View Full Version : IMDB: sometimes years it shows an actor on the cast = total years of show

04-30-2006, 05:19 PM
Why is it that sometimes on a TV show listing on IMDB, a cast member's years on the show is shown even though they equal the total years the show aired?

For example, the old Miami Vice TV show:

The listing says the show aired from 1984-1989.
Edward James Olmos is shown to have been on the show 1984-1989, the entire run of the show.

Why are the years mentioned at all? Why aren't the years shown also for Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, who were also on the full run of the show?

I see this a lot on IMDB. In general, does it mean something, like the cast member joining the show after the 1st episode, but still during the 1st season? I don't recall if Olmos was or was not in the 1st episode of Miami Vice.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
04-30-2006, 10:19 PM
Short answer: Probably because the actor was not an "opening credited" star for the full duration, even though he/she might have been around for the whole series. And if you were going to add someone to the cast list, it had a better chance of going in if it had a year range.

Now some more background:

IMDB has undergone some evolution over time. The main cast list for a TV series has always been a problem.

For example, a show like "ER." The main cast changes order every two or three years. How do you show the listed order on something like that? And the non-main-cast regulars (like the nurses and EMTs), some who have been on the series longer than the main cast.

Or, how about recurring characters that are on the series for duration. "Wo Fat" appeared once almost every season in "Hawaii Five-O." But that's only about a dozen appearances in almost 300 eps! And those are the ones that people most remember.

So. . . a while back IMDB made a rule that only actors in the opening credits should be listed in the main cast. That made sense, but it was a little too late. There were many years of people adding the recurring characters and regulars that were not in the opening credits, so cast lists were a mess.

Now, getting back to answering your question, if you wanted to add someone to the main cast list, it had a better chance of going thru if you entered a year range. If you added an actor to a series, the entry form would prompt you for a year range. When an IMDB form prompts you for more info, you stand a better chance of getting it updated if you fill it in. Olmos might be one of those cases in which an actor got a "promotion" during the run of the series. Raymond Bailey and Nancy Kulp were not "main cast" for Seasons 1-5 of "The Beverly Hillbillies," but they were Seasons 6-9. So their entry should only list *1967-1972, even though they were in the series from Day One. Doc Robbins from "CSI" has been on the series since Season 1, but only about half that time in the opening credits.

Then, a few months ago, IMDB made a new rule: No more additions to a series cast list. Everything currently in place would be grandfathered, but future additions could only be done at the episode level--then, at some point in the future when every ep had its own individual cast list, the series cast list on the main page would be auto-generated from the sum of the episode cast lists. That day is not here yet, and won't be for some time. So, if a new actor joins a series, you have to add them to each ep.

*However it doesn't in this case. I just used it to show how it should have been under IMDB's rules at the time.

05-01-2006, 09:15 AM
Complicated, thanks.