10 CW Stars Who Went On To Bigger And Better Things And 10 Whose Careers Are At A Standstill

The CW was a television channel born in 2006 after UPN and The WB combined. The WB had several successful shows, including the supernatural show Charmed, family-centered 7th Heaven, the hilarious comedy Reba, and a high school teen drama show One Tree Hill. Many of these shows transitioned to The CW and continued to shine. Some new shows started too, including the infamous high school teen drama Gossip Girl and exciting supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries. 

Several stars were born through these shows-- some old and some new. For example, do you remember Taylor Kinney, Lady Gaga's one-time fiancé and Chicago Fire star? Well, he got his start as a werewolf on The Vampire Diaries. And what about our favorite jock Landon from A Walk to Remember? He continued his promising career on Nikita, a show on The CW.

Some of our stars got their start on The CW; these shows allowed them to catapult their careers into superstardom. Others, however, somehow put their career at a standstill. Below we review 20 stars, ten of them went on to bigger and better things while others virtually stalled, or ended, their careers. Read on to reminisce about your favorite CW shows, favorite CW stars, and the current status of their careers.

20 Bigger And Better: Gossip Girl's Blake Lively

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Blake Lively got her start as Bridget in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It was literally one of her first roles. Yeah, she was that good. Correction: she is that good. Gossip Girl premiered on The CW in 2007 and lasted for five years. Lively played Serena van der Woodsen, arguably the main character of the entire series. This character catapulted her to-- or maybe back to-- big screen fame. She starred in The Town alongside Ben Affleck, highlighting her talented Boston accent and drama chops in a different way. In 2011, she starred in Green Lantern alongside Ryan Reynolds, her hubby (this is where they met, swoon!). After Gossip Girl ended in 2012, she went on to star in Savages, The Age of Adaline, and The Shallows. Guys, she is one of the best, and the whole world knows it.

19 Stand Still: Rachel Bilson, Dixie Doctor


Rachel Bilson was at the height of her fame when she played Summer Roberts in The O.C. on the Fox channel in the early '00s. She had a few starring roles on the big screen, too, including Jumper and The Last Kiss. The whole world was convinced she had a promising career. Like we said, her career was promising. She got her very own show on The CW which started in 2011: Hart of Dixie. It was about a big city doctor that moved to a small Alabama town. The series ended in 2015 and, guess what, she has been nowhere to be found since then. She had a small role in Nashville, but otherwise, she has been on the silent track in the career realm. Hopefully she turns it around soon.

18 Bigger And Better: Sophia Bush, From Tree Hill To Chicago

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All hail Queen Brooke Davis! Er, we mean Sophia Bush! Okay, let's face it: Sophia Bush's turn on the drama series One Tree Hill (OTH) made her career what it is today. She should have won awards for how well she played the role of Brooke Davis from 2003-2012. But, this role gave her so many other opportunities. During her stint on OTH, Bush starred in movies like The Hitcher, John Tucker Must Die, and The Narrows. She even had a guest arc on the hit series Nip/Tuck. After OTH ended, she has had a successful career that is only just starting. She fulfilled her dream of being on a crime drama with Chicago P.D. from 2014-2017 and is now voicing a character on the upcoming Incredibles 2. Sophia Bush is a shining CW star!

17 Stand Still: Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl Good Girl

Okay, so the other half of Gossip Girl fans will argue that Blair Waldorf, played by Leighton Meester, was the main character of the show. We aren't convinced, but either way, it doesn't mean we didn't love Queen Blair! Meester starred as Waldorf on Gossip Girl from 2007-2012. During these five years, she starred in CSI: Miami, Entourage, Country Strong, Monte Carlo, and That's My Boy. She was a household name for many reasons. She even started an incredible career in music with several hits. However, after GG ended, many of the movies or small television roles that she starred in were not front page news. Now, she is a wife to The O.C.'s Adam Brody and a mother to their daughter. Also, she recently just dyed her hair platinum blonde, so there's that.

16 Bigger And Better: Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars


Veronica Mars premiered in 2004 on The WB. It only aired for three seasons but became a quick cult classic over that short run. It actually only ran for one year on The CW after the channel's transition. Kristen Bell was the fiery blonde star of the show. And, when we say it catapulted her fame, we really mean it! After it ended in 2007, she went on to star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat, When In Rome, and Burlesque. Take a breath because we only got to 2010! She went on to star in Scream 4, Hit and Run Bad Moms, and The Disaster Artist. She even voiced Gossip Girl for its' five years run on The CW. Now, she is a household name that has a wonderful reputation within the Hollywood community and the world abound!

15 Stand Still: Chad Michael Murray, OTH Brother


One Tree Hill premiered in 2003 and bore us lots of popular stars that would last well into the 2010s after the show ended in 2012. As you saw, Sophia Bush was one of them. Chad Michael Murray is not the last one on this list, either. He starred as Lucas Scott in the teen drama on The CW. He had a promising career with stints on Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan, House of Wax, and A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff. But, when he left the show after season six, many fans turned their back on the beloved star for walking away from what made him famous. This inadvertently stalled his career, some would say maybe even indefinitely. His most recent popular role to date in Agent Carter on ABC.

14 Bigger And Better: Nina Dobrev, Vampire Diaries' Damsel

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Sassy brunette Nina Dobrev is arguably one of the most popular stars of the CW, save for maybe Blake Lively. She starred as bold and brave Elena Gilbert human-turned-vampire in The Vampire Diaries from 2009-2015 before leaving the show for the last two seasons. She did return for the series finale in March 2017, however. She left the show to pursue other career ventures-- and boy, did she find some! She went on to star in Let's Be Cops, XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Flatliners, and Crash Pad. IMDb states that she has six-- yes, you read that right-- movies in the cue for 2018 and 2019. Her career is essentially just getting started and we can't wait to see her flaunt her acting chops in the coming years!

13 Stand Still: Penn Badgley, Gossip Girl Himself

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Sexy hippie star Penn Badgley starred as Dan Humphreys on Gossip Girl from 2007-2012. He was that guy that was obsessed with Blake Lively's flawless blonde lead Serena, dated her, cheated on her, broke up with her, dated her best friend, and then eventually married her. At the end of the series, it was revealed that Dan was Gossip Girl! Shocker! Although he was incredible in this role, it was clear that this may be the beginning of the end for him. After the show ended, he starred in three movies, all of which are not popular whatsoever (Parts Per Billion, Cymbeline, and The Paper Store). His next and only job is a main character role in the new series, You, which will premiere this fall.

12 Bigger And Better: Bethany Joy Lenz, One Tree Hill's Married Woman


Yet another One Tree Hill alum making our list for being really cool and talented at pretty much everything. Bethany Joy Lenz was just twenty-two when she began her stint as Haley James on the hit teen drama for the CW. She was a great actress with incredible storylines and even started a singing career through the show. Since it ended in 2012, she has been on shows like Dexter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., American Gothic, Grey's Anatomy, and Colony. She has also had many lead roles in Christmas films on the Lifetime channel. Her career has continued to flourish long after she hung up the cheerleading costume, the mom jeans, and the café apron on One Tree Hill. That doesn't matter, though, because we will always know and love her as Haley James Scott, wife to Nathan and mom to Jamie and Lydia.

11 Stand Still: Joanna Garcia Swisher, Reba's Teenage Daughter


Joanna Garcia hit the height of her fame alongside Steve Howey (who you will see later on this list) and Reba McEntire, the famous country singer turned actress. Reba started on The WB in 2001 and ran for six seasons until 2007, ending its' stint with its' last season on The CW. Garcia virtually grew up on this show, starting her role at the young age of 22. After Reba ended, she continued her TV fame with Privileged, a guest role on Gossip Girl and Royal Pains, and lastly The Astronaut Wives Club. Sadly, none of these roles or shows really stuck. Most recently you can find her on the hit ABC show Once Upon A Time as Ariel, which sadly will also be ending after this television season.

10 Bigger And Better: Taylor Kinney, From Werewolf To Firefighter

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Hello there, handsome! Taylor Kinney is, or maybe was, best known for being hitched to infamous pop star Lady Gaga until their famous split just a couple of years ago. But did you know he got his start on The CW channel? He had one hit wonder episodes on shows like Bones, CSI:NY, and Rizzoli & Isles until he snagged the role of Mason Lockwood on The Vampire Diaries, alongside Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev. He only had a ten-episode arc in 2010, but this landed him two movie roles including Zero Dark Thirty and The Other Woman. Then, in 2012, he began his stint on Chicago Fire as Kelly Severide. This role is still going strong today-- and Kinney is a household name because of his acting chops, not because of his girlfriend.

9 Stand Still: Ed Westwick, Chuck Bass Has Left The Building


Chuck Bass fell hard and fast for Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl and really didn't even see it coming. Similarly, Ed Westwick's career fell hard and fast, too, and some say they may have seen that coming. Westwick starred on the hit CW show for five years as the bad boy we all hated to love. After it ended, he took a stab at some small movie roles, but similarly to Badgley, they were not all that popular. He had his own show in 2015 called Wicked City, but that did not last long either. Now, he actually has no upcoming roles as he was the center of some controversy surrounding the #MeToo movement, with a woman alleging that he held her captive and repeatedly assaulted her. This career is done, but you did not need us to tell you that.

8 Bigger And Better: Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls' Matriarch

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Lauren Graham pretty much lives and breathes the role of Lorelai Gilmore, just ask her. You don't really have to, considering she states it in her new book which is some sort of autobiography if you will. The point is we all know and love her as the fast-talking and beautiful Lorelai, but this role only helped her career along, and now she is pretty much a superstar. After Gilmore Girls ended in 2007, she went on to star in big hits like Evan Almighty, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, It's Kind of a Funny Story, and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. She even starred in another show, Parenthood, for six seasons before returning to her role as Lorelai Gilmore in the Netflix reboot.

7 Stand Still: Rose McGowan, Charmed And Not So Dangerous

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Rose McGowan replaced big sister Shannen Doherty on Charmed in 2001. The show ran for eight seasons total with McGowan starring in the last five of them. It only had two seasons on the CW, however. The role virtually put her on the map. After it ended, she had some pretty big movie roles including Grindhouse, Planet Terror, and Rosewood Lane. She had small stints on some popular television roles, too, like Nip/Tuck and Law & Order: SVU. However, things started going downhill for her in her personal life, and McGowan spiraled out of control. Her career spiraled down the drain as a result of this. Charmed will always be the incredible show that started it all, but that is also pretty much where it all ended, too.

6 Bigger And Better: David Boreanaz, An Angel In The FBI


Boreanaz got his big start on Buffy the Vampire Slayer on The WB channel from 1997-2003 alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar. He actually got his own spin-off show from this, too! It was called Angel and it ran for an impressive five years. After it ended, Boreanaz picked up another show on Fox with Emily Deschanel called Bones-- and a star team was born! This show made him even more famous thanks to its' witty humor and incredible storylines. He stayed on this popular show for over ten years before it ended in 2017. You'd think he would take a break from all this work, but no-- now, he stars in Seal Team on CBS as the main character, Jason Hayes. It is hard to believe he got his start as a supernatural angel on The CW, isn't it?

5 Stand Still: Steve Howey, The Reba Comedy Star


Steve Howey is best known for his role on Reba as Van Montgomery, which aired on The WB before ending its' stint in 2007 on the CW. His career looked promising as only a couple years after that he snagged a role in Bride Wars with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, Something Borrowed with Kate Hudson (again) and Ginnifer Goodwin, and Conception with David Arquette. He even had a small arc on Sons of Anarchy, a very popular yet graphic cable TV show. His most steady role has been on Shameless, but other than that, nothing has really come of his career. If you see him, you'll probably connect him to Reba, and that will be the end of that.

4 Bigger And Better: Alyson Hannigan, From Buffy To Marshall

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Alyson Hannigan starred on Buffy the Vampire Slayer pre-CW channel which was called The WB. The show lasted for six years until its' end in 2003. This role gave way for more incredible ones, like American Pie, American Pie 2, and American Wedding. Her name was well-known before she even finished Buffy because of the popularity of these movies. She went on to star in other small television roles, along with another American movie-- American Reunion-- before landing the next platform of her career as Lily in How I Met Your Mother. This show lasted for an incredible nine seasons before ending in 2014. Without Buffy, however, it is possible Hannigan may have never gotten these great roles! She has three upcoming projects, too, according to IMDb!

3 Stand Still: Shane West, A Career To Forget

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You all know him as Landon in A Walk To Remember with famous singer-turned-actress Mandy Moore, however, his career was barely anything to remember, if we are being honest. West got his start with some pretty promising roles in great movies like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Dracula 2000. Then, he decided to take a role on Nikita on The CW. This show lasted 4 seasons on The CW, all of which West was a part of. After this, however, West's career literally halted with only three roles following Nikita. Two were in movies (Here Alone and Awakening the Zodiac) and one was on a show called Salem, for a cable television channel. He has nothing planned according to IMDb and we feel like, in hindsight, most people hit the height of their fame when working with Mandy Moore.

2 Bigger And Better: Alyssa Milano, Charmed Star Has Made A Name For Herself

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Brunette and beautiful Alyssa Milano had an early start in acting. She first starred in Who's The Boss with Tony Danza from 1984-1992. She was just twelve years old at the time. As she grew up, she continued to have roles in popular movies like Deadly Sins, Fear, and Public Enemies. Then, when she was just 26, she snagged a role on Charmed as a sister witch, Phoebe Halliwell, alongside Holly Marie Combs and Shannen Doherty. The show started out on The WB in 1998 until it switched over to the CW for its' last season in 2006. After this role, Milano starred in popular movies like Pathology, Hall Pass, and New Year's Eve. She is a household name that has two upcoming projects and many great projects of her past.

1 Stand Still: Hilarie Burton, One Tree Hill Star Focuses On Motherhood

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Okay, our last star on this list is also the last star on our list that starred on The CW's One Tree Hill from 2003-2012. However, Burton left OTH in 2009 after six seasons as Peyton Sawyer. She went on to have small guest arcs on popular shows like Castle, White Collar, Grey's Anatomy, and Lethal Weapon. This career did take a big step back as far as Burton's popularity, however, it was for a great reason! She and husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan had welcomed a son, Augustus. Now, they live in upstate New York as she continues to take small roles here and there. She is currently pregnant with her second child, a girl, and that is what she chooses to focus on. That does not sound like a bad reason to us!

References: IMDb.com, www.looper.com

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