Follow TV Tropes


Famous for Being Famous

Go To
You said it, Kim.note 

"I now wonder if ["personality"] isn't the only word for that vast swarm of people who are famous for being famous—and possibly nothing else. What do the Gabor sisters do?"
William Zinsser, On Writing Well

When someone is a celebrity simply because that person is well-known — and little else. Perhaps they did gain genuine notability with past pursuits — for example, a celebrity was a famous singer or actor in decades past — but that has fallen by the wayside or been buried with all the media attention. The only thing that matters is they are well-known and they are invited to talk shows and gala events. When they are interviewed in celebrity magazines, they are asked about their lifestyle, love life and social activities.

The celebrity may be Shrouded in Myth or a Glory Hound. Compare Idle Rich, including the Millionaire Playboy and Socialite — though in those cases, be on the lookout for subversions (perhaps it's merely a Secret Identity). Contrast with Fame Through Infamy.

This trope is how the term is applied in fiction. Real life examples are completely redundant and may be easily lead to Flame Bait.



  • The Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world, and by extension its female subject is one of the most universally-recognized faces. Art historians generally agree that Mona Lisa is not the best painting, nor the most important. However its fame has become self-sustaining. The mythical status of its painter Leonardo da Vinci also adds to its mystique. Ironically, a specific event (which is little-remembered today) actually did put Mona Lisa on the map — its theft from the Louvre in 1911. Prior to this, it was rather obscure and little-known among the general public.

Films — Live-Action

  • In Bedtime Stories (2008), Teresa Palmer plays Violet Nottingham, a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Paris Hilton (a young, blonde 20-something hotel heiress celebutante notorious for partying and winding up in the tabloids). As such, she fits this trope quite well.
  • The rather unremarkable protagonist of Dream Scenario finds that he suddenly has a walk-on part in millions of people‚Äôs dreams. It's a satire on modern culture's ability to make people famous for nothing in particular.
  • Funhouse (2020): Many of the contestants are people who have become famous for being tabloid fodder. Kasper in particular is singled out because he became a reality TV star by happening to marry a female pop star.


  • The page quote comes from the book On Writing Well by William Zinsser, where he talks about the word "personality" (as in "TV personality").
  • In Ben Elton's satirical dystopian novel Blind Faith, the government passes a law that "everyone is famous".
  • When Dave Barry visited the Mobro 4000 (or as he calls it, "The Islip Garbage Barge"):
    The Islip Garbage Barge is very famous. Nobody really remembers why it's famous; it just is, like Dick Cavett. It has traveled to South America. It has been on many television shows, including — I am not making this up — Phil Donahue. When we were in New York, the barge — I am still not making this up — was on trial. It has since been convicted and sentenced to be burned. But I am not worried. It will get out on appeal. It is the Claus Von Bulow of garbage barges.
  • Discworld: Moving Pictures is a novel in which the phenomenon of Hollywood movies emerges temporarily in a fantasy universe for various reasons:
    • It's suggested that lead character Ginger's desire for fame is something new in the universe; she doesn't particularly want to be recognised as a great actress, or even a great beauty, she just wants to be recognised.
    • When Lord Vetinari observes this phenomenon, he believes that people being famous for being famous is a dangerous thing and "he would probably have to have someone killed someday, though it would be with reluctance. On his part, that is. Their reluctance goes without saying." This is partly because a movie audience that recognizes the movie stars has no idea who he is despite the fact that he rules the city and the years he's put in making it work. He's too self-controlled to be jealous, but he is fascinated...

Live-Action TV

  • Every mention of Kim Kardashian on The Soup is accompanied by the comment that she's famous for "having a big ass and a sex tape."
  • How I Met Your Mother. One episode has Marshall have an (imagined) conversation with Kim Kardashian, whom he refers to as "super hot lady who my wife keeps telling me why you're famous but I keep forgetting."
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. London Tipton is an obvious Expy of Paris Hilton, and seems to be fairly well known In-Universe despite not doing much except being a hotel heiress.
  • On NCIS, Ducky laments this trope's existence as opposed to those who are famous for more well-deserved reasons.
    Ducky: We've gone from Socrates to Snooki.
  • On Ted Lasso, Keeley Jones starts out as football player Jamie Tartt's girlfriend. Her initial career followed the stereotypical WAG path of lowbrow modelling gigs and taking care of her boyfriend's PR. Throughout the series everybody keeps running into old gigs she was hired to do that she has no memory of.
    Keeley: I'm sorta famous for being almost famous.


  • The song "Famous" by Scouting For Girls title drops itself and the album it is on, Everybody Wants to be on TV, with one part being "Forget Audrey Hepburn, forget Bette Davis, I wanna be known just for being famous, I can't act, I can't dance, I can't sing, can't you see, but I'm young and I'm pretty and that's all that you need (everybody wants to be on TV)."
  • Lily Allen's song The Fear has the line "I'll take all my clothes off, it will be shameless, 'cause everyone knows that is how you get famous".


Video Games

  • Fallout 2 has some "celebrities" who are celebrities because the Hubologists say so. There're even some humorous response options like "Ooh! Celebrities!" Technically, they are actors but they're actors in porn.
  • The Sims 3 expansion "Late Night" introduces a Celebrity system which rates celebrities from one to five stars. Lower-ranked celebrities gain stars by impressing higher-ranked celebrities, which they can do by bragging about their careers, skills, wealth, or name-dropping other celebrities. Although it is possible to gain celebrity solely by being great at a skill or career, it is much quicker and easier to climb the fame ladder by schmoozing and name-dropping, resulting in this trope being widespread.
  • Technobabylon has Imogen Natalia Revilla-Quintanilla de Florez, a women who's famous mostly for just being rich and making various public appearances. She's also a member of Jeong's conspiratorial circle to remove the Central AI from it's administrative position, allowing it to unlock it's true potential over the entire internet rather than being stuck overseeing a single city.


  • Referenced in one of Merlin's Land of Whant comics in Arthur, King of Time and Space:
    Aihok: Why do we care about Paris Hilton?
    Effex: Because Anna Nicole Smith is dead.
    Aihok: Why did we...
    Effex: I don't know.

Web Videos

Western Animation

  • Glenn Martin, DDS: Courtney cites this trope word for word in one episode regarding Paris Hilton.
  • South Park:
    • Discussed on one episode; when Wendy asks what Paris Hilton actually does, the other girls only answer that she's famous.
    • In "It's a Jersey Thing" regarding Snooki.
      Randy: That thing is famous?! Why?!
      Man: I DON'T KNOW!