Some TV actors make it REAL big. Case in point: Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney, who have become so A-list that we often forget that TV was their launching pad to stardom. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. There are many actors are unable to break free from the role that made them famous and are either typecast for all of eternity or try to pursue other shows only for them to flop. Some either fade from the spotlight altogether and others capitalize on the public’s lasting impression of their characters and are all in for a reboot of the show. And while some of them might regret those career-defining roles, we can’t help but feel grateful for bringing our favorites to life!
18. Matthew Perry, Friends
We allll remember Chandler Bing. Matthew Perry, not so much. While his Friends character left a lasting impression on viewers with his dry sense of humor and sarcasm, Matthew, unfortunately, didn’t have many memorable roles afterward. He starred in movies like The Whole Nine Yards, Fools Rush In, The Ron Clark Story and *drumroll please* 17 Again, alongside Zac Efron. But all the TV shows he’s had a main role in have been canceled. Chandler would probably make a sarcastic, self-deprecating comment right about now.
17. Candace Cameron Bure, Full House
D.J. Tanner, played by Candace Cameron Bure, was a pretty awesome character on Full House, tbh. Sure, she fought with her sisters a lot and drove her dad and uncles crazy, but she was, by far, the coolest Tanner, next to Uncle Jesse. We aren’t surprised that the reboot centers around her character. Unfortunately for Bure, that’s really the only character people see her as. After Full House, Candace guest-starred on a few TV shows, competed on Dancing With the Stars season three (in which she came in third place) and was on ABC Family’s Make it or Break It. At least we know her dancing skills are on fleek. And as long as Fuller House is on, we’re not complaining!
16. John Stamos, Full House
John Stamos is obviously a HUGE name in Hollywood, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that the only thing we remember him by is Uncle Jesse’s favorite phrase “Have Mercy!” John’s been around the block a few times, but didn’t have any other breakthrough roles, which is unfortunate because, look at that face! Viewers have recently seen him on Grandfathered, which was axed, and the second season of Scream Queens, which ended up being the show’s last.
15. Victoria Justice, Victorious
Many may know that Ariana Grande used to be on Nickelodeon’s Victorious. She was the ditzy, insanely talented friend of Tori, played by Victoria Justice. Alas, Victoria – who, oddly enough, looks a little like Nina Dobrev – hasn’t had much success since the show ended. She was on MTV’s Eye Candy, but something tells us that she’ll always be Tori Vega to a majority of population. That’s not necessarily a bad thing!
14. Melissa Joan Hart, Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Melissa Joan Hart is pretty synonymous with Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. She’s made herself home in our hearts as the mischievous witch who tries to reconcile witchcraft with having a normal life. And while there is a reboot in the works, we can’t help but lament over the fact that we won’t see Melissa as the titular character. She’s recently been in the sitcom Melissa & Joey on ABC Family, but to us, she’ll always be the teenage witch with the awesome talking black cat and the ability to change her outfits super quick.
13. Chace Crawford, Gossip Girl
Sweet, sweet Nate Archibald. Chace Crawford has been in a few projects since his days on Gossip Girl, such as Blood & Oil but it’s quite difficult to see him as anything else other than the romantic, womanizing boy that was the king of the Upper East Side (sorry not sorry, Chuck). Playing Nate on Gossip Girl may have just been the most important and defining role of his career.
12. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ghost Whisperer
Jennifer Love Hewitt was a pretty big deal back when she was on Ghost Whisperer as Melinda Gordon for about five years. Let’s also not forget those scary as hell I Know What You Did Last Summer movies. She’s done the Garfield movies, was on a few episodes of Criminal Minds, and starred on Lifetime‘s The Client List before that was canceled. Yes, she’s branched out to music and has had some moderate success, but her penchant for taking on thriller/crime characters that are so similar to Melanie is what sticks.
11. Miranda Cosgrove, iCarly
Remember that cool web show in Seattle? Us, too. iCarly was one big childhood highlight for many of us as we vicariously lived through Carly and her friends hitting it big time from their own house. But when the show ended in 2012, Miranda attended college at the University of Southern California and pursued a few other projects, with roles in the Despicable Me series and a canceled NBC show called Crowded. But she’s yet to find her stride in the entertainment industry. There was a reason she was one of the highest paid actresses on Nickelodeon – she was a great Carly and it will no doubt follow her everywhere she goes.
10. Mischa Barton, The O.C.
Mischa Barton may have kicked ass on The O.C. while it was running, but she hasn’t found her professional sweet spot yet. Her career has been well-rounded for the most part – acting on stage, occasionally guest-starring on TV shows and music videos, but nothing extraordinary. She was cast on The CW‘s VERY short-lived show The Beautiful Life: TBL, which was canceled after a mere two episodes. Her role as Marissa on The O.C. definitely catapulted her to success, and she was hailed as a rising star in 2003, but it wasn’t enough to sustain her career. Especially considering she prematurely quit the show, she may have gotten a bad name in the biz that prevents her from taking on any major new roles.
9. Michael Richards, Seinfeld
We all know what Seinfeld did to the eponymous actor Jerry Seinfeld. Sure, he rose to fame, but have we really seen him able to break out of that role? Something similar can be said for Michael Richards, the actor who played Kramer on the show. He won three Emmy Awards for his performance – three! The acclaimed actor, however, will always be known as Kramer. Many of the shows he starred in ended up canceled, including The Michael Richards Show, which he spearheaded after the end of Seinfeld, but it didn’t take off.
8. Kaley Cuoco, The Big Bang Theory
Kaley Cuoco was in a few projects before her big role on The Big Bang Theory. Some people may even remember her on the show 8 Simple Rules. But let’s be real: Kaley has embedded herself so deep into The Big Bang Theory that it’s hard to see her as anything other than Penny… and this is coming from someone who rarely watches the show! She’s definitely going to need to work extra hard to shed that image when the show is eventually canceled so that she has an identity outside of TBBT.
7. Jessica Biel, 7th Heaven
Okay, Jessica Biel is more than just Justin Timberlake’s wife. She had a main role on the long-running TV show 7th Heaven. And while we’ve seen her in movies like Valentine’s Day and most recently on the show The Sinner, playing Mary Camden for almost 10 years on 7th Heaven was a life-changer for her. She may have garnered success over the years, but no one has forgotten what started it all.
6. Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Jane Krakowski played Jenna Maroney on the famed show 3o Rock. While her film career never quite took off, she’s found much success on Broadway, receiving Tony nominations and an award for her performance on Nine. Most recently, viewers have seen her as Jacqueline Voorhees on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But to us, Jane will always be the self-absorbed and cocky character on 30 Rock, who (literally) goes to any extent to maintain her reputation and fame. Part of that could have to do with the fact that her character on Unbreakable is pretty damn similar.
5. Alexis Bledel, Gilmore Girls
Alexis Bledel IS Rory Gilmore, for all intents and purposes. She’s certainly moved on to other projects, but it can be difficult to see her as anything other than one-half of the Gilmore Girls. While Alexis has gradually risen up through movies and shows like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Mad Men, and more recently, The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s difficult to separate her from the definitive role she played all those years ago. We’ll say that it didn’t necessarily help that she did A Year in the Life more recently.
4. Jon Hamm, Mad Men
We’d like to say that Jon Hamm has broken away from his Don Draper persona, but we’d be lying. He’s starred in a few movies here and there, particularly Baby Driver and Minions, and we’ve all seen his villainous side on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But the dapper actor hasn’t scored any other notable roles as of yet that would redefine him and make him more than just the complex and tortured advertising creative director that everyone knows him to be.
3. Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy
Katherine Heigl’s lack of success is no secret to anyone, especially after she decided to leave Grey’s Anatomy, the popular show that essentially launched her career. She wanted to focus more on movie gigs and also withdrew her name from consideration in the 2008 Emmy Awards because she didn’t find her character’s storyline all that substantial at that point. Let’s just say, it didn’t help improve things between her and the folks behind the show. And her career has only stagnated since then. She’s been on a number of legal dramas, most of which have been canceled, and her movies are nothing to write home about. Although she’s expressed interest in returning to Grey’s Anatomy if only to close the loop on her story line, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. Sorry, Dr. Izzie, you had your chance.
2. Jenna Fischer, The Office
Given the number of times Michael Scott said Pam’s name, it’s not surprising that Jenna Fischer is stuck in our minds as the snarky but timid receptionist who has a secret crush on Jim. And while we haven’t seen Jenna in too many other things, her new show Splitting Up Together will be a real test to whether she’s been able to shed the Pam Beesly image once and for all. By the looks of the trailer, we think maybe not.
1. Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Best known for playing the acclaimed Jack Bauer on 24, Kiefer Sutherland has done a little bit of everything. He started a music career and is currently on the political drama Designated Survivor. Don’t get me wrong – Kiefer has had a pretty illustrious background as he was acting way before 24. But there’s a reason he’s earned a Golden Globe and Emmy Award for his performance on the show. We’ll always have Jack.