Have you ever watched a television show or film from a certain era and thought to yourself whatever in the heck happened to that very talented actor who seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth? Or do you ever wonder what’s up with that celebrity who was so big in the '80s, '90s, or early 2000s, but is never heard from anymore?
From the downfall of Amanda Bynes to the fledgling stardom of Disney stars like Jamie-Lynn Spears and Dylan Sprouse, it’s strange when some of our favourite teen stars stop appearing in movies, television, or the news for that matter.
Then, of course, there’s also those celebrities like Macaulay Culkin and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who have become somewhat famous for their dramatic disappearance from Hollywood— especially after having appeared in so many different series prior to this.
For some of the actors on this list, they are still making spotty appearances here and there, while others have chosen entirely different careers from what they started off in as children or teens.
Read on for the 15 Teen Stars Who Completely Disappeared From Hollywood.
15 Amanda Bynes
Back in the day, Amanda Bynes was all the rage. From the iconic sketches of The Amanda Show to the hilarious episodes of What I Like About You, her television career alone was legendary.
Meanwhile, movies like What A Girl Wants, Big Fat Liar, and She’s The Man brought her to a whole other level, and Bynes quickly rose became one of the millennial generation’s favorite teen stars.
So what happened to her? She now attends school at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, although she has expressed an interest in returning to TV acting.
Bynes also had a run-in with the law back in 2012, and was charged with driving under the influence. Rumors have circled for years now regarding Bynes’ mental health, too, although most conclusions have been only speculative.
14 Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Culkin rose to prominence in the early '90s for his adorable appearances in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and of course, for classics like My Girl and Richie Rich.
There was always a sort of awkwardness to Culkin that made for a very particular kind of performance, successfully portraying an awkward kind of tween. Despite his success, Culkin chose to retire from acting at the ripe age of 14, in 1994, and did not return to the spotlight until 2003, appearing in independent films and making guest appearances on television.
In 2013, Culkin formed a band with friends called The Pizza Underground, a parody-style alternative anti-folk musical group. The band was met with criticism for parodying the Velvet Underground. Culkin announced in 2016 that their recently-released album would be their last.
13 Frankie Muniz
The charming Frankie Muniz warmed the hearts of viewers everywhere with his iconic performance in his breakout role as Malcolm in Malcolm in the Middle. From the year 2000 until 2006, Muniz starred in the hit series, and won himself two Golden Globe Award nominations and one Emmy Award nomination. During that time period, Muniz made guest appearances like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Lizzie McGuire.
After Malcolm in the Middle finished, apart from appearing in various low-budget films and television shows, Muniz completely shifted focus and began a career in car racing.
Muniz was also a drummer in the band You Hang Up from 2012 to 2014, but eventually left due to scheduling issues.
So, although Muniz did leave Hollywood for other pursuits, he has still made a name for himself, particularly in the car racing world.
12 Taylor Momsen
Apart from making her debut in the year 2000 as the adorable Cindy Lou Who in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Taylor Momsen was best known for her role as Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl, which aired on the CW from 2007 to 2012.
Momsen was also signed to IMG Models in 2008, and started a band, The Pretty Reckless, in 2009. The band’s first album, Light Me Up, was met with critical success, and until Gossip Girl’s end in 2012, Momsen was a Hollywood A-lister.
Although Momsen continues to rock in her band, her foray into acting ended abruptly alongside the end of Gossip Girl. Although The Pretty Reckless released their third album as recently as October 2016, Momsen remains somewhat a mystery since the end of her acting career.
11 Dylan Sprouse
Although Dylan Sprouse’s twin brother, Cole Sprouse, has recently come back into the spotlight for his role as Jughead Jones in the hit series Riverdale, Dylan Sprouse still remains somewhat a mystery.
Dylan gained fame for an appearance (with his twin brother) in Big Daddy, as well as his role as Zack Martin in the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Suite Life on Deck (also with his twin brother).
However, since that time, Dylan took a hiatus from acting to pursue a degree in video game design. After graduating in 2015, Dylan worked as a host at a restaurant in New York, and as of 2017 is in the midst of opening a brewery in Brooklyn called, All-Wise Meadery, wherein he will be brewmaster.
Although Dylan has not yet followed in the steps of his brother, Cole, in continuing to pursue acting, Dylan appears to have found his own niche for himself in beer making!
10 Jamie-Lynn Spears
Jamie-Lynn Spears is not only famous for her sister, Britney Spears, but also made a name for herself as Zoey in the hit Disney series Zoey 101. She starred in the show from 2005 to 2008, winning herself several Kids’ Choice awards and Young Artist Awards.
Amidst her television success, she quickly became the subject of a Hollywood scandal in 2007, when it was revealed that Spears was pregnant at the age of 16. Zoey 101 was quickly ended after the news broke.
Spears hasn't returned to acting since that time, but has instead chosen a career in country music. Her single “How Could I Want More” reached number 29 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs.
It was never made clear as to why exactly Spears never returned to acting, but speculation has focused on the treatment of her teenage pregnancy by the paparazzi back in 2007.
9 Erik Von Detten
Erik von Detten is probably best known for playing the cute, albeit cocky Josh Bryant in the hit movie The Princess Diaries back in 2001, or for playing skater boy Andy Brinker in Brink! During the early 2000’s, von Detten made several appearances in various popular television shows, such as 8 Simple Rules, Malcolm in the Middle, and 7th Heaven.
So whatever happened to von Detten? Well, after his late '90s and early 2000s heyday, von Detten pretty much disappeared from Hollywood, and hasn’t appeared in anything since 2010. He portrayed the voice of Sid Phillips in Toy Story 3, but hasn't shown up on screen.
As sad as we are to discover von Detten is unlikely to return to Hollywood, it’s nice to reminisce on the days when he was one of Hollywood’s teen heartthrobs!
8 Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton is hailed as playing one of television’s most iconic, albeit awkward, characters ever: Marissa Cooper from The O.C. Barton made waves as Marissa Cooper, and was many a teen girl's style icon.
Sadly, Barton never really graced us with much more after her The O.C. performance. After she left The O.C. at the end of season 3, the show was never the same. Barton never managed to captivate us in the same way as she did in the show, and disappeared from Hollywood for quite some time.
Barton has since returned to acting - starring in a well-received stage production of Steel Magnolias, as well as the psychological thriller Deserted - but she's also struggled with hospitalization and even made an appearance on Dr. Phil. We're still rooting for you, Coop!
7 Barry Watson
Barry Watson is best known for portraying good boy Matt Camden from 7th Heaven. That’s right, Watson portrayed the good-hearted and kind older brother from the Camden family! Watson charmed the hearts of wholesome teens around the world with his lovable personality, his brotherly love towards his siblings, and his flirty personality.
Apart from 7th Heaven, Watson only ever made waves in two other shows: What About Brian and Samantha Who? Watson continues to star in some smaller television shows and independent and television films.
Unfortunately for fans of Watson, he is indeed married to Natasha Gregson Wagner, and has a child with her. As busy as he must be, we hope to see him reappear in Hollywood sometime soon on a more permanent basis.
6 Mary-Kate And Ashley Olsen
In the '90s, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the smiling faces of America’s sweetheart twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They appeared in books, television, films, and fashion lines, and by the age of 18, the two sisters’ various business pursuits had landed them on several lists for being two of the richest people in the entertainment industry— and youngest! At 21, Forbes ranked them as the 11th richest women in entertainment.
In 2004, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen starred in their last film together, New York Minute, and have since retired from acting. Although their two fashion lines, The Row and Elizabeth and James, continue to thrive, they only ever make public appearances for fashion events, and have fully turned away from all things Hollywood, like appearing on talk shows or reprising their role in Fuller House.
5 Marques Houston
You will probably recognize Marques Houston for his role as the hilarious Roger Evans in the television show Sister, Sister. Houston gained widespread recognition for this comedic role, and from there he appeared in two Destiny’s Child music videos— “No, No, No Part 1” and “Jumpin’, Jumpin’.”
Houston’s acting fame from the 1990s faded soon thereafter, however, as he turned away from acting for a career in music, instead. Houston is now known for his numerous R&B and Hip Hop albums, although is not as well known as he was in his teenage years for his character in Sister, Sister.
At any rate, Houston chose the career he was passionate for— despite winning a Young Artist Award for his role as Roger Evans in 1995.
4 Andrew Keegan
The gorgeous Andrew Keegan made waves in the 1990s and early 2000s with his roles in classic '90s television shows like 7th Heaven and Party of Five, making guest appearances in shows like Full House, Boy Meets World, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, as well as appearing in movies like 10 Things I Hate about You and The Broken Hearts Club.
After the early 2000s, however, Keegan pretty much faded out of the picture. Since he left the acting world, Keegan has founded a spiritual center (although some have called it a cult) based out of Venice Beach, California.
Interestingly enough, the centre was raided in May of 2015 by officers from the Californian Alcohol Beverage Control department… for distributing Kombucha, which, turns out, is considered an alcoholic beverage in some states!
3 Adam Brody
Another O.C. alumnus, Adam Brody was the charming skater boy of the early 2000s, not only warming our hearts as the pithy Seth Cohen in The O.C., but also as the adorable Dave in Gilmore Girls!
Brody also starred in films like The Ring, Grind, In the Land of Women, and Lovelace. Over the years, sadly, Brody has somewhat disappeared from Hollywood, starring in low-budget films and shows here and there, but generally maintaining a relatively private life.
Although he never settled down with Rachel Bilson (aka Summer Roberts), he did end up settling down with Leighton Meester (aka Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl). The two married in 2013, and had a baby together in 2015. As sad as we are that the real-life couple of Bilson and Brody didn’t work out, the fact that the stars from two of our favorite shows ended up together works out pretty perfectly.
2 Tatyana Ali
We all remember Tatyana Ali for her role as Ashley Banks from 1990 to 1996 in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
When her run of the show ended in 1996, Ali instantly moved away from the acting world into the music world! Her musical career has been met with a considerable amount of success: her album from 1999, Kiss The Sky, was certified Gold, and her single “Daydreamin'” reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100!
Although she continues to release music intermittently, Ali has mostly focused on her education since her stardom in the 1990’s. She completed an undergraduate degree in African-American Studies and Government at Harvard University, and toured the country to promote Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. She also married an assistant professor at Stanford University in 2016.
1 Jonathan Taylor Thomas
In the 1990s, it was rare for a teenage girl to not have a poster of heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas on their ceiling or wall.
Thomas was the male teenage icon of the 1990s, gaining fame for his long-standing role as Randy Taylor on Home Improvement. He was also the voice of Simba in Disney’s 1994 production of The Lion King.
Since the '90s, however, Thomas has pretty much kept a low profile. Similar to Tatyana Ali, Thomas has focused on school for much of his life since his Hollywood days. He attended Harvard University in 2000, where he studied philosophy and history, attended St. Andrews College in Scotland for one year, and graduated from Columbia University School of General Studies in 2010.
Which teen star do you miss the most? Let us know in the comments!