15 Kid Stars Whose Careers Flopped After They Grew Up

All child stars know what it feels like to be exactly that: a star. However, not all child stars understand that their fame won’t last. Whether they get stuck being known for only one role or make the wrong choices when they grow up, not all child stars find success once they grow up and move on.

For some child stars, they think it’s easy to transition from child star to adult star. Unfortunately, not all child stars realize that not everyone ends up like Natalie Portman or Leonardo DiCaprio.

There are some stars who even think stripping down for the camera will make everyone take them seriously as an adult star, and force audiences to stop seeing them as kids. Sadly, it’s just not that easy.

Hollywood can be extremely cruel. The ideal child star might have been great when they were younger, but Hollywood might end up deciding that they aren’t good enough once they are older.

Beyond that, there’s also college. When some child actors choose to go to college after being a kid star, then try and make it after graduating from school, Hollywood might have already forgotten about them.

No matter what the reason, not every child star finds success when they enter adulthood. Here are the 15 Kid Stars Whose Careers Flopped After They Grew Up.

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15 Taylor Momsen

Taylor Momsen had the potential to become a big star. Having started off in the renowned How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Momsen eventually landed a reoccurring role on Gossip Girl. However, after some issues arose, Momsen left the show and her career has only gone downhill since.

While on Gossip Girl, many people started calling out Momsen for her diva-like attitude, including Tim Gunn, who had guest starred opposite her on the show. Momsen went from being sweet to rebellious. She left the show early and decided to pursue music instead.

Momsen’s band, The Pretty Reckless, have been successful enough to stay afoot. However, Momsen is much more known for her rebellious behavior than for the music she creates. She hasn’t made an appearance onscreen since she left Gossip Girl.

14 Elizabeth Berkley

Elizabeth Berkley was best known for her role on Saved by the Bell. Actually, Berkley wasn’t even supposed to be on the show, as she had originally auditioned for the role of Kelly and lost out on the role. However, producers liked her so much that they created the role of Jessie just for her.

After her time on the show, Berkley wanted to be taken more seriously. She ended up starring in Showgirls, the notoriously bad movie that has actually found success due to how horribly wrong it went. Sadly, the role didn’t help Berkley.

Instead of trying to find success in mainstream Hollywood, Berkley turned to Lifetime and starred in some television films. She also had some success on CSI: Miami, however nothing has made Berkley the star she always intended to be.

13 Drake Bell

Drake Bell was a Nickelodeon star growing up. Starting on The Amanda Show, Bell soon got his own spinoff alongside costar Josh Peck that was called Drake and Josh. The show became a major hit for the network, but it became time to say goodbye once Bell and Peck had grown up.

Bell, who was always known for his musical side, tried to pursue multiple opportunities. However, money soon became an issue. The star ended up going bankrupt, though he tried to dispute it in court. Sadly, he was unable to find success and instead found only more financial issues. The star was also arrested on suspicion of a DUI in 2015.

All that being said, Bell has continued his relationship with Nickelodeon and was part a The Fairly Oddparents special. He also made headlines for his hurt feelings when Josh Peck didn’t invite Bell to his wedding.

12 Mara Wilson

Best known for her roles in Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Miracle on 34th Street, Mara Wilson was doing great in the '90s. However, as she grew older, Wilson worried about whether she would have a place in Hollywood once she could not longer lead kid's movies.

Once it came time to grow up, Wilson chose to go to college. Although she has always been interested in the film and television world, Wilson claimed that she never wanted to star in a movie ever again. Not only does she believe Hollywood can show bias against most people, but it also just wasn’t for her.

Wilson claims, “Film acting is not very fun. Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director’s eyes, you get it right, does not allow for very much creative freedom.” She has only had minor appearance on television shows since then.

11 Haley Joel Osment

Haley Joel Osment paved the way for child actors in darker roles. Having starred in The Sixth Sense, Osment showed that child actors didn’t necessarily have to always be happy in films and could instead show a wide range of emotion.

Osment continued to have a good career as a kid after finding horror movie success. He even had made an appearance in Forest Gump. After The Sixth Sense earned him an Oscar nomination, Osment took on more roles in movies including Pay It Forward and Seconhand Lions.

Sadly, Osment didn’t become the bonafide star that everyone thought he was going to be. After a drunken night in 2006 that almost ended his life after a car accident, Osment’s career slowed down. He chose to go to college and lost his movie star status, though he is still a working actor today.

10 Lindsay Lohan

Since Lindsay Lohan’s career has been overshadowed by her issues with drug possession, her career has deteriorated. Instead of becoming the major star that everyone expected her to be, she’s failed in multiple ways-- partially due to her dysfunctional upbringing.

Lohan was best known for her roles in Mean Girls and The Parent Trap. She was a true child star, but everything went downhill when Hollywood got to her. Lohan’s parents had major issues in the past and weren’t the best when it came to guiding their daughter in the right direction.

Although Lohan has had problems, she still believes that she can make it. Lately, she’s been pushing for a Mean Girls sequel which (most likely) will never happen.

9 Taran Noah Smith

Taran Noah Smith was another Home Improvement star who wasn’t able to find success after leaving his role on the show. However, the star says that this was intended due to the fact that he could “finally make his own choices.”

Smith still made headlines, however, for the hissy fit he threw about his trust fund and then proceeding to marry a woman when he was only 17 years old. The woman he married was sixteen years older than him and they divorced in 2007.

Having caused so much controversy, Smith couldn’t (and apparently didn't want to) rejoin the Hollywood community. While he enjoyed acting, he needed time to find himself and thus he let his acting career go by the wayside. He’s been dabbling in cheese manufacturing instead.

8 Rider Strong

Rider Strong’s Shawn Hunter was probably the most beloved character on Boy Meets World. He didn’t have the easiest life and had the most to face when it came to life hurdles. However, Strong wasn’t able to shake off his Shawn Hunter persona once the show ended.

Strong tried to continue his career after the end of the show and even made appearances in Veronica Mars and Girl Meets World. However, those are pretty much the only recognizable shows that he's been in since.

Strong graduated from Columbia with an English degree. While his degree might have caused him to take a detour from acting, it was mostly due to the fac that Strong was so well known for his role as Shawn Hunter that he was unable to make a name for himself after the show ended.

7 Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Jonathan Taylor Thomas was best known for his role on Home Improvement. He was also young Simba in The Lion King. After having left Home Improvement early for college, Thomas never found his footing in Hollywood again.

Although he has made appearances on some shows including Veronica Mars and Smallville, Thomas’ attempt to return the spotlight completely failed. He was unable to find his footing, therefore he stepped away for the most part and focus on other things.

The only role that Thomas has had currently has been on Tim Allen’s now cancelled television show, Last Man Standing. It’s most likely that Thomas was only given the role due to his personal relationship with Tim Allen, though, having worked with him on Home Improvement back in the day.

6 Melissa Gilbert

You might recognize Melissa Gilbert from her role as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. The show ran for almost ten years with Gilbert in the lead role. This led to Gilbert being strong associated with her character, as Gilbert struggled to find other work once the show ended.

Although Gilbert continued acting, she kept getting distracted by personal relationships. She also ran for Congress while living in Michigan, but was called out by an opponent. It turned out that Gilbert had some tax issues and had to come up with a payment plan with the IRS.

Due to all of the ongoing drama in her life, Gilbert was unable to focus on her career, though she mainly lost out on roles due to her notoriety.

5 Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn is best known for his role on Zoey 101. Having been a major lead on the show, Flynn was living the good life until the show was unexpectantly cancelled after Jamie Lynn Spears became pregnant at 16 years old.

Since then, Flynn has been unsuccessful at finding his footing in Hollywood. Though he starred in limited roles since leaving Nickelodeon, Flynn is most known for his role on Zoey 101.

Not much is known about Flynn-- although he has had semi-regular acting credits since leaving Nickelodeon and his career has been ongoing, he hasn’t found much success as an adult.

Flynn wasn’t able to prepare for the future since Zoey 101 was supposed to continue on for a longer amount of time than it actually did.

4 Dustin Diamond

Dustin Diamond has essentially gone crazy since his time on Saved by the Bell. He later admitted that he had never fit in on the show, with his version of what happened back then even becoming a Lifetime film. However, sadly, after leaving the show, Diamond struggled to find work.

Diamond turned to reality television. However, his personality was so strong that he was continously seen as the villain on any show he made an appearance on.

He has also had some problems with the law, as well as with women who he’s been intimate with and with his former costars. Essentially, Diamond has made a lot of people around him mad.

Due to his notoriety, Diamond has been unable to secure a place for himself in mainstream Hollywood, but he certainly hasn’t left the spotlight.

3 Jeremy Jackson

Jeremy Jakson was best known for his role on Baywatch. He started on the show when he was just a kid and stayed on the show for quite a while. Since then, however, things haven’t quite worked out for the former kid star.

When he was older, an adult tape starring Jackson and an adult star named Sky Lopez became public. However, Jackson said that he was forced to give the tape up for sale by Lopez. He also had issues with steroids and went on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew to deal with it.

After that, he had issues with the law and was accused of stabbing someone, although it was seen as self-defense. However, he was later arrested again for stabbing someone else. He was sentenced to 270 days in jail as of this year. Due to all of the drama in his life, he’s unable to keep a career going.

2 Macaulay Culkin

You probably recognize Macaulay Culkin from his roles in Home Alone, My Girl, and Richie Rich. He was the go-to kid star back in the '90s. However, things started going downhill for Culkin once he grew up and became an adult.

Athough he was able to keep up a relationship with Mila Kunis for a long time, the two ended up going their separate ways. This is just as well, though, since Culkin had several issues with the law, specifically when it came to substance possession. He’s had problems with drugs and thus has had multiple prison sentences.

For a while, Culkin stepped away from the spotlight. However, recently he’s been trying to make his way back into the Hollywood scene. He even met his current girlfriend, Brenda Song, on the set of a recent movie that they were both filming.

1 Corey Feldman

Corey Feldman has been making headlines lately due to his knowledge of current predators in Hollywood, which he was already talking about for many years.

He knows a lot about the inner workings of Hollywood since he’s been in the business for almost all of his life. Having been in movies such as Stand by Me, The Goonies, and The Lost Boys, Feldman had a pretty solid career as a kid.

That being said, once Feldman got older, things changed. While he has continued to work in Hollywood, nothing has been able to come close to what he was able to accomplish as a kid. He’s also had issues with his parents and his ex-wife, and thus his personal life has kept him unfocused on his career.

This is perhaps just as well since Feldman hasn’t been able to shake his child actor image. Add to this the drama surrounding his life and you can understand why his career didn’t go as planned.


Can you think of any other child stars who couldn't make it as adults in Hollywood? Let us know in the comments!

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