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Type Casting
"I've made a career out of playing blind black men."
LeVar Burton, Dragon*Con 2010, when asked about this trope

You recognize the character immediately as being right off the Characters list. He hasn't said anything yet, but you know him because he is an example of typecasting. There are a myriad of ways to be typecast, and it's the kiss of death for an actor (at least in their eyes). Whereas stage actors are shuffled around quite a bit, allowing them to play all sorts of roles, it's a different story with movies and television.

This is not entirely the fault of casting directors, either. When Ed O'Neill left Married... with Children to spread his wings as a dramatic actor, audiences laughed the instant he appeared onscreen in The Spanish Prisoner. An extreme example of this is I Am Not Spock (and also I Am Not Leonard Nimoy).

Meta Casting is playing off this Type Casting to push it into another realm of familiarity.

When lampshaded in the work itself, this becomes Adam Westing. When it happen with voice actors, it's called Pigeonholed Voice Actor.

The opposite is, naturally enough, Playing Against Type (subtropes of which include Tom Hanks Syndrome, Leslie Nielsen Syndrome and Playing with Character Type).


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  • William Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
  • Even before Dean Winchester (who is the ultimate of this character type), Jensen Ackles always seemed to play snarky, slightly dangerous woobies with massive family issues. See Smallville one year earlier, and Dark Angel before that.
  • Woody Allen as a neurotic, aging womanizer. This is mostly self-inflicted.
  • Have a foreign guy in the script? Armand Assante is your man. No matter which country the character is from, Assante will bring foreignness to the role. He's played his share of red-meat eating, quick-fisted New York tough guys, but such roles have either been forgotten (Mike Hammer in I, The Jury) or execrable (Rico in Judge Dredd).
  • Starting with Ghostbusters and Die Hard, William Atherton always seems to play jerks who audiences love to hate — not quite villains, but frequent pains in the ass who get in the heroes' way and make their jobs harder, most often some form of Obstructive Bureaucrat.
  • Adam Baldwin is the Don Draper of the nineties: the scowling, growling ass-kicking man's man. Also The Big Guy (6'4" 240lbs.) He's overwhelmingly some military man; or if ex-military, is a merc or a cop. Usually a cold-blooded killer. Oftentimes The Mole. If his characters political beliefs are important, they are overwhelmingly Republican (a detail he often insists on, as he is proudly and loudly Republican in Real Life). Notable roles include Firefly, Serenity, Angel, Chuck, Full Metal Jacket, Independence Day and The Last Ship.
  • Tobin Bell is becoming a career villain very quickly, and is now almost universally known as Jigsaw. Even in a bit part on an episode of Seinfeld, he manages to be some sort of antagonist.
  • Fellow German actor Christian Berkel seems to be in the same situation, though to a lesser extent. He's played a German officer (alternating between Nazis and sympathetic Germans) in Downfall, Valkyrie, Zwartboek, Miracle At St. Anna, and Leningrad. He also made an appearance in Inglourious Basterds, although there he's just a French bartender catering to Germans.
  • Ralph Bellamy was often stuck playing dull nice guys.
  • Michael Biehn gets a lot of roles as intense military types — a cadet in The Lords of Discipline, a resistance fighter in The Terminator, a Colonial Marine in Aliens, the player avatar in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, and a Navy SEAL in no less than 3 films — Navy SEALS, The Abyss and The Rock.
  • Jack Black's been known for playing either a hyperactive maniac Large Ham role or a slob. Except in The Holiday.
  • BRIAN BLESSED is always cast is big, boisterous characters who shout a lot. NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WHY!
  • Has anyone noticed how most of Orlando Bloom's major roles have been in historical/fantasy action/swashbuckling movies? The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and now The Hobbit and The Three Musketeers.
  • Sean Bean got famed plying there's the Sharpe series, where he's practically a Napoleonic War's James Bond. He often plays characters that get killed or never get what they want. Most enter villain or Token Evil Teammate territory. Except Flightplan, where he's just a pilot, and Troy, in which he plays Odysseus. Since The Lord of the Rings he's played many a role very reminiscent of Boromir. Examples include The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Black Death, and Game of Thrones. The general rule of thumb is that if the film is in a historical, medieval or fantasy setting, he'll play one of the good guys... who dies. If it's set in modern times, he'll generally play one of the bad guys... and usually die.
  • Karan Brar (who, granted, isn't in that much yet) will typically play the Indian Funny Foreigner child.
  • David Bradley (Argus Filch, Walder Frey) seems to be the UK's go-to actor for unpleasant old men.
  • Charles Bronson was the ultimate badass. Apparently, this extended to his offscreen life, too: he was a coal miner at the age of 10. In The Magnificent Seven, Bronson splits wood onscreen, with an axe and everything. Not only is this physically demanding, requiring good coordination, it's so dangerous that no insurance company is likely to ever let a name star do that again.
  • Before being cast as Bond, Pierce Brosnan was typecast as the Romantic False Lead, a handsome cad whom the other male loves to hate. (Robin Williams nearly murdered him.)
  • Steve Buscemi playing the paranoid, fast-talking, nervy rodenty guy who is either a snarky, Jerk Ass, loserish protagonist or a sympathetic, loserish scumbag of a villain / Anti-Villain. Sometimes voice-acts actual rodents. Due to this characterization, he has a low chance of surviving until the end of a movie.
  • Gary Busey has made a career out of playing bad guys with various levels of mental derangement - from mild sociopathy to full-on Ax-Crazy. Busey admits that some of this is due to how he would act when the cameras weren't rolling.
  • Gary Busey's son Jake Busey, who looks rather similar to his dad, gets his fair share of the kinds of roles his dad gets (for example, in Contact, The Frighteners, and Tomcats.)
  • James "Jimmy" Cagney, far down on the list, but among the first and most severe cases of typecasting in early Hollywood. Since smashing a grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face in The Public Enemy (1931), he will be forever known as the hardass gangster, complete with his own Beam Me Up, Scotty!, "You dirty rat..." Cagney started his career as a "hoofer" or dancer in stage musicals, was a teetotaler, spoke fluent yiddish (though a gentile), and was no slouch at judo (put to great use in Blood on the Sun (1945), with one of the most brutal fights ever filmed). Yet none of this erased the tough guy persona he was famous for, even after winning an Oscar for the musical Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Part of the problem was that Cagney couldn't flash a smile that didn't imply Godless bloodlust.
  • Bruce Willis tends to play tough guys - usually some sort of law enforcement, government agent, soldier or a hitman. This is due to the influence of Die Hard. Before that film, Willis was strictly a comedic actor.
  • Bruce Campbell has played so many jerks spouting one-liners that most fans don't know what to think when he tries something new.
  • Jay Jackson is an American actor who only ever plays the role of a News Anchor or Newscaster. He has done so on Dexter, The Closer, The Mentalist, Scandal, Body of Proof, Fred: The Show and Parks and Recreation.
  • John Candy always tended to play well-meaning but bumbling types. The Bumbling Dad, the Cool Uncle, the semi-ineffectual cop with a heart of gold. Interesting enough, the role most people say was his best was a corrupt, and utterly unpleasant and unlikeably, southern lawyer in JFK.
  • Since becoming an A-list actor, only three movies Jim Carrey has starred in aren't comedies in some way: The Majestic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Number 23. (The Truman Show is a dark satire, his role in Batman Forever is comedic, and Man on the Moon is a Biopic of Andy Kaufman, so all of them have a comic element.)
  • Can you say Michael Cera? Ever since Arrested Development ended, he's been typecast as the skinny, awkwardly sweet kid that falls in love with a quirky girl in all his films. Though he seems to be playing against type in Youth in Revoltnote  and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World... Sorta.
  • A large number of Gary Chalk's live action roles has him working for the government. These includes jobs in politics, S.H.I.E.L.D., military and most frequently, a police officer.
  • Jackie Chan was typecast as a "nice guy" for decades, partly because Jackie aspired to be a positive role model for children. Until 2006's "Rob B Hood", Jackie hadn't played a negative character in over 30 years.
  • Roy Cheung plays a lot of psychotic Triad gangsters and other villains in Hong Kong movies, to the point that when he played a Shaolin monk in Infernal Affairs, it was seen as Playing Against Type.
  • John Cleese is......... well, John Cleese in pretty much every movie he's in. He often says "Jolly good" or "Marvelous".
  • Kim Coates as the unsettling/creepy/psychotic/pervy villain. It's a reasonable bet that even if his character isn't obviously evil straightaway, his villainy will be revealed before very long.
  • Gary Coleman as the wisecracking black kid. See also Adam Westing.
  • Jeffrey Combs has made a career out of playing psychopaths and Star Trek characters. Peter Jackson specifically sought him out for The Frighteners because of his role in the Re-Animator series.
  • Every role Bradley Cooper has done post-Alias has been a Jerk Ass or Chivalrous Pervert (or combination of the two) who always has an occasion to remove his shirt.
  • The popularity of Steptoe And Son ruined the careers of its stars, Harry H. Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell. Corbett in particular suffered, having achieved acclaim as a Shakespearean actor before accepting his role in the show, and frequently being described as "Britain's Marlon Brando" early in his career.
  • Tom Cruise always seems to play a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who learns how to truly love. His typical role is summed up by Rich Hall in this video.
  • Even stage actors aren't immune to this. Look at John Cullum, playing a cynical, worldwise, southerner and/or father, in Shenandoah (original cast and revival), 1776 (movie), Urinetown, and 110 in the Shade. Ironically, he initially turned down the role of Rutledge because he did not want to play a southerner.
  • Tim Curry almost always plays sly villains, to his chagrin. He's stated multiple times that Rocky Horror pretty much killed his career.
  • Andy Dick tends to often play a Cloudcuckoolander and/or The Fool and/or a Wacky Guy.
  • Vincent D'Onofrio, after Full Metal Jacket, generally plays a big, scary guy. In Men In Black, he plays a perfectly sane (wife-beating redneck) farmer who gets eaten and his skin worn by a creepy bug alien about sixty seconds into his first scene. Even on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Bobby Goren is impliedly a little off.
  • Willem Dafoe always plays more subtle psychos who are the Evil Chancellor or Corrupt Corporate Executive with a hidden side. Less passive-agression, more grinning!
  • New Zealander Alan Dale keeps turning up as evil American businessmen or politicians.
  • Matt Damon is often a Designated Monkey Played for Drama with attributes similar to a typical Tom Cruise role.
  • Rodney Dangerfield had played the same act in most movies he did the past couple of decades, with the possible darker exception of Natural Born Killers.
  • Anthony DeLongis provides the voice for several Jerk Ass video game villains, including Mick Cutler in Resistance3 and General Sarrano in Bulletstorm.
  • Robert De Niro almost always plays tough, confident and aggressive types with a blue collar or lower-class background. In the last decade, he's become more and more prone to Adam Westing his badass image than playing straight examples.
  • Danny DeVito is the sleazy scumbag character, sometimes with a Heart of Gold.
  • The only constant between Johnny Depp's roles is that, with the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean (being a sequel), he hasn't done the same kind of character twice. And in that strange way, audiences have come to expect him to just be that kind of offbeat character.
    • Frequently pairing up with Tim Burton tends to do that.
    • He specifically avoided being typecast as a Teen Idol after 21 Jump Street.
    • He's done plenty of quirky man-child characters, though the quirks tend to shift quite a bit from movie to movie.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio is an interesting example. After his Star-Making Role in Titanic, media pundits almost unanimously predicted that Leo would be another flash-in-the pan celebrity, typecast as a Bishōnen teenage heart-throb before forever vanishing from the limelight after hitting 35. Unusually, he was Genre Savvy enough to move away from pretty boy roles into something grittier and started a very fruitful creative partnership with Martin Scorsese. Ironically, this led DiCaprio to being typecast in crime and/or business dramas, Scorsese's signature genre, where he usually plays intense, morally ambiguous types. Leo's lead role in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film Inception was seen as an attempt at broadening his acting range... right until it turned out he was playing an intense, morally ambiguous mind thief.
  • Vin Diesel is the tough action hero who, appropriately, has something to do with big hulking machines.
  • In the 1960s and 70s there was the great Anton Diffring, who became the archetypal sinister German officer. For a period during the 1960s no self-respecting WWII film was complete without an icy glare or cold and calculating remark courtesy of Herr Diffring (Operation Crossbow and Where Eagles Dare being two notable examples). He even played bigwigs like Reinhard Heydrich in Operation Daybreak and Joachim Von Ribbentrop in The Winds of War.
  • A truly extreme and bizarre example is East German actor Fritz Diez (1901 -1979). He played the same character over and over in about two dozen films, TV features, and stage plays. And the character was... Adolf Hitler.
  • Wolfgang Preiss bests even Diffring. Name a WWII movie from the '60s and '70s and he's probably in it: The Longest Day, The Train, Is Paris Burning?, Von Ryan's Express, A Bridge Too Far, even The Boys from Brazil. Preiss portrayed a staggering five German field marshals: Erwin Rommel, Albert Kesselring, Alfred Jodl, Gerd Von Rundstedt and Walter von Brauchtisch. When Preiss wasn't a Nazi, he was Dr. Mabuse.
    • Ironically, Preiss made his breakthrough playing Claus Von Stauffenberg in the German film Der 20 Juli - a heroic variant on his later typecasting.
  • Jason Dolley, a member of the Disney Channel repertory, is typecast as two different types of characters: Either an unlucky, unappreciated loser who gets the girl in the end (in his three Disney Channel original movies: Read It and Weep, Minutemen, and Hatching Pete): or a moronic, slacker musician (in his two Disney Channel sitcoms, Cory in the House and Good Luck Charlie).
    • He's finally due to play a moronic, slacker musician in a DCOM for a change, when the Good Luck Charlie movie is released.
  • Brad Dourif. You've never heard his name, but if you've ever watched a sci-fi show or horror movie with a creepy-looking dude with scary, intense, and oddly woobieish eyes, you know who he is. If you have ever seen Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and been oddly compelled to hug the traitorous Grí­ma Wormtongue, you know who he is. If you have ever played Myst III: Exile and sobbed your damn heart out over Saavedro's plight, then you definitely know who he is.
    (Local prostitutes are giggling while being "examined" by the doctor.)
    Doc Cochran: When you laugh, you leak piss.
    • His typecasting is Lampshaded in Urban Legend, where he plays a scary, stuttering gas station attendant. He runs up to a girl getting gas trying to yell something, but he Can't Spit It Out. She shakes him off and drives away in her car, assuming he was trying to attack and/or rape her. After she's out of earshot, he finally manages to shout "SOMEONE'S IN THE BACK SEAT!" Much later in the movie, he's mentioned on the news as a suspect in the murders.
  • Robert Downey, Jr. has managed a significant career comeback by playing brilliant substance abusers: Iron Man, Zodiac, and Sherlock Holmes.
  • Clint Eastwood was known for tough cowboy or cop roles.
    • Harry Callahan grew old and changed his name to Walter Kowalski. He directed that movie. He actually typecast himself.
    • He also cast himself in Unforgiven, where he plays an older version of his tough cowboy character. Clint likes to do this - and he knows what he's doing.
    • Now he's just known for playing "the character with the gravely voice".
    • Possibly the only exception is Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel Any Which Way You Can, which were off-beat comedies. Though even then his character was tough guy trucker who dabbles in bare-knuckle fighting.
  • Christopher Eccleston did get somewhat typecast over the years: either as a troubled, working-class, underdog everyman with some tragic story (Jude, Let Him Have It, Flesh and Blood, Strumpet, Revengers Tragedy, Hillsborough, The Second Coming, Heroes... even the Ninth Doctor fits this, at least stylistically), or as a mostly blockbuster-style villain (Gone in 60 Seconds, G.I. Joe, The Seeker, Elizabeth). The former because of activism and conviction; the latter to be able to take a badly paying theatre role once in a while. Still, when The Agony Booth wrote about his role in the admittedly awful The Seeker "You're Christopher Eccleston. You're practically synonymous with having a charming and likeable screen presence. There is absolutely nothing scary about you.", the reviewer clearly had never seen 28 Days Later, Shallow Grave or his Jago in Othello.
  • Norwegian voice actor Åsleik Engmark has a record of playing the comedic sidekick, voicing Timon in The Lion King, Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc., Mushu in Mulan and Buck in the third Ice Age movie.
  • Sam Elliott, please pick up the white courtesy phone. A movie needs a wise, grizzled cowboy. Parodied with his role in The Big Lebowski.
  • Michael Emerson has made a career out of playing villains — to the point where he had to insist that his next role after LOST will be something other than a villain, preferably a comedy protagonist — but at least he varies it a little. First he was Ax-Crazy Serial Killer William Hinks on The Practice, then he was Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and "The Mozart of telekinesis" Oliver Martin in The X-Files episode "Sunshine Days", then he was Magnificent Bastard Ben Linus on LOST. Then Ben suffered massive Villain Decay and became The Woobie in the last season. (He's not playing a villain on Person of Interest.)
  • When he's not lending his voice to video game characters, Gideon Emery tends to be cast as criminals or other seedy people- who usually end up dying.
  • R. Lee Ermey's entire career is being Drill Sergeant Nasty. Even in documentary shows he still plays Gunny Sgt. Hartman.
    • In Willard, Ermey broke ranks to play a Corrupt Corporate Executive instead... but he still acted like Drill Sergeant Nasty in the role.
    • Ermey himself seems to recognize this to the point where he spoofed his own Full Metal Jacket role in The Frighteners
      • Ermey plays a very racist police officer in the movie Life.
      • R. Lee Ermey was a Drill Sergeant Nasty during the Vietnam war. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is only a slight exaggeration of the way he, and most other drill sergeants, actually behaved at that time. Modern drill instructors are much less over-the-top than back then.
    • Ermey has played an evangelist at least twice: once in Fletch Lives, and again in an episode of The X-Files.
  • Name a Dennis Farina role that wasn't a cop or a mobster. We're waiting. (Justified in that, as an 18-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Farina knows what he's doing in those roles.)
    • He played a soldier in Saving Private Ryan. Granted, it was a very brief role, and wasn't particularly different from his cop roles.
    • He played a stock trader in What Happens In Vegas. But he's still a hard-ass.
    • He played the hard-ass Cousin Avi (as well as unashamedly American) in Snatch. Though, as Avi's business isn't completely legit, this arguably falls under his mobster roles.
  • Chris Farley was known for playing clumsy fat guy roles.
  • Tom Felton may get this way seeing as his character in Rise of the Apes is Draco Malfoy without magic
  • Will Ferrell is becoming increasingly typecast as two different characters: The Idiotic Manchild and The Arrogant Buffoon.
    • Not if you count Stranger Than Fiction.
    • Kicking And Screaming also doesn't quite count. He was a meek but otherwise well-adjusted man with father issues. Of course, those father issues caused him to go both "Idiotic Manchild" and "Arrogant Buffoon" over the course of the movie, getting way too invested in peewee soccer for the sake of one-upping his old man.
    • And then there's The LEGO Movie, where he's an Archnemesis Dad and Control Freak.
  • If your film needs a Jerk Ass villain, Ralph Fiennes is your man. He's either that or an introverted, brooding hero. Or an introverted, brooding villain, like he was in Red Dragon.
  • Before his recent Oscar nominated roles Colin Firth every role the poor guy got since Pride and Prejudice has just been a role saying "hey look, this guy was Mr Darcy! Look at him be Mr. Darcy!" Bridget Jones turned this up to eleven, by actually basing his character on Mr. Darcy. In universe, Bridget Jones is a fan of Colin Firth and of his portrayal of Mr Darcy.
  • Harrison Ford is the Bad Ass everyman. As he's gotten older, more and more Papa Wolf has slipped into his roles.
    • A cartoon titled "Rare Movies Festival" had on its programming for one of the days: "Harrison Ford movies where he doesn't run".
  • Dwight Frye, the man that played the first Igor-like character Fritz in Frankenstein (1931) was well as doing a very good Renfield in Dracula (1931) ended up hating the fact he always ended up playing as "...idiots, half-wits and lunatics on the talking screen!"
    • He did play a different personality in Down Periscope, Captain Dodge being a boisterous rebel.
  • Guillermo Francella always does comedies, and he's always either the goofy lovable horndog, the irresponsible parent who has a change of heart at the end of the movie, or both.
    • He has done a couple more serious roles lately (even losing his signature mustache), but even then his characters are always fans of Racing Club of Avellaneda, just like he is in real life.
  • Has Martin Freeman ever played a major role in which he isn't playing a slightly grumpy, plain, occasionally humorous everyman character? It's all he ever seems to be cast as.
  • Stephen Fry is often described to have been typecast as Stephen Fry, the charmingly quintessential Englishman who is probably smarter than you but too polite to say so.
  • French actor Jean Gabin was famous for playing all roles alike, be it as a policeman, gangster, scientist or anything else : the old-school, patronizing and somewhat short-tempered patriarch - to the point that his roles hardly needed to be given names, since people would refer to them as "Chief Gabin" or "Professor Gabin".
  • Zach Galifianakis always tends to play the Psychopathic Manchild/creepy weirdo, more often or not with a large beard.
    • He somewhat breaks this type in his role as Ray on Bored to Death, as he often plays the snarky voice of reason to the bumbling main character. He does occasionally show poor judgement and a bit of emotional immaturity though, leaning back into his wheelhouse a little and handing off the Sanity Ball to Jonathan.
  • Best known for playing James in Twilight Cam Gigandet has also played villains in Never Back Down and The O.C..
  • Since playing Seth Brundle in The Fly, Jeff Goldblum has tended to play twitchy geniuses.
  • John Goodman is always the big manly bear with No Indoor Voice.
  • Gilbert Gottfried is always the loud, obnoxious guy who squints, complains and screams a lot.
  • Kelsey Grammer has played refined intellectual Frasier Crane, refined intellectual villain Sideshow Bob and refined intellectual hero Hank McCoy.
    Cracked: Grammer holds the distinction of being the only actor ever to win three Golden Globes for the same role. Sounds great, until you realize he has three statues at home reminding him every day that, as they lower him into the ground, there's a good chance the priest will accidentally refer to him as "the departed Dr. Crane."
  • Hugh Grant is the dorky-yet-lovable Brit. As he's getting older, that role is often passed to Martin Freeman.
    • His p-p-p-p-persistent nervous s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-studder.
  • Lorne Greene as a wise and understanding patriarchal figure whose family works with him under his command on a professional basis in Bonanza, Battlestar Galactica and Code Red.
  • After his debut role as Hives in Animal Crackers (1930), Robert Grieg played the Loyal Butler in something like thirty films. He was also in Trouble in Paradise.
  • Noel Gugliemi, you probably don't know who that is, but any movie that needs a stereotypical latino gangbanger he is sure to be cast and he'll always say something like "What you say, homes?"
  • Sid Haig is a gore porn psychopath.
  • Jerry Haleva is an extreme example. His every credited acting role has been as Saddam Hussein. Though anecdotes seem to suggest he could also have played Stalin.
  • Jackie Earle Haley. As Cracked put it: "Johnny Depp nailed the A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) audition and went on to become an iconic movie actor, while his friend was doomed to roles as smelly hippies, smelly perverts and smelly psychopaths."
    • Then Haley nailed an Elm Street audition of his own years later... which resulted in him playing another (presumably) smelly psychopath.
    • With his recent Charlie Chaplin-esque turn in the film Louis, don't count Haley out just yet.
  • Mark Hamill may have had the image of Luke Skywalker dogging his live-action career, but he's typecast as a voice for cackling villains in animation, such as Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Hobgoblin in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and most famously The Joker in the Diniverse franchise and the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. (Oh the irony: Tim Curry was originally pegged to voice the Joker.)
    • The Luke Skywalker image probably wasn't lessened by him effectively playing an older version of the character in Wing Commander III and IV, as Colonel Christopher Blair. Particularly not when you consider how to win WC3.
  • Jon Heder. Need the tall, gangly nerd who talk with a strange speech pattern to rival Shatner? Look no further. To the point that every role he's ever played is just Napoleon Dynamite to some degree.
  • Freddie Highmore is always the good natured kid in fantasy film.
    • ... And now he's Norman Bates. Quite the play against type.
  • Take the Italian duo of actors, better known with the Stage Names of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, made famous by spaghetti-westerns and Bash Brothers movies. While the former has found some variation in his career, like playing a live-action Lucky Luke and, currently, a detective priest in a Italian TV Series, the latter (recently turned 80) is stll anchored to the characters he did in his movies — see this commercial.
  • James Hong, professional cranky old Asian guy. He's played the same role for over three decades, and it seems like he was never actually young.
  • Clint Howard is (except on the roles brother Ron Howard gives to him) always a weirdo with a peculiar face, or as Adam Westing to his role in Apollo 13 (one of Ron's movies) a NASA Mission Control operative.
  • Michael Imperioli also came to fame playing gangsters, particularly Christopher Moltisanti. Which is funny, considering that most of his roles since have been police detectives.
  • Michael Ironside as either a Bad Ass (who may or may not be an amputee and is increasingly likely to be an Old Master) or as a snarky Big Bad who either has superpowers or is trying to kill an orca. In recent movies (Terminator Salvation, X-Men: First Class), he's played non-action naval commanders.
  • Samuel L. Jackson nearly always plays foul-mouthed badasses. Given his record in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Mace Windu wouldn't be nearly as badass in the EU had Jackson not been playing him.
    • Incidentally, Samuel L. Jackson apparently had trouble not cursing for one movie who was trying to keep a PG-13 rating. They were talking about it in the extras on the DVD.
      • Far more than the swearing alone, Samuel L. Jackson has simply been typecast ever since Pulp Fiction as a Bad Ass Motherfucker. Before that movie, he played a variety of small roles. Variety as in actually varied.
    • Samuel L. Jackson is so considered a Bad Ass that when it came time to give the Ultimate Universe version of Nick Fury (the most Bad Ass secret agent this side of James Bond) a new look, he was made to look like... Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson agreed to let them use his likeness on condition of getting to play Fury in the movies.
  • Ken Jeong as the "obnoxious Asian dude who thinks he's a badass".
  • Although he's played several other occupations (he mainly has a background in sketch comedy), Jay Johnston frequently gets cast as police officers, most notably as Officer Jay on The Sarah Silverman Program but also in a few episodes of Arrested Development, a Comedy Central special, a Mr. Show sketch, an episode of Community, in High School USA! and one of his many characters in Moral Orel.
  • Eldest Jonas Brother Kevin Jonas has been stuck in every major role the group has appeared in as the Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
  • Doug Jones is usually cast as Man in a Really Good Monster Costume With All His Lines Dubbed Over.
    • Although when he reprised the role of Abe Sapien in Hellboy II he got to perform the dialogue as well as wear the suit.
    • Paul Casey does this in Doctor Who and Torchwood. Jimmy Vee often takes on shorter roles in this case, such as the Moxx of Balhoon or Bannakaffalatta.
  • Tommy Lee Jones is the grumpy, badass authority figure. See: The Fugitive, No Country for Old Men, Men In Black, U.S. Marshals, Captain America: The First Avenger.
  • Peter Keleghan is the doofus on Canadian television. (The Red Green Show, Made In Canada, The Newsroom)
  • German actor Thomas Kretschmann seems to be hopelessly typecast in Nazi roles. He has played a German officer or soldier in 11 unrelated works so far: The Pianist, Valkyrie, Downfall, Eichmann, the 1993 German film Stalingrad, U571, the Norwegian film Warrior's Heart, Head in the Clouds, In Enemy Hands, the Sinking of the Laconia, and the Russian 2013 film Stalingrad, and he's been cast as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. On the plus side, he's usually a sympathetic Nazi. On the Jimmy Kimmel Show he stated he's been typecast more as a Captain than a Nazi (though this is probably due to him playing quite a number of Nazi Captains).
    • This is further added by the fact that after being known for playing the role of Hermann Fegelein in Der Untergang, YouTube users would sometimes make references to his character ("FEGELEIN FEGELEIN FEGELEIN!!!") on almost every video that he appeared on.
  • It seems as though Kevin James is turning to filling the "sweet natured, but slightly clumsy obese guy" void left by Chris Farley.
  • Ashton Kutcher, barring The Guardian and The Butterfly Effect, has essentially been playing Michael Kelso for the last decade and a half.
  • Shia LaBeouf is the young every-dude in sci-fi/action films produced by Steven Spielberg.
  • Bert Lahr, who played The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, later complained that he was typecast as a lion: "There just aren't all that many parts for lions."
  • Subverted by Heath Ledger. After 10 Things I Hate About You came out, Ledger dropped off the Hollywood radar for a year, because he didn't want to be cast as the highschool heartthrob for the rest of his career. Afterwards he appeared in The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, and others before breaking out in Brokeback Mountain and finally as the Joker in The Dark Knight. His final role was Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
  • Bruce Lee as the Asian version of John Wayne.
  • Christopher Lee's sepulchral tones have made him a career out of playing villains. Though to be fair, he's well-suited for it, with his razor-thin build, dark eyes, towering height, and powerful deep voice.
  • Jay Leno played thug type roles in sitcoms like Alice and Laverne and Shirley before becoming the host of The Tonight Show.
  • Jared Leto, as the guy who gets the shit kicked out of him.
  • Ray Liotta found himself seriously pigeonholed by Goodfellas. Even in sci-fi thrillers (No Escape), he's still playing an ex-con of some sort. Interestingly, he played a cop in Narc, and his performance was much-acclaimed.
  • John Lithgow went through a period in the 1980s where he played a scientist in several movies. If it's 1985, and your movie needs a physicist who does not act like a Mad Scientist (with an exception), then John Lithgow is your man.
  • This trope was the bane of Bela Lugosi's life, poor guy.
    • Yeah, most of his roles were somewhat Dracula-like villains, even when a film wasn't supernatural. This was so much the case that his few good guy roles seem to have been intended in part to surprise the viewers in movies such as The Black Cat (1934). His favorite role was in Ninotchka, where he finally had a romantic role.
  • Peter Lorre, who after his Star-Making Role in M quickly became typecast as either creepy villains or varying shades of Woobie (see The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, etc.). Lorre tried hard to buck this, appearing in comedies (Arsenic and Old Lace), action films (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) and even occasional romantic roles (Three Strangers), but never shook off the bad guy image. * Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is typecast as an African. He has a British accent, but he always performs with a Nigerian accent, apparently off of the success of his breakout role as Adebisi in Oz''
  • Michael Madsen (aka Mr. Blonde) as the ultimate gangster/psycho/both. Interestingly this is used by filmmakers either to create a certain feeling (in Donnie Brasco, I'm not sure we'd be so reluctant to trust Sonny Black in the first half of the movie if he was played by someone else) or to confound our expectations (in Kill Bill, the assassin played by Michael Madsen actually turns out to be a repentant, down-and-out Punch Clock Villain who gets Eviler Than Thoued by Elle Driver.
    • Actually used amusingly in the War of the Worlds parody bits of the Scary Movie franchise. When the guy offering the heroines shelter pulls down his hood and reveals his face, you know he's a nutcase before he's done anything because it's Michael Madsen.
    • In recent years, he's been playing American generals and agents in crappy Russian action movies. Why, would you ask?
  • John Malkovich, Gary Oldman and Christopher Walken are prone to being the inscrutable villain (sometimes Anti-Villain, but mostly not) and/or off-kilter insane. (exceptions: ...himself, Athos and that guy from Empire of the Sun; Jim Gordon, Sirius Black and Beethoven; got me now. Arguably The Deer Hunter)
  • James Marsden had the misfortune of being typecast as the Romantic Runner-Up, the Dogged Nice Guy, or a Romantic False Lead in most of his roles from the X-Men trilogy onward (Superman Returns, Enchanted, The Notebook) until he did 27 Dresses, in which his character finally ended up with the female protagonist.
  • James Marsters is almost always a Magnificent Bastard of a villain (even if Love Redeems him later on), probably because his incredibly high cheekbones scream "Did I happen to mention I'm the (sexy) villain?"
  • Malcolm McDowell has been cast in roles that weren't a villainous or otherwise evil character, but most of them are overshadowed by his roles as a bad guy of some flavor (A Clockwork Orange, Blue Thunder, Star Trek: Generations and Fallout 3, among others).
    • When he's not outright evil, he still tends to be a Bunny-Ears Lawyer, with having a arrogant jerkass attitude being the Bunny Ears.
  • Ian McNeice always plays the Fat Bastard.
  • Rick Moranis has been known for being cast as hyperactive fast-talkers, Deadpan Snarker types, and dweeby guys. According to some sources, he got tired of being typecast as the last of these, which is why he's been on hiatus since 1997 (his primary reason was because he needed to raise his kids).
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan always plays the dead guy.
  • Look at Glenn Morshower's filmography. Almost all of his characters have a military rank.
  • John Moschitta Jr, the world's fastest talker was always typecast as men who can talk very fast. Probably the reason we haven't seen him in anything lately.
  • Cillian Murphy, known for his unbelievably creepy performances in Batman Begins and Red Eye, has vowed never to play a villain again in order to avert becoming typecast (reprising his role in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises doesn't count, as he was under contract). Meanwhile jury's still out on whether his character from TRON: Legacy will be a bad guy or not.
  • Bill Murray plays mostly Deadpan Snarker roles. Ditto for Chevy Chase.
    • Mostly because that's how they are. Both are known for their huge amounts of Improv and most of their roles are just a long Throw It In.
  • Liam Neeson plays the aged badass with a haunted face and a certain chance of getting killed in his movies. If he doesn't die, he makes other people die in his place. (The last bit can either be about Darkman or Batman Begins)
  • Jack Nicholson usually plays quirky characters with a deep dark secret like in The Shining, and often he's the Large Ham. Except in some of his more sentimental roles.
  • Leslie Nielsen is an interesting case in that his style never changed, but his image did a 180 degree turn: Pre-Airplane! he was the stern authority figure, but post-Airplane!: bumbling slapstick idiot. This because the latter always hinged on him delivering completely, outrageously absurd dialogue with a perfectly straight face. Subverted with Creepshow, where he just plays an evil bastard... although it is over the top.
  • The last guy that tried to type cast Chuck Norris- oh, well, never mind.
  • Al Pacino, like DeNiro, is always either a mobster or a cop.
    • To put a little spin on his typecast roles, Scent of a Woman has him played a blind retired war veteran.
  • Christopher McDonald playing a smarmy Jerkass character.
  • Bill Paxton has played a lot of overconfident, enthusiastic guys who get taken down a peg, sometimes fatally, sometimes not.
  • When Josh Peck was still fat, he was known for playing the nerdy, socially akward goofball kid role.
  • Ron Perlman is usually cast as Man in a Really Good Monster Costume With None of His Lines Dubbed Over.
    • Which is a damned shame as his role as Vincent demonstrated that he is more than capable of expressing subtle emotions and doesn't need to always be The Heavy.
      • Even as the Heavy, his performance as One showed subtle emotions with no monster costume and none of his lines dubbed over even though he doesn't speak French.
    • It wasn't until Hellboy that he was able to play a lead character in a major movie, usually he is a smaller character and under so much makeup you almost can't recognize him. He's one of those actors that everyone respects, at least those who have heard of him.
  • Joe Pesci. Loud, angry, streetwise gangster-type from New York with a Hair-Trigger Temper who may or may not be an Ax-Crazy psychopath. He's currently retired from acting, perhaps to avoid doing such roles forever. Although he averted this in With Honors as the still crazy, but charismatic and educated bum Simon B. Wilder. His performance as Vinny in My Cousin Vinny where he was he wasn't crazy. Though he was still a snarky smart ass in both films.
  • Jeremy Piven is always the talkative jerk/drunk who spouts off asshole lines for no good reason.
  • Jorge Porcel and Alberto Olmedo as the Argentinian Abbott and Costello.
  • Favio Posca as "the family-friendly version of Fernando Peña."
  • Otto Preminger preferred directing to acting, especially after going bald at an early age. He did appear in several productions, almost always in the role of a Nazi. It's ironic that this helped restart his career during World War II, given that he was an Austrian Jew.
  • When Elvis Presley appeared in movies throughout the 50's and 60's most of them were as the happy-go-lucky guy in musical comedies such as Live A Little, Love A Little Kissin' Cousins and Stay Away Joe. Although he did play against type in a Clint Eastwood-style western called Charro!.
  • Vincent Price, as 'the really creepy scary movie actor'.
  • Jonathan Pryce is prone to playing authority figures. Among his most high-profile roles of this type are Juan Perón, Governor Swann, and ultimately the U.S. President. Before that, he was being pursued by authority figures...
  • Jeremy Renner tends to play badass loose-cannon types. See S.W.A.T. and The Hurt Locker for two prime examples.
  • George Reeves, famous for his role of Superman in the 1950s live-action television show, couldn't get himself any serious work, despite many attempts to break that mold. His dead-end career has been one of many theories as to why he shot himself in the head.
    • According to rumor, he gained a role in the 1953 film From Here To Eternity but his part was cut back when audiences, associating him with Superman, chuckled whenever he appeared on-screen. However Fred Zinnemann, the director, insists that this is not true.
  • Keanu Reeves is the embodiment of spaced-out characters. See The Matrix, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and A Scanner Darkly. There is some debate over how intentional this is.
  • To younger American audiences,it would probably be weird to see Alan Rickman as anything but the creepy bad guy with the sexy voice thanks to Die Hard, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Harry Potter (though he's just a red herring bad guy), even though his career has seen him in a very wide variety of roles. (Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, Galaxy Quest, Dogma)
    • In his own words "I don't play villains. I play very interesting people."
  • Eric Roberts really lends himself well to playing Smug Snake villains (quite literally in Doctor Who). His career started out promising enough, described by one magazine as having a profile so handsome "it could be struck on a Roman coin." But his serious roles went unregarded, so he willingly became typecast to keep working.
    "I’ll do anything as long as there’s one good thing about it. It can be a good co-star, a good director, a really great wardrobe. As long as it’s fun, I'll do it."
    • His sister's shadow still looms large (and his daughter is quickly catching up), but as a positive, he's proven an acquired taste among critics who grew up watching his schlock. Where once casting Eric Roberts was a sign of full-tilt laziness, the irony meter has gone full circle to where letting Roberts run wild will produce the best scenes in the film.
  • Andrew J. Robinson made his film debut as the baby-faced serial killer Scorpio in Dirty Harry. He was so associated with the role that, despite winning an Emmy as the lead on Ryan's Hope, he was recast after 2 seasons because they didn't want someone noted for playing a serial killer as a sympathetic lead. He went on to play a whole string of psychotic killers in films like Hellblazer and Child's Play 3, until he finally got to play one of the good guys: former assassin and torturer Elim Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Edward G. Robinson, before he was known as the vocal inspiration for The Simpsons character Chief Wiggum, was famous for playing gangster Rico in the unflinchingly violent Little Caesar (1931). In his private life, Robinson was an enthusiastic art collector who hated guns — in fact, when firing blanks on the movie set, he had to tape his eyes open to keep from blinking in horror.
  • Andy Serkis is the go to guy for Motion Capture performances. However this enables to play many different roles. Since playing Gollum in Lord of the Rings, he's played King Kong, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise, and Captain Haddock in Tintin. His role in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII film is also a motion capture performance. That said he does have roles outside Motion Capture such as Nikola Tesla's assistant in The Prestige, and Albert Einstein in Einstein and Eddington, but it's his motion capture roles that get the most attention. Like many a British actor he also plays villains like Rigaud in the BBC's 2008 adaption of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit and was the voice of Screwtape in Focus on the Family's radio play of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.
  • Tim Roth usually plays thugs/murderers/convicts/all of the above at the same time. And he tends to die violent deaths.
    • He's playing a rare good guy (and television role) in Lie to Me.
  • Mickey Rourke plays criminals. Thuggish criminals, insane criminals, diabolical criminal masterminds; In the twilight of his career, he's defied convention by appearing as...retired criminals. No wonder he briefly retired to take up boxing.
  • Adam Sandler frequently plays the Jerk with a Heart of Gold, is Jewish, just like him. He rarely even changes his hair. He also likes to have weird vocal quirks and act like a social retard, yet somehow get the hot female lead.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, in any action movie he stars in, plays unstoppable badasses. Once he is committed to a given task, nothing (including an invisible alien, shape-shifting robots or Satan) is going to sway him or stand in his way... no, actually, except for Sarah Connor and Batman. And if he is playing a father or is otherwise in charge of kids, do not mess with them if you value your life.
  • Sadly, Jerry Seinfeld will never, ever, ever be able to act in any live-action role whatsoever. At least, not until he is past the age of 70. Fortunately, the fact that he is one of the greatest comedy icons of The Nineties doesn't seem to have penetrated his mind, so for ten years he was happy just being a stand-up comedian, as he was before (and within) his prime-time reign.
  • Tom Selleck has been typecast as cops or soldiers, particularly in Magnum, P.I.. Selleck himself, however, claims that his support for the NRA has hurt his career.
  • Michael Shannon seems to always play robotic men who are one stubbed toe away from a psychotic break.
  • Michael Sheen is either a vampire or Tony Blair.
    • He gets a lot of positively gushing critical notices for his ability to inhabit different characters. For many viewers who can only see him as a vampire or Tony Blair, this is an Informed Attribute.
  • JK Simmons has a tendency to play hardened killers and, in more recent years, blustery boss characters: J.J. Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy, Cave "We're Done here" Johnson in Portal 2, and Chief Will Pope on The Closer. (Cave is arguably a blend of the two.)
  • John Simm is the man to go to when you want angst. Up until his late thirties, practically all the roles he played were those of cocky, broody, bratty young men (The Lakes, Human Traffic, Cracker). When he isn't playing angsty Northeners (most notably in Life On Mars), he's playing angsty 17th century mercenaries (The Devil's Whore) or angsty 19th century Russian axe mudrerers (Crime and Punishment) or angsty Danish princes (Hamlet) or angsty reporters (State of Play, Sex Traffic). He only breaks out of the angst if he gets to play an over-the-top villain (Caligula, The Master). Fitting for a guy who's frighteningly convincing when he cries.
  • Edward Van Sloan plays the same vaguely Germanic, gentlemanly, all-knowing doctor who is willing to take on the supernatural in Dracula (1931, as Dr. Van Helsing), Frankenstein (1931, as Dr. Waldman), and The Mummy (1932, as Dr. Müller).
  • Will Smith always plays the charming, witty leading man/action hero.
  • James Spader's still playing a marble-mouthed sex freak, twenty years after sex, lies, and videotape.
    • Since Boston Legal wrapped up in 2008, he has diversified somewhat by continuing to play Alan Shore. (On The Office (US) and in David Mamet's Race.)
  • You've got a fantasy or horror setting, and your Evil Overlord needs a comically incompetent but very loyal henchman? Timothy Spall is your man, as evidenced by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (and subsequent Potter films), Enchanted, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He's recently tried to break out by playing the goddamn Winston Churchill in The King's Speech.
  • Jason Statham, who is always a bald badass (except for a minor role in The Pink Panther remake... and this upcoming movie).
  • Ray Stevenson seems to be starting to get stuck in a typecast as a hedonistic, laid-back, but still formidable warrior type; In Rome he was Titus Pullo, in Thor he portrayed Volstagg, and in The Three Musketeers, he's the type-codifying Porthos.
  • Patrick Stewart may have been a classically trained thespian for years, but to those of a certain age and disposition he will always be Captain Picard
    • Patrick Stewart is almost as known for being Professor Charles Xavier these days as he is for his role on Star Trek: TNG.
    • At least in movies and on TV, he seems to be typecast for the "good, wise non-action leader" role, especially "good king" - which makes it either very funny when he plays against type (see Jeffrey - snarky, somewhat Camp Gay interior designer and Pink Panther activist - and Conspiracy Theory - "evil, wise non-action leader") or rather unsettling (The Lion in Winter - still superficially the affable "good king", but the dialogue establishes really quickly that he's actually a selfish, scheming jerk who has taken someone raised almost as an adoptive daughter as his mistress)
  • Mark Strong, as a bald villain with an English accent.
  • Peter Stormare, professional sleazy, violent, Eastern European thug. Or a kooky, over-the-top, scenery-chewing character of pretty much any nationality.
  • Pity the fool who messes with Mr. T.
  • Terry-Thomas always played an upright Quintessential British Gentleman, although sometimes the "upright" only applied to his posture, and not his morals.
  • Billy Bob Thornton was briefly typecast as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists after Bad Santa became a box office hit.
  • The Three Stooges.
  • One could summarize Danny Trejo's start in acting thusly: He was training another actor how to fight after having networked his way onto the film in prison, when someone says, "You look like an ex-con! Come over here and play and ex-con." And now, he gets a film showcasing his talents.
  • It looks like Michael Trucco is being typecast as "the other side of the love triangle". He played that role to Starbuck and Apollo (sort of; their relationship is more complicated), to Leonard and Penny (contributing in their getting together), to Beckett and Castle, and, briefly to Barney and Robin.
  • Chris Tucker as the effeminate comedy relief.
  • Eric Vale lampshaded that he's often cast as a douchebag.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal as an overweight, washed-up action heroes in direct-to-DVD movies.
    • ... which Jean spoofed in the film JCVD. Seagal has yet to show his sense of humor...
      • He pretty much does this in Machete.
      • Seagal appeared as a parody of his usual roles in The Onion Movie, as the Cock Puncher.
    • Seagal always plays himself in every role. Always a ex-SEAL/military/CIA/cop agent who unreluctantly finds himself back on the job without. He is also without emotion, merciless and invincible.
  • Vince Vaughn as the awkward nice guy, whether he's the protagonist or the best friend of the protagonist. He also usually has a hot girlfriend.
    • The remake of Psycho is an exception.
      • Speaking of Psycho, the original Norman Bates - Anthony Perkins - faced typecasting twice. Prior to Psycho, Perkins seemed to be making a career playing the tall-and-gangly, boyishly charming male ingenue-like characters. After Psycho, he ended up playing creepy weirdos/psychopaths a majority of the time.
  • It wasn't particularly imaginative making Reginald VelJohnson's character in Family Matters a policeman, considering he had already played a cop in Die Hard, Turner and Hooch, Ghostbusters, the TV movie One of Her Own...
  • After his Big Bad role in Nochnoi Dozor, Russian actor Viktor Verzhbitskiy has played one villain after another, including at least three evil oligarchs. Thanks to his larger-than-life acting style, he is often the only reason to watch those movies.
  • Whenever Tom Waits appears in a movie, he's usually crazy and/or magical. The crazy magical hobo schtick is actually a large part of his musical persona too.
    • David Bowie is a similar case of musical and movie personas overlapping as he is usually cast in roles that take advantage of what the trailer for his movie The Hunger (in which he played a vampire) called his "cruel elegance"; whether his character is good or evil, he usually has a mysterious, cool aura. This has served him well in a colorful variety of roles over time. He also isn't afraid to play it for comedy or just play against type on occasion — in the Short Film Jazzin' for Blue Jean he gets to do both!
  • Patrick Warburton is always cast as the big, dumb, lovable guy — Kronk, Puddy, The Tick, and so on.
  • Denzel Washington as either a real life figure or a law enforcer.
  • John Wayne is John Wayne, pilgrim.
  • Robin Williams does voices. And funny stuff. Not so much now, but he continues to entertain and touch hearts.
  • Bruce Willis is always the Bad Ass everyman, and is known for being the king of the heroic comeback, getting beaten to shit by the bad guys and then coming back to win out. Unless we are talking about The Sixth Sense. Or The Siege where he plays a rare villainous part. Or In Country (embittered Vietnam veteran), or Death Becomes Her (a nebbishy doctor), or Mortal Thoughts, or Unbreakable, or...
    • Sin City put on a small spin: he killed himself, despite winning in the end.
  • Every role of Henry Winkler aka "Fonzie these days seems to be as an outrageously incompetent lawyer in various sitcoms and movies.
  • All through The Eighties, Michael Winslow tended to be The Guy Who Makes Noises. In fact, his entire career is built on being The Guy Who Makes Noises. He even admits this.
    • That's who he is in real life. Though he was a voice in Gremlins.
  • Ray Winstone is invariably some kind of East End thug. Unless he's a boastful Anglo-Saxon thug.
  • Elijah Wood is usually typecast as the wide-eyed innocent charming boy, ten years before playing Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. But since LOTR he's been desperately trying to avoid typecasting as, well, Frodo (wide-eyed innocent + Messianic Archetype). In fact, he was cast as a tough vandal in Green Street (also known as Hooligans) because he represented corrupted innocence.
  • A truly bizarre spin on the trope: judging by his most high-profile roles, Sam Worthington has been typecast as... a Half-Human Hybrid (Terminator Salvation, Avatar, Clash of the Titans).
    • ... A Half-Human Hybrid created by the villains to join up with the heroes and bring them down from within, but eventually changes sides through The Power of Love and plays a pivotal role in defeating his creators.
  • Chow Yun-Fat is good at playing tragic heroes in Hong Kong action movies. Since his work with John Woo, nearly every gunplay role he plays has him using two guns at least once in the movie.
  • Do you need a snarky, smug, British, bad guy who loves to get into his work? Then you want Mark Sheppard. Seriously, the entries in his resume where he isn't playing a villain are the ones who stand out. Most prominently known as Badger from Firefly, Crowley from Supernatural, Canton Everett Deleware from Doctor Who (one of his few non-villain roles), and Nate Ford's Evil Counterpart Jim Sterling in Leverage. He also was the antagonist for the first half of season five of 24, The Ring Director in Chuck, and the first Villain of the Week in White Collar he later returned in the show's fifth season as its main antagonist.
  • If a movie script includes an Eastern European mobster, general, or scientist, chances are the character will be played by Rade Šerbedžija.


  • Actors with dwarfism like Warwick Davis, Kenny Baker, Verne Troyer, Tony Cox, Phil Fondacaro and others are always stuck doing fantasy films because that's the only roles they can get. David Rappaport most likely suffered from depression because of this, which probably lead him to be Driven to Suicide. Ditto for Hervé Villechaize.
  • Genre roles have a reputation for pigeonholing actors forever. Chalk it up to the Sci-Fi Ghetto. If you become famous for a role in a sci-fi show or movie, accept the fact that you'll get no work, especially in Film or Live-Action TV, except in guest spots that are parodies of your most famous role.
    Miles Antwiler: I also think we all need to give up on the idea of Lance Henriksen “starring” in any movies anymore. The man is the John Carradine of the new millennium. He will just show up for five minutes to any movie offering craft services. Chuck a few free tacos his way and BAM he will show up to your nephew’s bar mitzvah. I just assume he is in every crappy Scifi movie from now on. Yeah, as you can guess, he shows up for five minutes grunts out a few lines and collects his paycheck (despite being top billed).
    • Especially seen with actors who appeared on Star Trek. Many of them wound up becoming directors like Jonathan Frakes, Roxanne Dawson or LeVar Burton (each of whom directed episodes of Star Trek). Frakes frequently casts Star Trek alums in his projects, like Leverage. (Does this count as an improvement?) And it's doubly bad if you're an actress known for a role on Trek.
    Nana Visitor: I was in my 40’s, being put out in the world. And if you think about it, I was a Star Trek actor, in my 40’s, female, and it was hard not to think, 'This is not going to be good.'
    • Patrick Stewart has been able to avoid the Trek curse; sure, his other major mainstream role is Professor X in the X-Men film continuity, but outside of film, he is a very, very respected Shakespearean actor, one of the finest of his generation. On the other hand, Sir Pat has faced typecasting in another way: He's stuck playing slogan-spewing, patriarchal old men, something his contemporaries (like Malcolm McDowell) enjoy ribbing him about.
    • Shatner isn't so much typecast in Sci-Fi so much as he is typecast as himself. Doesn't seem to bother him though, and he does it well.
      • It wasn't until The Eighties with TJ Hooker that he had any success as a character actor outside of Star Trek. Nimoy gave up altogether, which some might consider a miscarriage of justice.
    • John de Lancie as a field reporter in Without Warning: Fire From the Sky rather quickly shattered the effect they were going for (a spiritual homage to The War of the Worlds). He did, however, play a poignant role on Breaking Bad as Krysten Ritter's grieving father.
    • However, if you count voice acting as serious, a number of Next Generation actors found their way into Gargoyles.
    • LeVar Burton has a few other well-known roles. He played Kunta Kinte in Roots, voiced Kwame in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and was the host of Reading Rainbow.
    • Poor DeForest Kelley, on the other hand, jumped from one type of Type Casting (villains in Western movies and shows) to another (he would never do a well-known role again after being cast as Dr. McCoy). However, he was the only major Star Trek cast member who never bitched about it.
    • Michelle Forbes managed to avoid falling victim to this. After her recurring role as Ro Laren on ST:TNG she went on to play Dr. Julianna Cox on Homicide: Life on the Street, Lynne Kresge on 24, Samantha Brinker on Prison Break, and Maryann Forrester on True Blood, to name just a handful.
    • The main actors in the 2009 reboot have thus far avoided the problem because they were already well known for other roles, and/or very quickly after the movies release had other projects playing very different roles.
  • Doctor Who tends to have permanent effects on anyone who played the Doctor. Traditionally, the show has had a "Three-Year Rule" of actors exiting the lead role to avoid being typecast in the future. This tradition began with Patrick Troughton (in 1969!), who eventually gave up and realized that he would always be The Doctor. Quite literally, as he died in-costume.
    • Tom Baker, the longest-serving and most iconic Doctor, struggled with this severely after leaving the role. The first thing he did to break out of the role was to alter his appearance by cutting his iconic curls off, reacting with exaggerated Creator Backlash to his role, and swearing a lot on television, but it didn't work. Most of his later roles have been things that have related in some way to the Doctor, such as playing Oscar Wilde and Sherlock Holmes (his Doctor was based somewhat on Wilde, and he even did a Holmes-pastiche episode), although he gets decent work as a voiceover artist on adverts and so on thanks to his famously pleasant voice. On the bright side, he loved being the Doctor, has said that the role 'saved' him, and mentioned in his 80th birthday interview that everyone in his village calls him "Doctor", which he enjoys.
    • In a rumour perhaps inspired by the sad tale of Tom Baker, Christopher Eccleston was announced to have left after only one season to avoid this, though he later revealed he'd left because he'd witnessed directors bullying crew-members and overworking his costar Billie Piper, and he felt that staying in the role could not be morally justified. That, and few people believed the revival would last past one season.
    • This is one reason why the Big Finish audios are so beneficial: It's a quick paycheck for people who contributed a lot to the classic series, something which doesn't involve milling about conventions like pandas at a zoo.
  • The main characters of Command & Conquer 3 are typecast since their previous roles, as pointed out in a Ctrl+Alt+Del comic.
  • Quinton Flynn seems to voice three kinds of characters: Badasses, comedic villains, or just plain Ax Crazy pyromaniacs.
  • Like above with Marlee Matlin, if you have any disability whatsoever, your character is usually tied to that disability, and is the focus of the episode if you're a guest star. See Disabled Character, Disabled Actor for more of these.
  • After starring in A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles couldn't avoid getting written as slightly exaggerated versions of their real-life personalities in subsequent movies. Ringo Starr, who went on to have a fairly successful acting career, used to say that he'd like to play a villain just to shake things up (when the band were still making movies together, he even suggested that he and Paul, commonly considered the sweetest Beatles, play Those Two Bad Guys).
  • Cracked's 6 Actors Who Play the Exact Same Role in Multiple Movies mentions similarities among multiple roles of Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, James Earl Jones, and more.

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alternative title(s): Type Cast
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