Lawyer-Friendly Cameo
Somebody is very lost.

Leela: Who are you people? Haven't I seen you in some copyrighted movie?
Glurmo: (singing) We resemble-but-are-legally-distinct-from the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild...
Futurama, "Anthology of Interest II"

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 ticking 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.
  • At one time Vodafone did a series of TV ads in the UK which had Captains Ersatz of Mulder and Scully from The X-Files (the Mulder character a dual parody of Dale Cooper even to the point of being played by Kyle MacLachlan) investigating rumoured paranormal events that turned out to be misunderstandings of people discussing new features on Vodafone handsets. One of them was themed around time travel. As "Mulder and Scully" departed down the street, Jon Pertwee stood in the road behind them, checking his watch before walking into a garage with "Doctor On Call" painted across the doors and a strange glow emerging from it.
  • Johnny Turbo was directly attacking Sega in all but name, and even the name was ridiculously close — "Feka".

     Anime and Manga  
  • Pokémon: Doyle in "Where Did You Go, Audino?" bears a resemblance to Conan Edogawa. Even his name is a reference (playing off of Arthur Conan Doyle).
  • Yakitate!! Japan's American character Kid is nearly identical to Brad Pitt, for no good reason. Conan from Detective Conan also makes a thinly-veiled appearance.
  • Cromartie High School's Freddie was so obviously Freddie Mercury that the character couldn't be used in another adaptation for fear of lawyers. This was lampshaded with obscure references nearly every time Freddie appeared, and lampshaded most overtly with the brief appearance of another character, Mr. Mercury, who was noted by the other characters as looking exactly like Freddie (except for his clothes- although both Freddie's and Mr. Mercury were wearing exact copies of outfits worn by Freddie Mercury on stage) and who made a very loud emphasis on a number of dissimilarities between himself and Freddie (and, as a result, contrasting Freddie Mercury as well) It should also be noted that a number of other Queen references, such as many of the chapter titles, and literally hundreds of inside jokes and subtle references were present, making the manga a constant source of knowing grins from Queen fans everywhere.
  • Shawn Conecone from D-Frag!, who looks like Indiana Jones' father and is Kazama's Inexplicably Awesome English teacher.
  • In Irresponsible Captain Tylor, a chainsaw-wielding, hockey mask-wearing fellow named "Jason" is a member of the crew of the Soyokaze (mirroring the common Western misconception Jason ever used a chainsaw).
  • In School Rumble Harima stays home and watches a movie that is pretty much a rip off of Star Wars that at first covers the opening of episode 4 with Lego like star ships, and what some lines that seems to be taken from episode 6. Needless to say this is quite funny to watch.
  • In Project A-ko, it's hinted a few times that Eiko's parents are Superman and Wonder Woman, though they've never appeared onscreen in costume. (Although they have appeared with costume — Mrs. Magami is shown sewing or repairing a Superman outfit at one point.) Dad is also shown reading the Daily Planet.
  • Colonel Sanders shows up a lot as a figure of menace, thanks to the legend of the Curse of the Colonel. A few examples:
    • At one point in Project A-ko, the main characters watch a horror movie - itself a parody of Rin Taro's scifi/horror anime Harmagedon - wherein a victim, panicking, yells "The Colonel! The Colonel!" His pursuer is... Colonel Sanders.
    • One of the villains in the first series of Slayers dresses up as Colonel Sanders, complete with what appears to be a roast (not fried) chicken, in a particular episode.
    • Higurashi: When They Cry starts saccharine-cute but quickly becomes the story of a town under a terrifying curse. The first sign that we're about to experience Mood Whiplash? A statue of the Colonel.
    • Albireo in the later chapters of Mahou Sensei Negima! insists on being called "Ku:nel Sanders" (originally just to cover up his identity, later because he liked it). At one point during his insistence, an image of Colonel Sanders appears behind him (eyes blacked out, of course, as though to protect his "anonymity"). (For those interested, "Ku:nel" turns out to be the title of a Japanese leisure magazine, an involved Japanese pun about the purpose of living as well as a play on "Colonel".)
    • In a Doraemon movie about Nobita and friends making a toy land with animated dolls, toys, and statues, one of them is a Colonel Sanders statue.
    • Directly referenced in a chapter of Eyeshield 21, where Hiruma uses a statue he "found in a ditch" as a stand in for Homer, the quarterback for the Nasa Aliens. Said statue has its face covered by a poorly-drawn copy of Homer's face, but it's obviously supposed to be a Colonel Sanders statue.
    • The Colonel also appeared in Super Milk Chan as a selfish, greedy, sexist man who hires assassins to kill a pair of pigs who escaped from one of his meat-packaging plants.
    • In Ranma ˝, there is a plotline that involves a man's soul wandering around even though he's not dead yet. In the manga, this was called "the Colonel Sanders Effect".
    • The Colonel also appears briefly in Excel Saga at least once, where heavy rains flood most of Fukuoka, floating by as debris. Excel even comments on it in the English version.
    • A lot of hentai features rape by Colonel. So yeah....
  • In one chapter of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Yugi Mutou from Yu-Gi-Oh! pops out of Bo-bobo's afro and summons Sky Dragon Osiris (AKA Slifer the Sky Dragon) to help battle Halekulani. (This is even more lawyer-friendly, as the scene in which this happened was drawn by the original creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!.)
  • Dr. Slump featured "Suppaman", essentially a short, pudgy version of Superman. He popped up during the Dr. Slump Crossover in the original Dragon Ball series.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya episode 11 had a pixelated version of a Gundam launch, and referred to it as the "Gun 3** ".
    • Also, in episode 1, Haruhi holds up magazines to Kyon and Mikuru, featuring other anime series, one of which is SHUFFLE!, with Kaede and Asa on the cover. Note that Yuko Goto voices both Mikuru and Kaede.
  • As it usually tries to avoid censoring, Lucky Star references titles and locations only indirectly, Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu being the major exception. However, in one episode, Konata tells a 'ghost story' about a bus driver singing "Danzen! Futari wa *** cure", and in another a thinly-veiled conversation about Gundams between Konata and her father seems to be an exercise in "how far can we go before we get sued?"
    • They once made a reference to Pocky beyond obvious when they had Misao say the name twice, the first time having the last half blanked out (Po*** ) and the second time the first half blanked (** cky), alongside having chocolate milk or juice sucked up a straw to a certain point before being held in place to look like the snack.
    • Konata's "fight" with Guile actually has two separate Street Fighter references. The first is the obvious Guile clone, but the second shows up in the form of the "VS screen". The background is taken right out of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
      • And the "stage" is Ryu's from Street Fighter II. Finally, she knocks him out with the Tatsumaki Senpyukyaku (Hurricane Kick), one of Ryu and Ken's signature moves.
    • One episode has Code Geass and Lelouch's name censored out. Ironically, Bandai Entertainment would later pick up the rights to localize both that and Lucky Star.
    • Tsukasa's Sgt. Frog keychain is worth noting here.
    • During the Initial D parody, Kagami refers to Initial D as "chomei-chomei D", "chomei-chomei" being a placeholder name for something well-known.
      • Kadokawa-Bandai dub: "Bleepin'-D."
    • Cousin Yui reading manga with Rider on the cover. Also, episode 10, when Tsukasa's gentle nature and Kagami's Tsundere nature become blatantly obvious to Soujirou.
      Soujirou: (hands in the air) Sakura! Tohsaka... Tohsaka's your sister!
    • The Gundam discussion segment is meant to parody the ridiculousness of the censoring. Both Konata and Soujirou's eyes have a censor bar over them, and every third word is bleeped out with a different sound.
      • That said, the corresponding manga was published in an official Gundam magazine, so...
    • The Image Song "Yuuchou Sentai Dararenjaa" (A Super Sentai-esque song) mentions, by cutting short instead of censoring, a certain "Lucky Clo---."
    • In episode 19 Hiyori draws Apollo Justice and Klavier Gavin from the Ace Attorney series.
  • In episode 21 of Sgt. Frog, thinly-disguised versions of Lupin III and Jigen get run off the road by the Hinata family car in an obvious parody of a scene from The Castle of Cagliostro. In episode 48, there is an inexplicable appearance by a human-sized version of the giant floating Rei Ayanami from End of Evangelion.
  • Cliffhanger appears in one episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, specifically the car-chase scene from The Castle of Cagliostro, with a player in a green jacket, making it a TRIPLE Cameo.
    • It's also highly likely that there is a Jigen sighting in an episode of Animaniacs (specifically the "Sir Yakksalot" episode) as a wagon driver bearing a very distinctive slouched fedora and pointed beard drives by the screen. Tokyo Movie Shinsha provided animation work for both the Lupin III franchise and Animaniacs.
      • Yet another one is an episode of Samurai Jack where a thief that's basically Jigen in a white suit with light-brown hair tries to steal a time traveling jewel.
      • Or, rather, he looked like Jigen but acted more like Lupin III.
    • Zenigata makes a cameo in the Mai-HiME manga arresting Shizuru.
  • At one point in Great Teacher Onizuka, Onizuka challenges an entire gang to arm wrestling and winds up beating look-alikes of Jason Voorhees (from Friday the 13th), Heihachi Mishima (from Tekken), and Giant Robo.
    • Onizuka himself actually dresses as Doraemon and explicitly calls himself as such when forced to fight a gang with his hands stuck in bowling balls.
    • At one point he shatters the bowling balls and draws a bunch of Cross-Popping Veins on himself, screaming about a woman named Yuria. Now, he calls himself Kenshiro and even draws Ken's seven scars. To top it all off, in the anime, he beats the gang with Ken's signature Spam Attack, the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken.
    • He also dressed up as Devilman (apropos of nothing, naturally) once, and made Tomoko wear a Cutey Honey outfit.
    • The first chapter of Shonan 14 Days includes Onizuka painting Haruhi Suzumiya on the hood of Uchiyamada's car and threatening to write his name into a Death Note.
  • Killer Bee from Naruto looks like a black version of Hulk Hogan.
    • The first Raikage also looks almost exactly like Jimi Hendrix.
  • Detective Conan has the shows "Kiss Note", "Urban Hunter", and "Kamen Yaiba".
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu
    • An episode has a gangster referring to "Ambassador Mama", a reference to Ambassador Magma from Astro Boy, with an accompanying pixelated image of his spaceship.
    • Also a couple of Death Note characters happened to be at the same place at the same time when Sousuke was getting his haircut
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! often has characters in the background, while not outright named, Vash the Stampede (Trigun), Ino, Shikamaru, Choji (Naruto) and Ryoma Echizen (The Prince of Tennis) all have brief appearances (Vash is in the background of the characters walking down the street, the other four in the stands of a duel).
    • The cards for the game are no better. In the card game plenty of cards are named/designed after other Konami products (Gradius games, a card explicitly named DDR, Goemon characters). However, in the anime they do one for another Shounen Jump series. The card Illegal Summon in GX features a character scene from Naruto of Naruto's Frog Summoning training. Big Bang Shot has a picture of Vegeta performing Big Bang Attack, and Giant Ape is a Saiyan in Ozaru form, and Sonic Duck is a member of One Piece's Supersonic Duck Squadron. There's a card in 5 D's that increases your D-Wheel's speed counter... featuring a thinly-veiled Eyeshield 21.
  • The Prince of Tennis anime has Makunouchi Ippo of Hajime no Ippo fame appear briefly in the stands at a baseball game during a chibi episode. He is voiced by the same seiyuu as Prince of Tennis's Kaidoh, making this an Actor Allusion cameo.
  • Gintama does this frequently, typically by having its characters cosplay as characters from other Shounen Jump manga.
  • Ken Akamatsu, being a video game fan, has dropped numerous character cameos into both Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima!: the "Mahora Budokai" arc in Negima! featured crowd cameos from M. Bison, Sakura Kusanago, Akuma, Hugo, and Adon from the Street Fighter games as well as Athena, Terry Bogard, Ryo Sakazaki, Chris, Yashiro Nanakase, and the Maximum Impact version of Kyo Kusanagi, all from The King of Fighters and related series, and several others.
    • Later, when the robot army arrives, one of the characters makes an extraordinarily blatant Lawyer-Friendly Shout-Out:
    "Wow! Are those Gu_dams? They have to be Gun_ams!"
    • Love Hina also has references to Star Wars quite often; in amongst Keitaro/Naru sniping Naru is stabbed with a lightsaber, Motoko wins Su a mini Death Star, and Seta's van has the license plate number R2-D2.
    • One chapter of Negima had a number of people dressed up as different anime and toku heroes, such as JAKQ, Kamen Rider X, and the main heroines of Futari wa Pretty Cure
      • That's nothing: in the official English translation of Chapter 11, Su asks, Star Wars: Episode One, what is the name of the actor who played the young Obi-Wan Kenobi?!"
  • In Hellsing, Alucard's and Seras's main weapons are named Jackal and Harkonnen respectively. Though not explained in the anime, their namesakes show up in the manga as the characters' "spirit guides" during dream sequences: the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune in the case of Seras, and Bruce Willis (who starred in the movie Jackal) for Alucard. (The Baron does appear briefly in the anime's omake-style "next episode" teasers.)
  • In Rozen Maiden, Buu, the doll that attacks Jun early on, is quite clearly Winnie-the-Pooh. In the anime, Pooh is replaced with a generic clown doll. In turn, Jun makes a brief cameo early in the first episode of Ultimate Girls.
  • The anime version of Hayate the Combat Butler is full of lawyer-friendly mentions, although the ones in dialogue are always bleeped out. Being a fangirl, Nagi rattles them off quickly enough that it's common to have half of her monologue melodically beeped out.
    • This happens in the manga as well, although it's so inconsistent (as with the Negima example above), anyone who can put two-and-two together can figure it out.
      • One of the most notable lampshades being when Hayate tries to correct Nagi when she says "Mushiking" without censorship, to which she explains that they got permission this time.
    • Honestly, the anime hangs a lampshade on the trope and dances in circles around it, pointing at it as a Running Gag in its own right. And episode where Nagi doesn't make a reference is rarer than one where she does.
  • My Bride Is a Mermaid features the Terminator as an important character. With lines like "I'll be back" and "You must die, human! TERMINATOR!", and "Who's your daddy? TERMINATOR!", it's kinda hard to miss.
    • And then there's Bunta Willis, whom Sun is a die hard fan of.
  • Reversed in Ray the Animation: In the manga, Osamu Tezuka's Dr. Black Jack 'cameos', but his face is never shown and he is never referred to by his full name, due to copyright concerns. In the animation, Black Jack doesn't fall under these restrictions anymore, seeing as how it was produced by Tezuka's animation studio, which of course holds the copyright on the character.
  • Ah My Buddha had the Show Within a Show Kamen Ranger, and continued to reference it throughout the show's run. The featured Kamen Ranger, Hayabusa 20, could've easily passed for Faiz.
  • Miami Guns has several of these, such as Bruce Tsuji, the "Die Hard detective" from one episode. The most significant example in the series is the father of "heroine" Yao Sakurakoji — who is a bleached-blonde doppleganger of Gendo Ikari, right down to the design of his office. (For some reason, he has a pet dog who's a parody of Muttley. Hey, why not?)
  • The Legend of Black Heaven features a scene where Mulder and Scully from The X-Files are investigating a mysterious event at a cemetery in the U.S., where a grave has been dug up in an incredibly precise manner. Former band member Watanabe's body had been stolen by the enemy in order to create a clone to defeat the remaining member of the band. The two agents are unceremoniously pushed into the hole by Layla's sidekicks.
    • There's also a ripoff of the power rangers in it called the Flying 5.
  • One chapter of Descendants of Darkness had the main characters in a book world. In the background of the wedding scene you can see the figures of Cloud, Aerith, Sephiroth and Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII.
  • In the North #2 arc of Naoki Urasawa's Pluto, blind composer Paul Duncan recants a tale in his childhood where he was pulled from the brink of death by a Japanese black market doctor at the cost of his already weak eyesight. Said series is set in the Astro Boy universe. Said doctor was dressed in a black cloak and, according to North #2's investigations, charged his mother a ridiculously high fee for the procedure. Wild Mass Guessing aside, this doctor's identity should be obvious to any Tezuka fan.
  • Episode 27 of Zettai Karen Children has Konata, Kagami, Tsukasa, Miyuki, Yutaka and Minami appearing in the background briefly; the first four had realistic hair colors and all of them have their backs turned to the camera except for Miyuki, whose face is obscured by a leg. In addition, because Gonzo helped produce the episode, it also has Strike Witches cameos (but how could they get away with their lack of pants in that world?).
  • Samurai Champloo featured Ogami Ito and Daigoro from Lone Wolf and Cub at the end of the episode "Cosmic Collisions".
  • Volume 7 of Faeries' Landing has a brief one panel cameo of Luffy D. Monkey from One Piece.
  • Sorcerer Hunters includes a number of these, exemplified by the chapter "Seaside Days in the Springtime of Youth, one of the series' many Beach Episodes. In it, a magical potion turns the protagonists into cosplaying cameos from other series such as Sailor Moon, Urusei Yatsura, and Darkstalkers. Also, for a Fanservice laden shonen series, the frequent cameos from the decidedly shoujo and chaste dating sim of Angelique were amusing, especially when the game's resident cute boy showed up as a slave boy belonging to one of the manga's villains.
  • In episode 49 of Shaman King, the members Team LCT/Team Insane Asylum were based off Pro Wrestlers Mark LoMonaco (Bubba Ray Dudley/Brother Ray), one of the Hardys (Matt Hardy or Jeff Hardy) and Adam Copeland (Edge) who used tables, ladders and chairs respectively as their weapons in the WWE.
  • My Balls has Angel*** Jolie in Chapter 28.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has innumerable instances. In speech, one syllable of the word/name in question is either bleeped over or pronounced "maru", in text one letter is replaced by a circle.
  • Nobuhiro Watsuki (Rurouni Kenshin) did that so many times with Samurai Showdon that the owners of SS asked the author to draw some of the new characters on SS V.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has... Squidward. You have to really be watching to find him though.
  • In Bowling King, a nefarious physician bears an eerie resemblance to Black Jack... and in a Lampshade Hanging, claims to have strived to be like Black Jack his entire life.
  • In Rescue Me Mave-Chan, a parody of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze, the villain of the short, For-Getter (which looks like a combination of GunBuster and Getter Robo G), shows off different characters who have been forgotten by fans, including Lum and EVA-01.
  • Touhou Ibarakasen ~ Wild and Horned Hermit, one of the official Touhou manga adaptations, had a chapter that involved a mythological creature that emits electricity. Cue Sanae wondering if they were talking about an electric rat while her thought bubble showed a picture of Pikachu with a censor bar placed across its eyes.
  • Tiger & Bunny has several Lawyer-Friendly Cameos. The mayor of Sternbild, for example, apparently bears a resemblance to President Obama.
  • In Smile Pretty Cure!, Yayoi's alarm clock bears a superhero resembling a Kamen Rider, most likely Kamen Rider Scissors of Kamen Rider Ryuki.
  • Samurai Flamenco features tons of in-universe Tokusatsu works that are clearly based off franchises like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai.
  • In episode 5 of Maria†Holic Alive, when the Dorm Leader mentions about the punishment of watching the entire "Legend of Japanese Heroes" series back to back without blinking, the scene cuts to a shot of Yang Wen-li and Reinhard von Lohengramm whose faces are concealed by stereotypical ninja masks.
  • In the final episode of Imagin Anime, an animated spin-off from Kamen Rider Den-O, the Kyoshouryuku Labs of Mazinger Z is name-dropped, Ultraman Taro shows up, Momotaros attempts to replace Toei Animation's mascot, Pero, then throws a fit at the HeartCatch Pretty Cure! poster. Urataros, at the very end, comments they probably never got permission for all of this.

    Audio Play 
  • 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.

     Comic Books  
  • 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.
  • Alan Moore's Swamp Thing:
    • The 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.
    • Swamp Thing Vol 2 #47: Swamp Thing communicates with the Parliament of Trees, a collective consciousness of Swamp Elementals. One Swamp Elemental looks like Man-Thing, easily justified since Man-Thing can traverse dimensions through the Nexus of All Realities.
  • 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.
  • Marvel Zombies #1 was supposed to have the virus-carrying hero from another dimension be Superman, but was changed to The Sentry.
  • 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.
  • Similarly, some of the kids from South Park were shown having a snowball fight with Volstagg's children and Sif in one of the final issues of Journey into Mystery.
  • 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.
    • The Falcon once rescued a woman who looked like Lois Lane (specifically as she appeared in the Superman movie) from the Grey Gargoyle. Her name was even revealed to be "Margot Neill" as a nod to Margot Kidder and Noelle Neill, two women best known for portraying Lois in live-action.
    • An issue of Youngblood that was "dedicated to the memory of Joe Schuster" had Clark Kent and Lois Lane appear as reporters.
  • 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 one-shot 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 adviser 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.
  • 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 Steel, Green Lantern and Hawkman, who had to be partially obscured to avoid any possible litigation from DC Comics.
  • Priest did the same thing in his Black Panther run, where Ross briefly ran into Woody while trapped in Mephisto's realm. Woody was only shown from behind and had no dialogue, but Ross even worked in an allusion to the then-recent financial trouble at Acclaim Entertainment. He then turned around and did the reverse when Quantum and Woody was temporarily UnCancelled. An in-universe comic mirrored a recent battle between Black Panther and The Incredible Hulk by showing a fight between two heroes named "Dark Kitty" and "The Mass," complete with narration provided by Dark Kitty's pal "Russ" (who looked and acted suspiciously like Ross).
  • Darth Vader once fought the Rebel Four.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Shadowhawk #14 has Shadowhawk travel through Alternity, "The place between all places. The route to other worlds... ...and other times." Several alternate versions of Image, Marvel and DC heroes can be glimpsed, obscured in shadow: Wolverine, Cyclops, Batman, The Flash, Spawn, Prophet, Nightwing, Huntress, Green Lantern, Superman, Red Tornado, and more generic, unidentifiable heroes.
  • Shattered Image has Spawn viewing alternate Earths, meant to represent the Image, Marvel, DC and Valiant universes.
  • Wild CA Ts #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.)
    • This particular issue was written by Dave Sim, who includes an appearance in the end of the issue by his own creation Cerberus.
  • "Crisis on Infinite Darkwings", the second arc of the Darkwing Duck comic book published by Boom Studios, has many of the alternate universe incarnations of Darkwing Duck being parodies of copyrighted characters, most of them only appearing in the background on so much as one panel. Aside from the ones that spoof characters Disney actually owns the rights to, there are also alternate Darkwings that copy Popeye the Sailor Man, Batman and Robin, Rorschach from Watchmen, Optimus Prime, the Fourth Doctor, and the Universal movie monsters, to name but a few.
  • Due to licensing issues, the versions of Spider-Man from the Spider-Man Trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man could not appear in Spider-Verse. The writers got around this by mentioning a pair of Spider-Men that looked like Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield when unmasked, implying that the cinematic Spideys were indeed present during the battle.
  • We Can Never Go Home #3 has a Costume Test Montage where Maddie tries on a bunch of different outfits while trying to settle on a vigilante look. Most of the costumes she's wearing very clearly belong to trademarked heroines like Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Ms. Marvel, Tank Girl, and Zatanna, with only a few logo changes to hide this. Unsurprisingly, the scene was altered for trade. Surprisingly, most of the costumes that were omitted were simply replaced with other recognizable heroine costumes, like those of Storm, Psylocke, Batgirl, and The Invisible Woman.
  • The final Secret Wars cover features an Homage Shot to cover of the Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man crossover from the 1970's. Since Superman is obviously a DC character, the picture is cropped in such a way so that all we see of him is his red boot floating near Spidey.
  • Death shows up at Rick Jones' and Marlo's wedding reception during Peter David's run on The Incredible Hulk. We don't see her face, just her upper torso and shoulders, but the pale skin, black sleeveless top and ankh pendant are giveaways. She briefly chats with the bride to assure her that Marlo and Rick will have a long and happy marriage, and to give her a gift. Marlo opens the gift and turns out to be a hairbrush. Given that Marlo had died and come back from the death in a previous storyline, you might say that Marlo had a brush with Death
  • In Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck, Spider-Man appears in the shadows, as the Savage Dragon appears in the shadows in Spider-Man Team-Up #5. Wolverine's shadow appears on a fake cover for Leonard the Duck. All Leonard the Duck appearances are a lawyer friendly appearance of Howard the Duck. Leonard appears in a DC Comics cameo, in a Nevada story in Vertigo Winter's Edge #2.
  • In Youngblood Strikefile #8, Clark Kent opens his shirt, revealing a Superman logo.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Hellboy briefly pops up as a castle groundskeeper in Résurrection.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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 video-game 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.
  • The LEGO Movie has Milhouse Van Houten (in Lego form) from The Simpsons appear very briefly as one of the Master Builders that meet in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
  • 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.
  • The Undersea Gal, one of the background characters in Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas, resembles a female version of the Gill-Man with a mermaid's tail in place of legs.
  • In Oliver & Company, among the framed pictures of Georgette's admirers is one of Scooby-Doo. It's especially telling that his is the only picture taken so close up you can only make out a small portion of his face.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aside from color and extra limbs, the dragon form of the emperor from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor 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.
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember had this exchange after the protagonists crash into a parade float:
    Man #1]]: Run! It's Godzilla!
    Man #2]]: It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws, it's not!
    Man #1: Still, we should run like it IS Godzilla!
    Man #2: Though it isn't!
  • 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.
  • Deadpool:
    • The movie includes a speaking appearance by Bob, one of the title character's most prominent allies in the comics. However, since Marvel Studios owns the movie/TV rights for the organization he works forspoiler , this movie depicts him as simply a mook for the Big Bad.
    • The final battle takes place on a decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. To avoid possible legal issues, it's never identified by name, and a concept artist for the film claims that he was told to make sure it didn't resemble the one seen in The Avengers too closely.

  • 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.)

    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 ... Of course given that Patrick Mc Goohan loved himself some Trolling Creator and Mind Screw, and he and the show's other producer were at odds over whether Six was Drake (McGoohan adamantly denied it, the other producer said Sure, Why Not?), take it as you will.
  • The original version of Burke's Law spun off Honey West - Anne Francis returned to the role in the revival's "Who Killed Nick Hazard?", but for legal reasons she became Honey Best.

     Tabletop RPG  
  • 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.


     Video Games  

    Web Comics 

     Web Original  
  • 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.

     Western Animation  

     Real Life  
  • 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.