Child actors who grew up (and ruined their shows)

Kids are just so cute, so precious, and so charming, until they inevitably grow up and totally ruin your favorite TV show. Yeah, we've all seen it happen. A show casts some adorable little toddler in a key role, and everything is great until they get older and we realize, too late, that they can't actually act at all. Here's a sad look back at some of those kids who destroyed their own TV shows simply by growing up.

Chandler Riggs: The Walking Dead

Carl on The Walking Dead is known primarily for two things: that stupid hat, and being an endless source of hilarious internet memes. Which makes sense, because wearing hats and starring in GIFs is also the limit of Chandler Riggs's acting ability. Yeah, he was fine back in the first couple of seasons. But now that Carl's a young adult, and therefore has more emotional complexity, Riggs just can't keep pace with what the show is asking him to do. That's why poor Carl really needs to meet the business end of a certain baseball bat. Just put us all out of his misery already, please?

Angus T. Jones: Two and a Half Men

To be fair, Two and a Half Men totally stunk to high heaven even before Angus T. Jones began sprouting armpit hair. So there wasn't really that much to ruin. But any show, even Two and a Half Men, is going to run into problems when the precocious tot at the center of the premise grows up to look more like a hirsute televangelist. Especially when they also act like one, which is exactly what Jones did. Jones's complete disinterest in the show was only matched by his utter lack of acting skill. So absolutely, he helped kill the show. But in this case, it was more of a mercy killing.

Malcolm David Kelley: Lost

One of the most infamous instances of a child actor growing up in all the wrong ways was Malcolm David Kelley on Lost. In the first couple of seasons, Kelly's character, Walt, was a key part of the action, if only to provide Harold Perrineau an excuse to scream "WAAAALT! That's my BOYYYY!" several times every episode. But then Kelley suddenly had a massive growth spurt and looked like an entirely different person. Lost responded by writing him off the show. When they did finally bring him back, they just didn't even bother trying to explain why he was a grown man now—like the smoke monster, it was just another stupid, irrelevant mystery.

Erin Moran: Happy Days

This is one case where the producers really should have known better. By the time Happy Days launched in 1974, Erin Moran was 13 and already had a long career behind her as a child actor. So it shouldn't have been that hard to figure out that she had reached the ceiling of her potential. Instead, we got to see a young woman's awkward growing pains play out in real time over the next decade—not those of her character Joanie, mind you, but of Moran herself, as she struggled to keep pace with the better actors around her. By the time the show finally went off the air, we're not sure who was more relieved: her, or us.

Mary-Kate Olsen: Full House

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were just nine months old when cast as infant Michelle Tanner on Full House. Ashley was fine—just, fine, really—but let's talk about Mary-Kate. As a baby, Mary-Kate was absolutely perfect—she could gurgle, spit up, mess her diapers, and smile insipidly with the best of them. When she got a little older, though, those skills didn't translate quite as well. And unfortunately, while she has developed plenty of new skills since then, as a fashion designer and entrepreneur, acting is still not among her talents. It's no wonder she refused to come back for Fuller House. She knows her limitations.

Nolan Gould: Modern Family

When it comes to current TV shows, no child star is trashed as consistently, and deservedly, as Modern Family's Nolan Gould. The fact that Gould's portrayal of Luke is seen by most as flat-out terrible is probably a huge relief to Chandler Riggs, because it really takes a lot of heat off of him. What's interesting here is that Gould not only hasn't gotten better as an actor as he's aged—he actually seems to have gotten worse. We're not sure if it's a lack of interest in acting, or just a lack of aptitude, but here's hoping Gould has a solid back-up plan for the rest of his life.

Susan Olsen: The Brady Bunch

Finally, there's perhaps the most classic example of a child star growing up and suddenly dropping off a precipice: Susan Olsen, who played Cindy Brady on The Brady Bunch. Olsen was only seven when she was cast on Bunch, but by the time the show went off the air, she was a very gawky 12. If that wasn't enough, the show asked her to do a lot more than just act—they wanted her to to sing and dance as well, once the show became a poor imitation of The Partridge Family, except those were talents she simply did not have.

Just how awkward was Olsen during those final years? The show actually brought in the universally reviled Cousin Oliver to try and replace the cute factor that Olsen had so thoroughly lost once she hid her adolescent years. Good luck having "worse than Cousin Oliver" on your resume and getting anywhere in life.