An episode of a show which departs from its usual type of plot to make the best possible use of a celebrity or major star who happens to be available, regardless of plausibility, coherence, or continuity.
If the Celebrity Star is a musician or band, they often play themselves (or a thinly veiled facsimile thereof, as on The Facts of Life
) and usually have to play one of their hit songs.
See Special Guest
for episodes that aren't focused on the celebrity. See As Himself
for works when the entire series/film is about the celebrity playing themselves.
- 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Simpsons: Mark Hamill has guest starred in a few series, such as these two. Many instances include some Adam Westing.
- 30 Rock: This trope was what the third season was based on.
- Alice: Diner-owner Mel Sharples and his waitresses seemed to know several famous people. Guest included George Burns, Telly Savalas, Jerry Reed, Dinah Shore, and Art Carney.
- All in the Family: One of the most famous examples is the episode "Sammy's Visit", featuring Sammy Davis, Jr.
- Beakmans World: Subverted Trope regularly. Its Celebrity Stars are all actually Famous Dead Guys (or Girls) played by the cast (generally Beakman himself, who would hang a lampshade by saying "What'd I miss?"). The show did play the trope straight twice, starring Jean Stapleton as Beakman's Mom.
- Boston Public: Whitney Houston appeared on one episode where she performed one of her songs at the prom.
- The Brady Bunch:
- Joe Namath, among many others.
- Especially in "Getting Davy Jones," where the episode was entirely dedicated to helping Marcia get Davy Jones from The Monkees to sing at her school's 8th grade prom. He makes a very memorable appearance near the end, and even reprised his role in The Brady Bunch Movie and in the stage show, The Real Live Brady Bunch.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Aimee Mann in Season 7. "I hate playing vampire towns."
- Charmed featured numerous bands and musicians from season 2 onward, when Piper opened a nightclub and said bands were booked as guest performers. In the first instance, Leo arranged for Dishwalla to appear at the then-new club because their manager had signed a deal with a demon.
- Degrassi The Next Generation: Did an entire Celebrity Star arc about Kevin Smith coming to Degrassi to make his new film, "Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh?" The reason he appeared on the show was that Smith had a huge crush on the character Caitlin from Degrassi High (he got to be in scenes with the grown-up Caitlin, played by the same actress). Unusually, the arc actually had long-lasting effects after Smith's last episode.
- Designing Women:
- In the episode where Charlene has her baby, Dolly Parton appeared in a dream sequence as her "Guardian Movie Star."
- Like way too many to name, Dolly Parton has also done this on The Simpsons. On the other hand, there aren't many who've also played themselves on Alvin and the Chipmunks...
- Diff'rent Strokes: Nancy Reagan on a Very Special Episode.
- Parodied, then a Subverted Trope in which Coldplay's Chris Martin appeared on Show Within a Show When The Whistle Blows as himself, inexplicably playing a musical number in the factory. Of course, Extras is itself known for including a different Celebrity Star each episode (so much so that the episodes are identified by which celebrity appears in them parodying themselves) so the whole sequence is almost certainly a deliberate self-parody.
- It's also heavily lampshaded by Gervais' characters in both Extras and the Show Within a Show "When the Whistle Blows" who repeatedly points out the ridiculousness of Chris Martin suddenly appearing in a factory in Wigan.
- One episode of The Honeymooners had Jackie Gleason and Art Carney playing themselves as well as their characters, with Ed Norton bumping into Gleason and Ralph Kramden running into Carney.
- One episode of Homicide: Life on the Street has Jay Leno showing up in a neighborhood bar. Humor ensues as all the series characters insist on not rushing up and pestering the star, even while Leno clearly wants to mingle.
- iCarly: Has done this over the years. With artists and bands such as The Plain White T's, Good Charlotte, David Archuleta, and One Direction. David Archuleta is the only one that did not sing, and Good Charlotte are the only ones that were not actually on the webshow, as they performed at an awards show that Carly and friends were nominated for an award. One Direction's episode in particular was promoted as a special episode and brought huge sales to their episode on iTunes.
- I Dream of Jeannie had a particularly disruptive example where the main cast are in Hawaii and walk into a bar where Don Ho (playing himself) is singing. The plot stops for almost five full minutes (nearly a quarter of the episode) for a Don Ho music video which features none of the main cast and has no plot importance whatsoever. It is so out of place it practically qualifies as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
- KateModern: The episode "I Am Hallam Foe!" consists entirely of Jamie Bell talking about how he just met Charlie, and that he thinks she's "fit". The episode is only 36 seconds long, and given the title, is probably meant as Product Placement.
- The Middle Man: Featured Boy Band Varsity Fanclub in one episode. Not terribly unconventional, except, that they were actually alien dictators who were intent on conquering Earth, and the episode ended with them being killed off.
- Moesha: Similar to the Sister Sister example, singer Brandy Norwood appeared as herself on her own sitcom. (A bit of a subversion, in that one of the show's running gags was that Mo (Norwood) couldn't hold a note with both hands and a bucket).
- New York Undercover: Had musical guest stars appear in many of the episodes in the first three seasons appearing at the fictional cafe, Natalie's, (the owner Natalie, played by Gladys Knight).
- Night Court: Mel Torme showed up in multiple episodes. Apparently, Judge Harry was an enormous Torme fan.
- The Revolution: Toni Braxton and Dolly Parton appeared on this show.
- Scrubs: Parody: The fourth-season episode "My Life in Four Cameras" spends the middle section in a conventional-sitcom fantasy, complete with a talent show that will pay exactly as much money as the main characters need. A mild-mannered cafeteria worker enters the talent contest and turns out to be American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken. It is unclear whether the producers decided to use Clay Aiken before or after they decided to do a sitcom fantasy, but it certainly is the only way his musical act could be fit into the show.
- Shake It Up:
- Does this a bit, what with it being a show that, in-universe, has celebrity guest singers and dancers perform, but it's mostly the latter, with dance crews such as Instant Noodles, Quest Crew, the Elektrolytes, and even the Jabbawockeez, and whichever dancers win Disney's "Make Your Mark" contest. Carly Rae Jepsen guest starred as herself and had a few lines before her performance. Most of the songs that the Shake It Up Chicago dancers dance to are from Disney Channel Idol Singers from Shake It Up and other shows on Disney.
- Zendaya Coleman and Bella Thorne have had numerous songs appear on the show, and other cast members such as Caroline Sunshine, Adam Irigoyen and Kenton Duty also had songs of theirs played on the show. No mention of the artists who perform the songs are ever made, which brings in Celebrity Paradox about someone that is each one of their doppelgangers being singers.Roshon Fegan has rapped on the show and had a song or two of his appear in the show, but it wasn't his characters songs.
- True Celeb guest stars include Ben Savage, Kat Deeley, Alfonso Ribeiro (who has directed a few episodes of the show), and Tyra Banks and Leo Howard in recurring roles, who were some of the only ones marketed as a Special Guest Star. And Blue Man Group appeared in Shake It Up: Made in Japan and performed a song of theirs on stage and part of it in an elevator when Rocky and Cece happen to run into them.
- Sister Sister:
- Did this once, where the Celebrity Star turned out to be... Marques Houston, who played Roger on the show, and himself (under his "Batman" Immature/IMX name) in that particular ep.
- More conventionally, they also had WNBA star Lisa Leslie as herself twice...and they went up against the Olsen twins on a game show, among many others.
- Sliders: Mel Torme also appeared in this show like this, but then his son was the show runner.
- Does this a lot with musical guests. Whenever WB has a new album being released by a big or up and coming music group, that group will always end up in Smallville for a show, no matter how much of a stretch or departure from the main plot it is.
- In a town that houses a high-profile multibillionaire family with a tendency to pull strings and do extravagant unannounced favors for people they're trying to impress, that's about a two-inch stretch.
- There's also the matter of the alien teenager battling other aliens/monsters/government agents/etc. on a regular basis. An impromptu concert is probably the most normal thing to happen in that town.
- The Steve Harvey Show: Has episodes featuring Snoop Dogg, Puff Daddy (as he was known then), Lil Bow Wow, and Teddy Riley all playing themselves, but only Lil Bow Wow gave a performance. Ron Isley was also a frequent guest star, as one of the members of The Hi-Tops.
- Touched by an Angel: Did this in almost every episode, with guests ranging from Travis Tritt to Charlotte Church to Rosa Parks. Yes, Rosa Parks.
- What's Happening!!: The Doobie Brothers appeared on this 70's sitcom to teach Rerun An Aesop about the evils of bootlegging concerts.
- Noob manged to get a known French video game tester named Marcus during its third season that mostly happens after its very first Wham Episode. The episode featuring the tester evaluating the fictional MMORPG in which the story is set ended up being a Breather Episode in the middle of an arc that was otherwise a low morale point for the main characters.