The seventh season premiere of Game Of Thrones brought fans a surprising guest: redheaded pop singer Ed Sheeran portraying a Lannister guard who briefly befriends Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). Sheeran’s cameo (which, unsurprisingly, included some singing) divided viewers over its quality and necessity to the plot, but this is hardly the first time a TV show has injected some celeb power into its scenes. Take a look at some of the best and worst TV cameos in history.
BEST: Britney Spears, “How I Met Your Mother”
No, Brit-Brit’s not the best actor in the world, but her 2008 appearance on “HIMYM” was a welcome event after her infamous “breakdown” that led to the pop star shaving her head. Appearing on the CBS sitcom, Spears played Abby, a nervous receptionist who awkwardly falls for Ted (Josh Radnor). While that romance didn’t work out, the cameo did, as ratings for the show soared and Spears’s perfectly adequate performance was enough to have producers invite her back for another episode later that year.
Worst: Paris Hilton, “Veronica Mars”
Back when UPN was still a network and Kristen Bell wasn’t yet famous, her teen detective drama “Veronica Mars” had only just begun to air. In an attempt to draw in viewers, producers decided to give Paris Hilton a guest spot, playing a rich girl who frames her boyfriend’s grandmother for theft. It wasn’t the most demanding role in the world, yet the heiress still couldn’t pull it off.
Best: Matt Damon, “Will & Grace”
“Will & Grace” got a bit cameo-crazy as the seasons when on, but Damon’s appearance still holds up. The movie star played a member of the gay men’s choir who feuds with Jack (Sean Hayes), and Jack only triumphs when he discovers his rival is secretly straight. Come for Matt Damon, stay for the “my boyfriend Ben” jokes.
Worst: Chris Brown, “The O.C.”
Yes, this was before the singer’s run-ins with the law, but it’s still pretty bad. Cast as Will, the new love interest for Caitlin Cooper (Willa Holland), Brown’s acting skills are practically nonexistent. Props to “The O.C.” for trying to cast some actual people of colour, but Brown was not the right choice.
Best: Tom Baker, “Doctor Who”
The 50th anniversary of the long-running British sci-fi series was already a big deal, as David Tennant and Billie Piper returned and John Hurt guest starred alongside then-Doctor Matt Smith. But a surprise appearance by the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, right at the end was the perfect cap to the television special and couldn’t have been more perfect.
Worst: Kim and Khloe Kardashian, “90210”
It’s easy to forget that “90210” ever existed, or that any of the Kardashians might need it to help boost their star power, but 2010 was a strange, strange time. The two sisters appeared as themselves to promote their clothing line, “helping” Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord) decide which of their dresses to wear. Unsurprisingly, the scene quickly turns into name-calling, because it’s “90210” and they’re the Kardashians.
Best: Brad Pitt, “Friends”
Fans of the NBC sitcom were thrilled when Jennifer Aniston’s then-husband Brad Pitt agreed to appear on the show – and brilliantly, he played a man who once went to school with Rachel and had fostered an intense hatred of her through the years. This episode hasn’t aged as well considering Pitt and Aniston eventually divorced, but at the time it came out, it was great.
WORST: Kevin Federline, “CSI”
The erstwhile husband of Britney Spears showed up on the CBS crime procedural, not playing himself exactly, but certainly not stretching his acting chops. Federline played a sketchy bystander who began insulting the cops, resulting in a swift punch to the stomach. At least we’ve all been able to put Federline in our collective pasts.
Best: Mark Linn-Baker, “The Leftovers”
The HBO series about the chaos that occurs when 2% of the world’s population disappeared got plenty of accolades for its drama, but the show also demonstrated a fair amount of comedy, such as when it presented the idea that the entire cast of Perfect Strangers had also gone missing. As it turned out, though, PS cast member Linn-Baker had simply gone into hiding, and the show gave the actor a brilliant cameo that was integral to the plot and showed off his acting chops at the same time.
WORST: Donald Trump, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
There’s a lot to regret about the early ’90s (the fashion especially), but few things have aged worse than the current U.S. President’s appearance on the Will Smith sitcom. Trump and then-wife Marla Maples appeared to applause and excitement (from both the characters and the studio audience!), and the appearance ends with his big line, “Everybody’s always blaming me for everything.” Oh, if only he knew.