Some of today’s biggest celebrities got their start on a Nickelodeon TV show – Ariana Grande, Melissa Joan Hart, and Nick Cannon, to name just a few. Sometimes the transition from kids’ network to adult fame is a clear path, but more often than not, it isn’t that easy. As Disney’s child stars have proven all too well, sometimes the transition can be a downright disaster.
While plenty of our favorite childhood Nick stars exploded into the industry, just as many came to a standstill after their biggest starring roles ended. Some stars’ careers ended for good, while others hit a few road bumps on the way, and are trying to get back on track.
If it were up to us, every Nickelodeon star would have beautiful, blossoming careers, but some have found their passions in other places. Ever wonder what happened to the stars of All That, Victorious, Drake & Josh, and more? We’ve done all the necessary digging to find out where they’ve ended up – and if they’re still reaching for that ever-elusive stardom.
Here are 15 Nickelodeon Stars Whose Careers Flopped When Their Shows Ended
15. Jamie Lynn Spears – Zoey 101
Jamie Lynn Spears is one Nickelodeon star that could have made it big. She had all the right ingredients, and having the biggest pop star in the world, Britney Spears, as a sister never hurts. Her show Zoey 101 was a huge hit on Nickelodeon, raking in high views.
So, what happened? A baby. Spears quickly went from a wholesome TV star to the scrutiny of the media when she revealed that she was pregnant with her first child at the age of 16. Every news outlet was covering it, and almost everyone was being horrible about it, too.
They attacked Spears for getting pregnant at such a young age, calling her a bad role model for her young fans. Everyone blamed Spears’ pregnancy on the show’s cancellation. The tabloids killed Spears’ acting career and public image in one fell swoop. Today, she’s making an attempt at a country music career.
14. Kel Mitchell – Kenan & Kel
In a show with two stars, one always seems to do better than the other. Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson have had very different lives since their show Kenan & Kel ended on Nickelodeon over 10 years ago. In fact, both auditioned for Saturday Night Live, but only Thompson successfully joined the cast.
Unfortunately Mitchell didn’t make the cut, and his life spiraled downward. He admitted to going through and depressed time following his divorce. He also struggled with substance abuse. It wasn’t until, Mitchell says, he found “clarity with Christ” that he was able to get back on track.
Mitchell may never see the fame of his Kenan & Kel days again, but he is still working on Nickelodeon, in the TV show Game Shakers.
13. Drake Bell – Drake & Josh
For most fans of the Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh, it hasn’t exactly been an easy road. Since the show got canceled, Drake Bell and Josh Peck have made headlines for their ongoing feud. From petty tweets to forgotten wedding invites, these two have stayed relevant for anything but their acting careers.
While both stars haven’t been able to reach the stardom of their Drake & Josh days again, Peck has maintained a much bigger fanbase and more positive public image than Bell. Bell even managed to feud with Justin Bieber at one point.
It wasn’t until just a few days ago that Bell gave us something positive to talk about again. He released a scandalously jaw-dropping photo on Instagram to promote his new single “Rewind.” Maybe he can make a comeback, at least in music, after all.
12. Jennette McCurdy – iCarly, Sam & Cat
Jennette McCurdy may have gotten her big break on the show iCarly, but it was the show Sam & Cat that would end up deciding her future. At the time, Sam & Cat seemed like a Nickelodeon gold mine. It starred two of Nick’s biggest celebrities of the moment – Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande – but one star was getting a little too big for the small screen.
There has always been speculation surrounding exactly why Sam & Cat was canceled, but all signs point to behind-the-scenes trouble. It quickly became clear that Grande was exploding onto the music scene. With her hit singles on the Billboard charts, there was no way she could continue a Nickelodeon show. Meanwhile, McCurdy ran into a decidedly family un-friendly photo sandal.
McCurdy stayed relevant for a little while after, mainly in regards to her supposed “feud” with Grande. Unfortunately her career hasn’t taken off since.
11. Danny Tamberelli – The Adventures of Pete & Pete, All That
Danny Tamberelli may not have the career he once did, but that hasn’t stopped his passion for performing. Tamberelli’s first big Nickelodeon show was The Adventures of Pete & Pete. One year after the show ended, Tamberelli was cast in another hit TV show All That. He was a hilarious, loud mouthed kid who could be seen all over Nickelodeon in his prime.
Once All That ended, Tamberelli’s TV career dwindled. Even so, he still stays very active in the entertainment industry. Tamberelli is part of a band, Jounce, that is currently touring the east coast. He is also part of a sketch comedy group that he formed with his friends.
It’s clear that Tamberelli’s ridiculous humor and energy from his Nickelodeon days is still going strong, even off-screen.
10. Victoria Justice – Victorious
To say that Victoria Justice’s career completely ended wouldn’t be fair. Justice has stayed busy with film and music projects, but like Jeanette McCurdy, this is another Nickelodeon star who got stuck in Ariana Grande’s shadow.
It’s hard not to compare the music careers of actors who started on the same show. Justice, like Grande, tried her hand at a music career, but one year after Victorious ended, Justice ended her relationship with Columbia records.
Recently, Justice starred in the TV remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For a moment this seemed like just the thing to launch Justice back into the big leagues. Unfortunately it was not well received.
Though nothing has been quite as profitable as her Nickelodeon days, with almost 14 million Instagram followers, it’s safe to say Justice is doing okay with her smaller projects.
9. Sean Flynn – Zoey 101
Remember that bushy-haired guy Chase, who was head-over-heels in love with Zoey on Zoey 101? Yep, that’s Sean Flynn. For years, fans wondered if Zoey reciprocated Chase’s feelings. In 2015, they got the answer.
In a special “time-capsule” episode released 10 years later, fans finally got to hear what Zoey said about Chase in her time capsule DVD. You can watch the whole video on YouTube, but basically, Zoey said that Chase might be her soulmate, and we were left with another cliffhanger.
Since Zoey 101, Flynn hasn’t done much acting, and since the time-capsule video, he hasn’t appeared in anything. Maybe he’ll make one last on-screen appearance if Dan Schnieder makes good on his “to be continued” at the end of the video.
8. Miranda Cosgrove – iCarly
Miranda Cosgrove got her Nickeldoeon start as Megan in Drake & Josh and then starred as Carly Shay in iCarly. The show was a huge hit with both kids and adults. Kids loved the characters and entertaining plot lines, and adults could enjoy the slew of innuendos and jokes that somehow made their way onto the kids show.
After iCarly ended, like most Nickelodeon stars, Cosgrove tried maintaining both an acting and music career. The music didn’t quite take off, nor did the acting, but she still found her way onto some fun projects. Cosgrove has voiced Margo in all three Despicable Me films.
In 2016 Cosgrove starred in her own TV show Crowded, but unfortunately it didn’t take off and was cancelled after one season. She has no planned TV or film projects for 2018.
7. Nate Richert – Sabrina the Teenage Witch
In the late ’90s and early ’00s Nate Richert was every girl’s crush, playing Harvey Winkle on the show Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Though Richert had a few acting roles after the show ended, it was music he eventually ended up turning to.
Richert hasn’t acted since 2006, and it doesn’t seem likely he’ll return to it anytime soon. Though he seems incredibly passionate about his music career, nothing has garnered him the attention quite like his Sabrina days.
Richert has made headlines in recent years for, believe it or not, how he looks. Since most fans remember him as Harvey, seeing Richert all grown up is shocking to say the least. To this day, he’s still active with his music and with fans on Twitter.
6. Amanda Bynes – All That, The Amanda Show, What I Like About You
There was a time when Amanda Bynes was the queen of Nickelodeon. Between All That and The Amanda Show, you could barely turn on Nick without seeing Bynes on the screen. Most people know about Bynes’ very public and crazy downfall, but it was the show What I Like About You that marked the beginning of the end for Bynes.
After What I Like About You ended in 2006, Bynes started distancing herself from Nickelodeon. She appeared, to decent success, in both Hairspray and Easy A. But by this point Bynes was already starting her downward spiral, and she hasn’t acted since.
On the plus side, Bynes’ lawyer told People that “she looks forward to completing fashion school and dipping her toe back into acting” in 2018. We may get another Amanda era after all!
5. Darris Love – The Secret World of Alex Mack
If you remember the SNICK line up, you remember The Secret World of Alex Mack. It was a show about a girl Alex who only confided in two people about her new superpowers. One of them was her best friend Ray, played by Darris Love.
The show had a successful run, and after, Love tried branching out. He has played many small roles on both TV and in films since, but none as steady as his stint on Alex Mack.
Recently, Love was interviewed by Huffington Post about the possibility of an Alex Mack reunion. He reminisced about how great Nickelodeon was to the cast, always filling their trailers with Nickelodeon toys. “They knew we were kids and we got first dibs. They were incentives to be kids.”
Love hasn’t worked on any projects since 2016.
4. Irene Ng – The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo
Let’s start by acknowledging the masterpiece of television that was The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Irene Ng played Shelby Woo, everyone’s favorite teen detective. While Ng made some TV and film appearances after the show, it became clear that acting wasn’t her true passion.
Ng graduated from Harvard and married David Rosa, a VP at Lehman Brothers, in 2008. Since then, Ng founded her very own bilingual preschool – Mencius Mandarin Preschool – where she also teaches.
She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, as well as three Chinese dialects and two other languages. Ng also spoke for a cause, “A Girl’s Right to Do Interesting Work and be Financially Independent.” It turns out that in real life, Ng is just as smart, driven, and full of girl power as her character Shelby Woo.
3. Josh Server – All That
You most likely remember Josh Server as the All That cast member who played “Ear Boy.” He told Complex, “the Ear Boy character will live with me for the rest of my life, it doesn’t matter where I go or what I do. When I win my Oscar, God willing, they’re going to show a clip of Ear Boy.”
At least Server seems like a good sport about it. He has actually appeared in guest roles on more recent Nickelodeon shows such as Drake & Josh and Sam & Cat as well as many movie and TV roles. Nothing to quite rival his All That stint, but he remains active in the industry, so we may be seeing more of him soon.
He recently tweeted an All That reunion photo from WildNOut, and let’s just say he’s come a long way in the looks department since his “Ear Boy” days.
2. Nathan Kress – iCarly
Nathan Kress may be struggling to duplicate his iCarly heyday, but it’s not for lack of trying. Kress has stayed active in the industry, both as an actor and director for Nickelodeon.
He has directed multiple episodes of Nickelodeon shows Game Shakers and also Henry Danger. Ironically enough, life seems to be imitating art. His character Freddie Benson in iCarly directed, edited, and filmed the iCarly webcast.
With talent both on and off screen, it may not be long before Kress finds the perfect project to launch him back into stardom. Kress is currently filming and starring in a new show Alive in Denver that has yet to air.
Depending how well this show fairs with audiences, we may be seeing more of Kress on screen, or maybe he will pursue his passions as a director and break out of Nickelodeon.
1. Devon Werkheiser – Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
In the early 2000s we all knew Devon Werkheiser as his character Ned Bigby – the guy with all the answers to surviving middle school on Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.
Since the show ended in 2007, Werkheiser has mainly done guest roles and small stints on TV shows that didn’t quite take off. It turns out that Werkheiser’s passions also lie in music, and in 2016 he released his LP titled “Prologue” under his own label.
He stays active on Instagram and Twitter, and has certainly grown up since his days as playing Ned. Though he continues to get small acting roles, it seems like now a days Werkheiser is more focused on his musical passions. To many, he will always have a place in our hearts as the guy who got us through those awkward middle school years.
What other Nickelodeon stars have been M.I.A. since their hit shows? Tell us in the comments!