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Celebrity Star

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The Simpsons has done this many, many times.

An episode of a show which departs from its usual type of plot to make the best possible use of a celebrity or major star who happens to be available, regardless of plausibility, coherence, or continuity.

If the Celebrity Star is a musician or band, they often play themselves (or a thinly veiled facsimile thereof, as on The Facts of Life) and usually have to play one of their hit songs.

See History with Celebrity for cases where a main or recurring character happens to be old friends with the celebrity. See Special Guest for episodes that aren't focused on the celebrity. See As Himself for works when the entire series/film is about the celebrity playing themselves.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • GO-GO Tamagotchi! episode 10 features the J-pop singer hitomi as a Tamagotchi named hitomitchi and features her in a plot that involves Lovelitchi meeting her, but wondering if she'll be good enough to perform at her concert.

     Comic Books  

     Live Action TV  

  • Mark Hamill has guest starred in a few series, such as 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Simpsons. Many instances include some Adam Westing.
  • 30 Rock: This trope was what the third season was based on.
  • Alice: Diner-owner Mel Sharples and his waitresses seemed to know several famous people. Guest included George Burns, Telly Savalas, Jerry Reed, Dinah Shore, and Art Carney.
  • All in the Family: One of the most famous examples is the episode "Sammy's Visit", featuring Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Atlanta: Interestingly enough this trope is ultimately averted in "Champagne Papi", where Van and her friends go to a New Year's Eve party hosted by Drake at one of his mansions (and the episode is even titled after Drake's Instagram handle). In a more traditional comedy, Drake would Guest Star in this episode, however, Van finds out he's not even there; he's supposedly on tour and it's implied that the house they're in might not even be his.
  • Beakman's World: Subverted Trope regularly. Its Celebrity Stars are all actually Famous Dead Guys (or Girls) played by the cast (generally Beakman himself, who would hang a lampshade by saying "What'd I miss?"). The show did play the trope straight twice, starring Jean Stapleton as Beakman's Mom.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 had any number of musical acts appear at Peach Pit After Dark and Cathy Denis played the senior prom.
  • Boston Public: Whitney Houston appeared on one episode where she performed one of her songs at the prom.
  • The Brady Bunch:
    • Joe Namath, among many others.
    • Especially in "Getting Davy Jones," where the episode was entirely dedicated to helping Marcia get Davy Jones from The Monkees to sing at her school's 8th grade prom. He makes a very memorable appearance near the end, and even reprised his role in The Brady Bunch Movie and in the stage show, The Real Live Brady Bunch.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Aimee Mann in Season 7:
    I hate playing vampire towns.
  • Charmed featured numerous bands and musicians from Season 2 onward, when Piper opened a nightclub and said bands were booked as guest performers. In the first instance, Leo arranged for Dishwalla to appear at the then-new club because their manager had signed a deal with a demon.
  • Chico and the Man: A few of the most notable episodes featured guest stars: José Feliciano (who performed the show's main theme), Sammy Davis Jr. (who appeared in just about every sitcom) and Tony Orlando (one of Prinze's closest friends).
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation: Did an entire Celebrity Star arc about Kevin Smith coming to Degrassi to make his new film, "Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh?" The reason he appeared on the show was that Smith had a huge crush on the character Caitlin from Degrassi High (he got to be in scenes with the grown-up Caitlin, played by the same actress). Unusually, the arc actually had long-lasting effects after Smith's last episode.
  • Designing Women: In the episode where Charlene has her baby, Dolly Parton appears in a dream sequence as her "Guardian Movie Star."
  • Diff'rent Strokes: First Lady Nancy Reagan on a Very Special Episode.
  • Extras:
    • Parodied, then a Subverted Trope in which Coldplay's Chris Martin appeared on Show Within a Show When The Whistle Blows as himself, inexplicably playing a musical number in the factory. Of course, Extras is itself known for including a different example of this trope, each episode (so much so that the episodes are identified by which celebrity appears in them parodying themselves) so the whole sequence is almost certainly a deliberate self-parody.
    • It's also heavily lampshaded by Ricky Gervais' characters in both Extras and the Show Within a Show "When the Whistle Blows" who repeatedly points out the ridiculousness of Chris Martin suddenly appearing in a factory in Wigan.
  • The cast of Full House got to meet and hang out with The Beach Boys, partly owing to the fact that John Stamos (Uncle Jesse) is friends with the band in real life.
  • One episode of The Honeymooners had Jackie Gleason and Art Carney playing themselves as well as their characters, with Ed Norton bumping into Gleason and Ralph Kramden running into Carney.
  • One episode of Homicide: Life on the Street has Jay Leno showing up in a neighborhood bar. Humor ensues as all the series characters insist on not rushing up and pestering the star, even while Leno clearly wants to mingle.
  • iCarly has done this over the years. With artists and bands such as The Plain White T's, Good Charlotte, David Archuleta, and One Direction. David Archuleta is the only one that did not sing, and Good Charlotte are the only ones that were not actually on the webshow, as they performed at an awards show that Carly and friends were nominated for an award. One Direction's episode in particular was promoted as a special episode and brought huge sales to their episode on iTunes.
  • I Dream of Jeannie had a particularly disruptive example where the main cast are in Hawaii and walk into a bar where Don Ho (playing himself) is singing. The plot stops for almost five full minutes (nearly a quarter of the episode) for a Don Ho music video which features none of the main cast and has no plot importance whatsoever. It is so out of place it practically qualifies as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • Don Ho also appeared in an episode of Charlie's Angels as himself. He's an old friend of Charile (who has been kidnapped) and gives the angels information about the Hawaiian underworld.
  • It's Garry Shandling's Show, being a highly meta take on the sitcom, naturally played with this concept more than once. For instance, the Season One finale has Red Buttons take Garry's place as protagonist, while Season Two's "Go Go Goldblum" has Garry juggling a dinner date with the neighbors with a party being thrown by Jeff Goldblum.
  • Kate Modern: The episode "I Am Hallam Foe!" consists entirely of Jamie Bell talking about how he just met Charlie, and that he thinks she's "fit". The episode is only 36 seconds long, and given the title, is probably meant as Product Placement.
  • The King of Queens went through a phase of having guest stars to walk in, usually people on the downward slope from their peak fame but who were, unaccountably, full of desire to live in Queens with the Heffernans as their neighbors. First Doug and Carrie got The Incredible Hulk as a neighbor. A series or two later they got Donny Osmond.
  • MasterChef Australia is no stranger to bringing in various celebrity chefs as mentors or guest judges, but in one of the Twist Week's episodes, they brought their very first non-chef celebrity for the "twist" in that particular challenge — Katy Perry. This comes as a massive shock to all the contestants, who despite having met and cooked for various well-known as respectable chefs, had never cooked for a celebrity of her caliber. Pretty much everyone was rendered Starstruck Speechless by her arrival (especially Reece, who is a big fan). Katy would serve as that episode's guest judge, and is the one to decide the Dish of the Day that will grant its maker the weekly Immunity.
  • The Middle Man featured Boy Band Varsity Fanclub in one episode. Not terribly unconventional, except, that they were actually alien dictators who were intent on conquering Earth, and the episode ended with them being killed off.
  • Moesha: Similar to the Sister, Sister example, singer Brandy appeared as herself on her own sitcom. (A bit of a subversion, in that one of the show's running gags was that Mo (Brandy) couldn't hold a note with both hands and a bucket).
  • Mork & Mindy met Robin Williams in one episode as well.
  • The Munsters had an episode featuring The Standells.
  • New Girl had an episode entirely dedicated to Prince. The gang attends his house party and he gives Jess love advice.
  • New York Undercover had musical guest stars appear in many of the episodes in the first three seasons appearing at the fictional cafe, Natalie's, (the owner Natalie, played by Gladys Knight).
  • Night Court: Mel Torme showed up in multiple episodes. Judge Harry was an enormous Torme fan, and his attempts to get in his idol's good graces generally didn't work out well.
  • The Revolution: Toni Braxton and Dolly Parton appeared on this show.
  • Scrubs: Parody: The fourth-season episode "My Life in Four Cameras" spends the middle section in a conventional-sitcom fantasy, complete with a talent show that will pay exactly as much money as the main characters need. A mild-mannered cafeteria worker enters the talent contest and turns out to be American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken. It is unclear whether the producers decided to use Clay Aiken before or after they decided to do a sitcom fantasy, but it certainly is the only way his musical act could be fit into the show.
  • Shake it Up:
    • Does this a bit, what with it being a show that, in-universe, has celebrity guest singers and dancers perform, but it's mostly the latter, with dance crews such as Instant Noodles, Quest Crew, the Elektrolytes, and even the Jabbawockeez, and whichever dancers win Disney's "Make Your Mark" contest. Carly Rae Jepsen guest starred as herself and had a few lines before her performance. Most of the songs that the Shake It Up Chicago dancers dance to are from Disney Channel Idol Singers from Shake it Up and other shows on Disney.
    • Zendaya and Bella Thorne have had numerous songs appear on the show, and other cast members such as Caroline Sunshine, Adam Irigoyen and Kenton Duty also had songs of theirs played on the show. No mention of the artists who perform the songs are ever made, which brings in Celebrity Paradox about someone that is their doppelganger being a singer. Roshon Fegan has rapped on the show and had a song or two of his appear in the show, but it wasn't his character's songs. Other celebs from the Disney Channel include China Anne Mcclain, Olivia Holt, Adam Hicks and Coco Jones.
    • True Celeb guest stars include Ben Savage, Cat Deeley, Alfonso Ribeiro (who has directed a few episodes of the show), and Tyra Banks and Leo Howard in recurring roles, who were some of the only ones marketed as a Special Guest Star. And Blue Man Group appeared in Shake it Up: Made in Japan and performed a song of theirs on stage and part of it in an elevator when Rocky and Cece happen to run into them.
  • Sister, Sister:
    • In one episode, the Celebrity Star turned out to be... Marques Houston, who played Roger on the show, as himself (under his "Batman" Immature/IMX name) in that particular ep.
    • More conventionally, they also had WNBA star Lisa Leslie as herself twice...and they went up against the Olsen twins on a game show, among many others.
  • Sliders: Mel Torme also appeared in this show like this, but then his son was the show runner.
  • Smallville:
    • Does this a lot with musical guests. Whenever WB has a new album being released by a big or up and coming music group, that group will always end up in Smallville for a show, no matter how much of a stretch or departure from the main plot it is.
    • In a town that houses a high-profile multibillionaire family with a tendency to pull strings and do extravagant unannounced favors for people they're trying to impress, that's about a two-inch stretch.
      • There's also the matter of the alien teenager battling other aliens/monsters/government agents/etc. on a regular basis. An impromptu concert is probably the most normal thing to happen in that town.
  • The Steve Harvey Show has episodes featuring Snoop Dogg, Puff Daddy (as he was known then), Lil Bow Wow, and Teddy Riley all playing themselves, but only Lil Bow Wow gave a performance. Ron Isley was also a frequent guest star, as one of the members of The Hi-Tops.
  • Touched by an Angel did this in almost every episode, with guests ranging from Travis Tritt to Charlotte Church to Rosa Parks. Yes, Rosa Parks.
  • What's Happening!!: The Doobie Brothers appeared on this 70's sitcom to teach Rerun An Aesop about the evils of bootlegging concerts.


     Video Games  
  • ''AdventureQuest Worlds': Used a lot in the game with features of indie stars and mainstream ones. Voltaire and One-Eyed Doll have so many feature appearances that they have become regular guests in the game, although their features are only barely related to the main story at hand.
  • Backyard Sports: Every game does this after the first two. This player is the cover athlete and usually the best in the game. Of course, since the athlete is a kid, there is a different voice actor.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops: "Call of the Dead": The premise of this map is as follows: Dawn of the Dead (1978) director George A. Romero is making a zombie film, and the lead roles include Sarah Michelle Gellar (star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Danny Trejo (star of Machete), Robert Englund (Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Michael Rooker (of The Walking Dead). Then real zombies show up and the actors have to put what knowledge of horror films they have to good use...that is load up on all the guns they can find and blow the everloving crap out of anything that moves.
  • Chapter 28.5 of Dead by Daylight involved Nicolas Cage being invited to participate in a new movie, and once filming had started at his insistence, he was transported to the Entity's Realm, trapped in its killing game.
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 features a celebrity voice actor: Nolan North as the villainous Tobi.
  • Yakuza Kiwami has a sub-story featuring the famed judo fighter Shinichi Shinohara, who helps Kiryu clear up a misunderstanding about a supposed mugger, then asks him for a tour of Kamurocho that eventually ends with a friendly sparring match at the coliseum.

     Web Original 
  • Max Landis, Elijah Wood and Kevin Smith appeared in 5 separate episodes of Movie Flights (Max and Kevin have each appeared twice on the show).
  • Noob manged to get a known French video game tester named Marcus during its third season that mostly happens after its very first Wham Episode. The episode featuring the tester evaluating the fictional MMORPG in which the story is set ended up being a Breather Episode in the middle of an arc that was otherwise a low morale point for the main characters.

     Western Animation  
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Spoofed, when the Fake Band Grey Star showed up for Libby's birthday party. Even the time-traveling giant robot policeman was their biggest fan:
    Evil Robot: Grey Star? That's my favorite retro oldies band!
  • There aren't many celebs who've played themselves on Alvin and the Chipmunks... but among those who have? Dolly Parton and Mr. T.
  • Daria: The first movie, Is It Fall Yet?, featured cameos by Dave Grohl and Bif Naked. This being Daria, one of them plays a perverted blowhard who attempts to bed every woman in sight and another plies a minor with alcohol in an unsuccessful attempt to seduce her.
  • Duck Dodgers: Did this often. Two examples are the episodes with Tom Jones (who sings the theme song) and Megadeth. In one example, Duck Dodgers uses a magical device to reach through space and time to steal Tom Jones's voice for a music contest. The Megadeth episode involved him unfreezing their guitarist and using their music to blow up a 'Saxoblivion' Death Ray. Don't ask...
  • Family Guy:
  • The Flintstones:
    • One episode included an appearance by "Ann-Margrock", and another was a semi-crossover with the animated intro to Bewitched.
    • Not to mention Stoney Curtis, Jimmy Darrock, Stoney Carmichael, Jimmy O'Neillstone (Jimmy O'Neill was the host of the music show Shindig), etc.
  • Hey Arnold!!: Randy Travis in "Mr. Hyunh Goes Country". Voiced facsimile Travis Randall, and the titular Mr. Hyunh (when singing).
  • King of the Hill: Does this from time time, but also starred musician Chuck Mangione as a semi-regular and ZZ Top.
  • Max Steel: This show is complicated; it has episodes guest-starring Tony Hawk and Jeremy McGrath. As their episodes were Extreme Sports Plots, and series protagonist Josh McGrath was a high-level competitor who would logically be in the same circles, this doesn't seem to fit at first, until one remembers that Josh left competition because of Power Incontinence giving him an unfair advantage. These episodes take place long after the show had started focusing exclusively on Josh's secret-agent career and as such briefly go back to the athletics theme of the beginning. Matt Hoffman's episode, and Jeremy McGrath's second episode, take place at a point in the series when Josh returns to active competition and much of the show is once again taking place on the sports circuit, so they're not departures from the norm.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Loves to subvert this trope, by having celebrities show up and be given relatively minor roles. This is most obvious with their singing guests. They had Bowling for Soup, who did their theme song, come to play the extended theme - except no one recognised them, 'cause they were in the future. In "Summer Belongs To You" the boys somehow managed to hire Clay Aiken and Chaka Khan for a single song. The ultimate example would be the "Family Christmas Special", where Kelly Clarkson spends the entire episode trying to sing, but Phineas keeps stopping her because he doesn't want her to work on Christmas.
    • In another episode, Doofenschmirtz asks Kelly if she'd perform, and she says "I'd love to" - but then the Inator of the episode runs amok, and Kelly is all Screw This, I'm Outta Here
  • The Replacements: Voiced by Miley Cyrus, the teen pop queen is named... Celebrity Starr.
  • Sealab 2021: Parodied in "Meet Beck Bristow". Sealab shuts down all its normal work so Hollywood Actor Beck Bristow (voiced by Hollywood Actor Brian Bloom) can come around and let everybody know that he is Hollywood Actor Beck Bristow, and therefore better than the regular characters.
  • The Simpsons and Futurama:
    • Both shows have done this more than once.
    • Futurama parodied this trope by having the Harlem Globetrotters show up as recurring characters. They're insanely competent Omnidisciplinary Scientists who only occasionally crack wise about yo momma after seeing if you got game.
  • South Park:
    • Subverted in many early episodes, when celebrity guests would get to voice such prestigious roles as "Gay Dog" (George Clooney) and "Turkey #4".
    • But played straight when Robert Smith from The Cure guest-starred.


Video Example(s):


Glee Gets Physical

Olivia Newton-John redoes her famous hit, "Physical," with Sue Sylvester.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CelebrityStar

Media sources: