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Lawyer-Friendly Cameo

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Some people are very lost.

Leela: Who are you people? Haven't I seen you in some copyrighted movie?
Glurmo: [singing] We resemble-but-are-legally-distinct-from the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild...

Sometimes fiction leans towards a rather lax interpretation of trademark issues. You may find characters who are not merely an imitation of characters from a popular show, film or comic, but literally are those characters. Somehow.

You can blur their face a bit or simply not name them. Still, this trope is known enough that you can expect any work that featured these frequently will get modified a bit if the adaptation's sponsors are worried about copyright infringement.

On the other hand, if said cameo characters are famous enough, you're liable to get away with a more overt reference.

Often used as part of a Take That!, but it can also be a friendly Shout-Out. If a real person is being imitated, that's No Celebrities Were Harmed. Compare Writing Around Trademarks, Captain Ersatz, and Expy Coexistence, where Expies and the characters that they are based on live in the same world/canon. See also Bland-Name Product, which is the same thing for real-world products rather than fictional characters.


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  • 21st Century Insurance runs comparison ads featuring MythBusters-like tests run by a man who has Adam's glasses and Jamie's mustache.
  • At one time Vodafone did a series of TV ads in the UK which had Captains Ersatz of Mulder and Scully from The X-Files (the Mulder character a dual parody of Dale Cooper even to the point of being played by Kyle MacLachlan) investigating rumoured paranormal events that turned out to be misunderstandings of people discussing new features on Vodafone handsets. One of them was themed around time travel. As "Mulder and Scully" departed down the street, Jon Pertwee stood in the road behind them, checking his watch before walking into a garage with "Doctor On Call" painted across the doors and a strange glow emerging from it.
  • Johnny Turbo was directly attacking Sega in all but name, and even the name was ridiculously close — "Feka".
  • A commercial for Ty the Tasmanian Tiger shows that Ty beat up and hospitalized Spyro, Crash and Sonic. Since the characters are in full-body casts, and the characters are only referred to on their charts by their Species Surname, they got away with it.
  • Owing to Heneral Luna's popularity, John Arcilla went on to reprise his role in various commercials. Though in some instances his Luna expy would be similar but sufficiently different from his character from the original film, referred to simply in a KFC ad as "Heneral" or a variation thereof.
  • The social media part of Tyskie beer's "Przejdźmy na ty" ("Let's know each other's names") has two, both based on the same idea of two people toasting with glasses or bottles of beer, only their forearms visible, with the Tyskie logo on them being replaced with names (similarly to the special editions of the labels):
  • A magazine ad for Clayfighter featured Bad Mister Frosty crushing Blanka and Chun-Li beneath his feet. Presumably, they got away with this because both characters are mostly obscured.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ah My Buddha had the Show Within a Show Kamen Ranger, and continued to reference it throughout the show's run. The featured Kamen Ranger, Hayabusa 20, could've easily passed for Faiz.
  • Anime-Gataris may lay claim to being the first Reference Overdosed show to be comprised entirely out of lawyer-friendly variants. It has so many examples, it deserved its own separate page.
  • In one chapter of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Yugi Mutou from Yu-Gi-Oh! pops out of Bo-bobo's afro and summons Sky Dragon Osiris (AKA Slifer the Sky Dragon) to help battle Halekulani. (This is even more lawyer-friendly, as the scene in which this happened was drawn by the original creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!.) This later becomes a combo attack for the two characters in Jump Superstars.
  • In Bowling King, a nefarious physician bears an eerie resemblance to Black Jack... and in a Lampshade Hanging, claims to have strived to be like Black Jack his entire life.
  • Case Closed has the shows "Kiss Note", "Urban Hunter", and "Kamen Yaiba".
  • Classicaloid: In the episode when Beethoven was challenged to dodgeball by a group of children, one of said children heavily resembled Frisk from Undertale.
  • Colonel Sanders shows up a lot as a figure of menace, thanks to the legend of the Curse of the Colonel. A few examples:
    • At one point in Project A-Ko, the main characters watch a horror movie - itself a parody of Rin Taro's scifi/horror anime Harmagedon - wherein a victim, panicking, yells "The Colonel! The Colonel!" His pursuer is... Colonel Sanders.
    • One of the villains in the first series of Slayers dresses up as Colonel Sanders, complete with what appears to be a roast (not fried) chicken, in a particular episode.
    • Higurashi: When They Cry starts saccharine-cute but quickly becomes the story of a town under a terrifying curse. The first sign that we're about to experience Mood Whiplash? A statue of the Colonel.
    • Albireo in the later chapters of Negima! Magister Negi Magi insists on being called "Ku:nel Sanders" (originally just to cover up his identity, later because he liked it). At one point during his insistence, an image of Colonel Sanders appears behind him (eyes blacked out, of course, as though to protect his "anonymity"). (For those interested, "Ku:nel" turns out to be the title of a Japanese leisure magazine, an involved Japanese pun about the purpose of living as well as a play on "Colonel".)
    • In Doraemon: Nobita and the Spiral City about Nobita and friends making a toy land with animated dolls, toys, and statues, one of them is a Colonel Sanders statue.
    • Directly referenced in a chapter of Eyeshield 21, where Hiruma uses a statue he "found in a ditch" as a stand in for Homer, the quarterback for the Nasa Aliens. Said statue has its face covered by a poorly-drawn copy of Homer's face, but it's obviously supposed to be a Colonel Sanders statue.
    • The Colonel also appeared in Super Milk Chan as a selfish, greedy, sexist man who hires assassins to kill a pair of pigs who escaped from one of his meat-packaging plants.
    • In Ranma ˝, there is a plotline that involves a man's soul wandering around even though he's not dead yet. In the manga, this was called "the Colonel Sanders Effect".
    • The Colonel also appears briefly in Excel♡Saga at least once, where heavy rains flood most of Fukuoka, floating by as debris. Excel even comments on it in the English version.
    • A lot of hentai features rape by Colonel. So yeah....
  • Cromartie High School's Freddie was so obviously Freddie Mercury that the character couldn't be used in another adaptation for fear of lawyers. This was lampshaded with obscure references nearly every time Freddie appeared, and lampshaded most overtly with the brief appearance of another character, Mr. Mercury, who was noted by the other characters as looking exactly like Freddie (except for his clothes- although both Freddie's and Mr. Mercury were wearing exact copies of outfits worn by Freddie Mercury on stage) and who made a very loud emphasis on a number of dissimilarities between himself and Freddie (and, as a result, contrasting Freddie Mercury as well) It should also be noted that a number of other Queen references, such as many of the chapter titles, and literally hundreds of inside jokes and subtle references were present, making the manga a constant source of knowing grins from Queen fans everywhere.
  • Shawn Conecone from D-Frag!, who looks like Indiana Jones' father and is Kazama's Inexplicably Awesome English teacher.
  • One chapter of Descendants of Darkness had the main characters in a book world. In the background of the wedding scene you can see the figures of Cloud, Aerith, Sephiroth and Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII.
  • Dirty Pair's Kei and Yuri show up in a few different Patlabor crowd scenes. They also appear in a few different Urusei Yatsura episodes.
  • Doctor Slump featured "Suppaman", essentially a short, pudgy version of Superman. He popped up during the Dr. Slump Crossover in the original Dragon Ball series.
  • Volume 7 of Faeries' Landing has a brief one panel cameo of Luffy D. Monkey from One Piece.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu:
    • An episode has a gangster referring to "Ambassador Mama", a reference to Ambassador Magma from Astro Boy, with an accompanying pixelated image of his spaceship.
    • Also a couple of Death Note characters happened to be at the same place at the same time when Sousuke was getting his haircut.
  • Gintama does this frequently, typically by having its characters cosplay as characters from other Shounen Jump manga.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka:
    • At one point, Onizuka challenges an entire gang to arm wrestling and winds up beating look-alikes of Jason Voorhees (from Friday the 13th), Heihachi Mishima (from Tekken), and Giant Robo.
    • Onizuka himself actually dresses as Doraemon and explicitly calls himself as such when forced to fight a gang with his hands stuck in bowling balls.
    • At one point he shatters the bowling balls and draws a bunch of Cross-Popping Veins on himself, screaming about a woman named Yuria. Now, he calls himself Kenshiro and even draws Ken's seven scars. To top it all off, in the anime, he beats the gang with Ken's signature Spam Attack, the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken.
    • He also dressed up as Devilman (apropos of nothing, naturally) once, and made Tomoko wear a Cutey Honey outfit.
    • The first chapter of Shonan 14 Days includes Onizuka painting Haruhi Suzumiya on the hood of Uchiyamada's car and threatening to write his name into a Death Note.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Episode 11 has a pixelated version of a Gundam launch and refers to it as the "Gun3".
    • Also, in episode 1, Haruhi holds up magazines to Kyon and Mikuru, featuring other anime series, one of which is SHUFFLE!, with Kaede and Asa on the cover. Note that Yuko Goto voices both Mikuru and Kaede.
  • Kamui Gakupo, who is owned by Internet Co. and not Crypton and thus can't legally be used as a character, makes two speaking appearances in Hatsune Mix. He isn't named and doesn't wear his official costume, but anyone can tell he's Gakupo from his hair.
  • The anime version of Hayate the Combat Butler is full of lawyer-friendly mentions, although the ones in dialogue are always bleeped out. Being a fangirl, Nagi rattles them off quickly enough that it's common to have half of her monologue melodically beeped out.
    • This happens in the manga as well, although it's so inconsistent (as with the Negima example above), anyone who can put two-and-two together can figure it out.
      • One of the most notable lampshades being when Hayate tries to correct Nagi when she says Mushiking without censorship, to which she explains that they got permission this time.
    • Honestly, the anime hangs a lampshade on the trope and dances in circles around it, pointing at it as a Running Gag in its own right. And episode where Nagi doesn't make a reference is rarer than one where she does.
  • In Hellsing, Alucard's and Seras's main weapons are named Jackal and Harkonnen respectively. Though not explained in the anime, their namesakes show up in the manga as the characters' "spirit guides" during dream sequences: the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune in the case of Seras, and Bruce Willis (who starred in the movie Jackal) for Alucard. (The Baron does appear briefly in the anime's omake-style "next episode" teasers.)
  • The Helpful Fox Senko-san features fluffy fox-girl versions of popular videogames like Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. The game boxes also resemble that of the Nintendo Switch, but the console and controllers more closely resemble Sony's Playstation 4.
  • In the final episode of Imagin Anime, an animated spin-off from Kamen Rider Den-O, the Kyoshouryuku Labs of Mazinger Z is name-dropped, Ultraman Taro shows up, Momotaros attempts to replace Toei Animation's mascot, Pero, then throws a fit at the HeartCatch Pretty Cure! poster. Urataros, at the very end, comments they probably never got permission for all of this.
  • In Irresponsible Captain Tylor, a chainsaw-wielding, hockey mask-wearing fellow named "Jason" is a member of the crew of the Soyokaze (mirroring the common Western misconception Jason ever used a chainsaw).
  • In Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, the anime that inspired Midori to want to make anime herself is Conan of the Lost Island, which is really Future Boy Conan in all but name. Because Science SARU had support, but not legal permission to use Future Boy Conan in the anime adaptation, the scenes from Conan of the Lost Island were painstakingly traced frame by frame, recolored, and the music cues and sound effects remade to match the original. Some brief dialogue from the show itself also changes Lana's name to Kana.
  • Ken Akamatsu, being a video game fan, has dropped numerous character cameos into both Love Hina and Negima! Magister Negi Magi: the "Mahora Budokai" arc in Negima! featured crowd cameos from M. Bison, Sakura Kusanago, Akuma, Hugo, and Adon from the Street Fighter games as well as Athena, Terry Bogard, Ryo Sakazaki, Chris, Yashiro Nanakase, and the Maximum Impact version of Kyo Kusanagi, all from The King of Fighters and related series, and several others.
    • Later, when the robot army arrives, one of the characters makes an extraordinarily blatant Lawyer-Friendly Shout-Out:
    "Wow! Are those Gu_dams? They have to be Gun_ams!"
    • Love Hina also has references to Star Wars quite often; in amongst Keitaro/Naru sniping Naru is stabbed with a lightsaber, Motoko wins Su a mini Death Star, and Seta's van has the license plate number R2-D2.
    • One chapter of Negima had a number of people dressed up as different anime and toku heroes, such as J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai, Kamen Rider X, and the main heroines of Futari wa Pretty Cure.
      • That's nothing: in the official English translation of Chapter 11, Su asks, Star Wars: Episode One, what is the name of the actor who played the young Obi-Wan Kenobi?!"
  • A Season 2 episode of Komi Can't Communicate has Komi and her friends visit a thinly veiled parody of Universal Studios Japan and ride what is obviously The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. During their time on the ride, only Spider-Man's leg is shown and he is referred to as "Spider-San".
  • The Legend of Black Heaven features a scene where Mulder and Scully from The X-Files are investigating a mysterious event at a cemetery in the U.S., where a grave has been dug up in an incredibly precise manner. Former band member Watanabe's body had been stolen by the enemy in order to create a clone to defeat the remaining member of the band. The two agents are unceremoniously pushed into the hole by Layla's sidekicks.
  • As it usually tries to avoid censoring, Lucky Star references titles and locations only indirectly, Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu being the major exception. However, in one episode, Konata tells a 'ghost story' about a bus driver singing "Danzen! Futari wa *** cure", and in another a thinly-veiled conversation about Gundams between Konata and her father seems to be an exercise in "how far can we go before we get sued?"
    • They once made a reference to Pocky beyond obvious when they had Misao say the name twice, the first time having the last half blanked out (Po*** ) and the second time the first half blanked (** cky), alongside having chocolate milk or juice sucked up a straw to a certain point before being held in place to look like the snack.
    • Konata's "fight" with Guile actually has two separate Street Fighter references. The first is the obvious Guile clone, but the second shows up in the form of the "VS screen". The background is taken right out of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
      • And the "stage" is Ryu's from Street Fighter II. Finally, she knocks him out with the Tatsumaki Senpyukyaku (Hurricane Kick), one of Ryu and Ken's signature moves.
    • One episode has Code Geass and Lelouch's name censored out. Ironically, Bandai Entertainment would later pick up the rights to localize both that and Lucky Star.
    • Tsukasa's Sgt. Frog keychain is worth noting here.
    • During the Initial D parody, Kagami refers to Initial D as "chomei-chomei D", "chomei-chomei" being a placeholder name for something well-known.
      • Kadokawa-Bandai dub: "Bleepin'-D."
    • Cousin Yui reading manga with Rider on the cover. Also, episode 10, when Tsukasa's gentle nature and Kagami's Tsundere nature become blatantly obvious to Soujirou.
      Soujirou: (hands in the air) Sakura! Tohsaka... Tohsaka's your sister!
    • The Gundam discussion segment is meant to parody the ridiculousness of the censoring. Both Konata and Soujirou's eyes have a censor bar over them, and every third word is bleeped out with a different sound.
      • That said, the corresponding manga was published in an official Gundam magazine, so...
    • The Image Song "Yuuchou Sentai Dararenjaa" (A Super Sentai-esque song) mentions, by cutting short instead of censoring, a certain "Lucky Clo---."
    • In episode 19, Hiyori draws Apollo Justice and Klavier Gavin from the Ace Attorney series.
  • Lupin the Third has been referenced in quite a lot of different media:
    • Cliffhanger appears in one episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, specifically the car-chase scene from The Castle of Cagliostro, with a player in a green jacket, making it a triple cameo.
    • It's highly likely that there is a Jigen sighting in an episode of Animaniacs (specifically the "Sir Yakksalot" episode) as a wagon driver bearing a very distinctive slouched fedora and pointed beard drives by the screen. Tokyo Movie Shinsha provided animation work for both the Lupin III franchise and Animaniacs.
    • Yet another one is an episode of Samurai Jack where a thief that's basically Jigen in a white suit with light-brown hair tries to steal a time traveling jewel. Or, rather, he looked like Jigen but acted more like Lupin III.
    • Zenigata makes a cameo in the My-HiME manga arresting Shizuru.
    • Megazone 23 has an appearance from a cop who looks exactly like Lupin.
    • Lupin and Jigen can be seen as Federation soldiers who help launch the White Base in an episode of Mobile Suit Gundam. They also show up in another episode alongside Zenigata and Goemon as members of a military brass band.
    • Lupin and Jigen can be seen in a hotel lobby in an episode of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders.
  • In episode 5 of Maria†Holic Alive, when the Dorm Leader mentions about the punishment of watching the entire "Legend of Japanese Heroes" series back to back without blinking, the scene cuts to a shot of Yang Wen-li and Reinhard von Lohengramm whose faces are concealed by stereotypical ninja masks.
  • Miami Guns has several of these, such as Bruce Tsuji, the "Die Hard detective" from one episode. The most significant example in the series is the father of "heroine" Yao Sakurakoji — who is a bleached-blonde doppleganger of Gendo Ikari, right down to the design of his office. (For some reason, he has a pet dog who's a parody of Muttley. Hey, why not?)
  • Lady Lynx from Giant Gorg appears as a waitress in episode 3 of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid features the Terminator as an important character. With lines like "I'll be back" and "You must die, human! TERMINATOR!", and "Who's your daddy? TERMINATOR!", it's kinda hard to miss.
    • And then there's Bunta Willis, whom Sun is a die hard fan of.
  • My Hero Academia: Two Heroes: One of the heroes introduced in the movie is Godzillo, who is rather blatantly a smaller, slightly more anthropomorphic version of Godzilla who happens to wear clothes.
  • Killer Bee from Naruto looks like a black version of Hulk Hogan.
    • The first Raikage also looks almost exactly like Jimi Hendrix.
  • In the North #2 arc of Naoki Urasawa's Pluto, blind composer Paul Duncan recants a tale in his childhood where he was pulled from the brink of death by a Japanese black market doctor at the cost of his already weak eyesight. Said series is set in the Astro Boy universe. Said doctor was dressed in a black cloak and, according to North #2's investigations, charged his mother a ridiculously high fee for the procedure. Wild Mass Guessing aside, this doctor's identity should be obvious to any Tezuka fan.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • "Staging a Heroes' Welcome" had two girls who look suspiciously like Sakura and Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura.
    • Doyle in "Where Did You Go, Audino?" bears a resemblance to Conan Edogawa. Even his name is a reference (playing off of Arthur Conan Doyle).
  • Pop Team Epic:
    • The first episode of the anime has a reenactment of the bus stop scene from My Neighbor Totoro, albeit Pipimi as Totoro is heavily pixelated.
    • The fourth episode features Dick Dastardly and Muttley cameo as one of the teams in the Skeleton Grand Prix. Like with the above example, the duo are heavily pixelated on top of being Palette Swapped, though the former is undone in the DVD release.
  • The Prince of Tennis anime has Makunouchi Ippo of Hajime no Ippo fame appear briefly in the stands at a baseball game during a chibi episode. He is voiced by the same seiyuu as Prince of Tennis's Kaidoh, making this an Actor Allusion cameo.
  • Project A-Ko:
    • It's hinted a few times that Eiko's parents are Superman and Wonder Woman, though they've never appeared onscreen in costume. (Although they have appeared with costume — Mrs. Magami is shown sewing or repairing a Superman outfit at one point.) Dad is also shown reading the Daily Planet.
    • The third movie has a cameo appearance from Yawara Inokuma and her grandfather at the burger joint where Eiko works.
  • Episode 27 of Psychic Squad has Konata, Kagami, Tsukasa, Miyuki, Yutaka and Minami appearing in the background briefly; the first four had realistic hair colors and all of them have their backs turned to the camera except for Miyuki, whose face is obscured by a leg. In addition, because Gonzo helped produce the episode, it also has Strike Witches cameos (but how could they get away with their lack of pants in that world?).
  • Reversed in Ray the Animation: In the manga, Osamu Tezuka's Dr. Black Jack 'cameos', but his face is never shown and he is never referred to by his full name, due to copyright concerns. In the animation, Black Jack doesn't fall under these restrictions anymore, seeing as how it was produced by Tezuka's animation studio, which of course holds the copyright on the character.
  • In Rescue Me Mave-Chan, a parody of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze, the villain of the short, For-Getter (which looks like a combination of GunBuster and Getter Robo G), shows off different characters who have been forgotten by fans, including Lum and EVA-01.
  • In Rozen Maiden, Buu, the doll that attacks Jun early on, is quite clearly Winnie the Pooh. In the anime, Pooh is replaced with a generic clown doll. In turn, Jun makes a brief cameo early in the first episode of Ultimate Girls.
  • Nobuhiro Watsuki of Rurouni Kenshin fame did that so many times with Samurai Shodown that the owners of the latter asked the author to draw some of the new characters for the fifth game.
  • Samurai Champloo featured Ogami Ito and Daigoro from Lone Wolf and Cub at the end of the episode "Cosmic Collisions".
  • Samurai Flamenco features tons of in-universe Tokusatsu works that are clearly based off franchises like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has innumerable instances. In speech, one syllable of the word/name in question is either bleeped over or pronounced "maru", in text one letter is replaced by a circle.
  • In School Rumble Harima stays home and watches a movie that is pretty much a rip off of Star Wars that at first covers the opening of episode 4 with Lego like star ships, and what some lines that seems to be taken from episode 6. Needless to say this is quite funny to watch.
  • In episode 21 of Sgt. Frog, thinly-disguised versions of Lupin III and Jigen get run off the road by the Hinata family car in an obvious parody of a scene from The Castle of Cagliostro. In episode 48, there is an inexplicable appearance by a human-sized version of the giant floating Rei Ayanami from End of Evangelion.
  • In episode 49 of the 2001 anime of Shaman King, the members Team LCT/Team Insane Asylum were based off Pro Wrestlers Mark LoMonaco (Bubba Ray Dudley/Brother Ray), one of the Hardys (Matt Hardy or Jeff Hardy) and Adam Copeland (Edge) who used tables, ladders and chairs respectively as their weapons in the WWE.
  • In Smile Pretty Cure!, Yayoi's alarm clock bears a superhero resembling a Kamen Rider, most likely Kamen Rider Scissors of Kamen Rider Ryuki.
  • Sorcerer Hunters includes a number of these, exemplified by the chapter "Seaside Days in the Springtime of Youth, one of the series' many Beach Episodes. In it, a magical potion turns the protagonists into cosplaying cameos from other series such as Sailor Moon, Urusei Yatsura, and Darkstalkers. Also, for a Fanservice laden shonen series, the frequent cameos from the decidedly shoujo and chaste dating sim of Angélique were amusing, especially when the game's resident cute boy showed up as a slave boy belonging to one of the manga's villains.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has... Squidward. You have to really be watching to find him though.
  • Tiger & Bunny has several Lawyer-Friendly Cameos. The mayor of Sternbild, for example, apparently bears a resemblance to President Obama.
  • Touhou Ibarakasen ~ Wild and Horned Hermit, one of the official Touhou Project manga adaptations, had a chapter that involved a mythological creature that emits electricity. Cue Sanae wondering if they were talking about an electric rat while her thought bubble showed a picture of Pikachu with a censor bar placed across its eyes.
  • Lum has cameos in quite a few works, including Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel, Dirty Pair and Hunter × Hunter.
  • Yakitate!! Japan's American character Kid is nearly identical to Brad Pitt, for no good reason. Conan from Case Closed also makes a thinly-veiled appearance.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! often has characters in the background, while not outright named, Vash the Stampede (Trigun), Ino, Shikamaru, Choji (Naruto) and Ryoma Echizen (The Prince of Tennis) all have brief appearances (Vash is in the background of the characters walking down the street, the other four in the stands of a duel).
    • The cards for the game are no better. In the card game plenty of cards are named/designed after other Konami products (Gradius games, a card explicitly named DDR, Goemon characters). However, in the anime they do one for another Shounen Jump series. The card Illegal Summon in GX features a character scene from Naruto of Naruto's Frog Summoning training. Big Bang Shot has a picture of Vegeta performing Big Bang Attack, and Giant Ape is a Saiyan in Ozaru form, and Sonic Duck is a member of One Piece's Supersonic Duck Squadron. There's a card in 5 D's that increases your D-Wheel's speed counter... featuring a thinly-veiled Eyeshield 21.

    Audio Plays 
  • Until 2015, Big Finish did not have permission to use elements from the 21st-century series of Doctor Who in its plays, but three Fourth Doctor stories involved him interacting with the Eleventh Doctor through Timey-Wimey Ball, recorded message means. This was got away with by simply identifying the Eleventh Doctor as one of Four's "future incarnations" and delivering his dialogue in reported speech rather than having the actual actor play him, but it's obvious from his personality which one he is supposed to be.
  • Continuing the Doctor Who spin-off theme, Chris Boucher's semi-official audio drama series Kaldor City, set in the same futuristic Ambiguously Human society as his popular Fourth Doctor TV story "The Robots of Death", introduced a character who is extremely strongly implied to be one of the regular characters from his TV series Blake's 7 under a new identity, played by the same actor.

    Comic Books 
  • When Peter and Mary Jane were going to get married in The Amazing Spider-Man, Mary Jane was approached by an old ex named Bruce who attempts to convince her to change her mind and leave with him to his villa in Paris. While not confirmed, some believe that Bruce is intended to be the Marvel version of Bruce Wayne, who never became a crime fighter and truly was a billionaire playboy. Thankfully he's not completely a jerk, as after his attempts to seduce Mary Jane fail he does give her the plane tickets and keys to his villa so she and Peter can go on a honeymoon.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 gives us an utterly pointless panel that has exactly one purpose: A lawyer-friendly cameo of The Tenth Doctor and Rose. See them here. On the bright side, you get to go insane trying to put the conflicting universes together.
  • An issue of Angel: After the Fall featured a background cameo by Jay and Silent Bob.
  • In the Asterix story Asterix in Belgium, the two Belgians who announce Caesar's arrival are dead ringers for Thomson and Thompson, the pseudo-twin detectives from the Belgian comic Tintin.
  • During his run on The Avengers, Steve Englehart introduced Mantis, a character he quickly became extremely invested in. After departing Marvel and moving to DC to write Justice League of America, Englehart had Mantis appear in a story. She was referred to as "Willow" for legal reasons, but was clearly meant to be Mantis, even displaying her trademark Verbal Tic, claiming to come from "a place she must not name" and alluding to the events of The Celestial Madonna Saga. He later pulled the same stunt at Eclipse Comics by writing Mantis into Scorpio Rose under the alias "Lorelei", complete with an acknowledgement that she's gone by many names over the years.
  • During Walt Simonson's run on The Mighty Thor, the thunder god becomes permanently separated from his mortal alter ego. He must disguise himself as a mortal, and as "Sigurd Jarlson," does so using glasses for a secret identity, with Nick Fury remarking that "it worked for that other guy". One scene humorously includes a quick cameo by a well-built reporter named Clark who gets accidentally flattened by Thor, who he thinks he recognises, before dismissing it. He also had Supergirl appear in a Fantastic Four issue's group of discontinued universes.
    • Around the same time, Clark and Lois appeared in an issue of Excalibur (Marvel Comics), with Clark being cheerful about the number of superheroes in New York (which, in the Marvel Universe, is infamously full of them) as he sees Captain Britain flying overhead, and Lois not bothering to look up, remarking dismissively that "when you've seen one hyperthyroidal egomaniac in spandex, you've seen them all".
  • Crossover (2020), in which a big crossover between many real-life comic books from different companies spills over into the world of the comic, has plenty of cameos and even supporting roles of characters from indie and creator-owned comics, but appearances of characters from DC Comics and Marvel Comics are usually limited to name-dropping, apperances of their actual comic books or just mostly obscured appearances like seeing their hands sticking between prison cell bars.
  • An issue of X-Factor (1991) has an appearance from actress Sean Young as Strong Guy's new girlfriend. What pushes it into this territory is that she shows up for their date dressed like Catwoman from Batman Returns.
  • An issue of Ultimate Spider-Man has a cameo from two prostitutes dressed as Power Girl. This is part of a Running Gag where prostitutes dressed as famous superheroines can be seen in the police station Spidey often visits, but this instance is notable since the women in question are almost always dressed as Marvel Comics heroines.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in which every character is either a literary character or a literary character's ancestor, Fu Manchu is never mentioned by name, because he's still under copyright. In the movie, Fu Manchu was replaced with the Sherlock Holmes villain Prof. Moriarty (who also appears in the comic) disguised as a mix of The Phantom of the Opera and Fantomas.
  • Alan Moore's Swamp Thing:
    • The story "Pog", whose title character was Pogo in a spacesuit. Amusingly, Pog had a brief cameo in a later issue by another writer who didn't seem to recognize the reference.
    • Swamp Thing Vol 2 #47: Swamp Thing communicates with the Parliament of Trees, a collective consciousness of Swamp Elementals. One Swamp Elemental looks like Man-Thing, easily justified since Man-Thing can traverse dimensions through the Nexus of All Realities.
  • Top 10 has a ton of these, sometimes a dozen on a single page, ranging from the extremely well-known to the rather obscure.
  • In an issue of Wynonna Earp, a pair of Bound and Gagged Marshals are executed by Bobo after giving him classified information about Black Rock. Despite not being named, they strongly resemble Dana Scully and Fox Mulder.
  • An Invincible storyline has the title character being bounced around alternate universes. While he had a full issue experience with Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up, he also encounters Batman (though only his arm is seen and his name is implied without having to say it outright, thanks to a running joke from the MTU issue), a world similar to Y: The Last Man and possibly the world of The Walking Dead, one of Robert Kirkman's other books.
  • The original Marvel Zombies story arc from Ultimate Fantastic Four was supposed to have the virus-carrying hero from another dimension be Superman, but the art was recolored to make it be The Sentry instead. This is why Sentry is drawn with an uncharacteristically short hairstyle that appears to include a spit curl, as well as why there is a triangular rip on the front of his costume that's roughly the same shape as Superman's S-shield logo.
  • When Green Lantern Kyle Rayner moved to New York, he got help from Doctor Strange's assistant Wong in finding his apartment building at 175 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. The Sanctum Sanctorum's address in the Marvel Universe is 177A Bleecker Street. As a bonus, the house on that site was demolished, reflecting the state of the Sanctum over in Strange's series at Marvel at the time. Wong (who, naturally, went unnamed in his appearance here) even noted that Kyle would find the neighborhood "a little... strange".
  • Spider-Man: In Doctor Octopus: Year One, flashbacks to young Otto Octavius' past are prevalent throughout the story. At one point it shows four bullies beating him up. One with long hair and a wool cap, one with a white t-shirt and a shaved head, one with a green T-shirt, and one with a torn jean jacket.
  • Similarly, some of the kids from South Park were shown having a snowball fight with Volstagg's children and Sif in one of the final issues of Journey into Mystery (Immonen).
  • The final issue of the 2018 Lockjaw mini-series has a scene where Lockjaw teleports D-Man and Annihilus across various dimensions in the Multiverse while they fight. One of the dimensions they land in (identified only as "Redacted") is heavily implied to be The DCU, where they briefly encounter two heroes who are very obviously Superman and Wonder Woman. The heroes are both drawn in a way that obscures their faces, but it's still clear who they're supposed to be.
  • Prior to this, an issue of Brian Michael Bendis' Spider-Man (2016) series had a brief scene where Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen ended up in the DC Universe, complete with a shot of a red blur flying past the Daily Planet building.
  • Wanted by Mark Millar features lawyer-friendly versions of every supervillain (and some heroes) ever. Ever. In addition, it's implicit that the characters in the story are the real versions, and the comics are a half-baked attempt by the world to tell their exploits. But who reads comics anymore anyway?
  • Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane cameo as a group of visiting reporters in the first issue of The Ultimates (2002).
  • Youngblood:
  • If you look closely in crowd scenes during DC and Marvel Crisis Crossovers, you can often make out characters that have been Exiled from Continuity (the hand of Swamp Thing in Infinite Crisis, for example).
  • Homer Simpson shows up in the Beach Issue of Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat!, wearing his muumuu and "fat guy hat" from "King-Size Homer."
  • In Teen Titans Spotlight #11, the Brotherhood of Evil are transported to a post-apocalyptic alternate reality where the planet has been ravaged by nuclear war. There, they encounter a band of rebels led by a warrior known only "Tin," who sports a peculiar red quiff hairstyle and rides into battle atop a mutated white dog. Once it's revealed that he used to be a boy adventurer and that his two closest friends are an alcoholic sea captain and a balding scientist, it becomes clear that the universe the Brotherhood landed in is a Bad Future AU version of The Adventures of Tintin.
  • In Assassin's Guild one-shot issue of The Punisher, the titular Anti-Hero guns down thinly-disguised counterparts of Lupin III and his gang.
  • Throughout Preacher, Jesse Custer has a spirit adviser called The Duke, who is clearly meant to be John Wayne but never explicitly referred to as such and always drawn with face in shadow. However, his father, John Custer, is shown and referred to as meeting the flesh-and-blood John Wayne while serving in Vietnam. Also, in issue #53, Jesse gives a lift to a fat, aging Elvis (this one's a lot harder to identify, but it's definitely him). Plus there's the sequence where Herr Starr meets (and insults) a number of unnamed world leaders - we only see Starr's face, but can identify who he's addressing by the insult (e.g. "You've got a girl's haircut, Colonel.")
  • Group scenes in comics featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes like to slip in famous aliens or other odd-looking characters.
    • An alien resembling Dr. Zoidberg of Futurama was seen being arrested by the Science Police in Action Comics #863.
    • The fourth annual of the 1989 series, which was part of the Bloodlines crisis crossover, has Angon slaughter a pair of aliens who resemble Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat.
  • In Action Comics #579, Superman is sent back in time to 253 AD, where he finds himself in a Gaulish village that has been fighting off the Romans thanks to a magic potion — so successfully, in fact, that they're unaware that the Empire has fallen. Jimmy Olsen puts on the outfit of their unnamed "greatest warrior", while a mind-controlled Superman fights "Columnix", an overweight Gaul with a white dog, who fell in the potion as a baby.
  • An early Usagi Yojimbo comic features one from a young Godzilla, who ends up saving Miyamoto Usagi's life in return for rice cakes. Just in case you somehow missed it, Usagi actually asks "Are you a god, Zylla?" to which the creature responds "Godzylla?"
  • In one issue of X-Man, there's cameos of Ken, Chun-Li and Guile in the background, watching Nate's power demonstration. How appropriate.
    • In a backup story in an issue of X-Men Classics (earlier issues has a secondary story featuring "before they were X-Men" or "between the issues" tales), a story is recounted of an inadvertent meeting between Logan (while he was a roughneck on the run from Weapon X) and Banshee (while he was just a humble Interpol agent). Banshee is hot on the trail of three jewel thieves, one of whom is named Arsene, and who look like the Lupin Gang with a few cosmetic alterations. Guess who that makes Banshee, of course...
    • Chris Claremont has put Lawyer-Friendly Cameos of anime in quite a few of his stories. Both the Dirty Pair and Speed Racer, for instance show up in an issue of Excalibur, and yes, the lawyer-friendly Dirty Pair are as destructive as the genuine article.
    • The Ghostbusters made a rather extensive appearance during the Inferno (1988) storyline during Claremont's run of Uncanny X-Men, then appeared again when Jubilee was introduced. One notable change is that the Ghostbusters' secretary, Janine, was a member of the group.
    • Inferno also has other cameos, including a scene in one of the X-Factor tie-ins where Iceman and Beast rescue Calvin and Hobbes from a possessed hot dog stand.
  • One of the forms Kate briefly assumes in Demo #5 is that of a female martial artist who looks a helluva lot like Chun-Li.
  • ROM: Spaceknight was a licensed series based on a toy from Parker Bros, meaning that once the license expired, the character could no longer appear in the Marvel Universe. However, the creative team behind Universe X were able to slip him into issue #3 by showing him without most of his armor (including his distinctive helmet), with the other characters only referring to him as "The greatest of the Spaceknights" and never using his real name.
  • The Howard and Nester comic strip in issue #9 of Nintendo Power has Howard accompanying a duck on an expedition to the moon (with Nester stowing away). The duck in question is never addressed by name and doesn't look like it, but the reader can probably guess, judging from the fact that this particular installment was based on the DuckTales NES game, that he is supposed to be Scrooge McDuck. The same comic has a character named Roboduck, who is clearly an Expy of Gizmoduck.
  • One Marvel comic from the 1980s involved many of the Marvel speedsters, who were getting some help from an amnesiac speedster from another dimension... Wearing a torn red suit (with a few yellow elements), saying his name was "Buried Alien, or something like that", and who quickly disappeared in some Speed Dimension afterwards as all he could remember was that he had to keep running. Oh, and he was much, much faster than all the other Marvel speedsters. As this story took place not so long after an important cross-over from the Distinguished Competition, this can be seen as a homage to a certain character who died during this event.
  • Superman/Batman:
    • In the first Annual, as a reference to Deadpool's origins as a Deathstroke Captain Ersatz, had an Alternate Universe Deathstroke who looked like Deadpool, acted like Deadpool, and had powers like Deadpool, but was always interrupted whenever he attempted to reveal his name (including one panel where he screams "DEADPOOOOooooo~") since Deadpool is the property of Marvel Comics. It should be noted that the comic was written by Joe Kelly, who had written Deadpool in the 1990s. And drawn by Ed McGuinness, who drew Deadpool under Kelly.
    • The With A Vengeance storyline features the "Maximums" who are thinly veiled analogues of The Avengers from the other guys.
  • During Christopher Priest's first issue of Deadpool, the title character visited Comic-Book Limbo and briefly encountered a bunch of heroes Priest had written in the past. These included non-Marvel characters like Steel, Green Lantern, Hawkman and a few members of the Justice League Task Force, each of whom had to be partially obscured to avoid any possible litigation from DC Comics.
  • Priest did the same thing in his Black Panther run, where Ross briefly ran into Woody while trapped in Mephisto's realm. Woody was only shown from behind and had no dialogue, but Ross even worked in an allusion to the then-recent financial trouble at Acclaim Entertainment. He then turned around and did the reverse when Quantum and Woody was temporarily Un-Canceled. An in-universe comic mirrored a recent battle between Black Panther and The Incredible Hulk by showing a fight between two heroes named "Dark Kitty" and "The Mass", complete with narration provided by Dark Kitty's pal "Russ" (who looks and acts suspiciously like Ross).
  • Darth Vader once fought the Rebel Four.
  • In issue #35 of the Batgirl of Burnside run, Usagi Tsukino can be seen using a laptop in the background of the coffee shop Barbara visits. Later in the same run, a few of the other Sailor Senshi are shown as guests at Alysia's wedding.
  • The Batman Elseworld Detective #27 features Bruce Wayne being inducted into the Secret Society of Detectives. Apart from Alfred and the Crimson Avenger, none of the other members are named, but from the way they're drawn, they're clearly intended to include Sam Spade (or maybe Philip Marlowe), Hercule Poirot, Nick and Nora Charles, and Nero Wolfe, amongst others.
  • Writer Steve Skeates famously began a story in an issue of Aquaman (published by DC Comics), only to resolve it in an issue of Namor (published by Marvel Comics) after the former series was cancelled. The Namor installment contained a very brief Broad Strokes recap of the events of the previous issue, and thanks to the obvious copyright problems, Aquaman could not be named or explicitly shown. This resulted in only his hand being seen, and the narration itself refusing to identify the hero by name.
    Who that man is... and why he wished to destroy the satellite... that need not concern us!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) had tons of theses, especially in its early days. This even continued on when Knuckles got his own short-lived series. This was actually done by turning them into the various races that live on Mobius or one of Robotnik's robots. Amongst more recognizable ones were a recurring set of Mobians that resembled Mihoshi, Ayeka and Sasami of Tenchi Muyo!, the infamous Sally Moon, Chibi Rose and Tuxedo Knux, Sonicaman, Spawnmower, a group of robots resembling Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Cambot and Robby the Robot (fourth image from the top here), Linkara, and a Goomba in a panel of the crossover Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide. This has been continued into Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW), such as with a background character who clearly resembles Flick.
  • In the "Dawn of X" story arc in Mega Man (Archie Comics), Xander Payne travels through time and witnesses the events of Worlds Collide. He sees Mega Man talking to a "giant talking animal", though all we see is a speech bubble coming from off panel. Though when Xander later ends up in prison, he carves what is unmistakably Sonic's face on his cell's wall, so...
  • In All Fall Down, appearances are made by Bruce Banner, Alfred Pennyworth, Tony Stark, The Powerpuff Girls, and others.
  • The Rocketeer has appearances by several unnamed pulp characters including The Shadow and Doc Savage.
  • Shadowhawk #14 has Shadowhawk travel through Alternity, "The place between all places. The route to other worlds... ...and other times." Several alternate versions of Image, Marvel and DC heroes can be glimpsed, obscured in shadow: Wolverine, Cyclops, Batman, The Flash, Spawn, Prophet, Nightwing, Huntress, Green Lantern, Superman, Red Tornado, and more generic, unidentifiable heroes.
  • Shattered Image has Spawn viewing alternate Earths, meant to represent the Image, Marvel, DC and Valiant universes.
  • Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm) #8 features a brief appearance by a honeymooning Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Scott thinks Voodoo and Spartan might be mutants and wants to talk to them, but drops it when Jean insists he direct his attention, ahem, elsewhere.
    • Wildstorm-universe comics did a lot of these, most of them at a Good-Guy Bar called Clark's. The owner is basically an older Superman, and the place is usually packed with heroes from other companies.
  • Other than the main cast, most characters who show up in normalman are either parodies or used with permission from their creators, but Asterix and Obelix make a cameo appearance when norm is in Roman times. It's more lawyer-friendly than most examples — their faces are never shown, but the silhouettes are unmistakable and they even give norm some of their potion.
  • In the penultimate issue of Jack Kirby's Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, Kirby included a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of his own characters. Captain Victory faces the spirit of his evil grandfather Blackmass, former ruler of the planet Hellikost. In both name and appearance Hellikost suggests Apokolips, and Blackmaas's ghostly silhouette resembles Darkseid, implying that Victory is the son of Orion of the New Gods. He even restores his father's Astro-Harness.
    • His New Gods run was heavily implied to be a Stealth Sequel to The Mighty Thor, with a character who looks a lot like Thor appearing in a Flashback in the first issue. In a later story, one of the characters finds Thor's winged helmet among the ruins of an ancient city that is strongly hinted to be Asgard.
  • One story arc in Marvel's 2004 Sentinel series featured a guest appearance from a scrappy off-duty cop who helped out during a plane crash. His last name was never given, but dialogue revealed that his first name was "John," and that he had been living in Los Angeles before his wife left him. This, coupled with the fact that he was drawn to look a helluva lot like Bruce Willis, would seem to indicate that "John" was John McClane from the Die Hard movies.
  • Lin from Fallen Angel is essentially Linda Danvers from Peter David's prior Supergirl series (which Fallen Angel is a Spiritual Successor to). He later confirmed the two girls are in fact one and the same, via Word of God:
    Peter David: Can I say this is Linda Danvers? Of course I can't. However, it's pretty freaking obvious that it is.
  • The first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage) has a young Daredevil appear during Splinter's telling of the Turtles' origin, as it is a recreation of the scene where Daredevil gets his powers in the first issue of that comic. The can of green ooze is shown hitting him and then falling onto the turtles.
  • Nickelodeon Magazine had a 3-D comic about pirates going to different comic and cartoon universes because they believed "3-D" to refer to some kind of treasure. On their journey, they encounter obvious pastiches of Bart Simpson, Superman, and Porky Pig.
  • Spawn:
    • There's a rather Anvilicious issue in which the titular character meets a bunch of superheroes imprisoned in Hell. You never quite see any of them due to heavy shadows, but the one they call the "First" and the "Most Powerful of All" has tight blue sleeves with no gloves and a spitcurl. (The Anvilicious part is that it's a Take That! against publishers denying royalties to the creators of their most iconic characters. Spawn himself is rather famously creator-owned, which is why he's free instead of chained like the others.) This particular issue was written by Dave Sim, who includes an appearance in the end of the issue by his own creation Cerebus.
    • While reading Todd McFarlane's autobiography on the toilet, the Archangel Michael laughs over how stupid a superhero with spider-powers sounds.
  • In the very first issue of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's JLA (1997) run, Wolverine and Dr. Doom can be seen among the costumed supervillains who get executed by the Hyperclan.
  • "Crisis on Infinite Darkwings", the second arc of the Darkwing Duck comic book published by Boom Studios, has many of the alternate universe incarnations of Darkwing Duck being parodies of copyrighted characters, most of them only appearing in the background on so much as one panel. Aside from the ones that spoof characters Disney actually owns the rights to, there are also alternate Darkwings that copy Popeye the Sailor Man, Batman and Robin, Rorschach from Watchmen, Optimus Prime, the Fourth Doctor, and the Universal movie monsters, to name but a few.
  • Spider-Verse:
    • Due to licensing issues, the versions of Spider-Man from the Spider-Man Trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man could not appear. The writers got around this by mentioning a pair of Spider-Men that looked like Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield when unmasked, implying that the cinematic Spideys were indeed present during the battle.
    • Spider-Boy, the combination of Spider-Man and Superboy from Amalgam Comics, was deemed off-limits due to being co-owned by Marvel and DC. However, the creators were able to sneak him into Spider-Verse #2, where his face can briefly be seen in a crowd shot. Later, during End of the Spider-Verse, Morlun is shown holding Spider-Boy's severed arm (made identifiable by the glove and leather jacket sleeve) after apparently having killed him off-panel, but the character still isn't identified by name.
    • Spider-Man versions of Rorschach, Corto Maltese and Superman can be briefly seen in the Web of Life and Destiny, but otherwise do not impact the plot.
    • Being an anime homage, Edge of Spider-Verse #5 is rife with these. Shinji, Rei, Asuka, Kaworu and Simon can be seen as students in Peni's classroom, while Motoko Kusanagi, Batou and Kaneda show up as criminals who get busted by Peni and Daredevil.
  • We Can Never Go Home #3 has a Costume-Test Montage where Maddie tries on a bunch of different outfits while trying to settle on a vigilante look. Most of the costumes she's wearing very clearly belong to trademarked heroines like Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Ms. Marvel, Tank Girl, and Zatanna, with only a few logo changes to hide this. Unsurprisingly, the scene was altered for trade. Surprisingly, most of the costumes that were omitted were simply replaced with other recognizable heroine costumes, like those of Storm, Psylocke, Batgirl, and the Invisible Woman.
  • As a landmark collaboration between Marvel and DC, Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man still gets referenced from time to time, despite the potential legal issues involved:
    • The very first issue of What If? alluded to the crossover by showing a glimpse of Spider-Man being punched by a faceless combatant in a blue costume. For legal reasons, the Watcher only identified Superman as "a colorfully-clad alien" from another continuity.
    • A flashback in Avengers Forever depicts Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man as one of the alternate realities witnessed by Thor and the Space Phantom, with the panel showing a flash of Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor escaping from prison together. Lex obviously goes unnamed, and the appendix published in the back of issue #10 refers to him only as "a striking-looking bald man." Additionally, the future version of Rick Jones wears a bunch of articles of clothing taken from various superheroes. While most of Rick's items appear to be from Marvel characters, the outfit also includes Batman's Utility Belt and Superman's cape, albeit with the latter folded in such a way that the S-shield logo is partially obscured. Once again, the final issue's appendix plays coy, saying "We're not going to ask where he got the poncho and the belt."
    • The final Secret Wars (2015) cover features an homage to the cover of the crossover. Since Superman is obviously a DC character, the picture is cropped in such a way so that all we see of him is one of his red boots floating near Spidey.
    • During his short series, the Body Surfing hero Mosaic briefly took over Spider-Man's body, and memories of his adventures appeared as panels floating through his mind. One of said panels was very clearly Spidey's attempt to use Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs on Supes that nearly broke both his hands, but of course the man he's punching just so happens to be obscured by Mosaic's own arm.
  • Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel shows that Captain Marvel's Multiverse counterparts possess their own versions of the Reality Stone. These alternate universe Captain Marvels include versions of Mar-Vell, Monica Rambeau and... Shazam!, a.k.a. the original Captain Marvel. Even though only Shazam's right arm, right leg and trademark cape are shown (and are colored blue, the color of Captain Marvel Jr.), it's still very clear who he's supposed to be.
  • Superman and Wonder Woman are seen as part of a montage depicting the past wielders of Mjolnir in the Thor: The Worthy one-shot, acknowledging their use of the hammer during JLA/Avengers and Marvel Versus DC, respectively. Neither character's face is shown, but Superman is identified by his haircut and red cape, while Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth and trademark bracelet are clearly visible in her cameo.
  • The first issue of the DC Rebirth relaunch of Hawkman shows various incarnations of the title character from across time and space, including one who was apparently a Phoenix Force host. Another Hawkman who looks suspiciously like Black Bolt also appears in the same spread.
  • The Sandman character Death shows up at Rick Jones' and Marlo's wedding reception during Peter David's run on The Incredible Hulk. We don't see her face, just her upper torso and shoulders, but the pale skin, black sleeveless top and ankh pendant are giveaways. She briefly chats with the bride to assure her that Marlo and Rick will have a long and happy marriage, and to give her a gift. Marlo opens the gift and turns out to be a hairbrush. Given that Marlo had died and come back from the death in a previous storyline, you might say that Marlo had a brush with Death.
  • In Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck, Spider-Man appears in the shadows, as the Savage Dragon appears in the shadows in Spider-Man Team-Up #5. Wolverine's shadow appears on a fake cover for Leonard the Duck. All Leonard the Duck appearances are a lawyer friendly appearance of Howard the Duck. Leonard appears in a DC Comics cameo, in a Nevada story in Vertigo Winter's Edge #2.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Hellboy briefly pops up as a castle groundskeeper in Résurrection.
  • Characters from the comic Eltingville once appeared in a Pepper Ann comic.
  • Three actors who resembled Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell showed up in an issue of The Punisher. Then they got blown up.
  • Homer Simpson appears in the second issue of Crimson as a nameless vagrant holding a Springfield sign in the background.
  • Howard the Duck:
    • In the first issue of Vol. 6 (2016, for the record), the part of "Nameless Marvel Comics Redneck Conservative Strawman #4,451" is played by what is very clearly Soos from Gravity Falls. Which is weird, because that description doesn't really apply to Soos at all, but whatever.
    • In the final issue of the same volume, Tara transforms into thinly-veiled versions of Jun the Swan, Judge Dredd, and even an EVA.
  • Whenever the Source Wall is shown, you can usually spot at least one Marvel character trapped among it's many prisoners, such as Galactus or Doctor Doom.
  • Though never named, the babysitter in this Hi and Lois strip bears more than a passing resemblance to Rosalyn.
  • In Batman and Robin Eternal, children around the world become Brainwashed and Crazy due to Mother's plan. In one panel, two of the kids are clearly Gravity Falls protagonists Dipper and Mabel Pines.
  • PS238 is full of Captain Ersatzes, but Murphy arguably falls into this trope for The Sandman's Morpheus. Murphy is a piece of a cosmic being of dreams, and took the name "Murphy" because he knows that it's close to his real name, which he can't quite remember. Also, he has an unseen sister who's implied to be Death.
  • The Superman storyline "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite" had Mr. Mxyzptlk hand Lex Luthor a chunk of red kryptonite, stating that he was too busy having fun in another dimension to make his usual visit to the Man of Steel. When we see Mxy in the other universe, he takes on the form of a color-inverted Impossible Man and harasses a superhero team strongly implied to be the Fantastic Four. Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, and the Human Torch are mostly off-panel with the only parts of them visible being Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman's legs, Mr. Fantastic's stretched out torso, and the fiery trail the Human Torch leaves when he is flying, while the Thing's appearance is hidden by having Mxyzptlk cover him in brown glop while assuming the form of a fire hydrant.
  • An issue of Power Pack features a brief panel of an excited kid carrying a tiger and dragging along exasperated parents, appropriately enough at a dinosaur exhibit.
  • The 2016 Slapstick series has several inhabitants of Dimension Ecch being parodies of iconic cartoon characters. For instance, one of the first villains Slapstick faces in the series is a muscleman wielding a sword named Bro-Man, the Taurs are a composite parody of The Smurfs and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and near the end of the series, you can see a brunette Johnny Bravo and a Cartoon Creature resembling a purple Stimpson J. Cat clad in Mickey Mouse's shorts and shoes.
  • The 91st issue of Spider-Girl features an appearance by an investor specializing in fashion based on superhero costumes who strongly resembles Edna Mode from The Incredibles (this was before Marvel Comics was acquired by Disney).
  • The 34th issue of the Comic-Book Adaptation of The Ren & Stimpy Show had Ren win the lottery. While on a shopping spree with Stimpy, Ren's purchases are carried around by a balding butler with a mustache who wishes that he didn't quit working for "Master Bruce".
  • A Danger Mouse story appearing in Marvel's Count Duckula book had the hero facing a band of Enraged Mutant Ninja Poodles during a training session. Later in the story, the back of the head of Doctor #4 and an anthropomorphic bird caricature of John Cleese appears.
  • Various Sailor Moon characters can be seen at the house party in Zodiac Starforce #1, including the five main characters, Haruka, Michiru and Setsuna.
  • In Thunderbolts #29, Robotman's head can be seen on Machine Man's mantelpiece alongside the heads of Ultron and M-11.
  • Grimjack did a lot of this, especially in its backup feature, Munden's Bar. Played both straight, with a series of images of various incarnations of Iron Man's armor, and Played for Laughs as with a humanoid cat sighing "Oh Bruce!" to a humanoid bat who responds with, "Oh Selina!"
  • At one point in the "Soul Hunter" arc of Deadpool, in which Deadpool agrees to collect the souls of people who made deals with the demon Vetis, Deadpools collect the soul of a lifeguard with the ability to communicate to fish named Artie, even mocking him for having a superpower he considers lame. Artie's clearly a stand-in for DC Comics' Aquaman.
  • The Transformers (Marvel):
    • In "Race with the Devil", a story exclusive to the UK version, Susan Hoffman investigates the sighting of a resurrected Starscream with the assistance of three men who strongly resemble Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz and Peter Venkman as depicted in The Real Ghostbusters.
    • The comic introduced a superhuman Anti-Hero named Josie Beller, AKA Circuit Breaker. Because she's owned by Marvel, Circuit Breaker has been unable to appear in any subsequent Transformers media, at least officially. The Transformers: Regeneration One was able to give her a cameo in a flashback by having the artist draw her with a blue energy coating over her entire body, thus obscuring her face and any identifiable costume elements. She also wasn't identified by name, with her old boss G.B. Blackrock instead referring to her as "an ex-employee" of his. Transformers: Shattered Glass, meanwhile, has a character called Sephie Beller (like Josie, Sephie is a nickname derived from the name Josephine), who is implied (but never explicitly stated) to be Josie's Mirror Universe counterpart.
  • At the end of Doomsday Clock, it's mentioned that in the year 2030, Superman would become caught up in a "Secret Crisis" (a play on Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars (1984)) that would see him encounter Thor (without specifying if it was the Marvel hero or the public domain mythological figure) and a certain unnamed "green behemoth."
  • Issue #2 of the 2020 Thor series shows an alternate reality that was destroyed by the Black Winter. Said reality is very strongly implied to be The DCU, complete with a shot of the Daily Planet building and a group of heroes who are very obviously supposed to be the Justice League.
  • In the second crossover of The Simpsons and Futurama, several fictional characters come to life, some public domain, others not. One notable instance has Bart rushing to save Lisa only to be blocked by seven figures all lurking in the shadows.
    Clawed character: Not so fast, bub!
    Bart: Oh no! There must have been graphic novels in the library!
    Caped character: "Graphic novels? Great Scott! I mean what was wrong with just calling them comic books?
    Bart: Why are you all standing in the shadows?
    Upside-down character: Copyright protection!
  • In Power Girl issue #4, Power Girl goes to the movies where a young man tries to hit on her while his three friends look on. None of them are named but they are clearly the gang from The Big Bang Theory.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!:
    • In #15 Alley-Kat-Abra attempts to teleport herself, the rest of the team and the Justa Lotta Animals back to Earth-C, but mistakenly teleports into a world where a bespectacled, mustahced Mickey Mouse and a car containing the silhouettes of Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie can be seen.
    • In the miniseries The Oz-Wonderland War, amongst the bunnies the Nome King has kidnapped is Bun Rab from Pogo. .
  • Issue 180 of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (IDW) features two background characters who resemble Eugene and Louise Belcher at the comic convention.
  • In Doctor Who Magazine #173, the comic strip "Party Animals" has the Doctor attending the birthday party of an old friend. Other guests include Lieutenant Worf, Bart Simpson, Sapphire and Steel, Alan Moore's Axel Pressbutton, John Steed and Mrs Peel, Captain Scarlet, Darth Vader and Conan the Barbarian. (As well as many Marvel Comics characters, but they were official cameos.)
  • A seedy bar in The Muppet Show Comic Book: Pigs in Space special includes Muppet versions of Bender Rodriguez, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, and Han Solo and Greedo. A later scene has a cameo by ALF.
  • The 1997 Bug one-shot had Bug of Marvel's Micronauts comic get into a squabble with Annihilus when the Negative Zone villain used his cosmic rod to travel through time and space. The two end up transporting to the origins of various Marvel characters...and one DC character. At one stop, Bug accidentally causes a bat to crash through a wealthy man's window, which is likely the moment where Bruce Wayne saw a bat and was inspired to become Batman.
  • In Women of Marvel #1, Mystique assumes the identity of a female archeologist in order to get close to Rogue. Though not named, the Bound and Gagged archeologist Mystique replaces is very clearly Dr. Ellie Sattler, right down to the pink shirt and khaki shorts. Her partner even looks like Alan Grant.
  • In the first issue of Aquaman: The Becoming, Nami and Nico Robin can be seen hanging out on the beach when Jackson bursts out of the ocean, and Usopp shows up in front of a seafood restaurant a few panels later.
  • Grant Morrison's The Green Lantern has featured inhabitants of the vampire planet Vorr appear in crowd shots who bear strong resemblances to notable vampire characters who aren't under ownership by DC Comics, particularly Marvel Comics' Blade and Morbius the Living Vampire.
  • Issue 426 of volume one of The Incredible Hulk had Peter David include a lawyer-friendly cameo of Hal Jordan in the form of a mental patient Doc Samson and Bruce Banner run into named Mr. J who wears green clothes, has brown hair with graying temples and is under the delusion of owning a power ring. This references the role Hal Jordan played as Parallax in DC Comics' then-recent Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! Crisis Crossover. In issue #413, meanwhile, Hulk defeats Doomsday (whose face is obscured for legal reasons) in a virtual reality training program.
  • The fifth issue of Green Lantern Corps Quarterly has G'Nort's story involve having to stop a villain who has caused humans and dogs to switch places as owners and pets. After things are returned to normal, a bespectacled man with red hair and a white dog he calls "Mr. Peabody" are shown among the humans and their pet dogs.

    Fan Works 
  • Fanfiction written by MJTR occasionally feature or reference characters from works besides the one the fic is based on, but they're usually incorporated without official confirmation of their identities. There's obviously no legal precedent for doing this, just stylistic preference. Examples include:
  • The Mouse World League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fic The League of Extraordinary Gentlebeasts, Jupiter from Deptford Mice is only ever referred to as "the Alchemist's Cat", since he serves much the same role as "the Devil Doctor" in the original. This serves as homage, as the League books themselves are chock full of this trope.

    Film — Animation 
  • Played with in Wreck-It Ralph. The title character is basically a human version of Donkey Kong from the 8-bit days, but plenty of other video-game characters cameo as themselves — Bowser, Robotnik, M. Bison, Q*bert, Pac-Man ghosts, etc. Ralph even goes to an Animated Actors-style therapy group for depressed villains. Despite the real cameos, this trope is still played straight at points; one member of Bad Guys Anonymous is clearly based on Kano from Mortal Kombat, and in a clear Fatality reference, there's even a point during the meeting where he rips out Zombie's heart. Despite that, he's only called "Cyborg". Given the game had Australian authorities on the lookout for anyone importing the game, it's little surprise a Disney movie wouldn't go there. Sergeant Calhoun is essentially Commander Shepard were she played by Sue Sylvester.
  • Mister Fantastic appears briefly in the Planet Hulk movie, but is shown only in shadow and has no lines. This was due to 20th Century Fox owning the film rights to the Fantastic Four at the time.note 
  • Similarly, one of the main characters of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is Azari, the son of the Wakandan king Black Panther and Storm of the X-Men. Because the X-Men's film rights still belonged to Fox at the time, Storm is not referred to by name and is only shown from behind in a flashback, though her trademark white hair is still visible. The only other clues we get to her identity are a brief shot of a stylized lightning bolt logo (similar to the one Storm wore on her costume during the X-Men's Outback era) and the fact that Azari inherited her ability to generate electric blasts.
  • The Undersea Gal, one of the background characters in Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas, resembles a female version of the Gill-Man with a mermaid's tail in place of legs.
  • In Oliver & Company, among the framed pictures of Georgette's admirers is one of Scooby-Doo. It's especially telling that his is the only picture taken so close up you can only make out a small portion of his face.
  • In Yellow Submarine, Old Fred and Ringo pass through images of different fictional characters, two of them comic strip characters The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician. Of course, the film was produced by King Features, syndicators of said characters.
    Old Fred: Can't we take one of these?
    Ringo: No, Fred. I only work with me mates.
  • Mad Monster Party?, while not made by Universal, was clearly working with the characters of Universal Horror. It should be noted that while the literary versions of some of these monsters are in the public domain, their Universal interpretations are not.
  • Shrek 2:
    • During the opening montage, when Fiona and Shrek are making out on the beach, a tidal wave washes an Ariel lookalike up onto Shrek, who reacts in horror. Fiona then chucks her out to sea, where she's apparently eaten by sharks.
    • In a later scene, when Fairy Godmother's factory is flooded with potions, two of her affected mooks resemble Lumiere and Cogsworth.
  • At the very end of Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, among three monsters seen with their daughters, one appears to be Gill-Man, though colored orange instead of green, and another is a not-so-subtle cameo by Godzilla, albeit only as a giant foot.
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse features main antagonist Spot briefly visiting a Built with LEGO universe (complete with its LEGO Minifig version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man) that is very heavily implied to be that of The LEGO Movie (which the movie's directors also made), complete with being animated in the same pseudo-stop motion style and the LEGO characters making their own sound effects as they go to do things as in those movies.

    Film — Live-Action 


    Live-Action TV 


  • Granny from the The Beverly Hillbillies makes an appearance on Mister Ed. Irene Ryan, dressed in "Granny" garb, and with Granny's accent, meets Wilbur Post while touring a wax museum. She offers to take Wilbur home and poultice his head; very Granny-type actions. In the credits, however, Irene Ryan is credited as "Irene Ryan" with no character after her name.
  • Doubly lampshaded in the "John Lennon's Dead Day Off" sketch in Bo' Selecta!; John bumps into Ringo Starr as Thomas & Friends at a train yard, Ringo tells him that he's wearing the wrong-coloured Sgt. Pepper suitnote . John knows that and answers back asking isn't Thomas supposed to be blue, Ringo responds that he has to be burgundy for copyright reasons.
  • The original version of Burke's Law spun off Honey West - Anne Francis returned to the role in the revival's "Who Killed Nick Hazard?", but for legal reasons she became Honey Best.
  • Kind of an odd one here: Actor Patrick McGoohan starred in a show called Danger Man (renamed Secret Agent when imported to the US) in which he was, well, a secret agent named John Drake. His next series The Prisoner had him as a retired secret agent of some sort who was kidnapped and imprisoned in "The Village", where he was addressed only as "Number Six". Number Six was never outright stated to be John Drake, but ... Of course given that Patrick McGoohan loved himself some Trolling Creator and Mind Screw, and he and the show's other producer were at odds over whether Six was Drake (McGoohan adamantly denied it, the other producer said Sure, Why Not), take it as you will.
  • Goodness Gracious Me did a parody of The Sooty Show with Sweep's face pixelated to hide his resemblance to the original puppet.
  • Deputy U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco appears in an episode of Justified, though they had to rename her Karen Goodall for rights reasons. She's even played by the same actress who played Sisco in the short-lived TV series, and a reference is made to her new married surname.
  • Perhaps the biggest example of "Pushing it" with this trope would be an Ultraman episode where the hero fights Jirass, a monster that looks a lot like Godzilla with a neck frill attached (And in fact it was an old Godzilla suit with a collar attached). Said frill is then torn off by Ultraman about halfway through the fight. Keep in mind though that series' creator Eiji Tsuburaya owned the Godzilla suit, not Toho as he was the head of their special effects team.
  • In Two and a Half Men, after Charlie dies, a married couple played by Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson consider buying the house. They're not named in dialogue, script, or credits, but they speak and act exactly like Dharma & Greg.
  • The Stargirl (2020) episode "Brainwave" features a photograph of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, including a pair of archers who are obviously supposed to be Green Arrow and his Kid Sidekick Speedy. However, neither character is named (tellingly they are the only ones to get this treatment; the Star-Spangled Kid, Vigilante, Shining Knight, Crimson Avenger and Wing are all explicitly identified by Pat), presumably to avoid confusion with Arrow, which had also aired on the CW and was still in recent memory.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race:
    • The show officially forbids contestants from referencing fictional characters, but several queens on the show have specialized in cosplay, like Phi Phi O'Hara and Dax ExclamationPoint. As a result, the show has gotten extremely permissive and basically lets the queens do everything but reference the character by name, such as the African-American Dax wearing a white wig and lightning motifs when she first entered the Werk Room (accompanied by thunder and lighting, no less). However, the show seems to have done away with this rule. In Season 16, during the second episode's metallic-themed runway, Jax (no relation) flat-out admitted that her look—army fatigues with metal arms—was based on her semi-namesake, Jax from Mortal Kombat.note 
    • In the Once a Season challenge "The Snatch Game," a Match Game parody where the queens impersonate celebrities and try their hand at improv comedy, they're not allowed to impersonate fictional characters, but they can impersonate the actor/actress who played that character and base the impersonation on that specific role, like Season 3's Stacy Layne Matthews officially impersonating Monique but specifically channeling the abusive mother from Precious.

    Tabletop Games 


    Video Games 

  • Each story in Devilbear features a "special guest" character that represents a more famous character such as "Winnie the Pimp" instead of Pooh or "Pandatchoo" instead of Pikachu...

    Web Original 
  • Averted in Soon, I Will Rule The World!, which makes no real bones about the fact that the main character comes from a D&D-based world with a bit of Warhammer Fantasy thrown in, with all creatures and gods referred to by their in-game names.
  • Legion of Net.Heroes: At one point in Decibel Dude & Vigilante Guy, Decibel Dude was ready to quit being a superhero due to a number of extremely stressful plot developments. A quiet chat with four guys known only as Clark, Bruce, Frank, and Peter convinced him to get back in the game.

    Web Videos 
  • To Boldly Flee features as a major villain an alien of an unnamed species named Ferdinand von Turrell, who is quite clearly Terl the Psychlo from Battlefield Earth; he even goes by his last name, pronounces it Terl, and originates in a review of Battlefield Earth.
  • Steven Ogg appeared in the short parody film GTA VR where he played the role of that psycho criminal kingpin Ogg became best known for, but wasn't referred to as such due to copyright issues (though if there's any consolation, Trevor Philips didn't look any more different from the actor who portrayed him anyway).

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • When The Legend of the Lone Ranger, the 1981 movie remake of The Lone Ranger, was in production, former TV Lone Ranger Clayton Moore was legally prevented from appearing in public as the Lone Ranger... so Moore varied his costume slightly and exchanged the mask for similar-looking wraparound sunglasses until he won his countersuit. The situation was parodied on Night Court with a Captain Ersatz who faced the same exact dilemma.


Video Example(s):


You've Got the 'Shinning'!

After Bart reads Willie's thoughts, the groundskeeper declares he's got the 'shin'. Bart tries to correct the word, but Willie warns him of the copyright danger.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouWannaGetSued

Media sources: