It's the dream of many actors to land that one breakout role, the role that puts them on everyone's casting list and springboards them to bigger things. Not all are so lucky though. There are many who were only held back by the popular role they became associated with, and were never able to rise to any notoriety above it. Like me. I'll never escape the label of World's Greatest Lover. Damn that coffee mug.

Here are seven examples of actors who couldn't surpass the earliest successes.

Dominic West

Though The Wire was filled with breakout performances, Dominic West stood head and shoulders above the rest as the deeply-flawed Jimmy McNulty. He was instantly a favorite with viewers (and the ladies), but he' taken some dicey roles since. For instance, his role in Johnny English Reborn, The Lactating Automaton, and as Jigsaw in Punisher: War Zone. McNulty deserves better! Hopefully John Carter will hel break him out.

Michael Richards

Back in the heyday of Seinfeld, Michael Richards could call you any name he wanted and you'd be rolling on the floor laughing. Then the show ended and his much-hyped starring vehicles Trial and Error and The Michael Richards Show bombed hard. Fast-forward a few years to his infamous comedy club scandal, and his star has all but sunk. If only you guys had gone to see Trial and Error, he would have never been in that club or gotten in that mess.

James Van Der Beek

Dawson Leary casts a pretty big shadow. James Van Der Beek was once the star of a hit show and showed promise in films like Varsity Blues and The Rules Of Attraction. Even with a questionable attempt at a southern accent. He's never been able to escape Dawson, though. His co-stars have gone on to successful careers in film, television, and Tom Cruise-marrying, but he's still on the grind picking up short-lived series and guest roles here and there.

Tom Green

His bizarre stunts made Tom Green an overnight sensation. After the premiere of The Tom Green Show, the comedian grew so popular that he landed film roles, Drew Barrymore, and even had a hit single with "The Bum Bum Song." You couldn't walk ten feet without seeing an impressionable teen humping a dead mouse. Nowadays, he's doing stand-up comedy and hosting his own talk show... in his living room.

George Wendt

Cheers was a professional highpoint in George Wendt's career. Though he's gotten a lot of work as a guest star since, nothing long-term has stuck. In 1995 he starred in The George Wendt Show, a sitcom based on the radio show Car Talk. Wendt starred as one of two wisecrackin brothers who ran a garage in Wisconsin. The network only aired six of the eight produced episodes.

Devon Sawa

Devon Sawa pretty much just vanished. After appearing in films like Casper, Slackers, and Final Destination. He also starred in the video for Eminem's "Stan," a high-profile part that should have launched the talented actor into bigger parts. However, he began to get difficult and demanding. Soon after, he got into trouble with the law several times and is rumored to have beaten on Topanga. And no producer is willing to hire anyone who would hurt Topanga.

Shannon Elizabeth

Shannon Elizabeth has kept busy since dropping jaws in American Pie as the beyond hot exchange student Nadia. It's just that lately she hasn't been in much of anything that people would have seen. As Nadia, she played the object of desire, the girl admired from a far because her beauty was so intimidating. In other words, she was fun to look at but no one really intended to hear her speak. This is exactly why she failed to create a memorable character beyond American Pie. Except, of course, for Girl-Who-Is-Out-Of-Place-Hot in Thirteen Ghosts.

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