This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

You Look Familiar
aka: You Sound Familiar

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/SheardOmni_7854.jpg
Haven't I seen you somewhere before, Michael Sheard?note 

Roger: You look familiar.
Mimi: Like your dead girlfriend?
RENT

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

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.

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".

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.

For the specific version where an actor appears in a one-off role before returning as a regular character, see Re-cast as a Regular.

For extreme cases, see Loads and Loads of Roles.

Compare Celebrity Paradox, 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." Acting for Two is similar, but (usually) involves stars rather than B- or C-listers, is a good deal more blatant, and occurs within the same film or episode.


Examples:

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    Star Trek Franchise 
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...

  • 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 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". And then she was subsumed into the Excalibur computer, which took the crew awhile to catch on (because the computer sounds so much like her).
  • 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.
  • 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 Peter Weller as 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 Peter Weller as a xenophobic Starfleet officer who creates a superweapon and is willing to kill anyone (even his own) to achieve his agenda.
  • Fan film, Prelude to Axanar makes use of Tony Todd (Kurn from TNG and DS9) as Admiral Ramirez and J.G. Hertzler (Martok on DS9) as Captain/Admiral Travis.
  • Expelled Starfleet cadet Nick Locarno looks exactly like Tom Paris from Voyager who began the series in prison for having joined the Maquis after ealier having been expelled from Starfleet. Tom Paris was essentially a renamed Locarno.
  • Harry Groener played the Betazoid Tam Elbrun in TNG, an alien magistrate in Voyager, and the high-ranking Earth official Nathan Samuels in Enterprise.
  • Leon Russom played the unnamed Starfleet CinC in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Vice Admiral Toddman in the DS9 episode "The Die is Cast".
  • Robert O'Reilly was best-known for playing Gowron in TNG and DS9, but also had a small role as a holographic gangster in TNG's "Manhunt", a bounty hunter on Enterprise, and the bad guy in the board game spin-off A Klingon Challenge.

    Anime 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, Ryusei 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.
  • Koichi Yamadera has appeared in every single Pokémon movie, each time in a different role.
  • In Detective Conan Ryo Horikawa had a role in an early episode as a Victim of the Week before going on to voice fellow teen detective Heiji Hattori nearly fifty episodes later.

    Film 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Super Sentai:
  • Power Rangers:
  • 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.
  • Baywatch
    • Buzz Belmondo played the recurring character Guido in Season 3, but prior to that, he'd appeared in two other episodes as a huckster named Eduardo and a chef named Vito, respectively.
    • Daniel Quinn played Eddie's vengeful former friend Jimmy in "Second Wave" from Season 1, and disabled former lifeguard Eric in "The Trophy" from Season 2.
    • Michelle Williams played Bridget in "Race Against Time" and one of Hobie's groupies in the Imagine Spot in "Second Time Around."
    • Jeff Lester played Cort's old buddy Lance in a Season 1 episode and Mitch's old buddy Lane in a Season 2 episode.
  • 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 episode...it 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 (not that one); 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.)
      • In the Spin-Off Prequel series Young Hercules, Kevin Smith (in addition to Ares) portrays the god Bacchus and a mortal lookalike to Ares named Timor.
    • 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 (under heavy makeup), 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 (series lead Ben Browder's wife) played a different character in each of the four seasons of Farscape, with her fourth-season role reappearing in the Wrap It Up The Peacekeeper Wars. Since all 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").
    • 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.
    • Kal Penn of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and House 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. All three roles involved more fighting than dialogue.
  • Tia Carrere makes two appearances in MacGyver. 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.
  • 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)
    • 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?
    • Mike Dopud plays no less than three characters in SG-1 and Atlantis before being cast as a semi-regular (different) character in Stargate Universe. As a matter of fact, two of his characters (Odai Ventrell and Varro) are supposed to work for the same organization, yet no one on the show bothers to point this out.
    • David Hewlett almost became this, but ended up averting it at the last minute. When Atlantis was starting up, Hewlett (who had already played the role of Rodney McKay in several episodes of SG-1) auditioned for the part of one of the new characters and won the role. Before filming started though, he told the producers "why not just bring Rodney McKay back? He's already part of the Stargate program". The producers agreed.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Dennis Franz played Det. Sal Benedetto, a supporting character in a story arc of the third season of Hill Street Blues. He later came back as a series regular, Lt. Buntz. Interestingly, both characters were depicted as easy going and carefree policemen, but the first one was an outright corrupt cop, while the second one was a very competent and effective officer, even if a bit eccentric.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paul Freeman played Indy's Evil Counterpart Rene Belloq, a corrupt French archaeologist. In the prequel series Young Indiana Jones, Paul Freeman has a guest role in "The Phantom Train of Doom" as Captain Frederick Selous, a historical English army officer and big game hunter who fought in German East Africa in World War I.
  • On The Odd Couple, Richard Stahl guest starred in nine different epsiodes over the course of the series and never played the same character twice.
  • Not surprisingly given how long it's run, Doctor Who has an extensive list of guest actors who reappeared in other guest roles. Just a few highlights:
    • The king of returning guest spots on Doctor Who is Michael Sheard, who 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.
    • 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.
    • Julian Glover played King Richard the Lionheart in "The Crusades", 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".
    • 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.
      • 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. He continued playing other Sontarans, including the Sontaran Field Major Kaarsh in The Adventure Games, and an unnamed Sontaran in "The Time of the Doctor", and also played a Skullion in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
    • 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 Swift 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" (a role he reprised in a 2015 audio drama, and returned in the new series to play the Beast in "The Satan Pit" (as an Actor Allusion to his casting as Sutekh).
    • Sheila Grant first appeared as the voice of the Quarks in "The Dominators" and later appeared in a live-action role as Jane Leeson in "Colony in Space".
    • 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".
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • David Bradley played the main Shan'Sheeth in "The Death of the Doctor" in The Sarah Jane Adventures and Solomon in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" in Doctor Who.
    • Alexander Armstrong voiced recurring character Mr Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures and later appeared in person in Doctor Who in "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" as a pilot.
    • 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).
    • Julian Bleach has played creepy villains in all three of the 21st-century Whoniverse shows - Davros in Doctor Who, the Ghost Maker in the Torchwood episode "From Out of the Rain", and the title character in the story "The Nightmare Man" from The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • 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:
    • Terry O'Quinn played 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.
    • 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 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).
  • JAG:
    • Troian Bellisario played the one shot character Erin Terry in JAG and later Sarah McGee, playing the sister of her real life step-brother Sean Murray, on its spin-off NCIS.
    • 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
  • Two regulars from the short-lived Conviction went on to have regular roles as different characters in other parts of the Law & Order franchise: Milena Govich in original-flavor L&O, and Julianne Nicholson in Criminal Intent. Eric Balfour was less fortunate, only getting a one-off role as a suspect on Criminal Intent a few years after Conviction folded.
  • Jim Gaffigan appeared on Law & Order: Criminal Intent as Russell Matthews and Mart Palin, and in original flavor as George Rozakis and Larry Johnson.
  • Gina Torres appeared twice in L&O, first as a witness in the Cold Opening then as another witness questioned in court.
  • Babylon 5:
    • 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.
    • 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 that he returned in several Rubber-Forehead Alien roles, such as Sheridan's mentor Lorien and the main Drakh Shiv'kala.
    • Robin Sachs (best known for playing Ethan on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) appeared as a Narn, and as at least one - possibly two - Minbari.
    • 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. 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). Ken Lerner also appeared as two different characters, both patients, over 8 years apart.
  • In the '60s Batman show:
    • James Brolin appeared three times as three different characters.
    • Anne Baxter appeared as two different villians.
  • 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 McCord, who appeared first as a cop accused in robbing a liquor store in a case of mistaken identity, and occasionally as a nameless uniform cop, then later as his Adam-12 character Officer Reed. William Boyett was in several Dragnet eps as police characters before playing Sgt. Macdonald on Adam-12.
  • Warehouse 13 and Eureka have been established by crossovers as existing in the same universe, and Warehouse 13 is also connected to Alphas by a shared character.
    • The actors who play main characters Jo and Zane in Eureka play one-off characters in the first season of Warehouse 13 and are a couple in both. Henry also turns up in a later episode. However, their appearances on Warehouse 13 happened long before the first Crossover episode.
    • Brent Spiner has appeared as Brother Adrian repeatedly on Warehouse 13 and Dr. Kern on Alphas.
    • Alex Paxton-Beesley has appeared twice as Rebecca St. Claire on Warehouse 13 and twice as Megan Bates on Alphas.
    • Evan Sabba appeared as a Colorado Bartender on Warehouse 13 a year before being Isaac Hale on two episodes of Alphas.
    • Rebecca Mader appeared on Alphas as Griffin, and on Warehouse 13 as Lisa da Vinci three years later.
    • Both Erin Way (Kat on Alphas) and Ryan Cartwright (Gary Bell on Alphas) appeared in the same episode of Warehouse 13 as new characters.
  • Air Crash Investigation: The same actor who plays the captain of JAL Flight 123 plays the captain of Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509.
  • Charmed: 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 its favorite actors (with Burgess Meredith alone having a prominent role in four different episodes); although being an anthology series it got away with it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 returning to a regular role as Captain Kevin Darling in the final series, Blackadder Goes Forth.
    • Miranda Richardson, who played Queenie in Blackadder II, makes guest appearances 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).
    • 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 Crossover all in one.)
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • Doug Looperr played a fireman in 3.23 and a paramedic in 5.08.
    • 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.
    • June Gable, who played Joey's agent Estelle, appeared as a nurse in a season one episode.
    • Adam Goldberg who played Chandler's roommate Eddie in season two, later played the role of Jimmy on Joey.
    • 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.
  • The Monkees:
    • Monte Landis showed up in seven episodes 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.
  • 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.
  • Beth Broderick, who played Dee Dee Starr in the first season of Hearts Afire, 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.
  • M*A*S*H 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 M*A*S*H 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. 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • Harry Morgan appeared in the season 3 premiere as a visiting major general who's apparently completely loony, only to become a main character, Col. Sherman Potter, at the beginning of Season 4.
  • Seinfeld:
    • Suzanne Snyder appeared 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".
    • Christa Miller appeared 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.
  • John Amos played James Evans Sr. for three seasons in Good Times, a spinoff of All in the Family. Twenty years later he played Ernie Cumberbatch in 704 Hauser, a series about the Bunkers' house now being occupied by a black family.
  • Night Court:
    • Jack Riley appeared on seven episodes playing five different characters.
    • Before appearing as Phil & Buddy, 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).
  • 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.
  • On Bewitched, Charles Lane was Mr. Hotchkiss, Mr. Mortimer, Mr. Shotwell, Mr. Meikeljohn, Mr. Harmon, Mr. Jameson, and finally Tabitha's Principal, Mr. Roland.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Mc Cartney 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.
  • The Chillerama segment "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein" did this intentionally: after Meshugannah kills Rupert (Florian Klein) and Franz (Matthew Temple), a panicky Hitler yells for "More Nazis!" Enter Florian Klein and Matthew Temple as two entirely different Nazis, complete with obviously fake mustaches to "change" their appearance.
  • A few actors from RoboCop: The Series would alter appeared in other installments of the RoboCop franchise, including Blu Mankuma (who played Stan Parks, an expy of Sgt. Reed, then a version of the actual Reed in RoboCop: Alpha Commando), Maurice Dean Wint (who played a gang leader in "Officer Down" and John Cable in Robo Cop Prime Directive) Geraint Wyn Davies (who played a Corrupt Corporate Executive in "Provision 22" and David Kaydick in Prime Directives), and Daniel Kash (who played cartal boss Regie Braga and Detective John Lake the reboot
  • In the episode of The Danny Thomas Show that served as a Poorly Disguised Pilot for The Andy Griffith Show, Frances Bavier, who played Andy's Aunt Bea in the actual series, instead played a citizen of Mayberry named Henrietta Perkins.
  • The producers of Lost worked very hard to avert this, knowing that it would fertilize hordes of Epileptic Trees. But due to the limited pool of local actors in Hawaii who could play bit roles for them, they finally decided to cast the same actress, Mary Ann Taheny, to play two very minor roles in episodes that aired more than three years apart. To their apparent exasperation, they had to publicly announce that the two characters were not the same person.
  • Jam And Jerusalem: It's unclear whether Patricia Potter's character in one episode of the third series (a pregnant woman called Tish) is the same as her character in one episode of the first series (a wedding dress sales worker called Amy). The characters are very similar, and both are friends of Tash.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has Tina Fey in the first season as a terrible lawyer, and a drunk Uber customer in the second season.
  • When iCarly had a crossover with fellow Nickelodeon series Victorious, it's remarked upon how much Tori Vega looks like Shelby Marx.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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. The same episode sees Vanessa Marshall as Gwen as Dimanodhead and Four Arms and Grey DeLisle as Gwen as Heatbeast. The former would later appear as Tini in "The Galactic Enforcers", Gwen as Cannonbolt in "A Change of Face", and as Myaxx in Secret of the Omnitrix and the latter as Xylene in "The Visitor".
  • In Brazil and Italy, the dubbing directors of Total Drama almost never reuse the old contestants' voice actors. But when they do (Sadie/Ella and Shawn/Devin in Brazil; Amy/Jen, Samey/Ellody, Ella/Miles, and Sky/Tammy in Italy) it sticks out like a sore thumb.
    • Hebrew is the most painful example, apart from Poland and Hungary. For example in the later series: Lindsay became Dawn (later Sanders/Sky); Staci is Heather; Brody is Harold; Ryan and Pete were already Duncan, Chef Hatchet, Sam and TDPI!Leonard; RR!Noah is Topher; Kitty and Emma are Amy and Samey note ; Josee is Leshawna and Blaineley; Devin is Trent; Spud and Gerry are Alejandro, Brick and Max; and Lorenzo being Dave and Cody.
    • Hungary itself makes sure that no two contestants in the same season have the same voice actor, with Don notably stepping up from Justin. Other second comings include Eva (before her elimination) turning into Jo, Anne Maria into Sugar and Laurie, Dawn into Scarlett and Jen, Tyler into Shawn, Staci into Kelly, Courtney into Josee, Bridgette into Ellody, Lindsay into Stephanie, Scott into Rock, Samey into Carrie, Dave into Devin, Harold into Tom, Lightning into Spud, Izzy into Taylor, Sam into Pete, and Max replacing Leonard's unknown actor.
      • Poland disregarded this rule, with Leonard leading the way as Cody (later Scott and Max), Anne Maria becoming Samey and Amy; Dawn becoming Crimson and Laurie and Courtney becoming Mary and Stephanie. Other than that, Sierra becomes Dakota; Izzy was Staci; Zoey gets promoted to Scarlett and Miles; Mike steps up as Don; Brick becomes Jacques; Katie becomes Ella; Tophet becoming Rock; Sugar becoming Jen; and Lindsay becoming Ellody.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Before the rise of cable and the fall of the territorial system, it was easy to trade unpopular wrestlers to another territory with a slight gimmick tweak to keep too many people from catching on. It did not stop even after the National Wrestling Alliance brought some semblance of unity to things.
  • In Ring of Honor the commentators actually recognized CM Punk's girlfriend as "Daffney, from WCW" and had to correct themselves when he introduced her as "Lucy". Other cases include Jerk Jackson to Bobby Fish(he was renamed in Pro Wrestling NOAH) and Handsome Johnny to Tod Hanson.
  • WSU...possibly, probably, definitely engaged in this with a series of "mystery" women, who were all of similar build and wrestling style: Saturyne, Jania and Hania. Incidentally, the "former" also played a critical role in kicking off Niya's Charlie Brown from Outta Town gimmick.


Alternative Title(s): You Sound Familiar

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YouLookFamiliar?from=Main.YouSoundFamiliar