Bianca Lawson in “Pretty Little Liars,” Age: 31 – 34
The now 43-year-old actress played teens on various TV shows including 1993’s “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,” when she was 14. But by the time she was cast on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” she was already 29. Lawson went on to play a teen yet again at age 31 on “Pretty Little Liars,” which wrapped in 2017.
Henry Winkler in “Happy Days,” Age: 29 – (almost) 39
Cool guy Fonzie was supposed to be only a year older than Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), but Winkler was, in reality, 29 to Howard’s 20 when the show first aired in 1974. The character became so popular, he eventually became the lead in the four seasons after Howard left the series in 1980.
Gabrielle Carteris in “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Age: 29 – 39
From the first time we meet her in Spanish class, Andrea Zuckerman was clearly far ahead of her fellow students. Maybe because she was so much older than them? Carteris left the series in 1996 when she was 35, but returned for guest spots up through the series’ finale in 2000.
Michael Rosenbaum in “Smallville,” Age: 29 – (almost) 39
What made Superman’s foe Lex Luthor so wickedly smart? Could be those five extra years he has on Clark Kent: Tom Welling was 24 (but playing 16) when The WB series began in 2001.
Jason Earles in “Hannah Montana,” Age: (almost) 29-33
Miley Stewart’s (Miley Cyrus) older brother Jackson was supposedly 16 at the start of this hit Disney Channel series, but he turned 29 about a month into the first season in 2006.
Darren Barnet in “Never Have I Ever,” Age: 29 – 31+
Barnet’s real age hasn’t escaped Netflix viewers’ attention, with one fan urging the streamer in 2021, “Can Netflix start casting age-appropriate actors/actresses for their shows? Darren Barnet is a 30-year-old playing a 16-year-old.”
Joseph Quinn in “Stranger Things,” Age: 29
It’s entirely possible that rocker and D&D dungeon master Eddie Munson has been held back a year or two (as he himself admits in the series), but surely not for 11 years. But we love Eddie (and Joe) so much, the age discrepancy doesn’t matter.
Ashleigh Murray in “Riverdale,” Age: 28 – 33+
Murray has played Josie and the Pussycats singer Josie McCoy on both “Riverdale” and “Katy Keene.” So she’s 10 years older than Josie. That’s showbiz!
Antwon Tanner in “One Tree Hill,” Age: 28 – 37
The former “Moesha” star was 28 when he began playing Antwon “Skills” Taylor in 2003. He was a recurring character for the first three seasons, became a regular in the fourth and recurred in the last two and a half seasons.
Cory Monteith in “Glee,” Age: 27- (almost) 31
The breakout star who played Finn Hudson was, along with Harry Shum Jr., one of the oldest of the original cast members. He turned 31 two days after the Season 4 finale aired, and sadly died of a drug overdose that July. The series paid tribute to Finn, whose cause of death was never revealed, in the fifth season episode “The Quarterback.”
Harry Shum Jr. in “Glee,” Age: 27 – 32
After wrapping his run as Mike Chang on “Glee” in 2015, Shum went on to play much closer to his real age in the Netflix series “Single By 30.”
Ross Butler in “13 Reasons Why,” Age: (almost) 27 – 30
Butler was cast on both “13 Reasons” and “Riverdale” in 2017, but ultimately opted to continue playing Zach Dempsey instead of Reggie Mantle.
Charisma Carpenter in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Age: 26 – 29
It makes so much sense that Cordelia Chase was totally over high school since Carpenter was the oldest actor playing a student at Sunnydale High. (She graduated along with Buffy and the gang in the third season.) In 1999, she joined the spinoff “Angel,” and continued playing Cordelia through 2003, with one appearance in the series’ final season.
Minka Kelly in “Friday Night Lights,” Age: 26 – 29
Kelly, who played Lyla Garrity, left the series in 2009, two years before its final season.
Charles Melton in “Riverdale,” Age: 26 – 31+
Melton stepped in to play Reggie Mantle after original Reggie, Ross Butler, chose to stay on “13 Reasons Why.” “Riverdale” being the crazy comic book series that it is, we were treated to both Reggies in Season 6.