5 Reasons I Enjoy Playing the ‘Where Do I Know That Actor From?’ Game

Sanctuary, Supernatural, Castle, Suits

If you have been watching TV for any length of time, then I am sure you know what I am referring to by the title of this article. But, to be clear, my goal here is to discuss the phenomenon occurring when you are watching a show, and one of the guest stars, or sometimes a series regular, was previously on another show you enjoyed.

I actively watch for this to occur. Sometimes I read about upcoming guest appearances or new series on the TV Equals website, and have a heads up. Other times I see it when the opening credits list the stars or guest stars; however, I do get annoyed when they put it in the closing credits, because those are *always* shrunk down to an illegible size! Of course, sometimes I do not recall the actor’s name, so miss it even when they are in the credits, or a name will look familiar, then I spend the episode trying to figure out who it is I know.

I must confess that I rely on my son and husband many times since I seem to have a problem recognizing faces if they have changed their hair style or hair color, or for men, if they have facial hair. Many times, it is the voice that gives it away for me. Please understand that I am not talking about crossover roles, where the actor is playing the same character in two different shows, although I do enjoy those! Finally, in my list, the first show I mention is the show where I came to love them. I fully realize that they could have been in other things before that – tell me about it in the comments!

But, no matter how I come to my realization, it is always a moment of elation and maybe a squeak of joy, when I see a familiar face. Below is my list of reasons for the squeak.

Miss Them

Nathan Fillion - Castle

When a favorite series ends, whether by design or by cancellation, I miss the stars. After watching a show for what was hopefully years, the characters become like members of the family that come by for weekly visits. So, when the show is no longer on the air, I understandably miss them. While the actor appearing on another TV show is not the same, since those familiar characters are gone, still, seeing them is like a homecoming where your favorite aunt has dyed her hair – you still love her despite the change!

My favorite examples of this are Michael Shanks from Stargate SG-1 starring in Saving Hope, Nathan Fillion from Firefly starring in Castle, Paul Blackthorne from The Dresden Files starring in Arrow, Alex O’Laughlin from Moonlight starring in Hawaii Five-0, Jamie Bamber from Battlestar Galactica starring in Monday Mornings and Amanda Tapping from Stargate SG-1 starring in Sanctuary.

See Them in a Different Role

Gina Torres - Suits

It is fun to see our favorite actors from familiar roles do something entirely different. Variety is the spice of life, right? I find it fascinating to see how they approach the new role, and to look for similarities and differences to their performances in other TV programs.

Some good examples of this are Jim Beaver of Supernatural on Justified, Gina Torres of Firefly starring on Suits, Jeri Ryan of Star Trek: Voyager starring on Body of Proof, Richard Dean Anderson from Stargate SG-1 on Fairly Legal, Beau Bridges of Stargate SG-1 on Franklin and Bash and White Collar.

A Twofer

Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping - Sanctuary

Sometimes you will get a bonus, and two stars from the same TV show will appear on another show. As I said earlier, I’m not thinking of crossovers here, but rather the actors playing entirely different characters in the second show and guest starring together.

A great example of this was when Michael Shanks of Stargate SG-1 guest starred on Sanctuary – and all my neurons were firing overtime to see him reunited with Amanda Tapping, also from Stargate SG-1! Another great example is when Erica Cerra and Niall Matter from Eureka guest starred on Warehouse 13. On Eureka, they played a sometimes couple that had the full range of attachment and non-attachment. However, on Warehouse 13, they played a married couple!

Geek’s Dream

Felicia Day - Supernatural

Although type casting can be a bad thing, as a sci-fi and fantasy geek, for me, it is a bonus. Many times I will see my beloved actors in several of the shows I watch on a regular basis. For me that is like icing on the cake, to have a show I like with added actors I adore!

Some great examples are Felicia Day, who was on Eureka and Supernatural, Jaimie Ray Newman who was on Stargate Atlantis, Eureka, Supernatural and Grimm, Tony Amendola from Stargate SG-1 on Once Upon a Time and Continuum, Ben Browder of Farscape on Dr. Who and Arrow, Colin Cunningham from Stargate SG-1 on Falling Skies, and Mark Pellegrino who was on Being Human US, Supernatural, Person of Interest, Grimm, Revolution and Chuck.

Glad to See Them Working

Michael Dorn - Castle

From what I read, acting is a very unstable career for all but a small percentage of actors. “Don’t quit your day job” could possibly have originated for actors and other artists! So, I can’t help but think to myself – “woo hoo, at least he or she is working!” – when I see an actor I like on a TV program. Maybe it is the mother in me that makes me want to see them do well and be working, but whatever the reason, I do think that!

Recently I saw Vik Sahay from Chuck on an episode of NCIS, Ed Quinn from Eureka on an episode of Castle, Eric Breker of Stargate SG-1 on Fairly Legal, Emily Owens, MD and Arrow and Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space 9 on Castle.


I’m sure you can add many actors to my lists. In fact, this article could have been twice as long with just lists of people and the shows where I saw them, but that would have been overkill. Please add to my lists in the comments section below so we can all revel in the many appearances of our favorite actors on other TV shows!