Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor)
THEN: Chandler had clear eyes and a full heart as Coach Eric Taylor. The wise family man acted as a father figure to many of the boys on the Dillon High School Panthers, and helped develop the football program at East Dillon High.
NOW: The New York native dropped the drawl and picked up gigs in Oscar-nominated movies after FNL‘s 2011 wrap. Chandler has since appeared in Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, The Spectacular Now, and The Wolf of Wall Street, and recently hit Netflix with a starring role in Bloodline.
Connie Britton (Tami Taylor)
THEN: Britton and her famed head of curls stole the show as Tami Taylor, starring opposite Chandler as the football coach’s no-nonsense wife. The ever-charming Mrs. Coach raised the family’s two daughters while growing her own career in academia at Dillon High.
NOW: The Britton-sized hole in fans’ hearts was filled just months after Friday Night Lights ended, when the Spin City actress booked a role in the first season of American Horror Story. She then signed on for ABC’s Nashville, starring alongside Hayden Panettiere, and made appearances in movies such as This Is Where I Leave You, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, and American Ultra.
Aimee Teegarden (Julie Taylor)
THEN: Just 15 years old when FNL debuted, Teegarden took on the role of Julie Taylor, the daughter of Eric and Tami Taylor. She began the show as a high school freshman, growing through the years as she meets her first love, faces changes at home, and experiences a healthy dose of rebellion against her parents.
NOW: After graduating from Dillon High and her gig as Julie, Teegarden eyed television roles, making a cameo on Punk’d and starring in The CW’s short-lived Star-Crossed. She also made an appearance in the 2013 big-screen drama Love and Honor with Liam Hemsworth.
Scott Porter (Jason Street)
THEN: Porter opened the show as Dillon’s star quarterback Jason Street. The athlete’s fate soon turns, however, as he becomes paralyzed from the chest down after suffering a debilitating injury in the first game of the season. After a tough personal battle, Jason stays close to the game with a post-high school career as a sports agent.
NOW: Jason Street didn’t define Porter for long as he booked a recurring role on The Good Wife before FNL even wrapped. He continued his television work with a starring role in Hart of Dixie, and appeared in movies like 10 Years and The To Do List.
Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen)
THEN: Gilford played Matt Saracen, FNL‘s boy next door with a heart of gold. The Panthers’ quarterback takes over for the injured Jason Street and becomes close to the Taylor family as he dates Julie and bonds with Coach Taylor in lieu of a relationship with his own father.
NOW: Following Friday Night Lights, Gilford nabbed a spot as Taylor Swift’s love interest in her “Ours” music video, and booked a gig as a series regular in ABC’s Off the Map. The medical drama was soon cancelled, but Gilford went on to appear in The Last Stand, The Purge: Anarchy, FOX’s The Mob Doctor, and signed on for 2016’s ABC drama The Family.
Minka Kelly (Lyla Garrity)
THEN: Kelly became Lyla Garrity with the 2006 premiere of Friday Night Lights, bringing the high-achieving head cheerleader to life. Lyla was in a relationship with Jason Street at the time of his injury, but her life gets messy as she starts seeing Tim Riggins behind Jason’s back and faces drama at home with her parents’ marital troubles. She eventually gets back on track and ends up enrolling at Vanderbilt.
NOW: After FNL, Kelly picked up a starring role in ABC’s short-lived Charlie’s Angels remake. She wasn’t idle long after the show’s cancellation, however, as she then booked gigs in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and the FOX series Almost Human.
Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins)
THEN: Kitsch made viewers swoon as the dreamy Panthers football player Tim Riggins. The rebellious ladies’ man took his favorite phrase of “Texas forever” to heart, staying in the Lone Star State after graduating from Dillon High and pursuing questionable business ventures with his brother.
NOW: The Canadian star had a less than successful turn as the title character in Disney’s box office bomb John Carter, but soon got back on his feet with parts in critically acclaimed projects like The Normal Heart and True Detective. Kitsch also appeared in Battleship, Savages, and Lone Survivor.
Jesse Plemons (Landry Clarke)
THEN: Plemons had a bit of renaissance as Landry Clarke, going from Saracen’s nerdy friend to a football jock. When he wasn’t on the field or studying, he was falling for resident bad girl Tyra Collette and playing in his Christian metal band, Crucifictorious.
NOW: The Texas native returned to TV after FNL with roles in Breaking Bad, Bent, and Olive Kitteridge. Plemons also added to his filmography with The Master, Battleship, and Black Mass.
Gaius Charles (Brian 'Smash' Williams)
THEN: Charles found his home in Texas as Dillon Panthers running back Smash Williams. The star athlete got an added boost from steroids in the early seasons before Coach Taylor steps in, and later landed a spot on Texas A&M University’s football team.
NOW: The New York native left Texas for Seattle, booking a role as medical intern Shane Ross on Grey’s Anatomy. In addition to his gig on the drama, Charles also appeared on NCIS, Necessary Roughness, and NBC’s Aquarius.
Adrianne Palicki (Tyra Collette)
THEN: Palicki played high school hottie Tyra Collette. A supporter of the Dillon Panthers with a dark home life, Tyra has flings with Tim Riggins and Landry Clarke before enrolling at the University of Texas.
NOW: The star turned to action movies after FNL, appearing in Red Dawn, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and John Wick. On the small screen, Palicki made cameos in Criminal Minds, About a Boy, and Drunk History, before booking a starring role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Bobbi Morse.
Matt Lauria (Luke Cafferty)
THEN: Lauria joined Friday Night Lights in the fourth season, playing newcomer Luke Cafferty. Luke joins the East Dillon team and helps beef up the program as he romances Becky Sporles (Madison Burge).
NOW: The Lipstick Jungle alum continued his focus on TV following FNL, making cameos in Burn Notice, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Person of Interest. Lauria found a regular role in Parenthood as military veteran Ryan York and leads DirecTV’s Kingdom as Ryan Wheeler.
Michael B. Jordan (Vince Howard)
THEN: The celebrated actor played Vince Howard in FNL’s fourth and fifth season. After facing trouble with the law, Vince joins the East Dillon team, playing football for the first time. He finds success on the team, but is often distracted by his parents’ trips in and out of jail.
NOW: Jordan became a bona fide movie star with the 2013 release of critical darling Fruitvale Station. He went on to expand his resume with roles in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, That Awkward Moment, and Fantastic Four.
Jurnee Smollett (Jess Mirrwether)
THEN: The little sister to Empire‘s Jussie Smollett, the star played Jess Mirrwether in the second half of FNL‘s run. She develops a relationship with Vince and gets involved with the football team as a coach-in-training.
NOW: After Friday Night Lights, Smollett booked roles in The Defenders, The Mob Doctor, and True Blood. She also had a seven-episode arc in Parenthood and signed on for WGN’s upcoming series Underground.