A situation in which one or more characters are unexpectedly asked (or compelled) to take an acting part in a ShowWithinAShow. Maybe they just happen to be present backstage when one of the real actors suddenly collapses, or maybe they get [[MistakenForSpecialGuest mistaken for the real actor]] for some reason and have to play along, maybe they literally drop on stage by accident while doing something else, or maybe getting on stage is the only way for them to get close to a MacGuffin. Whatever the cause, they'll find themselves out in front of everyone trying to pretend that they know what they're doing. They might have a brief opportunity to skim the script, or they might just have to make it up as they go along, but expect it to be awkward either way.

Most of the time, the show in which they're forced to act is a play or other live theatrical production, but it could also happen with other media.

It can sometimes happen in video games, which requires that the players themselves do a plausible job of remembering their lines.

A frequent cause of BadBadActing. See also AllPartOfTheShow, which is when characters aren't trying to follow their actual role, but the audience thinks they are anyway. When a character stands up to perform (as opposed to being pushed) because it's their best/only option, they are HoldingTheFloor. Frequently employed as part of the ConcertClimax. May result in the ConcertKiss.


[[folder:Anime And Manga]]
* Kagome in ''Manga/InuYasha''; simultaneously PlayedForDrama and PlayedForLaughs in that there is a real youkai hiding in the building and Inuyasha is having trouble determining acting from reality. The audience, of course, presumes that it's AllPartOfTheShow.
* The third ''Manga/OnePiece'' TV-Special focuses on a theatre actor putting on one last show. When some of the cast suddenly quit right before the opening act, naturally the Straw Hats ended up on stage causing all kinds of chaos.
* In one episode of ''Anime/SamuraiChamploo'', Fuu throws the dice for an important gambling match when the person who was supposed to do it is kidnapped so that one of the participants can supply a substitute who will cheat for them.
* In ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'', Hinagiku gets thrown on stage to sing "Cruel Angel's Thesis" for her own birthday party in chapter 95 or episode 12 of season 2. Wataru and Hayate both get their own turns during Sakuya's birthday in chapter 141 or episode 23 of season 2. They are forced to perform their own comedy shows.
* In ''Manga/RaveMaster'', during the[[spoiler: Time Travel]] chapters, Ellie is mistaken for Resha Valentine and was forced into a dance show instead of Resha who got kidnapped. Subverted: Haru manages to save the real Resha in time for the show. Subverted again by the fact that [[spoiler: she really is Resha Valentine]].
* ''Manga/YuGiOhGX'': Alexis is forced into a beauty pageant.
* An episode of ''Anime/YesPrettyCure5'' has Nozomi willingly take up the role of a main character in a stage show, mostly because she didn't want Urara's first show to be a disaster. Unfortunately, Nozomi's a major klutz who got herself kicked out of every club, including the Drama one. And that's not counting when one of the QuirkyMiniBossSquad showed up in the middle of the show, forcing them to figure out a way to transform without tipping people off. Like the Manga/InuYasha example, people think that it's AllPartOfTheShow.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
%%* Obelix in ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}} and the Cauldron''.
* ''Paperinik e l'indimenticabile Aida'' (one of these Italian [[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Disney comics]] which never seem to get published in English) has a ClassyCatBurglar fleeing from Paperinik (Donald's superhero alter ego) through an opera house and accidentally running on stage during a show of ''Theatre/{{Aida}}'', while in costume. She hastily attempts to ad-lib a song to blend in. Then Paperinik ends up on stage too, and both begin chasing and running from each other, while still singing in rhyme.

* The "getting on stage is the only way for them to get close to a MacGuffin" version occurs in ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventure_of_Sherlock_Holmes%27_Smarter_Brother The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother]]''. Sigerson Holmes and his {{Sidekick}} Sergeant Sacker go onstage as actors during an opera to recover the Redcliff Document. On [=YouTube=] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a17uOf3IR1M here]].
* In the early Creator/AlfredHitchcock film ''Film/{{The 39 Steps|1935}}'', the main character stumbles into a political rally while on the run from the police, and is mistaken for the next speaker. He manages, without knowing what candidate or party he is supporting, to get a standing ovation.
* In ''Film/JingleAllTheWay'', Howard, running from a cop, is mistaken for a replacement for a Turbo Man actor, and is essentially shoved into the suit. As Turbo Man, his job is to give out a free [[MacGuffin action figure]] during a parade.
* ''Film/MoulinRouge'', the hero and TheDragon end up on stage during the climax of [[ShowWithinAShow Spectacular Spectacular]]. In this case, the hero actually wrote the script, and [[TheMasquerade nobody on stage wants the audience to realize there is a major catastrophe in progress with the show]], so they collectively adlib around the fight going on on stage as the bad guy attempts to recover a gun he dropped (which the actors keep kicking away from him).
* In ''Film/ChittyChittyBangBang'', Caractacus Potts, running from an angry customer at the fair, ends up hiding in the middle of a men's song and dance act. At first he's obviously behind and trying to copy everyone else, but by the end, he has blended in seamlessly and ends up getting a cut of the money just like all the other guys who were actually supposed to be performing.
* In ''Film/LetsGetLaid'', a shy recently demobbed (discharged) soldier meets an actress, and looks exactly like her leading man. At the end of the film, the actor gets arrested (wrongly) and the ex-soldier gets pushed on-stage on opening night. The resulting chaos is loved by the audience, and he's recruited to replace the original leading man.
* In ''Wonder Man'' Edwin Dingle, while trying to avoid the gangsters chasing him and make it to the cops with a crucial bit of information relating to a murder his late twin brother witnessed, is mistaken for an extra and pushed onstage during an opera. He eventually ends up ''singing'' the information to the officer in charge of the case, who fortunately happens to be attending the performance that night.

* Literature/{{Discworld}}
** In ''Discworld/WyrdSisters'', the three witches (who have been keeping an eye on things) are rushed onto the stage by one of the crew members to play the part of the three witches. In the same book, [[TheGrimReaper Death]] walks onto the stage, expecting the WeirdnessCensor will stop anyone noticing him. When he realises that the audience were ''expecting'' to see Death walk onto the stage, he [[PerformanceAnxiety forgets his line]] and needs prompting.
** In ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'', after the witches realise that the villain they're pursuing is hiding in plain sight on stage.
* Happens to the protagonist of ''Literature/TheThirteenAndAHalfLivesOfCaptainBluebear''.
* In the kid's book ''I Funny TV,'' the wheelchair-bound protagonist, Jamie, is starring in a sitcom pilot with himself as TheDanza. It's being broadcast live. In one of the first scenes, the bully character knocks him out of his wheelchair, and his in-show best friend is supposed to come onstage and help him back up. Unfortunately, the best-friend actor has horrible stage fright and flees, leaving Jamie on his back in front of millions of people. After improvising some jokes for a minute, Jamie calls his actual best friends, who were watching backstage, to come on and help him, playing the whole thing like they were supposed to be there.
* In ''[[Literature/MythAdventures Myth-Gotten Gains]]'', a singing competition for one of the Macguffins is going on. The enchanted, sentient chalice Aahz has expels some oils to slide him out on stage. After a moment of stage fright-enduced shock, Aahz unleashes the Perv dimension's national anthem onto the audience. Once he was done, the only audience member left was an old, deaf man stuck in the back. And he voted for Aahz.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Happened on ''Series/{{Monk}}'' once, when Monk is persuaded to take over the part of an actor whose death he is investigating. He did reasonably well during rehearsal, but missed his cue during the real thing, was pushed onstage, and ended up making a fool of himself. He redeems himself, however, by solving and explaining the murder onstage.
* Technically show-within-a-show-within-a-show: once in the ''Series/SquareOneTV'' [=SwaS=] "{{Mathnet}}" they solved the crime and approached the perp (who was a Broadway actress) right after the curtain came down - then the curtain went up again for the CurtainCall. So they do TheSummation in song, to a standing ovation.
* This is pretty much the point of [[Series/ThankGodYoureHere Thank God You're Here]], except that the performers know they're about to be put in front of the audience. What they ''don't'' know, however, is what the 'play' they're going to be in is about.
* One ''Amazing Stories'' episode featured a mix-up between a movie actor dressed up as a mummy, and the actual walking mummy whose legend is being filmed. The real mummy winds up roped into playing the part (which isn't difficult, as there are no lines) while the actor nearly gets burned alive as a monster by superstitious locals.
* In the ''Series/QuantumLeap'' episode "Catch A Falling Star", Sam leaps into an actor about two minutes before the show starts, and is about to be pushed out on stage with no idea what's going on. Fortunately he's the understudy, and the real lead shows up at the last second.
* An entertaining ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode forced the Doctor to fake being in command of the starship and bluff the belligerent aliens into going away at the climax.
* ''Series/{{Psych}}'' did this on the season-2 episode "Lights, Camera, Homicidio." Shawn was investigating a murder on the set of a {{telenovela}}, and he managed to become the show's breakout star, at least until he solved the crime and quit.
* Done to Willow in an early WhatDoTheyFearEpisode of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''; she hallucinates being pushed on stage in the middle of an opera and she can't sing.
* Happens many times on ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway'', especially since some games involve audience participation.
** In one skit, part of Wayne Brady's shtick is that he's transforming into a goofy white guy. To carry this out, he pulls a white guy from the audience and puts him onstage. The results are appropriately awkward.

* In ''Film/TheProducers'', the director of the ShowWithinAShow has to take a part when the person meant to be playing Hitler breaks his leg.
* ''Theatre/TheActorsNightmare'', a short comedy play, is a somewhat surreal instance - not only does the protagonist have to act despite (as far as he can remember) not being an actor at all, he gets contradictory answers about what play is being performed, and it seems to keep changing as he improvises. He ends up in a distressingly realistic execution scene that might (or might not) actually cause his death at the end of the play.
* The gangsters in ''Theatre/KissMeKate'' become part of the ''Theatre/TamingOfTheShrew'' production.
* ''Theatre/ThePlayThatGoesWrong'': When Sandra gets knocked out in a TheDoorSlamsYou incident, Annie the stage manager is hurriedly dressed in Sandra's dress and shoved out on stage with a script in her hand.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''[[VideoGame/BaldursGate Baldur's Gate II]]'' has an example, when the hero can end up owning a theatre. The lead actor comes down sick on opening night, and the player needs to remember his lines in order for the play to be a success.
* ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'' gives the player the option of acting in a play which is being monitored by the authorities for possibly containing subversive messages. By their choice of lines, the player determines whether or not they find any (or they can just screw up, of course).
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2 Mask of the Betrayer'' has a dream sequence in which you get shoved onto a stage to play the role of Akachi the Betrayer, going along with the whole 'masks and illusions' theme present throughout the campaign
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'''s ''Tribunal'' expansion gives you the option of replacing a sick actor in a politically charged play, and if you do it, someone tries to assassinate you part way through. Turns out that the assassin's presence was known, and you were deliberately put in that position in order to protect the actor.
* There are some ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' examples:
** Cloud and his date (usually Aeris, but not always) take part in a play at the Gold Saucer in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII''.
** Then there's Celes performing at the opera in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', where Locke and Ultros fall onto stage and knock out two vital main characters, and adlib themselves into the plot so they can duel for "Maria" (Celes). The Impresario is ''livid''.
** And in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', when Dagger crashes into the play being performed at the beginning of the game, she ad-libs a very nice exit scene. Justified since the play is the in-universe equivalent of ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', and Dagger is a classically educated Princess who happens to love that particular play.
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'', the Acting Guild asks you to take parts in a play. If you accept, you are rewarded at the end with [[AndYourRewardIsClothes titles that change your party into their costumes from the play]].
* In ''VideoGame/IndianaJonesAndTheFateOfAtlantis'', a knife thrower needs a volunteer assistant and Jones literally pushes Sophia in front of him.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* {{Zigzagged}} in ''Podcast/TheOrbitingHumanCircusOfTheAir.'' While Julian the janitor may repeatedly find himself falling from catwalks and otherwise bumbling onstage when radio variety show The Orbiting Human Circus is on-air, its obvious to his personal InteractiveNarrator that Julian is really hoping to {{Invoke|dTrope}} an opportunity to ingratiate himself with the staff and audience as PluckyComicRelief. It [[SubvertedTrope hasn't worked]] yet.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'':
** Happens to Elmer Fudd in "WesternAnimation/RabbitOfSeville." In "WesternAnimation/StageDoorCartoon," Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny do this to each other. They both end up on stage in "WesternAnimation/SlickHare" - true to character, Fudd flees in panic, while Bugs happily goes into a dance.
** Porky Pig was once mistaken for a wrestler.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' episode "Hidden Talents", Ron goes onstage at a talent show to stall for time while Kim escapes from a DeathTrap and returns. (Also, Kim was in the show to begin with because Ron signed her up without asking her.)
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS10E9MayoredToTheMob Mayored to the Mob]]" this happens to a mobster during a ''Theatre/GuysAndDolls '' act. He is backstage preparing to throw his knife at Mayor Quimby when the manager appears and pushes him onstage. He gets out of it by tap-dancing with the knife between his teeth.
* On ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'', [[WellDoneSonGuy Harry]] is supposed to play Puck in the school's rendition of ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream,'' but doesn't show up because [[spoiler:he's been kidnapped by the Green Goblin]]. However, [[TheVoiceless Hobie]] GotVolunteered because he had played the part in another production, and winds up doing a great job. This also marks the end of a RunningGag where he's [[SuddenlyVoiced constantly interrupted before he can speak]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MiloMurphysLaw'' episode "[[Recap/MiloMurphysLawS1E08SmoothOperator Smooth Opera-tor]]," [[BornUnlucky Milo]] attends [[AtTheOperaTonight the opera]] with his friends and crush, [[SuperOCD Amanda]], who mentions that she ''really'' would like nothing to go wrong ([[TheJinx as usually happens around Milo]]). As things inevitably ''do'' go wrong, he's forced to run around backstage, and occasionally on-stage, to fix them. Ultimately, all the chaos causes one of the performers [[ScrewThisImOutOfHere to book it]], forcing Milo to play his part [[TheShowMustGoOn to keep the opera going]].

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* In a ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' arc, Lucy volunteers Linus to sing "Jingle Bells" for the PTA assembly.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* This happened to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Goma Guy Goma]]. He was at [[Creator/TheBBC the BBC]] Television Centre for an interview for a job in their IT department on May 8, 2006. Somebody thought he was Guy Kewney, who was there for a live interview regarding the Apple Computers v. Apple Corp lawsuit, and dropped him in front of the camera. Now [[OhCrap aware]] that he was in a live situation, he decided not to cause a scene and did his best to answer Karen Bowman's questions. This presumably inspired similar events in ''Series/TheITCrowd'' when Moss, appearing on ''Dragon's Den'' under a pseudonym, is mistaken for an MP and taken into an interview about the Iraq War.
* This is how Zeppo Marx of the Creator/MarxBrothers got into show business: his mother shoved him on stage to cover one of his brothers with practically no preparation.