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Underage Casting

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You know how sometimes you're watching a show and you think, "Hey, isn't that person too young to be a doctor?" This is an example of under-aged casting, and it happens when an actor is far too young for the character that they're portraying. For example, a 22-year-old actor is playing a character who's said to have a doctorate degree; unless they were some kind of teenage prodigy, they would be in their late 20s at the absolute youngest, and if they're experienced and respected in their field, mid-30s.

This happens most frequently to characters who are doctors, lawyers or some other profession that requires several years of graduate/professional school, though this trope can be justified if the character is said to have skipped grades to get where they are.

Thanks to Hollywood double standards against middle-aged actresses, younger women tend to be cast in older roles more often than men.

It is not simply the opposite of Dawson Casting, because it doesn't only require that the actor is younger than the character. The actor must be too young to logically fill the character's role themselves.

Sometimes applies when the character being played is extremely elderly, such that an actor of equal age, if not retired, would be too physically frail to endure the rigors of a demanding production schedule.

See also Improbable Age.

Contrast with Age Lift.


Examples:

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    Film 
  • In Annihilation (2018), main character Lena is introduced as a PhD of Biology teaching a class about cancer. It would likely take at least ten years to complete the Undergraduate and Graduate program to earn her Doctorate. Considering Natalie Portman was in her mid-30s at the time of filming, this wouldn't normally be a problem. However, her backstory ALSO includes another six years of being a grunt in the military prior to starting college. If everything went ideally for her where she started college immediately after being discharged and then spent the next ten years in school and graduated on time, she should just be getting into her professional career as a freshly minted Biologist PhD. However, all of the story beats imply that she's been a professional in this field for a little while.
  • Angela Lansbury was only three years older than the actor playing her son in the 1962 adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate.
  • Sally Field played Tom Hanks' mother in Forrest Gump, though she's only ten years older than him. Granted, the two didn't share the screen together much since many of her scenes are flashbacks to when he was younger. Once it came time for them to act off one another, Field was in old-lady makeup while Hanks was invoking Dawson Casting by playing a man in his 20s.
  • In Superman Returns, Lois Lane is played by Kate Bosworth, who was only 22 years old and looked it. She was supposed to be an experienced reporter with a Pulitzer or two under her belt, not to mention a kindergarten-age son. Brandon Routh (Clark Kent) was in his mid-20s during production. The most problematic part of all this is that the movie is supposed to take place five years after the events of Superman II, which makes these characters 35 at the very minimum.
  • The Batman movies love casting young women as professionals that should be at least ten years older:
    • Nicole Kidman was 27 when she played Dr Chase Meridian in Batman Forever and looked younger at times. She's far too young to be a renowned criminal psychologist who consults with the police; realistically she probably wouldn't have finished her PhD yet, plus it takes around a decade or more to become a qualified clinical psychologist, so it's highly unlikely she'd have her own practice or be experienced enough to be considered an expert in her field. Originally, Rene Russo was cast as Chase; at 40, her age was far more fitting for the character, but Russo got booted for being "too old" next to Val Kilmer (he's only five years younger).
    • In Batman & Robin, Dr. Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy has a PhD and a career as a botanist, meaning she would be in her late 20s at the youngest but is most likely in her 30s, and her comments toward Robin suggest that she sees him as the proverbial Younger Man. Uma Thurman was only 26 during filming; she was still older than Chris O'Donnell (Robin)...by about two months.
    • Katie Holmes played an assistant district attorney in Batman Begins despite being 25 years old during filming. If Rachel Dawes had gone to law school straight out of college, she'd have graduated at 24 or 25. It's unlikely given her youth and inexperience that she'd be handling cases—especially major, high-profile ones—on her own. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who replaced her for The Dark Knight, is only a year older, though she is at least Younger than She Looks.
  • In Oldboy (2003), the actor who plays Lee Woo-jin, Yoo Ji-tae, was born in 1976, while a scene in which his character is a teenager takes place in 1979. However, this can be interpreted as Woo-jin being so obsessed with revenge that he doesn't move on, stuck in his youth, and looks younger than he should be.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
    • Sean Connery plays Dr. Henry Jones, Sr., father of Henry Jones, Jr., or Indiana Jones, who is played by Harrison Ford. However, Connery is only 12 years older than Ford (Connery was born in 1930, Ford in 1942), even if his baldness and white beard makes him look significantly older.
    • Alison Doody was 21 when she was cast as Dr. Elsa Schneider, and although her age wasn't stated onscreen, she would have to be at least 30 to have her credentials as an experienced archaeologist.
  • The Bourne Series:
    • Julia Stiles played Nicky Parsons, one of Jason Bourne's field handlers on an extremely sensitive mission and apparently has beyond Top Secret clearance given what she is involved in (monitoring all of the Treadstone field agents). In other words, significantly more dangerous to the Agency than Bourne is if she screws up, or if something was missed in her vetting and she is less than 100% loyal. When The Bourne Identity was released, Stiles was a very young looking 21. There's an attempted Hand Wave in The Bourne Supremacy when Nicky explains her cover was an exchange student studying in Paris.
    • The latest film in the series Jason Bourne has this problem as well, with Alicia Vikander, in her 20s, playing a high-ranking CIA official, who concludes the film angling for an even higher position.
  • Any incarnation of Harley Quinn really counts, since she's always presented as a very young (or at least, childlike in manner and appearance) character, despite the fact that she held an M.D., specialised in psychiatry, and was experienced enough to be allowed to spend time alone with highly dangerous patients - meaning that she would presumably be in her mid-thirties at the youngest by the time she became The Joker's moll, and she was by his side for at least a few years. The version of her in Suicide Squad (2016) has to take the cake, though, as she is played by the Margot Robbie, in her mid-20s, who in real life would be just about finishing med school and choosing her specialty at that age, and wouldn't be let loose unsupervised on a prisoner of the Joker's calibre for years to come. And unlike some other professions on this list, psychiatry is one that is very difficult for "teen genius" types to get into early, since it requires not just raw intelligence but rigorous demonstrations of mental and emotional maturity. One depiction tried to explain away her getting to where she is with the excuse that she slept with her professor for good grades. Sextra Credit may explain one professor, but not the entire psychiatry program.
    • Suicide Squad also has examples in the couple Rick Flag and June Moone (aka the Enchantress). Flag is a colonel, a rank probably expected for someone older than 35-year-old Joel Kinnaman; June is referred to as "Doctor", meaning she has spent at least a decade studying to get a Ph.D in archaeology, and yet her actress, Cara Delevingne, was only in her early 20s
    • Birds of Prey (2020) attempts to square the circle with Harley by establishing that she is, in fact, a decent amount older than Robbie's actual age.
  • In Days of Thunder, then-22-year-old Nicole Kidman played a full-fledged neurosurgeon. At that age, she would be at most only halfway through medical school. Even coming from a country that doesn't require a college degree before entering medical school, she would still only be fresh out of school.
  • The Insider: 33-year-old Russell Crowe plays Dr. Jeffrey Wigand. The real Wigand was 50 when the events of the movie happened and is three years older than Lowell Bergman, whereas Crowe is 24 years younger than Al Pacino (who plays Bergman in the movie).
  • James Bond:
    • The World Is Not Enough was much mocked for having its main Bond Girl, Dr. Christmas Jones, played by then 28-year-old Denise Richards and looking even younger, be supposedly a world-renowned nuclear physicist. What makes it stand out even more is that Dr. Arkov was clearly in his fifties.
    • In No Time to Die, Lyutsifer Safin reveals that he was the assassin sent to kill Madeline Swan and her mother when she was a child, meaning he was an adult and a trained killer 20+ years ago, so he should be at least in his mid-40s in the present day. Safin's actor Rami Malek was 38 during filming, only four years older than Dr. Swan's actress Léa Seydoux, and thanks to his naturally boyish features, he doesn't even look that old.
  • In Willow, in a rare reversal of the common practice of adults being cast as teenagers, then 17-year-old Warwick Davis played a married man with small children.
  • Ultimately inverted by All the Money in the World, where the 80-year-old J. Paul Getty was originally portrayed by 58-year-old Kevin Spacey with the aid of aging makeup... until Spacey's sexual scandals erased him from the movie and he was replaced with Christopher Plummer, who at age 88 was five years older than Getty was when he died!
  • In Men in Black, Tommy Lee Jones had just turned 50 when he first played Agent Kay, who'd served in the MIB since the early 1960s, which should've put him at least in his early 60s. Word of God had considered casting Clint Eastwood, who would've fit the right age, before casting Jones.
    • In a similar note for Jones, Space Cowboys begins with a prologue where Jones' character is a pilot and budding astronaut in his twenties in 1958, meaning he's pushing 70 in the present-day setting of the film. Jones was not yet a teenager in 1958; as other movies like Men In Black, the film uses Jones being Younger Than He Looks to fit him in at an older age bracket, since at age 54, Jones would still be in a reasonable enough age to be an astronaut.
  • The Karate Kid Part III: While Terry Silver is a Vietnam War veteran who is close in age to John Kreese, Thomas Ian Griffith was 25 at the time of filming, making him 16 years younger than Martin Kove, and four months younger than Ralph Macchio, who is playing an 18-year-old Daniel LaRusso. This would continue when Griffith reprised his role as Silver for the fourth season of Cobra Kai, though there his silver hair combined with Macchio's still relatively youthful looking face means Silver does look closer in age to Kreese (75-year-old Kove) than to Daniel (59-year-old Macchio). To cap things off, Nick Marini, who plays young Terry Silver in flashbacks in Cobra Kai, was older at the time of filming his scenes in season 3 than Griffith was during the filming of The Karate Kid Part III.
  • In Ladies of the Chorus, Adele Jergens (then-31) was eight years and a half older than Marilyn Monroe (then-22), and played the mother of Marilyn's character.
  • Shaft (2019): Despite being a sequel to Shaft (2000), Richard Roundtree's Shaft is retconned into being Samuel L. Jackson's Shaft's father, instead of his uncle like in the 2000 film. Jackson is only 7 years younger than Roundtree.
  • A mermaid character was cut completely from Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. She was played by a 15-year-old actress who would have had Godiva Hair. She was also supposed to be a Love Interest for Adam. Given the Dawson Casting for the Rangers themselves, it resulted in Jailbait Taboo if you consider cast age rather than characters.
  • The Room (2003): Johnny's fiance Lisa is implied to be at least in her late twenties, since they've been together for seven years, but Juliette Danielle was twenty-two at the time of filming next to Tommy Wiseau in his late forties. This is apparently a result of the original actress for Lisa dropping out, and Juliette Danielle (who'd been cast as Michelle) getting bumped up.
  • Keira Knightley in Love Actually plays a woman getting married, and her husband and other love interest were in their late twenties and early thirties respectively. She was eighteen, and had in fact been playing her real age in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Bend It Like Beckham and The Hole just before.
  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook plays a woman who has been married for several years and is the love interest of thirty-seven-year-old Bradley Cooper. She was twenty-one. The role was originally meant for Anne Hathaway, who was the slightly more believable age of twenty-eight.
  • In Harakiri, Tatsuya Nakadai plays a man who has an adult daughter and an infant grandson, at only 30.
  • Blake Lively was 23 when she was cast as Carol Ferris in Green Lantern (2011), yet several lines imply she's the same age as Hal Jordan (played by 35-year-old Ryan Reynolds) and Hector Hammond (39-year-old Peter Sarsgaard), the latter of whom was a professor.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, Harrison Young plays a character in his 70s who had served in D-Day. Young was 14 when the actual invasion occurred
  • In House of Gucci, 35-year-old Lady Gaga and 37-year-old Adam Driver played a 47-year-old Patrizia Reggiani and 46-year-old Maurizio Gucci, respectively.
  • The Truman Show: Christof is the producer of the eponymous show, watching over Truman since he was born 30 years earlier. However, he's played by Ed Harris, who was only in his late 40s at the time. This is because Dennis Hopper, who was in his 60s at the time, had originally been cast as Christof before being replaced by Harris during production.
  • This became a bit of a problem in the X-Men Film Series. For some inexplicable reason, each of the post-reboot films involved a ten-year Time Skip from the previous one. It wasn't so bad going from X-Men: First Class to Days of Future Past; ten years passed and the returning characters were roughly the same age as their actors. But in X-Men: Apocalypse, another ten years pass. Xavier, Magneto, and Moira MacTaggart were pushing 50 while their actors were in their 30s during filming. Havok and Beast would be at least 40 while their actors were in their mid-20s, and Havok and Cyclops' mother doesn't look nearly old enough for her eldest son to be middle-aged.note  In fact, some have pointed out that Dark Phoenix, which takes place in the 90s, should have featured the older actors from the original trilogy, since the first film in the series, X-Men, came out in 2000.
  • In Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Tim's father Harry is played by Ryan Reynolds, who is only 19 years older than Justice Smith. While obviously not impossible, Harry would have been quite a young dad.
  • In Boyz n the Hood, Laurence Fishburne plays the father of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character, even though the actors are only 7 years apart. This was mocked in the parody film Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, where it's a Running Joke that Tray's father is somehow younger than his teenage son.
  • Apt Pupil: Ian McKellen was surprised to be asked to play 75-year-old Kurt Dussander, since he was only 57 at the time of filming.
  • The Last Duel: Jacques le Gris and Jean de Carrouges were both reportedly in their mid-to-late fifties in 1386, when the trial and duel took place, while Adam Driver was 36/37 years old and Matt Damon was 49/50 years old during filming. It particularly sticks out due to Marguerite's line about how her fate will not be decided by God but "by which old man tires first"; while Damon's make-up and hair helped make him look much older, Driver looked his actual age.
  • Wayne's World 2: Del Preston is a retired roadie that worked with many classic rock groups, including The Doors and The Rolling Stones, in the 1970s. In real life, Ralph Brown, who plays Preston, was only 36 at the time and was still a teenager when Doors frontman Jim Morrison died in 1971.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh. She's introduced in Black Widow as having been 6 years old in 1995, putting her around 27-28 in the film proper, set in 2016. Pugh herself was born in 1996, and was 23 during production. The Stinger, set shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame and leading into the events of Hawkeye (which reveals her to have been snapped for five years by Thanos during the events of Avengers: Infinity War), puts Yelena at 29-30, widening the age gap between her and Pugh.
  • The Irish Short Film Dandelion has the mother character played by the 23-year-old Rebecca Rose Flynn (who is significantly Older Than They Look). She's the mother of a four-year-old, and her husband is played by an actor ten years her senior. While being a young mother is certainly possible, the script indicates that the character is meant to be older, and the daughter isn't the result of a Teen Pregnancy.
  • Eiffel has Romain Duris, then-46, as the 55- to 57-year-old Gustave Eiffel. Also, Real Life Adrienne Bourgès was around 18 in 1858 when she met Eiffel, which would make her 47-49 in 1887-1889. She was played by 24-year-old Emma Mackey in the latter years in the film.
  • Battle of Britain: Defied. 36-year-old Michael Caine thought he was too young to play a squadron commander, feeling that a squadron commander should have a certain paternal gravitas. He was rather bluntly told by several veterans that he was about a decade older than most of the squadron commanders in the actual battle.
  • In H.M. Pulham, Esq., Hedy Lamarr plays Robert Young's girlfriend from his first job out of college more than twenty years previously, who he then attempts to rekindle the affair with in the present. Robert Young was only 34 when he played the role, but Hedy Lamarr was 27. Basically, their attempt to make her look twenty years older than her younger self consisted of putting her hair up and adding a faint grey streak to it.
  • Basic Instinct: According to the screenplay, Gus is 64 and talks about a murder case he remembered from 1955, which is about 35 years before the setting of the film. Gus is played by actor George Dzunda, who was only 46 during filming. This makes him and his partner Nick (Michael Douglas, 47) essentially the same age, instead of having an Old Cop, Young Cop dynamic.
  • Beverly Hills Cop: The third film in the series states Axl Foley to be in his early thirties. This lines up with Eddie Murphy's age, but although Foley being a detective despite his wrecklessness and insubordination is the whole point, his having been promoted that far in his early 20s is probably even less realistic.
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again features Cher as Meryl Streep's mother, despite the fact that she's only three years older than Streep in real life. Justified, as Streep's character is dead and doesn't spend any time onscreen with Cher except for the musical finale.
  • Eyes of a Stranger: In their childhood Jane's actress is only a couple of years older than Tracy's (to prevent Jane from appearing too unsympathetic when her neglect allows her little sister to be kidnapped and sexually assaulted). But when the film shows the main action Tracy's actress is more than a decade younger than Jane's actress, a vulnerable teen to her sister's experienced career woman. This makes Tracy a more viable Damsel in Distress (for when her sister's reckless actions cause her to be sexually assaulted again!) And saves her from being too unsympathetic as The Load (since the first assault disabled Tracy Jane has had to take care of her).
  • Dan in Real Life: Dan and Ruthie are around the same age, given that they went to high school together. Emily Blunt is twenty-one years younger than Steve Carell.
  • The Graduate: Anne Bancroft plays Katherine Ross's mother. They are only 8 years apart in age.
  • Song of the South: James Baskett was in his 40s when playing the much older Uncle Remus. Since Baskett's hair went grey early, he looks the same age as his character.
  • Back to the Future: Lea Thompson, who plays Lorraine Baines-McFly, is just nine days older than Michael J. Fox, who plays her onscreen son Marty. Although the first film mainly takes place in 1955, at the time when she's the same age as Marty, making this a justified trope. In the DVD Commentary, they noted how unusual it was to have the same actor play their older and younger selves instead of using a Time-Shifted Actor.
  • Saltburn: Rosamund Pike was 43 when she played the mother of then-25-year-old Alison Oliver and Jacob Elordi. This would have made her just eighteen when she gave birth, though this is justified in-universe as both Venetia and Felix are in their teens. She also plays Elspeth after the at least thirteen-year Time Skip to 2020, where (assuming Elspeth is also 43 like Pike in the main section of the story), she would be at least 56.
  • Jacob Elordi was 25 during the filming of Priscilla, the same age as Elvis at the start of the movie, but still plays Elvis when the character gets much older, even well into his 30s (Elvis and Priscilla separated when Elvis was 38). Elvis was also a decade older than Priscilla, while Elordi is only a year older than Cailee Spaeny (though she passed for much younger).
  • Aloft: Nana and Ivan are a mother and son played by Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy, respectively, despite them only having a six-year age gap between them. This largely works since Nana mostly appears in flashback scenes to when Ivan is a child. However, she finally shows up at the end in the present day scenes, still played by Connelly in old-age makeup that isn't quite convincing enough to make her look like someone who's the mother of a thirty-one-year-old (which is an example of the opposite trope, as Murphy was thirty-eight at the time).
  • May December: Joe is stated several times to be thirty-six, with the scandal between him and Gracie starting in 1992 when he was thirteen. Charles Melton was thirty-one during filming and would've only been a year old in 1992.
  • In God's Gun, Sybil Danning played the mother of Johnny (Leif Garrett) although she was only nine years older than him.

    Live Action Television 
  • Moon Lovers: Averted when Ha-jin first arrives in the past, since the characters are roughly the same age as their actors, but played straight later. Ha-jin spends at least twenty years in the past, but virtually no one visibly ages during that time. Reaches ridiculous levels in the epilogue, which takes place several years after Ha-jin's death but shows Baek-ah and Wang So looking exactly the same as they did over twenty years earlier.
  • House: Real doctors (not including Doogie Howser, M.D.) usually graduate from medical school in their mid-20s, and at that point they've still got years of residency ahead before they can do the kinds of jobs the characters on the show do. When their respective characters joined the cast, Olivia Wilde was 23, Jesse Spencer and Charlyne Yi were 25, and Odette Annable was 26.
  • This was inevitable in Home Movie: The Princess Bride with how much Colorblind Casting is in this production; most instances are actors' clearly too-young children either Fake Shemping or playing characters that are adults in the original, with no attempt to make them look older. Like everything else, it's Played for Laughs.
    • During Tom Lennon's turn as Humperdinck, his son Oliver, eleven years old at the time of shooting, plays Count Rugen for the early search for Buttercup.
    • For Patton Oswalt's turn as Vizzini during the Battle of Wits, his daughter Alice, eleven years old at the time of shooting, plays Buttercup.
    • At 50, Sarah Silverman is the youngest of the actors to play the Grandfather. She wears a silver wig, graying bushy mustache and eyebrows, and a suit, and puts on something like an exaggerated East Coast or Philly accent ("Yes, you're very smaht."). Never mind that unless some people were having kids very young, fifty is pretty young to have an eleven-year-old grandchild, and makeup aside, she doesn't look fifty, anyway.
  • When she was cast on Law & Order, Jill Hennessy was twenty-four. The minimum age at which a normal person can graduate from law school is twenty-five. Although this is a minor example since the way a person aged 24 and one aged 25-27 looks isn't that much different if at all, someone aged 24 could conceivably play a person 3-4 years older and no one would notice.
  • Gillian Anderson was cast as Dana Scully on The X-Files at 24, though she lied and said she was 27 to make her seem more believable as an FBI agent with a medical degree; her character is 28 at the start of the series. A combination of Under Age Casting and Improbable Age for the character make for noticeable dissonance. Scully is a teacher at Quantico and a forensic pathologist, a career which requires 13-15 years of education. This is in addition to the two years she is stated to have been with the FBI in the pilot. Scully should be at least in her mid-30s in the pilot.
  • On Miami Vice, Helena Bonham Carter was twenty when she played a doctor who was supposed to be about thirty. At the time, she looked like she was twelve.
  • The Newsroom: Olivia Munn was 29 years old when she started shooting Season One when the character is supposed to have two PhDs and several years of real world experience beside, prior to the start of the show, making her character at least a few years older than her actual age.
  • Rue McClanahan was only 51 when she was first played retiree Blanche on The Golden Girls, whereas her castmates were all in their 60s (however, in an early episode, Blanche does first encounter menopause, so early fifties might have been right). Her costar Estelle Getty was 62 when she started playing Sophia, the 80-year-old mother of Dorothy, despite being a year younger than her onscreen daughter Bea Arthur.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series, episode "Whom Gods Destroy": Fleet Captain Garth of Izar, whose exploits have been studied by Kirk at the academy, is played by a 34-year-old actor. Steve Ihnat was in fact younger than William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In the episode "The Pegasus", Terry O'Quinn plays Riker's first commanding officer, Admiral (formerly Captain) Pressman. Pressman is presumably 15-20 years older than Riker, but O'Quinn is barely a month older than Jonathan Frakes, who plays Riker.
    • Within the show, Captain Picard is pushing 60 at the time the series starts. Patrick Stewart, on the other hand, was 47 at the time TNG premiered.
    • In "Half a Life", David Ogden Stiers played Dr. Timicin, who is soon to turn 60, at which point the people from his society commit ritual suicide. Stiers was 48 at the time he did the episode.
  • The majority of Power Rangers teams are high school students (played by 20-somethings), but the occasional season will have a team of rangers with other professions that require extensive training still played by the typical 18-25 actors they always have. Dana Mitchell of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue was a paramedic played by 20-year-old Allison McInnis, who was then a full-fledged pediatrician the next year. Dana's older brother Ryan played by Rhett Fisher is same age as McInnis and Captain Mitchell Dana and Ryan's father is played by Ron Rogee is only twelve years older. Similarly, by the time of Dino Thunder, Tommy Oliver (then-31-year-old-Jason David Frank) had finished college, gotten a Doctorate in Palaeontology, and developed the Dino Thunder technology, all in the six-year span since he graduated high school midway through Turbo. Power Rangers in Space, Astronema/Karone is younger sister of Andros but Melody Perkins is 4 years older than Christopher Khayman Lee. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Mike Corbett is older brother of Leo Corbett but Mike's actor Russell Laurence is 5 years younger than Leo's actor Danny Slavin.
  • General Hospital: Jason Thompson plays Patrick Drake, a well-known neurosurgeon, despite the fact that he premiered in 2005 when he was 29 years old...which is a few years younger than the average age of most attending physicians. Similarly, Kimberly McCullogh returned as Robin Scorpio at roughly the same time as an attending, though she (and her character) were 27 at the time, which meant that she would have been more likely to be a resident.
  • An in-universe example happens in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "T.R.A.C.K.S": Coulson and Simmons are under cover as a father/daughter couple. Simmons, who is in her mid twenties, remarks that Coulson (in his late forties) is much too young to have a daughter her age (he isn't, but she was mostly just saying it to make him feel better about the ruse)
  • The fictional Prime Minister Michael Callow in the first episode of Black Mirror was played by Rory Kinnear, 33 at the time. Not as improbable as some other examples, but the youngest British Prime Minister in the last century was 42 when he assumed office.
  • Strong Medicine's Dr. Lu Delgado is a full-fledged physician even though her actress Rosa Blasi was only 27 when the show premiered. At that age, she'd still be in her residency, not practicing on her own.
  • Part of the Tragic Backstory of Strike Back's Colonel Alexander Coltrane is an especially traumatic mission in the Balkans in 1992. He explicitly stated that he was a lieutenant, but at that time, his portrayer, Jamie Bamber, would have been only 19 and would have been extremely unlikely to be ranked that high.
  • The Nanny: Although C.C. Babcock's exact age was never mentioned onscreen (one episode suggested that she was in her 40s), it's still implied that she's at least several years older than Fran Fine, even though in real life, Lauren Lane (C.C.) is 4 years younger than Fran Drescher (Fran).
  • In Episodes, then 28-Year-Old Mircea Monroe portraying the very much aged (possibly 40s or 50s) actress Morning Randolph, who was said to have plastic surgeries to stay young.
  • Ultraman Gaia has one episode mention that it’s Georgie’s 20th Birthday. Maria Theresa Gow was only 16 during production of the show.
  • In Family Matters, Darius McCrary (Eddie) was only 13 in the first season but was playing a high school freshman. And even though Eddie was the eldest of the Winslow children, McCrary is actually a month younger than his "little" sister Laura's actress Kellie Shanygne Williams. The reason he got away with it is because McCrary was very tall as a boy, already as tall as his onscreen father Carl in the first season. By the time the show ended with Eddie as an adult, McCrary was 6'3 and towered over his castmates.
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor strangely casts the 26-year-old Alex Essoe as Charlotte, mother of Miles and Flora (who are twelve and eight respectively). Married to a man twenty years older than her, and having an affair with his similar in age brother, she comes across as wildly too young for the character; acting with a wise, motherly presence that suggests she's meant to be in her late thirties. Contrast with Victoria Pedretti, who's the same age, playing a character who was only recently about to get married.
  • Nos4a 2: Vic's parents in the series are played by actors only eleven and fourteen years older than her actor, respectively (though of course, Vic's actor is significantly older than her character).
  • Lynne Frederick was 22 when she played Shermeen Williams in the Space: 1999 episode "A Matter of Balance". If we assume that Shermeen is the same age as the actress, this means she would have been only a teenager at the time of the accident that launched the moon out of Earth orbit.
  • Kamen Rider BLACK SUN: Hidetoshi Nishijima played 80 something years old Kotaro Minami and Nishijima is 51 years old. Tomoya Nakamura also played 80 something years old Nobuhiko Akizuki and Nakamura is 35 years old.
  • Cobra Kai: Alicia Hannah-Kim plays Kim Da-Eun, a woman around her 40s, while Hannah-Kim herself was 35 by the time Season 5 rolled around.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Sara Canning was 21 when she was cast as Elena and Jeremy's aunt Jenna (played by 20-year-olds Nina Dobrev and Steven McQueen). Jenna is supposed to be in her late 20s, early 30s.
    • David Anders is only 8 years older than Nina Dobrev, who plays his daughter. Though, his receding hairline does make him look older than he actually his.
  • House of the Dragon:
    • Olivia Cooke was 28 when she first appeared as adult Alicent Hightower. Before the show jumped six years into the future in episode 8, her casting makes sense in-universe, as Alicent is a teenage mom and her eldest child, Aegon, is 13 years old (though played by a 19-year-old actor). After the time jump, however, she just looks far too young to be the mother of four young adult children.
    • To a lesser extent, Emma D'Arcy, who was 29 when they first appeared as adult Rhaenyra Targaryen. They continues to portray Rhaenyra after the timeskip in episode 8, in which her eldest son, Jacaerys, is 16 years old, even though it's been established that she had him when she was 18.
  • Neighbours:
    • Alan Dale, who played Paul Robinson's father Jim, is only 11 years older than Stefan Dennis in real life. Overlaps with Dawson Casting, as Dennis is about six years older than Paul was meant to be.
    • Nick Waters was only 34 when he played Fred Mitchell, several years younger than Anne Charleston as his estranged wife Madge, making him about 14 when he would have married her and not much older when their children Henry and Charlene were born.
    • Shane Connor (b.1959) and Carla Bonner (b.1973) played Joe Scully and his daughter Stephanie. Again overlaps with Dawson Casting in Stephanie's case.
    • Andrew McFarlane played Max Hoyland's father Bobby, despite being only 13 years older than Stephen Lovatt. He was also ten years younger than his ex-wife Rosie's actor Maggie Millar.
  • The Boys and Gen V: Claudia Doumit was 30 years old while filming the first season of Gen V, when her character is in the middle of a vice presidential campaign. In the United States, vice presidents must be at least 35 years of age. Amusingly, Doumit is only two years older than Jaz Sinclair, who plays a college freshman.
  • I Love Lucy: One of the most famous examples is Vivian Vance playing Ethel Mertz. While Ethel's age is never explicitly given, it's heavily implied that the Mertzes are an significantly older couple than the Ricardos. In reality, Vance was only two years older than Lucile Ball and 22 years younger than William Frawly playing her husband. Vance was annoyed at being presented as an old lady.
  • Only Murders in the Building: Mandy Gonzalez, who plays Mabel's mother Silvia, is only fourteen years older than her onscreen daughter Selena Gomez in real life. For an additional Double Standard, Mark Consuelos plays Mabel's father in flashbacks to when she is around twelve, would have been in his late 40s or early 50s at the time.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Robin (born 1980) is the youngest character of the main cast but she still actually a couple of years older than Cobie Smulders (born 1982) is in real life, presumably to shift her being a news anchor out of Improbable Age territory.
  • Corporal Jones from Dad's Army was in his late seventies at the very least but was played by Clive Dunn who was only 48 when the series started. Meaning that, ironically, the oldest member of the platoon was played by one of the youngest members of the cast.
  • Bread (1986): Grandad's actor Kenneth Waller was actually 14 years younger than the character he played. Grandad was born in 1913 while Waller was born in 1927.
  • Steptoe and Son: Wilfrid Brambell was only 49 when he began playing Albert Steptoe, who was supposed to be 63 when the series began; he was just 13 years older than his onscreen son Harry H. Corbett.
  • You Rang, M'Lord?:
  • Are You Being Served?: Nicholas Smith (Mr. Rumbold) played the part of a middle manager who had served in the Second World War, but he was in reality only five months older than Trevor Bannister (Mr. Lucas), who portrayed a junior who had been at school during the War.

    Music 
  • AOA: A good chunk of the dance unit members in the "Short Hair" MV (police woman, Scar mechanic, air stewardess), it's all in good fun.

    Pro Wrestling 


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