A particular type of female character always captures the imagination of men and women everywhere: the girl next door. From iconic television characters to unforgettable feature film roles, here are the timeless actresses every viewer wants to be romantically linked to in real life!
1. Lili Reinhart – Riverdale
To name a more recent girl next door, we have Lile Reinhart's portrayal of Betty from Riverdale. You have that general cute innocence with her character, as well as being the girl who somehow attracts all the attention. We love to see it.
2. Vanessa Hudgens – High School Musical
For our younger millennials, we know that your ideal girl next door was Gabriella from High School Musical! She is sweet, cute, and empowering all at once. Not to mention, the girl can sing!
3. Danica McKellar – The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years will go down in history as one of our generation's most influential television shows – and it couldn't have done it without Danica McKellar. Ask any avid watcher of the show – everyone was rooting for McKellar's Winnie Cooper character for one reason: She was the epitome of every neighborhood crush we all had as children.
4. Katie Holmes – Dawson's Creek
Make no mistake: Katie Holmes' career skyrocketed when the American viewing public fell in love with her Joey Potter character on Dawson's Creek. While the show itself broke new ground in many ways for a television series, Katie Holmes' shy and adorable character was one of the main reasons it became the runaway hit it became.
5. Jenna Fischer – The Office
Jenna Fischer's understated portrayal of Pam Beesly drove one of the overarching storylines of The Office – the whirlwind workplace romance between Pam and her coworker Jim Halpert. Fischer's performance was so genuine and convincing throughout the show's run that many fans still refuse to believe there wasn't real-life chemistry on set between Fischer and John Krasinksi.
6. Natalie Portman – Garden State
While some critics lament Natalie Portman's character in Garden State as a typical “manic-pixie dream girl” trope, any young adult who watched the film doesn't care. After watching Garden State, millions fell in love with Natalie Portman – I know because I was one of those millions.
7. Mila Kunis – Forgetting Sarah Marshall
In her iconic role in this classic comedy, Mila Kunis effortlessly underplayed her role as the girl next door and wound up capturing the hearts of countless viewers in the process. She was the perfect counterpart to the bold and loud character Kristen Bell played, making audiences swoon in the process.
8. Kristen Bell – Veronica Mars
Blonde-haired Kristen Bell is living proof you don't have to be a brunette to be considered a girl next door! When Veronica Mars debuted in 2004, the world was properly introduced to Kristen Bell, playing a character who was just as intelligent as she was beautiful.
9. Elisha Cuthbert – The Girl Next Door
A list of the most fabulous girls next door has to have Elisha Cuthbert on it – after all, she did play the memorable title character of The Girl Next Door. While her character was heavily involved in the adult film industry, she nevertheless won over skeptics – in the movie and real life – by delivering an unforgettable performance still talked about to this day.
10. Jennifer Connelly – Career Opportunities
Countless viewers regard Jennifer Connelly as America's original sweetheart, and it's all because of her performance in the 1991 cult classic Career Opportunities. If you haven't seen the film, you'll realize what everyone already knows after just five minutes of viewing – Jennifer Connelly was one of the original girls next door!
11. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Seinfeld
As someone who recently watched the entire run of Seinfeld in the past year for the first time, one thing stood out: Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the true breakout star of the show. From her acting prowess to her iconic smile to her trademark hair, there's a reason why Seinfeld became an American institution: America was in love with Elaine!
12. Mischa Barton – The O.C.
When The O.C. hit the television airwaves, American audiences fell hard for the rich girl next door, Marissa Cooper, played perfectly by Mischa Barton. But, sadly, Barton's career never reached the heights provided by starring in one of the biggest shows ever again.
13. Evangeline Lilly – Lost
Lost was a television powerhouse and a cultural phenomenon during its six-year run. It redefined what episodic television drama could be and introduced the world to Evangeline Lilly, playing a no-nonsense character who effortlessly blended beauty and brawn.
14. Tiffani Thiessen – Saved by The Bell
In the early 90s, Tiffani Thiessen was synonymous with the girl next door. Playing multiple characters' primary love interest in Saved By the Bell catapulted her to a successful career, and it had everything to do with her sweet and unassuming take on a high school cheerleader.
15. Kirsten Dunst – Spider-Man
There's probably no “girl-next-door” we'd rather be than Mary Jane played by Kirsten Dunst in the 2002 version of Spider-Man. Who wouldn't want to fly around the city with your crush, who just happens to be a superhero?