In Hollywood, it seems like actors just cannot play their own age. There are so many actors in their twenties who play teenagers in movies and on TV. Then there are actors will don a ton of prosthetics and makeup just to play a character 20 years older than they really are.
And in the case of on-screen parent/child duos who are freakishly close in age, both actors are just a bit too far off from their characters’ age to make the age difference believable — aka the people playing parent and children are less than 15 years apart. Sure, we’ve seen 15-year-old pregnancy happen in real life, but some of these actors have less than a one year age gap! While some TV parents are pretty obviously not old enough to play their on-screen kid’s mom/dad — others will seriously shock you!
1. Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Age gap: 12 years older than Jensen Ackles
We can’t totally blame Supernatural for this one seeing as Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays John Winchester, father to Sam and Dean, and in the show, he plays the character both when the boys are small children and adults. So, when Sam and Dean are kids, the age difference is your typical age gap between parents and their kids. But in the first episode, Jensen Ackles was 27 years old while filming, meanwhile, JDM was just 39 years old. Jeffrey was still just 16 years older than the actor playing the younger Winchester brother, Jared Padalecki, too.
2. Samantha Smith
Age gap: 9 years older than Jensen Ackles, 13 years older than Jared Padalecki
Much like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Samantha Smith is a little young to be playing the mother of two grown men. In her case, Mary Winchester did die (in a flashback) in the first episode. As the mother of a toddler and baby, she was a perfect age. However, when they brought Mary back from the dead, she hadn’t aged – obviously – she had been dead the entire time. Even so, she’s only nine years older than one of her on-screen children which is a little absurd.
3. Jaime Camil
Show: Jane the Virgin
Age gap: 11 years older than Gina Rodriguez
Now, we know what you might be thinking, “doesn’t this make sense for Jane The Virgin“? Yes, it would, if Jaime Camil was 16 or 17 years older than Gina Rodriguez. Seeing as on the show, Jane’s parents dated in high school and her mother was only 16 when she got pregnant with Jane. But IRL, Gina Rodriguez is in her 30s, not her 20s like Jane is. Which means she is only 11 years younger than her on-screen dad. These two could play siblings in reality, but Gina has such a youthful expression, she can pull off playing a 23-year-old with no probelm, and that gray stripe in Jaime’s hair makes him look a little more distinguished and older.
4. Laurence Fishburne
Age gap: 9 years older than Anthony Anderson
This one is pretty confusing when you look closely. On Black-ish, they almost never cast younger actors to portray Laurence Fishburne’s character in flashbacks. He always just plays every version of Pops. Yet, the actor is only nine years older than his on-screen son, Anthony Anderson. Where this gets weird is that on Black-ish, Anthony plays a 41-year-old, but IRL, he is 47. So, either we’re supposed to think Pops is older than he really is, or we just should not acknowledge age at all. Along with this age gap, Anthony’s on-screen mom, Jenifer Lewis, is only 13 years older than him, too.
5. Anna Walton
Age gap: 4 years older than Torrance Coombs
It seems like there is a pattern on this list, as you’ve seen so far, and will see more of as you continue, The CW has a bad habit of casting actors to play parents to people who aren’t much younger than them. On Reign, the show is set in the 1500s, following the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, so we can maybe overlook this odd age gap considering people did have children younger back then. But four years different?! We don’t think so! Anna Walton is basically the same age as her on-screen son. Anna played one of the mistresses of King Henry, Diane de Poitiers. Her illegitimate son with the King is Sebastian, played by Torrance Coombs.
6. Ann Dowd
Show: Masters of Sex
Age gap: 13 years older than Michael Sheen
Maybe no one expected people to catch this age gap because this show focuses so much on sex that everyone would be ~distracted~. For a show with such an adult nature, why would anyone be looking at the actors’ ages, right? Well, it’s hard not to. Ann Dowd and Michael Sheen both do a great job on Masters of Sex, yet they’d be more convincing as brother and sister IRL. Ann Dowd plays Estabrooks, mother of Bill Masters, yet she only 13 years older than the show’s star.
7. 50 Cent
Age gap: 10 years older than Sinqua Walls
Obviously, if 50 Cent is producing a TV show, he wants to get involved in the day-to-day process too. The rapper is actually pretty good on the show, too. But for some reason, the producers all thought that it wasn’t weird for 50 Cent’s character Kanan Starks to have a son that IRL was only 10 years younger than he is. Sinqua Walls was born in 1985, whereas 50 was born in 1975. Again, a sibling relationship would’ve been more believable on Power.
8. Sheri Foster
Show: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Age gap: 11 years older than Jane Krakowski
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you know that Jane Krakowski’s character is pretty ridiculous. But that is what makes this Netflix show such a big hit – every character is kind of over the top in the best way. Jane also plays the teenage version of her character on Unbreakable – so, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the actress playing her on-screen mom, Sheri Foster, is actually not much older than she.
9. Meredith Monroe
Show: Hart of Dixie
Age gap: 10 years older than Jaime King
Meredith Monroe is now on the other end of the spectrum. She’d previously played a teenager on Dawson’s Creek though she was in her very late 20s. In Hart of Dixie, the age gap she has with her TV daughter is totally unbelievable. Meredith’s character Alice is a former pageant queen, cheerleader, and southern belle that her daughter, Lemon, idolized. The two were estranged after Alice left Lemon as a teenager and didn’t come back for years. IRL, Meredith is only 10 years older than Jaime King, who played her daughter Lemon.
10. Kelly Rowan
Show: The O.C.
Age gap: 14 years older than Adam Brody
For some reason, the producers for The O.C. overlooked the age gap between this on-screen mother and son. Kelly Rowan was only 14 years older than Adam Brody when they portrayed the Cohen family on the teen drama. She was also just 13 years older than her adoptive son, Ben McKenzie. Meanwhile, her TV husband, Peter Gallagher, was actually ten years older in real-life! Therefore, his age gap with his on-screen children was pretty legit. The same can’t be said for Kelly though.
11. Giles Marini
Show: Switched at Birth
Age Gap: 10 years older than Katie Leclerc
Like so many of the shows on this list, Switched At Birth has so many crazy storylines, actors’ ages can often be overlooked. Two babies were literally ~switched at birth~ in a hospital and raised by different parents until they were teenagers! Giles Marini played Angelo Sorrento, the father of Daphne Vasquez while she was growing up. However, Angelo and his former-girlfriend, Regina Vasquez later found out they were actually the parents of Bay Kennish. Bay and Daphne were swapped when they were babies without any of their parents knowing. IRL, Giles is only ten years older than his on-screen daughter, Katie Leclerc, and in fact, is just 16 years older than his other on-screen daughter, Vanessa Marano.
12. Lorraine Toussaint
Age gap: 9 years older than Morris Chestnut
The case of Rosewood makes the other examples on this list look tame! This mother-son duo are way too close in age — the actress playing a mother was only nine years old when her TV son was being born. Morris Chestnut played Beaumont Rosewood, a famous and renowned pathologist who is very good at his job. On the show, Lorraine Toussaint played Beaumont’s mom, Donna. TBH, Lorraine could’ve played his girlfriend on the show!
13. Frances Conroy
Show: Six Feet Under
Age gap: 12 years older than Peter Krause
Frances Conroy played the matriarch of the Fisher family in Six Feet Under. She realistically could have played the mother of Lauren Ambrose and Michael C. Hall on the show considering she’s 18 years older than Michael and 25 years Lauren’s senior. However, Peter Krause played the eldest Fisher child, and Frances was not that much older than he was while they were filming with just a 12 year difference! You can’t really tell that they’re that close in age though while watching the show, so it doesn’t exactly mess with the narrative.
14. Cristine Rose
Age gap: 14 years older than Adrian Pasdar
On Heroes, Cristine Rose played the head of the Petrelli family, Angela. She had two sons who were on very different paths, one seemingly being the successful son, while the other was more of a black sheep. Both her sons and she were evolved humans on Heroes with special powers. Cristine was old enough to play the on-screen mother of Milo Ventimiglia, but she is much closer in age with his on-screen brother, Adrian Pasdar. In fact, she is only 14 years older than Adrian, meanwhile, Adrian is 12 years older than Milo. What a confusing family tree!
15. David Anders
Show: The Vampire Diaries
Age gap: 7 years older than Nina Dobrev
This TV relationship is a complicated one, though compared to the other relationships on The Vampire Diaries, it really isn’t that complex. David Anders played John Gilbert, the biological father of Elena Gilbert. But IRL, he is only seven years older than Nina Dobrev. On the show, Elena didn’t originally know John was her father, as she was raised by his older brother Grayson. In fact, she had no idea that John and Grayson knew so much about the supernatural world, and that she had any relation to it. Does that surprise you at all for TVD though?
16. Annie Wersching
Show: The Vampire Diaries
Age gap: 1 year older than Ian Somerhalder, 5 years older than Paul Wesley
Does it even count when everyone is a vampire? The Salvatore brothers thought their mother had died of consumption in 1820, but in fact, her death triggered her into becoming a vampire, so she faked her death for her family’s sake. When she reappeared in their lives on The Vampire Diaries, it was not a happy family reunion. Since Annie Wersching played a vampire, as did her on-screen kids Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, what can we expect when it comes to their real ages? IRL, Annie could be Paul and Ian’s older sister, not their mother.
17. JR Bourne
Show: Teen Wolf
Age gap: 15 years older than Crystal Reed
In the past, we’ve said it is funny that the show is called Teen Wolf when a vast majority of the cast were not in their teens. Crystal Reed was 26 when the show first debuted on MTV. Because she was nearly ten years older than her character, it shouldn’t be any surprise that JR Bourne isn’t really old enough to be Crystal Reed’s dad. When the show started, JR barely had any facial hair, which made him look even younger – and therefore even CLOSER in age to his on-screen daughter. Even though Allison Argent died in season three, her dad stuck around for the entire series.
18. Holly Marie Combs
Show: Pretty Little Liars
Age gap: 15 years older than Lucy Hale
Pretty Little Liars is notorious for actors playing characters younger and older than themselves. Multiple actresses on the show were supposed to be 15 or 16, yet IRL, they were in their mid to late twenties. Everyone must have been too focused on finding out who A was rather than looking at birth certificates. Even though she plays Aria’s mother, Holly Marie Combs isn’t much older than the actress. She’d probably have served better playing the older sister of Lucy Hale’s character, rather than the woman who birthed her. But they’re not the only offenders from PLL on this list!
19. Lesley Fera
Show: Pretty Little Liars
Age gap: 14 years older than Troian Bellisario
Like we said, PLL is not great about having actors portray characters their own age. Troian Bellisario was supposed to be playing a 16-year-old when in reality, she was 25 years old at the time. That’s why the age gap between the character who plays Spencer and her on-screen mom, Lesley Fera, shouldn’t be THAT surprising. When Pretty Little Liars debuted in 2010, Lesley was 39 years old and having a teenager in high school wouldn’t be too far-fetched at all. Compared to all the crazy stuff that has gone down on PLL, this is fairly tame.
20. Estelle Getty
Show: Golden Girls
Age gap: 1 year YOUNGER than Bea Arthur
This is a bit of a bonus entry considering Estelle Getty‘s not actually “not much older” than her on-screen daughter, Bea Arthur… she’s actually younger! On the show, Estelle convincingly played Sophia, who was supposed to be in her 80s throughout the entire show. Meanwhile, the other women on the show were supposed to be in their 50s and then 60s, Estelle was really the same age as them. In fact, she was also younger than Betty White. On Golden Girls, Estelle wore makeup and a wig to look twenty years older than she really was.