Remember that time Ed Sheeran randomly appeared on an episode of Game of Thrones and the social media hate was real? That’s because the pop singer looked too clean, out of place and, frankly, jarring in the mythical world of Westeros. When it comes to casting big names for TV show cameos, the casting has to fit like a glove in order for it to work.
More often than not, we’d say stunt-casting actually fails. But not always. Sometimes, in rare cases like the nine examples listed below, getting someone to come in for a brilliant little cameo actually takes the show to a whole new level. Let’s take a look, shall we?
George Clooney and Noah Wylie on ‘Friends’
When Monica had to take Rachel to the emergency room after she fell down dismantling Christmas lights, the doctors who showed up to check her out were played by none other than George Clooney and Noah Wylie, at the height of ER’s popularity. See? Brilliant.
Lisa Kudrow on ‘Mad About You’
Everyone knew that Phoebe on Friends had a twin sister named Ursula, who also happened to be a terrible waitress. Well, we got to see just how awful she was every time Lisa Kudrow randomly showed up on Mad About You in that role. As an added bonus, Helen Hunt once mistook Phoebe for Ursula in an episode of Friends.
Oprah on ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
In a world like Gilead, any kind of celebrity appearance would feel completely out of place. Luckily the producers had a brilliant plan when they asked Oprah to stop by. The personality’s voice popped up in a scene when June (Elisabeth Moss) tuned into a radio station, lending hope to those still fighting the oppressive, totalitarian society.
Johnny Depp, ‘The Walking Dead’
Okay so technically Johnny Depp didn’t hang out in Atlanta with the cast of this apocalyptic TV series, but he did lend his mug to the cause. A decapitated head (that’s him on the right) fashioned after the actor popped up in season six’s “Not Tomorrow Yet” in a brief scene that didn’t detract from the world, but added a fun little Easter egg for eagle-eyed viewers.
Michele Obama, ‘Parks and Recreation’
We give high-fives all-around for the then First Lady’s appearance on the series finale of Amy Poehler’s show. Obama popped in just long enough to provide Leslie Knope with a surprise inspirational pep talk, but her appearance wasn’t so long that it felt contrived or drawn-out.
Paris Hilton, ‘Supernatural’
Many fans of the demon-hunting series were offended when they heard Paris Hilton was going to guest star in an October 2009 episode, wondering if the show had jumped the shark. But we think the result was a brilliant self-mockery, most notably for Hilton herself. She played a demon who had taken on Hilton’s form, which was perfect for an episode linked to the idea of modern celebrity.
Cher, ‘Will & Grace’
The “If I Could Turn Back Time” singer actually made two appearances on the NBC series, including the 2002 finale in which she showed up in Jack’s dream sequence. We’re bigger fans of her first appearance though, when Jack mistook her for a drag-queen Cher impersonator. On a show celebrating gay culture, what could be more perfect than that?
Victoria Beckham, ‘Ugly Betty’
If we were to draw any conclusions from Posh Spice’s guest appearance as Wilhelmina Slater’s maid of honour, we think the former Spice Girl must be aware of every stereotype that exists about her. Because rather than run from them, she embraced them in full to play a heightened version of herself, and it fit in perfectly with the posh world of publishing set out in the show.
Steve Urkel, ‘Full House’
Okay so perhaps this last cameo falls slightly into the “stunt-casting” category, but it makes our nostalgic hearts so happy that we can’t help but include it. In the 1990s, Family Matters and Full House were so synonymous that when Jaleel White guest starred on the latter series to help Stephanie accept her new glasses (and get “cool” lessons from Uncle Jesse) we couldn’t help but squeal.