We all remember whenever it happened to us. You’re watching TV, a movie or a music video when all of a sudden we are captivated with a certain someone for the first time. Sure, as we grow up we realize that their image isn’t real and we begin to expect far more important qualities in our partners, but still…
Even though they may no longer be of foremost importance in our mind, the crushes we have as young ’uns are never forgotten. With this list, we will be looking at starlets who, depending on your age and preference, were likely to make an impact. Celebrities from before the 1980s were disqualified, as we had to cut the list off somewhere. Additionally, actresses like Mila Kunis or more recent celebrities weren’t included as their current activities are obvious to many.
17 Alexa Vega
For children coming of age in the early 2000s, the Spy Kids trilogy was huge and Carmen as played by Alexa Vega was clearly an easy choice for a crush. Starring in a movie about a group of girls having a unique slumber party, Sleepover insured even more young people became familiar with her work and persona.
Employed by Robert Rodriguez for her biggest role, she has continued to work with one of the biggest directors of this era. Performing in both Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, she seems perfectly at home in far more mature roles in Rodriguez’s filmography and is likely to continue working with him.
16 Jennifer Love Hewitt
When Jennifer Love Hewitt was added to the show Party of Five as the girlfriend of series regular Bailey, her sensitive character won the hearts of many fans. Capitalizing on her new-found fame, she turned more heads when she became a scream queen in I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel.
Never able to recapture that level of success since, she nonetheless has managed to stay gainfully employed. Taking on long-lasting roles in the TV shows The Ghost Whisperer, Criminal Minds and The Client List, where she showed more flesh than ever before, there is plenty of footage to keep fans of any age happy.
15 The Spice Girls
One of the biggest groups of all time, the Spice Girls were a juggernaut in the 1990s. Selling more than eighty million records worldwide, the band consisted of five good-looking young ladies, all of whom adopted a different persona. Using their massive popularity to turn themselves into movie stars, spokespeople and pop culture icons, they stepped off the world stage before people were sick of them.
Striking out on their own, all of them released solo projects to varying success in the years that followed, before reuniting for concert tours and Olympic closing ceremonies. They may never be a full-time group ever again but it is clear that the affection many fans have for them is shared amongst the women and friends that make up the Spice Girls.
14 Lacey Chabert
A former child actress, Lacey Chabert played Claudia Salinger on the show Party of Five, where she showed poise and maturity far beyond her early age from the get go. Maturing before the audience’s eyes, by the time the show’s run ended, she’d matured into an elegant young woman who was a complete package of talent and good looks. Afterwards appearing as Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls, she continued to show off the fact that she could work in nearly any genre.
In the years since her two best-known roles, Lacey has mostly faded away from the public eye, or, at least, that’s what we thought. A cursory look at her IMDB page tells a very, very different story. Working on ten different projects in 2014, seven in 2015 and so many more over the previous years, her resume is filled to the gills. In short, if you’d like to see more of Lacey, you don’t have to look very hard.
13 Hilary Duff
A former Disney star, Hilary Duff first came to prominence as Lizzie McGuire, the star of a hugely popular series with many fans, many of whom can safely be assumed may have developed a little crush on her. After that series came to an end, she became a staple of teen comedies for several years. Movies like Cheaper by the Dozen, A Cinderella Story and Raise Your Voice were released alongside her hit albums.
Appearing in six episodes of Gossip Girl, Ms. Duff transitioned from movies into mostly working television and more albums. Currently appearing regularly on a show called Younger, she released a new album in 2015 that debuted at number five on the Billboard 200. Perhaps her most talked about move in recent times, however, was her public admission to having a Tinder profile. If you’re so lucky, perhaps that crush can become reality.
12 Larisa Oleynik
Most likely to best remembered for her starring role in The Secret World of Alex Mack or her performance in 10 Things I Hate About You, Larisa seemed like the prettiest girl next door on any street. Reported to have dated her 10 Things co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, she co-starred alongside him in 3rd Rock from the Sun as well.
Making guest appearances on television ever since, she still turns heads whenever she appears. Recently featured in multiple episodes of Mad Men, Hawaii Five-0 and Pretty Little Liars, she still has that certain something that makes us want to see more of her. We’re just hoping she can find a more long-lasting or memorable gig soon.
11 Jessica Alba
Tapped by producer James Cameron to anchor an expensive sci-fi drama show for Fox, Dark Angel’s commercials had many young people salivating to see more. Cancelled after two seasons, Jessica Alba was unleashed afterwards on the film world and it was a lot more attractive for it. Idle Hands, Sin City and Into the Blue are but a few of the roles that she took on that allowed her to show off her natural assets.
Acting all throughout the 2010s, she starred in The Love Guru, one of the worst movies of any generation, which hugely diminished her bankability. Her dubious acting skills weren’t the only reason for her diminished film presence however, a very successful entrepreneur, Jessica co-launched a billion dollar company which pulled her attention away. Co-founding The Honest Company, a company that makes toxin free product products, she has proven herself to be a very shrewd business woman.
10 Elisha Cuthbert
When 24 debuted way back in 2001, it relaunched Kiefer Sutherland’s career and introduced us to a lovely young lady named Elisha Cuthbert. A mainstay of lists of the best-looking women in the world, her turn as a former adult film actress, in The Girl Next Door, made sure she remained fodder for many young people’s fantasies for many years to come.
Beloved in the years since on the hilarious ensemble comedy, Happy Endings, she showed off some serious comedic timing. Lasting three seasons which earned a rabid cult following, the series came to an end in 2013, after which she has appeared in movies and television. We’re not sure what her next hit will be but we’ve definitely learned not to bet against her.
9 Britney Spears
When Britney’s first music video featuring the teen in a schoolgirl outfit was released, young people who appreciated her for more than her voice would never forget it. Unquestionably one of the best-selling musicians of all-time, she continued to release sex-drenched music videos for years and posed for erotic photos at every turn. Then her public breakdown, outrageous marriages and awkward interviews took a toll and her Midas touch dried up.
Once again a certified gold recording artist, with a ninth album set to be released, Britney can be seen performing at Caesars in Las Vegas multiple times a week. Branching out into cameo acting roles as well, she may not be the superstar she once was but she’s not likely to be forgotten anytime soon.
8 Eliza Dushku
There is something about Eliza that makes her seem both cool and bada$$ in a PG kind of way, much like her role in the cheerleader comedy Bring It On. Based off the strength of that film and most importantly the all-important nuance her unique charisma lent it, she was cast in The New Guy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Wrong Turn, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Continuing to work alongside Joss Whedon on television, she played the main character on his short-lived show Dollhouse. Having plied her trade in a slew of forgettable projects, as well as cameoing in The League, The Big Bang Theory, The Gild and The Cleveland Show, she has become a student. Prior to her big break, Eliza had planned to attend college in Boston and according to The Boston Globe, she moved to the city in 2014 to follow through on those plans.
7 Katie Holmes
Ok, you know Katie married Tom Cruise, but there is more to her life than that. Long before she was best known as a wife, Katie was the girl next door type that everyone wanted to be with on Dawson’s Creek. Joey Potter was the type of girl who was pretty but smart and perhaps, more importantly, wanted someone who had something to say instead of the school hunk. For many viewers, that was the type of person they’d dreamed of.
After serving as Batman’s love interest and playing a reporter looking into lobbyists in Thank You for Smoking, her marriage to a tiny man mostly took her away from the acting game. After her union came to an end, she stepped back into the acting world in a big way. Appearing in eleven episodes of the show Ray Donovan, Katie is here to stay. It has been announced that she will again portray Jackie Kennedy, a role she began in the 2011 mini-series The Kennedys, in the coming year.
6 Alicia Silverstone
The “It girl” of the mid-1990s, Alicia went from a newcomer in The Crush to the star of Clueless in just two years. First introduced to the world at large in three Aerosmith music videos, Alicia portrayed a streetwise young woman who embodied the rock lifestyle the band wanted to portray again and again. Arguably reaching the zenith of her star power in Batman & Robin, one of the most lambasted films of all time, none of her other films or shows could redeem that massive misstep.
Still acting to this day, Alicia, in the years since, has mostly been known for two video clips focused around her hard-lined beliefs. The first, an advertisement for PETA, featured the actress cavorting around a pool naked and speaking about her vegetarian lifestyle. The second, a far less attractive clip that grossed out many people, is a shot of her feeding her son from her mouth, baby bird style. Hopefully, she does something to make us forget that soon.
5 Danielle Fishel
When Boy Meets World debuted, it was built around a tight-knit family, the boy’s best friend Shawn and an unorthodox teacher-student relationship. By the time it came to an end, however, a young woman who began the show as a strange free spirit, had grown into one of the show’s three leads. A family show at its heart, Danielle’s Topanga was the very picture of class and we know we can’t blame anyone for developing a crush on her.
After Boy Meets World came to an end, her career didn’t take off as she is likely to have wanted it to. Appearing in throwaway movies that very few people saw, she still garnered attention when she took part in a Maxim photo shoot. Back appearing on screen alongside Ben Savage, the famed duo appear on Girl Meets World, a sequel to the series that made them famous.
4 Hayden Panettiere
Save the cheerleader, save the world. Hayden was perfectly cast as Claire Bennet, a character that looked like a typical popular girl but held a secret tight to her chest that made her so much more. Playing the role on television for four years and 74 episodes, she had begun to gain movie roles by the time it came to an end. I Love You Beth Cooper, Scream 4 and appearing in a television movie as Amanda Knox were all important performances for her.
Not able to fully break out in the movie world, she transitioned back onto television as Juliette Barnes on Nashville. Nominated for two Golden Globes, Teen Choice and People’s Choice Awards amongst others, her latest and greatest role has garnered more praise than any other work she’s ever done. After giving birth, her public discussion of her struggle with post-partum also did a lot for fellow sufferers and is likely to have won-over an all new group of fans.
3 3. Danica McKellar
The Wonder Years was designed to be a seminal series for everyone in the late 80s and early nineties, and for the children of that era the series’ stars are largely unforgettable. Winnie Cooper, the preeminent girl next door and the show’s biggest love interest was played by Danica and was the embodiment of the girl you wanted to spend time with.
After attending UCLA, she earned a bachelor of science in mathematics. As interested in teaching as she is in entertaining, she has authored four different books on math, aimed at women and girls. A perfect combination of beauty and brains, she added body to the list by lasting until the latter half of Dancing with the Stars in 2014. There seems to be nothing this impressive woman can’t do.
2 Rachael Leigh Cook
Acting since 1995, when she took one of the lead roles in The Baby-Sitters Club movie, it wasn’t until She’s All That that Rachael truly became famous. A character that was spoofed for years afterwards, she was played by a hot girl who is remade to look like a goofy nerd, only to shock her peers when her true beauty was revealed afterwards. Her character in the film seems far more sincere than the trope she has become known for. A career made off a single role, she was tapped to appear in many underperforming films afterwards.
Appearing in the titular role of the awful Josie and the Pussycats or the overwrought drama Antitrust, all her movies went horribly awry. Last credited as appearing in the third season of a show called Perception, where she depicted an F.B.I. agent in 2015, her time in the limelight seems to be at an end.
1 The Girls of Saved by the Bell
If you grew up in the heyday of this teen comedy, there was almost certainly someone on this show for you. Lisa Turtle, the bubbly and materialistic shopaholic of the group was brought to life by Lark Voorhies, a marvelous and likeable young woman. Jessie Spano, the self-styled crusader of the group was played by Elizabeth Berkley, a statuesque beauty who seemed to have an inner beauty. Last but not least, Kelly Kapowski, the cheerleader who loved her family and school was played by Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, was arguably the most alluring of the group.
Once the show ended these three young women went down very different paths. Elizabeth’s next notable role was in the famed Razzie award winner and sex-drenched bomb Showgirls, which she’s been trying to overcome ever since. Lark joined the cast of The Bold and the Beautiful, penned three books and performed in two bands before grabbing headlines for her largely unrecognizable face. Tiffani starred on Beverly Hills 90210, Fastlane and White Collar, making her, easily the best performing Saved by the Bell alumni. Riding a wave of nostalgia, members of the Saved by the Bell cast have recently appeared on magazine covers and late-night talk shows over the last few years though Lark hasn’t always been included.