Collage of Austin Butler's roles in The Shannara Chronicles, The Dead Don't Die, Elvis, and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

The 10 Best Austin Butler Movies and TV Shows, Ranked

Austin Butler attained critical acclaim last year with his award-winning performance in Elvis. Butler portrayed Elvis Presley in the biopic and his performance has been hailed as one of the best depictions of the late singer to date. Even the Presley family praised his electric performance, which garnered him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. While the award ultimately went to Brendan Fraser, Butler is still riding high on his Elvis fame and is slated to star in Dune: Part Two and Masters of the Air later this year.

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However, before Butler attained international fame with Elvis, he was already starting to pull attention for his roles in prominent films in which he was able to hold his own alongside big names like Leonardo DiCaprio. But, if you go back far enough, you’ll also find that he was present in nearly all of your favorite early 2000s Nickelodeon and Disney shows. Most of these were guest appearances, but he also did nab some main/recurring roles in several hit teen dramas that some fans might forget he was a part of.

So, here are the 10 best films and TV shows that Austin Butler has appeared in, ranked worst to the best.

10. Dude

Austin Butler as Thomas Daniels in Dude

Dude is a Netflix coming-of-age film that premiered on April 20, 2018, and features an ensemble cast, including Lucy Hale, Awkwafina, Alexandra Shipp, Kathryn Prescott, and Butler. The film follows a group of high school seniors who decide to end their high school careers on a high note. It’s a bit of a mixture between a coming-of-age film and a party/stoner film. As a result, it’s a pretty disjointed movie and struggles to hold its pace at times while poorly handling some mature topics. However, underneath its flaws, it’s a pretty sweet film about the friendship forged between four high school girls that will last through the different chapters in their lives and help them through the good and the bad times.

9. Zoey 101

Zoey 101 cast including Austin Butler as James Garrett

Zoey 101 ran from 2005 to 2008 and was one of Nickelodeon’s highest-rated live-action series at the time. The show follows Zoey Brooks’ (Jamie Lynn Spears) adventures at boarding school with her fellow high school pals. In Season 4, Butler joined the cast and portrayed Zoey’s boyfriend, James Garrett. Zoey 101 was a pretty standard and cheesy teen sitcom. However, it depicted the dream high school life for kids at the time, with the characters living their best independent lives and making unique fashion statements at a luxury beachside Californian boarding school. The Zoey 101 school was literally the Euphoria high school of its time. So, of course, it captivated kids and offered viewers some unlikely but entertaining high school scenarios.

8. Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure

Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay and Austin Butler as Peyton in Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure

In 2011, our favorite High School Musical diva, Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale), got a solo film with Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure. The film sees Sharpay spreading her wings after high school and making her dream of being on Broadway come true. Butler appears in Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure as Peyton Lettering, Sharpay’s film director boyfriend. Now, this is a Disney Channel original film, so it’s a bit cheesy and silly, and Sharpay is over-the-top, per usual. However, it was a satisfying post-High School Musical storyline that was filled with fun songs, cute dogs, and a story of a girl and boy pursuing their dreams without looking back.

7. The Carrie Diaries

AnnaSophia Robb as Carrie and Austin Butler as Sebastian in The Carrie Diaries
(The CW)

The Carrie Diaries premiered in 2013 and served as a prequel series to Sex in the City. The show follows a teenage Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb), back when she was a small-town girl from Connecticut, still grieving the loss of her mother and navigating New York City for the first time during her internship. Butler stars in the show as Carrie’s bad-boy love interest, Sebastian Kydd. The Carrie Diaries isn’t quite as hilarious and relatable as Sex in the City. However, it is intriguing to see where the story all started back in 1984 and it’s also a teen drama with a bit more depth due to its exploration of grief, finding one’s self, and leaving behind home for the first time.

6. Ruby & the Rockits

Patrick Cassidy as Patrick Gallagher and Austin Butler as Jordan Gallagher in Ruby and the Rockits

In 2009, the Cassidy brothers, Shaun, Patrick, and David, collaborated on a short-lived sitcom titled Ruby & the Rockits. Shaun was the showrunner, while Patrick and David starred as brothers Patrick and David Gallagher. In the show, Patrick and David are estranged brothers who used to make up an ’80s band called the Rockits. When Patrick meets his teenage daughter, Ruby (Alexa Vega), for the first time, he seeks out David for help raising her. Butler appears in the series as David’s teenage son, Jordan. The show’s quality is a bit hard to gauge since it only ran for one season, but during its short stint, Ruby & the Rockits was a very watchable light-hearted musical take on family dysfunction and coming to terms with the past.

5. The Shannara Chronicles

Austin Butler as Wil Ohmsford in The Shannara Chronicles

The Shannara Chronicles is a fantasy TV series that premiered in 2016 and is based on the Sword of Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks. The series marked one of the first TV series that Butler booked a starring role in. In The Shannara Chronicles, Butler appears as Wil Ohmsford, a half-elf who joins Elvish princess Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton) and human Eretria (Ivana Baquero) on a quest to save their world from destruction. Ultimately, the show features some overused fantasy tropes, but its beautiful visuals, world-building, and blend of teen drama and fantasy still manage to set it apart from other shows. Some may find The Shannara Chronicles a bit familiar, but that doesn’t make it less entertaining or visually appealing to watch.

4. The Dead Don’t Die

Austin Butler as Jack in The Dead Don't Die
(Focus Features)

The Dead Don’t Die is a horror zombie comedy that premiered in 2019. The film boasts an impressive lineup, including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Selena Gomez, and Butler. While it may seem like a typical zombie apocalypse film on the surface, The Dead Don’t Die is actually a unique blend of zombie horror and comedy that tries to provide political commentary on consumerism. It’s an ambitious film with a unique premise, a very talented cast, and lots of wit. While it’s a little too bizarre and experimental to drive its underlying premise home, it still succeeds in being a fresh and entertaining take on the zombie genre.

3. Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide

Austin Butler guest starred in 'Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide'

Chances are you probably don’t remember Butler starring in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, but he was there … just in the background. Butler portrayed Zippy Brewster in 41 episodes of the hit Nickelodeon series. However, all of his appearances were uncredited, as he was mainly a background character. Still, he played a role in one of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows, which saw junior high schooler, Ned Bigby (Devon Werkheiser), create a guide for surviving the trials of middle school. Ned’s Declassified was one of the most unique shows on Nickelodeon that appealed to both those who actually found the “guide” relatable and useful and those who just wanted to relive their childhood.

2. Elvis

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in Elvis
(Warner Bros.)

Elvis premiered on June 24, 2022, and is a detailed exploration of the life of Elvis Presley (Butler) and the truth behind his complicated relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). Butler is easily the best part of Elvis as he fully embodies the spirit of Presley and offers a heartfelt yet emotionally charged performance. The film as a whole is a detailed look into the singer’s life, though it was hurt by its odd decision to have the story told from Parker’s perspective, especially since the role wasn’t one of Hanks’ best performances. Additionally, Elvis runs a bit long and loses momentum at some points. Still, it’s a fairly accurate depiction of Presley’s life that faithfully captures his persona and legacy.

1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Austin Butler as Charles Watson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

While Elvis brought Butler to international fame, he first started really capturing attention in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The Quentin Tarantino film sees actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) struggling to come to terms with the beginning of the Hollywood Renaissance after they enjoyed fame in the 1950s. The critically acclaimed film blends fiction with reality, and captures the Golden Age of Hollywood and the culturally significant moments that changed the industry forever. Meanwhile, the film sees Butler in the rare role of an antagonist and he’s practically unrecognizable as he perfectly nabs the dark, mysterious, and disturbing role of a dedicated cult follower. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the most well-crafted film that Butler has appeared in, with its A-list cast and unique commentary of its period.

(featured image: MTV / Focus Features / Warner Bros. / Sony)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.