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Celebrity Paradox / Live-Action TV

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  • The Disney Channel appears to enjoy playing with this trope. In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Maddie (played by Ashley Tisdale) auditions for the part of Sharpay in High School Musical (who was also played by Ashley Tisdale). She claims all her friends say she looks the part, but no one else sees it.
    • Similarly in Hannah Montana, Robbie Ray (played by Billy Ray Cyrus) puts on a mullet wig and claims to be Billy Ray Cyrus. The woman he's talking to thinks he's crazy and quickly leaves.
      • A throwaway joke in one episode's cold open finds Jackson Stewart changing channels on the remote control of the living room TV, switching the TV to Hannah Montana (as evident by the series' theme song playing) and complaining, "When is this show not on?". So Hannah Montana exists in the Hannah universe, but the show's characters are real.
    • Also, the existence of Selena Gomez in the Disney Channel series' universe poses some problems. She played a character in Zack and Cody's middle school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and also Mikayla, Hannah Montana's rival twice, but according to the two crossovers, the two shows exist within the same universe. And to top it all off, Gomez stars in Wizards of Waverly Place where she plays the wizard Alex Russo, who appeared in the second Disney Channel crossover. So, either there are three girls who look freakishly like Selena Gomez, or Alex has been using her magic to screw with our heads.
      • Of course, none of this is mentioning Gomez's guest star role in Sonny with a Chance, where Gomez is famous, but there is no mention of Wizards of Waverly Place being an actual show. Chad speaks of Hannah Montana as a real person. (Although, that might be because of stupidity, because in another episode, after Selena's, Sonny mentions that Chad doesn't know that Hannah and Miley aren't the same person, hinting that Hannah Montana is also a show in that universe.)
      • Within the Sonny with a Chance episode, there is no Camp Rock or Jonas Brothers. (Selena stars in a different version, called "Camp Hip Hop" about dancing - a kind of funny shout out to Another Cinderella Story which stars Gomez - instead of singing, with three Jonas Brothers lookalikes, despite the fact that Joe Jonas guest starred as himself in the Christmas episode.)

  • 3rd Rock from the Sun referenced William Shatner a couple of times before he became the Big Giant Head.
    • In one episode, the cast asks the Big Giant Head how his flight was, and he replies that it was terrible. He says there was something on the wing and no one would believe him. Dick assures The Big Giant Head that the same thing had happened to him. Of course, John Lithgow and William Shatner played the same part, in the Movie and the series respectively.
    • A companion book to the series includes an introduction by John Lithgow despite the book being written in an in-universe manner. Attached to the introduction is a note purportedly written by Dick in which he says he has no idea why the introduction is there, and refers to Lithgow as an Earth actor from "some helicopter movie".
    • Then there was the episode with George Takei...
  • 8 Simple Rules: An episode confirmed that Three's Company definitely exists in-universe, but Paul Hennessy's remarkable resemblance to Jack Tripper is never commented on. To make things even more bizarre, Paul then has a dream sequence resembling Three's Company wherein he plays the part of not Jack, but Mr. Roper.
  • 30 Rock: According to Word of God, Saturday Night Live does not exist In-Universe for this reason. Tina Fey has said that making reference to Eddie Murphy is about the closest the show could ever come to acknowledging the existence of SNL.
    • In one episode, Liz and Tracy argue about Wayne Brady. A few episodes later, Wayne Brady appeared on the show as a character.
    • In an early episode, Jack mentions watching Friends and asks about Ross and Rachel. Both David Schwimmer ("Ross") and Jennifer Aniston ("Rachel") later guest starred. And in an episode after Aniston's appearance, Jenna mentioned her (the actress, not the character).
    • Alec Baldwin once guest starred in an episode of Friends as an almost fourth wall breaking character. Constantly commenting on the characters almost as if he watched them on TV...
    • This MySpace page someone created for Liz Lemon lists Tina Fey as one of Liz's heroes.
    • Liz is a big Star Wars fan and references the films frequently. So it's a little odd that when Carrie Fisher appears as a guest star in the episode "Rosemary's Baby," Liz doesn't recognise her as Princess Leia. (The episode did include the requisite movie reference: "Help me, Liz Lemon, you're my only hope!")
    • In one episode Liz wonders who played "the white guy in Invictus" — in our world it was Matt Damon, who played Liz's boyfriend Carol.
    • The View exist on 30 Rock and Jenna even made an appearance on it, so it's strange no one mentions how much Tray's wife Angie looks like Sherri Shepherd.
    • In "Kidnapped by Danger", Jenna appears on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon is best known for co-anchoring "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey. He's also believed to the basis for the 30 Rock character Josh Girard.
      • This got even more bizarre when Jimmy Fallon played a young Jack Donaghy in a flashback during the series' second live episode.
    • The ad agency Sterling Cooper from Mad Men apparently exists in the 30 Rock universe (Liz's mother was a secretary there in the sixties), but Jon Hamm appears as Drew, one of Liz's boyfriends. Also, like Jimmy Fallon and several other actors including the main cast, Hamm plays a few roles in the live episodes in "clips" from fictional TV shows past.
    • Kenneth makes Rule of Funny references implying he is attached to the mythologies of both Mad Men and Lost, yelling, "My real name is Dick Whitman!" as well as talking to Jacob more than once. Lost exists as a TV show on 30 Rock, while the Mad Men one is extra-nonsensical for the above-mentioned reasons.
    • When trying to prove that NBC isn't racist, Jack says he was too busy trying to remember the name of the black kid on Community, too which Liz proudly answers "Donald Glover". Donald Glover is a former 30 Rock writer.
    • The series finale just went for it and had Jack include "Baldwin" in a list of his enemies.

  • Absolutely Fabulous: Both Joanna Lumley and Patsy Stone were minor Bond girls. It remains unknown whether or not they were the same minor Bond girl.
  • All My Children: Jesse Mc Cartney played J.R. for three years. Five years later, after becoming a popular recording artist, he returned as himself. His appearance was a birthday surprise for Colby, J.R.'s sister. It was somewhat justified because another actor was playing J.R. by this point so he couldn't just reprise his role.
  • Ally McBeal is set in the same universe as other David E. Kelley shows, including The Practice, and in fact those two shows crossed over on at least one occasion. However, another episode has Ally watching TV (although the audience can only hear the sound, not see the screen) and the famous "head in the bag" scene from The Practice is playing.
  • Are We There Yet?: In one episode, Nick gets his kids interested in A Different World, which he mentions being a fan of, Sinbad in particular. Several episodes later, Sinbad pops up playing a judge, and Nick doesn't notice the resemblance.
  • The A-Team:
    • One episode introduced Hulk Hogan playing himself as an old friend of B.A. Baracus. No mention was made as to Hogan's tag-team partner at WrestleMania I.
    • Another episode that took place at Universal Studios shows Face doing a double take as a Cylon walked right by. One wonders who played the role of Starbuck in that universe...
      • Maybe Face did, as part of some con-game that went hilariously off the rails?

  • Ballers: It's not necessarily canonical, but the title sequence shows Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in his playing days at the University of Miami.
  • The Big Bang Theory has all the characters as fans of a wide variety of TV shows and movies. Considering that wide of a net, there was going to be some actor overlap.
    • Cameos by Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, George Takei, Katee Sackhoff, Summer Glau and Nathan Fillion, all playing themselves. Michael Trucco appears as a visiting physicist, no one mentions how much he looks like Sam Anders. Raj's father looks like Dr Bashir's father. Raj also doesn't notice he's dating Zoe from Caprica.
    • We're treated to an interesting take of this in the Summer Glau episode. Sheldon speculates that if Skynet were real, then the best strategy would be for them to copy and impersonate actors who have played Terminators on film.
    • In a season 1 episode, the characters have a discussion about how Mayim Bialik and Danica McKellar are serious academics as well as actresses. It would've been weird enough if just one of them had shown up later in the series, but both actresses would end up playing fictional guest parts in season 3, and Bialik's character Amy has since become one of the show's main characters.
      • Indeed, it's remarkable that Sheldon didn't notice that his computer-matched girlfriend not only looks like the actress he previously admired but studies the same academic subject.
    • Raj is a fan of The Good Wife, yet hasn't noticed that Leonard's mother looks like one of the main characters.
    • Simon Helberg once cameoed in The Guild, which exists in this world, implying Howard has a doppelganger. He was also in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, another show once brought up.
    • At least Leonard and Sheldon are fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but they don't notice that the FBI agent who does Howard's background check looks a lot like Eliza Dushku.
    • As mentioned above in NCIS, the show appears in Season 7 and Mark Harmon is mentioned, but in Season 12 of NCIS, an episode of The Big Bang Theory plays in the episode "Parental Guidance Suggested." Hence, the shows exist in each other's universe, which means NCIS exists within The Big Bang Theory, which exists within NCIS, which exists within The Big Bang Theory, etc....
    • The characters mention Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) as being one of their favorite theme songs. TBBT creator Chuck Lorre wrote cartoon theme songs, including that one, before getting into sitcoms.
    • The Walking Dead was mentioned late in the series' run, but Sheldon's former roommate was played by Steven Yeun.
  • Blindspot: A very likely deliberate one, combined with a Shout-Out: one of the characters recommends the book Vacationland by John Hodgman. Hodgman previously appeared on the show in a recurring role as an FBI internal affairs inspector.
  • Bones played with it a bit. In real life, Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, who writes novels about a fictional forensic anthropologist named Temperance Brennan. In Bones, Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, who writes novels about a fictional forensic anthropologist—named Kathy Reichs. (Word of God explains that Bones is really an Author Avatar more than a direct adaptation of the novels' Temperance, and Reichs describes her as more or less a "younger" version) However, in the first episode, Bones mentions that the next-closest forensic anthropologist besides herself is in Montreal—where Temperance Brennan works in the novels. Also played more typically straight in a few episodes:
    • Intern-of-the-week Fisher mentions that he's a Buffy fan, without mentioning how much Booth looks like Angel.
    • In the episode "The Gamer in the Grease", three of the lab techs take turns camping out for the premiere of Avatar, a movie starring Joel David Moore, who also plays Fisher. Must be intentionally invoked, because Moore is only occasionally a guest star on the show, and he appears in this episode.
    • Very early in the show, Hodgins comments to Zack — "Your robot is like you. You tell it to walk, it jumps. You tell it to jump, it rolls. You tell it to take out the garbage, it watches old reruns of Firefly." This is pre-Cam, who is played by Tamara Taylor, who has a bit part in The Big Damn Movie, but any Whedon reference in a show starring David Boreanez is amusing.
    • Cyndi Lauper appeared in a fifth season ep, "The Harbingers In The Fountain" as Avalon, Angela's tarot card reader. In Season 3, Brennan admitted that she was fond of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", and even sang it on-stage. Years later, Avalon would return the favor by singing Etta James' "At Last" at Booth and Brennan's wedding.
    • In the upcoming Season 9 there may be more potential for this trope; Freddie Prinze Jr, real-life husband of Sarah Michelle Gellar, will play a recurring villain. No doubt we'll be treated to at least one line regarding his character and Booth "having similar taste in women".
    • In the season 10 premiere, Hodgins mentions recording Sleepy Hollow. In season 11, the show has a direct crossover with the show Sleepy Hollow itself, with the Bones cast meeting the main characters. Hodgins and Angela discuss if the two remind them of anyone, but Hodgins says the couple reminds them of themselves while Angela thinks they resemble Booth and Brennen.
  • Boy Meets World has a deliberate Actor Allusion example: Mr. Feeny, played by William Daniels, mentions at one point that he thinks The Graduate is a great film. Yet he doesn't mention anything about his resemblance to Mr. Braddock in that film.
  • Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul:
    • In "Bug", Jesse at one point refers to Gus walking unflinchingly into a line of sniper fire as "Terminator shit". Dean Norris (Hank) made a brief appearance in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as the leader of the LAPD SWAT team that raids Cyberdyne headquarters and guns down Miles Dyson.
    • In "Rabid Dog", notice that there is a Deadwood DVD is among the visible items on a shelf in Hank's house. Surely Hank notices that his sister-in-law looks a lot like Martha Bullock (both were played by Anna Gunn)? The same episode mentions Babylon 5, which Bryan Cranston (who plays Walter White) played a small part as Ranger Captain Ericsson in the episode "The Long Night". Not only that, but Jim Beaver, who has a medium-sized role on that show, appears in both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul as Lawson, an arms dealer that Mike, and later Walt, solicit for weapons.
    • In "Hazard Pay", Walter White and Walt Jr. are seen watching Scarface (1983), a movie that featured in supporting roles, Mark Margolis (Hector Salamanca), Steven Bauer (Don Eladio) and Míriam Colón (Tuco's grandmother).
    • As shown in the set tour DVD bonus feature, there are some X-Files DVD's in Walt Jr's bedroom, implying that the two series' creator Vince Gilligan himself exists in Breaking Badland. Not only that, but several members of the cast have appeared in the X-Files, including Bryan Cranston, in the episode "Drive". Dean Norris (Hank) incidentally appeared in a different X-Files episode.
    • In "Switch", Daniel Warmolt acquires a Hummer that appears to have a paint job he had based on the Pussy Wagon from Kill Bill. The driver of the Pussy Wagon was played by Michael Bowen, who plays Uncle Jack Welker.
    • In "Amarillo", when doing a preview run of his D&M commercial to Kim, Jimmy sets up the scenario by saying they're watching Murder, She Wrote. That show has seen guest stars like Bryan Cranston (Walter White), Michael McKean (Chuck McGill), Patrick Fabian (Howard Hamlin), Raymond Cruz (Tuco Salamanca), Dennis Boutsikaris (Rick Schweikert), and Miriam Colon (Tuco's abuelita).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the Season 8 comics we see Buffy and Dawn are big fans of Veronica Mars, although no mention is made of the fact that actors from Buffy have appeared on Veronica Mars, as well as show creator Joss Whedon.
    • Willow's boyfriend in season 2-4 is Oz, played by Seth Green. In one of the non-canon novels Buffy asks Willow why she couldn't be into someone current, like Seth Green.
    • In the episode "The Prom" Tucker Wells has trained hell hounds to attack people wearing formal wear. He has done so by showing them various movies, including Pump Up the Volume — which features Juliet Landau (Drusilla) and Seth Green (Oz).
    • In "What's My Line, Part 2", Buffy warns Kendra not to watch the in-flight movie if it's got dogs or Chevy Chase in it, referencing the film Funny Farm, which Sarah Michelle Gellar had an uncredited cameo in.
    • In Season 8's "Time of Your Life", the Tenth Doctor and Rose make a brief appearance. In "In Perfect Harmony" from the Season 9 comics, David Tennant and Billie Piper appear.

  • Castle:
    • In a Halloween episode, the title character dresses up as Malcolm Reynolds, who was played by Nathan Fillion. He refers to his costume as a "space cowboy" and his daughter points out that he wore that same costume like five years ago, around the time Serenity was released.
      "Don't you think you should move on?"
      "I like it."
    • Castle learned to speak Mandarin Chinese from "from a TV show [he] use to love."
      • Also referred to as "That Joss Whedon show" in "The Final Frontier" when he's listing sci-fi shows he considers good. Explains his choice in Halloween costumes in a previous episode, at least.
      • In the same episode, as soon as he finds out about the murder at the 'con, his reply is "Shiny!".
    • It's also implied that Martha has had at least some of the roles Susan Sullivan has had in real life, explicitly her role in The Incredible Hulk pilot movie. Though Martha is an actress, so one can assume that in-universe she simply played all the roles that Susan Sullivan did.
      • Alternatively, Martha and Susan used to compete for roles, and Martha 'retreated' to New York after Susan beat her out once too often for a screen role... with some of her work even being mis-attributed to Susan due to faulty IMDb fact-checking.
    • Since Castle seems to be familiar with Desperate Housewives, it would be interesting to know who played Adam and Katherine Mayfair in this universe.
      • In one of the Halloween episodes Buffy is mentioned. If Nathan Fillion is not around, who is it that played Caleb in season seven?
      • Assuming the Richard Castle Twitter feed is canon, Fillion DOES exist in the Castleverse and is one of Richard's favorite actors. Presumably, the somewhat egotistical author feels an attachment to the actor who looks like him.
      • And assuming you consider viral promos as canon, there exists one promo video where Castle tells the viewers, "And if you run into Nathan Fillion, tell him he still owes me money for beating him at poker!"
      • One wonders why he's never mentioned that Detective Slaughter looks a lot like the guy who played Jayne on Firefly.
    • In the Michael Connelly novel The Drop Bosch's daughter mentioned watching episodes of Castle. One wonders who Castle plays poker with in that version.
  • The Catherine Tate Show did a sketch for Comic Relief which featured David Tennant as Lauren Cooper's teacher. She frequently jokes throughout the sketch about how much he resembles the Doctor ("Your house... is it bigger on the inside?" "D'you fancy Billie Piper, sir?"). At the end, he zaps her with the sonic screwdriver, turning her into a Rose Tyler action figure.

    And adding onto the confusion, Catherine had already played Donna Noble, the Doctor's companion in the 2006 Christmas special, who came back full-time for the 2008 series. Apparently Lauren Cooper missed The Runaway Bride and was killed off before she could watch series 4 and notice the woman who looks just like her traveling through space with a Time Lord who looks just like her English teacher.
  • Cheers:
    • On the 1988 episode "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," the guys are talking about female celebrities they find attractive. Norm mentions Jill Eikenberry of L.A. Law, which aired at 10 PM on Thursdays on NBC at the time, the same night and network as Cheers, and which raises questions about how that show exists in the Cheers universe, and, if the Cheers gang were to have turned on NBC on a Thursday night at 9 PM, what would they see.
    • In Season 2's "Old Flames", Cliff describes Gandhi as "a fine piece of cinematic art". Cliff does not stop to wonder why that American lieutenant briefly seen driving a jeep in one scene looks so much like him.
  • Christmas on Vesterbro has Anders Matthesen not only playing all main characters, but he also appears in a cameo As Himself. Not only that, but it seems that within the universe, Matthesen does comedy about the sailor, who's the main character of the entire series.
  • Chuck features a very prominent TRON poster in the main character's bedroom. It also features Bruce Boxleitner as "Woody" Woodcomb, father of one of the main cast. The poster is the real thing, with Boxleitner listed as the star, but nobody ever brings it up.
    • Also, Tricia Helfer has guested on the show as a fellow government agent, but Sarah has been spotted with a "Go Frak Yourself" T-shirt. Who played Six in the Chuck-verse? And now we find out that Romo freakin' Lampkin works for The Ring?
    • In one episode, Sarah and Chuck are watching Spies Like Us and Chuck specifically mentions Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase, he failed to notice that Chevy Chase looks a lot like season two villain, Ted Roark.
    • Chuck mentions Die Hard in a season four episode, though a season two episode had previously featured Reginald Vel Johnson as Sgt. Al Powell. Not a similar character. Sgt. Al Powell.
    • In one season 4 episode, Chuck tells Sarah he feels like he should be James Bond, to which Sarah responds that she didn't fall in love with James Bond, but with him. Later in that same episode, Sarah goes undercover working for the season's Big Bad, Alexei Volkoff, played by Bond actor Timothy Dalton.
    • In Season 3, Chuck scoffs when a bad guy chooses "Ivan Drago" as his fake name, but in the season 4 pilot he pays no mind when Dolph Lundgren shows up as Marco. Marco even uses some of Drago's quotes, "I must break you" and "If [they] die, [they] die".
    • A season 4 episode involves some tension with Alex wearing Morgan's unworn Back to the Future shirt, even though Christopher Lloyd was Chuck's therapist in the previous season.
    • Season 5 plays with it even more: Bo Derek and Stan Lee appear in episodes of Season 5 as themselves. In the Chuckverse, both are secretly spies (Stan Lee with the CIA, Bo Derek working with Nicholas Quinn.
    • Night Court exists in the Chuck-universe (a clip from it can be seen in season one). John Larroquette just happens to play retired spy Roan Montgomery, and wouldn't you know it, there isn't a single mention of him looking a lot like Dan Fielding.
  • Cobra Kai: Miguel shows up to an eighties-themed costume event dressed in the iconic red leather jacket outfit Johnny Lawrence wore in The Karate Kid. Since Johnny Lawrence is Miguel's karate teacher and the events of the first three "Karate Kid" films were actual events in canon, one has to wonder...
  • In the fictional world of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert's other works do exist, but Colbert (the actor) doesn't — all of his roles were played by Kevin Spacey instead.
  • Cold Case: In "Creatures of the Night", Barry Bostwick plays a serial killer. The crime in question involved a 1977 murder and one of the main plot points had the killer and suspected victim attending a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show which starred a much-younger Barry Bostwick. So, flashbacks showed the younger version of Bostwick's character watching a movie starring a character played by a younger Barry Bostwick. Confused yet?
    • Now, if only Rush had called the killer "Asshole"...
    • A bit of The Breakfast Club confusion. Some kids watch the movie in an early season two episode and a character mentions it by name in season three, yet Paul Gleason appeared as a character in another season three episode.
  • Coronation Street: Nobody ever watches TV. Certainly not at 7:30 every weekday evening. None of the magazine titles in Norris's newsagents are those of recognisable publications in this world. And nobody in the street seems to have noticed a sudden infestation of meerkats, a species native to South Africa, and are asking whether this merits intervention by the zoo, the RSPCA, or Rentokil (An insurance company using anthropomorphic meerkats as mascots is "sponsoring" the show, with commercials at the start and finish of each segment.These feature the lovable animals drinking in the Rovers, dining in Roy's café, and doing other cute meerkat things).
  • Cosby: "My Spy" had Bill Cosby reprising his role from I Spy, with the explanation that this was a Dream Sequence after his Cosby character had fallen asleep watching the show.
  • The Crazy Ones: It is revealed that Sarah Michelle Gellar's character is a fan of the show Bones especially David Boreanaz, who is also well known for playing the Vampire lover to a certain Slayer...
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: A tremendously meta example. In "I Need Some Balance", Maya references a tweet by Neil Patrick Harris about that year's Tony Awards, asking who the woman in the top hat was backstage. This is a reference to a minor feud that emerged from that real tweet, and the woman in question was none other than series creator (and Maya's co-worker) Rachel Bloom, who plays Rebecca Bunch.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In "The Instincts", Rossi and Morgan are waiting for Reid in Reid's hotel room, where they're watching "The Young and The Restless". It's an obvious allusion to Shemar Moore - who played Y&R's Malcolm Winters as well as CM's Morgan - but it raised an interesting conundrum: at the time the episode aired, no one else had played Winters and no one noticed Morgan's resemblance to him. This only leads to the question of who played Winters in the CM universe, since we never see anyone notice how similar Morgan looks to Winters.
    • The show is also quite fond of hiring actors from StarTrek, including notable UnSub roles for Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Frakes and Raphael Sbarge. However, in "The Big Game", we hear Reid discussing Star Trek with a bar patron, indicating that he is a fan of the series - yet, in "The Uncanny Valley", we see him in a room with Arthur Malcolm (played by Frakes) and he never notices the resemblance to Commander Riker. Yes, it may be true that Reid only referenced The Original Series in "The Big Game" indicating that he may only be a fan of the original, but we do also see him attend a cosplay convention in "Hit", so at the very least, he'd be familiar with the character of Riker.
    • The show - as expected - makes constant references to famous serial killers of yesteryear, but not once do they reference the pioneers of criminal profiling itself, such as Robert Ressler or John Douglas. The show implies that the real life figures played no role in the BAU at all, in that the characters of the show - especially the grizzled veterans Rossi and Hotch - were the ones who really did all the work in establishing profiling as a legitimate crime fighting technique. Which leads to the question - do the real life "profilers" exist in other capacities, such as, perhaps, underlings to the show's BAU? Or are they absent from the show's universe entirely? The paradox gains another dimension when you learn that Ressler was the one who coined the term "serial killer", a term the show uses frequently - if Ressler does not exist, who created the term?
    • "Identity" has Reid discussing how much energy it would take the Death Star to destroy a planet the size of Earth, much to Morgan's chagrin. 5 seasons later, in "The Replicator", nobody notices that the title character bears an astonishing resemblance to Luke Skywalker.
  • CSI: NY:
    • Nobody comments on Detective Mac Taylor's remarkable resemblance to Gary Sinise, but he does share last names with Sinise's most famous recent role, Lieutenant Dan Taylor.
    • An inverted example is John McEnroe playing both himself and a McEnroe look-alike who attempts to frame the former for murder.

  • Dad's Army: One episode has a scene in a cinema, with a poster on the wall for the film The Edge of the World, starring John Lawrie - aka the platoon's Private Fraser.
  • Degrassi:
    • There have been numerous references made to Drake, who played Jimmy Brooks on the show (credited under his real name Aubrey Graham) and is arguably the most famous former cast member, likely as a Mythology Gag. In the TV movie Degrassi Takes Manhattan, a TVM reporter mentions an interview with rap superstar Drake. The pilot of Degrassi: Next Class also begins with Maya quoting Drake's song "Started from the Bottom".
    • The previous film, Degrassi Goes Hollywood, mentions meeting Shenae Grimes at a 90210 after party. Who appeared in that season playing Darcy Edwards for the last time.
    • Also, celebrity guest stars fall in various sides of this trope. A few appear as themselves, making this a non-issue (Kevin Smith, Jay Manuel), but others appeared as random extras (Billy Ray Cyrus, Colin Mochrie). Nobody comments on how familiar they look.
  • Diagnosis: Murder:
    • Amanda Bentley has a Contest Winner Cameo on The Young and the Restless and both her colleagues at the hospital and the crew of YatR comment on her resemblance to Victoria Rowell, who actually was a regular cast member of that series.
    • When Detective Sloan is talking to a TV producer who lists off several shows including Airwolf, a show that starred Barry Van Dyke. They stop for a moment then continue on like nothing happened.
  • A Different World (a spinoff of The Cosby Show) has it happen. Dwayne and Whitely go to L.A. for their honeymoon and encounter a cut out of Bill Cosby. No one seems to wonder about the uncanny resemblance with Cliff Huxtable.
    • Justfied because although they know most of the Huxtables they never met Cliff.
  • Diff'rent Strokes: In "The Slumber Party", Arnold mentions Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar would later play Arnold's teacher in two episodes.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The original series story "Remembrance of the Daleks" is set a few weeks after the TV show actually launched (23rd November, 1963). Ace, the companion, turns on a TV, and the announcer is briefly heard saying, "This is BBC Television, the time is quarter past five, and Saturday viewing continues with an adventure in the new science fiction series, Do-" before it is cut off.
    • "Aliens of London" features a clip from a (fictional) episode of Blue Peter, which has referenced Doctor Who on more than one occasion. In addition, some of the characters who've appeared in the series over the years, including mid-Sixties companion Steven Taylor, have been played by Blue Peter presenters.
    • The Doctor mentions Arthur Dent in "The Christmas Invasion", commenting that "he" was a Nice Guy. If this is assumed to be a reference to Douglas Adams instead of the actual Arthur Dent (whose universe is perhaps too silly even for Doctor Who), this is a problem, since Adams got his start writing episodes of Doctor Who during the Tom Baker era. And either way, it makes it troubling when Rory references "the Restaurant at the end of the Universe" in "The God Complex". The 2018 novelization goes the route of insinuating that Dent does exist in the Whoniverse.
    • In Doctor Who, the Harry Potter books exist and have been made into movies. The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire features David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) as Barty Crouch Jr. The Doctor's a fan of the series, so you'd think he'd notice the resemblance:
      The Doctor: [to Martha] Wait'll you read Book 7, I cried...
      • Roger Lloyd-Pack, who played John Lumic in the two-parter "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel", played Barty Crouch Sr. in the film adaptation of Goblet of Fire. However, Lumic exists in an alternate dimension where there are zeppelins everywhere and England has a President instead of a Prime Minister, so it's entirely possible Roger Lloyd-Pack never existed in that dimension/someone else played Barty Crouch Sr.note 
    • In "The Idiot's Lantern", the Doctor refers to Kylie Minogue. Kylie later appeared in the Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned" playing Astrid Peth opposite the Tenth Doctor. He didn't seem to notice.
    • In "Army of Ghosts", EastEnders exists as a fictional television series. The character of Peggy Mitchell bars a ghost she presumes to be Den Watts from The Queen Vic. In the real EastEnders, Watts was killed by his wife Chrissie, who is played by Tracy-Ann Oberman, who appears in "Army of Ghosts" as Yvonne Hartman.
    • In "The Lazarus Experiment", while wearing a tux, the Doctor acts annoyed at Martha comparing him to James Bond. Timothy Dalton, the fourth Bond, appeared in "The End of Time" as the Narrator, Rassilon, Lord President of the Time Lords.
    • Considering the number of identical doubles they've encountered throughout their travels in time and space, the Doctor probably isn't too surprised by it anymore.
    • A more subtle one in "The Stolen Earth". Richard Dawkins is on television talking about the Earth's abrupt relocation. Dawkins is married to Lalla Ward, who played Romana II in the classic series.
      • Dawkins is again referenced by name in "The Big Bang", where he's the leader of a "Star Cult" in the alternate timeline.
    • "Victory of the Daleks" concerns the Doctor being a friend of Winston Churchill. One of the previous Doctors, Jon Pertwee, actually was a top British spy in real life who answered directly to Winston Churchill — and Churchill suggested he become an actor.
    • In a bonus scene made for the series 5 DVD release, the Doctor calls himself "Space Gandalf", which is only nearly accurate. But the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, plays the wizard Radagast in The Hobbit films.
    • As pointed out in Doctor Who Magazine, the presence of a tin of Smash instant mashed potatoes in the seventies-set episode "Hide" implies the existence of the Smash Martians ad, voiced by Peter Hawkins with a robotic treatment not totally dissimilar to his iconic Dalek voice.
    • In the Series 7 finale, "The Name of the Doctor", the Eleventh Doctor meets another incarnation of himself, played by John Hurt. However, the Doctor and Toshiko Sato have mentioned John Hurt before, so he obviously exists. Maybe he just looks different?
      • In "Last Christmas", the Twelfth Doctor is appalled to discover that there's a horror movie called Alien. He'll be even more offended when he learns the horrible death suffered by someone who looks just like his secret incarnation.
    • Perhaps the strangest thing is that the Doctor frequently visits a bizarre alternate London in which the old-fashioned police telephone box is merely an obscure piece of obsolete street furniture, all but forgotten, and not in any way an instantly-recognizable cultural icon.
      • Speaking of which, in "The Bells of Saint John", the people at the office in the Shard at one point spend all night searching for the TARDIS over all the cameras in London (the Doctor had jumped ahead to the following morning to tire them out), and it is mentioned that there was an "embarrassment" involving confusion with the police box located outside the Earl's Court Tube station... which, in Real Life, is a replica installed in 1998 because American tourists who'd seen the TV movie were disappointed by the lack of police boxes in Britain!
    • In "Robot of Sherwood", the Twelfth Doctor accesses various fictional portrayals of Robin Hood. These include a picture from the TV adaptation starring Patrick Troughton — who played the Second Doctor.
    • "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" references both DC and Marvel Comics, including direct mentions of both Superman and Spider-Man. Assuming all their film and TV adaptations exist in the Whoniverse, that would include Supergirl (2015), which is part of the Arrowverse which has featured John Barrowmannote , Colin Salmonnote , Alex Kingstonnote , Russell Toveynote  and Arthur Darvillnote ; and Spidey's film appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise which has not only had Karen Gillannote , but two of the Doctor's previous incarnations as well!
      • In what would also count as an in-universe paradox, if all of Superman's media appearances exist, then that would include the video game LEGO Dimensions — in which the Twelfth Doctor himself is also a playable character. Is your head starting to hurt yet?
    • "The Tsuranga Conundrum": Graham mentions he's a fan of Call the Midwife, a show that shares several actors with Doctor Who, including former lead actress Jessica Raine.
  • Due South: In a first-season episode, Constable Fraser (Paul Gross) mentions that Constable Buck Frobisher bears a striking resemblance to "noted Canadian character actor Leslie Nielsen". Frobisher is played by Nielsen.

  • EastEnders:
    • In "There Is No Carry On In EastEnders", Chris Moyles discusses the many, many things that can't exist in the EastEnders universe because of this trope, which may go some way to explaining why the series is such a Crapsack World.
    • On the same subject: in reference to the quote on the Quote Page, British soaps tend to throw another soap in the slot where they should be in real life; i.e. the soap that goes out every weekday at 7 PM in the Emmerdale universe is called Castle Bridge.
    • On the other hand, anyone watching TV in EastEnders always seems to be watching a comedy, a documentary, a movie...anything but a soap opera.
      • Except in one instance where long-standing character Dot Cotton announced that she never misses rival soap opera Coronation Street. This was a friendly nod to the fact that Coronation Street was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.
      • Does Dot ever remark on how much the owner of the Rovers Return looks like that nasty Cindy Beale (both characters played by Michelle Collins)?
    • Grange Hill also can't exist in Endersverse either, because there is no other way of explaining how half the cast of the former ended up in the cast of the later, and nobody recognising their fellow schoolmates.
  • Emergency! began as a spinoff of Adam-12, with some early series crossovers. In a later episode, however, characters were shown watching an episode of Adam 12 on TV.
  • Entourage clearly exists in a contemporary Hollywood, with many actors and prominent movie industry personalities appearing and referenced but the main characters aren't recognised for their actors - no-one mistakes Eric for Kevin Connolly, or thinks Johnny Drama looks like Matt Dillon (actor Kevin Dillon's more successful brother).

  • Fantasy Island: In the remake, Dean Cain plays a lawyer suspected of murder. The travel agent is called to the witness box and describes the lawyer as resembling 'the guy that played Superman on TV'.
  • Farscape: As the show was a Jim Henson Company production, the Halosians were modified Skeksis costumes from The Dark Crystal. In a later episode, John actually refers to them as Skeksis.
  • Flash Forward:
    • The pilot shows a billboard for Oceanic Airlines—but later on shows a bus ad for Lost's final season, implying that Lost is a show in the Flash Forward universe. Who plays Penny and Charlie in FlashForward's version of Lost?
    • The show also had a reference to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, yet it has a fictional president in the same episode. So the 2008 election was exactly the same but with some random white guy winning instead of Obama?
  • Flight of the Conchords is set in a world where The Lord of the Rings movies were made and filmed in New Zealand, but nobody mentions the fact that Brett McKenzie looks alarmingly like one of the elves.
    • Although Bret wasn't in the film for very long, and given the nature of the Conchords characters, it's entirely possible that no one thinks it worthy of comment.
  • Frankenstein: In the 2004 Made-for-TV Movie, the story of Frankenstein is mentioned a few times. When asked about it, the original creature says that Mary Shelley's novel was actually Based on a True Story.
  • Frasier: Noel Shempsky is a big fan of Star Trek, but never seemed to notice Frasier Crane's similarity to Capt. Morgan Bateson.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Ashley Banks is a fan of both Tevin Campbell and in-universe teen heart-throb Little T (played by Tevin Campbell).
    • An even weirder example was seen when George and Louise Jefferson make a couple of appearances...despite earlier episodes having established The Jeffersons as being a fictional show in the Fresh Prince universe... AND Sherman Hemsley having ALREADY made several appearances as an entirely different character who at one point made an Actor Allusion joke.
    • Will not only repeatedly references The Cosby Show, and Malcolm Jamal-Warner specifically, but in one episode, he tells a detailed story claiming that Jamal-Warner is a close, personal friend of his who calls him for advice on women. A later episode has Jamal-Warner playing Hilary's boyfriend Eric.
    • In "Kiss My Butler", Will references Ben Vereen by name when he talks about Geoffrey's attire. Vereen would later portray Will's father, Lou, in "Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse".
    • In another episode, Hilary references a magazine that has "that supermodel Tyra" (who was then going by Only One Name) on the cover. During the show's fourth season, Tyra played Jackie Ames, one of Will's love interests.
      • It's a shame really, because had Tyra gone by her full name it would have had the potential for an additional joke. Maybe that's exactly why her last name wasn't mentioned...
  • Friends: Lots of it, given the amount of guest stars.
    • Ross, Joey, and Chandler are die-hard fans of Die Hard. However, when they meet Paul Stevens (played by Bruce Willis), he doesn't seem to remind them of John McClane.
      • Joey loves the Die Hard movies, but doesn't recognize his own father as the guy who gave John McClane a parking ticket in the first sequel. They're both played by Robert Costanzo.
    • In earlier episodes, Ross has Winona Ryder on his "list," but no one comments when Winona Ryder shows up as Rachel's sorority sister.
    • Ross also considers Susan Sarandon for the list. She also turned up in a later episode, not playing herself.
    • Chandler has Jessica Rabbit on his list. Kathleen Turner, who voiced Jessica Rabbit, plays his transgender dad, although maybe Fridge Brilliance in that his dad could have made himself look like Kathleen Turner...
    • In the episode "The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy", Chandler talks about women he has mental images of during sex, mentioning Elle MacPherson. Elle herself starred in Season 6 as Janine, Joey's roommate.
    • Jurassic Park is mentioned quite a few times, due to Ross's being a paleontologist. Jeff Goldblum shows up as a guest in one episode, also not playing himself.
    • In the second season episode "The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies", Chandler mentions an ex-girlfriend who thought that 'Sean Penn' was the capital of Cambodia. Sean Penn appeared in two episodes of the eighth season, playing neither himself nor the capital of Cambodia.
    • Ross mentions Magnum, P.I. in an Orphaned Punchline during "TOW No One's Ready"; of course, Tom Selleck had his run as Richard in the previous season (and even provides an uncredited voice cameo in the same episode).
    • In a fifth season episode, Phoebe's replacement doctor that helps oversee the birth of her brother's triplets initially turns her off due to his constant gushing over Happy Days and Fonzie, and he gets offended when Rachel says she always preferred Mork. Robin Williams had previously made a brief cameo appearance two seasons prior, again not playing himself.
    • One that borders on Actor Allusion and Meta Casting; in one episode, the owner of a Russian dry cleaners refuses to put up Joey's picture, claiming he makes fun of Russians, with Joey noting he has a picture of Harrison Ford, who killed several Russians in Air Force One, which the dry cleaner admits he's never seen ("you should, it's great"). It's this trope because the dry cleaner is played by Ilia Volok, who appeared in Air Force One as Vladimir Krasin, the first terrorist that Ford's character Marshall killed. Meaning that the dry cleaner never saw a movie where he gets killed, but Joey, who did see the movie, didn't notice that he looked like one of the terrorists from the film.
      • Speaking of Air Force One (which Joey has seen), Egor Korshunov, the main antagonist, was played by Gary Oldman. Gary Oldman showed up in the Friends season finale the following year not playing himself; his character was an actor appearing in a big budget WWI epic with Joey.
    • In "The One with Rachel's Crush", the characters discuss Romance on the Set, and Ross brings up Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger as examples. Baldwin later guest starred as Parker, Phoebe's annoyingly positive boyfriend.
    • At one point, the Cocoon movies are mentioned by Monica's parents, the second film of which Courteney Cox appeared in.
    • In "TOW Ross's Wedding", while the gang are in London Joey ends up getting homesick after watching an episode of Cheers. Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) guest-starred in one episode in one of her earliest roles.
  • Fringe:
  • Full House:
    • Here's a paradox capable of destroying the universe (or at least our own galaxy): Jaleel White appeared in an episode as Steve Urkel, where he met Uncle Jesse (played by John Stamos). White also appeared on Step by Step as Urkel, where he met Carol (played by Suzanne Somers). But then John Stamos appears on Step by Step as himself, where he meets Carol, and he mentions Full House! That means that in the Step by Step universe, Urkel is both a fictional character (having appeared on Full House) AND a real person, having appeared in person before their very eyes. Try getting your head around that.
      • It's possible that Urkel happened to land an acting gig on Full House as a part of some sort of contest or something.
    • Oh, and while we're at it, DJ's boyfriend Steve also meets Suzanne Somers on an episode of Full House, just in case it wasn't paradoxical enough already.
  • Furuhata Ninzaburou: Played with. Big name celebrity actors make appearances on the show as victims and murderers, and no mention of whether or not they look like famous people, but the titular detective actually does butt heads with the J-Pop group SMAP (one of whom already cameoed as a suspect in an earlier episode).

  • Garth Marenghis Darkplace: The Show Within a Show was conceived and written by horror writer Garth Marenghi, who also plays the lead character. Characters in the show are shown reading Marenghi's books. This is just another way for him to stroke his ego, especially given the positive comments the characters (which he himself wrote) make about his books.
  • Gilmore Girls: Rory asks her friend 'Who are you planning to meet at this time of night? Spike and Drusilla?', suggesting that she watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, she doesn't seem to notice that her boss/friend/friend's boyfriend looks a lot like serial unlucky guy and occasional Buffy villain Jonathan Levinson, both played by Danny Strong.
  • The Golden Girls had a few examples:
    • In one early episode, Blanche wants the girls to watch Another World. Rue McLanahan, who played Blanche, appeared on that particular soap years before The Golden Girls began.
    • Dorothy, upon hearing that another bizarre St. Olaf festival is occurring, begins singing "Sunrise, Sunset", a song from Fiddler on the Roof. Guess who played Yente in the original Broadway cast of that musical? Apparently, Dorothy had a successful stage career before becoming a substitute teacher...
    • Sophia and Dorothy dress up as Sonny and Cher for a talent show. Blanche comes in and comments that they could be Cheech and Chong lookalikes. Cheech Marin later appeared as Chef Chuy Castillos in the show's spin-off, The Golden Palace.
  • Green Acres:
    • An odd variation on this occurred in one episode. The cast decided to put on a play based on the "popular television show", The Beverly Hillbillies. That would be fine, except The Beverly Hillbillies takes place in the same universe as Green Acres, along with Petticoat Junction, with characters frequently crossing over from one show to another. Which means that in The Beverly Hillbillies universe, there is a TV show called The Beverly Hillbillies, featuring the characters of Jed, Jethro, Granny and Elly May, which those same characters could then watch. One wonders who played the characters on the show, and if the advertisements for it referred to it as being Ripped from the Headlines.
    • Also, one of Lisa's talents is doing Zsa Zsa Gabor impressions. No word on whether she does Eva.
    • An episode of The Beverly Hillbillies featured Jed Clampett (played by Buddy Ebsen) reminiscing about how he'd seen Buddy Ebsen's song and dance act.
      • Which contradicted another episode where Granny notes Jed's resemblance to Buddy Ebsen. Jed responds with "Who?"
  • Growing Pains: Most of the cast members haven't had much of a career afterwards. Alan Thicke's career consists mostly of playing himself, and Kirk Cameron has gone on to Christian Fundie work. Leonardo DiCaprio, however, has fared much better, which may be why he wasn't in the reunion movie. In the movie, the characters make reference to the missing Leonardo.

  • Happy Days: One episode had the Cunningham family watching the movie The Music Man. Mrs. Cunningham says that one of the boys in the movie looks like Richie while Mr. Cunningham finds that silly. A much younger Ron Howard did indeed have a prominent role in that movie.
  • Happy Endings: In one episode Brad, played by Damon Wayans Jr., mentions that before they were married, his wife used a picture of "one of the guys from In Living Color!" as a placeholder for him. In Living Color was created by and starred Damon Wayans Sr. as well as his brothers and sister.
  • Hawaii Five-0:
    • Steve and Danny are watching CHiPs, comparing their lives to Erik Estrada's and Larry Wilcox's characters. Apparently they never watched Hawaii Five-O when they were younger. They should avoid Kahala Mall, where there is a sculpture of Jack Lord.
    • Hawaii Five-0 also crossed over with NCIS: Los Angeles. NCIS:LA takes place in the same universe as regular NCIS, which referenced the original Five-O in the 2009 episode "Power Down". Meaning that there's a Five-O squad with a Danno in a universe with a classic TV show that has the very same things.
      Gibbs: Book 'em, Dan-ozzo.
      DiNozzo: Nice Hawaii Five-O reference, boss.
    • "Missing" had an EOD tech reference MacGyver. A decade and change later, H50 had a crossover with the reboot MacGyver. Both versions of the titular character are EOD techs, and it's technically possible that the reboot version had a relative by the same name who was also an EOD tech known for improvising gadgets to save the day, because he'd be far too young to do it himself.
    • Then there's the fact that, in real life, "Five-O" is a colloquialism for law enforcement in general, whereas in H50, the squad comes up with the name after watching archive footage of Steve's high school football career.
  • Heat Vision and Jack: A complete aversion occurs in this unaired pilot — character actor Ron Silver plays character actor/assassin Ron Silver. At one point, while chasing the protagonist, he's stopped by an autograph-seeker who "loved [him] in Timecop."
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys had a lot of fun with this one. There were several Something Completely Different episodes in which the main cast of the show would play the main staff of the show (for example, Bruce Campbell played executive producer Robert Tappert). Kevin Sorbo played Hercules...playing Kevin Sorbo, the explanation being that Sorbo was simply the identity Hercules has taken on in the modern era. There was even an episode where Herc-Sorbo had to maintain the masquerade while at a company wilderness retreat.
    • Just to complicate things further, in one episode of Hercules spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess, "The Xena Scrolls," the real Rob Tapert appears as himself and gets the idea for XWP from a series of ancient scrolls actor Ted Raimi, who would play Joxer, found in his grandfather's attic (his grandfather is apparently Jack Kleinman, aka Jacques S'er, who was present when the scrolls were discovered). Of course, Ted originally pitches the series with a focus on Joxer, but Rob only has ears for Xena. And apparently Hercules: The Legendary Journeys doesn't even exist in this version of the modern world (which seems to parallel the way XWP eclipsed the series of which it was a spin-off) or at least it has no role in the origins of XWP.
    • Normally, this trope wouldn’t even be an issue on Xena: Warrior Princess because the show is set in the distant past. However, the show has a few episodes set in our own time, and to further complicate matters, the series itself is watched by characters in those episodes. In "Déjà Vu All Over Again" and "Send in the Clones,” the celebrity paradox is lampshaded for the audience even though none of the characters notice it.
    • Prior to either of these episodes (in “The Xena Scrolls”), the series has established that the XWP series we know and love was based on ancient scrolls (discovered by descendants of Xena and Gabrielle) that were written by the historical Gabrielle. In “Déjà Vu All Over Again”, set in the late 20th century, Annie (Lucy Lawless) is a big fan of the in-verse series Xena: Warrior Princess (in fact, she suspects she might unknowingly be the Xena vigilante who’s currently making big news; this seems reasonable to her because she thinks was the historical Xena in a past life and is now being temporarily possessed by her spirit). Annie has a life-size stand-up Xena (Lucy Lawless) in her bedroom, so we know that Annie looks exactly like Xena from the in-verse series. The presence of the stand-up lampshades the paradox for the audience, but no one in-verse mentions Annie’s startling resemblance to the actress who plays Xena. Also, the series uses the celebrity paradox to set up audience expectation in preparation for a kind of twist ending: it’s not Annie who was Xena in a past life but her boyfriend Harry (Ted Raimi, XWP’s Joxer).
    • “Send in the Clones” is also set in the above version of our world of the late 20th century, which boasts its own XWP series. An evil scientist, a modern incarnation of Alti, clones the historical Xena and Gabrielle and, with the help of some hardcore fans of the in-verse series, shows the clones clips of the show to “stimulate their latent memories.” It works and so the clones essentially are the historical Xena and Gabrielle; they have their own memories of their lives rather than just memories of what they’ve been shown—and as a result, they have some problems with the series, as evidenced by this exchange: “They have taken liberties with my scrolls.” “Yeah, and what are they tryin’ to say about our relationship anyway?” (Les Yay! Also a nod to the fans who've been debating that very question for six seasons, with a touch of Self-Deprecation acknowledging the PTB's insistence on ambiguity.) Indeed, it appears the in-verse series they’re watching is not quite the same series we know; our series is more accurate. Yet Clone Xena finds one positive thing to say about the in-verse series; after watching clips of the fictional Xena (Lucy Lawless), Clone Xena (Lucy Lawless) comments with a leer . . .
      Clone Xena: I like the one who plays me. She’s kinda sexy.
    Thus the show draws audience attention to the celebrity paradox, lampshading it, without anyone in-verse apparently noticing it.
    • In “Soul Possession”, just to remind the audience of the celebrity paradox, the writers have one of the secondary characters in the modern world refer to one of the actors of their in-verse XWP series by name—and it’s the actor who plays Autolycus in the actual XWP, Bruce Campbell. Bruce Campbell isn’t even in the episode, not as a modern character and not as Autolycus in the parts of the episode set in the regular world of the actual XWP, so mention of him lampshades the paradox. Further, this mention happens when Ares (Kevin Smith) rides into the C.H.A.K.R.A.M. conference on a motorcycle because the conference MC apparently recognizes that Ares resembles Kevin Smith:
      MC: Did you schedule any celebrity appearances?
      Delaney: Well, we contacted Bruce Campbell, but he was too much money.
    If Smith and Campbell play roles in the in-verse series, it’s reasonable to assume that other XWP actors also have roles in that series, and we know from “Déjà vu All Over Again” that Annie looks just like the actress who plays Xena, and yet still no one mentions that Annie, Mattie, and Harry look just like Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor, and Ted Raimi, not even the hardcore fans of the in-verse series who badger Annie about what it felt like to learn she was Joxer reincarnated and bring her to tears by asking what happened after Harry and Mattie realized they were Xena and Gabrielle (“They got hitched”—Les Yay!).
    • Perhaps Annie and the in-verse Lucy Lawless are look-alikes, much like Diana, Meg, and Leah are Xena look-alikes. Based on "character" prominence in naming, Annie would have to be a Lucy look-alike instead of the other way around.
  • Here's Lucy: An episode of Lucille Ball's '70s sitcom has her character entering a Lucille Ball lookalike contest, and meeting - you guessed it - Lucille Ball.
  • Heroes:
    • Hiro Nakamura is a Star Trek fan. George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on said series, plays Hiro's father.
    • Kaito Nakamura could well also be a fan- his car's number plate reads NCC-1701.
    • Hiro must wonder occasionally about Sylar's uncanny resemblance to the new Spock...
  • The Honeymooners: In one episode, Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton meet Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. This was done by alternating the actors and their roles: Ed meets Gleason just as Ralph is conveniently absent, while Ralph meets Carney while Ed is out.
  • Hope And Gloria: Alan Thicke played both himself and a talk show host named Dennis Dupree who despises Thicke for looking just like him. This eventually leads to a fistfight between the two during a Growing Pains reunion on Dupree's show.
  • House:
    • In season 2, the title character gets mocked for some of the shows that are saved on his Tivo. One of them, seen briefly but not mentioned, is Blackadder, in which Hugh Laurie played a few major characters twenty years earlier.
    • In the series finale, House mentions Dead Poets Society, where a young Robert Sean Leonard (Dr. Wilson) starred. This is particularly strange since there was a whole subplot in a previous episode where House successfully recognizes an actor in a porno as a young Wilson and yet he doesn't comment that the guy in Dead Poets Society looks a lot like him as well...
  • House of Cards (US):
    • In the first two seasons of House of Cards (US), Frank Underwood plays video games in his spare time. Kevin Spacey loaned his voice and appearance in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare for Jonathan Irons, who seems to be very close to Underwood in personality to boot. This has led to people hoping that at some point, Frank would play COD:AW and ask why Jonathan Irons bears quite the resemblance to him.
    • After Frank is shot, several references are made to the 1981 attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, which was carried out by John Hinckley Jr., who was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster, over whom he had developed an obsession. The paradox is that Jodie Foster also directed a season 2 episode of House of Cards.

  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • The episode "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops" opens with the gang watching a WWF wrestling match and expressing their fandom for the wrestlers of the '80s, mentioning many real-life WWF wrestlers. Later in the episode, Dennis, Mac, and Charlie attend a local amateur wrestling show and hire the star of the show, Da'Maniac, to be in their own show. Da'Maniac is played by professional wrestler Roddy Piper, who was very big in the '80s. Despite this, he is treated like a completely different person.
    • In the Season 6 Episode "The Gang Buys a Boat", Mac and Dennis want to throw some "P Diddy-style parties" on their boat. Sweet Dee creates a "P Diddy boat dance" while listening to the Notorious B.I.G. song "Mo Money Mo Problems", which Diddy (then known as Puff Daddy) was featured in. However, in the Season 8 episode "Charlie's Mom Has Cancer", Sean "Diddy" Combs appears as a guest actor, playing Dr. Jinx, a church gardener who claims to be a practitioner of homeopathic herbal medicine.

  • JAG: Donald P. Bellisario, the series show runner and creator, exists in the JAG-verse (and has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame) as does his series Quantum Leap. Actor Dean Stockwell, who had a major part in Quantum Leap, later plays Secretary of the Navy Edward Sheffield.
  • Jane the Virgin: In episode 14, Jane mentions Orange Is the New Black. Diane Guerrero, who plays Jane's friend Lina on the former show, plays an inmate on the latter show.
  • Justified
    • There's an episode in which Art Mullen comments that he never found Julia Roberts that hot because "she looked too much like Eric." In Season 5, we meet a character played by Eric Roberts.
    • Another episode had Raylan recommend The Big Lebowski to Rachel. Sam Elliott, who played that film's narrator, plays a character in the show's final season.

  • Kids Incorporated:
    • They did a cover version of "More Than You Know" by Martika, herself a former star of the series, making one wonder if she exists in the KI universe.
    • Almost every character in the series was The Danza, playing a character of the same name as the actor, so one might suppose that the character and the actor were meant to be the same person. Ironically, Martika was one of the few characters who wasn't (her character was named Gloria).
    • Bonus point in that said cover was performed by Stacy Ferguson, who by the 1989 season was the last cast member left who had worked with her.
  • Kings: In "Judgment Day", Prince Jack says, "Everyone wants an old-school lord and master. Cutting a few babies in half." in a reference to the Judgment of Solomon... except that since Kings is a retelling of the story of Solomon's father, King David, the original Judgment of Solomon story shouldn't exist in their universe.
    • Alternatively, that universe has the same Bible we do. This would explain why a newspaper thinks the headline DAVID SLAYS GOLIATH means anything. But the parallel between the Bible story and the modern David's career would start to freak people out eventually.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Inverted. At the end of the series, protagonist Sento turns his adventures into scripts and plans on turning them into a TV series. In the direct-to-DVD sequel Build New World: Kamen Rider Cross-Z, Sento is shown looking at casting sheets for the series, and naturally the cast consists of the actors who starred in the Real Life Kamen Rider Build.

  • The Larry Sanders Show: Averted. Actor Garry Shandling exists alongside Larry Sanders In-Universe (and, according to guest Sean Penn, is a terrible and insecure actor).
  • Las Vegas: Played with when "Big Ed" Deline, played by James Caan, is shooting a commercial for the Montecito, and can't act. The director tries to get him to act more naturally by referencing a conversation with Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. Ed looks confused for a second before saying he has no idea what the director is talking about.
  • Law & Order and its franchise has several examples:
    • Bobby Flay cameoed in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as a TV chef who's enough like real Bobby Flay that if he wasn't playing himself he might as well have been. He had cheated on his wife—only since Flay is married to Stephanie March (Alex Cabot on SVU) in Real Life, on the show he had no wife to cheat on.
    • In the Law & Order episode "Turnaround", involving the murder of a studio executive, Briscoe mentions movie star Julia Roberts. The actress would guest star two years later as Katrina Ludlow in the episode "Empire." Unlike Ocean's Twelve, however, no one seems to notice the resemblance.
    • Law & Order characters have frequently referenced the O.J. Simpson trial, despite having an earlyish episode that plays off it (which itself got a sequel years after during the "If I did it" period). No one has mentioned Capricorn One, which co-starred an actor who looked a lot like a younger Jack McCoy.
    • Capricorn One' was also not mentioned on the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'' episode in which an astronaut (played by James Brolin) listens to Munch's theory on the "faked" moon landing.
    • Larry Miller appeared as himself on Law & Order in 2003. Detective Briscoe never mentioned Miller's resemblance to comedy club owner Michael Dobson, whom Briscoe arrested for murder twice.
    • In the original series episode "Baby It's You", a young model mentions that "Brooke Shields said, '[acting] is just modeling in action'". Shields would later appear as a guest star in both Criminal Intent and SVU.
  • The League of Gentlemen: The local cave system ("Stump Hole Caverns") was supposed to have been used as a BBC Quarry during Tom Baker's era on Doctor Who, with the tour guide saying that down there in the 70s you couldn't move for Cybermen. Two of the actors in the main cast had prominent roles in the reboot series of Doctor Who (one even being a writer who helped reboot it in the first place!), one even played Patrick Troughton in An Adventure in Space and Time, and a more minor character is played by Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston.
  • Leverage is full to brimming with Star Trek, up to and including guest stars: Jeri Ryan, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and Armin Shimerman have all shown up. Wheaton's character even has the in-universe nickname of The Kobayashi Maru! But hardcore fanboy and Trekkie Hardison notices nothing.
    • Chaos (played by Wil Wheaton) once asks Hardison to get Sophie to dress up as Counselor Troi.
  • Life On Mars, the American version, is apparently about an astronaut going to Mars, thinking of the song "Life on Mars", picturing himself in an American version of Life On Mars. Or Was It a Dream?? (Yeah.)
    • The original version contains John Simm (who played the Master and in this programme is playing a character whose surname was influenced by Doctor Who) making a reference to Doctor Who.
  • Lost:
    • Invoked, possibly intentionally: Sawyer calls Karl "Cheech", and then Cheech Marin shows up playing Hurley's father a scant two episodes later.
    • In a similar case that also serves as an Actor Allusion, in a first-season episode Boone asks Locke if he's ever seen Star Trek. Terry O'Quinn guest-starred in an episode of The Next Generation. You have to wonder who played Riker's former CO in the Lost universe.

  • MA Dtv: In one episode, House (played by Michael McDonald) actually watches an episode of MA Dtv featuring Stuart (also played by Michael McDonald) and says that he looks a lot like him.
  • Married... with Children:
    • One episode had Al and Peg walk into a video store featuring a display for the movie Dutch, starring Ed O Neil (though his face was covered up by a "new release" sticker). Peg picked up the copy briefly, only to put it back with a disgusted reaction.
    • Wrestler King Kong Bundy appeared in an early episode as one of Peg's relatives, and in a later episode as himself.
    • In a Season 10 episode, Kelly loves watching Friends but doesn't point out how much Joey looks like her friend Vinnie.
  • Matlock: In one episode, guest star Randy Travis is sitting in a car singing along with one of his own hits on the radio. Leanne lampshades it: "Do you know you sound just like that guy?"
  • Millennium and The X-Files nominally take place in the same universe: A minor character, Jose Chung, appeared in two X-Files episodes before meeting his end in an episode of Millennium: "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense", with character Bobby Wingood, an actor and Selfosophy advocate, played by David Duchovny. Likewise, Millennium's Fully Absorbed Finale was an episode of The X-Files. Mulder and Scully actually met Frank Black. Despite this though, one episode of Millennium has a very obvious reference to The X-Files (complete with the X-Files theme) note  where it's only a TV show and in another episode, The X-Files can be heard from the TV as Frank is searching an apartment.
  • Moesha met Brandy (the latter of whom plays the former) in one episode.
  • Monk:
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Airplane", Tim Daly makes an appearance as himself. Sharona mentions that he was in the show Wings. Monk says he's never heard of Wings, which is a good thing because he'd be the first to note his uncanny resemblance to the actor who plays Antonio Scarpacci (as both Monk and Antonio are played by Tony Shalhoub). Not to mention that Daly and Shalhoub's co-star Steven Weber guest-stars in "Mr. Monk Is On The Air" as shock jock Max Hudson.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the UFO", there's a scene where at a magazine stand, Natalie says she once saw a movie about an extraterrestrial who didn't know he was an extraterrestrial because his brain had been rewired, and said extraterrestrial also had bad dreams. Said movie Natalie is describing is Impostor, a movie which happened to feature Tony Shalhoub in a supporting role.
    • In the novel Mr. Monk Is Open for Business, there's a reference that makes it clear that Breaking Bad exists in the Monk universe, when Natalie compares hers and Monk's client Henry Pickler to Walter White. There are at least seventeen actors who appeared in supporting roles on both shows, most notably Jim Beaver, Christopher Cousins, Danny Trejo, DJ Qualls, Tom Kiesche, and Michael Shamus Wiles.
    • "Mr. Monk Gets Married" guest-stars Nestor Carbonell as an antiques dealer scheming to locate a prospector's long-hidden stash of gold. In the novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, Natalie makes a reference to The Dark Knight at one point, a movie which features Nestor Carbonell as Gotham City mayor Anthony Garcia. Likewise, the episode "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage" guest-starred Nicky Katt as a crooked cop, and Katt also appeared in The Dark Knight (as the SWAT officer riding shotgun in the armored truck during the car chase).
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes Home Again", when Stottlemeyer and Disher are going over the police sketch of the gunman created based on the description provided by an eyewitness, Randy comments that the sketch has an uncanny resemblance to Kiefer Sutherland, meaning that the Sutherland family exists in the Monk universe. No one comments on how one of the culprits in "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective" looks like Kiefer Sutherland's half-brother Rossif Sutherland.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage", when Monk, Natalie, and Randy go to the hospital to interview Gerald, a homeless man who witnessed a murder, Gerald shows them his pet mouse Devo and his him do some impressions. Natalie comments that the mouse seems like an uncanny Robert De Niro. One hopes Natalie never watches Heat, one of De Niro's more known films of the 1990s, since Ted Levine (Captain Stottlemeyer) appears in that movie as one of Vincent Hanna's detectives.
    • Several episodes make references to Columbo, usually with it being a nickname for Monk due to his eccentricites. The implication is that Columbo exists in the Monk universe. Monk probably doesn't watch it, because if he did, he'd notice among other things that actors who look just like his shrinks appear in the show (Stanley Kamel, who played Dr. Kroger, portrayed a congressional aide in "Agenda for Murder"; Hector Elizondo, who played Dr. Bell, portrayed a murderous diplomat in "A Case of Immunity")
    • In the novel Mr. Monk in Outer Space, a composite sketch of a suspect is described as looking vaguely "like a wax figure of Jude Law". Jude Law and Tony Shalhoub (Monk) both appeared in Gattaca.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Earthquake" references the first Spider-Man movie, which had come out earlier in the year the episode had. Alfred Molina, who played Dr. Octopus in the second Spider-Man film, guest-stars in "Mr. Monk and the Naked Man," Louis Lombardi and Reed Diamond, who both guest-starred in "Mr. Monk is Someone Else," had minor roles in the second film and Dylan Baker, who played Dr. Curt Connors in both Spider-Man sequels, played the titular critic of "Mr. Monk and the Critic."
  • Mork & Mindy: Robin Williams existed, as himself, in-universe. And Mork is horrified when people think they look alike. This is almost believable until Mindy mentions he's a star of "TV, film, and nightclubs". Maybe Robin Williams was part of the cast of whatever TV show replaced Mork And Mindy in said universe.
    • Mork and Mindy are in the same universe as Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, except Mork and Mindy takes place 20 years later. However, Mork once mentioned the show Laverne & Shirley, and Mindy sang the theme song once. Since Laverne and Shirley eventually move to Hollywood, perhaps they later became TV writers and wrote a sitcom about themselves when they were younger.
      Or could it be that in the
      Happy Days Universe, Reality Shows existed in the 1950s and in that universe Laverne & Shirley'' was a reality show instead of a sitcom, where both Mork and Mindy like to watch reruns of it?
  • An episode of The Muppet Show made fun of this. It featured Luke Skywalker going into the Muppet studio and claiming that Mark Hamill (the actor who played him) was his "cousin." The two made several appearances in the episode, but not on screen together. The end of the episode, however, reveals that Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker are in fact separate people.
  • My Family, a Britcom, featured Nick obtaining a toy of Madame Hooch from Harry Potter. He doesn't seem to notice that she resembles his mother a whole lot...

  • The Naked Truth: The main character could only remember that David Duchovny's wife was "that goofy blonde sitcom bimbo"... whom we know as Téa Leoni.
  • The Nanny:
    • In the penultimate episode, Fran Fine meets actress Fran Drescher. She mentions how everyone says she looks like her, and Drescher is not happy. She also comments on her voice, her hair, and on how the episode she's taping is very similar to what's happening in Fine's life at the moment.
    • Fran once ran into Steve Lawrence in Atlantic City. Lawrence later appeared as Fran's father Morty.
    • In an episode starring Jay Leno as himself, Fran Fine advertises a book (written by Fran Drescher) and says that "It is a riot. Plus it just came out on audio cassettes!" to what Jay Leno replies "Can't believe they put this voice on audio.".
    • In "Val's Boyfriend", C.C. Babcock briefly quits her partnership with Maxwell Sheffield, and afterwards claims she's signing composer Marvin Hamlisch onto a new play she's producing herself. Later, she's told that Maxwell is interested in signing him onto a play, so she sets aside her differences with Maxwell to work together. Later, Fran reveals that she actually got her former high school music teacher, played by the real Marvin Hamlisch, to pretend he's Hamlisch.
    • In "Fair Weather Fran", Niles mentions that Brighton Sheffield is going to a Star Trek convention. Niles' actor, Daniel Davis, guest starred in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship In A Bottle" as the holographic Professor Moriarty (interestingly, the latter episode aired 10 months before The Nanny premiered).
  • Nashville: The recurring character of Peggy is played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, the wife of real-life country singer Brad Paisley. Paisley plays himself in "I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive" and "I'll Keep Climbing", which begs the question of who he's married to in the show's universe.
  • NCIS:
    • In one episode, Kate asks Gibbs what Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard looked like when he was younger. Gibbs' response? Illya Kuryakin. Both characters are played by David McCallum.
    • And in the episode when the agents go to Ducky's house, his mother has a picture of him as a young man on the mantle. That picture is a promotional picture of McCallum as Illya Kuryakin.
    • In another episode, Tony (the team's resident movie buff) mentions "Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell in Scent of a Woman." Chris O'Donnell currently plays lead character Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles, and has guest starred as Callen on regular NCIS.
    • In one episode, Tony remarks that he has "a better chance of hooking up with Jessica Alba" than some criminals have infiltrating someplace. Michael Weatherly (who plays Tony) was once engaged to Jessica Alba (and was her co-star on Dark Angel).
    • Tony's movie references cause all kinds of Celebrity Paradoxes after the fact. He directly referenced True Lies in the season 7 opener, yet Jamie Lee Curtis has a recurring role as Samantha Ryan starting in season 9.
      • Curtis is also (subsequent to her appearances in NCIS) mentioned in the second episode of NCIS: New Orleans, referencing her lactose intolerance-related yogurt needs (which she herself comically mentioned in one of her NCIS episodes).
    • Star Wars is mentioned frequently is the series. However, one of the main characters of Episodes V and VI is Lando Calrissian, who is played by Billy Dee Williams, who appears twice in the series as Gibbs' father's best friend (and Gibbs' namesake Leroy Jethro Moore).
    • McGee is obviously a fan of Doctor Who, since he mentions the TARDIS in one episode. Yet when he meets Gibbs' CI Miranda Pennebaker (played by Alex Kingston) in the tenth season, he doesn't notice that she looks exactly like River Song. In addition, in a season eight episode, he doesn't notice that a suspect's mother looks exactly like Dr. Grace Holloway.
    • Both actor and show: In October 2014, in the NCIS Season 12 episode "Parental Guidance Suggested", Tony and Bishop enter a hotel room in which a scene from The Big Bang Theory Season 6 episode "The Santa Simulation" is playing on a TV. Tony was able to recognize it by the sound that it was the Dungeons & Dragons episode. One must wonder if Tony is aware of an episode that aired 13 months later (January 2014), the Season 7 episode "The Hesitation Ramification", in which Penny auditions for and gets a role on NCIS (her scene is cut, but footage from the episode ("Kill Chain", which aired 5 days after the Big Bang Theory episode) is shown).
    • Even before "Parental Guidance Suggested", there was a Celebrity Paradox simply in the existence of NCIS in the Big Bang Universe. NCIS features Margo Harshman (who was already in the series by the time "The Hesitation Ramification" aired) as McGee's girlfriend Delilah Fielding. Margo previously appeared in several episodes of The Big Bang Theory as Sheldon's assistant Alex Jensen.
    • The agency itself invokes this on a somewhat regular basis. People greeted or confronted by the agents are often oblivious to what NCIS actually is. This makes the setting of the shows out-of-step with reality as there would be few real-life Americans who don't know what NCIS is, as it is the title and focus of one of the country's highest-rating TV franchises.
    • During an investigation, Tony finds a replica of one of the shirts Tom Selleck wore on Magnum, P.I.. Of course, this prompts him to talk about the series and mention various things associated with it (Higgins, the dogs, Rick, T.C., ect). Fast forward to 2018: Magnum now has a remake that has already been confirmed to exist in the same universe as the 2010 version of Hawaii Five-0. By extension, Magnum 2018 exists within the NCIS universe due to a crossover that H50 had with NCIS: Los Angeles.
  • Newhart: In one episode, Dick Loudon (Newhart) is talking with Michael Harris about classic television, and at one point mentions the great Saturday night lineup CBS had in the '70s, with All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, etc. "Yeah," Michael responds, "and how about that show with the shrink who stuttered?"
    • What makes this even odder, of course, is that Dick Loudon and the entire Newhart series are eventually revealed to have been a bad dream conjured up by that selfsame shrink.
  • The Nick Verse, which includes shows like iCarly, Zoey 101, Drake & Josh, and Victorious, are all part of the same universe, but Celebrity Paradox is averted because all the actors still exist. All the copies just get assumed to be different people.
    • Celebrity Paradox is played straight, however, when in an episode of Zoey 101, Drake Bell plays a concert for PCA. In Drake & Josh 's Big Damn Movie , Drake and Josh Go Hollywood, Josh shows Drake Parker's performance at PCA (which is the same exact performance) to the record producer.
    • It gets confusing as in both iCarly and Victorious both have Drake & Josh as a fictional series, but iCarly had characters from both Drake & Josh and Zoey 101 in "iStart a Fan War" while "Galaxy Wars" is a fictional movie series throughout the Nick Verse.
  • NUMB3RS mentions Star Trek several times over the course of its run, while featuring guest appearances by Ethan Phillips, Armin Shimmerman note , and Wil Wheaton.
    • In one episode you can hear the theme from Taxi playing on TV. Alan Epps, father of Don and Charlie, is played by Judd Hirsch, who was the lead on Taxi.

  • The Office (US): Creed Bratton plays a fantastical (and waaay crazy) version of himself. He was the lead guitarist and a vocalist in The Grass Roots in the 60s and 70s, and now (instead of acting) works at a paper company.
    • This ventures into Adam Westing territory, as Office!Creed is shown to be a klepto who does a multitude of drugs, and is involved in numerous criminal activities. It is also implied that he killed the "real" Creed Bratton and stole his identity. "Nobody steals from Creed Bratton and gets away with it. The last person to do this disappeared. His name? Creed Bratton."
    • In the second Christmas episode, he sings a Grass Roots song on a karaoke machine, which the real Creed Bratton did the vocals for. Wrap your head around that.
      • A deleted scene has him explaining that he was in a band called "The Grass Roots" back in the late 60s, early 70s.
    • In another episode Office!Creed says that he avoids debt by transferring it all to another identity named William Charles Schneider. Guess what Real Life!Creed's birth name is.
    • Michael Scott has mentioned that he is a fan of The Wire, yet does not notice Holly Flax's strong resemblance to Beadie Russell (both played by Amy Ryan). Nor Charles Miner's resemblance to Stringer Bell (both played by Idris Elba). Nor Eric Ward's resemblance to Thomas Klebanow (both played by David Costabile).
    • Not to mention the numerous references to Michael's beloved Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Saturday Night Live, when the stars of both have appeared as characters on the show, such as Charles "Chip" Esten, Tim Meadows, David Koechner and Nancy Walls, who in addition to being on SNL, is also married to Steve Carell, who plays Michael, in real life.
    • Michael is also seen critiquing the film Live Free Or Die Hard. In Season 7, Michael hires an excellent traveling salesman played by Timothy Olyphant...who was the villain in the aforementioned Die Hard film.
    • In season 2, Michael can't help but yell "king of the world" (from Titanic) when he gets on a boat. In season six, Dunder Mifflin is bought by the Sabre printer company owned by a woman named Jo, played by Kathy Bates (who played Molly Brown in Titanic).
    • In season 3, several of the staff make joke announcements when Dwight attempts to audio record a meeting in the conference room while Michael is away. Phyllis says "Oh, Jim Carrey just walked in! Dwight, get his autograph for Michael!" After Michael leaves in season 7, one of the applicants interviewed (the unnamed "Finger Lakes Guy") is played by Jim Carrey. (So Jim Carrey eventually DID walk into the conference room. Or did he?)
    • After the Stamford branch personnel join the Scranton branch in season 3, Michael tries to entertain them by acting out the "Roxbury Guys" characters from Saturday Night Live (with help from Andy). Of course one of the characters was played by Will Farrell who looks just like Michael's would-be successor in season 7, Deangelo Vickers (something neither Michael nor anyone else seems to notice). Further complicating things is the Roxbury Guys were featured in a sketch in 1996 episode of SNL in which Jim Carrey (see above) both hosted and played one the Roxbury guys. On top of that, the sketch featured Nancy Walls (then a regular on SNL), who's not only Steve Carrell's real life wife, but played his girlfriend on The Office at the time of the episode where Michael tried to be one of the Roxbury guys!
    • Also in Season 3, Dwight states that he's no hero, but Hiro from Heroes is. Fast forward a few seasons, and no one notices Kelly's husband's resemblance to Mohinder.
    • The strangest aspect is that the entire show is set up as a fly-on-the-wall documentary series. The characters know they are on a TV series, with talking heads to camera in the conference room, and "Vance Refrigeration" product placements. But nobody on the show watches their-universe version of the show. This means that, e.g., no character knows the things that people are saying to camera about them. This is sometimes almost averted, e.g. when Jim and Pam are seen getting into a car together, but even here the tv crew show them the footage, they don't see it on tv.
      • That'd be because throughout the first 8 years of the series, the film crew is only filming and editing. The show doesn't go to air until the ninth season, all of the episodes presumably edited differently than what the real world saw to be able to be condensed into a string of episodes aired during the month of May on PBS. Later episodes in the ninth season show characters commenting on what they did and didn't realize was being filmed. Then the finale is an in-universe "Where Are They Now?"-style follow-up special for the in-universe release of the DVD of the documentary. Inhale.
    • The UK version plays with this idea a bit. In the Christmas special, the first two seasons of the show have aired on the BBC, and (a few) in-show characters recognize David Brent from it. Brent finds it necessary to explain that the documentary's portrayal of him was inaccurate.
  • One Day at a Time (2017): Leslie mentions having watched Netflix, and Elena asks him which show it was. Leslie then clarifies that he's watched all of Netflix—all its shows and movies, which logically, would include One Day at a Time.
  • Os Normais, a Brazilian sitcom, had an episode with the characters doing a plug for a movie being released, O Homem que Copiava. They list the cast... except for Selton Mello, as he played one of the main characters of the show.

  • Primeval: In the fourth season Abbey, played by former S-Club 7 member Hannah Spearritt, distracts a dinosaur in an arena with a light and sound system by turning the music onto max and the lights on... The song playing being Don't Stop Movin'.
  • Psych has made at least one reference to The Breakfast Club, but Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall have all appeared in guest roles and none of them have had the comparison drawn.
    • Well, all of them were much older when they guest-starred, so people could be forgiven for not knowing what they looked like even in real life. In fact, another '80s teen star, Jennifer Grey, found that after she got her nose job, nobody knew what she looked like.

  • Quantum Leap:
    • One episode features an heiress played by Brooke Shields, whose resemblance to herself causes no comment from Sam or Al. Then again, in this case it may be a Justified Trope because Sam is amnesiac and the show takes place in a timeline which is (at least at first) significantly different from ours.
    • On the other hand, there was an episode where Sam leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald during his days in the Marine Corps, and has a confrontation with a young Marine named Bellisario. Producer Donald P. Bellisario actually served with Oswald in the Marines and had this confrontation, meaning that Donald P. Bellisario exists in some fashion the Quantum Leap universe.
      • This one is also a twofer: the real Bellisario appeared in one episode playing a leapee's reflection, though it's doubtful Sam or Al would have recognized him anyway.

  • Raising Hope contains multiple ways for My Name Is Earl throughout the series (Both shows created by Greg Garcia). Not only was My Name is Earl a show in universe (Burt even kicks a NBC excutive in the groin for cancelling it), characters from Earl show up in Raising Hope (like Pattie the daytime hooker) suggesting they happen in the same universe and several actors from Earl appear as recurring characters or guest stars on Raising Hope complete with Actor Allusions.
    • In a Season 2 episode, Barney refuses to arrest Sabrina during a protest because he doesn't want to miss a new episode of "Burn Notice". Garret Dillahunt, who plays Burt Chance, appeared in seasons 3, 4 and 7 of Burn Notice as Simon Escher.
    • The parent show itself has a bit of an Celebrity Paradox, in that Timothy Stack, one of the series producers, is a featured character, Adam Westing. He's an alcoholic, washed-up comedian still using his costume from Son of the Beach.
  • Red Dwarf plays with it. The plot of Back to Earth has Rimmer, Kryten and Cat encounter Craig Charles (Lister) on the set of Coronation Street. Of course, Craig assumes it's a joke and that they're simply his fellow actors — until Lister arrives. And it's explained at the end—they were in a false reality where Red Dwarf is fiction.
    • Straight example in Back in the Red. The Alien series is alluded to in a game of charades early in the story. A few minutes later, Mac McDonald—Commander Simpson in Aliens—is reintroduced as Captain Hollister.

  • Sanford and Son has Fred G. Sanford winning a Redd Foxx lookalike contest. The prize was to meet the real Foxx, but the "real" Redd Foxx never showed up.
  • Saturday Night Live: In a sketch from the 2008 U.S. election with Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, Hillary Rodham Clinton mocks her "Tina Fey glasses".
    • Proving that Tina Fey exists in the same universe as Sarah Palin.
  • Scrubs:
    • One episode has J.D. mentioning that he thought he noticed the Janitor in the movie version of The Fugitive. Neil Flynn, who plays the Janitor, was indeed in that film, where he played the transit cop that Frederick Sykes kills on the 'L' train. The Janitor later implies that it was indeed him in the movie. Whether this means that all of Neil Flynn's roles in the Scrubsverse are played by The Janitor or if this was a one off is unclear.
    • Of course, nothing the Janitor says can be taken seriously. It is perfectly plausible that in the Scrubsverse, the Janitor just happens to look like Neil Flynn and was messing with JD/the Audience's head(s).
    • Or the Janitor is Neil Flynn, fallen on hard times.
      • Perhaps his constant lying, story-telling and hazing of JD is him practicing his comedy skills (Neil Flynn is a consummate improv comedian).
    • The cast of Scrubs frequently make references to Friends, including repeated comparisons of J.D. and Elliot to Ross and Rachel, but don't recognize Matthew Perry when he makes his cameo, or even Courtney Cox who becomes a recurring character.
    • There were a few jokes made that, with a certain facial expression, Elliot (Sarah Chalke) looks similar to Gary Busey. In one episode with the hospital staff being told to take a group picture, Elliot declines saying she doesn't photograph well and looks like Gary Busey on her drivers license. The camera pans and an unnamed, never before seen doctor played by Gary Busey mentions he has the same issue.
    • Scrubs also shares a universe with Cougar Town, as shown with Ted Buckland appearing in an episode, but Zach Braff also exists in the universe. Also, Courtney Cox plays a role in both shows, yet Ted didn't even notice how much Jules looked like Dr. Maddox. Also, Christa Miller plays both Jordan on Scrubs and Ellie on Cougar Town.
    • And the season 2 premiere (I believe? Anyway, it happened) showed Jules watching TV—it was Scrubs. That makes Ted Buckland's existence (as well as other shared actors, such as her best friend and creepy neighbor) a little mind-bending.
      • The mindscrew continues at the end of a season 2 episode when Sam Lloyd (as Ted Buckland) is commenting on how much Sarah Chalke (as Angie) and Christa Miller (as Ellie) resemble people from his old job. Cue Bob Clendnin (Tom/Dr Zeltzer) popping in the window. Ken Jenkins (Chick/Dr Kelso) wanders in, causing Ted to attempt to run through a glass door. Zach Braff asks him if he ordered a pizza, and Rob Maschio offered him an "are you ok?" five.
  • Seinfeld:
    • In-Universe, Mad About You exists, but characters from Seinfeld have appeared on Mad About You. Some sort of Seinfeld series also exists on Mad About You, but it's unclear whether the series in question is the one from the real world, starring real Jerry Seinfeld, or the fictional sitcom Jerry, starring the real Jerry Seinfeld's character portraying a character named Jerry Seinfeld (who might himself be the real Jerry Seinfeld).
    • Paul Reiser's Mad About You character, Paul Buchman, has never seen the movie Aliens, which co-starred Paul Reiser.
      • Specifically, a friend of his (Mark) is discussing chest bursters, and asks Paul if he's ever seen the movies. Paul quickly replies, "Just the first one."
    • Reiser questions why the movie actor game "Back to Bacon" doesn't use Mickey Rourke instead. This change would have minimal impact in real life since Mickey Rourke appeared in Diner with Kevin Bacon, so any connection to Bacon would have at most only one more connection. But since Reiser also appeared in Diner maybe that movie didn't exist on Mad About You.
    • In the Seinfeld episode "The Boyfriend," when Kramer and Newman express ire at Keith Hernandez having spit at them, Jerry reconstructs their story in a direct parody of the "magic bullet theory" scene from the movie JFK. Later in the episode, Keith Hernandez suggests seeing the movie JFK to Elaine, continuing the joke. The paradox lies in the fact that Wayne Knight, who plays Newman, also appears in the aforementioned scene in JFK. One can only wonder what would have happened had Keith and Elaine actually seen the movie...
      • Even better, his character in the film has the last name "Numa." And in the same episode, there's a direct Actor Allusion as Knight plays the same role in the "magic loogie" reconstruction as he did in the "magic bullet" reconstruction in the film.
  • Related to a literature example up above, modern adaptations of Sherlock Holmes can be subject to this trope.
    • Sherlock contains a very minor but completely headwrecking reference to Arthur Conan Doyle, when a tabloid article about Sherlock Holmes contains the line "in a twist worthy of a Conan Doyle novella..." This implies that in-universe ACD wrote stories that had the same cultural impact as Sherlock Holmes but couldn't possibly have been Sherlock Holmes, or even anything too similar or it would surely have been referenced more often in the detective's rise to fame.
      • In a real-life version of this trope, Steven Moffat admitted on one of the commentary tracks that he couldn't actually film on the real Baker Street at least in part due to the massive amounts of real-world Sherlock Holmes memorabilia and tourist markers.
      • It also namedrops Spock, which, considering Spock himself referenced Sherlock Holmes, makes you wonder. Not only that, but Benedict Cumberbatch would play Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.
    • Elementary, following in Sherlock's footsteps (although Watson is a woman this time), has Holmes specifically refer to one of Arthur Conan Doyle's books and allude to many others. So either Doyle's work isn't nearly as ubiquitous in their dimension, or he used alternative names for his characters, otherwise the protagonists would never hear the end of it.
  • Shake It Up!: Between the two of them, Bella Thorne and Zendaya have five songs that have been played on the show during dance numbers, yet no one in the Shake It Up! universe wonders why CeCe and Rocky look like them. Could be explained by the fact that the singers of those songs are only heard and never seen, so there's no reason to believe anyone in-universe actually knows what they look like. Also, the song "Show Ya How" is by Adam and Kenton (Deuce and Gunther respectively) in "Protest It Up"
    • Like Bella and Zendaya, Caroline Sunshine (Tinka) has a song that has been played during a dance number (specifically during the opening Shake it Up Chicago segment in "Embarass it Up") but at least this one could be a "pass" as her singing voice isn't exactly identifiable as Tinka's.
  • Smallville contains an example on a more metatextual character level than a literal actor level. In every other incarnation of the Superman mythos (comics, TV, movies, radio etc.) Superman is, by the very nature of his existence, a world-famous figure, probably the most famous person on Earth. Therefore all the kinds of nicknames, catchphrases and allusions to the fictional character in the real world (e.g. "Faster than a speeding bullet", "The Man of Steel", etc.) are equally well known in the various fictional realities where Superman is actually real (with the exception of "And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter..."). But in Smallville, a prequel show set explicitly in the present day, the viewer is faced with the bizarre dissonance that these characters exist in an early 21st century version of America whose popular culture has not been irrevocably impacted by the existence of Superman (real or fictional), who originated the entire superhero genre and flooded the lexicon with all manner of specific phrases and ideas.
    • This is rendered even more head-numbingly dissonant by the show's sheer volume of sly references, homages, and shout-outs to the Superman mythos that has yet to actually take place, with constant winking deployment of terms that contextually shouldn't have been coined yet, like "Man of Steel," "Faster than a speeding bullet," "mild-mannered" etc. etc. They have even shown that words/concepts like "superhero" are already in common parlance, despite their actual existence not yet being known to the wider public.
      • Most examples are organic: someone sees bullets bounce off Clark and calls him "a man of steel" (not "THE"), etc. We're seeing the in-universe origins of these phrases, not the common use of them.
      • Partly justified, since superhero comics do exist in the Smallville universe, since Lex was shown to have been a fan of one such comic (featuring a bald protagonist) growing up, called Warrior Angel — ironically a very historically-accurate '90s style archetype. This leads one to wonder who was the first superhero character to be published in the Smallville universe, since it obviously wasn't Superman...
      • It's since been revealed to be...Warrior Angel, which slots nicely into the same real-world slot as Superman, as well as having some blatant similarities to him characterwise, as well.
      • The episode "Thirst" establishes Zorro as a franchise in the show's setting (a Zorro outfit is seen).
      • Another episode intimated the same situation for Luke Skywalker (who derives from Flash Gordon).
      • Well, with the precedent of Zorro, the Phantom, the Shadow, Doc Savage, the Green Hornet, the Lensmen, the Baron, Blackshirt, the Saint (Simon Templar), Bulldog Drummond, the Baron, the Ringer (Edgar Wallace novels), the Phantom (Curtis Van Loan), the Four Just Men, John Carter, Tarzan, the Lone Ranger, the Gray Seal, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Spring-Heeled Jack, the Spider, Mandrake, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Hugo Danner, Dick Tracy, etc. it may have resulted independently. In fact, in one episode, Zorro explicitly receives mention.
      • Batman was also a very popular character inspired by the above listed characters made by DC before they even owned Superman so it could be that Batman is the inspiration for most modern super heroes and Bruce Wayne has never appeared in Smallville.
      • Actually, prior to the Adam West show in the 1960's, Bruce Wayne did not stand as especially well-known.
      • However, there are numerous references in Smallville to Gotham City, and a few indirect references to Batman (Waynetech, and the line that Chloe "met a billionaire with high-tech toys" on her search for other superheroes).
      • "Kryptonite" has become a common replacement for the expression Achilles' Heel in real life. So it fits that in "Rush" Pete refers to the "Meteor Rocks" as Clark's Achilles' Heel.
    • An odd corollary to the fact that DC Comics don't exist in the Smallville universe is the fact that, apparently, Marvel Comics don't exist either. (It's never directly stated that they don't, for obvious reasons, but the fact that characters are constantly discussing superheroes and super powers and frequently talk about comic books and make pop culture references while describing super-powered mutants without ever once mentioning the X-Men, Spider-Man, etc., would seem to imply that they don't exist, even as fictional characters.)
      • Odder still, in the Marvel continuity both Marvel Comics and DC Comics exist. It's sometimes mentioned that the Marvel books feature retellings of the heroes' "real-life" exploits (Steve Rogers even draws his), to the point where She-Hulk has used them as evidence in court. How the Marvel continuity's DC comics stack up is more of a mystery. (An Unbeatable Squirrel Girl novel of unknown canonicity implies that Batman and Superman are completely fictional characters.)
      • According to The Multiversity, DC Comics exist in The DCU... but at least part of their output is comics about "fictional" superheroes, who actually exist on alternate Earths in The Multiverse. Marvel Comics' DC equivalent is Major Comics, who produce analogues of Marvel's characters (with said characters actually being inspired by the heroes of Earth-7 and Earth-8).
      • The old 50's B-movies may have still managed to exist in-universe, along with older Golden Age titles; these would provide a basis for the super-powered mutant meme.
    • There's an episode where Lex Luthor goes into a facility and meets a beautiful woman, he asks for the Chief Engineer and she answers that it's her. Lex gets all surprised, while asking "are you the engineer?" and she replies "were you expecting a guy with long hair, wearing a Star Wars t-shirt and playing Playstation?". So, as stated above about Luke Skywalker, there's Star Wars in the Smallville universe, probably with music score by John Williams, but he didn't compose the music for the Superman films because those films don't exist. Also, no Playstation games about DC Comics.
  • Sonny with a Chance: Played with when Sonny (Demi Lovato) meets Selena Gomez, as Selena Gomez, who apparently no longer has a BFF named Demi Lovato, or if she does probably would have mentioned "Hey, my BFF looks so exactly like you it's uncanny." At the end, they tease the idea that Sonny would become Selena's new BFF. It was a very strange episode.
  • The Sopranos:
    • In at least one episode, Christopher mentions Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino wrote True Romance, which features James Gandolfini - Tony Soprano.
    • Goodfellas is also mentioned at least once. Goodfellas stars Frank Vincent and Lorraine Bracco, who play Phil Leotardo and Dr. Melfi, respectively. Michael Imperioli, who plays Christopher, also has a minor role as the poor busboy who gets blown away by Joe Pesci, Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) plays Tony Stacks, and Vincent Pastore, who plays Big Pussy, is briefly onscreen. Other Goodfellas cast members appearing on The Sopranos include Suzanne Shepherd, Frank Pellegrino, Tony Darrow, Paul Herman, Frank Adonis, Chuck Low, and Tobin Bell.
    • An episode of The Sopranos has a character watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. Conversely, characters on Curb have mentioned Sopranos and HBO.
    • In one Season 3 episode, Noah Tenenbaum's father (a big-name entertainment lawyer in Hollywood) impresses Meadow by claiming that he's met the actor Tim Daly before. Daly would later join the cast of The Sopranos in Season 5, as the recurring character J.T. Dolan.
    • Since the show takes place in New Jersey, various characters (understandably) reference the music of Bruce Springsteen quite frequently. No one seems to notice that Silvio Dante is played by "Miami Steve" Van Zandt, the guitarist of the E Street Band.
    • There's also numerous mentions of The Godfather despite the fact that Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior, appeared in Part II as Johnny Ola.
    • And of course the resemblances between Tony's situation and Analyze This doesn't go unnoticed, but no one notices that Max Casella, who plays Christopher's friend Benny, has a small part in it. Nor do they comment on the sequel, where De Niro's character becomes a consultant on a show obviously modeled on The Sopranos.
  • Aversion: Both Spin City and Just Shoot Me! have celebrities appear in regular roles as well as themselves, though no celebrity has ever done both.
  • In the first episode of Stargate SG-1, star Richard Dean Anderson's previous series MacGyver is brought up. ("It was difficult, but we were able to MacGyver a solution.")
    • SG-1 got even more confusing by having a guest appearance by Dan Castellaneta while The Simpsons had a guest appearance by Richard Dean Anderson. In SG-1, Jack is a fan of The Simpsons, but doesn't seem to recognise Dan, even though they specifically bond over The Simpsons. In The Simpsons, Anderson plays himself.
    • The Stargate-verse has yet another circular dependency: with World of Warcraft. Dr. Lee is a fan of the game (and curiously claimed to have a level 75 character, which was impossible at the time the episode supposedly took place)... while the Champions' Hall in WoW contains NPCs named after SG-1 characters.
    • In another interesting case, Carter tells O'Neill that they can't call the first X-303-class spaceship "Enterprise" in homage to Star Trek. Given that NASA has already named a spaceship after the fictional Enterprise, were this not a television show — whose creators would certainly be sued by Paramount for their insolence — there would be absolutely no reason not to name the ship Enterprise. Realistically speaking, it would in fact be a virtual certainty.
      • Although, if we're really overthinking this, they would be unlikely to do so until the current USS Enterprise was retired, freeing up the name for military use. Unless the US Air Force, who run the starships, did it deliberately just to annoy the US Navy, who have the aircraft carrier.
    • Speaking of Star Trek, the penultimate episode of Stargate Atlantis has Richard Woolsey mention that Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas had closed. One wonders if Voyager got made in the Stargate verse, and if so, whether anyone's ever told Richard Woolsey that he looks just like the Doctor, who appeared in said ride.
    • The episode "200" suggested that Vala is familiar with Farscape despite her being played by Claudia Black and Cameron by Ben Browder.
  • In the real world, the first (test) Space Shuttle was named "Enterprise" in honor of Star Trek. That Enterprise does appear among the drawings of earlier ships to bear the name that Captain Archer keeps in his ready room, the recreation deck in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and appears in the montage during the opening credits to Star Trek: Enterprise, though the reason for its name is presumably different (presumably, the same reason as Kirk's Enterprise: "Enterprise" is a name with a long naval history)note . In other words, in Star Trek, the Enterprise is named after the space shuttle, while in real life, the space shuttle was named after the Enterprise from Star Trek.
  • St. Elsewhere:
    • Sort of. In the Season 2 episode "Hello, Goodbye", Morrison takes his son to "the bar that inspired Cheers", but then in the Season 3 episode "Cheers", Dr. Craig and Dr. Westphall visit the bar from Cheers where they interact with the characters from the show!
    • Warren Coolidge, who previously appeared as a main character in The White Shadow, is an orderly at St. Eligius. However, "Close Encounters" establishes that The White Shadow is a television show.
    • In "Dr. Wyler, I Presume", Dr. Craig mentions his old Army buddy B.J. from The Korean War, a reference to M*A*S*H character Captain B.J. Hunnicutt. In "Close Encounters", Dr. Auschlander chooses Trapper John, a main character on M*A*S*H and later the protagonist of the dramatic spin-off Trapper John, M.D., as the fictional character whom he would most like to be. B.J. replaced Trapper John in M*A*S*H after Wayne Rogers' departure.
  • In Step by Step, Carol is played by Suzanne Somers, who also played Chrissy. Carol was watching Three's Company and laughing, saying that Chrissy was her favorite, and tried to "imitate" Chrissy's trademark laugh. Nobody pointed out the resemblance, though.
  • Played with in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Allison Janney of The West Wing appears as herself, guest hosting the eponymous Show Within a Show. Timothy Busfield plays the director of said show. Busfield formerly played Janney's character's love interest/husband on The West Wing, and their interactions in the Studio 60 episode play this up. Note that The West Wing exists in the Studio 60 universe, and fictional Janney was in it, while fictional Busfield apparently wasn't, since he doesn't exist. Confused yet?
    • This becomes even more confusing when you think about how many other actors were in both shows.
    • Be glad that the guy who played Josh wasn't in that episode.
    • Adding another layer of confusion, the fictional Janney is annoyed at being confused with Christine Lahti. The reporter played by Christine Lahti wasn't in that episode, but she hadn't been gone long.
    • It gets worse: the law firm that Sam worked for on The West Wing also exists on Studio 60.
      • That's not really a paradox, though. Assuming Studio 60 is the "real" world, a fictional show within that world, such as The West Wing, would be perfectly capable of referencing a real-life law firm.
      • Fans of The West Wing used to speculate that the show existed in the Bartlet universe, but featured an incompetent Republican president and nobody watched it.
      • There are also a few backstage shots where, along with all the other set pieces one might use on a sketch comedy show, you can clearly see a "Bartlet For America" campaign poster hanging on the wall.
    • In the West Wing episode "20 Hours in LA," Donna notices Matthew Perry at a party. A few seasons later, Matthew Perry was on The West Wing in a fairly significant guest role.
  • The title character in Suddenly Susan finds herself unable to remember Andre Agassi's first wife — because it was Brooke Shields herself.
  • One episode of Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye had Sue (the character) meeting Sue (the real FBI agent that sparked the series); IIRC, one of them said she'd always wanted to be an FBI agent while the other said she'd always wanted to be an actress.
    • Sue the Character is an actress playing an FBI agent who said she always wanted to be an actress. Sue the Real Person is an FBI agent who's character on the show is an actress who said she always wanted to be an FBI agent.
  • Suits acknowledges the existense of Game of Thrones yet no-one notices that Conleth Hill (Varys) and now Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) are in their universe. This actually gets played up in the season 3 "Game of Suits" promos.
  • Similar to the above, one of the live action segments of The Super Mario Bros Super Show! guest starred Captain Lou Albano (who also played Mario). Mario says that Lou Albano is his favorite wrestler and he can't wait to meet him, but it turns out the two keep missing each other and are never in the same room together.
    • In another singer Cyndi Lauper visis the plumbers. Cyndi Lauper appears in videos featuring actor Lou Albano, who played Mario in the live action segments and voiced the cartoon character. Further, in the episode, Cyndi indicates that she is searching for Lou, who appears at the end of the episode after Mario leaves to go buy pizza.
  • An inversion exists in Supernatural. In the continuity of the show, a series of novels exists starring the Winchester brothers (the author is a confused prophet, or possibly the Judeo-Christian God pretending to be a confused prophet). And, yes, there is Internet slashfic.
    • Sam and Dean are taking a movie studio tour at the beginning of season 2's "Hollywood Babylon". When the tour guide mentions that the next stop is the set for Gilmore Girls, Sam looks uncomfortable and hops off the tram. No one on the tour seems to notice that the guy who just jumped off looks exactly like Rory Gilmore's first- and second-season boyfriend, Dean Forrester (who was also played by Jared Padalecki).
      • In the season 5 episode "Fallen Idols", a shape-shifting god takes the form of Paris Hilton. As Dean rants at the shifter about how shallow idolizing Hilton is—to which Hilton's character seems to agree—he says that he has never seen the recent remake of the horror film House of Wax. At this news Sam looks startled, and a bit disappointed. Both Jared Padalecki (who plays Sam) and Paris Hilton were in House of Wax.
    • An even more odd inversion occurs in season six's "The French Mistake", where the Winchesters are cast into a parallel universe where the actors who play them do exist, but Supernatural is a TV show and the Winchesters are fictional characters. Hilarity Ensues, at least until a douchebag angel follows them and proceeds to start killing the cast and crew. Although some people still found that pretty funny.
      • To further add to the confusion, during the initial airing of this episode, Misha Collins tweeted the exact same things that "he" tweets in the episode, at the exact same time.
      • This episode also pretty much confirms that Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles do not exist in Sam and Dean's world (or Sam and Dean haven't heard of them, which, given their vast knowledge of pop culture, is possible but unlikely) as, upon learning who they're being played by, they simply refer to Jared and Jensen as "some guys".
    • Also played straight. Dean is a fan of The X-Files, yet he does not recognize the guy from "Scarecrow" as Cigarette Smoking Man, or notice that his grandfather looks exactly the same as Mulder and Scully's boss.
      • Or that Crowley looks remarkably similar to the character "Bob the Caretaker" from the X-Files episode "Fire".
    • Likewise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been mentioned on the show, yet, despite the fact that several of its actors and actresses such as James Marsters, Charisma Carpenter, Harry Groener, Mercedes McNab, Amber Benson, Julie Benz, and Felicia Day have guest-starred on it, absolutely no one has come up to any of their respective characters and commented on the fact that they look familiar.
    • Back in Season 6 Episode 14, "Mannequin 3: The Reckoning", they take a case in New Jersey, during which Dean mentions that "maybe we'll have a Snooki sighting". Snooki is a guest-star in episode 14 of Season 9. Sam and Dean do recognize her, though.

  • In That '70s Show, characters are shown to be watching The Brady Bunch. Later, Christopher Knight and Barry Williams appear not as themselves, but as a gay couple. To be fair, it would be hard for them to appear as themselves since they are kind of too old for the part. Granted, that didn't stop Shirley Jones, Charo, and Jamie Farr but those were in fantasies.
  • Taxi: In one episode, Jim turns on the jukebox and plays a song from the original Broadway run of Grease, which had Marilu Henner and Jeff Conaway in the cast. How odd that nobody noticed that Marty looked like Elaine or that struggling actor Bobby never complained about that lookalike that snagged the role of Tony.
  • The Thick of It:
    • A Deleted Scene reveals Peter Mannion MP's wife's dowdy appearance has been mocked on Have I Got News for You. A number of actors from The Thick of It have appeared in episodes of Have I Got News For You, including Rebecca Front (Nicola Murray MP) Chris Addison (Olly Reader) and Miles Jupp (John Duggan). Presumably those episodes in The ’Verse feature a different array of comedians cracking jokes about the politicians of The Thick of It.
    • The scenes in Malcolm Tucker's house have the blink-and-you'll-miss-it detail that Malcolm owns boxsets of The Thick Of It. Not surprising, but who are the cast in the in-universe version?
    • Doctor Who exists in the universe of The Thick Of It, with Olly complaining about a bunch of water cooler bottles that "this is like something out of fucking Doctor Who", and Malcolm Tucker himself referencing it in The Missing DoSAC Files (suggesting The Telegraph print "Dr. Who's assistant in a St. Trinian's uniform" instead of a coke scandal he wants to bury), and a BBC executive suggesting he have a chat show where he can interview a Dalek. Fortunately, the series ended before Malcolm was forced to witness a version of the Doctor who looked exactly like him...
    • At one point, Malcolm insults his assistant Olly by calling him "Bonnie Langford", the actress best known for playing the Sixth/Seventh Doctor assistant Mel.
  • thirtysomething, in its final season, featured a copy of John Updike's Rabbit at Rest as stage dressing. Guess what show the characters in Rabbit at Rest watch frequently.
  • Toast of London: Both Peter Davison and Tom Baker are recurring characters - the former played by himself as an old man, and the latter played by a lookalike as the way he was in 1976, down to the scarf. In fact, considering this, a Cutaway Gag of Toast's presence on Doctor Who, and the Retro Universe of the show, Baker might actually just be the incumbent Doctor in 2014 - which raises a lot of questions about Davison's career.
  • In the second season of Trial & Error, a character names his goat "John Lithgoat". John Lithgow was a main character the previous season.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
  • In a 2010 episode of Two and a Half Men, Charlie goes to his psychiatrist (played by Jane Lynch). As he and Alan later watch Glee, he says "that tall blonde in the red tracksuit (played by Jane Lynch) is freaking me out."
    • Another intentional: In the Season 10 episode "Big Episode. Somebody Stole a Spoon", as Walden walks hungover down the stairs of his house, he sees that it is in disarray and says that it looks like Charlie Sheen's house.
    • In the Season 12 premiere, "The Ol' Mexican Spinach", Alan dresses up as Duckie from the film Pretty in Pink and says he could be considered the real star of the film. Duckie was played by Jon Cryer, who plays Alan.
    • In the same episode, Walden says that he'd be okay with being married to Mila Kunis. Mila Kunis is engaged to Ashton Kutcher and had his baby in October 2014 Further, she appeared the previous April as a free-spirit Vivian.

  • In Ugly Betty, the Posthumous Character Fey Sommers of Mode is clearly based on the real-life Anna Wintour of Vogue (even their names pun: summer/winter). But later episodes mention Wintour as a separate person.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Kimmy frequently references Friends but at the end of the second season Kimmy's mom shows up and is played by Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay on Friends.
    • Earlier in the season the trope is played with when Joshua Jackson plays a convenience store clerk, and Kimmy notices the resemblance. The clerk tries to play off the resemblance, but it is implied that the clerk actually is Jackson.
    • Also in Season 2, the opening scenes of "Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!" has her talking to Titus' photo of Geena Davis. The fictional celebrity of the episode's title, talk show host Dr. Dave, is played by Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum and Davis not only co-starred in three films together (two of which paired off their characters romantically) but were married for several years.
    • In Season 4, Titus has deluded himself into thinking he's a star due to a bit part in an episode of Daredevil that hasn't even aired yet, and plays it up during a lunch date. His date is played by Jon Bernthal, who appeared in that show as The Punisher before reprising the character in his own show.

  • Veronica Mars:
    • Veronica Mars says she gets nightmares when she watches Paris Hilton movies. Quite understandable, as there was a girl at her school played by Paris Hilton.
    • She also once snarked at her friend Wallace by asking which Gilmore girl he was, even though Gilmore Girls came on right before Veronica Mars on the CW that season. One wonders what show filled that slot in Veronica's world.
    • From the episode "Charlie Don't Surf", Veronica makes a reference to The Wire ("So, Bubbles. You feel like doing me a solid? Hm?"), but no one comments about there being a teacher in season 2 that looks like Brianna Barksdale (Michael Hyatt), and the recurring season 2 character of Mr. Pope looks like Maurice Levy (Michael Kostroff).
    • Also in "Charlie Don't Surf", Keith uses the name "Adrian Monk" as an alias. Enrico Colantoni, Keith's actor, had previously guest-starred on an episode of Monk as a former partner of the titular detective, making one wonder how Keith would react if he ever saw that episode and noticed a guy looking a lot like him.

  • Word of God says that the world of The Walking Dead is a world that lacks the entire history of zombie fiction, which is why zombies are referred to as "walkers" and other euphemisms. In season two Glen offhandedly mentions that he used to play Portal, which suggests that in the world of Walking Dead Valve exists, but the Left 4 Dead series does not.
    • Or for that matter Half-Life, which is a little more jarring considering the amount of references Portal makes to it.
  • In Warehouse 13 there are tons of Shout Outs to Star Trek, and yet one of the main characters, Artie, is played by Saul Rubinek. Rubinek appeared as the villain in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode.
    • Armin Shimerman (appeared once) and Rene Auberjonois (recurring), aka Quark and Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • Brent Spiner (recurring) aka Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Interestingly, his appearance on the show is adversarial to Rubinek's character Artie. Rubinek's single appearance on Star Trek had him face off against Data.
    • Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan (both recurring) aka Captain Janeway and 7 of 9 from Star Trek: Voyager. Just to name a few.
  • Richard Nixon is the most recent Real Life president to be referenced in The West Wing. All of the presidents between Nixon and Bartlett, as well as Bartlett himself, are fictional. This begs the question, then, of who was Nixon's vice-president, who presumably assumed office upon his resignation? Did this fictional president then pardon Nixon, which led to this fictional president losing reelection to another fictional president two years later?
    • Alternately, given that presidential elections in The West Wing are two years out of sync with the real world, it's possible that Nixon's resignation prompted a special election in 1974, with a regular four year cycle resetting and picking up at that point.
  • On Will & Grace, Britney Spears is referenced many times by the characters, particularly Jack, who has memorized her dance moves and even swears on her name ("Britney Spears Federline!"). Yet when she appears as a special guest star as Jack's new co-host, he doesn't comment on how much she looks like his idol.
    • Similarly, Jack says, "Me digs Taye Diggs," in one episode. When Grace later married Will's boyfriend James, Jack never noted the resemblance.
    • On the other hand, when he meets Cher, he initially assumes she's a drag queen dressed as Cher.
    • Also there's the paradox presented by Bernadette Peters. One episode opens with Jack holding up a lock of her hair that he recently acquired for a "Broadway Diva Wig" (leading to a confrontation with Patti LuPone), but then in a later episode she plays Karen's sister Gin.
  • On The Wire:
    • Wu-Tang Clan songs have been heard playing on stereos, and yet Method Man has a recurring role on the show as Cheese Wagstaff.
    • The infamous Real Life Baltimore drug dealer "Little Melvin" Williams (who was the partial inspiration for Avon Barksdale) is also acknowledged as a real figure at one point, when Avon ponders how future generations in Baltimore will remember him. Williams, who served prison time and reformed after being released, and who was the basis for Avon, had a small recurring role as Bunny Colvin's friend the Deacon, but no one comments on his resemblance to Little Melvin.
    • Tupac Shakur existed in The Wire universe, yet he and Wood Harris (who plays Avon Barksdale) both appeared in Above The Rim. Furthermore, in the 2016 biographical film All Eyez on Me, Tupac's stepfather is played by Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield).
    • The reference to former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke in Season 5 is this because Schmoke made a cameo appearance in Season 3, playing a health official.
    • In one episode, McNulty pontificates that the core cop cast of the show are among maybe ten or twenty truly good cops in Baltimore. One of the cops that he names is Ed Burns, one of the show's co-creators who is indeed a former cop. Burns was many years retired from police work when he began working on this show, so the cop in question would have to be a different Ed Burns.
    • Two Jay Landsmans are in the show: the real Jay Landsman plays Lt. Dennis Mello. There's also the character of Sgt. Jay Landsman, played by Delaney Williams and named in tribute to the real guy. This causes a very surreal scene in "Took" where Lt. Mello, Jay Landsman, and Detective John Munch (who was based on Landsman) all appear in a bar.
    • John Munch's appearance creates another set of paradoxes as many members of The Wire main cast have appeared in at least one episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, with some (like Clark Johnson and Peter Gerety) having been Homicide main cast members.
    • Omar is a fan of HBO's Oz, a show that has featured Wire cast members like Dominick Lombardozzi (Herc), Seth Gilliam (Ellis Carver), John Doman (Bill Rawls), Lance Reddick (Cedric Daniels), JD Williams (Bodie), Clarke Peters (Lester Freamon), and Method Man (Cheese).

  • In The X-Files episode "Hollywood A.D.", Scully is played by Téa Leoni, who is David Duchovny's wife in real life.
    • Another episode has Alex Trebek play an M.I.B. agent, who is described as looking "like Alex Trebek."
      • The paradox is averted by this second example, though, as the character underwent extensive plastic surgery for the sake of looking like Alex Trebek. This was so anyone who saw him doing M.I.B. type things (i.e., trying to cover up the evidence of aliens a witness claimed to see) wouldn't be believed. And everything about the character we only get through the testimony of people claiming to have seen UFO's.
    • In The Movie, Mulder relieves himself on a poster for Independence Day as a Take That!, as Chris Carter loathed the film. In Independence Day, a character mentions that The X-Files exists as a TV Show.

  • In the pilot episode of The Young Ones, Rick is shown rocking out to the show's theme song, which is being played on the radio. In real life, the song was sung by the series' four principle actors (including the one who portrayed Rick), so who exactly was singing on the radio?
    • Averted in The Young Ones, where the characters are quite aware they are in a sitcom which is being broadcast. In fact, in one episode Neil's parents upbraid him for appearing in such an offensive sitcom and asked why he couldn't be in something nice like The Good Life.


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