Skip to content

The Biggest '00s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now

Here's what all your favorite bad boys and queen bees are up to these days.

The '90s may have given us Dawson's Creek and the best years of Saved by the Bell, but still, it's no match for the '00s when it comes to teen-focused TV. The first decade of the new millennium was all about adolescent angst, from Upper East Side prep school wars to vampire love triangles (and even quadrangles?). The high school-set shows of the aughts also launched many a career, unknowingly giving us future Marvel villains and Disney princesses. It's hard to believe that many of these shows are almost two decades old, so to really put it in perspective, here are the biggest teen idols of '00s TV shows, in the early days of their fame and now. And for some of the best teen flicks ever made, we're Ranking Every '90s Teen Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best.

Read the original article on Best Life.

Kristen Bell: Then


In 2004, the eponymous teen detective Veronica Mars made her debut, as played by relative unknown Kristen Bell.

Kristen Bell: Now

Kristen Bell
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Bell parlayed the cult favorite status of Veronica Mars (which returned for a belated fourth season in 2019) into a sturdy career in film and TV. Her most recent comedy series, The Good Place, came to an end earlier this year, and she'll be back on Disney+ soon as the host of the theater kid reality TV show, Encore!, which is getting a second season.

And if you can't get enough of this era, check out 23 Celeb Red Carpet Photos From 2000 You Have to See to Believe.

Chad Michael Murray: Then

Chad Michael Murray in One Tree Hill
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

After recurring roles on Gilmore Girls and Dawson's CreekChad Michael Murray scored a lead on the teen drama One Tree Hill, which ran from 2003 to 2012.

To see where the teen stars from the previous decade ended up, check out The Biggest '90s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.

Chad Michael Murray: Now

Chad Michael Murray in 2017
Jaguar PS/Shutterstock

Murray's 2020 credits include the Hallmark Christmas movie Love in Winterland and the action flick Survive the Night. He also made a return to the teen soap genre when he guest starred on Riverdale as a charismatic cult leader.

Adam Brody: Then

Adam Brody in The OC
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

As Seth Cohen on The O.C., Adam Brody helped introduce a generation of teen viewers to Deathcab for Cutie and the hybrid holiday Chrismukkah.

For shows from the turn of the millennia that you may have forgotten, check out 20 Beloved TV Shows You Won't Believe Are 20 Years Old.

Adam Brody: Now

Adam Brody 2019

Brody has had a busy 2020, with roles in the movies The Kid Detective and Promising Young Woman, plus the series Mrs. America. He's also been married to another star on this list, Gossip Girl actor Leighton Meester, since 2014.

And for the latest on this '00s couple, check out The Surprising Name Adam Brody & Leighton Meester Are Calling Their Son.

Blake Lively: Then

Blake Lively in Gossip Girl
CBS Television Distribution

Two years after she had her breakout role in The Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsBlake Lively hit the small screen as Gossip Girl's golden girl, Serena van der Woodsen.

For the high-school star you remember best, check out This Was the Most Popular Teen Idol the Year You Graduated.

Blake Lively: Now

Blake Lively 2018

In 2020, Lively starred in the thriller The Rhythm Section. And she welcomed her third child with husband Ryan Reynolds in late 2019.

And for another star who just added to their family, check out Mindy Kaling Secretly Had Another Baby and His Name Is Too Cute.

Taylor Kitsch: Then

Taylor Kitsch in Friday Night Lights
NBCUniversal Television Distribution

Friday Night Lights bad boy Tim Riggins wouldn't have been the same if he hadn't been played by Taylor Kitsch for the entirety of the football drama's run.

For more nostalgia sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Taylor Kitsch: Now

Taylor Kitsch 2018
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Kitsch's most recent role was in 21 Bridges, the 2019 police thriller that features one of the final performances of the late Chadwick Boseman.

And for more on Boseman's last project, check out The Trailer for Chadwick Boseman's Last Movie on Netflix.

Hilarie Burton: Then

Hilarie Burton in One Tree Hill
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Hilarie Burton came to One Tree Hill with plenty of teen star caché—she'd been a VJ on MTV's Total Request Live for a few years by that point. She played Peyton Sawyer for six seasons of the small-town drama.

Hilarie Burton: Now

Hilarie Burton 2019
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Burton can frequently be seen in holiday TV movies, whether on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel. In 2020, she appeared on the series Council of Dads, which has since been canceled. In 2019, she married long-time partner, The Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

And for more Hollywood romances that may have slipped your mind, check out 20 Long-Term Celebrity Couples You Totally Forgot Are Still Together.

Ben McKenzie: Then

Benjamin McKenzie in The OC
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

On The O.C.Ben McKenzie played Ryan Atwood, the teen offender taken in by his public defender's wealthy Orange County family.

Ben McKenzie: Now

Benjamin McKenzie 2019

McKenzie's run as a young Jim Gordon on the Batman prequel series Gotham ended in 2019. (He's married to costar Morena Baccarin, who he met on set.) This year, he made his Broadway debut in the play Grand Horizons.

Alexis Bledel: Then

Alexis Bledel in Gilmore Girls
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Starting in 2000, Alexis Bledel became synonymous with the role of Rory Gilmore, the high-achieving daughter of single mother Lorelai (Lauren Graham) on Gilmore Girls.

Alexis Bledel: Now

Alexis Bledel 2018
lev radin/Shutterstock

Since 2017, Bledel has played Ofglen on the acclaimed series adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, for which she won an Emmy award.

Tyler James Williams: Then

Tyler James Williams in Everybody Hates Chris
CBS Television Distribution

Tyler James Williams led the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, as a fictionalized version of future comedian Chris Rock.

Tyler James Williams: Now

Tyler James Williams 2019
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Williams continues to work in TV and film; most recently, he appeared in the comedies The Wedding Year and The Argument.

Liza Weil: Then

Liza Weil in Gilmore Girls
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Liza Weil costarred on Gilmore Girls as Rory's rival-turned-friend Paris Geller.

Liza Weil: Now

Liza Weil in 2019
lev radin/Shutterstock

Weil could be seen on the Shondaland primetime soap How to Get Away With Murder as Annalise Keating's (Viola Davis) associate Bonnie Winterbottom, until the series came to an end in 2020.

Mischa Barton: Then

Mischa Barton in The OC
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Mischa Barton was the queen bee of The O.C. for three seasons, playing the troubled rich girl next door Marissa Cooper.

Mischa Barton: Now

Mischa Barton in 2019
Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock

Okay, keep up with us on this one: The MTV reality show The Hills is a spinoff of another reality series, Laguna Beach, which was conceived as the real-life answer to The O.C. In 2019, Barton—who starred on the drama that inspired it—joined the cast of the reboot series The Hills: New Beginnings, appearing as herself. She also starred in the 2020 horror-comedy Spree.

Ian Somerhalder: Then

Ian Somerhalder in Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Distribution

Starting in 2009, Ian Somerhalder played the dark and mysterious bloodsucker Damon Salvatore on The CW's huge hit The Vampires Diaries.

Ian Somerhalder: Now

Ian Somerhalder 2019
G Holland/Shutterstock

Somerhalder starred on the Netflix sci-fi series V Wars, which dropped in 2019 but was unfortunately canceled in 2020. Forming a vampire drama power couple, he married Twilight star Nikki Reed in 2015.

Michael B. Jordan: Then

Michael B Jordan in Friday Night Lights
NBCUniversal Television Distribution

After impressing critics and audiences with his work on The WireMichael B. Jordan joined the cast of Friday Night Lights in Season 4, playing green quarterback Vince Howard.

Michael B. Jordan: Now

Michael B. Jordan

Jordan is indisputably one of the biggest young stars in Hollywood, having starred in the Creed movies, entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Panther villain Killmonger, and leading socially relevant dramas like 2019's Just Mercy.

And if you're a Black Panther fan, you'll appreciate this Ranking of Every Marvel Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best.

Tristan Wilds: Then

Tristan Wilds in 90210
CBS Television Distribution

On the 2008 reboot 90210, Tristan Wilds played Dixon Wilson, one of two siblings who have to adjust to the Beverly Hills lifestyle after moving there from the midwest with their parents.

And for some drama with the original 90210, check out "90210" Stars Respond to Jessica Alba's Claim About How They Treated Her.

Tristan Wilds: Now

Tristan Wilds 2019
Ron Adar/Shutterstock

In addition to continuing to act, Wilds is also a musician. His most recent album, AfterHours, came out in 2017.

Jared Padalecki: Then

Jared Padalecki in Gilmore Girls
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Jared Padalecki was one of the many Gilmore boys, and by that we mean one of Rory's love interests, who are still hotly debated. Dean, Padalecki's character, has the distinction of being the first.

Jared Padalecki: Now

Jared Padalecki 2019
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

We probably don't have to remind you where Padalecki has been since leaving Stars Hollow. For a whopping 15 seasons, he's been playing Sam Winchester, one-half of the duo of demon-hunting brothers on the show Supernatural. It's coming to an end this year, after which he's set to star in the Walker, Texas Ranger revival series, Walker.

Leighton Meester: Then

Leighton Meester in Gossip Girl
CBS Television Distribution

Leighton Meester made headbands cool again as Gossip Girl's Blair Waldorf, Serena's best friend and the envy of all the Upper East Side.

Leighton Meester: Now

Leighton Meester in 2019

Until its cancellation this year, Meester could be seen on the sitcom Single Parents. She gave birth to her second child with husband Adam Brody in September.

Paul Wesley: Then

Paul Wesley in Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Distribution

Paul Wesley played little vamp brother to Damon, Stefan Salvatore, on The Vampire Diaries, where his romance with a human named Elena (Nina Dobrev) was a key storyline.

Paul Wesley: Now

Paul Wesley in Tell Me a Story
CBS All Access

Wesley played several roles on the CBS All Access series Tell Me a Story (from Vampire Diaries coshowunner Kevin Williamson) and has also stepped behind the camera to direct some TV episodes, too.

Wilmer Valderrama: Then

Wilmer Valderrama in That 70s Show
Carsey-Werner Distribution

Beginning in 1998, Wilmer Vanderrama played amorous exchange student Fez on That '70s Show.

Wilmer Valderrama: Now

Wilmer Valderrama
Ovidiu Hrubaru/Shutterstock

Valderrama has stayed busy as an actor and producer. In 2020, he voiced a character in Onward, guested on the series Gentefied, and appeared in the video for Justin Bieber's song "Holy."

Rachel Bilson: Then

Rachel Bilson in The OC
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Rachel Bilson rounded out the main foursome of The O.C. as the seemingly vapid but surprisingly deep Summer Roberts, Marissa's best friend and the object of Seth's affection.

Rachel Bilson: Now

Rachel Bilson 2019

Bilson's most recent series credit is 2018's Take Two, following a recurring role on Nashville. She also grabbed headlines in 2020 when she accompanied Bill Hader, who she was rumored to be dating, to the Golden Globes. They called it quits this summer, however.

And for another couple who's made headlines recently, check out Matthew McConaughey Has Some Thoughts on "The Heat" Between Brad and Jen.

Jurnee Smollett: Then

Jurnee Smollett in Friday Night Lights
NBCUniversal Television Distribution

Jurnee Smollett was another Season 4 addition to Friday Night Lights, playing aspiring football coach Jess Merriweather.

Jurnee Smollett: Now

Jurnee Smollett in Lovecraft Country

Smollet had a huge 2020, with a key role in the DC comic book flick Birds of Prey and a starring turn on the buzzy HBO sci-fi series Lovecraft Country.

Mila Kunis: Then

Mila Kunis in That 70s Show
Carsey-Werner Distribution

Mila Kunis was the youngest of the main That '70s Show cast, playing the boy-crazy Jackie.

Mila Kunis: Now

Mila Kunis

Kunis wed her former '70s Show costar, Ashton Kutcher, in 2015, and they've since had two kids together. In 2020, she starred in the film Four Good Days, played herself on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and continued to voice her longtime character Meg Griffin on Family Guy.

Nina Dobrev: Then

Nina Dobrev in Vampire Diaries
CBS Television Distribution

Nina Dobrev did double duty on The Vampire Diaries, playing both girl-next-door Elena and vampire Katherine Pierce.

Nina Dobrev: Now

Nina Dobrev 2019

Since Vampire Diaries wrapped, Dobrev splits her time between guest spots on various TV series and starring roles in films like Run This Town and Lucky Day.

Tom Welling: Then

Tom Welling in Smallville
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

Tom Welling won the role of a young Clark Kent for the teen-focused Superman series Smallville after an extremely competitive process. He played the future superhero for 10 seasons.

Tom Welling: Now

Tom Welling 2017
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Welling appeared on the earlier seasons of Lucifer and also reprised his role of Clark Kent in the Batwoman episode of the annual CW/DC crossover arc. He's also due to star on a series called Professionals, his first lead role since leaving Smallville in 2011.

Penn Badgley: Then

Penn Badgley in Gossip Girl
CBS Television Distribution

Penn Badgley's aspiring writer Dan Humphrey was the fish-out-of-water kid in the early days of Gossip Girl, though anyone who watched the series to the end knows that we say that with a wink.

Penn Badgley: Now

Penn Badgley 2018
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Since 2018, Badgley has been starring on the psychological thriller series You, as a serial stalker who sees himself as a nice, romantic guy. A third season is coming to Netflix in 2021.

And speaking of the best of Netflix, here are The 50 Best Netflix Shows Ever, According to Critics.

Filed Under