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Celebrity Survivor

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Mankini: We're all that's left of The Soup... Everyone in this building was infected except for us. You know what that means?
Daryl: Oh my God, Ryan Seacrest?
Mankini: Infected.
Glenn: Kendra?
Mankini: Infected.
Daryl: Hef?
Mankini: Eh, it's hard to tell.

It's a few years After the End, and Alice (no, not that Alice...or maybe it is) is Walking the Earth scraping out a meager existence for herself. One day, she runs into Bob. But wait, this isn't any Bob — this is Bob Hoskins! How the hell did he make it through this? And Alice is dying to know: What was it like filming Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook?

This is when, in a work set in a post-apocalyptic world, a Disaster Movie, or a similar survival situation, the main characters meet a person who was a rich and famous celebrity before everything went to hell — an actor, director, athlete, model, musician, or even a Reality TV star. Expect them to be asked about their work in better times — or, if they're not recognized at first, "have I seen you before?". Often used to make a point about the fleeting nature of stardom or about our society's obsession with celebrities — we'll have much more important things to care about when the world comes to an end, at which point we'll all be knocked down to the same level. There is, of course, a more obvious use for this trope, and that is to fulfill the audience's desire to see rich and haughty celebrities getting put through hell. Just because you're famous doesn't mean you're immune from disasters and apocalyptic scenarios. Indeed, if karma's feeling like you've been a bad role model or a plain old jerkass, it's likely to come down harder on you for being the snooty celebrity.

Conversely, it can also be used to show that celebrities are as human as the rest of us. Showing that the apocalypse affects the rich and famous just like it affects the rest of us humanizes them as well as "pulling them down to our level." And the Celebrity Survivor is a survivor, after all. They prove that having the determination and wherewithal to weather the apocalypse isn't solely the province of blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth types.

This trope applies not just to actors, musicians, and other artists, but also to politicians, business moguls, and any other kind of real movers and shakers who did important things and earned publicity for it before the apocalypse. These people may actually get a much better share after the end, retaining or even improving their position, however occasionally you see some unpopular politician becoming a Butt-Monkey of the post-apocalyptic world.

For some reason, this is especially common in Zombie Apocalypse works. This may have something to do with the populist, Slobs Versus Snobs messages that are often read into zombie fiction — the downtrodden rising up to feast on the privileged, etc.

Not to be confused with celebrity editions of Survivor, although such a show would presumably play this trope to the hilt (and indeed, there is a show that has just such a premise; see below). Survivor itself has also occasionally featured celebrity contestants during its regular seasons, and those contestants can be found in the Live-Action TV folder.

A common form of Real-Person Fic. For when the celebrities don’t survive, see Celebrity Casualty and Celebrities Hang Out in Heaven.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Takahiro Aramaki of the post-apocalyptic manga 7 Seeds, former Koshien regular pitcher, Sole Survivor of Team Winter, and for fifteen years, was the only human not in cryostasis. In a variation, the Ryugyu Shelter — a base where a larger number of people survived for a time after the asteroid hit the planet — included several famous entertainers in its population, like Idol Singer Maria Miki, to keep the population of the shelter calm and entertained after they were cut off from the outside world.
  • Dr. STONE:
    • Invoked by the characters: when looking to revive people with useful skills, the cast naturally gravitate towards people who were famous in-universe.
    • A famous singer was one of the only six survivors of the initial petrification event, due to being a visitor to the International Space Station when it occurred.

    Comic Books 
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Tyreese is something of a subversion, as he used to be a pro football player, but he wasn't a particularly great or famous player and retired after just a few years in the league due to a Career-Ending Injury. By the time the Zombie Apocalypse started, he was pretty much washed up.
    • Played straight with Douglas, who was a former congressman.
    • Played with regarding Beta. Apparently he was a famous basketball player turned actor before the apocalypse, but his name is never spoken and he is only recognized seconds before his death. The reaction of the characters who recognize him is more or less along the lines of "Hey, isn't he that guy?" "Oh yeah! That guy."
  • Not so much an After the End scenario as a Day of the Jackboot one, but Valerie in V for Vendetta, an acclaimed actress who was sent to a concentration camp for being a lesbian, possibly qualifies. She wasn't much of a survivor, though (although one fan theory holds that she became V).
  • A few examples from Y: The Last Man:
    • Epiphany is a Canadian Idol Singer who found herself stuck in Japan during the Gendercide. She uses her wealth, charisma, and popularity with teenage girls to rebuild the Yakuza.
    • Waverly is a former supermodel who found that her job is now obsolete, with no men left to ogle her and with women no longer caring about dolling themselves up to impress said men. She now works as, essentially, a garbage lady, collecting and disposing of all the dead men left behind.
    • Fish & Bicycle Productions is a troupe of actresses who continue to work after the Gendercide, traveling from town to town. Some of them feel that the plague was karmic punishment for how older women would often find themselves pushed out of acting.
  • In the post-alien invasion America of Resurrection, the main group of survivors come across a walled town that had been set up when the aliens first arrived, 10 years earlier in 1998. The town is holding a person codenamed "The Eagle," who turns out to be none other than former President Bill Clinton, who ended up stranded in that region after Air Force One was shot down by the aliens during the initial invasion.
  • Crossed Badlands: the survivors encounter a rifle-toting, disfigured ginger man who claims to be Prince Harry of the British Royal Family. He says that during the mass infection, his bodyguards tried to take him to a bunker away from the capital only only to find the place already overrun with the infected and that the last thing he saw before escaping was his granny Queen Elizabeth biting Prince Charles' bollocks off. The work never confirms if he's the real deal or not.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bill Murray in Zombieland. The movie justifies this by establishing that Murray used his acting abilities to blend in with the infected, and the main characters only come across him because they visited his house specifically. Bill also mentions seeing a zombified Eddie Van Halen at one point.
  • Former pro basketball player Luther West in Resident Evil: Afterlife. A faded billboard featuring him shilling fancy watches can be seen from his fortress. There's also Bennett and Crystal, who were, respectively, a movie producer and a struggling actress before the T-virus outbreak. While Luther is a fighter and Crystal cooks for the other survivors, Bennett is arrogant and still thinks he has privileges due to his former status.
  • Good Bye, Lenin! has a very bittersweet example involving the fall of communism. In one scene, the protagonist gets a ride from a taxi driver who, as the first German cosmonaut, was his childhood hero.
  • The Player has this as the plot of a proposed Film Within A Film. Producer Griffin Mill hears a movie pitch from two writers with a story about a TV actress who is found and worshiped by an African tribe; the story is described in a nutshell as both "The Gods Must Be Crazy, but the Coke bottle is replaced with a TV actress" and "Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman." The drama would boil down to the actress having to choose between staying on the TV show or with the African tribe.
  • The Kevin Costner film The Postman (Inspired by… the David Brin novel) had Tom Petty playing himself as the mayor of Bridge City.
    • Depending on the interpretation, it is also entirely possible that Shakespeare is in fact Kevin Costner.
  • Poseidon (the 2006 remake of The Poseidon Adventure) gives us former New York City Mayor Robert Ramsey as the leader of the survivors, and the ship's star singer Gloria as a disposable early victim.
  • In the Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake, the survivors play a game in which they look for people in the crowd of zombies outside that resemble pre-apocalypse celebrities (such as Jay Leno).
  • Piranha 3D has, among its cast of characters, a sleazy producer of Girls Gone Wild-esque videos, as well as a pair of porn stars who are shooting his latest video. None of them make it to the end of the film.
  • Piranha 3DD has David Hasselhoff as a jerkass version of himself at the opening of a waterpark. When someone asks him for help during the piranha attack, he remarks that "that's what natural selection's all about".
  • Parodied in Hatchet. Doug pretends that he's a famous porn producer, but is actually a marketing manager who posed as one simply to build his own private porn collection. Jenna also imagines herself to be a legitimate actress, despite the fact that she's doing sleazy softcore porn for Doug.
  • Two of the survivors at the end of Mars Attacks! are a former World Heavyweight Champion boxer...and Tom Jones. The latter case is particularly ironic since up to that point the film had gruesomely killed off its entire All-Star Cast.
  • In Scary Movie 4, rapper Chingy is one of the many people abducted by the aliens. Since this is Scary Movie 4, naturally he gets his own VIP section in the holding area, complete with alcohol and women.
  • To a certain extent, Robert Neville from I Am Legend. He is shown on the cover of TIME his "cure" for cancer is the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • The indie film Ever Since the World Ended is portrayed as a documentary by survivors 12 years after a plague, who go around interviewing and filming various other survivors in San Francisco (the population of the city is reported to be 182). They go to visit a guy named Adam who knows a lot about engineering. They find him outside his house practicing with a bullwhip. That's right, it's Adam Savage.
  • The Edge features Anthony Hopkins as a billionaire magazine publisher (with a supermodel wife) who is forced to survive in the Alaskan wilderness after a plane crash.
  • This Is the End is about Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride (all of them played by themselves) trying to survive the apocalypse in James' Hollywood mansion. At one point, Jonah says that help ought to be on their way because they're rich celebrities and that the authorities would make an effort to save them first rather than the plebs below. They are all depicted as rich, pampered idiots; when nobody at James' party notices the Rapture happening outside, the implication is that none of them were deemed worthy of eternal salvation. Though it's shown at the end that the Backstreet Boys apparently were, as they show up in Heaven to perform a concert for those who'd been saved. Later in the film, after Danny gets kicked out of the house, he becomes a post-apocalyptic warlord who kidnaps Channing Tatum and makes him his personal gimp. At one point, Emma Watson also breaks in and loots the place.
    "Hermione just stole all of our shit."
  • Sharknado 2: The Second One has several celebrities who play themselves. A former professional baseball player kills a shark with a bat. Al Roker and Matt Lauer of the Today show holds down an attacking shark and stabs it to death. Kelly Ripa stomped through a shark's head with her high heeled shoe.
  • In Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, several celebrities appear only to be killed, but as for survivors...
    • The President of the United States picks up a shotgun and grenade and joins Fin in killing sharks.
    • Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb from the Today show defend themselves from sharks by breaking wine bottles and stabbing them.
  • In Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, several Chippendales Dancers performing in Vegas fight back and kill sharks. When the story reaches Salt Lake City, then-Utah Governor Gary Herbert punches out a shark.
  • In Lavalantula, washed up '90s action star Colton West gets a chance to be a hero for real when a volcano erupts and Giant Spiders that breathe fire attack his town. Eventually, the crew of his latest movie helps him out.
  • In Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies, a bunch of pro-wrestlers playing themselves plus the model Taya Parker struggle to survive an outbreak of zombies.
  • In Under Siege, Playboy Playmate Jordan Tate (who's played by real-life Playmate Erika Eleniak) is hired to go Jumping Out of a Cake topless for a party on board a battleship. Unfortunately, the ship gets hijacked by terrorists, and she's dragged into the "Die Hard" on an X plot. Although she spends most of her screen time terrified, she pulls her weight at times and even saves the hero's life.
  • Discussed in Anna and the Apocalypse. At one point, John and Chris wonder which celebrities are still alive after a Zombie Apocalypse has ravaged the world. They decide that Robert Downey Jr. and Taylor Swift should still be alive.
  • The plot of Six String Samurai concerns Elvis Presley surviving World War III and becoming the King of Lost Vegas. Forty years later, the King is dead, and various people all clamor for the throne.
  • Tropic Thunder is about a bunch of prima-donna actors shooting a Vietnam War movie who push their director to his breaking point, causing him to dump them in the middle of the jungle to shoot the film "guerrilla-style". Things go horribly awry when they stumble upon an actual drug cartel, who kidnap the film's lead actor hoping to extort a healthy ransom out of him.
  • Bubba Ho-Tep:
    • The protagonist is an elderly Elvis Presley who, thanks to a complicated chain of events in The '70s,Short version...  is living in a retirement home in East Texas that's being stalked by a mummy who feeds on the souls of the home's sick and dying residents. Or, as the tagline puts it, it's The King vs. The King of the Dead.
    • One of his fellow residents is an old Black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy, having survived his assassination attempt only for the conspiracy that took him out to fake his death, replace half his brain with a bag of sand, and darken his skin so that nobody would believe it was him. However, in his case it's left up in the air if he's actually JFK, or if (as Elvis believes) he's just a crazy old kook.

  • World War Z has lots of fun with this. One of the soldiers that Todd Wainio served with was a former pro wrestler, and another one may or may not have been Michael Stipe. Roy Elliot is a pre-war film director (a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Steven Spielberg) whose career, along with Hollywood in general, was almost destroyed thanks to society needing more important things than light entertainment, until he found work shooting propaganda movies for the government that helped to raise morale. He mentions Martin Scorsese having survived in New York and filmed the documentary about how that city held out through the Zombie Apocalypse. And then, of course, there's the celebrity fortress on Long Island...
  • At the beginning of Stephen King's The Stand, Larry Underwood is a musician who's just had his first big hit with the song "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?". And then the Superflu hits before he can release his second single. Since he's such a new name, he's easily forgotten about in the ensuing chaos, and by the time he meets other people he doesn't care much about fame anyway and decides to return to obscurity (so much so that when someone starts singing a snatch of his song later in the book and asks him, "....say, wait, who was the guy who wrote this song? I can't remember," he claims he doesn't know).
  • In The Day of the Triffids, the protagonist encounters a novelist named Josella Playton, author of a book entitled Sex Is My Adventure.
  • In The True Meaning of Smekday, invading aliens force all the citizens of America onto a "reservation" comprised of the entire state of Arizona. Hilariously, celebrity rags are still being passed around despite uneventful headlines (FILM STARS CONTINUE TO WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO MAKE MOVIE). Actors now live in "New Hollywood" (formerly Scottsdale), while seventy percent of the music industry lives in Sedona and are planning their sixth benefit concert to raise awareness of the alien invasion. Steven Spielberg gets a brief mention.
  • Discussed in Left Behind. Shortly after the Rapture, Buck, while traveling to New York City, gets dropped off in Easton, Pennsylvania, by Ken, who remarks that the city is the hometown of former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. Ken jokes that, if Holmes hadn't disappeared as well, he'd probably go after whoever was taking people (at the time, Ken believed the raptured people had been kidnapped or abducted).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Starbuck runs into a band of survivors who used to be a professional sports team before the nuking of Caprica, who only escaped the initial blast because they were training up in the mountains. The team was also not really trained in guerrilla warfare. They were just using techniques that they saw in contemporary movies. (Life imitating Art) They learned the hard way that Hollywood Tactics don't actually work.
    • Before the Cylon attacks, Gaius Baltar was also a well-known scientist and proponent of re-developing advanced computer technology. It is Baltar's celebrity status that causes Helo to give up his seat on the Raptor to him, stating that if humanity was going to survive, it would need smarter people than himself. Ironically, Baltar was an unwitting pawn of the Cylons, meaning he was directly responsible for the massive civilization-destroying attacks.
  • Dead Set: This show is about a group of Big Brother castmates, along with some of the show's staff, fighting for survival against a Zombie Apocalypse and each other.
  • Gilligan's Island: About desert islands, there is glamorous movie star Ginger Grant.
    • The Howells, one of the wealthiest families in the USA and firmly entrenched in the Social Register, no doubt also qualify for certain segments of society.
  • I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!: This is essentially the premise of this Reality Show.
  • Jericho (2006): Referenced in one episode. As Skyler is flipping through some of the old tabloids at Dale's general store, she wonders aloud if Lindsay Lohan survived. Her friend chastises her for this, asking why she still cares about celebrities in a time like this.
  • On The Leftovers it's a running gag to name-drop celebrities who vanished in "The Sudden Departure", including the entire cast of Perfect Strangers. In season two, Mark Linn-Baker turns up alive. He's been hiding out because of a combination of shame and survivor's guilt at not being taken with the rest of his cast. He becomes instrumental to the fate of one of the show's central characters.
  • Lost: Charlie and Nikki were, respectively, a drugged-out rock star and an actress who got stranded on a desert island after a plane crash.
  • Married... with Children: One episode has the Bundys and Darcys ending up on a life raft after their cruise ship sinks. Their raftmates? A fat lady and Gilbert Gottfried, who was the comedian entertainment on the cruise.
  • Revolution:
    • It's implied in the episode "Ghosts" that one of the Affleck brothers is governor of what once was California.
    • The Season 2 opener has David Schwimmer (or at least someone claiming to be him; he's not actually shown) as the last surviving member of the cast of Friends plying his trade as a sideshow act.
    • A later season 2 episode features Bret Michaels performing in one town. Upon seeing him, Sebastian Monroe comments "When the world ends, all that will be left will be Bret Michaels...and the cockroaches."
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "The Deprogrammers", Earth has been invaded by aliens and mankind has been brainwashed into slaves, one character stating that the aliens took a perverse pleasure in turning celebrities and leaders into slaves. A group of rebels rescue the protagonist, including his wife, and try to deprogram him by reminding him of his life, including showing him a poster of his favourite movie.
    "I wonder where they are right now, I wonder where all the famous people are now."
  • Smallville: Invoked Trope in the episode "Apocalypse", where Clark goes to an alternate future where he never arrived on Earth and Lex Luthor became President. President Luthor plans to provoke a nuclear war, but before he does, he has the military secretly shuttle the country's best and brightest (which presumably includes a fair number of famous scientists and businessmen) to bunkers so that they will be the largest group of survivors, this planting the seeds for Lex's idea of a "perfect" world... led by Lex of course.
  • The Soup: Played for Laughs in the show's crossover with The Walking Dead, which features Daryl, Glenn, Courtney Stodden, and cast members from The Soup (and Rich Sommer, who thought they were doing a Mad Men skit) battling zombie versions of Ryan Seacrest and the Kardashian sisters in the E! studio building. It ends with everyone except Daryl and Glenn dead, as they head over to the Comedy Central studio to see if Daniel Tosh is still alive.
  • Supernatural: In the episode where Dean gets transported three years into the future after the Devil's Zombie Apocalypse destroys much of humanity, he arrives in a Crapsack World (yes, even more crapsack than the Supernatural world already is) where a drunken, depowered Castiel lives in a survivor camp, much of the United States (and the rest of the world) lies in ruins... and Sarah Palin is President. Also meant as a Take That! against Palin, as she apparently decided to bomb Houston according to a newspaper Dean looks at in one scene.
  • On The Strain (TV series), one of the survivors of the outbreak on the plane is a rock star named Gabriel Bolivar (an Expy for Marilyn Manson). Later subverted when it turns out the "survivors" are infected with the same contagion that killed the other passengers and caused them to rise as vampires. Then double subverted when he's the last of those "survivors" to remain until The Master possesses his body, essentially killing him in the process.
  • In a literal version of this trope, Survivor, has on occasion featured castaways who were already famous before they participated in the show. None of them were specifically chosen because of their celebrity, and all were cast in the same way as other contestants. Among them:
    • Survivor: Panama featured Daniel T. Barry, a former NASA astronaut who was part of three Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station.
    • Survivor: China featured Ashley Massaro, a professional wrestler who won the 2005 WWE Diva Search and spent a few years in the WWE after that.
    • Survivor: Gabon featured two such contestants: The first was Crystal Cox, who was part of the American relay team that won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, but she was later stripped of her medal in 2012 after admitting to doping. The second was Ken Hoang, a top Super Smash Bros. Melee player who had the highest major tournament win-to-loss ratio of any Melee player from 2003 to 2007.
    • Survivor: Tocantins featured Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George, a former member of the 1990s R&B trio SWV.
    • Survivor: Nicaragua featured Jimmy Johnson, a legendary football coach best known for leading the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1993 and 1994. Johnson noted that he was only on the show for the experience and was disinterested in the cash prize, stating that if he won he'd donate it to charity. Nicaragua also featured country singer Chase Rice, who went on to have a string of hit singles a few years after he appeared on the show, meaning he didn't qualify for this trope at the time.
    • Survivor: Philippines featured two such contestants. The first was Jeff Kent, a former MLB baseball player best known for his stint with the San Francisco Giants, during which he won the NL Most Valuable Player award in 2000. The second, and best known, was Lisa Whelchel, an actress best known for playing Blair Warner on the 1980s TV sitcom The Facts of Life. Whelchel tried to keep her past a secret from other contestants because she didn't want to be subject to favoritism and also felt that most of the other castaways were too young to remember her, but everyone found out eventually.
    • Survivor: Caramoan featured NASCAR driver Julia Landauer.
    • Survivor: Blood vs. Water featured Brad Culpepper, who spent a decade in the NFL as a defensive tackle. Culpepper returned to the show for the Game Changers season a few years later.
    • Survivor: Cagayan also featured two celebrity contestants. The first was David Samson, who was the president of the Miami Marlins baseball team from 2002 to 2017. The second was Clifford Robinson, a former pro basketball player who spent 18 years in the NBA and made the finals twice with the Portland Trail Blazers.
    • Survivor: San Juan del Sur featured John Rocker, a former MLB pitcher for the Atlanta Braves who became nationally infamous in 1999 after he made derogatory comments about minorities in a Sports Illustrated interview, which caused him to be suspended for 14 games and cast a shadow over his career. Notably, everyone in his tribe already knew who he was from the incident, and that interview was regularly brought up by other contestants.
    • Survivor: Kaôh Rōng featured Scot Pollard, a basketball player who was part of the Boston Celtics team that won the 2008 NBA Finals.
    • Survivor: David vs. Goliath had two celebrity contestants: John Morrison (who appeared on Survivor under his real name John Hennigan), a wrestler who has been part of several organizations, including the WWE, where he won the Tag Team championship four times. The second was Mike White, a screenwriter who wrote the scripts for Orange County, School of Rock, and Nacho Libre.
    • Survivor: Island of the Idols featured Elizabeth Beisel, a swimmer who won bronze and silver medals at the 2012 Olympics in London. Island of the Idols also featured Tom Laidlaw, the first Canadian contestant on Survivor, who was a professional hockey player who spent a decade in the National Hockey League.
  • Twisted Metal (2023): The show's take on Sweet Tooth from the games is a Former Child Star named Marcus Kane whose parents pushed him into starring on a sitcom where he found himself upstaged by his dog costar, causing him to one day snap, kill the dog in front of a live studio audience, and get sent to Blackfield Asylum. When the apocalypse happened, he broke out, kidnapped his parents, and locked them in his old cell at the asylum to starve to death. Now, he's become a Large Ham showman and Serial Killer who rules the ruins of Lost Vegas, kidnapping travelers and forcing them to watch his stage show. After he successfully assaults Hoover Dam, Stu convinces him to keep going and liberate more of Agent Stone's outposts with the promise that he'll have "fans for life" if he does so.
  • As mentioned in the Comics entry above, The Walking Dead has Beta, although his pre-apocalypse career is changed from pro athlete to country music star, who performed under the name "Half Moon" (although, like his comics counterpart, his true name is never revealed).


    Video Games 
  • Several characters in the BioShock series, such as singer Grace Holloway, artist Sander Cohen, stage magician Suresh Sheti, football star Danny Wilkins, and actress Blanche de Glace. Some of them were famous before coming to Rapture, while others became celebrities after moving there. Rapture was set up as a place of refuge for societal visionaries, including artists who rejected censorship, so it's not surprising why there are a whole bunch of celebrities living down there.
  • Dead by Daylight: Several characters, among both the Survivors and the Killers, had been celebrities before they got claimed by the Entity.
    • Kate Denson, the Survivor introduced with the Curtain Call DLC, is a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of a young Taylor Swift, a blonde country singer who grew up in Pennsylvania before moving to Nashville to pursue her dreams. She vanished while out in a secluded forest where she'd frequently ventured for inspiration for her music.
    • Jane Romero, the Survivor introduced with the Demise of the Faithful DLC, was a radio Talk Show host who had a fraught relationship with her mother, the famous actress Loretta Lawrence, that culminated in an explosive mother/daughter interview on her show just before she vanished.
    • Demise of the Faithful also introduces the new Killer, Adiris, aka The Plague. In life, she had been a high priestess in ancient Babylon who was adored by the masses, only to exile herself from the city after coming down with a plague that no prayer would cure, vanishing along with some of her followers soon after.
    • Felix Richter, the Survivor introduced with the Descend Beyond DLC, was a world-renowned architect before he vanished.
    • The All-Kill DLC has both its Killer, Ji-woon Hak, and its Survivor, Yun-jin Lee. Ji-woon was once part of a K-pop Boy Band called NO SPIN, but left his bandmates to die after a fire broke out at their recording studio so that he could exploit the tragedy and pursue a solo career. Having gained a taste for blood, he started kidnapping and murdering people, recording their cries of agony so he could then include them in his songs. Yun-jin, meanwhile, was the Record Producer who discovered Ji-woon, ascended the ladder of fame with him, and eventually figured out that he was a Serial Killer, but said nothing because, having grown up poor, she wasn't willing to give up the good life she now enjoyed. Ji-woon's murderous ways eventually distracted him from his music, and when the executives at Mightee One Entertainment got fed up, he slaughtered them all during a private show, sparing only Yun-jin for her loyalty to him. It was at this point that the Entity took them both.
    • Carmina Mora, aka the Artist, is the Killer introduced in the Portrait of a Murder DLC. In life, she had been a multidisciplinary artist in Chile renowned as the leader of the Large-Scale Surrealist movement, which eventually attracted the attention of a corporation called the Vack Label who wanted to commission her work. When she did some further digging and found that they were tied to political corruption, she made art attacking them, which led them to have her kidnapped and brutally tortured with the intention of killing her, including cutting off her hands and tongue so she could no longer paint or recite poetry. Only when the Entity claimed her did she escape death.
    • Nicolas Cage As Himself became a playable Survivor with the release of the DLC bearing his name. He took a role in a horror movie called Descend Beyond because he liked the script (which it is implied had supernaturally entranced him), even though his agent warned him that the film's financiers were questionable. He only realized too late that it wasn't a film production while "filming a scene" that turned out to be an actual ritual, which summoned the Entity to claim him.
  • Dead Island has a rap star named Sam B and a former football player named Logan as two of the playable characters fighting through a Zombie Apocalypse at a tropical island resort.
  • Dead Island 2 is set in Los Angeles, and a number of the people you meet, be they alive or zombified (sometimes as Elite Zombies), are former celebrities.
    • Emma Jaunt is a British actress who was known for horror movies before the Zombie Apocalypse. She recently won a "Romero award" for a movie called Omen to Kill where she played a katana-wielding monster slayer, and she's also the eponymous star of the Kim Canaveral movies, Two-Fisted Tales-style homages to '50s horror B-movies where she plays a Lady of Adventure battling cults and giant monsters. In real life, she's nowhere near as tough as the characters she plays, presented as a Rich Bitch who's rude to her Latina housekeeper Andrea and angry that Andrea brought her family to stay in the mansion when she and her husband tried to flee the city, and spends most of the game sulking upstairs in her room while "the help" takes charge downstairs. When Sam B, returning from the first game as a veteran survivor, arrives at the mansion, he's the one who slaps some sense into Emma and tells her that her being famous doesn't mean squat in a sealed-off city overrun by zombies.
    • Emma's husband Robert Steele was also an actor, the two having married for PR purposes. When they tried to escape LA, he wound up being the Zombie Infectee who brought the outbreak onto their plane and forced the military to shoot it down. His first victim aboard the plane was a woman who recognized him and tried to take a selfie with him, only for him to bite her right there.
    • After the prologue, the game starts with you exploring the Bel Air mansion of a musician named Colt Swanson, which is filled with his guitars, framed album covers on the walls, and the antique officer's sword he has in a glass case. He and his wife tried to hide in the mansion's panic room to escape the zombies, but he got bitten in the process, and when you open the panic room up, you find him munching on his wife.
    • Curtis Sinclair is a "living legend" of an older actor who causes the Player Character to freak out in starstruck amazement upon meeting him. He was hosting a party at his Bel Air mansion when the zombies attacked, and while he may be old and nowhere near as fit as he used to be, he's still handy with a rifle. You also encounter his worthless nepo baby nephew Tony, who showed up to the party to mooch off his uncle and who Curtis bitterly remarks threw a maid to the zombies in an attempt to escape — not that it did him much good given that you encounter him as a zombie, one who Curtis openly cheers for you to kill.
    • Also in Bel Air, you travel through the Goat Pen, a mansion owned by a group of social media influencers in a parody of the real-life Hype House. The notes you find throughout the mansion indicate that they didn't take the outbreak seriously until it was far too late — one of the first things you find is a whiteboard where one of the residents wrote down a script for an apology video telling everyone that they wish they got out in time instead of treating it as a joke. Another note you can find inside is of a podcast two of them were recording where they were talking about the "urban rumor" going around about "brain eaters", only for one of those "brain eaters" to barge into the studio and kill them.
    • Later in the game when you return to the Goat Pen, you meet Amanda Styles, an influencer who uses her channel to document the Zombie Apocalypse and is implied to be the Goat Pen's Sole Survivor. You encounter her on the roof filming herself (and later you) killing zombies.
    • Rikky Rex is the aging frontman of an '80s Hard Rock band called Gods & Whiskey who, in true Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll fashion, decided to throw a massive "evac party" at his Beverly Hills mansion when the outbreak started, only to miss the evacuation because he got blackout drunk. When you find him, he's wearing a leather vest and purple silk underwear and barely seems to understand what's going on. Fortunately, he and his girlfriend Roxanne have several months' worth of supplies. Unfortunately, by "supplies", he means beer.
    • Nikki Gutte was a TV survivalist and big-game hunter who's presented as a female version of Bear Grylls. It's implied that her badass reputation was all a pose for the cameras; Ronnie mentions having sourced her a snow leopard so she could hunt it under safe, controlled conditions, and even says that the snow was fake, too. Sure enough, when you go to her Beverly Hills mansion to steal her collection of guns, you find her zombified into a Screamer.
    • At Monarch Studios, one of the first things you see is a meet-and-greet for fans of the sci-fi film Space Fox 2250, where one of the notes you find reveals that one fan turned into a zombie and tore the throat out of the film's male lead Kyan Clark. The main quest has you fighting Alesis Hernandez, one of the actors from a movie that was shooting at the studio, still in costume even after mutating into a Slobber. A minor fetch quest also has you kill the zombified cast of the sitcom Friends Without Benefits, as the lead actress Kelli Jo Longeteig is holding the key to a chest containing a weapon.
  • Dead Rising 2, being set in a glitzy Las Vegas analogue called Fortune City, naturally features a bunch of these.
    • Chuck Greene, the protagonist, is a former motocross champ turned contestant on the zombie-killing reality game show Terror is Reality. In the Case: Zero prequel, one of the survivors recognizes Chuck and finds it awesome to be in his presence and getting rescued by him.
    • Tyrone "TK" King, the Don King-esque host of Terror is Reality and the Dragon-in-Chief to the real villain, Sullivan. The show's two Lovely Assistants, sexy twin sisters Crystal and Amber Bailey, are his Dragons.
    • Bibi Love, a One-Hit Wonder pop star who was planning her big comeback tour, which was interrupted by zombies. She goes crazy and kidnaps a bunch of guests. It is possible to get her to pull a Heel–Face Turn and join the survivors.
    • Luz Palmer, a professional golfer who kills several zombies with her golf club.
    • Reed and Roger, two stage magicians who are equal parts Penn & Teller and Siegfried & Roy. Seemingly unaware of or ignoring the outbreak, they kidnap people and use them to practice their tricks, and murder an unfortunate woman by trying to do the Saw a Woman in Half trick for real.
    • Angel Lust, a British rock band that throws a concert right in the middle of the zombie-infested Fortune City Strip, and wipes out a whole crowd of zombies with The Power of Rock.
    • In the non-canon What If? Gaiden Game Off the Record, Frank West was celebrated for saving the day and breaking the story of the Willamette Mall Outbreak, but his 15 Minutes of Fame dried up and he was forced to compete in Terror is Reality to make ends meet. During the Fortune City outbreak, a lot of people recognize Frank, but dismiss him as a washed-up D-lister. He quickly proves he's still a zombie-slaying machine. He returns as the protagonist in Dead Rising 4 who's idolized by his student/sidekick Vick Chu, though it quickly turns into a case of Broken Pedestal for her after she sees firsthand what a gloryhound he is.
  • Die Hard: Vendetta has the Hollywoodland shootout where John leads a SWAT team to take down a small terrorist army, but as luck would have it a vain Hollywood starlet named Jessie Montana just happens to be caught in the raid. And she reacts with the expected gratitude from an overly-pompous Hollywood star at John's rescue - by complaining to her agent that John endangered her life, leading to John's arrest.
  • In Fallout 3, Vault 92 was populated with famous musicians, ostensibly to preserve artistic talent in the wake of World War III. In reality, the Vault's intention was far more sinister — the people inside were being brainwashed through Subliminal Seduction as an experiment in creating super soldiers. Naturally, it went horribly wrong, with about a third of the occupants being driven insane and killing everyone inside.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • The Dead Money DLC introduces the "King of Swing" Dean Domino, one of the most famous British singers before the war, now a ghoul.
    • Robert House himself counts as this. In the old world, he was the founder of RobCo, the company that creates many of the robots in the series, including the Pipboy that the protagonists use. He was legendary for his wealth and genius, in a manner similar to the real world's Howard Hughes. Nowadays, he's known as the self-styled CEO of New Vegas and a prime example of a real mover and shaker who pulled a lucky straw in the apocalypse.
  • In Fallout 76, Shannon Rivers was a voice actress known for her work in radio serials, in particular voicing the Mistress of Mystery on The Silver Shroud (a parody of The Shadow), while her husband Frederick Rivers was a renowned architect and inventor. In anticipation of the TV adaptation of The Silver Shroud (before Executive Meddling screwed Shannon out of reprising her role), Shannon and Frederick built a full-scale, fully-functional replica of the Mistress' lair beneath their estate in West Virginia... which came in handy after World War III, which caused Shannon to don the mantle of the Mistress for real, soon taking in a number of orphaned girls to form the Order of Mysteries.
  • Story Breadcrumbs in The Forest reveal that the player character is a famous television survivalist in the manner of Bear Grylls, which comes in handy when his plane crashes in the remote, cannibal-infested wilderness.
  • Augustus Cole from Gears of War was a famous Thrashballnote  player before Emergence Day. Dom and Marcus gush about him a bit when they first meet.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn:
    • Ted Faro counts as this, in a manner similar to the aforementioned Robert House from Fallout: New Vegas. Before the apocalypse, he was known as a trillionaire tech CEO and philanthropist with a public image akin to Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, seen by many as "the man who saved the world" after his company Faro Automated Solutions designed much of the technology that helped humanity fight back against Global Warming in the 2040s (even if much of the credit should have really gone to his top scientist Elisabet Sobeck). Unfortunately, he was later the man who destroyed the world thanks to his short-sighted greed causing a Robot War, which was appropriately enough called the "Faro Plague". What's more, his celebrity-sized ego and desire to be loved by the masses meant that he refused to admit responsibility for it, to himself more than anyone, and that fact caused him to make a series of consequential and disastrous decisions that led directly to the Crapsack World of the game's present. When Aloy learns of his deeds years later, she regards him as one of history's greatest monsters.
    • In Forbidden West, Aloy explores Faro's luxurious doomsday bunker, learning that he brought with him a harem of women. One of them, Brianna, had been a pop star before the apocalypse. Faro had her killed when she learned about all the awful things he did.
    • The real villains of Forbidden West turn out to be Far Zenith, a colony expedition launched by Earth's elite to the Sirius system to escape the Faro Plague, their members including many societal luminaries, captains of industry, scientists, and celebrities.
      • Verbena Sutter was a billionaire heiress whose father made his fortune in luxury tourism (with clear allusions to Paris Hilton, heiress to the Hilton hotel empire) and who, before the apocalypse, was known as a "life designer" who used her fame to influence others. She was infamous in the tabloids for her many failed engagements, with one news article you can find revealing that she was on her seventeenth. When Aloy encounters her, she arrogantly dismisses the "primitive" tribes on Earth and acts like a Rich Bitch armed with sci-fi weaponry, only to get killed when Sylens' weapon knocks out her shields and leaves her vulnerable to attack by a Tenakth warrior. Tilda van der Meer (who made her fortune honestly as a computer engineer and data broker) calls Verbena "a dull star amidst a sea of brighter constellations," and when Aloy compares her career in The Beforetimes to that of a cult leader, Tilda agrees.
      • Anika Moorjani was a renowned dancer who was known on Earth as the founder of the holonet's most successful dance channel. Tilda describes her as one of the few decent people in Far Zenith.
  • Left 4 Dead 2:
    • The Midnight Riders are a badass Southern Rock band who, in the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse, refused to cancel their tour until they had to be evacuated from an overrun concert.
    "You might've heard about a lot of bands cancelling their tours this week because of all the airports shutting down and the government telling people to stay indoors. To that the Riders say: We'll stop touring when we stop breathing. What America needs most right now in its time of trial is MUSIC, and that is one thing the Riders are proud to provide."
    • Jimmy Gibbs Jr., former stock car champ, writer, and hero to the South, particularly Ellis and Coach. He doesn't do much surviving — you (sometimes) face his zombified corpse at the end of Dead Center — but the survivors' reaction to him goes along the lines of this trope.
  • Zombie-infested Vehicular Combat game Blood Drive has Punk Rock frontman Bedlam and wrestler Superstar, who've both found new careers in zombie-splattering TV entertainment.
  • Two Zombies maps from Call of Duty: Black Ops have this as their setup.
  • When the Zin invade in Saints Row IV, they capture the Saints and imprison them instead of leaving them on Earth when they blow it up. The Saints then escape imprisonment and fight back. Not only do the Saints themselves (especially the Boss) count, as their leader was the President of the United States and he/she had many "homies" as Cabinet members, but their Vice President is Keith David. And at the end of the game, we find out one of Zinyak's first abductees (and therefore, one of the people spared from Earth's destruction) was none other than Jane Austen.
  • This War of Mine has two of the randomly generated survivors trying to survive the titular war: Pavle, a star football player and Bruno: a celebrity chef who had had his own cooking television show.
  • In The Walking Dead, Javier García was a professional baseball player before he was banned from the league for betting on himself shortly before the apocalypse.

  • In the catgirl arc of Something*Positive, Wil Wheaton is present, and a veteran of this kind of crisis.
  • In FreakAngels, Alice starts teaching the eponymous mutants a game she played with other survivors: speculating where various celebrities are now, and what they think of the disaster.

    Web Original 
  • Bite Me!:
    • In the second season, news reporter Rod Putman makes reference to a zombified Kirstie Alley going "off her diet... way off."
    • The main group also runs into one Monte St. Clair, a Roger Corman-esque horror movie producer who turns out to be responsible for the Zombie Apocalypse. In order to give his new zombie movie Evilution a killer gimmick to draw in crowds, he hired someone to develop The Virus so that he could put real zombies into the movie.
  • The Zombies, Run! podcast has used this trope multiple times in Season 2:
    • Side-mission 4 has Margaret Atwood guest-starring during the first trans-Atlantic transmission since the outbreak.
    • Side-mission 7 has Runner 5 escorting a journalist who writes primarily about celebrities-turned-zombies. A sort of zombie paparazzi, if you will.
    • In Side-mission 8, Runner 5 comes across a pop music star whose concert was interrupted by the outbreak and can't shake her rabid teen zombie fans.
  • Teen Lit Wasteland:
    • Many K-pop stars were included in South Korea's evacuation to undersea redoubts in the Pacific. "Operation Rapture" was built for the survival of not just the South Korean government and military, but Korea as a nation, and they counted K-pop as part of Korea's cultural heritage. Unfortunately, they brought some of the darker sides of K-pop with them, and post-apocalyptic Korea resembles the world of Uglies, a nation of vain, vapid people obsessed with meeting a narrow definition of "perfection" who have turned into a sci-fi version of The Fair Folk.
    • Scott Dunkelman was a billionaire tech guru based on Elon Musk who survived World War III in his fortified retreat, and later rebuilt California in his image of "enlightened science".

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, supermodel Petra Nemcova spent eight hours stuck in a tree.
    • Future President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and his son were also caught in the tsunami. They survived by climbing onto a concrete utility pole.
  • The only two survivors of a 2008 Learjet crash in South Carolina were blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity DJ Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein.
  • Fats Domino was rescued by the Coast Guard after being stranded in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.
  • Eagles of Death Metal were performing at Le Bataclan in Paris on November 13, 2015. That night, an ISIS cell launched several attacks on the city, the Bataclan being one of the focal points of their attack. Jesse Hughes and the accompanying musicians managed to make it out of the club safely (Josh Homme rarely tours with the band, and that night was no exception).
  • Jason Aldean was giving the closing performance at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017 when an armed gunman began shooting into the audience from a nearby hotel. He managed to make it offstage safely.
  • Actor/singer/TV host John Davidson was the headliner at the Beverly Hills, a large supper club and banquet facility in the Northern Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati on May 28, 1977 when a fire broke out while his opening act was onstage. He managed to escape his dressing room mere seconds before the fire escalated, and helped with the evacuation of the building once he was outside, but 165 people ultimately died in the fire.
  • In 1976, former Australian prime minister and opposition leader Gough Whitlam was on a diplomatic visit to China when the Tangshan earthquake broke out ninety miles from his hotel. While Whitlam was unharmed, his wife Margaret was injured. The incident is best known for having been immortalized in a political cartoon by Peter Nicholson showing the Whitlams huddled in bed, with Margaret asking "did the Earth move for you too, dear?" While many Australians thought it in poor taste, Gough thought it was hilarious and bought the original print to have framed over his bed.

Alternative Title(s): Celebrity Zombie