15 Most Popular Teen Series Cast Ensembles Ranked From Worst To Best
Teen dramas have been some of TV’s most successful series for decades, and even as audiences grow older, they can’t help but get pulled into the drama, intrigue and romances of the show. Of course, the one thing that makes, breaks and marks the success of any series is the core cast, and teen dramas have seen extremely strong young casts to ones that needed work. Everything from off-screen chemistry to character portrayal have both helped and hindered series, and have made some casts beloved to audiences long after the show has come to an end. Here are the 15 most popular teen series cast ensembles ranked from worst to best:
15. Gossip Girl
There is no doubt that Gossip Girl was a popular series during its six season run on The CW, but it wasn’t necessarily due to an extremely strong cast. At the beginning of the series, audiences were enthralled with seeing the luxurious lives of the “rich kids,” and rooting for Dan and Jenny Humphrey to make their mark as the outsiders, but past the first season things began to fall apart. As young actors it was easy to see that Penn Badgley and Blake Lively had a hard time making the romance convincing which is surprising given their off-screen romance. Additionally, as the storylines became more and more ridiculous it was harder for the stars to make the whole thing convincing. Then it cannot go unmentioned that Taylor Momsen as Jenny quickly became a weak link, and her desire to no longer be on the show was evident, pulling the solidarity of the cast apart even further.
When Glee began its run in 2009, it was safe to say that no one was prepared for the phenomenon that it was going to become. The series took a lot of young and talented singers, many of which had very little or no singing experience, and despite definitely showing off their singing and dancing talents, their acting could not carry the series. While the cast was beloved, it didn’t help that over the course of the series over 15 different actors and actresses received main star crediting which meant there was no core group to focus on as it kept changing with stars entering, exiting and dropping to guest starring roles.
Riverdale is one of the newest teen series, and one that was much needed by the CW. So far the series has been working on building its following, and that shouldn’t be hard with the amazing young talent they have leading the series. While the series was quickly picked up for a second season before finishing the first, it is still really new, which places the cast ensemble so far back on the list. So far audiences have seen really great chemistry between the core characters, but are perhaps a little disappointed in K.J. Apa’s performance in the pivotal role of Archie Andrews. The cast has all the makings of an iconic TV cast, but they have a lot to prove before they make it that far.
Before Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl, Smallville began the superhero craze early, running for 10 seasons from 2001 to 2011. With so much success there is no doubt that the show had millions of passionate fans, and a lot of that was thanks to the stars. While Tom Welling was the perfect choice for Clark Kent and Michael Rosenbaum is arguably the best Lex Luthor ever, they were most definitely the strongest members of the cast. While the series was great in the early seasons, the cast wasn’t as strong as it could have been, and some were very unmemorable in their roles. Unfortunately after around season five, many gave up on that show and that is because they had graduated high school, and Clark discovering his powers while navigating being a teenager were long lost themes that fans loved. Since only half of the series actually depicted the cast as teens, Smallville lands at number 12.
11. Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210 may be one of the most iconic teen series ever, but looking back on the show, and the teen series that have come since, it is obvious that it is not the best cast. At first there was a main group of teens to focus on, but as the show grew, so did the cast and it became more difficult to follow all the separate storylines and drama. Unfortunately, the young cast saw a lot of drama off-screen as well and eventually it became noticeable on-screen, throwing off storylines and creating less than stellar performances from some of the stars.
10. The O.C.
The O.C. had many faults, and at first it really didn’t seem that way. For the first season, The O.C. gave teen drama fans absolutely everything they were looking for, including a stunning cast. Before long, however, it was more noticeable that some of the stars were carrying the others, and the weakest link undoubtedly fell on Mischa Barton as Marissa Cooper. The fact she was the main character made her half-hearted performance even worse and it didn’t help that she and Benjamin McKenzie had no chemistry; however, the show tried to hold itself up on the stronger performances of Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson and the love fans had for their characters. The cast was very obviously held back by Barton and her performance.
9. Boy Meets World
From 1993 to 2000, fans watched the cast of Boy Meets World go from pre-teens to adults, and grow and learn together along the way. Boy Meets World cast saw many different dynamics, from Shawn, Cory, and Topanga to the addition of Eric, Angela and eventually their college friends such as Jack and Rachel. The talents from the young cast early in the series were paramount to the success, and after literally growing up together, it was more than evident that they were friends off-screen as well. The chemistry and real-life feelings made for great cast interactions, but it is hard to solely place the series as a teen drama more than a family sitcom.
8. Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights has gone down as one of the most underappreciated and critically acclaimed series in recent TV history. The main cast was truly spectacular, especially when it came to Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen, Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins, and Jesse Plemons as Landry Clarke. The reasons then that Friday Night Lights‘ cast ensemble lands at only number eight is because of the character Julie Taylor. Despite Aimee Teegarden’s talent, her portrayal of Julie, and the hate for the character negatively impacted any scene she was in, especially in direct contrast to the strength of Gilford’s performance as Matt Saracen. It was also difficult for viewers when they had to become adjusted to a whole new set of young stars and characters in season four, completely changing the core ensemble. Then of course there is the fact that the best part of the cast were none of the teen characters at all, and that is of course Coach and Tami Taylor. The show would not have held up or became as notable as it is if it weren’t for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton in their pivotal roles.
7. Dawson’s Creek
Somehow, Dawson’s Creek seems to have lost credibility in recent years, but fans know just how great the series was, led by a stellar young cast. James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, Michelle Williams, and Kerr Smith all added depth and value thanks to their individual talent that they brought to their characters. Of course, the only problem seemed to be that more would have preferred Pacey to be the main male character, and sometimes grew tired of Joey’s sickly sweet personality.
6. Saved by the Bell
Many teen series don’t hold a candle to Saved by the Bell, even all these years later. Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski, Lisa Turtle, A.C. Slater, Jessie Spano, and Samuel “Screech” Powers may be one of the most iconic young casts of all time. Unlike many of the other series on this list, most of the stars actually began the show while in their teens, and despite their lack of experience and their young age, they became an iconic group that would have not been the same if only one person had not been cast. Each character added something to the show that elevated it beyond just another teen series, and the actors came to know each other so well that their on-screen chemistry made for great episodes.
5. Pretty Little Liars
Believe it or not, Pretty Little Liars is one of the most talked about series on social media, and that only speaks to how the series and cast have engaged their millions of passionate viewers. Unlike many series, Pretty Little Liars relies on almost exclusively female leads, all of whom completely embodied the character they were given. In terms of teen series, PLL is unique and intriguing by adding murder mystery to the central plot of these young women just trying to navigate teenage life. The only thing that may hold this cast back is the fact they are in no way believable as teenagers.
4. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer achieved many things and tackled themes not commonly seen in teen dramas. For one, the series featured an extremely strong, smart, and independent female character in the main role and was expertly cast with Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy. The supporting main cast was just as excellent and included more female characters who all held their own. Each of the main cast brought something to the series that when all put together made for great television, great stories, and most importantly, pulled fans into becoming passionate about the characters and their fates. For many, the only flaw in the cast was the addition of Dawn Summers, but then it cannot be said that Michelle Trachtenberg is a bad actress, and by the end of the series many were defending the character for what her role played in the evolution of Buffy as a slayer.
3. That ’70s Show
When it comes to iconic cast ensembles in general, That ’70s Show cannot be overlooked and that is why it lands so high on the best casts for teen series. With six main stars making up the core cast, each actor and actress completely embodied their role. Despite being set in the ’70s, it became one of the most believable and easy-flowing series thanks to the cast put together to make it all happens. As well as Topher Grace (Eric), Laura Prepon (Donna), Ashton Kutcher (Kelso), Mila Kuniz (Jackie), Wilmer Valderrama (Fez) and Danny Masterson (Hyde), even the supporting cast were absolutely amazing and worked off of each other so well, making it one of the best teen series cast ensembles ever.
2. The Vampire Diaries
The Vampire Diaries first aired on September 10, 2009, only one year after the release of the very first Twilight film. With the vampire craze at its peak, The Vampire Diaries was lumped in with the craze, and luckily proved it was so much more than that, thanks to excellent casting. With the core three of Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev, they were able to pull audiences into the stories, make the romances very real, and had a very strong supporting cast. Behind the scenes, the cast were very vocal about the strengths of their friendships as well, and even after Dobrev decided to exit the series, it was able to continue thanks to what the cast had established up until that point.
1. One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill is one of the most iconic teen series of recent years, and lasting almost nine seasons, it is also one of the most successful. There is no doubt in any fans’ minds that the show wouldn’t have been what it was if the casting had not ended up the way it did. Each actor and actress were not well known when they took on what would become their iconic roles, but their on-screen chemistry as siblings, lovers, and friends was electric. Despite any off-screen issues or romances, every season resulted in strong performances and fans only wanted more and more. One of the most impressive things about One Tree Hill was that each member of the main cast was so strong that even after the exit of the two “main” stars, the series continued on without issue.