40 On-Screen Parent And Child Relationships With Age-Gaps That Make No Sense In Real Life

The world of television and film acting is often a bizarre place: from the diva-like behavior of actors to the strange casting decisions behind our favorite productions. And with regard to casting, you may be surprised to learn of the ridiculous age gaps between many on-screen parent and child duos. From The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Supernatural to Mean Girls and Indiana Jones – the logic just doesn’t bear thinking about!

40. Elizabeth Rodriguez & Dascha Polanco, Orange Is the New Black

The award-winning Orange Is the New Black has made a joke out of doing time in an all-female prison. But arguably just as amusing is the nonsensical real life age gap between Elizabeth Rodriguez and Dascha Polanco, who play mother and daughter Aleida and Daynara Diaz. Because the difference between the two actors is a measly two years, which would make it impossible for them to have the same relationship in the real world.

39. Len Cariou & Tom Selleck, Blue Bloods

The long-running TV drama series Blue Bloods focuses on the Reagan family – no, not that one – an American family who have served as police officers for numerous generations. In the show Canadian actor Len Cariou plays the old man of the family, Henry. He is father to the Tom Selleck-portrayed Frank. But in real life, there is a mere six years between them. Selleck’s dark hair and moustache mask the age difference well, to be fair.

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38. Estelle Getty & Bea Arthur, The Golden Girls

Remember The Golden Girls? Featuring the ageing female legends of Hollywood like Betty White and Rue McClanahan, the laughs provided by the divorced women living together in Miami were aplenty. One oddity, though, was that Estelle Getty played Bea Arthur’s mom Sophia. That’s because in real life, she was actually a year younger than her on-screen daughter. Kudos to the makeup department, we guess.

37. Sean Connery & Dustin Hoffman, Family Business

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You might recall that in the neo crime thriller Family Business Sean Connery’s Jessie McMullen played father to Dustin Hoffman’s Vito, who was admirably trying to escape his poppa’s criminal past. But there was just one problem with that. At the time of the movie’s 1989 release, Connery was 59 and Hoffman was 52. So there was only a seven year gap between the late James Bond actor and his American counterpart.

36. Cher & Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again arrived in cinemas in 2018, giving us another feel good jukebox romp through Abba’s greatest hits. The movie was a major box office success, just like its predecessor. And yet there is one thing that really bugged us about it. That was that Cher played Ruby Sheridan, the mother of Meryl Streep’s Donna in the film. Which seems daft considering she is only three years older in reality, and could at best be an older sister.

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35. Rachel Griffiths & Johnny Depp, Blow

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Johnny Depp is one of those actors who appears to age at a much slower rate than us mere mortals. But the beloved Pirates of the Caribbean star really surpassed himself with his youthful looks in the 2001 crime drama Blow. That’s because the mother of Depp’s drug kingpin George Jung in the film was played by actress Rachel Griffiths. And she is a full five years younger than him in real life. Wow.

34. Jeffrey Dean Morgan & Jensen Ackles, Supernatural

From its 2005 pilot until its finale in 2020, the TV series Supernatural sure packed in a lot of thrills. It documented the Winchester brothers as they hunted various demons, monsters, and other paranormal nasties. One non-supernatural oddity about the longest-running fantasy series, though, was that Dean Winchester’s father, John, was portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. And in real life he is only 12 years senior to his son, played by Jensen Ackles. We always thought they looked more like brothers.

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33. Angelina Jolie & Colin Farrell, Alexander

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Oliver Stone’s Alexander the Great epic Alexander was savaged by most critics upon its 2004 release, and its standing has hardly improved. But aside from its questionable historical accuracy, there was a totally bizarre casting call. Yes, Angelina Jolie was selected to play Queen Olympias, the mother of Colin Farrell’s Alexander. The actors are only a year apart in age, and it showed. They looked like they’d be better off dating.

32. Andrea Navedo & Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin

Another bizarre call was made in the acclaimed TV drama Jane the Virgin. The series follows the travails of a religious Latina virgin who was made pregnant by a gynecologist’s insemination error. But for some reason Andrea Navedo was cast to play Mrs. Villanueva, the mother of lead actress Gina Rodriguez’s Jane Villanueva. Navedo is only seven years the senior of her on-screen daughter, and they look more like sisters.

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31. Sally Field & Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

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Historical drama Forrest Gump proved popular with audiences upon its 1994 cinematic release, raking in $677 million. But leaving aside the issues critics had with it, there is an unusual bit of casting. Forrest Gump’s mother was played by Sally Field, an actress only ten years older than Tom Hanks, who portrayed the lead. In actual fact, Field had played Hanks’ love interest in the movie Punchline just a few years prior.

30. Bryce Dallas Howard & Taron Egerton, Rocketman

The 2019 motion picture Rocketman documented the rise of Reginald Dwight, better known to the world as Elton John. The flamboyant English pianist and singer was played by Taron Egerton in the movie. Yet the actress who portrayed John’s mother – Bryce Dallas Howard – is not that much older than Egerton. There are a mere eight years between them, and it is kind of noticeable, if you ask us.

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29. Charlayne Woodard & Samuel L. Jackson, Glass

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Glass is the last movie in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” trilogy. The 2019 psychological thriller sees Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles from the preceding movies. Yet there’s something creepy – though not supernatural – you may not have noticed from the motion picture. That being how Elijah’s mom is portrayed by actress Charlayne Woodard. Who, if you look it up, is a full five years younger than Jackson.

28. Winona Ryder & Zachary Quinto, Star Trek

There have been so many versions of Star Trek that it’s kind of hard to remember which one is which. Here we are talking about the 2009 movie simply called Star Trek that starred Zachary Quinto as the young Spock. And portraying his mother Amanda Grayson was a certain Winona Ryder. The only thing is, she would have been more suited to playing his love interest, given that she is a mere six years his elder in real life.

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27. John Noble & Sean Bean, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

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The final installment in the original trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King was a genuine epic. The Peter Jackson directed take on J.R.R. Tolkien made over a billion dollars at the box office and hoovered up Oscars. But did you notice how the father of Sean Bean’s Boromir was played by John Noble? Well, he is only 11 years older than Bean, so in real life could only be an elder brother or uncle.

26. Constance Marie & Jennifer Lopez, Selena

Jennifer Lopez earned rave reviews for her performance in Selena, with the esteemed late critic Roger Ebert calling it “a star-making performance.” In the biopic of the assassinated Tejano singer, the mom of Lopez’s Selena is played by the actress Constance Marie. Which is an interesting casting call, given that Marie is just four years older than her on-screen daughter.

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25. Julia Roberts & Ryan Reynolds, Fireflies In The Garden

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The boring melodrama Fireflies In The Garden was widely panned by critics upon its 2008 release. You might be hard pressed to find someone who even remembered it, so forgettable it was. But among its star-studded cast were Ryan Reynolds and Julia Roberts, with the latter playing mom to the future Deadpool star. This is despite Roberts surprisingly being only nine years older than Reynolds and looking more like a potential girlfriend.

24. Lorne Greene & Ava Gardner, Earthquake

If you don’t remember Earthquake, it was a 1974 disaster movie in which Los Angeles was largely reduced to rubble. That was pretty much all there was to it, to be honest. Oh, and it had a star-studded cast, which included Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and Lorne Greene. The latter would play the father of Gardner’s character Remy Royce-Graff. Yet in real life there would have been no chance of that, given that Greene was only six years her senior.

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23. Laurence Fishburne & Cuba Gooding Jr., Boyz N The Hood

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Cuba Gooding Jr. had a suitably boyish appearance when filming Boyz N The Hood, and even as he has reached middle age the actor has maintained a youthful look. At the time that John Singleton’s acclaimed ghetto drama was released, Gooding Jr. – who played lead character Tre Styles – was 23 years old. So it is surely weird then that Laurence Fishburne was cast to play his father Jason, given he was only 30 years old at the time.

22. Mary Steenburgen & Will Ferrell, Step Brothers

Step Brothers was a fun comedy for Will Ferrell fans, and an overly childish mess for his detractors. Ferrell and John C. Reilly played a pair of idle step bros who create havoc in their respective families. Mary Steenburgen was tasked with playing mom to Ferrell’s unruly Brennan Huff. And yet her casting wilfully ignored the fact there is only 14 years between them.

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21. Frances Conroy & Peter Krause, Six Feet Under

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Six Feet Under earned a lot of plaudits and a sizable audience, too, during its five season run from 2001 until 2005. The HBO funeral home drama starred Peter Krause among others. Interestingly, the mom of Krause’s Nate Fisher is portrayed by Frances Conroy. If that idea looked unrealistic to you when watching the show, you wouldn’t be alone. That’s because Conroy is a fairly minimal 12 years older in real life.

20. Bellamy Young, Michael Sheen & Tom Payne, Prodigal Son

The edgy crime drama Prodigal Son first aired in the fall of 2019. Tom Payne’s Malcolm Bright is the main character, an ex-FBI profiler now working for the NYPD whose own father was a serial killer. The mass murdering dad is portrayed menacingly by Michael Sheen, whilst Bellamy Young plays his haunted ex-wife and Malcolm’s mom. But in reality, Young and Sheen are not old enough to be Payne’s parents, at only 12 And 13 years his senior.

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19. John Lithgow & Lori Singer, Footloose

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Footloose is a cheesy movie. But that doesn’t mean the dancing yarn isn’t fun. The Kevin Bacon-starring flick also features a rebellious teen girl, played by Lori Singer. Her father, a conservative reverend, is the main blockade to dancing and good times in the Midwestern town. But John Lithgow, who plays the reverend, is a measly 12 years older than Singer in real life. Although in fairness to the casting agent, he does kinda look a lot older. Sorry, John.

18. Jessie Royce Landis & Cary Grant, North By Northwest

The espionage thriller North By Northwest is arguably one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest movies. It feels credible and gritty, yet the age gap between Cary Grant and his mother – who was portrayed by Jessie Royce Landis – is an unrealistic one. Because at the time of its 1959 release, suave Englishman Grant was 55. And Royce Landis was 62 – a mere seven years his senior.

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17. Anne Bancroft & Katharine Ross, The Graduate

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The Graduate should need little introduction. Because the 1967 romantic drama is known worldwide for its depiction of a young man and older woman’s affair, and its soundtrack, which was mostly performed by folk duo Simon & Garfunkel. But the age difference between Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock and Anne Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson is not the only strange one. The real-life gap between Bancroft and Katharine Ross, who plays her daughter, is a mere nine years.

16. Ernest Borgnine & Kirk Douglas, The Vikings

Historical swashbuckler The Vikings proved popular with audiences upon its 1958 release. But less popular with us was a ridiculous casting decision that was made for the “Norse Opera.” What we’re referring to is that of Ernest Borgnine, who played the Ragnar, the father of Kirk Douglas’ Einar. Why? On planet reality, Borgnine was nearly two months younger than Douglas. Crazy!

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15. Gretchen Mol & Michael Pitt, Boardwalk Empire

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Boardwalk Empire told the fascinating story of Prohibition-era Atlantic City over the course of 57 episodes spanning four years. Steve Buscemi was undoubtedly the star draw, but the actor was supported by an ensemble cast. Among them were Gretchen Mol and Michael Pitt, who played mom Gillian Darmody and her son James respectively. But perhaps they shouldn’t have done, given Mol is only eight years older than Pitt and more likely to be a romantic partner.

14. Melissa Leo & Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Boxing drama The Fighter told the story of “Irish” Micky Ward, the Lowell born pugilist who competed in a memorable trilogy of bouts with the late Arturo Gatti. Mark Wahlberg played the lead role of ward, whilst Melissa Leo portrayed his mom Alice. This is despite Leo being just 11 years Wahlberg’s senior.

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13. Sean Connery & Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

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The third entry in the historical adventure series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a blast from start to finish. But the 1989 Steven Spielberg film had a totally implausible piece of casting. What was it, you ask? You may remember that Sean Connery portrayed Indiana Jones’ father Henry Jones Senior. But the late Connery – 58 at the time of the film’s release – was actually only 12 years older than Harrison Ford, who played Indy.

12. Angela Lansbury & Elvis Presley, Blue Hawaii

The Elvis Presley star vehicle Blue Hawaii sure had some bizarre and implausible casting decisions. That’s because, at the time of the musical’s 1961 release, Presley was 26 years old. Whilst Angela Lansbury, who played his mother in the movie, was not even 36. Plus the supposedly older school teacher of Presley’s Chad was only 18 months his senior in real life. Pass the makeup please!

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11. Marlon Brando & John Cazale, The Godfather

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The Godfather is quite simply one of the greatest movies of all time. Perhaps the greatest. So Francis Ford Coppola’s mob epic’s position in history is already assured. But there is one thing that bugs us about the 1972 classic. It’s a minor gripe, but the age difference between Marlon Brando and his co-star and on-screen son John Cazale is just 11 years. That makes it near impossible for “Don” Corleone to play dad to his Fredo.

10. Maria Bello & Ashton Holmes, A History of Violence

David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence was an enthralling take on the nature of violence and its consequences. The movie focused on the Stall family, led by father Tom and mom Edie, played by Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello respectively. And yet there was a questionable piece of casting in the otherwise excellent film. That being the improbable nature of the youthful looking Bello being mom to Ashton Holmes’ Jack. When in reality she is only 11 years older.

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9. Brian Cox & Alan Ruck, Succession

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Succession is a darkly comic take on the travails of a family in control of a media empire that airs on HBO. Starring Brian Cox as Roy family patriarch Logan, there is an odd bit of casting that you might have missed. Indeed, Logan’s son Connor is played by Alan Ruck. But the age differential between Cox and Ruck is a mere ten years.

8. Kelly Rowan & Benjamin Mackenzie, The O.C.

It’s been a surprisingly long time since the popular teen drama The O.C. ended. Yes, the series set in California’s Orange County was cancelled back in 2007. Fans of the show will no doubt remember Ryan and Kirsten, the adopted son and mother played by Benjamin Mackenzie and Kelly Rowan. But did you know that their relationship would be almost impossible in real life? Because Rowan is only 13 years older than her on-screen child.

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7. Drew Barrymore & Adam Garcia, Riding in Cars with Boys

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Remember Riding in Cars with Boys? No? Us neither. Well, we can tell you it was a 2001 biopic starring Drew Barrymore as Beverly Donofrio, a woman with learning difficulties who achieved a master’s degree. So what was significant or interesting about it? Well, apart from being Penny Marshall’s final film as a director, it appears to be the strange casting of Adam Garcia as the son of Barrymore’s Beverly. A man two years her senior. How bizarre!

6. Holly Marie Combs & Lucy Hale, Pretty Little Liars

The teen thriller Pretty Little Liars ran for seven seasons from 2010 until 2017. It made stars of its four high school girls who are embroiled in the mysterious disappearance of their clique leader. Among those girls is Lucy Hale, who plays Aria Montgomery. Her on-screen mom is played by Holly Marie Combs of Charmed fame. Yet Combs is just 16 years older, so it would be an unlikely, but not impossible, relationship.

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5. Michael J. Fox & Lea Thompson, Back to the Future

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If you haven’t seen or heard of Back to the Future you must have been living under a rock these past 35 years or so. Robert Zemeckis’ time traveling adventure is a huge favorite with critics and audiences alike. But did you know that Mr. Marty McFly himself Michael J. Fox is the same age in real life as his on-screen mom Lea Thompson? A serious hat tip to the make-up and prosthetics people for covering that up.

4. Janet Hubert & Karyn Parsons, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

“Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…” ah, you know the rest. We’re talking of course about the 1990s’ TV sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, that made a star out of Will Smith and others.Yet the successful teen comedy had a implausible casting call. Because the first actress to play Vivian Banks – Janet Hubert – is only a decade older than her on-screen daughter Karyn Parsons, who played Hilary.

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3. Amy Poehler & Rachel McAdams, Mean Girls

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Written by Tina Fey, the original Mean Girls movie is widely regarded as a classic. In fact it has become something of a pop culture phenomenon, notably referenced in the infamous feud between pop superstars Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. But there is a ridiculously small age gap between Rachel McAdams’ Regina George and her mom June, played by Amy Poehler. Yep, there’s no way the latter could be McAdams’mother given their slender seven year difference.

2. Heath Ledger & Kate Mara, Brokeback Mountain

The cowboy drama Brokeback Mountain wowed critics upon its 2005 release, winning numerous awards and plaudits. Michelle Williams, Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger were all praised for their performances. But the Ang Lee movie did have a curious element outside of its cowboy affair. That being that Kate Mara, who played the daughter of Heath Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar, was 21 at the time the film came out. That’s only four years younger than her on-screen dad!

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1. Mandy Moore, This Is Us

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Finally, we have the curious case of This Is Us. The emotive drama series starring Mandy Moore among others tops the list for outright crazy casting. But why? Well, if we told you that in the acclaimed show, all of Moore’s children were older in real life than her, would you believe us? It’s true. She’s eight years younger than Justin Hartley and Sterling Brown, and four years younger than Chrissy Metz. Nuts!

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