Despite being cancelled after less than one season, teen dramedy Freaks and Geeks has a cult following to rival shows such as Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Twin Peaks. Airing in 1999, the series’ run was cut short due to low viewership. However, it has since garnered a passionate fan base, and has been included in Time Magazine’s “100 Greatest Shows of All Time” list as well as ranking #13 in Entertainment Weekly’s greatest shows of the last 25 years.
Freaks and Geeks also launched the careers of some of today’s big stars including James Franco, Seth Rogen and Linda Cardellini, to name a few. Others have kept a lower profile since the show ended, but still remain in our angst-ridden, teenage hearts. Keep reading to find out what the cast have been up to over the past 16 years – some of them may surprise you!
15. James Franco
His turn as Daniel Desario in Freaks and Geeks was James’s first real acting role. He played the bad boy that Lindsay had a crush on, but spent most of the series in a tumultuous on/off relationship with Kim Kelly.
After Freaks and Geeks finished, James went on to win a Golden Globe for his portrayal of James Dean in the 2001 film of the same name, as well as starring as Peter Parker’s bestie Harry Osborn in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy. His acting career has since gone from strength to strength, with roles in critically acclaimed films such as Milk and 127 Hours, the latter which earned him a 2010 Oscar nomination.
14. Samm Levine
Samm played Neal Schweiber, best friend of Sam and Bill and one third of the geeks. A self-confessed comedian and would-be ladies’ man, Neal suffers with his unrequited love for Lindsay throughout the series, as well as being in denial about his level of nerdiness.
After Freaks and Geeks was cancelled, Samm starred in teen comedies Not Another Teen Movie and After School Special, playing similarly geeky characters. In 2009, Samm starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as PFC Hirschberg – Samm said the main reason he got the role was because Tarantino was a fan of Freaks and Geeks. He has since appeared in episodes of Lost and How I Met Your Mother, and is a regular contributor to the podcast Doug Loves Movies. He has also been voted one of VH1’s top 100 child stars.
13. Martin Starr
Martin played Bill Haverchuck, another member of the geek trio. By far the nerdiest of the group, Bill is the quintessential geek – tall, skinny and wears oversized glasses – and possesses a child-like view of the world around him.
After Freaks and Geeks was cancelled, Starr ran through a number of guest appearances and one-time roles on TV shows including Ed, Mysterious Ways and King of the Hill. He also had a role in Judd Apatow’s follow-up series, Undeclared. He also had a recurring role on sci-fi series Roswell as the character Monk, and, like the majority of the former Freaks and Geeks cast, he’s popped up on How I Met Your Mother, as well as New Girl.
In 2007, Apatow cast him in a supporting role in Knocked Up along with Seth Rogen, as well as giving him small parts in his other movies Superbad and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Fortunately for Starr, the success of Knocked Up led to him getting bigger roles in other films, such as Adventureland and Good Dick, and since 2014 he has been playing the role of Bertram Gilfoyle in Silicon Valley.
12. Becky Ann Baker and Joe Flaherty
These are Lindsay’s lovable suburban parents. Harold Weir runs a sporting goods store while Jean is a homemaker. Although they can occasionally be irritating and old-fashioned, they are always loving and supportive of her and Sam, a stark contrast to the families of the other members of the freaks and geeks.
Although she has had small roles in a variety of films and TV shows, Becky is still best-known for playing Jean Weir in Freaks and Geeks. In 2012, she took on the role of lead character Hannah’s mother Loreen Horvath in Girls.
Since Freaks and Geeks ended, Joe has guest starred in a range of TV shows, including The King of Queens, Married with Children and That 70s Show. However, the man is a bonafide comedy legend, with his most memorable moments taking place before his time on Freaks and Geeks. Examples include playing the guy in the crowd who yells ‘Jackass!’ at the titular character in Happy Gilmore, as well as the postal worker who delivered Marty McFly’s 70-year-old letter to Doc Brown in Back to the Future, which he later satirized in an Episode of the Big Bang Theory.
He got his start on the legendary SCTV sketch comedy show which also started the careers of great actors like John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis and Catherine O’Hara.
11. John Francis Daley
John played Lindsay’s younger brother – freshman Sam Weir – one of the show’s titular “geeks.” A lover of Star Wars who is infatuated with cheerleader Cindy Sanders, Sam spends most of his time with best friends and fellow nerds Neal Schweiber and Bill Haverchuck.
Since his days as Sam Weir, John has worked continuously in television on a range of shows including The Geena Davis Show, Judging Amy and Spin City, and was nominated for a PRISM Award for his portrayal of FBI criminal profiler Dr. Lance Sweets in Bones. He also plays keyboard in a band called Dayplayer, and in 2011 co-wrote the hit comedy film Horrible Bosses with his writing partner Johnathon M. Goldstein. He’s also be working on the screenplay for next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.
10. Sarah Hagan
Sarah played Millie Kentner, Lindsay’s religious former best friend and next door neighbor. The pair drift apart after Lindsay starts hanging around with the freaks, but Millie still pops up from time to time, usually acting as the unappreciated voice of reason.
Following Freaks and Geek’s cancellation, Sarah was cast as Camilla Whitman in DAG, but was replaced by another actress following the pilot. Her next noteworthy role was in 2003, where she played potential slayer Amanda in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She has since had bit parts in Undeclared, Medium and Grey’s Anatomy. Her most recent role was as Truvy in the direct-to-DVD Warner Bros. comedy feature Spring Breakdown.
9. Jerry Messing
Jerry played Gordon Crisp, who befriends the geeks after he and Sam become lab partners. Gordon is unpopular because he suffers from trimethylaminuria, also known as ‘fish odor syndrome,’ but is incredibly kind-hearted and intelligent.
After Freaks and Geeks was cancelled, Jerry went on to play small recurring roles in Even Stevens and Mr. Show with Bob and David, but has not done any acting since, which he says is a result of anxiety issues. Although his TV career was short-lived, Jerry has now incurred a completely different kind of fame – as the internet meme known as ‘fedora guy.’
The shot was initially taken as a jokey homage to the Blues Brothers, but now Jerry’s visage is not only all over the web, but also on lighters, blown-up into huge portraits and has even been recreated on a pizza. When asked by Buzzfeed how he copes with his inter-fame, Jerry admits he’s managed to steer clear of most the attention, mainly due to his limited internet use. He one day hopes to make a return to the screen when he’s conquered his problems with anxiety.
8. Busy Phillips
Busy played Kim Kelly, the girlfriend of Daniel. Growing up in a dysfunctional home, Kim is known for having anger issues and initially bullies Sam along with her best friend Karen. However, as the show progresses, Kim and Lindsay become friends, and Kim starts to develop into a better person because of it.
As well as playing Kim in Freaks and Geeks, Busy is also well-known for her role as Audrey Liddell in Dawson’s Creek, which garnered her a Teen Choice Award nomination. In 2006 she joined the cast of E.R as recurring character Hope Burbeck, once again starring alongside fellow freak Linda Cardellini, and reunited with Jason Segel in an episode of How I Met Your Mother. She also had small roles in movies such as White Chicks and He’s Just Not That Into You. In 2011 she won a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Laurie Keller in Cougar Town. Her next project is the upcoming HBO show Vice Principals, starting later this year.
7. Dave Allen
Dave Allen played Mr “Jeff” Rosso, the hippie guidance counsellor who served as a sounding board for the main characters. His attempts to seem cool and relate to the students provided some of the cringey-ist moments of the series, such as when he reveals to Lindsay he contracted herpes from a woman he met in a bar. Nice.
Allen went on to play a similar role in Malcolm in the Middle as teacher Mr. Woodward. Over the years he has guest-starred in numerous TV shows including The Gilmore Girls and Arrested Development, as well as films including The Mother of Invention and Bad Teacher. He is also a member of comedy group 2 Headed Dog with comedians Jim Turner, Mark Fite, and Craig Anton.
6. Chauncey Leopardi
Chauncey starred as Alan White, the bully who picked on Sam, Neal and Bill, but secretly enjoys sci-fi, comic books and the same things they do. In the episode “Chokin’ and Tokin’,” Alan almost kills Bill in a practical joke involving peanuts, to which Bill is severely allergic. His guilt over the situation leads him to form a tentative friendship with the group, rather than bullying them.
After Freaks and Geeks, Chauncey went to star as Navy SEAL Kyle in the Gilmore Girls as well as taking on other minor TV and film roles. After taking a six year break from acting, his most recent project was the independent film Coldwater in 2013.
5. Jason Segel
Jason played lovable loser Nick Andopolis, a major stoner and wannabe drummer, who’ll do anything not to follow in his dad’s footsteps and join the army. Nick was Lindsay’s boyfriend in the show for a brief time (Jason and Linda actually dated in real-life too), and Segel composed the (terrible) song that Nick serenades Lindsay with in the episode “Girlfriends and Boyfriends.”
After Freaks and Geeks ended, Jason had a recurring role in another short-lived Judd Apatow sitcom Undeclared. He has since become known for playing Marshall Eriksen in the series How I Met Your Mother, and has done more projects with Judd Apatow in recent years, including the 2008 comedy film Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
In 2015, Jason won the Independent Spirit Award for his performance as author David Foster Wallace in drama The End of the Tour, a vastly different role from the comedy offerings he is known for. He is also an author in real-life, and since 2013 has been working on a series of young adult novels based on a story idea he thought up at age 21.
4. Natasha Melnick
Natasha played Cindy Sanders, a popular cheerleader and Sam’s long-time crush. Towards the end of the series the pair actually date, which Sam later regrets when Cindy turns out to not be who he thought she was.
After Freaks and Geeks finished, Natasha appeared in Undeclared. She has since starred in the films Orange County, The Hillside Strangler and God Thinks You’re a Loser, as well as the TV shows Malcolm in the Middle, King of the Hill and Judging Amy. She has also done voiceover work in Family Guy and American Dad, playing Ruth and Hilary respectively.
3. Seth Rogen
Seth played sarcastic stoner Ken Miller, one of the freaks. Despite his aloofness, Ken was known for his quick wit and wise cracks, and later shows a sweeter side when he falls for “tuba girl” Amy.
After the show ended, Seth starred in Undeclared alongside other Freaks and Geeks alumni Jason Segel, Busy Philipps and Linda Cardellini. He then went on to work as a writer on Da Ali G Show, before Judd Apatow convinced him to give acting another try. Apatow cast him in The 40 Year Old Virgin in a supporting role, before selecting him as the lead in Knocked Up and Funny People.
Along with his comedy partner Evan Goldberg, Rogen wrote comedy films Superbad, Pineapple Express) and This is the End, two of which star James Franco. His next project is a voice-over role in the upcoming film Sausage Party.
2. Linda Cardellini
In Freaks and Geeks, Linda played “freak” Lindsay Weir, former honor student turned wannabe rebel, who quits the mathletes to hang around with a crowd of burnouts.
After the show was cancelled, Linda took on the role of legendary cartoon character Velma Dinkley in the live-action Scooby-Doo movies before joining the cast of ER as Samantha Taggart in 2003. Linda played the no-nonsense nurse and single mom for six years, until the show ended in 2009.
In 2013 she received an Emmy nomination for her role as Don Draper’s love interest Sylvia Rosen, and has popped up as a guest in numerous TV shows over the years, including a recent appearance as Jess’s sister Abby in New Girl. She is currently starring as Meg Rayburn in the Netflix original series Bloodline, a family drama also starring Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn and Norbert Leo Butz.
1. Paul Feig and Judd Apatow
The creators of Freaks and Geeks, the show was inspired by Paul’s Feig’s experiences at Chippewa Valley High School in Clinton Township, Michigan. Since the show’s cancellation, Paul and Judd have both gone on to have successful careers as directors, but Freaks and Geeks still remains one of their most memorable contributions.
Paul has directed several episodes of The Office, for which he won three Emmy awards, as well as Mad Men, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. After directing hit female-fronted comedy movie Bridesmaids, Feig wrote, directed and produced the film Spy, as well as producing The Peanuts Movie, based on the comic strip of the same name. Since 2014 he has been working on a film starring Melissa McCarthy called Just Do It, about a wife who tries to save her marriage with 100 days of sex, as well as directing the female reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise.
After Undeclared was cancelled, Judd Apatow directed hit comedy films The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, This is 40 and Trainwreck through Apatow Productions, and has become known as a pioneer of the ‘bromance’ comedy genre. As well as working with Feig, he regularly collaborates with former Freaks and Geeks alumni Jason Segel and Seth Rogen, plus many actors he considers close friends, including Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell and Jonah Hill.
Can you think of any other cast members that we should have listed? Let us know in the comments!