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Time-Shifted Actor

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Left: Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels.
Right: Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original trilogy.

"Before you go, master, answer me this one, last, big question. Do I grow up to become Alec Guinness?"
French and Saunders: "The Phantom Millennium"

When a story spans decades, it is often not possible for the one actor to play the same character throughout. Heavy make-up might just let the 30 year old play 90, but never 10. Instead, multiple actors are used for the same role.

A time-shifted actor will usually be credited as playing 'Young Mr. X' or 'Old Ms. Y'.

Differentiated from the other actor replacement tropes by the passage of long stretches of story-internal time. If those long stretches of time have to pass during a short stretch of footage, an Age Cut will allow the actors to be swapped quickly.

This is especially popular in prequels and sequels, or in stories with a Framing Device in which 'Old Ms. Y' recalls events of her younger days.

Sometimes the necessary resemblance between Mr. X and Young Mr. X will be achieved by use of a Real-Life Relative. If only a photograph is required, an old picture of the actor/actress will suffice.

Compare and Contrast Role Reprise. See also Identical Grandson.

Less common than it used to be due to Digital Deaging becoming more frequently used. It's still used in some instances, such as when adult characters are portrayed as children or vice-versa. Voiceover work also contains plenty of instances of this.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Played for laughs in a Visa check card commercial, where Charlie Sheen waits so long for a store's ID verification that he ages into Martin Sheen.
    Store Clerk: This doesn't look like you.
    Martin Sheen: It did when I came in here...


    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 


    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Prince episode of Muppets Tonight, the younger Prince from the song "Starfish and Coffee" is a Muppet.

  • In The BBC radio adaptation of The Once and Future King, Paul Ready plays Arthur and Paul Heath plays Sir Kay. Edward Bracy plays Wart and Ethan Hammer plays Young Kay.
  • In What Does the K. Stand For? Stephen K. Amos plays himself as an adult narrator, and Shaquille Ali-Yebuah plays Young Stephen.

  • In Follies, the four middle-aged main characters all have younger doubles, who appear in the very frequent flashbacks. Many secondary characters also have younger doubles who mimic their dance steps.
  • The musical Les Misérables requires a child to play young Cosette (whose face is on the poster) and a young lady to play adult Cosette. Young Eponine has a walk on role just after the "Castle on a Cloud" number, and grown-up Eponine becomes a major character a few songs later.
    • Notably, the two young actresses alternate between these roles.
    • The twenty-plus-year run of the show means there has been at least one case of an actress who played Young Cosette as a child returning to play grown-up Eponine.
    • Similarly, Lea Salonga played Eponine on Broadway and in the West End in the '90s, and sang the role for the 10th Anniversary concert. Fifteen years later, she sang the part of Fantine at the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Concert.
    • In the 2012 film, Isabelle Allen and Natalya Wallace played Young Cosette and Eponine, while Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks played their adult counterparts.
  • In the musical Gypsy, two child actresses play Baby June and Baby Louise at the opening of the show, only to grow up (with help from some strobe lights) into the adult actresses who play Dainty June and Louise.
    • Presumably, the boys that Rose kidnaps en route to LA also grow up to be some of the Farmboys, although it's never stated outright which boy is which.
  • In the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Aspects of Love, two actresses play Jenny at age 12 and age 15. In the Broadway production they were similar-looking sisters, but the original London production had two non-related girls.
  • Mame follows Patrick Dennis, both as a 10 year-old and as a young adult. As such, there are two actors. And they sing a duet at the start of act 2.
  • In Once On This Island, Ti Moune ages from a small child to a young adult in the space of about five seconds as part of a song, requiring the use of this trope.
  • The ballet Fall River Legend casts two dancers as the Accused (Lizzie Borden), one playing her as a teenager and one as an adult. They occasionally dance together, but without the younger Accused acknowledging her older self.
  • Glen Tetley's ballet adaptation of Alice in Wonderland has two dancers as Alice, one as an older woman and one as a child.
  • In most productions of The Nutcracker, Clara is played by one young actress throughout. However, the Mariinsky Ballet's version, in which the character is called 'Masha', will cast a young girl (eleven or twelve) as Masha in the first act, and transition to an older dancer (usually a student in her last few years at the Vaganova Academy) for the second act, known as 'Princess Masha'. This is due to Princess Masha's significantly more complicated dancing in the second act in this particular production. As with other theatre productions, it's not uncommon for the same student to play Masha and then, several years later, play Princess Masha; the best students at the Academy will often have played both by the time they graduate.
  • Subverted in Hamilton; the actor for Philip Hamilton, (who also plays John Laurens in Act I), plays him at 9 years old in "Take a Break" and as an adult from "The Reynolds Pamphlet" on.
  • In the short-lived but popular Broadway musical Allegience, the first and last scenes show the protagonist as an old man. The story in-between takes place decades in the past, when the protagonist is in his twenties, and is accordingly played by a much younger actor. The actor who played the older version of the protagonist assumes the role of the protagonist's grandfather in the earlier timeline.
  • In The Scarlet Sails, due to a Time Skip in the first act, Assol has different actresses for her early teen and adult self (as do Grey and Menners Jr. in the stagings where they have A Minor Kidroduction). It's averted for the rest of the characters (at least a generation older than these three), who are played by the same actors throughout the performance.
  • The Takarazuka Revue production of Grand Hotel has the young and adult Baron sharing the stage for "Roses at the Station".

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    Western Animation 
  • In flashbacks that show her as a child, Anne from Amphibia is voiced by Kai Zen instead of Brenda Song.
  • The Arthur episode "Fright Night" sees Buster's Uncle Bob voiced by RL Stine as an adult, while Cameron Ansell (one of Arthur's previous voice actors) voices him when he's younger.
  • In the Ben 10 franchise, Tara Strong voiced the titular ten-year-old in the original series. When the character was aged up to fifteen for Alien Force, Yuri Lowenthal took over and continued on in Ultimate Alien. The same applies for the respective actors behind Gwen and Kevin.
  • In the series finale of Chowder (though the penultimate production episode), adult versions of Chowder, Panini and Gorgonzola were voiced respectively by CH Greenblatt, Grey Griffin and Dave Wittenberg, as opposed to their child voice actors Nicky Jones, Liliana Mumy and Will Shadley.
  • Sunny Bridges on Class of 3000 averts this trope as Andre 3000 Benjamin voices him as an adult, a teenager and a pre-teen. Although, in the episode "Eddie's Money" a six-year-old Sunny was voiced by Crystal Scales.
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: P.R.E.S.I.D.E.N.T.", the adult Numbuh 2 was voiced by Dave Wittenberg, whereas his kid self (as well as teenage self in "Operation: K.I.S.S.") is usually voiced by Ben Diskin.
    • Before that, Wittenberg voiced Numbuh 0, who just happens to be Numbuh 1's father Monty Uno as a kid. His adult self is voiced by Frank Welker.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • In Superman: The Animated Series, teen and adult Clark are not voiced by the same person (Tim Daly voices him as an adult while Jason Marsden voices him as a teenager. (However, in Legion of Super-Heroes, Yuri Lowenthal voices teen and adult Clark equally convincingly.)
    • Another example is the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Kids' Stuff". Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are magically made into children and voiced by age-appropriate actors.
      • Brought home in episodes of Batman Beyond set in the future, which feature a robust 60-something Superman now voiced by Christopher McDonald — the voice of Superman's father Jor-El in all his DCAU appearances.
  • The DuckTales (2017) episode "Last Christmas" has a young Donald voiced by Russi Taylor instead of Tony Anselmo, a Casting Gag of how she had voiced the triplets in the original Duck Tales with Donald's Animal Species Accent. Ironically, she was older than him. Later on, after she passed away, the role did go to a younger actor, Cristina Valenzuela.
  • Elena of Avalor:
    • Esteban is voiced by Christian Lanz, but in the episode "Island Of Youth", his teenage self is voiced by Anthony Alvia, while Desmond Gerber voices him as a baby.
    • Princess Marisa is voiced by Gina Rodriguez while her child self in a flashback is voiced by Gia Lopez.
    • Hool is voiced by Cloris Leachman while her younger self is voiced by Kate Micucci.
    • The episode "Dia De Los Madres" shows flashbacks to Elena and Esteban as children, and Isabel as a baby. In this case, Hailey Hermida voices Elena, Ian Imigo voices Esteban, and Grey DeLisle Griffin voices Isabel.
  • On Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter as a kid is voiced by Christine Cavanaugh (later Candi Milo), where as his adult self is voiced by Jeff Glen Bennett on "Ego Trip" and "Comic Relief".
  • On The Fairly OddParents!, Crash Nebula is voiced by Daran Norris. When we see him as a teenager in the episode "Crash Nebula", he's voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
    • The TV movie "Channel Chasers" features Timmy's adult self voiced by Alec Baldwin, as his kid self is voiced by Tara Strong. Usually Timmy averts this trope.
    • Timmy's dad's adult self is usually voiced by Daran Norris, but his kid self was voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. This is averted in later episodes as his kid self is voiced by Norris.
  • Futurama averts this trope with the main crew, who are played by the same actors when we see them as children and as older adults. The trope is played straighter with many of the secondary characters (such as Fry's brother).
  • Future-Worm! has Old Aunt Bitsy is voiced by Natalie Palamides. Her younger self is voiced by Noël Wells, though she's ironically 'older'' than the former.
  • Gargoyles invoked this often. Flashbacks to any given character's youth would usually feature that character voiced by a different actor while their normal actor plays that character's parent.
    • Princess Katharine, usually voiced by Kath Soucie, was voiced by Anndi McAfee during a flashback episode that featured her as a child.
    • Tom is voiced by JD Daniels as a young lad and by Gerrit Graham as a middle-aged man.
    • Macbeth, usually voiced by John Rhys-Davies, was voiced by Jeff Bennett when seen as a young man.
    • Gillecomgain is voiced by Cam Clarke when younger and Jim Cummings when older.
    • Prince Canmore is voiced by JD Daniels as a young boy and by Neil Dickson when he returns as an adult.
    • Canmore's distant descendants Jason and Jon are respectively voiced by Diedrich Bader and Scott Cleverdon; a flashback to Jason as a teenager and Jon as a young boy have them voiced by Cleverdon and JD Daniels. Subverted by their sister Robyn, who is played by Sheena Easton in both the present day and the flashback.
    • Peter Maza is voiced by Michael Horse normally and Gregg Rainwater as a young man.
  • On Handy Manny, Wilmer Valderrama voices Manny as an adult, while Nika Futterman voices him as a child.
  • Hey Arnold!: Arnold is voiced by Rusty Flood in the flashbacks in "Parents Day" and "Helga on the Couch" instead of his normal voice actors (he was recast many times). Likewise, Helga was voiced by creator Craig Bartlett's daughter Katie instead of Francesca Marie Smith during the same flashback in the latter episode.
  • Infinity Train has some examples of this:
    • Tulip is voiced regularly voiced by Ashley Johnson, though flashbacks to her youth have her voiced by Naomi Hanson when she's 5 and by Lily Sanfelippo when she's 6 and 8.
    • Grace and Simon are voiced by Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Kyle McCarley. Flashbacks to their youth in "The Origami Car" have them voiced by Brooke Singleton and Samuel Faraci.
  • As a kid, Lil' Suzy on Johnny Bravo is voiced by Mae Margaret Whitman. In the beginning and end of the episode "The Unsinkable Johnny Bravo", her adult self is voiced by Whitman's mother Pat Musick.
  • On Justice League Action, Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy, Zatanna is voiced by Lacey Chabert, and John Constantine is voiced by Damian O'Hare. However, "Trick or Threat", which featured child versions of them and Doctor Fate (who has no adult voice actor) due to Klarion the Witch Boy turning them into kids, Batman is voiced by Tara Strong, Zatanna by Dayci Brookshire, and John Constantine by Paula Rhodes.
  • On Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Kick's grandfather is voiced by Ed O'Neill, while the flashbacks to his daredevil days in the army has him voiced by Kick's voice actor, Charlie Schlatter.
  • In Love, Death & Robots, Elaine Tan voices Yan as an adult while Sumalee Montano voices her younger self, although she's ironically older than the former.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law, the titular character, who's 13 years old, is voiced by "Weird Al" Yankovic, while his child self in "First Impressions" is voiced by Sam Lavagnino.
  • In Beforel Orel, the prequel to Moral Orel, Clay's father (and Orel's grandfather) Arthur is voiced by Joe Unger, instead of the show's creator, Dino Stamatopoulos.
  • On The Owl House, Eda is voiced my Wendie Malick while Cissy Jones voices her sister Lillith. The season 1 finale has a flashback of them as children, both voiced by Abigail Zoe Lewis.
  • On The Powerpuff Girls episode "Get Back Jojo", Professor Utonium as a kid was voiced by Rob Paulsen and Miss Bellum as a kid by Julie Nathanson. Their adult selves are voiced respectively by Tom Kane and Jennifer Martin. Ms. Keane averts this trope, as her kid and adult selves are voiced by Jennifer Hale.
  • This was averted with A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, where Don Messick and Casey Kasem reprised their roles of Scooby and Shaggy respectively. Fred, Daphne, and Velma did have real childrennote  as their voices, though, instead of their respective adult voice actorsnote , with this being the first and only time to date (not counting the live-action films) that Fred was played by someone other than Frank Welker.
  • Recess: All Growed Down averts this trope during the scene when we see the nine-year-old cast as kindergarteners, however, this led to some awkward moments regarding the voices of Mikey and Vince, as their voices already broke (Mikey's during the break between the end of the series and production on the DTV movies, and Vince mid-way through the first season). Played straight somewhat as T.J.'s voice actor was replaced with a much younger kid with a higher voice (making his portrayal of T.J. loathed among the fandom), which worked well for his kindergarten scenes.
  • The season 1 finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has a flashback that shows younger versions of Ricky Owen (Lewis Black), Cassidy Williams (Vivica A. Fox), Brad Chiles (Tim Matheson), and Judy Reeves (Tia Carrere), respectively voiced by Scott Menville, Kimberly Brooks, Nolan North, and Kari Wahlgren.
  • Zeta and Samira on Shimmer and Shine are voiced by Lacey Chabert and Nikki Soo Hoo while their younger selves are voiced by Ryan Bartley and Brennley Brown in the episode "Samira And Zeta".
  • Averted in The Simpsons, in which the actors will voice their characters' young selves in flashbacks and the children's voice actors voice the character's adult selves in future episodes.
  • On Sofia the First, the episode "Through The Looking Back Glass" has child versions of Cedric (Jess Harnell) and his sister Cordelia (Rachael MacFarlane) voiced by Emil Bastien Bouffard and Anna Graves.
  • In the South Park episodes "Summer Sucks" and "Pre-School," the toddler versions of the main boys seen in flashbacks are voiced by young children as opposed to Trey Parker and Matt Stone. "Pre-School" also had young children voicing the preschool versions of Butters and Trent Boyett, while their fourth grade versions are voiced by Stone and Parker respectively.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • Queen Moon and King River are voiced by Grey DeLisle and Alan Tudyk, respectively. A flashback in "Moon the Undaunted" shows them as teenagers voiced by Katie Driver and Sonny Ashbourne Serkis.
    • Miss Heinous, whose real name is Meteora Butterfly is voiced by Jessica Walter as an adult, Tress MacNeille as a child, Bryanna Szasz as a teenager, and Grey DeLisle as a baby.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the holocron recording of him in the first episode of Star Wars Rebels, Obi-Wan Kenobi is voiced by James Arnold Taylor. When he turns up in person in the third season of Rebels, he's voiced by Stephen Stanton, who it turns out does a mean Alec Guinness impression.
  • In Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, Riya is normally voiced by Nazneen Contractor, but her younger self in the episode "Riya's Revenge" is voiced by Kathreen Khavari.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan, we see a younger Lance in two episodes, both voiced by child actors instead of Kevin Thoms. Although in "Shaman of Fear", he is voiced by Elan Garfias and in "Shadows of Youth" he is voiced by John DeVito, despite his younger self appearing to be roughly the same age both times.
  • Tangled: The Series has three examples:
    • Much like the film it's based on, this series sees Rapunzel voiced by Mandy Moore as an adult, and Ivy George as a child, much like Delanie Rose Stein.
    • Cassandra and Lance are voiced by Eden Espinosa and James Monroe Iglehart, but their younger selves in "You're Kidding Me" are voiced by Cassie Glow and Blake Moore. Toddler Cassandra is also voiced by Hudson D'Andrea.
    • "No Time Like The Past", which has teenage versions of Eugene and Lance, has them respectively voiced by Sean Giambrone and Vargus Mason.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), the younger Lion-O is played in one episode (as well as in a short where he's a baby) by Tara Strong. Interestingly, Cheetara's younger self is voiced in flashback by Grey DeLisle, who frequently works with the former.
  • Plucky Duck from Tiny Toon Adventures was usually voiced by Joe Alaskey, as his baby self was voiced by Nathan Ruegger.
  • One episode of Transformers: Rescue Bots has Elan Garfias' character Cody turned into an adult, who's voiced by Oliver Vaquer.
  • The Vampirina episode "A Gargoyle Carol" has a scene of a baby Gregoria, with Serenity Brown voicing her in place of Wanda Sykes.

Alternative Title(s): Time Shifted Actors