More often than not, kids on TV and in movies are actually played by actors who have left childhood behind years before – and their real ages aren’t taken into account when casting their parents. But this problem isn’t limited to children. Tom Selleck and his TV dad Len Cariou on “Blue Bloods” are just six years apart in real life.
These 32 pairs of on-screen parents and their offspring are just too close in age to be realistic – in a few cases, the “kids” are even older than their “parents.”
Keep scrolling to see how much older your favourite fictional parents are than their “kids.”
In the 2019 film “Glass,” Charlayne Woodard plays the mother of Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Elijah (aka Mr. Glass). The only problem is that, at 65, she’s five years younger than 70-year-old Jackson.
Jackson looks great for his age, but that still doesn’t make casting a woman a whole five years younger than him make any more sense.
This isn’t totally the fault of “Glass” – the actors originally appeared in the 2000 film “Unbreakable,” in which Wood had to portray the mother of a young version of Elijah as well. She donned old age makeup in that film.
Cher, a legend, plays the mother of fellow legend Meryl Streep in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” but they’re only three years apart.
While both look great for their ages – Cher is 72 and Streep is 69 – you can see from their recent red carpet photos how laughable it is that Cher would play Streep’s mum.
The mother-daughter duo of Amy Poehler and Rachel McAdams is only seven years apart. McAdams was 26 when she starred as high school junior Regina George in “Mean Girls.”
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women on Earth, a 29-year-old Angelina Jolie played 28-year-old Colin Farrell’s mother in notorious flop “Alexander.”
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this movie – it was a critical and financial failure. Perhaps it had something to do with its ridiculous casting of Jolie and Farrell as mother and son, even though they’re 11 months apart.
Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham are intentionally close in age — just 15 years apart. In “Gilmore Girls,” Lorelai was a teen when she gave birth to Rory.
Lorelai and Rory Gilmore have one of the most iconic mother-daughter relationships on TV – they’re more like best friends than family. According to the storyline, Lorelai got pregnant as a teenager, and ran away from home to raise Rory on her own.
So it was true-to-life that the people at The WB cast Bledel and Graham, who are only 15 years apart. But a more glaring age gap was between Lorelai and Lane, Rory’s best friend, who was supposed to be the same age as Rory. However, the actress playing Lane, Keiko Agena, is only six years younger than Graham.
Stefan Salvatore and his mother Lily both play vampires who don’t age on “The Vampire Diaries,” so it’s somewhat realistic that the two actors that played them (Paul Wesley and Annie Wersching) are only six years apart.
Stefan was turned into an immortal vampire when he was 17, so casting anyone for that role would be difficult: real people age. Wesley was already 27 when he was cast as Stefan in “The Vampire Diaries.”
Stefan’s mother, also, a vampire, is played Lily Salvatore, who is only six years older than Wesley.
Fans were confused when it was announced that Winona Ryder would be playing Zachary Quinto’s mother in the 2009 reboot of “Star Trek” — she’s only six years older than him.
In real life, Ryder and Quinto look approximately the same age – which makes sense, because Ryder is only six years older than Quinto. However, during her brief appearance as Spock’s mother in “Star Trek” she looked much older thanks to age makeup.
In reality, Ryder was 38 playing mother to a 32-year-old Quinto.
Lesley Fera is only 14 years older than her TV daughter Troian Bellisario on “Pretty Little Liars.” Bellisario was 24 in the show’s first season, when her character was supposed to be a junior in high school.
Blake Lively and Kelly Rutherford (aka Serena and Lily van der Woodsen) are only 19 years apart on “Gossip Girl.”
Drew Barrymore is two years older than Adam Garcia, who played her son in “Riding in Cars with Boys.”
In “Riding in Cars with Boys,” Barrymore plays Beverly Donofrio, who is 15 at the beginning of the movie (Barrymore was actually 26). The movie tracks Donofrio’s life from her teens into adulthood.
However, her college-age son is played by Garcia, who is two years older than Barrymore – he was 28 playing an 18-year-old at the time.
In “Footloose,” a movie about a town that outlawed dancing, the stodgy reverend upholding the ban, played by John Lithgow, is only 12 years older than his fictional daughter, played by Lori Singer.
Johnny Depp is five years older than movie mum Rachel Griffiths in “Blow.”
“Blow,” the 2001 film about real-life drug dealer George Jung, follows the Jung family for decades. Griffiths plays Depp’s mother, despite him being five years her senior. During Jung’s later years in the film, she even needs to wear age makeup to look the part.
Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson are the same age — even though Fox’s character in “Back to the Future” is Thompson’s son. Her older look was achieved with facial prosthetics.
The fact that the two are the same age works since Marty eventually travels back in time and meets his mother as a teen (also played by Thompson).
In order to achieve the older look, Thompson “sat through three-to-four hours of prosthetic applications a day.”
Merrilee McCommas is just 10 years older than Minka Kelly, who plays her daughter Lyla Garrity on “Friday Night Lights.” Kelly was supposed to be a high school sophomore, but was 26 when the show premiered.
Kelly was in her mid-20s when the show began.
Her infrequently seen mother Patti was played by McCommas, who only has a decade on her TV daughter.
Even though Sophia looked decades older than her daughter Dorothy on “The Golden Girls,” Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty are only one year apart — and Arthur was older.
Arthur was a year older than her TV mum, Getty – they were born 1922 and 1923 respectively. It took 45 minutes to transform Getty, who was in her 60s for most of the show’s run, into Sophia, who was regularly cited as an octogenarian.
Karen Roe was a teen mum on “One Tree Hill.” In real life, Moira Kelly is only 14 years older than Chad Michael Murray.
Murray was 22 when the series began, while his TV mum Kelly was 34 – just 14 years older. However, it made sense since it was established that Karen (Kelly’s character) got pregnant with Lucas in high school.
Lea Michele and Idina Menzel look remarkably alike, which is why Menzel was cast to play Michele’s birth mother on “Glee.” Menzel is only 15 years older than Michele.
Menzel is just 15 years older than Michele.
“I’m looking at the script and it says I’m going to play the mother of Lea Michele, who, in real life is 25 years old,”Menzel told “The Talk,” “I was like,’This is not the best day of my life.'”
Even though Al Lewis played Grandpa on “The Munsters,” he was a year younger than his TV daughter Lily, played by Yvonne De Carlo.
According to the New York Times, Lewis fudged his age and pretended to be 13 years older than he actually was because he was nervous he wouldn’t get cast as Grandpa since he was younger than De Carlo.
Only later was it revealed that he was born in 1923, one year after De Carlo was born.
Gregg Sulkin and his TV mum Ever Carradine on “Runaways,” the latest in a line of Marvel TV shows, are only 18 years apart.
“Runaways” is the latest in a line of Marvel TV shows – it premiered in November of last year.
“Flicka’s” main character, Katy, is supposed to be a teenager who has a fraught relationship with her father. But the actress who played Katy, Alison Lohman, was 27 at the time — making her just 13 years younger than her movie dad (Tim McGraw).
Kelsey Grammer and John Mahoney of “Frasier” only had a 15-year age difference, even though Mahoney’s character always seemed much older.
Grammer was 38 years old when “Frasier” premiered in 1993.
Mahoney, who played Frasier’s disabled father Martin, was 53.
“Blue Bloods” father and son duo Tom Selleck and Len Cariou have a small age difference of just six years.
Tom Selleck looks great for his age – he doesn’t look anywhere near 73 – which is why this pairing works, despite the small age gap.
Cariou looks a bit more age-appropriate (he’s nearing 80), so it’s believable that the two are father and son.
This is an extreme case of an actor playing someone much younger than he is — Jason Earles was 29 when he began playing 16-year-old Jackson Stewart on “Hannah Montana.” His dad, played by Billy Ray Cyrus, is only 16 years older than him.
The Stewart family on “Hannah Montana” is extremely spread out, age-wise. TV dad Cyrus is only 16 years older than TV son Earles, and Earles is 15 years older than TV sister Miley (even though they both play high schoolers). TV mum, played by Brooke Shields, is only 12 years older than Earles.
Matthew Settle and Penn Badgley, who played Rufus and Dan Humphrey on “Gossip Girl,” only had a 17-year age difference.
Kelly Rowan and Benjamin McKenzie starred in “The OC,” where Rowan played McKenzie’s adoptive mother. While Kirsten and Ryan weren’t biologically related, Kirsten’s biological son Seth and Ryan were the same age — so it’s still ridiculous that she’s just 12 years older than McKenzie.
The 24-year-old McKenzie was such an unconvincing teenager that the show eventually made fun of itself in an episode, in which McKenzie’s character Ryan makes a comment about another young actor. “How does that guy play high school? Hollywood, man,” he said.
Mulder’s mother on “The X-Files” was played by Rebecca Toolan, who in reality is just one year older than David Duchovny.
Aunt Viv in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was played by two different actresses during the show’s six seasons, neither of which were much older than their TV daughter, Hilary.
The first (or “original”) Aunt Viv was played by Janet Hubert, who is only nine years older than Karyn Parsons, who played Viv’s spoiled daughter Hilary. After Hubert controversially left the show after season three, the role of Viv was taken over by the older Daphne Maxwell Reid. But Reid is still only 18 years older than Parsons.
The eldest Cosby child, Sondra, played by Sabrina Le Beauf, is only 10 years younger than Huxtable family matriarch Clair, played by Phylicia Rashad.
Sondra wasn’t originally part of “The Cosby Show,” but her character was included at the behest of Bill Cosby himself – he wanted to show that Cliff and Clair were successful parents, and had a daughter in college.
“Pretty Little Liars” co-stars Holly Marie Combs and Lucy Hale are 16 years apart — Hale was 20 years old when she started playing high school junior Aria.
Hale looks unusually young for her age – she can still pass for a high school student at age 28, proven by her starring role in 2018 Netflix rom-com “Dude.” But she’s only 16 years younger than Combs, who played her mother Ella.
Even though Carla Gugino appeared much older than her “Watchmen” co-star and on-screen daughter Malin Akerman, they’re only seven years apart.
Gugino first appeared as a young woman during flashbacks in “Watchmen,” and the choice was made to keep Gugino as Akerman’s mother for scenes taking place in the present as well, even though the two actresses only have a seven-year age difference. Her elderly appearance was achieved with facial prosthetics.
Melissa Leo is only 11 years older than her “The Fighter” co-star Mark Wahlberg.
Nell Hudson, who has played Laoghaire since the first season of “Outlander,” is actually two years younger than her daughter, played by Lauren Lyle.
A time jump in season three made actors have to appear 20 years older. The villainous Laoghaire, played by Hudson, had two daughters during that time. One of her daughters, Marsali, is played by Lyle, who is older than Hudson in real – by two years!
Lyle spoke to Elle about this strange age gap, saying “Nell Hudson, who plays Laoghaire, my mother, she’s like two years older than me! We’re almost the same age, and she’s my mum! The two of us were like, ‘We look the same! That’s so weird! How is this going to work?'”
Sign up here to get INSIDER’s favourite stories straight to your inbox.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.