This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Irony as She Is Cast

Sometimes a talented person is hired to act talentless.

Hey, you know that actor that plays that character? The one that cannot sing? Turns out they are a classically trained opera singer. Ironic, isn't it?

Not really. Irony As She Is Cast happens when known skills of an actor and the displayed skills of a role do not mesh - and the fan knows this. If the fan didn't know the actor, then there would be no dissonance.

Their ability might even have been the reason for casting;

Do not expect the character to ever improve in the talent - at least, not for more than one episode. The Character might only be as bad as they are due to the Actor being so good.

Irony As She Is Cast might be reactionary in a long-lived role; extreme cases might try to counter what's Ripped from the Headlines.

Frequently implements: Dreadful Musician; Hollywood Tone-Deaf; or Bad "Bad Acting" (or any of the tropes under Stylistic Suck). Rarely implements Hollywood Homely (although it can be a subtrope of it, instead of talented playing talentless, it's beautiful playing ugly); that is more likely to be Dyeing for Your Art. Contrast: Cast the Expert, where this person was chosen specifically for their talent; Beautiful All Along, where improvement is part of the story; and The Cast Showoff, where a talent gets to be in the limelight.

Never requires a Talent Double. Is not based of the beliefs of the actor - which tends to result in a Shallow Parody - but may be as a result of observed reactions to that belief.

The Trope Namer is English As She Is Spoke, probably the first real-life example of My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, and not really related to the trope at all. But it makes for a good trope name.


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  • Windows started to use John Hodgman's PC character from the Mac ads even though Hodgman is actually a Mac user.

     Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Conrad Veidt, an outspoken anti-fascist who fled Germany when the Nazis came to power, spent the war playing Nazi villains in America, most famously as Major Strasser in Casablanca.
    • This happened frequently, many European expats in Hollywood had fled the Nazis to begin with and ended up playing them in movies and television.
    • Usually the actors were fine with it because it gave them a chance to either lampoon or warn about fascism. Being clearly painted as belonging to the Big Bad and often dying horribly also probably helped.
  • The Prestige.
    • Ricky Jay, the film's magic consultant, as an incompetent stage magician.
    • Also celibate Nikola Tesla, played by David Bowie.
  • Madeline Kahn - a classically-trained opera singer, among her other talents - playing the German Lili Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles. Lili is extremely popular for her sex appeal, but her singing voice is deep, heavily accented, and mostly off-key. Namely because she's an old-west parody of Marlene Dietrich.
  • Miranda Cosgrove (Carly on iCarly) needed lessons in how to sing badly to play Summer Hathaway in School of Rock.
  • David Bowie has played characters that sang off-key in The Man Who Fell to Earth and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
  • Meryl Streep playing hammy bad actress Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her.
    • Similarly, Streep playing the titular character in Florence Foster Jenkins. The whole point of the movie is that Jenkins is an absolutely awful singer who thinks she's great. Streep herself is an accomplished singer, having appeared in the movie musicals Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods, and even as a hard-rocker in Ricki and the Flash. Streep is also known for her humility and awareness of her own limitations, unlike Florence, who seems (literally) tone-deaf to her own bad singing.
  • Ralph Garman, a radio host, voice actor, impressionist and a pretty damn good singer, was cast by his friend Kevin Smith as the mute Caleb in Red State.
  • Played with by Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain. Hagen, actually a talented singer, plays Lina with a hilariously shrill and screechy Brooklyn-accented voice and no sense of pitch. However, when Cathy Selden (played by Debbie Reynolds) dubs Lina's voicework for her in order to salvage the studio's current film, it's actually Hagen singing, not Reynolds.
  • At the end of the Steve Martin film All of Me, mystic and Cloud Cuckoolander Prahka Lasa is "playing" the piano as accompaniment to a saxophonist performing the eponymous song. This consists of him hitting a single note at the end of each musical phrase for the first verse of the song (and it's the same note each time, except once). Richard Libertini, the actor playing Prahka Lasa, was a professional musician before becoming an actor. Subverted in that a) it's always the right note to blend in with the song and b) at the end of the first verse, he looks at the rest of the keyboard as if in surprise and begins a quite talented accompaniment.
  • The Hairspray movie with John Travolta and Christopher Walken romantically singing together and dancing very, very badly. It's even funnier as both are well known as excellent dancers and are doing it badly on purpose.
  • Inverted in Major League, where the big slugger for the Yankees is played by Peter Vuckovich, who did play in the Major Leagues, but was a pitcher who never hit a home run.
  • In a deleted scene in Little Fockers, Barbara friggin' Streisand's character sings "Happy Birthday" horrendously off-key. Though this may be a joking reference to the commonly observed 'fact' that it's impossible to sing that damned song on-key in a group.
  • In Ted, Mark Wahlberg does a very, very, very horrendous job of singing "All Time High".
  • Mark Wahlberg sings "The Touch" poorly in Boogie Nights
  • In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Michael Robbins is dubbed with a truly appalling singing voice courtesy of an uncredited... Julie Andrews!
  • In Goldeneye, Minnie Driver is cast as terrible lounge singer Irina, whose rendition of "Stand By Your Man" is compared to "strangling a cat" by James Bond.
  • In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, is denied from military service during World War II because of his deaf left ear. His little brother is accepted and receives the Medal of Honor as a pilot. The real Stewart was a bomber pilot and Lt. Colonel in WWII, later being promoted to Brigadier General after the war.
  • Looper has a mild one where Joe is shown earlier studying French and isn't very good with it. His actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is quite fluent in French. This is an accidental example, as Joe was planned to live out his days in France (hence why he's learning French). But budget reasons made it more practical for him to move to China instead.
  • In To Have And Have Not, Humphrey Bogart, known as much for his drinking as his acting, plays the relatively sober Harry.
  • Played with in Stage Door, Katharine Hepburn, considered one of the best actresses who ever lived (and who went on to win four Best Actress Oscars, playing the talent-free wannabe actress Terry Randall. However, Terry is also seen questioning everything all of the decisions of the writer and director of the play she's in, which Hepburn apparently did in real life.
  • Kristen Stewart, who has been dogged by paparazzi since her appearances in Twilight, plays a personal assistant who loves reading gossip in Clouds of Sils Maria.
  • In the film Australia, the character of Lady Sarah Ashley is a Brit. She's played by real Australian Nicole Kidman. Even in an film about Australia, directed by an Australian, and starring Australians, she's not even playing her own nationality, but a Fake Brit.
  • Joanna "Jojo" Levesque gets this twice in Aquamarine - she plays the best friend to a girl with a fear of swimming and has a scene where she swims with dolphins... and she was the one who was afraid. Similarly, out of the three leads (her, Emma Roberts and Sara Paxton) she's the only one who's a professional singer - and the only one who doesn't sing on the movie's soundtrack at all.
  • In Romance on the High Seas, it's a plot point that the wealthy Mrs. Elvira Kent (Janis Paige), who allows herself to be impersonated on a tropical cruise by a not-so-wealthy nightclub singer really named Georgia Garrett (Doris Day), is a terrible singer. The mistaken-identity complications are resolved in the movie's final scene where both women wind up on the same nightclub stage in Rio, but Mrs. Kent's singing abilities are undemonstrated even here. Janis Paige was a perfectly competent singer, as demonstrated by her leading role in the original production of The Pajama Game, though the movie version of that musical doubled the irony by recasting her part with Doris Day.
  • An inversion: despite his most famous role (you know the one), Daniel Radcliffe has admitted to being terrible at magic, going on to talk about how he screwed up the one thing he can do well—a card trick—while filming a scene in Now You See Me 2.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the title character plays bass for a mediocre garage band. Michael Cera, who had been playing bass for years, had to be told to suck more on camera.
  • Emily Blunt has made films while pregnant, and both times she plays a woman who can't have children. First as the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods - who has been cursed by a witch to never bear children. Secondly as Rachel in The Girl on the Train whose marriage fell apart when she found out she was barren.
  • In a similar vein, Jason Bateman plays a reluctant father in Juno around the same time he was welcoming his first son into the world.
  • In-universe example in King Kong (2005). Carl Denham decides to cast Ann Darrow as the female lead in his film because she looks like a perfect Woobie - "Ann, you're the saddest girl I've ever seen" - and is surprised to find out that she's a vaudeville comedian, who makes people laugh.
  • An odd example in The Black Dahlia. Mia Kirschner received rave reviews - even from those who hated the film - for her work. Playing a terrible actress who can't get a part.
  • Malcolm X: Legendary civil rights attorney William Kunstler has a cameo as the racist judge whose harsh sentencing of Malcolm and Shorty is clearly motivated by the fact that they've been sleeping with white women.
  • Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life: The mother in this Lifetime Movie of the Week who screams at her teenage son for looking at softcore internet pornography and desperately tries to get him to stop is played by Kelly Lynch, who is known for doing numerous nude scenes in different movies.
  • American History X cast Roma woman and anti-ziganophobia activist Fairuza Balk as a committed neo-Nazi.
  • Unfortunately inverted by Russell Crowe in the 2012 adaptation of Les MisÚrables: Crowe had been in Australian Rock Band "30 Odd Foot of Grunts", and yet his his seeming inability to sing as required for the character was one of the main criticisms of the film.

  • The characters of P.Howard (Jenő Rejtő) are supposedly illiterate pirates or otherwise simple folk, but when narrating in first person, they sound like schooled and literate middle class citizens trying too hard to pretend they are complete morons, because they reflect the style of the author.
  • Isaac Asimov once stated that Mark Twain's real genius was in writing Huckleberry Finn so that Huck, who is uneducated and all-but-illiterate, is telling it in such a way that not once does the reader ask himself "How is this illiterate moron telling the story so well?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Mole, the person playing the Mole purposely does badly at things at which they are highly skilled.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro is actually a professional dancer (with an instruction video to boot), but Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has a humorously goofy and unhip dance routine that serves as a Running Gag. But as unhip as his dancing may be, he is clearly performing the moves the way he intended—i.e., he is an uncool dancer, but not a bad one.
  • In the original cast of Glee, before the character pool starting growing and flooding over, the cast's best dancer by a million miles was Kevin McHale. His character, Artie, is in a wheelchair.
    • Later on, Matt Bomer is cast as Blaine's older brother, who can't act. (Also, interestingly, Matt Bomer plays the heterosexual brother and Darren Criss the gay one.)
  • Broadway veteran Jason Alexander had to tone down his voice to convincingly sing badly as George Costanza in Seinfeld.
  • Hogan's Heroes
    • Colonel Klink is a horrendous violin player. His actor Werner Klemperer was apparently very talented at it. His father Otto was a famous symphony conductor who left Germany in 1933 when Hitler came to power and served in the US Army during WW2.
    • Many of the actors who played Nazis were actually Jews.
  • Neil Patrick Harris, an openly gay man, plays Barney, a ladykiller, in How I Met Your Mother.
    • Also, Peter Wyngarde playing skirt-chaser Jason King (although Wyngarde's homosexuality was not known to the general public at the time, it was common knowledge within acting circles).
  • Same thing with Dan Butler on Frasier.
    • Beer-guzzling, opera-hating Martin Crane is played by John Mahoney, who is a connoisseur of both. He even shared his love of them with David Hyde Pierce, who had little to no interest in both at the start of the show.
  • In "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where Sisko recruits a baseball team to challenge a Vulcan rival, the actors portraying the inexperienced players were actually better at baseball than those playing the experienced players.
    • Much of the episode's plot is driven by Rom's utter hopelessness at baseball. His actor, Max Grodénchik, was a semiprofessional player before pursuing his acting career, and could only appear as bad as he was supposed to by playing left-handed.
  • S Club 7 did this a couple of times on the TV show. Hannah is said to be a horrible actress and bungles her lines as an extra on a TV show. In real life Hannah Spearitt studied acting for several years and had acted in numerous productions before joining the band. Another episode has Rachel failing at being a model. Rachel Stevens was part of a modelling agency prior to joining the band.
  • 30 Rock:
    • In an early episode, Jack was written into a sketch, causing Hilarity To Ensue when he turned out to be a really terrible actor. Of course, he's played by Alec Baldwin, who has been nominated for Oscars and is widely considered to be an excellent comic actor, especially for sketch comedy (Saturday Night Live has always loved having him on; that he could do a great Donald Trump in 2016-17 was just gravy).
    • Liz Lemon can be pretty incompetent as a showrunner (depending on the episode). Tina Fey is not, as seen when she was head writer on Saturday Night Live from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s—and then running 30 Rock itself (probably the most acclaimed comedy of its era, which was a pretty good time for comedies).
    • Because 30 Rock is a show about making a fictional show, it could use this trope in-universe. It did so when the new actor Danny, a skilled singer, pretends to be a terrible one to avoid upstaging his costar Jenna.
  • In the Big Time Rush episode Big Time Rides, the fictional James has to learn how to ride a bike, while the real-life James already knows how to.
  • On Hannah Montana, Miley's best friend Lilly is shown to have a terrible singing voice. In real life, Emily Osment is a capable singer. In the episode where her poor singing is demonstrated, the "edited" version of the song is actually Osment's real singing voice.
  • In Power Rangers, Billy was a triple-example: his characterisation started as that of a bumbling dork, who was also incredibly clumsy. His actor, David Yost, used to be a champion gymnast. He was also initially portrayed as quite hopeless at fighting while unmorphed and generally weak. Whether or not Yost was as skilled as his cast mates is debatable, but he sure was muscular for a supposedly wimpy teen. Finally, in a darker form of the trope, Billy was the ranger most consistently shown as getting the girl and winding up in romantic entanglements. In real life, David Yost was a closeted homosexual and claims that the people who wrote the show knew this and were trying to make fun of him. (The only people who didn't were his fellow ranger actors.)
  • Hi-de-Hi!: Gladys is known for her bizarre semi-off key opera singing. Ruth Madoc is a professional singer.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Shirley Manson's daughter notes that she can't sing.
  • While Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond shows mediocre singing skills at the end of "Sweet Charity," Patricia Heaton is an accomplished singer.
  • iCarly: Carly Shay cannot draw. Miranda Cosgrove can, very well.
  • Natalie Bassingthwaite did an impressive job playing a bad singer on Neighbours considering her success with the Rogue Traders.
  • Both the David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais) and Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) versions of The Office have extremely talented comedians playing a character that is not only not funny, but doesn't understand enough about comedy to understand that they are not funny. See, especially, Michael Scott's improv comedy classes.
  • Kath and Kim: Kim is shown singing off-key in two episodes. Gina Riley, her actress, is a very talented singer who has appeared in several theater productions, and the theme song is also proof.
  • On Law & Order, Lennie Briscoe describes himself as having no knowledge of music whatsoever. His actor (the late Jerry Orbach) was a veteran Broadway song-and-dance man, who even recorded a solo album.
  • In an episode of Parks and Recreation, the entire cast apart from April and Andy go on a hunting trip. As noted on the DVD Commentary, Chris Pratt, who plays Andy, is the only hunter in the cast.
  • In Married... with Children, Peg is an awful singer. Katey Sagal is a talented singer who has recorded albums and was a backup singer for Bette Midler, amongst others.
  • Moesha, who was played by the singer Brandy, could not carry a tune to save her life.
  • In the TV-Movie Brian's Song, real-life Michigan State football player James Caan portrayed scrappy underdog Brian Piccolo, while Billy Dee Williams, who did not have a sports background, played the supremely talented Gale Sayers. Caan had to consciously hold back in the training scenes to make Williams seem more believable as the superior athlete.
  • One of the world's all time greatest violinists, Jascha Heifetz, whose name is synonymous with perfection, had a talent for imitating bad students playing the violin and once did this on national television. In reality, his playing was so awesome that it is close to perfection in matters violin.
  • Musician-turned-comedian Victor Borge made a routine out of this: he would play a piece from memory, but throw in a single off-key note, which gradually multiplied into three bad notes, then five, then an altogether unrecognizable mess. At this point he usually stopped, got hold of the sheet music, and played the song again while reading very carefully — until he started hitting the same bad notes again... the implication being that he wasn't a bad player, he'd just learned the piece from a hopelessly erroneous transcription.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, Wooster (played by Hugh Laurie) was, at best, a competent piano player, while Jeeves (played by Stephen Fry) was better. In real life, it's the other way around.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex Russo is a terrible singer. Selena Gomez, on the other hand, can sing pretty well.
  • In a Friends episode, Joey tried to learn French, but he was only capable of speaking gibberish. His actor, Matt LeBlanc is a fluent French speaker.
  • Similarly, on Law & Order: UK, DS Matt Devlin completely butchers the French language when trying to interview a witness. In real life, Devlin's actor, Jamie Bamber, speaks excellent French (aside from an early childhood spent in Paris, it's one of two languages that he studied, along with Italian, for his Modern Language degree).
  • On Leverage, Timothy Hutton is this. While he is an Academy Award winning actor, the character Nate Ford is almost entirely a Large Ham when he plays roles in universe.
  • In Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Frank Sutton's Sgt. Carter is portrayed as completely hopeless at hand-to-hand combat. In real life, Sutton was an Army Veteran and a black-belt in Judo.
  • Double Dare, likely the Trope Codifier for the "Covered in Gunge Game Show", was hosted by Marc Summers. Who has obsessive compulsive disorder. While it is hard to watch the reruns these days knowing this, it does explain why he had towels with him whenever the families got into the physical challenges.note 
  • Supernatural: Mark Pellegrino, an outspoken born-again Christian, plays Lucifer.
  • In an episode of Frasier, Derek Jacobi, a classically trained actor with a long and tremendously successful career on stage and screen who has played in Hamlet, Much to Do About Nothing, and Richard III, plays a one-time Shakespearean actor forced to slum it. Frasier and Niles try to bring him back to respectability, only it turns out that he's much more terrible at performing Shakespeare than they remember.
    • Jacobi has been cast as a stammerer at least three times.
  • While filming Roots, Levar Burton's character, Kunta Kinte, was supposed to be chased down in a sprint by his future wife's father. The father was played by football Hall-of-Famer O. J. Simpson, and it was expected that Simpson would have absolutely no problem catching Burton. Problem was, Burton had been a medal-winning track star in high school and could leave Simpson in the dirt when running flat out. After six ruined takes, the director finally took Burton aside and instructed him to not run flat out.
  • 'Allo 'Allo! Edith Artois is such a horrible cabaret singer that the patrons of Café René stuff cheese in their ears to avoid hearing her, but the actress who plays her, Carmen Silvera, was a talented singer. René Artois is forever uncomfortable with Lieutenant Gruber's infatuation with him, but the actor who plays René, Gorden Kaye, is an out gay man (while Guy Siner, who plays Gruber, is heterosexual). Actor Sam Kelly is Jewish, and plays German Wehrmacht Captain Hans Geeringnote .
  • An early episode of The Incredible Hulk featured Martin Kove AKA Master Kreese and a three-time Black Belt as a completely untalented boxer.
  • On Under the Dome, Lyle sings horribly off-key during his short time in prison. He's played by Dwight Yoakam, who is better known as a country singer than as an actor.
  • In the Nashville episode "I Can't Get Over You To Save My Life," movie star Noah West asks country music star Juliette Barnes if she's acted much (she hasn't). Noah is played by Derek Hough, who's much better known for his dancing than his acting; Juliette is played by Hayden Panettiere, who's been in the business since she was a tot.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, Biggles, played by Graham Chapman, finds out that his friend Algy is a Straight Gay "poof," and shoots him. Chapman was Straight Gay in Real Life.
  • A variant, related not to talent but to class: in the first series of Downton Abbey, Rose Leslie plays the working-class housemaid Gwen Dawson in the giant titular great house. Leslie herself comes from an old Scottish noble family; she was literally raised in a castle, and her parents own another castle. This wouldn't be terribly remarkable if it weren't for the fact that the British class system is practically a character on its own on Downton—and because she is the only true Blue Blood aristocratnote  ever to have been part of the main cast (in a show filled with fictional and not-so-fictional nobs, up to and including the Royal Family).
  • In The Wild Wild West's "The Night of the Murderous Spring," Dr. Loveless, Antoinette and Kitten Twitty go down with their boat in a lake, due to the fact that none of them can swim. Luckily, Michael Dunn (Loveless) was a great swimmer - when Phoebe Dorin (Antoinette) came close to drowning during the filming, he rescued her.
  • Part of the comedy of Keeping Up Appearances involves Hyacinth being such a terrible singer that Emmet dreads even being in the same room as her. Patricia Routledge, who portrays Hyacinth, happens to have an excellent singing voice in real life, and in fact, actually shared the 1968 Tony Award for Best Actress with Leslie Uggams.
  • In the Undeclared episode "The Assistant", Steve's father Hal insists on performing an original song for Adam Sandler (As Himself), and turns out to be a Dreadful Musician: Hal is played by singer/songwriter Loudon Wainright III.
  • American Gods: 12.000 year old pagan fertillity godess Ostara of the Dawn who in the present Day is a Stepford Smiler who is secretly furious over the fact that Christianity has co-opted her name and Day of worship as Easter, is played by devout Christian Kristin Chenoweth.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Everyone remembers the infamous skit where Santino Marella tries (and fails) to do the splits on the ring apronnote  Santino actually can do the splits, as he has demonstrated in other matches. Although there is a difference between a side-split (legs out on either side, which he was doing on the apron) and a front-split (legs forward and back, which he does in matches.)
  • TNA's Joseph Park, a wrestling lawyer, was shown to be shockingly inept at wrestling, even not knowing how to get into the ring and winning by sheer luck despite being 6'8 and 300 pounds. Of course, he's played by Chris Parks, a 15 year veteran of wrestling who also portrays Abyss.

  • Part of comedian Jack Benny's persona was his inability to play the violin, much less realize it. In real life, Benny was an accomplished violinist, often performing with Isaac Stern.
    • As an amusing anecdote, Jack was at one point asked to dine at The White House, and while he was there he would play his violin. When he arrived, a Secret Service agent asked him what he was carrying in his violin case. Benny answered that he had a Thompson submachine gun in there, "the old Chicago typewriter". The agent sighed and said "Thank God, I was afraid you had your violin in there."
    • Apparently, only a very good violinist can pull off playing badly for comic effect. A bad violinist doing it is just horrible.
      • This holds true for just about any musical or theatrical endeavor, resulting in this trope in the first place; someone who is very good can be far, far worse than someone who is actually bad or merely mediocre.
    • Speaking of Benny, he often compared his skills to the legendary Jascha Heifetz (see the live action TV folder), who himself occasionally recorded hilarious imitations of bad violin students for fun. Once one such imitation of Heifetz was actually rejected in a blind audition test. Heifetz's actual playing was truly spectacular.
  • In The Goon Show, Neddie Seagoon is portrayed as utterly unable to carry a tune in several buckets. His actor Harry Secombe had a successful singing career.
  • Les Dawson and Eric Morecambe both used "playing the piano really badly" in their acts. Of course, both actually played very well, as is necessary to make playing badly comical rather than tedious, and in fact it can be harder to play the wrong notes while keeping the tune recognisable than to just play the tune right.

  • A classic character type in musical theater is The Rival to the aspiring actor/dancer/singer protagonist. Of course, the rival is never as good as the protagonist at acting/singing/dancing. However, this is frequently Irony As She Is Cast. For example in Hairspray, the actress playing Amber Von Tussle has to be a good dancer, because it takes a lot of skill to trip consistently and safely.
    • The girl playing Penny has an even harder job—she has to be awkward and a beat behind everybody else.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, Carlotta is a shrill, shrieky Opera singer who is beginning to get on in years. She's been played by many talented and wonderful singers, who switch from her shrieking voice during the parts where she's supposed to sound badly into a perfect operetta during the ensemble musical numbers. After all, even when she sings badly, she is still supposed to reach a high note during it.
  • In-universe example: In The Moon Is Blue, the virginal Patty tends to play a tart on TV.
  • A somewhat meta example: In Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson uses "immigrant" derisively towards West Indes-born Hamilton several times. Jefferson's actor also plays Lafayette in Act I (who would, in America, technically be an immigrant from France), and famously has the line "Immigrants - we get the job done". The irony is likely intentional.
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has played immigrants in both of his shows: Usnavi in In the Heights and Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton, and is in general very pro-immigrant. Not only is Miranda American-born, his father (who immigrated from Puerto Rico) does not come from the same place as either Usnavi (who is proudly Dominican) or Hamilton (who was born and raised in the British West Indes).
  • The character of Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone is a famous actress who (in-universe) is played by Jane Roberts, a relative up-and-comer in the theater world. In the Original Broadway Cast, she's played by Sutton Foster, who at the time was one of the most well-known modern Broadway actresses, thus making this a rare case of Irony as She Is Cast (in the show) and Cast the Expert (in the Show Within a Show).

    Video Games 
  • During the saving skits in Super Robot Wars UX, Fei-Yen HD (aka Miku) starts to speaks in a very robotic way, contrasting with her cheerful personality during the game. This is mostly her voice actress trying to sound like Miku just like in the original Vocaloid software, rather than Banpresto trying to use the software for that job. Ironically, she does a bad job doing that, even if that scene is supposed to be a Tear Jerker for the player.
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Robin Atkin Downes has to do a bunch of horrible impersonations of Metal Gear characters in-character as Kaz. The voice actor himself is actually an extremely gifted vocal impressionist and nailed every line in the original recording session, with most sounding virtually indistinguishable from the original actor. The director had to call him in again to rerecord them all properly badly. Fortunately, the game gives Robin Atkin Downes the opportunity to show off his actual range when he plays Psycho Mantis and Revolver Ocelot in the quiz game at the end.
  • Celeste, one of the characters in Dangan Ronpa, speaks in the English version with a bad French because she's faking it due to her escapism from her real identity. She's voiced by Marieve Herington, a French-Canadian, in the English dub.

    Western Animation 
  • Dr. Robotnik from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is a horrible singer. However, his voice actor, the late Long John Baldry, was a blues and folk-rock singer.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • In an episode, Catwoman jokingly mentions that Black Canary being gagged is for the best since she has a horrendous singing voice.note  Black Canary's voice actress, Grey DeLisle, is a Grammy-winning professional singer.
    • Though in context the joke is a Bait-and-Switch, since Black Canary's "singing voice" superpower is not fun to hear up close.
    • In the Musical Episode "Mayhem of the Music Meister," we get to hear her sing, and it's beautiful. (The whole cast - and Neil Patrick Harris, as the Music Meister - will surprise you, actually.) Apparently Catwoman was just having fun with her.
  • In the Code Lyoko School Play episode, Laughing Fit, Ulrich gives a spectacularly bad performance as Romeo prior to the Return to the Past...his voice actress was on Broadway at one point.
  • The Kim Possible episode "Hidden Talent" reveals Kim as a singer who cannot hit high notes. Kim's voice actress is Christy Romano, an accomplished singer.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Madeleine Peters, who voices Scootaloo is notorious for her rather bad singing in "The Show Stoppers." However, according to Daniel Ingram, Madeleine is actually a very good singer (as evidenced by her vocals during "One Bad Apple" and "Flight to the Finish") and was told to butcher the song. He would also very much like an opportunity to record a version of the Crusaders' theme sung properly.
    • Claire Corlett grew into this trope. She only provided the speaking voice for Sweetie Belle in Seasons 1-3, with Michelle Creber doing the singing. On the one occasion during this time that Claire sang in her own right, she turned in a screeching, off-key campfire song, going sharply against Sweetie's previous beautiful vocals. As of Season 4, she is doing both the speaking and singing; based on fans' reaction to the latter, she is doing an excellent job.
  • Leela in Futurama is played by Katey Sagal, who has worked as a professional singer before she became known for playing Peg Bundy on Married... with Children. While during musical numbers, she gets to show off her chops, in-character Leela has a terrible singing voice, as seen when she attempts to serenade invading aliens with a horrific version of "I Will Always Love You," prompting them to scream, "The humans are attacking!"
  • Jess Harnell as Cacofonix in Asterix and the Vikings. In reality, Jess can sing quite well (he possesses a quadruple-octave vocal range and is a member of a band called Rock Sugar). Somewhat lampshaded in the animated feature film Asterix and the Big Fight where Cacofonix's singing actors Jean-Jacques Cramier and George Harrison do a amazing rock song, only to be knocked out like always with the villagers declaring him a horrible singer (it is implied at least in that scene that he is a brilliant singer, but way ahead of his time).
  • The voice cast of The Lorax includes Zac Efron, who's the star of the High School Musical series, and Taylor Swift, who's Taylor Swift. Even though the movie is basically a musical, neither of their characters ever sings a note (Swift has yet to take an acting role that involves singing, whether in-character or as part of its soundtrack).
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, the 49-foot 11-inch Ginormica is voiced by the 5-foot 1-inch Reese Witherspoon. The "behind the scenes" footage even lampshades this.