What's one way to quickly tell your audience that your character has an interesting and storied backstory? Have them say they have ties to a specific celebrity (real or fictional). Maybe they were childhood neighbors, they dated in college, or they run in the same elite social circles. No matter the connection, other characters will be impressed at this anecdote.
Sometimes this connection is used to justify a Celebrity Star appearance or cameo by a famous person in the work. Other times, characters will namedrop a celebrity without them showing up, which may raise further questions — how did Alice go paragliding with Brad Pitt?
Contrast Celebrity Lie, where someone falsely claims that they have history with a celebrity.
- One Filler episode of Detective Conan depicted a young Aya Ueto making a promise with a young Shinichi to become professionals at their respective hobbies.note
- Sensational Wonder Woman: The orderlies taking care of the elderly woman Katie in Ultimate Fangirl think she's just an aged Wonder Woman fangirl, but she turns out to have been friends with Wonder Woman since WWII.
- The Other Guys. At the end, Gamble says he lost his virginity to Heather Locklear.
- Something's Gotta Give. Erica is impressed to learn that Harry was once engaged to Diane Sawyer a long time ago; he describes her as being, "This adorable little lanky girl from Kentucky with the greatest pair of legs. Never understood how she got a job where she never shows them."
- The Spy Who Dumped Me: Edward Snowden and main character Morgan went to the same summer camp a few years ago and Snowden had a crush on Morgan, which Morgan uses to get Snowden's help decrypting the drive they are trying to protect.
- There's Something About Mary: Mary once had a boyfriend named "Brett". The ending reveals him to be famous football quarterback Brett Favre.
- In You've Got Mail, Birdie apparently had a brief fling with Generalissimo Franco.
- Forrest Gump met Elvis Presley before "The King" became famous and directly inspired his hip swaying dance moves. He also met three American presidents — John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon (and inadvertently blew the whistle on the whole "Watergate" thing).
- Agent Seeley Booth (and by extension, Parker and Booth and Brennan's children) on Bones is a relative of Abraham Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. Presumably, he's descended from one of John Wilkes's siblings (like Junius Brutus, Jr., Edwin, or Asia), since J.W.B. himself had no direct descendants.
Cam: (while they're investigating an assasination attempt and someone mentions John Wilkes Booth) Do not say that in front of Booth. He is related to Booth and he will shoot you.
- In the same show Angela turns out to be Billy Gibbons' daughter and he has dropped by to see her several times.
- Castle: As a best-selling crime novelist, Richard Castle is friends with several real-life members of the profession. Several episodes feature poker games held at his apartment featuring James Patterson, Stephen J. Cannell, and Michael Connelly. He's also apparently on a first-name basis with baseball great Joe Torre, and another episode sees him call Wes Craven for advice when he thinks he's the victim of a curse.
- Crash Landing on You: Korean drama actress Choi Ji-woo is a friend of Se-ri's, and cameos in Episode 13 as a favor for Joo-mok.
- Dharma & Greg:
- Dharma has dated a member of ZZ Top (and knows one of their beards is fake), has "done it with an (unnamed) senator", and has an ongoing platonic relationship with Bob Dylan, who has sent such musicians as Lyle Lovett and k.d. lang to her for life counseling.
- Abby is convinced that she was the "Witchy Woman" in the song written by Don Henley for The Eagles.
- Doctor Who: At this stage, it's probably safe to assume the Doctor's made contact with every famous person on Earth at least once, whether shown in-narrative or mentioned at some point as having happened on an unseen trip, ranging from helping Shakespeare write his sonnets to giving Elvis Presley a mobile.
- Girls5eva: As a Girl Group in the late '90s and early '00s, the girls mingled with several celebrities. Dawn once hooked up with Derek Jeter.
- The Good Place: Exaggerated to the point of parody with Tahani, for whom namedropping her famous friends and acquaintances is a recurring Running Gag. For example, she once picked up mortar shells in Vietnam with her godmother Princess Diana, was deeply upset by her good friends Taylor Swift and Kanye West's feud over her best friend Beyoncé, is privy to beef between Quvenzhané Wallis and Stephen Hawking, her diary contains forewords by Kylie Minogue and Malala Yousafzai, and she was apparently Baz Luhrmann's muse for a while. While none of these celebrities have made appearances on the show, Michael's lie detector implies that all this is true. Taken to an illogical extreme when she mentions that her godfather is Big Ben. Yes, the clock.
Tahani: (clearing out her phone contacts) Goodbye, Bono... Goodbye, the Edge... Goodbye, the Edge's real phone number that even Bono doesn't know about...
- Hospital Playlist: Ik-Joon's sister asks him if he knows a celebrity because one asked her about him. He confirms he once dated actress Go Ara years ago, but it didn't work out between them. The very next day, Go Ara shows up at the hospital where he works because her father is receiving treatment there, and they reminisce over lunch.
- Home Improvement had this a few times, most notably with Bob Villa (who Tim had a rivalry with that resulted in Bob making multiple appearances on the show) and the Beach Boys (who were Wilson's cousins).
- I Dream of Jeannie. Jeannie was the one who formed The '60s singing group Boyce and Hart, after bringing together four young strangers and bestowing musical talent on them so Amanda Bellows could have a group perform at her charity bazaar.
- Although I Love Lucy had a number of Celebrity Star appearances - particularly during the Hollywood season arc - the only one who really truly had any in-universe connections with the cast was country star Tennessee Ernie Ford, who was a friend of the Ricardo family, and even stayed with them for quite sometime. Very much like a southerner, Ernie considered Lucy and Ricky to be his cousins.
- Jane the Virgin: Rogelio will frequently namedrop his famous friends, acquaintances, and enemies, some of whom actually appear on the show. Justified due to being one of the world's biggest telenovela stars in-universe. If Rafael's hotel isn't the reason for a Celebrity Star guest appearance, then Rogelio's showbiz career is.
Rogelio: Celebrity friendships need to be very carefully calibrated. Someone like Paulina [Rubio] you ask a favor every seven years. Someone like Gloria [Estefan], every 20 years. Now, Oprah... you just don't ask favors. Your best bet is to ask Gayle [King].
- Just Shoot Me!
- On The Larry Sanders Show, one episode reveals that Paula used to date Brett Butler. This creates an awkward situation when Butler is booked on the Show Within a Show.
- M*A*S*H. Charles had once dated Audrey Hepburn. After spending a great deal of time trying to top each other's tall tales, Hawkeye and B.J. try to call Charles out on his story, until he produces a photograph of him and Audrey having dinner together, much to their chagrin.
- Parodied to an extreme in Monty Python's Flying Circus where a man gets a note from the BBC wanting him in a sketch, and his wife namedrops various neighbors who have gone on to greatness.
Man: It's from the BBC. They want to know if I want to be in a sketch on telly.... I'm a plumber. I can't act.Wife: Oh, you never know till you try. Look at Mrs Brando's son next door. He was mending the fridge when they came and asked him to be The Wild One...I'll look after the cat. Goodness me, Mrs Newman's eldest never worried about the cat when he went off to do The Sweet Bird of Youth.
- The Odd Couple (1970) eventually became grounds for weekly Celebrity Star appearances (mainly as attempts to keep ratings up), and many of them shared pasts with both Felix and/or Oscar, such as...
- New York City Ballet dancer Edward Vilella was a friend of Felix's, and Felix tried desperately to get him to help him persuade Oscar into developing an appreciation for ballet.
- Felix was army buddies with actor and TV personality Richard Dawson, and apparently even discovered him; Felix harbored a grudge toward Dawson for having a successful show business career, as opposed to his career as a photographer.
- Child star Rodney Allen Rippy turned out to be the owner of the apartment building that Felix and Oscar live in; when Felix asks how a small child comes to own such a big apartment building, he simply responds, "Tax shelter."
- Opera singer Marilyn Horne was Oscar's coworker whom Felix felt had potential as - what else - an opera singer, though she was initially sigh and insecure about her talent.
- On Parks and Recreation, R&B singer Ginuwine is Donna's cousin. He shows up in the season 6 finale, and she pushes him to perform at the Unity Concert by threatening to tell embarrassing childhood stories.
- Sanford and Son. Celebrity Star appearances became very heavy during the show's final season, however, as far as pasts with celebrities are concerned, it was revealed that B.B. King had been going steady with Esther, of all people. As it turns out, Esther eventually left King for her now-husband Woodrow, and it was the loss of Esther that turned King to singing the blues. In fact, upon meeting Woodrow, King presents him with a royalty check in gratitude for essentially launching his career.
- Fred's buddy Hutch's niece is singer/actress Della Reese.
Kramer: What's he like?Mickey: He's a good kid.
- Each of the characters share some sort of connection with baseball great Keith Hernandez: he and Elaine dated for a brief period of time, Jerry had something of a man crush on him, while Kramer and Newman got spat on by him after they heckled him for losing a big game.
- An indirect example has a friend of Elaine being friends with actress Marisa Tomei, and after learning that he's her type, George develops an obsession with her. Elaine eventually caves in to George's pleading and fixes the two of them for a meeting, but when Marisa learns George is engaged, she punches him and leaves. Much later, after Susan's death, the first thing George does is call Marisa up and try to ask her out, only to have her hang up on him.
- Kramer apparently has a history with animal expert Jim Fowler, claiming, "I practically raised his kids." Fowler appears on The Merv Griffin Show set that Kramer set up in his apartment, and Fowler even asks, "Where are the cameras?"
- Mickey Abbott was once Macaulay Culkin's stand-in.
- Kramer has an obsession with Bette Midler, and soon becomes her personal bodyguard after George accidentally injures her, which leads to a big misunderstanding that the public believes was intentional so her understudy in a Broadway music (who was Jerry's Girl of the Week) could steal the spotlight away from her.
- Kramer also apparently once had his picture taken with former president Gerald Ford, but some untold Noodle Incident prompted him to have Ford airbrushed out of the photo.
- Monk: Adrian Monk once helped NBC's Bob Costas out with a matter involving a demented cat salesman and thus, in "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs", Costas repays the favor with press box tickets. His wife Trudy was a fan of Willie Nelson, and a season 1 episode is about Monk clearing Nelson himself of a murder accusation.
- Reba McEntire showed up on One Life to Live in the early 90s to visit her old high school classmate Luna Moody note
- On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will knew the members of Boyz II Men back in Philadelphia, and claims he can get them to sing at baby Nicky's baptism. It turns out that the reason he knows them is because he stole Nathan Morris' girlfriend back in high school, and so they refuse to perform. They end up singing at the baptism after all, however.
- On Schitt's Creek, both Moira and Alexis often namedrop celebrities they were acquainted with back when the family was still super-rich, with Alexis seemingly having dated every man in Hollywood.
- Treme frequently has real-life musicians on in guest appearances, and they often seem to be acquainted with the musician characters on the show.
- Peculiar barber Gunther from Ray Billingsley's syndicated strip Curtis often claims to have rubbed elbows with various celebrities, and has photos to prove his claims. However, someone's thumb always intrudes on the camera lens, obscuring the "celebrity" next to Gunther.
- Every Driver of a Black Cab in fiction has at least one mildly amusing anecdote about how they had this or that minor celebrity "in the back of me cab once". So do most real-life cabbies who've been in the job for a few years, for that matter.
- Strangelove in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was a student of Alan Turing.
- IDGet. IDGet claims to have gotten to know President Barack Obama, and even has a photo to prove it; because of this, he decides this gives him special privilege to suggest new laws to be signed. It turns out it wasn't really Obama, but Fred Armisen impersonating him; IDGet remarks how convincing he was.
- Arthur. Celebrity Star appearances have been a Once a Season occurrence since the series' beginning, and while most of them are simply tossed in for Very Special Episodes, some of them do share pasts with the show's characters.
- Fred (Mister) Rogers is a longtime friend of the Read family - he and Jane grew up in the same neighborhood - and pays them a visit. Both Arthur and D.W. are initially excited about the visit, though Arthur soon becomes a recluse at the thought of his friends and classmates teasing him, since Mister Rogers "is for babies."
- Francine learns that jazz musician Joshua Redman is her distant uncle, and asks him to perform for a children's show at the library.
- Mrs. MacGrady is longtime friends with blues singer KoKo Taylor, and frequently hosts jam sessions at her house with her. Later on, fellow blues singer Taj Mahal attends a jam session, implying Mrs. MacGrady also knows him as well.
- The episode "Elwood City Turns 100" invokes this in an interesting way, as Muffy adds all of the previous Celebrity Stars (up till that point) to attend show musical's big performance, including Art Garfunkel (who sang and narrated "The Ballad of Buster Baxter"), Michele Kwan (who taught Francine a thing or two about sportsmanship), and YoYo Ma (whom D.W. asked to perform at the same children's show at the library that Francine wanted Joshua Redman to perform at).
- Family Guy:
- We learn in "Road to Europe" that years ago Lois had a one night stand with Chaim Witz; she discovers that Chaim changed his name to Gene Simmons and is part of KISS. When being interviewed on TV she gives the Spoof Aesop that "you never know who's gonna grow up to be famous, so just make yourself available." Also, when Peter proudly announces "My wife did KISS!", Lois quietly adds "...and J. Geils".
- One Cutaway Gag had the Griffins being visited by cousin Kathy Griffin.
- Johnny Bravo:
Suzy: You two know each other?Johnny: (Being hugged by Donny) Unfortunately.
- 70s icon Farrah Fawcett turned out to be Little Suzy's cousin, and Johnny is desperate to meet her after he had declined an invitation to Suzy's birthday party.
- This eventually comes into play after singer Donny Osmand's initial guest appearance as Johnny's nanny. Upon appearing in the Christmas Special, Donny is thrilled to see Johnny again, much to Johnny's chargrin.
- King of the Hill: One episode has Hank's cousin Dusty Hill (of ZZ Top fame) show up as part of a reality show he's making. Hank is less than pleased, because Dusty and his bandmates have been pranking him for years, which only gets worse because the show's Jerkass producer wants to milk it for ratings. However, after one of the producer's stunts gets Dusty trapped in a burning car and Hank saves his life, Dusty cancels the show and threatens the producer to back off ("You've seen what we do to Hank, and we like him!").
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Applejack was fillyhood friends with her universe's version of Lady Gaga. They'd lost touch and AJ doesn't follow pop music, so she's as surprised as everypony else.
- The Simpsons:
- South Park
- In "Weight Gain 4000", Garrison lost a high school talent show to Kathy Lee Gifford. He plans to kill her when she comes to town.
- When the boys organize a benefit concert for Chef in "Chef Aid", they discover that he has helped a lot of rock stars in his career. For example, he inspired Meat Loaf's stage name and introduced Elton John to lyricist Berny Taupin.