There are certain plotlines in movies and on TV shows that are tried and true. Twins switching places is one of the most classic of them all. Sure, it may be a predictable premise, but who doesn't love the wacky hijinks of identity-swapping shenanigans?! When twins — or, on occasion, strangers who look identical for some reason that is never explored — switch places, you know it's going to be good.
Twins (and don't forget inexplicably identical strangers) switch places for so many reasons that make us wish someone else had our face. It's guaranteed to delight, but the best part is that the trope lends itself nicely to not only comedies, but dramatic thrillers, as well. Nothing like an edge-of-your-seat moment wondering if a swap will get discovered! Here are all the movies and TV shows that have fun with twins switching places!
Watner Bros. Pictures
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are the most famous twins of all time, so, naturally, they put those identical looks to good use in plenty of movies! In It Takes Two, the Olsen's play identical strangers who swap lives to see how the other half lives. Amanda (Mary-Kate) is an orphan at a nearby summer camp when she and rich-kid Alyssa (Ashley) cross paths. During their swap, they get to try completely new experiences but also play matchmakers for Alyssa's father and Amanda's social worker. Never forget Diane (Kirstie Alley) and Roger (Steve Guttenberg) making out in a lake covered in sloppy joe meat! Their swap doesn't go off without a hitch, but it does lead to some classic Olsen twin switch moments!
This is a twin switching tale as old as time. This 1997 film adaptation of the Mark Twain story is all about a pauper named John (Ernest Borgnine) and Prince Edward of Wales (Mark Lester) who use their strangely identical looks to get relief from their own lives. Both learn that the other doesn't have it so great, though. Being Prince is stressful and, at times, scary while being a pauper isn't as carefree as it may appear to an outsider. The film has one of the great themes of twin switching movies — appreciating what you have. Sometimes the grass isn't always greener on the other side!
While many TV shows have twins on them, they aren't always used for twin switching shenanigans. Jane the Virgin, though, stays true to its telenovela roots and embraces the soapy pleasure of swapping twins around and stirring up drama. Petra and Anežka (Yael Grobglas) have had very different lives. Petra moved away from her poor roots in the Czech Republic and her long-lost twin sister never did. The two reunite and lots of scheming ensues. Some of the biggest twists on the show are moments where you have no idea which twin did what! Grobglas is also incredibly skilled at playing both roles, with individual ticks that make you think you're actually watching a set of twins and not just one actress.
This film is, quite frankly, a mindf*ck. Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) is just going through the motions in life. He's unremarkable at work, ignored by the girl he likes, and overall just existing. When James (also Eisenberg) comes to work in his office, he finds himself to be usurped by a man who looks identical to him. Feeling a bit bad for Simon, James decides to help him get the girl he likes by swapping places. It seems to work until it all goes horribly wrong. Soon, the two are swapping places to hinder each other and make the other look bad. This film explores the dark reality of having someone who looks exactly like you — they can truly f*ck up your life!
Long ago, Amanda Bynes was the queen of teen movies. (Those were the days.) Her magnum opus was definitely She's the Man! In the film, she plays Viola, a teen who plays for her school's soccer team until the team is cut. Meanwhile, her brother is set to go play soccer at an elite boarding school, but he secretly travels to London with his fledgling band. So what's a girl to do but attend school in his place?! This movie isn't just about twins switching places — it's also about switching genders! While Viola's brother doesn't necessarily know about her scheme, he's out of the picture long enough for her to cause a little bit of trouble as "Sebastian" and play the sport she loves. Oh, and fall in love with a young Channing Tatum!
Every famed TV and movie trope has a cheesy, corresponding Hallmark film. It's just the rule. This one stars Hallmark staple Candace Cameron Bure as two identical twin sisters who can't really stand each other but are envious of each other's life. So, before Christmas, they decide to swap places and see life from a different point of view. Predictably, they learn to appreciate what they already had. But, they also learn a bit more about their sibling and become closer in the process. Christmas + twins switching places = TV movie comfort food!
Full disclosure: this isn't fully about twins switching places. More like, one twin assuming the other twin's life after the second twin commits suicide. Do you follow? Sarah Michelle Gellar plays troubled twins Siobhan and Bridget who live across the country from one another. When Bridget agrees to testify against her crime lord boss, she fears for her life and flees to NYC to see her wealthy, socialite sister. But soon after her arrival, her sister Siobhan appears to have jumped to her death into the ocean. What choice does Bridget have except to step into the other's shoes and take over her life?! The thrills begin when we realize Siobhan is (semi-spoiler!) not-so-dead and not-so-innocent. Sometimes, it's safer for volatile twins to stay apart!
Walt Disney Productions
Everyone knows the Lindsay Lohan classic (more on that later!), but many don't realize that the mid-'90s flick is based on a 1961 film by the same name. The OG The Parent Trap has a lot of the same elements as the remake, with two identical twins meeting for the first time by accident at summer camp. They decide to switch places to get to know the parent they grew up without. Oh, and get them back together in the process! This is definitely one of the very first movies about twins switching places and without it, we'd never have the beloved '90s version (or probably a few of these pop culture relics)!
So many of the TV shows about twins switching places are mysterious thrillers! The Lying Game follows Sutton and Emma (Alexandra Chando), two twins who were put up for adoption and separated. Sutton was adopted by a wealthy family whereas Emma is still floating around the foster system. The two meet and set down the dangerous path of finding their birth mother and answers to why they were separated in the first place. Emma takes over Sutton's life for a few days while she follows a lead, but when she doesn't return she's left living in the shoes of her very different twin sister. Unfortunately, the series only lasted two seasons, leaving plenty of the ~mysteries~ without answers!
Fox 2000 Pictures
If you're going to look identical to someone, it might as well be a rich heiress! Grace (Selena Gomez) and her friends travel to Monte Carlo on vacation and, all in all, it's kind of a bust. That is until Grace is mistaken for a celebutante named Cordelia and given access to her hotel room, her clothes, and her fab lifestyle. Only drawback? Cordelia is initially in the dark, but eventually catches on to an American girl impersonating her! In the interim, though, Grace is able to fool many of those around her and even turn around the public perception that Cordelia's a spoiled brat. So, maybe the heiress should be thanking her for taking over her life!
You should have already known there'd be another Olsen twins movie on this list! In this one the twins are a little bit older (pre-teens!) and dealing with issues like family relationships, sports, and — duh — boys! Tomboy Sam (Mary-Kate) is all about soccer, whereas her sister Emma (Ashley) isn't so into the sport but interested in learning. Through circumstance, Sam is chosen for a notoriously bad team and Emma ends up on the best team in the youth soccer league. So, naturally, the two swap places to be on the team they want and get a little closer to the boys on the co-ed teams in the process! "Twins switching places" is a premise that will never get old with the Olsen twins — they could still do it today!
What kind of list would this be without the inclusion of a DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie, duh)?! Motocrossed was the OG She's the Man, which makes sense since they were both based on William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night! When Andi's (Alana Austin) motocross-racing brother is injured before a big race she and her mother hatch a plan for her to ride in his place. It works out in everyone's favor — her brother gets to rest and Andi gets to do the thing she loves most without fear of mockery since she's a girl. Oh, and it all has to happen under her father's nose while he scours Europe for a new rider! She falls for a fellow rider who thinks she's a guy, and struggles a bit with adjusting to the fierce competition. But in the end, everything works out for everyone. Because, duh, this is a DCOM!
Netflix rom-coms for the win! Vanessa Hudgens stars in this flick as a duchess and Chicago baker who realize they look exactly the same and decide to swap lives. It's incredibly corny (they each fall ~in love~ with each other's boyfriends in like, a day), but that's why we love it! Movies about twins switching places are often cheesy AF, and The Princess Switch is no different (even though they're like, identical distant cousins). It even has a baking competition subplot that makes the film even more like entertainment comfort food!
This TV show isn't exactly about twins switching places — mostly because they aren't twins, they're clones! The "Clone Club" of identical-looking women on Orphan Black come together to find out their true nature. Why were they created and who created them are the big questions in play here. Oftentimes, their search for answers leads to twin-switching storylines! All of the clones are played by Tatiana Maslany, who doesn't just play a few different characters, but more than a dozen throughout the series! Her ability to transform herself into each and every different clone is a masterclass in acting and has us believing there are multiple different actresses playing our faves like Cosima and Alison!
This is one of our fave movies about twins switching places because it stars a young Justin Timberlake! In the film, Alex and Janine (Maggie Lawson) could not be more different. Alex is a shy, suburban teen and Janine is a teenage supermodel who just wants a break. When the two happen to meet and realize they look identical, they decide to swap places for a few days. The two soon find themselves falling in love with men who think they're the other girl. For Alex, it's sweet model Jason (Timberlake) and for Janine, it's high school hottie Eric (Jesse Nilsson). While they eventually swap back, the remnants of their time in each other's shoes remains when they get to keep their new beaus!
Walt Disney Pictures
Forever a classic. Hillary Duff brings Disney Channel fave Lizzie McGuire to the big screen and to Rome with this theatrical adaptation of the TV series. While Lizzie is in Rome, she quickly learns that she looks exactly like an Italian pop star named Isabella. Paolo (Yani Gellman), Isabella's singing partner, meets Lizzie he works and convinces her to sing with him at the Italian Music Awards since Isabella has fled the country after the two broke up romantically. She falls into the pop star lifestyle secretly and must navigate the fact that she's on a school trip with her classmates and a chaperone who would not be happy if she found out about all these shenanigans! The twin-switching hijinks gets dark quick (Paolo actually wants to set Lizzie up to make Isabella look bad), but natch, it has a true girl power ending. Isabella and Lizzie embarrass Paolo and sing their hearts out together ... unforgettable!
This is one of the only items on this list that involves actual twins! Tia and Tamera Mowry forayed their real-life twindom into a TV show where they played two identical twin sisters separated at birth who reunite as teens. While the entire premise of the show wasn't about them switching places, they sure did it often enough to nail the trope! It makes it a little bit easier to get through high school when you have someone who looks just like you helping you out along the way to take one another's tests, especially. The series followed Tia and Tamera from high school to college where a handy swap proved more useful than ever! The series is set to be revived in the near future and we're totally anticipating the two switching families and jobs without anyone being the wiser!
The remake of The Parent Trap is probably the most notable film about twins switching places of all time! Who can forget a precocious Lindsay Lohan playing both Hallie Parker and Annie James (and even putting on a British accent for Annie!)?! When Hallie and Annie meet at summer camp, they are, at first, antagonistic towards each other. But, soon they realize just what they are: twins separated at birth! They are both desperate to meet their other parent and swap lives to do so, hopefully to bring their family back together in the process. Annie gets to travel to a gorgeous vineyard in Napa Valley where Hallie grew up, and Hal gets to live the fab life in London with her fashion designer mother. Forever jealous of both of those lifestyles! Also, forever quoting Annie James because we have class, and you don't!