We can all remember those nerdy actors from Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. Looking back at pictures, we are sure to cringe at the memories we have of their pre-pubescent voices — not to mention those dorky outfits that were perfectly paired with awful haircuts and cheesy personalities.
Some celebrities outgrew these awful phases pretty quickly, thankfully. They’re the lucky ones. They glowed up enough to find more acting jobs and became decently popular on the red carpet, too. Others are still patiently awaiting a new look, or they’ve simply given up hope. After seeing some of the celebs who belong in the latter group, we think they should probably just walk away from their hopes of achieving beauty.
We shouldn’t be too hard on them, though, because some of the less attractive celebrities are still much more successful. They’re also wealthier and far more famous than we are, but at least these guys are still around to make us feel a little bit better about ourselves on our low self-confidence days.
Obviously, it would be a dream if these ugly celebs could be awkward no longer and suddenly be the toast of the town. But that isn’t the reality for some of these stars. Let’s see where these 15 formerly—or not so formerly—dorky celebs ended up as far as looks go. Be sure to compare them to their cringe-worthy former selves to see how far they’ve come—or not.
15 Glowed Up: Matthew Lewis
Matthew Lewis—who began his acting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone back in 2001—is best known for his part in the acclaimed film series. He’s now 28-years old. During most of his Harry Potter acting career—in which he played the role of Neville Longbottom—he was a dorky, sort of chubby kid.
But now, he’s hot. Like, really hot. When comparing Lewis’s childhood pictures with current pictures, it’s easy to see that it’s the same guy. But it’s not too obvious that he looks identical and is still an awkward-looking 12-year old playing an even more awkward character in a collection of seven films. We’re pretty darn happy that Lewis grew up to be a piece of eye-candy for us. Apparently, he learned something at Hogwarts. Maybe magic actually is real!
14 Stayed The Same: Macaulay Culkin
Don’t recognize his name? He’s better known as “the kid from Home Alone”. He was born in 1980 and starred in Home Alone at the age of 10. While some people might think he was kind of cute back then, he’s much uglier now. He’s grown up to be somewhat creepy-looking and still has the same facial structure as he did nearly 30 years ago when he played Kevin McAllister in the popular movie franchise. He also landed a role in My Girl in 1991.
Now he is 37, and he hasn’t gotten hotter, cuter, or better looking by any means. Unless somebody finds this scrawny guy any more attractive than his name, we don’t see much hope for Macaulay Culkin. It’s a shame, and we’re starting to think that because of his impressive start, he would have been a successful actor. If only he had glowed up!
13 Glowed Up: Demi Lovato
This chick got her start on Barney & Friends—where she starred alongside her pal, Selena Gomez. She was just 10-years old at the time, back in 2002. We all know her best from her roles on the Disney Channel on shows like As the Bell Rings and Sonny with a Chance.
She also starred in Camp Rock, Camp Rock 2 and Princess Protection Program with the same franchise. Take a look at some pictures of her from her Barney gig to get a sense of just how not-so-hot she was back then. Think of her very round, chubby face with generic 10-year old glasses and late 1990s to early 2000s outfits. Yikes!
Today, she’s a successful singer and has had many different positions up to this point—varying from spots on talk shows to opportunities as a judge on shows like The Voice. She’s pretty attractive, and she’s grown a lot since Barney and her stints with Disney.
12 Stayed The Same: Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki got his start in 1996 in Jerry Maguire, in which he played Ray Boyd at the young age of 6. He might have been kind of cute back then, but he was still somewhat nerdy like many young kids are. He also played George Little in Stuart Little and Stuart Little 2. His roles as Little were especially cringey, based on his personality and his dorky outfits. He was in The Little Vampire, too, where we saw him as Tony Thompson.
Of course, we would totally be willing to forgive him for this, but he still hasn’t peaked. He’s still nerdy, and we have no signs that the now 27-year-old will reach his prime anytime soon. He’s currently acting and seems pretty occupied with that. So, his career isn’t suffering too badly, even though his looks are.
11 Glowed Up: Blake Mciver Ewing
Blake Mciver Ewing is commonly confused with Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone—who sadly falls under the category of actors who didn’t end up hot. While Ewing didn’t actually have a role in Home Alone, his most popular role was probably in The Little Rascals, in which he played Waldo.
But really, this now-32-year old child star ended up luckier than Culkin. Ewing has had several roles throughout his life of varying popularity, but his real success is in his looks. He is much more attractive now than he was back in The Little Rascals’ days—especially because it would be seriously creepy to call a 9 –year old good-looking. Ewing got lucky with his images, and we’ve gotten pretty lucky with it, too. He’s gay, but that won’t stop us from admiring him from afar.
10 Glowed Up: Emma Watson
The second star on our list who got their start with the Harry Potter franchise is Emma Watson—formerly known as witch, Hermione Granger. That frizzy-haired 11-year-old is now 27 years old, and she’s looking good.
She used to be somewhat awkward and a complete know-it-all when she had one of the lead roles in the hit movie series. But since then, she’s had a few roles in other movies, and she’s gotten even more gorgeous. The poufy hair is no more, and she’s not an annoying smarty-pants anymore, either.
It’s impressive really, how such an awkward little girl can get to be so stunning in less than 20 years’ time. We aren’t sure what sort of witchcraft and wizardry was involved in making Watson so hot, but we definitely want in on it. We’ll just be waiting around for our Hogwarts’ letters and dreaming about Watson’s beauty.
9 Stayed The Same: Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment had several small gigs, such as Forrest Junior in Forrest Gump at the age of 6. But his real start began with The Sixth Sense, which was released in 1999. He played Cole Sear in that film, and then he went on to act in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Pay It Forward and Secondhand Lions.
Born in 1988, Osment is now 29 years old, and he’s still trying to find his attractiveness somewhere. We’re not sure if he’s going to be able to find it at this point, but it’s worth a shot. He’s still busy filming a few shows right now, and he seems to be doing pretty well with his acting career. A hotter bod or a prettier face would help him out though, and we definitely wouldn’t be caught complaining.
8 Glowed Up: Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf is now one good-looking man, and he survived his awful teen phase. This took place mostly during his years on Even Stevens—a Disney Channel show that extended into a movie, too. He played Louis Stevens from the ages of 14-17, and then went on to star in a bunch of other shows and movies. He also played Stanley in Holes back in 2003. Shia was kind of awkward during his Disney Channel years, but he’s cleaned it up and we’re thankful for that!
The Transformers movies—some of his more recent and more popular works—showcase this star like we’ve never seen him. No more dorky Louis Stevens for LaBeouf. He’s on to bigger, better, and sexier things. Now he’s 31, and he’s reached maximum hotness as far as we can tell. But we’re always up for being pleasantly surprised.
7 Stayed The Same: Lindsay Lohan
We remember Lindsay Lohan as the actress from the more recent edition of The Parent Trap where she played both Hallie and Annie Parker. Prior to that role—which she landed at the young age of 12—she had a couple of TV show gigs and a little career as a child model. She wasn’t the ugliest child, but she also wasn’t the cutest. Not much has changed either.
We can blame it on the drugs and the rough family life all want, but 31-year-old Lohan isn’t looking a whole lot better since her childhood and teenage acting experiences have come to a close. She’s definitely had her fair share of drama and other issues that came along with her addictions, but we can only let that stress take so much responsibility for her less-than-attractive status. Plus, since she didn’t start out so cute, we can’t only blame her rocky past.
6 Glowed Up: Alyson Stoner
Alyson Stoner was a Disney star throughout much of her early teenage life, and she was always sort of tomboy-ish. She wasn’t ugly, but she wasn’t especially cute, either. We know her from Cheaper by the Dozen—both the first and second movies—in which she played Sarah Baker.
The first one came out when she was 10 years old. This is one spot where she was definitely a tomboy, or at least played one. She also voiced Isabella on the Disney Channel show Phineas and Ferb.
This formerly awkward actress is now pretty dang smokin’, and we’re impressed. Stoner is still acting now at the age of 24, and she’s looking good so far. We’ll gladly check out some of her newer movies to catch a glimpse of that beauty.
5 Glowed Up: Daniel Curtis Lee
Daniel Curtis Lee found his place as an actor back in 2004 when he got a role as Simon ‘Cookie’ Nelson-Cook on Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. This Nickelodeon show aired from 2004-2007, all while Lee was responsible for playing one of the dorkiest kids on the show. The star—who began his career on Ned’s Declassified at the age of 13—went on to act as Kojo on Zeke and Luther on Disney Channel.
The formerly nerdy kid is now 26, and he’s extra good-looking. Lee is one of the most attractive people on this list—currently, not as Cookie. His awkward teenage years are far from where he is now, and he probably wants all of those pictures deleted as soon as possible. Take a good look at this hot star, and you’ll be surprised that it’s still the same guy we all knew and loved on Nickelodeon.
4 Glowed Up: Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande is a former Nickelodeon star, where she acted on both iCarly and Victorious. She wasn’t extremely cringe-worthy back then, but she wasn’t exceptionally amazing, either. She seemed kind of weird as Cat on Victorious, but she was likeable enough. Still, this teen actor had some space and time to become prettier and more comfortable in front of the camera.
Luckily for us—and for her—she’s grown up and become super successful. She’s had a few acting gigs and has been featured on many talk shows, but she hasn’t seemed to go full force back into acting. Today, she is a talented pop singer at the age of 24, and she’s totally fabulous. If we’re going by looks alone, she’s done pretty well. Throw in the singing career, and we’re gushing over this sexy lady.
3 Stayed The Same: Dustin Diamond
Dustin Diamond had a few smaller roles throughout his childhood, but he got his big break with Saved by the Bell, which aired from 1989 until 1992. There were a couple of follow-up shows to this original, which he starred in as well. Now, as we all know, the late 80s and early 90s were the prime time for classic retro looks. So naturally, he’s going to look a little cringe-y when we look back at pictures from then.
But if we take a look at him today, at the age of 40, he’s just as awkward and has almost gotten uglier. Poor guy! Luckily, he’s a half-decent actor and has still landed a few gigs since his start at 10 years old with Yogi’s Great Escape, It’s a Living and The Price of Life—which all preceded his role as Samuel “Screech” Powers. Hopefully his talent pays off. Perhaps his looks and his criminal history won’t matter so much where his acting career is concerned.
2 Stayed The Same: Lark Voorhies
Lark Voorhies isn’t a very familiar name, but we recognize her from Good Morning, Miss Bliss and Saved by the Bell, in which she played Lisa Turtle on both. The then-teenaged star rocked the typical 80s and 90s getup back when she was supposed to, but looking back on those fashion choices makes everyone a little uncomfortable. From those 90s hairstyles to the cheesy lines she spoke, it’s okay to think she was dorky back then.
She’s 47 now, and she hasn’t gotten much prettier. She still seems a bit awkward, and she hasn’t experienced the glow-up that we would hope she would have by now. It’s probably too late for us to keep our hopes up, too. Let’s just appreciate her for her stellar acting techniques and try to get over her unattractiveness. Clearly Lark didn’t learn anything about fashion sense and beauty from her character portrayal of Lisa.
1 Stayed The Same: Frankie Muniz
Frankie Muniz is best known for his role as Malcom in Malcom in the Middle. This show began when he was 15 years old back in 2000, and it continued until 2006. He had some other roles before, after, and during his time on the show, such as Agent Cody Banks. Pulus, he’s still acting to this day, at 32.
But we all know this guy as Malcom, and sadly, our memories and perceptions of him will never change. Unfortunately for him, he still looks identical to his awkward 15-year-old self. Clearly, his ugliness isn’t contributing to any sort of lack of success. We aren’t quite sure what we were expecting to come of nerdy Muniz, but we are always hoping for a new hottie to keep our eyes on!