Follow TV Tropes


Accidental Celebrity

Go To

The internet is a wonderful and terrible thing. Every second, dozens of people around you can look at you, record your actions and upload them online, and you can do the same to them. You can even publish your own actions if you want to.

However, most of us are ordinary people, hardly getting noticed in the background... Until you suddenly decide to date a celebrity. Or somebody makes a funny edit of a random picture of yours. Or a news crew catches you off-guard and you mumble the first thing that comes to mind. Or the mysterious Black Box that is the social media algorithm decides that your newest clip will be the hottest thing online.

Yep. You're famous now! Oops?

Accidental Celebrity is when a person suddenly becomes famous without having any intention of doing so. They usually are NOT the type to chase after their 15 Minutes of Fame, instead preferring to keep their head down and do their thing. In the modern era, this fame usually comes in the form of online Memetic Mutation, though word of mouth and print media are just as valid methods of becoming famous.

Frequently in this trope, this person becomes famous overnight and only finds out when their family, friends, or acquaintances decide to point it out. They may question why is everyone looking at them weirdly or suddenly knows who they are. Expect this character to react with disbelief and, depending on their personality, anger, glee, or embarrassment.

The effects of this sudden fame on their lives can be varied. The character may enjoy the fame, maybe even to the point of becoming an Attention Whore, and develop Acquired Situational Narcissism. Perhaps they'll even think of it as their big chance to Pursue the Dream Job. On the opposite spectrum, chance is they are a Shrinking Violet or otherwise hate the publicity and wish everyone would just leave them alone already. The sudden fame may also change this character's interpersonal relationships, such as triggering a Successful Sibling Syndrome, making their friends Green Eyed Monsters, or suddenly gaining their elders' approval or disapproval.

The point is, this sudden fame is often a huge turning point for the Accidental Celebrity, and may become the trigger for their Character Development, or perhaps plot advancement.

This trope is Truth in Television. Subtrope of Famed In-Story. Frequently overlaps with Memetic Mutation, 15 Minutes of Fame, Once Done, Never Forgotten, Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!, You Are the New Trend, and Accidental Hero. May also overlap with Celebrity Is Overrated. The inversion is I Coulda Been a Contender!, which is when someone attempts to become famous but fails, usually due to an accident.

No Real Life Examples, Please! For that, check Memetic Mutation.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hunter × Hunter: The Hunter chairman election arc has two side-by-side plotlines. First is the titular election, wherein every Hunter is both a voter and a candidate. Second is Gon's friends trying to heal him after he was left in critical condition. When a press conference is held regarding the election Leorio uses the opportunity to talk to Ging, Gon's father and a famous hunter. Leorio asks if he knows about Gon's situation and asks him to go to him, when Ging says that he does know and refuses to go Leorio sends him flying with an uppercut... in front of a live audience and dozens of cameras. Overnight Leorio goes from a little-known rookie hunter to one of the leading candidates despite having no interest in the election.
  • K-On!: Mio becomes a celebrity at school after accidentally showing her panties on stage. She even garners her own fan club over it.
  • Log Horizon: The members of the Debauchery Tea Party were just a bunch of friends having fun gaming together and taking on challenging content. However, word of mouth spread about them, and they became known as the invincible party with the incredibly talented members who are winning against impossible odds without being affiliated with a guild. Their reputation reaches such lengths that all members are treated as Living Legends by other players (especially protagonist Shiroe, who as The Strategist is cited as the person most responsible for the victories), and some characters like William admit to having considered joining the party a gaming goal before it was disbanded.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • While the Sports Festival is indeed supposed to promote young heroes to the various agencies, in Izuku's case he fails to gather any hero's attention (as he only received one internship offer) and instead becomes famous to the public as the "bone breaker kid". This comes up a few times over the course of the manga, such as Gentle Criminal calling him that upon recognizing him.
    • Implied to be the case with Mirio during his first Sports Festival, as his Permation quirk resulted in him flashing the public on national television.
    • The "Can't You See" kid, a random bystander who encouraged everyone to support Endeavor on live TV while he was fighting the High End Nomu, is mentioned to become an internet sensation immediately afterwards.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: Playmaker prefers to hunt the Knights of Hanoi in the shadows, but by the time the series starts, he has a reputation for being a mysterious invincible duelist. Unfortunately for him, a large-scale attack forces him to fight the Knights of Hanoi on live television, which creates a ton of problems down the road. Gore - who had NOTHING to do with him - becomes a Green-Eyed Monster and is slowly Driven to Madness, the Knights of Hanoi start targeting innocents based on what type of duel disk he wears, and the local Evil, Inc. decides to focus on tracking him down because of his activities, while before they dismissed him.

    Comic Books 
  • In Outlawed, a Marvel event in 2020, Kamala Khan saves an activist while not wearing her Ms. Marvel costume, but ends up in a coma due to a building collapsing onto them, caused by a dragon her team the Champions were fighting. By the time she wakes up, the government has put into force an anti-child superhero law, referred to as Kamala's Law, named after her. Naturally she's not happy with this sudden fame, especially since she is in fact one of the teenage superheroes they just outlawed. It gets the attention of corrupt corporation Roxxon, who were actually responsible for that dragon and influenced the creation of that law. They want Kamala (not knowing she's Ms. Marvel and she's already sent two of her teammates in) to join them as an intern. She does but uses the position to expose them and get the law repealed.
  • In Prez (2015), protagonist Beth becomes an overnight sensation thanks to a video of her uploaded to the web. She then becomes President after a whole lot of people cynically write her in as a candidate in an election where the two other candidates managed to wreck each other's campaigns.

    Fan Works 
  • Announcer AU: The plot starts when Izuku gets separated from his mom while attending the UA Sports Festival as a spectator. While he's trying to find her, a series of accidents lead President Mic, who is announcing the Festival, to offer him a seat in the announcer booth so he can wait out the chaos safely. Of course, Izuku being Izuku, he starts commenting on the students' quirks... and then Present Mic points out that the mic is turned on. Cue agencies from all over Japan wanting to take Izuku for an internship, and the internet trying to figure out who he is for a long time afterwards.
  • Dermabrasion: A tabloid captures Dabi in disguise talking with Hawks in public on his way home. The next day, the whole internet has decided that the masked stranger is Hawks' boyfriend, his - stolen - jeans become a collector's item sold for hundreds of thousands of yen, his anime hoodie becomes an internet sensation, and the specialty bakery he shopped from has at least four times more customers. Dabi's reaction to the news is pure disbelief, shortly followed by rage.
    "He's a fucking influencer what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck."
  • Make a Wish: Harry Potter just wanted a vacation, and because he is famous he decides to take the alias "Mr. Black" to go incognito. One summer later, "Mr. Black" is an In-Universe Memetic Badass with a Mysterious Past who makes Death Eaters drop dead left and right via equally mysterious means, and is always aware of everything. Harry is completely oblivious to his Accidental Hero status, as everything was the result of Contrived Coincidence.
  • Oni Ga Shiku Series: Downplayed. The video of Izuku beating the crap out of the Yamikumo clan at Shinpu Castle goes viral, but the guys filming the thing were too far away for people to be able to ID Izuku through the footage. So the public at large now knows the person in the video as the Mad Dog of Shizuoka. Dspite the video itself not having much of an effect in Izuku's life (even though that the events leading up to it most certainly did), it goes viral again five years later when during renovations, a statue of a snarling dog is erected in honor of the event in front of the castle garden's gate.

    Film — Animation 
  • Rango: A socially stunted housepet chameleon tumbles out of the family car, and finds himself lost in the southwest desert. A red-tailed hawk tries to make a meal of him but perishes in the effort. The hawk had been terrorizing the Funny Animal residents of the town of Dirt, who hail the chameleon as a hero. The chameleon is no hero, not by any measure, but seeing a chance to be a somebody, he adopts a kind of Pale Rider persona, dubbing himself "Rango."
  • Shark Tale: Workaday drudge Oscar runs up a debt to the shark mob, and Frankie pursues him to collect either cash or blood. Purely by chance, an anchor falls on Frankie, killing him. Oscar is hailed as "The Sharkslayer" that dared to oppose the shark mafia, but he's really a Fake Ultimate Hero.

    Film — Live Action 
  • ''Big Brother (2018)': When trying to save his student, Henry knocks out an MMA fighter. That MMA fighter happened to be scheduled to fight that day, and Henry goes viral on Hong Kong internet for knocking him out.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul: When Greg lands in a ball pit that has a diaper in it and it gets stuck to his hand, he starts trying to shake it off while yelling, "Diaper! It's a diaper!". This leads to him being known as "Diaper Hands" to everyone he meets, much to his embarrassment.
  • Notting Hill: Will Thacker owns a small, barely-visited travel bookstore in Notting Hill, London. When Hollywood starlet Anna Scott enters the store to buy a book, and they soon fall in love, seeing each other in secret as Anna is still technically involved with her distant movie star boyfriend. They fall out of touch for months, until Anna returns to Will's house to hide from some bad publicity over her very public breakup, and they sleep together. But due to an accidental tip-off from Will's flatmate, Will wakes up to find the press swarming his flat, taking pictures of him in his pajamas. Downplayed, since Will's fame doesn't seem to last very long after the encounter with the paparazzi causes them to have a Third-Act Misunderstanding.
  • In Twelve Oh Eight East Of Bucharest, the director of a local TV station in Vaslui, Romania, seeks to investigate the local lore that Vaslui rose up on the night that Nicolae Ceusescu fled the country, as there are conflicting reports, some of which say the uprising was actually just a rowdy party. Unable to get experts to comment on the matter, the director instead brings on Tiberius Mansecu, a penniless local professor, and Emanoli Piscoci, a Conspiracy Nut. Black Comedy ensues as neither one is quite ready for the spotlight.

  • Audrey, Wait!: Audrey is an average teenage girl who dumps her musician boyfriend, who writes a Break Up Song about her called "Audrey, Wait!" and plays it at a local club. Audrey's at first simply embarrassed, and annoyed that the song is genuinely good, but when the song becomes a worldwide hit and she starts getting hounded by paparazzi, she's furious, as she never wanted to be famous, much less for dumping somebody. She at first tries to enjoy the perks of fame, accepting free concert tickets and meeting some of her favorite musicians, but quickly finds that Celebrity Is Overrated. Turns out her ex feels the same, and is genuinely remorseful for naming the song after her and dragging her into the spotlight. Luckily, Audrey's 15 Minutes of Fame eventually expire, and her ex and his band go on to continue making music they enjoy and trying to have serious careers in music instead of just being a One-Hit Wonder.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Lord Voldemort attempts to kill Harry James Potter as a baby, but the killing Curse had backfired. He unintentionally made Harry a celebrity in the Wizarding World for surviving the killing Curse.
  • Iron Widow: Zetian sets out to kill her sister's murderer, a celebrated Giant Mecha pilot, expecting to die or be executed. Instead, she not only commandeers his mecha mid-battle but dramatically dumps his corpse before a fleet of media drones, catapulting her to infamy as the Iron Widow. Unable to suppress the story, the government recruits her into the mecha program.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: When Dorothy arrives in Oz, her house crushes the Wicked Witch of the East and all the Munchkins praise her as a hero. They all think that Dorothy is a great sorceress.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, Harriet Jones goes from an irrelevant backbencher in the House of Commons to the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after circumstances allow her to make a triumphant speech just after The Doctor managed to repel an alien invasion.
  • The Expanse: In "Back to the Butcher", the crew of the Rocinante have decided to keep their heads down and try to stay anonymous in the hope that ships they're on will stop being attacked. Then Alex taps into a news feed and discovers Holden's broadcast about the Canterbury's destruction, and that he's become the face of water riots on Ceres. Holden has a beauty of an Oh, Crap! face as he watches angry crowds waving banners emblazoned with his face and the slogan, "Remember the Cant."
    Alex: Well, partner, it's gonna be kinda hard for you to stay anonymous now.
    Amos: Let me know if you want your face to look a little different.
  • Leverage: In "The 15 Minutes Job," the team attempt to invoke this on their mark, who is a shady political fixer with no public profile. They decide to make a hero out of him and then turn around and destroy his new reputation by exposing his antics. Their first attempt, setting him up to foil the robbery of his favorite coffee spot, fails because the man is so resistant to being seen on camera that he refuses to take any credit and flees the scene. They eventually get him to warm up to the idea, though, and end up taking him down.
  • In The Republic of Sarah, Sarah goes from being a mere history teacher in a dying town to an instant celebrity after being filmed standing in the way of bulldozers trying to tear up her town. She decides to parlay this into a career in politics, leading an effort to declare her town an independent nation and then getting declared its new President.
  • Servant of the People begins when, unbeknownst to him, a student captures Vasiliy Goloborodko going on a trade against the Ukrainian Government and puts it on YouTube. The video ends up a hit and it begins a chain of events that allows Vasily to become the President of Ukraine.
  • Still Game: Winston sees a young hooligan stealing an old lady's purse, and promptly knocks him out by removing his prosthetic leg and throwing it at his head, after which he says, "Shut it, tadger!" Unbeknownst to Winston, another young man was watching and filming his actions, and the video ends up becoming an Instant Web Hit, with tons of people crowding around Winston and inviting him to repeat his catchphrase. By the end of the episode, however, Winston stops being as popular when he can't do anything fresh to entertain his audience, and he finally hits his Rage Breaking Point and tells one heckler to "SHUT UP, CU-!" Needless to say, Winston's not a popular celebrity by that point.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: A strange example. In Canas and Pent's supports, the former casually drops that his mother can rewrite his last-of-its-kind book on elder magic, so Pent can keep and enjoy it. Pent is baffled, and Canas explains that his mother is Niime. Pent is shocked to have met "the hermit's child" (and ends the conversation by dashing off to tell his wife) but Canas is just confused about why Pent is making such a big deal out of it.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes: The reason Link is in Hytopia in the first place is that he is trying to escape his fame for rescuing Princess Zelda after The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
  • Persona 2: In Innocent Sin, the party is extremely shocked when a group of strangers surround Lisa asking her when her "debut" is going to be and why is she keeping it a secret. The whole party is confounded, but soon they find out that Lisa's other friends have spread a poster advertising their idol debuts, and the picture they used was a group shot that included Lisa, edited so she only appears as a silhouette. Lisa asked for exactly none of it, triggering the effects of the next dungeon, much to her anger. The whole incident brings forth her trust issues in full force, especially since her assigned song segment is in English, as her friends assumed she would have no issue singing it as the Token White (even though she doesn't know any English.)

    Web Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Tell Your Tale: In "My Bananas", Sunny ends up slipping on a banana peel while out giving smoothies to ponies. She garners a crowd that had witnessed the event unfold, and she ends up going viral, much to her chagrin. Hitch tries to reassure her that everyone will have forgotten the event in a couple hours' time, but sure enough, by the time night rolls around, various remixes and memes of Sunny's mishap, as well as the phrase "my bananas", has spread online all over Equestria. Pipp cheers her up by showing her a video of her top 10 most epic fails (which, itself, has gone viral with 13 billion views) and manages to drum up business for her smoothie stand, where Sunny makes banana smoothies for customers. While making one, though, the mixture explodes into Pipp's and Sunny's faces, causing ponies to immediately whip out their phones. Luckily, Sunny has a better attitude about it this time around.


    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "Buster Baxter Cat Saver", Buster had rescued a Cat Up a Tree, which is actually his fish stick ice cream that brought it down, his mother writes a headline about him and became a celebrity. The fame had turned Buster into a snob. His friends try to prove that he isn't a cat saver by putting a robot cat in a tree. Buster saves his friends from a runaway piano and instantly becoming a celebrity, starting the conflict all over again.
  • Beetlejuice: In one episode, Beetlejuice got chased by a baby Sandworm. Lydia summons Beetlejuice to the real world while yelling out his name along with the baby sandworm. Everyone thinks that he's great at defeating the sandworm and praised him as a hero.
  • In the Grand Finale of Bojack Horseman, Bojack's failed suicide attempt inadvertently launches the career of a young boy, because the media is amused by the kid's animated recounting of what he felt when he saw the disgraced sitcom star lying nearly dead in his pool (he gets called "The Jeebies Kid".)
  • The Looney Tunes Show: While filming a commercial for Speedy Gonzales' new restaurant, Pizzarriba, Bugs Bunny flatly states, "I like it." The line is used in the commercial, and this tagline becomes Bugs' memetic catchphrase. It grows to the point where firefighters, arriving to extinguish a fire at Bugs' residence, stop to ask him to repeat the tagline for their amusement.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Green Isn't Your Color" sees Fluttershy gain the attention of fashion photographer Photo Finish when the former models Rarity's gowns. Soon after Fluttershy is hired as a full-time model, Rarity grows jealous of her fame, yet tries to keep her feelings a secret because she had encouraged her out of politeness. Likewise, Fluttershy doesn't enjoy the fame and paparazzi but continues modeling because she doesn't want to disappoint Rarity. At the end of the episode, both come clean about their feelings about the arrangement and Fluttershy decides to quit her modeling job.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Get Off My Lawnie", Granny Tentacles calls out Patrick for his annoying show, right on stage. The audience thinks it's All Part of the Show and Granny Tentacles is just a new character, and they love her "act". She is unable to get rid of them and becomes a sensation, down to having her own Fan Community Nickname and a "Critics Love Granny!" banner decorating a bus. But when she does embrace her fame and start her own show, everyone has already gotten bored of it.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Heinz Doofenshmirtz manages to pull this a few times.
  • The Simpsons: In "Bart Gets Famous", Bart Simpson sneaks out of the Class Trip to the Box factory to the Channel 6 studio. During the Krusty the Klown Show, he accidentally knocks down the set and says, "I didn't do it." The audience laughs and Bart becomes a celebrity. He and his catchphrase reached massive levels of popularity until everybody got sick of it by the end of the episode.
  • An episode of Solar Opposites shows Korvo try to become a magician. He initially fails, but someone takes a video of him conjuring all of his props and throwing them into a dumpster while angrily shouting "Ta-da!" This video goes viral and makes Korvo a famous magician after all.
  • Viva Piñata: In the episode "Hero", Franklin Fizzlybear becomes a hero when he saves the life of famous celebrity Hudson Horstachio. Naturally, this garners him a lot of fame and Hudson even tries to help Franklin adjust to the glitz and glamour. However, neither pinata is happy about the new arrangement, with Franklin ever shirking from the limelight and Hudson craving for that limelight. The status quo returns to normal when Hudson saves Franklin's life and becomes famous again.