Sometimes fiction leans towards a rather lax interpretation of trademark issues. You may find characters who are not merely an imitation of a character from a popular show, film, or comic, but literally are that character. Somehow.
You can blur their face a bit or simply not name them. Still, this trope is known enough you can expect any work that featured these frequently will get modified a bit if the adaptation's sponsors are worried about pissing anyone off.
On the other hand, if said cameo character is famous enough, you're liable to get away with a more overt reference.
Often used as part of a Take That
, but just as often a friendly Shout-Out
. If the character being imitated is from Real Life
, see No Celebrities Were Harmed
. Compare Writing Around Trademarks
and Captain Ersatz
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- 21st Century Insurance runs comparison ads featuring MythBusters-like tests run by a man who has Adam's glasses and Jamie's mustache.
Anime and Manga
- Big Finish does not have permission to use elements from the New series of Doctor Who in its plays, but three Fourth Doctor stories involved him interacting with the Eleventh Doctor through Timey-Wimey Ball, recorded message means. This is got away with by simply identifying the Eleventh Doctor as one of Four's 'future incarnations' and delivering his dialogue in reported speech rather than having the actual actor play him, but it's obvious from his personality which one he is supposed to be.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 gives us an utterly pointless panel that has exactly one purpose: A lawyer-friendly cameo of The Tenth Doctor and Rose. See what I mean?◊ On the bright side, you get to go insane trying to put the conflicting universes together.
- An issue of Angel: After the Fall featured a background cameo by Jay and Silent Bob.
- In the Astérix story Asterix in Belgium, the two Belgians who announce Caesar's arrival are dead ringers for Thomson and Thompson, the pseudo-twin detectives from the Belgian comic Tintin.
- During Walt Simonson's run on The Mighty Thor, the thunder god becomes permanently separated from his mortal alter ego. He must disguise himself as a mortal, and as "Sigurd Jarlson," does so using glasses for a secret identity. One scene humorously includes a quick cameo by a well-built reporter named Clark. He also had Supergirl appear in a Fantastic Four issue's group of discontinued universes.
- An issue of Peter David's X-Factor had an appearance from actress Sean Young as Strong Guy's new girlfriend. What pushes it into this territory is that she shows up for their date dressed like◊ Catwoman from Batman Returns.
- An issue of Ultimate Spider-Man has a cameo from two prostitutes dressed as Power Girl. This is part of a Running Gag where prostitutes dressed as famous superheroines can be seen in the police station Spidey often visits, but this instance is notable since the women in question are almost always dressed as Marvel Comics heroines.
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in which every character is either a literary character or a literary character's ancestor, Fu Manchu is never mentioned by name, because he's still under copyright. In the movie, Fu Manchu was replaced with the Sherlock Holmes villain Prof. Moriarty (who also appears in the comic) disguised as a mix of The Phantom of the Opera and Fantomas.
- And the Black Dossier includes British secret agents named "Jimmy", who is obviously James Bond (He won't stop talking about "some business in Jamaica" and all that, and he's also the grandson of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen original character Campion Bond), Miss Night, who is clearly Emma Peel, and Uncle Hugo, who is Bulldog Drummond.
- To say nothing of the new M, who dislikes being referred to as "Harry" because Harry died a long time ago, in the sewers under Vienna.
- And then there's Paint it Black in which Mina meets a tall dark haired gentleman who claims his first name is Tom, his middle name is a marvel and his last name is a conundrum. Century 2009 extends this to Harry himself being not only the ultimate bad guy, but the Anti Christ — while still never being named or even seen before being mutated by his powers.
- Alan Moore's Swamp Thing had a story "Pog", whose title character was Pogo in a spacesuit. Amusingly, Pog had a brief cameo in a later issue by another writer who didn't seem to recognize the reference.
- Top 10 has a ton of these, sometimes a dozen on a single page, ranging from the extremely well-known to the rather obscure.
- An Invincible storyline had the title character being bounced around alternate universes. While he had a full issue experience with Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up, he also encountered Batman (though only his arm is seen and his name is implied without having to say it outright thanks to a running joke from the MTU issue), a world similar to Y: The Last Man and possibly the world of The Walking Dead, one of Robert Kirkman's other books.
- In Doctor Octopus: Year One, flashbacks to young Otto Octavius' past are prevalent throughout the story. At one point it shows four bullies beating him up. One with long hair and a wool cap, one with a white t-shirt and a shaved head, one with a green T-shirt, and one with a torn jean jacket.
- During Christopher Priest's first issue of Deadpool, the title character briefly encountered a bunch of heroes and villains that Priest had written in the past. This included non-Marvel characters like Green Lantern and Hawkman, who had to be partially obscured to avoid any possible litigation from DC Comics.
- Wanted by Mark Millar features lawyer-friendly versions of every supervillain (and some heroes) ever. Ever. In addition, it's implicit that the characters in the story are the real versions, and the comics are a half-baked attempt by the world to tell their exploits. But who reads comics anymore anyway?
- Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane cameoed as a group of visiting reporters in the first issue of The Ultimates.
- They also appear in a panel of Marvels. It's not uncommon for them to attend press releases in Marvel comics, almost implying that some version of the Daily Planet exists in the Marvel Universe.
- If you look closely in crowd scenes during DC and Marvel Crisis Crossovers, you can often make out characters that have been Exiled from Continuity (the hand of Swamp Thing in Infinite Crisis, for example).
- In Assassin's Guild oneshot issue of The Punisher, the titular Anti-Hero guns down thinly-disguised counterparts of Lupin III and his gang.
- Throughout Preacher, Jesse Custer has a spirit advisor called The Duke, who is clearly meant to be John Wayne but never explicitly referred to as such and always drawn with face in shadow. However, his father, John Custer, is shown and referred to as meeting the flesh-and-blood John Wayne while serving in Vietnam. Also, in issue #53, Jesse gives a lift to a fat, aging Elvis (this one's a lot harder to identify, but it's definitely him). Plus there's the sequence where Herr Starr meets (and insults) a number of unnamed world leaders - we only see Starr's face, but can identify who he's addressing by the insult (e.g. "You've got a girl's haircut, Colonel.")
- Group scenes in Legion of Super-Heroes like to slip in famous aliens or other odd looking characters. An alien resembling Dr. Zoidberg of Futurama was seen being arrested by the Science Police. Another comic had a pair that looks suspiciously like Kermit and Miss Piggy.
- In Action Comics #579, Superman is sent back in time to 253 AD, where he finds himself in a Gaulish village that has been fighting off the Romans thanks to a magic potion - so successfully, in fact, that they're unaware the Empire has fallen. Jimmy Olsen puts on the outfit of their unnamed "greatest warrior", while a mind-controlled Superman fights "Columnix", an overweight Gaul with a white dog, who fell in the potion as a baby.
- An early Usagi Yojimbo comic features one from a young Godzilla, who ends up saving Miyamoto Usagi's life in return for rice cakes. Just in case you somehow missed it, Usagi actually asks "Are you a god, Zylla?" to which the creature responds "Godzylla?"
- In a X-Man issue, there's cameos of Ken, Chun-Li and Guile on the background, watching X-Man's power demonstration. How appropriate.
- In a backup story in an issue of X-Men Classics (earlier issues has a secondary story featuring "before they were X-Men" or "between the issues" tales), a story is recounted of an inadvertent meeting between Logan (while he was a roughneck on the run from Weapon X) and Banshee (while he was just a humble Interpol agent). Banshee is hot on the trail of three jewel thieves, one of whom is named Arsene, and who look like the Lupin Gang with a few cosmetic alterations. Guess who that makes Banshee, of course...
- Chris Claremont has put Lawyer-Friendly Cameos of anime in quite a few of his stories. Both the Dirty Pair and Speed Racer, for instance show up in an issue of Excalibur, and yes, the lawyer-friendly Dirty Pair are as destructive as the genuine article.
- The Ghostbusters made a rather extensive appearance during the Inferno storyline during Claremont's run of Uncanny X-Men, then appeared again when Jubilee was introduced. One notable change is that the Ghostbusters' secretary, Janine, was a member of the group.
- The Howard and Nester comic strip in issue #9 of Nintendo Power has Howard accompanying a duck on an expedition to the moon (with Nester stowing away). The duck in question is never addressed by name and doesn't look like it, but the reader can probably guess, judging from the fact that this particular installment was based on the DuckTales NES game, that he is supposed to be Scrooge McDuck.
- The same comic has a character named Roboduck, who is clearly an Expy of Gizmoduck.
- One Marvel comics from the 80's involved many of the Marvel speedsters, who were getting some help from an amnesiac speedster from another dimension... Wearing a torn red suit (with a few yellow elements), saying his name was "Buried Alien, or something like that", and who quickly disappeared in some Speed Dimension afterwards as all he could remember was that he had to keep running. Oh, and he was much, MUCH faster than all the other Marvel speedsters. As this story took place not so long after an important cross-over from the Distinguished Competition, this can be seen as a homage to a certain character who died during this event.
- In Black Summer by Warren Ellis, you never actually see The President or any pictures of the President, and his name is never given, but, he was in office in July 2006, made a lot of questionable decisions during the events of September 11th 2001, he's implied to be something of a Warmonger, and the Liberals weren't happy with him.
- In Superman/Batman Annual #1, as a reference to Deadpool's origins as a Deathstroke Captain Ersatz, had an Alternate Universe Deathstroke who looked like Deadpool, acted like Deadpool, and had powers like Deadpool, but was always interrupted whenever he attempted to reveal his name (including one panel where he screams "DEADPOOOOooooo~") since Deadpool is the property of Marvel Comics.
- Also in Superman/Batman the story arc, With A Vengeance features the "Maximums" who are thinly veiled analogues of The Avengers from the other guys..
- Darth Vader once fought the Rebel Four.
- This occurs several times in Star Wars Tales; there are minor appearances of characters from outside the franchisee who appear in the background such as Buzz Lightyear, Bender, a Predator... among the few characters who sometimes pop up.
- The Batman Elseworld Detective #27 features Bruce Wayne being inducted into the Secret Society of Detectives. Apart from Alfred and the Crimson Avenger, none of the other members are named, but from the way they're drawn, they're clearly intended to include Sam Spade (or maybe Philip Marlowe), Hercule Poirot, Nick and Nora Charles, and Nero Wolfe, amongst others.
- Writer Steve Skeates famously began a story in an issue of Aquaman (published by DC Comics), only to resolve it in an issue of Namor (published by Marvel Comics) after the former series was cancelled. The Namor installment contained a very brief Broad Strokes recap of the events of the previous issue, and thanks to the obvious copyright problems, Aquaman could not be named or explicitly shown. This resulted in only his hand being seen, and the narration itself refusing to identify the hero by name.
Who that man is... and why he wished to destroy the satellite... that need not concern us!
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog had tons of Lawyer-Friendly Cameos, especially in its early days, like the picture above shows. This even continued on when Knuckles got his own short-lived series. This was actually done by turning them into the various races that live on Mobius or one of Robotnik's robots. Amongst more recognizable ones were a recurring set of Mobians that resembled Mihoshi, Ayeka and Sasami of Tenchi Muyo!, the infamous Sally Moon, Chibi Rose and◊ Tuxedo Knux◊, Sonicaman, Spawnmower, a group of robots resembling Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, and Cambot (fourth image from the top here), and a Goomba in a panel◊ of the crossover Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide.
- In the "Dawn of X" story arc in Mega Man, Xander Payne travels through time and witnesses the events of Worlds Collide. He sees Mega Man talking to a "giant talking animal", though all we see is a speech bubble coming from off panel. Though when Xander later ends up in prison, he carves what is unmistakably Sonic's face on his cell's wall, so...
- Johnny Turbo, being a "spokesman" for NEC and the Turbo-Grafx 16, led his personal crusade for the console's superiority not against real-world rival Sega, but against their robot-run counterpart Feka. It's probably pronounced similarly, too, as in "Fake-uh".
- In All Fall Down, appearances are made by Bruce Banner, Alfred, Tony Stark, The Powerpuff Girls, and others.
- The Rocketeer has appearances by several unnamed pulp characters including The Shadow and Doc Savage.
- WildC.A.T.s #8 features a brief appearance by a honeymooning Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Scott thinks Voodoo and Spartan might be mutants and wants to talk to them, but drops it when Jean insists he direct his attention, ahem, elsewhere.
- Wildstorm-universe comics did a lot of these, most of them at a Good Guy Bar called Clark's. The owner is basically an older Superman, and the place is usually packed with heroes from other companies.
- The Kane Chronicles graphic novel gives us Happy-O's, which is obviously a parody of Cheerios. Yellow box? Giant heart filled with the respective cereal? Lowering cholesterol? Happy-O's has all of them.
- Other than the main cast, most characters who show up in normalman are either parodies or used with permission from their creators, but Astérix and Obelix make a cameo appearance when norm is in Roman times. It's more lawyer-friendly than most examples — their faces are never shown, but the silhouettes are unmistakable and they even give norm some of their potion.
- In the final issue of Jack Kirby's Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, Kirby included a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of his own characters. Captain Victory faces the spirit of his evil grandfather Blackmass, former ruler of the planet Hellikost. In both name and appearance Hellikost suggests Apokalips, and Blackmaas's ghostly silhouette resembles Darkseid, implying that Victory is the son of Orion of the New Gods. He even restores his father's Astro-Harness.
- His New Gods run was heavily implied to be a Stealth Sequel to The Mighty Thor, with a character who looks a lot like Thor appearing in a Flashback in the first issue. In a later story, one of the characters finds Thor's winged helmet among the ruins of an ancient city that is strongly hinted to be Asgard.
- Lin from Fallen Angel is essentially Linda Danvers from Peter David's prior Supergirl series (which Fallen Angel is a Spiritual Successor to). He later confirmed the two girls are in fact one and the same, via Word of God:
Peter David: Can I say this is Linda Danvers? Of course I can't. However, it's pretty freaking obvious that it is.
- The first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a young Daredevil appear as it is a recreation of the scene where Daredevil gets his powers in the first issue of that comic. The can of green ooze is shown hitting him and then falling onto the turtles.
- Nickelodeon Magazine had a 3-D comic about pirates going to different comic and cartoon universes because they believed "3-D" to refer to some kind of treasure. On their journey, they encounter obvious pastiches of Bart Simpson, Superman, and Porky Pig.
- There's a rather Anvilicious issue of Spawn in which the titular character meets a bunch of superheroes imprisoned in Hell. You never quite see any of them due to heavy shadows, but the one they call the "First" and the "Most Powerful of All" has tight blue sleeves with no gloves and a spitcurl. (The Anvilicious part is that it's a Take That against publishers denying royalties to the creators of their most iconic characters ... Spawn himself is rather famously creator-owned, which is why he's free instead of chained like the others.)
Films — Animated
- Played with in Wreck-It Ralph. The title character is basically a human version of Donkey Kong from the 8-bit days, but plenty of other videogame characters cameo as themselves - Bowser, Robotnik, M. Bison, Qberts, Pac-man ghosts, etc. Ralph even goes to an Animated Actors-style therapy group for depressed villains.
- Despite the real cameos, this trope is still played straight at points; one member of Bad Guys Anonymous is clearly based on Kano from Mortal Kombat, and in a clear Fatality reference, there's even a point during the meeting where he rips out Zombie's heart. Despite that, he's only called "Cyborg". Given the game had Australian authorities on the lookout for anyone importing the game, it's little surprise a Disney movie wouldn't go there.
- Sergeant Calhoun is essentially Commander Shepard were she played by Sue Sylvester.
- Mister Fantastic appears briefly in the Planet Hulk movie, but is shown only in shadow and has no lines. This was due to 20th Century Fox owning the film rights to the Fantastic Four.
Films — Live-Action
- Aside from color and extra limbs, the dragon form of the emperor from the third film in The Mummy Trilogy is virtually identical to the Godzilla villain King Ghidorah.
- A reporter named Clark, who knows a reporter named Lois, and, uh, might be able to fly, shows up in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!.
- A rather strange version occurs in Spider-Man 2; as Mary Jane runs away from her wedding, she passes by a man in a long black trenchcoat. The audio commentary reveals that this man is Thomas Jane's stunt double from The Punisher (2004), and that the character is in fact meant to be Frank Castle; however, as the rights to the two films are owned by different studios, they couldn't have Jane appear as the character.
- Action movie parody Loaded Weapon includes a cameo by Bruce Willis. The funniest part is that he is still in costume from Die Hard.
- Coming to America has McDowell's, which not only is an obvious ripoff of McDonald's, but is treated as such in the movie. It even has a scene where the owner has to describe the subtle differences between his store and the McDonalds that is right next door. When they actually made the building for filming, the owner of the adjacent McDonalds actually threatened to sue.
- Murder by Death was little more than a showcase for such cameos, referencing famed literary/movie detectives:
- Sidney Wang = Charlie Chan
- Sam Diamond = Sam Spade
- Dick and Dora Charleston = Nick and Nora Charles
- Miss Marbles = Miss Marples
- M'sieu Perrier = Hercule Poirot
- There was also apparently, going to be one for Agatha Christie, in the form of "Dame Abigail Christian." The character was dropped when Katherine Hepburn pulled out (due to Myrna Loy refusing appear as Dora Charleston — she had originated the character "Nora Charles" in the Thin Man movies)
- The film originally ended with a cameo from two characters who looked and acted very much like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In fact, the resemblance was close enough that Arthur Conan Doyle's estate eventually got this scene excised from all home video releases.
- In The Teaser of For Your Eyes Only, James Bond kills off a bald man in a wheelchair who looks a lot like Ernst Blofeld but is unnamed (and uncredited) because Blofeld and SPECTRE had been Exiled from Continuity when the film was made.
- Goldmember had this exchange after the protagonists crash into a parade float:
: It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws, it's not!
: Still, we should run like it IS Godzilla!
- Bob Hope's Western comedy Alias Jesse James has a series of famous Western stars making unnamed cameos (James Garner, James Arness, Fess Parker, Roy Rogers, and many more — all in their trademark characters' Iconic outfits) to help Hope's character hold off Jesse James and his family.
- House of Leaves: Features appearances by Steve Wozniak, Stephen King, Walter Mosley, Anne Rice, and Camille Paglia, among others, all of whom have quite a bit to say about both the house and the film that it's the subject of.
- In the Solar Pons story "The Adventure of the Orient Express", Pons encounters several characters who are thinly disguised (very thinly) famous fictional spies and detectives, including Ashenden, Hercule Poirot, and The Saint.
- Pons himself is something of a Lawyer-Friendly Star based on Sherlock Holmes.
- He's one of many pastiches of Holmes. It's a popular mystery fiction sub-genre.
- The Destroyer practically lives on this trope in almost every one of its 144+ books.
- A short story by Kim Newman in the Unforgivable Stories collection features an unnamed teenaged journalist who has an uncontrollable cowlick and is accompanied by a small white dog who is a Nazi collaborator in occupied Paris.
- Fanon has agreed that Fantastico and his group the Good Ol' Boyz (the G.O.B.) in the Whateley Universe are George W. Bush and his cabinet and staff, but with superpowers. It's pretty obvious, since Fantastico is a Texan named Bert Walker Jr. and he's even used some famous George Bush lines. The weird part is that the author writes Phase as a millionaire who is a serious Republican and fiscal conservative, and defends those positions.
- It's possible that the author is a serious Republican and fiscal conservative... who hates Bush. (Not unheard of: GWB was not a fiscal conservative, and was highly unpopular among certain kinds of Republicans by the end of his second term.)
- In Night Probe (part of the NUMA Series), the British bring one of their old spies out of retirement, who had changed his name to Brian Shaw to avoid assassination attempts. It is strongly implied that Shaw is actually James Bond.
- The Bernice Summerfield novel Ship Of Fools by Dave Stone features a 25th century space-liner filled with Great Detectives IN SPACE!, including Emil Dupont (Hercule Poirot) and Khaarli of Czhanos (Charlie Chan).
- The Roger Rabbit short story "Stay Tooned Folks" features such toons as Sir Lanced Alot (an Arthurian knight with a bowl haircut), Poopdeck the Pirate (a bulging-armed, spinach eating sailor) and (in a sort of double-whammy) Dr Ignatz Cats, Head Shrinker to the Muckety Mucks.
- Michael Chabon's novella The Final Solution is about a retired detective who, while never named, is clearly Sherlock Holmes.
- A major element of Neil Gaiman's short story The Problem of Susan is that the character of "Professor Hastings" could be a much older Susan Pevensie (Hastings also being just along the coast from Pevensey, Sussex), although the narrative never outright confirms it.
- In Good Omens there is the alien that looked like a pepper pot, described as beeping, so... the shout out/lawyer-friendly cameo becomes a bit of a twofer.
- The Dresden Files is Reference Overdosed enough as it is, but in Proven Guilty, the Monsters of the Book happen to be taking on the forms of horror movie monsters. Most of them just have the names changed a tiny bit (Chucky becomes Bucky, for instance), but the obviously-a-xenomorph is just described. And Harry quotes the movie at it.
- The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Camera Obscura had an appearance of William the Bloody Awful Poet, which was the nickname Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer had as a human. Also, the Past Doctor Adventures novel The King of Terror has a character from Southern California mention Dingoes Ate my Baby as one of his favorite bands.
- Towards the end of Esther Friesner's Harpy High, the main character's mother started dating Dr. Faustus and drawing a comic strip called Mr. Mephisto which, in the words of the main character's best friend, was about "this wizard and this demon and they go around with this fat orange kitten that thinks all these funny things and eats lasagna and-"
- Simon Scarrow's Historical Fiction novel The Fields of Death, set around the Battle of Waterloo, includes an English rifle commander who looks and sounds exactly like Sharpe. Oh, and he's named Richard.
- The Fifth Doctor makes a cameo in Diane Duane's High Wizardry, helping Dairine give some pursuers the slip.
- Sonic The Hedgehog And The Silicon Warriors features a plot where Tails is sucked into a computer world and Dr Robotnik is using videogame characters to conquer the world so there are lots of these. The pair are attacked by attacked by falling blocks (that come in L, S and I shapes) that fuse together, a large yellow sphere with a split in the middle, like a mouth, that makes electronic gulping sounds, a blond fighter in a red karate suit and a black haired blue costumed female called "Chin Lie" sonic recognizes the latter as being from "Road Warrior Two".
Live Action TV
- Perhaps the biggest example of "Pushing it" with this trope would be an Ultraman episode where the hero fights a monster that looks a lot like Godzilla with a neck frill attached (And in fact it was an old Godzilla suit with a collar attached). Said frill is then torn off by Ultraman about halfway through the fight.
- In the 1983 reunion TV-movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E., Robert Vaughn is helped by a British agent driving a heavily-modified Aston-Martin played by George Lazenby. His license plates have only two letters: "JB". Who could it possibly be?
- Goodness Gracious Me did a parody of The Sooty Show with Sweep's face pixelated to hide his resemblance to the original puppet.
- Deputy U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco appears in an episode of Justified, though they had to rename her Karen Goodall for rights reasons. She's even played by the same actress who played Sisco in the short-lived TV series, and a reference is made to her new married surname.
- Kind of an odd one here: Actor Patrick Mc Goohan starred in a show called Danger Man (renamed Secret Agent when imported to the US) in which he was, well, a secret agent named John Drake. His next series The Prisoner had him as a retired secret agent of some sort who was kidnapped and imprisoned in "The Village", where he was addressed only as "Number Six". Number Six was never outright stated to be John Drake, but ...
- The disowned joke module Castle Greyhawk for Dungeons & Dragons does this a LOT. Some levels in the dungeon are nothing but Lawyer-Friendly Cameos to '80s pop culture icons including Doctor Who, Michael Jackson, Marvel Comics, The Blues Brothers, and even Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken!
- Gary Gygax's own seemingly aborted version of the castle (of which only the top levels have been published due to his untimely death) were a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo storm of their own — many names and locations had to be changed since they were Wizards of the Coast IP, even though Gygax tried to keep as much of the Greyhawk feel so that canny DMs could fill in the blanks if they wanted to. In one section, he takes a brief Take That against TSR, talking of the corrupt city of Dunfalcon...
- A Pyramid Magazine article about the possibilities of giving superheroes a connection to the Cthulhu Mythos had several examples, all Lawyer-Friendly Cameos of Marvel and DC characters. For instance there was a millionaire vigilante who had been possessed by the Great Race of Yith, and was reluctantly considering asking "the Martian" to scan his mind; a note from industrialist "L.L." to his research teams about how the alien fungus samples seem to have the ability to take human form, possibly with powers and abilities far beyond mortal men; a powerful telepath unable to prevent his mutant-detecting machine from broadcasting the chant of "Tekeli-li!" to his students; and a chant to Nyarlathotep which reveals his many names include the Surfer in Silver and the Blackened Racer.
- Sonic the Hedgehog features the Death Egg as Eggman's ultimate weapon to destroy Sonic.
- Pokémon Platinum features a detective who talks weird, shows up in a lot of places, wears a long, brown coat and gives the player futuristic equipment.
- Actually, Pokémon makes quite a few references. For starters, Rotom◊ is based off of Pulseman◊ and Volt Tackle is based off of his signature move. It helps that the creator of Pokémon also made Pulseman, however. Anything outside of that is rare.
- In Romancing SaGa 3, there is a Zorro-esque character called Robin, and in the credits, said character pulls off Zorro's infamous Z cut (Strongest Foil technique)
- The first print versions of The Revenge of Shinobi for the Sega Genesis featured Spider-Man, Batman, The Terminator, and Godzilla as some of Joe Musashi's adversaries. To avoid any potential lawsuits, Sega released a revision of the game which replaces Godzilla with a metal skeletal dinosaur and Batman with a winged bat-like creature. Spider-Man was kept as an official cameo (with a new copyrights screen acknowledging Marvel Comics' ownership of the character), since Sega had the Spider-Man license for a couple of other games (namely the Spider-Man arcade game and the Genesis game Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin). In the Virtual Console rerelease, Spider-Man is now colored pink (Due to Sega losing the rights to use Spider-Man to Activision). Ironically, The Terminator has appeared in all versions of The Revenge of Shinobi.
- Shinobi III, on the other hand, was able to get away with Mechagodzilla.
- In the VGA remake of Space Quest I, the Droids-B-Us shop (which itself features an android Geoffrey the Giraffe as its logo!) has a "Dalick" for sale, which bears a striking resemblance to a certain creature from Doctor Who. There's also the robot from Lost in Space, as well as another droid, HA-Y-AO, which clearly was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky. The Blues Brothers also have a cameo as bar singers.
- ZZ Top had a cameo in the original, but this wasn't so lawyer-friendly, as Sierra got slapped with a lawsuit and had to remove them in the remake. The robot shop was originally called Droids-R-Us, which also attracted a lawsuit; apparently changing the R to a B was enough to satisfy them.
- ZZ Top was replaced by a band of similarly dressed midgets, while The Blues Brothers were replaced with a pair of blue-skinned MIBs. Their respective musics were also changed. The former's sprites could still be found Dummied Out in the game data.
- There was a robot called the "Def-Tech" resembled a Rifleman 'Mech
- SQ II had a Xenomorph-like alien and an ersatz of ED-209 from RoboCop, and Vohaul resembles Darth Vader unmasked.
- Space Quest 3 has Arnoid, a killer robot (Terminator).
- Space Quest IV features a Radioshock store which suffered the same case with Droids-R-Us which was renamed to Hz. So Good.
- Space Quest V featured the rear end of the USS Enterprise in the Starcon hangar bay. Captain Picard also appears in the conference room on the station. There's also Spike. No lawsuits, somehow. Of course, the entire series is filled with this sort of stuff.
- Shin Megami Tensei II featured lawyer-friendly cameos from Mr. Thriller, Audrey Jr. and Betelgeuse. Yes, that Betelgeuse.
- Starcraft has a few hero units with oddly familiar names hidden away in the map editor. Examples include the flamethrower-wielding Gui Montag.
- Street Fighter has the character "Mike Bison", a boxer, in the Japanese version. However, his name was changed to "Balrog" in the US release to avoid lawsuits. It's still obvious who he's based on, however. The name Mike Bison was shortened to M. Bison and given to a different character.
- While Burnout normally uses Bland Name Cars, one can download in Burnout Paradise what are called the Legendary Cars which in no particular order are the Cavalry Bootlegger (complete with Dixie Horn), the Carson GT Nighthawk, the Manhattan Spirit, and the 88 Special.
- Final Fantasy has the recurring characters Wedge and Biggs (mistranslated as 'Vicks' in the SNES era), named for the pair in Star Wars.
- Who also cameo in Chrono Trigger.
- Chrono Trigger even did one better; Star Wars also contains an Admiral Piett, who cameos alongside "Vicks" and Wedge.
- Final Fantasy I basically used the original Dungeons & Dragons bestiary (complete with their original names) in its original Japanese release. To prevent a lawsuit, many of the monsters were renamed (not always sensibly) when the game was first ported, turning many of the monsters into this. This has slowly been reversed as remakes have been made with names more closely matching the originals.
- An early conversation in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World has Emil and Marta discussing whether the mask that Lloyd dropped reminded them of the one from "Phantom of the Operetta", "F for Foe", or "The Man in the Aluminum Mask".
- Every Quest for Glory game features a cameo by at least one famous comedian. The list includes The Three Stooges in the first game, the Marx Brothers in the second, Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford and Abbott and Costello in the third, and a sound-alike of Rodney Dangerfield in the fourth.
- Disgaea: Hour of Darkness does this quite obviously with the infamous Prism Rangers.
- And how could you forget Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth!
- The second game also features a conversation with a member of monster-type demon race that's usually considered female for pretty much the rest of the game. At the end of the conversation the monster reveals that it is, in fact, a boy. At this point, you realize/remember that the monster in question is named Bridget.
- And then there's the third game with not one, but two of the Diez Gentlemen. One is Bo Tie (flip his name around). Then there's Se-To-Oh, who ironically, summons a bunch of monsters in one turn.
- Classic H-game Season of the Sakura features characters from Magic Knight Rayearth, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tenchi Muyo!, Saint Tail, and Pia Carrot, but given how blatant the references were, this may simply be a Shout-Out (or an excuse to let fanboys pursue anime girls popular in the mid-90s, when the game was made).
- In Prototype, a fellow who looks suspiciously like Chinese superstar Andy Lau is one of the random civilians. For reals.
- The Masters in MadWorld are explicitly said to use the For—— Magnets! (With that exact wording.) And other reminiscent things.
- World of Warcraft isn't exempt from this either. In Un'Goro Crater, a gnome wearing a green tunic and cap, named Linken, sets you on a long quest line that references everything from "Eastern peninsula is the secret", to tossing a sword into a spring and receiving it tempered, to receiving a magical boomerang that deals ranged damage and stuns or disarms. And not too far away you'll find Dadanga, and the hammer-wielding dwarves Larion and Muigin. The list goes on. The zone is basically one long shoutout to Nintendo, but there are plenty of other examples of this trope in the rest of the game.
- Gunbird 2 is full of expies and Shout Outs, but the one that takes the cake is the end boss, who attacks with pills, and above all is a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of Sato Pharmaceutical's mascot.
- Ownership of Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa from Alien vs. Predator (Capcom) is apparently tied up with Twentieth Century Fox, so while Capcom usually uses any excuse to revisit its own obscure characters, Linn's cameos have been limited to hanging out far in the background of stages in Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Street Fighter III and an unrelated character Cosplaying as her for a split-second during a super attack in Namco X Capcom.
- 3D Dot Game Heroes has direct appearances by Minwu, Josef, Guy, Firion, and Maria from Final Fantasy II, "Pizarro", Rosy, Alena, Brey, Cristo, Mina, Mary, and Healie the slime from Dragon Quest IV, and the Hero, Bianca, and Flora (and their kids) from Dragon Quest V, among others.
- The Super Smash Bros. series has "Lightsabers" and "Blasters" as usable weapons, even going so far as to using the original sound effects (or at least something similar) for when the items are used.
- Transport Tycoon featured real-life vehicles in the original British release. Just to give a few examples, there were aircraft from Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, and Airbus; road vehicles from British Leyland, Ford, and Volvo; train locomotives designed by Stanier and Gresley, and later in the game the Eurostar and TGV. For the American release, these were changed to fake companies to avoid litigation. These were carried forward into Transport Tycoon Deluxe and OpenTTD.
- And of course we have Champions Online, with player created wonders such as The Incredible Haulk, Iron Dude, and Deadsea. These characters of course look almost the same with maybe a slight color change.
- The Dark Mod, a fan remake total conversion inspired by the original Thief series, uses this for some of the more uniquely named concepts, creatures and factions. Hammerites become "Builders", Haunts become "Revenants", Burricks become "Belchers", the "Inventor's Guild" is a loose analogue of the Mechanists, etc.
- The 5 to 2 Cafe in Silent Hill 1 is lifted from Natural Born Killers.
- The title cards for the PARANOIA songs in Dance Dance Revolution display expies of Kraftwerk's robot alter egos.
- Team Fortress 2 features the Pyro hat Triboniophorus Tyrannus as a nod to the brain slugs of Futurama.
- Star Trek Online had a special Christmas event where a little green man in front of a hermit's hut was giving away glowing melee weapons.
- The Very Big Cave Adventure has a sequence set in Gotham City, with a masked crimefighter known only as "THAT MAN" and his archnemesis "THE JESTER". And yes, their names always appear in allcaps.
- Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative: When you enter a specific chamber, Cave Johnson will say that you are "the first half-man, half-machine police officer" named Robot-a-Cop.
- The ending results screen for Donkey Kong Country 2 shows Earthworm Jim's blaster and Sonic's shoes lying discarded by a trash can with a sign that says "No Hopers".
- In Moai: Build Your Dream the main character's rival is a vaguely Harrison Ford-ish dude named Indie-Anah.
- Silent Dragon features Jagi as the third boss, except he's called "Wolfkid." The flyer states that you can't see him in the daytime despite the boss fight taking place in broad daylight.
- Chronicles of Albion 2: The Wizbury School of Magic features a talking painting called Tripstaff. After you hang it on the art room wall, clicking on it produces a wide variety of increasingly ridiculous excuses, one of which is "Sorry, can't talk now, I'm watching a Fluffy the Werewolf Slayer marathon."
- Royal Envoy has a girl pirate named Tippy Long-Boots.
- The player character in Spandex Force reminisced about what a shock it was when "meek Kenneth Clarke" revealed his secret identity as "Miracle Man."
- In Cowboy Blues the denizens of the local saloon were Normal, Dyanne, Speckle and Spam the bartender.
- In Quest for Glory I, the VGA remake, if you're in the forest at certain times at morning or afternoon, you can see a dinosaur either going to returning from work
- Each story in Devilbear features a "special guest" character that represents a more famous character such as "Winnie the Pimp" instead of Pooh or "Pandatchoo" instead of Pikachu...
- Sonoda Meimi from MegaTokyo is suspected to be Haneoka Meimi from Kaitou Saint Tail. At one point a character even starts to refer to her as "Myster..."(ious Thief Saint Tail), but gets cut off. (On two other occasions, he only gets as far as "Mys".)
- A supporting character in It's Walky! was a short, quiet girl with coke-bottle glasses named Marcie. No mention is made of what she was like as a child, but it's safe to take a guess. (For bonus reference points, she's openly bisexual.)
- In The Order of the Stick Rich drops an entire lamp, never mind the shade, on the subject with the Mind Flayer.
- In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: "Mace Windu is a Lucasfilm character. I'm Samuel L. Jackson in a bathrobe."
- Meet Weapon Brown. The comic that is literally constructed wholesale out of this trope. Whether it be the main characters Chuck "Weapon" Brown and his dog Snoop, the pointy-heared CEO of 'The Syndicate', CALv1.n and HOBS, or the currently unknown-in-name alliance of characters including Pops, Val, and the blind Annie, you can be sure that you can easily recognise everybody, provided you're learned enough in your newspaper comics.
- And if you're not, JY tags the images with the names of either the characters or strip he's parodying.
- Academia features one by Yo-Yo Ma, who is secretly an angel.
- Pretty much the entire premise of the first batch of episodes of Press Start.
- Averted in Soon, I Will Rule The World!, which makes no real bones about the fact that the main character comes from a D&D based world with a bit of Warhammer Fantasy thrown in, with all creatures and gods referred to by their in-game names.
- To Boldly Flee features as a major villain an alien of an unnamed species named Ferdinand von Turrell, who is quite clearly Terl the Psychlo from Battlefield Earth; he even goes by his last name, pronounces it Terl, and originates in a review of Battlefield Earth.
- Legion Of Net Heroes: At one point in Decibel Dude & Vigilante Guy, Decibel Dude was ready to quit being a superhero due to a number of extremely stressful plot developments. A quiet chat with four guys known only as Clark, Bruce, Frank, and Peter convinced him to get back in the game.
- In the TV Tropes Badge Shop. A TARDIS? Ha ha, no, it's just a regular police box, silly.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door a kid dressed exactly like Ash Ketchum (wearing Ash's outfit in the original series) from Pokémon can be seen often in the stands. He's usually next to Yugi. They were seen together in a couple episodes with large crowds of KND operatives. There was also an expy of Kairi in the Lotus-Eater Machine.
- Done quite often on Drawn Together. In "Gay Bash", Elmer Fudd and Snagglepuss (their faces covered by Pixellation) show up at Xandir's "coming-out-of-the-closet" party. In "Requiem for a Reality Show", a masked Charlie Brown and Natasha Fatale (from Rocky and Bullwinkle) with a black bar over her eyes show up as the new BDSM partners for Foxxy Love and Captain Hero, respectively. In another episode, a down-and-out Wooldoor Sockbat is lying on the street when two characters, one fat wearing a white shirt and green pants, and one slender wearing a blue blouse and off-white pants (whose heads are cut off by the screen) walk by and give him some change. The skinny one, in a voice a little more than very reminiscent of Lois from Family Guy (because it was done by the very same actress as Lois), chastises her pudgy counterpart for it.
- In another episode when Toot, Xandir, and Wooldoor get high off Ling-Ling's sweat, the next day following their hangovers, Homer Simpson can be seen lying next to them.
- "Oh my god! It's Mickey [beep]!" "I can't believe it! It's [beep] Mouse!"
- One episode of Megas XLR featured a villain who was a dead ringer for Captain Harlock.
- May not exactly fit this trope, but a Motoko Kusanagi-lookalike can be spotted in one episode
- There's a character in the Star Wars comics who wears a disguise that makes him look like Harlock, as well.
- In general, Megas is swimming in lawyer-friendly-cameos. Even the titular 'bot has one - before having it replaced, his head looks exactly like Soundwave's.
- And then you have the fact that the second time you see Mag Nanimous, his robot has a shotgun and a chainsaw for arms and dresses like Elvis. (Of course, considering who VOICED that particular villain, it's not all that surprising.)
- An episode of Phantom 2040 features a guest appearance by an "old family friend" who strikingly resembles, but is not named as, Mandrake The Magician, the other famous character created by Lee Falk, the writer who created The Phantom.
- South Park
- In the episode "Cartoon Wars Part II", Cartman is joined in his quest to get Family Guy taken off the air by a kid who's obviously supposed to be Bart Simpson from The Simpsons, but is never referred to by name. In a turnaround, an episode of The Simpsons has Bart and Milhouse watching an unnamed version of South Park. Which was in turn a reference to the South Park episode "Simpsons Did It".
- And Mickey Mouse in "The Ring" and "Obama Wins!".
- In the Regular Show episode "Party Pete", Party Pete bears a striking resemblance to the Swedish singer Günther◊.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Eddie Monster", the title characters of Ed, Edd n Eddy and a character looking quite similar to Dexter appear briefly in one scene near the end of the episode.
- One of the episodes of Ben 10 has Konohamaru's team appear in the background. In another, an orange-haired girl dressed like Sakura is on screen briefly.
- In an interesting case, one episode of Arthur had Arthur and friends writing pilot scripts for a contest. These were all obvious parodies of other popular cartoons. The thing is, most of these parodies were of shows aimed at a- to put it lightly- more mature audience, like South Park, Beavis And Butthead, and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.
- There was also WWE and Dexter's Laboratory. What makes this more disturbing is that each of the stories were actual submissions by kids for a contest to generate ideas for the show. So... yeah.
Francartman?: Hey, you squished Buster!
- One episode had a Domo plush in the background, another referenced a show called "Judo Kittens" whose characters looked pretty familiar...
- The Simpsons
- Possibly due to its anime influence, Kappa Mikey has a few of these. A few of the guest appearances include a fat, middle-aged Speed Racer, a palette-swapped version of Puchiko from Di Gi Charat, and Yugi Muto with ridiculously exaggerated hair.
- In one of the first episodes, you can also see a figure that looks like Mega Man X and Zero combined.
- In Beetlejuice, an episode spoofing The Wizard of Oz has the Munchkins (here, giant beetles) greet Lydia (as Dorothy) with "Welcome to the Land of Public Domain!"
- Let's make this very clear: you do not have to write around any copyrights to use characters from the first book (and a few others, all the ones written before about 1923) of the Oz series (it's in the public domain now) ...the movie, on the other hand, is copyrighted. No ruby slippers for you.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has a lawyer-friendly version of Ryu seen losing to June at arm wrestling at a bar (he's still there the next time they visit and is part of a Bar Brawl).
- The President on The Fairly OddParents always appears dressed up as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln and has No Name Given, but once you hear his voice you can tell he's a parody of George W. Bush.
- Various Street Fighter characters make appearances as background characters in Leone Middle School in El Tigre.
- The Shadowkhan show up in the antepenultimate episode of Teen Titans, fighting Bushido.
- The opening of one episode of Justice League has a Humongous Mecha that looks a hell of a lot like a turquoise EVA Unit 01.
- An episode in Justice League Unlimited begins with Supergirl, Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E., and Green Lantern saving Japan from a giant turtle monster.
- During the first two seasons of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Wonder Woman was deemed off-limits due to the notoriously convoluted legal red tape regarding the character's media rights. The creators were able to give Wondy a cameo in a Flashback sequence by only showing her from behind, thus avoiding any of her trademarked iconography (such as her tiara or W crest).
- In one episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Shaggy and Velma from Scooby-Doo can be clearly seen in the backdrop of a school hallway.
- Bounty Hamster has a carefully unnamed coyote show up and recommend that the eponymous hamster try a better catalogue than Acme Products.
- The Venture Bros. plays with this A LOT. Many of the characters on the show are parodies, which doesn't stop them from interacting, or existing alongside, the things they're making fun of. For instance, Dr. Rusty Venture is a parody of Jonny Quest - a boy adventurer with a genius scientist for a father - which doesn't stop his bodyguard/Race Bannon parody Brock Samson from being old friends with the actual Bannon, or Rusty from being in a therapy group with "Action Jonny" himself. Not to mention the time that the Impossible Family won a costume contest by dressing as the Fantastic Four.
- The Duck Dodgers short "Attack of the Drones" was written by Eric Kaplan and directed by Rich Moore, both of whom worked regularly on Futurama; thus, Zoidberg is clearly visible at the council early on.
- Same scene had a Klingon and The Great Gazoo in the council. Not to mention the Langoliers.
- There's also Samurai Quack and the evil wizard Achoo.
- And the Cheshire Cat as the alarm clock.
- An early episode of The Boondocks contains a background character who, despite modern attire, is clearly modeled after Jin, from Samurai Champloo. Cowen's a fan. It shows.
- In another episode, "Guess Ho's Coming To Dinner", there's a girl in the beginning who looks remarkably like W.I.T.C.H.'s Will Vandom.
- Freakazoid! loves "The guy who hits stuff with mallets". He's obviously talking about 80s comedian Gallagher, who's main schtick was to hit watermelons with giant mallets. But he's referred to as "Gulliver".
- Sailor Moon's Usagi Tsukino appears in the school lunch line in an episode of W.I.T.C.H..
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Knock It Off", has the villain of the episode sell Powerpuff Girls knockoffs to Japan and when he does, the camera pans to find expies of Great Mazinger, Getter Robo, and Ultraman bowing their heads in defeat, along with a giant, face always obscured somehow, Wally Gator.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show
- In the pilot "Big House Blues" dog versions of Fred Flintstone and George Jetson can be seen at the pound.
- The episode "I Was a Teenage Stimpy" features Stimpy inviting a few friends over; although not named they are obvious parodies of Archie Andrews and Jughead Jones. Jughead can be seen tattooing Archie's back with their high school graduation years which date back to the 1950's to the 90's referring to the fact that the characters never age.
- Nearly every episode of Family Guy has this with characters appearing in a Cut Away Gag.
- Hilariously lampshaded in Yin Yang Yo when referring to a Batman villain-like villain.
Yang: No, that's a puffin! Can't get sued for a puffin.
- An episode of the 70s Spider-Man cartoon had Peter Parker out of good places to change into costume, so he tried ducking into a phone booth, only to find someone already in it: a mild-mannered gentleman with an unlikely build and glasses.
- In the episode "Living Legends" from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Kim Possible and Ron make a cameo.
- After his fallout with Marvel Comics, Steve Gerber wrote the Man-Thing character into an episode of the Dungeons & Dragons television series, for which he was a head writer.
- An episode of SuperTed had a villain who tries to hijack a musical performance by tying up the celebrities who were supposed to sing. The Bound and Gagged musicians seen backstage resembled Johnny Cash, Minnie Pearl, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton. None of the entertainers were named, but all had very recognizable outfits.
- A slight subversion of this occurs in Transformers Generation 1; Jetfire was based upon Super Dimension Fortress Macross' VF-1 fighter. While this proved no issue for Hasbro (who licensed it from Bandai themselves), it did for Takara and the character wound up being redesigned (and renamed) so that he could be shown on the show. And even then, Takara did whatever they could to prevent him from appearing in the Japanese version of the show. Hasbro and Toei on the other hand, were able to use a robot similar to the VF-1 in Jetfire's first appearance.
- Similarly, Transformers Animated's Starscream has Isamu Alva Dyson's YF-19 "Alpha One" from Macross Plus as his vehicle mode, but this time the staff got away with it.
- In Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, Johnny hires a freelance photographer to take pictures of him and make him look good to the media. The photographer is cut off right before he introduces himself, but he resembles another freelance photographer of superheroes Marvel was not allowed to use due to a contract with Sony at the time.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gets away with this all the time since said cameos are ponified. So far we've had Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, the entire cast of The Big Lebowski, Indiana Jones, Big Boss, Mike 'Viper' Metcalf, and although they won't admit it was intentional, Braeburn looks an awful lot like Roy O'Bannon.
- In the spin-off Equestria Girls, there is a character named Naomi Normal who is often seen with a girl with red hair in a ponytail, akwardly resembling Tsubomi Hanasaki and Erika Kurumi.
- An accidental example that has since become Ascended Fanon is the pony named Time Turner, AKA "Doctor Whooves", who strongly resembles the Tenth Doctor
- The comics have even more examples. You can find Mario and Luigi, Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece, Loki from The Avengers, and tons of others. The comics also imply that Discord actually is Q from Star Trek.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, while a very prominent holiday figure, hasn't appeared in many Christmas specials lately because he is a registered trademark of The Rudolph Company and using him would entitle The Rudolph Company to royalties. Nevertheless, the Christmas Episode of Earthworm Jim features a brief appearance by an unnamed red-nosed reindeer who complains about Santa barring him from the reindeer games and only needing his help because of his nose.
- When a movie remake of The Lone Ranger was in production, former TV Lone Ranger Clayton Moore was legally prevented from appearing in public as the Lone Ranger... so Moore varied his costume slightly and exchanged the mask for similar-looking wraparound sunglasses until he won his countersuit.