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Playing Gertrude

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Left to right: Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie, 29) with husband King Philip (Val Kilmer, 44) and son Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell, 28).

"Hamlet's mother will not be played by a woman who could have gone to high school with the actor playing Hamlet."

Due to Double Standards concerning age and perceived attractiveness, adult male characters are usually played by actors of about the character's age, but female characters of middle age and older are often played by actresses noticeably younger than the character should be. This becomes jarring when a character's mother, or a woman otherwise stated to be of an older generation, is played by someone only slightly older — or, in some cases, younger — than him.

Named for Hamlet, Prince of Denmark's mother Gertrude, who has traditionally been played by improbably young actresses (it's less common in more recent productions). This is most prominently and ridiculously pronounced in Laurence Olivier's film version of Hamlet, which featured Eileen Herlie in the role of Gertrude despite the fact that she was eleven years younger than Olivier himself.


A related effect tends to crop up in animated portrayals of middle-aged women. If a female character has an obviously attractive mother, expect both of them to look about the same age. That being said, male examples, though uncommon, do exist.

Sometimes this trope can be forced by a movie that covers a long period of time. If we see the mother of a small child, and then see the child grow to adulthood, it's usually easier to cast a young woman as the mother and "age" her with makeup, if at all, instead of the other way around. Some actors can be Younger Than They Look and get cast as roles that are older than they are - Jon Hamm, for instance, talks about being twenty-five and auditioning to play fathers on Teen Dramas.

Appears quite often in voice acting too, since looks, of course, don't matter. Due to Vocal Dissonance, some voice actors can sound much older than they are (or younger). As rather a lot of animated children are voiced by adults with high-pitched voices, it's not uncommon for the actors to be the same age or even younger than those voicing their children.


Closely related to Hollywood Homely and a side effect of Underage Casting. This is one way to invert Dawson Casting and is frequently a side effect of it (having a forty-year-old actress playing the mother of a teenager is perfectly plausible, but when the actor playing the teenager is 25, it becomes a problem.) Often overlaps with Hollywood Old, since it's usually impossible for a Hollywood Old character to have a teenage or adult child without their (lack of) age difference becoming a Playing Gertrude. However, when both actors are middle-aged or older, it's easy to have a Playing Gertrude without either character being Hollywood Old. Contrast Age Lift, where the role is changed to make the actor age-appropriate for the role. See also Absurdly Youthful Mother, where a parent is or appears unusually young in-story, as well as Mum Looks Like a Sister, where parent and child (typically mother and daughter) look like siblings instead.

Not to be confused with a minor character named Gertrud.


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    Fan Works 
  • Tekken Movie 2010: Asuka's Revenge is, as the name suggests, a rewrite of the 2010 live-action Tekken movie with Asuka as the main character. The author even provides a "cast list" with characters that were in the actual movie being played by the same actors and the author providing casting for anyone who wasn't. His choice of actress to play Michelle Chang is actually three years younger than the one playing her adopted daughter Julia (canonically nearly 20 years Michelle's junior). Overlaps with Dawson Casting as both actresses are closer to Michelle's age than to Julia's.

    Films — Animation 
  • Strange Magic: Maya Rudolph is 7 years younger than Alan Cumming who plays her character's son.
  • The film Lego DC Comics Super Heroes Justice League: Gotham City Breakout" has Commissioner Gordon voiced by Eric Bauza, who was born in 1979. Outside of Greg Cipes (1980) as Beast Boy and Sarah Hyland (1991) as Batgirl, he's younger than the rest of the cast despite his character being older.
  • Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem sees Khary Payton reprise his Teen Titans role as Cyborg, while his father Silas Stone is voiced by Cedric Yarborough, who's 1 year younger.
  • The Book of Life has Manolo's grandmother voiced by Grey Delisle, who was 41 years old when the movie was released. What's more, her character's son, Carlos Sanchez, is voiced by Hector Elizondo, who was about 77 years old when the movie came out.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) has Uzo Aduba (who was born in 1981) as Queen Novo and Kristin Chenoweth (who was born in 1968) as her daughter Princess Skystar.
  • The second Curious George movie, Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey, has Mr. Bloomsbury voiced by Fred Tatasciore while Jeff Bennett returns to voicing Ted, one of his employees. Even though Fred's character is older than Jeff's character, the former is 5 years younger than the latter.
  • Justice League: Doom sees Robin Atkin Downes (born in 1976) voice Alfred, a character nearly twice his age. Additionally, he's younger than Kevin Conroy (born in 1955), who reprises his role as Batman (though Batman himself is around his 30s as always).
  • Batman: Gotham by Gaslight sees both Grey DeLisle and Tara Strong, who are in their forties, respectively voice Leslie Thompkins and Marlene Mahoney, who are a good 10-20 years older than DeLisle and Strong. Furthermore, while Batman himself is around his 20s-30s, DeLisle and Strong are both 17 years younger than Batman's voice actor, Bruce Greenwood.
  • Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both of which are animated adaptations of the 1966 Batman television series produced 50 years later, sees Jim Ward (1959) as James Gordon, Lynn Marie Stewart (1946) as Aunt Harriet, Steven Weber (1969) as Alfred, and Thomas Lennon (1970) as Chief O'Hara, with all of them being considerably younger than Adam West (1928) as Batman and Burt Ward (1945) as Robin even though their characters are older.
  • The 2012 adaptation of The Lorax: Jenny Slate, who voices Ted Wiggins' mother, is actually only five years older than Zac Efron.
  • Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: Wanda Sykes voices Sid's senile granny. In reality, John Leguizamo and Sykes were born in the exact same year of 1964, just about three months apart.
  • In Frozen, Elsa and Anna's mother Queen Iduna's single line was voiced by co-director Jennifer Lee, who is 5 months younger than Idina Menzel and 11 years older than Kristen Bell. The gap becomes much larger in the 2019 sequel Frozen II where Iduna is voiced by Evan Rachel Wood, who is 32, seven years younger than Kristen Bell and 16 years younger than Idina Menzel. Taken to extremes with Iduna as "the voice" - by Aurora Aksnes, who is 23, or less than half the age of Menzel.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This occurs in some of the best-known films of Trope Namer Hamlet.
    • Franco Zeffirelli's version had Glenn Close, who is only nine years older than Mel Gibson, as Gertrude.
    • In Grigori Kozintsev's version Elsa Radzin is eight years older than Innokenty Smoktunovsky.
    • In Laurence Olivier's version, Eileen Herlie was eleven years younger than Olivier.
    • The 1980 BBC version has 40-year-old Patrick Stewart played Claudius to 42-year-old Derek Jacobi's Hamlet (blame the Bald of Awesome). In this case, however, it is possible for Claudius to be much younger than Gertrude (he is the younger brother of Hamlet's father) and would help explain how he seduced her.
    • Averted, however, in Kenneth Branagh's version. Julie Christie was 19 years older than Branagh.
    • Also averted in Ophelia; Naomi Watts was forty-eight/forty-nine years old during filming and Hamlet's actor George MacKay was twenty-five (making for a twenty-four year gap). In fact, Gertrude being an older woman with an adult son is a source of angst for her in the story.
  • In Mean Girls:
    • 32-year-old Amy Poehler played Regina's mom, despite being just seven years older than Rachel McAdams. Tina Fey even mentions this in one of the featurettes. Justified, in that a) she was probably picked up as a young trophy wife, b) it's implied that she has had excessive plastic surgery, her "hard-as-rocks" boob job is just the tip of the iceberg, and c) McAdams is a full decade older than her character, so it is entirely plausible that Poehler's character really is meant to be in her early-to-mid forties.
    • Ana Gasteyer too is only nineteen years older than her on-screen daughter Lindsay Lohan. Not impossible but Cady is implied to have been born while her mother was already an established zoologist (hence being raised in Africa).
  • In North by Northwest, Jessie Royce Landis played Cary Grant's mother. Landis was actually ten months younger than Grant. (Or eight years older according to different sources, which still fits this trope.)
  • The Graduate combined this trope with Dawson Casting: 30-year-old Dustin Hoffman played the titular recent college graduate, with 36-year-old Anne Bancroft as his middle-aged lover. Her daughter is played by 27-year-old Katharine Ross.
  • The page image comes from Alexander: The title character's actor (Colin Farrell) was born in 1976. Angelina Jolie, who played his mother Olympias, was born in 1975. But Olympias' character development is seen in flashbacks from when Alexander was much younger, which means this casting makes some sort of sense. After being cast, Farrell told a friend that he would act opposite Jolie in his next film. The friend asked if there were many sex scenes between the two.
  • Angela Lansbury in her youth was often cast as characters older than she was. She's been quoted as saying "Hollywood made me old before my time":
    • The original version of The Manchurian Candidate. She's almost exactly three years older than Laurence Harvey. Nowadays this often comes as a shock to people seeing the film for the first time, because of Lansbury's fame from Murder, She Wrote and how little she seems to have aged in between the two.
    • When she played Elvis Presley's mother in Blue Hawaii, she was only 9 years older than him.
  • In Brian De Palma's Scarface (1983), Miriam Colon, who played Tony Montana's mother, was only four years older than Al Pacino.
  • Male example: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade introduces Indy's father - played by Sean Connery, who is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford. Showing Connery's undyed and naturally thinning hair without a wig helped portray Connery as older.
  • Another male example is Matt Frewer, who was 30 when Far From Home was filmed but plays the father of a girl who's just turned 15 (although Drew Barrymore was only 13 when she played the part). Matt Frewer looking older than he really was, having started balding in his early 20s.
  • In Family Business Sean Connery plays Dustin Hoffman's father. Connery is only 7 years older than Hoffman.
  • A related example: In Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, it is implied that Allen's character cannot have a relationship with Mira Sorvino's Linda Ash because he is too old for her. Although there's some validity to this idea (Allen is 32 years older than Sorvino), it completely overlooks the fact that Helena Bonham-Carter, who plays Allen's wife in the movie, is 31 years younger than him.
  • In The World According to Garp, Robin Williams (30) plays T.S. Garp and Glenn Close (35) plays his mother, Jenny Fields.
  • In The Passion of the Christ, 42-year-young Maia Morgenstern was Mary to 36-year-old Jim Caviezel's Jesus. Possibly justified in that a) she also appeared in scenes of Jesus' childhood, b) some Catholics believe that since Mary was sinless she did not age normally, and c) young (though not child) brides were common at the time, nudging the numbers marginally closer to plausibility.
  • In the 2007 Beowulf movie, Angelina Jolie plays Grendel's mother. Grendel is played by Crispin Glover, who is 11 years older than she is. Although, you know, her character is Really 700 Years Old, and it is heavily hinted that she altered her appearance. Glover's character isn't human either (not to mention hideously deformed as well), so...
  • Winona Ryder (age 37) playing Spock's mother in Star Trek (2009). Spock is played by Zachary Quinto, who's only five and a half years younger than her in real life. Conversely, Ben Cross, who plays his father, is 30 years older, just to uphold the Double Standard. The reason a younger actress was hired was a scene detailing Spock's birth that was cut from the film (although it did appear in one of the trailers). Also, despite having much longer life spans, it's implied at a few points throughout the series(es) that Vulcans reach physical and intellectual maturity faster than humans. It's not exactly clear how old Spock is, but given his extremely gifted intellect (even by Vulcan standards), it's entirely possible he's around the same age as the other cadets.
  • In Peggy Sue Got Married, Nicolas Cage played Helen Hunt's father in the 1980s part of the movie. She's six months his senior, although his Lounge Lizard costume helps age him. In the 1960 section, he is supposed to be 17, which is a different trope.
  • In Mrs. Miniver, the title character was played by Greer Garson, who was just 11 years older than the actor who played her son (Richard Ney). In real life, they got married after falling in love on set.
  • In the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Martha, who is in her fifties, played by 34-year-old Elizabeth Taylor. Her casting surprised many people, but she proved to be very convincing.
  • Zig-zagged in Boyz n the Hood. 29-year-old Laurence Fishburne played the father of Tre, which was reasonable in the first act when Tre was 10. Fast forward seven years, Tre is now a teenager played by 23-year-old Cuba Gooding Jr., only six years younger than the actor playing his father.
  • The above relationship was roundly parodied in Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, where Trey's father is barely out of elementary school while Trey is noticeably an adult. He even states in the narration that he's older than his father.
  • The movie Sara Dane drifts into Playing Gertrude territory at the end of the film, while becoming Hollywood Old at least one hour earlier. The movie spans most of the title characters adult life, but nothing is done to make the actress look older as the decades go by. In the final scenes, the children she gave birth to in the middle of the movie are older than her.
  • Peter O'Toole playing Henry in The Lion in Winter—he was 36 or so, the king was about 50. Katharine Hepburn, 25 years O'Toole's senior, played Eleanor, 11 years Henry's senior.
  • Jennifer Coolidge, who plays Stifler's Mom in the American Pie movies, is only thirteen years older than Sean William Scott.
  • Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings may be the most extreme example yet: H.B. Warner, playing Jesus, was about twenty-four years older than (and, indeed, almost twice the age of) the actress playing Mary. Possibly justified, for the reasons listed with The Passion of the Christ above.
  • The film Unfaithful featured a then- 37-year-old Diane Lane as a housewife having an affair with a younger man (her infuriated husband is shocked to see how young the guy is and later blasts her for throwing their life away "for a fucking kid!") The "younger" man was played by the then-36-year-old Oliver Martinez.
  • In the 2002 ITV production of Doctor Zhivago Lara Antipova was played by Keira Knightley then a mere 16 years of age. In the initial scenes, she matches the age she's supposed to play, but by the end of the production, she's supposed to be around 25, with a four-year-old child. Admittedly, Knightley has always had a rather mature look (who would have believed that she was just 17 in the first Pirates film???) but here it does seem to be pushing the limits of plausibility.
  • In The Fighter, Melissa Leo (born 1960) plays the mother of Mark Wahlberg (born 1971) and Christian Bale (1974) - Wahlberg is playing a character who starts out a decade younger than he is, but Bale's character is meant to be older than he is.
  • In The Namesake, Tabu (37 when the movie came out) plays Gogol's mother from age 20 to age 60. In fact, she is only 7 years older than Kal Penn, who plays her son.
  • In Blow, Johnny Depp's (that is, George Jung's) father is played by Ray Liotta, who's only eight years older than him, and his mother is played by Rachel Griffiths, who's five years younger than him.
  • In the film version of The Dead Zone Jackie Burroughs played Christopher Walken's mother though she was only four years older than him. He looked so much younger than he was and she looked old enough that it's actually completely believable.
  • In Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Maureen Stapleton played Dick Van Dyke's mother despite being only six months older than him in real life.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has Lionel Jeffries, who was six months younger than Dick Van Dyke, playing his father.
  • In The Godfather, Marlon Brando (age 47) was father of Al Pacino and James Caan (both 32, but Caan is supposed to be the older brother), John Cazale (37, who plays the middle brother), and the only one who had a fitting age, Talia Shire (26). Morgana King, who played Brando's character's wife and the mother of the children, was only 41. Averted with Pacino himself by the third movie (both Sofia Coppola and Franc D'Ambrosio were at least 20 years younger than him).
  • In Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Musetta Vander, who plays Sindel, is four years older than Talisa Soto, who plays Sindel's daughter Kitana. This is justified based on the back-story of the Mortal Kombat games on which the movie is based: For one, Edenians, Sindel's and Kitana's native race, age at a far slower rate than Earthlings; Kitana is stated to be 10,000 years old despite physically appearing to be in her late 20s at most, and Sindel's canonically attractive despite her exact age never being given in-universe. For another, part of the story is that Shao Kahn is able to invade and retake her because Sindel was reincarnated in Earthrealm—so if she looks younger than her "daughter," it's because her new body is younger than her daughter's.
  • Male example from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: Sean Bean (Boromir) is just 11 years younger than John Noble, who played his father, Denethor.
  • Bicentennial Man. Embeth Davidtz (born 1965) plays Amanda Charney (née Martin), the mother of Lloyd Charney, played by Bradley Whitford (born 1959). She's not wearing aging prosthetics at this point.
  • In the film Laws of Attraction, Frances Fisher plays the mother of Julianne Moore's Hello, Attorney! character. Possibly lampshading this trope in that she doesn't want her daughter to call her "mom" in public because she'd rather pass herself off as her older sister. Which makes perfect sense, as in Real Life, Fisher is more like an older sister to Moore, being only 8 years older than she is.
  • In Earthquake, 59-year-old Lorne Greene played the father of 52-year-old Ava Gardner.
  • In the film adaptation of Tommy, Tommy's mother was played by Anne-Margret (Born in 1941), making her only three years older than Roger Daltrey, who played Tommy.
  • In Babe, grandmother Esme Hoggett was played by Magda Szubanski, who was only 34 at the time.
  • In Sharknado Tara Reid played the mother of an actor only 7 years younger than her.
  • The Stunt Man. Barbara Hershey is made up this way.
  • Male example from Pacific Rim: Max Martini, who plays Herc Hansen, is only fourteen years older than Rob Kazinsky, who plays his son. This can be blamed on Dawson Casting: Chuck is supposed to be 21 but was played by a 30-year-old. The difference between their character's ages (24 years) is much more reasonable.
  • In Notorious, Leopoldine Konstantin was a mere three years older than her on-screen son, Claude Rains.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Done retroactively. In X-Men: First Class Moira McTaggart is shown as almost the same age as Charles Xavier, but in the original X-Men trilogy Charles was played by Patrick Stewart whereas the lovely Olivia Williams played the modern-day Moira in X-Men: The Last Stand. Stewart is 30 years older than Williams.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: In an actual father-son relationship, Michael Fassbender (Magneto) is only a decade older than Evan Peters (Quicksilver).
    • X-Men: Apocalypse is particularly problematic in this area. The movie takes place ten years after the 70s portion of Days Of Future Past, but the returning characters appear far younger than they should be. Even if one argues that Xavier and Magneto are aging gracefully, Beast and Havok are played by the same young actors from First Class, which took place 20 years prior, and no attempt is made at making either of them appear to be in their 40s. We also meet Havok and Cyclops' mother, whose actress is in her early 40s...the same age as her eldest son. Some have suggested that the mutant gene suppresses aging, except Moira is a baseline human who appears to be in her late 30s (Rose Byrne's age during filming), even though the character is in her mid-50s by this point. The only ones who get a pass are Mystique because her shapeshifting powers explicitly slow her aging, and Quicksilver who had caught up to the age of his actor Evan Peters, who was 27 during filming but baby-faced enough to play a teenager in the previous movie.
    • In Dark Phoenix (which is set in 1992), Magneto is in his early 60s but is played by Michael Fassbender, who was 41 during the film's production. Magneto is, thus, supposed to have less than a decade before he starts looking like Ian McKellen (who, in his 60s, played Magneto as a man in his 70s). Similarly, a 53-year-old Charles (played by a 39-year-old James McAvoy) has less than a decade before he starts looking like Patrick Stewart (who, in his 60s, played Charles in the original X-Men trilogy).
  • The 1964 Harold Robbins adaptation Where Love Has Gone has Bette Davis playing Susan Hayward’s mother, despite being only nine years older.
  • Constance Marie portrayed Marcella Quintanilla, mother of Selena in the film of the same name despite being only four years older than Jennifer Lopez, who played Selena.
  • Barbara O'Neil, who played Scarlett's mother in Gone with the Wind, was only three years older than Vivien Leigh. She was twenty-eight to Leigh's twenty-five. Granted the mother only appears in the part of the story where Scarlett is sixteen-seventeen (and Leigh plays her across several years) and young mothers were quite common in the South. But still very noticeable.
  • In The Best Years of Our Lives, actress Myrna Loy (Milly Stephenson) was only 13 years older than Teresa Wright who played her daughter Peggy.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask: Anne Parillaud plays the mother of Leonardo DiCaprio's King Louis XIV. At the time, DiCaprio was 24 years old and Parillaud was 38. The creators were very worried about Parillaud's youth, as the age difference would have made her a 14-year old mother. They only refrained from removing her from the cast when a member of the team mentioned that marriage, and consummation of the marriage, could happen in those days at the age of 14.
  • In Love's Enduring Promise, January Jones (Missy) is ten months older than Katherine Heigl (Marty), who played her step-mother. The previous movie, Love Comes Softy, established that Marty raised Missy since she was a little girl.
  • In The Haunted Mansion, Marsha Thomason plays Sara, a mother whose daughter and son are aged 13 and 10, and who is implied to be around the same age as her husband, who is played by Eddie Murphy and obviously meant to be in his late thirties/early forties. In reality, she is less than fourteen years older than the actors who portrayed her children and was clearly only in her mid-twenties when principal photography took place.
  • The Dark Knight Rises, sees Tom Hardy, who was in his early thirties, play Bane, who based on flashbacks towards the end of the movie, is supposed to be in his late forties/early fifties, a 15 to 20 year age difference. This gets very weird when you look it up and discover that Marion Cotillard, who plays Talia, is actually two years older than Hardy, yet the character is supposed to be younger.
  • In Footloose, Dianne Wiest (Ariel's mother) is only 9 years older than Lori Singer (Ariel) and John Lithgow, who plays Ariel's father, is only 12 years older. Meanwhile, Frances Lee McCain (Ren's mother) is only 14 years older than Kevin Bacon (Ref).
  • In Dune, Lady Jessica who is Paul Atreides' mother, is played by English actress Francesca Annis who is only fourteen years older than actor Kyle MacLachlan. But it could be that it runs in the family.
  • Watchmen has multiple examples, which are justified as the characters also appear in flashbacks set at least 20 years prior, and it's easier to add age with makeup than it is to subtract it: Carla Gugino as Sally/Silk Spectre I and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian (she was 37, he was 42, both play characters that range from the 20s in flashbacks to the late 60s in 1985), Malin Åkerman as Laurie/Silk Spectre II (29 during filming, ranges from 17 to 37 — and the two actors mentioned prior are her on-screen parents), and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias (29 at the time of filming, playing a 46-year-old - in flashbacks, 27). Also, canonically Jon Osterman was 30 when he "died" (and became Dr. Manhattan, who essentially doesn't age), but his actor, Billy Crudup, was 39.
  • A nonhuman example: Jasmine the lioness in Secondhand Lions was an elderly, retired circus lion who was no longer able to perform, and had a fatal heart attack from the physical stress of mauling Stan. Taureg the lioness, who played her, was less than two years old.
  • Jenifer Lewis has made a career out of playing the mothers of people she's only a few years older than. For example, in The Preachers Wife, she played the mother of Whitney Houston, who is only 6 years younger than her. More egregiously, she played Tina Turner's mother in What's Love Got to Do with It despite being just one year older than Angela Bassett, who played Tina.
  • The Good Shepherd featured Eddie Redmayne playing the son of Matt Damon. The two are only 11 years apart.
  • Divergent:
  • Superman Returns features both male and female examples with Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth, who were respectively younger than Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder were in Superman II, despite playing versions of their characters intended to be many years older than they were in that film. Especially pronounced in Bosworth's case, as she was nine years younger than Kidder was in Superman II, while Routh was only one year younger than Reeve.
  • Bound (2015): Charisma Carpenter is only 10 years younger than Daniel Baldwin, who plays her father.
  • Narcissa in the Harry Potter films is a borderline case. Helen McCrory is nineteen years older than her on-screen son Tom Felton. Of course, he's only meant to be sixteen by the time she first appears, but Felton had entered his twenties at that point.
  • Related to Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald introduces Newt Scamander's older brother Theseus. His actor, Callum Turner, is actually 8 years younger than Newt himself, Eddie Redmayne.
  • While averted by the 2013 movie (helped by not much Dawson Casting), the other adaptations of Carrie:
    • In the first film, Betty Buckley was only two years older than Sissy Spacek, despite playing her teacher. There is a small amount of merit to this in the book, where Miss Desjardin is said to be a young teacher in her first year. There's also a line from Carrie's narration where she remarks that the teacher looked lovely enough at the prom to pass for a student.
    • The same film also has an eighteen-year difference between Spacek and Piper Laurie, who plays her mother. Could be a teenage pregnancy in the film, but the book's version of Margaret is meant to be much older. Averted with the age gap between Sue and her mother, as they were played by real-life mother and daughter Amy Irving and Priscilla Pointer.
    • The 2002 remake has a whopping thirteen year difference between Angela Bettis and Patricia Clarkson, mother and daughter. Bettis was twenty-eight playing a high school student.
  • In a case of Timeshifted Actor, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has Dominic Cooper and John Slattery as Howard Stark - the former as the young businessman\inventor in the 1940s, the other as Tony Stark's father beginning in the 1970s (as shown in Iron Man 2 and Avengers: Endgame). Slattery is only 12 years older than Cooper.
  • Trick 'r Treat: The character of Sammie Curr is mentioned to be 38 years old and was played by 28-year-old Tony Fields.
  • A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
    • The film does this with the character Laurie. Melonie Diaz plays her in the 1986 portions and Rosario Dawson in 2005 - when there's only a five year age difference between the actresses. Part of this is due to some Dawson Casting - Diaz being mid-twenties playing a sixteen-year-old.
    • A curious inversion happens with Antonio. His past self is played by the mid-twenties Channing Tatum and his present by Eric Roberts - who was in his fifties. Presumably, life in prison aged him.
  • In Nocturnal Animals, Laura Linney plays the mother of Amy Adams - who's only ten years younger.
  • In Giant, Elizabeth Taylor plays the mother of Carroll Baker—who was a year older than Taylor in real life.
  • In the film Just Another Romantic Wrestling Comedy, wrestler April Hunter, then 31-32 years old, played the mother for the entirety of the movie, even when her daughter's character was played as an adult by Nicole Brier, who may have been only a few years younger. The father was played by MMA star Don Frye, who was about 40 at the time the movie was made. Neither Hunter nor Frye's appearances aged throughout the course of the film.
  • Justified in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Cate Blanchett (39) and Brad Pitt (44-45) play the parents of Julia Ormond (43), but Blanchett wears old-age makeup in scenes where her character is a dying woman in her 80s, while Pitt's character ages in reverse.
  • In the 2011 film That's What I Am, 30-year-old Randy Orton played the father of a high school bully, whose actor, Cameron Deane Stewart, was just 11 years younger.
  • In Addams Family Values, Carol Kane takes over the role of Granny Addams from Judith Malina, despite being a year younger than Anjelica Huston, who plays her daughter, Morticia.
  • In Sense and Sensibility, Tom Wilkinson (Mr. Dashwood) is only six years older than James Fleet (John Dashwood, the former' son).
  • Subverted in In Time, where Olivia Wilde (born 1984) plays the mother of Justin Timberlake (born 1981). Although Wilde is nearly four years younger in real life, she plays a 50-year-old woman as the film features a plot device that stops aging at 25 years old.
  • Back to the Future:
    • Lea Thompson is just nine days older than Michael J. Fox, and still portrays his fully-grown mother in the 1985 timelines. Though it is justified as for most of the first film (intended as a one-shot story at the time), she's the same age as Marty. What's stranger is that she's actually three years younger than Wendy Jo Sperber, who plays her teenage daughter Linda in 1985, and four years younger than Marc McClure, who plays her older son Dave. Crispin Glover also plays George McFly despite being three years younger than Michael, six years younger than Sperber, and seven years younger than McClure. But again, like Thompson, most of Glover's screentime is in 1955 when George is about the same age as Marty. In the sequels, Glover is replaced by Jeffrey Weissman, who was one year younger than McClure, only one month older than Sperber, and less than three years older than Fox.
    • In the same film, Frances Lee McCain plays the mother of Thompson's character, but McCain is only 17 years older.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales introduces Henry Turner, son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. His portrayer, Brenton Thwaites, is only 4 years younger than mother Keira Knightley and 12 than father Orlando Bloom.
  • Crash: Shaun Toub (Farhad) to Bahar Soumekh (Dorri) who plays his daughter. They are twelve years apart.
  • Jennifer Lawrence in something of a Running Gag whenever she works with David O. Russell:
    • Silver Linings Playbook - Tiffany has already been married for years. The actress's age? Twenty-one. The part was written for Anne Hathaway, who was in her late twenties.
    • American Hustle - she's the mother to an eight-year-old and her real-life counterpart was in her forties at the time of the ABSCAM. It is implied that Rosalyn was something of a trophy wife, but Danny's age muddies things. Jennifer was twenty-three.
    • Joy has her at twenty-five playing Joy Mangano who was already in her thirties when the events took place. She also has two children. Joy had a third in real life, but this was possibly cut because the twenty-five-year-old actress probably wouldn't be believable as a single mother of three.
  • In I Live In Fear, Minoru Chiaki plays the son of a foundry owner played by Toshiro Mifune. Mifune was three years younger than Chiaki; he was 35 at the time, and Chiaki was 38.
  • Moonstruck - Olympia Dukakis and Cher play mother and daughter, but are just under 15 years apart in age. Similarly, Feodor Chaliapin Jr. and Vincent Gardenia play father and son but are only 14 years apart in age.
  • Occurs in The Terror, due to the script being written on the fly. Katrina is Eric's mother. However, it is revealed that Eric has taken the place the Baron. Dorothy Neumann was 26 years young than Creator/Boris Karloff who was playing The Baron/Eric.
  • The 1938 cinematic production of Pygmalion gave us a double whammy. Wendy Hiller played Eliza Doolittle and Wilfrid Lawson played her father, even though Lawson was only twelve years older than Hiller. Meanwhile, Leslie Howard played Henry Higgins and Marie Lohr played his mother, even though Lohr was only three years older than Howard.
  • In Splitting Heirs, Eric Idle's character discovers that the character played by Barbara Hershey is his real mother. Idle is five years older than Hershey. Also, Hershey is only five years older than Rick Moranis who played the character she originally thought was her son.
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again:
    • Cher play's Donna's mother. The older Donna was played by Meryl Streep, who's only three years younger.note  Her father, meanwhile, is implied to be Andy Garcia's character. Streep is seven years older than he is.
    • Susanne Barkland, who played Bill's mother, is five years younger than Stellan Skarsgård.
    • Working from the timeline, Donna is forty in the first film. Meryl Streep was fifty-nine when filming the first film, sixty-nine filming the second where her character was forty-four as that's the age at which she died.
  • In And When Did You Last See Your Father?, Jim Broadbent and Juliet Stevenson play the parents of author Blake Morrison. Morrison was played by a then 18-year-old Matthew Beard and 47-year-old Colin Firth. Broadbent is only 11 years older than Firth and Stevenson is only four years older (though they were made up to look older in the present-day scenes).
  • Machete: Alicia Rachel Marek plays June, mother of Lindsay Lohan's character April. The two are a decade apart in age.
  • Unbreakable has Charlayne Woodard playing the mother of Samuel L. Jackson, who is actually five years older.
  • In the 1998 TV movie of Brave New World, Jose Ferrer played the Director, who it turns out is John's father (Tim Guinee). Ferrer was only seven years older.
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Brendan Fraser was 39 at the time of filming. Luke Ford, playing his son, was 26.
  • In the 2001 TV movie Inside the Osmonds, 19-year-old Patrick Levis and 27-year-old Janaya Stephens respectively played Donny and Marie. The real Donny was two years older than Marie.
  • Tales of an Ancient Empire: Janelle Marra, who plays Rajan, was 31 at the time, only seven years more than Inbar Lavi, playing her daughter Alana. Even worse, Michael Pare plays Odo, father of Aedan, who's played by Kevin Sorbo, who was born less than a month before him.
  • Rain Man: Dustin Hoffman plays Tom Cruise's older brother, something like 10-15 years older. In reality, Hoffman is 25 years older than Cruise.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (2002): Dagmara Dominczyk was twenty six at the film's release. Henry Cavill, who played Albert, the son of her character Mercedes, was nineteen. Jim Caviezel, who as Dantes turns out to be Albert (Cavill)'s father, was thirty four-slightly better. Justified in all cases due to the time frame involved, and the needs of the actors to play their younger selves.
  • Aquaman has Nicole Kidman as the mother of both Jason Momoa, who is 12 years younger (at least his on-screen father, Temuera Morrison, has a believable 19 year difference) and Patrick Wilson, a meager six years.
  • The 2019 Shaft rebootquel reveals that the first and second John Shafts are actually father and son (retconning the relationship from the 2000 version, which established them as uncle and nephew), despite the fact that Richard Roundtree is only 6 years older than Samuel L. Jackson. Such a small age difference is not unusual between uncles and nephews, not so much for fathers and sons.
  • In Broken Lance, Spencer Tracy is only 14 years older that Richard Widmark who played his eldest son. Robert Wagner, Hugh O'Brian, and Earl Holliman who played his others sons were young enough to play their parts.
  • Knives Out: K Callan plays the mother of Christopher Plummer, who is actually 6 years older than her.
  • The Karate Kid Part III: Thomas Griffith, who played Danny's Evil Mentor Terry Silver was 25 when the film was recorded. The character is stated to be a Vietnam War buddy of John Kreese, which means the character would have to have been 34 or older since the film is set in 1989. To top it all off, Griffith was actually younger than 27-year-old Ralph Macchio, who played the titular "kid".
  • Feeding Frenzy: Mr. Plinkett, an elderly man confined to a wheelchair, is played by Rich Evans, a man in his 30s, with only a pair of aviator glasses and an old-man scowl to sell the idea. Evans also plays Mr. Plinkett in the Half in the Bag videos, also by RedLetterMedia.
  • Beyond the Lights: Downplayed. It's said that Macy had Noni at seventeen. Gugu Mbatha Raw plays Noni, and she's thirteen years younger than Minnie Driver, who portrays Macy.
  • Sorceress: Robert Ballesteros plays antagonist Traigon both when his daughters are newborn infants and then two decades later, after they're aged up. Both the actresses (twins Lynette and Leigh Harris) are only two years younger, which is glaringly obvious in the film. This might be due to his magic keeping him young: that's not shown though.
  • WarCraft: Travis Fimmel is only 13 years older than Burkely Duffield, who played his on-screen son.
  • Rocketman (2019): Bryce Dallas Howard, who played Elton John's mother, Sheila Dwight, is just eight years older than Taron Egerton, who played Elton from age 17 onward.
  • Little Miss Sunshine has Toni Collette as a mother of two, with the eldest one, Paul Dano, only 12 years younger than her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 8 Simple Rules, Kaley Cuoco, who played Bridget Hennessey, was six years younger than her on-screen little sister Kerry, played by Amy Davidson. Justified because Kaley is taller, and hey, shorter is younger, right?
  • In 30 Rock
    • Jan Hooks plays Jenna's mother despite being only eleven years older than Jane Krawkowski.
    • This trope was lampshaded and parodied in other instances.
      • In season three, Tracy discovers a son who looks far too old and is later discovered to be a con artist who is two years older. Tracy still refers to him as his son "who is two years older than me".
      • Liz pretends to be Kenneth's mother despite only a three-year difference in actors. She even points it out, though the man being lied to says he could believe it.
      • Jenna is cast in a mother/daughter drama, thinking she was going to play the daughter. However, Jenna was cast as the mother of a younger actress, though obviously not young enough to actually be her daughter.
  • A storyline on All My Children in the early '90s featured a "scandalous" affair between single mom Dixie and college-age Brian. Matt Borlenghi, who played Brian, was actually older than Cady McClain, who played Dixie.
  • On 'Allo 'Allo! Rose Hill, born in 1914, played the mother of Carmen Silvera, born in 1922. Their advanced ages made this less obvious than most.
  • Arrow,
    • John Barrowman is only fifteen years older than Colin Donnell, who plays his son. It's not helped by Barrowman looking younger than forty-five. At times, they looked more like brothers.
    • Regarding the Lance sisters, Laurel is supposed to be two years older than her sister Sara. Katie Cassidy (Laurel) is, in fact, older than Caity Lotz (Sara,) but only by a single month. Their father Quentin is right on the cusp, with Paul Blackthorne being 17 years older than them (their mother Dinah doesn't apply, as Alex Kingston is a respectable 23 years older.)
  • On Awkward., Nikki DeLoach is only 13 years older than Ashley Rickards, who plays her on-screen daughter. Like Strong Medicine this is justified in DeLoach's character having been a teen mom.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon's older brother Georgie is played by Jerry O'Connell who is actually a year younger than Jim Parsons, who portrays Sheldon. Parsons is also five years older than Courtney Henggeler, who portrays Sheldon's twin sister Missy.
  • Male example: On Blackish, Anthony Anderson is only nine years younger than Laurence Fishburne, who plays his character's father. He also is only 13 years younger than Jennifer Lewis, who plays his mother.
  • The Blacklist features an episode, The Mombasa Cartel, where Peter Fonda and Phyllis Somerville are 8 and 4 1/2 years older than Carel Struycken who's playing their son.
  • A rare male example is Len Cariou from Blue Bloods, who plays the father of Commissioner Frank Reagan, even though Tom Selleck is only 6 years younger than Cariou.
  • Gretchen Mol playing Michael Pitt's mother in Boardwalk Empire. Mol is only 9 years older than Pitt. This is a combination of Pitt playing a 22-year-old and Mol's character having had a son at a very young age. Her surprising youth, in spite of being a grandmother, is a part of her character.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • L. Scott Caulfield plays Laverne Holt, Captain Holt's mother. Caulfield was born in 1950 - the actor who plays her son, Andre Braugher, is only twelve years younger than her.
    • Was, there are only 18 years separating Andy Samberg, who plays Peralta, and Bradley Whitford, who plays his father.
  • The Caesars: Sonia Dresdel (Livia) was only three months older than André Morell, who played her son Tiberius.
  • Camelot: Claire Forlani (Igraine) is only 16 years older than Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays Arthur, her son. The two look even closer in age while performing on the show. Of course, real noblewomen in some cases did have children that young.
  • Vicki Lawrence played Mama in The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family despite being 16 years younger than daughter Eunice (played by Burnett) and son Vinton (played by Ken Berry), and 27 years younger than her other daughter Ellen (played by Betty White). Lawrence herself loved playing an older woman because, according to her, it was liberating to come into work every day and have the makeup people make her look uglier.
  • Charmed:
    • There is a twelve-year difference between Finola Hughes who played Patty and Jennifer Rhodes who played her mother Penny. This one has a quasi-justification that Rhodes first appeared as the girls' grandmother in the present - and later episodes also had her play Penny in flashbacks. This caused problems when an episode featured Paige going back in time to the 60s and meeting past Penny. Jennifer Rhodes was too old to convincingly play her at age 30 so a visibly younger actress was cast. The problem was that only ten years separated the events in that episode from one that took place in the 70s (that had Rhodes playing Penny).
    • There's also eighteen years between James Read who played the girls' father and his oldest daughter Shannen Doherty. It works because Read was already grey-haired when he first appeared on the show. Finola Hughes is also 13 years older than Doherty. Semi-justified since she only appears as Patty before she died.
  • On Class, Shannon Murray was only 14 years older than Sophie Hopkins who played her daughter.
  • Commissioner Tony Scali, the title character of The Commish, was generally implied to be close or around 40. Michael Chiklis was only 28 when the show first began.
  • Clair, the mother from The Cosby Show, was played by Phylicia Rashad, who was only 36 years old in the first season despite playing a mother of five with her eldest child in college (Bill Cosby himself was a more realistic 47). Said eldest, Sandra, was played by Sabrina Le Beauf, who almost didn't get the role because she was only ten years younger than her onscreen mother. There was also the grandfather Russell, played by Earle Hyman, who was only 11 years older than his onscreen son (Cliff's mother Anna was played by Clarice Taylor, who was the appropriate age).
  • Dark Matter: In-Universe, Two pretends she's Five's mother, though the characters look around a decade apart at most (the actresses have only six years between them).
  • Desperate Housewives was accused of this when it cast Mike Farrell as John Slattery's father. Though in fact, the two are just barely far apart enough in age for this to be reasonable (there's a 23 year age difference between the two); it's just that Farrell looks very good for his age.
  • In dinnerladies, Bren's mum Petuna is played by Julie Walters, who is three years older than Victoria Wood.
  • There are several examples from the revived series of Doctor Who:
    • Companions and their relatives:
      • Billie Piper is only 17 years younger than her onscreen mum Camille Coduri.
      • Freema Agyeman is only 16 years younger than her onscreen mum Adjoa Andoh.
      • Tosin Cole is only 26 years younger than his onscreen grandmother Sharon D. Clarke.
    • Other characters:
      • "The Girl in the Fireplace": Sophia Myles was 25 when she played Madame de Pompadour. At the climax, where it's a plot point that Reinette is 37, nothing was done to make her look older than in the earlier scene where Reinette is 22.
      • "Rosa": Rosa Parks was 42 in 1955, but is played by 33-year-old Vinette Robinson. It's averted in the prologue which takes place 12 years earlier, however.
  • Discussed in-universe on Drop Dead Diva. One client is a former Hollywood celebrity (played by Elliott Gould), and jokes that the actress who played his TV wife was only three years older than the actress who played his daughter.
  • When EastEnders began, 29-year old Gillian Taylforth played 34-year-old Kathy Beale, the mother of 14-year old Ian, played by then 16-year old Adam Woodyatt. When casting for the character of Kathy, Gillian convinced the show's producers she could "look older" - and won the part.
  • On Empire, Taraji P. Henson (Cookie) and Terrence Howard (Lucious) are only about 13 years older than two of the actors playing their sons.
  • Frasier:
    • Played with in Frasier's agent Bebe (played by then 49-year-old Harriet Samson Harris) is shown to have a son that's at least 40. However, the preceding conversation was about Bebe praising her plastic surgeon in order to convince Frasier to get some work done so he'd be ready for TV. Seeing the older son (and realizing Bebe is probably older than he ever imagined) is what convinced him to go see the plastic surgeon. It's also implied several times that Bebe is one of Satan's minions (or at least sold her soul).
    • John Mahoney played Kelsey Grammer's father, even though he was only 15 years older than him and eight years younger than Martin Crane is supposed to be.
  • Frequency: Julie in 2016. Given that Devin Kelley is less than a year older than Peyton List, she and Raimy look more like sisters than mother and daughter, no matter how much aging makeup and gray they add to her hair. When the timeline is restored and Julie is alive again, they don't even bother trying to age Kelley.
  • On Friday Night Lights, Lyla Garrity is played by Minka Kelly, born in 1980, while her mother, Pam Garrity is played by Merrilee McCommas, born in 1971. So mother and daughter are played by actresses just nine years apart in age.
  • Parodied in the titular Show Within a Show of Garth Marenghis Darkplace. The character Thornton Reed is futilely passed off as older than the others with a 70s-style mustache, mentions of Korean War service, and usage of phrases like "young bucks". In-universe, his actor's clearly just as old as the other actors. Out-of-universe, his actor's considerably younger than the others.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays Gregor Clegane from Season 4 onwards, was only 25 when he took up the role. Notably, he's about 19 years younger than Rory McCann, who plays his character's younger brother. In his case, he was chosen due to his size, as Björnsson is one of the largest men in the world and the producers felt that was a more important aspect of the character than his age. He also wears a helmet in most of his scenes, which makes his age difficult to ascertain, though it's definitely distracting when his face is shown.
    • The guy playing Euron is actually a year younger than the actress playing his niece Yara and just four years older than the actor playing his nephew Theon. And nearly forty years younger than the actors playing his brothers Balon and Aeron, the latter of whom is supposed to be younger than him. In the novels themselves, when Euron returns to the Iron Islands other characters are surprised that he doesn't look like he has aged a day, almost unnaturally so — hinting that this might be due to the black magic he dabbles in. In both the TV show and books, Euron's hair doesn't show even a day of his age, being totally untouched by gray.
    • Out of the Baratheon brothers, Stephen Dillane (middle brother Stannis) is actually the oldest, though only a couple years older than Mark Addy (eldest brother Robert). Meanwhile, Gethin Anthony (youngest brother Renly) is by far the youngest of the three, over 20 years their junior. What makes this less noticeable is that the three brothers are never onscreen together, so you're never able to directly compare them.
    • Iain Glen was Jorah Mormont, whose father Jeor is portrayed by James Cosmo. They look close in age, as Glen is only thirteen years younger than Cosmo, though it's mild compared to some of the examples above from the series.
  • A grandmotherly version on General Hospital. In the mid-'90s, when the Ward family was introduced, actress Rosalind Cash was only 20-something years older than the actors playing her 20-something/30-something-year-old grandchildren, meaning it would have been far more appropriate for her to be playing their mother instead—indeed, she was only a few years older than the actors who did play her (grown) children.
  • Belita Moreno, who plays George's mom Benny in The George Lopez Show is only 12 years older than George Lopez. However, since Benny is a teen mom, it's not that big of a difference. Emiliano Diez, who plays Vic, is also only 12 years older than Constance Marie, the actress who plays his daughter Angie. However, unlike Benny, Vic was likely a grown man when Angie was born.
  • In The Golden Girls, Estelle Getty, who played Sophia, was actually the second youngest of the girls despite Sophia being the eldest. This means she was actually younger than Betty White, who actually was the eldest of the actresses, and older than Bea Arthur, who played Sophia's daughter, Dorothy.
  • The Good Place: Leslie Grossman plays Donna Shellstrop (Eleanor's mom), and is only nine years older than Kristen Bell playing Eleanor.
    • In fact, both played high school students within a few years of each other. Grossman was on Popular which ended in 2001 and Bell was on ''Veronica Mars which began in 2004. Both were cases of Dawson Casting.
    • Justified, though, because Eleanor's mom appears primarily in flashback sequences to when Eleanor is a child or teenager. Not at all unreasonable to have a fortysomething actress cast as the mom of a teenager.
  • In Good Times, John Amos was only 34 when the show began, making him only 8 years older than his "son" Jimmie Walker (J.J.) and 19 years younger than his "wife" Esther Rolle (Florida).
  • On Green Acres, Oliver's mother was played by Eleanor Audley, who was only a year older than Eddie Albert.
  • The 1996 TV adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels Peter O'Toole plays the Emperor, whose sons are played by John Standing and Edward Fox. He was only slightly older than them both.
  • In Hope & Faith Nicole Paggi was 26 at the time she played 15-year-old Sydney. There are thirteen years between her and Faith Ford, who played her mother. Also, Kelly Ripa is seven years older than her and she played her aunt. The show also had a male example in Ted McGinley who played Paggi's father - nineteen years age difference. Megan Fox played Sydney for the show's next two seasons, making the age difference 22 years (for her mother) and 28 (for her father).
  • On the final season of Homicide: Life on the Street, Giancarlo Esposito joined the cast as Gee's son Michael. Esposito is only fourteen years younger than Yaphet Kotto. Possible, but there was no reference to Gee getting his future wife pregnant in high school.
  • On House of Payne, the character of Janine is played by Demetria McKinney, who was born in 1981. Janine's son, Malik is played by Doc Shaw who was born in 1992. In addition, Allen Payne (C.J.) was born in 1968. Cassi Davis (Aunt Ella) was born in 1964, while Lavan Davis (Uncle Curtis) was born in 1966.
  • In How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life), Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins (both age 52) play the mother of Polly, played by Sarah Chalke, who is 36.
  • I, Claudius:
    • Siân Phillips (Livia) was two years younger than George Baker, who played her elder son Tiberius, and ten years older than Ian Oglivy, who played her younger son Drusus.
    • Margaret Tyzack (Antonia) was only seven years older than Derek Jacobi, who played her son Claudius.
    • BRIAN BLESSED (Augustus) was only two years older than Frances White, who played his daughter Julia.
  • The Indian Detective: Anupam Kher is only fifteen years older than Russell Peters, who plays his son. Meanwhile Hamza Haq and the actress playing his sister look around a decade older than Akshay Kuman as their nephew and son.
  • Iron Fist (2017): David Wenham, who plays Harold Meachum, is only 17 years older than Tom Pelphrey who plays his oldest son Ward, and only 21 years older than Jessica Stroup who plays his daughter Joy. Justified, though, as it's said that Harold hasn't aged a day in 13 years since he died and then got resurrected by the Hand, so he's actually in his mid-60s despite looking like a 51-year-old (which explains why he looks the same in present-day scenes as he does in the "We are Rand" ad from over 15 years ago).
  • Kath and Kim has an interesting version of this. Kath is supposed to be in her 50s, though her actress is about a decade younger. Her daughter Kim is supposed to be in her mid-to-late 20s but is played by an actress who is pushing 50.
    • Also done in the U.S. remake in a more traditional way, Molly Shannon as Kath was only 8 years older then Selma Blair, who played her "daughter" Kim.
  • Another male example: In Last Man Standing, Robert Forster (born 1941) plays the father of Tim Allen (born 1953).
  • Tony Goldwyn played Vincent D'Onofrio's older brother on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Goldwyn is a year younger than D'Onofrio.
  • In Life Unexpected Shiri Appleby is 12 years older than Britt Robertson who plays her daughter. Of course, it's forgivable considering her character was 16 when she gave birth.
  • Kevin Tighe and Swoosie Kurtz play Locke's parents on Lost. They were both born in 1944. Terry O'Quinn, who plays Locke, was born in 1952. Locke's mother was supposed to be sixteen when she had him, but his father is said to have been roughly twice her age at the time.
  • Magnificent Century subjects pretty much all the adult characters to this because of the time skips and the Sehzades' Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. Mahidevran's actress is only five years older than the actor for the adult Shezade Mustafa, while Meryem Uzerli was thirty while playing the mother of a twenty-nine-year-old (Mihrimah). Barring Hürrem, the characters that appeared as adults since the beginning of the series kept the same actor, and the adult actors of the Sehzades remain in their roles, like in Mihrimah's case.
  • Reno Wilson is only 7 years younger than Cleo King, who plays his grandmother on Mike & Molly!
  • In Mildred Pierce Kate Winslet is only 12 years older than Evan Rachel Wood, who plays the older version of her daughter.
  • In The Mod Squad episode "Cry Uncle", Theodore Bikel played Captain Greer's uncle. Bikel is three years younger than Tige Andrews in real life.
  • On Monk, Dan Hedaya guest starred as the title character's father. He is only 13 years older than series star Tony Shalhoub, and 17 years older than John Turturro, who played Monk's brother.
  • On Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pearl Forrester was played by Mary Jo Pehl, who was two years younger than the actor who played her son Clayton, Trace Beaulieu. They at least tried to give her a frumpy late middle-aged housewife appearance in season seven, but, at the beginning of season eight, when she took over fully for her departed son, her look was updated to make her look more her actual age. This was stated to have been something done by Bobo and the rest of the apes.
  • On The Nanny, Ann Morgan Guilbert, who plays Grandma Yetta, is just five years older than her onscreen daughter, Renee Taylor, who plays Sylvia Fine.
  • On Neighbours, Shane Connor (b.1959) and Carla Bonner (b.1973) played father and daughter. Again, Dawson Casting is at work here too — Bonner's character was born in 1979.
  • NOS4A2: Vic's parents in the series are played by actors only eleven and fourteen years older than her actor, respectively.
  • In The O.C., Kirsten turns 40 in the series run, meaning she had Seth at 19. This wouldn't be as much of an issue if they hadn't specifically stated that Sandy and Kirsten were living in a mail truck at that age... So was the baby in there with them?
  • In Once Upon a Time Lana Parrilla, who plays Ginnifer Goodwin's stepmother, is only one year older than her. At first, this wasn't an issue - except when it came to Regina's backstory episode. It takes place when Snow White was ten, where Bailee Madison plays her now. Parrilla however still plays Regina, meaning that her character is meant to be about ten years older than Goodwin's. This created an odd paradox when it comes to Regina's mother Cora. In her first appearance, she's played by Barbara Hershey (in the aforementioned backstory episode). But when we meet Cora's younger self, she's now played by Rose McGowan. Said episode shows that Cora giving birth to Regina, meaning it only takes at least fifteen years for her to turn into Barbara Hershey.
  • In the British sitcom On the Buses, this trope was first averted in season 1, the character of Stan Butler's mother was played by Cicely Courtneidge, who was 22 years older than Reg Varney who played Stan Butler, but in seasons 2-7, the trope was played straight when they brought in a new actress (Doris Hare) to play the mother. She was only 10 years older than Reg Varney.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Elizabeth Rodriguez, who was 33 years old when the series started, plays Aleida who is a mother of the 24 year old Daya (played by actress Dascha Pascho, who is just under two years her junior).
  • Outlander: This happens in season 3 after the Time Skip to 1968. Claire is supposed to be 50 years old, but Caitriona Balfe was 36 at the time, although she wears a salt-and-pepper wig to make her look older. Balfe is also only 15 years older than the actress who plays her daughter Brianna, who is 23. The same thing with Jamie, played by Sam Heughan, who is the same age as Balfe. Unlike her, however, they make no effort to make him look any older than 36.
  • In Parks and Recreation it is mentioned that Tammy One, Ron's first wife, was also a nurse who helped deliver him. Patricia Clarkson, the actress who plays her, is only 10 years older than Nick Offerman, who plays Ron. She's also only two years older than Megan Mullally, who plays Tammy Two and is married to Offerman in real life.
  • The Partridge Family: In "Aspirin at 7, Dinner at 8," Shirley dates a doctor (Gerald Hiken, age 45) and meets his mother (Nancy Walker, age 50).
  • Prodigal Son:
    • Michael Sheen (Martin Whitley) is a mere thirteen years older than Tom Payne, who's playing his son Malcolm Bright. It isn't very noticeable though, since Sheen is made to look older and Payne appears youthful enough to be around a decade younger than his true age.
    • The same goes for Bellamy Young, who plays Malcolm's mother Jessica and is also only 13 years older than him. It's more noticeable in her case, as she doesn't look old enough to have children in their 30s, unless she had them in her very early 20s or had a lot of plastic surgery.
    • On the other hand, Halston Sage is twenty four to twenty five years younger than her on-screen parents. It seems that her character is meant to be older (just a little younger than Malcolm). She's actually a decade younger than Payne, portraying her brother.
  • Pure: Anna Funk is played by Alex Paxton-Beesley, who's only nine years older than Dylan Everett and Jessica Clement, who play her children.
  • On Quantico, Anna Khaja plays Priyanka Chopra's mother, despite being only seven years older than Chopra.
  • On Reign, the actor playing Sebastian (Torrance Coombs) was born in 1983 - the actress playing his mother, Anna Walton, was born in 1980. It's noticeable, they look pretty much the same age.
  • Runaways has Brittany Ishibashi (Tina Minoru) as the mother of Lyrica Okano (Nico Minoru), who's only 14 years older than her... and to make it worse, Tina also had an older daughter, already dead when the series started. This was somehow the only case in a series full of Dawson Casting - Lyrica, as with all but one of the six title characters, was in her 20s playing a high schooler, but the other parents were at least 17 years older than their on-screen kids.
  • On The Sarah Jane Adventures, Daniel Anthony, who played Clyde Langer, was only eight years younger than Jocelyn Jee Esien, who played Clyde's mum. Also, the actors who played Maria Jackson's parents were only 17 years older than Yasmin Paige.
  • This naturally occurs in The Secret Circle with Dawson Casting. The most egregious examples are Cassie and her mother and Charles Meade and his mother, both only thirteen years apart. To be fair, Cassie's mother did have her in high school so this isn't that bad.
  • On Six Feet Under, Frances Conroy, who plays Ruth Fisher, is eleven years older than Peter Krause, who plays her oldest child.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Played straight and averted with Spock's parents. Mark Lenard was only about six years older than Leonard Nimoy while a healthy twenty-one years separated Spock and his mother. (Since Vulcans have a much longer lifespan than humans, it's reasonable for Spock's Vulcan father to appear younger than his human mother.)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "Inheritance", Fionnula Flanagan (who plays the woman who helped Dr. Soong create Data and calls herself his "mother") is only seven years older than Brent Spiner. Justified in that he's an android ...and she is, too, although one designed to age and die.
    • "Bloodlines": Jason Vigo, Picard's fake son, is stated to be 23, but the actor playing him is 18 years younger than Patrick Stewart.
    • In "Inheritance", Ben Vereen, who plays Geordi La Forge's father, Cmdr. Edward La Forge, is only 11 years older than LeVar Burton. Downplayed with Madge Sinclair, who played Geordi's mother, Capt. Silva La Forge, who was 19 years older than Burton.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: One of the actresses who plays Ishka is nine years younger than the actor who plays her character's son Quark. Plus, thanks to Dawson Casting, she's only 11 years older than the actor that plays Ishka's grandson Nog. Due to the extensive use of makeup, it's not very noticeable.
  • Star Trek: Picard: A minor case where Peyton List is two years younger than Harry Treadaway, but her character Narissa is the older sister of his character Narek.
  • In the 2012 Steel Magnolias TV movie remake, 42-year old Queen Latifah is only 17 years older than the actress playing her daughter. Adding to the problem is that Queen Latifah is also a classic example of Older Than They Look. It's not as extreme an instance as the others listed, but you still have to basically assume that M'Lynn was a teen mom.
  • On Strong Medicine, actress Rosa Blasi, who played Dr. Lu Delgado, was only 11 years older than the actor playing her son. This is Justified by the fact that Lu was a teen mom, even though she explicitly states that she gave birth at 16.
  • On Suburgatory, high schooler Tessa's mom is played by Malin Åkerman, who at the time was 34, meaning that she would've had to have been a teenage mother. The Dawson Casting of Tessa makes this trope even more obvious since Jane Levy (Tessa) was 23 at the time.
  • Parodied in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. When producers want to make a TV show about the twins, they cast an actress who is twenty-two to play their mother. The twins are about twelve at this point.
    "Don't worry; I've played old before."
  • Supergirl (2015):
    • Erica Durance, who plays Supergirl's birth mother Alura Zor-El as of Season 3, is only a decade older than Melissa Benoist who plays Supergirl/Kara. Laura Benanti, who played Alura in the first two seasons, was even younger at only 9 years Melissa's senior. The same actress also plays Kara's aunt Astra - whose youth is handwaved by the prison she was in being outside the normal progression of time. Both actresses were alright since Kara's mother is supposed to be long since dead and was last seen alive when she was 12. However, at the end of season 3 it appears her mother's been alive the whole time and is still played by Durance.
    • There's also eighteen years between Helen Slater and her on-screen daughter Chyler Leigh. Alex is possibly meant to be a few years younger than Chyler's actual age though.
    • Superman is supposed to be twelve years older than Kara, physically speaking. His actor, Tyler Hoechlin, is only a year older than Melissa Benoist. This is explained In-Universe that Earth's yellow sun slows Kryptonians' aging.
  • In Supernatural, 43-year-old Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays 31-year-old Jensen Ackles' father. He was also unconvincingly aged-up, leading viewers to think of John Winchester as a teenage daddy until his actual age was given. Since Morgan was pulling double-duty on Supernatural and Grey's Anatomy at about the same time, many jokes were made about the fact that his TV son (Ackles) and TV girlfriend (Katherine Heigl) were the same age.
  • In an episode of Taxi, Victor Buono played Jim Ignatowski's father, even though he was born the same year as Jim's actor, Christopher Lloyd.
  • In Teen Wolf we have Malia Tate, played by 28-year-old Shelley Hennig, whose father is revealed to be Peter Hale, played by 38-year-old Ian Bohen, meaning there's a ten year age difference between father and daughter from the actors.
  • On This Is Us, 32-year-old Mandy Moore and 39-year-old Milo Ventimiglia play the parents to 40-year-old Sterling K. Brown, 39-year-old Justin Hartley, and 36-year-old Chrissy Metz. Justified in that the parents' story is set in the 1970s and 1980s so the actors who play their children don't actually interact with them. However, Moore has to wear old-age makeup for her character's scenes in the present day because the show's creators couldn't find an older actress who could resemble her enough.
  • Timeless: Pooja Batra, who plays Denise Christopher's mother, and Karen David, who plays the young Denise, are only six years away from each other in age.
  • Troy: Fall of a City: Bella Dayne as Helen is only seven years older than Grace Hogg-Robinson, who's playing Helen's daughter Hermione here. Unsurprisingly she looks more like her older sister.
  • Mild male example in Two and a Half Men. Despite Charlie being the older brother of Alan, Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer in real life were actually born in the same year, and Cryer is also actually older by a few months.
  • Averted, inverted or subverted (according to viewers' taste) by the reboot of Upstairs Downstairs. The original series ran for five seasons beginning in 1975 and covered the years 1903-1930. note  The reboot, made in 2010, begins in 1936. Jean Marsh’s character — the only one carried over from the old series — was, therefore, six years older than last seen, played by an actress who was 30 years older. But the total elapsed time, from 1903 to 1936, agreed very well with the real-life span from 1975 to 2010.
  • On V (2009), Anna (Morena Baccarin) is the mother of Lisa (Laura Vandervoort). In real life, Baccarin is only five years older than Vandervoort. Worth noting however that they are alien reptiles and that their human appearances are artificial.
  • The Vampire Diaries TV show has Aunt Jenna, who's supposed to be in her late twenties, but is played by an actress who is only a year older than the actors who play her teenage niece and nephew.
    • David Anders, who plays John Gilbert, Elena's biological father is only 8 years older than her. His character was supposed to be young for a man with a 17-year-old daughter, but not that young.
    • Jasmine Guy was only 47 when she started playing Sheila "Grams" Bennett, who was supposed to be in her mid-50s to early 60s. She is only 10 years older than Persia White and 27 years older than Katerina Graham, who plays her daughter Abby and granddaughter Bonnie respectively.
  • Vikings: Due to the series taking place over the course of about 20 years, this happens when children grow into adults while their parents continue to be played by the same actors.
    • Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha) and Alexander Ludgwig (Bjorn Lothbrok), playing her son, are only fourteen years apart. In this case though it's due to a Time Skip, since Bjorn is aged up from a child to an adult. Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar, Bjorn's father, is even closer-twelve years older.
    • The actress who plays Queen Judith is only 10 years older than the actor playing her son Alfred in the fifth season.
  • Watchmen (2019):
    • Cal's year of birth is stated to be 1976, making him a whole decade older than the actor who portrays him. The revelation of him really being Doctor Manhattan means he's much older than that, and can appear however he wants.
    • Will Reeves is 105 years old. Louis Gossett Jr. is in his early 80s.
    • Adrian Veidt is 80, whereas Jeremy Irons is 71.
  • By Part Three of the 2002 adaptation of White Teeth, because of a combination of Dawson Casting and Time Skips, Archie Panjabi (twenty-nine-year-old playing thirty-four) is only three years older than the actor playing her son (twenty-six-year-old playing fifteen).
  • In The Wire Chris Bauer plays James Ransone's father despite being just under thirteen years older.
  • On The X-Files, Rebecca Toolan plays Mulder's mother. In reality, she is only two years older than Mulder, and only a year older than the actor who plays him.
  • You, Me and the Apocalypse: Jenna Fischer (Rhonda) is 9 years older than the actor playing her twin brother, Kyle Soller (Scotty).
  • The Young and the Restless: Lily Winters is the 29-year-old mother of twins in their mid-teens.

  • In Mark Schultz's Letters from War, the woman playing the soldier's mother looks like she's only as old as he is.
  • In the Strauss opera Salome, which sets the Biblical story to music, there is often an interesting aversion in which the soloist playing Salome is often far older than the soloist playing Herodias, her mother. This is probably because Salome is a central role and Herodias is at most a bit-part: older opera singers tend to have the prestige and clout that gets them the starring roles, and newbies are relegated to bit-parts. Therefore, as noted in the BBC production of Salome, we get the incongruity of a fifty-year-old daughter dancing a salacious striptease in front of her enthralled stepfather and twenty-something mother...

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Paul Bearer was revealed to be the biological father of The Undertaker's (half-) brother Kane. The only problem is that Bill Moody (1954-2013) was only thirteen years older than Glenn Jacobs (born 1967).

  • Probable in any ballet, especially with those with mothers and parents in small non-dancing roles, such as The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, or Swan Lake, given a) a ballet dancer's short performing lifespan of 18ish-35ish mean that even the most mature ballet dancers aren't way older than the younger ones and b) most mature ballet dancers are principals and will only dance in principal roles. It wouldn't be out of place to have a thirty-two-year-old principal play sixteen-year-old Aurora, and a twenty-year-old soloist play her mother.
  • Justified in any production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe. The mother and aunts of the male lead are supposed to all look noticeably younger than him, and one of the jokes is the need for him to explain to people (such as his intended bride) why teenage girls are seen hugging and kissing him. (There is a good reason for the apparent age difference.)
  • Inverted in-story in The Grand Duke when mention is made of an actor who refuses to play Romeo unless his grandmother plays Juliet.
  • King Lear is as often as not played by a younger man due to the intense physical nature of the role in most productions. Whether this trope comes into play or not differs depending on the quality of the given Lear's age makeup (most major productions are pretty well done, and the role is pretty much always played by mature actors — it's just that the text establishes that Lear is over eighty years old).
  • In the musical of Spring Awakening all of the adult female roles (including several teenage characters' mothers) are played by one woman. In the original production, the understudy for this role was 30-year-old Frances Mercanti-Anthony. This makes her a bit young for her motherly roles to begin with but combined with Dawson Casting of a few of her "children" (such as 20-year-old Lea Michele as the daughter of one of her characters) the age gap was even smaller.
  • Pretty much inevitable in high school and college theater, since all the actors will be about the same age.

    Video Games 
  • In the early installments of the Myst series, Rand Miller streaked his hair and beard grey and affected a gravelly, world-weary tone of voice to play the much older Atrus; it also helped to differentiate Atrus from his son Achenar, whose hair was darker and who spoke in a higher register. By the time of Exile and Revelation, Rand was old enough to play Atrus with his natural voice and without fake grey in his hair; casting a different actor as Achenar in Revelation also helped. The fact that Atrus has more long-lived D'ni blood than his sons might help account for Rand looking awfully young to be Achenar's father in-Verse.

    Web Original 
  • The cast of Noob consists of people of similar age, and the "X is Y's parent" twist has happened a couple of times. In both cases, the parent does not look old enough to have an adult child (the youngest characters were in their late teens in Season 1). The cartoony art style of the Comic-Book Adaptation doesn't help much in this regard either. In addition to this, the actor playing Abraham, introduced as Sparadrap's father from the start, is actually a few years younger than the actor playing Sparadrap.
  • RedLetterMedia videos frequently features the character of Mr Plinkett, an elderly man who is performed by Rich Evans in Half in the Bag and Mike Stoklasa in the Mr. Plinkett Reviews, both men in their 30s and 40s.

    Western Animation 
  • Kevin Conroy wasn't even in his 50s yet when he voiced old Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond (who was about eighty years old during the series proper, and nearing the century mark in the Fully Absorbed Finale episode of Justice League). Similarly, Angie Harmon wasn't even 30 yet when she took over from Stockard Channing in the role of the older Barbara Gordon in Return of the Joker and Season 3 of the series proper, who's in her 60s.
  • Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch voices Great Uncle "Grunkle" Stan Pines, Old Man McGucket, and Gravity Falls' 100+-year-old mayor. Hirsch himself was in his late 20s during the production of the series.
  • Same for his friend Justin Roiland, who voiced both title characters on Rick and Morty, the former being around eighty despite being only being his mid-30s making him only slightly younger than Sarah Chalke, who plays his daughter, and barely older than Spencer Grammar, who voices his granddaughter.
  • April Winchell was in her late 30s/early 40s when she voiced sexagenarian Miss Finster on Recess.
  • Sherri Stoner was only in her 30s when she voiced Slappy Squirrel on Animaniacs, who is stated on the show to be an octogenarian.
  • Marvel's Spider-Man sees Ben Diskin, a man in his mid-30s, voice the middle-aged Spencer Smythe. Furthermore, Ben Diskin is 9 years younger than Jason Spisak, who voices Spencer's more famous son, Alistair.
  • DuckTales (2017) sees David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge is an old man and Tennant is in his 40s. Additionally, Toks Olagundoye, who's in her 40s, voices the also older Ms. Beakley and Beck Bennett, who voices Launchpad, is younger than the voice actors for Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby despite the character being older (and Bennett being 3 when the original series first aired).
  • On Elena of Avalor, King Verrago is the father of Skylar, even though the former is voiced by Andre Soliguizzo (who was born in 1966) and the latter is voiced by Carlos Alazraqui (who was born in 1962).
  • In one episode of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, Shaggy's grandmother is voiced by the same voice actress as Daphne (Grey Delisle) even though Matthew Lillard (Shaggy's voice actor) is 3 years older than Grey.
  • Muppet Babies (2018) has Nanny, voiced by Jenny Slate, who's younger than all the voice actors for the title characters, save for is Ben Diskin (voice of Gonzo), who is only months younger than her. Likewise, Statler and Waldorf, who are old men, are voiced by Eric Bauza and Matt Danner, who are in their late 30s.
  • DC Super Hero Girls has Granny Goodness voiced by 48-year-old April Stewart.
  • Samurai Jack has Ashi voiced by Tara Strong while her mother is voiced by Grey DeLisle, who's 6 months younger than her.
  • Doc McStuffins' has the title character's grandmother voiced by 55-year-old Dawnn Lewis.
  • Artemis Pebdani, who voices Alice Green on Big City Greens, was born in 1977, making her younger than Bob Joles (voice of Bill, born 1959) and Wendi Mc Lendon Covey (voice of Nancy, born in 1969).
  • In The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, the title character was voiced by Janet Waldo, while her ward Sylvester Sneekly (alias The Hooded Claw) was voiced by Paul Lynde. Waldo was actually six years older than Lynde.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, the main group of kids have ages 15 or under, according to the creators (with Candace being 15). None of their voice actors have ages falling into that range, with one of them, Maulik Pancholy, voice of Baljeet, being in his late thirties (Pancholy was born in 1974). Incredibly, he's not even the oldest - the winner of that particular honor is Kelly Hu, who was 39 when she began voicing Stacy (Hu was born in 1968)!
    • Jeremy and Vanessa were roughly the same age as their voice actors, Mitchel Musso and Olivia Olsen, respectively, during the casting. Even so, however, both Musso (b. 1991) and Olsen (b. 1992) are actually younger than Thomas Sangster (b. 1990), the voice of Ferb, a preteen.
  • Bob's Burgers has the eldest of the Belcher children, Tina, voiced by Dan Mintz, who is actually the youngest of the main cast (Mintz was born in 1981). Eugene Mirman (middle child Gene) and Kristen Schaal (youngest child Louise) are both older than Mintz (they were born in 1974 and 1978, respectively).
  • In The Loud House, born in 1971, Brian Stepanek, Mr. Loud's voice actor, is actually younger than some of Mr. Loud's daughters' voice actresses, such as Lara Jill Miller (Lisa), Nika Futterman (Luna) and Cristina Pucelli (Luan), who were born in 1967, 1969 and 1970, respectively.

  • Traci Lords was a notorious example from pornography. With a fake ID and birth certificate, she started doing nude modeling at the age of 15 and went into porn shortly after, quickly becoming one of the biggest porn stars in the country and even creating her own production company. Shortly after her (real) 18th birthday, the revelation that she was a minor for most of her career sent shockwaves through the adult entertainment industry, as stores and theaters scrambled to destroy some of their most profitable films now that they were legally considered to be child pornography. The Traci Lords scandal is the reason why porn producers have since become sticklers about making sure that everybody involved is of legal age, with thorough background checks.


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