Can you believe there's an entire generation that only knows Mary-Kate and Ashley as the older sisters of Avengers star Elizabeth Olsen? Or as the two strikingly similar-looking mystery women who make sporadic appearances at the Met Ball? Or as the two waifs who are mysteriously absent from Netflix's Full House sequel Fuller House? Kids and tweens today just don't understand how the Olsen twins dominated television airwaves from the late '90s to the early 2000s. They're two of the most successful child stars of all time.
But sift back through your own memories of Mary-Kate and Ashley, and you may be surprised by the straight-to-VHS movies and sitcoms starring the Olsen twins you've failed to remember. Take a dive back into the expansive library of Mary-Kate and Ashley TV shows and movies, and look back with nostalgia-clouded eyes at the forgotten Olsen twins projects that fans once held so dear.
It was only a matter of time before Mary-Kate and Ashley starred in a Parent Trap rip-off. That film came in the form of 1995's It Takes Two. The twins play unrelated but nevertheless identical girls from very different backgrounds. Mary-Kate plays Amanda, an orphan who wants her social worker (played by Kirstie Alley) to adopt her. Ashley plays Alyssa, a wealthy girl who is not into her father (Steve Guttenberg) marrying his mean new fiancée.
The Olsens trade places, and devise devious schemes to get Guttenberg and Alley to meet each other and fall in love.
Actors: Kirstie Alley, Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Steve Guttenberg, Philip Bosco, + more
Initial Release: 1995
Directed by: Andy Tennant
Also Rankedsee more on It Takes Two
The Emmy-nominated TV movie Double, Double, Toil and Trouble had a surprisingly dark supernatural element. It also starred a pre-Will & Grace Eric McCormack as the twins' down-on-his-luck father, and living legend Cloris Leachman pulling double duty as evil Aunt Agatha and wrongfully-banished-to-hell Aunt Sofia.
Leachman isn't the only one playing multiple roles, though. Mary-Kate and Ashley also stretch their acting muscles by not only playing Kelly and Lynn Farmer - scrappy, imaginative twins - but also the younger versions of Leachman's double aunt role. If that's not complicated enough, there's also a plot involving moon stones, the netherworld, and curses.
Actors: Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Cloris Leachman, Eric McCormack, Meshach Taylor, + more
Initial Release: 1993
Directed by: Stuart Margolin
Also Rankedsee more on Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
The 1999 television movie Switching Goals positioned the Olsens in the tomboy/girly-girl archetypes that became their go-to dynamic in their sitcoms. Mary-Kate plays Sam, the tomboy with mad soccer skills - but as great as she is at scoring goals, she's having trouble scoring with boys. Ashley plays her twin sister, Emma, the girl's girl of the two. She likes fashion and make-up, but wants to improve her poor athleticism.
The twins are put on rival soccer teams. Sam is bummed because she's stuck with a shoddy team that can't get it together, while Emma has been placed on the top team at her mother's request. MK and Ashley pull the old switcheroo, and hilarity ensues.
Actors: Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Michael Cera, Kathy Greenwood, Eric Lutes, + more
Initial Release: 1999
Directed by: David Steinbergsee more on Switching Goals
The Olsen twins have played spies, witches, and pizza enthusiasts, so naturally they played cowgirls, too. In How the West Was Fun, twins Susie and Jessica are off to visit their Grandma's dude ranch. But the ranch has fallen on hard times, and their Granny may have to sell off the ranch to an evil developer - unless the twins can save the day.
Fun fact: younger sister Elizabeth Olsen cameos as "Girl in car."
Actors: Elizabeth Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Martin Mull, Michele Greene, + more
Initial Release: 1994
Directed by: Stuart Margolinsee more on How the West Was Fun