The characters are what make TV and films the most memorable. There are countless actors who got their claim to fame playing iconic roles that they’ll always be remembered for. Years later, some actors return and revive their famous character, sending fans into a frenzy.
Sometimes the time gaps between an actor’s portrayal of their popular role make it nostalgic to see them again. Then, there are times when it’s been far too long and it would’ve been better for them to quit while they were ahead. These are some of the most memorable moments when actors circled back to their famous roles.
It’s A Star Wars Reunion
As one of the largest franchises around the globe, each new Star Wars film strives to outdo the last. In Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens a few of the original cast members returned to reprise their roles.
Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia stepped back into the Star Wars universe almost four decades after playing the characters in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Many fans rejoiced after watching the dynamic trio back together again.
A Return to Wall Street
Before starring alongside Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Michael Douglas won the Best Actor Oscar in 1987’s Wall Street. In both films, Douglas played Gordon Gekko, a financier on Wall Street with ill intentions. Now over 20 years later his story continues. He’s finally released from prison and out for revenge on a former Wall Street enemy.
It may be challenging to return to a role after a long period of time, but Douglas proves he knows his character well enough to play him at any age. Gekko is still just as smart, crafty, and cunning, but his age in the sequel brings more wisdom and emotional appeal.
They Still Managed To Remain Dumb
Jim Carrey was the king of 1990’s comedies. He and Jeff Daniels as Lloyd and Harry in 1994’s Dumb and Dumber had audiences laughing the entire film. On the surface it’s a cross-country trip between two friends, but the first film is filled with classic jokes and undeniable chemistry between Carrey and Daniels’ imbecilic characters.
After 20 years both of the main actors returned to their roles in Dumb and Dumber To. Unfortunately, the sequel was considered a flop and lost a lot of what made the first original fresh with humor.
Rocky Is Here to Stay
Not only does Sylvester Stallone write and direct many of the Rocky movies, but he’s also able to bring his own personal tenacity when acting as Rocky Balboa. The franchise began with Rocky in 1976 and inspired seven sequels with the most recent being 2018’s Creed II.
Stallone is well into his 70s and still makes sure to keep the franchise dramatic and action-packed. With the two newer Creed movies Michael B. Jordan has stepped in the boxing role, while Stallone is there as more of a mentor. Fans of the first few films can find the same generational themes of strength, dedication, and courage infused in Creed and Creed II.
Zoolander’s “Blue Steel” Look Doesn’t Go Out of Style
The first Zoolander film brought about crazy costumes, over-the-top characters, and some surprising guest stars, including David Bowie. Ben Stiller shined as Derek Zoolander, a clueless fashion model filled with ridiculous antics. And don’t forget his classic “Blue Steel” pose. Stiller played opposite Owen Wilson as Hansel, a rival model-turned friend.
Fifteen years later Stiller and Wilson were ready to revive their hilarious characters in Zoolander 2. Derek and Hansel are thrust back into the spotlight and are tasked to save the world once again. Even though the sequel has more celebrity cameos and silly gags, it failed to gain positive reviews with its lackluster script and storyline.
Dory and Friends Just Keep Swimming
It’s common for Disney and Pixar films to create a sequel after a successful run with the original. Animated movies usually take a while to create, so after Finding Nemo came out in 2003 it took about 13 years before the focus was shifted to Ellen DeGeneres’ character in Finding Dory.
With Disney’s magic formula for their films, it’s pretty rare to find one that doesn’t do well. Luckily, Finding Dory became a fan favorite soon after its long-anticipated premiere. Audiences are introduced to Dory’s backstory and get to meet some new fish friends who only add to this under the sea adventure.
A Practically Perfect Reprisal
While Dick Van Dyke is mostly remembered for his role as chimney sweep Bert in 1964’s Mary Poppins, he also wore old-age makeup to play banker, Mr. Dawes Senior. It’s been over five decades, but Van Dyke took a fortunate opportunity to reprise his role in Mary Poppins Returns.
The sequel takes place a couple of decades after the first time he played Mr. Dawes, Jr. At 93, Dyke put on the old age makeup again, proving that age is but a number. His cameo may be short, but make sure to catch his toe-tapping musical number.
But Where’s Michelle?
It’s not only movies where actors can return to their famous roles. These past few years have included many TV reboots causing fans to really feel the nostalgia. Full House was one of the most popular sitcoms during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
It’s been over 30 years since the premiere, so it’s only natural to create an all new reboot with most of the original cast members everyone came to love. While Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as Michelle earned their claim to fame on Full House before they could even talk, both decided against returning for Fuller House. The reboot may be a bit cheesy and juvenile, but seeing the cast reunited makes it worth watching.
Arrested Development Switches to Streaming
Before the Arrested Development cast got to stream their episodes on Netflix, the series ran for a few seasons on Fox. Low viewership led to its untimely demise, but it ended up becoming a cult classic after being off the air. Seven years later each of the nine ensemble members and many recurring characters returned to reprise their roles on Netflix.
It may be a bit daunting to return to a character that they thought they’d never play again, but each of them was able to come back with a bang. The show did not miss a beat with humor, complex plots, and was able to keep many of their long-running jokes relevant.
Time Off Did This Cast Good
Will & Grace broke many barriers during its first run from 1998 to 2006. It was one of the first prime-time sitcoms to feature a homosexual lead character and was able to weave in a dialogue about the issues people in the LGBTQ community were facing.
During the 2016 presidential election, the cast came together to make a promotional video and the views went into the millions. The next year NBC decided to revive the series with the four lead characters. Will & Grace didn’t struggle to make a comeback with timely jokes and unique character arcs. After wrapping a couple of seasons back on screen with glowing reviews, the cast is getting ready for another season.
She’ll Be Back
It wouldn’t be The Terminator without Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first Terminator movie debuted in 1984 and now three and a half decades later the franchise is gearing up for it’s sixth film Terminator: Dark Fate and it’s not just Schwarzenegger who’ll be back. Linda Hamilton will reprise her role as Sarah Connor.
Within the first two films of the franchise Hamilton’s transition from a timid victim to a wanted fugitive made her one to watch. After all this time the plot of the new movie is still unknown, but it looks like Sarah will be there to lead a new generation of women through a fierce battle.
Mulder and Scully Are At It Again
In the 1990s there were few shows like The X-Files. FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) spent episode after episode investigating countless mind-boggling cases. Its first run lasted almost a decade making it one of the longest-running science fiction shows on TV.
Nearly 14 years later The X-Files returned to TV allowing fans to catch up with Mulder and Scully. Both still proved they can have great chemistry after a long hiatus, but critics were upset with how the revival lacked a much needed creative spark. Anderson also reported that she would not be moving forward with the show after its eleventh season.
A Stars Hollow Reunion
Amy Sherman-Palladino may currently be soaking up her success with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but almost a decade before she was running the show on Gilmore Girls. It centered around a single mom (Lauren Graham) raising her daughter (Alexis Bledel) in a storybook-like town called Stars Hollow in Connecticut.
After the show’s massive success, mostly with female teens, a mini-series for Netflix was created called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. It only consisted of four episodes, but both Graham and Bledel were finally reunited. Each of the episodes were meant to represent a season in the year. Many hardcore fans of the original were slightly impressed with the reboot, but thought it could never measure up to its former glory.
Another One From Bridget Jones
There’s something about a romantic comedy that gets audiences wanting more. Renée Zellweger is loved by fans for her honest performance in the Bridget Jones movies. The first, Bridget Jones’s Diary, caught the attention of many when it first premiered in 2001. Also, some honorable mentions include Britain’s favorite leading men, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant.
A few years later a sequel called Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason reunited the lovable cast, leading to almost all negative reviews about its predictability and poor storyline. This may be a reason to end the franchise, but they were back in 2016 for Bridget Jones’s Baby. It’s a good thing because it ended up being a much-needed movie that didn’t have trouble blending into modern times.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Coming from the popular ABBA songbook and hit Broadway musical, the first Mamma Mia! film was everything music lovers could’ve hoped for. The iconic Meryl Streep opposite Amanda Seyfried as a mother/daughter duo against the beautiful backdrop of Greece makes it a film to remember. Audiences of all ages were able to sing along to the catchy tunes while anticipating which man would be revealed as Seyfried’s real father before her wedding.
A decade later Mamma Mia! was made into a sequel about the mother’s backstory with the same cast reviving their characters. More ABBA songs were included of course, but it was disappointing that Streep barely made her way into the film for a quick cameo.
Where Would We Be Without Raven?
Millennials are adults now and some of the shows that were on when they were kids are getting rebooted. That’s So Raven premiered on Disney Channel in 2002 as their first series with a lead actress of color. Raven’s life as a teenage psychic brought in millions of views for the network and even a spin-off called Cory in the House.
Then, in 2017 fans of the original were introduced to a new Raven Baxter as a divorced mother of twins. On Raven’s Home she’s still psychic, but now has to deal with a psychic child of her own while balancing the hectic misadventures of being a single mother. Since the reboot is on the same network as the first, Raven stays true to herself even with her added responsibilities.
Mr. Feeny Isn’t Their Teacher Anymore
The cast of Boy Meets World grew up on TV before the eyes of America. It consisted of Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) living through his adolescence with the help of his family, best friend Shawn (Rider Strong), and his true love Topanga (Danielle Fishel).
The series lasted for seven seasons before fans were forced to say farewell in 2000. About 14 years later, Savage and Fishel stepped back into their famous roles for spin-off Girl Meets World. They’re now parents with Cory being the teacher at his daughter’s school, much like his mentor Mr. Feeny. After lasting a few seasons almost all of the main and recurring cast from Boy Meets World made an appearance flooding viewers with major nostalgia.
Toys Never Grow Old
Pixar set the precedent for their films with Toy Story in 1995. Tom Hanks as Woody the friendly cowboy doll and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear the fearless space ranger action figure were a perfect duo. Along with their other charismatic toy friends and the feel-good music of Randy Newman, this Disney film is one to watch over and over again.
Since the first film, the franchise is gearing up for its fourth film scheduled to come out summer of 2019. Hanks and Allen will be back together again as their famous animated characters ready for another adventure.
An Even Bigger Greek Wedding
It was exciting to watch Toula (Nia Vardalos) transform from a timid young woman to a confident blushing bride in the 2002 romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She was able to marry the love of her life and still keep her crucial familial roots as she started to distance herself away from her family.
Cut to 14 years later where Toula and Ian are still happily married with a daughter that’s set to go off to college soon in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Toula’s family is still a large presence in her life and as funny as ever. Sadly, the sequel lacked a major character transformation which is what made Toula’s cultural clash with her family both hilarious and relatable in the original.
A Spooky Role to Last A Lifetime
Out of all of the popular character rivalries, nothing comes close to the heated chase between Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers. Halloween and its sequel by the same name are a whopping 40 years apart, but both still bring the thrill and gore needed for a great horror flick.
The first film in the franchise was Curtis’ debut movie role launching her to mega-stardom. She returned to play this character after 40 years, so Laurie could finally have one last confrontation with the evil Michael Myers. Critics noted there were some gaping plot holes and odd character development, but Curtis’ presence after all this time is mainly what fans of the franchise loved most.