Sometimes a character's entire shtick will be that he or she is a thinly disguised imitation of some celebrity somewhere. The more blatant examples will often have a parody of that celebrity's name. This can be done for various reasons, such as to serve as a homage and/or parody, to make a point using the character (see picture to the right), or simply because the writers think that it would be cool. Though some consider it done because the writers are out of ideas.
The most common impressions to hear in cartoons are Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone for tough-guy characters, Peter Lorre for creepy characters, R. Lee Ermey for Drill Sergeant Nasties, Maurice Chevalier for a song and dance man, Paul Lynde for Camp Gay characters, and Mae West for vamps.
May double as a Parental Bonus, in a program aimed at kids.
As noted The Ahnold is a common form of this, as are Mock Cousteau and Mr. Alt Disney.
If it's a fictional character that's being imitated, then it's an Expy or Captain Ersatz. The trope does not apply in the case of adaptations of live-action source materials, where the character designs are obliged to be based on the real actors. When the creators actively deny that the character was meant to be caricature of the person, see Denied Parody.
Compare Ink-Suit Actor, where a celebrity voices an animated caricature of themself. Comic Book Fantasy Casting is a much milder version of this, where a real actor or other celebrity is used as a guide for a character's appearance but with no attempt to caricature their persona.
Note that some character voices, most notably those reminiscent of Peter Lorre and of John Wayne, are by now fourth-generation copies that have more to do with earlier impressions than with the original actors' voices.
See also Lawyer-Friendly Cameo, No Communities Were Harmed, and Adam Westing.
Tuckerization is the inverse.
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The 1986 Crispy Critter cereal had a mascot named Crispy, whose voice was a caricature of Jimmy Durante's right down to his catchphrase, "A-cha-cha-cha!". To push the reference even further, in a book given away with the cereal, "Crispy in No Place Like Home", Crispy says "Ah-cha-cha-cha! You've got to start each day with a song and a good breakfast", a reference to Jimmy Durante's song "You've Got to Start Each Day with a Song".
A advertising campaign by Virgin Mobile France comes in two flavors, a chihuaha with a strong resemblance to Michael Jackson saying "A ce prix-là, I'm back" ("At this price, I'm back") and a bull-dog with an equally strong resemblance to Gérard Depardieu, saying "A ce prix-là, je rentre en France" ("At this price, I'm going back to France", alluding to his fiscal exile in Russia). See for yourself.
Toucan Sam, the spokes-character for the cereal Froot Loops, has a voice modeled on the standard impression of Ronald Coleman.
Likewise, Sugar Bear - mascot for Sugar/Golden Crisp cereal, is a pastiche of Bing Crosby and Dean Martin - right down to the accent in his earlier appearances.
For the first half of the series, only a few characters had explicit celebrity resemblance (The Toki-impostor, Amiba, was very clearly Christopher Lambert, while Toki himself was equally obviously Jesus except with face-melting martial arts skills), though there were more than a handful of characters who were spiritual composites of several famous figures, similar to Ken.
In the second series, quite a few characters were overtly modeled after well-known pop-icons at the time, with characters resembling Dolph Lundgren (Falco), Freddie Mercury (Han), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Solia), Road Warriors Hawk and Animal (the Harn Brothers), and many more.
In Honey and Clover, the side character "Peter Lucas", who directs the film on which Morita and helps him steal back his father's company, is an obvious parody of director George Lucas.
Black Cat features a villainous Bruce Willis lookalike (with a scar and stubble) in chapter 45 of the manga.
One Piece has several examples. Jango from the Captain Kuro arc is obviously the late Michael Jackson. The Admirals Aokiji, Kizaru, and Akainu were based on Japanese actors (Yusaku Matsuda, Kunie Tanaka, and Bunta Sugawara respectively). Franky is Ace Ventura with Popeye's arms and addiction to Coke (or whatever Coca-Cola equivalent they have in the OP world). Brook (when he was alive) looks suspiciously like Slash. And many more.
Jango is actually two celebrities in one—his mannerisms are clearly based on Michael Jackson, but if one looks closely, his face actually better resembles Steven Tyler than it does Jackson (minus, of course, the heart-shaped eyes, as revealed in a manga omake).
It goes on. Word Of God says that Franky is based off Jim Carrey. Each of the Three Admirals is based off a famous Japanese actor known for playing gangsters. Trafalgar Law looks like The Pickup Artist of all people. It's practically a Running Gag at this point.
Vice-Admiral Garp's right hand man is based off Humphrey Bogart. He's even called Bogart.
The dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX mines the ever-loving hell out of celebrity impersonations, especially for Duel Spirits. Neo-Spacian Ground Mole is Art Carney; the Ojama Trio (Green, Yellow and Black) are an approximation of the Three Stooges, Crystal Beast Emerald Turtle is essentially a really poor Woody Allen, and Crystal Beast Amber Mammoth is possibly the worst Arnold Schwarzenegger the world has ever heard.
It's present in the original series, too. Pegasus' love of Toon monsters is easily explained when you consider that his favorite movie appears to be Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Check out his email avatar sometime!)
It was a fictional cartoon called "Funny Bunny" where the main character was supposed to be an Expy of Bugs Bunny, but same idea.
Doctor Stein, the incredibly boring teacher/villain in one episode of the series. "Jaden? Mueller? Mueller? Mueller?"
On the subject of Crystal Beasts, does anyone else think that the Topaz Tiger is a feeble Sean Connery?
Duel Scientist Eisenstein, who even gets Einstein's classic tongue sticking out poster. Yes, Einstein has apparently devoted himself to card games in this universe. The funny part is that there was a famous mathematician named Eisenstein in real life.
If you wanna see the everloving hell mined out of impressions, check out the English dubs of all the Digimon series. Many of the various non-main Digimon are meant to sound like celebrities from the heyday of the voice actors' childhoods. Just two examples: Digitamamon is Peter Lorre (yes, Lorre again). Etemon is Elvis. There're more.
Two other noteworthy examples are Impmon, who sounds exactly like Joe Pesci, and Piedmon, who is made to sound like a higher-pitched Tim Curry. Incidentally, both are voiced by Derek Stephen Prince.
Another dub example: an episode of Pokémon featured Dr. Quackenpoker, who was such a blatant Groucho Marx parody that the original animators were in on the joke too, because he even looked the part. Not to mention an early recurring character named Speilbunk, a very self-congratulatory film director.
One minor character in Monster is a serial killer named Peter Jurgens with a severe Freudian Excuse, whom Johan manipulated into killing one set of his foster parents. Jurgens is a dead ringer for real-life serial killer Edmund Kemper, who also had rather grievous parental issues (his mother was one of his last victims).
Japan periodically has scheduled blackouts to conserve electricity. One chapter of Keroro Gunsou has this, but has the Tokyo Electric Company portrayed as The Bridge, complete with Bridge Bunnies and the director dressed up as The Captain, spouting stock lines from military anime. The disclaimer at the bottom reads:
"This story is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons or organizations is purely coincidental. And I doubt the Chief of Electricity has such a fancy costume in reality."
Another manga chapter involves Keroro and Tamama spying on manga writers, and features a cameo by what can be assumed to be the spirit of the late, great Osamu Tezuka (we don't see his face, but one can make out his trademark pipe and beret, and he kicks over a Gourd-Patch pig as he departs).
Several of the villains in Nerima Daikon Brothers are based on celebrities, including an alien based on a popular Japanese psychic, a thinly veiled parody of Michael Jackson (including a nose that's always falling off, an outfit based on Peter Pan, and a group of mummy villains that do a dance similar to the famous Thriller video), and Japan's prime minister at the time.
The manga Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President, set in a fictionalized version of the 2000 U.S. Presidential race, prominently features incumbent Vice President Al Noah, along with the ambitious First Lady "Ellery", along with her unnamed-yet-familiar-looking husband.
Air Gear had U.S. Presidential candidate "John Omaha", an ersatz Barack Obama, appear in one story. Omaha has reappeared in a storyline as President-Elect, where he somehow ended up switching minds withEmily. Did we mention that he's an expert skater?
Kirby: Right Back at Ya! gives King Dedede (a fat blue penguin) a slightly off voice and mannerisms that obviously intends to evoke Foghorn Leghorn, with occasional lines made to sound like things George W. Bush might say. His minion Escargoon is basically Paul Lynde, which is even funnier when you realize that Escargoon is in fact gay.
Non-dub example, one episode spoofed the Harry Potter craze and an ersatz of J. K. Rowling appeared in Cappy Town due to it.
In episode 2 of the Pretty Sammy OAV, Standardsoft chairman Bif Standard is a parody of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
The author of Space Adventure Cobra admitted that Cobra's character design was largely based on French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who specialized during the 70's in tough, charming and witty roles.
One of Sakuragi's friends - the one with the mustache - has the voice, Catch Phrases and the look of deposed (and as of May 2010 running again for) President Joseph Estrada in the Slam Dunk! Filipino dub.
In the classic seventies shoujo manga From Eroica with Love, main character Dorian Red Gloria and three of his henchmen are physically modeled after the members of Led Zeppelin. (In fact, the henchmen are all named after band members: James (Jimmy Page), Bonham (John Bonham) and John Paul (John Paul Jones.) Leaving, of course, Robert Plant as Dorian.)
Ergo Proxy: The Great Amy Lee Debacle. The secondary main-character of Ergo Proxy, Re-l Mayer, is the spitting image◊ of Evanescence's vocalist, Amy Lee. It is unclear if it was actually intended or not, but many fans agree the startling similarity is just too much to be coincidental.
Many of the characters in BECK are based on actual musicians. Chiba, the punk/rap vocalist for BECK, is based in attitude, style, and appearance on Zach de la Roca. While Taira, the bassist, possesses much of the style and mannerisms of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers (who just happen to be the creator's favorite band.)
In the dub of Naruto, Might Guy sounds only a little bit like Elvis sometimes, but it's just enough to make you wonder...
Gai sounds like Elvis in the dub? I want you guys to see and hear Chikara. Even Word of God says it: His appearance is similar to many Elvis impersonators. Particularly those that impersonate Elvis's Las Vegas years, when he put on a great deal of weight. In the English dub, his voice is based on Elvis Presley.
In the Samurai Pizza Cats, The Big Cheese's dub voice is obviously Paul Lynde (again). Like Escargoon in Kirby, it's made funnier by Big Cheese's more than questionable lifestyle.
Noritaka. Its final arc, and arguably the worst one, features a streetfighting contest, and the main character will confront Sting, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger and some more celebrities. They're called by their names, with little or no variations (e.g., Sting is a Police man...)
Tiger & Bunny has a number of minor characters who, for one reason or another, look suspiciously like known actors or other noteworthy individuals. Examples include Ben Jackson (Forest Whitaker), Karina's teacher (Steven Spielberg), Karina's manager (Robert Downey, Jr.), and the Mayor (Barack Obama).
Yakitate Japan has a recurring gag character called "Kid" that bears a remarkable resemblance to none other than Brad Pitt. However, unlike Brad, Kid isn't just a movie star - he works in just about every industry under the sun including being a masseuse, thief, lawyer, and CEO to name a few.
The 2008-2009 Yatterman series features "cameos" from all sorts of American names, including Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Jack Bauer.
Afganisu-tan is pretty much an exact replica of "Afghan Girl" from the famous National Geographic cover.
The Big Finish Doctor Who episode "Storm Warning" has a character named Lord Tamworth, who is shown to be the Air Minister under Ramsay MacDonald and the motive force behind the creation of R-101. He is an obvious stand in for Christopher Thompson, First Baron Thompson, who was the actual Air Minister under MacDonald and was the chief advocate for creating the Imperial Airship System, which included R-101. He also died in R-101's crash during her maiden voyage.
Invoked in the Big Finish Doctor Who drama "Fanfare for the Common Men"; the titular Common Men, Mark Carvill, James O'Meara and Corky Goldsmith are very blatantly based on John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr respectively. The twist is that the Doctor notices this, and realises someone is trying to replace The Beatles' place in history.
Cerebus: Even after outgrowing its Conan-parody beginning, the series continued to feature parody characters and thinly veiled celebrities, Lord Julius (Groucho Marx), Dirty Drew and Dirty Fleagle McGrew (Yosemite Sam) and Adam Weisshaupt (named after the historical figure credited with founding the Bavarian Illuminati). For extra efficiency, Dave Sim created an Elric parody and a Senator Claghorn/Foghorn eghorn homage in the form of Elrod the Albino.
And on a meta level, two of the above characters, as well as Red Sophia (herself based on Red Sonja), and Astoria, are victims of this in-universe: Weisshaupt publishes a series of "Reads" that espouse his political agenda, with their names cleverly disguised as Red Sophina, Astonia, Lord Junius, and Cernebus.
Phat was Eminem with superpowers, a secret upper class upbringing, and gay.
Henrietta Hunter was Princess Diana rewritten to be completely not Princess Diana because Marvel got cold feet. Perhaps intentionally, the story she appears in works a lot better knowing this than it does if you read it the way it was written.
Partway through Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters, the action shifts to the life of comic book luminary Jack Berkley, a thinly-veiled Kirby stand-in. Note that the comic was co-written by Jack's daughter Lisa.
While on the subject of Kirby, Mister Miracle villain Funky Flashman was a publicity hogging sleazy businessman based partially on Stan Lee. Many fans believe this was a Take That by Kirby after he left Marvel due to creative differences with Lee.
Doctor Strange: Strange is Vincent Price. There's really no other way to say it. He only usually looks like him (he began with a slight resemblance to Ming the Merciless, and his face is sometimes modeled on other actors), but his combination of portentous hamminess, erudition, and good humour is dead-on for Price's persona.
Mike Grell has stated that Tyroc from the Legion of Super-Heroes was inspired by actor and football player Fred "The Hammer" Williamson.
Groucho from Dylan Dog. Yes, it's even the same name, even if it's known to be just an actor playing the part all the time (even when sleeping). And Dylan himself is a sosia of Rupert Everett. The author Sclavi is famous for rip-offs.
Dan Francisco in Judge Dredd rather resembles Barack Obama. During the "Mutants in Mega-City One" storyline, Rebellion even made "Vote Francisco - change we can believe in" campaign buttons.
This is very common in the Dreddverse. To list all the examples over the years would require its own page.
The BatmanBat Family CrossoverKnightfall had two, both by the same crew. The first time had The Riddler take talk show host Cassie Josie Rudolpho and her audience hostage. The second time the Joker was shown killing two movie critics after they criticized the movie he was trying to make. While they made Cassie Josie Rudolpho blonde, her name and general appearance was still a dead ringer for Sally Jessy Raphael, but by the time the Joker shot the movie critics, no one bothered trying to hide the fact that the unnamed movie critics the Joker capped were basically Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
In one Chuck DixonRobin story, the Teen Wonder finds himself rescuing pop star Normandy Shields from a crazy stalker. It turns out she encouraged him in order to get more publicity.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was rife with these, containing caricatures of David Letterman ("David Endochrine"), Connie Chung ("Lola Chong"), Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and a nameless President that was obviously supposed to be Reagan. The Joker killed Letterman and Dr. Ruth.
The original Clayface was an actor named Basil Karlo (Boris Karloff)
Cluemaster is a failed game show host by the name of Arthur Brown who became a member of the Suicide Squad. Give up? Though I don't know if he was ever drawn to resemble the guy, it sounds to me like a likely homage to that Chuck Barris hoax autobiography that got turned into a movie of the same name. What was it? Oh, it was Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind.
The Joker's original design was based on Conrad Veidt's face from the movie "The Man Who Laughs."
Doctor Who: The first two issues of IDW Publishing's ongoing feature a character named "Archie Maplin", obviously based on Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin himself was originally supposed to appear in the story, however the publishers were unable to get the rights from his estate.
Lucas Lee of Scott Pilgrim is clearly based on JasonLee, in both name and appearance, and they are also both professional skateboarders who became actors.
A Superman story featured various talkshows discussing Lex Luthor's apparent death. These included the sensationalist Ronaldo and the mawkish Susie Jamie Donatello.
In The Punisher's spin-off miniseries about his nemesis The Barracuda, mobster 'Big Chris' Angelone has both the appearance and speech patterns of Christopher Walken.
Death Mayhew from the 1988 Blackhawk mini-series was very strongly based on Errol Flynn: a swashbuckling, Australian actor in Hollywood in the 1930s and 40s. However, Flynn's suspected Nazi sympathies are exchanged for Mayhew being an out-and-out Nazi.
Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck once met a rich Texan (not that one) who claims he owns so much land that it takes a cowboy 50 years to ride around, grows potatoes almost as big as the Ducks and so much cotton he had to tame tornadoes for harvesting it. Oh, and he looks a bit like Ronald Reagan.
Warren Ellis's first issue of Iron Man has Tony interviewed by left-wing documentary-maker John Pillinger, who bears more than a passing resemblance to left-wing documentary maker John Pilger.
Robotech II The Sentinels: Dr. Emil Lang's character design had to be changed from his design in the original Macross series (where he appeared briefly). His Sentinels character design bears more than a passing resemblance to Charles Bronson. In one of the letters pages, the truth was revealed. Someone simply submitted a panel of Lang with a mustache drawn on him.
In one of the Superman title annuals that was part of the Armageddon 2001 crossover event, President Forrest in a future timeline where Superman becomes a crusader against nuclear weapons bears a resemblance to President George HW Bush.
The vultures in The Jungle Book are patterned after The Beatles. Oddly, while they do have a musical number, it's a barbershop quartet song as opposed to something sounding similar to the Beatles rock tunes. Supposedly it's because Walt didn't think the Beatles actual music had much staying power.
Shrek has Lord Farquaad, widely rumoured to be modelled on Disney's then-CEO Michael Eisner, as a Take That on the part of the film's executive producer (and former Disney executive) Jeffrey Katzenberg. His kingdom is a parody of Walt Disney World.
Citizen Kane is infamously a not-quite-thickly-veiled-enough version of media titan William Randolph Hearst. Hearst came down upon the movie and everyone associated with it like a sledgehammer. Orson Welles' career never quite recovered.
Later, both Welles and Herman Mankiewicz would independently apologize for the portrayal of Marion Davies depicted in the character "Susan Alexander" — where Alexander was a hopelessly incompetent hack who was a raging alcoholic and whose career was pretty much bought "off the rack" by the powerful Kane, Davies, in real life was a consummate professional who specialized in light comedies and musicals, and whose success came independently of her relationship with Hearst (although Hearst did try to use his clout to gain Davies leading-lady roles, a career path that Davies herself knew she was not suited for).
In Any Given Sunday, John C. McGinley plays outspoken sports personality Jack Rose, a take on real-life outspoken sports personality Jim Rome.
Just about everything in that movie was a case of this trope. The Miami Dolphins versus the Dallas Cowboys? No, instead we have the Miami Sharks versus the Dallas Knights.
In Antitrust, Tim Robbins' "Gary Winston" is Bill Gates, right down to the haircut...except he can't be, because he remarks that Gates' TV is much smaller than his. If Winston isn't Gates, perhaps the TV also signifies something else of Winston's...
The 1980s vampire movie Fright Night has a character who is an actor/horror show host (played by Roddy McDowell). His character's name on the horror show Fright Night is Peter Vincent - a homage to Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.
In a rare live-action example, most of the humor if not the entire premise of Galaxy Quest is lost if you don't realize that Tim Allen is William Shatner (although really, the entire cast qualifies).
Edie Sedgwick's love interest in Factory Girl was obviously Bob Dylan, portrayed as an unnamed character by Hayden Christensen. Bob Dylan himself threatened legal action over his initial portrayal during production, resulting in the removal of all references to Dylan in the script.
American Dreamz had Dennis Quaid as a barely functional Texan president whose dad had been president, who "decided" to run because people told him to, etc. With Marcia Gay Harden as his beatifically gentle, tolerant wife and Willem Dafoe as his scheming bald puppetmaster.
The 1998 American version of Godzilla had the New York City mayor as a Roger Ebert lookalike. Used as a Take That by the end of the film when his aide (an Expy of Siskel) gives his job performance a thumbs down. This was because Siskel and Ebert had criticized Emerich's earlier productions. Ebert was offended not by the portrayal, but that if Emerich hated them so much he didn't have the ballsto let Godzilla eat them.
Played with in Club Dread: While Coconut Pete is an obvious parody of Jimmy Buffett, complete with singing a song called "Pina Coladaburg", Jimmy Buffett does get mentioned in the movie... and is Pete's Berserk Button, since he feels Buffett ripped off his act.
Vince and Lanny in Where The Truth Lies are obviously (very) fictionalized versions of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
In My Favorite Year, Peter O'Toole plays washed-up film idol Alan Swann, who is not in any way related to Errol Flynn. He is appearing on the live variety show of King Kaiser, who is totally not Sid Caesar. And Kaiser is being stalked by the goons of a crooked labor leader who is certainly anyone but Jimmy Hoffa.
Given that the viewpoint character is partly based on the movie's producer, Mel Brooks, who was a writer for Sid Caesar and who probably witnessed the real-life events that inspired the film, it may not be this so much as Our Lawyers Advised This Trope.
The Broadway Melody features a famous producer of Broadway revues named Francis Zanfield. Also, the Mahoney sisters are based on the Duncan Sisters, who were actually offered the parts but chose instead to appear in a different MGM musical, It's a Great Life.
The government official-bribing company Hariburton in Film/Banlieue13: Ultimatum is most definitely not Haliburton.
In Sunset, the character of Alfie Alperin is very strongly based on Charlie Chaplin. Of course, lawyers for the Chaplin estate probably would have something to say if the movie had Charlie Chaplin commit the acts that Alfie does.
Willard Whyte, a stand-in for Howard Hughes (who was a friend of series producer Albert R. Broccoli - he even suggested the plot after dreaming he went to visit Hughes and found an impostor instead - and didn't get offended, to the point he helped with the Vegas locations).
Jimmy Dean (Whyte) was very uneasy playing an obvious Hughes parody, since he essentially worked for Hughes (if you worked in Vegas back then, you either worked for him or you worked for the Mafia). He was afraid Hughes would take it as an insult and either fire him, ruin his career or strike him down with a bolt of lightning. Fortunately, Hughes wasn't insulted.
Later, Tomorrow Never Dies has a slightly corrupt media mogul as the villain (many guessed Rupert Murdoch, but the writer claimed to be aiming at Robert Maxwell instead).
Skyfall's villain, Raoul Silva, appears to be partially based, in both appearance and overall plan, on Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
And fictional leaders: Live and Let Die stars a Caribbean dictator who dabbles heavily in voodoo, similar to then-President of Haiti François Duvalier, Licence to Kill features a "Republic of Isthmus" (Panama) ruled through a puppet president by a major drug dealer (Manuel Noriega), while the unnamed female British Prime Minister who appears in 1981's For Your Eyes Only shows every sign of being Margaret Thatcher.
WarGames: Professor Stephen Falken, the programmer of JOSHUA, is similar to Stephen Hawking, complete with having the same first name and bird-related last names, according to Word Of God.
Maybe. Hawking is most famous for his disability, while Falken was not disabled.
The 2011 film Warrior: The film often skirts amusingly close to actual MMA figures without quite hitting them on the nose.
Koba is obviously Fedor Emelianenko with the serial numbers filed off. They are both bald, stoic, tattoo-free, dominant Russian champs who never fought on American soil. Some reviewers mistook the reference for a take on Rocky IV's Ivan Drago.
Brendan's trainer Frank Campana resembles Greg Jackson, both presented as personable top-level trainers with an intellectual approach.
Bryan Callen as a ringside color commentator is an obvious Joe Rogan impersonation. Both are brash comedians with a casual commentating style.
The sponsor of the Sparta tournament is a bald businessman who is always hanging around the press and got rich before getting into the fight game. He's a combination of the billionaire Feritta brothers who bought the UFC and the bald UFC president Dana White, an infamous media hound.
In Star Trek: First Contact, there are more than a few similarities between the character of Zefram Cochrane and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Both were men who were elevated to near-mythic status posthumously, seen as legends and visionaries with "a dream" — and both were lecherous, with substance abuse problems, and primarily motivated by money (not to mention extremely tall). The filmmakers claim they didn't base Cochrane on Roddenberry, but the similarities are there. One commentary noted that the scene where a star-struck Reg Barclay meets Cochrane was like a star-struck Trek fan meeting Roddenberry. And both, in different senses, created the world of Star Trek.
Nick Hostetler (Russell Crowe) in Broken City is obviously intended to be a more antagonistic version of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Newton Geizler from Pacific Rim, as played by Charlie Day, appears to be a ringer for director J. J. Abrams, albeit without the elaborate Kaiju tattoo sleeves. Abrams co-produced Cloverfield, which certainly helped to spawn a revival of devastating giant monster movies, such as Monsters, The Troll Hunter, and Pacific Rim.
Harry Buttman is a blatant play on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Comedian Rick Mercer plays Tom Berry, a bigoted and loudmouthed hockey commentator, essentially Don Cherry with the serial numbers filed off.
Several victims of the Tattoo Killer are parodies of real NHL team owners and officials.
Captain Fuller from The Lone Ranger is blatantly General George Armstrong Custer in all but rank.
Gordon Gekko from Wall Street is modeled on Ivan Boesky, the corporate takeover artist who, before being convicted of insider trading, gave a commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley telling business school students, "You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself."
Tunnelvision has Gene Scallion, the film critic on Wake Up America, who appears to be a parody of Gene Shalit if he looked older and didn't have an afro.
In The Lovesong of Johnny Valentine by Teddy Wayne, Johnny is a stand-in for Justin Bieber.
The Devil Wears Prada: The character of Miranda Priestley, editor of Runway magazine, is Vogue editor Anna Wintour with a different name and a scarf instead of sunglasses. In The Film of the Book, the character of Miranda was softened to make her "more realistic", but the decor of her office was still based on that of Wintour.
Charles Bukowski's Hollywood is full of these, ranging from the relatively subtle and well-disguised (Dennis Hopper becomes Mack Austin, David Lynch is Manz Loeb, Mickey Rourke gets rebranded as Jack Blesdoe) to the ludicrously blunt (Jack Kerouac as Mack Derouac anyone? Welsh, Vegas-based singer Tab Jones, perhaps? No? Perhaps you'd prefer Francis Ford Lopolla?).
The Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Tomorrow Windows by Jonathan Morris features Prubert Gastridge, a large, shouty, bearded Large Ham actor, best remembered for playing the King of the Buzzardmen in the sci-fi epic Zap Daniel. His signature line was "What do you mean, Daniel's not dead?" Sound familiar?
The short story "The Avant Guardian" by Eddie Robson (in Short Trips: Time Signature) features Flora Millrace, a former companion of the Second Doctor who now uses her advanced knowledge to track time-distortions by means of special music. In order to get the music played over a wide area she works for the sound department of a London television company, creating unusual soundtracks for science fiction drama. She is, in short, Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Every. Single. Celebrity in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Tragedy Day by Gareth Roberts. For example, a boy band called Fancy That.
Briefly done for a quick gag in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Legacy. The Encyclopedia Exposita is The Rough Guide to Federation Tourist Traps written by Krymson LaPlante. At the time of publication, The Rough Guide To... had just become a TV series presented by Magenta Devine.
Step on a Crack includes analogues of at least Oprah Winfrey (who exists in the book) and Britney Spears - the latter turns up to a funeral in a mini-skirt and in an attempt to distract a hostage-taker offers him sex, leading to the comment:
"You Don't Have To Be Mad..." features a Bedlam House where inmates are taught to focus their insanity in specific ways, the Big Bad believing that madness will be a way of life in The Eighties, and his patients will be the leaders. In the asylum they're known by nicknames based on their real names and their particular insanities, including the sociopathic Mrs Empty (M.T. - Margaret Thatcher); the egomaniac Rumour (Ru-Mur - Rupert Murdoch) and the quiet killer Peace (P.S. - Peter Sutcliffe).
"The Serial Murders" parodies the concept with thinly disguised versions of celebrities appearing in a soap opera that is actually a voodoo ritual. When the soap kills the characters, the celebrities are harmed.
Primary Colors is about the presidential campaign of governor Jack Stanton, who is rather obviously modeled after Bill Clinton. Many other characters in the novel also have real life counterparts.
There is a scene in Swordspoint where Richard and Alec attend a very Shakespearean play. Richard, taking over Alec's customary role as Deadpan Snarker, provides a running commentary regarding a parrot and how long it actually takes someone who has been stabbed to die.
Stephen Hunter's novel I, Sniper features a Joanne Flanders and Tom Constable, aka Jane Fonda and Ted Turner. In earlier books, there's references to a Carl Hithcock, based off legendary USMC sniper Carlos Hathcock.
The Man in the Ceiling by Jules Feiffer has Uncle Lester, writer of "floperoo" musicals that invariably fail, who seems based on Edwin Lester, the impresario whose productions for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera were synonymous with "floperetta."
Victorian novelists with Oxford connections were fascinated by the unhappy relationship between Mark Pattison, the Rector of Lincoln College, and his much younger wife, Emilia Francis Strong. Characters based on Pattison crop up in bestsellers like Rhoda Broughton's Belinda, Mrs. Humphry Ward's Robert Elsmere, and (probably) George Eliot's Middlemarch.
Animorphs 'The Reaction' had a thinly veiled version of Jonathan Taylor Thomas named Jeremy Jason McCole. Joe Bob Fenestre in 'The Warning' could be a lesser extent of this with Bill Gates. K. A. Applegate usually simply used whatever real things she was referencing, even having a cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger in one book, but these two were the exceptions.
They also meet a world leader at the summit in The David trilogy who is almost certainly Boris Yeltsin.
After the sex abuse allegations about Jimmy Savile were widely aired, Val McDermid admitted the truth of fan suspicions that Jacko Vance, the serial-murdering celebrity in her Tony Hill thrillers (adapted for TV as Wire in the Blood) had been based on Savile. She had interviewed him while working as a journalist and he had not made a good impression.
Several one-episode characters are based on real Irish celebrities: BBC TV host Henry Sellars (based on Terry Wogan), sickly sweet balladeer Eoin McLove (Daniel O'Donnell), militant feminist anti-Catholic singer Niamh Connolly (Sinéad O'Connor) and the terrifying Bishop Brennan (Bishop Éamon Casey) — both bishops having a secret son.
Henry Sellars is informed by the lesser-known Henry Kelly of Going for Gold fame.
Beakmans World based a few of its Famous Dead Guys on celebrities. A few that stick out are Ben Franklin as either a clean Andrew Dice Clay or Rodney Dangerfield, and Charles Goodyear as Jim Backus as Thurston Howell from Gilligans Island, complete with calling the female assistant "Lovey". (Not coincidentally, they also show clips from old Mr. Magoo cartoons.)
The American President Winters, who was strikingly reminiscent of George W. Bush, tries to take over the situation and eventually gets vaporized by the Big Bad. After the Reset Button gets hit on the villain's epic evil, this is the one thing to not be undone.
In the fourth season, Jed Bartlet is challenged for the presidency by Robert Ritchie, a conservative Republican and governor of Florida who bears a resemblance to parodical exaggerations of a certain President of the United States — populist tendencies, right-wing views and catchy slogans coupled with a tendency to garble his words and stick his foot in his mouth when speaking. The West Wing production team being somewhat on the political left, he was promptly trounced by the intellectual, shrewd Bartlet. This approaches Truth in Television — Bartlet is essentially an idealized Clinton, and Clinton did win handily in both of his races. Remove the sex scandals and add a Nobel prize, and this is wholly reasonable.
Also, the writers based late-season presidential candidate Matt Santos partially off of Barack Obama (combined with other sources, as Obama had never served in the military, unlike Santos) and Republican Candidate Arnie Vinick has been admitted to be a thinly-veiled version of John McCain. As the writers were explicit in pointing out during the real-world election, they were aiming more for the 2000 version of McCain than the 2008 one, however. Which makes a whole lot of sense considering the last episode aired in 2006.
Several other celebrities/politicians are given analogues in the West Wing universe; the list is probably too extensive to bother enumerating in detail. However, Josh Lyman more or less being RahmEmanuel is worth mentioning.
Practically the entire premise of the short lived FX series D!rt. Amongst some of the more notable ripoffs was a gold-digging blonde drug addict (Anna-Nicole Smith), an actor couple with a blended nickname (who bore resemblance to Jennifer Garner/Ben Affleck), and a cast of actors working on an insanely successful sitcom (the cast of Friends).
Beetleborgs has Flabber the phasm who, according to the producers, was based on Elvis Presley but to some resembled The Tonight Show host Jay Leno, but has the mannerisms of Jim Carrey. In one episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a picture of Flabber was sent to Leno during the Monday headlines segment. It got laughs from the audience, but Leno was not too pleased.
District Attorney Adam Schiff (he of the end-of-episode one-liners) was loosely based on real-life Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau. Later L&O DA Arthur Branch bears a strange resemblance to former Sen. Fred Thompson... waitaminute.
Given that "ripped from the headlines" has become Law and Order's raison d'etre over the years, this is another show with too many to list specifically, even if the "celebrities" are often defendants or victims in famous cases.
In "Die Fast, Die Furious", Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself filming a movie at the Montecito hotel, and gets killed in a stunt gone wrong. The episode ends with the disclaimer "No actual Jean-Claude Van Dammes were killed in the filming of this episode."
Gavin Brunson, the first in the Montecito's revolving door of owners, is basically a Race Lifted version of Howard Hughes.
In "Criss Angel Is a Douche Bag," Criss Angel never shows up, but the show makes fun of him through a character named Jeb Dexter, an incredibly arrogant magician who bears an incredible resemblance to Criss Angel and does card tricks that are staged like fake demon possessions (which really upsets Dean). He dies horribly, of course. The show also makes fun of him, quietly, by naming the episode Criss Angel Is A Douche Bag
Supposedly, Ruby was a character that was written for Kristen Bell, but she denied the role, which is why the first Ruby looks VERY similar to her.
Odyssey 5. At one stage the Odyssey team consult an abrasive sci-fi writer who is clearly based on Harlan Ellison (who conceived the series). As they can't tell him the truth (that they've travelled back in time five years to avert the destruction of the Earth) the team pretends they're writing a science fiction novel. The sci-fi writer goes into detail on how cliched and scientifically implausible their 'novel' is.
In the fourth season opener of The Unit, the team has to save President-Elect Benjamin Castille, who appears to be a Latino version of Obama. By this logic, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden are killed by terrorists.
London Tipton from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody has a passing resemblance to Paris Hilton, being an airheaded, vain, image-obsessed hotel heiress named after a European capital. However, there are obvious differences; being a kids' show, there is no mention of... well... you know. London is also presented as a much more sympathetic character than some more direct parodies of Paris, with her negative traits being more down to stupidity and being spoiled than being a Rich Bitch.
It's pretty damn hard to believe that Elliot from Scrubs was not intentionally based on Sylvia Plath.
Baxter Sarno in Caprica is essentially an amalgamation of Jay Leno and Jon Stewart - with a little bit of an emphasis on the latter. Also played by Patton Oswalt.
The Tremors series features the return of the Assblaster which had been sold to Sigried and Roy in the third film. Rather embarrassingly, the creators no longer had the rights to use the names and they were referred to as "Sigmund and Ray."
Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer owes a lot to Billy Idol; or as Buffy said in one episode "Actually Billy Idol stole his look from...nevermind." There's a flashback sequence to the last slayer Spike killed set in 1977 where it's a lot more blatant.
Deepak Chopra guest starred on an episode of Angel... in a manner of speaking. In "I Fall to Pieces", Angel tracks down a thinly-disguised motivational guru who served as inspiration to a killer Psychic Surgeon. He explains that he quit teaching after his pupil mastered the quantum-cellular control theorized in his book. In other words, the guru never believed in his own wild theories and was severely traumatized when they came true.
Necessary Roughness partially centers on temperamental showboat Terrence "T.K." King, a pro football wide receiver for the (fictional) New York Hawks. The similarities to temperamental showboat Terrell "T.O." Owens, a wide receiver best known for his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, are hard to ignore. Since the series is said to be based on a true story, this is probably by design. T.O. actually guest stars in the first season finale as T.K.'s biggest rival, providing ample Lampshade Hanging.
On Jessie, the Ross family is a clear parody of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's family. The Rosses have 3 adopted children, two of which are adopted from foreign countries and one biological one. All they need is biological twins.
Hayden Panettiere plays what appears to be a parody of Taylor Swift (complete with curls) in Nashville, although the lady herself says Taylor's "a little nicer." And Taylor doesn't have a drugged-out mother, a shoplifting charge, a shortlived marriage or a sex tape. She has, however, admitted to partly basing Juliette (her character) on Carrie Underwood - which eventually got the latter to say words to the effect of "I don't see it." Juliette's boyfriend/brief husband Tim Tebow - er, Sean Butler is a God-fearing footballer with questionable skills.
The USA Network miniseries Political Animals has several of these with politicians. Eileen Barrish Hammond is Hillary Clinton, former President Bud Hammond is Bill Clinton, and their family dynamics are like that of the Kennedys.
LazyTown villain Robbie Rotten is clearly based on Jim Carrey in some way, right down to his mannerisms.
One episode of Dinosaurs featured Edward R. Hero, a pastiche of real-life journalist Edward R. Murrow, as a commentator in a political election between two horrible candidates. In the end, the voters get fed up with both candidates and elect Edward by a landslide.
Madame Ybarra from Cafe Americain was a thinly-veiled spoof of Imelda Marcos.
In Goodness Gracious Me, the Indian film director Ranjit Say, whose films are all about two people playing draughts, is a parody of Sandip Ray, whose first film was The Chess Players.
In Boston Legal, Gracie Jane is a thinly-disguised Nancy Grace.
The Nightmare Years is a mini-series about US journalist William Shirer in Nazi Germany in the 1930's. At one point Shirer sees a woman setting up a movie camera in the Olympic stadium and asks if that's Leni Riefenstahl; he's told it's another female director — who happens to parallel Riefenstahl exactly, including her adulation of Hitler, rivalry with propaganda minister Goebbels, and presence during the massacre of Polish civilians at Końskie.
The Columbo episode "Murder With Too Many Notes" features an award-winning film composer who's noted for his apprentices and his use of ghostwriters. Now have a look at what some people have to say about Hans Zimmer...
The Castle episode "An Embarrassment of Bitches" includes a self-obsessed, rich reality tv star Kay Cappuccio, who seems suspiciously similar to Kim Kardashian.
In an episode of Friends Chandler winds up stuck at a one woman play on his own that is essentially a parody of Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking.
Frasier: Dr. Nora, an unusually thin parody of Dr. Laura and the small controversy about her qualifications. Dr. Nora's advice mostly consisted of telling her callers that they're sinners who are going to hell, and Frasier eventually learns her doctorate is in P.E. The station keeps her on because her polarizing personality is attracting listeners, until an attempt at goodwill by Frasier drives her away.
The Animated Music Video to Disturbed's "Land of Confusion" cover features a (possible) Zakk Wylde look-alike, amongst others. Could be a reference to the original video, which featured multiple celebrity puppets. There's also the Sniper on the back of the album it's from, Ten Thousand Fists.
Jon Lajoie's WTF Collective 1 and 2 have this. MC Fatigue is Sean Paul, MC Final Verse is 50 Cent, MC Confusing is probably Lil Wayne, MC Inappropriate Rhymes is probably Kanye West, and the Chorus Guy is supposed to represent how rap songs will have some random non-rapper sing the chorus.
Beatallica (a satirical band performing mashups of The Beatles and Metallica) already has a singer who does a dead-on James Hetfield... and they fall straight on this in "And I'm Evil", featuring a GlennDanzig soundalike. ("Am I Evil" was not by one of Danzig's bands, but...)
Pet Shop Boys alluded to the controversy of the time about Eminem's homophobic lyrics with "The Night I Fell In Love", by writing a song in which a young gay man has an affair with a closeted hip-hop star who has pretty clear parallels to him. (Eminem responded by doing a video in which he ran the Pet Shop Boys over with a car. Stay classy, Eminem!)
Pogo: Many of the Funny Animal characters are obvious caricatures of politicians, e.g. Simple J. Malarkey = Sen. Joseph McCarthy. (This was heavily Lampshaded in the MAD parody "Gopo Gossum.")
Particularly Uncle Duke, who is just Hunter S. Thompson. Lampshaded when Duke reads that Hunter S. Thompson has committed suicide and his head explodes, repeatedly. He's got no idea why.
Another Doonesbury example is the late Lacey Davenport, a sweetly aristocratic liberal Republican who was modeled on real life New Jersey representative Millicent Fenwick.
Bloom County had a story arc about the cast hosting a concert. While most of the musicians were real-life people and bands (Van Halen, The Police, Culture Club, etc.), there was also "Tess Turbo and the Blackheads", an obvious take on "Joan Jett and the Blackhearts"
Done on all three of Williams Electronics' "rollercoaster" pinballs, with unnamed (but clearly identifiable) celebrities:
Kevin Nash, known as "Diesel" from 1993-1996, and Scott Hall, known as "Razor Ramon" from 1992-1996, left WWE for WCW in May 1996. In September, announcer Jim Ross started talking about "Razor" and "Diesel" returning, which sparked online speculation about the status of their contracts with WCW, where they, along with the heel-turned"Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, were at the forefront of the red-hot NWO storyline. On the September 23, 1996 Raw, Ross cut a shoot promo, essentially turning heel on the company due to how he had been treated a few years earlier after developing Bell's Palsy, and the fans loved it. Then They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, as Ross brought out "Razor Ramon." Instead of Hall, it was Canadian wrestler Rick Bogner, best known for his work in FMW in Japan as Big Titan, doing a BAD imitation. "Razor" was followed by "Diesel," real name Glen Jacobs, who had last been seen five months earlier as Jerry Lawler's evil dentist Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS. The gimmick — inspired after McMahon invoked his rights to retain the characters due to them being trademarked — was unpopular and was dropped quickly, but not until after wrestling fans expressed how unamused they were by it. "Diesel" and "Razor" disappeared from television after the Royal Rumble in January 1997 and were shipped down to Lawler's USWA (United States Wrestling Association) in Memphis, TN for repackaging. Bogner cut a promo where he buried the gimmick and renamed himself "The Free Spirit" Ric Titan. Jacobs went back to his previous Memphis gimmick of Doomsday, even winning the USWA Heavyweight Title under that name. Jacobs returned to WWE on October 5th at In Your House: Badd Blood as Kane, The Undertaker's evil "brother," costing Taker the win in his Hell in a Cell match against Shawn Michaels. Bogner likely would have been repackaged as well, but he chose to jump to New Japan Pro Wrestling instead to join NWO Japan.
WWE Diva Jillian Hall's last gimmick was a Britney Spears-esque singer (complete with headset mic, outfit, and monotone "sexy" singing voice, although done to new levels of horrible). It's now more seen as a Take That against Brooke Hogan, the daughter of Hulk Hogan, who the WWE had another falling out with after promoting her music on Raw around the time of SummerSlam in August 2005 (Hogan's last appearance in the company, which was a condition of his return), esp. since the fans did not really care about the musical talents of a Hogan. In a hilarious twist, Jillian Hall's Christmas album outsold Brooke Hogan's latest album, despite the fact Jillian's was not only a joke album, but was also only available through iTunes.
John Morrison (really "John Hennigan," and the former "Johnny Nitro") is a pretty blatant clone of the Doors' Jim Morrison. When he first appeared as a heel in the summer of 2007, he even quoted Doors lyrics ("Some are born to sweet delight / And some are born to endless night") and at one point outright scream-sang: "I set the night on fire!" The character mellowed quite a bit after Hennigan turned face, and became more of a knowing tribute to Jim Morrison instead of essentially his long-lost relative. The only weird thing about the gimmick was that his theme song was inspired by Jimi Hendrix more than The Doors.
As a heel, CM Punk is (appearance-wise, anyway) clearly supposed to be a knock-off of notorious serial killer Charles Manson because of his oversized beard. Many fans started speculating that the CM stood for Charles Manson. And when he was a commentator, he actually wore a Charles Manson t-shirt. However, some of his facial expressions are closer to those of the late great comedian George Carlin.
CM Punk's character and gimmick have been parodied by the wrestling federation CHIKARA, who used a mascot character CP Munk, the Straight Edge chipmunk. The character includes references to Punk, such as X-marked wrist tape, a Pepsi logo on the costume's left shoulder, and a high-pitch version of Punk's best-known independent circuit theme song "Miseria Cantare – The Beginning", by the band AFI. Whereas Punk, particularly in his Heel days in the independents, used the Catch Phrase "Drug free, alcohol free and better than you," CP Munk is billed as "He's almond free, he's acorn free, and he's better than you." At times, CP Munk, real name Dylan Keith Summers, better known as the hardcore wrestler Necro Butcher of CZW and The Wrestler infamy, has teamed with "Colt Cabunny," a rabbit parody of Punk's longtime friend and tag team partner Colt Cabana, played by another CZW regular Joker, real name William Posada.
On his website, Punk has said about the character CP Munk, and the people behind it:
"I'm split 50/50 on it. Some days I get real pissed about it, because it's disrespectful. I'm sure it's no secret that the dorks that run Chikara and I don't get along, so they're [sic] judgement on trying to "mock" me is a little off. Most other days I just laugh it off because nobody from Chikara will ever be over enough anywhere for anybody else to parody them."
Punk had apparently no-showed a CHIKARA event, so this was their response.
Sesame Street has famous actress Meryl Sheep, country'n'western singers Polly Darton and Hammy Swynette, game show host Pat Playjacks, opera singer Placido Flamingo, Grouch business tycoon Donald Grump, and many more.
Thunderbirds did this frequently. Its small cast of voice artists would use celebrity impressions to fill out the supporting cast roster. Additionally, many of the main cast puppets were loosely modeled on contemporary ('60s) actors. Scott Tracy was modeled on Sean Connery, and Jeff Tracy on Lorne Greene.
Troy Tempest of Stingray: Gerry Anderson wanted him to look a bit like American actor James Garner; what he got was a puppet that looked a lot like James Garner. And Surface Agent X20 from the same show looks (and sounds) a lot like Peter Lorre.
Two Radio 4 comedy series by Sue Limb are about No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of famous writer's groups: the Lake Poets in The Wordsmiths at Gorsemere and the Bloomsbury Set in Gloomsbury.
Scion April Fools' Day supplement Scion: Extras features Sci, a Scion of the Japanese pantheon, best known for internet meme "Scion Style", riffing on PSY and Gangnam Style. Lyrics for "Scion Style" are provided. Meanwhile, Celtic Scion Jack Caricature, a game developer who herds cats, is a good-natured spoof of Scion 2e developer Joe Carriker.
The Banishers sourcebook for Mage: The Awakening includes John Maverick, an obscenely wealthy, boyishly handsome, self-loathingly closeted bisexual actor who has become an earnest spokesperson of a cult. Any resemblance to Tom Cruise and the Church of Happyology is, of course, coincidental.
Duke Rollo of Aberrant is basically Hunter S. Thompson, with his name being a riff on Thompson's alter-ego Raoul Duke.
The 1950 musical Call Me Madam starred Ethel Merman as Mrs. Sally Adams, America's ambassador to the small Ruritanian country of Lichtenburg (famous for its cheese); this was roughly based on Perle Mesta, President Truman's ambassador to Luxembourg. The original program disclaimed that "neither the character of Mrs. Sally Adams nor Miss Ethel Merman resemble[s] any person living or dead," and also played with No Communities Were Harmed by referring to Lichtenburg and the United States of America as "two mythical countries."
In Victorian times, W.H. Smith - now best known for the chain of stores - was promoted to First Lord of Britain's Navy, despite knowing little or nothing about ships. When Gilbert and Sullivan were writing H.M.S. Pinafore, Gilbert, setting out the plot for Sullivan, wrote about a song for "the First Lord ? tracing his career as office-boy in [a] cotton-broker's office, clerk, traveller, junior partner and First Lord of Britain's Navy.... Of course there will be no personality in this - the fact that the First Lord in the Opera is a Radical of the most pronounced type will do away with any suspicion that W. H. Smith is intended." Actually, everyone presumed Smith was intended (as Gilbert probably knew full well they would), to the point of him living out the rest of his life with the nickname "Pinafore Smith".
Another Gilbert and Sullivan example: the fleshly poet Reginald Bunthorne in Patience was modeled on Oscar Wilde, to the point that D'Oyly Carte had lecture appearances by him in American cities where Patience was touring so that theatergoers could recognize what the play was parodying.
In The Man Who Came To Dinner, the (speaking) character of Banjo is based on Harpo Marx (his Hollywood co-stars are named as Wacko and Sloppo). Sheridan Whiteside was largely modeled on the Alter Ego Acting persona of Alexander Woollcott (to whom the play was dedicated by its authors "for reasons that are nobody's business") Lorraine Sheldon represents English actress Gertrude Lawrence, and Beverly Carlton is a thinly veiled pastiche of playwright and wit Noël Coward.
Another fictionalized version of Noel Coward is Eric Dare from the little-known Cole Porter musical Jubilee. In the same show, Eva Standing could practically have been a pseudonym for Elsa Maxwell; Charles "Mowgli" Rausmiller, however, is more a parody of Tarzan than of Johnny Weissmuller.
Finians Rainbow: It's probably not a coincidence that Woody Mahoney, union organizer, folk singer (whose shame it is that he can't play the guitar he's carrying), and enemy of finance men, has the same first name as Woody Guthrie. (At one point, Woody is supposed to speak "in a 'Talking Union Blues' rhythm.")
Freddie Trumper, the Jerk Ass American chess player in Chess, is supposed to be a Bobby Fischer expy. The Russian player, Anatoly Sergievsky, was initially based on Boris Spassky but the resemblance decreased every time the musical was rewritten.
Of Thee I Sing: Apparently, some reviews of the original production noticed a resemblance between John P. Wintergreen (as played by William Gaxton) and Jimmy Walker, then mayor of New York City (and part-time songwriter), which may have been denied. All but openly acknowledged, though, was that all nine Supreme Court Judges were made up like Oliver Wendell Holmes.
In Arthur Miller's play After the Fall, Maggie has a highly suspicious resemblance to the author's late ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe.
I Just Stopped By To See The Man by Stephen Jeffreys consists of a meeting between No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of Robert Johnson (if he'd lived until the sixties), Angela Davis, and Jimmy Page.
Ira Levin's play Critic's Choice has a drama critic married to a playwright, like Walter and Jean Kerr were in Real Life.
The original Castlevania for the NES end credits: "Mix Schrecks, Vram Stoker, Belo Lugosi, Trance Fischer, Boris Karloffice, etc." The hero himself is credited as "Simon Belmondo" instead of the Anglicized spelling of "Simon Belmont" used in the manual.
Mass Effect: The default male face of Shepard is based on Dutch model Mark Vanderloo.
The original Metal Gear featured a cover artwork that was obviously traced from a publicity still of Michael Biehn in Terminator.
The original MSX2 release of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake featured character portraits obviously ripped from actual photographs of celebrities (notably with Solid Snake as Mel Gibson, Grey Fox as Tom Berenger, Roy Campbell as Richard Crenna, and Big Boss as Sean Connery). These were changed to Shinkawa-style portraits in later releases to avoid any potential likeness infringement.
In the original Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake is (according to Yoji Shinkawa's own admission) a combination of Christopher Walken's face on Jean-Claude Van Damme's body.
Final Fight also had two enemy bikers named Axl and Slash modeled after their Guns N' Roses counterpart, while Poison's and Roxy's replacements in the SNES version, Billy and Sid, are obvious references to Billy Idol and Sid Vicious.
Abel from Street Fighter IV bares a noticeable resemblance with MMA fighter Fedor Emelianenko.
World Heroes based its cast largely around this trope, with a touch of justified Anachronism Stew (the plot involves a time machine). Dragon was a Bruce Lee Clone, while pro wrestler Muscle Power was an amazingly blatant steal of Hulk Hogan. Some of this was softened in the second game (Muscle Power, for example, lost his facial hair).
Hanzo = Hanzo Hattori, Fuuma = Fuma Kotaro, Janne = Joan of Arc, Jengis/Julius Carn = Genghis Khan, Erick = Erik The Red, Ryoko = Ryoko Tamura (later Tani), Jack = Jack the Ripper, Johnny Maximum = Joe Montana. Ryofu (Japanese translation of Lu Bu), Captain Kidd, Rasputin, and Gokuu are self-explanatory. It's not clear who Shura is. Brocken is Brocken Jr. from Kinnikuman, Neo-Dio is the title character from Baoh the Visitor, and Zeus is Raoh. Only Neo Gee Gus and Mudman aren't based on anyone.
Isn't Neo Geegus a T-1000 from Terminator?
Perhaps the ultimate in use of this trope is the long-lived Fire Pro Wrestling series, where every wrestler in the game is a renamed version of an actual professional wrestler. There are over one hundred wrestlers in the latest one.
The last one, Fire Pro Wrestling RETURNS for the PS2, contains over 350 wrestlers...and every single one of them is a rename (and some are recolors) of a real-life wrestler (many of them are just more "obscure" ones that casual US wrestling fans won't recognize).
The NES game Maniac Mansion features a character called Wink Smiley, who is a talk show host clearly based on Jay Leno. He looks exactly like a young Jay and even has Jay's chin.
Quite a few male characters in video games resemble David Bowie, including Raziel from the Legacy of Kain games, and even the Pokémon Zangoose, which has an Aladdin Sane lightning bolt-esque design on one side of its face.
Emperor Mateus Palmecia from Final Fantasy II GREATLY resembles Bowie's character Jareth from Labyrinth. His English voice actor evidently picked up on this, as his performance is very similar to Bowie's. Plus, there's the fact that his gameplay in Dissidia is based entirely around setting up traps.
If Raphael from Soulcalibur II and III doesn't look like David Bowie, I don't know who the hell does (Mr. Bowie excluded). It's been way toned down in SCIV, though, in part because Raphael is now much buffer.
Bass Armstrong looks like Scott Steiner but is modeled after Stan "The Lariat" Hansen (as was "Macho" Mike Haggar from Final Fight and Saturday Night Slam Masters; in fact, many Japanese-made wrestling game main characters that people confused for Hogan analogues were actually based off of Hansen) and made to look like Hulk Hogan (mostly the nWo version). This makes things even MORE confusing when Bass's daughter Tina ends up resembling Hogan's (decidedly NON-wrestling) daughter Brooke. Given that Brooke was 8 the year the first game came out it's safe to assume Tina was not based on her.
The Radical Entertainment games in the Crash Bandicoot series does this a lot: Crunch Bandicoot is Mr T, Doctor N. Gin is Peter Lorre (although it can be argued he was based on Lorre to begin with), Tiny Tiger is Mike Tyson, the Ratnicians are an army of Jerry Lewises, Chick Gizzard Lips is Howard Cosell, and some of the Park Drones consist of Andrew Dice Clay, Boris Karloff, W.C. Fields, and Charlton Heston.
Emily Enough features a very, very blatant No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Ed Gein — the description of his career as a serial killer is lifted word-for-word from accounts of Gein. In one of the game's more disturbing puzzles, you have to skin an old lady alive so he can wear her skin.
Are you sure that Elite Beat Agents didn't name its muscular baseball hero "Hulk Bryman" to avoid a lawsuit from Barry Bonds?
The Quest for Glory series features several, most prominently in the fourth game, which was the first to feature voice acting. The farmers sound like Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, and Rodney Dangerfield, The Chief Thief sounds like Peter Lorre and so forth.
In the second game, there are several appearances by the Marx Brothers, most notably Groucho Marx as Ali Fakir, the used saurus salesman.
Johnny is even moreso based off of Nicolas Cage. His profile in earlier games bore the likeness of Mr. Cage and Johnny's real name is even Jonathan Carlton (similar to how the other Cage's real name is Nicolas Coppola).
Also, the makers of Mortal Kombat II had once considered adding another female kombatant who was based on kickboxing champion Kathy Long, but she ended up not making the final cut.
The DS remakes of the Dragon Quest games featured new character artwork. Alena, rechristened a "Tsarevna" (Russian princess), and coming from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture Russia, bears a striking resemblance to Tsarevna Anastasia Romanov. Considering what happens to her father's kingdom, it's rather appropriate.
Konami's 1991 arcade game Vendetta is possibly the only beat-em-up in which you can fight crime as Mike Tyson (Blood), Hulk Hogan (Hawk), Jean Claude Van Damme (Boomer), or even Mr. T (Sledge.)
Fallout 2 featured characters named 'Juan Cruz' and 'Viki Goldstein' in the 'Hubologist' base, although they insist that any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
For those playing at home, they "coincidentally" resemble Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Scientology, respectively.
The same game also had a big black boxing champion nicknamed "The Masticator", who could bite off your ear during a boxing match against him.
In Aion, characters Ascend from being ordinary 'humans', becoming Daeva; in the main city for each race, players will find NPCs labeled as "Daeva of ..." for various things — Intuition, Song, etc. One of the two Asmodai Daevas of Cooking is named 'Batali'.
The backstory of Shattered Soldier echoes Demolition Man (which itself featured Stallone). Bill is accused of murdering his partner and causing "calamity on a global scale" with a superweapon, and is sentenced to Human Popsicle prison, but is temporarily thawed to take down his old partner turned nemesis since he is the only one powerful enough for the task.
The Natsume NES game S.C.A.T. is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up starring Arnold and Sigourney (as in Schwarzenegger and Weaver, they weren't even clever enough to come up with original names).
Chuck Downfield, the annoying announcer of Backyard Football, was definitely based off of John Madden.
In The Sims 3, your Sim can read a newspaper story about a director based on Michael Bay wanting to make a movie in Sim City. It mentions that the director said his movie was about "A guy blowing up city hall, then a car chase, then, wait for it, a fight on the beach. All in my trademark crazy shaky camera."
Flynn, the protagonist of forgettable first-person-shooter Devastation, looks much like Eminem.
Apart from the "Bruce Lee as Marshall Law" example above, Tekken series have more not-celebrities: Raven is based on Wesley Snipes (in a weird mash-up of his Demolition Man and Blade movie personas), Craig Marduk is the actor/wrestler Nathan Jones, and Lei Wulong is Jackie Chan, to name just a few.
WoW has more than a few as Shout Outs, however most notable is Archaeologist HarrisonJones. He started out as a Joke Character who was chump killed at the gates of Zul'Aman. However he somehow didn't die and turned up fighting snakes in a tomb in the Grizzly Hills zone. In the new Cataclysm expansion he has a prominent role as a quest giver in the Uldum zone, complete with multiple Shout Outs and lampshades to go round in respect to all four Indy films.
In addition to those, we also have Haris Pilton (pictured), Ricole Nichie, and even Chuck Norris (pending as of November 2011 though).
The fighting game Battle K-Road is a rather blatant example, featuring Wolf alongside T-8P (who also has a Head Swap in the form of D-9P).
Wobbuffet is partly based on the late Japanese comedian Sanpei Hayashiya, whose trademark was putting his hand to his forehead while saying: "sō na-n-su, okusan" or, in English, "That's the way it is, ma'am". Sonansu, as Wobbuffet is called in Japanese, is often shown putting its hand to its forehead.
Resident Evil 5 : Albert Wesker not only has moves and clothes ripped right out of The Matrix but also has the mannerisms of the T-1000 from Terminator 2. If you shoot him and he dodges, many times he will wag his finger at you like the T-1000 did to Sarah Conner near the end.
Leon himself also resembles and is probably named after DiCaprio. Claire Redfield's name may also be a reference to Claire Danes, DiCaprio's co-star in Romeo + Juliet.
Some of the characters in Resident Evil Outbreak bear a certain resemblance to famous actors, especially the police officer who looks like Tom Cruise.
From the remake of Resident Evil onwards, Jill's appearance has been based on Canadian actress Julia Voth.
Rebecca Chambers has been based on Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki, who was actually the spokesperson for Resident Evil 0 in Japan. She didn't provide the voice as the games always feature English voice acting. Although Sheva Alomar's motion capture was based on her voice actress Karen Dyer, Sheva's facial expressions were based on model Michelle Van Der Water.
Subverted in Fallout: New Vegas with 'The King' and his gang 'The Kings' who all dress like Elvis Presley. The King in particular though, as he even speaks in the same fashion as Elvis did. This is a subversion, however, as the Kings operate out of 'The King's School of Impersonation', a 50s drama school to teach people to act, dress, and speak like Elvis. Using the materials from the school, The Kings built their identity around the legendary figure.
The explanation for why no one mentions the name of the figure the school was about? By the time the King (the gang leader) got there, the surviving materials all referred to the figure simply as 'the King'.
The designers created draft classes from scratch, often tossing in high-profile players still in college whose names and images they couldn't legally use. Like a scrambling QB from Florida named "Tim Tribow".
In the first two Shin Megami Tensei games, the creator of the Demon Summoning Program is a crippled genius by the name of Steven who looks suspiciously like Stephen Hawking.
The President in Vanquish is fairly clearly modeled on Hillary Clinton.
In the Call of CthulhuAdventure GameShadow of the Comet, many of the character portraits are based on famous folks such as Vincent Price, Jack Nicholson, Tor Johnson, Sean Connery, and even H.P. Lovecraft.
Mystery Trackers: The Void centered on the mysterious disappearance of three fairly famous people, one of whom was horror novelist "Kevin Sting."
Tinseltown Dreams: The 50s is a match-3 game that involves earning money for actors, directors and so on in order to film several different types of movies. As such, it's filled with almost-recognizable names such as actresses "Grace Kelleher" and "Marylou Monroe."
Vance Petrol of Chugworth Academy is a thinly veiled Vin Diesel.
The titular character of King Of The Unknown is clearly Elvis, though he is never named as such. Ever since a supernatural mishap transformed him (into a fat slob) and forced him to fake his death, "the King" dedicated his new secret life to kicking supernatural ass for a The Men in Black-like Government Agency of Fiction known as the IRSU. Agent H, King's Mission Control at IRSU, is a similarly veiled and still-living Jimi Hendrix. Aside from the broad strokes, many small details are culled from the rock stars' lives to create these just-barely veiled versions.
Colonel Sassacre is clearly just Mark Twain wearing a wizard hat.
Rufioh's speech is patterned quite closely after that of Dante Basco's Tumblr account following Homestuck, and the character is both based on and named after a character Dante Basco played in Hook. Andrew Hussie's Author Avatar confesses the former in an Easter Egg on the flash where Rufioh is introduced.
Steve in Irregular Webcomic! seems to be Steve Irwin from Crocodile Hunter, but Word Of God insists that these are not the same person. The annotation under #1288 says that the comic Steve 'might perhaps be somewhat loosely based on' Steve Irwin, 'if you believe the unrestrained hearsay and rampant speculation of some readers.' The rerun commentary for #7 provides a Suspiciously Specific Denial: 'Steve and Terry are of course not even slightly based on the real life Steve and Terri Irwin... The fact that "Terry" is spelt differently to "Terri" should absolutely and beyond a doubt confirm that in the minds of any lingering doubters, as it's clearly not a case of me making a mistake in a badly botched attempt to copy her name. '
This video by IGN called Borderlands is for Real Gamers features a guy playing as a developer of the game, Randy Pitchford. While he does get the hairstyle, he otherwise doesn't look like Randy Pitchford at all. He also technically doesn't act like him either - the man is more being used to a way of parodying the game's marketing campaign.
It's pretty obvious that Fantastico, the head of the Good Ol' Boyz, is George W. Bush, and his sidekick Minefield is Dick Cheney, and his inventor-slash-intelligence officer Ferret is Karl Rove.
The Vindicators are an incompetent team parodying The Avengers: Kismet is a pushy, cranky Scarlet Witch in green; Lemure is a sullen Vision; Sizemax is an easily steamrollered Giantman; Donner is a dopey Thor; Dynamaxx is a horndog Iron Man; and Cerebrex is a crazed, incompetent Captain America.
Shaggy Dog Stories: A 'Justinian Beaver' is featured in one episode, and mention is made to a cheesy romance TV series called 'Breaking Wind'.
In The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, a setting update of Jane Eyre, Blanche Ingram was based on a real life personality, model and successful businesswoman Xenia Tchoumitcheva. Vlog Blanche Ingram is actually very sophisticated and quite nice. She's nothing like the unpleasant Alpha Bitch that was Miss Ingram from the original novel. Here's a link to Ms Ingram's in-universe website.
Several gags in LoadingReadyRun's recurrent Rapidfire segment Elect Andrew Shepard cast Shepard as a depraved version of Bill Clinton, such as his claim that "I did not have sexual relations with that woman. I did, however, have sex with that woman, that woman, those two women, and possibly that guy.", or "I did not inhale. I took it rectally, and I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped."
Britina, MC Honey, Heather, the Holson twins, the Caustic Critic host of "American Starmaker" and Camille Leon, among others.
One Trapped In Tv Land episode had a pink haired spy fighting Kim over a device. Who could that be?
Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: Warner Bros. was among the earliest in the entertainment genre to produce and release animated shorts that featured celebrity clones, caricatures and cameos, starting in the early 1930s. Examples abound:
Crosby – whose likeness was depicted in the mid-1930s "Bingo Crosbyana" and "Let It Be Me" – took none too kindly to either short, since he was portrayed as a coward, and threatened to sue. No legal action ever went anywhere, however.
The Elvis Presley parody comes in the 1959 Bugs Bunny short "Hare-Abian Nights," where an intimidated Elvis look-alike (Elvis Pretzel) sings "Hound Camel," a parody of "Hound Dog"; the unimpressed Sultan — whom we later see is Yosemite Sam — quickly drops Pretzel into the crocodile tank.
Much later, Warner Bros Animation's Taz-Mania would base Taz's father on Bing, and his brother — Taz's uncle — on Bob Hope.
The Honeymooners was the basis of many Ralph Kramden/Jackie Gleason parodies. One of the first cartoons to pay homage to the character was "Red Riding Hoodwinked," a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon with the usually cheerful Granny filling the role. An entire series of cartoons, called "The Honeymousers," featured mouse versions of Ralph, Ed, Alice and Trixie (almost always trying to avoid the housecat).
Cat versions of Abbott and Costello were named "Babbitt" and "Catsello," Tweety's first antagonists.
In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Eight-Ball Bunny," Bogart – recalling his character and signature line from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – makes several unexplained appearances in the movie as Bugs is trying to rescue Playboy Penguin, who had become accidentally separated from his troupe (the Ice Frolics). The line "Pardon me, but could you help out a fellow American who's down on his luck?" is almost directly from the film.
Bogey and "Baby" (Lauren Bacall) can also be seen in 1947's "Slick Hare".
Several shorts featured caricatures of WB stars such as Edward G. Robinson and Peter Lorre.
Carrotblanca, a 1990s send up of Casablanca, features Tweety doing a Lorre impersonation as Ugarte.
The 1937 cartoon "The Woods are Full of Cuckoos" revolved around a radio program performed by animal versions of then-famous radio and film personalities, including Jack Benny and Fred Allen.
See also "The Coo-Coo Nut Grove" and "Hollywood Steps Out".
"Wideo Wabbit," a sendup of mid-1950s TV shows, features parodies of Groucho Marx ("You Beat Your Wife," a play on the show You Bet Your Life), Liberace (as "Liver-ace") and Ed Norton (another Honeymooners parody).
"Daffy's Inn Trouble": At one point in this 1961 cartoon (which co-stars Porky Pig), the duck tries wooing customers to his hotel by doing a Mae Westvamp act. A group of irritated customers are hardly amused, and show their disgust when the record he was playing skips by throwing rotten tomatoes at him.
"The Last Hungry Cat": An Alfred Hitchcock Mysteries parody features a Hitchcock-type bear introducing the cartoon and interacting with Sylvester.
One of the worst and most prominent examples of this is Jabberjaw, from the show of the same name, who solved crimes and played faux rock songs while yammering Rodney Dangerfield's Catch Phrase "No respect!" in a terrible Curly Howard impression. Just how bad it really is gets a Lampshade Hanging when he appears in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. Judge Mentok hears him speak and immediately orders him to stay quiet for the rest of the trial.
Animaniacs did this repeatedly, but with a great deal more skill:
Yakko Warner steals gags, quips, and sometimes entire plotlines from Groucho Marx, with Wakko occasionally filling in as Harpo. Wakko himself is basically Ringo Starr most of the time.
The Brain, megalomaniac mouse extraordinaire, is based on voice actor Maurice LaMarche's excellent Orson Welles impersonation. (To the point that, as a treat for Moe, the short "Yes, Always" was an adaptation of an obscure but infamous recording session in which Orson's ego went ballistic on a pair of inept producers while taping a commercial for frozen peas.)
In one episode of the series, the Warners push the buttons of a scowling television journalist named "Dan Anchorman," who bears a striking resemblance to ABC's Sam Donaldson. Dan is eventually pushed into a television set and forced to fight a blond professional wrestler named "Bulk Logan." Yeah, I don't think that one needs any explanation.
The Donaldson connection was made even more explicit by the character's name in the original script: Slam Fondlesome. Because of Executive Meddling over that supposedly risque name, they had to go back, change the name, and redub some of the dialogue.
Arnold Stang's Top Cat is clearly based, not just on Phil Silvers, but specifically on Sergeant Bilko. (Benny the Ball doesn't count; he sounds like Private Doberman because he's voiced by Maurice Gosfeld.)
In the Don Adams episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, the villain turned out to be washed-up horror actor Lorne Chumley, obviously based on Lon Chaney, Jr.
Walter Lantz had a series of "Maw and Paw" shorts in the 1950s, which were based on the live-action "Ma and Pa Kettle" comedies.
The Edutainment ShowHisteria, from the same studio as Animaniacs and sharing many of the voice actors, would transform historical figures without well-known voices and mannerisms into parodies of recognizable celebrities:
The Simpsons actually became famous early on for being one of the first cartoons to regularly subvert this trope by having celebrities voice themselves as characters, starting with Tony Bennett in the 1990 episode "Dancin' Homer." At first these characters merely made cameos, but as time went on whole episodes began to be written around them. This resulted in a mild Celebrity Paradox when Alec Baldwin portrayed himself and then, in a later episode, a completely fictional character.
Chief Wiggum was initially an impression of Edward G. Robinson. This gets a lampshade in several episodes: "The Day the Violence Died", a trial episode where cartoon maker Roger Meyers, Jr. talks about this very trope; "Bart Gets An Elephant", where Wiggum dismisses a liquor store robbery report with "Yeah, right. And I'm Edward G. Robinson!"; and "Simpsons Bible Stories", where in the Moses story Wiggum stands in for Robinson's character in The Ten Commandments. Robinson's role in The Ten Commandments was also referenced in the episode "Homer Loves Flanders": "Where's your Messiah NOW, Flanders?!" Finally, in the "Treehouse of Horror XIX'' segment "How to Get Ahead in Dead-Vertising" Wiggum meets the ghost of Robinson.
Lou the cop is based on Stallone.
Dr. Julius Hibbert is a send-up of The Cosby Show's Dr. Cliff Huxtable (and, to a lesser extent, of Bill Cosby himself).
Dr. Frink is an impression of Jerry Lewis. This was brought full circle in the "Treehouse of Horror XIV" segment "Frinkenstein", where Lewis voiced Frink's dad. Not to mention he himself points out that a cartoon character at a convention is a ripoff of Jerry Lewis.
Rainier Wolfcastle (who plays the character McBain) is a not-so-subtle imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. (This was made all the more obvious when The Movie used Schwarzenegger as a character — and his appearance, characterization, and voice were nearly identical to those of Wolfcastle.)
Mayor Quimby is a send-up of the Kennedy family in general, but most closely based on Edward (Ted).
Jorgen Von Strangle from is likewise another animated Schwarzenegger clone, down to his physique and Teutonic accent. (His name is taken from the similar actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.) Curiously, there's also an actor called Arnold Schwarzengerman (appearing in a superviolent remake of Hamlet).
The character of Big Daddy is a parody of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano.
April Fool's nasally voice and "what's up with that?" comedic style are a lot like those of Jerry Seinfeld.
Elzar, the recurring Neptunian chef is a thinly veiled impersonation of TV chef Emeril Lagasse. Zapp Brannigan was originally cast with comedian Phil Hartman in the role; when Hartman died before the show began, Billy West did Zapp's voice in the style of Hartman as a tribute. Incidentally, the protagonist Phillip J. Fry, also voiced by Billy West, was named after Phil Hartman.
Zapp's whole character is a parody of William Shatner. Not to mention his hair.
"Decision 3012" features Chris Travers, a thinly-veiled but heavily romanticized parody of Barack Obama.
Johnny's voice and speech patterns are a parody of Elvis Presley, most notable in the way he says "Oh Momma". In the pilot episode, he went as far as to deep fry a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Later seasons featured Johnny's idol Squint Ringo, a laughably transparent parody of Steven Seagal.
Almost any cartoon featuring a sporting event will have a sportscaster or commentator blatantly ripping off the late Howard Cosell. (Futurama switched that one up by featuring celebrity imitator Rich Little's severed head imitating Cosell — and having Little actually do the voice.) Like the Record Needle Scratch and the above-mentioned Senator Claghorn, one wonders, do any of the kids these days know exactly who is being parodied?
An episode of The Transformers involved a science fiction movie starring "Harold Edsel" and "Karen Fishhook", who bore suspiciously strong resemblances to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, respectively. Interestingly, about twenty years later, Ford would make a more overt Transformers appearance: Hasbro produced a "Star Wars Transformers" toy line, with Han Solo as one of the featured characters. Even more interestingly, is what happened much sooner than that. In Transformers: The Movie, Susan Blu, who voiced Karen Fishhook, would also provide the voice of one of the franchises most popular female characters, Arcee. Word Of God has actually gone on to describe Arcee's character design as being "the robotic equivalent of a naked Princess Leia", the character Fisher is best known for.
Lampshaded in the Luke Ski filk song The Ballad of Optimus Prime, where Luke takes a line to complain about Hot Rod's role: "We wanted John Wayne, and they gave us Judd Nelson!"
Even Animated has this going on, with Ultra Magnus' voice being a rather good imitation of Robert Stack (who, not-so-coincidentally, played the original Magnus in the 1986 movie), and Ironhide being Corey Burton's best approximation of Huell Howser. Swindle's mannerisms are modeled after those of Ron Popeil, and Mixmaster sounds suspiciously like Joe Pesci (which is played up in a Whole Episode Reference to Home Alone). Highbrow has a similar accent, mustache, and gap in his tooth to Terry-Thomas. Grandus sounds like another Paul Lynde (and Screams Like a Little Girl). Rattletrap sounds a lot like Lou Costello (which may or may not have been the inspiration for Rattrap's accent, though it's at least less obvious with him).
Elvis Criddlington from Fireman Sam is clearly based on Elvis Presley, right down to the fact that he sings and loves rock 'n' roll.
Biker Mice from Mars has quite a few. The original series had Evil Eye Weevil who is a skeleton-like thing (he's a parody of Elvis Presley and Evil Knievel) and The X-Terminator who is a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lawrence Limburger has a sister who is named after Latoya Jackson (one of Michael Jackson's siblings) and the "Loogie Brothers" who are based off two characters played by Dana Carvey and Keaven Nealon on Saturday Night Live. The 2006 revival has a villain named Ronaldo Rump who is a parody of multimillionaire Donald Trump (including the toupee and the multimillion dollar building franchise), he has a British cousin named Sir Richard Brand Something (a parody of Virgin Group company owner Sir Richard Branson). There's also a character that bares a resemblance to Rodney Dangerfield. Doctor Catorkian sounds suspiciously like Boris Karloff.
Animalympics had this for the various news commentators and a few athletes. Henry Hummel borrows mannerisms from Henry Kissinger, Barbara Warbler is rather obviously Barbara Walters, and Lodge Turkell is Howard Cosell. On the side of the athletes, Bolt Jenkins is reminiscent of John Travolta's character from Saturday Night Fever, and Joey Gongalong is obviously Muhammad Ali as a Boxing Kangaroo.
An episode of The Proud Family featured an American Idol-type talent show where hopefuls audition to be the next star. The so-called "Real Randy Jackson" character of the three judges is a lot similar to 1980s Michael Jackson, and Perchival (voiced by Tim Curry) is a similar to Simon Cowell.
Ren is based on Peter Lorre. Yes, Lorre again. Krisfaluci has gone on record as saying Ren is the unholy lovechild of Lorre and Kirk Douglas. And a little Burl Ives. Ironically, Burl Ives also gets a treatment, as "Stinky Wizzleteats," the singer of Stimpy's favorite song, "Happy Happy, Joy Joy." It's said that Ives was offended... not at the parody, but that Krikfalusi and company hadn't invited him to voice the role himself, allowing him to take a sledgehammer to the "beloved childrens' entertainer" persona he had built up — in Real Life, Ives hated children.
The makers of the show said that Peter basically is Michael Moore (hence the inspiration for their farting contest skit).note Of course, Peter knows absolutely nothing about anything, not even having a clue what 9/11 was until three years after the fact, and he has organized Quahog's Tea Party, while Moore is an avid supporter of Occupy, the Tea Party movement's ideological polar opposite.
Peter and Lois' vocal inflections resembling Archie and Edith Bunker from All in the Family, which is also spotlighted in the intro which is an over-the-top version of the intro of Family.
The Season 8 episode "Hanna Banana" – itself a sendup of teen-aged pop stars – portrays Miley Cyrus straight ... until it is revealed she is a robot.
In an episode of Rockos Modern Life, they show an aerobics instructor who is obviously based on Richard Simmons. As said aerobics instructor was played by Richard Simmons, this is more likely a case of Ink-Suit Actor.
In the second-season The Venture Bros. episode "Guess Who's Coming to State Dinner?", the character of President Breyer is an obvious pastiche of George W. Bush (Bush-Breyer, get it?) with some Bill Clinton thrown in for flavor. Oddly enough, George W. Bush's down-home Texas mannerisms and dearth of intellectual rigor combined with Bill Clinton's lack of personal boundaries come off to make the character seem more like Lyndon Johnson than either Clinton or Bush.
Henry Kissinger as Doctor Henry Killinger. Although, no one is sure if Kissinger has a Magic Murder Bag or not.
Brock Samson's trainer and mentor, Col. Hunter Gathers, bears a striking similarity to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. After his sex change he bears a striking similarity to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson with a pair of really big fake tits.
The yard sale episode featured a nameless supervillain looking suspiciously much like Elton John browsing for dirty magazines.
Colonel Horace Gentleman is basically Sean Connery with a dash of William S. Burroughs thrown in.
Lloyd Venture, Rusty's grandfather and founder of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, is Theodore Roosevelt through and through, including physical appearance, dress, and unique manner of speaking.
Mr. Brisby is a jaundiced view of Walt Disney, differing only in that he appears to have been limited to a wheelchair for the past twenty years, as opposed to having died and been kept frozen in the basement of Tomorrowland.
When 21 and 24 finally see each other out of costume, they comment that they look like Kevin Smith without a beard and Jerry Seinfeld with a unibrow, respectively.
The Revenge Society later picks up married couple Lady Hawk Johnson and Lyndon Bee. And yes, they do look and sound exactly like President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife "Lady Bird" Johnson.
An episode of MTV's The Maxx had a cop from out of town who looked (a little) like Humphrey Bogart and sounded (a lot) like William Shatner. The cop was The Savage Dragon in the original Maxx comic, but could not be used on the show since Erik Larson held the copyright for the character.
Sixteen features a certain Mall Cop who may just have a strong need for more cowbell.
Totally Spies! was particularly bad with this. In fact, one episode centered around a number of knockoffs of Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Britney Spears, etc., and the villain was Milan Stilton.
Wonderpets sometimes has this. In one episode they save a group of musical insects known as The Beetles (who are bug versions of Paul, John, George and Ringo), and in another they meet up with the Rat Pack which are three rats named Sammy (Sammy Davis Jr), Blue Eyes (Frank Sinatra) and Dino (Dean Martin). And in "The Wonderpets Save the Hound Dog," they save a baby hound dog whose father is a dog version of Elvis Presley, who wears a pair of velvet booties and loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
The Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode "For a Few Sovereigns More" had Duke Igthorn hire bounty hunter Flint Shrubwood to hunt down the eponymous bears. He also looks and behaves just like Clint's Man With No Name.
South Park loves averting this trope; one of their defining characteristics is their parodying of celebrities by name. To the point where the 200th episode involves every celebrity they've pastiched suing the makers of South Park.
The DCAU is somewhat peppered with this, particularly for Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Because of the number of voices required with a limited cast, voice actors would break out voice imitations to make a more significant variety. Notably, Michael Rosenbaum's Deadshot was an imitation of Kevin Spacey, and Phil LaMarr's version of Steel was somewhat based on Morgan Freeman. Rosenbaum also gave Ghoul, one of the Jokerz in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and an episode of Justice League Unlimited, the voice of Christopher Walken.
Birdz did this in nearly every episode with the names (e.g. "Steven Spielbird"), and sometimes went even further by actually showing their in-universe avian expy (one episode has a "Whippoorwill Smith" who's basically a bird version of, well, Will Smith).