It seems like some actors peak very early in their careers, and even the best child actors don’t become major stars in Hollywood. To be clear, this is not to say these actors are not currently working or talented, but they didn’t rise to the level of stardom we all thought they would.
For example, child stars who did grow up to be prominent Hollywood figures are folks like Ryan Gosling, Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Barrymore, Emma Roberts, and Christian Bale. But these 25 child stars plateaued early.
1. Michelle Trachtenberg
Michelle Trachtenberg did the majority of her acting as a teenager in Disney Channel movies, and she also appeared as a guest star in top-notch shows like Gossip Girl and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, she hasn’t done much since the 2010s.
2. Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning still pops up in stuff every now and then, but the best moments in her career seem to be behind her. As a little girl, she enchanted all of us in films like Uptown Girls and Charlotte’s Web, but we don’t see too much of her anymore, and it seems her sister, Elle, is doing more nowadays.
3. Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment was one of the most impressive and adorable child stars. His performances in movies like The Sixth Sense, Secondhand Lions, and Forrest Gump stole all our hearts, but he didn’t grow up to be the big star we all thought he would be. The same goes for his sister, Emily Osment, who had a main role in the Hannah Montana series.
4. Abigail Breslin
Abigail Breslin also starred in some of our favorite movies when she was little, including Signs, My Sister’s Keeper, Definitely, Maybe, and Little Miss Sunshine. She’s done a few things as an adult but isn’t as prominent in the industry as many of us thought she would be.
5. AnnaSophia Robb
AnnaSophia Robb was one of the most beautiful and charming child stars and pulled at our heartstrings in films like Bridge to Terabithia, Race to Witch Mountain, and Because of Winn-Dixie. However, nothing she’s done in recent years has been as successful as those films.
6. Alexa Vega
Alexa Vega, now Alexa PenaVega, played Carmen in Spy Kids, and while she did a few other cute movies as a kid, she’s basically disappeared from the acting scene. Along with Daryl Sabara, who played Juni, she has stepped back from working and didn’t rise to superstardom.
7. Madison Pettis
Madison Pettis was precious when she was a little girl and stole the spotlight in films like The Game Plan. I thought for sure she had a successful career ahead of her, but she hasn’t done anything impressive or prominent in over a decade. Maybe she’ll get another big role down the line!
8. Frankie Muniz
From Malcolm in the Middle and Agent Cody Banks to Big Fat Liar, Frankie Muniz was the it-boy of the early aughts, and I know I had a crush on him. However, he lost a lot of his appeal as he grew up and didn’t quite grow into his features well. He’s only done a handful of projects in the last ten years.
9. Sara Paxton
Like Michelle Trachtenberg, most of Sara Paxton’s work came from her teen years. She was in lovable movies like Return to Halloweentown and Aquamarine. However, none of her recent roles have been particularly notable despite her sweet and alluring demeanor.
10. Mara Wilson
Mara Wilson is basically synonymous with Matilda, as she brought that character to life. She did a few other cute movies, like A Simple Wish, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Miracle on 34th Street, but has barely worked in the industry since the turn of the century.
11. Anna Chlumsky
Anna Chlumsky is very much still working and is as talented as ever, but she just didn’t rise to the level of popularity and success many thought she would. She’s best known for her childhood role in My Girl, but I highly recommend Veep and Inventing Anna. I think she deserves to be more well-known.
12. Josh Hutcherson
Josh Hutcherson is by no means done acting, and he just starred in Five Nights at Freddy’s! However, considering how handsome and talented he is, we all thought he would be as big as Leonardo DiCaprio or Ryan Gosling. He’s definitely not a nobody, but I don’t know if he’s an A-lister.
13. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan is still a topic of conversation, but she’s not as active or respected in the industry as she was as a kid. Between Mean Girls, The Parent Trap, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Freaky Friday, Life-Size, and Get a Clue, she gave us some of the best late ’90s and early ’00s movies, but she isn’t Hollywood’s sweetheart anymore.
14. Georgie Henley
Georgie Henley is best known as Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia franchise. She was cute and talented but hasn’t done anything particularly notable since. The same goes for the other Narnia kids, which is surprising because they were all wonderful in the films.
15. Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes’ fall from the A-list has been a sad story. She gave us movies like She’s the Man, What a Girl Wants, Sydney White, and Big Fat Liar, not to mention The Amanda Show. But her struggles with mental health have caused her to stop acting, and I miss seeing her on screen.
16. Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci is another child actor who still works, and we all love to see her, but she didn’t rise to the level of fame I expected her to. Her performances in Casper and The Addams Family are iconic, but her adult roles have been smaller.
17. Rupert Grint
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint have all dealt with being stuck in their Harry Potter roles, but Emma and Daniel have been able to break out a little more. Ruper Grint hasn’t been as successful in his other endeavors as many would’ve thought.
18. Alicia Morton
Alicia Morton played Annie in the 1999 version of Annie and gave an adorable and lovable performance alongside the likes of Sarah Hyland, Kathy Bates, and Victor Garber. But following that film, she has done almost nothing else, which is a shame.
19. Aly Michalka
Aly Michalka was one of Disney Channel’s sweethearts, with roles in Phil of the Future and Cow Belles. She was also in Easy A. While she’s very talented and likable, she’s mostly stopped acting to focus on her music, along with her sister AJ, who also pulled away from Hollywood.
20. Khleo Thomas
Khleo Thomas is best known for playing Zero in Holes, one of the best movies to come out of the early aughts. His performance was wonderful, and I thought for sure we’d be seeing a lot more of him, but ever since, he’s only had small roles in mediocre films.
21. Miranda Cosgrove
I don’t know if Miranda Cosgrove is the most talented actress, but people adored her in shows like iCarly and Drake & Josh and movies like School of Rock. She still works, and her most successful projects have been voice gigs, but I thought she’d be more prominent in Hollywood as an adult.
22. Tia and Tamera Mowry
The Mowry twins were beyond adorable when they were on Sister, Sister and did some cute movies like Twitches. But they haven’t been in anything major in a while despite working rather consistently. They both have children, so they’re probably busy, but I still miss seeing them be funny together.
23. Drake Bell
Drake Bell was the heartthrob of Drake & Josh but has since been labeled a creep. While it’s very obvious why no one likes him now, his comedic timing and handsome boyish looks should’ve skyrocketed him into Ryan Gosling-level fame, but he’s just fuel for gossip now.
24. Dylan and Cole Sprouse
Another pair of twins I think we all thought would be more famous was the Sprouses. Cole was in Riverdale and was fairly well-known for that, but they haven’t been as famous since The Suite Life of Zack and Cody ended. Cole seems to work a little more, but I always thought Dylan was more talented.
25. Christy Carlson Romano
While Shia LaBeouf has kind of gone off the rails, he’s still pretty famous. Christy Carlson Romano played his sister on Even Stevens and was just as talented, but she hasn’t worked in nearly a decade. Christy is beautiful, magnetic, funny, and convincing, so I don’t know why she didn’t make the A-list.