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Sometimes, either to promote a product and generate interest in it, or maybe to maintain interest in it, or maybe just for the hell of it, a company will hold a contest in which the winner will get to make a brief appearance in a future work by that company. Sometimes this contest takes the form of a charity auction.

The contest winner's cameo could turn out to be anything from a simple appearance in the background, to playing a role in an important scene in the story. Or, depending on the tone, [[DeathByCameo to be horribly killed]].

In some cases, appearing in the work is the result of a Kickstarter reward; people who donate to the product's development can win the right to appear in it.

Compare OfficialFanSubmittedContent. Also compare {{Tuckerization}}, where characters are based on real people who haven't won anything.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''ShugoChara'' has an episode featuring a Chara made by a fan. The Chara also had plushies made of it.
* {{Gainax}} once ran a contest for fans of ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' to design a new Angel. While the winner's Angel design was not included in an episode, Gainax ''did'' produce [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Diemay.jpg official artwork]] of an Evangelion facing off against it.
* ''Microman'' ran a contest after the toyline's revival in 2000 to design a character, the winner being [[http://www.microforever.com/shakunetsu.htm Shakunetsu]] who actually went from being an exclusive figure to having two later mass releases and a starring role in a couple of the manga.
* The [[FunWithAcronyms GuAIZ]] and [[{{Pun}} Lightning Striker Pack]] of ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED'' are fan-submitted designs.
** The Elegolea from ''Manga/MobileSuitCrossboneGundam'' was submitted by an amateur designer. That designer was Kanetake Ebikawa, who would go on to design mecha for ''Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic'', ''Anime/{{Vandread}}'', ''SoukouNoStrain'' and, of course, ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00''.
** ''Anime/GundamBuildFighters'' featured three of them: the winner of a custom color contest (a red-and-yellow [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing Deathscythe]]), the winner of a ''Gundam Breaker'' contest (a black-and-white kitbash of more than five different MS's), and the winner of a real-world Gunpla building contest (a heavily-modified [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamZZ Zssa]]).
* The classmates in the ''PrinceOfTennis'' manga were named by reader submission.
* The creator of the manga ''ZodiacPI'' held a contest to create one of the little Zodiac sprites that assist the main character, Lilli. The winner, a Libra sprite, was featured in a full chapter with her own name and personality, and even appeared in several omakes!
* The ''Rallis the Star Bird'' card featured in one episode of ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'' was a fan design.
* A pretty regular feature of ''KongohBancho'': some of the fan-designed Banchos get to be prominent antagonists (three members of [[FiveBadBand The Five Dark Vows]], most notably), while others only turn up to get [[CurbStompBattle curb stomped]] [[WorfEffect by even tougher villains]].
* The upcoming anime short film (29 mins) ''Mai no Mahō to Katei no Hi'' is the winning story from a contest to create an anime to promote the Toyama Prefectural Family Day (or 'Katei no Hi') (the third Sunday in each month). The contest winner Moeko Shimizu was in fourth grade when she won the contest in 2005.
* Makoto Hanamatsuura, who appears in a bonus chapter of the ''Manga/SailorMoon'' manga, was a real person who won a 2 million yen bid at a charity auction benefiting the victims of the Kobe Earthquake in 1995. No word on whether he was happy with his "Tubby Mask" scene.
* ''Franchise/{{Jewelpet}}'' has three pets created by fans of the series: Charotte, Jasper and Sakuran, and they ended up becoming mainstays. The character designers for these pets were ''kids'', and they won exclusive merchandise from Sanrio.
* While it wasn't a contest per se, a live event open for female fans only was held shortly before the second season of ''Manga/YuruYuri'', during which the crowd's cheers was recorded specifically to be used for an all-female in-universe crowd in the last episode.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Erik Larsen's comic ''TheSavageDragon'' featured a contest where the winner would appear in a future issue of the comic. The winner (James Quentin Manning, if you must know) had a two-panel appearance, the second of which composed of his feet as Dragon knocked him the fuck out. To be fair, contest announcement was bluntly honest about this, to the point of showing the two panels pre-storyboarded.
** James wasn't really a fan of the comic, he just entered because ''his'' friend had entered.
** A variation appeared in an early issue, where fans were asked to design villains, and the winner's character would fight Dragon in an upcoming issue. The winning character was a mutant dockworker who went by Jimbo da Mighty Lobster.
* ''UltimateMarvel Team-Up'' once had a contest winner [[NoFourthWall brag about getting a cameo]]... and then get [[StrippedToTheBone instantly fried down to a skeleton]] by a Skrull DeathRay in the very next panel.
* Probably the most extreme form of this, and going far beyond a "cameo": ''{{Kick-Ass}}'' held a contest to name the main character. The winner of the contest, Dave Lizewski, chose to name the character after himself. Hence, every time Kick-Ass's true identity is mentioned by name, remember that you're basically reading a comic whose main character is named after the winner of a contest.
** This includes TheMovie.
** There's also an upcoming Kick-Ass 2 Heroclix with Dave Lizewski as it's name instead of the characters Kick-Ass codename.
* In the ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' comic "Masks," charity auction winner Pete Hottelet (covertly renamed Commander [[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Telettoh Telettoh]]) appears, real-world glasses and all.
* Not personal cameos, but the next best thing: The setup of the second ''ComicBook/DialHForHero'' series was that all the (one-shot) superhero forms (and the villains as well) used were all provided by comics fans, who got credit for each. One of them was invented by ''Creator/HarlanEllison''!
* There are occasional charity auctions at UK comic conventions to get characters or Mega-City One Blocks in ''Comicbook/JudgeDredd'' named after you.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Neo Yi,'' of FanFic/ChessPiece, had a couple of contests, the winners of which would have their [=OCs=] featured. Said [=OCs=] only appeared in one page and got two or three lines, but still.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Wondering who that mysterious "catching smoke" kid was in the ''Film/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban'' movie? Yeah, it was this trope.
* The janitor who gets killed when he steps between the T-1000 and the T-800 in ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'' in the back hall of the mall was the winner of an MTV contest.
* In ''{{Rugrats}} in Paris'' in the scene where Kimi is in daycare before the Rugrats pick her up in the robotic Reptar, a couple of kids who point this out to her were voiced by kids who had won a contest.
* Averted in the ''Film/ResidentEvil'' movie: when ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil2'' was released, Capcom held a contest where the winner would get a walk-on role in the upcoming movie. However, after that, the movie underwent a massive retooling, and thus the role was axed.
* In the audio commentary for ''Film/{{UHF}}'', Music/WeirdAlYankovic says that the audience members sitting on either side of "the box" in the "Wheel Of Fish" scene were contest winners.
* Nintendo Power magazine ran a contest for a cameo in the sequel to ''Film/TheMask''. The film proceeded to languish in DevelopmentHell for over a decade, so it's unknown what if anything the winner actually got.
* After the success of ''Film/{{Scream 1996}}'', MTV held a contest in which the winner would get a role in ''Film/{{Scream 2}}''. The winner ended up playing the movie theater employee who hands out Ghostface masks to Jada Pinkett-Smith and Omar Epps in the beginning of the movie. The young woman even got to speak some dialogue in the film (a rarity for these kinds of contests).
* A somewhat heartwarming example: around the time ''Film/LicenseToKill'' was released, a woman won a contest and was promised a cameo role in the next [[Film/JamesBond Bond]] film. But there was a ''six-and-a-half-year hiatus'' between that film and ''Film/GoldenEye'', the longest break in the series' history. The heartwarming part? The producers remembered, and she got her cameo! She's in a black-and-gold dress, behind Bond in the baccarat scene.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Creator/DavidWeber has a standing offer to name a character after whoever is the first to catch and point out a typographical error in a published ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' book. Most such characters are minor ones who die in their first appearance, so this process is known in the fandom as "winning a RedShirt". Sometimes, the character is not immediately killed off, and thus this is known as "winning a pink handkerchief".
* Andy Mangels, who frequently writes for the Pocket Books Star Trek series, has been known to feature names of real people in his books. Sometimes the names are featured because of a high bid in a charity fundraiser, and other times as a thank-you for doing something helpful.
* The ''Literature/ThursdayNext'' series had a competition to ask Thursday any three questions after the ''Eyre Affair'' (book 1). A fan of her work appeared in book 2, at the behest of a public relations agent, and asks three questions, none of which gets answered (she's rather busy at the time), but their presence provides a EurekaMoment for her. Separate contests were held in the United States and Britain, and the name of the fan and the questions asked were different in both editions.
* Just as much of a "cameo" as Kick-Ass's real name above is, the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' character Erek King was named after a fan. He made several more appearances as the Animorphs' "inside man" after #10, when he was introduced, and was a crucial part of the BatmanGambit [[spoiler:that won the war. After that, his disgust with Jake's methods led him to bleed the power from the weapons; their inability to attack led to Rachel's death.]]
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novels often include characters named after (and perhaps slightly based on) winners of charity auctions. Once they exist, they may appear in later books. Known examples include:
** Marco Soto in ''Discworld/ThiefOfTime'' and ''Discworld/NightWatch''.
** Dr Follet in ''Night Watch'' (the winner was the author Ken Follet).
** Dr John "Mossy" Lawn in ''Night Watch'', ''Discworld/GoingPostal'', and ''Discworld/UnseenAcademicals''.
** Professor Ladislav Pelc in ''Going Postal''.
** Dr John Hix in ''Discworld/MakingMoney'' and ''Unseen Academicals''.
* Used in the first book of TheThrawnTrilogy. Two fans won a charity auction to get their names in the book; whether or not the second one lived or died was up to the first fan. So after [[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Cris_Pieterson Cris Pieterson's]] tractor beam failed due to a trick of Luke Skywalker's, he tried to pin the blame on his superior officer, [[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Colclazure Colclazure]]. Thrawn had Pieterson [[YouHaveFailedMe killed]] for borderline insubordination, failure to adapt, and as a lesson in the difference between mere errors and worse mistakes. Colclazure was merely reprimanded. It's likely that one of the two would have died either way - this was one of Thrawn's important character moments.
* In 2002, chuckpalahniuk.net held a raffle to raise money. The six winners had characters in "Diary" named for them. (Nora Adams and Will Tupper are two of them.)
* Ray Huizenga, a minor character in Creator/StephenKing's novel ''Literature/{{Cell}}'', was named via charity auction.
* Several characters in David Gerrold's ''[[TheWarAgainstTheChtorr A Season For Slaughter]]'' are named after real people who made charitable donations for the privilege.
* In ''Sole Survivor'' by DeanKoontz the character of Barbara Christman was named after a competition winner. The real Barbara had hoped to be portrayed as a psychotic killer, but instead was written as a flight crash investigator.
** Ditto Linda Paquette, the protagonist's love interest, from ''The Good Guy''.
* MatthewReilly auctions character names, ranging from a [[Literature/LordOfTheRings Gandalf]] role spanning a trilogy to a spy killed (by jet engine) in his only scene.
* Sean Tourangeau won a contest to design the ''Luna''-class of starships for the ''Literature/StarTrekTitan'' novel series. The novel with the design in it also established a Dr. Tourangeau as one of the design team in-story, a man who was [[DeathByCameo killed horribly]] when the USS ''Luna'' suffered a core breach.
* Robert Asprin's ''[[MythAdventures Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections]]'' features a Pervect cabbie who at one point casually mentions bidding for a cameo in a book at an art auction, before adding that [[NoFourthWall if he hadn't won, Skeeve would be talking to someone else]].
* in the mid-to-late 1990s, Michael Stackpole auctioned off a cameo appearance in his ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' novels at the ''GenCon'' charity auction, a few of whom became minor recurring characters.
* ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' started doing this in later books. [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters Not that the story needed any more characters.]]
* Not a contest per se, but Creator/BaenBooks author Creator/JohnRingo offered spots in his list of readers for {{Redshirt}}ing or cameos to those who purchased the now-discontinued [[MemeticMutation OH JOHN RINGO NO]] t-shirts, whose profits went to the Helen Bamberg Foundation.[[note]]The Foundation helps, among other people, women abused by the sex trade, which features prominently in several books of the ''Literature/PaladinOfShadows'' series that spawned the OJRN meme.[[/note]]
* Ian Rankin has done the charity auction version numerous times, and one time had a prank pulled on him. The winner gave his name as Peacock Johnson and asked for his mate "Wee Evil Bob" to be included as well. Rankin enjoyed writing about Elvis-lookalike ArmsDealer Peacock Johnson and his sidekick Wee Evil Bob in the ''Literature/{{Rebus}}'' novel ''A Question of Blood'', and afterwards he tried to contact Johnson to ask if [[BreakoutCharacter he could include them in other novels]]. The website and the email address he had been given didn't exist, and after doing some sleuthing of his own, Rankin discovered he was the target of a practical joke by Stuart David, the former bass player for Music/BelleAndSebastian. Just to twist the knife, David denied him permission to reuse the character, and went on to write [[http://www.barcelonareview.com/73/e_sd.html a story of his own]] where the character [[RecursiveReality seeks out Ian Rankin himself]] to complain about his portrayal in his novel. Rankin has described the whole situation as "[[MindScrew a mindfuck]]".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/PunkyBrewster'' had a contest where kids could suggest a story to be made into an episode. The winner got to appear in the episode that got based on his story, about Punky having to learn CPR so she can later apply it on her friend Cherie (who ended up [[LockedInAFreezer trapped in an old fridge]]) to save her life.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': The kid who plays Creet in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS29E11Utopia "Utopia"]] was the winner of a ''Series/BluePeter'' contest to appear in an episode. [[spoiler:He gets turned into a Toclafane offscreen.]]
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** Two fans won a contest to get characters in an episode named after them. Unfortunately, the episode was "[=ExoGenesis=]", widely considered one of the show's worst.
** The serial murderer being hunted in the Psi Corps episode "The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father" was also named after the winner of a charity auction at a convention. Amusingly, the winner's name was Jonathan Harris, so most viewers thought it was a ShoutOut to LostInSpace, a previous series starring Billy Mumy, who plays Lennier on ''Series/BabylonFive''.
** Dr. Lillian Hobbes made a very large charitable donation to have a recurring character named after her.
** Not a competition winner, as such, but the mineral ''Quantium 40'' (vital in Jumpgate construction, was named following a poll held by JMS among members of the old GENiE boards.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' and ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' have done this for several seasons now on Sci Fi. The contest winner has a walk-on cameo appearance in one episode of each show. One winner was the wife of the Ori religious zealot in the Season 9 premiere three-parter.
** The DVD Commentaries for the episode usually reveal the identity of the winner. In "Lost City", it's the woman who enters the Oval Office and shakes Hayes' hand after his meeting with Weir. Later, in "Camelot", director Martin Wood specifically made the contest winner John Noble's wife so "she wouldn't get cut," seeming to imply that other contest winners have had their scenes cut.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' had a contest tied in with the release of their new game [[ColonCancer Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force]] The winners cameoed during the academy scene in the final episode.
** ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' had a couple of Engineering crew who were winners of the USS Enterprise's (the aircraft carrier) Crewman of the Year competition, and a radio contest winner played a female engineer.
** Similarly, the online animated spoof ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Trek Stone Trek]]'' has a feature where fans can submit photos of themselves so that they can be drawn and featured as the show's {{Red Shirt}}s.
* In 1977, ''SaturdayNightLive'' held a contest for the GuestHost spot on that year's Christmas episode called the "Anyone Can Host" contest, where an average person gets to be an ''SNL'' guest host. The winner of that contest was Miskel Spillman, an 80-year-old grandmother from New Orleans who happened to be a fan of the show (and still was until she died in the early 1990s). After learning that an old lady won the contest, the ''SNL'' production team tried to get the SexPistols on as the musical guest (as it would drum up more publicity and be hilarious to have a controversial punk band as the musical guest for a show hosted by an old lady), but visa problems caused them to pick ElvisCostello and the Attractions instead. Costello's infamous performance where he stops his planned performance of "Less than Zero" to play "Radio Radio" (who was considered too "anti-media" to play on mainstream television at the time) instead has become one of the most iconic in the show's history. Even though Miskel Spillman lives on as ''SNL'''s only non-celebrity to host an episode, her place as the oldest host (which actually once belonged to Ruth Gordon before Miskell Spillman usurped it) was usurped years later by another old lady host: Creator/BettyWhite.
* More than a few times, ''ThePriceIsRight'' has offered Walk-On roles on various CBS soap operas as part of a prize package. The only one that has been won so far was for ''Series/DaysOfOurLives'', where the winner could be seen in a party scene in the episode shown later in the day.
* ''Rush'd'' is a reality contest on the ''{{Greek}}'' website where the winner gets a walk-on role. The first winner appeared as a judge in the ZBZ "Mr. Purr-fect" competition.
* FOX held a [[WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill Hank Hill]] look alike contest on their network at one point where the winner gets to cameo on an episode of ''Series/MADtv''.
* Spoofed in an episode of ''Yes, Dear'' where the actors talk about how they could not find a place to fit him in, so they just had the winner standing there in the last scene, then asked him to move over into HD.
* ''Series/{{Ghostwriter}}'' did this. The winner could be seen rollerblading past the camera at the beginning of one episode.
* A while back, around 2003, {{Nickelodeon}} had an "America's Funniest Kid" contest. The winner, Christina Kirkman, remained in the cast of ''Series/AllThat'' for the rest of the show's run.
* ''FamilyMatters'' held a contest for young Urkel impersonators. The best four impersonators appeared in an episode where Carl dreams that Laura and Steve got married and had children (with another on the way). Some of the runner-up entries were shown as the credits rolled in the same episode.
* ''Series/GoodEats'' host Alton Brown participated in a Food Network kitchen makeover giveaway. The winner of his design, Nic Sims of Michigan, was also treated to a guest spot as a government agent on the episode "Churn, Baby Churn II".
** Also, the live 10th Anniversary special ''Good Eats Turns Ten'' held a contest for "superfans" of the series to create videos in order to appear as contestants on the GameShow portion of the special.
* Back when ''Remember WENN'' was Creator/{{AMC}}'s only original programming, they ran a contest to win a walk-on role in the following season. AMC ended up futzing with the contest (apparently editing out a scene that was supposed to answer a question), and cancelling the show, thus precluding the prize altogether. [[http://www.post-gazette.com/magazine/19980929owen3.asp This article mentions (among others) the walk-on contest.]]
** A similar offer for ''MadMen'' went by without any problems.
* ''Series/{{Mythbusters}}'' takes the first however many people to respond who fit their requirements when they need a really big crowd for something, though not all of them will appear in the episode. They'll also take the old cars of fans who really want to see their automobiles have a DyingMomentOfAwesome as they're blown up or smashed to bits as part of the testing of a myth.
* One of the prizes for winning ''WhoWantsToBeASuperhero'' was a cameo appearance on a Sci-Fi Original Movie.
* German TV Quiz ''Wer hat's gesehen?'' (''Who watched it?'') has the top price of winning a cameo on a ''Tatort'' (German police procedural) of the candidate's choice.
* An in-universe examples occurs in an episode of ''ThatsSoRaven'', where Corey wins a trip to Hollywood to cameo on a popular sitcom.
* Creator/{{NBC}} had a sweepstakes sponsored by Sears in the early 1990s where the winner would cameo on one of NBC's shows.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Magazines]]
* The {{Lego}} company had a little comic in ''Disney Adventures'' magazine involving a hero transported to a Lego-themed world and having to fight evil. Seriously. The comic had a contest in which the winner would appear in the comic, and he later did, helping out the hero at a crucial moment.
** ''Disney Adventures'' also featured a short comic in which the magazine's writers and editors fought against a team of four villains designed by readers for a contest.
*** And once they did a Design-a-superhero contest, with the winner having a short comic in the magazine.
**** Said winner's hero being surprisingly awesome, compared to the other kids' entries.
* ''Series/RobotWars Magazine'' once ran a competition to be on the Panic Attack team during the 4th season.
** Another competition was to design a robot for the video game ''Arenas of Destruction'', the winner (Thor) was an unlockable robot in the game.
* The short-lived Sega themed magazine ''Sega Visions'' gave a cameo in an entire strip (the size of two pages) of their recurring comic "Niles Nemo in Sega-Land" to a contest winner. The strip involved the winner, Kuanray Huang, and Niles meeting SonicTheHedgehog... and then waking up to discover it had all been a pizza-fueled dream.
* ''DisneyAdventures'' had a contest where readers submitted their best original villains. The winning villains would be part of a special comic printed in the magazine. The grand prize winner's villain was a guy who always entered ''Disney Adventures'' contests but never won. Since he lived in New Jersey, and ''Disney Adventures'' was published in New York City at that time, they had him come in and play his villain himself (the comic involved [[RogerRabbitEffect live action photos of the DA staff fighting against the (animated) winning villains]]).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music Video]]
* The beginning of the music video for Loverboy’s 1983 single "Queen of the Broken Hearts" features a bit of a young woman operating a futuristic machine. This was the winner of an {{MTV}} contest.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* ''Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home'' features wrestling fan Josh Asbill, who won a spot on the game's roster from a sweepstakes.
* At ''Wrestling/{{WCW}} Halloween Havoc 95'', [[http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wcw/wcw-h.html WCW World Heavyweight Champion]] Wrestling/HulkHogan and manager Jimmy Hart presented a motorcycle to a contest winner.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Winners of the ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' Invitational tournament get to make their own card, the image of which is based on their appearance. Such cards tend to be [[FanNickname nicknamed]] after the person that designed it.
** Which caused much hilarity when Wizards decided to reprint "Chris Pikula" (Meddling Mage) in ''Alara Reborn''. With new art. Depicting a woman. Boy, how harsh time's been on old Chris...
** And much consternation when "Bob" (Dark Confidant, designed by Bob Maher, Jr.) was reprinted in ''Modern Masters'' with new art.
* Similar things are a major part of the ''TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings'' CollectibleCardGame tournament scene, with winners getting to create cards and, at high enough levels of competition, actually help determine the products' storyline. In an inversion of the FanNickname bit above, a friend of this editor's actually took his online handle from the card he created.
* The awesomest version of this, though, is the prize for high-end ''Universal Fighting System'' tournaments - the winner gets a character card made of themselves, complete with art even more like the winner than the ones for ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' and the player's name as the card name. This leads to basically anyone who decides to use the championship cards referring to their deck by the champ's name.
* Donate at least ten bucks to the Comic Book Defense League through Hero Games official website and you'll have one of the company's official [=NPCs=] named after you.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Toys]]
* A 1986 contest to design a character for ''Franchise/MastersOfTheUniverse'' was won by an eleven-year-old named Nathan Bitner, with a camera-headed creation called "the Fearless Photog". One of the rewards, in addition to a $100,000 scholarship and other perks, claimed that the winner's character would be released as a toy, but the toy never came to pass. When X-Entertainment posted [[http://x-entertainment.com/updates/2003/05/21/who-was-photog/ a blog entry about Photog]] in 2003, the curious commenters managed to track down and piece together a surprisingly detailed biography of Bitner's life from then on, from being a lead designer for ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' (apparently with a large hand in the creation of Cortana), to the flop of his own startup video game company, filing for bankruptcy, and other rumored scandals. After several months of investigation and minor Internet sensation, word of this finally reached Bitner himself, who by then was a medic serving in the U.S. Army. He was pretty surprised by all the fuss.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'' has Chris Houlihan and his secret room, with lots of rupees, and a message from him. It should perhaps be noted that getting to said room is probably the biggest and most ridiculous GuideDangIt in videogame history, as it's simply where the game sends you if an error occurs in loading the next area, making it tricky to get to on purpose.
** Unfortunately for Chris Houlihan, the Game Boy Advance port of ''A Link to the Past'' has the room, but doesn't use his name.
** In the Italian version of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' Tott is named Andy Dandy, after the nickname of one of the writers of the Italian Official Nintendo Magazine.
* The PC Nancy Drew games have tons of games with this. Examples include The Silent Spy and Alibi in Ashes.
* For Sly 4, Sanzaru Games ran a contest where people can submit pictures of their own designed treasure loot. The winners chosen had their loot featured in the game.
* The ''KingdomHearts'' BonusBoss Kurt Zisa is named after a contest winner.
* The Robot Masters Wind Man and Knight Man from ''VideoGame/MegaMan6'' were designed by ''Magazine/NintendoPower'' readers.
** This is actually something of a tradition with the ''Mega Man'' games. Many Robot Masters were designed not by Capcom, but by Japanese contest winners. The ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'' games have been doing it since 2.
*** For ''Battle Network'', Mr. Famous is little more than a Fan-navi vehicle in the games - Gateman, Kendouman and Footman, three of the four Navis he's had from games 2 to 5, are all fan-designed. ''Battle Network 3''[='=]s fan navis are Mistman, Bowlman, and Kingman (the last of which, the first-place winner, has a more prominent place in the story, but is operated by a different NPC, not Famous). Circusman, Elementman, and Judgeman of ''[=BN=] 6'' are also fan creations. Circusman, particularly, is notably terrifying.
*** What's really interesting is that due to the appearances of Elementman and Judgeman, entire chapters of the game revolve around the weather and a trial, respectively. So not only did these contest winners design the bosses, they actually helped shape whole areas of the game along with sections of the story!
*** Laser Man and Video Man from ''Battle Network 4'' are also fan-made, the latter of which also helped create one of the game's scenarios. Wherever Video Man's designer is, [[ThatOneLevel we hope he burns in hell.]]
** Kung Foo Kid and Moon Destroyer from ''VideoGame/MegaManStarForce 2'' and ''3'' carry on the tradition.
* NipponIchi had a contest to pick names for the random name generator for ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 2|CursedMemories}}''.
* In ''[[VideoGame/{{Turok}} Turok 2: Seeds Of Evil]]'', entering "Juan's Code" placed the face of Juan- a contest winner- on the health icons.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' [[http://www.dra-mata.com/images/og2/gather_katina.jpg Katina Tarask]]. She actually makes her debut in a SRW TradingCardGame as a former sniper, piloting a hideous [[HumongousMecha mecha]] codenamed the ''[[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast "White Devil"]]''.
* Konami held contests for various versions of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid 2'' and ''[[VideoGameRemake The Twin Snakes]]'' where the (numerous) winners would have mooks named after them. For ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'', they held a camouflage designing contest, with winning designs appearing in the game.
** From the same company, during the popularity peak of the ''TokimekiMemorial'' series, Konami organized the "Tokimeki Teens" marketing program. In there, they selected one idol among a bunch of candidates, and this idol would get [[AsHimself her fictionalized version of herself]] in the ''Drama Series'' games of the series, as well as being able to produce various songs. The winner of this contest was Mie Kuribayashi. Let's just say she quickly fell back in the shadows after the ''Drama Series'' were done.
* Several {{NPC}}s in ''VideoGame/FableII'' are named for people that won lots at the ''PennyArcade'' UsefulNotes/ChildsPlay charity auction.
* A few {{NPC}}s in ''BreathOfFireIII'' are named after contest winners. These same people also named some in-game items and a few fish.
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'': There are a set of stairs near Clayface's cell that lead to a cell where a creepy prisoner is held; He is actually the winner of a Gamespot contest, and is mentioned on Joker's party list as Luke Oliver.
* ''RatchetAndClank: A Crack in Time'':
** The Spiral of Death weapon was the (publicly-voted) winner of a weapon design contest.
** The Bancho Ratchet [[AndYourRewardIsClothes skin]] was the winning design for a Japanese skin contest.
* The [[UsefulNotes/ThreeDOInteractiveMultiplayer 3D0]] version of ''StarControl 2'' included two few songs by Finnish contest winner Riku Nuottajärvi.
* Lucas and Cameron, two characters in the starting village of ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'' are named after Cameron Rapmund and Łukasz Kawarski, the winners of the official Fallout trivia challenge.
* {{Konami}} held a contest for ''{{Beatmania}}'' for a fan to get their music into [=IIDX=] [=RED=]. This led to a [[http://vjarmy.com/wiki/index.php/Inside_Jokes#Kyle_Snyder_.2F_Mirror_Force_.2F_Engulfed_Beam_.2F_You_Can.27t_Escape_Me meme]] in the fandom.
* In ''[[VideoGame/SystemShock System Shock 2]]'', the unfortunate Brian Norris was named and designed after the winner of a contest Looking Glass held with the name of ''Get Killed By SHODAN''.
* ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVAbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder'' did this with Austin and Amanda, two characters in the pie shop, both of whom were winners of the "Be a Character in King's Quest V" contest in InterAction Magazine. Entrants had to submit photos of themselves in outfits that would fit into the King's Quest world -- those costumes are exactly what the characters are wearing.
* ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryV'' also did this -- Wolfie was a fan who sent cartoon sketches of his character to the game's creators, the Coles. They used those sketches to create a full-fledged character without whom the game is unwinnable! How's that for a cameo?
* Dan Emmerson won a contest for his [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_AexmWZZL4&feature=player_embedded Meat Cello]] entry and wound up in the second level of ''VideoGame/DeadSpace2''. The name of the contest, [[DeathByCameo "Get Dismembered in Dead Space 2"]], gives away what would happen to him.
* ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic 2'' has Nikko, a pazaak player who appears on Onderon during the course of the game. His appearance was based off the likeness of a contest winner named Paul Keeler, who also won a trip to the LucasArts studios in the deal.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfMonkeyIsland'': Lizink's Wig of Foppery, [[spoiler:which Bailiff Killick Hardtack is compelled to wear after losing his case against Guybrush]] in Chapter 4, is named after the [[http://www.telltalegames.com/community/blogs/id-498 screen name of Liz Johnston]], [[http://pc.ign.com/articles/102/1027699p1.html a native of British Columbia]], {{Canada|Eh}}, and Telltale Games' winner of the "How Has Guybrush Wronged You Competition" in the "Game Designer for a Day" contest ([[http://www.telltalegames.com/community/blogs/id-474 which started on July 14, 2009, a week after the release of Chapter 1]]); her winning line, "He dug up my perfectly good X!", appears in Hardtack's accusation against Guybrush. Not only that, but her name also appears on the list of "Designer for a Day Finalists" in the end credits of Chapter 4.
* Irrational Games ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'' held a contest to get a fan's name in the game. The winner was a fellow named Payton Lane Easter who is now the proud owner of a [[http://irrationalgames.com/files/2011/05/paytonlaneeaster_finalasset.jpg robot horse company]].
** They also held a [[http://www.bioshockinfinite.com/news/bioshock-infinite-casting-at-pax-east-2012-the-results contest at PAX East 2012]] to find people's ''faces'' to add to the game.
* The winner of a contest at E3 2009, Charlie Malone, was made into a patient in ''[[TraumaCenter Trauma Team]]''.
* Felix the Fish, the mascot of Big Fish Games, was concealed in one of the HiddenObjectGame scenes of ''VideoGame/MysteryCaseFiles: Ravenhearst.'' Finding and clicking on him opened a screen which enabled the player to enter a contest, the winner of whom got to have his or her likeness included in a later MCF game. (Humorously, the contest ended in March 2007 - but they never removed the contest from the game. This means that if you buy the game even now, Felix is in there and clicking on him will still bring up that screen.)
* As part of the RetroactiveLegacy related to ''DarkVoid Zero'', Capcom created a fictional contest that a young JimmyFallon won to get an appearance in the game. Said "cameo" consisted of him being unceremoniously killed off before the main character could find him.
* To promote ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'', Rockstar ran a contest a few months before the game came out for people to have their faces scanned into the game, where they will appear as members of [[ChurchOfHappyology the Epsilon Program]]. The five winners can be seen [[http://www.cultstoppers.com/ here]].
* People who donated a certain amount of money to the Kickstarter project for ''VideoGame/MightyNo9'' were given the right to have their likeness appear in the game, in what the Kickstarter page described as a place where they would be easily noticeable, and yet not distracting to players who don't want to see cartoonified Kickstarter backers.
* Season 1 of ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead'' had a contest where the winner would show up, get killed, turned into a zombie, and killed again. The winner of this was [[spoiler:Brie]] in the game. There's also [[http://walkingdead.wikia.com/wiki/Notable_Walkers_(Video_Game)#Contest_Winners four zombies]] based on other contest winners.
* The creator of ''[[PokemonPrism Pokémon Prism]]'' held a Facebook contest involving [[OfficialFanSubmittedContent custom moves]]. The 13 winners, in addition to having their moves put in the game, got the opportunity to cameo as AI-controlled trainers.
* During VideoGame/PhantasyStarOnline2's Anniversary season, Sega held an item design contest consisting of costumes, weaponry and accessories. The top 3 winners of each category (there were some honorable mentions) got their designs in the game.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''{{Drowtales}}'' readers are able to buy their way into the story, to fill character slots needed for larger chapters, where too many characters will be needed for the writers to create themselves. The readers who do so create their own character fitting the canon of the Drowverse, which are then included and put into the story. These roles can range from the reader created cameo appearing in a single panel in the background, to a small spoken role, to a side character for that chapter.
** A fan run competition is currently being held up until December 28th, to create a character and put it up for voting, the winners of which will get their way into the story with their character paid for by the competition runners.
* ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' occasionally features characters based on fans who contribute to the fandom in some extraordinary way, usually as background characters during Halloween Party strips, or as minor characters who get killed off in some messy fashion.
* ''[[http://www.electric-manga.com/ Kagerou]]'' has a contest to be killed on panel. The winner (and explanation) can be seen [[http://www.electric-manga.com/41/12.html here]].
* Every year, ''PennyArcade'' auctions off an appearance in their comics for charity. The first time got amusingly [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/02/06/ meta]].
** As have [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/12/9/ some]] [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/12/9/ other]] strips.
** In the first episode of PennyArcadeAdventures, there is a listing in the credits with the title: "That guy who paid us a lot of money to be in the game."
** Several of the auctions have been won by a guy named Wil Shipley, who writes software for Macs, or to put it another way, [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/docs/7-2-07b.jpg gets HAND jobs from STEVE Jobs]].
* ''DanAndMabsFurryAdventures'' pretty much got it's start this way...
* Toward the end of ''Webcomic/ItsWalky'', many of the die-hard message board fans were made into members of the army, and were, naturally, horribly killed.
* ''TheCyantianChronicles'': There's several instances, but the most notable is the fan scripted bonus comic at the end of Akaelae # 5. Although, The Scripting Game only let me cameo as the writer. It didn't get a character included.
* Connecticon '07 auctioned off a guest spot in ''SomethingPositive''. Randy [[http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp07302007.shtml put the winner in]] and hung perhaps the [[LampshadeHanging world's biggest lampshade]] on the practice.
* ''KevinAndKell'' has had a number of these.
* ''LeastICouldDo'' holds a contest every ValentinesDay where the winner gets to go on a date with a character of their choosing (which means, yes, they get to live out their PerverseSexualLust). Interestingly, ButtMonkey John has had the most luck so far with two dates; protagonist Rayne has also had two, but one was with a [[HoYay gay man]] and the other was with a beautiful blonde, but the rest of the cast did their best to sabotage it.
* As a joke for ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'''s [[http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/14293468/homestuck-adventure-game Kickstarter Project]], AndrewHussie offered to canonize the [[OriginalCharacter fantroll]] of anyone who donated $10,000 or more. Well, two people took him up on that offer. [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=007866 And here they are!]] [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=007867 And now they aren't.]] (They didn't donate enough to have them survive for more than a single panel).
* Similarly, ''SkinHorse'' offered an appearance in the strip as a reward in their Kickstarter, which several people took them up on. They were all eaten by zombies.
* [[http://rustyandco.com/comic/level-7-3/ Slobber]], a ridiculously cute pug-faced gnoll from RustyAndCo, [[http://rustyandco.com/comic/level-7-11/ turns out]] to be based on a winner's pet.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[http://www.weebls-stuff.com/wab/dan/ This]] ''WebAnimation/WeeblAndBob'' cartoon had the winner of an Ebay charity auction animated into it. Yes, that's his face with rocket parts on it, being driven by aliens going ''shopping''.
* ''WereAlive'' auctioned off a cameo role on eBay to help pay for tickets to the Audie Awards. The winner showed up as Dr. Guin in Chapter 29-3.
* ''Literature/TheGraystoneSaga'' did this early in its run, with the winner of a Facebook contest getting a minor character named after them in a future chapter.
* ''HowItShouldHaveEnded'' had a contest to celebrate their 100th video. The contest winner had his likeness drawn into the ''ReturnOfTheJedi'' spoof, as the Imperial Officer who reports to Palpatine that the exhaust ports have been replaced with a giant passageway straight to the core reactor on the new Death Star.
* One of the authors of ''DarwinsSoldiers'' [[http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showpost.php?p=34692436&postcount=635 auctioned off]] a [[http://gangoffive.net/index.php?showtopic=7319&view=findpost&p=22033253 background character name]] for ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' items. Only two people bid, so second place got in for free.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce'' had a contest sponsored by Burger King for the role of Carl in their live action episode.
* ''WesternAnimation/CelebrityDeathmatch'' did this twice. The first time, the contest winner had his spleen ripped out by John Tesh after he requested it, feeling that it would be an honor. The second time, the contest winner's soul was sold to the Devil by the hosts in exchange for the BackstreetBoys and *Music/{{NSYNC}}, who fans had requested to fight each other (both having been killed in previous matches -- the Backstreet Boys by the BeastieBoys, and *NSYNC by Music/{{KISS}}).
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'' featured a brief cameo from a contest winner. He stood out because the design of his character's face had a lot more detail than the rest and, after he did his bit ("check to make sure the way is clear" or something) he popped up for a split second to give the audience a thumbs-up.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' episode "Dexter and Computress Get Mandark" was based on a story written by a kid who submitted a story for the show and he himself narrated the episode. Bet you feel a little bad for hating that episode now, huh?
* ''DrawnTogether'' did one of these at the insistence of the network, which the creators were not happy about. The eventual winner was featured in a scene in the episode "Spelling Applebee's" as a waiter who makes out with Captain Hero then later masturbates into his food.
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' had Josh and Katlyn in Season 4.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstoneKids'' had an in-universe example. Fred and Barney won a contest to appear in an episode of Captain Caveman and Son. They just cameoed.
* Though she in no way won a contest, a girl named Katelyn was animated into a ''KimPossible'' episode in season 4 as her wish from the Make A Wish foundation: she's tells Kim she's her biggest fan and asks for her autograph.
* TheMovie of ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' had two contest winner drawings in the movie--Bubbles' crayon drawing and the family portrait on the wanted poster for Professor Utonium were both by fans.
* In the ''RenAndStimpy'' episode "A Visit To Anthony's" the boy Anthony was a winner of a contest to appear on the show.
* ''RobotChicken'' once had a contest winner appear on the show... only to get murdered by Seth Green.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' two-parter ''Who Shot Mr. Burns?'' had a contest wherein the person correctly guessing the resolution to the season-ending CliffHanger would be animated into an episode. Nobody won the contest, however: Only one viewer correctly followed the episode's trail of evidence and concluded that [[spoiler: Maggie]] did the deed, but that person never signed up for the contest.
** Much to {{showrunner}} David Mirkin's chagrin, the terms of the promotion forced him to declare a winner out of a batch of one thousand random samples, all incorrect. As he notes in the season 7 DVDCommentary, they just picked a woman who guessed that Smithers did it, paid her off, and no one even noticed.
** Also the episode "Million Dollar Maybe" was part of The Simpsons "Best. Character. Ever." contest. The winning character "Ricardo Bomba" was shown for less then 30 seconds before crashing his car. Whether or not the character survived the crash and will be seen in future episodes is unconfirmed (so far, he hasn't appeared).
** Another ''Simpsons'' contest they had was the "Create-A-Couch-Gag" contest where the winner gets his or her couch gag animated onto the last episode of the season. The winner in America was a woman named Cheryl Brown, and her couch gag had five dandelions on the couch, and the screen filling with tiny airborne Homers, Marges, Barts, Lisas, and Maggies when the TV sneezes. In Canada, the winning CouchGag was a simple one where The Simpsons share the couch with a Canadian loon, John A. MacDonald, a hockey player, and a Canadian beaver.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' had one of these in the episode "Red Man's Greed". The winner appeared throughout the episode, delivering inspiring speeches on that episode's {{Aesop}}. His presence was unexplained until the final scene, where Stan and Kyle finally ask, "Who the hell ''are'' you?"
** Also done for the opening crowd shot for season 14's premiere.
* ''{{The Spectacular Spider-Man}}'' episode "Gangland" had a cameo from a school which won a contest to be animated in the series.
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDramaIsland'' did this in the season finale, with the winner of an online contest being used as a test subject for part of their final DeathCourse. Of course, they just ''had'' to make the winner get to fall into a gorge, and it is inferred he was eaten by sharks.
* On a weekend morning show in the UK, there was a contest where a kid could have a background character in ''TheWeekenders'' based on them. It's not known if they ever went through with this.
* Towards the end of 1998, Disney and McDonalds ran a promotion where a kid (three to twelve years old) would get to appear on an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}'' in the show's third or fourth season (both ran at the same time; season three on ABC and season four on UPN/syndication), as well as winning a trip to Disneyland (and the second prize winners were given a ''Recess'' themed birthday party). The winner, Morgan (last name currently unavailable), appeared in season four's "The Rules".
* The PBS show ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' featured an episode in which the cast entered a contest to propose a story idea, which was won by the avatar of the girl who submitted the premise for that episode.
* In the scene in ''Film/OverTheHedge'' where RJ and Verne are chased by the dog through various lawns, there is a man barbecuing who says "Huh?", and a man in a lawn chair who pushes a female companion out of the way with a cry of "Look out!". Both of these men were played by contestants on ''Series/TheApprentice'', and these small cameos were the result of winning a reward challenge.
* The rampaging Drone from the ''Franchise/HeroFactory'' TV mini series was designed by a member of the Website/BZPower forums for the official Franchise/{{Bionicle}} Building Contest #53. It appeared in a flashback in episode 3, and later, rebuilt as a monument, in episode 4.
[[/folder]]

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