Beforel Orel, the prequel to Moral Orel, Clay's father (and Orel's grandfather) Arthur is voiced by Joe Unger, instead of the show's creator, Dino Stamatopoulos.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan, we see a younger Lance in two episodes, both voiced by child actors instead of Kevin Thoms. Although in "Shaman of Fear", he is voiced by Elan Garfias and in "Shadows of Youth" he is voiced by John DeVito, despiting his younger self appearing to be roughly the same age both times.
  • In Thundercats2011, the younger Lion-O is played in one episode (as well as in a short where he's a baby) by Tara Strong. Interestingly, Cheetara's younger self is voiced in flashback by Grey DeLisle, who frequently works with the former.

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alternative title(s): Time Shifted Actors
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