10 actors who played the same role as a kid and an adult

Some continued into spinoffs while others came back for reboots decades later.

It can be hard for child actors to move past the characters that made them famous. Oftentimes, they leave Hollywood or transition to a job behind the camera. But some actors come back to the roles they played as youngsters, sometimes even playing them as adults for nearly as long as they did as kids!

Here are ten actors who got famous for a childhood role then either continued the part as an adult or came back decades later to reprise the character. One actor only played his character in two episodes — the episodes were just 42 years apart!

1. Jerry Mathers

Jerry Mathers began playing Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver in 1957 when he was nine years old. After his famous series ended in 1963, he appeared only a few times on TV over the next two decades. In 1983, he brought Theodore back to television in the movie Still the Beaver which turned into the four-season series The New Leave it to Beaver. Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow reprised their roles as June and Wally Cleaver. Even Ken Osmond came back as Eddie Haskell. Mathers also made a cameo with his TV mom and brother in The Love Boat, pictured here.

2. Lisa Loring

Lisa Loring was only six years old when she became Wednesday Addams in 1964. Though the show only lasted two seasons, her mixture of creepy and cute have become iconic. Years later, she and the rest of the Addams Family cast brought their characters back in the 1977 special Halloween with the New Addams Family. Loring played Wednesday Sr. although she was still only 19 at the time.

3. Ron Howard

Though he has acted in many other memorable TV roles, and won two Oscars for his work behind the camera, Ron Howard will forever be linked to the character that first made him a household name, Opie Taylor. Howard played Opie from the age of six to fourteen during the eight-year run of The Andy Griffith Show. Two decades later Howard sported a mustache playing Opie as an adult in the reunion movie Return to Mayberry.

4. Maureen McCormick

We’ve chosen Maureen McCormick as an example but any of the six Brady kids could be on this list. All or most of the cast came back for reunion specials like The Brady Girls Get Married and A Very Brady Christmas. McCormick and Eve Plumb, who played middle sister, Jan, even had their own spinoff sitcom The Brady Brides.

5. Judy Norton

Judy Norton wins the award for playing her childhood character the most as an adult. She began portraying Mary Ellen Walton at the age of 14, and, because of the show’s long run, could technically make this list just from her time on The Waltons alone. She was 23 when the series ended. But Norton came back as Mary Ellen six more times in TV movies, ending with A Walton Easter 25 years after debuting the character onscreen.

6. Erin Moran

Like Judy Norton, Erin Moran played Joanie Cunningham as a young teenager all the way into adulthood just on Happy Days alone. After appearing in shows like My Three Sons and Gunsmoke, Moran started playing Ron Howard’s kid sister at the age of 13 and continued until the show ended when she was 23. She also played Joanie as an adult in the 1982 spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi.

7. Jill Whelan

Jill Whelan first guest starred as Captain Stubing’s daughter in season two of The Love Boat at age 12 before becoming a regular cast member a year later. She was 21 when the show ended but that wasn’t the last time Vicki Stubing graced the small screen. Whelan and the rest of the original cast came back in a 1998 episode of Love Boat: The Next Wave and she also had a cameo in a cruise episode of the Nineties sitcom Martin.

8. Johnny Crawford

After appearing in the original Mickey Mouse Club, America got to know Johnny Crawford as young Mark McCain in The Rifleman. He played the frontier kid from ages 12 to 17 and went on to guest star in other Westerns like Rawhide, The Big Valley and Little House on the Prairie. In 1991, Crawford brought Mark back as an adult for a cameo in Kenny Rogers’ fourth Gambler TV movie. The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw also featured appearances by Crawford’s onscreen dad, Chuck Connors, as well as classic Western stars Gene Barry, Jack Kelly and James Drury.

9. Mario Lopez

Mario Lopez was fifteen when he first started playing A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell in 1989. Lopez played the rebel of Bayside High for four seasons and continued in the spinoff Saved by the Bell: The College Years. He brought Slater back, now in his forties and a coach at Bayside, for the recent reboot alongside original cast members Elizabeth Berkley, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani Thiesson.

10. Bill Mumy

Speaking of reboots, Bill Mumy did have a cameo in Netflix’s reboot of Lost in Space but not as an adult Will Robinson. The character he reprised from his days as a child actor was actually only in one episode, though it’s still well-known to sci-fi fans. In the 1961 Twilight Zone installment “It’s a Good Life” Mumy plays Anthony Fremont, a kid with dangerous mental powers who terrorizes a small Ohio town. He returned to the role over 40 years later for the 2002 Twilight Zone reboot in the episode “It’s Still a Good Life”. Cloris Leachman also returned as his mother and Mumy’s real-life daughter played Anthony’s daughter in the episode.

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


LanceMcCrickard 21 months ago

They made an error in punctuation with Bill Mumy.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 30 months ago
Tony Dow And Jerry Mathers Reprised Their Roles As Wally And Beaver.
hotwhlz68 31 months ago
I love MeTV! Give us more great articles of nostalgia like this! How about a where are they now?
CoreyC 31 months ago
Erin Moran doesn't count cause Happy Days lasted 10 seasons. They only had a cast reunion.
JDnHuntsvilleAL CoreyC 31 months ago
CLEARLY STATED IN THE ARTICLE: "She also played Joanie as an adult in the 1982 spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi."
CoreyC JDnHuntsvilleAL 31 months ago
Joanie Loves Chachi was short lived and was on while Happy Days was still on the air. Both Erin Moran and Scott Baio returned in the last two seasons of Happy Days.
cripplious CoreyC 21 months ago
It still counts as they played those characters outside the mother series.
Zip 31 months ago
I think they could have used Judy Norton as just one example on #5 like they did with Maureen McCormick on #4, since the most of the other Waltons' actors reprised their roles as well.
NickG 31 months ago
Mumy was spooky and terrific in both TZ episodes. It’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing is still a favorite catch phrase of mine. Mr Mumy really seems like a nice man and I was fortunate to meet him at a Comic con many years ago.
hotwhlz68 NickG 31 months ago
It's sad that Bill Mummy almost chooses to put his childhood acting past completely behind him and focus more on writing recording and performing his music...
Such a great actor! I think I might have to track down one of his albums and buy it.
CLos75 hotwhlz68 31 months ago
Why would that be sad? If that's what he wants to do, you should be happy for him. Not many actors have talents beyond acting.
Barry22 31 months ago
Ben Savage from Boy Meets World and it's "sequel" Girl Meets World.
harlow1313 31 months ago
I am opinionated. Only Wednesday Addams had a role worthy of a reboot. I did not see the reunion she appeared in.

Any reboot that I ever saw was cringe worthy. I am a curmudgeon.
justjeff harlow1313 31 months ago
Awww, quit bragging!
vinman63 harlow1313 31 months ago
Try seeing it on you tube. I think it at https://pluto.tv/on-demand/movies/halloween-with-the-new-addams-family-1977-1-1?utm_medium=ossearch&utm_source=google
JDnHuntsvilleAL vinman63 31 months ago
Or do what I'm doing right now and download a torrent of it.
Moverfan vinman63 31 months ago
Not sure if it's the same one, but I remember seeing a TV-movie called Halloween With The Addams Family--at one point, Vito Scotti gets into the house and runs into Kitty Cat ("Ohhhhh...BIG kitty!").
Runeshaper 31 months ago
Playing the same role years later must be pretty awesome. I'd imagine it's like visiting that same universe years after you've left. You grow and now that character has caught up LOL (-:
WordsmithWorks 31 months ago
Did Mathers, Dow, and Billingsly appear on "the Love Boat" as their "Leave it to Beaver" characters or were the actors just cast together? Same with Crawford (and Connors). Were they Mark and Lucas McCain or just cast together as different characters? I know I could check IMDb, but I would rather ask MeTV fans.
LoveMETV22 WordsmithWorks 31 months ago
Mathers, Dow and Billingsley appeared together on one of the specials after season nine ended called "Who Killed Maxwell Thorn?" It lists their LITB character names on Wikipedia for that episode. There were other memorable MeTV actors on that episode:
Marion Ross, Tom Bosley, Florence Henderson, Robert Reed, Don Knotts, Tina Louise as well as other noteworthy actors/actresses.
In "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw" according to Wikipedia- Crawford and Connors are credited with their Rifleman character names.
TijuanaSlim WordsmithWorks 31 months ago
Not sure about the Cleavers on Love Boat...

But in Gambler 4, Chuck & Johnny were Lucas & Mark, IIRC they don't appear together, but the Protagonists (Kenny and his sidekick) interact with Both and pass a 'Best wishes/ good luck/ 'tell him I said Hi"... from Lucas to mark...

Gene Barry, Jack Kelly, Hugh O'Brien and Clint walker all reprised their roles as Bat, Bart, Wyatt & Cheyenne (as did Multiple other Western Series Stars from assorted 1960s Series)
- some like Paul Brinegar (Wishbone from Rawhide) did have to 'file off the serial numbers' and is called 'Cookie' but he's very much Wishbone... and he even gets a 'monologue incorporating something like a Dozen titles
cripplious TijuanaSlim 21 months ago
Even Richard Boone's Paladin got a shoutout. The final game was in memorial to Paladin with Hey Girl as the dealer.
cperrynaples 31 months ago
One question I must ask: Are the stories about Tony Dow at death's door true or just fake news? It's really sad either way!
Load previous comments
Zip stephaniestavr5 31 months ago
I think he is home now. Just still has a cough. Here is a video update on Tony from a guy on Youtube that I follow who makes videos about the great shows of the past. https://youtu.be/HoTyrbtt3zw
CoreyC Michael 31 months ago
The first Brady Bunch sequel was the horrible The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. Eve Plumb wisely turned down the show and was Sherwood Schwartz didn't make it and condemned it.
Nala92129 CoreyC 31 months ago
My girls loved that show. I understand the cast loved doing it, especially "Mike" and Florence Henderson.
CoreyC cperrynaples 31 months ago
Jerry Mathews also made an appearance on Married With Children and insulted the Bundy kids.
LoveMETV22 31 months ago
I liked the shows mentioned in the article with the exception of Saved By The Bell. I know MeTV has it in their schedule of programs to meet the E/I requirement, but their must be another program they could acquire to meet the need. Anyone have any ideas?
Load previous comments
Moverfan LoveMETV22 31 months ago
Don't know about Wild Kratts, other than it's currently airing on PBS here in the Detroit area, but maybe MeTV could get Chris and Martin's earlier show Zooboomafoo. And I'd love to see The Great Space Coaster again--or am I the only one who remembers that?
LoveMETV22 Moverfan 31 months ago
I remember that, Yeah I think Wild Kratts might be broadcast by PBS alone? I think MeTV uses
Saved by the Bell out of convenience, (meaning it's convenient for them). It fits their punch list for E/I programming so why change it (just guessing that might be their viewpoint). Who knows?
Moverfan LoveMETV22 31 months ago
Why change it? Maybe because it sucks bilge water?
LoveMETV22 Moverfan 31 months ago
Obviously MeTV doesn't view it that way otherwise they would have changed it. It meets their needs that's why it has been on as long as it has.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?