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You Look Familiar
aka: You Sound Familiar
Haven't I seen you somewhere before, Michael Sheard?

"You look familiar" "Like your dead girlfriend?"

A guest actor who returns to play more than one character in the same continuity.

As usual, Star Trek is particularly guilty (although perhaps somewhat understandable, with over 700 episodes across the various incarnations plus 11 movies). Alien makeup helps them get away with this, and using the same actors is actually advantageous. After all, if they've made a Ferengi prosthetic for you before, they don't have to go to quite as much effort to do so again...

The use of the same actor for different characters is typically intended to go unnoticed or at least unremarked. Ed Wasser played Shadow minion Morden in Babylon 5 but also appeared in the series pilot as a character credited as Guerra. Since that series was so intricately plotted, fans wondered if the Shadows were influencing events as far back as the pilot. No, said series creator J. Michael Straczynski, they just liked the actor's work in the pilot and cast him in a recurring role.

Spin-off shows will often encounter this, as the producers find actors they like for the new show.

This is such a common occurrence amongst the various incarnations of Law & Order, that fans of that show have come to call those who look familiar "Repeat Offenders". Primary cast members Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson and Jeremy Sisto all played small one-off roles prior to being cast in the series. Other examples: Diane Neal, who played ADA Casey Novak in seasons 5-9 of SVU, previously appeared as a Wall Street broker who joined two more women in the gang rape of a male dancer during a party, then killed one of those women, because she was going to come clean to the police about the rape.

When it is done for a purpose, you have an Identical Stranger, an Identical Grandson, or an Uncanny Family Resemblance. When it isn't done for such a purpose, sharp-eyed fans will assume so anyway.

Compare Celebrity Paradox, Hey, It's That Guy!, Hey, It's That Voice!, You Might Remember Me from.... Contrast with The Other Darrin. Can be Handwaved by the Literary Agent Hypothesis.

You ALL Look Familiar is not related, unless character sprites and models can be considered "guest actors."


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    Star Trek Franchise 
  • Mark Lenard has had speaking roles as a Romulan, a Vulcan (Spock's father), and a Klingon. Most notably, he was the first Romulan to be completely seen on screen and he was one of the first Klingons with the forehead ridges.
  • Majel Barrett played 'Number One' in the original Star Trek: The Original Series pilot, Nurse Chapel during the series, and Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, plus as the voice of various starship computers from The Original Series up until a posthumous role in J. J. Abrams' Star Trek movie. Nobody seems to notice their voices are essentially identical, including Commander Data. Barrett's dual-role as computer voice and Mrs. Troi was referenced tongue-in-cheek in one episode when Mrs. Troi, an apparent technical Luddite, frustratedly accesses the holodeck computer, and argues with it.
    • Plus she played 13 different characters during the Animated Series. This was because she and James Doohan pretty much voiced all the minor roles so the studio didn't have to hire more actors.
    • A non-canon pre-Original series novel (The Rift by Peter David) involves Barrett's character "Number One," who is a computer engineer, recording her voice as a template for a new voice-interactive computer interface, which would explain her appearance as the ship's computer voice in TOS as well as later series.
    • Lampshaded in the book series New Frontier which introduced the character Morgan Primus, an immortal woman that author Peter David suggested had actually been Number One, changed identities to Christine Chapel, and was Robin Lefler's mother. Looking like Lwaxana Troi was a coincidence...though Morgan does send her Lwaxana a letter at one point, and calls her a "niece," in quotation marks, suggesting they were close but not actually related. Nevertheless, both Captain Picard and Montgomery Scott were astounded when they met her in "the present".
  • Speaking of Commander Data, Brent Spiner actually played five different characters across the Treks, three of whom had android makeup (Data, Lore, and B-4), one of whom had old-guy makeup (Noonien Soong), and one where he didn't need any makeup at all (Arik Soong). (Really a variant case of Identical Grandson, as Arik Soong is Noonien Soong's great-grandfather and the three androids are Noonien Soong's "children".) Not to mention all the one-off holodeck characters he played as sort-of-Data. Spiner also played a young version of Noonien Soong, looking much like a younger version of Arik Soong, not surprisingly.
  • Character actor James Sloyan appeared in at least four different roles across The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. His two TNG roles were somewhat related, as both characters interacted with Dr. Crusher and involved the same experimental shield technology.
  • Suzie Plakson also has four different Trek roles, most notably as K'Ehleyr, Worf's brief love interest and mother of Alexander. She also played the Vulcan doctor Selar and Q (but not that Q).
  • Margot Rose played Picard's wife in "The Inner Light" and also showed up in Deep Space Nine's "Hard Time".
  • With the aid of makeup, Jeffrey Combs had recurring roles as Weyoun and Brunt on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (once playing both in the same episode although unfortunately the characters didn't share any scenes), Shran on Enterprise, and several characters in single episodes of various Star Treks. Total count (including a cameo in the Deep Space Nine finale): eight — one Andorian, one Vorta, two Ferengi, two humans, and two characters of (different) unnamed species.
    • And things get really complicated when you remember that there was actually a series of Weyouns (clones with pre-loaded personalities). One episode featured two Weyoun clones interacting, albeit through a viewscreen.
  • In a rare double-YLF, Merritt Butrick and Judson Scott both appeared in both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the Next Generation episode "Symbiosis."
  • Marc Alaimo, best known as Deep Space Nine's Gul Dukat, is one of the few Trek guest actors to have appeared as a bunch of aliens and as a human (in "Time's Arrow").
  • Vaughn Armstrong is probably the record-holder here. He's appeared in every modern Trek series and been a member of eight alien races. He finally landed a recurring role — and a makeup-free one at that — as Enterprise's Admiral Forrest.
  • J.G. Hertzler is another repeat Star Trek performer. He played several roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. His most well known role is the Klingon General, Martok on Deep Space Nine - when he made a one-off appearance as an unrelated character between appearances in this role, he was credited as Garman Hertzler.
    • He played a Klingon Lawyer in Enterprise making it a YLF in full Klingon make-up.
  • David Warner appeared as Federation ambassador St. John Talbot in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, as Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in the very next movie, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and a year later as the Cardassian Gul Madred in Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Chain of Command"
  • Stuntman Tom Morga has appeared in every Star Trek program since the last of the original series movies, playing everything from Borg to Cardassians to Romulans, not to mention quite few Redshirt humans. He's developed a small following, despite having almost no spoken dialogue.
  • Another actor who played a large number of roles (particularly notable as these were usually without make-up and thus make him readily identifiable) is Tim Russ, who played an Enterprise-B crewmember in Star Trek: Generations, a criminal in the "Starship Mine" episode of The Next Generation, and a Klingon named T'kar in Deep Space Nine's "Invasive Procedures," and finally became a primary cast member as Tuvok on Voyager - a role ironically requiring make-up, although to a very minor degree. Made somewhat more ironic in that, in one episode, a Tuvok impostor would appear portrayed by yet another reoccurring actor.
    • He also played a human bridge crewman on the Excelsior in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the same ship, and at the same time, which an episode of Voyager revealed Tuvok to have served on during a brief time in Star Fleet, in his youth, that he didn't like. (He came around to wanting a career in Star Fleet only much later in life.)
  • Morn, played by Mark Allen Shepherd, was one of the most beloved characters on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and appeared in almost every episode despite never having a line of dialogue. In an episode where he apparently dies (he actually staged his own death) Quark holds a memorial service in the bar and grabs a random patron to sit in Morn's chair to 'keep it warm'...a random patron played by Mark Allen Shepherd.
  • Eddie Paskey played a variety of characters in at least 51 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. They include his main character Mr. Leslie, a technician named "Conners", a bridge crewman named "Ryan", a citizen of the planet Eminiar 7, and a resistance fighter on the Nazi planet Ekos. He has been an unnamed member of the bridge crew, Security, Engineering, a helmsman/weapons officer, navigator, and transporter chief. Though unseen, he even drove the truck that killed Kirk's true love Edith Keeler. Mr. Leslie actually died in the episode "Obsession" but he continued appearing afterward (including in the same episode).
  • Tony Todd who played Worf's brother Kurn in TNG, an elderly Jake Sisko in Deep Space Nine, and the Hirogen Alpha in Voyager's "Prey".
  • James Cromwell played two aliens on TNG and another on Deep Space Nine before playing Zefram Cochrane in First Contact. His first TNG role was as a Human Alien, while the other two TV roles were as Rubber-Forehead Aliens of different species.
  • Rene Auberjonois, known as Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, may have looked familiar to viewers if his role as the villainous human, Colonel West, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,, hadn't ended up on the cutting room floor. His scenes were later restored in the extended edition of the film. Auberjonois would also later appear in the Enterprise episode "Oasis", which has the exact same plot as the Odo-heavy Deep Space Nine episode "Shadowplay", something he is said to have noted on set.
  • Susanna Thompson played the Borg Queen (taking over for an unavailable Alice Krige) in four episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and also played Jadzia Dax's one-off love interest Dr Lenara Kahn in the episode "Rejoined" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In addition, she portrayed a Romulan and a Tilonian in (different episodes of) The Next Generation.
  • Joseph Ruskin has had "only" six roles, but he is the only actor other than Majel Barrett to act with all five casts (appearing with the Next Generation crew in Star Trek: Insurrection).
  • Denise Crosby has had two roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation: Tasha Yar, and Sela (the daughter of Yar from an alternate timeline and a Romulan man).
  • One interesting example from Deep Space Nine is the episode "Far Beyond The Stars". The entire regular cast show up as humans in Sisko's vision of the 1950s on Earth. Many of the cast who usually appear in heavy alien makeup here appear almost unrecognisable without their prosthetics, leading to a weird "you look/sound/act familiar..." deja vu feeling until you match up the actors with the characters they usually play.
  • Noley Thornton played a major child guest role in TNG as Clara Sutter in "Imaginary Friend" and in DS9 as Taya in "Shadowplay" Ironically, she didn't have a mother in TNG and her mother was missing in DS9.
  • John Fleck, instantly recognizable by his smarmy aristocratic elocutions, played both a Cardassian and an alien from the Gamma Quadrant on DS9, two different Romulans on both TNG and DS9, an alien Used Car Salesman on VOY, and finally semi-Big Bad Silik on ENT.
  • Michael Dorn was already a regular as Lieutenant Worf for four seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation when he made a minor appearance in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where he played a Klingon defense attorney who makes a futile attempt to argue on Captain Kirk's behalf during his mock trial in Klingon captivity. The defense attorney's name? Colonel Worf.

  • The Brady Bunch: Chris Beaumont – not a particularly well-known actor but still – played four different teen-agers throughout the series' five-year run, one each season. In 1971's "Our Son, the Man" (framed around freshman Greg trying to fit in at Westdale High School), Chris plays a high school senior Greg tries to emulate. Later that year, as Season 3 dawned, Chris plays Greg's fast-talking friend, Eddie in "The Wheeler Dealer." The end of Season 4 brought "A Room at the Top," where Chris was now "Hank," a college sophomore who tries to talk Greg into moving into his own apartment to get away from his younger brothers. Then in Season 5 came his appearance as Jerry Rogers, the cheating quarterback of rival Clinton High in "Quarterback Sneak"; this role was perhaps his best-received of his four appearances, but certainly his most prominent.
  • Supernatural Has Samandriel in Season 8, who's actor appeared as the teenager who Sam and Dean talk to in the Season 1 episode Bugs.
    • Voice Actor Andrew Francis appeared on a couple episodes: the first was in as an actor working on a film where its crew was being murdered by a vengeful spirit, and the second was years later as an unlucky guy who gets targeted by a Japanese spirit.
    • In a mid-season 9 episode Britt Irvin plays the angel Muriel. She appeared way back in the first season episode "Hell House" playing a student being questioned by Sam and Dean.
  • Highlander: The Series commonly re-used guest actors in different roles. For instance, fight choreographer Anthony de Longis played two different villainous roles (in keeping with the series premise, both characters were beheaded by the protagonist). In Highlander fandom, this was known as the '42 actors in all of Canada' rule for the show's tendency to recycle some actors 3-4 times in different roles on the show. Jeremy Brudenell played an insane immortal killed by MacLeod during the second season... then came back two seasons (and a haircut) later to play one of MacLeod's best friends.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place, Amanda Tepe has played a worker at the Gurt Barn, a museum security guard, a hot dog vendor, and even a worker in the Wizard World.
  • Also popular in the Xena-verse, due to the limited number of actors available for shooting Down Under. for example Karl Urban played both Julius Caesar and Cupid, and Renee O'Connor appears (not as Gabrielle) in Hercules and The Lost Kingdom, one of the TV movies that started the franchise. This last is particularly amusing as one shot of Renee O'Connor from that movie was used in the intro for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (Kevin Sorbo is covering her with his body as they're both being swallowed by a monster, so it's not very noticeable). This could also be argued as a The Other Darrin since Renee O'Connor plays a blonde love interest for Hercules named Deianeira, and his wife in the later series is shown to be a blonde woman named Deianeira. Lucy Lawless also played two parts in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys before being cast as Xena. Lampshaded in an episode where several characters remarked how much the second character played by Lucy Lawless looked like Xena, before being hushed and told 'we don't talk about that'.
    • And then they took this and ran with it. Several other episodes featured Lucy Lawless playing multiple characters in the same got to a point where three different characters appeared, with a fourth referenced!
    • Marton Csoskas played Borias, Belach (Borias' son), and Khrafstar.
    • Iphicles and Ares were both played by Kevin Smith; they're not related to each other but they're both Hercules's half-brothers! (Iphicles is the son of Alcmene and her husband; Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera.)
    • Ted Raimi playing the triplets Joxer, Jett and Jace.
    • Before Caesar & Cupid Karl Urban was in the episode "Altared States" & in a late series episode called "Lifeblood", which was a reuse of an unsold Pilot Episode. Also in "Lifeblood" were Danielle Cormack, who played Ephiny, & Claudia Black, who was Cassandra in two Hercules episodes.
    • Robert Trebor played the escaped slave Waylon in the second Hercules Made-for-TV Movie, then returned to the series as Salmoneus the anything-for-a-buck salesman who appeared on Hercules more often than any other recurring character and thrice on Xena.
    • Michael Hurst played Hercules' best buddy Iolaus, Charon, Widow Twanky, and over ten other characters.
    • Lisa Chappell played Lydia of Thrace, Dirce, and Melissa. As an inside joke, when Dirce and Melissa met face to face in the episode "Hercules On Trial", Dirce commented that Melissa was "uncommonly beautiful".
  • Francesca Buller (Ben Browder's wife) has played at least four different characters on Farscape. Since most of them involved significant effort from the prosthetics department, this is not readily apparent.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel:
    • Jonathan M. Woodward first played a vampire named Holden in Buffy. He was killed at the end of his single episode. Shortly thereafter, the actor turned up on the spinoff Angel as Knox, and stuck around for seven episodes. He became a "hat trick" (an actor appearing in all three of Joss Whedon's shows) with his guest star appearance as Tracey on Firefly.
    • Woodward is actually one of four Joss Whedon hat-trick actors - Andy Umberger had both a recurring role as D'Hoffryn on Buffy, and an early one-shot villain role on Angel in "I Fall To Pieces" (with a small role as an Alliance Captain in Firefly), Carlos Jacott played villain Ken on Buffy and hilarious villain Richard on Angel (before playing an important villain role in the Firefly pilot), and Jeff Ricketts played both the character Weatherby in Buffy and Angel in a crossover arc, and a spider monster in Angel (along with one of Firefly's memorable Blue Gloves).
      • Camden Toy also appeared in both Buffy and Angel. He played one of the Gentlemen ("Hush"), Gnarl ("Same Time Same Place"), one of the Turok-Han (in the last few episodes), and the Prince of Lies ("Why We Fight").
    • Tom Lenk, known for playing Andrew in the evil geek trio during Buffy's sixth season (and beyond), originally appeared in a bit part as one of Harmony's vampire minions.
    • A well-known example from Buffy is Kali Rocha, who first appeared on the show in a minor role in a flashback, playing Cecily, Spike's hopeless crush from his time as a human. Later on she was re-hired in a completely different role as Halfrek, Anya's fellow vengeance demon. Keen-eyed fans, of course, immediately spotted that they were the same actor, and a lot of Fanon built up over how Cecily could have become Halfrek in the intervening century — so much so that Joss Whedon finally decided to acknowledge it and establish Cecily = Halfrek as canon. (Halfrek finally encounters Spike in person, and it becomes obvious that the two of them know each other and have a history, with Halfrek addressing Spike by his original name, "William".)
      • Since this was a retcon due to fans noticing Kali Rocha playing dual roles rather than planned continuity, Cecily = Halfrek created some issues with timing — Halfrek's offhand references to her own age establish her as having been a demon long before the time period when William met Cecily. A non-canon comic, Spike: Old Times, reinterprets the flashback episode from Cecily's perspective, revealing that she was already a demon at that time and "Cecily" was a long-term undercover identity.
    • Jeff Kober played the psycho vamp Kralik in the third season episode "Helpless", and later played Rack, the magic pusher who hooked Willow on dark magic during Season Six.
    • Brian Thompson played the vampire Luke in the first two episodes, then showed up again in Season 2 as The Judge.
    • Andy Hallett, best known as Lorne from Angel, was originally an extra in the Buffy episode "Hush."
    • Kal Penn of Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle fame appeared in Buffy as one of the obnoxious students in the much-maligned "Beer Bad" then in Angel as a psychic with an exposed brain.
    • Carlos Jacott (who is also known for his role as Lawrence Dobson in the first two episodes of Firefly) appeared as the demon Ken in the Buffy Season 3 opener, "Anne", and later appeared as another demon, Richard, in the Angel Season 1 episode "Bachelor Party".
    • Spice Williams plays the police instructor on Buffy who tries to murder Buffy, Patrice, in "What's My Line?" She also appeared in "The Zeppo" as a member of the Sisterhood of Jhe, and later turned up on Angel as a convict hired to kill Faith in prison.
  • Lance LeGault appeared as Delta Agent John W. Newton on Magnum PI, then returned as recurring character Colonel Buck Greene for several episodes. Also on Magnum, Kathleen Lloyd played a client of Magnum's then returned as recurring character D.A. Carol Baldwin for several seasons.
  • Elyssa Davalos must set some kind of record for rapid re-appearance. She appears as a (presumably) Baltic love interest of MacGyver in that show's two-part S3 opener. Less than a month later, she appears again as Nikki Carpenter and appears in four further episodes.
    • MacGyver also had another good one in Tia Carrere. She first appears as a loving big sister to a boy in trouble. Then a season later she reappears and assassinates some poor chap. It is only by watching the rest of the episode the viewer can deduce that the two characters are not supposed to be the same.
    • Dana Elcar (The guy who plays Mac's boss, Pete) appeared in the opening pilot episode, as a different character named Andy Colson. Later on, no recognition was shown between him and Mac.
  • On CHiPS, Ponch & Jon had to rescue "Cousin Oliver" quite often, once as Jeff, once as Brian, once as Russell.
  • Dragnet, the 1950s-1970s Police Procedural, routinely had actors and actresses play multiple non-recurring roles during the series. In one of the movies, a man is a rapist and serial killer, who ends up becoming a police chemist in the series. Virgina Gregg, one of Jack Webb's friends, was routinely cast in many episodes as a typical woman victim of crime, or in some cases, as the perpetrator. Generally, Jack Webb (as Sergeant Joe Friday), his partner and his boss were the only recurring characters from week to week, with one very special exception. In the 1950s, the program did a Christmas Episode, in which a baby Jesus was missing from the manger scene at a Catholic church. The police officers interviewed the Padre, a pawn broker, an altar boy, and eventually meet the little boy who took the doll, because he promised it that if he got a wagon for Christmas, he would give it the first ride. About fifteen years later in the 1970s, they did a Remake of that episode, with the same (now much older) man as pawnbroker, the young man who played the altar boy was now the Padre, and the little boy who had taken the doll in the first show was now an altar boy, with a new little boy moving the doll in his little red wagon. In both cases, the little boy was not prosecuted, one of the only times that Sergeant Friday ever let a known perpetrator get away
  • Stargate Verse is a prime example of this trope, thanks to the relatively small Vancouver acting pool.
    • Garwin Sanford played Narim, Carter's Tollan love interest, in Stargate SG-1 before being cast in Stargate Atlantis as Dr. Weir's husband Simon.
    • Anne Marie DeLuise (wife of Peter DeLuise who directed and cameoed in several episodes, but then SG-1 sometimes resembles the DeLuise family reunion) as Amy Vandenberg in "Bounty" and Farrell in "The Other Side".
    • Christopher Heyerdahl played the Wraith Todd and the leader of the Athosian on Atlantis. On SG-1, he played role as a human on a planet controlled by a computer.
    • Courtenay J. Stevens plays Lieutenat Elliot in a couple of SG-1 episodes and Leader of a planet of children in Atlantis.
    • And of course, James Lafazanos and Andee Frizzell play most of the unmasked wraiths (the males and the queens respectively)
    • Atlantis regular Paul McGillion (who played Dr. Carson Beckett) had, several years earlier, played the young Ernest Littlefield during the flashbacks in The Torment of Tantalus from the first season of SG-1.
    • Robin Mossley played both the alien scientist who created the "Groundhog Day" Loop in Window of Opportunity and a medical doctor who works for the SGC in Morpheus.
    • The potential awkwardness of Robert Duncan playing Dr. Daniel Jackson's long-dead father Melburn in The Gamekeeper, then returning the following season's Seth as the host of the eponymous Goa'uld. Perhaps there is a reason that Daniel looks a bit subdued in the latter episode?
  • In Season 1 Episode 5 of Lois and Clark, a nebbish scientist played by Leslie Jordan who created an invisibility suit was used as a one-shot character. The same actor appeared as Resplendant Man in Season 2 Episode 8, changing absolutely none of his mannerisms.
  • Taggart, not surprisingly for a series that has lasted over 25 years, constantly features this trope. A particular blatant example is Colin McCredie who played three different characters in three consecutive episodes, the last one being a recurring character.
  • In the earlier seasons of Smallville, Jor-El was played by Terrence "General Zod" Stamp, leading to no end of Epileptic Trees theories by the fans.
    • Not a straight example, but the twin brother of the actor that plays Jimmy Olsen on later seasons played a Meteor-Freak of the week In season one, one of the many that were Clark's classmates. Nobody seems to notice the uncanny resemblance.
  • In Season 2 of Veronica Mars, James Jordan appeared as the mentally unstable janitor Tommy "Lucky" Dohanic for a few episodes, then reappeared in Season 3 as recurring character Tim Foyle, the graduate student of Dr. Landry.
  • While this is so common in the Law & Order franchise that listing every example would require an entire page of its own, Jennifer Van Dyck has played eight different characters in the franchise over the course of nine episodes. Not surprisingly, she is very good at what she does.
  • Same goes for the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise. All of them are set in the same reality, still they constantly interchange actors. Seamus Dever for example was a beguiled architect on CSI: NY, a rich boy who threw his drug-dealing brother overboard on CSI: Miami and an airline executive AND a TV producer who liked having sex with underaged talent-show contestants on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
  • The Adventures of Superman, owing to its shoestring budget, did this all the time. On any given episode, you could expect the mob-boss of the week to be played by one of about a dozen guys.
  • Tony Todd appeared in 24 season 3 as a detective investigating the death of the millionaire extorting Pres. Palmer then he reappears in season 7 as Sangala president Benjamin Juma the only person to successfully lead an attack on the White House.
    • Faran Tahir appeared in season 2 as a friendly mosque greeter, and then in season 4 as a fearsome terrorist.
  • The same actress that played a patient in an episode of Private Practice went on to play the (Completely unrelated) regular role of April Kepner in the Grey's Anatomy, the show that spawned the former.
  • In Young Blades, Phillip Mitchell plays a Cardinal's guard who gets killed before the opening credits of the first episode. He returns five episodes later... as a Cardinal's guard who gets killed in the series finale by the same person who killed his original character.
    • Another actor, Andrew McIlroy, played a criminal in the second episode and returned in a recurring minor role as a servant starting in the very next episode. A third, Christos Shaw, was a guest star in the third episode, then reappeared for a later episode in a different, minor role in a cut scene.
  • On Quincy, Anita Gillette played Quincy's late wife in a flashback in "Promises to Keep". In 1982, she joined the cast as Emily Hanover ... who married him.
  • Starsky & Hutch did this many times. A few notable examples:
    • Richard Ward played the original Captain Dobey in the pilot episode, and returned in one of the final episodes as Huggy Bear's mentor.
    • Veronica Hamel appeared in a second-season episode as the relative of a victim, and then appeared a season later as Hutch's ex-wife.
    • Kristy McNichol played three separate child characters, and then weirdly inverted the trope; when one of those characters came back for a second appearance, she was played by a different actress.
  • Nana Visitor played two different characters on Matlock. Both times she was guilty.
  • Tony Shalhoub's real-life wife Brooke Adams appeared in several episodes of Monk. For example in season 1 she played a airline stewardess who is driven crazy by Monk's actions and later made a brief cameo in the 100th episode, while in season 5 she played a local sheriff in "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm", which leads to an interesting moment where she and Monk are dancing at the monthly square dance. She was also a kidnapped violinist's mother in "Mr. Monk and the Kid" and a Crazy Cat Lady in "Mr. Monk and the Badge".
    • There were also two Kathryn Joosten appearances: as a hospital nurse in "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect" and in an interview in "Mr. Monk's 100th Case".
  • A&E's A Nero Wolfe Mystery employs a repertory cast to play non-recurring roles.
  • Mark Sheppard has appeared on two different episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as a photographer and a professor, both with ties to the respective victims of the episodes.
  • While the show is already famous for reusing character actors, Larry Linville (later famous as Major Burns on Mash) guest starred on Mission: Impossible three seperate times, as three different Eastern Bloc official/officers (described as Major Burns without the comedy), all of which he did before 1970. Interestingly, The Other Wiki insists this happened after he left Mash, even though Mission: Impossible ended just as Mash began.
  • Quantum Leap, due to each episode being set in different times and places, occasionally reused actors in different enough costumes. Dan Butler, Willie Garson, Bruce Mcgill and W.K. Stratton each played two roles in different episodes.
  • In The Saint, Canadian actress Suzanne Lloyd played completely unrelated girls of the week in six different episodes — three of them in one year.
    • Amusingly enough, Lois Maxwell, best known for being the first actress to play Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond films, appeared in two different episodes in the 1967 season, years before she and Roger Moore would work together in said film series.
  • Very notable in the pilot of Robin of Sherwood, in which one of the rival archers Robin faces in the Sheriff's tournament is played by the same actor as Robin's by-this-point-long-dead father.
  • In the Winnetou movie series, the lovely Karin Dorn played the role of Miss Ellen Patterson in the first film of the series, The Treasure of Silver Lake. In Last Of The Renegades, she played Winnetou's Love Interest, The Chief's Daughter Ribanna.
  • Noob due to being a Web Original, has a limited actor pool. When an actor is needed for a new regular character, regular extras is the first place the creator looks. The trope is sometimes averted as some minor roles come with a mandatory hidden face, but have a high chance of concealing a familiar one.
  • In Game of Thrones, Tommen Baratheon will be played by Dean Charles Chapman starting from season four, making for a case of an actor being both The Other Darrin and You Look Familiar (he previously played the comparatively small role of Martyn Lannister).
  • On Game Shows, contestants would occasionally be invited back due to question/technical problems.
  • This was fairly common in Columbo:
    • Patrick McGoohan appeared in four episodes as four different murderers.
    • William Shatner appeared in two as the murderer.
    • Robert Culp was the murderer in three episodes, and the murderer's father in a fourth.
    • Leslie Nielsen appeared twice, once as a victim and once as the boyfriend of the murderer.
    • Robert Vaughn was a victim in one episode and the murderer in another.
    • Jack Cassidy played the murderer in three different episodes.
    • George Hamilton played the murderer in two episodes.
    • Aside from these major characters, a few actors appeared again and again as incidental characters. Vito Scotti, for instance, often appeared as a colorful comic relief character—the hard-selling mortician in "Swan Song"; the obsequious tailor in "Candidate for Crime"; the wino eyewitness in "Negative Reaction"; the glad-handing lobbyist in "Identity Crisis."
    • Shera Danese made an appearance in the NBC episode "Murder Under Glass"; she later married Peter Falk and appeared in a handful of ABC episodes.
  • The MMO The Matrix Online had an example that was both this and The Other Darrin. As the game was an official continuation of the Matrix films, several characters from the movies made appearances in expository cutscenes, and the producers managed to get several actors from the cast of the movies to reprise their roles. Jada Pinkett Smith wasn't one of them, so Niobe ended up being voiced by Gina Torres, who had previously played Dozer's widow Cas in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
  • Star Trek Online:
  • In Men In Black, David Cross plays Laurel's attendant at the morgue. In Men In Black II, he plays Newton, the video store guy.

Occasionally a guest actor will return as a different regular character. Examples include:

    Star Trek Franchise 
  • Both Tim Russ and Robert Duncan McNeill appeared in TNG before becoming Voyager regulars. However, McNeill's character was originally intended to be a reprisal of his original role, but Locarno was decided to be irredeemable, so he's made into a different character... who gets the very same backstory that supposedly made Locarno irredeemable (with one minor change: three people died in the incident instead of one. Ooo-kay...) Another theory that's been put forth is they didn't want to pay royalties to the writer of Locarno's episode.
    • Other common explanations for the change in character are copyright concerns over the original story, and Robert Duncan McNeill's rumored unavailability before a last-minute change allowed him into the series, too late to revert to the original backstory/character.
    • Well, also it was stated that it was Paris who eventually came clean about the incident, whereas Locarno just wanted to cover it up and it was Wesley who decided to tell the truth. So Paris does seem a bit more redeemable.
    • As for Tim Russ, ironically, his first character is a villain who suffers the Vulcan Nerve Pinch (at the hands of Picard, who'd once mind-melded with Ambassador Sarek.) Russ would return in Voyager as the Vulcan security chief Tuvok (though not before playing the human security chief of the Enterprise-B in Generations).
    • Tim Russ has also played a Klingon. He went by the name of T'kar in Deep Space Nine's "Invasive Procedures".
    • Tim Russ also played an (apparently human) bridge officer on the Excelsior in Star Trek VI, which becomes quite amusing when they expand Tuvok's background to make him a low-ranking crewman on the same ship at the same time.
  • Armin Shimerman played a Betazoid gift box and two Ferengi in Next Gen before becoming Quark in Deep Space Nine.
    • And Max Grodenchik, best known for playing Quark's brother Rom, also played a couple of Ferengi in Next Gen, as well as a Trill in a deleted scene from The Movie Star Trek: Insurrection, and an unnamed human in the Deep Space Nine finale.
    • Shimerman himself wrote the obligitory Lampshade Hanging; in his book The 34th Rule, much is made of the inability of humans to tell Ferengi apart, and a character insults Quark by saying a Betazoid gift box resembles him. Both of Shimerman's earlier Ferengi characters also appear in the novel.
  • Diana Muldaur played two one-shot characters in The Original Series before returning to play TNG's Recurrer Dr. Pulaski.
  • Ethan Phillips played a Ferengi in an episode of The Next Generation before playing Voyager's Neelix. In the episode, "False Profits", Neelix disguises himself as a Ferengi. Gee, wonder where they got that idea. Then he played a Ferengi again in an episode of Enterprise.
  • When Wesley takes the Academy admission test, one of his fellow students is a blue vaguely catfish-like alien with a special apparatus to supplement his air. Some time later, another member of this race boards the Enterprise, played by the same actor, and Wesley mistakes him for the other. This is given the Hand Wave that the species has very similar bone structures and are hard to tell apart.
  • The penultimate episode of Star Trek: Enterprise featured John Frederick Paxton, a xenophobic miner who creates a superweapon and is willing to kill anyone (even his own) to achieve his agenda. Star Trek Into Darkness features Admiral Marcus, a xenophobic Starfleet officer who creates a superweapon and is willing to kill anyone (even his own) to achieve his agenda.

    Doctor Who Universe 
  • Doctor Who has a number of examples of guest actors returning as regular cast:
    • Colin Baker played a Time Lord security chief, Commander Maxil, before coming back as the Sixth Doctor. Since Maxil shoots the Fifth Doctor with a stungun in the episode he appears in, Baker likes to joke that he got the part of the Doctor by shooting the incumbent.
    • Peter Purves played two different characters in the same serial ("The Chase") - Fake American Morton Dill and new companion Steven Taylor.
    • Jean Marsh played Richard the Lionheart's sister in "The Crusades" before becoming one of the Doctor's travelling companions in "The Daleks' Master Plan".
    • Nicholas Courtney played a space security agent in "The Daleks' Master Plan" before taking on his recurring role as Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Courtney acted among six of the first seven Doctors on television, and the Sixth and Eighth in audio dramas.
    • Ian Marter played Lieutenant Andrews in "Carnival of Monsters" before joining the regular cast as Harry Sullivan in "Robot".
    • Lalla Ward played an alien princess whom Romana liked so much that she modelled her next regeneration on her. Apparently this was because she was one of the few actresses who Tom Baker actually liked. (Enough to marry, in fact.)
    • Eve Myles played Gwyneth in Doctor Who episode The Unquiet Dead, and Russell T. Davies liked her enough to make her the female lead, Gwen, of Torchwood.
    • Freema Agyeman played Adeola Oshodi, a Torchwood member under Cyberman control in "Army of Ghosts", and later returned as the Doctor's companion Martha Jones in series three, starting with "Smith and Jones". In that episode, Martha refers to Adeola as her cousin.
    • Karen Gillan played a soothsayer in "The Fires of Pompeii" before being cast as Amy Pond, the Eleventh Doctor's first companion.
    • Peter Capaldi played Caecilius in The Fires of Pompeii before playing John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth and becoming the Twelfth Doctor in 2013. Steven Moffat has mentioned that it will be acknowledged in some manner in-series.
      • In addition, Frobisher's daughter Holly was played by Julia Joyce, who previously played a young Rose Tyler in Father's Day.
    • Played with when Jenna Coleman appeared in "Asylum of the Daleks" after being announced as the new companion who would debut later in the series.
    • John Levine first appeared in the Troughton-era episodes "The Abominable Snowman" and "The Web of Fear", and then appeared as UNIT soldier Sgt. Benton in "The Invasion", becoming a regular cast member for most of the Pertwee era. A bit less noticeable than other examples as in the first two stories he was dressed in a Yeti suit.
  • Furthermore, Doctor Who has three examples of regular cast coming back, years later, as different guest characters:
    • Jacqueline Hill, who was one of the original cast, reappeared years later as an alien priestess.
    • Jean Marsh appeared as two characters in the 1960s (one of them frequently considered to be a companion) and then returned in the 1989 serial "Battlefield" as the villain.
    • John Leeson voiced five versions of K-9 across three different Whoniverse shows from 1977 onwards, and later voiced the operator of the Dalek Battle Computer in "Remembrance of the Daleks" after Mark II departed from the Fourth Doctor and Mark III's spinoff show wasn't picked up from the pilot stage. In "The Power of Kroll", a story where the K-9 prop couldn't function, he appeared as Dugeen.
  • Not surprisingly given how long it's run, Doctor Who also has an extensive list of guest actors who reappeared in other guest roles. Just a few highlights:
    • In The Crusade, who can forget one of the more famous guest stars they got on the show during the early years, Julian Glover! He played King Richard the Lionheart in that serial, then returned in 1979, during the Tom Baker years, to play Count Scarlioni in "City of Death".
    • David Troughton, son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, has guest starred four times over the years. During his father's time on the show, he was an uncredited extra in The Enemy of the World, then played the Civil War soldier Moor in "The War Games". He then went on to play King Peladon in The Curse of Peladon alongside Jon Pertwee. Most recently, he portrayed Professor Hobbes in the 2008 series episode "Midnight".
    • The king of returning guest spots on Doctor Who is Michael Sheard, the page image. Sheard appeared in six different stories over the course of more than twenty years, playing a different character each time. If you include the audio drama he did, the number goes up to seven.
    • As the Sontarans are a clone race, it's not too surprising that three different Sontarans, usually from completely different eras, share actors. Kevin Lindsay, who played Lynx in The Time Warrior as well as Styre and the Marshal in The Sontaran Experiment, also played Cho Je in Planet of the Spiders and Christopher Ryan, who played Staal in "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky" and Stark in "The Pandorica Opens", also played Kiv in Mindwarp.
      • Dan Starkey played the Sontaran Commander Skor in "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky" and Commander Jast in "The End of Time" before getting the recurring role of your friendly neighborhood Sontaran Strax.
    • Neve McIntosh played Silurian sisters Alaya and Restac in series 5. A year later she played Victorian Silurian Madame Vastra, this time an ally of the Doctor.
    • Bernard Horsfall played Lemuel Gulliver in The Mind Robber, a Time Lord that oversaw the Doctor's trial in The War Games, Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin and Taron in Planet of the Daleks. (Unless that was also Goth in The War Games.)
    • Kevin Stoney played Mavic Chen in The Daleks' Master Plan, Tobias Vaughn in The Invasion and Tyrum in Revenge of the Cybermen.
    • Xoanon's voices in "The Face of Evil" were provided by Tom Baker Acting for Two and by most of the Ten Little Murder Victims of the next story "The Robots of Death", who were available as they had been rehearsing it at the time.
    • Lynda Baron played the All-Knowing Singing Narrator in "The Gunfighters", Captain Wrack in Enlightenment and Val in "Closing Time".
    • Mark Gatiss played Richard Lazarus in "The Lazarus Experiment", Gantok in "The Wedding of River Song" (under a pseudonym), and had an uncredited cameo in "Victory of the Daleks" and "A Good Man Goes to War" as a space spitfire pilot.
    • Chipo Chung played Chantho in "Utopia" and the Shan Shen fortune teller in "Turn Left".
    • Pauline Collins played Samantha in "The Faceless Ones" and played Queen Victoria nearly 40 years later in "Tooth and Claw".
    • Clive Swiftnote  appeared as both the Titanic tour guide Mr. Copper from Voyage of the Damned and Jobel from Revelation of the Daleks.
    • Derek Newark was Za in "An Unearthly Child" and Greg Sutton in "Inferno".
    • Gabriel Woolf voiced Sutekh in "Pyramids of Mars", and returned in the new series to play the Beast in "The Satan Pit" (as an Actor Allusion to his casting as Sutekh).
  • Opening it up to spin-offs and Expanded Universe stories:
    • Eve Myles appeared as Gwyneth in "The Unquiet Dead", and is starring as Gwen in the Spin-Off Torchwood, who crossed over in "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End". The Tenth Doctor and Rose noted the family resemblance.
    • A little girl watching the coronation in "The Idiot's Lantern" later reappeared in a much larger role as the fairy child in Torchwood's "Small Worlds."
    • In an unusual example of former lead characters taking up guest roles, various Doctors and companions played unrelated characters in the Doctorless spin-off videos of the 1990s. Most notable in PROBE: The Zero Imperative when Liz Shaw, former companion of the Third Doctor, failed to notice that Dr O'Kane looked exactly like him.
    • David Tennant played several characters in the Big Finish audios, amongst them UNIT's Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood in the spin-off series U.N.I.T., Galanar in Dalek Empire, and a Time Lord in the non-canonical story "Exile", before becoming the Tenth Doctor onscreen. Tennant also had a single line appearance in the webcast Scream of the Shalka with Richard E. Grant as the Ninth Doctor.
    • Speaking of Richard E. Grant, he also played the Doctor (well, one of his regenerations) in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, and the villain in "The Snowmen" and "The Name of the Doctor".
    • Bernard Cribbins appeared in '60s movie Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.. as a companion of Peter Cushing's Doctor Who. Forty years later, he popped up in Big Finish's Eighth Doctor audios as a music manager, then a photograph of him at a wedding was used in the BBC's tie-in website for the 2006 episode, "Tooth and Claw", before finally making it into the TV series as Wilfred Mott, Donna's granddad and a two-episode companion to the Doctor.
    • The Minister of Chance is a Doctor-less audiodrama featuring Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy (not to mention Paul "Tekker" Darrow). Ironically, the link to the Whoniverse is a character who isn't played by a returning actor: the titular Minister, played in Death Comes To Time by Stephen Fry, and here by Julian Wadham.
    • Suranne Jones played a manifest Mona Lisa in The Sarah Jane Adventures' third series. Two years later, she played the TARDIS in the parent show.
    • Jeff Rawle played Plantaganet in the Doctor Who serial Frontios, before taking the role of a museum curator in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
    • William Thomas played the undertaker for the Hand of Omega's casket in Remembrance of the Daleks and a nuclear advisor in "Boom Town" 17 years later. He later had a recurring role on Torchwood as Geraint Cooper, Gwen's father.
    • Sophie Okonedo played companion to the alternate Ninth Doctor in the special Scream of the Shalka. She later played Liz X in the episode "The Beast Below" on the show proper.
    • Yasmin Bannerman played Jabe in "The End of the World", before playing a police officer in the Torchwood episode "They Keep Killing Suzie".
    • Nigel Havers played Nick in the Eighth Doctor audio drama No More Lives, before playing Sarah Jane's fiancé Peter Dalton in The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.
    • Dan Starkey played various Sontarans on the Doctor Who TV series, as well as the Sontaran Field Major Kaarsh in The Adventure Games. He also played a Skullion in The Sarah Jane Adventures and Kravnet in the Big Finish audio Robophobia.
    • In the stage play Seven Keys to Doomsday, the Doctor's companion Jenny was played by Wendy Padbury, who a few years before had played Zoe in the televised series.
    • David Bradley played the main Shan'Sheeth in "The Death of the Doctor" in The Sarah Jane Adventures, Solomon in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" in Doctor Who, and William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time.
    • Before his casting as the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi appeared in "The Fires of Pompeii" and the Torchwood miniseries Children of Earth. Moffat has said that this resemblance will be acknowledged.
  • This trope was exploited to make some of the early Identical Stranger-dependent plots seem a little more natural - such as "The Massacre" and "The Enemy of the World".
  • Lampshade Hangings:
    • In 1965-1966 serial The Daleks' Master Plan, the Doctor comments he has seen an elderly Englishman seen filing a complaint at a police station before, "at that marketplace in Jaffa." Which he had: in an earlier serial, "The Crusade", the same actor had played an extra in a marketplace in Jaffa!
    • A timey-wimey Brick Joke lampshading - in "Battlefield", a character played by Jean Marsh tells the Brigadier, played by Nicholas Courtney, "The next time we meet, I will kill you." "The Daleks' Master Plan", made in the 60s but set thousands of years later, had a different character played by Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom) kill a different character played by Nicholas Courtney (Bret Vyon).
    • In the Time Trips novel Keeping Up With The Joneses, the Tenth Doctor says in his internal monologue that spread out across time and space lots of people look exactly like each other, claiming there was once a flortist in Basingstoke who was a dead ringer for Ivan the Terrible.

    Live-Action Drama 
  • Dennis Franz came in as a very memorable several-episode character on Hill Street Blues, then was cast as Buntz the next season.
  • Garret Dillahunt played the coward Jack McCall on the first season of Deadwood, then came back the next season to play Francis Woolcott. McCall was, however, featured in five episodes, and was a very memorable character, which is probably why Dillahunt grew a beard for playing Wolcott, to lessen the visual similarities between the two characters.
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood reused actors all the time. The most frequent was Paul Eddington, who played dozens of different roles over the show's five-year run - and combined this trope with The Other Darrin in 1959, when Will Scarlet (hitherto an occasional guest character played by Ron Howard) was promoted to a regular character played by Eddington.
  • The X-Files:
    • Nicholas Lea appeared in an early episode "Gender Bender" playing a character named Michael, then returned later as series regular Alex Krycek.
    • Terry O'Quinn trumps that, playing Lt. Brian Tillman in the episode "Aubrey", then Special Agent Darius Michaud in the first X-Files movie, and finally a mysterious contact and super soldier in the final season's "Trust No 1". If Crossovers with other Chris Carter shows are considered, there are another two characters walking around with Terry O'Quinn's face: the cast regular Peter Watts from Millennium, and Omar Santiago in Harsh Realm. Are you sure he isn't an alien clone?
    • Chris Owens plays three different characters on the show: a young Cigarette-Smoking Man, Jeffrey Spender, and the Great Mutato. Justified in that the Cigarette-Smoking Man is Jeffrey Spender's father. Also, the Great Mutato is under so much make-up that you can't really tell who's playing him.
    • Before he played Eddie Van Blundht in "Small Potatoes", Darin Morgan made an unrecognisable appearance as the Flukeman in "The Host".
    • "Quagmire" and "War of the Coprophages" both feature a trio of actors playing teenage stoners, though the characters are not the same in both episodes.
    • Larry Musser beats those numbers as he appeared on the show four times. He was Sheriff John Oakes in "Die Hand die verletzt" (season 2), fans' favourite Detective "bleeping" Manners in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" (season 3), an ex-marine Denny Markham in "Unrequited" (season 4) and PD Captain Jack Bonsaint in "Chinga" (season 5).
  • Catherine Bell was originally cast as Harmon Rabb's girlfriend who is murdered in a first-season episode of JAG, which never aired during the U.S. network run due to cancellation of the show by NBC. When CBS picked up the series, Bell was cast as the new female lead Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie. Harmon Rabb acts like he's seen a ghost when she is introduced to him, and we later learn why in a Whole Episode Flashback incorporating the original episode.
    • Donald P. Bellisario is known for bringing back actors he likes as this was done on his other shows as well. Sean Murray first appeared on JAG as a one shot character named Ensign Terry Guitry he then had a five-episode arc as Danny Walden a couple years later. A few years later, he joined its spinoff NCIS as Special Agent Timothy McGee. So The NCIS/JAG universe has three different Sean Murray's. note 
      • The family casting doesn't stop there. Son Michael Bellisario played two minor roles on JAG before being cast as major recurrer Mikey Roberts, then also appeared on 4 episodes of NCIS as Chip Sterling, Abby's assistant who just took the job because he has it in for DiNozzo.
      • Also his daughter Troian Bellisario played the one shot character Erin Terry in JAG and later Sarah McGee on NCIS playing the sister of her real life step-brother Sean Murray.
    • Likewise, Alicia Coppola played Lt. Cmdr. Faith Coleman on both JAG and NCIS, then later guest starred as FBI agent Lisa Rand on NCIS: Los Angeles.
    • Actor John Walcutt once played a defendant Caleb Farmer who was put to death for his crimes, with Mac defending him and Harm prosecuting. Later, he would come back to play Tom Johnson father of the young girl Harm had befriended and seeking to be her legal guardian.
    • Scott Grimes played DiNozzo's old Baltimore P.D. partner (who had been killed) in a 2011 episode of NCIS, only to show up alive as an NCIS agent assigned to a mobile unit in a two-part backdoor pilot in NCIS: Los Angeles
  • Both Jerry Orbach and S. Epatha Merkerson played guest characters on Law & Order before being cast as regulars. Epatha as a cleaning lady, and Jerry Orbach as a defense lawyer.
  • In a sorta-You-Look-Familiar category, Shawn Ashmore played a villain in Seasons 1 and 3 of Smallville, but his identical twin brother Aaron plays sidekick Jimmy Olsen in Season 6.
  • As might be expected Stargate falls into this type of the trope as well.
    • Paul McGillion, who played the main/reoccuring character Carson Beckett on Atlantis, had previously played the younger version of a scientist, the first 20th century human to use the Stargate, in SG-1's first season.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, Firefly actress Jewel Staite plays a Wraith in season 2's "Instinct". In season 4 she returns as Dr. Keller.
    • Peter Kelamis played a scientist and an alien news anchor, Mark Burgess played Wraith's victim before they became recurring Stargate Universe characters.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Ed Wasser played a crewman named Guerra in the pilot movie before returning as the regular guest character Mr Morden throughout the series.
    • Another note, check the Narn and the Drazi whenever one of them gets a speaking part. There's one guy who appears almost EVERY time, best known as Drazi Green, Narn from "Shattered Dreams" who mocks Londo, amongst others. This actor is Kim Strauss.
    • William Forward, alias Lord Refa, had the possibility of one but apparently didn't get it.
    • Also John Vickery as Neroon the Minbari warrior in several episodes, and as a completely human Mr. Welles in one - with his role as Welles falling in the middle of his appearances as Neroon. Welles later reappeared in an episode of Crusade.
    • Wayne Alexander had such a brilliant performance as the inquisitor Sebastian (aka Jack the Ripper) that he returned in several Rubber Forehead Alien roles, such as Sheridan's Obi Wan Lorien and the main Drakh Shiv'kala.
    • Tim Choate plays the several Zathras that appeared on the show, who're in fact brothers all named "Zathras" but with rather inaudible changes in how each "Zathras" is pronounced.
    • Robin Sachs (best known for playing Ethan on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) appeared as a Narn, and as at least one - possibly two - Minbari.
    • Robin Atkin Downes played a Minbari in In The Beginning, and more notably, played the rebel telepath Byron in season five.
    • Theordore Bikel played Rabbi Koslov in season one, and returned as the Minbari Lennon in In The Beginning.
    • Louis Turenne played recurring character Draal in his first appearance in season 1. Draal was then recast, but Turenne later reappeared in season 3 as a different recurring character, Brother Theo.
  • ER, despite being on forever, has surprisingly few of these. One of the very few is with J.P. Manoux, who played an unnamed mime in a 1996 episode, then was cast as Dr. Crenshaw a full decade later.
    • Vondie Curtis Hall appeared as a transvestite in S1. He reappeared a few seasons later as a recast version of Roger, stepfather to Benton's son.
    • They actually had a rule about this, that they would never cast the same actor twice. They flubbed it a few times, though (including Jenette Goldstein, who was on twice).
    • And Justina Machado appeared as a one-off character in a 1997 episode ("Ambush"). Twelve years later, she returned as recurring character Claudia Diaz, who ends up dating (and, it is stated, eventually marrying) Dr. Archie Morris.
    • Ken Lerner also appeared as two different characters, both patients, over 8 years apart.
    • And Troy Evans appeared as an unnamed cop being treated by Carter in the pilot episode, before returning in a recurring role as desk clerk Frank from Series 6 onwards. It was established that Frank was an ex-cop, so they could conceivably have been the same person.
  • In the '60s Batman show, James Brolin appeared three times as three different characters.
    • Anne Baxter appeared as two different villians.
  • Many of the actors who became regulars on Matlock initially appeared before in different episodes.
  • In Mash, Harry Morgan so impressed the producers as loony General Steele that they asked him back to be the new CO of the 4077th, Colonel Sherman T. Potter.
  • Rebecca Breeds plays Cassie Cometti in season 3 of Blue Water High, but she made her first appearance in season 2, episode 3 as Tina.
  • CHiPs. Randi Oaks played a car thief named "Kim" in the Season 2 episode "Down Time" and joined the cast as officer Bonnie Clark at the beginning of Season 3.
  • Patrick Newell had brief roles in The Avengers episodes "The Town of No Return" and "Something Nasty in the Nursery" before playing Mother in the show's final season.
  • John Larroquette guest starred several times on The Practice as Magnificent Bastard Joey Heric. A few years later, he became a regular on the show's spin-off, Boston Legal, playing senior partner Carl Sack.
  • A notable CSI: Crime Scene Investigation variation was Carmine Giovinazzo, who appeared on the original CSI in the season 3 episode "Revenge is Best Served Cold" about two years before being cast as Danny Messer on the spin-off CSI NY
    • Ditto with A.J. Buckley,who plays Adam.
  • Martin Milner appeared as a high school drug user in the '50s version of Dragnet, then in the color '60s version, he frequently appeared as his Adam 12 character Pete Malloy. Ditto with Kent Mc Cord, who appeared first as a cop accused in robbing a liquor store in a case of mistaken identity, and occsionally as a nameless uniform cop, then later as his Adam-12 character Officer Reid. And for a third,William Boyett was in several Dragnet eps as police characters before playing Sgt.Macdonald on Adam-12.
  • Partial example in Warehouse13 / A Town Called Eureka, which exist in the same universe. The actors who play main characters Jo and Zane in Eureka play one-off characters in the first season of Warehouse13 and are a couple in both. Henry also turns up in a later episode. However, their appearances on Warehouse13 happened long before the first Crossover episode.
  • On Supernatural, Ty Olsson currently plays Benny, a vampire who's been an ally to Dean. He'd previously played a completely different vampire during a previous episode way back in season 2.
  • Air Crash Investigation: The same actor who plays the captain of JAL Flight 123 plays the captain of Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509.
  • The Bill is notable for several of its villains returning as regulars, due to the Hey, It's That Guy! factor.
  • Charmed:
    • Rebecca Balding, who plays Phoebe's newspaper boss Elise, was the aunt of a young witch in the Season 1 episode "The Fourth Sister".
    • Michael Bailey Smith plays at least two different characters: Belthazor/Demon Cole, and Shax, the demon who killed Prue. He was in heavy makeup for both, though.
  • The Twilight Zone certainly had it's favorite actors (with Burgess Meredith alone having a prominent role in four different episodes); although being an anthology series it got away with it.

    Live-Action Comedy 
  • Three's Company had many, many instances of this, though the most notable was Jeffrey Tambor, who appeared three times as different characters. Syndication makes it four different characters, as two episodes of spinoff The Ropers (on which Tambor was a regular) have been added to the Three's Company rotation.
  • An earlier version of the 'repeat offender' on Law & Order occurred on Barney Miller; many of the one-shot petty criminals and crime victims were played by repeat actors. Before joining the main cast of cops as Sergeant Dietrich, Steve Landesberg had played a criminal-of-the-week.
  • I Love Lucy reused almost all of its character actors throughout its run — some were reused dozens of times.
  • All of the supporting cast on Good Eats play multiple characters. As this is essentially a Cooking Show crossed with low-budget Sketch Comedy, that is not surprising.
  • Martin Trenaman appears as three different characters in as many episodes of Britcom '15 Storeys High'.
  • Although many of the cast members of Blackadder played different versions of the same characters over the course of the show, some of them played completely unrelated characters. Hugh Laurie appeared in a minor role as one of Edmund's drinking buddies in an episode of Blackadder II, before playing Prince Ludwig in the very next episode. He became a regular cast member in the two subsequent series, as a third character, George (or arguably two characters called George).
    • On a related note, Tim McInnerny played versions of Percy in The Black Adder and Blackadder II, before playing Le Comte de Frou Frou in an episode of Blackadder The Third, and the regular role of Captain Kevin Darling in the final series, Blackadder Goes Forth.
    • Similarly, Miranda Richardson who played Queenie in Blackadder II makes a guest appearance as Miss Hardwood in an episode of Blackadder The Third and as Nurse Mary in Blackadder Goes Forth.
  • Father Ted: Irish comedian Jon Kenny played a cinema owner in "The Passion of St Tibulus" and a Eurosong MC in "Song for Europe" (in the latter role, he was filling in for Steve Coogan who pulled out at the last minute). Pauline McLynn played main character Mrs Doyle, and also appeared as a nun in "Flight Into Terror" (because Mrs Doyle only had one scene in that episode).
    • Also in Father Ted, the fortune teller from the first episode ("Just give me a pound!") is one of the old ladies who go to see The Passion of St. Tibulus ("He got his lad out and everything!").
  • Tahj Mowry played three different characters on his sisters' show, Sister Sister, including a character from his own show, Smart Guy (making this a YLF, Old Friend, and Cross Over all in one.)
  • Jon Lovitz appeared on NewsRadio as two different characters before coming in permanently as the Suspiciously Similar Substitute to Phil Hartman's character, following the latter's death.
  • Thanks to Executive Meddling, Tina Fey couldn't get her friend Rachel Dratch a major role on her show 30 Rock. She retaliated by casting Dratch in all kinds of minor roles, with zero effort made to hide that it's her. Dratch was dropped from the show entirely after the first season, though.
  • Friends had Giovanni Ribisi playing a teenager who accidentally dropped a condom in Phoebe's guitar case, about half a season before he was cast as Phoebe's half-brother.
    • Though some fans theorize that this was an Early-Bird Cameo and that really was Frank Jr. even though he is credited as Condom Boy.
    • Jennifer Coolidge and Adam Goldberg guest starred on Friends. Both ended up in regular roles on Joey; the latter, though, was more of a recurring role.
    • Celebrity Paradox: Brent Spiner appeared as one of Rachel's bosses in one episode. He turned up later in an episode of Joey, playing himself.
    • June Gable played a nurse in episode 23 before picking up a recurring role as Joey's agent Estelle. There were also some one-off characters, e.g. Doug Looperr played a fireman in 3.23 and a paramedic in 5.08.
      • The Estelle character actually appeared in an earlier episode, but her scenes were cut from the televised version. (They can be viewed on the DVD version, however.) The producers then cast her as the nurse to make it up to her before bringing back Estelle the following season.
    • Lisa Kudrow had played Ursula the waitress on Mad About You prior to joining Friends; this was subsequently played with by making Ursula Phoebe's Evil Twin and having Kudrow play both characters in episodes of the latter show.
    • In-universe example was when Phoebe became an extra on Days of Our Lives and noticed some of the extras would play more than one role, and that Joey slept with most of them.
  • Monte Landis showed up in seven episodes of The Monkees playing seven different characters. They were all major roles, too... in six of the seven shows in which he appeared, he played the episode's villain.
    • Rose Marie also guest starred twice as different characters.
  • Married... with Children - Ted McGinley appeared in the Season 4 Christmas Episode "It's a Bundyful Life", which parodies It's a Wonderful Life, as Peggy's "alternate history" husband, before joining the regular cast as Jefferson D'Arcy the following season.
  • The Andy Griffith Show - Jack Dodson appeared in one Season 6 episode as an insurance agent before taking on the role of county clerk Howard Sprague the following season.
    • In the Poorly Disguised Pilot that appeared on Make Room For Daddy, Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee in the regular series, portrayed Mayberry citizen Henrietta Perkins in the pilot episode.
  • Frasier: John Mahoney appeared as hack songwriter Sy Flemback in the canonically related Cheers, Peri Gilpin (Roz) appeared in Cheers as a reporter and in Wings (where Frasier once appeared) as a blind date. A number of one-shot guest stars from Cheers, Wings, and The Tortellis (the other Cheers spinoff) showed up on Frasier as well.
    • Wings regulars Tony Shalhoub and Rebecca Schull show up as unrelated one-shot characters in "The Focus Group" and "RDWRER", respectively.
      • Jennifer Tilly appeared as a sweet, bouncy nympho with a heart of gold in Cheers, then appeared as a sweet, bouncy nympho with a heart of gold in Frasier.
  • Conchata Ferrell played the main character's ex-wife's lesbian lover in one episode of the first season of Hearts Afire, but she joined the series as a regular in the second season, playing straight-as-an-arrow Madeline. Both characters were therapists, but otherwise had no connection. Similarly, Beth Broderick, who played Dee Dee Starr in the first season, appeared as Dee Dee's twin sister Lee Ann in two episodes of the second season. It's stated that Lee Ann grew up there in the Midwest, but it had previously been said that Dee Dee grew up in Texas. The explanation never made sense and they shouldn't have even bothered to attempt to Hand Wave the stunning resemblance away.
  • Hogan's Heroes did this quite a bit. Noam Pitlik played seven one-shot characters over the course of the show, including a German spy in the first episode of the series. Many of them were German officers with similar personalities, which could get a bit confusing.
  • Mash did this repeatedly, especially with Korean or Chinese characters, and also with nurses, especially in the early seasons where the nurses were referred to randomly as "Nurse Able" or "Nurse Baker".
    • Richard Lee-Sung appears in ten 'Mash episodes between 1974 and 1982, and in two episodes of the spinoff series Trapper John MD'' in 1979 and 1982. In most of the episodes his name appears in the credits as "Second Korean", "Farmer", or "Korean Man" - a local who enters the 4077th base for trading. In the season 4 episode "Dear Mildred" he is Cho, in the season 5 episode "Bug Out" he is "Cho Man Chin". But in the season 6 episode "The Smell of Music" he is Sang Nu and in the season 8 episode "A Night at Rosie's" he is Ham Kim.
    • Soon-Tek Oh appears in five Mash episodes between 1975 and 1982, each time playing a different person. (His name is variously spelled Soon-Teck Oh and Soon-Taik Oh in credits: this editor has preferred the spelling that appears on IMDB.) In the season 3 episode "Love and Marriage" he is Mr Kwang, an O.R. orderly. In the season 4 episode "The Bus" he reappears as a North Korean soldier. By the season 5 episode "The Korean Surgeon" he is Dr. Syn Paik, a wounded North Korean prisoner of war. In the season 8 episode "The Yalu Brick Road" he recapitulates his role in s4 as a North Korean soldier anxious to be captured by Hawkeye and BJ. In the season 11 episode "Foreign Affairs", he is Joon-Sung, a South Korean interpreter working for the Americans.
    • Mako appears in four episodes between 1974 and 1980, each time playing a different person. (His birth name is Mako Iwamatsu.) In the season 3 episode "Rainbow Bridge", he is Dr. Lin Tam, a Chinese military doctor. In the season 5 episode "Hawkeye Get Your Gun", he is Major Choi, in charge of a South Korean aid station. In the season 8 episode "Guerrilla of My Dreams" he is Lt. Hung Lee Park, a South Korean officer. In the season 9 episode "The Best of Enemies", he is Li Han, a Chinese soldier who captures Hawkeye.
    • Eldon Quick appeared as Captain Sloan in season 2's "The Incubator" and season 3's "Payday", then as Captain Pratt in season 4's "The Late Captain Pierce". The two captains, despite having different surnames and branches (Quartermaster and Finance), are written and portrayed essentially identically as the epitome of exaggerated bureaucrats.
    • Edward Winter first appeared as Captain Halloran in the season 2 episode "Deal Me Out", before returning for many guest appearances as Lt. Colonel Flagg. The next time that both Winter and Alan Arbus (as Dr. Sidney Freeman) reappear together, in the season 4 episode, "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", the pair refer back to "Deal Me Out" and tacitly acknowledge that Halloran and Flagg are the same character: "We played poker once." "Oh sure; with Intelligence, right?" Flagg had a vast assortment of aliases, including Captain Louise Klein, Major Brooks, Lieutenant Carter, Ensign Troy, and Queen Victoria.
    • John Orchard was a semi-regular in season 1 as anesthesiologist Ugly John, a holdover from the novel and feature film who was subsequently Demoted to Extra and then written out of the show entirely. Years later in the season 8 episode "Captains Outrageous", Orchard returned for a guest appearance as a visiting Australian MP.
    • Each of the two men who voiced the camp's P.A. announcer appeared as a different character in one episode apiece. (Admittedly, this may not quite count as "You LOOK Familiar", since said P.A. Announcer was never shown onscreen).
    • Harry Morgan had a guest role as Maj. Gen. Bartford Hamilton Steele in one episode before joining the cast full-time as Colonel Sherman T. Potter.
    • Sab Shimono has appeared at least twice in the series, each as a different character. Once as Winchester's house boy that was really a spy, and another time as one of three Korean doctors that shadowed the very same Winchester.
    • Eileen Saki appeared as a madam in a brothel before becoming the third and permanent Rosie.
  • Seinfeld featured Suzanne Snyder appearing as two completely different one-shot characters: First, as a Neo-Nazi in "The Limo", and later as Jerry's latest girlfriend in "The Pie".
    • Seinfeld also featured Christa Miller as two different characters: First as a boss in a Bra company in "The Sniffing Accountant" and later as a love interest to George in "The Doodle" In both cases the plot thread implicated George Costanza.
  • In the first two seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond Kevin James played Ray's friend Kevin. In the third season, after Kevin was Put on a Bus, he played Doug Heffernan in a few crossover episodes.
  • In the All in the Family episode "Lionel Moves Into the Neighborhood", Vincent Gardenia plays Archie's neighbor who sells his house to the Jeffersons. In "The Bunkers and the Swingers", a swinger couple is played by Gardenia and Rue McClanahan. Gardenia would appear in the recurring role of Frank Lorenzo from the next season. McClanahan would later appear as Maude's friend, Vivian in Maude, which was a Spin-Off of All in the Family.
    • John Amos played James Evans Sr. for three seasons in Good Times, a spinoff of All in the Family. 20 years later he played Ernie Cumberbatch in 704 Hauser, a series about the Bunker's house now being occupied by a black family.
  • Actor Jack Riley appeared on seven episodes of Night Court playing five different characters.
    • Also, Will Utay & John Astin each played a different character in episodes of season 2 (although Astin's character, named Kenny, was quite similar to Buddy) before appearing as Phil & Buddy, respectively.
  • According to Jim used the same guest actor to play Jim's son in Imagine Spots of the future and for various other random roles throughout the series, including a waiter and a lonely guy at the bar.
  • In The George Lopez Show, Hilary Duff plays one of Carmen's friends and later on, Angie's mentor when she starts selling La Marie cosmetics. Lampshaded when Max says, "You look like one of Carmen's friends."
    • Actually, the one where Hilary Duff plays the mentor came out two years before the one where she plays Carmen's friend, so it's more Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • A first-season episode of The Golden Girls featured Harold Gould as Rose's date, Arnie, long before he became a recurring character as Rose's steady boyfriend Miles.
  • Two instances on Happy Days: Lynda Goodfriend was cast as Richie's date Kim a good while before being brought back as his girlfriend-turned-wife Lori Beth Allen in season five. Linda Purl, meanwhile, actually appeared before Lynda Goodfriend as Richie's girlfriend Gloria in a couple of second season episodes; she returned nearly a decade later as Fonzie's steady Ashley Pfister in the penultimate season.
    • And if we're also counting spinoffs, Goodfriend also appeared on Happy Days' forgettable spin-off Blansky's Beauties, alongside a considerably more familiar face — Scott Baio, who later joined Happy Days as Fonzie's cousin Chachi.
    • A year before joining the cast as KC Cunningham, Crystal Bernard played a character named Mikki in the episode "The Tell Tale Tart".
  • On Bewitched, before he became better known as Dr. Bombay, Bernard Fox played Osgood Rightmire, a witch hunter; and Paul Lynde—Uncle Arthur—guest starred as Samantha's driving instructor Harold Harold. The first appearance of Alice Ghostly was as a maid, Naomi Hogan, before she appeared regularly as Esmeralda. Charles Lane was Mr. Hotchkiss, Mr. Mortimer, Mr. Shotwell, Mr. Meikeljohn, Mr. Harmon, Mr. Jameson, and finally Tabitha's Principal, Mr. Roland.
  • Jonathan Winters played Mindy's aunt on Mork and Mindy a couple of years before joining the cast as Mearth.
  • Made In Canada:
    • Peter Blais appears as a Film/Theater professor in the Series 1 episode "The Mill Show", and later has a recurring role as Geoff, the gay actor who plays Parson Hubbard on Beaver Creek.
    • Gordon Pinsent appears as Walter Franklin, the lead actor of Beaver Creek who dies in season 1, and the business owner who buys and shuts down Pyramid in the very last episode.
  • On Home Improvement, Debbe Dunning played a one-off role in the season two episode "Overactive Glance" before she started playing Heidi in season three.
  • Boy Meets World had many cases of this, some more noticeable than others. For example, the actor who played Angela's dad in season 7 also played a college professor in one episode of season 5.
  • Joe Walsh appears As Himself in the Drew Carey Show episode "Drewstock" where he's one of the thousands of guests at Drew's house party. The next year he appeared in six episodes as Ed, a not very talented guitarist Drew hires to be in his band.
  • Israeli sitcom Ha Pijamot, which is noted for having No Fourth Wall, uses this thoroughly and lampshades this with one extra. When Yamit mocks extras and insults the one other patron in the Hamburgary at that point, Gary tells her that he was the one extra they keep using over and over, followed by a flashback showing him in the various roles they cast him as over the years. Later on, when Kobi, Ilan, and ‘Oded tell her they want to try finding a job as extras, Yamit makes sure no extras are around, and then says, ‘Extras? That’s the peak of your aspirations?’
    • That Extra happens to be one of the Executive Producers of the show and co-wrote about HALF of the show's songs (his name is Eli Der'e). He's also been with Tedi Hafakot since at least the production of Shemmesh (he was the Boom-man)
  • The Cosby Show: In the early seasons, there was an episode where Clair and Cliff had Sondra fly in a young man from Oberlin college in order to woo her away from Elvin. Much later in the show, this same man played Denise's husband from the Navy.
  • Since it's been established via Ted Buckland that Scrubs and Cougar Town exist in the same universe, the fact Jules (Courtney Cox) and Ellie (Christa Miller) look exactly like Dr Maddox and Jordan qualifies. Many other Scrubs actors have cameoed in Cougar Town as unrelated characters.
  • Red Dwarf has had a few, even ignoring the multiple episodes in which the regulars played alternate versions of their regular characters.
    • Hattie Hayridge first appeared as the computer 'Hilly' in the episode Parallel Universe, then took over as Holly from series 3-6, which was Handwaved with the suggestion that Holly had remodelled himself to resemble Hilly.
    • Robert Llewellyn, who plays Kryten, later appeared as robot salesman Jim Reaper. As Kryten is a rubber forehead mechanoid with a funny voice, this might not have been so noticeable if he didn't later appear sans mask when Kryten got turned into a human. Later still, he appeared as "the Data Doctor."
    • Before Robert Llewellyn took the role, David Ross appeared in one episode as Kryten. He later appeared in voice only as Talkie Toaster - again not really noticeable, as he used very different voices for the characters.
    • Tony Hawks appeared so often that he was known as "the fifth Dwarfer" on set in the early years. He played Caligula, a compere in a pub, a virtual tour guide, two dispensing machines and a suitcase. He also did his stand-up comedy act as a warm-up for the audience before filming.
  • Main cast members of Reno 911! frequently play one or more supporting roles in the same episode in which their main character also appears. This is accomplished by having the actor appear as a suspect with his or her face blurred out.
  • On Hogan's Heroes Howard Caine played a couple of one-off German officers before settling in as the recurring Major Hochstetter. And since he played them all exactly like Major Hochstetter, it again became a bit confusing.
  • On A.N.T. Farm, Winter Maddox, the ANTs "Den Mother" in Season 3 was Madam Goo Goo, a one-shot character in Season 1 who was a Lady Gaga clone.

  • On Batman: The Animated Series, before playing the Joker, Mark Hamill played the role of the Corrupt Corporate Executive that was responsible for Victor Fries's accident.
    • And brilliantly referenced in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Hamill plays the Joker, as well as a corrupt corporate executive with a similar voice, in order to make the Red Herring of that executive be more believable
    • In the episode "Terror in The Sky", Richard Moll does the voice of a security officer, the AI Batcomputer, and DA Harvey Dent (pre Two-Face).
      • I remember that episode. It was a half-hour of complete "bull".
    • Ron Perlman, who voices Clayface, also voiced a random thug (called "Driller") in the episode "P.O.V."
  • Similarly, on Avatar: The Last Airbender, before voicing main character Toph, Jessie Flower voiced Meng from "The Fortuneteller".
  • Another animated examples is Simon in the epilogue of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who in both the original and the dub had the same voice actor as the narrator, or possibly was the narrator.
  • In the Discworld TV movies, Alberto Malich, the greatest wizard in Discworld history bears a striking resemblence to Rincewind, the worst wizard in Discworld history.
  • The dub of Naruto does this a lot: the voice actor for Zabuza, the villain from the first story arc, later voiced Orochimaru, the main villain for most of the series. Deidara's voice actor is the one that voiced two filler character (Idate and Raiga) and Tsunade's death boyfriend Dan, the voice actors for Sasori's two forms previously voiced Pakkun and borderline background character Genma Shiranui, and Itachi's voice actor (after his short first appearance) was previously Ebisu's. This is probably because the show's cast is so huge nearly every voice actor who would ever work on it has done at least one role by now.
  • Futurama would often intentionally (or lazily) reuse background character prototypes, giving the same design, voice, and attitude to them, in completely different roles and situations. The lazy fat-guy tattooed-art trucker, or the old lady stockholder who loved her cat, for example. One such background character, a bald man with a "9" on his shirt, became a major character in the fourth direct-to-DVD movie.
    • So much so, that they have their own names and backstories. The trucker is Sal and the old lady is Hattie.
  • The original Japanese versions of both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z did this several times, as a seiyuu would voice a minor character character and then return several episodes later now voicing a major role. Notable cases include Toshio Furukawa voicing General Blue and later Piccolo, Takeshi Aono voicing Murasaki and later both Demon King Piccolo and Kami, Ryūsei Nakao voicing Tamborine and later Freeza, Ryo Horikawa reprising one of his roles from Dr. Slump and then going onto voice Vegeta, and Takeshi Kusao voicing Pigero and then later voicing Trunks.
  • In the first season of DuckTales Hamilton Camp voiced a few minor characters before voicing Gizmo Duck in season two.
  • In Rugrats Tara Strong voiced Timmy McNulty, a Jerkass neighbor of the babies around Angelica's age, before going on to voice Tommy's brother Dil.
  • In Ben 10, Kari Wahlgren appeared in the What If? episode "Gwen 10" briefly as the voice of Gwen as Grey Matter before voicing Charmcaster.
  • Reno Wilson voiced three separate characters in each of the three Transformers movies—Frenzy in the first, Mudflap in Revenge Of The Fallen, and Brains in Dark of the Moon.
  • Koichi Yamadera has appeared in every single Pokémon movie, each time in a different role.

    Other Examples 
  • Sketch Shows in which most of the comedy characters are played by the same small group of actors live off this trope. Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show require the viewer to believe that there are people all over Britain that look just like Matt Lucas, David Walliams and Catherine Tate.
    • Played with in a Catherine Tate Show sketch in which David Tennant guest stars as Lauren Cooper's teacher. She asks "Are you the Doctor?"
    • The League of Gentlemen stretches it further: almost everyone in a single town looks like Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton or Reece Shearsmith.
    • The Swedish comedy series Hipp Hipp has the show's creators, Anders Jansson and Johan Wester, play most of the major roles. They even made fun of this during a live show (released on home entertainment) where characters have dialogues with other characters played by the same actor through timed responses to pre-recorded videos played on a big screen above the stage. One of the characters, Sunken, points this out during one of those conversations when Kajan, who is played by the same actor, asks him to join him on stage:
    Sunken: "For purely theater-technical reasons, I can't be on the stage at the same time as you."
  • Jesse McCartney played J.R. Chandler on All My Children from 1998 to 2001. Eventually his character was SORAS'ed as McCartney went on to a career as a pop singer. In 2006 McCartney appeared on the show as himself, singing at a party. (When he was introduced to his prior character's father and his own SORAS'ed character, now played by Jacob Young, all commented that each other seemed very familiar and speculated they'd met in a past life. See Actor Allusion.)
  • Sarah Brown originated the character of Carly in General Hospital. Since she left, the character has been played by three other actresses, and was still on the show when Sarah Brown re-entered GH as Claudia in early 2008.
    • Similarly, the fact that Natalia Livingston's new character Rebecca looks just like Natalia Livingston's old character Emily (deceased) is Rebecca's debut plot point.
  • In the Spaghetti Western For a Few Dollars More, Lee Van Cleef played the Bounty Hunter Colonel Douglas Mortimer, who worked as the protagonist's ally. In the prequel/sequel, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, he played the villain Angel Eyes Sentenza. (The director originally wanted to use another actor - possibly Charles Bronson - for the latter, but was turned down. He then reportedly decided it would be fun to cast Van Cleef as a Smug Snake, since he'd already used him as a heroic character.)
    • Of course, whether those movies are even in the same continuity remains ambiguous at best.
  • There are at least two examples from the James Bond films, with Charles Gray playing a British agent in You Only Live Twice before returning as the arch-villain Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever, and Maud Adams appearing as Bond Girl Andrea in The Man with the Golden Gun before returning as the titular Octopussy. The James Bond series is, of course, also full of examples of The Other Darrin.

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alternative title(s): You Sound Familiar
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