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It was Captain Kirk playing TJ Hooker, not William Shatner the actor. You're just thinking he's taken a month off... and come down to Earth and said 'I want to be a cop for a bit'.
Eddie Izzard, Unrepeatable

One of the most severe forms of Typecasting, in which an actor or actress is not only defined as a certain character archetype, but literally in a specific role.

This is most certainly a double-edged sword, as it often guarantees that the performer will be famous for some time to come, but on the other hand, that role may end up stifling the performer's future acting prospects, as he or she may get rejected for other roles that may be seen as being against type. This can be tough on actors, who as artists may strongly desire moving on. As viewers and historians, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between an actor who lucked out by getting one iconic role, and an actor whose career was hampered by over-association with it.

Seeing this actor elsewhere leads to Hey, It's That Guy!

Outside live action, this may be a Pigeonholed Voice Actor.

Typecasting may have been more common in the early days of television as a holdover from motion pictures. It was common in the 30s and 40s for a movie actor who was not a leading man or lady to make a career out of playing the same type of character.

Named for the 1975 autobiography by... who else? Leonard Nimoy. An autobiography that, incidentally, didn't actually say what everyone thought it said because of the title. Not to be confused with I Am Not Shazam.

See also But I Play One on TV. Compare Adam Westing and Never Live It Down. Contrast I Am Not Leonard Nimoy. And see Contractual Purity for those trapped in kids' show wholesomeness. Finally, see Role Association for the Just for Fun version.

Examples in fiction:


  • Galaxy Quest parodied the dilemma of the cast of Star Trek, where the entire cast of the in-universe sci-fi series is known for nothing else -- or so they think -- and one of them laments that he used to be in Shakespeare plays before he started on the series. Not only did several of the original Star Trek cast act in Shakespeare before their Star Trek roles (including William Shatner and Patrick Stewart), but so did Alan Rickman, the actor who plays the complaining character who says this.
    • Despite his hatred for the role, Rickman's character is never seen without his make up on. He even wears it at home by himself.
  • A tragic in-universe example of this trope is actress Mary Dahl aka Baby Doll from Batman: The Animated Series. She went insane because nobody would accept her as anything but lovable, troublesome tot Baby Doll. It didn't help that she suffered a genetic disorder which kept her from growing, leaving her trapped in a child's body. She starred in a stage production of Macbeth, but it was largely panned and ignored.
  • A variant happens in the first Thanksgiving episode of Friends. Joey does modeling for a stock photo company and ends up on a poster for ST Ds. His family then thinks he actually has one.
  • A plotline on the second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm had a whole plotline in Season 2 where he tried--unsuccessfully--to pitch a show about one of the actors from Seinfeld facing this, first with Jason Alexander, then with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. He fails with both attempts.
  • A major arc in Skip Beat revolves around the fact that Kyoko's portrayal of the character Mio in her major television debut defined the roles she was offered after the fact - to the point that the directors would tell her to "just act like Mio."
  • When Richard Wilson guest starred in Father Ted as himself, he beat Ted up for using Victor Meldrew's catchphrase on him.
  • In Soap Dish, everyone in the dinner theater washed up soap actor Jeffrey Anderson is working at calls him "Mr. Loman", whom he plays. He constantly screams, "MY NAME IS ANDERSON! ANDERSON!"

Examples:

  • The entire cast of the original Star Trek the Original Series suffered from this:
    • Most have come to accept it with some degree of dignity; witness Leonard Nimoy's later book, I Am Spock (though it should be noted that was written partly to counter the misconception that he hated the character, rather than just being annoyed by the association). When Nimoy attempted a recording career, his albums tended to feature at least a few songs essentially sung (or spoken) as Spock, such as "Highly Illogical."
    • William Shatner has managed to escape this by now, if only by being typecast instead as a caricature of himself, of which Kirk is just one example among many.
    • Even diehard Babylon 5 fans had a hard time not thinking of Walter Koenig's Magnificent Bastard, Alfred Bester, as "Evil Chekov".
    • Kirk Thatcher, a associate producer on Star Trek IV the Voyage Home, played a tiny, albeit memorable role in the film. He says his gravestone will read "Punk On Bus - Star Trek IV" even if he wins the Nobel Prize.
    • The cast of the modern Star Trek series didn't do a lot better:
      • Michael Dorn simply looks wrong without his makeup, and
      • Patrick Stewart could not escape from being Picard... until he became Professor Xavier.
      • Roxann Briggs-Dawson (B'Elanna Torres) looks very strange without her Klingon forehead. She has tried to avoid this by quitting acting in favor of (TV) directing. Same with Robert Duncan McNeill (a producer on Chuck), Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton...
      • LeVar Burton has zig-zagged around this trope, since he's also famous for starring in Roots and hosting Reading Rainbow. In fact, when TNG first premiered, he was the biggest name in the cast (in the United States; in Britain, veteran Shakespearean actor Stewart was better known). He at least accepted his role fairly well and inserted his character into an episode of Star Trek Voyager he was directing ("Timeless"), rather than having a stand-in. It made the audience more sympathetic to both sides of the dilemma, since the man our heroes were on the run from was... another hero.
      • Those who don't think of Will Riker when they see Jonathon Frakes probably think of David Xanatos when they hear him.
    • John De Lancie is having a hard time escaping his association with the iconic Q. It doesn't help that he recently voice acted a Q Expy named Discord in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic.
    • This has suffered Robert Picardo from Star Trek Voyager; it's hard to see his character from Stargate Atlantis as anything but the EMH in a different uniform.
  • On the note of sci-fi shows, the cast of Babylon 5 has accepted this has happened to all of them... with quite a bit of grace and alacrity. It helps that to a man they all love the show and understand the affection the fans have for the show (and them); to quote Jerry Doyle, "if I'm typecast as a space cop, well, that's fine, because I got to play space cop on one of the best shows ever. What, should I prefer poverty?"
    • Then again, Doyle did try to escape the typecasting by entering politics. He ran for Congress in 2000 and lost.[1] He was a syndicated talk radio host until his death in 2016.
    • Andreas Katsulas, who played G'kar, did manage to avoid this trap... by already being incredibly famous on stage in his home country of Greece. He came to America, did a Narn (and a Romulan and a man with one hand) for a few years, then went right back to being famous in his home country (he was right up there with his castmates in not caring about typecasting either way because he adored the G'kar character, though).
    • Bruce Boxleitner was already well-known for a variety of roles (and has continued to work steadily since). Mira Furlan is probably now better remembered as the Frenchwoman from Lost, and like Katsulas was (and still is) tremendously well-respected in her native country (in this case, Croatia). She does gently remind interviewers that, yes, she has played characters not named Delenn or Danielle Rousseau, but like her castmates welcomes the adoration Delenn receives from fans and remains fond of the character and the show. Bill Mumy, however, will always remain Will Robinson for most people.
  • Speaking of Alan Rickman, he took on the role of Severus Snape and so thoroughly claimed it that J. K. Rowling has admitted she started to picture the character looking like him in later books. Only time will tell if he can escape that shadow. Before his death in 2016, Rickman declined interviews, realizing that reporters are only going to ask about Snape. Earlier than that, he was due to be forever remembered as "the bad guy from Die Hard." Then again, his character's experience in the aforementioned Galaxy Quest probably helped him realize what he was up against.
    • Everybody began thinking of Marvin the Paranoid Android as "The Snape" after Alan Rickman provided his voice.
    • Nearly all the actors to play Hogwarts students, helped no doubt by the fact that prior to being cast in the series, all of them were either unknowns or had simply never acted before. So when Daniel Radcliffe did Equus, we had to put up with endless groan-inducing "Harry Potter shows his wand" jokes. The only exception is Robert Pattinson, though only because he is instead Spocked as Edward Cullen. Parodied in Get Him to The Greek, in which Tom Felton had a cameo appearance as himself with Jonah Hill's character attempting to impress him by making lame Harry Potter jokes. Felton walked away in annoyance after a few seconds of this. See here.
    • Due to having an All-Star Cast play all the Loads and Loads of Characters in the series, almost any high-profile British film made since about 1990 can be turned into a game of "spot the Harry Potter characters."
    • There is a generational aspect to it. If you're old enough to have known about Maggie Smith before she was in Harry Potter, you might see her in Harry Potter and think "that's Maggie Smith." If you're part of the generation which grew up on Harry Potter, you might see her another film and think "that's Professor McGonagall." In her case in particular, it works really well both ways since McGonagall is the sort of character she always plays. (Although nowadays a sizable number of people would also recognize her as the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey.)
  • David Duchovny as Fox Mulder from The X-Files.
    • Gillian Anderson, who lived in England as a child, moved back after the X-Files finished its run precisely to avoid this. She's managed it quite well so far.
  • Steve Urkel - I mean, Jaleel White, suffers horribly from his inability to be separated from his character that he played in Family Matters. Since that show, he has held only a handful of very minor TV and movie roles due this trope. Recently he has attempted to radically change his appearance in order to disassociate with Steve Urkel.
    • Although he has tried to distance himself from the character (including a UPN show, Grown Ups, that crashed and burned after one season), he doesn't resent the fact that he will forever be known as "Steve Urkel" and always speaks fondly about the role, which allowed him far more creative freedom than many of his more recent appearances.
    • In the movie Big Fat Liar, his Adam Westing includes screaming at someone:

 How many times have I told you not to call me Urkel! My name is Jaleel White!

    • At least he's also remembered for being Sonic the Hedgehog......among the fans of that series at least.
    • Odd that he doesn't sound or look anything like the nasally, fashion-unconscious Urkel in real life.
  • Tom Baker will forever be seen as the fourth Doctor, from the TV series Doctor Who, no matter how much he wants not to (and he really, really doesn't want to). In fact, this applies to most of the actors who have played the title role, with the exception of Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston, who both played the Doctor for very short periods, and Peter Davison, who had another starring role in All Creatures Great and Small at the same time, and has had a varied career since, thanks in part to taking Patrick Troughton's (Doctor #2) advice to leave the role after 3 seasons. David Tennant seemed to be purposely doing a varied amount of side roles in other works in order to avoid this, despite the fact he was essentially living out his childhood dream of playing the Doctor - when the show took a break of sorts in 2009 he played Hamlet. (Contrary to popular belief, the show didn't take a break so that he could play Hamlet, it did so to ease the change of production teams in 2010 and Tennant simply put the massive gap to good use.)
    • Tom Baker most embodies this trope of all the Doctors, simply because by his own admission he was the Doctor during the years he played him - it's fair to say there wasn't a huge amount going on in his life when he managed to get the role, so he and the character grew together over the next seven years - he used to walk around in the hat, long scarf and coat, sign autographs "Doctor Who" and so on. He understood the power of this on his younger fans - there's a famous story of him being out and about one Saturday evening, wanting to see his latest episode of DW as it aired, and upon being let into a house where the TV was on he slipped quietly into a seat to watch the programme without disturbing the children already in the room; the look on their faces at the moment where they glanced around from the screen, then back, then back to the Doctor in the next chair can be vividly imagined... He later shied away from revisiting the series for many years, but in 2009 finally took up the role again in a series of audio dramas made under license by BBC Audio, though arguably only when his fame had gone from "Formerly of Doctor Who" to "Famed Eccentric and borderline National Treasure".
    • Subverted with Patrick Troughton(Second Doctor). He was a highly successful character actor before Doctor Who and became one almost immediately after leaving the program. He was always recognized as the Doctor for the rest of his life, and loved doing conventions, but he did more than enough stuff that he was often recognized for his other work too. A combination of being arguably the most versatile and talented actor to play the part combined with always keeping a sharp distinction between himself and all of his roles probably both helped a great deal with that.
    • Jon Pertwee got a double dose of the typecasting both as the Doctor and as scarecrow Worzel Gummidge, but as both were roles he thoroughly enjoyed, he seemed to be more accepting of it.
      • Jon Pertwee was, in fact, so fond of the Doctor that he rarely passed up an opportunity to appear in character, whether on TV, radio, or on stage at fan conventions. Most touchingly, his final formal television appearance just a few weeks before his death was on Cilla's Surprise Surprise where he granted a young boy's wish to meet his favorite Doctor.
      • In the '60s and early '70s, he also got a small dose of it playing "CPO Jon Pertwee", a fast-talking con-artist of a Navy NCO in BBC Radio's "The Navy Lark."
    • William Hartnell may have avoided the fate by default, as he left Doctor Who because of drastically declining health and was dying and knew it when he was called back to reprise his role in The Three Doctors.
    • Sophie Aldred, Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker are also Ace, the Seventh Doctor and the Sixth Doctor.
    • Elisabeth Sladen was, is, and will forever be Sarah Jane Smith.
  • The cast of Star Wars may Never Live It Down:
    • Mark Hamill could be said to suffer pretty badly from this. His role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, while famous, wrecked his acting career in Hollywood, although he's done well in Broadway and theater since then. Some of the effect may stem from the facial scarring he picked up in an auto accident during the trilogy, which made him better as the maturing Luke in Empire and Jedi, but less bankable as a leading man. He has gained recognition as a voice actor though,and has kinda been Spocked into his role as The Joker
    • Carrie Fisher also suffers from this. "Hey, Princess Leia wrote a book!" She once said that she didn't sleep around in her 20s because she didn't want guys running around saying, "Hey! I banged Princess Leia!" You can't call wher a "victim" of it, though, since her fame as Leia almost certainly helped launch her successful writing career.
    • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) is another Star Wars victim, although you'd have thought being entirely invisible and altering his normal speaking voice would have saved him. In an interview for the biggest Star Wars fanzine, Daniels says that he doesn't get recognized too often, just often enough that "It's very pleasant and joyful and rather sweet, but I also have my privacy." He also notes that there was a time, somewhere in the late nineties, when he'd wanted to just stop doing the character, but he changed his mind; overall, "Threepio has been very kind to me all these years." Aww.
    • And there's Sir Alec Guinness, who thought the script was terrible but did it purely for the money, and hated that people started identifying him entirely as Obi-Wan rather than acknowledging his vast film and stage career before the role. He even claimed to tear up any piece of fan mail as soon as it mentioned Star Wars.
      • There's an urban legend that he once told a fan that he would only sign an autograph if the boy promised to never watch Star Wars again. The legend also says that the boy's mother thanked Sir Alec; apparently the kid was utterly obsessed.
      • According to Guinness' novel A Positively Final Appearance, the story did indeed happen. By his account, however, the mother spat fire in his direction rather than extend thanks, and he never mentions actually giving the autograph.
    • This trope is lampshaded in the Star Wars parody episode of Family Guy, when Peter Griffin, as Han Solo, says "...I'm the only actor whose career isn't ruined by this movie."
    • Unless he's pitching Colt 45, Billy Dee Williams will always be Lando Calrissian. This was even played for laughs in Scrubs, as Turk keeps calling him Lando, despite his insistent cry of "Billy Dee!".
    • No mention yet of David Prowse and James Earl Jones yet? While the latter seems more liberated, the former is well known mainly for the role of Darth Vader.
  • The reported reason for Tiffany Brissette's early retirement from acting was her fear of being remembered only as Vicki from Small Wonder and being cast accordingly.
  • Adam West, try as he might, will always be "the campy Batman". He seems to be taking it well. Judging from a lot of his recent roles, he now appears to be typecast as the guy who was typecast. He follows William Shatner's route of "hey, it's William Shatner!" roles to the point of playing himself in Family Guy, in one of the most surreal characters this side of Homsar. His role as the The Gray Ghost was probably the best thing ever, as it stars an actor who played a super hero on TV, and is typecast for it. He is played by West. At first, he hates the typecasting, but when he finds out Batman was his biggest fan and the Batcave is a replica of his home base from his TV show, he helps Batman catch someone who is imitating an episode of his show. The villain is played by, and looks like, Bruce Timm. Later on, Bruce tells him the same line he did as Batman, which clues him in on who he is. Crowning Moment of Heartwarming ensues.
  • Classic example: In the end, Bela Lugosi was Dracula, no matter what he did. However, it was his son and his fifth wife, not Lugosi himself, who decided to have him buried in a Dracula cloak.
    • Even Lugosi's friends and coworkers couldn't help but typecast him. Vincent Price wrote in his autobiography that at Lugosi's funeral, Peter Lorre, observing the cape, turned to Price and asked, "Should we stick a stake in his heart just to be sure?"
  • In a similar way, the 60s and 70s Christopher Lee was Dracula. In the mid-70s he decided that this was an undesirable thing and dissociated himself from the character. He has been fairly successful in this as time has passed - younger film watchers are more likely to think of him as Saruman or Count Dooku.
    • He seems to have traded in I Am Not Spock for Typecasting as authoritative villains, including King Haggard and the grouchy bishop in Corpse Bride.
  • Kelsey Grammer will probably always be identified with his eponymous in Frasier. After all, he not only played it for 11 years in that show, but portrayed the same character for 9 years before that in Cheers.
    • To be sure, Grammer did play the Beast in X-Men... And Sideshow Bob. You know. Two refined men with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and a liking for class and the fine life. Just like Frasier.
    • Though he has won a lot of acclaim (including a Golden Globe) for playing the main character in Boss. Mayor Kane is certainly intelligent and articulate like Frasier, but is also extremely profane, violent, cruel and calculating. A far cry from the arrogant but ultimately lovable character he is so identified with.
  • Poor Sherlock Ho... er, Basil Rathbone. Rathbone's kind of an interesting case, as he also played a lot of evil aristocrats in various swashbuckler films and in fact did an Affectionate Parody of this type-casting in the Danny Kaye film The Court Jester.
    • This is a doubly interesting case as, while Basil Rathbone might well have wanted to insist "I am not Sherlock Holmes", if Sherlock Holmes could talk to us he'd equally be saying "I am not Basil Rathbone"! So much of what is widely regarded as 'quintessential' Holmes does not come directly from Arthur Conan Doyle's original books but either originated in or is widely recognised from Rathbone's many portrayals of him: the iconic deerstalker hat, cape and pipe combination, as immortalised for instance in silhouette throughout the decor at Baker Street's London Underground station, are pure Rathbone-movie Holmes.
  • A narrow escape: Before The Matrix, Keanu Reeves reportedly feared that his gravestone would read, "He played Ted". Now it will read "He played Neo, he also played Ted". (Although he probably would have also been remembered for Speed...)
  • And to most other people, Terence Stamp is Zod!!!
  • "And Jerry Mathers as The Beaver!"
    • SCTV satirised this with the Leave It To Beaver 25th Anniversary sketch with John Candy playing the role of Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.
  • "And Anne B. Davis as Alice"...and everyone else from that show.
  • Hervé Villechaize's suicide was heavily rumored to be in part caused by his inescapable recognition by fans as Tattoo from Fantasy Island.
  • Andrea McArdle as Annie. And, in fact, most girls who played Annie on Broadway (except Sarah Jessica Parker).
    • In fact, McArdle declined to be in the documentary Life After Tomorrow, chronicling many of the women who played orphan roles on Broadway. This ran the gamut from fairly well-adjusted women to actresses still in the business to women who just can't shake their association, and it's likely she declined because she fell into the latter. (Sarah Jessica Parker didn't have a problem with it; neither did Kristin Vigard, The Pete Best of the musical.)
  • Bert Lahr will be always remembered as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, despite every other role he played on screen and on stage.
    • Margaret Hamilton had severe trouble getting another job after her role as the Witch in the same movie; everyone hated her.
    • Judy Garland is kind of a retroactive example. She starred in many films during her lifetime, but most of them have since faded into obscurity. Oz has endured and now most people remember her only for Dorothy. If she's remembered for something other than Oz, it's Meet Me in St Louis.
  • Parodied on The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror segment "Desperately Xeeking Xena", in which everyone who encountered Xena: Warrior Princess star Lucy Lawless addressed her as "Xena", much to her exasperation. Eventually, at the end of the segment when Bart and Lisa have rescued her from The Collector, she offers to take them home -- and so picks them up and begins to fly. "Xena can't fly!" Lisa exclaims. Lawless' response? "I told you, I'm not Xena. I'm Lucy Lawless." Apparently, Lucy Lawless can fly.
    • Ironically, Lucy Lawless hasn't been typecast as Xena types - her most recent role is on "Spartacus".
  • Michael Richards will forever be known as Kramer from Seinfeld, if he's lucky.
    • The rest of the Seinfeld cast is doomed in the same manner, save Jerry himself, who wisely stayed out of acting for a long time after the end of the show. (Is anyone else amused by the thought of Jerry Seinfeld being typecast as... Jerry Seinfeld?)
      • Jason Alexander has actually said he is thankful for Seinfeld typecasting him; before, he was known as the 'Guy who tried to rape Julia Roberts.'
      • Also Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has found success as Old Christine and Maggie Lizer.
      • The "Hello Newman" thing has haunted Wayne Knight throughout his career. One time after a series of not so fortunate events happened, someone went up to him and said that very line to him; he apparently got mad and punched the guy. Although Newman is known to play other fat bastards.
  • Paul Zaloom, political puppeteer, is quite fondly remembered as Beakman. Woe be to any parent who brings their kids to his very adult-themed puppet shows.
  • A less extreme example: It would seem that Richard Dean Anderson could not quite shake his old role in MacGyver in the early days of Stargate SG-1. In one episode, Amanda Tapping played a prank on him by going off script and began yelling at him for being unable to find a way out of the mess they were in, pointing out that MacGyver would have been able to do it easily.
    • Given that Tapping reportedly got her role by ad libbing a small MacGyver reference into the scene they used for her audition (which made it into the final script: "It took us fifteen years and three supercomputers to MacGyver a system for the gate on Earth"), I think Anderson's not exactly unhappy about it.
    • The fact that Anderson has since then managed to truly be O'Neill is referenced in a Simpsons episode where Patty and Selma kidnap "MacGyver", who they are obsessed with. He's in Springfield because of a Stargate convention.
  • Subverted by Boris Karloff. While the falling quality of Frankenstein films caused him to stop working in them, he always acknowledged the fact that the Frankenstein monster was sole reason he became a successful actor. He also took being typecast as a compliment, since it meant everyone thought he was better than anyone else in a specific type of role.
    • One of the last films he made, Targets, is in part a study on Karloff's career and the typecasting he faced; his character is Boris Karloff with the serial numbers filed off.
  • Bruce "Don't call me Ash" Campbell also qualifies, what with being so firmly tied to one character that people have a hard time remembering his real name at conventions, despite having had excellent roles in several television series and having done a great deal of voice acting since.
    • This has happened so often he's gone and made a movie about it. It's called My Name is Bruce, and it feature Bruce as himself, who everyone expects to save them from an ancient Chinese demon.
  • Burt Ward had this forced on him. Director Mike Nichols wanted him for a movie, and Burt was quite keen to take it, but his bosses didn't want Robin's character diluted by seeing the same actor in a different role, so they wouldn't let him. He writes in his autobiography that every time he's seen that director since, the man laments that he wanted Burt for that role. As of writing said autobiography Burt's still annoyed. And the role? Ben Braddock of The Graduate, the role that propelled Dustin Hoffman to stardom.
  • William Boyd did this one to himself. Best known for playing the straight-arrow cowboy Hopalong Cassidy, Cecil B. Demille wanted to have Boyd play Moses in The Ten Commandments as the name recognition would be sure to bring in a large crowd. Boyd politely refused, fearing that nobody would take "Hopalong Moses" as seriously as the film demanded. The role went to Charlton Heston.
    • And, at any rate, back in 1948, Boyd had bought all the rights lock, stock and barrel to the Cassidy character, and so for once typecasting was sort of in an actor's best financial interest.
  • Anthony Perkins. "Norman, is that you?"
  • After Diff'rent Strokes, Gary Coleman only played himself. This was likely due to the congenital kidney disorder which halted his growth in childhood as much as it's the result of his typecasting as Arnold.
  • Alyson Hannigan must say a prayer of gratitude every night for American Pie and How I Met Your Mother, the two roles that saved her from being typecast as Willow.
  • Ardal O'Hanlon from Father Ted gets annoyed by people going to his stand-up comedy gigs expecting him to perform 'My Lovely Horse'.
  • Josh Peck is well known for being the goofy stepbrother of Drake Bell's character in Drake and Josh. Although his new film The Wackness gave him the chance to break through the cutesy, child-star mold. He'll still be that cute kid from Nickelodeon to some though.
  • Tom Wilson would like you to stop asking him the questions about Back to The Future, you maniacs!
    • "Biff Tannen" in the Wing Commander series...
    • Michael J. Fox has starred on not one, but two successful sitcoms, Family Ties and Spin City. He'll still be Marty McFly for all eternity.
    • Averted with Christopher Lloyd, who seems to be remembered just as well for "Reverend" Jim as he is for "Doc" Brown. It helps that "What does a yellow light mean?" is as big a meme as "1.21 gigawatts!"
  • Linda Blair, the Exorcist. Especially tragic because she was a child when the typecasting happened, and later got into drugs.
  • Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman, which caused considerable problems when he was busted for indecent exposure in an adult movie theater...
    • Note that Reubens brought much of the typecasting on himself with years of rarely, if ever, appearing out of character in public engagements (talk shows, interviews, etc.) and acting jobs after the general public became aware of Pee-Wee Herman; even his character in Cheech and Chong's Next Movie is a thinly-veiled Pee-Wee Expy.
  • The entire Gilligan's Island cast got this, with the possible exception of Jim Backus (who's best remembered as Mr. Magoo). Alan Hale and Dawn Wells embraced the recognition, but Tina Louise took it very, very hard. For years afterward, she blamed the show for ruining her "serious" acting career.
    • Played with when Bob Denver guest starred on The Simpsons - "And another thing! When people come up to me and say, 'Hey, little buddy!', and hit me over the head with a hat, that's not funny. That hurts!" Cue oblivious, uproarious laughter.
    • Lampshaded in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie when they notice that Russell Johnson (aka The Professor) plays one of the characters in the old movie they're watching.

 "So, you say that you made this car out of coconuts?"

      • It's easier to say that if Russell Johnson appeared in any movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, then chances are they will repeatedly mention his role as The Professor, usually referencing devices made out of coconuts.
  • To some, Eugene Levy is most known for being Jim's dad in the American Pie movies (partly because he keeps taking roles in that series). Jason Biggs too, will always be remembered as "the dude who fucked a pie".
    • Similarly, Jennifer Coolidge will always be Stifler's Mom.
    • And Seann William Scott as Stifler.
  • Jackie Gleason's most memorable role: Ralph Kramden. Baby, you're the greatest!
    • Some might remember him as Sheriff Buford T. Justice from the Smokey and the Bandit films.
  • Back in the early '90s, when Nintendo Power magazine had a Celebrity Profile section, Joe Regalbuto recalled in the October 1991 article for that section:

 There I was, going berserk down the mountain, falling head over heels, and someone shouts, 'Hey, Frank!' It can be kind of embarrassing.

    • And Candice Bergen will always be Murphy Brown. Always.
  • Pat Morita is known to most as Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid films. It is even played with in an episode of Robot Chicken. "First, I'm not Mr. Miyagi, I'm Pat F*** in' Morita you nutsack!".
    • Before that, he was Arnold from Happy Days.
    • Lampooned in a Simpsons comic where Homer (as the superhero Pie-Man) is framed when someone masquerading as him commits crimes. The person doing it is revealed in the end to be Krusty the Clown who explains that pies are his second best gag next to his Pat Morita impersonation. When the people of Springfield give him a blank look, he says, "You know, the little guy from Happy Days?".
  • Jack De Sena will always be Sokka.
  • Veronica Taylor, a.k.a. Ash Ketchum, has apparently had a hard time getting other work and seems rather bitter about it all. (At a panel she said something along the lines of "Being 'the voice of Ash Ketchum' is a great party trick, but it's never gotten me a job.") Still, she doesn't hold it against the character, and Ash is still one of her favorite roles.
  • Christopher Mintz-Plasse has said in interviews that he is trying to avoid being only known for McLovin.
    • Good luck with that one (also featuring Stiffler as a slightly older Stiffler).
  • Haley Joel Osment sees dead people, when he's not swinging a Keyblade around.
  • Sean Marquette is always Mac. Keith Ferguson is always Bloo.
  • Jon Heder = Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Travis Willingham = Roy Mustang.
  • Okay, say it with me now: "His name is Robert Paulson Pattinson NOT Edward Cullen!!!" But if you'd like, you can still call him "Cedric".
  • Christopher Reeve was just starting to escape his role as Superman. A new generation of moviegoers was just coming up and most of them hadn't seen that movie. Then he gets crippled and the newspapers can't say anything but "best known for his role as Superman..." Ouch.
    • Reeve wasn't typecast in the strict sense of the word, as he was given several very un-Superman-like roles. For one example, watch Death Trap where he plays a sort of naive hayseed mystery writer fanboy. Who turns out to be a murderous sociopath.
    • Christopher Reeve's case -- where the "typecasting" was enforced by reporters who just couldn't pass up the cutesy-tragic "irony" of Superman in a wheelchair -- is a kind of horrifying injustice.
    • Speaking of Superman, Brandon Routh is rarely seen in any new movie because of this.
      • For fans of Chuck, Routh has become Daniel Shaw. (Especially since many people have been doing their best to scour Superman Returns from their minds...)
    • There is something called "The Superman Curse", which states that actors playing Superman either A.) Cannot get serious work after they stop playing the role, B.) befall horrible tragedies, or C.) all of the above. This also falls true to most of the cast of any adaptation.
    • Smallville has a history of hiring actors who played roles in previous Superman roles, banking on their fame in fandom. All still living actors who played Superman at the beginning of the franchise have appeared in some form on the series. The Christopher Reeve movie's Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen also showed up. In a bit of a subversion, Annette O'Toole was was hired for the role of Martha Kent (Superman's adoptive mother) without the producers remembering she had played Lana Lang (Superman's childhood girlfriend) in Superman III.
    • Dean Cain will always be Superman of Lois and Clark; particularly after the cartoons and comics versions of the Man of Steel took on the big-muscle chested look he put into the role.
    • An you have George Reeves' Superman in the 1950s Adventures of Superman. This was in part due to contractual obligations that sometimes prevented accepting movies with long schedules or extended theater tours.
  • Meagan Smith will always be remembered as Gwen Tennyson.
  • Christy Carlson Romano is either Kim Possible or Ren Stevens.
  • Good luck finding a role from Minoru Shiraishi aside from himself or Taniguchi.
  • Harry H. Corbett, who played Harold Steptoe in the UK sitcom Steptoe And Son, in the 1960s and 70s. Could be a trope definer; before Steptoe he was considered to be one of Britain's finest actors -- "The British Marlon Brando". But Steptoe was a smash hit, and he was unable to break away from it for the rest of his life, despite coming to hate the character, the show, and especially his co-star Wilfred Brambell. (Note for US readers: "Sanford and Son" was based on Steptoe, if you didn't already know that)
  • Kevin Bacon suffered from this to the point where he would dread the eventuality of being asked to dance to Footloose. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show they were kind enought to let him sit and watch the entire audience do it instead.
    • Now he's associated with Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and any guest appearances of him on a sitcom will allude to this.
  • While Tim Curry may have gained a good-sized cult following for his roles as Pennywise The Dancing Clown and The Lord Of Darkness, it's safe to assume that most people will automatically picture him in fishnets, corset, and high heels whenever his name is mentioned.
    • It even got to the point where he became very reluctant to talk about being in Rocky Horror for years since the fans started to creep him out, and he even went so far as to put on weight in order to distance himself from the role.
      • In recent years, however, he's become more open about talking about being in Rocky Horror and somewhat embraces the impact it has on teenagers calling it a "rite of passage".
  • Most of the actors from M* A* S* H got stuck with this. Larry Linville in particularly could never escape the shadow of Frank Burns. Spectacularly averted by Alan Alda, though.
    • However, no matter how many corrupt, slimey old dirtbags Alda plays; no matter how fast he jumps to mind whenever a character of that calibre is created; "Alan Alda" will still always be a synonym for "sensitive guy".
  • Megan Fox will probably be remembered as "that hot chick from Transformers". At the very least, that's how she's known now and considering her attitude towards Michael Bay she's probably not very happy about it.
    • Also, as the chick who made out with Amanda Seyfried.
  • Ron Livingston will always be "that guy from Office Space". He even said in an interview once that he had trouble getting another acting job for several years after that movie because producers thought he wouldn't be able to act differently than that character.
  • Perhaps not for the public at large, but for nerds on the internet, "starring Samuel L. Jackson" actually means "starring Jules Winfield". This was the entire reason why the line "Enough is enough! I've had it with these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane!" was inserted into Snakes on a Plane.
  • Though he is slowly but surely edging away from the association because of Star Trek, John Cho is still known by many as Harold.
    • His character Harold Lee is based on a real-life Harold Lee, who was a friend of the writers. John Cho became friends with the real Harold Lee, and has said that when they're hanging out in public, someone will yell "Harold!" and they'll both turn around.
    • John Cho has also stated in interviews that before he was known as "Harold," people would recognize him from American Pie and shout "MILF!" He regarded it as an upgrade to be known by an actual name as opposed to a catch phrase. But John may turn it around, ironically, as the second Mr. Sulu in the new Star Trek continuity, a role that is still forever associated with George Takei.
  • Every time you see Sir Anthony Hopkins, you're probably thinking security glass, a cell and "Hello, Clarice..."
  • Chris Noth. He was a cop for a long time (Law and Order) but Mr. Big (Sex and the City) for even longer. He now plays another Mr. Big on CBS's "The Good Wife".
  • Except for Ashley Tisdale, everyone from High School Musical is bound to go through this eventually, with Zac Efron already showing signs of it.
    • ...and in many people's opinion, not only can you omit "Except for Ashley Tisdale" from that last sentence, you can change it to "Especially Ashley Tisdale".
    • Everybody knows Zac Efron is Kira.
    • Zac Efron may actually be a subversion of this. Everyone thought that he would be the High School Musical cast member most affected by this, but he is on his way to being the one it affects least. 17 Again doesn't help his image much, but in Hairspray he is just different enough that you don't immediately think "Oh, that's Troy Bolton." And his roles in Me and Orson Welles and Charlie St. Cloud are probably about as far from High School Musical as he can possibly get.
  • Phil Silvers < Sgt Bilko. More people know of the character than the actor who created him; many even forget the show was titled The Phil Silvers Show.
  • Apparently Christopher Plummer went back and forth on this. On QI Stephen Fry told a story about how a friend of his met him and was told in hushed voices by the guy who picked him up at the airport not to mention The Sound of Music under any circumstances, "...and half an hour later he was playing 'Edelweiss' at the piano."
    • It doesn't help his case that Julie Andrews is, to this day, one of his closest friends. Kind of ironic when he reportedly said that working with her "is like being hit over the head with a giant Valentine's Day card."
  • Claire Danes stopped the Un-cancellation of My So-Called Life because she didn't want to be remembered for being Angela Chase the rest of her life. Now she is known for her award-winning portrayal of Temple Grandin and as a co-star of the Showtime series, Homeland.
  • Any character from the British soap Eastenders but bonus points must be given to Shaun Williamson, otherwise known as Barry from EastEnders.
    • Except for Todd Carty who'll be remembered for his childhood role as Tucker Jenkins on Grange Hill.
    • Wendy Richard could've played Pauline Fowler for another 25 years, and to some of us she would still be Miss Brahms.
  • Zachary Quinto, who plays Sylar on Heroes is starting to get this way. For his first appearance in the new Star Trek film, you half expect him to unleash telekinetic whoop ass on the Vulcan council. He is a good enough actor that this effect fades away after the first hour or so and he becomes Spock.
    • Also, Masi Oka is Hiro.
      • To the point where in Get Smart, they had him use Hiro's voice. Note: That isn't his normal speaking voice, his normal voice sounds more like Future Hiro
  • Though he has never had a major television or movie role since playing Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter, Ron Palillo has kept busy acting, directing, and writing for the theater, doing voiceover work, writing/illustrating children's books. However, he will always be Horshack- lampshaded brilliantly in Ellen, when he played a season-long recurring role as "Ron Palillo, TV's Arnold Horshack."
    • Gabe Kaplan had a similar problem, according to his stand-up routine:

 When people see me now, they don't say, 'Are you Gabe Kaplan?' or, 'Are you Mr. Kotter?' They say 'Are you Welcome Back Kotter?'

  • Frankie Muniz is Malcolm.
  • Michael Gross will either be gun nut Burt Gummer or Steven Keaton from Family Ties.
  • Sylvester Stallone was well on his way to being Rocky forever and ever. Now he's Rocky and Rambo, and maybe Judge Dredd, otherwise known as "action guy who talks funny, (and isn't Ahnold.)" Ironically, he was initially touted as "the next Marlon Brando" because of how well he played Rocky, the critics being unaware that he was playing himself.
  • Soleil Moon Frye will always be Punky Brewster. ALWAYS.
    • And she'll always have Gag Boobs, even after getting a breast reduction.
    • To the tweens, she's known as Jade.
  • Depending on who you ask, Stacy Keach is either Mike Hammer or Ken Titus.
  • Peter Weller will always be RoboCop, or, to a relatively small cross-section of fanboys, Buckaroo Banzai.
    • Now he's Liddy too.
  • There is no "Elijah Wood"! There is only ZUUL! FRODO!
  • Frodo Elijah Wood isn't the only Lord of the Rings cast member to fall victim to this. Viggo Mortensen will always be Aragorn.
  • Matt LeBlanc will always be Joey Tribbiani. He was practically playing himself on that show.

  "I'm not Joey. Don't you dare call me Joey. The papers say I'm finished, so don't call me f***ing Joey. I want to leave that all behind. I'm moving on.

    • The same thing can be said about all the main cast, except perhaps Jennifer Aniston.
    • The women of Friends have fared better than the men, with Aniston getting a good number of movie roles and Cox two tv shows afterward. Kudrow, not so much. The men have tended to fare poorly, with Schwimmer disappearing behind the camera to direct (exception, Captain Sobel on Band of Brothers) and LeBlanc just disappearing. Perry's done a bit better, with a few movies and tv shows.
    • LeBlanc played himself in the show Episodes, where he tries to distance himself from Joey.
      • The jury is still out if it'll work, but at the very least, he picked up an Emmy nod for his Adam Westing performance, and won a Golden Globe.
      • LeBlanc probably had to work hardest to escape this, as he not only played Joey for ten years on Friends, but played the same character for a brief period afterwards on a positively disastrous spin-off in which he was the central character.
  • Macaulay Culkin will likely never escape being known as "The Home Alone Kid".
    • Which is a huge shame as he was excellent in Saved.
    • He was also pretty good in Kings.
    • He even tried early to shake the association by playing the evil-as-all-hell cousin in The Good Son. Then he did Getting Even With Dad, The Pagemaster, and Richie Rich, and the typecasting was solidified.
    • It's worth noting that Culkin himself wasn't too sad about his career hitting the skids when he was a kid. His father was an infamous Jerkass Stage Dad, but Culkin just wanted to enjoy being a normal kid during what was left of his childhood.
  • Michael Sheen will probably have to do a lot to avoid being seen as Tony Blair, considering he's played the former Prime Minister three times.
  • Nearly the entire cast of Withnail and I, much to Richard 'Uncle Monty' Griffith's disgust. (Not so much that he dislikes the show, but more because sharp financial practices by the film company, Handmade Films, have meant that he never received money owed to him).
    • The current generation will probably think "Hey, it's Vernon!" whenever they see Griffiths nowadays.
  • Jean Stapleton has stated that she wanted to be a screen actress, but never wanted to be a star, because then she'd end up being typecast. Unfortunately, that's just what happened.
    • Stapleton shot herself in the foot when she was offered - but declined - a role that would have saved her from typecasting as Edith - Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote.
    • Rob Reiner has claimed to suffer this trope, stating that if he won a Nobel Prize, all the headlines would read "MEATHEAD WINS NOBEL PRIZE". He may have actually averted this, however, as most tropers too young to have seen All in The Family know him as a director, in particular as the director of The Princess Bride.
  • Peter Cullen, Optimus Prime.
    • Unless you grew up watching Winnie the Pooh, in which case he will always be Eeyore.
      • Now imagine him saying some of Optimus' famous lines... with Eeyore's delivery.
  • Henry Winkler is now and always will be, The Fonz.
  • Ricardo Montalban will always be remembered for wearing a white suit and waiting for "ze plane" or as KHAAAAAAAAAN.
    • Or for his Chrysler's reeeeech Corinthian leather.
  • Rowan Atkinson will always be Mr. Bean in the US, despite an amazing career as the title character in Blackadder and a variety of other film and stage roles.

    It's the same in Germany. Everyone knows Mr. Bean, but almost nobody knows Rowan Atkinson. It's only the select few that knew Blackadder before Mr. Bean came out who know he did other work.
    • Not so much in the UK- he's also known as Blackadder, Johnny English or the guy from the Thin Blue Line.
  • Blackadder - Poor Tony Robinson tends to get Bumbling Sidekick roles reprising his celebrated role as Baldrick.
  • Christina Ricci = Wednesday Addams.
  • Anytime you see Ashton Kutcher, you'll see Micheal Kelso. It doesn't seem to harm his career, though.
  • Rick Moranis is either Bob McKenzie, Seymour Krelborn, or Wayne Szalinski.
  • Most of the Power Rangers. Johnny Yong Bosch escapes this fate by becoming a well known anime voice actor, and though Amy Jo Johnson is still doing well in showbiz, she still feels that her role as the first Pink Ranger is something that she can never live down.
    • Dan Ewing appeared on Dancing With the Stars Australia - that proves how successful he is. The RPM black ranger is better known now as a cast member in Home and Away.
    • On the Sentai side, Baku Hatakeyama (the original yellow ranger) became unable to find work because of this trope. He ended up committing suicide as a result of it.
  • William Daniels gets this a lot thanks to his famous role as Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. Little do most people know he had a very famous role as Dr. Mark Craig on St. Elsewhere.
    • Even if he didn't get this treatment for playing Mr. Feeny, he certainly would have for being the voice of KITT.
    • And then there are those of us to whom he will always be John Adams or Captain Nice.
  • Kristen Bell will always be Veronica Mars.
  • Gabourey Sidibe used her monologue while hosting SNL to explain how she is nothing like her character Precious, and that she does in fact live a normal, well adjusted life having grown up in a loving family with both parents.
  • This could possibly affect Kiefer Sutherland for younger viewers who only know him as Jack Bauer. While Sutherland was involved in numerous movies prior to 24 (mainly The Lost Boys and cult hit Dark City), he never really stood out in the medium, and was often in the shadow of his actor-father, Donald Sutherland. Even 24 co-creator Howard Gordon was initially hesitant to give him the role because of his former "Rat Pack" years. The movies he was involved in during 24's airing (i.e., the sniper in Phone Booth and a Jack Bauer Expy in The Sentinel) only served to exacerbate his former reputation. Nevertheless, despite the exhaustion Kiefer Sutherland felt during 24 (which might've attributed to his off-screen antics like tackling Christmas trees, and his constant drinking leading him to buzzed interviews and 45 days in jail)), he remains extremely grateful and humble for the years he spent on 24, and wouldn't want to take them away for the world.
    • Though many anime fans of the '90s will always remember him as Detective Ross Syllabus first...
    • It's also quite weird to watch Wil Wheaton, a typecast actor in his own right, stand up to Kiefer in Stand By Me.
  • Let's not forget Jake Weber, aka Joe Dubois on Medium. Same for Sofia Vassilieva, aka Ariel DuBois. Well, to anyone under the age of 21 these days, anyway, at least.
  • In the radio world, some presenters live off this trope, namely:
  • Who's Danny Smith, Brandon Quinn, and Aimee Castle? Oh, you mean Merton Dingle, Tommy Dawkins, and Lori Baxter.
  • Danny Bonaduce is, and always will be, a partridge in a pear tree.
  • Malcolm Reynolds Nathan Fillion (who's that?) gets this along with most other members of the Firefly cast. It was parodied in this xkcd arc. Summer Glau is alternately identified as River Tam or Cameron Phillips, depending on which show people are fans of.
    • Lampshaded on The Big Bang Theory when the guys actually meet Summer on a train and completely embarrass themselves by taking turns practically throwing themselves at her. And refer to her by her character names just out of her earshot.

 Terminator broke my phone.

  • To a minor degree, Rand Miller (co-founder and CEO of Cyan Worlds Inc.) is identified with his role as Atrus, which he played in all of the live-action Myst games. He's not even an actor; he's a game designer and programmer. For bonus points, he dislikes playing the role and only kept doing it for four games (the others use CGI characters) because he could not possibly have been switched out without a major discontinuity and fandom uproar.
  • Back in the heyday of pre-Christmas series on German TV, and actually even quite a while after those times, Tommi Ohrner was Timm Thaler, period. And Patrick Bach was Silas. Almost nobody ever called these actors by their real names. In order for this attitude to fade, these shows had to remain unaired for some two decades.
  • In spite of the many films in which he starred as someone entirely different, Götz George is and will forever remain Horst Schimanski, Tatort's most Badass cop ever with a knack for insane stunts and Cluster S Bombs.
  • Applies to the whole The A-Team main cast. Only sci-fi geeks would associate Dirk Benedict with the ace pilot under the command of the man otherwise known as Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene), for the rest, he's Templeton "Faceman" Peck. Only a few 80s movie freaks remember that B. A. Baracus once clobbered the snot out of Rocky in Rocky III. And seriously, who knows that John "Hannibal" Smith was the male main actor in the classic Breakfast at Tiffany's?
  • For most people, Roger Moore is James Bond or at least one of several James Bonds...despite the fact that the only role he ever played in his lifetime was Lord Brett Sinclair.
    • This is parodied in Cannonball Run where Moore stars as himself but acts like James Bond, complete with a tricked-out Aston Martin DB7 which was actually driven by Sean Connery back then.
    • And further parodied in 2002's Boat Trip where Moore plays an Lloyd Faversham, an older gay man who once served with the British special forces ("You may think of me as simply a flamboyant old queen, but I spent over 30 years in the SAS, serving Her Majesty, the *real* Queen.")
    • Speaking of Sean Connery, he had to let his hair turn gray and grow a beard to not be James Bond anymore.
    • However there is the story about Roger Moore's daughter asking her father to meet James Bond. "But I'm James Bond" said Moore. "No, the real James Bond" replied his daughter.
  • Ed O'Neill Al Bundy. That is, him and all the rest of the cast.
    • It helps that in Modern Family his character is extremely laid back, in contrast to the angry and bitter Al.
    • For some, Katey Sagal will be remembered for a rather different role.
      • Or a still different role. In fact, it's possible that when you've won a Golden Globe for playing a biker chick who threatens to kill a baby, you've completely shed the shackles of Peggy Bundy.
  • William Atherton will always be Walter "Dickless" Peck. Word of God says this plagued him for a long time, as he'd have people yell "Hey, Dickless!" wherever he went. Unless you remember him as Jerry Hathaway or Dick Thornburg, who are both also Jerkasses.
  • Michael Ironside recounts one time he was on a plane and a guy came up to him, immaculately dressed in a suit, and said, "Hey, you're Sam Fisher." Lost for a second his reply is, "No, I'm...wait a minute, yes I am."
  • Clayton Moore (the Lone Ranger), although he was apparently comfortable enough with the role to maintain kayfabe that Moore was the Ranger in his personal life. He had a Crowning Moment of Awesome with it which is recounted annually on Letterman where he was being giving a ride to his hotel by two young men in the 60s after a personal appearance when they were hit by another car. The driver of the other car insisted that he was not at fault and asked who the cops would believe, him or a couple of hippies. Moore reportedly then got out of the car, in full Ranger get-up and announced "They'll believe me, citizen!"
  • Miley Cyrus is frequently referred to as Hannah Montana.
  • When people say "starring Michael Cera", what they probably mean is "starring George Michael Bluth."
  • The name R. Lee Ermey will forever be synonymous with Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.
  • Reese Witherspoon briefly had this problem after Election -- her performance as the crazy, controlling Tracy Flick was so good that producers thought that that was her real personality, and she had trouble getting work for a few years afterward. Later roles helped her break out of that typecasting.
  • James Rolfe is almost always refered to as The Angry Video Game Nerd, even though he has stated that the AVGN is not him, but a character.
  • A lot of fans of The Nostalgia Critic have a hard time accepting that he is a completely different character than Doug Walker.
  • The same has been going for The Nostalgia Chick and Lindsay Ellis lately. The fans think that she really does treat Nella badly and that she really is a neurotic mess. Lindsay's even said that maybe she needs to go even more hyperbolic to hammer the differences in.
  • Tom "Tiny" Lister, who was cast as Hulk Hogan's antagonist Zeus in the movie No Holds Barred became so associated with the character that it was worked into a WWF storyline and all of his subsequent acting roles had him credited as Tiny "Zeus" Lister... that is until he became Deebo.
  • Charles Martinet will ALWAYS be known as the voice of Mario... and Luigi, and Wario, and...]
  • Maria Antonieta de las Nieves will always be La Chilindrina, even in sketches where she does not play the character.
  • Voice actors in the Spanish speaking fandom will always be remembered for their roles in famous series. Notable character roles in Mexico include:
  • Joseph Mazzello: Most famous for playing Tim in Jurassic Park, today he is found on The Pacific and in The Social Network. Does not like talking about his days as a child actor, much less the filming of Jurassic Park.
  • Heinz Schubert, star of the German cult sitcom Ein Herz und eine Seele, could never escape his role as "Ekel Alfred" (Alfred, the jerk), despite having a varied and critically acclaimed career.
  • Tommy Piper, German voice of ALF, will always be ALF to German viewers, no matter what role he plays. He was highly popular while the show ran (probably one of the most famous voice actors Germany has produced) but his career took a serious jump after ALF concluded, as people didn't accept him in any other role, especially not a serious one.
  • Gethin Jones has recently become solely associated with Strictly Come Dancing to many people. They forget he was promoting driving safety in Police Camera Action, and doing various other shows!
  • Alfonso Ribeiro will always be Carlton Banks. Even on Catch 21 it's referenced.
  • Pauley Perrette has stated that she was once called Abby by her DAD.
  • Vince Vaughn nailed his role in Swingers. Rave reviews, the next golden goose. Now he can't play anything else (except one creepy murder role). See also: Old School, Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
  • Most of the cast of Lost (though two managed to add and/or replace a role, ex-Party of Five Matthew Fox and ex-hobbit Dominic Monaghan).
  • Sigourney Weaver shall always be Ellen Ripley.
  • Jack Webb was Sgt. Joe Friday. He even received an LAPD funeral on his death, though he never served, and Joe's Badge 718 was officially retired.
  • Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa will always be Shang Tsung for many people, no matter how many nice grandpas he plays. There's something about that fierce stare.
  • Michael C. Hall is Dexter, a sociopathic serial killer with a creepy monotone mental voice that sends chills down your spine. Now imagine him doing a car commercial in the same voice and not feel a little scared.
  • For viewers old enough to see the original release of Star Wars without an accompanying parent, George Burns IS God. For moviegoers of a younger vintage, Morgan Freeman fills that role.
  • The voice actor for Alyx Vance reports in the commentary saying that co-workers tend to peek out of the corridor when they hear her talk.
  • It is generally agreed within the anime fandom that Rie Kugimiya will be always be associated with Tsundere characters (particularly flat-chested lolis who are very sensitive about it). So much so that most of her non-tsundere roles have long been forgotten, including Al. Apparently, this could be J.C.Staff's part.
  • John Laurie once lamented that, as much as he'd want to be remembered for his roles in Shakespeare plays, he'd always be remembered for playing Private Frazer in Dads Army.
  • Gary Sinise has been so strongly identified as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump that he called his band "The Lieutenant Dan Band". May be subverted by younger viewers of [CSI:NY\].
  • All the main cast of the CSI franchise really suffer from the same thing. William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger seem to have left at least in part for that reason. And who thinks that David Caruso will be remembered for anything but CSI: Miami, even with his role on NYPD Blue?
  • Dennis Haysbert as President David Palmer on 24. So much so that ever since then, he's mostly been cast in the "authoritative, gravelly-voiced leader" roles in projects like The Unit, Kung Fu Panda, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and the Allstate commercials. This, despite a good chunk of his earlier work being in comedic roles, most notably as Pedro Cerrano in Major League.
  • Amongst Tokusatsu fans, the prime example is Joe Odagiri, who played Kamen Rider Kuuga's Yuusuke Godai. After that show got him into more serious roles, Odagiri started looking back at his time as Kuuga as Old Shame, refusing to talk about it ever again. Presumably this was the primary reason that Milestone Celebration Kamen Rider Decade replaced Godai with an Alternate Universe version, Yuusuke Onodera (played, ironically enough, by a Promoted Fanboy of Odagiri).
  • This is what happens to many Disney Channel stars after they leave the network. For example, Hilary Duff's career post-Lizzie McGuire has consisted mostly of box-office flops and Direct to Video movies.
  • Jim Caviezel will always be known as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. However, he doesn't seem to mind. He considers the role his calling, and it changed him.
    • Similarly, Ted Neeley in Jesus Christ Superstar. He's still playing the role in stage productions, for crying out loud!
  • This may be the case with Cliff Arquette who was more recognized as Charley Weaver from The Tonight Show.
  • Kevin Sorbo is Hercules. Even when he was on Andromeda, he was still Hercules In Space.
    • Another case where the actor doesn't seem to mind, since he also played Hercules for God of War III. He found it interesting to play a Hercules who was so different from his Hercules.
  • Frank Oz is an interesting case. He has refused to use his Muppet voices in public, and has for the most part refused to reprise his roles, the characters Darrin'd by Eric Jacobson(With the exception of his Sesame Street characters, which he has reprised on occasion.). Beyond that and voicing Yoda for the prequels, he focuses on his directing career, but despite directing several excellent films, he will forever be known as Ms. Piggy and Fozzie Bear, much to his chagrin.
  • Amanda Tapping has moved decisively to head this off by taking on the role of Dr. Helen Magnus on Sanctuary, who is brilliant and a scientist but is otherwise quite different from Samantha Carter. Time will tell how well this works.
  • Neil Patrick Harris will forever be known as Barney Stinson, in spite of the fact that he is completely different in real life. Interestingly, before this he was only known as Doogie Howser, M.D..
    • That may be a bit of a step up. He struggled to find acting roles for years after Doogie was cancelled, and How I Met Your Mother was considered his big comeback. Though in an scenario similar to the Adam West episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Harris guest-starred in an episode of Static Shock as a washed-up teen sitcom star who turned to crime after his career tanked.
  • The late Bill McKinney was so strongly recognized as the mountain man who sodomized Ned Beatty in Deliverance that it cost him the opportunity to star as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick didn't want to meet with him because he was that scared of him.
    • R. Lee Ermey, however, remains Gunnery Sgt. Hartman. However, may not be a straight example because Ermey actually was in the military (Marine Corps) and lends his voice to other military-based roles (Toy Story, cameos on The Simpsons and X-Men 3).
  • Time will tell if Jim Parsons, Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory," can break out of this trope.
  • Thomas Lennon continues to play roles similar to Lt. Jim Dangle from Reno 911!, although not as a police officer.
  • Callie Thorne, who played Sheila Keefe in Rescue Me, mentioned in an interview that fans act wary when they meet her, expecting her to be as crazy as the character she plays.
  • David Boreanaz has spoken of this type of problem with Angel. Fans had a tendancy to want to ask him about it while he was trying to move on and play other roles, ie Booth on Bones.
  • Paul Gross will probably always be identified with Due South, and it was rather a shock to many fans when he played a completely different type of Mountie, real life accused killer Patrick Kelly- in the docudrama Murder Most Likely
  • The entire cast of The Andy Griffith Show. A few got around it-Don Knotts is also remembered for The Incredible Mr. Limpet and Three's Company, and Ron Howard is remembered for Happy Days as well as his directoral projects.
  • Dick Van Dyke and The Dick Van Dyke Show, plus all the other main cast members. Mary Tyler Moore was known so well as Laura Petrie that the producers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show decided not to have Mary Richards be divorced-fans would think she was divorced from Rob.
  • Ted Knight struggled with this quite a bit during and after The Mary Tyler Moore Show run. People could not separate him from Ted Baxter and he hated it.
    • Betty White was known so well as Sue Ann Nivens that she was asked initially to play Blanche on The Golden Girls.
    • Ed Asner as Lou Grant
  • The Golden Girls itself has this-though Betty White and Bea Arthur have gotten around it somewhat.
  • Leslie Nielsen as either the doctor from Airplane! or Frank Drebin. Most people don't know he ever had a dramatic career.
  • One television critic described a version of this phenomenon as "The Curse of The House of Windsor" -- once he'd seen an actor playing a member of the Royal Family, he'd still see them as that Royal in their subsequent roles.

Notes

  1. In California's 24th District, as a Republican. This seat is well-known to be a safe seat for Democrats, and Doyle's opponent was an incumbent--and California specifically gerrymanders its districts to favor incumbents, regardless of party.
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