Follow TV Tropes

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


Only So Many Canadian Actors

Go To

"from How to Be Indie to Degrassi. I just can't get rid of Dylan Everett"
Melinda Shankar, official Facebook page.

To the outside viewer (usually American), after you start watching a few Canadian-made shows, you start to notice something. Something weird. It starts getting odd when you're watching Canadian TV, and you start shouting "Hey, it's that guy!"... every five minutes, at every actor.

That's where this trope comes in.

In Canada, television networks and radio stations are legally required to air a specific amount of Canada-produced media at any given time, with their runtimes often consisting of more than 60% Canadian content. Also, the Canadian government offers significant tax breaks and direct subsidies to TV shows made wholly or partially in Canada, in exchange enforcing a "Canadian actors only" policy for the majority of roles. But there are only so many Canadian actors, especially young actors. The country already has a relatively small population to begin with (about 35 million, roughly a ninth of the US population and smaller than the population of California alone), and when you narrow the actors down to a specific age group (between 15 and 30, like most of the ones below), and then combine that with the fact that Canada has become a very popular shooting location for American producers on a tight budget, you're only left with a tiny handful of actors. As matter of course, ever since the very earliest days of the film industry, Canadian actors who are talented or ambitious enough to become superstars inevitably leave for Broadway or Hollywood and therefore reduce the pool of Canadian acting talent still further. Many of the actors who stay in Canada thus do so for the rest of their careers (if not always by choice). That said, some have managed to break out of it later in their careers, notably Elliot Page, Aubrey "Drake" Graham, Michael Cera, Tara Strong, Jay Baruchel and Cree Summer, and others frequently jump between Canadian and Hollywood productions.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing — if anything, it becomes enjoyable to the viewer, and because of the frequent recurrence of these actors, there often isn't much Role Association.

We only picked Canada as an example because Canada, along with Malaysia and the United Kingdom, is home to a lot of tropers. But this trope can be found in any country with a small enough dramatic communitynote  where actors either prefer to stay in their home country or are forced to stay because of linguistic incompatibility with countries around them. You can also notice this in the some of the more niche branches (relative to film and TV anyways) of dramatic arts, there are only so many Mummers dancers, martial arts practitioners, puppeteers or Peking opera singers to go around.

On the other hand, the specific Family Channel Kid Com —> Degrassi path has become so well-trodden it's almost a subtrope of both this and Tom Hanks Syndrome. (Life with Derek was an unusual case in that many actors came from Degrassi to appear on the show in recurring roles - but sure enough, the reverse inevitably happened as well.)

Oddly enough, Canada's animation producers, such as The Ocean Group, 9 Story Media Group, Fresh TV, WildBrain (formerly DHX Media) and its assetsnote , Spin Master, Guru Studio, Nelvana and CinéGroupe are also guilty of this trope, using many of the same voice actors in their shows, and some of the actors listed here have appeared in their shows as well.


    open/close all folders 

     Actors Commonly Associated With This: 

Note: Names in BOLD indicate that the actor has appeared on Degrassi. Names in ITALICS indicate that the actor is/has been a Stratford Festival performer. Names in BOLD AND ITALICS indicate that the actor has appeared in a R. L. Stine series.

     Media Commonly Associated With This 

     Examples From Outside (English) Canada 

  • Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away have at some point featured pretty much every well-known actor the country produces. Neighbours is particularly notable for having starred Kylie Minogue, Jesse Spencer, Dichen Lachman, Guy Pearce, Holly Valance, Delta Goodrem, Russell Crowe, Margot Robbie and Alan Dale before they got famous.
  • Blue Water High and H₂O: Just Add Water are examples for Australian-made kids' TV, having collectively featured actors who've starred in everything from the Tomorrow: When the War Began action movie, to Power Rangers RPM, Dance Academy, The Pacific, and the aforementioned Neighbours.
  • British television has a tendency for this.
    • For British-made soap operas, an actor might have a successful run in one of the popular soap operas (e.g. Eastenders), leave the show or be written out, and then, after a decent interval to allow memories of the original character to fade, they'll pop up again playing an entirely new character in another show (e.g. Coronation Street, Hollyoaks or Emmerdale).
    • British TV and radio have a large number of panel shows (such as QI, Mock the Week, and 8 Out of 10 Cats) relative to the number of British comedians. This means that some comedians can become semi-regulars and rotate through various shows and channels week in and week out. To be admitted to the panel-show circuit is a huge deal in British comedy (which is a very insular community), as it provides a steady income and a stepping stone to larger gigs.

  • There's a large number of Irish-made productions or films and TV shows filmed in Ireland that feature cast members who were either in Father Ted, Fair City or Love/Hate, especially the last one if the work is Darker and Edgier.
  • Ever since American production companies have noticed the gorgeous landscapes and cheaper production costs of New Zealand, the collective acting pool of Australia and New Zealand has been getting a pretty heavy workout. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Power Rangers (from Ninja Storm to Cosmic Fury), Legend of the Seeker, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are all known for this trope, and it's become a pretty fun game of actor recognition for American sci-fi/fantasy fans. It becomes an even more interesting situation when you consider that, even without the assistance of Hollywood, it's not uncommon for both Australian and New Zealand actors to cross the Tasman for roles in both directions. You could easily make a game out of actor recognition.
  • This trope is even more obvious when watching movies, series and téléromans from Québec. The province has a unique pop culture and many successful actors and comédiens that are mostly independent from the rest of Anglophone Canada. However, there are only so many of them and thus, it is not unusual to see the same person playing two different characters on competing channels during the same week. And even then some Québécois actors have popped up in Anglophone Canadian films & TV series.
  • YouTube: Not too many actors are willing to take "a promise to appear on one of their own videos" as payment (Youtube pays the video creator a share of the ad profits, so people would often appear in each other's videos as a way of cross-advertising). It gives the impression that Felicia Day has been cast in pretty much every webseries in existence.
  • A similar effect happens in some Disabled Character, Disabled Actor roles due to Small Reference Pools among casting directors. Just count how many times you've seen a Deaf character or a character with dwarfism in a movie, TV show or stage production that wasn't played by Marlee Matlin or Peter Dinklage, respectively.
  • German/Austrian theatre is this. Pick any two big-name shows (to name a few: Elisabeth, Tanz Der Vampire and Mozart!) and you can't swing a conductor's baton around without hitting someone who's been in more than one production. Especially when it comes to the Viennese theatre scene, since the Raimund and Ronacher rotate actors and adore the All-Star Cast. For example, here are some people who have been in all three shows named above: Mark Seibert (Death - Count von Krolock - Colloredo), Thomas Borchert (Death - von Krolock - Leopold Mozart), Gernot Romic (Rudolf - Alfred/White Vampire - Wolfgang Mozart), et cetera.
  • Quite a few of the Icelandic cast members of LazyTown have also appeared in other Icelandic media such as Trapped (2015) or are members of Icelandic theatrical troupes.
  • Any TV or movie production filmed in Texas is this, especially when the local anime dubbing talent pool used by Funimation and Sentai Filmworks gets involved. Jason Douglas has appeared in The Walking Dead and Planet Terror, while Todd Haberkorn, John Swasey, Duncan Brannan, R. Bruce Elliott and Josh Martin have all appeared on Barney & Friends (Todd played Mr. Knickerbocker in Let's Make Music, John played the Dad in The Night Before Christmas special, in Duncan did the voice of Barney at times, Bruce played Grandpa in "Grandpa's Visit" and Mr. Tenagain in "Having Tens of Fun!", and Josh suit-acted Barney from 1997-2006).
    • Additionally, a lot of anime dubbed by Funimation itself during the late 2000s often falls under this umbrella, due to the majority of the cast being locals from Texas, so there's a lot of overlap between productions. For example, Brina Palencia and Cherami Leigh, who voice Juvia Lockser and Lucy Heartfilia respectively in Fairy Tail, also voice Ciel Phantomhive and Elizabeth Midford respectively in Black Butler. This can also apply to actors based in Los Angeles, such as Bryce Papenbrook and Matthew Mercer, who voice Caesar Zeppeli and Jotaro Kujo respectively in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Makoto Naegi and Haiji Towa respectively in the Danganronpa series.
  • Any newer Nick Jr. show produced in the United States is probably going to have New York voice actors. Some examples include: Bubble Guppies, Butterbean's Cafe, Santiago of the Seas, Dora and Friends: Into the City!, Wallykazam, Nella the Princess Knight, Team Umizoomi, and Sunny Day. Almost all the others have voice actors from California or more often Canada. The Canadian ones share voices with PAW Patrol as noted above. Some of the New York voiced-shows also tend to share voice talents with older Disney Junior shows, such as PB&J Otter.
  • This is the case for pretty much any of the smaller countries that has a significant dubbing scene. For example, the Central European and Balkan countries are particularly guilty of this trope: pretty much none of them go above 10 million. It's not been unheard of for local actors to do triple duty in theaters, live-action productions and in dubbing animation; after all, there is only a small amount of professionally trained talent (and many of these countries have just a single major production center, usually located in the capital city) available, so overlap occurs at a regular pace.
    • This is exaggerated with the dubbing industry in Oradea, Romania. The sole studio there, Total Record, primarily hires a set of theater actors from the Regina Maria Theater's Iosif Vulcan and Arcadia groups for Romanian dubs, while Hungarian dubs done by Total Record use actors from the Regina Maria Theater's Szigligeti group and the occasional actor(s) who commute from Budapest.
    • Many of the Polish dubbing studios located outside Warsaw tend to use local theater actors.
    • Portugal's dubbing industry has a similar thing. The country has a smaller acting community than neighboring Spain, and coupling that with the country having only two major media production centers — Lisbon (the capital) and Porto (the second-largest city in the country) — overlap occurs at a regular pace. It's not uncommon for European Portuguese dubbing actors to do triple duty by also doing work in theater and in live action productions. For European Portuguese dubs done in Porto, this happens more often since the city has a smaller pool of professionally trained talent than Lisbon and the fact there are only two major dubbing studios in the city (Somnorte and Cinemágica).
  • This is the case for pretty much the entire Castilian Spanish dubbing industry outside Madrid and Barcelona. The Castilian dubbing industries in Galicia, the Basque Country and Seville are particularly guilty of this trope: it's not unheard of for Galicia-based Castilian Spanish dubbing actors (who often also take up double duty in Galician dubbing) to commute between pretty much every city in the province that has a dubbing studio or three to do work; after all, there is only a small amount of trained actors available in cities like Seville or León, so overlap occurs almost inevitably.
  • Many productions handled by Japanese production company Bushiroad, such as Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Cardfight!! Vanguard, Love Live! and the Japanese dub of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic tend to have overlapping seiyuus in their productions, with some of the more common ones being Izumi Kitta, Mimori Suzuko and Emi Nitta.