Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"I've made a career out of playing blind black men."
LeVar Burton, Dragon*Con 2010, when asked about this trope

You recognize the character immediately as being right off the Characters list. He hasn't said anything yet, but you know him because he is an example of Typecasting.

Meta Casting is playing off this Typecasting to push it into another realm of familiarity.

See Also The Judge, Adam Westing. An extreme example of this is I Am Not Spock (and also I Am Not Leonard Nimoy). When it happen with voice actors, it's called Pigeonholed Voice Actor. The opposite is, naturally enough, Playing Against Type.

Note that careless Typecasting can result in loss of information or even undefined behavior.

Not to be confused with Type Caste.

Examples of Typecasting include:


  • Noel Gugliemi, you probably don't know who that is, but any movie that needs a stereotypical latino gangbanger he is sure to be cast and he'll always say something like "What you say, homes?"
  • William Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
  • Even before Dean Winchester (who is the ultimate of this character type), Jensen Ackles always seemed to play snarky, slightly dangerous woobies with massive family issues. See Smallville one year earlier, and Dark Angel before that.
  • Woody Allen as a neurotic, aging womanizer. This is mostly self-inflicted.
  • Starting with Die Hard and Ghostbusters, William Atherton always seems to play, not quite a villain, but a pain in the ass. He's a frequent Obstructive Bureaucrat.
  • Christian Bale is sort of a live action Peter Cullen, as he is typecast as the Badass, realistic, fanboy-pleasing character.
    • Except for The Machinist and The Fighter, in both he is a thin creepy freak no matter how you look at it.
    • His earlier roles were much more varied. For example, he played an awkward, sensitive gay guy in Velvet Goldmine.
  • Tobin Bell is becoming a career villain very quickly, and is now almost universally known as Jigsaw. Even in a bit part on an episode of Seinfeld, he manages to be some sort of antagonist.
  • Michael Biehn gets a lot of roles as intense military types—a cadet in The Lords of Discipline, a resistance fighter in The Terminator, a Colonial Marine in Aliens, the player avatar in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, and a Navy SEAL in no less than 3 films -- Navy SEALS, The Abyss and The Rock.
  • Jack Black's been known for playing either a hyperactive maniac Large Ham role or a slob. Except in King Kong and The Holiday of course.
    • His character in King Kong fits perfectly the "hyperactive maniac Large Ham" description.
  • Brian Blessed is always cast is big, boisterous characters who shout a lot.
  • Has anyone noticed how most of Orlando Bloom's major roles have been in historical/fantasy action/swashbuckling movies? I'm thinking The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and now The Hobbit and The Three Musketeers 2011.
  • Patrick Stewart may have been a classically trained thespian for years, but to those of a certain age and disposition he will always be Captain Picard
    • Patrick Stewart is almost as known for being Professor Charles Xavier these days as he is for his role on Star Trek: TNG.
    • At least in movies and on TV, he seems to be typecast for the "good, wise non-action leader" role, especially "good king" - which makes it either very funny when he plays against type (see Jeffrey - snarky, somewhat Camp Gay interior designer and Pink Panther activist) or rather unsettling (The Lion in Winter - still superficially the affable "good king", but the dialogue establishes really quickly that he's actually a selfish, scheming jerk who has taken someone raised almost as an adoptive daughter as his mistress)
  • Sean Bean plays characters that get killed or never get what they want. Most enter villain or Token Evil Teammate territory.
    • Except Flight Plan, where he's just a pilot.
    • And then there's the Sharpe series, where not only is he not the villain, he's practically a Napoleonic War's James Bond.
    • Since The Lord of the Rings he's played many a role very reminiscent of Boromir. Examples include The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Black Death, and Game of Thrones.
    • The general rule of thumb is that if the film is in a historical, medieval or fantasy setting he'll play one of the good guys... who dies. If its set in modern times he'll generally play one of the bad guys... and usually die.
  • Charles Bronson was pretty much the ultimate badass. Apparently, this extended to his offscreen life, too: he was a coal miner at the age of 10.
    • In The Magnificent Seven, Bronson splits wood onscreen, with an axe and everything. Not only is this physically demanding, requiring good coordination, it's so dangerous that no insurance company is likely to ever let a name star do that again.
  • Steve Buscemi as the paranoid, fast-talking, nervy rodenty guy who is either a snarky, Jerkass, loserish protagonist or a sympathetic, loserish scumbag of a villain/Anti-Villain. Sometimes voice-acts actual rodents.
    • Or as the guy who gets killed in some horrible way. See also: Leto, Jared
    • Or as the eccentricly weird guy that often gets injured in Adam Sandler movies.
    • Mr Shhh wasn't exceptionally fast-talking...
  • James "Jimmy" Cagney, far down on the list, but among the first and most severe cases of typecasting in early Hollywood. Since smashing a grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face in The Public Enemy (1931), he will be forever known as the hardass gangster, complete with his own Beam Me Up, Scotty, "You dirty rat..." Cagney started his career as a "hoofer" or dancer in stage musicals, was a teetotaler, spoke fluent yiddish (though a gentile), and was no slouch at judo (put to great use in Blood on the Sun (1945), with one of the most brutal fights ever filmed). Yet none of this erased the tough guy persona he was famous for, even after winning an Oscar for the musical Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Part of the problem was that Cagney couldn't flash a smile that didn't imply godless bloodlust.
  • Bruce Campbell has played so many jerks spouting one-liners that most fans don't know what to think when he tries something new.
  • John Candy played Bumbling Dad-type roles like in Uncle Buck. He's played a cop in some of his movies though.
  • Since becoming an A-list actor, only three movies Jim Carrey has starred in aren't comedies in some way: The Majestic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Number 23. (The Truman Show is a dark satire, his role in Batman Forever is comedic, and Man on the Moon is a Biopic of Andy Kaufman, so all of them have a comic element.)
  • Can you say Michael Cera? Ever since Arrested Development ended, he's been typecast as the skinny, awkwardly sweet kid that falls in love with a quirky girl in all his films. Though he seems to be playing against type in Youth in Revolt[1] and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World... Sorta.
  • A large number of Gary Chalk's live action roles has him working for the government. These includes jobs in politics, S.H.I.E.L.D., military and most frequently, a police officer.
  • Jackie Chan was typecast as a "nice guy" for decades, partly because Jackie aspired to be a positive role model for children. Until 2006's "Rob B Hood", Jackie hadn't played a negative character in over 30 years.
    • Ironically, he eventually tried to avoid the karate typecast by playing the Every Man who gains the ability to do awesome karate moves. Unfortunately, Jackie Chan becoming Jackie Chan wasn't that much of a movie.
  • Roy Cheung plays a lot of psychotic Triad gangsters and other villains in Hong Kong movies, to the point that when he played a Shaolin monk in Infernal Affairs, it was seen as Playing Against Type.
  • Gary Coleman as the wisecracking black kid. See also Adam Westing.
  • Jeffrey Combs has made a career out of playing psychopaths and Star Trek characters.
    • Peter Jackson specifically sought him out for The Frighteners because of his role in the Re-Animator series.
      • It's weird seeing him play a mild-mannered psychic in Babylon 5, especially as he still uses that vaguely creepy voice he uses in all his roles.
  • The popularity of Steptoe and Son ruined the careers of its stars, Harry H. Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell. Corbett in particular suffered, having achieved acclaim as a Shakespearean actor before accepting his role in the show, and frequently being described as "Britain's Marlon Brando" early in his career.
  • Tom Cruise always seems to play a selfish yuppie-type (sometimes he is also somewhat troubled) who eventually gets his comeuppance and learns how to truly love. His typical role is summed up by Rich Hall in this video.
  • Even stage actors aren't immune to this. Look at John Cullum, playing a cynical, worldwise, southerner and/or father, in Shenandoah (original cast and revival), 1776 (movie), Urinetown, and 110 in the Shade. Ironically, he initially turned down the role of Rutledge because he did not want to play a southerner.
    • On the other hand, he got to play a psychiatrist who falls in love with the past incarnation of a patient he regresses in the Tony-nominated musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever—but this was before taking the other roles mentioned.
  • Tim Curry has played at least one villain in many a cartoon. See Darkwing Duck, the cartoon adaptation of The Mask, and "The Creation" from Hanna-Barbera's video series The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible, among others. He does have a Beard of Evil.
  • Vincent D'Onofrio, after Full Metal Jacket, generally plays a big, scary guy. In Men in Black, he plays a perfectly sane (wife-beating redneck) farmer who gets eaten and his skin worn by a creepy bug alien about sixty seconds into his first scene. Even on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Bobby Goren is impliedly a little off. Which is sad, because he's genuinely a good actor.
  • Don't forget Willem Dafoe, who always plays more subtle psychos who are the Evil Chancellor or Corrupt Corporate Executive with a hidden side. Less passive-agression, more grinning!
    • Only exception is Inside Man, where he's a helpful cop... and arguably Sgt. Elias.
    • Another exception — arguably, anyway — is his role as John Clark in Clear and Present Danger.
    • Also, Antichrist.
    • Another subversion - Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ.
  • New Zealander Alan Dale keeps turning up as evil American businessmen or politicians.
  • Robert De Niro is always either a mobster or a cop. Or a tough role otherwise (a psycho, a boxer). (Though he once played a gay sky-pirate, and let's not forget his role as a catatonic patient which won him an Oscar nomination.) His later career consists mostly of comedic takes on his badass image.
  • Danny DeVito is the sleazy scumbag character with a Heart of Gold.
    • Except for "Matilda".
  • The only constant between Johnny Depp's roles is that, with the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean (being a sequel), he hasn't done the same kind of character twice. And in that strange way, audiences have come to expect him to just be that kind of offbeat character.
    • Frequently pairing up with Tim Burton tends to do that.
    • He specifically avoided being typecast as a Teen Idol after 21 Jump Street.
    • He's done plenty of quirky man-child characters, though the quirks tend to shift quite a bit from movie to movie.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio is an interesting example. After his Star-Making Role in Titanic, media pundits almost unanimously predicted that Leo would be another flash-in-the pan celebrity, typecast as a Bishonen teenage heart-throb before forever vanishing from the limelight after hitting 35. Unusually, he was Genre Savvy enough to move away from pretty boy roles into something grittier and started a very fruitful creative partnership with Martin Scorsese. Ironically, this led Di Caprio to being typecast in crime and/or business dramas, Scorsese's signature genre, where he usually plays intense, morally ambiguous types. Leo's lead role in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film Inception was seen as an attempt at broadening his acting range... right until it turned out he was playing an intense, morally ambiguous mind thief.
  • In the 1960s and 70s there was the great Anton Diffring, who became pretty much the archetypal sinister German officer. For a period during the 1960s no self-respecting WWII film was complete without an icy glare or cold and calculating remark courtesy of Herr Diffring.
  • Jason Dolley, a member of the Disney Channel repertory, is typecast as two different types of characters: Either an unlucky, unappreciated loser who gets the girl in the end (in his three Disney Channel original movies: Read It and Weep, Minutemen, and Hatching Pete): or a moronic, slacker musician (in his two Disney Channel sitcoms, Cory in The House and Good Luck Charlie).
    • He's finally due to play a moronic, slacker musician in a DCOM for a change, when the Good Luck Charlie movie is released.
  • Brad Dourif. You've never heard his name, but if you've ever watched a sci-fi show or Horror movie with a creepy-looking dude with scary, intense, and oddly woobieish eyes, you know who he is. If you have ever seen Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and been oddly compelled to hug the traitorous Grima Wormtongue, you know who he is. If you have ever played Myst III: Exile and sobbed your damn heart out over Saavedro's plight, then you definitely know who he is.

(Local prostitutes are giggling while being "examined" by the doctor.)
"Doc Cochran": When you laugh, you leak piss.

    • His typecasting is Lampshaded in Urban Legend, where he plays a scary, stuttering gas station attendant. He runs up to a girl getting gas trying to yell something, but he Can't Spit It Out. She shakes him off and drives away in her car, assuming he was trying to attack and/or rape her. After she's out of earshot, he finally manages to shout "SOMEONE'S IN THE BACK SEAT!" Much later in the movie, he's mentioned on the news as a suspect in the murders.
  • Jackie Earle Haley. As Cracked.com put it: "Johnny Depp nailed the [[[A Nightmare on Elm Street]]] audition and went on to become an iconic movie actor, while his friend was doomed to roles as smelly hippies, smelly perverts and smelly psychopaths."
    • Then, of course, Haley nailed an Elm Street audition of his own years later... which resulted in him playing another (presumably) smelly psychopath.
    • With his recent Charlie Chaplin-esque turn in the film Louis, don't count Haley out just yet.
  • When he was much younger, Clint Eastwood was known for tough cowboy or cop roles.
    • When he was younger? Did it ever cross your mind that Harry Callahan grew old and changed his named to Walter Kowalski? Its incredibly interesting to note that he directed that movie. He actually typecast himself.
    • He also cast himself in Unforgiven, where he plays an older version of his tough cowboy character. Clint likes to do this - and he knows what he's doing.
    • Now he's just known for playing "the character with the gravely voice".
    • Possibly the only exception is Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel Any Which Way You Can, which were off-beat comedies. Though even then his character was tough guy trucker who dabbles in bare-knuckle fighting.
  • Sam Elliott, please pick up the white courtesy phone. A movie needs a wise, grizzled cowboy. Parodied with his role in The Big Lebowski.
  • When he's not lending his voice to video game characters, Gideon Emery tends to be cast as criminals or other seedy people- who usually end up dying.
  • R. Lee Ermey's entire career is being Drill Sergeant Nasty. I don't think I've seen him play anything else, ever. Even in documentary shows he still plays Gunny Sgt. Hartman.
    • In Willard, Ermey broke ranks to play a Corrupt Corporate Executive instead... but he still acted like Drill Sergeant Nasty in the role.
    • Ermey himself seems to recognize this to the point where he spoofed his own Full Metal Jacket role in The Frighteners
      • Ermey plays a very racist police officer in the movie Life.
      • R. Lee Ermey was a Drill Sergeant Nasty during the Vietnam war. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is only a slight exaggeration of the way he, and most other drill sergeants, actually behaved at that time. Modern drill instructors are much less over-the-top than back then.
    • Ermey has played an evangelist at least twice: once in Fletch Lives, and again in an episode of The X-Files.
  • Name a Dennis Farina role that wasn't a cop or a mobster. We're waiting. (Justified in that, as an 18-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Farina knows what he's doing in those roles.)
    • He played a soldier in Saving Private Ryan. Granted, it was a very brief role, and wasn't particularly different from his cop roles.
    • He played a stock trader in What Happens In Vegas. But he's still a hard-ass.
    • He played the hard-ass Cousin Avi (as well as unashamedly American) in Snatch.
  • Chris Farley was known for playing clumsy fat guy roles.
  • Will Ferrell is becoming increasingly typecast as two different characters: The Idiotic Manchild and The Arrogant Buffoon.
  • If your film needs a Jerkass villain, Ralph Fiennes is your man. He's either that or an introverted, brooding hero. Or an introverted, brooding villain, like he was in Red Dragon.
  • Harrison Ford is the Badass everyman. As he's gotten older, more and more Papa Wolf has slipped into his roles.
    • A cartoon titled "Rare Movies Festival" had on its programming for one of the days: "Harrison Ford movies where he doesn't run".
  • Anthony De Longis provides the voice for several Jerkass video game villains, including Mick Cutler in Resistance3 and General Sarrano in Bulletstorm.
  • Guillermo Francella always does comedies, and he's always either the goofy lovable horndog, the irresponsible parent who has a change of heart at the end of the movie, or both.
    • He has done a couple more serious roles lately (even losing his signature mustache), but even then his characters are always fans of Racing Club of Avellaneda, just like he is in real life.
  • Has Martin Freeman ever played a major role in which he isn't playing a slightly grumpy, plain, occasionally humorous everyman character? It's all he ever seems to be cast as.
    • The Hobbit may or may not change this. The above character traits kind of fit Bilbo as well, though.
  • Morgan Freeman: wise old black guy who delivers Whoopi Epiphany Speeches by the truckload. This was awesomely subverted near the end of Wanted, where he's basically been playing this character all along (even if the subject of his wisdom is how to kill people), but then bursts out "Shoot that motherfucker!" near the end.
    • Subverted even earlier in Lucky Number Slevin.
    • Subverted even even earlier when he plays a General Ripper in 'Dreamcatcher.
    • Subverted even even even earlier than that in Hard Rain.
    • Subverted even even even even earlier than that in {Street Smart}.
    • In other words, Freeman's had a pretty decent career.
  • Stephen Fry is often described to have been typecast as Stephen Fry, the charmingly quintessential Englishman who is probably smarter than you but too polite to say so.
  • Since playing Seth Brundle in The Fly, Jeff Goldblum has tended to play twitchy geniuses.
  • Hugh Grant is the dorky-yet-lovable Brit. As he's getting older, that role is often passed to Martin Freeman.
    • L-l-l-lets not forget his p-p-p-p-persistent nervous s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-studder.
  • Lorne Greene as a wise and understanding patriarchal figure whose family works with him under his command on a professional basis in Bonanza, the original Battlestar Galactica and Code Red.
  • After his debut role as Hives in the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers (1930), Robert Grieg played the Loyal Butler in something like thirty films. He was also in Trouble in Paradise.
  • Sid Haig is a gore porn psychopath.
  • Mark Hamill may have had the image of Luke Skywalker dogging his live-action career, but he's typecast as a voice for cackling villains in animation, such as Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Hobgoblin in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and most famously The Joker in the Diniverse franchise and the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. (Oh the irony: Tim Curry was originally pegged to voice the Joker.)
    • The Luke Skywalker image probably wasn't lessened by him effectively reprising the role in Wing Commander III and IV, as Colonel Christopher Blair. Particularly not when you consider how to win WC3.
  • Jon Heder. Need the tall, gangly nerd who talk with a strange speech pattern to rival Shatner? Look no further.
    • To the point that literally every role he's ever played is just Napoleon Dynamite to some degree. Gosh!
  • Take the Italian duo of actors, better known with the Stage Names of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, made famous by spaghetti-westerns and Bash Brothers movies. While the former has found some variation in his career, like playing a live-action Lucky Luke and, currently, a detective priest in a Italian TV Series, the latter (recently turned 80) is stll anchored to the characters he did in his movies—see this commercial.
  • Michael Ironside as either a Badass (who may or may not be an amputee and is increasingly likely to be an Old Master) or as a snarky Big Bad who either has superpowers or is trying to kill an orca. In recent movies (Terminator: Salvation, X-Men: First Class), he's played non-action naval commanders.
  • Samuel L. Jackson nearly always plays foul-mouthed badasses. Given his record in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Mace Windu wouldn't be nearly as badass in the EU had Jackson not been playing him.
    • Incidentally, Samuel L. Jackson apparently had trouble not cursing for one movie who was trying to keep a PG-13 rating. They were talking about it in the extras on the DVD.
      • Far more than the swearing alone, Samuel L. Jackson has simply been typecast ever since Pulp Fiction as a Badass Motherfucker. Before that movie, he played a variety of small roles. Variety as in actually varied.
    • Samuel L. Jackson is so considered a Badass that when it came time to give the Ultimate Universe version of Nick Fury (the most Badass secret agent this side of James Bond) a new look, he was made to look like... Samuel L. Jackson. Not surprisingly, Samuel L. Jackson ended up playing him in the movie continuity. When the characters in the comic were fantasy-casting a hypothetical movie, guess who Fury thought should play him?
      • He actually set that up, letting Marvel use his likeness with the explicit contract detail stating he would play the character should it go to film.
  • Doug Jones is usually cast as Man in a Really Good Monster Costume With All His Lines Dubbed Over.
    • Although when he reprised the role of Abe Sapien in Hellboy II he got to perform the dialogue as well as wear the suit.
    • Paul Casey does this in Doctor Who and Torchwood. Jimmy Vee often takes on shorter roles in this case, such as the Moxx of Balhoon or Bannakaffalatta.
  • Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman, is usually cast as (Mostly Menacing) Man in a Really Good Make-Up/Costume.
  • Tommy Lee Jones is the grumpy, Badass authority figure. See: The Fugitive, No Country for Old Men, Men in Black, U.S. Marshals, Captain America the First Avenger.
  • Vince Vaughn as the awkward nice guy, whether he's the protagonist or the best friend of the protagonist. He also usually has a hot girlfriend.
  • Speaking of Psycho, the original Norman Bates - Anthony Perkins - faced typecasting twice. Prior to Psycho, Perkins seemed to be making a career playing the tall-and-gangly, boyishly charming male ingenue-like characters. After Psycho, he ended up playing creepy weirdos/psychopaths a majority of the time.
  • German actor Thomas Kretschmann seems to be hopelessly typecast in Nazi roles, such as The Pianist and Valkyrie, to name just a few. On the plus side, he's usually a sympathetic Nazi.
    • On the Jimmy Kimmel Show, he stated he's been typecast more as a Captain than a Nazi (though this is probably due to him playing quite a number of Nazi Captains).
    • After becoming known for playing the role of Hermann Fegelein in Der Untergang, YouTube users would sometimes make references to his character ("FEGELEIN FEGELEIN FEGELEIN!!!") on almost every video that he appeared on.
  • Shia LaBeouf is the young every-dude in sci-fi/action films produced by Steven Spielberg.
  • Subverted by Heath Ledger. After 10 Things I Hate About You came out, Ledger dropped off the Hollywood radar for a year, because he didn't want to be cast as the high school heartthrob for the rest of his career. Afterwards he appeared in The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, and others before breaking out in Brokeback Mountain, and finally as the Joker in The Dark Knight. His final role was Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
  • Bruce Lee as the Asian version of John Wayne.
  • Christopher Lee's sepulchral tones have made him a career out of playing villains. Though to be fair, he's well-suited for it, with his razor-thin build, dark eyes, towering height, and powerful deep voice.
  • Jay Leno played thug type roles in sitcoms like Alice and Laverne and Shirley before becoming the host of The Tonight Show.
  • Jared Leto, as the guy who gets the shit kicked out of him.
  • This trope was the bane of Bela Lugosi's life, poor guy.
    • Yeah, most of his roles were somewhat Dracula-like villains, even when a film wasn't supernatural. This was so much the case that his few good guy roles seem to have been intended in part to surprise the viewers in movies such as The Black Cat (1934). His favorite role was in Ninotchka, where he finally had a romantic role.
  • Michael Madsen (aka Mr. Blonde) as the ultimate gangster/psycho/both. Interestingly this is used by filmmakers either to create a certain feeling (in Donnie Brasco, I'm not sure we'd be so reluctant to trust Sonny Black in the first half of the movie if he was played by someone else) or to confound our expectations (in Kill Bill, the assassin played by Michael Madsen actually turns out to be a repentant, down-and-out Punch Clock Villain who gets Eviler Than Thoued by Elle Driver.
    • Actually used amusingly in the War of the Worlds parody bits of the Scary Movie franchise. When the guy offering the heroines shelter pulls down his hood and reveals his face, you know he's a nutcase before he's done anything because it's Michael Madsen.
    • In recent years, he's been playing American generals and agents in crappy Russian action movies. Why, would you ask?
  • John Malkovich, Gary Oldman and Christopher Walken are prone to being the inscrutable villain (sometimes Anti-Villain, but mostly not) and/or off-kilter insane. (exceptions: ...himself, |Athos and that guy from Empire of the Sun; Jim Gordon, Sirius Black and Beethoven; ...you got me now. Arguably The Deer Hunter)

Rosencrantz (Gary Oldman): I want to go home now.
Guildenstern (Tim Roth): Don't let them confuse you...

  • James Marsden had the misfortune of being typecast as the Romantic Runner-Up, the Dogged Nice Guy, or a Romantic False Lead in most of his roles from the X Men trilogy onward (Superman Returns, Enchanted, The Notebook,') until he did 27 Dresses, in which his character finally ended up with the female protagonist.
  • James Marsters is almost always a Magnificent Bastard of a villain (even if Love Redeems him later on), probably because his incredibly high cheekbones scream "Did I happen to mention I'm the (sexy) villain?"
  • Malcolm McDowell has been cast in roles that weren't a villainous or otherwise evil character, but most of them are overshadowed by his roles as a bad guy of some flavor (A Clockwork Orange, Caligula, Blue Thunder, Star Trek Generations and Fallout 3, among others).
    • When he's not outright evil, he still tends to be a Bunny Ears Lawyer, with having a arrogant jerkass attitude being the Bunny Ears.
  • John Simm is the man to go to when you want angst. Up until his late thirties, practically all the roles he played were those of cocky, broody, bratty young men (The Lakes, Human Traffic, Cracker). When he isn't playing angsty Northeners (most notably in Life On Mars), he's playing angsty 17th century mercenaries (The Devil's Whore) or angsty 19th century Russian axe mudrerers (Crime and Punishment) or angsty Danish princes (Hamlet) or angsty reporters (State of Play, Sex Traffic). He only breaks out of the angst if he gets to play an over-the-top villain (Caligula, The Master). Fitting for a guy who's frighteningly convincing when he cries.
  • Ian McNeice always plays the Fat Bastard.
  • Since Ghostbusters, Rick Moranis has been known for playing nerdy characters. According to some sources, he got tired of being typecast, which is why he's been in semi-retirement since 1997. His primary reason for retirement was because he needed to raise his kids.
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan always plays the dead guy.
  • Cillian Murphy, known for his unbelievably creepy performances in Batman Begins and Red Eye, has vowed never to play a villain again in order to avert becoming typecast... only to revise his role in The Dark Knight.
  • Bill Murray plays mostly Deadpan Snarker roles. Ditto for Chevy Chase.
    • Mostly because that's how they are. Both are known for their huge amounts of Improv and most of their roles are just a long Throw It In.
  • Jack Nicholson usually plays quirky characters with a deep dark secret like in The Shining, and often he's the Large Ham. Except in some of his more sentimental roles.
  • Leslie Nielsen is an interesting case in that his style never changed, but his image did a 180 degree turn: Pre-Airplane! he was the stern authority figure, but post-Airplane!!: bumbling slapstick idiot. This, of course, because the latter always hinged on him delivering completely, outrageously absurd dialogue with a perfectly straight face.
    • Awesomely subverted with Creepshow, where he just plays an evil bastard... although it is over the top.
  • The last guy that tried to type cast Chuck Norris- oh, well, never mind.
  • Al Pacino, like DeNiro, is always either a mobster or a cop.
    • To put a little spin on his typecast roles, Scent of a Woman has him played a blind retired war veteran.
  • Christopher Mc Donald playing a smarmy Jerkass character.
  • When Josh Peck was still fat, he was known for playing the nerdy, socially akward goofball kid role.
  • Ron Perlman is usually cast as Man in a Really Good Monster Costume With None of His Lines Dubbed Over.
    • Which is a damned shame as his role as Vincent demonstrated that he is more than capable of expressing subtle emotions and doesn't need to always be the Heavy.
      • Even as the Heavy, his performance as One showed subtle emotions with no monster costume and none of his lines dubbed over even though he doesn't speak French.
    • It wasn't until Hellboy that he was able to play a lead character in a major movie, usually he is a smaller character and under so much makeup you almost can't recognize him. He's one of those actors that everyone respects, at least those who have heard of him.
  • Joe Pesci. Loud, angry, streetwise gangster-type from New York with a Hair-Trigger Temper who may or may not be an Ax Crazy psychopath. He's currently retired from acting, perhaps to avoid doing such roles forever.
    • Although he managed to avert this in With Honors as the still crazy, but charismatic and educated bum Simon B. Wilder. And of course, his performance as Vinny in "My Cousin Vinny" where he was he wasn't crazy. Though it should be noted that he was still a snarky smart ass in both films.
  • Michael Imperioli also came to fame playing gangsters, particularly Christopher Moltisanti. Which is funny, considering that most of his roles since have been police detectives.
  • Jeremy Piven is always the talkative jerk/drunk who spouts off asshole lines for no good reason.
  • Jorge Porcel and Alberto Olmedo as the Argentinian Abbott and Costello.
  • Favio Posca as "the family-friendly version of Fernando Peña."
  • When Elvis Presley appeared in movies throughout the 50's and 60's most of them were as the happy-go-lucky guy in musical comedies such as Live A Little, Love A Little Kissin' Cousins and Stay Away Joe. Although he did play against type in a Clint Eastwood-style western called Charro!.
  • Jonathan Pryce is prone to playing authority figures. Among his most high-profile roles of this type are Juan Perón, Governor Swann, and ultimately the U.S. President. Before that, he was being pursued by authority figures...
  • George Reeves, famous for his role of Superman in the 1950s live-action television show, couldn't get himself any serious work, despite many attempts to break that mold. His dead-end career has been one of many theories as to why he shot himself in the head.
    • According to rumor, he gained a role in the 1953 film From Here To Eternity but his part was cut back when audiences, associating him with Superman, chuckled whenever he appeared on-screen. However Fred Zinnemann, the director, insists that this is not true.
  • Keanu Reeves is the embodiment of spaced-out characters. See The Matrix, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and A Scanner Darkly. There is some debate over how intentional this is.
  • To younger American audiences,it would probably be weird to see Alan Rickman as anything but the creepy bad guy with the sexy voice thanks to Die Hard, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Harry Potter (though he's just a red herring bad guy), even though his career has seen him in a very wide variety of roles. (Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, Galaxy Quest, Dogma)
  • Andrew J. Robinson made his film debut as the baby-faced serial killer Scorpio in Dirty Harry. He was so associated with the role that, despite winning an Emmy as the lead on Ryan's Hope, he was recast after two seasons because they didn't want someone noted for playing a serial killer as a sympathetic lead. He went on to play a whole string of psychotic killers in films like Hellblazer and Childs Play 3, until he finally got to play one of the good guys: former assassin and torturer Elim Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Edward G. Robinson, before he was known as the vocal inspiration for The Simpsons character Chief Wiggum, was famous for playing gangster Rico in the unflinchingly violent Little Caesar (1931). In his private life, Robinson was an enthusiastic art collector who hated guns—in fact, when firing blanks on the movie set, he had to tape his eyes open to keep from blinking in horror.
  • Tim Roth usually plays thugs/murderers/convicts/all of the above at the same time. And he tends to die violent deaths.
    • He's playing a rare good guy (and television role) in Lie to Me.
  • Adam Sandler frequently plays the Jerk with a Heart of Gold, is Jewish, just like him. Heck, he rarely even changes his hair. He also likes to have weird vocal quirks and act like a social retard, yet somehow get the hot female lead.
  • Sadly, Jerry Seinfeld will never, ever, ever be able to act in any live-action role whatsoever. At least, not until he is past the age of 70. Fortunately, the fact that he is one of the greatest comedy icons of The Nineties doesn't seem to have penetrated his mind, so for ten years he was happy just being a stand-up comedian, as he was before (and within) his prime-time reign.
  • Michael Shannon seems to always play robotic men who are one stubbed toe away from a psychotic break.
  • Michael Sheen is either a vampire or Tony Blair.
  • Jason Statham, who is always a bald badass (except for a minor role in The Pink Panther remake... and this upcoming movie).
  • Pity the fool who messes with Mr. T.
  • Billy Bob Thornton was briefly typecast as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists after Bad Santa became a box office hit.
  • The Three Stooges. All four of them.
    • Not a fan of Joe Besser or Curly Joe, the fifth and sixth Stooges?
  • One could summarize Danny Trejo's start in acting thusly: He was training another actor how to fight after having networked his way onto the film in prison, when someone says, "You look like an ex-con! Come over here and play and ex-con." And now, he gets a film showcasing his talents.

Danny Trejo The first five years of my career, I was Inmate #1, Bad Guy #1 and Mean Guy #1. I had a great career going, until somebody told me that I was typecast. I said, "Well, what's typecast?" And they said, "Well, you're always playing the mean Chicano dude with tattoos." I thought about that and I said, "Wait a minute! I am the mean Chicano dude with tattoos, so somebody is getting it right."

  • The second actor to play Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton, had left to avoid future typecasting, after three seasons and 119 episodes and advised the later Who actor, Peter Davison, to do the same. It had been claimed by The BBC that Christopher Eccleston left the role after one season and 13 episodes to avoid typecasting, but it was later revealed that the BBC never asked him; he did not in fact leave because of being typecast, but rather to be with his father who had gotten sick during the filming. This video seems to indicate otherwise.
    • Steven Moffat seems to be Mind Raping the Eleventh actor by writing his past roles into the script. The ends may justify the means though, as Moffat rewrites the endings of these plotlines to be healthier than the endings of the actor's past characters.
  • On the other hand, Christopher Eccleston did get somewhat typecast over the years: either as a troubled, working-class, underdog everyman with some tragic story (Jude, Let Him Have It, Flesh and Blood, Strumpet, Revengers Tragedy, Hillsborough, The Second Coming, Heroes... even the Ninth Doctor fits this, at least stylistically), or as a mostly blockbuster-style villain (Gone in 60 Seconds, G.I. Joe, The Seeker, Elizabeth). The former because of activism and conviction; the latter to be able to take a badly paying theatre role once in a while. Still, when The Agony Booth wrote about his role the admittedly awful movie adaptation of The Dark Is Rising "You're Christopher Eccleston. You're practically synonymous with having a charming and likeable screen presence. There is absolutely nothing scary about you.", the reviewer clearly had never seen 28 Days Later, Shallow Grave or his Jago in Othello.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, in any action movie he stars in, plays unstoppable badasses. Once he is committed to a given task, nothing (including invisible alien, shape-shifting robots or Satan) is going to sway him or stand in his way... no, actually, except for Sarah Connor and Batman. And if he is playing a father or is otherwise in charge of kids, do not mess with them if you value your life.
  • Chris Tucker as the effeminate comedy relief.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal as an overweight, washed-up action heroes in direct-to-DVD movies.
    • ... which Jean spoofed in the film JCVD. Seagal has yet to show his sense of humor...
      • Seagal appeared as a parody of his usual roles in The Onion Movie, as the Cock Puncher.
    • Seagal always plays himself in every role. Always a ex-SEAL/military/CIA/cop agent who unreluctantly finds himself back on the job without. He is also without emotion, merciless and invincible.
  • Edward Van Sloan basically plays the same vaguely Germanic, gentlemanly, all-knowing doctor who is willing to take on the supernatural in Dracula (1931, as Dr. Van Helsing), Frankenstein (1931, as Dr. Waldman), and The Mummy (1932, as Dr. Müller).
  • It wasn't particularly imaginative making Reginald VelJohnson's character in Family Matters a policeman, considering he had already played a cop in Die Hard, Turner & Hooch, Ghostbusters, the TV movie One of Her Own...
  • Whenever Tom Waits appears in a movie, he's usually crazy and/or magical. The crazy magical hobo schtick is actually a large part of his musical persona too.
    • David Bowie is a similar case of musical and movie personas overlapping as he is usually cast in roles that take advantage of what the trailer for his movie The Hunger (in which he played a vampire) called his "cruel elegance"; whether his character is good or evil, he usually has a mysterious, cool aura. This has served him well in a colorful variety of roles over time. He also isn't afraid to play it for comedy or just play against type on occasion—in the Short Film Jazzin' for Blue Jean he gets to do both!
  • Patrick Warburton is always cast as the big, dumb, lovable guy -- Kronk, Puddy, The Tick (animation), and so on.
  • John Wayne is John Wayne, pilgrim.
  • Robin Williams does voices. And funny stuff.
  • Bruce Willis is always the Badass everyman, and is known for being the king of the heroic comeback, getting beaten to shit by the bad guys and then coming back to win out. Unless we are talking about The Sixth Sense. Or The Siege where he plays a rare villainous part. Or In Country (embittered Vietnam veteran), or Death Becomes Her (a nebbishy doctor), or Mortal Thoughts, or Unbreakable, or...
    • Sin City put on a small spin: he killed himself, despite winning in the end.
  • All through The Eighties, Michael Winslow tended to be The Guy Who Makes Noises. In fact, his entire career is built on being The Guy Who Makes Noises. He even admits this.
    • That's who he is in real life. Though he was a voice in Gremlins.
  • Elijah Wood is usually typecast as the wide-eyed innocent charming boy, ten years before playing Frodo from Lord of the Rings. But since LOTR he's been desperately trying to avoid typecasting as, well, Frodo (wide-eyed innocent + The Messiah). In fact, he was cast as a tough vandal in Green Street (also known as Hooligans) because he represented corrupted innocence.
  • Chow Yun-Fat is good at playing tragic heroes in Hong Kong action movies. Since his work with John Woo, nearly every gunplay role he plays has him using two guns at least once in the movie.
  • Ray Winstone is invariably some kind of East End thug. Unless he's a boastful Anglo-Saxon thug.
  • John Goodman is always the big manly bear with No Indoor Voice.
  • It looks like Michael Trucco is being typecast as "the other side of the love triangle". He played that role to Starbuck and Apollo (sort of; their relationship is more complicated, of course), to Leonard and Penny (contributing in their getting together), and is currently playing that role to Beckett and Castle.
  • Pretty much every role Bradley Cooper has done post-Alias has been a Jerkass or Chivalrous Pervert (or combination of the two) who always has an occasion to remove his shirt.
  • Peter Keleghan is the doofus on Canadian television. (The Red Green Show, Made in Canada, The Newsroom)
  • Eldest Jonas Brother Kevin Jonas has been stuck in every major role the group has appeared in as the Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Before his recent Oscar nominated roles Colin Firth every role the poor guy got since Pride and Prejudice has just been a role saying "hey look, this guy was Mr Darcy! Look at him be Mr. Darcy!" Bridget Jones turned this up to eleven, by actually basing his character on Mr. Darcy. In universe, Bridget Jones is a fan of Colin Firth and of his portrayal of Mr Darcy.
  • Eric Roberts really lends himself well to playing Smug Snake villains.
  • Will Smith always plays the charming, witty leading man/action hero.
  • After his Big Bad role in Nochnoi Dozor, Russian actor Viktor Verzhbitskiy has played one villain after another, including at least three evil oligarchs. Thanks to his larger-than-life acting style, he is often the only reason to watch those movies.
  • Bert Lahr, who played The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, later complained that he was typecast as a lion: "There just aren't all that many parts for lions."
  • Michael Emerson has made a career out of playing villains—to the point where he had to insist that his next role after Lost will be something other than a villain, preferably a comedy protagonist—but at least he varies it a little. First he was Ax Crazy Serial Killer William Hinks on The Practice, then he was Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and "The Mozart of telekinesis" Oliver Martin in the X Files episode "Sunshine Days", then he was Magnificent Bastard Ben Linus on Lost. Then Ben suffered massive Villain Decay and became The Woobie in the last season.
  • John Lithgow went through a period in the 1980s where he played a scientist in several movies. If it's 1985, and your movie needs a physicist who does not act like a Mad Scientist (with one noteworthy exception), then John Lithgow is your man.
  • Rodney Dangerfield had pretty much played the same act in most movies he did the past couple of decades, with the possible darker exception of Natural Born Killers.
  • You've got a fantasy or horror setting, and your Evil Overlord needs a comically incompetent but very loyal henchman? Timothy Spall is your man, as evidenced by Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (and subsequent Potter films), Enchanted, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He's recently tried to break out by playing the goddamn Winston Churchill in The King's Speech.
  • Vincent Price, as 'the really creepy scary movie actor'.
  • Tom Selleck has been typecast as cops or soldiers, particularly in Magnum, P.I.. Selleck himself, however, claims that his support for the NRA has hurt his career.
  • Ray Stevenson seems to be starting to get stuck in a typecast as a hedonistic, laid-back, but still formidable warrior type; In Rome he was Titus Pullo, in Thor he portrayed Volstagg, and in The Three Musketeers 2011, he's the type-codifying Porthos.
  • A truly bizarre spin on the trope: judging by his most high-profile roles, Sam Worthington has been typecast as... a Half-Human Hybrid (Terminator: Salvation, Avatar, Clash of the Titans).
    • ... A Half-Human Hybrid created by the villains to join up with the heroes and bring them down from within, but eventually changes sides through The Power of Love and plays a pivotal role in defeating his creators.
  • Look at Glenn Morshower's filmography. Almost all of his characters have a military rank.
  • Have a foreign guy in the script? Armand Assante is your man. No matter which country the character is from, Assante will bring foreignness to the role.
  • Pretty much every role of Henry Winkler aka "Fonzie these days seems to be as an outrageously incompetent lawyer in various sitcoms and movies.
  • Terry-Thomas always played an upright Quintessential British Gentleman, although sometimes the "upright" only applied to his posture, and not his morals.
  • Ken Jeong as the "funny Asian dude".
  • Liam Neeson plays the aged badass with a haunted face and a certain chance of getting killed in his movies. If he doesn't die, he makes other people die in his place. (The last bit can either be about Darkman or Batman Begins)
  • Vin Diesel is the tough action hero who, appropriately, has something to do with big hulking machines.
  • Gary Busey has made a career out of playing bad guys with various levels of mental derangement - from mild sociopathy to full-on Ax Crazy. Busey admits that some of this is due to how he would act when the cameras weren't rolling.
    • While not quite as pigeonholed, Gary's son Jake Busey, who looks rather similar to his dad, also gets his fair share of the kinds of roles his dad gets (for example, in Contact).
  • Tom Felton may get this way seeing as his character in Rise of the Apes is basically Draco Malfoy without magic
  • Jerry Haleva is an extreme example. His every credited acting role has been as Saddam Hussein. Though anecdotes seem to suggest he could also have played Stalin.
  • Ashton Kutcher, barring The Guardian and The Butterfly Effect, has essentially been playing Michael Kelso for the last decade and a half.
  • Jeremy Renner tends to play badass loose-cannon types. See SWAT and The Hurt Locker for two prime examples.
  • Eric Vale lampshaded that he's often cast as a douchebag.
  • Ralph Bellamy was often stuck playing dull nice guys.
  • Mark Strong, as a bald villain with an English accent.




  • Many sci-fi actors, especially those who appeared on Star Trek. If you become famous for a role in a sci-fi show or movie, accept the fact that you'll get no work outside of theatre, voice acting, and guest spots that are basically parodies of your most famous role.
    • Patrick Stewart has been able to avoid the Trek curse; sure, his other major mainstream role is Professor X in the X-Men film continuity (which, while not a straight "genre" match to Star Trek, certainly is science fiction), but outside of film, he is a very, very respected Shakespearean actor, one of the finest of his generation.
      • And even in film he has had a number of good roles—Scrooge comes to mind, as does Henry VII.
    • Shatner isn't so much typecast in Sci Fi so much as he is typecast as himself. Doesn't seem to bother him though, and he does it well.
    • John DeLancie as a field reporter in Without Warning: Fire From the Sky rather quickly shattered the effect they were going for (a spiritual homage to War of the Worlds).
    • However, if you count voice acting as serious, a number of Next Generation actors found their way into Gargoyles.
    • LeVar Burton has a few other well-known roles. He played Kunta Kinte in Roots, voiced Kwame in Captain Planet, and was the host of Reading Rainbow.
      • Which this PBS-watching son of Trekkies found quite amusing once he was old enough to understand the concept of acting.
    • Poor DeForest Kelley, on the other hand, jumped from one type of Typecasting (villains in Western movies and shows) to another (he would never do a well-known role again after being cast as Dr. McCoy).
      • However, he was just about the only major Star Trek cast member who never bitched about it.
  • The main characters of Command & Conquer 3 are typecast since their previous roles, as pointed out in a Ctrl+Alt+Del comic.
  • In general, non-white actors often face a great deal of difficulty in getting roles that don't play up the fact that they aren't white, and so they are often typecast as "ethnic" characters. It's only been recently (the 21st century) that this has started to change. Specific examples can be seen above.
  • Quinton Flynn seems to voice three kinds of characters: Badasses, comedic villains, or just plain Ax Crazy pyromaniacs.


  • Elliot Page is either The Troubled Teen or The Smarty Teen. Or both. Not that there isn't a lot of range in those roles. With Inception, they break new ground playing the smarty college student which is just a bit older than a teenager. Their roles could also be a Tomboy in general.

  1. Skinny, awkwardly sweet kid, with a skinny TOTAL MENACE alter ego