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, 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 Official Fan-Submitted Content
. Also compare Tuckerization
, where characters are based on real people who haven't won anything.
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Anime and Manga
- Shugo Chara! 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 Neon Genesis Evangelion to design a new Angel. While the winner's Angel design was not included in an episode, Gainax did produce 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 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 GuAIZ and Lightning Striker Pack of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED are fan-submitted designs.
- The classmates in the Prince of Tennis manga were named by reader submission.
- The creator of the manga Zodiac PI 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 Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was a fan design.
- A pretty regular feature of Kongoh Bancho: some of the fan-designed Banchos get to be prominent antagonists (three members of The Five Dark Vows, most notably), while others only turn up to get curb stomped 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 Sailor Moon 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.
- 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 Yuru-Yuri, during which the crowd's cheers was recorded specifically to be used for an all-female in-universe crowd in the last episode.
- Erik Larsen's comic The Savage Dragon 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.
- Ultimate Marvel Team-Up once had a contest winner brag about getting a cameo... and then get instantly fried down to a skeleton by a Skrull Death Ray in the very next panel.
- Kind of in Kick-Ass, but going a bit beyond it: Dave Lizewski, winner of a charity auction and contest to name the main character, named him after himself. Which is rather fortunate because he could have named the character anything from Betty to Captain Ass if he wanted to.
- In the Knights of the Old Republic comic "Masks," charity auction winner Pete Hottelet (covertly renamed Commander Telettoh) appears, real-world glasses and all.
- Not personal cameos, but the next best thing: The setup of the second Dial H For Hero 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 Harlan Ellison!
- There are occasional charity auctions at UK comic conventions to get characters or Mega-City One Blocks in Judge Dredd named after you.
- Neo Yi, of Chess Piece, 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.
- Wondering who that mysterious "catching smoke" kid was in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie? Yeah, it was this trope.
- The janitor who gets killed when he steps between the T-1000 and the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day 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 Resident Evil movie: when Resident Evil 2 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 UHF, "Weird Al" Yankovic 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 The Mask. The film proceeded to languish in Development Hell for over a decade, so it's unknown what if anything the winner actually got.
- After the success of Scream (1996), MTV held a contest in which the winner would get a role in 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 License To Kill was released, a woman won a contest and was promised a cameo role in the next Bond film. But there was a six-and-a-half-year hiatus between that film and Golden Eye, 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.
- David Weber has a standing offer to name a character after whoever is the first to catch and point out a typographical error in a published Honor Harrington book. Most such characters are minor ones who die in their first appearance, so this process is known in the fandom as "winning a Red Shirt". 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 Thursday Next 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 Eureka Moment 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 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 Batman Gambit 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.
- 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 Thief of Time and Night Watch.
- Dr Follet in Night Watch (the winner was the author Ken Follet).
- Dr John "Mossy" Lawn in Night Watch, Going Postal, and Unseen Academicals.
- Professor Ladislav Pelc in Going Postal.
- Dr John Hix in Making Money and Unseen Academicals. (The real John Hicks, as Head of Productions and later Chairman of the Discworld Convention, now responds to any complaints with "Skull ring, remember?".)
- Used in the first book of The Thrawn Trilogy. 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 Cris Pieterson's tractor beam failed due to a trick of Luke Skywalker's, he tried to pin the blame on his superior officer, Colclazure. Thrawn had Pieterson 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 Stephen King's novel Cell, was named via charity auction.
- Several characters in David Gerrold's A Season For Slaughter are named after real people who made charitable donations for the privilege.
- In Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz 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.
- Matthew Reilly auctions character names, ranging from a 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 Star Trek: Titan 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 killed horribly when the USS Luna suffered a core breach.
- Robert Asprin's 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 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 BattleTech novels at the Gen Con charity auction, a few of whom became minor recurring characters.
- The Wheel of Time started doing this in later books. Not that the story needed any more characters.
- Not a contest per se, but Baen Books author John Ringo offered spots in his list of readers for Redshirting or cameos to those who purchased the now-discontinued OH JOHN RINGO NO t-shirts, whose profits went to the Helen Bamberg Foundation.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 Arms Dealer Peacock Johnson and his sidekick Wee Evil Bob in the Rebus novel A Question of Blood, and afterwards he tried to contact Johnson to ask if 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 Belle and Sebastian. Just to twist the knife, David denied him permission to reuse the character, and went on to write a story of his own where the character seeks out Ian Rankin himself to complain about his portrayal in his novel. Rankin has described the whole situation as "a mindfuck".
- Punky Brewster 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 trapped in an old fridge) to save her life.
- Doctor Who: The kid who plays Creet in "Utopia" was the winner of a Blue Peter contest to appear in an episode. He gets turned into a Toclafane offscreen.
- Babylon 5:
- 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 Shout-Out to Lost in Space, a previous series starring Billy Mumy, who plays Lennier on Babylon 5.
- 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 GE Ni E boards.
- Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis 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.
- Star Trek: Voyager had a contest tied in with the release of their new game Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force The winners cameoed during the academy scene in the final episode.
- Star Trek: Enterprise 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 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 Shirts.
- Actually subverted way back at the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation's run, when General Mills held a contest via Cheerios cereal to win a walk-on role on an episode. The subversion came when the winner, another old lady (see the SNL example), declined the appearance in favor of the alternate cash prize.
- In 1977, Saturday Night Live held a contest for the Guest Host 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 Sex Pistols 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 Elvis Costello and the Attractions instead. Costello's infamous performance where he stops his planned performance of "Less than Zero" to play "Radio Radio" (a song which 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 Spillman usurped it) was usurped years later by another old lady host: Betty White.
- More than a few times, The Price Is Right 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 as of this writing was for The Boldand The Beautiful, 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 Hank Hill look alike contest on their network at one point where the winner gets to cameo on an episode of MA Dtv.
- 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.
- 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 All That for the rest of the show's run.
- Family Matters 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.
- Good Eats 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 Game Show portion of the special.
- Back when Remember WENN was 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. This article mentions (among others) the walk-on contest.
- A similar offer for Mad Men went by without any problems.
- 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 Dying Moment of Awesome as they're blown up or smashed to bits as part of the testing of a myth.
- One of the prizes for winning Who Wants to Be a Superhero? 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 That's So Raven, where Cory wins a trip to Hollywood to cameo on a popular sitcom. The episode in question focused on the star of that show as she went through her daily life.
- NBC had a sweepstakes sponsored by Sears in the early 1990s where the winner would cameo on one of NBC's shows.
- The Glee Project on Oxygen, was a reality show where the winner(s) would get guest starring roles on Glee. In fact, all of the top four in season one got at least a guest starring role, and all of the top 3 of the second season got one as well.
- The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade had two "design a balloon" contests during the Turn of the Millennium:
- The first was in 2004 and geared towards children, and was won by a 7 year old from California with a turkey whose feathers were based on international flags. The hosts described the image on air as "join[ing] the dove today as a symbol of world peace."
- The second was in 2011 and coincided with the parade's 85th anniversary. Macy's hid several blank statuettes modelled after their popular elf balloon in their stores, and invited the public to make their own designs in the hopes that one would be selected for a one-off flight down Broadway. The winning design, "Gazer" by university student Keith Lapnig, becomes heartwarming if you know the story behind it.
- 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. The winner's hero was surprisingly awesome, compared to the other kids' entries.
- Robot Wars 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 Sonic the Hedgehog... and then waking up to discover it had all been a pizza-fueled dream.
- Disney Adventures 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 live action photos of the DA staff fighting against the (animated) winning villains).
- 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.
- 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 WCW Halloween Havoc 95, WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan and manager Jimmy Hart presented a motorcycle to a contest winner.
- Winners of the Magic: The Gathering Invitational tournament get to make their own card, the image of which is based on their appearance. Such cards tend to be 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 Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game 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 Fan Nickname 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 Magic: The Gathering 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.
- A 1986 contest to design a character for Masters of the Universe 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 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 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.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 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 Guide Dang It 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. The Game Boy Advance port of A Link to the Past has the room, but doesn't use his name.
- 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 Kingdom Hearts Bonus Boss Kurt Zisa is named after a contest winner.
- The Robot Masters Wind Man and Knight Man from Mega Man 6 were designed by Nintendo Power 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 Mega Man Battle Network 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, we hope he burns in hell.
- Kung Foo Kid and Moon Destroyer from Mega Man Star Force 2 and 3 carry on the tradition.
- Nippon Ichi had a contest to pick names for the random name generator for Disgaea 2.
- In Turok 2: Seeds Of Evil, entering "Juan's Code" placed the face of Juan- a contest winner- on the health icons.
- Super Robot Wars Katina Tarask◊. She actually makes her debut in a SRW Trading Card Game as a former sniper, piloting a hideous mecha codenamed the "White Devil".
- Konami held contests for various versions of Metal Gear Solid 2 and The Twin Snakes where the (numerous) winners would have mooks named after them. For Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, they held a camouflage designing contest, with winning designs appearing in the game.
- From the same company, during the popularity peak of the Tokimeki Memorial series, Konami organized the "Tokimeki Teens" marketing program. In there, they selected one idol among a bunch of candidates, and this idol would get 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 NPCs in Fable II are named for people that won lots at the Penny Arcade Child's Play charity auction.
- A few NPCs in Breath of Fire III are named after contest winners. These same people also named some in-game items and a few fish.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum: 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.
- Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time:
- The Spiral of Death weapon was the (publicly-voted) winner of a weapon design contest.
- The Bancho Ratchet skin was the winning design for a Japanese skin contest.
- The 3D0 version of Star Control 2 included two new songs by Finnish contest winner Riku Nuottajärvi.
- Lucas and Cameron, two characters in the starting village of 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 meme in the fandom.
- In 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.
- King's Quest V: Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder! 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 Inter Action 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.
- Quest for Glory V 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 Meat Cello entry and wound up in the second level of Dead Space 2. The name of the contest, "Get Dismembered in Dead Space 2", gives away what would happen to him.
- Knights of the Old Republic 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.
- Tales of Monkey Island: Lizink's Wig of Foppery, which Bailiff Killick Hardtack is compelled to wear after losing his case against Guybrush in Chapter 4, is named after the screen name of Liz Johnston, a native of British Columbia, Canada, and Telltale Games' winner of the "How Has Guybrush Wronged You Competition" in the "Game Designer for a Day" contest (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 Bioshock Infinite 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 robot horse company◊.
- The winner of a contest at E3 2009, Charlie Malone, was made into a patient in Trauma Team.
- Felix the Fish, the mascot of Big Fish Games, was concealed in one of the Hidden Object Game scenes of Mystery Case Files: 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 Retroactive Legacy related to Dark Void Zero, Capcom created a fictional contest that a young Jimmy Fallon 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 Grand Theft Auto V, 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 the Epsilon Program. The five winners can be seen here.
- People who donated a certain amount of money to the Kickstarter project for Mighty No. 9 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 The Walking Dead had a contest where the winner would show up, get killed, turned into a zombie, and killed again. The winner of this was Brie in the game. There's also four zombies based on other contest winners.
- The creator of Pokémon Prism held a Facebook contest involving 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 Phantasy Star Online 2'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.
- Ava's Demon held a Kickstarter and the highest donators received portraits of themselves by the artist as well as their own fan demon. Seems mundane, up until the donators appeared again - in Titan's base.
- 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.
- Sluggy Freelance 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.
- Kagerou has a contest to be killed on panel. The winner (and explanation) can be seen here.
- Every year, Penny Arcade auctions off an appearance in their comics for charity. The first time got amusingly meta.
- As have some other strips.
- In the first episode of Penny Arcade Adventures, 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, gets HAND jobs from STEVE Jobs◊.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures pretty much got it's start this way...
- Toward the end of It's Walky!, many of the die-hard message board fans were made into members of the army, and were, naturally, horribly killed.
- The Cyantian Chronicles: 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 Something Positive. Randy put the winner in and hung perhaps the world's biggest lampshade on the practice.
- Kevin & Kell has had a number of these.
- Least I Could Do holds a contest every Valentine's Day where the winner gets to go on a date with a character of their choosing (which means, yes, they get to live out their Perverse Sexual Lust). Interestingly, Butt Monkey John has had the most luck so far with two dates; protagonist Rayne has also had two, but one was with a 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 Homestuck's Kickstarter Project, Andrew Hussie offered to canonize the fantroll of anyone who donated $10,000 or more. Well, two people took him up on that offer. And here they are! And now they aren't. (They didn't donate enough to have them survive for more than a single panel).
- Similarly, Skin Horse 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.
- Slobber, a ridiculously cute pug-faced gnoll from Rusty and Co., turns out to be based on a winner's pet.
- This Weebl & Bob 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.
- We're Alive 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.
- The Graystone Saga did this early in its run, with the winner of a Facebook contest getting a minor character named after them in a future chapter.
- How It Should Have Ended had a contest to celebrate their 100th video. The contest winner had his likeness drawn into the Return of the Jedi 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 Darwin's Soldiers auctioned off a background character name for Team Fortress 2 items. Only two people bid, so second place got in for free.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force had a contest sponsored by Burger King for the role of Carl in their live action episode.
- Celebrity Deathmatch 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 Backstreet Boys and **NSYNC, who fans had requested to fight each other (both having been killed in previous matches — the Backstreet Boys by the Beastie Boys, and *NSYNC by KISS).
- An episode of Codename: Kids Next Door 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 Dexter's Laboratory 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.
- Drawn Together 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.
- Kim Possible had Josh and Katlyn in Season 4.
- The latter instance at least did not win any contest; she was animated into the episode as her wish from the Make A Wish foundation. The scene has her telling Kim that she's her biggest fan, and asks for her autograph.
- The Flintstone Kids had an in-universe example. Fred and Barney won a contest to appear in an episode of Captain Caveman and Son. They just cameoed.
- The Movie of The Powerpuff Girls 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 Ren and Stimpy episode "A Visit To Anthony's" the boy Anthony was a winner of a contest to appear on the show.
- Robot Chicken once had a contest winner appear on the show... only to get murdered by Seth Green.
- The Simpsons two-parter Who Shot Mr. Burns? had a contest wherein the person correctly guessing the resolution to the season-ending Cliff Hanger 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 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 DVD Commentary, 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).
- The car exploded when it crashed. There's your answer.
- 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 Couch Gag was a simple one where The Simpsons share the couch with a Canadian loon, John A. Mac Donald, a hockey player, and a Canadian beaver.
- South Park 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.
- Total Drama Island did this in the season finale, with the winner of an online contest being used as a test subject for part of their final Death Course. 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 The Weekenders based on them. It's not known if they ever went through with this.
- Towards the end of 1998, Disney and McDonald's ran a promotion where a kid (three to twelve years old) would get to appear on an episode of 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 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 Over the Hedge 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 The Apprentice, and these small cameos were the result of winning a reward challenge.
- The rampaging Drone from the Hero Factory TV mini series was designed by a member of the BZ Power forums for the official BIONICLE Building Contest #53. It appeared in a flashback in episode 3, and later, rebuilt as a monument, in episode 4.