I think that the best things that came out of it were the chance to do Blanche and also I did a Sesame Street Big Bird video that was very satisfying to me. And I don't think I would have been asked to do that if I hadn't reached a little bit higher profile in the 'industry.' That was really rewarding.What well-known bands or actors acquire when they appear as themselves, or doing their instantly-recognizable acts, on a television program aimed at young children. Like many things about modern kids' TV, the concept was pioneered on Sesame Street and subsequently became a staple of the many programs inspired by it. The basic idea is to make it easy and fun for parents/guardians to get involved in their kids' educational process; however, over the years, it has spun itself off into a unique celebrity cachet. An appearance on the Street — or nearby programming suburbs — has become almost as potent a sign of stardom as an appearance on Leno's or Letterman's couches. May involve a certain amount of Bowdlerization to keep things kid-friendly and/or educational. Bleached Underpants sometimes results as well. Mostly occurs in live-action shows, but an actor or band with a distinctive voice can provide the same effect in animation. The serious older sibling of Parental Bonus. Also often related to So My Kids Can Watch. For the inverse (with the Sesame Street, Muppet Show, or related cast only), see Muppet Cameo. Note: When adding examples, please remember that not all animated series are aimed at young children. Rule of thumb: the closer the age of the show's target audience is to the age of the guest star, the less likely it is to be this trope. Also, remember that nearly all inverted examples of this trope go in Muppet Cameo, not here. Finally, please do not include examples where celebrities are guest-starring as characters other than themselves or not doing immediately recognizable acts.
— Frances McDormand discusses some perks of winning an Academy Award
Examples in fiction:
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- Zatanna tried to star in an episode of Sesame Street within her series, but her crippling phobia of puppets meant that she did not even get through her act before she wound up throwing up in Oscar's garbage can. This actually leads her to seek therapy to try dealing with her fear of puppets and instigates the third arc of the series.
- In an episode of Murphy Brown, Murphy gets a guest appearance on a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Sesame Street. It... doesn't go well.
- In The West Wing, First Lady Abbey Bartlet appears in a segment with Elmo about going to the doctor. Elmo points out that Dr Bartlet gave up her medical license (after the MS scandal broke).
Elmo: Can Elmo be frank? This laughter is not filling Elmo with confidence!
- Also includes the Sight Gag everyone was waiting for: CJ Cregg hanging out with Big Bird.
- In a mix of reality and fiction, a late episode of Parks and Recreation has John Cena appear in Andy's "Johnny Karate" show.
- The Misfits in Jem attempt to do this with a kid's show at the start of "Roxy Rumbles". Roxy however can't read the teleprompter as she Never Learned to Read, and won't admit it to anyone but her bandmates (who tease her for it except for Stormer). She ends up getting into a spat with Pizzazz about it on live television and ends up banned from the show.
Examples in real life:
Live Action TV
Sesame Street now has its own page.
- The Muppet Show was another of Jim Henson's shows that lent itself well to Sesame Street Cred. It had a guest star every episode as a part of its Variety Show format, and had an astonishing number of big name celebrities during its run, to the point that many celebrities such as Gene Simmons considered in a badge of honour - people were more impressed when they heard he'd been on the Muppets than by some of his work.
- Inversion: Cookie Monster appeared on The Colbert Report to hang a lampshade on the whole cookies-are-a-sometimes-food thing. ("Me have craaaazy times in '70s and '80s.")
- "ME like the Robert Downey Jr. of COOKIES!!"
- Then there's The Daily Show's own personal Muppet, 'Michael Steele', which started as a stock footage running gag and evolved into an actual Muppet (and a perpetual CMOF). Meanwhile, the original Muppets have made plenty of other in-character talk show appearances. Not to mention the Scrubs episode with Elmo, Oscar, Telly, and Grover.
- They also used Guy Smiley for Mitt Romney.
- Also, don't forget Gitmo: Elmo's mustachioed terrorist relative detained at Guantanamo.
- Kermit the Frog has Daily Show cred.
- Cookie Monster also appeared on Martha Stewart's show Martha Stewart Living. Hilarity really did ensue.
- The various artists and musicians who appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
- In an interesting crossover, Big Bird himself appeared in one episode of Neighborhood, but only after considerable negotiation. Word of God is that Carroll Spinney turned down an initial script that had him taking off the Bird head and demonstrating how he performed the character. As the line between 'make-believe' and reality was likewise important to Fred Rogers (who saw any overlap as deceiving his young audience), Big Bird appeared in character, but only in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. In a later episode of Sesame Street, Rogers would appear to act as referee for a race between Big Bird and Snuffy in Central Park.
- In another crossover, Captain Kangaroo appeared on Mister Rogers' show, followed by Rogers appearing on the Captain's show. A young Tony Hawk also had an Early-Bird Cameo on the latter.
- Yo Gabba Gabba:
- The Shins
- Hot Hot Heat
- Shiny Toy Guns, made even better because of the fact that they were shown as "The Shinys".
- Similarly, The Killers were introduced as "Brandon, Dave, Ronnie, and Mark."note
- Maya Angelou
- Elijah Wood
- Tony Hawk
- Jack Black. Gets special mention for having most of an episode dedicated to his appearance, as well as the chance to wear orange spandex despite having a slight beer gut.
- Andy Samberg
- Bill Hader (who wanted to do it for his daughter, who ended up being embarrassed that her father appeared on her favorite show)
- Dave Grohl (of the Foo Fighters) appeared at one of the live shows (he was attending it with his daughter) and did the Peanut Butter Stomp.
- My Chemical Romance appeared on the 2011 Christmas Episode, billed as "MCR".
- Taking Back Sunday
- Of Montreal
- Mos Def
- Anthony Bourdain
- The Aquabats! (not surprising since the lead singer is the show's creator)
- Jimmy Eat World
- Basement Jaxx
- The Flaming Lips
- Devo — which is really no surprise, since Mark Mothersbaugh hosts the Mark's Magic Picture segment of the show.
- Jason Falkner.
- Paul Williams, singing "The Rainbow Connection".
- The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Reading Rainbow. Which is fitting, because LeVar Burton hosts Reading Rainbow. Along with the various story narrators — Bill Cosby, Michael Ansara, Hulk Hogan, et al.
- This also happened in The Sarah Jane Adventures with the Blue Peter presenters in "Invasion of the Bane".
- MI High featured an appearance by Konnie Huq, one of the Blue Peter presenters, in one episode.
- Billy Corgan appeared on the last episode filmed of WGN's Bozo, the 40th anniversary show.
- Jon Stewart made an appearance on Jack's Big Music Show as a reporter doing a story on Groundhog Day; Jack's Big Music Show is one of his son's favorite shows.
- Cheryl Hines appeared on this show as well.
- Square One TV featured, among other things, a bunch of music videos by well-known artists about math. Featured bands include the Jets, the Judds, the Fat Boys, Kid 'n' Play, Bobby McFerrin, Gregory Hines and "Weird Al" Yankovic.
- Inversion: Dustin the Turkey often appears unexpectedly on various Irish TV shows to insult the presenters (this is entirely in character for him). The most bizarre example would probably be the time he entered the Eurovision Song Contest.
- Tom Lehrer returned to songwriting in the 1970s to pen a few tunes for The Electric Company.
- On the same show, radio comics Bob & Ray voiced a couple animated versions of their 'interview' schtick.
- Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, and Morgan Freeman were part of the cast (although Freeman wasn't legendary at the time, unlike the others). Joan Rivers narrated "The Adventures of Letterman", while Gene Wilder voiced the character.
- Vicki Lawrence, Dolly Parton, The Rock, Christine Taylor, Jesse Mc Cartney, Iyaz, Rob Reiner, Edie McClurg, John Cena, Jon Cryer, Heather Locklear, Brooke Shields, Robin Roberts, Dr. Phil, Sheryl Crow, Ray Liotta and Larry David are among the guest stars who performed on Hannah Montana.
- Wizards of Waverly Place also featured guest appearances by Dwayne Johnson and Rob Reiner, along with Shakira, Wilmer Valderama, Taylor Negron, Curtis "Booger" Armstrong, Jeff Garlin, Julia Duffy, Julie Brown, Lee Meriweather, Adam Carolla, Fred Willard, Cindy Crawford, Misty-May Trainor, Rachel Dratch, Jo Anne Worley, Ted McGinley, and John O'Hurley.
- 3-2-1 Contact had a few, including Robert Guillaume, Linus Pauling, Suzanne Ciani, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gene Wilder, and even Big Bird (Caroll Spinney) himself.
- Kylie Minogue is an honorary Wiggle.
- Barney & Friends has had its share of guests over the years in videos and episodes, usually local Texan celebrities (where the show is filmed), but it has had a number of nationally known celebrities including astronaut Ken Reightler, Ella Jenkins, and author Tomie DePaola. In Barney's First Adventures, Teri Garr and Melissa Gilbert both make appearances.
- James McAvoy has been a guest several times on The BBC's CBeebies Bedtime Stories.
- Regis Philbin appeared in an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
- An episode of Dennis the Menace (UK) featured the then-presenters of Blue Peter.
- Arthur has always had an interesting variety of guest stars, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Matt Damon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, 3 then-current Boston Red Sox baseball players, blues singer Koko Taylor, Art Garfunkel, Tom & Ray Magliozzi, Joshua Redman (as Francine's "uncle"), Michelle Kwan, Alex Trebek, Neil Gaiman, and (weirdly) architect Frank Gehry. Not to mention the time the characters did an interview with a live-action Larry King.
- To say nothing of the special "Arthur, It's Only Rock'n'Roll", in which Muffy's obsession with the Backstreet Boys (who are mistakenly referred to as a rock band) prompts Francine to create a band of her own as part of a bet against her.
- Dave Mustaine of Megadeth appeared in an episode of Duck Dodgers.
- Spongebob Squarepants has featured the likes of Pantera, Ween, David Bowie, and Johnny Depp.
- Thomas the Tank Engine has had many celebrity narrators, among them, Ringo Starr (the original narrator), George Carlin, Alec Baldwin, and Pierce Brosnan.
- VeggieTales had quite a bit of crossover with the Christian Rock scene, most likely due to the show's significant teenage Periphery Demographic.
- In "Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed", a ska-swing cover of "The Rumor Weed Song" by The W's plays over the end credits.
- In Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, an original song by the Newsboys, "In the Belly of a Whale", plays over the end credits.
- Relient K did a split EP, with RK covering Larry the Cucumber's "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything", and Larry covering RK's "Breakdown".
- They released an entire album of Christian rock artists such as Skillet covering VeggieTales songs, entitled Veggie Rocks.
- The story segments in Adventures from the Book of Virtues have so many big names to voice the story characters, such as Malcolm McDowell, Ed Begley, Jr., Tim Curry, Shelley Duvall, Elijah Wood, Mark Hamill, etc.
- Smash Mouth appeared as themselves in an episode of Kim Possible.
- The Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Urban Chipmunk" had Dolly Parton.
- Wreck-It Ralph has two flavors of this: one is the fact that stars such as John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, and Jane Lynch are essentially voicing PG-rated versions of characters they do in much older-skewing movies and TV shows. The other is the influx of video game characters that are instantly recognizable for both kids and their parents, including Bowser, Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik, M. Bison, Zangief, and Kano (or a Captain Ersatz of him, since the character's only credited as "Cyborg").
- Not to mention Skrillex himself in a very brief cameo as the DJ for Fix-it Felix Jr's Anniversary Party.
- Simple Plan appeared as themselves in the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode "Simple Plan and the Invisible Mad Man". They also performed the show's opening theme.
- Milli Vanilli appeared in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. Ironically, two weeks before they were exposed for lip synching, which utterly trashed their cred.
- Before that, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show featured various guest stars, including Nicole Eggert, Sgt. Slaughter, Pam Matteson (once as herself and once as Cher), Harry Blackstone Jr., Magic Johnson, Brian Bonsall, Jim Lange, Vanna White, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Cyndi Lauper, Ernie Hudson, Moon Zappa, Elvira, and Captain Lou Albano, who gets bonus points for playing the main character but still appearing as himself in one episode.
- Speaking of Slaughter, he made occasional appearances in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero as himself. As expected, he rarely uses guns.
- Garfield and Friends had several celebrity guest stars like Imogene Coca, James Earl Jones, and Don Knotts. Some of these celebrity guest stars were recurring characters on the show, like Victoria Jackson as Garfield's love interest, Penelope, and Kevin Meaney as Aloysius Pig, Orson's bossy cousin who worked for (DA-DUM!) The Network.
- KISS appear as themselves in the "Wishology" trilogy of The Fairly Oddparents, though only Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley provided voices.
- Phineas and Ferb has brought in several musical guest stars as themselves, including Clay Aiken, Chaka Khan, Slash (who actually plays The Movie's feature song with the crew), Kelly Clarkson (who didn't get to sing), and Bowling for Soup, who also perform the show's theme song.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Pinkie Pride" features guest star "Weird Al" Yankovic as Cheese Sandwich, a rival party-planning pony to Pinkie Pie who's basically Weird Al as a pony.
- Hip-Hop artists Childish Gambino and notoriously foul-mouthed Tyler, the Creator provided raps for one-off characters in the battle rap-themed Regular Show episode "Rap it Up."
- Many on Muppet Babies, including Stan Lee and Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo.
- Flamboyant figure skater/reality TV star/commentator Johnny Weir appeared on an episode of Dora the Explorer to teach her how to do a figure skating jump and to mention the importance of sparkles.