As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, so twins on TV shows means double the fun. At least, some of the time; other times, it’s more like that quote from Macbeth — “double double, toil and trouble.”
Many TV shows over the years have featured twins (siblings born at the same time, identical or not). In rare cases, the characters are played by two different actors, a la Sister Sister with Tia and Tamara Mowry. But it’s more likely that one actor plays the twins, thanks to the magic of camera tricks. The Deuce, which premieres this Sunday on HBO, stars James Franco as twin brothers who wind up getting into the porn trade.
Here’s a list of other notable actors who’ve done double duty.
The Deuce airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on HBO.
James Franco, ‘The Deuce’
Twin No. 1: Vincent Martino, a hard-working bartender struggling to support his family
Twin No. 2: Frankie Martino, a carefree gambler who’s the life of the party
Double Trouble: Frankie’s debts lead the brothers to get involved with the Mafia and from there, the burgeoning sex industry.
Yasmine Al Massri, ‘Quantico’
Twin No. 1: Nimah Amin, an atheist who doesn’t wear a hijab
Twin No. 2: Raina Amin, a devout Muslim who is more sensitive than her sister
Double Trouble: At the start of the series, the two FBI recruits pretended to be one person, switching for each other depending on the situation.
Sam Underwood, ‘The Following’
Twin No. 1: Luke Gray, adopted son of Lily and ex-follower of Joe Carroll
Twin No. 2: Mark Gray, his brother’s murderous partner in crime
Double Trouble: Mark is nicer and less insane than Luke (who treats corpses like they’re alive), but they’re both ruthless serial killers.
Lisa Kudrow, ‘Friends’
Twin No. 1: Phoebe Buffay, the happy-go-lucky, quirky songwriter of “Smelly Cat”
Twin No. 2: Ursula Buffay, her cold, rude, and often unfeeling sister
Double Trouble: The estranged twins didn’t interact much, but when they did, it was usually due to Ursula’s bad behavior, like using Phoebe’s name in porn movies.
Jeffrey Tambor, ‘Arrested Development’
Twin No. 1: George Bluth, a hard-charging and manipulative businessman/con artist
Twin No. 2: Oscar Bluth, a stress-free lover of smoking pot
Double Trouble: George loathes his twin, who he considers a layabout and for still having his hair. Also, both men have been involved with George’s wife, Lucille.
Tatiana Maslany, ‘Orphan Black’
Twin No. 1: Sarah Manning, a tough and rebellious punk who was a thief and con artist
Twin No. 2: Helena, raised as an orphan in a convent in the Ukraine and trained as a killer
Double Trouble: After an antagonistic beginning, the two sestras bonded over their love of Kira, Sarah’s daughter, and their fierce loyalty to the other clones.
(Photo: BBC America)
Zach Galifianakis, ‘Baskets’
Twin No. 1: Chip Baskets, a gloomy wannabe clown who is depressed about his failures
Twin No. 2: Dale Baskets, an obnoxious businessman who thinks he’s smarter than he is
Double Trouble: The polar opposites finally let their long-simmering resentments out in the episode “Fight” with Chip breaking Dale’s phone, Dale giving Chip a huge wedgie, and both breaking the toilet.
Yael Grobglas, ‘Jane the Virgin’
Twin No. 1: Petra Solano, a scheming, savvy businesswoman who runs a hotel with ex-husband Rafael
Twin No. 2: Anezka, her nervous, soft-spoken twin who grew up in a Czech orphanage
Double Trouble: The long-lost sisters have had their ups and downs (Anezka poisoned Petra and posed as her), but they always have each others’ backs in the end, with Petra covering for Anezka with the cops over Scott’s death.
(Photo: The CW)
Josh Dallas, ‘Once Upon a Time’
Twin No. 1: Prince Charming aka David, the good-hearted hero who marries Snow White
Twin No. 2: Prince James, a spoiled royal who dies in the Enchanted Forest
Double Trouble: Separated at birth, the boys grew up in very different environments. They never crossed paths until David journeyed to the Underworld, where David is forced to kill James for good.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, ‘Ringer’
Twin No. 1: Bridget Kelly, a troubled recovering addict on the run from the mob
Twin No. 2: Siobhan Martin, a wealthy socialite who fakes her own death
Double Trouble: Long estranged from Siobhan, Bridget comes back into her orbit after her sister disappears. She takes over Siobhan’s identity to hide from the mob and the FBI, complicating things for Siobhan’s husband and secret paramour.
(Photo: The CW)
David Canary, ‘All My Children’
Twin No. 1: Adam Chandler, a ruthless, domineering businessman
Twin No. 2: Stuart Chandler, a sweet, kind, autistic artist
Double Trouble: Despite being complete opposites, the brothers genuinely loved one another, with Stuart often attempting to act as Adam’s conscience during his many dirty schemes.
Barbara Eden, ‘I Dream of Jeannie’
Twin No. 1: Jeannie I, the bubbly blonde genie with a heart of gold
Twin No. 2: Jeannie II, the evil brunette who is jealous of her twin
Double Trouble: When Jeannie I invited her sister to visit, Jeannie II pulled off a dastardly trick, trapping her in the bottle so she could steal away Tony Nelson.
Dove Cameron, ‘Liv and Maddie’
Twin No. 1: Liv, a popular actress with a love of all things girly
Twin No. 2: Maddie, a tomboy who excels at basketball
Double Trouble: While Liv was off filming a TV show, the two girls grew apart, but they remained best friends despite their differences.
(Photo: Disney Channel)
Alexandra Chando, ‘The Lying Game’
Twin No. 1: Sutton Mercer, adopted by a wealthy family and grew up somewhat spoiled
Twin No. 2: Emma Becker, raised in the foster care system and kinder than her sister
Double Trouble: The two teamed up to find their biological mother, but were torn apart over their mutual interest in Ethan.
Ali Larter, ‘Heroes’
Twin No. 1: Niki Sanders, an internet stripper struggling to support her son, Micah
Twin No. 2: Tracy Strauss, a political operative
Double Trouble: Niki and Tracy actually are two parts of a set of triplets (Barbara was referenced but never seen on the show). And none of them crossed paths, as Niki died before Tracy first appeared in Season 3.