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Written by Cast Member

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"The brave and magnificent Ozan, who writes his own examine text."

Sometimes actors want to have a say in the words they're given; sometimes they want to stretch their artistic muscles; sometimes they look at the scripts they have to do and think, "I could do better than this!" When this happens, and the producers are on their side (or the network is), you have something written by a cast member.

Much less prevalent than Directed by Cast Member, particularly in these days of arc-driven television. Writing is less glamorous than directing, for one thing, and it's harder to develop a story from scratch than to bring someone else's to the screen.

Key to both of these tropes is that the actor gets into writing or directing through the show they're on, without having a previous background in it (let alone being the series creator).

As the examples show, sometimes non-dramatic Expanded Universe works can be written or co-written by actors, for name-recognition value. Often these works focus on the character the actor plays in the show.

For the opposite direction of crossover, see Descended Creator and Creator Cameo. For shows where the cast and the writing staff heavily overlap, see Cast Full of Writers.


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  • Paul Darrow, who played Avon in Blake's 7, wrote an officially-licensed spin-off novel, Avon: A Terrible Aspect, which gives his own preferred version of his character's pre-show backstory.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
  • Has happened a few times in the Star Trek franchise:
    • Andrew Robinson, who played Elim Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, wrote a spin-off novel, A Stitch in Time, centering on the character.
    • J G Hertzler, who played several roles in the franchise, most notably the Klingon military officer and politician Martok and the outlaw Founder Laas in Deep Space 9, co-wrote two novels centering on Martok.
    • William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk, co-wrote a series of novels known as the "Shatnerverse", which take place in an Alternate Timeline in which Kirk is resurrected after his main-canon death in Star Trek: Generations.
    • Armin Shimerman, who played Quark in Deep Space Nine, co-wrote The 34th Rule with David R. George III. In addition to starring Quark, it cameos a number of other Ferengi characters that Shimmerman had earlier played in different episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, with Quark insisting they only look alike to hew-mons.
    • John de Lancie, who played Q, co-wrote I, Q with Peter David.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Small Wonder had a few episodes written, at least in part, by Dick Christie.
  • Sesame Street
    • Sonia Manzano has played Maria since 1971 and has written for the show since 1981.
    • While he was on the show, Joey Mazzarino (Murray Monster, the horns-down half of the Two-Headed Monster, and Stinky the Stinkweed, among others) wrote a number of episodes and skits. His first sketches were the Colambo sketches, in which he played the titular character, and the success of those bits allowed him to join the writing staff full-time in addition to puppeteering. By the end of his tenure, he was the show's head writer.
    • While not a specific sketch, Carroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) gave the idea to have real kids appear in unscripted bits with the Muppets. He also wrote the plot outline for the special Big Bird in China.
  • Several songs on The Sunny Side Up Show were written by the show's hosts.
  • During their days on Head of the Class, Brian Robbins and Dan Schneider had their first writing credits on the "Will The Real Arvid Engen Please Stand Up?" episode. And the rest is history.
  • Brian Krause (Leo) is the only cast member of Charmed to co-write an episode: he has co-story credit on "Sense And Sense Ability." He's said the finished product was different from what he turned in.
  • Unlike Directed by Cast Member, very few episodes of the Star Trek franchise qualify - in fact, the only ones are DS9's "The Muse" (co-written by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry) and Voyager's "Life Line" (co-written by Robert Picardo). Both focused on those actors' characters. (Walter Koenig wrote "The Infinite Vulcan" for the animated series, but due to budget limitations, wasn't a cast member on that show.)
  • Barry Watson wrote an episode of 7th Heaven (not one of the two he directed).
  • Robert Culp loved doing this on his shows: Trackdown, I Spy, and The Greatest American Hero all had episodes he wrote (and directed). In addition, he wrote one of the two episodes of Cain's Hundred on which he guest-starred. Strangely averted with The Rifleman - he guest-starred on two episodes and also wrote a two-parter in which he does not appear!.
  • John Schneider co-wrote and directed "Opening Night At The Boar's Nest," the Series Finale of The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Tom Hodges, who plays Rich in The Hogan Family, wrote "The Best of Friends, Worst of Times".
  • In addition to being the only person to appear in every episode of M*A*S*H, Alan Alda also wrote numerous episodes (and was one of the writers of the Series Finale to boot).
  • Both Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher wrote episodes of Lois & Clark.
  • Jack Klugman, who made no secret of his views on the standard of writing in TV, wrote or co-wrote four episodes of Quincy, M.E. in addition to having showrunner Glen A. Larson thrown off the show and eventually getting writers more to his liking. Including his own brother and sister.
  • Don Adams co-wrote two episodes of Get Smart.
  • Peter Falk wrote one script for Columbo, in which the Lieutenant is romanced by a Femme Fatale. He held it back until finding the perfect co-star: Faye Dunaway, who turned the role into an Emmy.
  • Roger Smith wrote several episodes of 77 Sunset Strip.
  • Done quite a bit on The X-Files, especially in later seasons. David Duchovny wrote (and directed) two episodes: "The Unnatural" and "Hollywood AD" while co-developing storylines for seven others. Gillian Anderson wrote (and directed) season seven's "all things." William B Davis (who plays The Smoking Man) wrote "En Ami."
  • Two episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place were written by David Henrie.
  • Two episodes of Farscape (Season 3's "Green-Eyed Monster" and Season 4's "John Quixote") were written by Ben Browder.
  • Christopher Judge (Teal'c) and Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson) wrote multiple episodes of Stargate SG-1.
  • Nick Offerman earned his first writing credit for a Parks and Recreation script.
  • Michael Imperioli wrote several episodes of The Sopranos. This is reflected in Christopher Moltisanti's interest in film and screenwriting.
  • Michael Landon got his start in writing with several scripts for his hit series Bonanza, including at least one episode where his character did not appear. He went on to write more episodes of Little House on the Prairie than anyone else, as well as create another successful vehicle for himself in Highway to Heaven.
  • Jason Smith wrote a few episodes of Power Rangers Super Megaforce, though oddly not the episode where he reprises his Jungle Fury role as Casey, that season's red ranger.
  • Patrick Labyorteaux (Bud) wrote the episode "JAG TV" on JAG.
  • Three of CSI: NY cast members tried their hands at writing episodes. Gary Sinise worked on the story line for "Live or Let Die" about a stolen donor liver, and wrote the screenplay for "Turbulence" in which a man posing as an Air Marshall is killed during a flight that Mac is on. Melina Kanakaredes wrote "Grounds for Deception" where Stella goes to Greece chasing a suspect - an ep which unfortunately drew mixed reviews from fans. Finally, Carmine Giovinazzo wrote "Sanguine Love," about the murder of a member of a vampire-like cult. This one was much better received by viewers.
  • David Faustino (Bud) co-wrote one episode of Married... with Children.
  • Diahann Carroll wrote an episode of her series Julia.
  • James Roday Rodriguez has written or co-written over a dozen episodes of Psych, one of which was an elaborate homage to Twin Peaks (his "favorite show of all time, hands down").
    • In one of the Hilarious Outtakes, when James messes up on his lines, his co-star jokes that he should remember the lines since he's the one who wrote them.
  • St. Elsewhere:
    • The story of "Hearing" was written by guest star Robert Daniels, who played Lee Tovan in that episode.
    • Sagan Lewis (Dr. Jackie Wade) is credited for the teleplay of Season 6's "Their Town" as S.J. Lewis. (Lewis' husband, Tom Fontana, was co-showrunner and one of the writers who got story credit.)
  • Chad Michael Murray wrote an episode of One Tree Hill in which Lucas falls asleep watching Casablanca and dreams the show's cast into a Forties Film Noir world.
  • Ellen DeGeneres is credited for the story of Ellen's coming out episode.
  • Jerry O'Connell and John Rhys-Davies each received a story credit on Sliders - O'Connell got a few such credits (such as on "Way Out West") while Rhys-Davies only got it for "The Exodus, Part 1." In the latter case, it was the culmination of his feud with the producers and network: they purchased an outline he pitched as an example of how the show could better use its potential, drastically rewrote it into the kind of embarrassing B-movie he'd been complaining about, and since he had just been fired for his outspokenness, reduced his character to a mumbling brain-damaged state, fatally shot him in the heart, and left his corpse behind on a radioactive planet... which immediately exploded.
  • Yaphet Kotto wrote three teleplays for Homicide: Life on the Street.
  • Paul Gross wrote or co-wrote some of the most memorable episodes of Due South, including the introduction of Kowalski and the two-part series finale.
  • Peter MacNicol co-wrote two episodes for NUMB3RS: the season two episode Mind Games and the season five episode Trouble in Chinatown.
  • Della Reese contributed a script to Touched by an Angel.
  • Ray Romano co-wrote several episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, including some Whole Episode Flashbacks filling in Raymond's past.
  • Ted Raimi and Jonathan Brandis each wrote an episode of SeaQuest DSV with the help of producer David J. Burke. Brandis was set to direct a second script he had written when the series was Cut Short.
  • Denise Nicholas wrote six episodes of In the Heat of the Night.
  • As well as directing the first season finale of The Client List, Jennifer Love Hewitt has co-story credit on that episode.
  • Stuart Hepburn played a recurrent character in early episodes of Taggart. The producer was so impressed by ideas he had for one scene he was in that he was later invited to come back and write whole episodes; he quickly became one of the most prolific writers after series creator Glenn Chandler.
  • Jim Rash wrote "Basic Human Anatomy" for the fourth season of Community.
  • Glee's Chris Colfer wrote season five's "Old Dog, New Tricks."
  • Outside of three cast members of The Office (US) being staff writers (B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, and Paul Lieberstein), Steve Carell also wrote the season 2 finale "Casino Night" as well as "Survivor Man".
  • Sara Gilbert received a story credit on Roseanne for the Season Episode "Don't Make Me Over."
  • Taken to the extreme on The Red Green Show, as Steve Smith (who played the title character) wrote all 300 episodes. Rick Green (Bill) also wrote for most of the first eight seasons, and other episodes included contributions from Peter Wildman (Buzz Sherwood), Bob Bainborough (Dalton Humphrey), Jeff Lumby (Winston Rothschild), and Patrick McKenna (Harold Green).
  • The Wiz had two of the leads of the 2015 NBC production, Elijah Kelley (the Scarecrow) and Ne-Yo (the Tin Man), help write a new song, "We Got It". In it, Dorothy and her friends proclaim that The Power of Friendship can help them defeat Evilene and get their desires granted.
  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men was created and written by its star Tony Robinson, however, co-stars David Lloyd and Mark Billingham contributed a lot of ideas and ended up being co-credited for a couple of episodes.
  • Schitt's Creek was created by father and son duo Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy, who play father and son on the show. Daniel is also the Showrunner and writes most of the episodes.
  • Carroll O'Connor wrote for In the Heat of the Night, under the pseudonym of Matt Harris.
  • Don Galloway co-wrote the Ironside episode "Seeing Is Believing".
  • Paul Reiser already co-created Mad About You, and would write more than 15 episodes. Co-star Helen Hunt has story credits for both the finale and the first episode of the 2019 revival.
  • Robert Llewellyn wrote the Red Dwarf episode "Beyond a Joke". And then it was rewritten by Doug Naylor.
  • Rowan Atkinson co-wrote the first season of Blackadder with Richard Curtis.
  • A songwriting example: the LazyTown song "Techno Generation" was co-written by Jodi Eichelberger, Stingy's puppeteer.
  • Ellen Corby, who played Grandma Walton, wrote two episodes of The Waltons.
  • Cobra Kai: The showrunners allowed the actors a lot of input into how their characters had changed since the events of the original The Karate Kid movies, along with fleshing out their backstories.
    • Most of Johnny Lawrence's backstory (having an abusive home life and seeing Kreese as a father figure), was created by William Zabka during the first film as a way to get a better feel for the character.
    • Martin Kove, similarly, long ago had developed the idea that Kreese was a Shell-Shocked Veteran whose wartime experiences traumatized him into cruelty. This was adapted in the show's third season, which focuses heavily on Kreese's Start of Darkness.
    • In season 3, Tamlyn Tomita worked with the creators to offer a more accurate depiction of Okinawan culture than The Karate Kid Part II, helping to translate script passages into Okinawan dialect and choreographing Kumiko's dance scene.
    • Yuji Okomoto had a long phone conversation with Josh Heald soon after he was cast, where he offered suggestions about Chozen's growth since The Karate Kid Part II. He was surprised and flattered at how many of his ideas made it into the show.
  • Besides being credited as consultant producer in Season 2 of American Gods (2017), Orlando Jones reveals in several interviews that he ended up being roped into writing the character bibles and scripts for several characters, including Bilquis, Salim, the Jinn, Sam Black Crow, Mr. Ibis, main characters Shadow and Laura Moon, and his own character Mr. Nancy.
  • Patrick McGoohan wrote three episodes of The Prisoner (1967): "Free For All" (under the pseudonym "Paddy Fitz") and the two-part Grand Finale, "Once Upon a Time"/"Fall Out".
  • Yaphet Kotto wrote three episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street.
  • Avocado Toast: The series was written by Heidy Lynch (Molly) and Perrie Voss (Elle). In addition they also created it.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • In 1955, The Archers had an episode where Grace Archer, the wife of Phil, was killed off. (It may or may not have been a coincidence that the episode went out on BBC radio the very night commercial television began.) The script had Grace's fate be conveyed in the final line of dialogue thus: "She... she died in my arms... on the way to hospital," but Norman Painting, who played Phil, suggested the line go "In my arms... on the way to hospital... she's dead!" Suffice to say that not only was this one of the most talked-about episodes of the soap, but Painting went on to write many, many episodes (and the book Forever Ambridge - 25 Years of The Archers), as well as act in them.
  • Louise Jameson, who played Leela in Doctor Who, wrote a Fourth Doctor and Leela audio drama for Big Finish Doctor Who, "The Abandoned."

  • In Godspell, "By My Side," the only song retained from the original Off-Off-Broadway production, was composed by its performers, Peggy Gordon and Gilmer McCormick (with lyrics by non-cast-member Jay Hamburger).
  • Both of the musicals written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights and Hamilton) featured him performing in the lead role in both their original Off-Broadway runs and their original Broadway casts.

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    Western Animation