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Casting Gag

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This is where an entire role mirrors or parodies an entire previous role or Real Life situation of the actor. A conscious casting choice can be assumed; thus, it can also apply to cameos and guest stars. This forms a small joke or minor piece of merriment. Note that the gag is entirely dependent on the casting and the role rather than some later effected plot or dialogue.

Contrastingly, an Actor Allusion is when the role being played can be nothing like the actor's real life or previous roles, but contains a Famous Role Shout Out: an allusion to the actor's work, but nothing more.

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An actor can use this self-consciously when parodying themselves for Adam Westing. Compare with Playing Against Type, when an actor's role is (often consciously) very different from their typical ones, though this is less likely to be a gag. If the gag is that the character being played is untalented in something the actor excels in, then it's Irony as She Is Cast. If the Casting Gag is that the actor appeared in an earlier version of the same story, it's a Remake Cameo. Compare also to Actor-Shared Background, when the gag doesn't reference a large part of the actor's real life but matches certain elements. See also I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine.


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Examples:

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    Anime 

    Film — Animation 
  • At the end of The Jungle Book 2, Shere Khan (now voiced by Tony Jay) actually ends up being defeated by being plunged into a fiery pit, similar to Frollo in The Hunchbackof Notre Dame.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Lewis goes through each member of the Robinson family and how they're related to each other, with his mental family tree shown to the viewer; however, he hasn't met Wilbur's dad Cornelius, so he asks Wilbur what he looks like. After a Beat, Wilbur says "Tom Selleck" in a deadpan tone, and a Real Life picture of Selleck is used for Lewis' thoughts. In reality, Cornelius is voiced by Selleck but looks like Lewis as an adult. The line was actually written first, and that gave them the idea of offering Tom Selleck the role. In most of the dubbed versions (except for the Brazilian and Dutch), they replace the "Tom Selleck" line with whoever is voicing Cornelius in that language.
  • Don Bluth's Thumbelina features Jodi Benson voicing a redhead who wishes to find love with someone of a different species - who also has most characters comment on her beautiful singing voice. It wasn't the first time she lent her voice to such a film, that also happened to be based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale.
  • In the Brazilian Portuguese dub of The LEGO Movie, main character Emmet is played by Renan Freitas, who previously voiced another notorious builder.
  • In The Boxtrolls, it wouldn't be Dee Bradley Baker's first time playing a fish. He previously did that in American Dad!, with Klaus.
  • Wonder Woman (2009): Hippolyta's voice actress, Virginia Madsen, is no stranger to playing a demigoddess' mother since she also played Arella from Teen Titans.
  • In The LEGO Batman Movie Zach Galifianakis plays The Joker, making this his second role as a clown after Baskets.
  • Inside Out has an example similar to the Meet The Robinsons one above. Anger is constantly seen reading a newspaper that updates him on things in Riley's life, wears a white button-down shirt and tie, and, as to be expected, has a Hair-Trigger Temper. He's voiced by Lewis Black, who is famous for his "angry yelling" comedy persona. Black also wears the same clothes for his stand-up act and often uses stories from newspapers as fodder for jokes. This is all very deliberate—during the first pitch meeting of the movie, the writers, perhaps jokingly, told the studio heads to imagine getting different people to voice the emotions, specifically remarking "We could get Lewis Black to play Anger!" Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.
  • In Incredibles 2 the mayor of New Urbem is voiced by Barry Bostwick, who played the bumbling mayor of New York city in the sitcom Spin City.
  • In Frozen (2013), Elsa sings an "I Am Becoming" Song about embracing her snow powers. Elsa's voice actress, Idina Menzel, originated "Defying Gravity" on Wicked, another "I Am Becoming" Song of a misfit witch finding herself.
  • Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, a guy known for being typecast as the Scary Black Man, voices a cute, tiny animal in Zootopia...whose got an aggressive personality that is not that far off from the Scary Black Man character he usually plays. It's just that, this time, he's not intimidating at all due to his looks and stature, while in his live-action movies, he's very intimidating.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 1941: In the beginning of the film, a woman goes skinny-dipping in the ocean in the early morning and is startled and embarrassed when a Japanese submarine surfaces beneath her and she's caught on the periscope. The character is played by Susan Backlinie, and was cast by Steven Spielberg partly because she was a good swimmer and trained stuntwoman who didn't mind getting naked and partly because she'd played Chrissie in Jaws, where her character went skinny-dipping in the early morning only to be eaten by a shark.
  • Sunset Boulevard:
    • Gloria Swanson, who was an over the hill, forgotten silent movie actress, plays an over the hill silent movie actress.
    • She employs a butler who was once a famous, now forgotten, silent film director. This part is played by the once famous, then forgotten silent film director Erich von Stroheim.
    • When Swanson's character is seen watching one of her old movies, it is ACTUALLY an old Gloria Swanson movie (Queen Kelly) - directed by Erich von Stroheim.
    • And then there are her card-playing buddies from the Old Days ("the Waxworks"), including Buster Keaton.
  • The first Scream movie had a throwaway line about who would play each of the characters in the slasher-movie-plot they've found themselves in. Sidney quips, "With my luck they'd cast Tori Spelling." Cue Scream 2 where a Film Within a Film regarding the first movie's events is being filmed, and the character who represents Sidney is, indeed, Tori Spelling — she thought the quip from the first movie was Actually Pretty Funny and signed up for the joke.
  • Carrie Fisher has a cameo in Scream 3 as "Bianca" who is bitter over losing out for the role of Princess Leia to another actress. She goes as far to state that the actress 'must have slept with George Lucas'.
  • Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and Ray Park have all appeared in Fanboys because of their roles in Star Wars. The fact that they played different characters added to the level of hilarious.
  • Sigourney Weaver plays a (blonde!) Bridge Bunny in Galaxy Quest, a character significantly at odds to her best-known role, Ellen Ripley of Alien. In the same film, Tim Allen is very convincing as a washed-up TV star, and Alan Rickman is excellent as a respected Shakespearean actor playing a role far below his ability.
  • In Avatar, Sigourney Weaver fights to protect the aliens. And the film is by the same director of Aliens.
  • In Paul, Sigourney Weaver plays the Big Bad that hunts the titular Alien.
  • In Shakespeare in Love, Ben Affleck has a small role as a big name actor who is tricked into accepting a small role in Romeo and Juliet.
  • David Duchovny, famous for his iconic role as paranormal conspiracy theorist Agent Mulder in The X-Files, appears in Zoolander as a conspiracy nut.
  • In Battle Royale, Takeshi Kitano, the host of the game show Takeshi's Castle, plays Kitano, a teacher who hosts the titular Battle Royale.
  • In The Cannonball Run, one of the racers has the delusion that he is a famous movie star named Roger Moore, and has lots of zany gadgets including an ejection seat in the car. Of course, the character is played by Roger Moore, who was one of the James Bond actors.
  • Freaky Friday (2003) wanted to do this with Jodie Foster, who played the daughter in the original 1976 Freaky Friday, now playing the mother, however, she declined the role and it went to Jamie Lee Curtis instead.
  • In Clue we get this Stealth Pun Casting Gag: "Mr. Boddy won't be staying with us for very long. In fact, he's just Lee Ving."
  • Sky High (2005): Lynda Carter, former Wonder Woman, as the Sky High Principal. At one point, she quips "I'm not a wonder woman, you know."
  • Iron Man:
    • The after-credits-appearing character Nick Fury is played by Samuel L. Jackson who serves (with his permission) as the model for the appearance and personality of the Ultimate Marvel version of Fury. Within the comic The Ultimates itself, when the team was amusing themselves speculating on who would play them in the movie about their adventures, Fury said that he would, of course, be played by Samuel L. Jackson. A popular theory is that Jackson, a real-life comics fan, agreed to provide his likeness for the Ultimate Universe Nick Fury, with the understanding that if ever there was a movie with Nick Fury, he would get to play the role.
    • Ghostface Killah — who uses "Tony Starks" as an alias, titled his 1996 solo debut album Ironman and opened his 2000 album Supreme Clientele with a clip of the theme to the old Iron Man cartoon — was actually cast in a supporting role in the film as an industrial tycoon (though his scene didn't make it to the final cut).
    • Guitarist Tom Morello appears as one of the terrorists who try to kill the first Iron Man suit. To get the gag you have to remember that he is most famous for playing with "Rage Against the Machine". (Morello later co-scored the sequel)
    • And then there were the endless jokes about casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. And then Sherlock Holmes, who had a bit of a thing for cocaine.
  • Maverick:
    • A Casting Gag played as Actor Allusion, the title character (played by Mel Gibson) is in a bank as it is held up by an unnamed bank robber played by Danny Glover, who starred alongside Gibson in the Lethal Weapon series of movies. Maverick acts as though he recognizes the voice of the bank robber and pulls down his mask, leading the two of them to share a moment before shaking their heads and walking away. The unnamed bank robber also mentions that he's "getting too old for this" as he makes his getaway.
    • Further, the film features The Unseen father of Bret Maverick — who, just coincidentally, happens to be played by none other than James Garner, who originated the role of Maverick on TV.
  • Very possibly the casting of Robin Williams, TV's Mork From Ork in The '70s, as Popeye, searching for his long lost father, Poopdeck Pappy, played by Ray Walston, TV's loveable alien from The '60s on My Favorite Martian.
  • The casting of Larry Hagman, famous for playing a member of a Texas oil baron family in Dallas, in Nixon as a Texas billionaire.
  • Since the new resurgence of superhero films began, comic book legend Stan Lee has had a cameo in most of the film series of Marvel characters he helped to create, from Spider-Man Trilogy to the X-Men Film Series. Usually, he's just being heroic, but he got to play a character he created, Willie Lumpkin, in the Fox Fantastic Four (2005) movie. He was a miss pageant judge in Iron Man 3. Truly a hero to the good old US of A. :)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show creator Richard O'Brien was probably best-known in the UK during The '90s for hosting The Crystal Maze, a game show in which contestants had to win crystals (and ultimately prizes) by solving puzzles on a large, labyrinthine set. He was later cast in the Dungeons & Dragons film as the master of a large maze from which the heroes have to retrieve a gem.
  • In Kenneth Branagh's film Henry V, the actor Michael Williams, Judi Dench's husband, was cast as the character Michael Williams after she signed on to the film.
  • At the beginning of Love Actually, Liam Neeson's character is giving a eulogy for his wife, and he jokingly mentions that they had a lot of time to discuss things when she was ill, and one of her suggestions was that he bring Claudia Schiffer as his date to the funeral. This gets a callback later when he tells his stepson that he plans on never finding love again — unless he should run into Claudia Schiffer. At the end, he's at the stepson's school, trying to help him resolve his own unrequited love for a classmate... and he bumps into another parent he's never met before, who introduces herself as Carol Karen (he stammers a bit and calls her Carol, though). She's is played by Claudia Schiffer.
  • Thoroughly unintentional example (they initially refused to even let her audition): Paris Hilton in Repo! The Genetic Opera playing... a rich, slutty, fashion-obsessed heiress cultivating a singing career using her name and infamy rather than talent. Better than it sounds, not least because her face falls off.
  • Bridget Jones' Diary:
    • Colin Firth was cast to play Mark Darcy, a character inspired by Fitzwilliam Darcy (from Pride and Prejudice) which he played in a series of made for TV films. On top of that, in the original novel, Bridget and her friends are stated to lust after the actor and his famous wet shirt scene.
    • In the second novel, Bridget Jones interviews Colin Firth for a newspaper article.
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats: The titular men call themselves "Jedi Knights". So who should be cast as the reporter writing a story on this covert group of psychic warriors, making such statements as, "I don't understand what a Jedi Knight is."? Ewan McGregor. According to McGregor, the director didn't even realize this, although McGregor himself played it up.
  • Is it just a coincidence that Nestor Carbonell, who played Mayor Anthony Garcia in the Batman films The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, also played a character called "Batmanuel" in The Tick (2001)?
  • Also, in The Dark Knight Rises, Matthew Modine plays Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley. Modine also played a character nicknamed "Joker" in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket.
  • In David Mamet's adaptation of the play The Winslow Boy, Neil North plays the First Lord of the Admiralty. In the 1948 film of the same play, North had played the title character (a supporting role).
  • The same year Mark Williams was cast as the technology-loving wizard Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movie series, he was also an enthusiastic presenter in Industrial Revelations, a documentary series about the history of technology.
    • In Half-Blood Prince, after Bill was attacked, he was said to bear a distinct resemblance to Mad-Eye Moody. In Deathly Hallows, Bill was played by Domhnall Gleeson whose father, Brendan Gleeson, played Moody.
    • Also in Half-Blood Prince, Lord Voldemort's child self is played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, nephew to Ralph Fiennes who portrays the character's adult incarnation.
    • In the epilogue, Draco Malfoy's wife was played by Tom Felton's real-life girlfriend.
  • Miranda Richardson has been in so many roles that involve beheading — Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder II, the Queen of Hearts in 1999's Alice in Wonderland TV miniseries, Lady Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow (1999) — that it's hard to imagine her role as the chicken-killing Mrs. Tweedy in Chicken Run being anything other than an allusion to her past head-removing roles.
  • Sean Connery was cast as Indiana Jones' father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade because Steven Spielberg and George Lucas thought that the only man who could play Indy's father was James Bond, and because in a meta sense, James Bond was the father of Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark came about when Steven Spielberg told George Lucas that he wanted to make a Bond movie; Lucas pitched his "Indiana Smith" character as a rights-free alternative, and the rest is history.
  • In the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, M (played by Judi Dench) butts heads with an admiral played by Geoffrey Palmer. The two played a romantic couple on the British sitcom As Time Goes By.
  • In Midsommar Jack Reynor plays Christian, an anthropology student - and awful boyfriend - who decides to travel to Sweden to study a cult called the Harga. In Strange Angel, he plays the lead who not only joins a cult himself, but eventually even ends up as its interim leader.
  • John Hurt, who played the lead role of Winston Smith in British movie 1984; was in 2006 cast as the dictator for the film V for Vendetta, which bore a similar setting. The dictator's face is seen displayed over several screens throughout the city, all in a very Big Brother-esque way.
  • Matt Damon as the hero and Greg Kinnear as the Big Bad in Green Zone. Both had previously starred as conjoined twins in the Farrelly Brothers comedy Stuck on You.
  • In Enemy of the State, Gene Hackman plays a character who seems like a good-guy version of his "professional eavesdropper" character in The Conversation. This is referenced when a photograph of Hackman's character from that earlier film is used as a file photo in Enemy of the State.
  • In Piranha 3D, Richard Dreyfuss has a cameo at the beginning as a character who is practically an Expy of his previous character Matt Hooper from Jaws.
  • Blades of Glory manages to make incest both funny and pretty much a foregone conclusion by casting (then) real-life husband and wife Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as fraternal twins Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg.
  • Hot Fuzz casts Edward Woodward as the equivalent of his antagonists from The Wicker Man (1973)
  • In Airplane!:
    • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who's cast as pilot Roger Murdock, is pointed out by a boy on the plane as being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The boy continues to ask Murdock why he doesn't put more effort into his basketball, to which Murdock heavily implies he's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hiding as a pilot. Finally, when Murdock has to be taken off the co-pilot seat after suffering food poisoning, he is revealed to be wearing his basketball shorts and shoes.
    • Also, there's one scene in a mental hospital for soldiers with PTSD. One of the soldiers thinks he's Ethel Merman, and he's played by none other than Ethel Merman hrself.
    • Additionally, casting Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Leslie Nielsen was in-and-of-itself a Casting Gag because they had never acted in comedic roles before Airplane!
  • In The Flintstones movie, Fred has a secretary named Sharon Stone (a reference to both the actress and the non-stop "rock" puns common in the TV series). The producers wanted Sharon Stone to be played by... Sharon Stone, who had to turn down the role as she was working on another movie (the part was taken by Halle Berry). Stone has since expressed her regret for not appearing in The Flintstones.
  • David Rasche plays a senator in Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers. Rasche is most famous for spoofing Eastwood's Dirty Harry character as the trigger-happy, fascist Cowboy Cop Sledge Hammer!.
  • In A Fish Called Wanda, George Thomason is played by Tom Georgeson.
  • A rather macabre one in MouseHunt: whereas in The Lion King (1994) Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella are Those Two Guys whose Trademark Favorite Food is live insects, their onscreen reunion four years later was marked by Ernie Smuntz (Lane) accidentally killing Mayor McKrinkle (Sabella) at Smuntz's chic French restaurant, after the mayor bites off the head of a live cockroach that crawled into his dinner, triggering a Vomit Indiscretion Scene followed by a fatal heart attack. Keep in mind that unlike The Lion King (1994), MouseHunt is live-action, not animated.
  • In Unknown (2011), Aidan Quinn plays the sinister impostor "Martin B", who steals the identity of Martin Harris (Liam Neeson). They had both played best friends in Michael Collins, and Neeson suggested that he be cast opposite him as the villain.
  • In the original version of The Parent Trap, the father's evil girlfriend is named Vicky. In the remake, the evil girlfriend Meredith's mother says, "You may call me Aunt Vicky." She was played by the same actress who played Vicky in the original.
  • In Battle Beyond the Stars Robert Vaughn plays the Recycled In Space version of his character from The Magnificent Seven (1960).
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:
    • Gimli nudges Legolas' bow so that the intended warning shot would nail one of Sauron's pirate reinforcements right in the chest. the pirates were all played by the production staff and the pirate that gets killed? Peter Jackson, the director.
    • Ian Holm plays Bilbo but was Frodo, Bilbo's nephew, in the 1981 radio drama.
  • Tim Burton has a brief cameo in Singles, playing a disheveled, artistic amateur film director.
  • Also in Burton's Dark Shadows, Chloë Grace Moretz, who previously played a vampire in Let Me In, plays...a werewolf.
  • In North, Kelly McGillis has a cameo as an Amish woman and Alexander Gudunov as her husband- they famously played Amish people in Witness.
  • Porn stars cast as porn stars (movie edition):
    • In Boogie Nights, several porn stars (most notably Nina Hartley) had bit parts in the movie.
    • In The Big Lebowski, Asia Carrera had a cameo as one of the actresses in the fictional porn film Logjammin'.
    • In Striptease, Pandora Peaks played Demi Moore's stripper friend Urbanna Sprawl.
    • In Zack and Miri Make a Porno, porn stars Katie Morgan and Traci Lords play porn stars.
    • In Orgazmo, Ron Jeremy plays a porn star who may or may not have been intended to be himself.
    • This was supposed to be the case in Drive, where the director originally wanted a porn star to play Blanche, who was implied to be one (or a stripper, at least), but was unable to find one who he considered a good enough actor for the role. Actual porn stars Andy San Dimas and Bobbi Starr show up as strippers in another scene, however.
  • In Photographing Fairies, Edward Hardwicke plays Arthur Conan Doyle. At the time, Hardwicke was best known as the second Dr. Watson in Granada's Sherlock Holmes.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back In Action, Brendan Fraser plays the part of Brendan Fraser's stunt double. Later on, he punches "Brendan Fraser" in the face.
    DJ: Did you see those Mummy movies? Yeah, I'm in them more than Bren Fraser is.
  • In Les Misérables (2012), features several of the original stage actors in cameos, most notably Colm Wilkinson (the original Jean Valjean) as the Bishop of Digne, who gives Valjean the candlesticks, Frances Ruffelle (the original Eponine) as "The Most Fabulous Whore" in "Lovely Ladies".
  • Superman: The Movie has, in some cuts, a minor scene showing a young Lois Lane riding on a train with her parents. Said parents: Kirk Allen and Noel Neil, who played Superman and Lois Lane in the 1940's serials.
  • In the 1951 film Sons of the Musketeers, Porthos Jr is played by Alan Hale Jr. Alan Hale Sr played Porthos in the 1939 film of The Man in the Iron Mask. (Hale Jr would also go on to play Porthos in another film based on the "Man in the Iron Mask" section of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, 1979's The Fifth Musketeer.)
  • The Japanese dub of Pacific Rim has Megumi Hayashibara as the dub voice of Mako Mori, a Japanese mecha pilot with short, blue-tinted hair. Three good guesses as to why she was cast in that role...
  • Peter Capaldi as a World Health Organization (W.H.O) Doctor in World War Z. Prior to the worldwide announcement on 4 August 2013, it was mostly unknown that he would play the role of the Twelfth Doctor (only known to a select few, including some of the show's production staff).
  • From The Hunger Games: Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Alexander Ludwig (Cato) fight it out after both appearing in movies where they had close relationships with AnnaSophia Robb. Hutcherson as her best friend in Bridge to Terabithia and Ludwig as her brother in Race to Witch Mountain.
  • Sharlto Copley as an Ax-Crazy mercenary hunting the hero in Elysium, a reversal from his role in District 9. Invoked, as Copley wasn't interested in playing essentially the same character again.
  • Saving Mr. Banks: It can't be a coincidence that Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, after having previously played a Poppins-esque Magical Nanny in Nanny McPhee.
  • Wedding Crashers: US Treasury Secretary William Cleary and his wife Katherine are played by Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour, who had respectively played Max Zorin in A View to a Kill and Solitaire in Live and Let Die, which were Roger Moore's last and first James Bond films, respectively.
  • Sir Kenneth Branagh has spent his entire career being compared to and shadowing sir Laurence Olivier. So there came as no surprise when he was cast as Laurence Olivier himself in My Week with Marilyn.
  • In the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, Waylon Jennings is played by Jennings' real-life son, Shooter Jennings.
  • The film version of A Streetcar Named Desire somewhat famously cast Vivien Leigh—who was still best known for playing Scarlett O'Hara at the time—as the mentally damaged Southern belle Blanche Dubois, whose tragic inability to cope with the loss of her family's ancestral plantation ultimately costs Blanche her sanity. The casting choice helps make Tennessee Williams' deconstruction of American class and gender roles all the more obvious, and it draws attention to Blanche's attachment to her rosy, idealized image of the antebellum South.
  • In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the Big Bad Dr. Totenkopf never actually appears in the flesh until the final act of the movie, but he's "played" by the late Sir Laurence Olivier in pictures and video clips, with several old film clips of Olivier edited together to fit the film's plot. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Totenkopf turns out to have been Dead All Along (just like his actor) when the heroes finally breach his lair.
  • A Shot at Glory features former Rangers footballer Ally McCoist as former Celtic footballer Jackie McQuillan - the clubs in question are two of the fiercest rivals in world football.
  • In a What Could Have Been example, Marvel Studios originally wanted Mads Mikkelsen for the role of Malekith the Accursed in Thor: The Dark World, which also starred Anthony Hopkins as Odin. If Mikkelsen had actually been cast in the role, the movie would have featured two Hannibal Lecters squaring off against each other in a war over Asgard.
  • In Bohemian Rhapsody, Mike Myers plays a record company executive who is adamantly against releasing the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a single. Of course, in Myers' 1992 film Wayne's World there's an iconic scene where he and his buddies jam to that very same song.
  • In Back to the Future Part III, Mary Steenburgen stars as Clara Clayton, a 19th century woman who falls in love with a time-traveler from the 20th century, the opposite of her role in Time After Time, where she played a 20th century woman who falls in love with a time-traveler from the 19th century. What's better is her film debut had been in Goin' South, a western-comedy where she was also wooed by Christopher Lloyd.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men: The Last Stand has former soccer player Vinnie Jones as the Juggernaut, whose American football design is deliberately played up with his "unstoppable" mutant power.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse:
      • Possibly unintentional, but in the comics, Psylocke is famous for being a white woman who became Asian (It Makes Sense in Context). In the film, she's played by Olivia Munn, who is half-white and half-Asian.
      • Accidental example. Angel is played by Ben Hardy in this film. He was previously played by another Ben—Ben Foster—in The Last Stand.
      • Ally Sheedy, who starred as a '80s-era high school student stuck in detention in The Breakfast Club, is Scott Summers' (a.k.a. Cyclops) teacher in 1983, and she sends him to the principal's office.
    • The New Mutants:
      • Maisie Williams, most famous for playing the younger daughter of direwolf-themed House Stark on Game of Thrones, has been cast as mutant lycanthrope Wolfsbane.
  • Man of Steel:
  • Star Wars:
  • For the 2014 film adaptation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander is played by Australia-based child actor Ed Oxenbould. In the original book, Alexander, fed up with how terrible his day has been so far, insists on moving to Australia.
  • Birdman:
  • Full Moon film Ooga Booga is about a young black man whose soul inhabits an impossibly racist "tribesman" doll after he is wrongfully killed by police. The main character's landlord - and one of his victims - is played by Karen Black. Karen Black is best known for being menaced by a Zuni fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror.
  • In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, all of the Shadowhunters have British accents. Clary who is the daughter of one is played by Lily Collins who is also the daughter a Brit.
  • Matthew McConaughey's role in Interstellar seems to be a nod to his previous role as Jodie Foster's love interest in Contact, a very similar film that was based on the writings of Carl Sagan (a very close friend and colleague of Kip Thorne, whose work Interstellar was based on).
  • In Camp Takota, Hannah Hart plays Alison, the camp chef, a nod to the fact that she's best known for her youtube series My Drunk Kitchen. Cooking turns out to be more central to her character when it turns out Alison was accepted to a prestigious culinary school, but kept working at the camp because she was nervous about how she'd do there. At one point, her character also makes a bad food pun (holding up a vegetable peeler and mentioning that working in the kitchen can be "una-peeling"), which is also a frequent My Drunk Kitchen occurrence.
  • Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort play a couple in The Fault in Our Stars and siblings in Divergent. These two books/films also have a very large rivalry.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Brock Peters was cast to play the racist Admiral Cartwright. While the character had been seen in the earlier film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, director Nicolas Meyer confirmed that he was brought back as an allusion to Peters' role as Tom Robinson. Peters was, understandably, very uncomfortable playing the part.
  • In the movie Life Partners, Adam Brody plays the boyfriend of his wife Leighton Meester's best friend.
  • In May 1941 Esmond Knight was an officer aboard the battleship Prince of Wales when she engaged the Bismarck off Iceland, and was almost completely blinded by flying debris when his ship was hit. In 1960 he played the Captain of the Prince of Wales in Sink the Bismarck!.
  • Mila Kunis, a Ukrainian woman, as a Russian immigrant in Jupiter Ascending, which is doubly darkly hilarious due to the quasi-war between the two states. Her family though are Russian-speaking Jews, making it a bit more complicated (Jews are considered a separate ethnicity in both countries).
  • J-Lo as Tip's mom in Home, as a reference to Oh's name in The True Meaning of Smekday — the novel the film was based on.
  • In Ant-Man, actor Garrett Morris plays the driver in the car that Scott Lang lands on during his trial run with the suit. When Morris was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, he played Ant-Man in a famous skit where several Marvel and DC superheroes have a party. Because of Ant-Man's relative obscurity, Morris was actually the first actor ever to portray the character in live-action — and he remained the only actor ever to do so until Paul Rudd took the role in this film.
  • When Paul Bettany portrayed Dr. Stephen Maturin in the film adaptation of Master and Commander in 2003, many viewers noted that his take on the character was practically a fictional counterpart to Charles Darwin: a learned man of science who goes to sea as a ship's doctor in the 19th century, serves as a companion to the ship's captain, spends his time researching animal specimens in the Galapagos Islands, and even bears a rather striking resemblance to Darwin. Fittingly, Bettany actually got a chance to play Darwin for real in the biopic Creation in 2009, six years later.
  • Cinderella (2015):
    • Lily James plays the servant to Sophie McShera, the reverse of their roles on Downton Abbey.
    • Likewise, Richard Madden plays a royalty who falls in love with a girl considered below his social status, just like his role on Game of Thrones, except this time it has a Happy Ending. Interestingly, his character's name is Kit, just like the actor who plays his on-screen half-brother (actually cousin) in the same show.
  • In The Book of Life, Skeleton Jorge was played by famous Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo and in the film who states that instead of bullfighting he wanted to sing at Operas.
  • In The Incredibles, Holly Hunter plays Elastigirl, a superhero forced into mandatory retirement when politicians pass a Super Registration Act. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, she plays Senator Finch, a politician trying to pass a Super Registration Act herself.
  • Donald Glover, who campaigned to play Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man (and served as the partial inspiration for Miles Morales) appears in Spider-Man: Homecoming as Aaron, Miles' uncle.
  • Inside Llewyn Davis revolves around the titular character, a struggling folk singer in the 1960s, dealing with the pain of languishing in obscurity while his former partner Jim Berkey strikes it big as a solo artist. Berkey is played by Justin Timberlake, who was—rather famously—the only member of *NSYNC who managed to strike it big as a solo artist after the band's breakup.
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later has a great example. It has Janet Leigh, most famous for her role in Psycho, in a small role as a school secretary. She is working for the head of the school played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Leigh is Curtis' real-life mother. Leigh turns to Curtis and says, "If I may be maternal for a moment..." as the camera pulls back to reveal Leigh's car. The car is the same one she drove in Psycho.
  • It (2017), a period horror film set in The '80s based on a Stephen King novel, prominently features teenage actor Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier. Wolfhard is best known for his role as Mike Wheeler in Stranger Things, a period horror series set in The '80s and inspired by (among other things) the works of Stephen King. Season 1, in particular, seems to have been heavily inspired by It, another story about a band of misfit friends confronting a malevolent monster in small-town America.
  • In Aquaman, Black Manta's father is played by Michael Beach, who previously voiced Devil Ray, Black Manta's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, in Justice League Unlimited.
  • In The Kid Who Would Be King, Patrick Stewart plays Merlin. Stewart had previously played a role in Excalibur a different film about King Arthur.
  • SHAZAM! (2019):
    • Doctor Sivana's wealthy and emotionally abusive CEO father is played by John Glover, best known for portraying Lionel Luthor, Lex Luthor's wealthy and emotionally abusive CEO father in Smallville. And just like Lionel, Mr. Sivana ultimately ends up being killed by his own son in an act of vengeance.
    • The adult versions of Freddy and Pedro are played by Adam Brody and D.J. Cotrona, respectively. Brody and Cotrona were previously cast as the Flash and Superman, respectively, in George Miller's Justice League Mortal before that project fell apart.
  • Dogma memorably cast George Carlin—a famously outspoken atheist who was known for frequently mocking the Catholic Church—as a high-ranking Catholic Cardinal.
  • Men in Black: International stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as Agent M and Agent H—a rookie MIB agent and her experienced veteran partner. They previously starred in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Valkyrie and Thor, another pair of heroic partners; Avengers: Endgame even ends with Thor Passing the Torch to Valkyrie and naming her his successor, mirroring their dynamic in Men in Black.
  • The Matrix is famous for being a Spiritual Adaptation of the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson, to the point that many sci-fi fans have called it "The closest thing to a Neuromancer movie we'll ever get".note  It's likely not an accident that the lead character is played by Keanu Reeves, who also played the lead role in Johnny Mnemonic—Hollywood's only officially licensed adaptation of a William Gibson story—four years earlier.
  • The live-action adaptation of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War cast Aoi Koga (who voiced Kaguya in the anime) as a movie theater employee.
  • In Social Suicide, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Olivia Hussey cameos as Julia's (the modern Juliet character) mother. Her former co-star from the 1968 film, Leonard Whiting, played her husband, Julia's father (her daughter India Eisley played Julia-the modern Juliet-herself).
  • The Long Riders main selling point was that it had four sets of actor brothers to play four sets of historical outlaw brothers. James & Stacey Keach played Jesse & Frank James. David, Keith, & Robert Carradine played Cole, Jim, & Bob Younger. Randy & Dennis Quaid played Clell & Ed Miller. Christopher & Nicholas Guest played Charlie & Bob Ford. At least on real life Younger brother was changed into a cousin in the film, possibly to not ruin the pattern.
  • In the 1986 remake of Invaders From Mars, the police chief, played by Jimmy Hunt, is informed by David that something weird was going on at the old gravel pit. In the 1953 original, Jimmy Hunt played the role of David. The chief even makes a comment that he hadn't been up to the gravel pit since he was a boy.
  • Nocturnal Animals:
    • Susan's obvious expy in the book, Laura, is played by Isla Fisher, whose uncanny resemblance to Amy Adams has become a popular Internet meme. There's no way that casting Isla Fisher in the role is a coincidence.
    • A probable example with India, the expy of Edward's and Laura's daughter Samantha, as the latter was played by Bobbi Salvor Menuez. Menuez's first name at the time was India. It's not a danza as India was played by another actor, but quite hard to believe this is coincidence. More like a partial expy of the actor who's playing the actor India is the expy of within the film.
  • The Believer: Carla, Danny's girlfriend, is played by Summer Phoenix, who's Jewish (as her mother was born to Jewish parents), though has never practiced Judaism. Her character starts out as a Neo-Nazi, while involved with Danny (a secret self-hating Jew), gets drawn to Judaism and starts practicing the religion.
  • Alexandra Maria Lara, who became famous for playing Hitler's secretary in Downfall, seems to enjoy playing with this. In The Reader, she briefly appears as a Holocaust survivor. In Miracle At St Anna, she plays a version of Axis Sally, who unlike Traudl Junge, is completely committed to the Nazi cause.
  • Princess Cyd: In the film Cyd and Miranda discuss if Katie might be transgender. Malic White, who plays Katie in the film, is transgender, using they/them pronouns (although the character's gender identity isn't established to be trans).
  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga: Will Ferrell's character does not believe in elves until he is seemingly helped by them later on. This is hilariously ironic considering that he previously played a man raised by elves.
  • Another Me: Like her character Fay, actress Sophie Turner had a twin who died in utero.
  • Jamie Chung's roles have sometimes echoed others and her life:
    • invoked She played two characters called Amber in back-to-back films - Grown Ups and Sucker Punch.
    • In Already Tomorrow In Hong Kong Josh (Bryan Greenberg) guesses wrongly that Ruby comes from San Francisco (actually Los Angeles). Jamie Chung really is from San Francisco. Josh also tries to convince her to split up with her fiance for him. Bryan is her actual husband.
  • The Legend of Hercules: Kellan Lutz, a devout Christian in real life, playing the Greek demigod Hercules.
  • Contact: Rob Lowe was already known for his liberal causes when he was cast as Richard Rank, head of the Conservative Coalition.
  • Conrad Veidt, an outspoken anti-fascist who fled Germany when the Nazis came to power, spent the war playing Nazi villains in America, most famously as Major Strasser in Casablanca.
  • David Krumholtz is Jewish, but played the Head Elf Bernard in the first two Santa Clause films.
  • Kristen Stewart, who has been dogged by paparazzi since her appearances in Twilight, plays a personal assistant who loves reading gossip in Clouds of Sils Maria.
  • Malcolm X: Legendary civil rights attorney William Kunstler has a cameo as the racist judge whose harsh sentencing of Malcolm and Shorty is clearly motivated by the fact that they've been sleeping with white women. He's not even the only example; well-known Hollywood liberals Peter Boyle and John Sayles have cameos as, respectively, a racist cop and an FBI agent who's listening on Malcolm's conversations.
  • Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life: The mother in this Lifetime Movie of the Week who screams at her teenage son for looking at super-softcore internet "pornography" and desperately tries to get him to stop is played by Kelly Lynch, who is known for doing numerous nude scenes in different movies. Then again, the idea of her son having A Date with Rosie Palms while looking at naked pictures of her would explain her behavior a bit...
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle:
    • Kal Penn, playing an unrepentant stoner, has said that he actually has zero interest in marijuana and has never tried it.
    • Neil Patrick Harris, an openly gay man, as a deviant over-the-top heterosexual.
  • Simon Callow has played Charles Dickens no less than five times. In The Man Who Invented Christmas, a movie about the writing of A Christmas Carol... he plays John Leech, the book's illustrator.
  • Another inversion is Myrna Loy; she found long success playing nurturing mothers and wives. As the woman herself pointed out, in real life she went through four unsuccessful marriages, never had any children, and possessed no domestic skills whatsoever.
  • In The Host, Park Nam-joo is shown spending the night in a bridge beam, then crawling out of it and looking for her niece, Hyun-seo, on a narrow walkway high above a river. Nam-joo's actress, Bae Doo-na, is terrified of heights.
  • Avengers: Infinity War:
  • Santa's Slay: Santa is played by the Jewish Bill Goldberg. The first scene has Santa kill a dysfunctional family at Christmas dinner who are all played by Jewish actors in cameos.
  • Seed of Chucky casts Hannah Spearritt - fresh off the heels of her fame from S Club 7 - playing a wannabe who spends her free time writing fan mail to celebrities.
  • The Bling Ring likewise has Emma Watson - the most famous actress amongst a cast of unknowns - playing a superficial teen who desperately wants to be famous.
  • The World of Suzie Wong:
    • Nancy Kwan plays a poor prostitute who makes up stories about being rich. In reality she had quite a privileged upbringing.
    • Suzie Wong was fully Chinese, but her actress Nancy Kwan was actually half-Chinese, half-Caucasian, due to having a Chinese father and a Caucasian mother, and in fact she was given mild Yellowface to look more Chinese. This is especially Hilarious in Hindsight (although perhaps hilarious in a "cringe" way) when one considers that the exact opposite happened in a previous film featuring William Holden in a interracial relationship with a woman of Chinese ancestry set in Hong Kong, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, where his love interest was described as "Eurasian", seemingly to cover the fact that she was played by the very much Caucasian Jennifer Jones in very obvious yellowface.
  • 13 Going on 30 has Judy Greer playing the grown-up Alpha Bitch. Judy points out on the DVD special features that she was a nerd during high school.
  • Peter O'Toole's Star-Making Role in Lawrence of Arabia qualifies. O'Toole was a hard-drinking playboy, while T. E. Lawrence was a Celibate Eccentric Genius teetotaler.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody:
    • Mike Myers, whose breakout role in Wayne's World helped re-popularize the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" after Freddie Mercury's death, has a part in the film as EMI executive Ray Foster who is skeptical of releasing it in the first place.
    • Aidan Gillen, whose most famous role is Littlefinger on Game of Thrones, plays a character who is removed from his position through the scheming of a sleazy, manipulative abuser.
    • Freddie Mercury was a famous cat lover and owned several, while Rami Malek is allergic to them. This is why you never see Freddie together with them in the same shot.
  • In JFK (taken from the perspective of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who had long alleged there was a Government Conspiracy behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy); we have an interesting version of this when Jim Garrison himself makes a brief cameo as Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, the namesake of the commission investigating the Kennedy assassination and which ended with the official "Oswald acted alone" determination.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): LeFou is heavily implied to be gay, is extremely flamboyant, and has eyes for the ultra-manly Gaston. In reality, LeFou's actor Josh Gad is straight, while Gaston is played by the openly-gay Luke Evans.
  • Melanie Scrofano is best known for starring on Wynonna Earp as the eponymous protagonist, an Action Girl with great shooting skills. In Ready or Not (2019), however, she plays Emilie Le Domas, an incompetent, coked-up heiress who's a terrible shot with every weapon and accidentally kills two of the maids as a result, to the point where the rest of the family eventually takes away her shooting weapons.
  • The Sandlot: Scotty's step-father is a New York Yankees fan. In reality, Denis Leary, who plays him, is a diehard Boston Red Sox fan and despises the Yankees.
  • Desmond Llewelyn starred as Q, the quintessential Gadgeteer Genius in every James Bond film from From Russia with Love to The World Is Not Enough (excluding Live and Let Die). In real life, however, he described him as hopeless with technology.
  • Happiest Season: Openly gay actor Victor Garber plays Harper's straight dad, whom she's reluctant in coming out to as a lesbian.
  • Cynthia Rothrock as Mrs. Claus in Santa's Summer House which is pretty much Casting Gag: The Movie, as the cast was filled with people known for their action chops. There's no violence in this family pic.
  • The Little Hours: Alison Brie, who's Jewish, uses "Jew" as an insult toward someone, playing an Italian nun in the 1300s.
  • In Wonder Woman 1984, the title character dons the armor of Asteria, a legendary Amazon. Diana describes Asteria as the greatest hero of an entire race of warriors, as she single-handedly held back an entire army of men to allow the rest of her people to escape to safety in Themsycria; this was a Heroic Sacrifice on her part, as it meant she couldn't go back with them. The Stinger reveals that Asteria has been living among humans ever since, using her powers to keep them safe whenever she can—"I've been doing this a long time." So who plays this "first among Amazons?" Lynda Carter, the original TV Wonder Woman, of course.
  • In Angel, the aging and largely forgotten cowboy actor Kit Carson is played by the aging and largely forgotten cowboy actor Rory Calhoun (and he is awesome).
  • Knives Out:
    • Daniel Craig also played an investigator who at least partially investigated Christopher Plummer, who hired him, for the murder of a family member in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
    • Ransom is the only Thrombey member Harlan's dogs bark at, which they only do to those they deem strangers; given his Establishing Character Moment and that he's been estranged from the rest of the family for some time, it's also implied he doesn't treat them well either. Chris Evans however is a well-known dog lover.
    • Jaeden Martell, who plays the most outwardly racist and white supremacist member of the Thrombey family, is 1/4 Korean.
    • Both Ana de Armas and Marlene Forte (who plays Marta's mother) are originally Cuban, pretty much the only place in Spanish-speaking Latin America their characters can't be originally from.note .
    • Linda Thrombey's most notable trait is her arrogant and deceitful claims that she's a Self-Made Woman, despite owing much of her success to her famous, wealthy father. In contrast, her actress (Jamie Lee Curtis) was praised for her honesty and humility in a post-release interview where she admitted that nepotism played a role in much of her early acting career (her parents, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, were both famous actors).
  • A Bad Moms Christmas: Amy's family loudly complains at her mom dragging all of them to the Russian The Nutcracker, which is entirely in Russian, as no one speaks it. Her mom also later remarks "What are we, Jewish?" speaking about their Christmas tradition. Mila Kunis, who plays Amy, is a Russian-speaking Jew.
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    Live-Action TV 

By Actor:

  • Savanna Samson has appeared as a porn star on two TV series where Tina Fey was head writer. In a 2006 episode of Saturday Night Live, she was in the gag commercial for a porno called "101 Fellations". Three years later in the 30 Rock episode titled "Into the Crevasse", she played "Porn Liz" in Tracy's Rule 34 porn video of the show.

By Series:

  • In the 8 Simple Rules episode "Old Flame", an old boyfriend of Cate (Katey Sagal) shows up, played by Ed O'Neill (who played her husband on Married... with Children.)
  • Christopher Lloyd guest starred in an episode of Time Travel show 12 Monkeys.
  • Alpha House has Janel Maloney playing a senator in the second season. In one episode, she chairs a panel with a senator played Bradley Whitford, who played her character's boss on The West Wing. During the discussion, she repeatedly tells him to shut up — undoubtedly vicarious revenge for the many shouts of "DONNA!" during those seven seasons.
  • American Gods:
    • 12,000-year-old pagan fertility goddess Ostara of the Dawn who in the present Day is a Stepford Smiler who is secretly furious over the fact that Christianity has co-opted her name and Day of worship as Easter, is played by devout Christian Kristin Chenoweth.
    • In the commentary video for "Lemon Scented You," the producers said they wanted someone "Crispin Glover-esque" for the part of Mr World. Glover arrived at the breakfast meeting in a velvet suit and derby, and the way he greeted them was used for Mr. World's arrival in the interrogation room.
    • Once again in a Bryan Fuller show, Kristin Chenoweth's character interacts with a dark-haired dead girl brought back to life.
  • Arrested Development:
    • After firing lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn (played by Henry Winkler), Bob Loblaw is hired and played by Scott Baio, who starred alongside Winkler on Happy Days. This is specifically mentioned by Loblaw. Gets even better when you remember Ron Howard, who also starred on Happy Days, is running the show.
    • In an episode called "Family Ties", a woman who Michael believes to be his sister (but ultimately isn't) is played by Justine Bateman, Jason Bateman's actual sister. Also, her most famous role was in Family Ties.
  • Arrow
  • Dirk Benedict, Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica (1978), does a great double-take as Faceman in The A-Team, when a Cylon centurion passes him at the Universal Studios. The moment is preserved in the credit sequence, of course.
  • In The Avengers (1960s) episode "Too Many Christmas Trees", actor Mervyn Johns plays a man obsessed with the works of Charles Dickens. Both Johns and Avengers star Patrick Macnee appeared in the 1951 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Johns played Bob Cratchit, and Macnee played the young Jacob Marley).
  • In the new Battlestar Galactica, casting Richard Hatch (who played Captain Apollo in the original series) being cast as terrorist-cum-politician-cum-dictator Tom Zarek. In the episode he first appears on, both Zarek and Apollo turn their heads when someone calls out "Hey, Apollo!"
    • For bonus points, he spends most of his first episode giving breaking speeches to Lee "Apollo" Adama.
    • For bonus-bonus points, the armor-piercing lecture was about what it meant to be the Great Captain Adama's son.
    • This also works well with the setup that the events of BSG happen over and over again with everyone being reincarnated into a different role every time.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Sara Gilbert played Leonard (Johnny Galecki)'s love interest; Johnny Galecki and Gilbert played a couple on Roseanne.
    • Laurie Metcalf, most famous as Jackie on the previously stated show, plays Sheldon's mother.
    • Katey Sagal, who played Kaley Cuoco's mother on 8 Simple Rules shows up as her mom again in Season 10.
  • Cyndi Lauper played Avalon, a psychic in the Bones episode "Harbingers in the Fountain", as well as the show's 150th episode, "The Ghost In the Machine". In an earlier episode, "The Wannabe In the Weeds", Brennan sang a rousing chorus of Cyndi's biggest hit, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Cyndi Lauper also played a psychic medium in the movie Vibes.
  • The Boys (2019):
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Andre Braugher plays a very sober, serious and imposing police officer which, as any viewer of Homicide: Life on the Street knows, is not the first time he's played that kind of role. The joke is that while Detective Frank Pembleton (who he played in the latter show) operated in a grim and gritty environment of urban social realism and was appropriately down-to-earth and tormented, was an unconventional detective who frequently butted heads with rules-conscious superiors and was a heterosexual whose partner later came out as bi, Captain Ray Holt (who he plays in the latter) inverts almost all of these qualities. Holt lives in a comedic world populated by goofy eccentrics, is himself a pretty eccentric person, is the rule-conscious superior constantly butting heads with an unconventional detective under his command and is openly gay.
  • All over the place on Chuck. Fedak and Schwartz made an effort to squeeze in appearances by as many geek culture icons as was humanly possible over the series's run, and you can expect that there will be an Actor Allusion along the way. Some notable ones:
  • Community: French Stewart appeared on the show playing a professional impersonator of French Stewart.
  • CSI's episode "A Space Oddity" was an extended riff on Star Trek fandom, and featured as a major plot point the reveal of the Darker and Edgier version of the classic sci-fi series, to an avalanche of hatred from fans. The very first person to call out "You suck!" was none other than Ron Moore.
  • CSI: NY had an episode where former tennis star John McEnroe was suspected of murder when it was actually a Celebrity Impersonator. McEnroe was absolutely bewildered anyone could mistake the impersonator for him. Said impersonator was played by McEnroe.
  • Dear White People: Tessa Thompson couldn't return to play Sam as she committed to another project. In the second season however she returns, playing a commentator with basically the opposite views from Sam's (naturally, they clash).
  • The British show Doctors once had a Patient of the Week who was an actor best known for his role as a mysterious time-traveler in a decades-old children's programme. Any plausible deniability that Doctor Who was meant was scotched when they cast Sylvester McCoy, a.k.a. the Seventh Doctor, in the role.
  • Doctor Who:
  • A variant, related not to talent but to class: in the first series of Downton Abbey, Rose Leslie plays the working-class housemaid Gwen Dawson in the giant titular great house. Leslie herself comes from an old Scottish noble family; she was literally raised in a castle, and her parents own another castle. This wouldn't be terribly remarkable if it weren't for the fact that the British class system is practically a character on its own on Downton—and because she is the only true Blue Blood aristocratnote  ever to have been part of the main cast (in a show filled with fictional and not-so-fictional nobs, up to and including the Royal Family).
  • There is an episode of Dragnet where they meet a priest who explains that they are looking for a plaster doll of the baby Jesus that was taken from the church. So they question an old man who runs a religious merchandise store and a hotel clerk. For the color remake, the same actors were used for the priest, store owner, and clerk.
  • In the classic Swedish TV version of Astrid Lindgren's Emil of Lönneberga from 1973, actor Allan Edwall played Emil's choleric, hard-working, teetotaler father. In the later TV version of the same author's Madicken series he played Madicken's easy-going, lazy, alcoholic neighbour Mr. Nilsson.
  • The Flash (2014):
  • Forever cast David Krumholtz as the younger version of Abe in a flashback. Abe is played by Judd Hirsch, who previously played Krumholtz's father in NUMB3RS.
  • Frasier.
    • Dan Butler plays the aggressively heterosexual "Bulldog", though he's actually gay.
    • Beer-guzzling, opera-hating Martin Crane is played by the late John Mahoney, who was a connoisseur of both. He even shared his love of them with David Hyde Pierce, who had little to no interest in both at the start of the show.
    • Daphne's family and its multitude of inconsistent British Accents. Particularly on the part of the Australian playing Simon, who loves Mel Gibson and who Frasier once refers to as a "boomerang."
    • In one episode Frasier and Niles try to help a former Shakespearian actor Jackson Hedley revive his theatrical career by producing him in a one-man version of Hamlet, but they realize to their horror that he's actually a terrible actor, who does a laughably overwrought performance of the play. The gag is that Hedley is played by Derek Jacobi, an acclaimed Shakespearian actor. If that weren't enough, Patrick Macnee, another experienced Shakespearean actor who became known for genre TV shows (The Avengers (1960s), Battlestar Galactica (1978)), plays Jackson's father.
    • In the penultimate episode, "Crock Tales", Rosie Perez guest stars as Lizbeth. Perez was one of the original contenders for the role of Daphne.
    • Niles' O.R. surgeon Dr. Shafer in "Rooms with a View" is played by Daniel Davis, who's best known for being another Niles in a popular 1993 sitcom.
  • In the Friends eighth season episode, "The One With The Rumour", Brad Pitt appeared as one of Ross's old high school friends, who hated Rachel to the point that he was president of an Anti-Rachel club in high school. At the time, it was a comic variant of this trope since Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston in real life. The joke became a lot less funny after Aniston and Pitt's very, very public divorce.
  • F Troop:
    • Sergeant O'Rourke is played by Forrest Tucker, who once portrayed an "O'Rourke" Cavalry Sergeant on Gunsmoke.
    • Trooper Duffy (Bob Steele) is an elderly cavalryman who claims to be the sole survivor of the Alamo. Steele was previously a 1930s and '40s western star and had once been in a movie about meeting Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
  • On Galavant, Kylie Minogue was cast as the Queen of the Enchanted Forest, which turns out to be a gay pub which she owns. Minogue is famous for having one of the world's biggest LGBT Fanbases and was once voted the biggest gay icon of modern times.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Since A Song of Ice and Fire is often considered a Spiritual Antithesis to The Lord of the Rings and Time Magazine famously called George R. R. Martin "The American Tolkien", it's quite apropos that Ned Stark be played by The Lord of the Rings alumni Sean Bean.
    • Natalie Dormer as Margaery, a role quite similar to her turn as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors. Both are beautiful and ambitious young noblewomen of dubious virginity who seek to become queen and have a close bond with their gay brother. Coincidentally, the Tyrells' golden rose sigil is a palette swap of the red-and-white Tudor rose.
    • The series' regular audiobook narrator Roy Dotrice was going to play Pycelle, but health concerns forced him into a cameo as Pyromancer Hallyne.
    • Before being cast as Stannis Baratheon's Good Angel, Bad Angel advisors, Liam Cunningham (Davos) and Carice Van Houten (Melisandre) played lovers in the 2011 Dutch film Black Butterflies.
    • Tyrion Lannister is generally agreed to have been inspired (at least in part) by the Historical Domain Character King Richard III, with whom he has quite a few similarities. note  It may or may not be a coincidence that Peter Dinklage previously played Richard in a notable off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's Richard III in 2003.
    • Clive Mantel played Little John in Robin of Sherwood, and so there seems to be this involved here, where he plays Jon Umber, generally known as The Greatjon. Amusingly, in the books at least the Greatjon has a son even bigger than he is who is called Smalljon.
    • James Faulkner appears in Season 6 as a stern, jerkish Lord, who disapproves of his son's girlfriend, because of her heritage - similar to his character in another major television series.
  • Glee:
    • Casting Lea Michele (Rachel) and Jonathan Groff (Jesse) as love interests, considering their past in Spring Awakening.
    • Will had major Ship Tease going on with both Shelby and April, implying a Love Triangle. The two are played by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth who famously were part of a Love Triangle over Fiyero in Wicked.
    • Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf, who'd both been part of The Rocky Horror Picture Show movie, both appear in "The Rocky Horror Glee Show," though as conservative strawmen who want Sue to fight a performance of the show.
    • Matt Bomer, known for playing a con man plays a guy who stars in credit report commercials, which are known scams.
    • After many fans noted a resemblance between the character Rachel and the actress Idina Menzel, Menzel was cast as Rachel's mother.
    • Dianna Agron is Jewish, but playing a devout Christian whose faith is often a plot point. Compare this to Lea Michele, who was raised Catholic but plays the very Jewish Rachel.
    • Later on, Matt Bomer is cast as Blaine's older brother. Their real-life sexualities are a direct switch of the characters'; Matt Bomer plays the straight brother and Darren Criss the gay one.
  • In the Dutch soap opera Goede tijden, slechte tijden, one character, played by Ferry Doedens, is currently looking for tickets to go see Wicked. In real life, Ferry plays Fiyero part of the time.
  • Graceland: Aaron Tveit is most famous for playing the role of Enjolras in Les Misérables (2012); in this, his first TV lead role, he's undercover in a tight-knit group in order to stop their leader, doing exactly what Javert does in Les Mis.
  • Gunpowder stars Kit Harington, who is descended from three people related to the plot: Robert Catesby (who he plays), a baron of the Harington family and James I.
  • Hand of God: Pernell, a born again Christian, tells a Jewish man he'll go to hell if he doesn't accept Jesus as his savior. Ron Perlman, playing Pernell, is Jewish himself.
  • Hannibal:
    • Gillian Anderson was cast as Hannibal Lecter's psychiatrist, when The X-Files had some influence from The Silence of the Lambs (including her character, Scully, a Naïve Newcomer like Clarice Starling).
    • It probably counts even more for a Casting Gag when you take into account that Gillian Anderson was considered for the part of Clarice Starling when Jodie Foster declined to reprise the role in the 2001 movie Hannibal. She was not cast due to her X-Files contract, which prohibited her from playing another FBI agent.
    • Also, in a second-season episode, the actress playing a serial killer obsessed with bees and honey is played by Amanda Plummer, an actress best known for playing a character known as HoneyBunny.
  • In an episode of Happy Endings, Brad, played by Damon Wayans Jr., is expecting a visit from his father. When he arrives, he is played by none other than Wayans' father, Damon Wayans, Sr. (In the episode, both Wayans also make reference to the 1990s Bulls. The senior Wayans is close friends with Michael Jordan.)
  • High Fidelity: Zoë Kravitz is Rob in the series. Her mother, Lisa Bonet, played one of his love interests in the 2000 film version.
  • Hogan's Heroes: Many of the actors who played Nazis were actually Jews. One of them—Robert Clary—was a Holocaust survivor, while Leon Askin and John Banner were held in pre-war concentration camps. When asked if he felt uneasy portraying a prisoner-of-war, Clary stated, "Stalag 13 is not a concentration camp. It's a POW camp, and that's a world of difference," Klemperer didn't mind playing the role of a Nazi officer, as long as his character was presented as an incompetent fool who never succeeded in his plans. Said Jewish cast members also defended their roles as Nazi officers, as they were portraying the Nazi forces in a satirical and parodic light not unlike the later Hitler Rants parodies.
  • Season 2 of The Hollow Crown puts Sherlock and Moriarty on opposite sides of the Wars of the Roses, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the Yorkist powerhouse Richard, Duke of Gloucester (the future King Richard III) and Andrew Scott playing his family's shifty French ally King Louis XI, who attempts to betray them and support the Lancastrians after Richard's brother Edward refuses a political marriage to Louis' daughter. It definitely makes the crown jewels scene from Sherlock a bit Hilarious in Hindsight
  • How I Met Your Mother: Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney, is gay. (Although he didn't officially come out as gay until a few years into the show, it was sort of an open secret beforehand). This made Barney's aggressive heterosexuality and his issues with his gay brother James even funnier. There is a whole ordeal with Barney opposing James' marriage, not because it would be a same-sex marriage but he because was opposed to marriage in general (Harris has since married David Burtka).
  • On Insecure, a major part of Molly's character is that she Really Gets Around (in fact at one point one character asks her, "Can you teach me how to ho?") and uses a lot of profanity. The actress that plays her, Yvonne Orji, is, in fact, a devout Christian, who only does clean comedy, and is saving her virginity for marriage.
  • In the Inside No. 9 episode "Last Gasp", one character mistakenly refers to a girl called Tamsin as "Tasmin". He is immediately reprimanded for the mistake by a character played by Tamsin Greig.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
  • Jam and Jerusalem: Joanna Lumley, an actress known for her posh elegance (she was a Bond Girl in the 60s and only stopped modeling in the 2010s) and her starring role in Jennifer Saunders' Absolutely Fabulous, here plays another character created by Saunders: an extremely old and senile woman whose role is so small it's practically The Cameo. (She's written out of the show completely after the first episode of Series 2.)
  • Peter Wyngarde playing skirt-chaser Jason King (although Wyngarde's homosexuality was not known to the general public at the time, it was common knowledge within acting circles).
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O:
    • Kamen Rider Shinobi, the ninja-themed hero from 2022, was played by Hideya Tawada, who played the Sixth Ranger Star Ninger in the ninja-themed Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. Ironically enough, while Star Ninger was the textbook definition of a McNinja, Shinobi is actually fairly orthodox (or as close as a Henshin Hero can get). This was further referenced in Shinobi's mini-series, where one of his opponents in the Tournament Arc wore a gold costume and a cowboy hat.
    • Kamen Rider Kikai, the robotic future hero from 2121, was played by Jingi Irie, who starred in the 2005 movie Kikaider REBOOT; as such, Kikai is a gigantic Homage to the Kikaider character (which was created by the same person as Kamen Rider). The odd element out is Kikai's use of ice-element attacks, which serves as an Actor Allusion to Irie's role as the villain Zamigo Delma in Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, Biggles, played by Graham Chapman, finds out that his friend Algy is a Straight Gay "poof," and shoots him. Chapman was Straight Gay in Real Life.
  • Mrs. America:
  • In My Name Is Earl Burt Reynolds plays the character Big Chubby. His son, Little Chubby, is played by Norm MacDonald: the actor who plays Burt Reynolds in the Saturday Night Live "Celebrity Jeopardy!" skits. In fact, Little Chubby pretty much is the Celebrity Jeopardy version of Burt Reynolds. He even has the same laugh.
  • Noughts & Crosses: Sephy, Jasmine and several other Cross characters are played by black South Africans. Their characters are part of a system which is essentially apartheid in Britain, with a black ruling class over the white indigenous population.
  • Both versions of The Outer Limits did adaptations of Eando Binder's story "I, Robot", and Leonard Nimoy appeared in both, as a reporter in the original and the robot's lawyer in the remake. Similarly, when the new Outer Limits remade "A Feasibility Study" from the original series, they cast David McCallum, who had been in two episodes of the original (though not that one).
  • Parks and Recreation
    • Meghan Mullally, recurs as "Tammy II" Swanson, one of Ron's (Nick Offerman) ex-wives. Mullally and Offerman are married in real life.
    • One episode has Ann setting Leslie (Amy Poehler) up on a disatrous blind date with a man named Chris (not to be confused with Chris Traeger). Chris was played by Will Arnett, Poehler's then-husband.
  • Part of Me: Vanessa Villela played Ángela Donoso, the heroine's daughter back in El cuerpo del deseo, and was cast as Big Bad Elena Serrano in The Remake Part Of Me.
  • In the Playhouse 90 episode "The Plot to Kill Stalin," Poskrebyshev suggests targeting Kaganovich for his Judaism. Poskrebyshev is played by Eli Wallach, who was Jewish.
  • Former Power Rangers cast members have come back just to voice a Monster of the Week. The most extreme example is in Power Rangers Samurai, where the Red Ranger's Worthy Opponent is played by Rick Medina, who was himself Red Ranger Cole Evans in Power Rangers Wild Force.
    • Not to mention the irony: The Wild Force Rangers had Zen-Aku, a monster who was sometimes a human due to a curse that made him want to fight the Rangers, but he'd really rather not have. So Medina goes on to play Deker, who's got the same thing going: he's now Samurai's Zen-Aku. (Not that Deker's a total ZA Expy. ZA's a guy bonded with a Duke Org and his memory's not all there; Deker's an immortal Blood Knight who must defeat his Worthy Opponent (or die at his hands) to be freed from it. However, as Deker is a sometimes-human-faced villain who's not all bad, there's more poetry there than if he'd played, say, the voice of Xandred.)
    • Wild Force Milestone Celebration episode "Forever Red" is a big example of this as three of the Machine Empire Generals were voiced by Walter Jones (Zack), Catherine Sutherland (Katherine) and Archie Kao (Kai).
    • Though Nic Sampson, Chip from Power Rangers Mystic Force, gets MOTW duty once, he also voices Power Rangers Operation Overdrive's Sentinel Knight. Chip had once said he hoped to be a knight (which in MF parlance is sort of the rank above Ranger) someday, so he sorta gets to be.
    • Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger had the Master of Disguise Shurikenger, who never de-morphed (he sacrificed his human form to get his powers and is only seen unsuited as a silhouette in a flashback to that day) but is always at first in disguise as some random civilian. Every single one is another sentai actor. When changing to Shurikenger, most used the pre-changing poses from their show — and even when that was impossible in one case, due to a lack of a pose, Kenji Ohba (he's both Shiro/Battle Kenya and Daigoro/Denji Blue, but the poses you expect these days didn't exist that early on) did the Space Sheriff Gavan pose instead.
    • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Engine Machalcon joins the crew to assist in using the Engine Sentai Go-onger ultimate power. As a Japanese Pirate crew, the Gokaigers are often compared to the Straw Hats, so who else should voice Machalcon but Hiroaki Hirata aka Sanji!
    • Tetsu Inada is one of the series' go-to voice actors, and he played Doggie Kruger, the chief of SPD's Earth branch, in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. Taking out a Monster of the Week was referred to as "deleting" them that year. So when he played a MOTW in Juken Sentai Gekiranger, he says to the other monster, "Let's delete them!" while doing the SPD salute.
    • Related, but the moon-themed villain Ariake no Kata from Shuriken Sentai Ninninger is voiced by Kotono Mitsuishi, who is best known for voicing the title character in Sailor Moon.
  • Psych had "This Episode Sucks" an episode which paid Homage to vampire movies featured Kristy Swanson of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film and Corey Haim from The Lost Boys.
    • Steve Valentine from I'm in the Band also plays a rock star in "100 Clues".
    • "No Country for Two Old Men", the episode that takes place largely in Mexico, features Jeffrey Tambor, who plays George Senior in Arrested Development, which had going to Mexico as a plot point/Running Gag.
    • "Shawn Interrupted" features Brad Dourif as a murder suspect who's supposedly pretending to be crazy, among other references to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (where his character genuinely was crazy but Insanity Defense was the protagonist's bad idea). Going halfway against type, his character in the episode is still genuinely crazy...but not the murderer.
  • In the 2000 ITV telemovie of The Railway Children, Jenny Agutter played the mother. In the 1970 film, she had played the eldest daughter. This leads to a truly ironic moment when Jemima Rooper, who plays Roberta, asks her mother "Didn't you use to play on railway lines when you were a kid?"
  • Cameo Version: In an episode of Roseanne, Roseanne and Jackie are getting makeovers at a health spa. The makeup artist talks about "less is more" and letting their faces tell their own story. When she turns around, we see for the first time it was Tammy Faye Bakker. For those too young to get the reference, Tammy Faye is the wife of notorious televangelist Jim Bakker. She was known for wearing copious amounts of makeup, on par with Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Appropriately, she also played Mimi's mother in an episode of that show.
  • One episode of Scrubs featured four elderly doctors who had got sick at a medical convention ... played by the four leads from St. Elsewhere.
    • Speaking of, one episode of Grey's Anatomy featured a woman played by Sarah Chalke (Elliot from Scrubs) who brings in her son for treatment, and ends up correctly diagnosing his illness after the doctors couldn't find out what was wrong with him. Ironically, Scrubs previously made fun of the idea of patients self-diagnosing using information from the internet (Wikipedia specifically). Though, this story was actually Ripped from the Headlines.
  • Search: Su-yeong, played by Park Da-yeon, develops a Precocious Crush on Dong-jin, played by Jang Dong-yoon. The exact same happened between their characters in The Tale Of Nokdu a year earlier.
  • Sesame Street had a recurring sketch that parodied Miami Vice as Miami Mice. The American sketches in the German Sesamstrasse were dubbed by the same studio as Miami Vice, so the voice artists who already played Crocket and Tubbs played their rodent equivalents.
  • Smallville: The presence of any actor from a previous Superman series, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, etc. There was also Tom Wopat turbing up as an Actor Allusion to John Schneider but the one that takes the biscuit is the (possibly unintentional) casting of Annette O'Toole, Lana Lang in Superman III, as Martha Kent (though the crew didn't actually know about her former role when she was cast). Also especially shocking is the Voice of Jor-El in Smallville is Terence Stamp, previously General Zod in Superman: The Movie and Superman II, whose whole goal was to destroy Jor-El and the "Son of Jor-El".
  • Ray Liotta has been cast in the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark. Liotta was the producers' first choice for the role of Tony Soprano in the original show, and he previously played the lead role in the show's Spiritual Predecessor Goodfellas.
  • Sons of Anarchy:
    • Neo-Nazi gang leader Zobelle is played by Jewish actor Adam Arkin.
    • Henry Rollins, a man who frequently speaks out against racism, plays a white supremacist, right down to having 'I kill niggers' tattooed on his chest in large letters.
  • Spin City: Mike's (played by Michael J. Fox) political mentor (played by Christopher Lloyd) comes to City Hall to help on the Millennium project in a episode called "Back to yhe Future 4". They even make fun of the "time travel". This is the first of many reunions of the main cast of Back to the Future.
    Mike: This is like stepping back in time.
    Owen: The past is prologue, Michael. Men like us have to keep looking to the future.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "200", Vala Mal Doran (played by Claudia Black, known for her role as Aeryn Sun in Farscape), when challenged to come up with a more obscure property to rip-off for her movie pitch, launches into a full-blown parody of Farscape, which basically consists of the SG-1 cast as the Farscape crew repeating every single one of Farscape's alien curse words in the shortest span possible. There's also a slight subversion in that Ben Browder, the original Farscape Crichton, doesn't play Crichton in the parody — Michael Shanks does. Browder plays Stark.
  • Stranger Things is essentially an extended tribute to the cinema and pop culture of The '80s, with at least one Shout-Out per episode. The Shout Outs extend to the casting choices. It's definitely not an accident that two of the principal characters are played by Winona Ryder (best known for playing Veronica in Heathers and Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice) and Matthew Modine (best known for playing Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket). More subtly, several of the actors playing teenage characters seem to have been chosen—in part—for their resemblance to famous teen actors from the '80s; Shannon Purser (Barb) bears a very strong resemblance to a young Molly Ringwald, Joe Keery (Steve) strongly resembles a young Charlie Sheen, and Natalia Dyer (Nancy) looks a lot like a young Mia Sara.
  • George Takei played Rome London on The Suite Life on Deck in an episode that parodies Star Trek. He even played a direct descendant of London and acts very much like a young teenage girl.
    • In "My Best Friend's Wedding" — the Scrubs episode where Turk and Carla get married — Takei is cast as the priest at their wedding. At first, this wouldn't seem to be a casting gag. But then, when Turk gets a call on his cell phone — during the ceremony! — he flips it open like an Original Series communicator. Casting Takei just so they could do that gag may be about the biggest stretch anybody has gone to for a casting gag.
      • Turk actually points out earlier in the episode that the priest looks like Sulu.
  • Supergirl (2015) continues the trend of anything Superman-related needing to have a Casting Gag:
  • Supernatural:
  • Tehran: Shaun Toub plays Faraz Kamali, a servant of Iran's Islamic regime who is the antagonist to Tamar, an Israeli Jew of Iranian descent. Toub is himself of Iranian Jewish descent, and left Iran like most did (including Tamar's family).
  • Sitcom That Girl, starred Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie, who in one episode meets a talented singer who turns out the be a nun. The Sister was played by Marlo's sister, Terre. For bonus points, in the last scene, Ann accidentally bumps into a priest. The Father was played by Marlo's father, Danny Thomas.
  • That '70s Show: Tanya Roberts, who plays Midge Pinciotti, previously starred as Stacy Sutton in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. In "The First Time", when Bob and Midge renew their wedding vows, Midge's bridesmaids are played by fellow Bond actresses: Maud Adams played Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun as well as Octopussy in Octopussy, Kristina Wayborn played Magda in Octopussy, and Barbara Carrera played Fatima Blush in the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "He's Alive", Paul Mazursky and Howard Caine, who played the neo-Nazi thugs Frank and Nick Bloss, were Jewish in real life.
  • Vida: Eddy is asked if she's non-binary in one episode. She's confused and says "No". The actor portraying her, Ser Anzoategui, is non-binary.
  • WandaVision: The "recast" version of Quicksilver is Evan Peters, who previously played the character in Fox's X-Men movies.
  • Speaking of The West Wing, casting noted liberal Alan Alda as Republican presidential candidate Arnold Vinick certainly qualifies as this.
  • Tim Curry once guest-starred in an episode of Will & Grace in which he plays a character with a feminine aspect to him (in this case, it's the character's name, Marion) flirts with several characters, makes a reference to Cross Dressing, and even tries to trick one character's fiance into climbing into bed with him. Sounds pretty similar to a certain Sweet Transvestite, doesn't it?
    • An episode of the short-lived 1997 series Over the Top has Tim Curry dressing in drag. Now, why does that sound so familiar?
    • This is apparently his thing. He and Meatloaf also show up as a pair of conservative straw-men trying to stop Glee's Rocky Horror production.
    • In Fox's live-action remake of RHPS Curry played the Criminologist.
  • Speaking of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, castmember Barry Bostwick plays a suspect in a Cold Case episode involving a murder outside of a theater during a midnight screening of Rocky Horror.
  • The Witcher (2019)'s Polish dub has an extended Casting Gag: Geralt is voiced by Michał Żebrowski, who played the character in an earlier adaptation, The Hexer.
  • The X-Files:
    • Once a movie is made about Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson), they are played by Garry Shandling (who in an episode of The Larry Sanders Show had David Duchovny showing sexual feelings for him) and Tea Leoni (Duchovny's then-wife).
    • The show also features what may be the most unsettling example of this trope in Jodie Foster's role in the episode Never Again, in which she plays the voice of a mentally unstable loner's tattoo that eggs him on to kill people, highly reminiscent of John Hinckley taking her as (unwitting) inspiration to shoot Ronald Reagan.
    • Mulder and Scully Meet the Weremonster features a cameo by Richard Newman as the title creature's psychiatrist. One of Newman's most famous roles is also a horned creature that can change form.
  • Yes, Prime Minister: In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the head of MI-6 (one of the suspects who may be the Russian mole) is played by Michael Aldridge. A few years later, one episode of this show had Michael Aldridge as the head of MI-5, bringing Hacker the news that his predecessor had been a Russian mole... Although he wasn't in the former.

    Music 
  • For his album Rock Swings Paul Anka covered Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" which references the song "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, which Anka wrote.
  • Peter Gabriel's "The Barry Williams Show" is from the point of view of a trashy Reality Television show host, but the title wasn't meant to reference any specific celebrity, and the name "Barry Williams" was just meant to be as ordinary-sounding as possible. Peter Gabriel subsequently learned that there was in fact a TV star of that name, the American actor is best known for playing Greg from The Brady Bunch, so he got him to make a cameo in the music video... Ironically enough, he plays an audience member, not the host.

    Radio 

    Theatre 
  • In 2009, Cate Blanchett played the title character in an Australian production of Richard II. Richard and Queen Elizabeth I (who Blanchett previously played in Elizabeth) have famously been compared—Elizabeth herself allegedly even said: "I am Richard II; know ye not that?"
  • Anne Hathaway's role as the lead in the 2009 Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night, though it's more of a casting pun. Her name is the same as Shakespeare's wife.
  • Jesse L. Martin, the original Collins in RENT, was in the Rock Opera Bright Lights Big City as the protagonist's best friend, who expressed disdain for "yuppies" and enjoyed using certain, um, recreational substances.
  • Darren Criss, known for playing Harry in A Very Potter Musical, took over Daniel Radcliffe's role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
  • Arsenic and Old Lace inverted this in the original stage version. The psychotic older brother berates his surgical henchman because someone said he looked like Boris Karloff. In the original Broadway cast, he was played by Boris Karloff. As the production was still making money at the time the film was set to be produced, the stage producers wouldn't allow Karloff out of his contract long enough to appear in the film version, and so the film producers had to make do with a heavily-made-up Raymond Massey. Karloff did get to reprise the role for a TV movie adaptation in 1962.
  • For the 1951 West End production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams personally cast Vivien Leigh—who was still best known for playing Scarlett O'Hara at the time—as the mentally damaged Southern Belle Blanch Dubois, whose inability to cope with the loss of her family's ancestral plantation tragically costs her her sanity. The casting choice carried over to the well-known film adaptation released the same year (see "Film" above).
  • The 2011 production of CompanySondheim cast Neil Patrick Harris, an openly gay engaged man, as a bachelor who strings women along and disdains marriage.
  • The original Broadway production of Shrek: The Musical cast John Tartaglia, a famous Broadway puppeteer and Muppet performer, as Pinocchio, a puppet.

    Video Games 
  • Catherine has Michelle Ruff and Laura Bailey, both who played the Lovers Arcana social link Persona 3 and Persona 4, respectively, play the two K/Catherine characters in this game, vying for the same man.
  • In Saints Row and Saints Row 2, Phil Morris voiced Legal Lee, who is a lawyer, much like his Seinfeld character Jackie Chiles.
  • Hokuto ga Gotoku features the voice cast of the Yakuza series as characters from Fist of the North Star, with each actor's characters sharing qualities with each other. To name a few examples:
    • Takaya Kuroda voices Kazuma Kiryu and Kenshiro, stoic badass protagonists.
    • Kazuhiro Nayaka voices Akira Nishikiyama and Shin, former best friends to the protagonist whose jealousy drives them to betrayal.
    • Hidenari Ugaki voices Goro Majima and Jagi, crazed Combat Pragmatists who are obsessed with defeating their rivals.
  • In Hitman (2016) William Mapother voices the target Dino Bosco, a Prima Donna Director and B-list actor. This is significant as not only is Mapother an actor who is a cousin of Tom Cruise, he was originally cast as the replacement voice actor for Agent 47 in Hitman: Absolution, but the original VA, David Bateson came back at the last minute after recording some lines in secret with IOI to prove Square Enix wrong (to which they agreed, and Bateson was added proper). His level in 2016 "The Icon". also has a pair of NPC's that references this backlash, and one of them wants Dino replaced with a guy named "Dave Bateson", and will form a petition to do so.
  • In Hitman 2, Sean Bean voices the Elusive Target codenamed: "The Undying", real name Mark Faba, a target known for coming back from the dead when the ICA tries to assassinate him, and has canonically two seperate contracts from the ICA as even 47 can't keep him dead for long . He's basically his GoldenEye character Alec Trevelyan in videogame form, crossed with the notoriety of Sean Bean being a Chronically Killed Actor.
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid features Dan Southworth returning to his role as Eric Myers, the Quantum Ranger, from Power Rangers Time Force. Eric's dialogue, however, is now peppered with references to Southworth's most famous video game role, Vergil from Devil May Cry, while his fighting style is reminiscent of The Musketeer fighting style used by Dante.
    Eric Myters: I need more Quantum Power!
  • The 2020 game Genshin Impact, or 原神 yuánshén in Chinese casts Aoi Yūki as the female lead Lumine for its Japanese soundtrack. The gag is in Chinese: back in 2011, the shock from the series Puella Magi Madoka Magica tied, in many Chinese viewers' minds, the name Aoi Yuuki with her character Madoka Kaname, or the omniscient being Madokami, or directly translated in Chinese, 圆神 yuánshén. Fast forward to 2017, when Yuuki appeared as Yoshiko Hanabatake in Aho Girl, and the huge contrast between the two characters gave the latter the nickname 猿神 yuánshén meaning "the monkey goddess". The homonymic pun got a third member later that year with Akiho Kosaka from My Girlfriend is Shobitch as 援神 yuánshén, voiced by, you guessed it, Aoi Yuuki. As the voice actress of three successive yuánshén's, it makes sense for a game titled yuánshén to cast her as the leading characternote .
  • Cyberpunk 2077: The creators of Cyberpunk have said that POV character Morgan Blackhand is pretty much grimyfuture John Wick, so when CD Projekt Red had the chance to cast Keanu Reeves, who played John Wick, in their adaptation... they cast him as the other prominent POV character Johnny Silverhand.
  • In Disco Elysium, the final conflict is between two sides led by two of the Chapo Trap House hosts - Felix Biederman's deranged mercenary Kourtenaer, and Matt Christman's Union strongman Titus. This appears to be a reference to how, on Chapo, when they argue it's usually over the cultural value of video gaming, with opposing positions that somewhat resemble the characters (Matt thinks it's a boot on our necks keeping us from rising up and destroying capitalism; Felix just likes that they let him pretend to be a soldier with a big gun).

    Web Animation 

    Web Videos 
  • The Time... Guys made their three-person cast a joke. One actor plays every single historical character the gang meets.
  • Canadian programmer Ian Kirby, one of the Power Trio of artists behind Broken Saints, makes a Creator Cameo on the DVD voice track as a Canadian soldier.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's review of Les Misérables (2012) makes fun of the Love at First Sight trope by having that happen between Paw Dugan and Maven of the Eventide; Paul Schuler and Elisa Hansen are engaged in real life.
  • The antagonist of the Irish film Undefeated is a bully who gives a speech about how repulsed he is by the thought of people being gay. His actor James Stephen Walsh is bisexual.
  • In Mr Peterson Robbie is a reckless driver who murdered the titular character with Car Fu. Bobby Calloway didn't know how to drive when his scenes were shot.
  • The Nutters: Luke is portrayed as a clueless ditz. His actor Liam Gaynor was noted to be one of the most intelligent and insightful members of the cast - even winning arts scholarships.

    Western Animation 
  • Casting director Andrea Romano has made an award-winning career out of casting gags and a huge Production Posse. She's probably the fourth most important person in the DCAU after Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett.
    • Batman: The Animated Series
      • Arguably the best casting gag of the DCAU was in Batman: The Animated Series when Adam West was cast to play a washed up, Type Cast actor by the name of Simon Trent, who resents his prior role as a live-action TV hero.
      • Thomas Wayne is voiced by Richard Moll; who also voiced Harvey Dent and was one of Bruce's few friends in Gotham. Another gag is seen by the roles of Martha Wayne and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (both of which are some of the most important women in Bruce's life; judging from The Cat and the Claw) played by Adrienne Barbeau.
      • In the tie in comic Batman Adventures, an in-universe example occurred as Bruce Wayne had some creative control in producing a new Grey Ghost movie and chose Simon Trent to play the mayor.
    • Batman Beyond
      • In the Batman Beyond 2-parter "The Call" which featured the Justice League, Christopher McDonald voiced the older Superman; MacDonald also notably voiced Superman's father Jor-El in Superman: The Animated Series. There's also another gag in the episode with the aquatic heroine Aquagirl, who's voiced by Jodi Benson of The Little Mermaid (1989) fame.
      • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Dean Stockwell played the adult version of Tim Drake. Given the Tim is made into a child version of the Joker, it refers to the film, The Boy with Green Hair, where Stockwell as a child actor played the title character.
      • Henry Rollins, an anti-authoritarian and passionate rock musician, was cast as Mad Stan, an anti-authoritarian and passionate villain with a penchant for high explosives. He even quotes part of his "Information overload" monologue as Spider from Johnny Mnemonic.
  • Justice League
    • Not to mention Nathan Fillion as Vigilante... a cowboy who flies a spaceship with Gina Torres' character, Vixen. Vigilante is also very unhappy about the events of a previous episode's war-scale crisis.
    • Also Arte Johnson was brought in as Virman Vundabar, who voiced him essentially as his Wolfgang character from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, complete with a "Very interesting ..."
    • Another joke was the casting of the Royal Flush Gang (Justice League version). All of the voice actors cast were the ones that played the principal characters in Teen Titans.
    • Speaking of which, Kid Flash has the same voice actors as his Justice League counterpart, Michael Rosenbaum. This was flipped when Speedy appeared in Unlimited as Mike Erwin also reprised the role.
    • A somewhat obscure but particularly clever example of this was casting Fred Savage and Jason Hervey (the brothers from The Wonder Years) as Hawk and Dove, only reversing the relationship dynamic by casting Savage as Hawk and Hervey as Dove. Legend has it originally Savage and Hervey had the opposite roles, but for one take they decided to switch characters, and the director decided it worked better.
    • Another involving Michael Rosenbaum: the episode "The Great Brain Robbery" saw The Flash (played by Rosenbaum) accidentally switch brains with Lex Luthor, who was portrayed by Rosenabum in Smallville.


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