The best TV and movie cameos are the ones you don’t expect – when a celebrity comes in to perform a role that’s either opposite of what they’re known for or is on a show that doesn’t seem to fit them. The celebrity could enhance the TV show or movie – or they could make viewers cringe.
For the most part, casting directors make good choices when looking for guest stars to include as cameos. Often, roles are written for specific celebrities in hopes that celebrity says yes. Usually, they do. Cameos, especially in television, sometime occur because a celebrity is a huge fan of the show and they want to be on it. Other times, it’s to coincide the air date with a star’s upcoming event or release, like a movie or album.
You always want your favorite star to perform well in a cameo, particularly when you might feel they’re out of their league. Like a comedian in a dramatic role, or a known serious actor performing a small role in an action movie. No one wants to see a cameo and ask, “Why did they do that?” But it happens.
This list contains odd, strange, and inappropriate cameos that may make you wonder, “What were they thinking?” Here’s 15 Most Inappropriate TV Cameos Ever, Ranked.
16. Ed Sheeran on Game of Thrones
In the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, Ed Sheeran had a cameo worth remembering not for his star power, but for how clumsy his presence was. Sheeran played a soldier who was the main singer in a group of conveniently amazing singing soldiers. He sings a folk song, and Arya Stark is entranced by the beautiful music.
The showrunners of Game of Thrones knew that the actress who plays Arya, Maisie Williams, was a big fan of Sheeran so they cast him to surprise Maisie. The scene involves Arya riding through the Riverlands and accidentally encountering Sheeran and his men. He doesn’t have much of a role in the few minutes he’s on screen, but when Arya tells him she likes the song he’s singing, Sheeran says, “It’s a new one.“
15. Paris Hilton on Supernatural
Paris Hilton is a well-known model, reality star, and businesswoman who’s won various awards for acting, including the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress of the Decade in 2010. One of her odd cameos included the season 5 episode of Supernatural, “Fallen Idols.” Hilton plays Leshii, a demonic creature that takes the form of Paris Hilton.
Former Executive Producer Sera Gamble states they wrote the role for her and were shocked she wanted to do it. Supernatural often shows it has a comedy side to it, and Hilton agreeing to the role “speaks volumes about her sense of humor.”
Hilton has never been known for her acting chops, and it’s evident as she delivers her lines and sharpens knives in her scene on Supernatural. The humor of the scene is clear: she says, “this will be huge,“ a nod to her first signing as a model with the Trump Model Management, and mentions she’s been “eating a lot of fast food lately,“ which is a dig on her Burger King commercials.
14. Snoop Dog on 90210
Snoop Dogg is no stranger to TV and movies, having played himself in the films Old School and Pitch Perfect 2 and televisions shows Las Vegas and Just Shoot Me. In 2011, Snoop Dogg appeared in an episode of the CW’s 90210 called “Blue Naomi.” Once again, he played himself.
In the episode, the character Dixon rolls up in his Ferrari to a parking spot, gets out, and happens to notice Snoop Dogg leaning against the nearby building. The meeting is happenstance, as Dixon feels it may help with his newly-formed company Shirazi Studios 2.0.
Dixon raps some of Dogg’s lyrics, which annoys the artist at first, then delights him, then annoys him. Snoop Dogg seems to just be in the episode to spout his nonsense vernacular while promoting his new single. He offers Dixon a listen to the single, and he and Snoop cruise the coast as Snoop raps along to the single. The scene barely moved the plot along, and a teen soap cameo hardly gelled with Snoop’s cool rapper persona.
13. Bristol Palin on The Secret Life of an American Teenager
Bristol Palin took her first acting role in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which is about a teen who becomes pregnant and has a son. The show emphasizes how being a teenage mother affects Amy, her family, and her friends. Bristol plays herself in the episode as a friend to the main character at a concert for teen mothers.
Best known for being the daughter of former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Bristol – a teen mother herself- has pledged her support of abstinence until marriage. She once went on The Oprah Show after having her son Tripp to voice her staunch pledge to abstain from sex until she gets married. She also told Good Morning America “Regardless of what I did personally, I just think that abstinence is the only foolproof way to prevent pregnancy.”
Because Palin has gone through many of the issues The Secret Life of the American Teenager portrays, her addition to the show was timely. However, Bristol’s cardboard performance probably took away from the message.
12. Britney Spears on How I Met Your Mother
With cameos in the original Will & Grace, Glee, and Kenen & Kel, Britney Spears’s oddest one came on How I Met Your Mother. While most guest stars from the music industry play themselves in cameos, Spears took on the role of Abby, a receptionist for a dermatologist Ted Mosby is trying to date. The cameo aired during the same time that Spears was having a well-publicized breakdown, which gives the whole thing an air of desperation.
In the episode, “Ten Sessions,” Ted uses Abby by being nice to her since he thinks this will show the dermatologist a good side of him. Unfortunately, Abby falls for Ted, becoming flirty and obnoxiously head-over-heels for the architect. At the end of the episode, Abby tells Barney that Ted just played with her emotions, then they go have sex.
Neil Patrick Harris – who played Barney Stinson – felt the cameo was unnecessary as “our show does not need stunt casting in order to succeed,” he said during the break between tapings.
11. Stephen Hawking on The Big Bang Theory
Stephen Hawking had done cameos before his appearance on The Big Bang Theory. He appeared in a skit in The Conan O’Brien Show where he calls Jim Carrey, who was a guest that night. He also appeared briefly in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where he was a hologram during a poker game. He played himself for the hologram.
Starting with season 5, in the episode “The Hawking Excitation,” Hawking began a run of cameos in The Big Bang Theory – the most notable being that season 5 episode, which was his first appearnce, though he was mentioned in the show’s premiere episode.
Hawking hires Howard Wolowitz to provide maintenance on his wheelchair. Sheldon finds out and is obsessed with meeting Hawking through Wolowitz. During the episode, Wolowitz does an impression of Hawking, though the actor – Simon Helberg – had been uncomfortable doing so at first. Near the end of the episode, when Hawking catches an error in Sheldon’s paper, he says, “It was quite a boner.“ What?!
10. Justin Bieber on CSI
Justin Bieber was in two episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’s eleventh season. In both episodes, Bieber played a serial bomber named Jason McCann. In the first episode, McCann protects his brother from the law because Bieber is sort of playing a familiar role: an angsty teenage bad boy with a swoopy haircut.
In the second episode Bieber was in – season 11, episode 15 – he reprised his role of Jason McCann who still hated authority and the government and is ultimately killed at the end of the episode in a wave of gunfire. His death scene was just as stiff as dialogue, and Bieber probably didn’t convince a lot of people he could do dramatic roles. He should stick with making music and roles that he can pull off, like his cameo in Zoolander 2.
9. Larry David on Hannah Montana
Larry David is best known as the creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But in Hannah Montana’s second season, David made a little cameo. He was the first celebrity to appear as himself on the show, and it was a weird one. And we’re talking about Larry David here.
In the episode, David is waiting for a table at a busy and trendy restaurant. He tries to facilitate the process by saying it’s each of his daughter’s birthday (two girls are with him.) Then, Hannah walks in and is given a table immediately. One daughter points out her cranky dad’s TV credits, but the host simply doesn’t care.
Larry David’s cameo is probably the most random one on this list. The minute-and-a-half scene showcases David’s humor, but the only thing worth hearing is the reference to “Uncle Jerry.” Why was this cranky comedy king even appearing on a kids’ show?
8. Jean-Claude Van Damme on Friends
The episode of Friends called “The One After the Superbowl” had many guest stars, including Brooke Shields and Julia Roberts. Jean-Claude Van Damme played himself, a huge action star filming a movie in the neighborhood.
When Monica and Rachel first see him, Monica is overcome, afraid to go talk to him despite Rachel’s encouragement. Instead, Rachel goes and speaks to Van Damme, who awkwardly flirts with Rachel. Rachel tries to make the point its Monica who thinks he’s cute, but Van Damme kept “asking and asking and asking“ Rachel out.
Van Damme has a few more scenes in the episode, but even for playing himself, it’s hard to tell if he’s being serious, trying to be funny, or portraying himself in a tongue-in-cheek manner. If it’s the latter, it was excellent practice for his new Amazon series, JVCD, premiering in December 2017.
7. Michelle Obama on iCarly
Former First Lady Michelle Obama is adored for her impeccable dress, poise, and fun style of dancing. Mrs. Obama also did a cameo with good intentions and odd payoff on the show iCarly.
Michelle was promoting her Joining Forces program, which raises awareness for the need to support military families. The episode she appears in, “iMeet the First Lady” has her visit Carly because Carly can’t come to grips about her dad being continuously deployed overseas.
Mrs. Obama explains in seriously how important it is for Carly to understand what her dad is doing, then goes on to praise Carly’s friends for supporting Carly. Then she participates in the iCarly segment “random dancing” with the show’s characters.
The cameo’s sole purpose was to promote and reach a new audience with Michelle’s Joining Forces program, but the serious subject matter is awkwardly out of sync with the “random dancing” nature of a kids’ show.
6. Paul Anka on Girlmore Girls
It was bound to happen on Gilmore Girls. With a dog named Paul Anka, you would expect the real Paul Anka to appear on the show at some point. And it did happen in the season 6 episode called “The Real Paul Anka”.
Lorelei calls her daughter Rory and describes to her a dream she had the night before. In the dream, Lorelei encounters various moments where her dog Paul Anka is replaced with the real Paul Anka and vice versa. The real Paul Anka eventually approaches the dog in the street, and a blinding white flash overtakes the dream. Lorelei wakes up and doesn’t know how the dream ends or what happens after that.
Paul Anka had a few lines in the dream, but otherwise it was him in strange situations with a large grin on his face. If anything, fans should be upset that the real Paul Anka’s storyline wasn’t resolved.
5. Jim Abbott on Boy Meets World
Jim Abbott was a pitcher for 10 seasons for various MLB teams, including the California Angels and New York Yankees. He was born without a right hand, but that didn’t stop him from winning several pitching awards and throwing a no-hitter in 1993 while pitching for the Yankees.
Sometimes, cameos are meant to be inspirational, as was the purpose when Jim Abbott was called up to Boy Meets World to guest star in the first season episode, “Class Preunion.” In the episode, Mr. Feeny tells Cory that Cory’s dream of being a Major Leaguer is impossible. Cory’s dad sends Jim Abbott “63 telegrams“ because Abbott went through a similar situation.
The obvious message is “never give up on your dreams,” but with Abbott’s near-monotone voice and unenthusiastic attitude – probably due to lack of on-screen experience – it’s a wonder Cory was still encouraged. Abbott has stated that he thought he was only going to say hello to the kids on set, but received lines when he got there, to his surprise.
4. Boy George on The A-Team
Did you ever ponder if Boy George, the iconic singer of Culture Club, could pull of an action role? The answer is not really. In season 4 of The A-Team, Boy George guest starred in the episode called “Cowboy George”. He played himself.
In the episode, Face makes a deal with the owner of the country dance hall “Floor’em” and is set to take all profits from the performance of Cowboy George. Buy Face inadvertently books Boy George. The entire plot is confusing and includes a bank robbery, the A-Team being framed for killing the sheriff, and a crowd of rowdy oil workers who just want a concert.
Throughout the episode, Boy George kicks in a door and drives the memorable GMC van to help the A-Team escape, but that’s all he really brings to his role. The end of the episode has Boy George and Culture Club performing “Karma Chameleon” for the “Floor’em” crowd. The singing he can do, the acting not so much.
3. The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island
The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island is the final movie in the Gilligan’s Island movie trilogy that brought back the cast of the original sitcom for a third time. Unlike most TV or movie cameos, the Harlem Globetrotters’s presence is vital to the movie.
The Globetrotters’s plane makes an emergency landing on the Castaways’ island (owned by Gilligan and other friends), which is the resort from the previous movie. A rival of Thurston Howell, J.J. Pierson, is swindling Gilligan into signing over everything to him, but when Pierson is found out, he proposes a basketball game between the Globetrotters and his own team, the New Invincibles. If the Globetrotters win, Pierson will forget the fraudulent contract.
The skills the movie shows viewers is what the Globetrotters do best: play basketball. Nothing more, nothing less. The 1981 Globetrotter team played themselves and had a few non-basketball scenes, but to make a movie with their name in the title was a strange decision.
2. Cher on Will and Grace
Cher has been in movies and TV since 1965, sometimes playing herself. In roles where she played a character, she’s won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award and has been nominated for a variety of other awards.
In the Will & Grace episode, “Gypsies, Tramps and Weed”, from 2000, Cher played herself in competition with Jack. It’s Will’s birthday, and Jack bought Will a Cher doll, which Jack really wanted. Throughout the episode Jack annoys everyone by talking to the doll. In a restaurant, Cher tells Jack she thinks it weird he talks to her doll like that.
However, Jack thinks Cher is a drag queen and at the end of the episode, Cher and Jack have quick sing-off with the song “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Of course, Cher is Cher, and Jack is Jack as he over-enunciates each word, making fun of Cher. Especially the last one, which sounds like “Toooime.”
1. Billy Crystal and Robin Williams on Friends
Another Friends cameo that takes a weird journey is actually two cameos. Billy Crystal and Robin Williams graced the show with their back-and-forth banter. In the episode, “The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion”, Crystal and Williams play the characters of Tim and Tomas respectively.
Tomas and Tim wiggle their way onto the couch with the rest of the Friends cast in the Central Perk coffee shop. Tomas is distraught, confiding in his friend Tim that he suspects his wife is sleeping with her gynecologist because “he has access.“ Tim admits that he’s the one sleeping with Tomas’s wife. And they leave the coffee shop as Tomas yells at Tim.
While the two were funny, it seemed like Crystal and Williams happened to be walking by the set and were asked to provide further comedy relief. It had no bearing on the plot, the other characters, or the show itself. Someone must have told them go inside, get a cup of coffee, and improvise for three minutes.
Which TV cameos did you think were bizarre or inappropriate? Let us know in the comments!
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