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When a film or television series lasts a really long time, it's normal for the same actor to pop up every now and then as completely different characters, because Hollywood is not an inexhaustible well of talent. For example, on Law & Order, an actor can play a scumbag rapist in one episode and a respected prosecutor in another. Nobody bats an eyelash, until you start thinking, "What if those characters were in fact the same person? What if that rapist changed names and went to law school?"

Then you open yourself up to a bunch of mind-blowing thought experiments which totally change the way you look at famous franchises. For example ...

7
Indiana Jones Has Been Murdering A Nazi Clone Of The Same Henchman For Years

Lucasfilm

Pat Roach was a giant English dude who played the giant Sherpa who gets into a fight with Indiana Jones in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Lucasfilm
"Boy, I hope I'll never have to go through THIS again ..."

What you probably didn't realize is that later on in the movie, he reappears with a shaved head as the giant Nazi mechanic who fights Indy at the airstrip ...

Lucasfilm
What's German for deja-vu?

And that, despite being reduced to a red cloud of hubris by a propeller, Roach rose from the dead and popped up as a member of the evil Thuggee cult in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, wherein he played the unnecessarily huge guard overseeing a mine of starving enslaved children.

Lucasfilm
"Well, he doesn't look very Indian, but racism and makeup can fix that!"

Then he briefly reappeared as a Gestapo agent in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, storming baldly through a pile of luggage to intercept Dr. Jones on a zeppelin. Sure, you might write this off as a case of the casting director being forced to use the same guy due to not knowing enough big scary-looking dudes. Or ...

The Theory:

All of Roach's characters were a clone of the same man. Rewatch the trilogy with this in mind, and suddenly a whole awesome yet unspoken subplot appears.

In Raiders, it's mentioned that Hitler has become obsessed with the occult (it's why he wants the Ark of the Covenant, other than the fact that he really needs an accent table for his new office). Now, the Thuggee seem well-versed in black magic, considering they had no trouble turning Indy into their own voodoo doll.

Lucasfilm
Which probably worked a little too well.

So what if Hitler heard about this group and went all Hellboy, using both Nazi science and black magic to extract the Thuggee guard's DNA to perform some occult cloning experiments (remember that although it's the second film in the series, Temple Of Doom takes place before Raiders). This would explain why the Nazis employ multiple henchmen who look like Roach. He was their first successful test subject in their attempt to create a terrifying killing machine ... who is also genetically predisposed to always get his ass kicked by an archaeology professor.

6
Game Of Thrones Characters Are Replacing Dead Loved Ones With Lookalikes

HBO

Game Of Thrones has a frankly massive cast, so it's not too surprising that they've had some turnover in the last few years for various reasons (scheduling conflicts, boob fatigue, etc). Right around the time Tommen Baratheon graduated from "living prop" to "actual character," Dean-Charles Chapman replaced Callum Wharry in the role.

HBO
"I ... I'm gonna at least get some boobage before you cast number three, right?"

However, Chapman wasn't exactly a newcomer to GOT, as he had previously played Martyn Lannister, one of the two Lannister hostages killed by Rickard Karstark, technically making Tommen his own cousin.

HBO
Just Lannister things.

That one is easy to miss for most casual fans, but then there's Daario Naharis, who is played by Ed Skrein (season three) and then Michiel Huisman (season four onward), who look absolutely nothing alike.

HBO
Daario Nohairis and Daario Hairis.

And here you see Myrcella Baratheon as played by Aimee Richardson (seasons one and two), and Myrcella Baratheon as played by Nell Tiger Free (season five).

HBO
Nell Tiger Free is the only GOT actor whose real name sounds more made-up than her character's name.

Wait, there's more! Next we have Gregor Clegane ("The Mountain") who has been portrayed by three different actors: Conan Stevens (season one) on the left, Ian Whyte (season two) on the right, and Hafthor Bjornsson (season four onward) in the middle.

HBO
Pouty, Bloody, and Thinky.

The Theory:

These characters are all getting killed and then replaced by lookalikes, which is something that would be fairly easy to get away with in Westeros.

If, say, Myrcella got sick and died unexpectedly, it's obvious that Tywin wouldn't accept it. A marriageable granddaughter is incredibly important to his schemes, so what would he do? He might grab a blonde of similar height and build and pass her off as the princess. It's not like anyone's gonna notice. There's no Facebook or any kind of mass media. The commoners don't even know what royalty looks like; they'd only be going off of general descriptions, if that. Those in the inner circle wouldn't dare spill the secret, and those on the outside who did notice a difference would know better than to spread rumors. Who knows how many Lannisters have died along the way and have been replaced by similar blond cousins for the sake of appearances?

In the same way, if a big scary guy called "The Mountain" dies in battle, you grab another big scary guy and call him "The Mountain." Maybe that's why he has a reputation for being unkillable -- every time he gets killed, they find another big guy to take his place. It's not like somebody is going to do a DNA test. Honestly, compared to zombies, dragons, and a medieval napalm attack, it wouldn't be the weirdest thing Game Of Thrones ever pulled.

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5
The Cosby Show: Cliff Huxtable Helps A Man Change His Identity In Order To Marry His Daughter

Carsey-Werner Distribution

In the sixth season premiere of The Cosby Show, it's revealed that Denise Huxtable, one of Cliff "Bill Cosby" Huxtable's daughters, has gotten married to a naval lieutenant named Martin Kendall. Martin was played by Joseph C. Phillips, who eventually became a full-time cast member ... and also gave birth to a sailboat a few episodes later. In fairness, this happens during a dream sequence, but it nevertheless serves as perhaps the first public warning that Bill Cosby was a maniac.

Carsey-Werner Distribution
"The last thing I remember is Dr. Huxtable handing me a drink at that yacht party ..."

Interestingly, though, Phillips had already made a guest appearance on the show four seasons earlier. In that episode, the eldest Huxtable daughter, Sondra, breaks up with her boyfriend, Elvin. Cliff then attempts to hook her up with a pre-med student named Daryl (played by Phillips).

Carsey-Werner Distribution
Seriously, any scene of people drinking on this show is instantly uncomfortable.

Unfortunately for Daryl, Sondra reconciles with Elvin and stays with him for the rest of the series, and we never see Daryl again.

The Theory:

That is, until he shows back up as "Martin Kendall" and marries Sondra's sister, Denise.

Phillips' first episode had the rather awkward title "Cliff in Love" because Cliff seemed to have a bizarre man crush on Daryl and really wanted him to bone his daughter. It's possible that Sondra's rejection absolutely devastated Cliff as well as Daryl, who really wanted Bill Cosby as a father-in-law. Having presumably bonded over their shared fondness for deceiving women, Cliff and Daryl hatched a scheme to get Daryl into the Huxtable family, Sondra be damned.

Carsey-Werner Distribution
"Whatever, Sondra. Have fun with poor man's Philip Michael Thomas."

So Daryl gave up medical school and joined the Navy under his new name, Martin Kendall. And that's when he met Denise, otherwise known as "an alternative route into the Huxtable family." This would certainly explain why the couple makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to get married. At the time, all Daryl/Martin could think of was finally getting to share a Pudding Pop with his new dad. All Cliff had to do was pretend he didn't recognize Martin as Daryl, putting both of his daughters at serious risk. Luckily, endangering women is something The Coz is totally OK with.

4
Deadwood: Two Characters Played by The Same Actor Were Twin Brothers

HBO

Garret Dillahunt appears in a few first-season episodes of the HBO drama Deadwood as Jack McCall, a drunkard who fatally shoots Wild Bill Hickok while he's playing poker. McCall goes to trial, where he's found not guilty, but he is (presumably) executed later for a different, unrelated crime.

HBO
"I'm free! Now to live life to the fullest!"

But then, during season two, Deadwood decided to bring Dillahunt back as Francis Wolcott, a geologist working for mining magnate George Hearst.

HBO
Thus confirming our suspicions that beards are the key to eternal life.

Wolcott hangs in there for 10 episodes until he ends up murdering some prostitutes and later hanging himself in shame.

The Theory:

Wolcott and McCall are twins.

Picture this: Jack McCall's twin brother travels to the town of Deadwood under the false name "Francis Wolcott" with one thing on his mind: revenge.

In order to hide his identity, McCall cleans and dresses himself up nicely and starts secretly investigating what happened to his brother. But after some time, McCall learns that Jack was a rancid anal belch unworthy of vengeance. Overridden by guilt and confusion, Wolcott murders three prostitutes in a fit of rage, but once he realizes what he's done, he decides to boot himself off of the planet. In all seriousness, a grizzled character covered in prostitute blood muttering "See you in hell, brother" before putting his neck into a noose sounds like a pretty standard episode of Deadwood.

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3
Frasier Crane's Dad Secretly Showed Up In Cheers To Force A Reconciliation

CBS Television Distribution

John Mahoney is best known for playing Martin Crane, the curmudgeonly-but-lovable father of the title character on Frasier, itself a spinoff of Cheers. However, one year before Frasier was a series, Mahoney did a guest spot on Cheers, playing Sy Flembeck, a talentless hack hired to write a jingle for the bar.

CBS Television Distribution
"Now you wanna run around and talk about guns like I ain't got none ..."

This only complicates the entire storyline of the Cheers/Frasier universe (which is admittedly prone to dazzling continuity errors). During one episode of Cheers, Frasier told his friends that he was an only child, that his dad was a scientist, and that both his parents were dead. To their credit, the writers addressed this continuity error in a later episode of Frasier, where he admits to lying about his father's death because they had a shitty relationship at the time (this does not explain his omission of Niles, although we can assume it was for similar "I cannot stand you" reasons).

CBS Television Distribution
"Your wife's voice drove me crazy."

But what if Martin was trying to fix his broken relationship with Frasier by pretending to be Sy Flembeck?

The Theory:

Here's what we know about Marty Crane: He used to be an undercover cop, and he writes music in his spare time. Given that, it's completely within the realm of possibility for him to craft a new persona of a jingle writer and travel from Seattle to Boston to sneak back into his son's life (at least, completely within the realm of sitcom possibility, because people do not behave this way in real life).

During the Cheers episode, Flembeck has a brief interaction with Frasier. Now, Frasier never acknowledges that this guy might be his father, but given the circumstances, why would he? Frasier already told his fellow barflies his dad was a deceased scientist, so it would be rather awkward to confess that you're the offspring of some wacky jingle peddler in a plaid jacket.

CBS Television Distribution
And speaking of plaid jackets: Exhibit B.

But still, we can assume that their Cheers reconciliation sort of worked. True, their relationship wasn't great by the time Frasier premiered, but "I don't get along with my father" is nonetheless a major step up from "He's dead to me."

2
Jeffrey Tambor Was A Conman Tormenting The Cast Of Three's Company

DLT Entertainment

Three's Company was a TV sitcom about a man named Jack Tripper pretending to be gay so that he could share an apartment with two women he wasn't sleeping with, because that was the cultural landscape of 1977. Jeffrey Tambor (of Arrested Development and Transparent fame) appeared in three episodes, seemingly as a completely different character each time.

In the episode "Father Of The Bride," Tambor plays a rich jackass named Winston Cromwell III who relentlessly keeps trying to woo Jack's disinterested roommate Cindy.

DLT Entertainment
"What I lack in charm, I make up for in creepiness!"

In "Two Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Tambor plays Dr. Tom Miller, a psychiatrist who works with Jack's new roommate, Terri, and gets mistaken for an escaped mental patient.

DLT Entertainment
"Mistaken."

Finally, in "Jack Goes To The Dentist," Tambor returns as Dr. Phillip Greene, Terri's hot-tempered dentist boyfriend. When Terri breaks up with him, Jack has the misfortune of being the vengeful dentist's next patient.

DLT Entertainment
"Well, I can't simply not punish someone for my anger."

Tambor even showed up for the nonsensical Three's Company spinoff The Ropers (starring Jack's nosy landlord), coming on board as Jeffrey P. Brookes III, a snooty realtor who sells the Ropers their home and becomes their wacky next-door neighbor.

The Theory:

Tambor was Jeffrey P. Brookes III all along, and was merely posing as different chaotic characters throughout the run of Three's Company in order to drive Jack and his roommates out and sell their landlords a new piece of property. The characters in Three's Company weren't exactly Mensa material, so it's conceivable that Jack and his roommates honestly didn't notice that all three of Tambor's characters were the exact same guy. In fact, "Winston Cromwell III," "Dr. Miller," and "Phillip Greene" were likely the alternate personalities of Jeffrey P. Brookes III -- he does get mistaken for a mental patient, so it isn't that much of a stretch to think that the so-called "mistake" was Tambor's character being correctly identified as the lunatic he was.

DLT Entertainment
Or maybe it was the work of Jeffrey's twin brother, Oscar.

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1
Griphook / Professor Flitwick Is A Brilliant Secret Agent Working For Voldemort In Harry Potter

Warner Bros.

Warwick Davis appears in seven out of eight Harry Potter films as Filius Flitwick, a half-goblin professor at Hogwarts who looks like he's trying to cosplay Dumbledore on a budget.

Warner Bros.
J.K. Rowling recently revealed that for the entire series, Professor Flitwick was secretly lame.

Interestingly, though, Professor Flitwick has a complete makeover after the second movie. We're not saying he gets a new outfit -- we're talking complete cellular rejuvenation here:

Warner Bros.
"What's my secret? Barbershop quartet sessions three times a day!"

Davis also plays the goblin Griphook, who works at Gringotts Wizarding Bank, where he presumably collects magical interest payments and enchanted overdraft fees.

Warner Bros.
"Free mystical toaster when you open a new potion safety deposit box."

The Theory:

The Death Eaters (Voldemort's posse) are a clear analogy for the Nazis, and it goes beyond being violent fascists obsessed with racial purity. Many Death Eaters slipped under the radar and continued living their lives unnoticed after the war, the same way some Nazis did. And it's not implausible that we the viewers don't know about every secret Death Eater still running around.

Maybe one spy that we never found out about is Griphook/Flitwick. If he's the same person, then he's clearly a master of disguise -- we see him wear two entirely different sets of fake beards and wigs as Flitwick, so it isn't entirely unthinkable that he might glue a bunch of shit to his face and pretend to be a goblin banker as well. And if that's the case, it would make him perfectly positioned to infiltrate both Hogwarts and Gringotts and perform surveillance for the Death Eaters right out in the open, cunningly disguised as the exact opposite of Voldemort: a short, chubby creature with a big nose.

Robin Warder recently won a "Best Screenplay Award" for the short film Indefinite Late Fee. Miles DuBonnet is the pseudonym of Jeremy Kaplowitz, a comedian in NYC and the creator of Lizard People of New York.

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