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Sometimes actors want to have a say in the words they're given; sometimes they want to stretch their artistic muscles; sometimes they look at the scripts they have to do and think, "I could do better than this!" When this happens, and the producers are on their side (or the network is
), you have something written by a cast member.
Much less prevalent than Directed by Cast Member
, particularly in these days of arc-driven television. Writing is less glamorous than directing, for one thing, and it's harder to develop a story from scratch than to bring someone else's to the screen.
Key to both of these tropes is that the actor gets into writing or directing through the show they're on, without
having a previous background in it (let alone being the series creator). For the opposite direction of crossover, see Descended Creator
and Creator Cameo
. For shows where the cast and the writing staff heavily overlap, see Cast Full of Writers
- Christopher Reeve was offered credited story input to entice him back for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. The title and anti-nuclear theme were his, and he won a lawsuit against a writing duo who claimed otherwise.
- Matt Damon and Ben Affleck both starred in and wrote Good Will Hunting.
- The Devil's Hairpin was written and directed by Cornel Wilde who also is the main star.
Wilde also wrote a song called 'Swing It Just a Little More' for the soundtrack alongside Ross Bagdasarian who also wrote 'The Touch of Love' for the soundtrack as well.
- Leonard Nimoy helped develop the fourth and sixth Star Trek films, and like Reeve, had the writers of an unused script try to muscle him out of the latter credit. (Coincidentally, they were the legitimate screenwriters of Superman IV.) A lawyer-negotiated compromise saw Nimoy share story credit with the pair.
- Small Wonder had a few episodes written, at least in part, by Dick Christie.
- Sonia Manzano has played Maria on Sesame Street since 1971, and has written for the show since 1981.
- During their days on Head of the Class, Brian Robbins and Dan Schneider had their first writing credits on the "Will The Real Arvid Engen Please Stand Up?" episode. And the rest is history.
- Brian Krause (Leo) is the only cast member of Charmed to co-write an episode: he has co-story credit on "Sense And Sense Ability." He's said the finished product was different from what he turned in.
- Unlike Directed by Cast Member, very few episodes of the Star Trek franchise qualify - in fact, the only ones are DS9's "The Muse" (co-written by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry) and Voyager's "Life Line" (co-written by Robert Picardo). Both focused on those actors' characters. (Walter Koenig wrote "The Infinite Vulcan" for the animated series, but due to budget limitations, wasn't a cast member on that show.)
- Barry Watson wrote an episode of 7th Heaven (not one of the two he directed).
- Robert Culp loved doing this on his shows: Trackdown, I Spy, and The Greatest American Hero all had episodes he wrote (AND directed). In addition, he wrote one of the two episodes of Cain's Hundred on which he guest-starred (strangely averted with The Rifleman - he guest-starred on two episodes and also wrote a two-parter in which he does not appear!).
- John Schneider co-wrote and directed "Opening Night At The Boar's Nest," the Series Finale of The Dukes of Hazzard.
- In addition to being the only person to apppear in every episode of M*A*S*H, Alan Alda also wrote numerous episodes (and was one of the writers of the Series Finale to boot).
- Both Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher wrote episodes of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
- Jack Klugman, who made no secret of his views on the standard of writing in TV, wrote or co-wrote four episodes of Quincy in addition to having showrunner Glen A. Larson thrown off the show and eventually getting writers more to his liking. Including his own brother and sister.
- Don Adams co-wrote two episodes of Get Smart.
- Peter Falk wrote one script for Columbo, in which the Lieutenant is romanced by a Femme Fatale. He held it back until finding the perfect co-star: Faye Dunaway, who turned the role into an Emmy.
- Roger Smith wrote several episodes of 77 Sunset Strip.
- Done quite a bit on The X-Files, especially in later seasons. David Duchovny wrote (and directed) two episodes: "The Unnatural" and "Hollywood AD", while co-developing storylines for seven others. Gillian Anderson wrote (and directed) season seven's "all things." William B. Davis (who plays CGB Spender) wrote "En Ami."
- Two episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place were written by David Henrie.
- Two episodes of Farscape (Season 3's "Green-Eyed Monster" and Season 4's "John Quixote") were written by Ben Browder.
- Christopher Judge (Teal'c) and Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson) wrote multiple episodes of Stargate SG-1.
- Nick Offerman earned his first writing credit for a Parks and Recreation script.
- Michael Imperioli wrote several episodes of The Sopranos. This is reflected in Christopher Moltisanti's interest in film and screenwriting.
- Michael Landon got his start in writing with several scripts for his hit series Bonanza. He went on to write more episodes of Little House on the Prairie than anyone else, as well as create another successful vehicle for himself in Highway To Heaven.
- A handful of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episodes were written by Paul Schrier, who played Bulk.
- Patrick Labyorteaux (Bud) wrote the episode "JAG TV" on JAG.
- Several CSI NY cast members have tried their hand at writing an episode. Gary Sinise has done one or two, and Melina Kanakaredes did an ep where Stella goes to Greece chasing a suspect-an ep which unfortunately drew mixed reviews from fans.
- David Faustino (Bud) co-wrote one episode of Married... with Children.
- James Roday has written or co-written over a dozen episodes of Psych, one of which was an elaborate homage to Twin Peaks (his "favorite show of all time, hands down.")
- In one of the Hilarious Outtakes, when James messes up on his lines, his co-star jokes that he should remember the lines since he's the one who wrote them
- St. Elsewhere: Sagan Lewis (Dr. Jackie Wade) is credited for the story of Season 6's "Their Town" as S.J. Lewis.
- Chad Michael Murray wrote an episode of One Tree Hill in which Lucas falls asleep watching Casablanca and dreams the show's cast into a Forties Film Noir world.
- Ellen DeGeneres is credited for the story of Ellen's coming out episode.
- Jerry O'Connell and John Rhys-Davies each received a story credit on Sliders - O'Connell got a few such credits (such as on "Way Out West") while Rhys-Davies only got it for "The Exodus, Part 1." In the latter case, it was the culmination of his feud with the producers and network: they purchased an outline he pitched as an example of how the show could better use its potential, drastically rewrote it into the kind of embarrassing B-movie he'd been complaining about, and since he had just been fired for his outspokenness, reduced his character to a mumbling brain-damaged state, fatally shot him in the heart, and left his corpse behind on a radioactive planet. Which immediately exploded.
- Yaphet Kotto wrote three teleplays for Homicide: Life on the Street.
- Paul Gross wrote or co-wrote some of the most memorable episodes of Due South, including the introduction of Kowalski and the two-part series finale.
- Della Reese contributed a script to Touched by an Angel.
- Ray Romano co-wrote several episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, including some Whole Episode Flashbacks filling in Raymond's past.
- Ted Raimi and Jonathan Brandis each wrote an episode of seaQuest DSV with the help of producer David J. Burke. Brandis was set to direct a second script he had written when the series was Cut Short.
- Denise Nicholas wrote six episodes of In the Heat of the Night.
- As well as directing the first season finale of The Client List, Jennifer Love Hewitt has co-story credit on that episode.
- Stuart Hepburn played a recurrent character in early episodes of Taggart. The producer was so impressed by ideas he had for one scene he was in that he was later invited to come back and write whole episodes; he quickly became one of the most prolific writers after series creator Glenn Chandler.
- Jim Rash wrote "Basic Human Anatomy" for the fourth season of Community.
- Glee's Chris Colfer wrote season five's "Old Dog, New Tricks."
- Outside of three cast members of The Office (US) being staff writers (B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, and Paul Lieberstein), Steve Carell also wrote the season 2 finale "Casino Night" as well as "Survivor Man".
- Sara Gilbert received a story credit on Roseanne for the Season Episode "Don't Make Me Over."
- In 1955, The Archers had an episode where Grace Archer, the wife of Phil, was killed off. (It may or may not have been coincidence that the episode went out on BBC radio the very night commercial television began.) The script had Grace's fate be conveyed in the final line of dialogue thusly: "She... she died in my arms... on the way to hospital," but Norman Painting, who played Phil, suggested the line go "In my arms... on the way to hospital... she's dead!" Suffice to say that not only was this one of the most talked-about episodes of the soap, but Painting went on to write many, many episodes (and the book Forever Ambridge — 25 Years of The Archers), as well as act in them.
- Louise Jameson, who played Leela in Doctor Who, wrote a Fourth Doctor and Leela audio drama for Big Finish Doctor Who, "The Abandoned".
- In Godspell, "By My Side," the only song retained from the original Off-Off-Broadway production, was composed by its performers, Peggy Gordon and Gilmer McCormick (with lyrics by non-cast-member Jay Hamburger).
- Inverted with Star Trek Online. Lead writer Christine "Kestrel" Thompson provides the voice for the USS Enterprise-F's tactical officer, Lieutenant Kyona.
- Dan Castellaneta has so far written seven episodes of The Simpsons with his wife Deb Lacusta ("Days Of Wine And D'oh'ses"note , "Gump Roast"note , "The Ziff Who Came To Dinner,"note "Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore,"note "The Fight Before Christmas,"note "A Midsummer's Nice Dream,"note and "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution"note ).
- He also co-wrote at least one sketch of The Tracey Ullman Show.
- Jack Mercer not only voiced Popeye but wrote several of his screen exploits.
- Will Friedle has written two episodes of ThunderCats (2011): "The Trials of Lion-O - Part 2" and "Birth of the Blades". Both focus on Friedle's character, Lion-O.
- Voice actor Billy West received co-author credit on the The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Ol' Blue Nose".
- April Winchell, the voice of Miss Finster, also did some punch-up writing for Recess: School's Out
- On Mickey's Christmas Carol, Alan Young, the voice of Scrooge, receives a story credit.
- Some episodes of Spliced were written by Mike Kiss, who also voices Mister Smarty Smarts.
- The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Best of Buster Day" was co-written by Charlie Adler, who voices Buster.
- The Rocko's Modern Life episode "Rocko's Happy Vermin" was co-written by Carlos Alazraqui, who voices Rocko.