Even though many adults could tell you who their favorite actor or musician is, the truth of the matter is that youngsters typically care a lot more about famous people. For that reason, teen stars tend to have a meaningful place in people’s hearts, since younger fans can relate to them more.
When it comes to the decade that directly predates the one we are in, there is no doubt that during the 2000s many teen stars rose to prominence. In the years since then, some of those people have only gone on to be successful enough that they have stayed in the public eye. On the other end of the spectrum, several of those celebrities have disappeared from the limelight for one reason or another. With that in mind, it is time to look at this list of 25 forgotten teen stars from the 2000s and what they are up to now.
In order for someone to appear on this list, they first and foremost need to have been an actor who managed to gain fame in the 2000s. On top of that, they must have played a teenage character at some point during that same decade. Finally, since then, their public profile needs to have declined enough that some former fans are likely to be unaware of what they are up to today.
25 Josh Peck
First made famous when he starred in the Nickelodeon sitcom Drake & Josh, throughout the 2000s Josh Peck also starred in movies like Ice Age, Drillbit Taylor, and Aliens in the Attic. Still acting to this day, Peck regularly pops up in major TV shows and movies. He starred in the short-lived sitcom Grandfathered, and he has become a pretty big YouTube star.
On top of that, Peck’s former Drake & Josh co-star, Drake Bell, has hinted at the show getting a reboot even though the pair were on bad terms not too long ago. Happily married since 2017, Peck and his wife Paige O'Brien have welcomed a son into the world.
24 Michelle Trachtenberg
After getting her first brush with fame when she starred in the 1996 film Harriet the Spy, Michelle Trachtenberg’s career really took off when she was a teenager. As one of the stars in Buffy the Vampire Slayer during the first three years of the 2000s, during that decade Trachtenberg also starred in several movies, including EuroTrip, and the TV show Gossip Girl.
Unfortunately, since then Trachtenberg has struggled to find a successful project to be a part of. Most recently seen in a web series called Human Kind Of, over the last decade she has mainly played minor characters in shows like Weeds, Criminal Minds, and The Super Hero Squad Show.
23 Frankie Muniz
Best known as the star of Malcolm in the Middle, Frankie Muniz was also a major part of movies like Big Fat Liar, Racing Stripes, and Agent Cody Banks. On top of his acting career, Muniz was a race car driver for a while and he made his TV return when he competed in a season of Dancing with the Stars.
Unfortunately, Muniz revealed that he has suffered significant memory loss and can’t recall the most successful years of his career.
Recently, Muniz’s life has been a rollercoaster since in late 2018 his uncle passed away, his house was severely flooded after his cat somehow turned on a faucet, and he got engaged - all in the same week.
22 Sara Paxton
The type of actor who looks like they were born to be in front of the camera, during the '90s Sara Paxton landed a series of supporting roles. However, as a teenager in the mid-2000s, Paxton’s career went to another level when she starred in movies like Sleepover, Return to Halloweentown, Aquamarine, and Sydney White.
Clearly still dedicated to making it as an actor, since then Paxton landed a guest role in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks revival and movies like The Innkeepers and The Front Runner. In her personal life, Paxton was fortunate to find love with actor Zach Cregger and the pair are set to be married in October 2019 judging from their public wedding website.
21 Jake Thomas
Jake Thomas is only one example of an actor who starred in a Disney Channel show as a youngster. Made famous due to his role in Lizzie McGuire, in that show Thomas played the titular character’s little brother, a clever youngster who was prone to hatching one scheme after another.
After that series came to an end, Thomas went on to appear in the sci-fi film A.I. Artificial Intelligence and several episodes of Cory in the House. Still a part of the entertainment world today, Thomas continues to act but he also is a photographer, director, and screenwriter who has dabbled in editing.
20 Danielle Panabaker
Also someone who was involved with the House of Mouse, Danielle Panabaker made her name after starring in the mid-2000s Disney films Stuck in the Suburbs, Sky High, and Read It and Weep. After her career started out on that PG note, she became a scream queen when she starred in several horror films, including Mr. Brooks, the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th, The Crazies, and Piranha 3DD.
Currently a major part of the Arrowverse TV shows, Panabaker stars in The Flash and has appeared in Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. Evidently interested in extending her career, she also directed an episode of The Flash in 2019.
19 Christy Carlson Romano
First made famous when she starred in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens, in that show Christy Carlson Romano played a perfectionist teenager with a mischievous little brother. Able to land an even more impactful role after that, she lent her voice to the titular character from the hit Disney Channel cartoon Kim Possible for several years. No longer in touch with Even Stevens’s other main star, Shia LaBeouf, Romano is still connected to the Kim Possible universe as she made a cameo appearance in a 2019 live-action adaptation of that show.
On top of that, she has kept her career in high gear as she's going to star in several 2019 TV movies. Acting aside, in February of 2019 Romano gave birth to her second child.
18 Jesse Metcalfe
Every once in a while a show pops up out of nowhere and manages to become a part of the popular lexicon seemingly overnight. During the mid-2000s, Desperate Housewives pulled off that feat and Jesse Metcalfe was a part of it due to playing a teenager who was involved with one of the show’s adult female lead characters.
However, after his time on that show came to an end, his career largely hit the skids. At least, that was the case until he began starring in the Hallmark Channel original series Chesapeake Shores which is still going strong to this day.
Also seemingly on a high in his personal life, Metcalfe has been engaged to Cara Santana for several years and they still appear to be smitten with one another.
17 AnnaSophia Robb
Already an actor before she became a teen, AnnaSophia Robb first turned heads when she starred in Because of Winn-Dixie as well as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Of course, her career really took off as a teen when she was chosen to star in movies like Race to Witch Mountain, Soul Surfer, and The Way, Way Back.
Unfortunately, Robb suffered a major setback as the star of the highly anticipated and quickly canceled spin-off series, The Carrie Diaries. However, it seems like she has her priorities straight as she attended NYU and she is set to star in The Act, a 2019 TV show, as well as the movie Words on Bathroom Walls which will be released soon.
16 Nicola Peltz
Someone whose career is pretty fascinating, Nicola Peltz has landed roles in more than one gigantic project but they all have been nearly universally panned by critics. She was cast as one of the main characters in M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action film The Last Airbender. Even though it was based on a truly beloved animated series, to say people disliked it is an understatement. From there, Peltz starred in Transformers: Age of Extinction and Transformers: The Last Knight, both of which made good money but are far from embraced by many viewers and critics alike.
Most recently seen in the limelight as being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Peltz was chosen to be a part of the show Inhumans but it was such a big failure that people already want to forget it existed.
15 Jonathan Bennett
Cast in far too many movies and TV shows to list, some of Jonathan Bennett’s notable credits include roles in the film Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and shows like All My Children.
However, there is no doubt that the vast majority of people remember him for one thing alone: playing the love interest of Lindsay Lohan’s character in Mean Girls.
Still, if you are going to be associated with one film, it doesn’t get much better than the near-perfect teen movie! In fact, due to the fame that role earned him, Bennett appeared in the music video for Ariana Grande’s song “Thank U, Next” and he competed in the most recent season of America’s Celebrity Big Brother.
14 Keke Palmer
As someone who has managed to excel at virtually everything she has attempted in the entertainment business, it's surprising that Keke Palmer somehow continues to bubble one layer below the A-List stars. Able to land the lead role in the Nickelodeon’s teen sitcom True Jackson, VP, when that show came to an end Palmer moved on to lead roles in the shows Winx Club and Scream Queens.
Also a singer who is set to have her third album released later this year, Palmer clearly is hoping to have a hit on her hands. That hasn’t stopped her from continuing to commit to her acting roles, however, as she is set to star in the third season of Scream and she is a part of the show, Berlin Station.
13 Freddie Prinze Jr.
One of the biggest teen stars in the world at the end of the '90s, Freddie Prinze Jr. starred in movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer and She’s All That. Able to keep that success going when he continued to play teen roles in the 2000s, in the early 2000s he was a part of movies like Summer Catch and the Scooby Doo series.
Then his career took an unexpected turn. Freddie Prinze Jr. worked as a writer for the WWE, a company of which he is a big fan.
Since he left wrestling behind in 2012, Prinze Jr. has become part of a huge sci-fi franchise due to lending his voice to one of the main characters in the animated show, Star Wars Rebels.
12 Shannon Elizabeth
Another actor who became a teen star in the late '90s and managed to keep that momentum going during the early 2000s, Shannon Elizabeth was a memorable part of the movie American Pie. Since that film was released in 1999, she was still at the height of her career. She went on to star in movies like Scary Movie, American Pie 2, and Thirteen Ghosts.
Unfortunately, aside from small roles in films like Love Actually, Elizabeth has been in search of a hit film since the year 2001. Outside of her acting career, Elizabeth co-founded a charity called the Animal Avengers, became a professional poker player and competed in Dancing with the Stars as well as America’s Celebrity Big Brother.
11 Aly Michalka
The star of one of The Disney Channel’s most interesting sitcoms, Aly Michalka played a teenager from the future dealing with the modern world in the show Phil of the Future. On top of that show, Michalka played a pivotal part in the teen movie Easy A, which is great enough that it easily has passed the test of time.
Involved in a slew of other shows since then, most remarkably Michalka starred in the show iZombie which is set to end later this year. In addition to her acting career, Michalka is one half of a singing duo named Aly & AJ alongside her sister AJ Michalka, and they continue to tour to this day.
10 Jesse Bradford
When it comes to the teen movies that Jesse Bradford has starred in, they really run the gamut. Included on that list are '90s movies like Hackers and Romeo + Juliet, as well as later films like Bring It On, Clockstoppers, and Swimfan. Despite the fact that a list of credits like that proves that Bradford can play a wide range of characters, since his teen role days have come to an end he hasn’t been a part of any huge hits.
However, he continues to appear in TV shows like Sequestered and Shooter. Regarding his personal life, on December 30th 2018 Bradford posted an image on IG of himself and his new wife. The guy can grow an impressive beard!
9 Samantha Mumba
An Irish singer who took the music world by storm, in the year 2000 Samantha Mumba’s debut album was released and it turned her into a huge star. Best known for songs like “Gotta Tell You,” “Body II Body,” and “Baby Come On Over,” she was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards and a Grammy.
Also able to create a career as an actor for a while, Mumba starred in movies like The Time Machine and Boy Eats Girl, and she made guest appearances in a long list of TV shows. Currently preparing to release her new album later this year, fans will get to hear new Mumba music for the first time since her last major release came out in 2006.
8 Julia Stiles
When the year 2000 began, Julia Stiles was riding high after starring in the beloved teen movie 10 Things I Hate About You. From there, she went on to star in a series of other teen movies, including Down to You, O, and another hugely popular film called Save the Last Dance.
Strangely enough, ever since Stiles took on adult roles she has worked consistently but has never been the big deal she was in the past. A part of the Bourne series of films, she also appeared in the movie Silver Linings Playbook and currently stars in the series Riviera after playing a memorable part in the show Dexter.
Married to a camera assistant she met on the set of her film Blackway, the pair welcomed their first child into the world in 2017.
7 Shiri Appleby
Made famous when she was chosen to star in the sci-fi teen series Roswell, in that show Shiri Appleby played a typical teen who falls in love with an alien being who adores her. Relatively short-lived, unfortunately, that entertaining series came to an end in 2002 which freed her up to star in teen movies like Swimfan and Havoc.
Since then, Appleby has been in shows like ER, Chicago Fire, and Girls, on top of starring in less famous series like Life Unexpected and Unreal. Married and a mother of two, Appleby has since shown an interest in other things, including directing an episode of Roswell, New Mexico, which is based on the series that made her a star.
6 Jesse McCartney
First able to make a name for himself when he starred in the daytime drama series All My Children, Jesse McCartney then joined the boy band Dream Street before branching out on his own. Successful as a solo artist, he went on to have several hit songs like “Beautiful Soul,” “Leavin’,” “How Do You Sleep?” and “Shake.”
Unfortunately, he has yet to have a hit song since the year 2010 but that hasn’t stopped him from releasing new music, including his 2018 single “Better With You.” Far more successful as an actor in recent years, McCartney has provided his voice to the Kingdom Hearts series of video games and he plays Robin in the recently returned animated series Young Justice.
5 Jamie Lynn Spears
The younger sister of one of the biggest pop stars of all time, Jamie Lynn Spears could have been known solely as Britney’s sibling but she managed to become a pretty big TV star instead. Cast as the main character in the Nickelodeon teen comedy Zoey 101, she starred in that show for several years. Now a married mother of two, in 2017 Jamie Lynn was the subject of headlines when her daughter was involved in an extremely serious ATV accident, from which she thankfully recovered.
Since then Jamie Lynn has lived a largely private life aside from revisiting her Zoey 101 character in a short film that was released on the 10 year anniversary of an episode of that show called “Time Capsule.”
4 Corbin Bleu
A multi-talented performer who found the perfect film role to show off his acting, singing, and dancing skills, Corbin Bleu first rose to fame as a part of the High School Musical trilogy of movies. Still continuing to act since those years, as an adult Bleu has shown up in shows like The Good Wife, The Middle, and Chicago Med, on top of starring in the Discovery Kids drama series Flight 29 Down.
Able to make his Broadway debut in 2010, as recently as 2016 Bleu has starred in shows like Godspell and Holiday Inn. Married to actor Sasha Clements since 2016, Bleu made a TV return when he competed on Dancing with the Stars and on top of his ongoing acting career, he has dedicated himself to several charities.
Given the name Joanna Levesque at birth, this singer has gone by the name JoJo throughout her musical career. Not even a teenager when she signed her first music contract, a seven-album deal, her first hit single, “Leave (Get Out),” was released when JoJo was 13 and it made her a star.
However, since JoJo turned down an offer to star in Hannah Montana and she spent years trying to get out of that contract she signed as a minor, she stopped recording new music for a long time.
Despite that, she continues to perform to this day. In 2016 she released her first music in 10 years which the critics loved, and in 2018 she re-recorded her debut album.
2 Shane West
First made famous when he starred in the show Once and Again, from there Shane West landed the role of a lifetime when he starred in the 2002 tearjerker teen movie A Walk to Remember. Unfortunately, West’s next movie was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which went on to be a gigantic flop that was panned by virtually everyone.
While West’s film career never recovered from that hurdle, he went on to find success on TV when he starred in ER. Continuing to make a living on television in the 2010s, he starred in the shows Nikita and Salem and he was cast as the popular Batman villain Bane in the last season of the DC series Gotham.
1 Alexa PenaVega
Known as Alexa Vega when she was a young star, this actor now has the last name PenaVega after she married a man who was called Carlos Pena Jr. and they both altered their surnames.
Only 12 years old when the first hit film she starred in was released, Spy Kids turned PenaVega into a star and it was only the start of things to come.
In fact, she would go on to star in three sequels to that film as a teenager on top of other movies like Sleepover and Repo! The Genetic Opera. No longer the star she once was, PenaVega seems very happy as a mother who has starred in a long list of Hallmark movies. She has two films set to come out in 2019.