In the world of television, age really is just a number. As audiences, we regularly see couples with huge age gaps, and nobody even mentions it! In other cases, full-grown adults play high school students, and we just have to accept that these so-called teens are actually in their 30s. Join us as we look at TV age gaps that are genuinely shocking — either for being huge, or being basically non-existent.
Sasha Pieterse and Shay Mitchell
Let’s kick things off with teen mystery drama Pretty Little Liars. In this super popular show, a clique’s leader goes missing, and a shady figure named “A” threatens to expose its members. At the time the show first aired in 2010, its lead cast was far from school girls.
Well, Sasha Pieterse was actually 14 years old, so that tracks. However, her castmate Shay Mitchell was actually 23 when season one aired! That’s an age gap of nine years for Emison!
Elizabeth Rodriguez and Dascha Polanco
Here’s the first of many parent-child relationships with questionable age gaps on this list. In the world of TV and movies, directors understandably cast people based on their skills and appearance. However, this can lead to parent-child depictions that are essentially impossible based on the actors’ real-life ages.
In prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black, actress Elizabeth Rodriguez plays Aleida, the mother of Dascha Polanco’s Daya. In real life, there’s only one year, 11 months, and six days between them.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany
Look, we loved miniseries WandaVision as much as the next person, but did you notice the age gap between the titular couple? This happens lots on screen, where older men are paired with younger women and it’s presented without comment.
In real life, English actor Paul Bettany is 50 years old, while his on-screen wife Elizabeth Olsen is just 32. This gives them an age gap of 18 years. In real life, Bettany’s wife, actress Jennifer Connelly, is also 50.
Kaley Cuoco and Amy Davidson
Now it’s time for a set of siblings with inconsistent ages. On sitcom 8 Simple Rules, popular sister Bridget is supposedly older than straight-A younger sister Kerry. However, in real life, actress Kaley Cuoco is six years younger than Amy Davidson.
As is common on TV, these full-grown adults played children that still lived at home. At the time of filming, Kaley Cuoco was 17, while Amy Davidson was 25. This full-grown adult woman didn’t even play the younger sister!
Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart
OK — actor Cole Sprouse has been a kid on TV way longer than seems possible. Firstly, he played little Ben Geller in Friends, then one of the title characters in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. In that show, a 16-year-old Sprouse played a high school student.
However, now over a decade later, Cole Sprouse is still playing a teenager on TV! As Jughead on Riverdale, Sprouse is the oldest cast member that’s supposed to be a teenager. There are five years between him and Reinhart.
Evangeline Lilly and Matthew Fox
Primetime TV likes a love triangle, and sci-fi mystery drama Lost was no different. As is often the case, the show paired a younger actress with two older men. In real life, we’re pretty sure people would address the 10-year age gap between them and their potential partner.
When Lost first started, Evangeline Lily was 25 years old. Her action hero love interest Jack was played by Matthew Fox, who was 38. Meanwhile, cowboy conman Sawyer was played by Josh Holloway, age 35.
Lesley Fera and Troian Bellisario
Sasha Pieterse and Shay Mitchell aren’t the only people on the Pretty Little Liars cast to have confusing age gaps. Troian Bellisario, who plays perfectionist Spencer Hastings, was 24 during the show’s first season. Yep, that’s another 16-year-old on TV played by an adult.
Meanwhile, Spencer’s mom, Veronica, is played by Lesley Fera. When the show premiered, Fera was 38, making her just 14 years older than her TV daughter. Hey, we can’t say we’re all that surprised.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Darren Barnet
In Mindy Kaling’s coming of age series Never Have I Ever, Canadian actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan played Indian-American teenager Devi. Unusually for these shows, Ramakrishnan was actually 17 when she was cast. By the time the series was released, she was 18.
Darren Barnet was 28 when he was first cast as Paxton, and just a year off 30 when the show aired. There was over a 10-year gap then between the actress and her on-screen love interest.
George Lopez and Belita Moreno
When it comes to casting parents, TV shows are more interested in dynamic, star power, and making sure people look related than their ages. This means that we often get parent-child relationships that make no sense. Just take George Lopez as an example.
On the sitcom, George Lopez’s mom was played by actress Belita Moreno. In real life, there are just 11 years between the stars, so Benny would have had to be pretty young to give birth to George. Yikes.
Ann Morgan Guilbert and Renée Taylor
In ’90s sitcom The Nanny, Jewish fashionista Fran becomes the nanny of three well-to-do children. The show was created by lead actress Fran Drescher and her then-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, and based on her own life in Queens.
On the show, actress Renée Taylor played Fran’s mom, Sylvia Fine. Her mom, Fran’s grandmother, was played by Ann Moran Guilbert. In real life, there’s just one year between the actresses. Plus, Renée Taylor is the elder of the two!
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher
We know that sitcom stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher eventually ended up together, but the pair go way, way back. Before Ashton was married to Demi Moore (remember that?), he was a TV actor on That ‘70s Show.
Young Mila Kunis actually lied about her age to land her role on the show. She was just 14 years old when she auditioned, and 15 when the pilot aired. There are only five years between Kunis and Kutcher, but those five years count when someone is just 14!
Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer
It’s time for another teen show that’s jam-packed full of adults. Seriously, no one is the appropriate age in Glee, and the kids are all very close in age to their teacher, played by Matthew Morrison.
The most extreme age gap is between Cory Monteith, who played Finn, and Chris Colfer, who played Kurt. These two eventually became brothers, though Cory was 27 when the show first aired, and Chris just 19. Monteith was just two years younger than Morrison, who played Mr. Schuester.
John Cullum and Cynthia Geary
Now, here’s a TV age gap for you. Award-winning Canadian comedy-drama Northern Exposure initially followed a New York City doctor who relocated to a remote Alaskan town. The acclaimed show featured Cynthia Geary as Shelly Tambo, a pageant queen who fell for the town’s much older mayor.
At the time, Cynthia Geary was 25 years old, and John Cullum was 60. That’s right — that’s a real-life age gap of 35 years. In the show, it was even larger!
Ted Knight and Georgia Engel
The Mary Tyler Moore Show was pioneering for its depiction of an independent, working woman. But, that doesn’t mean the show didn’t rely on the old trick of using an older actor paired with a younger actress.
On the show, Ted Knight, who played Ted Baxter, felt that his character was too one-note, and in need of a wife. The wife, in this case, was Georgette — played by Georgia Engel. In real life, these two had an age gap of 25 years.
Miley Cyrus and Jason Earles
Next up is a bizarre age gap that surely could have been avoided! In Disney series Hannah Montana, Jason Earles plays Miley Cyrus’ brother. At the time, the future pop star was a tender 13 years old, while Earles was 28. That’s right, that’s an age gap of 15 years!
Of course, Jason Earles’ advanced age also made him close in age to his on-screen parents. There’s a 16-year gap between him and Billy Ray Cyrus, and a 12-year gap between him and Brooke Shields.
Moira Kelly and Chad Michael Murray
Naturally, teen drama One Tree Hill was also jam-packed full of adults playing high schoolers. One of the show’s main characters, Lucas, was played by Chad Michael Murray, who was 22 when the series began.
Lucas’ mom is played by Moira Kelly, who is just 14 years older than her on-screen son. In the show, Karen is a single mom who had Lucas when she was just a teen. This partly explains the small age gap between the two, but it’s still too small!
Tom Welling and Kristin Kreuk
Hilariously, actor Tom Welling was 24 years old when he played 14-year-old Clark Kent in Smallville. And look, Tom Welling simply does not look 14. However, the showrunners felt Welling had the handsomeness and stature to be Superman, so they overlooked his slightly advanced years.
Tom Welling’s castmate, Kristen Kreuk, was just 18 at the time of filming. By using actors that are slightly older than their characters, TV shows don’t need to stop for actual study breaks!
Leann Hunley and Joshua Jackson
Many TV shows have storylines that feature a teacher and a student in a romantic relationship. In literally every case this is problematic, mainly because teachers are supposed to educate and look out for their students. Also, those students are minors.
In Dawson’s Creek, everyone is famously older than their teenage character is supposed to be. Joshua Jackson was 20 when he filmed this storyline, while Leann Hunley was 43. Now, Jackson is 43, and Hunley is 66.
Tom Selleck and Courteney Cox
Apparently, Tom Selleck was only supposed to make a brief appearance in sitcom Friends. However, because of his and Courteney Cox’s chemistry, they kept the seasoned actor around. This led to an on-screen relationship with a pretty hefty age gap.
There are 19 years between these actors in real life, and their on-screen counterparts also came from different generations. In fact, Selleck’s character Richard knew Monica when she was a baby, and was friends with her parents. Now, that’s all kinds of wrong.
Trina McGee and Rider Strong
Sitcom Boy Meets World aired from 1993 to 2000, and followed the life of Cory Matthews. On the show, Rider Strong played Shawn, Cory’s best friend, and Trina McGee played Angela, Shawn’s love interest. When McGee joined the cast in season five, she was already 28 years old. That’s only two years off 30!
Meanwhile, Rider Strong was just 17 at the time, so over a decade younger than his on-screen crush. This relationship was pretty culturally significant, particularly because an interracial couple was still uncommon on TV.
Robert Bathurst and Laura Carmichael
Period drama is another place where age gaps are pretty common. Think about it — there are always crusty, withered men paired with radiant lively ladies, and never the opposite. In Downton Abbey, there’s a 26-year age gap between characters Lady Edith and Sir Anthony.
In real life, there are almost 30 years between the couple. English actor Robert Bathurst was 53 during filming, while English actress Laura Carmichael was just 24. Unlike some others on this list, the couple does address their age gap in the series.
Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur
It’s time for another on-screen parent-child relationship that wouldn’t work in real life. In The Golden Girls, Estelle Getty played Sophia Petrillo, the mother of Bea Arthur’s Dorothy Zbornak. To play the part, actress, and comedian Estelle Getty spent 45 minutes in hair and makeup so she could look 20 years older than her real age.
Interestingly, there’s only one year between these actresses in real life. Even more interesting is that Estelle Getty is actually the younger of the two.
Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco
In The Big Bang Theory, we’re led to believe that the gang is all more or less the same age. However, that isn’t strictly true in real life. Johnny Galecki, who plays Leonard, was 32 when the sitcom started, while Kaley Cuoco was just 22. Perhaps that’s why Penny doesn’t get any of the gang’s pop-culture references!
The other cast members are closer in age to Johnny Galecki. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon, was 35 when the show started, while Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg were both 26.
Kelly Rowan and Benjamin McKenzie
There are various reasons teen shows don’t cast real teenagers. For one, you don’t have to stop shooting for school work when your actors are adults. Secondly, older actors have more experience, and are more likely to get the job done efficiently and professionally.
Perhaps that’s why 25-year-old Benjamin McKenzie was cast as a teenager in The O.C. His TV mom, Kelly Rowan, was 38 when the show first aired, making her only 13 years older than her supposed son.
Christian Serratos and Michael Cudlitz
On post-apocalyptic horror series The Walking Dead, Abrasita emerges as a couple in both the TV series and the comics. Of course, Abrasita is the couple name for Abraham Ford and Rosita Espinosa, played by Michael Cudlitz and Christian Serratos.
In real life, American actress Christian Serrato was 24 when she started working on the series. Her on-screen other half, Michael Cudlitz, was 50. This works out as a real-life age gap of 26 years. We know it’s the end of the world, but still…
Barrett Doss and Brett Tucker
Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Station 19, set in a Seattle fire station, premiered in 2018. In the show, Barrett Doss plays the energetic and tough Victoria Hughes, part of the fire-fighting team at Station 19. When the show premiered, Doss was 29 years old.
One of Vic’s love interests in the early seasons of the drama was Fire Chief Lucas Ripley. The brooding man in charge was played by Australian actor Brett Tucker, who was 46 at the time of filming. That’s 17 years!
KJ Apa and Ashleigh Murray
We’re back to teen drama Riverdale for another couple with a sizeable age gap. The show, which premiered in 2017, follows Archie Andrews in the small town of Riverdale. New Zealand actor KJ Apa stars as the high school football player, and was 20 when the series started.
One of Archie’s love interests is Josie McCoy, played by American actress Ashleigh Murray. When she first appeared on the show, she was 29 — over a decade older than her co-star.
Justin Chambers and Camilla Luddington
We’re back to the Grey’s Anatomy universe for another couple with an unmentioned age gap. While Jo Wilson and Alex Karev initially bond over their troubled pasts, the medical drama never acknowledges the generational difference between them. Well, except that she’s a resident and he’s an attending.
In real life, actors Justin Chambers and Camilla Luddington have 14 years between them. While we might still think of Karev as a baby surgeon, he’s actually a man in his 50s!
David Schwimmer and Alexandra Holden
Ok, our next two entries definitely do acknowledge their age gaps. In the Friends episode, “The One Where Ross Dates a student,” paleontology professor Ross Gellar goes on a date with his student, Elizabeth. On the show, there were 12 years between this couple.
In real life, there’s a decade between David Schwimmer and Alexandra Holden. Of course, the whole point of Elizabeth as a character was her taboo relationship with the uptight Ross. After five episodes, she was gone!
Jennifer Aniston and Bruce Willis
We couldn’t talk about Ross and Elizabeth without giving a shout-out to Rachel and Elizabeth’s dad. In the episode, “The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth’s Dad,” Rachel Green also comes upon the dashing dad, played by movie star Bruce Willis.
Apparently, Bruce Willis lost a bet with Matthew Perry, leading to this guest spot. In fact, Willis did the three-episode arc for free. In real life, there are 14 years between the Die Hard star and Jennifer Aniston.
Alexis Bledel and Keiko Agena
When Japanese-American actress Keiko Agena was cast in the Gilmore Girls, she was already much older than her on-screen character. At 27 years old, Agena was to play Lane Kim, the Korean-American best friend of Rory Gilmore. At the time, castmate Alexis Bledel was just 19.
This means that Lane and Rory had a real-life age gap of eight years. Plus, after seven years of the series, Keiko Agena was 34 by the time the show wrapped! Looking good, Lane!
Charisma Carpenter and Robia Scott
And right away here’s another actress that was 27 when she was cast to play a high school student. Well, Charisma Carpenter was technically 26, but she was almost 27! In supernatural drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Carpenter plays Cordelia Chase, a popular student at Sunnydale High.
One of the teachers at Sunnydale High is Jenny Calendar, played by Robia Scott. Going by their real-life ages, these two have only a 16-day age gap between them.
Ed O’Neill and Sofía Vergara
The age gap between Ed O’Neill and Sofía Vergara’s characters on Modern Family is maybe the most well-known of all. In the series, Jay Pritchett is married to the much younger Gloria Delgado, a beautiful Colombian immigrant. The show regularly makes reference to the couple’s large age gap, and what others see as their attractiveness gap.
In real life, Ed O’Neill is 26 years older than Sofía Vergara. When the mockumentary sitcom first premiered, O’Neill was 63 years old, while Vergara was 37.
Liza Weil and Michael York
We return to Stars Hollow for our last surprising on-screen age gap. It’s another of those awful teacher-student situations, so brace yourselves. This time we have Paris Geller, played by American actress Liza Weil, and Asher Fleming, played by English actor Michael York.
When these two get together at Yale, Paris was around 18 years old, and Asher 60! In real life, York was 61 years old, and Weil was 26. That’s a fictional gap of 42 years, and a real-life gap of 35.
35+ Real Stories Behind Disney Characters
Moana is a young princess who sets out on a quest to retrieve the goddess Te Fitti’s heart from Maui, a demigod. She sets on the quest because the flora and fauna on her island succumb to blight. It is a fictional story, but the authors’ original plan was to make a film solely based on Maui.
After visiting Polynesia, they were inspired by the gorgeous and powerful women they encountered. They also learned a lot about navigation. This is how the character of Moana was born.
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs
When princess Snow White was exiled by her stepmother, she was saved by seven dwarfs. However, she couldn’t get away from her stepmother’s tricks. She eventually fell asleep after eating a poisoned fruit.
However, the story of Snow White is based on a true story about countess Margarete and her purported lover, Philip II of Spain. The countess was allegedly poisoned at an early age since politics trumped true love at the time. Margarete, like our princess Snow White, had a tumultuous relationship with her stepmother.
Rapunzel is a modern-day heroine who escapes her tower to explore the outside world, only to get herself into a lot of trouble. The story, however, is based on a young woman in Italy named Barbara.
She was a breathtakingly beautiful woman. So, her father used to lock her up in a tower to keep her out of men’s sight. Many asked for her hand in marriage. Yet, Barbara refused them all. She dedicated herself to God and to her newly discovered Christian beliefs.
Mulan is based on the short poem “The Ballad of Mulan.” The original version follows a simpler version of the well-known story. In that story, Mulan’s father is called to battle. However, she volunteers to go in his place. Her father is not described as old or sick in the original poem.
Later versions, on the other hand, did. According to the story, there were no adult sons in the household to take his position. Mulan and her soldiers return to Mulan’s homeland after 12 years of war, and they were surprised to learn that she’s actually a woman.
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen was the inspiration for Frozen. This wildly popular animation is about sisterly love and learning not to be afraid of your own power. The Snow Queen, on the other hand, has a much darker beginning but a similar happy ending.
In this version, Elsa abducts Kay, a little boy, and enchants him with a kiss. Kay is presumed to have drowned in the river when he vanishes. His friend, Gerda, saves him from the Queen’s palace several years later.
Sleeping Beauty is a classic Disney story about a princess named Aurora who’s in peril, and a brave prince who comes to her rescue. This Disney tale is very similar to the version written by Charles Perrault, a French author. Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty is mainly a remake of Basile’s.
However, the inclusion of the spinning wheel and the removal of the princess’s tragedy were the most noticeable changes. He does, however, include the story’s second half. This centers on the princess’s children and the fear of ogres.
Cinderella is a Disney animated classic with singing mice, a lovely fairy godmother, and a flashy gown. The earliest recognized story about a Cinderella-like character appeared in Greece, in the sixth century BCE. In that story, a Greek courtesan, named Rhodopis, has one of her shoes stolen by an eagle.
It then flies across the Mediterranean and drops the shoe in the lap of an Egyptian monarch. The king embarks on a quest to identify the shoe’s owner. When he comes upon Rhodopis, he marries her.
The Beauty and the Beast
Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve wrote the story of Beauty and the Beast, which was first published in 1740. She wrote this story after getting inspired by a real couple, Pedro and Catherine Gonsalves. Pedro had an unusual genetic disease that caused him to have thick hair all over his body.
Catherine was said to have never seen her groom before the wedding day. Although her spouse didn’t turn into a stunning prince, they did share a beautiful marriage, plus seven children.
Pocahontas is based on the life of Matoaka, a Native American woman who became known as Pocahontas, although with significant variations. Pocahontas allegedly covered the body of John Smith to protect him from the Powhatan people, but there is no verification of this.
Colonists kidnapped Matoaka to ransom English prisoners held by her father. John Rolfe conditioned her release by securing her promise to marry him while she was imprisoned. She passed away at the age of 21.
The Little Mermaid
In Disney’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid, Ariel eventually wins Prince Eric’s heart. However, in the original story, which is a Danish fairytale that was created by Hans Christian Andersen, things don’t turn out so well. Ariel’s transition into a human causes her endless agony.
Her heart is also shattered in that version when her prince marries someone else. The Sea Witch tells her that if she takes the life of the prince, she will revert to a mermaid and live. Despite this, Ariel chooses to sacrifice herself.
The tale of Aladdin was first found in The Arabian Nights. In that version, Aladdin is a poor young boy who lives in a Chinese city. A sorcerer approaches him and asks him to assist him in retrieving an oil lamp from a magical cave.
The sorcerer double-crosses Aladdin, but he touches the latter’s magic ring and summons a genie. The genie assists him in escaping the cave and becoming wealthy. Later, he marries Princess Badroulbadour, whose name is later changed in the animated version into Jasmine.
The Princess and the Frog
This animation is based on The Frog Prince, a novel written by the Brothers Grimm. However, Tatiana differs a lot from the original princess that’s featured in the Brothers Grimm version.
That anonymous princess is phony, pretentious, and spoiled. As the story develops, she throws the frog against the wall for some unexplained reason. He transforms into a handsome prince after splatting against the wall and falling to the floor.
In the animated film Hercules, Megara is a pessimistic young princess who Hades enslaves. Hades forces Meg to expose Hercules’ inadequacies in exchange for her freedom.
Directors Ron Clements and John Musker adapted Meg into a morally conflicted con artist, based on Megara and Deianira — Hercules’ first and second wives in Greek mythology. Megara is also inspired by actress Barbara Stanwyck’s portrayal in The Lady Eve, both in terms of character and personality. However, in the original version, Megara falls in love with Hades.
Princess Merida features in the animated film Brave. She’s a strong archer who works on her own. However, while Castle Dunbroch in Disney’s movie is a fictional castle, Princess Merida’s castle is based on Eilean Donan Castle, which is located in Scotland.
The Scottish Highlands are featured prominently in the film. The daughter of the co-director also influences Princess Merida. Because it was based on Brenda Chapman’s real-life experiences with her own teenage daughter, the mother-daughter bond in the film looks particularly authentic.
Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph has always been a Disney princess. However, Vanellope’s design was influenced by the Japanese Super Deformed (SD) caricature style.
It’s generally acknowledged in anime circles as Chibi. Smaller limbs and big heads are common in this style, giving the character a childlike aspect. Vanellope, too, had smaller limbs and a big head. Additionally, Vanellope’s hair and facial characteristics were also developed to make her look like a younger version of her voice actress, Sarah Silverman.
Maleficent is a wicked yet good villain who, as a young girl, falls in love with a Scottish peasant boy named Stefan. The movie is based on the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty, but recounted from the point of view of Maleficent. Maleficent is also based on the malevolent fairy godmother from Charles Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty.
In the Brothers Grimm’s rendition of the story, Stefan burns off Maleficient’s wings in order to ascend the throne of the human kingdom. The villainess responds to this betrayal by casting the sleeping curse on his daughter.
The Lion King
The story of The Lion King and Simba, a young lion who wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, absolutely enthralled us all. However, the true story of Hamlet, upon which it’s based, is even more sinister.
Prince Hamlet embarks on a quest for vengeance against his uncle Claudius who took the life of his father to take the throne — much like Simba, our favorite lion cub. However, the insanity Hamlet portrays while preparing his ruthless vengeance begins to wreak havoc on both the guilty and the innocent.
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
This film is considered one of the darkest animated Disney films. However, the story is based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, a tragic story of compassion and cruelty.
That novel has a very sad ending. Quasimodo’s guardian, Archdeacon Frollo, betrays Esmeralda and takes her life. As Esmeralda passes away, Quasimodo takes the life of Frollo and goes to the cemetery to grieve Esmeralda. Finally, he starves until he passes away next to her grave.
We all grew up watching Pinocchio. With blue fairies, boys transforming into donkeys, and Gepetto dwelling in the belly of a whale — Disney’s version is surreal enough. Pinocchio is a fictional character that originated from the protagonist of the children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.
In that original, a woodcarver named Geppetto carved Pinocchio. He was designed to be a wooden puppet, but he wishes to grow up to be a real boy. He’s notable for his lying, which causes his nose to grow longer.
The film Luca follows the development of a young sea monster who wants to explore the human village of Portorosso. The lovely Italian town of Portorosso may appear to be something out of a dream, but it was inspired by a real village of the same name.
The setting is modeled on the real-life Italian Riviera, where Luca’s director Enrico Casarosa grew up. His real-life best friend Alberto also influenced it, whom he met while growing up in Genoa.
The new Disney-Pixar animated movie Soul has captured the world’s hearts, minds, and, well, souls. Joe Gardner, a middle school band instructor by day and jazz pianist by night, is the main protagonist in that movie.
However, the role was inspired by Dr. Peter Archer, a real-life middle school teacher who shaped the character in many ways. The 58-year-old instructor from New York City has dedicated his life to music and helping young people to pursue the arts.
Lilo and Stitch
Lilo and Stitch is about an extraterrestrial disguised as a dog taught to love by a little girl. On the other hand, the original story was entirely about an alien living in a jungle who was attempting to overcome his solitude and discover where he came from.
Lilo didn’t appear in the picture until considerably later. Aside from that, the scenery in this film is based on the real Kauai, which is the oldest of Hawaii’s islands in terms of geology.
Up is about Carl, who loses his wife to a terminal disease and stays confined to his house. The character Ellie, Carl’s wife, was based on a real woman named Edith who confined herself to her home in Oregon after coming back from World War II and finding out that her mom had passed away.
She eventually became friends with Barry Martin, who took care of her while she was ill with cancer. In 2008, she passed away and left her house to the same Barry!
The Emperor’s New Groove
The Emperor’s New Groove features Emperor Kuzco, the protagonist of the story, who is reincarnated as a llama. He will need the assistance of Pacha, a llama herder, to find his way back to the royal palace to reclaim his throne.
Disney animators found inspiration for Kuzco’s realm in the ruins of Machu Picchu, which the Incans built in the 1400s. Kuzco’s name sounds similar to the Peruvian city Cusco while Pacha’s name is similar to the Incan ruler Pachacutec. What’s more, the name of the film comes from a Danish fairy tale.
Finding Nemo was a fun movie to watch as it told the story of an overprotective clownfish named Marlin. He seeks his missing offspring Nemo with the help of a regal blue tang named Dory. In Finding Nemo, however, Marlin and Dory travel to Sydney Harbor — based on the real Sydney Harbor in Australia.
Other ideas claim that Nemo is a mental embodiment of the creator’s worries and concerns about becoming a father. The writer portrays his fear of losing his son through this story.
Winnie the Pooh
In Winnie the Pooh, Pooh and his companions go on a journey to retrieve Eeyore’s missing tail and save Christopher Robin from a mysterious creature known as The Backson while seeking honey. The Hundred-Acre Wood is based on an actual forest in England called Ashdown Forest.
The Ashdown Forest was close to where A.A. Milne, the author, spent much of his life. After the war, the author was suffering from PTSD and found refuge in the tranquil forest.
Remy, the rat in Ratatouille, aspires to be a famous French chef. However, he’s unaware that people loathe rodents. The real story that inspired Gusteau’s is a three-star restaurant named La Cote d’Or, owned by Bernard Loiseau. Loiseau was one of the most famous French chefs before his passing in 2003.
The chef was well known amongst critics as well as customers until the Michelin Guide said they would remove stars from his restaurant. That’s what caused the famous chef to lose it.
When Lightning McQueen, a racing car, wrecks many properties in Radiator Springs, he learns a hard life lesson. The design aspects of Disney’s Cars were heavily influenced by Route 66. However, one structure, particularly Ramone’s Body Art Shop, was inspired by a real location along Route 66 near Shamrock, Texas.
The U-Drop Inn, an art deco-style petrol station and restaurant, is that place. The U-Drop Inn was refurbished in the late 1990s and is now a national historic property open to the public.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 American animated science-fiction action-adventure film that follows Milo Thatch, a young linguist who discovers a sacred book that he believes will lead him and a group of mercenaries to the underwater city of Atlantis.
The fabled city of Atlantis was based on a real temple complex above ground at Siem Reap, Cambodia. Many of the elements in Atlantis are based on the Angkor Wat temple complex. The concept of Atlantis is, however, based on stories told by Plato in 360 BC.
Ian and Barley, two brothers, aged 11, embark on an epic adventure to bring their deceased father back to life for a day. This is a fantasy world where technological advancements have taken over. The plot is based on writer Scanlon’s own life — when the filmmaker was a baby, his father passed away in a car accident.
Rather than being handed a spellbook and a wizard’s staff like Ian, he was given a cassette tape recording of his father’s voice by his aunt and uncle when he was 16.
The Jungle Book
When a tiger named Sher Khan threatens to take the abandoned Mowgli’s life, a panther and a bear come to the rescue. Many people believe that Rudyard Kipling’s classic masterpiece, The Jungle Book, was inspired by Dina Sanichar, an Indian boy who lived in the 19th century.
Dina, like Mowgli, was raised by animals. However, his life was very different from that of his fictional counterpart. Dina had a tough time reintegrating into human society after he was rescued.
In this movie, Mr. Incredible hopes to get back into action after being forced to take a civilian identity and locked in a white-collar job. Although it may not appear so, the story of The Incredibles was inspired by true events. That doesn’t mean that the film’s director, Brad Bird, has a superhero family.
When creating the movie, Bird drew inspiration from his own experiences. He, too, was stuck in a desk job when the only thing he wanted to do was to animate.
Riley Anderson, an 11-year-old girl, is the protagonist of this film. Riley is from Minnesota, but she moves to a different state one day, and her life is forever changed. However, this incredible movie was inspired by the true story of Pete Docter’s daughter.
Once she turns 11, Docter notices that the girl has started to change. Inspired by her daughter’s upbringing, Docter created Inside Out in late 2009. The emotions were based on Docter and Ronnie del Carmen’s recollections.
Zootopia is an animated buddy cop film released in 2016. The plot revolves around a cop and a con artist. They come across a criminal ring that is involved in predatory disappearances. However, Nick’s Zootopia might have been inspired by early dystopian movies.
A dystopia is a fictional state or society in which tremendous suffering or injustice exists, usually in a totalitarian or post-apocalyptic setting. Zootopia appeared to be more of a dystopia because it features a world that is too unjust to save and characters too unlikable to root for.
Raya and the Last Dragon
The movie Raya and the Last Dragon depicts a warrior princess who sets out to find the fabled last dragon in the hopes of reuniting with her father and banishing the evil spirits known as the Druun from the Kumandra kingdom. This is a fantasy film set in the mythical realm of Kumandra.
However, the whole setting was inspired by the Southeast Asian civilization, according to the writer Adele Lim. Raya is also a representation of the Southeastern Asian women she grew up with.
Bambi is an exceptional film that depicts innocence and beauty. Bambi is a fawn whose father is known as the Great Prince of the Forest, and the story follows his adventures. The inspiration for Bambi, a Life in the Woods came from a 1923 novel that was written by Austrian author Felix Salten.
In addition to taking the life of Bambi’s mother, the more graphic novel has Bambi’s father walking him to the body of a fatally injured man to demonstrate that humans aren’t immortal.
The Legend of Tarzan
In the movie The Legend of Tarzan, Tarzan is a feral child who’s raised by great apes in an African jungle. He later learns about human civilization when he gets to meet humans visiting the jungle, but he rejects human society and returns to the wild.
Believe it or not, Tarzan’s character is based on an 11-year-old boy named William Mildin, who ended up on an African coast in 1868 after a shipwreck. The boy was also adopted by monkeys like Tarzan.
Alice in Wonderland
The story revolves around 19-year-old Alice’s journey into a magical world from her childhood adventure. In contrast to other fairy tales, Alice in Wonderland depicts a child’s realistic path through life. The true story behind Alice in Wonderland is disturbing.
The movie is based on Lewis Carroll’s story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice was modeled according to a real little girl named Alice Liddell — who was stubborn, precocious, and imaginative.
Over the Moon
This film is about a young girl who has many wonderful memories of her mother. She sets out to build a rocket and embark on a perilous journey to meet a legendary moon goddess.
According to a report by Travel China, Over the Moon is based on a classic Chinese folk tale in which “there are 10 suns in the sky, and it is always hot.” Houyi, a talented archer, takes the life of nine of the ten suns and earns the elixir of immortality as a reward.
This film’s story is about an aging Chinese mother who feels alone when her child moves out and gets a second chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings comes to life. The short film is partially based on Domee Shi’s childhood and experiences growing up in Canada after immigrating from China.
The writer said that she always felt like she was overprotected, like a little dumpling, by her Chinese mom. That’s how the idea for this film came to her.
The Wind Rises
This film is about Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese aircraft engineer with a lifetime passion for flying. He designed the A6M World War II fighter plane during his illustrious career. However, the film is based on the historical story of the warplane designer during WWII and Tatsuo Hori’s writings. The Wind Rises brings Japan’s history to life and sheds light on the country’s part in WWII.
Although the protagonist falls in love with a woman who passes away, following a terminal illness, in the movie, the real-life Horikoshi never experienced that.
Peter Pan is the story of a boy who wouldn’t grow up. Wendy and her brothers are carried away to the enchanting Neverland by Peter Pan in this story. He is the protagonist in this tale. Like many other Disney adaptations, Peter Pan has a tragic origin.
J.M. Barrie, the author of the original story, lost his 13-year-old brother in an ice-skating accident when he was six years old. Since then, he and his mother thought of him as being 13 forever.
Did you know that Shrek’s character was based on a real person? A man known as “The French Angel” was the real-life inspiration for the animated character Shrek. In the 1930s and 1940s, a Russian-born Frenchman named Maurice Tillet rose to prominence as a professional wrestler.
Tillet was diagnosed with acromegaly when he was 17 years old. This increased bone growth in his hands, feet, and face due to hormonal imbalance. However, he too got to marry a beautiful woman named Olga.
Oliver and Company
The story centers on Oliver’s adventure after getting lost in New York City. The film is based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. The period and setting were two of the most noticeable alterations made in the adaptation.
The book, for example, is set in 19th-century London, whereas the film is set in modern-day New York. The characters are also tweaked a little. Oliver is a poor orphan in the tale. However, Oliver is a homeless kitten who befriends a pack of street dogs in the film.
Cruella de Vil was first featured in the film 101 Dalmatians in 1961, in which she was animated by Marc Davis.
CruellaMarc Davis, the animator behind the well-known Disney characters such as Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, discussed how he based Cruella on a woman he met in real life. The woman is actress Tallulah Bankhead — who was tall, slim, and constantly talked incoherently.