Celebrity Paradox

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"Within the reality of one specific fiction, how do other fictions exist?"
Chuck Klosterman

A Celebrity Paradox describes the complications that arise from creating a fictional universe in which that fictional universe does not exist, and the actors playing roles within it do not exist either.

So, in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't exist and is not the governor of California. There's no Gubernator. Or, in the world of Batman Begins, the Batman comics never existed, and neither did Christian Bale.

In modern updates of a work, the original may be unheard of. Writers get a li'l kick out of toying around with the concept, such as having the character meet the actor/actress playing them or giving a Shout-Out to the original source. Cameos of famous actors or artists may either be in the form of Recursive Canon or Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman.

This avoids such awkward issues as why the plucky hero isn't constantly asked for autographs. It can become extremely awkward when the show is set amongst the showbiz industry, and the stars and writers become famous enough to be on the scene where the show finds itself. Also, if a larger-than-life celebrity was chosen to play a nerd, a geek, or a loser (for example, Hilary Duff in A Cinderella Story) -- that would also be extremely awkward.

To what extent this is done is a subject for discussions amongst fans. Do the actors themselves not exist? Do other works the actors have appeared in exist? If they do, who starred in them? It's probably best not to overthink these, but some impulsive connections are bound to occur. If taken far enough, such speculation can overlap with the Literary Agent Hypothesis. (In fact the Literary Agent Hypothesis may be the best way out of the paradox: the Tenth Doctor doesn't actually look like David Tennant any more than Erin Brockovich really looks like Julia Roberts.)

If the actors or their works do not exist, this implies an In Spite of a Nail Alternate Universe. In a recent and amusing example, actress Jeri Ryan divorced her husband to play Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager (he refused to move to Hollywood with her). The divorce was contentious, and a lot of salacious dirt was spilled. When Jack Ryan ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, the release of the documents forced him to withdraw, allowing his challenger to win in a landslide against a last-ditch replacement. The landslide victory propelled the challenger, Barack Obama, to a position from which he could then launch a campaign for President, and... well, you know the rest. But the paradox is, do you think it says that in Voyager's historical database? Of course not.

Many a show or movie trying to be hyper-realistic does its best to distill this concept to an extent by refusing to cast a Celebrity Star because he or she is not obscure enough and would be too recognizable, as it strains Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Of course, if the star becomes famous because of said work, the same issues could still pop up.

Note that, in Animated Series and Anime, the Celebrity Paradox wouldn't be as big of an issue. After all, in this type of medium, the characters wouldn't necessarily resemble the actors who do the voices of them. Additionally, the paradox may be avoided if the work is a Period Piece set before the actors were famous. So, for example, no one in Raiders of the Lost Ark can wonder why Indy looks exactly like Harrison Ford because the film is set before Harrison Ford was even born. Perhaps, the paradox may also be avoided in works that take place in the far future—when the actors are likely to be forgotten. And it's avoided completely in Constructed World fiction, of course.

Certain Setting Updates can face a similar problem: they have to be set in a world where no one will recognize the name of Sherlock Holmes, Superman, or Macbeth, but are otherwise culturally identical, or the tropes that they've since made popular, but is otherwise just like the real world. Again, it's best to just not think about it.

The answer usually gone with is the simplest one—things went the same way, but in place of the actor or show that could not exist, it was a very similar actor or show. This actually appears in Last Action Hero, as the image above shows. Jeri Ryan probably moved to Hollywood because she got cast in Battlestar Pegasus: The Geminon Years. Nobody in Fringe notices that William Bell looks just like Mr. Spock because, in their universe(s), Spock was played by Christopher Lee. And so on.

Playing with this is a form of Post Modernism. Actor Allusion can be a form of playing with this. Contrast Your Costume Needs Work and compare Recursive Canon, see also Different World, Different Movies.

Of course, in real life, there are plenty of people who closely resemble celebrities and go about their business without being mistaken for them. Maybe we're all in a movie!

Example paradoxes:


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Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Lucky Star has quite a bit of this thanks to its numerous modern-day media references to anime, manga, video games, etc. Prime examples include multiple shoutouts to its fellow Kyoto Animation anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the guest appearances of the character's own seiyuu.
    • Probably the prime example of this is in the last episode. Patty bribes Konata (voiced by Aya Hirano) with a ticket to a live event where she can meet... Aya Hirano
    • Of course there's also an earlier episode where Konata attends the Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekisou live concert and sees Hirano on stage.
      • Aya also appears in the first strip of volume 5 of the manga—eating a choco-cornet, from the pointy end, no less—and is noticed by Konata (and Hiyori, who calls her "that girl from Haruhi Suzumiya)".
    • During one of the Lucky Channel spots, Anime Tenchou questions Akira (Hiromi Konno) on her feelings for a handful of her previous roles, for her to nonchalantly ask who those people are.
    • The show also bizarrely folds in on itself in one of the later episodes where Konata, in Ripped from the Headlines fashion, finds a plaque that reads "Konata is my wife."
    • In that same episode, while on the school trip, Konata insists a visit to the local anime studio is a must (guess which one).
  • A case in Detective Conan once revolved around the eponymous character and his friends meeting singer Minami Takayama. Minami happens to do the voice of Conan Edogawa, and their similar voices were pointed out by other characters. That story also appeared in the original manga.
    • Not so weird, considering mangaka Gosho Aoyama was dating, and then was briefly married to, Minami.
  • A case in Manga/DetectiveConan once revolved around the eponymous character and his friends meeting singer MinamiTakayama. Minami happens to do the voice of Conan Edogawa, and their similar voices were pointed out by other characters. That story also appeared in the original manga. Not so weird, considering mangaka Gosho Aoyama was dating, and then was briefly married to, Minami.
    • The series has had crossovers with Lupin III. Movie 11 establishes that Sato-san is a fan of Lupin III and is therefore upset when a criminal wears a Lupin III mask. Given that she is a police officer and would not be a fan of a real thief, this would only make sense if Lupin III is a fictional character.
  • An episode of Akahori Gedou Hour Lovege has two of the Hokke sisters meeting their own voice actresses and then proceeding to argue about which one of them is better.
  • Completely pulled off in Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, Meido Nanami Nanashiro distracts the proud Otaku Nobunaga Asakura by telling him that seiyuu Kana Ueda is nearby and proceeds to mimic her voice to make Nobunaga 'chase' the seiyuu. Of course, Kana Ueda herself is the seiyuu of Nanami.
    • In the first episode of the second season, Yuuto and Haruka (who's voiced by Mamiko Noto), go to see the voice actress of a Show Within a Show. The character she voices heavily resembles Haruka and is also voiced by Noto—in the show's universe. Essentially resulting in Haruka going to meet her own voice actress.
    • It comes around full circle in episode 10 where Yuuto visits a recording session for Nocturne. It is heavily implied that the five seiyuu who were recording roles in Nocturne were Mamiko Noto, Mai Goto, Kaori Shimizu, Kana Ueda, and Rina Sato. Also, Asakura tells Yuuto about a certain Reiko Takagi, who is in fact, Asakura's own seiyuu. Taken to Up to Eleven in the Nogizaka Vocabulary Essentials section, where the word is "Wataru Hatano," Yuuto's seiyuu.
  • Done several times in the original Astro Boy. Once, when showing a theme park full of fictional creatures, a villain disparagingly refers to "Those creepy gourd creatures Tezuka draws," indicating that Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy, does exist in their universe. Another time, a bad guy taunts the Professor by saying, "And what have you done with Astro? You've just made a stupid show of him for TV!"
  • Kämpfer seems to love this for some weird reason. Counting off, we've got Yui Horie, Yukari Tamura, and Nana Mizuki all mentioned when their own characters were arguing. Surprisingly, Natsuru (voiced by Marina Inoue) has yet to be brought up by anyone.
    • This started off in the Light Novel with reference to Yukari Tamura being mentioned as the voice of one of the animals. When she got the actual role the studio asked her to 'sound like Yukari Tamura' when she pointed out she WAS Yukari Tamura, they said 'yeah but try not to sound like one of your characters but as yourself'. Pretty meta.
  • Bakuman。, which as a manga about trying to create manga is already up to its ass in Post Modernism, has references to Death Note and to "the author of Death Note" in the very first chapter, although the latter is not referred to by name. Bakuman, of course, is created by the same writer/artist duo that created Death Note.
  • Shonen Jump exists in all Shonen Jump manga that are set in anything resembling the modern world. Dragon Ball even goes the Literary Agent Hypothesis route with this.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Like everything else they do, comic books (particularly those from Marvel Comics and DC Comics) tend to be pretty up and down when it comes to this. One storyline will explicitly state that the other version of heroes are simply limited to fictional comics, another will confirm that they all coexist with the same world, and in another, Alternate Universes come into play. All in all, most writers try not to stress over this too much, as more often than not, the main objective is to either have two heroes duke it out in a prize fight or simply deliver some cheap shot.
    • It's widely established that The DCU and Marvel Universe exist in the same... Multiverse? Megaverse? Adjacent multiverses? Same something. They met on several occasions, and the universes even merged for a while in the early 90s.
      • There's even a gag during Marvel VS. DC mini (prior to Amalgam Universe) where a man walks into a toy/novelty store, as if he'd done so regularly before the universal collide, and asked where all the "X-Men Stuff" had gone. The clerk responded, "What's X-Men?" Maquettes of two characters should tell you what universe in which this transpired.
    • DC, prior to 1986, did this using Earth-2 and claiming that the Earth-1 characters had comics about the Earth-2 characters but not about themselves. This explanation worked for characters like the Flash, but wouldn't make sense for someone like Superman, where both versions had the same secret identity.
      • On Earth-1, they did reveal that there's "true crime" comics based on the adventures of Earth-1's Superman, Batman, etc. (based on newspaper accounts, etc.), alongside the fictional-to-them comics about the Earth-2 Flash, Green Lantern, etc.'s adventures.
    • However, at least in the Marvel Universe, there is Canon evidence from comics such as She Hulk and The Fantastic Four that the exploits of the (in-universe) real live heroes are actually recorded in comics and sold to the general public. These comics (in the She-Hulk comics) are then used as evidence by lawyers defending and prosecuting super heroes and super villains. And, at least once, to save the world when all the characters had forgotten some hugely important fact or MacGuffin which they found out about by reading the comics. One wonders, though, if the comics published in-universe are the same as the Real Life ones, and the references to comics are infinitely recursive. But then one's head starts hurting.
      • Similarly, after his Silver Age revival, Captain America (comics) ended up drawing his own comic book in-universe. Which is even more mind-bending; the superhero was drawing a comic book about his own adventures? Hard to know what's really true. Note that at the time, Cap's true identity as Steve Rogers was not publicly known, so the publisher had no idea he had Captain America drawing Captain America.
      • Marvel actually released a set of in-universe comics during a Fifth Week Event in 2000. These were titled "Marvels Comics" and how similar they were to the "real" superheroes varied—the Fantastic Four licensed their comic officially and appeared in their real identities, but since nobody knows who Daredevil or Spider-Man are, the in-universe comic fabricated origins for them.
      • The infinitely recursive references problem would only apply if heroes continued licensing their adventures to comic companies all the way up to the modern era, which they don't seem to do.
  • Superman # 411 established that the Julius Schwartz of Earth-1 went bankrupt after he unveiled Ultra-Man, Madame Miracle, Night Wizard, and Jet Jordan only to see the emergence of the Earth-1 Superman (as Superboy), the Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash (whether they meant the publication of Jay Garrick's adventures on Earth-1 or the emergence of Barry Allen remains unclear—also, other stories established that the Shadow actually existed as part of Earth-1's past, so Night Wizard would have already seemed a tad redundant). Possibly, Madame Miracle explains how Wonder Woman seemingly appeared on the copy of All-Star Comics # 37 that Barry Allen had in Flash # 137; otherwise people on Earth-1 would have felt astonished when the Earth-1 Wonder Woman left Paradise Island to enter Man's World. (On a related note, no word ever appeared on what the people of Midway City, Michigan felt when someone dressed in a virtually identical costume to Hawkman emerged, and a museum curator named Carter Hall moved into town.) While the Earth-1 Julius Schwartz seemingly appeared as a gainfully employed staff member of the Earth-1 DC Comics in the Titans Crisis crossover, the Teen Titans Index # 5 notes that this represented a different bald, glasses wearing-staff member.
    • Similarly, in the Ultimate Marvel universe, one issue of Ultimate Spider-Man involved Spidey's exploits being filmed by Sam Raimi to save money on CGI for a blockbuster movie starring Tobey Maguire.
    • When Ultimate Spidey went to Raimi to ask him to stop, they just filmed him some more, making Raimi look like a gigantic tool. Very odd.
    • Marvel did another joke on this in Spider-Girl; Mary Jane comments that Reilly Tyne (son of Spider-Man's clone Ben Reilly) looks sort of like Peter; Pete, on the other hand, thinks he looks more like Tobey Maguire.
    • Deadpool, meanwhile, has mentioned on more than one occasion that he's seen the Spider-Man movies and knows that it's "doe-eyed Tobey Maguire" underneath the mask. But then, he is Deadpool, so maybe he has seen the movie on the other side of the fourth wall or something.
      • Deadpool himself says in one issue that he looks like "Ryan Reynolds mixed with a Shar-Pei." No sign of the Shar-Pei, but who else would get the role when the live-action movie came out?
    • Also subverted in the Ultimate Marvel universe: when discussing on which actors should play the various members of the Ultimates, Nick Fury nominates Samuel L. Jackson for himself. This being an obvious meta-reference, as Marvel had based Ultimate Nick Fury's likeness on Jackson, with the agreement that they'd cast him for the movie version when the time came.
    • Subverted in Superman: Secret Identity, where there are no superheroes, but Superman comics do exist—they're, in fact, the reason Mr. and Mrs. Kent decided to name their perfectly human boy Clark. Then, after being constantly bullied about his nonexistent superpowers, he actually gets them, and the rest of the plot explores the differences between comics and "reality."
      • Superboy-Prime had a similar origin. His psychopathic behaviour in pursuit of Silver Age values can be at least partly explained by the fact he still thinks of these people as fictional characters.
    • A Golden Age Superman story had Clark taking Lois to the movies... where a Fleischer Brothers Superman Theatrical Cartoons cartoon was showing before the main feature. Hilarity Ensues as Clark goes to great lengths to ensure that Lois is distracted every time his on-screen counterpart changes identities. The story ends with Clark and his on-screen counterpart winking at each other, even as he wonders who the Fleischer Brothers are and how they found out all they did.
    • In an issue of Batman and the Outsiders, Salah programs Re-Mac with several basic forms, one of them including George Clooney, which amuses Grace Choi and irritates her girlfriend Anissa. This brings up the question if the George Clooney of that universe did indeed star in Batman and Robin, and what Batman himself would make of that.
    • Similarly, in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, Warren White notes that "Years from now, people will think Halliburton was the guy who made Edward Scissorhands." So, did Tim Burton make Batman and Batman Returns?
  • While maybe not textbook, Watchmen played with this a little bit. DC Comics, the company that published the book, did once exist, but they stopped publishing after real superheroes emerged. To fill the publication vacuum, comics starring pirates became popular—hence, nobody notices the similarities between characters like Nite Owl and Batman or Rorschach and The Question.
    • The Top Ten universe plays around with this. With so many superheroes, comics about mundane people, such as accountants, are popular.
    • Runaways mentions The DCU a few times, but it's implied they only exist as TV shows.
  • Astro City plays with this as well. Comic book publishers can either publish stories of fictional characters like Batman, or secure licensing rights and publish the exploits of real superheroes. Since the heroes are real, authors and publishers are vulnerable to libel laws, and comics are required to adhere to known facts and events.
    • The story "Where the Action Is" details a comic publisher who publishes embellished exploits of "real life" heroes and villains, with increasingly dangerous results. First, the hero Crackerjack shows up to complain about lack of royalty payments (the publisher puts him off with fast talk and Hollywood Accounting); then, the heroine Nightingale threatens him for insinuating that she and her partner are lesbians. Finally the villain Glowworm corners the publisher at a convention and almost kills him for portraying him as a white supremacist (Glowworm has a radioactive sheen—underneath it, as he puts it, "You know what color I used to be?"). After the last threat, he decides to start a line of "cosmic" (alien/otherworldly) heroes and villains, since they are too above mortal concerns to register complaints. The building gets vaporized one morning several months later.
  • In his Donald Duck comic stories, Don Rosa prefers to think of Mickey Mouse and other non-Duck cartoon characters as the fictional characters within the fiction, and the Duck characters as the "real" people. This becomes weird when you take into account that Donald was also Mickey's co-star in animation.
    • DuckTales comics also exist inside his universe. He's mentioned that he likes to think of them as unlicensed fabricated adventures based on the colourful character of the city's biggest celebrity, Scrooge McDuck, and would like to make a comic about him facing the copyright issues involved to prevent the comic's sale, but Disney hasn't at least yet relented to allowing its major animated series to be treated like a pirate release, even inside a comic.
  • In a case of metafiction meets Real Life, the Disney corporation sued Marvel Comics, stating that the Marvel character Howard the Duck bore too much of a resemblance to Donald Duck, and violated their trademark. Marvel then redesigned future artwork of Howard, changing his overall appearance. But most importantly, Howard would always be drawn wearing pants, apparently because Donald now owned exclusive rights to all depictions of talking duck nudity! In the Marvel comic, Howard would often complain about being forced to wear pants, because he was personally sued by some undisclosed powerful corporation.
    • Though with the Disney/Marvel merger, Howard can presumably go pantsless once again.
  • Averted (or arguably lampshaded) in the original Worlds Collide crossover between the DCU and the Milestone Universe. The Milestone Universe has Superman comics, so when the Milestone heroes get cosmically shunted to the DCU, they know Superman's secret identity (and originally assume he's just some yutz dressed up like Superman). The more recent When Worlds Collide established that the two universes have since merged, presumably wiping out the Milestone heroes' inappropriate memories.
  • Most screen adaptations of Superman's origin—at least those that don't try to incorporate the rest of the DCU as well—act on the assumption that the whole concept of a super-hero does not yet exist in this world, not even in fictional media.
    • However, in the 1978 Christopher Reeve film, Ned Beatty has a rolled copy of The Mighty Thor in his back pocket.
    • Prior to the incorporation of the DCU in Smallville, Lex Luthor was an avid collector of comic books, his favorite being a Superhero named Warrior Angel, which started out as vaguely Superman, and then evolved into the Smallville equivalent of Captain Marvel. It was also plays with the above statement slightly: Clark might not be the first Superhero, but he has gotten the most attention.
  • Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash pits Ash Williams of Evil Dead against Freddy Krueger. The Evil Dead is seen playing on a TV in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
  • As an in-joke to Robert Downey, Jr. playing the live-action Iron Man role, Iron Man vs Whiplash has Tony Stark check into a hotel and pay an exorbitant amount to not have any questions asked. One of the hotel staff says he knows who Stark really is - and that Mr. Downey Jr's secret is safe with him.
  • Non-actor version: One Deadpool comic famously features a scene where he incites Wolverine to violence by saying to Kitty Pride "Speaking of games, ever played Street Fighter?" and then Shoryuken-ing her in the face. Then Udon delivered a Shout-Out to that scene in their Street Fighter comic, where Ryu says "Speaking of comics, ever read Deadpool?" and then Shoryukens Sagat.
  • An issue of G.I. Joe: Special Missions has a child receiving a toy of the Transformers Jetfire. Strangely, Transformers and GI Joe shared the same continuity, and Jetfire even appeared in the GI Joe vs The Transformers miniseries.

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • In Shinji and Warhammer40K, one of the author's notes points out that it's odd there are still Emotionless Girl anime in a world without Neon Genesis Evangelion to popularize the trope.
  • A popular The Legend of Zelda High School AU called "Ordinary Story" has Zelda as a boarder in Link's adopted family's house in Florida. The story eventually proceeds to ditch its AU status when Zelda finds the Ocarina of Time, she and Link start to unwillingly inherit the Triforce, and a man named Ganondorf shows up to take over Zelda's father's company. However, there are a few scenes in the story that make reference to Link and his friends playing the GameCube, a console he himself appears on in this universe.
  • Michelle Who? is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fanfic where Dawn and her lesbian lover watch Eurotrip together. Dawn later teases her girlfriend for lusting after Michelle Trachtenberg.
  • In Parable of a Boy Named Gregory, a South Park fanfic of epic length that pairs Gregory and Pip, Gregory is interviewed on Larry King Live after having escaped from the military base of North Korean invaders on American soil (don't ask); when Larry King asks him whether or not Gregory's hometown of South Park, Colorado has anything to do with the TV show "South Park," Gregory is extremely confused, never having heard of the show.
  • This is often played frustratingly straight in bad fanfiction. There are countless mediocre video game fics where the characters would play games from their own series; the author usually wouldn't even bother to Hand Wave why Sonic's son was playing Sonic Adventure 2: Battle.
  • In a very good Kingdom Hearts fan-fic, "The Annals of Darkness," there are many references back to the Kingdom Hearts videogames, Handwaved by the explanation that Sora and co's adventures have become so well known that videogames have been created about them. Played with by having Sora give Max Goof advice on how to beat certain boss battles.
  • Similar story in the Assassin's Creed Kink Meme claims that the games have been made into an in-universe "Complex-Action Decoy" program meant to throw Templars off their backs. (The characters then go off into finding the Kink Meme for the series. Hilarity Ensues.)
  • In one NCIS fanfic, Hocus Pocus is discussed. However, Sean Murray doesn't exist and McGee is teased by the team (mainly Tony, of course), because they have found out that he starred in a kind of stupid movie about witches when he was younger.
  • The Tomb Raider fanfic Lara Croft and the Crown of Utama mercilessly lampshades this trope to the point of Overly Long Gag, when Alex West (who was played by Daniel Craig in the film) is compared to James Bond on two occasions, but is told "but you're blond."
  • Averted and acknowledged in the infamous Marissa Picard series. Star Trek (the media franchise) really did exist in the Star Trek universe, but was eventually classified and buried once "reality" started following "fiction."
  • A hidden bonus in one of the panels of the fan comic Halo: A Fistful of Arrows reveals Bungie is still around in the 26th century. One wonders what their "killer app" from the Xbox was in this universe.
  • In Kinkmeme made them do it, Loki and Darcy find out that they're both writing in a kinkmeme about The Avengers created by their in-universe fans. And it's awesome.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In the silent film Show People, a satire of Hollywood movie-making, Marion Davies has a cameo as Marion Davies in addition to starring as aspiring actress Peggy Pepper. Davies as Pepper meets Davies as Davies and is not impressed.
  • In The Seven Year Itch, when Richard Sherman is being questioned about who The Girl (played by Marilyn Monroe) is, he says, "Wouldn't you like to know! Maybe it's Marilyn Monroe!"
  • Completely and utterly justified in The Grapes of Wrath film. In the book, the main character was said to look exactly like Henry Fonda, so guess who played him in the film?
    • Joseph Heller tried to pull the exact same trick in Catch-22. Maj. Major Major Major looks identical to Henry Fonda, and is often mistaken for him by other characters. Heller admitted that he wanted either Henry Fonda or someone who looked absolutely nothing like Henry Fonda to play him in the movie; he ended up getting his latter wish when Bob Newhart was cast as Major.
  • In Armageddon, Pulp Fiction exists in that universe as told in a small joke. Which is odd since they both have the actors Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi in it.
  • As illustrated atop the page, in the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick Last Action Hero, the real world contains the same actors and movies that we know in reality. In the Film Within A Film Jack Slater IV, there is still a Terminator movie—but it stars Sylvester Stallone.
    • Which is itself a bit of a Historical In-Joke, since Stallone was one of the actors considered for the Terminator role.
    • Also there is a moment in the movie in which the eponymous hero and the actor meets, and Schwarzenegger points out how much they resemble each other and asks him if he wants to become his body double.
  • There's a memorable Lampshade Hanging of this trope in the otherwise forgettable film Stakeout: To pass the time while on stakeout, Emilio Estevez and Richard Dreyfuss's characters are playing a guessing game where they cite memorable lines of dialogue and quiz the other as to what movie it's from. Emilio Estevez's character, in a hammish way, recounts the line: "This was not a boating accident!" Dreyfuss, after a moment's pause, replies "I don't know." The line is from Jaws, spoken by Matt Hooper—a character played by Richard Dreyfuss.
  • Possibly the earliest example after Arsenic and Old Lace : In the 1940 film His Girl Friday, a character played by Ralph Bellamy is described as looking a lot like "that fellow in the movies, Ralph Bellamy."
    • Another would be Cary Grant making a reference to a friend of his named "Archie Leach." It's Cary's real name.
    • The character of Jonathan is repeatedly said to look a lot like Boris Karloff, due to a recent piece of plastic surgery. In the original stage production, Karloff was, indeed, cast as Jonathan. In fact, the role was written for him.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension averts this by treating the movie as a documentary of the real life of Buckaroo Banzai, who also has his life's stories printed in comic book form and uses his fan club as a spy network.
  • Ocean's Twelve had Tess Ocean, played by Julia Roberts, infiltrating a museum by impersonating Julia Roberts... badly. And then she has to interact with several other celebrities like Bruce Willis who know Julia Roberts. The fact that Danny Ocean couldn't do the same implies that this is a case of One Shot Revisionism.
    • The original Ocean's 11, starring the Rat Pack, also played with this. In the final shot, the characters played by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford walk past the marquee of the Sands hotel. The marquee advertises the Sands' featured entertainers: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford. Despite this, Dean Martin plays a completely different singer named Sam Harmon, who does a few shows in Vegas without anyone mentioning he looks familiar.
    • The remade Ocean's Eleven flirted with this in one of the earliest scenes, when Danny and Rusty walk out of the club where they've been teaching celebrities to play poker. It's very odd to see Topher Grace and Joshua Jackson get mobbed by squealing fans, while George Clooney and Brad Pitt stroll by unnoticed.
  • Similar to the Julia Roberts example above: as a running gag in The Cannonball Run, eccentric competitor Seymour Goldfarb Jr. obsessively impersonates Roger Moore, both to attract women and to justify his use of 007-style gadgets to get an edge in the race. Goldfarb, naturally, is played by Roger Moore ... who sends up both his actual celebrity status and his past in-character behavior as James Bond.
    • In the film, he can only say he's "Roger Moore," since they were unable to get permission to use the name James Bond.
  • In Back to The Future, Huey Lewis makes a cameo appearance as an audition judge—and Marty has a Huey Lewis and The News poster on his bedroom wall. The Cafe '80s scene in Part II shows brief clips of Family Ties and Taxi—featuring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, respectively. However, whether the actors were featured in the shows of the universe is subject to debate.
    • Marty's band also plays a Huey Lewis song, "The Power of Love," as their audition, a song which Huey Lewis wrote and recorded specifically for the film and which is featured prominently in the soundtrack.
    • Even more of a mindscrew: Doc Brown shows up to a Huey Lewis live gig in the "Power of Love" music video, right as Huey is showing off a Back To The Future crew jacket that the band got as a gift for working on the movie.[1]
    • Also, Marty hears the Huey Lewis song "Back in Time" on his clock radio. Though he only hears the chorus, the rest of the song's lyrics make references to Doc, Marty, 88 mph, and time travel.
    • Furthermore, in an episode of Back To The Future: The Animated Series, Marty sarcastically claims to be Michael J. Fox (who played Marty in the movie trilogy) -- prompting Verne to comment that there is a similarity in appearance.
  • In Love Actually, Liam Neeson's character makes several jokes about having Claudia Schiffer appear and start a relationship with him. Towards the end of the movie he meets a woman named Carol... played by Claudia Schiffer.
  • In Looney Tunes Back in Action, DJ Drake (played by Brendan Fraser) claims to have been Brendan Fraser's stunt double in The Mummy Trilogy. At the end of the movie, Drake runs into the real Fraser (also played by Fraser, obviously) and punches him in the face for acting like a dick.

DJ:(to Daffy) "Have you seen those Mummy movies? I was in them more than Brendan Fraser was!"

  • Boris and Natasha had the famous bad guy couple pretending to defect in the early Post-Cold War world, where they become instant celebrities. One scene has them fleeing a party just as the host says "But Sally Kellerman wanted to meet you!" Natasha is, of course, played by Kellerman.
  • The novel Bridget Jones' Diary is based in part on the plot of Pride and Prejudice—the love interest is named Mark Darcy, and the title character is obsessed with Colin Firth's portrayal of the original Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. In the film, Pride & Prejudice isn't mentioned, but Mark Darcy is played by... Colin Firth.
  • In the novelization of the first Spider-Man, Mary Jane has seen the movie Interview with the Vampire and was creeped out by the little girl who played Claudia. Both were played by Kirsten Dunst.
  • In Spider-Man, Aunt May tells Peter "You're not Superman, you know!", and Peter half-jokingly yells out "Shazam!" and "Up, up, and away!" when he's trying to figure out how to fire his web. This seems to imply that DC Comics exists in the movie's universe—which makes you wonder who their chief rival is, since there's no Marvel Comics.
    • It seems Marvel Comics exists here, too: Jameson's assistant mentions Doctor Strange in the 2nd film, and Jameson claims it's already taken.
  • Pretty much averted in Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, where Ben Affleck plays the character of Holden McNeil, the same character as in the earlier Chasing Amy. The movie's central conflict is that a movie is being made about the eponymous characters and they aren't being paid for it, so they start discussing who's going to star in the movie. Ben Affleck's character comments that, because it's Miramax, it's probably going to be Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Later on, Affleck shows up again, as himself, shooting Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season with Damon.
    • It gets better when Jay and Holden talk about how they hate Good Will Hunting, which Affleck starred in and co-wrote and Smith produced, and Holden citing that Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms.
    • Come to think of it, before Affleck and Damon do their part in Hunting 2 Damon mentions that Affleck talked him into Dogma. Jay and Silent Bob were in Dogma, as main characters.
      • For the hat trick, at the very end, two characters leaving a theater say that the movie they saw was "Better than Mallrats," (which one of them was in) but that Chasing Amy, the movie the other one was in, would never work as a movie.
    • Even better is the DVD documentary where the writers talk about how for a while, they were actually considering having different actors play that universe's Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. They even considered the Wayans Brothers for it. Sadly, they chose in the end to just keep the originals.
  • The 2006 film of Casino Royale faithfully reproduces a scene from the original novel where James Bond orders a very specific kind of martini—three parts Gordon's gin, one part vodka, 1/2 part Lillet. In the real world, this drink, called a "Vesper" after Bond's love interest in the novel, has become well-known enough to have an entry on That Other Wiki, and a bartender presumably wouldn't need to be instructed on how to make one—of course, in the movieverse, the James Bond novels don't exist and so presumably nobody has ever heard of a Vesper martini.
  • Blazing Saddles includes a scene where Taggart says "I'm working for Mel Brooks!" (writer/director), who also appears in the movie, in two different roles. Other scenes also break the fourth wall, such as:
    • Hedley Lamarr, Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid attending a premiere of the movie Blazing Saddles.
    • The famous Running Gag regarding Hedley Lamarr's name is lampshaded by the governor when he points out that it's 1874, meaning that "You'll be able to sue her!"
    • Mel Brooks can't get enough of this trope. It shows up again and again, such as when characters look at a copy of a script to find out what will happen to them next, or most famously in Spaceballs when the villains take a break from the action to watch a videotape of Spaceballs to see what would happen after the scene they were currently appearing in - even though the video hadn't even been released in Real Life yet because the theatrical release was still on screen being made!
  • The Scream franchise made it big in part because it was a horror movie that acknowledged that people will know about horror movies and thus display at least some Genre Savvy, compared to all the horror films that take place in universes where apparently no such things exist.
    • Scream 2 took it further with the (fictional) film Stab, which was based on the events of Scream, scenes from Stab having Heather Graham and Luke Wilson playing the characters played by Drew Barrymore and Skeet Ulrich. Courtney Cox's character also mentions David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston (who co-starred with her on Friends).
    • In Scream, Neve Campbell's character Sidney jokes that if they did make a movie of the Woodsboro murders, Tori Spelling would probably play her. In Scream 2 with Stab... cue "Sidney" being played by Tori Spelling.
  • Like most rapper-actors, Method Man can most often be found portraying gang members and fictional rappers in his numerous television/film roles. Wonder if any of them listen to Wu Tang.
    • In How High, in which Method Man plays one of the two main characters, another character mentions that he listens to Wu Tang Clan on his headphones.
    • In The Wackness he plays a drug supplier who gives the main character a copy of Biggie's Ready to Die AN ALBUM HE WAS FEATURED ON!
    • Even more confusingly, RZA has a role as a detective in American Gangster. At one point, the Wu-Tang tattoo on his arm is clearly visible. Note that the film takes place in the 1970s.
    • Considering how fond the Wu are of 1970s kung-fu movies, this could almost be handwaved away, but no dice...Shaolin & Wu-Tang, the film the group is named after, was released in 1981.
      • Though the 1981 film's title comes from the opposing philosophies of wudang ("internal," after the eponymous Chinese mountain range) and shaolin ("external") kung-fu disciplines.
  • In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, while walking through a rock club in a flashback within the film Johnny Depp as Thompson narrates, "There I was...," suddenly stopping when he spots the real Dr Hunter S. Thompson in the shot, exclaiming, "Mother of God, there I am! Holy fuck...".
  • In Crank: High Voltage a witness is asked to describe Jason Statham's character, Chev Chelios, and refers to him as "like the man from those Transporter movies." Guess who plays the Transporter.
  • Voodoo Man starring Bela Lugosi, features at the end a reporter laying out the events that have transpired, suggesting that it could be made into a movie with Bela Lugosi.
  • Dance Flick made by the Wayans Brothers features a scene were the acting coach explains how the only roles for black actors in Hollywood go to the Wayans Brothers.
  • Hook handles this quite nicely. J.M. Barrie's play Peter Pan does exist, as do all of its adaptations like the Disney film. It was based on a true story that Wendy told him. Hence, everyone knows about Peter Pan but thinks he's a fictional character, including Peter himself after he grows up, so he's understandably reluctant to believe it when he finds out.
  • Subverted in Airplane!, in which Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, played the co-pilot. A child is brought up to the cockpit, recognizes Kareem, and begins making disparaging comments about his basketball skills; the co-pilot at first denies that he is Kareem, but eventually defends himself.
      • Because the film they were specifically spoofing, Zero Hour, featured football star Elroy 'Crazylegs' Hirsch as the pilot, ZAZ wrote a part for a sports star. They originally wanted Pete Rose, but since they shot the movie during baseball season, they had to make a casting change.
    • A bit of a sly nod to that particular scene occurred in MTV's first Rock and Jock Basketball game, in which the show opens with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (coach of one of the teams) being approached by a fan who mistakes him for Roger Murdoch, famous airline pilot. The scene plays out almost identically, except with roles reversed.
    • Furthermore, when the co-pilot is removed after falling ill, he is clearly wearing goggles and a Lakers uniform, as if he was ready to hit the court the second the scene wrapped.
    • Another case was when Ted was in the hospital. One of the patients thinks he's Ethel Merman. Guess who plays him.
  • In the world of the forgettable 1998 Godzilla, there was no such thing as a Godzilla movie. The eponymous monster was named after a supposed mythical Japanese sea creature called Gojira (Godzilla's name in Japan) whose name gets mispronounced.
    • The "supposedly mythical" monster may have been the Gojira/Godzilla. In Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, the "Godzilla" attack in New York was mentioned and quickly dismissed as not actually being Godzilla. This "Godzilla In Name Only" appears in a later movie, CG and all, under the official name "Zilla" ...And gets his ass handed to him in less than five seconds.
  • In Gremlins 2 this was done several times—the Gremlins attack movie critic Leonard Maltin, who is giving a negative review of the first movie. In a later scene, the Gremlins appear to take over the cinema's movie projector room, using it to make shadow puppets and then show old black-and-white "naturist" movies. They are only stopped when an usher gets Hulk Hogan, who is in the audience at the time, to threaten to introduce the Gremlins to "The Hulkster." In the video release, the gremlins instead wander into a John Wayne movie, but then he shoots them all.
  • Played with in Hellboy, which is based on the comics: the eponymous demon is actually a pretty popular myth, on par with stuff like Yeti and Bigfoot (though perhaps slightly more believed), and has comics based on him, prompting a supporting character, upon meeting him, to be surprised that his comics hero from childhood is real, and for Hellboy himself to comment that he dislikes the comics as they get his eyes wrong.
    • On the other side of the canon, the graphic novel Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus has articles detailing the title character's in-world media appearances, all of which were highly inaccurate and So Bad It's Good at best. One of the articles mentions that "acclaimed Mexican director Guillermo del Toro" had expressed interest in remaking the largely inexplicable Mexican films (the ones that portrayed Lobster Johnson as a Masked Luchador).
    • Referenced in Abe Kroenen, where Kroenen mentions that the Hellboy clone had gotten himself a job as a Hellboy impersonator. Abe asks if the clone has a partner impersonating him and Kroenen mentions that there is an Abe impersonator "but she's not very good at it."
  • Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet was the R2D2 or C3PO of its day and has been used almost like a live action Animated Actor, making this one of the few times this trope applies to a nonhuman character. The Blu-Ray/HD home video version of the movie includes a Thin Man episode and a movie The Invisible Boy where Robby appears, under his own name; needless to say, characters are astonished by the robot but never associate it with a movie.
  • At the end of the Clint Eastwood movie Any Which Way You Can, the cast is musing over their drinks in a bar, where the lounge singer is singing the song, "You're Just a Coca-Cola Cowboy," with the line "You've got a sexist smile and Robert Redford hair." The actual line in the song is "You've got an Eastwood smile and Robert Redford hair."
  • Star Trek IV the Voyage Home was played largely as a Fish Out of Temporal Water comedy in which the Enterprise crew goes back to The Present Day (1986). You have to wonder why they never meet anyone who has heard of Star Trek.
    • It makes you wonder even more, because this was after we were shown a wall of pictures of the previous vessels called "Enterprise" in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which the NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter appears. The orbiter only got the name Enterprise because of Star Trek.
      • However, Enterprise was also the name of several very successful and famous US Naval Vessels, so it's not ridiculous to think that a space vessel would get the same name.
      • In the Star Trek universe, the Federation flagship was named after one of the most famous historical space vehicles, the prototype space shuttle. Which makes just as much sense as the way it happened in the real world!
    • The same could be asked of the Star Trek: Voyager two-parter "Future's End" where the crew of Voyager find themselves in the mid-90s (especially confusing at they appear at a time where the Eugenics War should be raging, but this apparently has had no effect on the people of California).
      • A few later Trek novels indicated that the Eugenics Wars was all the late twentieth-century conflicts. The real purpose of those wars was not quite obvious.
  • In the 2009 film Star Trek, a very young Alternate Universe James Kirk listens to "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys. In Real Life, other Beastie Boys songs, written long before the film, make reference to the Star Trek universe; for example, "Intergalactic": Your knees'll start shaking and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock. Presumably the "alternate Beastie Boys" lacked such inspiration.
  • Final Destination. It's Very Loosely Based on a True Story. Nobody remarks about the extremely similar 747 crash four years earlier.
  • A particularly complex example is in Man on the Moon, a Biopic of Andy Kaufman. Danny DeVito plays Kaufman's agent George Shapiro. DeVito was also a producer of the film, and explained in a making-of short that he had wanted to play Shapiro from the beginning—not realizing that this paradox would be created because he had played Louie DePalma on Taxi, which was Kaufman's biggest mainstream success and thus had to be brought up in the film. The solution was to write out Louie (and thus the real DeVito) from the Taxi-related scenes (though, in an early script draft, there was going to be an aside referencing the character and thus the paradox as an in-joke). At least one critic admitted he hadn't noticed Louie's absence until later, perhaps in part because most of the other Taxi cast members appeared as themselves.
    • Tony Clifton's character on Taxi was supposed to be Louie's brother.
    • DeVito's characters in the movie and Taxi were visually and dramatically distinct enough that he arguably could have still appeared as himself/Louie. The mustache alone is all the license you need.
  • All the remakes of Miracle On Thirty Fourth Street (there are no less than four of them, five if you count the Broadway musical) are presumably set in a world where the 1947 classic doesn't exist.
  • The first scene of Tango and Cash has Tango reply to a uniformed officer's claim that Tango "thinks he's Rambo" with "Rambo is a pussy." Guess who plays Tango.
  • Adaptation, starring Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage, is a cross of this and Post Modernism: Cage plays screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (the film's actual playwright), who is struggling to adapt Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief to film (a real book and author; Orlean is played by Streep). Kaufman even visits the set of the previous film he wrote, Being John Malkovich.
    • And then you realize that the screenplay being written by the film's Charlie Kaufman is the screenplay for the actual film you are watching.
  • Used to effect in Fight Club: There's a scene where Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter are talking outside a movie theatre, after Norton has discovered that Brad Pitt's character is his split personality. The movie playing is Seven Years in Tibet, a subtle reminder that Pitt's character is invisibly present in this scene.
    • Not just that, but in a movie with Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf and Jared Leto, one of Tyler's speeches mentions none of those present will become "millionaires and movie gods and rock stars".
  • In the 2007 St Trinian's, Colin Firth plays the Minister for Education—which means that we get jokes about a dog named "Mr. Darcy" and a reference to Girl with a Pearl Earring.
    • Additionally, Colin Firth himself gets a mention.
  • In the world of the Batman films....
    • It can be funny when you think about how Bruce Wayne himself is a world-renowned personality. How often does Bruce Wayne get told he looks like Adam West/Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney/Christian Bale and vice-versa with the actor?
    • There was going to be a brief sight gag in the opening sequence of Batman Returns where we think we're seeing the front of Batman's costume, but it's actually a sled with a Batman logo on it being sold to shoppers in Gotham City for the Christmas season - indicating that Batman has become a cultural icon even in his own universe. (The sled does make it into the final film, but it doesn't have a "Bat" emblem on it.) And in the 1989 film, there originally was going to be a quick scene near the end of kids dressing in homemade Batman costumes.
  • In Shrink, Robin Williams plays actor Jake Holden. Another character in the film is a fan of classic movies, and in one scene she's watching The Graduate, so we know Dustin Hoffman exists as himself in the film. The question is: did Jake Holden star alongside him in Hook in this universe? Was he also the star of Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and many others? He must have been, because no one comments on how he looks just like Robin Williams.
  • Bill Murray cameos as himself in Zombieland. He doesn't seem to notice how much Tallahassee looks like the guy he starred with in Kingpin.
    • Also, a poster for 2012, in which Harrelson starred, can be seen as the characters drive through LA.
  • Some of the later Rocky movies make reference to objects that were made in homage of the original movie (Rocky pinball, the statue, etc). The idea is that in the sequels, these things are actually in homage to Rocky himself.
    • The statue doesn't count. Stallone commissioned them and then had it put on the steps explicitly for filming. It was moved later. The pinball machine, on the other hand, does qualify.
  • Similar to the Rocky example above, there is a scene in D3: The Mighty Ducks where team captain Charlie refers to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, a real-life professional hockey team named in honor of the original Mighty Ducks movie. According to Charlie, the pro team was named after Charlie's own Ducks. This would be hard to swallow, except that they did win the under-18 world championship in D2 (unbelievable in itself, but more or less justifying this).
  • In All About Lily Chou-Chou, one of the boys points out that his friend's mother looks just like Izumi Inamori. This makes sense considering who plays the part.
  • That also happens in Rosemarys Baby. Rosemary tells Terry, the girl she meets in the basement laundry, "I thought you were Victoria Vetri, the actress." Of course, Terry is played by Victoria Vetri, using another name. In the book, Rosemary briefly mistakes Terry for Anna Maria Alberghetti. Alberghetti was about thirty at the time and looked younger; she could have played Terry, but perhaps they couldn't get her.
  • In a scene in Demolition Man, which takes place in the year 2032, Wesley Snipes' character, Simon Phoenix, says, "Excuse me, Rambo. I need to borrow this." Rambo was played by Snipes' co-star, Sylvester Stallone.
    • In the same movie, we learn that a man named 'Schwarzenegger' was president while Stallone's character was in hibernation. This is apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger the actor, as Stallone's character is genuinely surprised and has the exact circumstances under which this was possible explained to him.[2] A Take That directed at the Stallone reference in Last Action Hero mentioned above (Stallone and Schwarzenegger had a friendly rivalry during this period). Presumably Schwarzenegger remains an action movie star in movies in the Stallone universe, and vice versa. The jury is still out on movies in which the two men appear together.
      • This also qualifies as Hilarious in Hindsight as it was long before the Governator, and most people would have thought the very idea of him going into politics quite absurd.
  • Evan Almighty uses the Leno Device, with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart commenting on the situation. Oddly enough, he fails to notice that the title character, up until recently, strongly resembled former correspondent and close personal friend of his Steve Carell.
  • At one point in the Fritz Lang film Spies, the protagonist runs by a wall covered with posters for Lang's previous film, Metropolis. So presumably, in this version of Berlin, Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou exist but aren't working on Spies. Fair enough. However, nobody seems to notice that the wheelchair-bound criminal mastermind or the clown he often disguises himself as bears an uncanny resemblance to Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who played the mad scientist Rotwang in Metropolis. Oh well, foreign agents probably don't go to the movies much anyway.
  • In the movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, it ends adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise as Austin, Kevin Spacey as Dr Evil, Danny Devito as Mini-Me, and John Travolta as Goldmember.
  • In The A-Team, Hannibal is played by Liam Neeson. At one point, the A-Team needs to get through airport security, so they all dress in disguise (much like in the original show). Face is a beatnik, Murdock is a rabbi, B. A. is an African in tribal dress (Hilarity Ensues), and Hannibal is...LiamNeeson. Isn't he trying to sneak past airport security?
  • In Blade Trinity, the Nightstalkers use The Tomb of Dracula to show the Daywalker who the Big Bad is. The character Blade first appeared in The Tomb of Dracula #10.
  • Stan Lee is known for cameos in movies based on his creations, SOMETIMES credited as himself. Rarely is his character mentioned by name in said films. In Rise of the Silver Surfer, he exclaims, "I'm STAN LEE" while trying to get into the Richards/Storm wedding.
  • This is done in both live-action, Michael Bay-directed Transformers films. In the first one, Armageddon is mentioned, which was also directed by Bay. Toys such as "Furby" and "My Little Pony" appear, which are manufactured by Hasbro, makers of the Transformers toys. In the second film, Sam draws on the walls of a dorm while in a trance. The first poster he scrawls on is that for Bad Boys II, also directed by Bay.
  • In Eagle Eye, posters for Disturbia can be seen in the Circuit City store. Disturbia was the previous project directed by DJ Caruso and starring Shia LaBeouf, which then begs the question why nobody noticed that Jerry looks a lot like Shia.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this is done with a landmark rather than a celebrity. The film uses the Petra ruins in Jordan as the entrance to the temple at the end. However, there is nothing apart from solid rock behind the facade in Petra, and the context in which it appears in the film would imply that the actual ruins do not exist in the movie's reality.
  • In Enchanted, while Prince Edward, played by James Marsden, is atop a bus in Times Square and impaling it (It's a Long Story), a billboard for Superman Returns, on which Marsden appears, can be seen behind him.
    • As well as a billboard for Wicked, which stars Idina Menzel, who also has a supporting role in Enchanted.
  • In How to Marry a Millionaire, main character Schatze Page, played by Lauren Bacall, tries to reassure her older beau, played by William Powell, that young women happily marry older men all the time: "Look at Roosevelt, look at Churchill, look at old fella what's his name in The African Queen." Which raises the question—what younger woman is the "old fella in The African Queen" married to if it isn't Lauren Bacall?
  • In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) mentioned The Shawshank Redemption in one scene. Note the fact that Bon Gunton is featured in both of these movies as different characters.
  • Fanboys is probably the most gleeful celebration of this trope, featuring appearances by various Star Wars actors, Carrie Fisher as a doctor, Billy Dee Williams as Judge Reinhold, and Ray Park as a security guard. By having Star Wars actors appear as different characters in their cameos, it rips a hole in the space-time continuum and is all the more fun for it.
  • Stay Tuned starring John Ritter playing a tv-loving house-husband. He is mentally tortured by being shoved into the Threes Company tv set. The two ladies wonder where he has been.
  • At one point in Johnny Mnemonic there's an extended shot of the back of Henry Rollins' head, and the small Black Flag tattoo on his neck is prominently visible. To be fair, he wasn't the only Black Flag singer, just the most well-known one, so it's kind of plausible that maybe Black Flag exists in the world of the film but Henry Rollins doesn't.
  • Averted in a Polish movie named Haker, where one of the characters, played by Bogusław Linda, complains about looking just like his actor and being mistaken for him.
  • Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time shows what happens when you avert this trope. The eponymous Beastmaster, Dar, winds up in 1990's America, and as the car he's in is driving down a street, he sees a movie theater showing that they're playing Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time. Dar looks as confused as the audience is. It's bizarre.
  • A rather funny nod is made at the beginning of About a Boy, when its young protagonist Marcus wishes in voiceover that he was “as rich as Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense” so that he could afford a private tutor and avoid having to go to school where he’s being bullied. Marcus’ mother Fiona in About A Boy is played by Toni Collette…who also played Haley Joel’s mother three years earlier in The Sixth Sense.
  • In the British behind-the-scenes documentary Behind the Magic, which aired before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I Daniel Radcliffe mentioned that the scene set in a café was shot in a real café, with walls that were covered in posters for West End plays and musicals. He decided to add a couple more – all of which featured pictures of himself as the lead in Equus from a few years earlier.
  • The character of Ronald Wilkes in Cedar Rapids notes his fanship of "the HBO program, The Wire." Wilkes' actor, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., played State Senator Clay Davis on that show.
  • An interesting version arises when you note that The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles take place in the same universe—indeed, the same school—and both prominently star Molly Ringwald as two completely different characters. One wonders how two girls who look exactly the same could run in completely different social circles and never be mistaken for each other.
  • This gets zig-zagged in The Smurfs. Patrick has never heard of the Smurfs when he meets them, but a little research shows that Peyo did exist, although in this universe he claims Smurfs were mythical creatures rather than his own inventions. They even find a book of Peyo comics, which turns out to be important to the plot.
  • In the 2002 adaptation of The Time Machine, a holographic museum tour guide in the protagonist's future knows not just about the novel and its author H. G. Wells, but even sings a line from the (in real life non-existent) Broadway musical. Adding to the paradoxical madness is that the film was directed by Wells's real-life great-grandson.
  • Jurassic Park is what made Velociraptor a well-known Stock Dinosaurs. It doesn't seem like people in the Jurassic Park universe should be as familiar with it as we are.
    • Averted. The Jurassic Park universe has managed to clone Velociraptor and several other dinosaurs. In the process they've probably become much more familiar with these dinosaurs than we are. It still isn't enough to avert what happens, though.
    • Played straight in the second movie, where a character doesn't recognize the name Velociraptor (true, he wasn't the most...educated character in the movie). Seemingly averted in the third, where during a talk, everyone in the audience seems well acquainted with raptors.
  • The 2000 film of Hamlet presents "The Mousetrap" as Hamlet's experimental student film. For the crucial imagery, he uses clips from an old black-and-white silent movie which in reality is obviously another production of Hamlet.
  • In the Bollywood movie "Vaah Life Ho Toh Aisi", Sanjay Dutt plays the God of Death, Yamraj. When he appears before the family involved, they all call him "Sanjay Dutt". Yamraj then complains that people keep calling him various names (listing the names of characters played by Sanjay Dutt), and tells them to tell Sanjay Dutt that he looks like Yamraj. Later, Sanjay Dutt does a cameo where he is at first mistaken for Yamraj.
  • Deliberately invoked with Jello Biafra's cameo in Tapeheads. He plays an FBI agent arresting the main characters on obscenity charges, an ironic Casting Gag given a famous obscenity trial involving the artwork to the Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist. ...And then he gets the line "Remember what we did to Jello Biafra?".
  • In A Goofy Movie, Max and Goofy play Twenty Questions (well, more like Goofy was playing and Max was ignoring him, but nevermind), and it's revealed that Goofy was thinking of Walt Disney. So if Mr. Disney existed in this universe, then did he make any Goofy cartoons?
  • Being John Malkovich plays with this trope a bit. While characters recognize Malkovich (who is playing himself) they can't seem to correctly identify what movies he was in.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Averted and played with extensively in the Thursday Next series—almost inevitable, since the series is about the BookWorld and the title character can travel in and out of works of literature. In the most recent installment, Thurs is forced to work with two alternate versions of herself from "fictionalized" book versions of her adventures.
    • The Thursday Next books take this much, much farther than any sane person could go. There are many "meta" levels—for example, there's the real world, the "real world" of the Thursday Next novel, fiction that exists in the Thursday Next world (which is largely unchanged from ours), how the fictional characters act outside their novels, etc...
    • It gets even more confusing because the Thursday Next novels as shown in the fifth Thursday Next book are actually nothing like the real-world novels; the rights were sold and the plot and characterization was thrown out the window. At the very end of the fifth book, apparently one of the fictionalized Thursdays begins "rewriting" the fictional Thursday Next books and it looks like they'll end up identical to the real-world versions. Confused yet?
      • At one point, in Thursday's real world, she freaks out a little, because people are reading her! Then she realizes she is being dumb. After all, it's the real world. Nobody is reading her.
    • And in Bones to Ashes, Brennan, who has a cameo in the TN series, is shown reading a Jasper Fforde novel in an airport.
  • In the sequel to the novel Forrest Gump, titled Gump and Co., Forrest is inserted into events from the 80s and 90s. As such, he gets to meet famous people from that time. One such celebrity whom Forrest gets to meet is Tom Hanks, the actor who played him in the film. In fact, the movie is mentioned several times throughout the book—the first book exists in that world as Forrest's autobiography, and he's rather upset throughout the second that the film got almost everything wrong. "Don't ever let anybody make a movie out of your life" are practically Arc Words.
  • Arguably, this can occur in literature when characters are based around real people. For example, in Anthony Trollope's Palliser series, there are characters clearly based on real people like Gladstone and Disraeli, but on at least one occasion, the real people were referenced. Another example, is the problem of how to deal with Arthur Conan Doyle in a universe where Sherlock Holmes is a real person. A common idea is making him a literary agent, but if that was true, he likely wouldn't be as wealthy and famous in that universe as in reality.
    • Another idea is to have one of his other lesser known characters have become incredibly popular.
  • The Harry Potter spin-off books Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages each begins with an introduction purportedly written by Albus Dumbledore in which he describes how proceeds from the book will go to a fund set up in Harry Potter's name by Comic Relief UK and JK Rowling. This, of course, raises the question of how exactly Rowling can exist within the Harry Potter universe.
    • The Eighth Weasley—a Harry Potter crossover Fanfic set after Voldemort's defeat—explicitly states that the Harry Potter books exist alongside the Wizarding World (to the consternation of the latter), and subtly hints that "JK Rowling" is merely a pen name behind which is hiding Hermione.
    • In this fanfic, JK Rowling is a witch who wrote Harry's biography and then marketed it to Muggles as fiction. She actually turns up at Slughorn's Christmas party.
    • And in two Dangerverse AUs, it's Sirius writing an alternate future which had the books slowly released to the muggles starting on the day the Wizards got Deathly Hallows.
    • A fanfic played with this by having Cho Chang audition for the role of Cho Chang in the Harry Potter movies. She was rejected -- she didn't understand the character's motivations.
    • It's actually implied in The Tales of Beedle the Bard that Rowling is essentially a historian who wrote seven volumes on the life of the famous wizarding hero, Harry Potter.
  • In one The Dark Tower book (The Waste Lands) Eddie Dean compares a haunted house the characters escaped to the one in Kubrick's The Shining.
    • Considering the fact that Stephen King himself appears in later books in the series, and is basically told by the main characters that he has to write their story, it seems a safe bet that Celebrity Paradox isn't strictly at work here. In their universe (which is also our universe, but also not—the whole thing is crazy metaphysical and twisted), Stephen King exists, and has written every single book we know him to have written—and the fact that nearly everything he's written relates back to the very real world of the Dark Tower in some way is caused by the fact that it was his destiny to write about those very real events, even if everyone (including him) thought he was writing fiction.
    • King believes that the movie is different enough from his original work for it to be considered its own work. Presumably Kubrick made the movie in Eddie's world without the source material.
      • Considering his opinions on the subject, if you asked Stephen King, he might suggest that Kubrick made the movie in OUR world without the source material as well.
    • King made a reference to himself in The Tommyknockers; the people in Haven think that the protagonist, Bobbi Anderson, writes "good old western stories that you could really sink your teeth into, not all full of make-believe monsters and a bunch of dirty words, like the books that fellow who lived up Bangor way wrote." Also, when a character wants to get into a shed, he considers grabbing an ax "and make like Jack Nicholson in The Shining."
    • Carrie is mentioned in The Dead Zone.
    • In Under the Dome, a theory on the internet that the dome is an experiment... well, you know, "like in that movie, The Mist," based, of course, on the Stephen King novella.
    • In King's The Library Policeman, the Scary Librarian says she doesn't want to read a novel by "Robert McCammon, Stephen King, or V.C. Andrews".
  • In Thinner, the protagonist is said that he's "starting to sound a little like a Stephen King novel." However, King published that book under his Pen Name Richard Bachman, and made this reference to throw people off.
  • Characters in some of Douglas Coupland's books have read his other books.
    • It gets even more entertaining. In JPod, beyond characters referencing Douglas Coupland's books as if they existed in the JPod universe, Coupland himself appears as himself, first sitting beside the main character on a flight to China, then a few other times, before finally becoming, in a way, the antagonist of the story for the main character (as himself, not an omnipotent author figure).
  • Disputed in the Cthulhu Mythos: orthodox fans (as well as the game Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game)) assume that Howard P. Lovecraft is absent from this universe, but in a move that would be controversial in hindsight, August Derleth made Lovecraft a character in the Mythos. Fan consensus dismisses Derleth's idea.
    • In a Hellboy/Batman/Starman team-up comic, a group of Nazis try to summon a Great Old One. When Starman says "Old One as in Lovecraft?" Hellboy responds "Hey, Lovecraft knew stuff."
    • Likewise, Lovecraft is mentioned when Cthulhu makes a cameo in And Another Thing....
    • And in a story from Atomic Robo, Lovecraft himself is the vessel through which Cthulhu begins to come into our world.
  • In 3001: The Final Odyssey, Poole recalls an old sci-fi author who said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
  • There is a Star Trek: The Next Generation / X-Men crossover novel by Peter David that has Picard meeting Xavier. The resemblance they have to each other is noted. It was written before the X-Men movies.
  • The Virgil Tibbs series by John Ball (which began with In the Heat of the Night) used a variant of the literary agent hypothesis. In The Great Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler, in which various creators of detective series contributed short articles on their creations (e.g. Chester Gould on Dick Tracy, Walter Gibson on the Shadow, etc.), John Ball took the literary agent hypothesis for his article on Virgil Tibbs. He writes "Ms. Diane Stone, secretary to Chief Robert McGowan of the Pasadena Police Department, was on the phone. "The chief has approved the release to you of the details concerning the Morales murder" she told me. He has authorized you to go ahead with it at any time, if you want to." Of course I wanted to: the unraveling of the case via the patient, intelligent investigation work of the department in general, and Virgil Tibbs in particular, would need no embellishment in the telling. As I always do in such instances, I called Virgil and suggested a meeting. Two nights later we sat down to dine together in one of Pasadena's very fine restaurants........By the time that the main course had been put down in front of us we had gone over the Morales case in detail and Virgil had filled me in on several points which had not previously been made public. As always, I agreed to publish nothing until the department had read the manuscript and had given it an official approval. This procedure helped to eliminate possible errors and also made sure that I had not unintentionally included information which was still confidential." Later Tibbs says "I have a letter from Otto Penzler" I said. Virgil nodded recognition. "The co-author with Steinbrunner of The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection? I have a copy." "Otto has asked me for a piece about your background. How much may I tell him?" I should insert a footnote here. Virgil Tibbs is basically a quiet, self-effacing man....He has mentioned to me more than once that my accounts of some of his cases have proved somewhat embarrassing to him. However, Chief McGowan feels that these books help explain the police function to the citizenry at large and to show how modern, enlightened police departments function."
  • The Parker (featuring a ruthless thief) and Dortmunder (featuring a bumbling thief) series (both Donald Westlake, with the former series under the pen name Richard Stark) present a convoluted case. Namely, the Dortmunder novel Jimmy the Kid established that, in Dortmunder's world, Parker did not exist, and only represented a fictional creation of that world's counterpart of Donald Westlake. In Jimmy the Kid, Dortmunder uses a novel called Child Heist, by Richard Stark, one of Stark's series of novels about a hard-boiled crook named Parker, as a blueprint for how to run a kidnapping. However, Richard Stark is, in real life, as noted, the pseudonym under which Westlake writes the Parker novels. There wasn't a separate novel called Child Heist in real life, either. Anyway, the kidnapping falls apart and the kid in question, Jimmy, who's kind of a film buff, goes on to make a movie about his experience. There's a chapter at the end of the novel where Richard Stark (no mention of his real name as Westlake in the letter, by the way) and his lawyers are sending each other letters speculating about the possibility of suing the kid for using the plot of Child Heist in the movie. (The lawyer says no, he can make a movie about his experiences, but Stark can try suing the crooks if he can find them.) This would seem to suggest, that obviously, Dortmunder novels do not exist in Dortmunder's universe, and, as noted, Parker only existed in fiction in Dortmunders' world. However, in the first Dortmunder novel, The Hot Rock, published in 1970, one of the members of Dortmunder's crew, Alan Greenwood, is forced to change his last name after his arrest. We learn in the book's penultimate chapter that he now uses the name Alan Grofield.
    • Parker had already worked in several books (starting with 1964's The Score) with a partner thief named Alan Grofield, with Grofield even receiving his own solo series of novels. Since, in our world, the Parker novels circulated widely in prison libraries (actual criminals finding it refreshing that Parker and his men usually evaded capture), we could surmise that Greenwood had read one of the Parker novels and chose the name "Grofield" in honor of them. However, both the Dortmunder and Parker series have done crossovers with the Dan Kearney Associates novels by Joe Gores.
    • The Donald Westlake novel Drowned Hopes (1990), featuring Dortmunder, shares an entire chapter in common with Gore's DKA novel Thirty-two Cadillacs (1992). Dead Skip (1972), the first DKA novel, shared a chapter with Plunder Squad (1972), a Parker novel by Richard Stark (aka Westlake). This would place DKA, Parker and Dortmunder in one universe. To preserve Jimmy the Kid, one would have to say that the Donald Westlake/Richard Stark of this world (i.e. Dortmunder's universe) must have invented a completely fictional adventure for that novel about Parker. After all, if he only fictionalized actual events (i.e. the kidnapping of a previous child by Parker), he would have no grounds for suing Jimmy. However, if he wrote a novel about a completely fictional event, then he might have thought he could sue. This unfortunately suggests that he penetrated the anonymity that Parker worked under. However, Parker used multiple aliases and alternate identities (e.g. Charles Willis in The Outfit, Ronald Kasper Matthew Walker in The Black Ice Score, Lynch in The Green Eagle Score, possibly Porter, Walker or Archer; the name Parker itself may serve as just another alias) for tax reporting purposes to launder his money by owning gas stations and parking lots, as well as for other purposes. Perhaps Westlake guessed the truth, surmising from police reports that one man had participated in numerous robberies under various aliases. He may have discerned some of the identities that Parker used but not all of them.
  • In the novel Psycho II, Norman Bates flees the asylum when he hears that a film of his murder of Mary Crane has started filming. In the book Ed Gein -- Psycho!! by Paul A. Woods, the author Robert Bloch stated that Psycho II takes place in a universe where Alfred Hitchcock never made his film adaptation.
  • Brazilian writer Luis Fernando Verissimo discusses in a text about this, mentioning how nobody ever confuses a Robert De Niro character for De Niro himself.
  • Deliberately avoided in House of Leaves. The novel is about a fictional manuscript about a fictional movie, yet the book House of Leaves exists in every layer of the Nested Story. Johnny Truant, the narrator of the outermost story layer, actually gets the book from the Real Life author's sister; realizing that that the book is essentially the journal he's been keeping, he wonders how the book even got published.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, the eponymous character is described at one point enjoying a book by some guy called Forester, about a man whose initials she likes. Given that the series is openly admitted by David Weber as being "Horatio Hornblower in SPACE!" One assumes that in the Honorverse, a)David Weber never existed, b)he never wrote the Honor Harrington series, or c)the eerily prescient Honor Harrington "novels" do exist in the Honorverse, but were lost and forgotten long ago.
  • The eponymous character of the Flashman series is taken from Tom Brown's Schooldays. Tom Brown's Schooldays is still published in the Flashman universe, and Flashman still appears, much to his own outrage. Several characters, including Ulysses S. Grant, comment on this.
  • The Shadow novels Mox, Green Box and Crime at Seven Oaks seem to indicate that a version of The Shadow magazine saw publication in the Shadow's world.
  • In the Agatha Christie novel 'The Body In the Library' a young boy explains to a policeman that he is a big fan of detective fiction and has autographs from a number of leading writers, including Agatha Christie.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man was based on a book written by Martin Caidin. In one of the tie-in novels, also by Caidin, Steven Austin asks a friend if she ever read the book Marooned, which a friend of his wrote. She replies that she didn't, but she saw the movie based on it. Marooned was written by Caidin.
    • Caidin also wrote a book, Man-Fac, which includes the main character talking about The Six Million Dollar Man and specifically explaining why it'd be impossible for Steve Austin to run at sixty miles per hour.[3]
  • An interesting example is Scott Ciencin's junior novel Jurassic Park: Flyers, that ties in to the Jurassic Park III film. At the end of the film, a family of Pteranodons are seen flying off into the sunset. The book reveals that they have made their home at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida. Did the Pteranodons bump into the animatronics that populate the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride? Were they confused by them? Dr Alan Grant and Eric Kirby were invited to the theme park to speak about their experiences from the movie. Did they recommend that their audience buy the DVDs of the first two movies to get up to speed?
  • In The Clicking of Cuthbert, a short story by PG Wodehouse, a Russian writer declares: "No novelists anywhere any good except me. P. G. Wodehouse and Tolstoi not bad. Not good, but not bad."
  • Chuck Klosterman muses upon this trope at great length in an essay he wrote entitled What Happens When People Stop Being Polite

"....it's probably the most interesting philosophical question ever asked about film grammar. Could Harrison Ford's character in What Lies Beneath rent Raiders of the Lost Ark? Could John Rambo draw personal inspiration from Rocky? In Desperately Seeking Susan, what is Madonna hearing when she goes to a club and dances to her own song? Within the reality of one specific fiction, how do other fictions exist?

  • The novel Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis has a cameo by Patrick Bateman at a party that one of the characters is throwing. On the list of various celebrities who are said to be attending the same party, none other then Christian Bale is on the list, who played Patrick Bateman in the film adaptation of American Psycho. To be fair, Glamorama did come out a few years before that movie was released, so the author probably didn't intend for this to happen, but it's still a jarring coincidence.
  • For certain definitions of celebrity: in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, the heroine has a "Still Not King" pin. Who wrote the very secret diaries that inspired that pin in this 'verse?


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • One episode of The A-Team introduced Hulk Hogan playing himself as an old friend of B.A. Baracus. No mention was made as to Hogan's tag-team partner from Wrestlemania 1.
    • Another episode that took place at Universal Studios shows Face doing a double take as a Cylon walked right by. One wonders who played the role of Starbuck in that universe...
  • The Catherine Tate Show did a sketch for Comic Relief which featured David Tennant as Lauren Cooper's teacher. She frequently jokes throughout the sketch about how much he resembles the Doctor ("Your house...is it Bigger on the Inside?" "D'you fancy Billie Piper, sir?"). At the end, he zaps her with the Tissue Compression Eliminator, turning her into a Rose Tyler action figure.
    • And adding onto the confusion, Catherine had already played Donna Noble, the Doctor's companion in the 2006 Christmas special, who came back fulltime for the 2008 series. Apparently Lauren Cooper missed The Runaway Bride and was killed off before she could watch series 4 and notice the woman who looks just like her traveling through space with a Time Lord who looks just like her English teacher.
  • The British Sitcom My Family featured Nick obtaining a toy of Madame Hooch from Harry Potter. He doesn't seem to notice that she resembles his mother a whole lot...
  • In season two of House, the title character gets mocked for some of the shows that are saved on his Tivo. One of them, seen briefly but not mentioned, is Blackadder, in which Hugh Laurie played a few major characters twenty years earlier.
    • There's a strange little fanfic where House finds a Jeeves and Wooster DVD...
    • And in the series finale, House mentions Dead Poets Society, where a young Robert Sean Leonard (Dr. Wilson) starred. So he managed to deduce that the guy in that porno was a young Wilson but thought the guy in DPS was just a lookalike?
  • Similar to above, in a Halloween episode of Castle the title character dresses up as Malcolm Reynolds, who was played by Nathan Fillion. He refers to his costume as a "space cowboy" and his daughter points out that he wore that same costume like five years ago, around the time Serenity was released.

"Don't you think you should move on?"
"I like it."

    • Also, Castle learned to speak Mandarin Chinese from "from a TV show [he] use to love."
    • It's also implied that Martha has had at least some of the roles Susan Sullivan has had in real life, explicitly her role in The Incredible Hulk pilot movie. Though Martha is an actress, so one can assume that in-universe she simply played all the roles that Susan Sullivan did.
    • Since Castle seems to be familiar with Desperate Housewives, it would be interesting to know who played Adam and Katherine Mayfair in this universe.
      • Don't forget the mention of Buffy in one of the Halloween episodes- if Nathan Fillion is not around, who is it that played Caleb in season seven?
      • Assuming the Richard Castle twitter feed is canon, Fillion DOES exist in the Castle universe and is one of Richard's favorite actors. Presumably, the somewhat egotistical author felt an attachment to the actor who looks like him.
  • MacGyver starring lead Richard Dean Anderson, is lightly brought up in the very first episode of Stargate SG-1. ("It was difficult, but we were able to MacGyver a solution.")
    • SG-1 got even more confusing by having a guest appearance by Dan Castellaneta while The Simpsons had a guest appearance by Richard Dean Anderson. In SG-1, Jack is a fan of The Simpsons, but doesn't seem to recognise Dan, even though they specifically bond over The Simpsons. In The Simpsons, Anderson plays himself.
    • The Stargate Verse has yet another circular dependency: with World of Warcraft. Dr. Lee is a fan of the game (and curiously claimed to have a level 75 character, which was impossible at the time the episode supposedly took place)... while the Champions' Hall in WoW contains NPCs named after SG-1 characters.
    • In another interesting case, Carter tells O'Neill that they can't call the first X-303-class spaceship "Enterprise" in homage to Star Trek. Given that NASA has already named a spaceship after the fictional Enterprise, were this not a television show—whose creators would certainly be sued by Paramount for their insolence—there would be absolutely no reason not to name the ship Enterprise. Realistically speaking, it would in fact be a virtual certainty.
      • Although, if we're really overthinking this, they would be unlikely to do so until the current USS Enterprise was retired, freeing up the name for military use.
    • Speaking of Star Trek, the penultimate episode of Atlantis has Richard Woolsey mention that Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas had closed. One wonders if Voyager got made in the Stargate verse, and if so, whether anyone's ever told Richard Woolsey that he looks just like the Doctor, who appeared in said ride.
  • In the remake of Fantasy Island, Dean Cain plays a lawyer suspected of murder. The travel agent is called to the witness box and describes the lawyer as resembling 'the guy that played Superman on TV'.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Idiot's Lantern," the Doctor refers to Kylie Minogue. Kylie later appeared in the Christmas Episode "Voyage of the Damned" playing Astrid Peth opposite the Tenth Doctor. No-one seemed to mention this.
    • "The Idiot's Lantern" was written by Mark Gatiss, who also appeared as the villain in "The Lazarus Experiment." Mark Gatiss is one of the leads on The League of Gentlemen, in which one of his characters claimed that an episode of Tom Baker-era Who was filmed in the town. Another League member, Steve Pemberton, also appeared on Who in "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead." And Christopher Eccleston once did a guest appearance on League.
    • Also in Doctor Who, the Harry Potter books exist and have been made into movies. The person playing Barty Crouch Jr. has not been revealed - although The Tenth Doctor is apparently a Harry Potter fan:

The Doctor (to Martha): Wait'll you read Book 7, I cried...

    • Just to further twist the self-reference, an Episode with the 7th Doctor in the original series was set on the day the TV show actually launched, and a voice on the telly is briefly heard to say, "It is now 5:15, and its time for the new science-fiction series Do--" before it is cut off.
    • In the episode "Army of Ghosts," Eastenders exists as a fictional television series. The character of Peggy Mitchell bars a ghost she presumes to be Den Watts from The Queen Vic. In the real Eastenders Watts was killed by his wife Chrissie, who is played by Tracy-Ann Oberman. Oberman played Yvonne Hartman in "Army of Ghosts."
    • Considering the number of identical doubles he has encountered throughout his travels in time and space, the Doctor probably isn't too surprised about it anymore.
  • Robin Williams does exist, as himself, in the Mork and Mindy universe. And Mork is horrified when people think they look alike. This is actually almost believable, until Mindy mentions he's a star of "TV, film, and nightclubs." Maybe Robin Williams was part of the cast of whatever TV show replaced Mork And Mindy in said universe.
  • Mad About You exists in the Seinfeld universe, but characters from Seinfeld have appeared on Mad About You. Some sort of Seinfeld series also exists on Mad About You, but it's unclear whether the series in question is the one from the real world, starring real Jerry Seinfeld, or the fictional sitcom Jerry, starring the real Jerry Seinfeld's character portraying a character named Jerry Seinfeld (who might himself be the real Jerry Seinfeld).
    • Paul Reiser's Mad About You character, Paul Buchman, has never seen the movie Aliens, which co-starred Paul Reiser.
      • Specifically, a friend of his (Mark) is discussing chest bursters, and asks Paul if he's ever seen the movies. Paul quickly replies, "Just the first one."
    • In another episode, Reiser questions why the movie actor game "Back to Bacon" doesn't use Mickey Rourke instead. This change would have minimal impact in real life since Mickey Rourke appeared in Diner with Kevin Bacon, so any connection to Bacon would have at most only one more connection. But since Reiser also appeared in Diner maybe that movie didn't exist on Mad About You
    • An even more striking example from the Seinfeld universe comes from the episode "The Boyfriend," when Kramer and Newman express ire at Keith Hernandez having spit at them, Jerry reconstructs their story in a direct parody of the "magic bullet theory" scene from the movie JFK. Later in the episode, Keith Hernandez suggests seeing the movie JFK to Elaine, continuing the joke. The paradox lies in the fact that Wayne Knight, who plays Newman, also appears in the aforementioned scene in JFK. One can only wonder what would have happened had Keith and Elaine actually seen the movie...
      • Even better, his character in the film has the last name "Numa." And in the same episode, there's a direct Actor Allusion as Knight plays the same role in the "magic loogie" reconstruction as he did in the "magic bullet" reconstruction in the film.
  • On a more metatextual character level than a literal actor level, Smallville falls particularly afoul of this. In every other incarnation of the Superman mythos (comics, TV, movies, radio etc.) Superman is, by the very nature of his existence, a world-famous figure, probably the most famous person on Earth. Therefore all the kinds of nicknames, catchphrases and allusions to the fictional character in the real world (e.g. "Faster than a speeding bullet," "The Man of Steel" etc.) are equally well known in the various fictional realities where Superman is actually real (with the exception of "And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter..."). But in Smallville, a Prequel show set explicitly in the present day, the viewer is faced with the bizarre dissonance that these characters exist in an early 21st century version of America whose popular culture has not been irrevocably impacted by the existence of Superman (real or fictional), who originated the entire superhero genre and flooded the lexicon with all manner of specific phrases and ideas.
    • This is rendered even more head-numbingly dissonant by the show's sheer volume of sly references, homages and shout-outs to the Superman mythos that has yet to actually take place, with constant winking deployment of terms that contextually shouldn't have been coined yet, like "Man of Steel," "Faster than a speeding bullet," "mild-mannered" etc. etc. They have even shown that words/concepts like "superhero" are already in common parlance, despite their actual existence not yet being known to the wider public.
        • You could argue that most examples are fairly organic; someone sees bullets bounce off Clark and calls him "a man of steel" (not "THE"), etc. We're seeing the in-universe origins of these phrases, not the common use of them.
      • Partly justified, since superhero comics do exist in the Smallville universe, since Lex was shown to have been a fan of one such comic (featuring a bald protagonist) growing up, called Warrior Angel—ironically a very historically-accurate '90s style archetype. This leads one to wonder who was the first superhero character to be published in the Smallville universe, since it obviously wasn't Superman...
      • The episode "Thirst" establishes Zorro as a franchise in the show's setting (a Zorro outfit is seen).
      • Another episode intimated the same situation for Luke Skywalker (who derives from Flash Gordon).
      • Well, with the precedent of Zorro, the Phantom, the Shadow, Doc Savage, the Green Hornet, the Lensmen, the Baron, Blackshirt, the Saint (Simon Templar), Bulldog Drummond, the Baron, the Ringer (Edgar Wallace novels), the Phantom (Curtis Van Loan), the Four Just Men, John Carter, Tarzan, the Lone Ranger, the Gray Seal, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Spring-Heeled Jack, the Spider, Mandrake, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Hugo Danner, Dick Tracy, etc. it may have resulted independently. In fact, in one episode, Zorro explicitly receives mention.
      • Batman was also a very popular character inspired by the above listed characters made by DC before they even owned Superman so it could be that Batman is the inspiration for most modern super heroes and Bruce Wayne has never appeared in Smallville.
    • An odd corollary to the fact that DC Comics don't exist in the Smallville universe is the fact that, apparently, Marvel Comics don't exist either. (It's never directly stated that they don't, for obvious reasons, but the fact that characters are constantly discussing superheroes and super powers and frequently talk about comic books and make pop culture references while describing super-powered mutants without ever once mentioning the X-Men, Spider-Man, etc., would seem to imply that they don't exist, even as fictional characters.
      • Odder still, in the Marvel continuity both Marvel Comics and DC Comics exist. You have to wonder what superheroes they manage to write about without Tony Stark suing the pants off of them.
      • The old 50's B-movies may have still managed to exist in-universe, along with older Golden Age titles; these would provide a basis for the super-powered mutant meme.
  • Hiro Nakamura from Heroes is a Star Trek fan. George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on said series, plays Hiro's father.
    • Kaito Nakamura could well also be a fan- his car's number plate reads NCC-1701.
    • Hiro must wonder occasionally about Sylar's uncanny resemblance to the new Spock...
  • Played with in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Allison Janney of The West Wing appears as herself, guest hosting the eponymous Show Within a Show. Timothy Busfield plays the director of said show. Busfield formerly played Janney's character's love interest/husband on The West Wing, and their interactions in the Studio 60 episode play this up. Note that The West Wing exists in the Studio 60 universe, and fictional Janney was in it, while fictional Busfield apparently wasn't, since he doesn't exist. Confused yet?
    • This becomes even more confusing when you think about how many other actors were in both shows.
    • Be glad that the guy who played Josh wasn't in that episode.
    • Adding another layer of confusion, the fictional Janney is annoyed at being confused with Christine Lahti. The reporter played by Christine Lahti wasn't in that episode, but she hadn't been gone long.
    • It gets worse: the law firm that Sam worked for on The West Wing also exists on Studio 60.
      • That's not really a paradox, though. Assuming Studio 60 is the "real" world, a fictional show within that world, such as The West Wing, would be perfectly capable of referencing a real-life law firm.
        • Fans of The West Wing used to speculate that the show existed in the Bartlet universe, but featured an incompetent Republican president and nobody watched it.
        • There are also a few backstage shots where, along with all the other set pieces one might use on a sketch comedy show, you can clearly see a "Bartlet For America" campaign poster hanging on the wall.
  • In the penultimate episode of The Nanny, Fran Fine meets actress Fran Drescher. She mentions how everyone says she looks like her, and Drescher is not happy. She also comments on her voice, her hair, and on how the episode she's taping is very similar to what's happening in Fine's life at the moment.
    • Fran once ran into Steve Lawrence in Atlantic City. Lawrence later appeared as Fran's father Morty.
    • In an episode starring Jay Leno as himself, Fran Fine advertises a book (written by Fran Drescher) and says that "It is a riot. Plus it just came out on audio cassettes!" to what Jay Leno replies "Can't believe they put this voice on audio."
  • In the 2004 made for TV movie Frankenstein, the story of Frankenstein is mentioned a few times. When asked about it, the original creature says that Mary Shelley's novel was actually Based on a True Story.
  • An episode of Scrubs has J.D. mentioning that he thought he noticed the Janitor in the movie version of The Fugitive. Neil Flynn, who plays the Janitor, was indeed in that film. The Janitor later implies that it was indeed him in the movie. Whether this means that all of Neil Flynn's roles in the Scrubsverse are played by The Janitor or if this was a one off is unclear.
    • Of course, nothing the Janitor says can be taken seriously. It is perfectly plausible that in the Scrubsverse, the Janitor just happens to look like Neil Flynn and was messing with JD/the Audience's head(s).
    • Or the Janitor is Neil Flynn, fallen on hard times.
      • Perhaps his constant lying, story-telling and hazing of JD is him practising his comedy skills (Neil Flynn is a consummate improv comedian).
    • In a non-Janitor related example, the cast of Scrubs frequently make references to Friends, including repeated comparisons of J.D. and Elliot to Ross and Rachel, but don't recognize Matthew Perry when he makes his cameo, or even Courtney Cox who becomes a recurring character.
    • Scrubs also shares a universe with Cougar Town, as shown with Ted Buckland appearing in an episode, but Zach Braff also exists in the universe. Also, Courtney Cox plays a role in both shows, yet Ted didn't even notice how much Jules looked like Dr. Maddox. Also, Christa Miller plays both Jordan on Scrubs and Ellie on Cougartown.
    • And the season 2 premiere (I believe? Anyway, it happened) showed Jules watching TV—it was Scrubs. That makes Ted Buckland's existence (as well as other shared actors, such as her best friend and creepy neighbor) a little mind-bending.
      • The mindscrew continues at the end of a season 2 episode when Sam Llyod (as Ted Bunkland) is commenting on how much Sarah Chalke (as Angie) and Christa Miller (as Ellie) resemble people from his old job. Cue Bob Clendnin (Tom/Dr Zeltzer) popping in the window. Ken Jenkins (Chick/Dr Kelso) wanders in, causing Ted to attempt to run through a glass door. Zach Braff asks him if he ordered a pizza, and Rob Maschio offered him an "are you ok?" five.
  • The Nick Verse, which includes shows like iCarly, Zoey 101, Drake and Josh, and Victorious are all part of the same universe, but Celebrity Paradox is averted because all the actors still exist. All the copies just get assumed to be different people.
  • In one episode of The Honeymooners, Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton meet Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. This was done by alternating the actors and their roles: Ed meets Gleason just as Ralph is conveniently absent, while Ralph meets Carney while Ed is out.
  • In Friends, Ross, Joey, and Chandler are die-hard fans of Die Hard. However, when they meet Paul Stevens (played by Bruce Willis), he doesn't seem to remind them of anyone.
    • In earlier episodes, Ross has Winona Ryder on his "list," but when Rachel's sorority sister shows up, nobody says, "Wow, you look just like Winona Ryder."
    • Ross also considers Susan Sarandon for the list. She also turned up in a later episode, not playing herself.
    • Then Chandler has Jessica Rabbit on his list. Kathleen Turner, who voiced Jessica Rabbit, plays his transgender dad, although maybe Fridge Brilliance in that his dad could have made himself to look like Kathleen Turner...
    • Also in the episode "The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy", Chandler talks about women he has mental images of during sex, mentioning Elle Macpherson. Elle Macpherson starred in Season 6 as Janine, Joey's roommate.
    • Jurassic Park is mentioned quite a few times, due to Ross being a paleontologist, yet Jeff Goldblum shows up as a guest in one episode, also not playing himself.
    • In the second season episode "The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies", Chandler mentions an ex-girlfriend who thought that 'Sean Penn' was the capital of Cambodia. Sean Penn appeared in two episodes of the eighth season, playing neither himself nor the capital of Cambodia.
  • In That '70s Show, characters are shown to be watching The Brady Bunch. Later, Christopher Knight and Barry Williams appear not as themselves, but as a gay couple. No, really.
    • Well, it would be hard for them to appear as themselves since they are kind of too old for the part.
  • The Disney Channel appears to enjoy playing with this trope. In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Maddie (played by Ashley Tisdale) auditions for the part of Sharpay in High School Musical (who was also played by Ashley Tisdale). She claims all her friends say she looks the part, but no one else sees it.
  • Similarly in Hannah Montana, Robbie Ray (played by Billy Ray Cyrus) puts on a mullet wig and claims to be Billy Ray Cyrus. The woman he's talking to thinks he's crazy and quickly leaves.
  • Also, the existence of Selena Gomez in the Disney Channel series' universe poses some problems. She played a character in Zack and Cody's middle school production of A Midsummer Nights Dream and also Mikayla, Hannah Montana's rival twice, but according to the two crossovers, the two shows exist within the same universe. And to top it all off, Gomez stars in Wizards of Waverly Place where she plays the wizard Alex Russo, who appeared in the second Disney Channel crossover. So, either there are three girls who look freakishly like Selena Gomez, or Alex has been using her magic to screw with our heads.
    • Of course, none of this is mentioning Gomez's guest star role in Sonny With a Chance, where Gomez is famous, but there is no mention of Wizards of Waverly Place being an actual show. Chad speaks of Hannah Montana as a real person. (Although, that might be because of stupidity, because in another episode, after Selena's, Sonny mentions that Chad doesn't know that Hannah and Miley aren't the same person, hinting that Hannah Montana is also a show in that universe.)
      • Also, within the Sonny With a Chance episode, there is no Camp Rock or Jonas Brothers. (Selena stars in a different version, called "Camp Hip Hop" about dancing - a kind of funny shout out to Another Cinderella Story which stars Gomez - instead of singing, with three Jonas Brothers look alikes, despite the fact that Joe Jonas guest starred as himself in the Christmas episode.)
  • In the Kate Modern episode "Fictionality," Ralf Little's character, Gavin, complains that people keep accusing him of being a professional actor.
  • In the fictional world of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert's other works do exist, but Colbert (the actor) doesn't -- all of his roles were played by Kevin Spacey instead.
  • In the U.S. version of The Office, Creed Bratton plays a fantastical (and waaay crazy) version of himself. He was the lead guitarist and a vocalist in The Grass Roots in the 60s and 70s, and now (instead of acting) works at a paper company.
    • This ventures into Adam Westing territory, as Office!Creed is shown to be a klepto who does a multitude of drugs, and is involved in numerous criminal activities.
      • It is also implied that he killed the "real" Creed Bratton and stole is identity. "No-one steals from Creed Bratton! The last guy who did, went missing. His name? Creed Bratton."
    • In the second Christmas episode, he sings a Grass Roots song on a karaoke machine, which the real Creed Bratton did the vocals for. Wrap your head around that.
      • A deleted scene has him explaining that he was in a band called "The Grass Roots" back in the late 60s, early 70s.
    • In another episode Office!Creed says that he avoids debt by transferring it all to another identity named William Charles Schneider. Guess what Real Life!Creed's birth name is.
    • Also on the U.S. The Office, Michael Scott has mentioned that he is a fan of The Wire, yet does not notice Holly Flax's strong resemblance to Beadie Russell (both played by Amy Ryan). Nor Charles Miner's resemblance to Stringer Bell (both played by Idris Elba). Nor Eric Ward's resemblance to Thomas Klebanow (both played by David Costabile).
    • Not to mention the numerous references to Michael's beloved Whose Line Is It Anyway and Saturday Night Live, when the stars of both have appeared as characters on the show, such as Charles "Chip" Esten, Tim Meadows, David Koechner and Nancy Walls, who in addition to being on SNL, is also married to Steve Carell, who plays Michael, in real life.
    • Michael is also seen critiquing the film Live Free Or Die Hard. In Season 7, Michael hires an excellent traveling salesman played by Timothy Olyphant...who was the villain in the aforementioned Die Hard film.
    • In season 2, Michael can't help but yell "king of the world" (from Titanic) when he gets on a boat. In season six, Dunder-Mifflin is bought by the Sabre printer company owned by a woman named Jo who looks remarkably like Kathy Bates.
    • In season 3, several of the staff make joke announcements when Dwight attempts to audio record a meeting in the conference room while Michael is away. Phyllis says "Oh, Jim Carrey just walked in! Dwight, get his autograph for Michael!" After Michael leaves in season 7, one of the applicants interviewed (the unnamed "Finger Lakes Guy") is played by Jim Carrey. (So Jim Carrey eventually DID walk into the conference room. Or did he?)
    • After the Stamford branch personnel join the Scranton branch in season 3, Michael tries to entertain them by acting out the "Roxbury Guys" characters from "Saturday Night Live" (with help from Andy). Of course one of the characters was played by Will Farrell who looks just like Michael's would-be successor in season 7, Deangelo Vickers (something neither Michael nor anyone else seems to notice). Further complicating things is the Roxbury Guys were featured in a sketch in 1996 episode of SNL in which Jim Carrey (see above) both hosted and played one the Roxbury guys. On top of that, the sketch featured Nancy Walls (then a regular on SNL), who's not only Steve Carrell's real life wife, but played his girlfriend on The Office at the time of the episode where Michael tried to be one of the Roxbury guys!
    • Speaking of The Office, the UK version plays with this idea a bit. In the Christmas special, the first two seasons of the show have aired on BBC, and (a few) in-show characters recognize David Brent from it. Brent finds it necessary to explain that the documentary's portrayal of him was inaccurate.
  • Veronica Mars is said to get nightmares when she watches Paris Hilton movies. Quite understandable, as there was a girl at her school played by Paris Hilton.
    • She also once snarked at her friend Wallace by asking which Gilmore girl he was, even though Gilmore Girls came on right before Veronica Mars on the CW that season. One wonders what show filled that slot in Veronica's world.
  • The title character in Suddenly Susan finds herself unable to remember Andre Agassi's first wife—because it was Brooke Shields herself.
  • The main character in The Naked Truth could only remember that David Duchovny's wife was "that goofy blonde sitcom bimbo"... whom we know as Téa Leoni.
  • Likewise, an episode of Quantum Leap features an heiress played by Brooke Shields, whose resemblance to herself causes no comment from Sam or Al. Then again, in this case it may be a Justified Trope because Sam is amnesiac and the show takes place in a timeline which is (at least at first) significantly different from ours.
    • On the other hand, there was a horror-themed episode where, throughout the episode, Sam makes references to things like "Christine" (for a car) and "Kujo" for a dog. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that a minor character, a young man named "Stevey" (in front of whom the references were made) was actually Stephen King.
      • Not sure that applies to this trope as that's more of a circular paradox. i.e. Sam reads books by King, travels through time, King happens to use these names when writing said books later in life.
  • One episode of Sue Thomas FB Eye had Sue (the character) meeting Sue (the real FBI agent that sparked the series); IIRC, one of them said she'd always wanted to be an FBI agent while the other said she'd always wanted to be an actress.
    • Sue the Character is an actress playing an FBI agent who said she always wanted to be an actress. Sue the Real Person is an FBI agent who's character on the show is an actress who said she always wanted to be an FBI agent.
  • According to Word of God, Saturday Night Live does not exist in the world of Thirty Rock for this reason. Tina Fey has said that making reference to Eddie Murphy is about the closest the show could ever come to acknowledging the existence of SNL.
    • In one episode, Liz and Tracy argue about Wayne Brady. A few episodes later, Wayne Brady appeared on the show as a character.
    • In an early episode, Jack mentions watching Friends and asks about Ross and Rachel. Both David Schwimmer ("Ross") and Jennifer Aniston ("Rachel") later guest starred. And in an episode after Aniston's appearance, Jenna mentioned her (the actress, not the character).
    • Not to mention the fact that Alec Baldwin once guest starred in an episode of Friends as an almost fourth wall breaking character. Constantly commenting on the characters almost as if he watched them on TV...
    • This MySpace page someone created for Liz Lemon lists Tina Fey as one of Liz's heroes.
    • Liz is a big Star Wars fan and references the films frequently. So it's a little odd that when Carrie Fisher appears as a guest star in the episode "Rosemary's Baby," Liz doesn't recognise her as Princess Leia.
    • In one episode Liz wonders who played "the white guy in Invictus" - in our world it was Matt Damon, who played Liz's boyfriend Carol.
    • In "Kidnapped by Danger", Jenna appears on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon is best known for co-anchoring "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey. He's also believed to the basis for the Thirty Rock character Josh Girard.
      • This got even more bizarre when Jimmy Fallon played a young Jack Donaghy in a flashback during the series' second live episode.
  • Aversion: Both Spin City and Just Shoot Me have celebrities appear in regular roles as well as themselves, though no celebrity has ever done both.
  • Averted in The Young Ones, where the characters are quite aware they are in a sitcom which is being broadcast. In fact, in one episode Neil's parents upbraid him for appearing in such an offensive sitcom and asked why he couldn't be in something nice like The Good Life.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun referenced William Shatner a couple of times before he became the Big Giant Head.
    • In one episode, the cast asks the Big Giant Head how his flight was & he replies that it was terrible. He says there was something on the wing and no one would believe him. Dick assures The Big Giant Head that the same thing had happened to him. Of course, John Lithgow and William Shatner played the same part, in the Movie and the series respectively.
    • A companion book to the series includes an introduction by John Lithgow despite the book being written in an in-universe manner. Attached to the introduction is a note purportedly written by Dick in which he says he has no idea why the introduction is there, and refers to Lithgow as an Earth actor from "some helicopter movie."
    • Then there was the episode with George Takei...
  • In the real world, the first (test) Space Shuttle was named "Enterprise" in honor of Star Trek. That Enterprise does appear among the models of earlier ships to bear the name that Picard keeps in his ready room, and appears in the montage during the opening credits to Star Trek: Enterprise, though the reason for its name is presumably different (presumably, the same reason as Kirk's Enterprise: "Enterprise" is a name with a long naval history).
    • In Star Trek: Enterprise, the second Warp-5 ship was named the Columbia by the shows writers in tribute to crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia who had recently died in the Columbia Disaster. The in universe reason given for this name, was that it was taken from the second space shuttle, with the implication that the Starship Enterprise is supposed to be named for the space shuttle.
    • In this Comic Relief special, the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation notices a similarity between Whoopi Goldberg and Guinan.
  • In a Saturday Night Live sketch from the 2008 U.S. election with Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, Hillary Rodham Clinton mocks her "Tina Fey glasses."
    • Proving that Tina Fey exists in the same universe as Sarah Palin.
  • On Will and Grace, Britney Spears is referenced many times by the characters, particularly Jack, who has memorized her dance moves and even swears on her name ("Britney Spears Federline!"). Yet when she appears as a special guest star as Jack's new co-host, he doesn't comment on how much she looks like his idol.
    • Similarly, Jack says, "Me digs Taye Diggs," in one episode. When Grace later married Will's boyfriend James, Jack never noted the resemblance.
    • On the other hand, when he meets Cher, he initially assumes she's a drag queen dressed as Cher.
    • Also there's the paradox presented by Bernadette Peters. One episode opens with Jack holding up a lock of her hair that he recently acquired for a "Broadway Diva Wig" (leading to a confrontation with Patti LuPone), but then in a later episode she plays Karen's sister Gin.
  • Monk: In the season one finale, Tim Daly makes an appearance as himself. Sharona mentions that he was in the show Wings. So who plays Antonio in Monk land? If it's Tony Shalhoub, Monk must be pretty sick of people telling him how much he looks like Antonio.
    • This same logic could be assumed. If Silence of the Lambs exists in Monk land, I wonder how often people tell Captain Stottlemeyer that he sounds and looks like Buffalo Bill.
    • We only have to assume what would happen if Dirty Work or one of the sitcoms that Traylor Howard appeared on existed in this world, because Natalie would often be mistaken for those characters.
    • Sharona is shocked that Monk had never heard of the show, so it's somewhat lampshaded.
  • An odd variation on this occurred in an episode of Green Acres. The cast decided to put on a play based on the "popular television show", The Beverly Hillbillies. That would be fine, except The Beverly Hillbillies takes place in the same universe as Green Acres, along with Petticoat Junction, with characters frequently crossing over from one show to another. Which means that in The Beverly Hillbillies universe, there is a TV show called The Beverly Hillbillies, featuring the characters of Jed, Jethro, Granny and Elly May, which those same characters could then watch. One wonders who played the characters on the show.
    • Also, one of Lisa's talents is doing Zsa Zsa Gabor impressions. No word on whether she does Eva.
    • An episode of The Beverly Hillbillies featured Jed Clampett (played by Buddy Ebsen) reminiscing about how he'd seen Buddy Ebsen's song and dance act.
  • Invoked by Lost, possibly intentionally: Sawyer calls Karl "Cheech," and then Cheech Marin shows up playing Hurley's father a scant two episodes later.
  • Flight of the Conchords is set in a world where The Lord of the Rings movies were made and filmed in New Zealand, but nobody mentions the fact that Brett McKenzie looks alarmingly like one of the elves.
    • Although Bret wasn't in the film for very long, and given the nature of the Conchords characters, it's entirely possible that no-one thinks it worthy of comment.
  • In CSI: NY, nobody comments on Detective Mac Taylor's remarkable resemblance to Gary Sinise, but he does share last names with Sinise's most famous recent role, Dan Taylor.
    • An inverted example is John McEnroe playing himself and Jimmy Nelson, who is a McEnroe look-alike.
  • Apparently, the American version of Life On Mars is an astronaut going to Mars, thinking of the song "Life on Mars," picturing himself in an American version of Life On Mars. Or Was It a Dream?? (Yeah.)
    • The original version contains John Simm (who played the Master and in this programme is playing a character whose surname was influenced by Doctor Who) making a reference to Doctor Who.
  • In the Kings episode "Judgment Day," Prince Jack says, "Everyone wants an old-school lord and master. Cutting a few babies in half." in a reference to the Judgment of Solomon... except that since Kings is a retelling of the story of Solomon's father, King David, the original Judgment of Solomon story shouldn't exist in their universe.
    • Alternatively, that universe has the same Bible we do. This would explain why a newspaper thinks the headline DAVID SLAYS GOLIATH means anything. But the parallel between the Bible story and the modern David's career would start to freak people out eventually.
  • Sanford and Son has Fred G. Sanford winning a Redd Foxx lookalike contest.
  • Played with on Las Vegas when "Big Ed" Deline, played by James Caan, is shooting a commercial for the Montecito, and can't act. The director tries to get him to act more naturally by referencing a conversation with Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. Ed looks confused for a second before saying he has no idea what the director is talking about.
  • On the sitcom Hope And Gloria Alan Thicke played both himself and a talk show host named Dennis Dupree who despises Thicke for looking just like him. This eventually leads to a fistfight between the two during a Growing Pains reunion on Dupree's show.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Season 8" comics, we see Buffy and Dawn are big fans of Veronica Mars, although no mention is made to the fact that actors from Buffy have appeared on Veronica Mars, as well as show creator Joss Whedon.
  • An episode of 8 Simple Rules confirmed that Threes Company definitely exists in-universe, but Paul Hennessy's remarkable resemblance to Jack Tripper is never commented on. To make things even more bizarre, Paul then has a dream sequence resembling Threes Company wherein he plays the part of not Jack, but Mr. Roper.
    • In Step by Step, Carol is played by Suzanne Somers, who also played Chrissy. Carol was watching Three's Company and laughing, saying that Chrissy was her favorite, and tried to "imitate" Chrissy's trademark laugh. Nobody pointed out the resemblance, though.
  • In Kids Incorporated, they did a cover version of "More Than You Know" by Martika, herself a former star of the series, making one wonder if she exists in the KI universe.
    • Almost every character in the series was The Danza, playing a character of the same name as the actor, so one might suppose that the character and the actor were meant to be the same person. Ironically, Martika was one of the few characters who wasn't (her character was named Gloria).
    • Bonus point in that said cover was performed by Stacy Ferguson, who by the 1989 season was the last cast member left who had worked with her.
  • A complete aversion occurs in the unaired pilot Heat Vision and Jack—character actor Ron Silver plays character actor/assassin Ron Silver.
  • An inversion exists in Supernatural. In the continuity of the show, a series of novels exists starring the Winchester brothers (the author is a confused prophet). And yes, there is internet slashfic.
    • Sam and Dean are taking a movie studio tour at the beginning of season 2's "Hollywood Babylon." When the tour guide mentions that the next stop is the set for Gilmore Girls, Sam looks uncomfortable and hops off the tram. No one on the tour seems to notice that the guy who just jumped off looks exactly like Rory Gilmore's first- and second-season boyfriend, Dean Forester (who was also played by Jared Padalecki).
      • In the season 5 episode "Fallen Idols" a shape-shifting god takes the form of Paris Hilton. As Dean rants at the shifter about how shallow idolising Hilton is—to which Hilton's character seems to agree—he says he has never seen the recent remake of the horror film House of Wax. At this news Sam looks startled, and a bit disappointed, as both Jared Padalecki (who plays Sam) and Paris Hilton were in House of Wax.
    • An even more odd inversion occurs in season six, in an episode where the Winchesters are cast into a parallel universe where the actors who play them do exist, but Supernatural is a TV show and the Winchesters are fictional characters. Hilarity Ensues, at least until a douchebag angel follows them and proceeds to start killing the cast and crew.
      • To further add to the confusion, during the initial airing of this episode, Misha Collins tweeted the exact same things that he tweets in the episode, at the exact same time.
    • Also played straight. Dean is a fan of The X-Files yet does not recognize the guy from "Scarecrow" as Cigarette Smoking Man, or even notice his grandfather inhabits the same body as Mulder and Scully's boss.
  • In Ugly Betty, the Posthumous Character Fey Sommers of Mode is clearly based on the real-life Anna Wintour of Vogue (even their names pun: summer/winter). But later episodes mention Wintour as a separate person.
  • In the universe of Fringe, Star Trek is referenced occasionally. In fact, one delusional character believes that he is a reincarnation of Spock. However, nobody in-universe seems to comment on the fact that ultra-rich industrialist William Bell is played by Leonard Nimoy.
  • Red Dwarf plays with it. The plot of Back to Earth has Rimmer, Kryten and Cat encounter Craig Charles (Lister) on the set of Coronation Street. Of course, Craig assumes it's a joke and that they're simply his fellow actors -- until Lister arrives. And it's explained at the end -- they were in a false reality where Red Dwarf is fiction.
    • Straight example in Back in the Red. The Alien series is alluded to in a game of charades early in the story. A few minutes later, Mac McDonald—Commander Simpson in Aliens—is reintroduced as Captain Hollister.
  • In There Is No Carry On In Eastenders, Chris Moyles discusses the many, many things that can't exist in the Eastenders universe because of this trope, which may go some way to explaining why the series is such a Crapsack World.
    • On the same subject: in reference to the quote on the Quote Page, British soaps tend to throw another soap in the slot where they should be in real life; i.e. the soap that goes out every weekday at 7pm in the Emmerdale universe is called Castle Bridge.
      • On the other hand, anyone watching TV in Eastenders always seems to be watching a comedy, a documentary, a movie... anything but a soap opera.
        • Except in one instance where long-standing character Dot Cotton announced that she never misses rival soap opera Coronation Street. This was a friendly nod to the fact that Coronation Street was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.
  • The Pilot for FlashForward shows a billboard for Oceanic Airlines—but later on shows a bus ad for Losts final season, implying that Lost is a show in the Flash Forward universe. Who plays Penny and Charlie in FlashForwards version of Lost?
    • The show also had a reference to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, yet it has a fictional president in the same episode. So the 2008 election was exactly the same but with some random white guy winning instead of Obama?
  • Played with in Sonny With a Chance where Sonny (Demi Lovato) meets Selena Gomez, as Selena Gomez, who apparently no longer has a BFF named Demi Lovato, or if she does probably would have mentioned "Hey, my BFF looks so exactly like you it's uncanny." At the end, they tease the idea that Sonny would become Selena's new BFF. It was a very strange episode.
  • Leverage is full to brimming with Star Trek, up to and including guest stars: Jeri Ryan, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and Armin Shimerman have all shown up. Wheaton's character even has the in-universe nickname of The Kobayashi Maru! But hardcore fanboy and Trekkie Hardison notices nothing.
    • Chaos (played by Wil Wheaton) once asks Hardison to get Sophie to dress up as Counselor Troi.
  • Played with a bit in Bones. In real life, Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, who writes novels about a fictional forensic anthropologist named Temperance Brennan. In Bones, Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, who writes novels about a fictional forensic anthropologist—named Kathy Reichs. (Word of God explains that Bones is really an Author Avatar more than a direct adaptation of the novels Temperance, and Reichs describes her as more or less a "younger" version) However, in the first episode, Bones mentions that the next closest forensic anthropologist besides herself is in Montreal—where Temperance Brennan works in the novels. Also played more typically straight in a few episodes:
    • Intern-of-the-week Fisher mentions that he's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, without mentioning how much Booth looks like Angel.
    • In the episode "The Gamer in the Grease," three of the lab techs take turns camping out for the premiere of Avatar, a movie starring Joel David Moore, who also plays Fisher. Must be intentionally invoked, because Moore is only occasionally a guest star on the show, and he appears in this episode.
    • Very early in the show, Hodgins comments to Zack - "Your robot is like you. You tell it to walk, it jumps. You tell it to jump, it rolls. You tell it to take out the garbage, it watches old reruns of Firefly." This is pre-Cam, who is played by Tamara Taylor, who has a bit part in The Big Damn Movie, but any Whedon reference in a show starring David Boreanez is amusing.
  • In Glee, Kristin Chenoweth guests stars as April Rhodes, leaving at the end of the episode and making a comment about trying to get into Broadway. A few episodes later, Rachel and Kurt audition for the solo part of "Defying Gravity." If there is no Kristin Chenoweth, then who originated the role of Glinda? Plus Idina Menzel's later appearance. Who was Elphaba?
    • Rachel also later sings Take Me Or Leave Me from Rent, which was originally sung by Idina Menzel who plays her mother. Additionally, she and Kurt have been confirmed to sing "For Good," which was of course sung by both of them.
    • Early in the show Emma makes a comment on how people like John Stamos get famous without talent. I guess her future husband Carl just happens to look a lot like him.
    • In season one Finn mentions Gwyneth Paltrow. Guess who becomes a recurring guest-star in season two?
    • In the season two finale Mr Schue sings a cover of Matthew Morrison's own song "Still Got Tonight". Such a paradox.
  • In an episode of Mad TV, House (played by Michael McDonald) actually watches an episode of Mad TV featuring Stuart (also played by Michael McDonald) and says that he looks a lot like him.
  • An episode of The Muppet Show made fun of this. It featured Luke Skywalker going into the Muppet studio and claiming that Mark Hamill (the actor who played him) was his "cousin." The two made several appearances in the episode, but not on screen together. The end of the episode, however, reveals that Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker are in fact separate people.
  • In one episode of NCIS, Kate asks Gibbs what Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard looked like when he was younger. Gibbs' response? Illya Kuryakin. Both characters are played by David McCallum.
    • And in the episode when the agents go to Ducky's house, his mother has a picture of him as a young man on the mantle. That picture is a promotional picture of McCallum as Illya Kuryakin.
    • In another episode, Tony (the team's resident movie buff) mentions "Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell in Scent of a Woman." Chris O'Donnell currently plays lead character Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles, and has guest starred as Callen on regular NCIS.
    • In one episode, Tony remarks that he has "a better chance of hooking up with Jessica Alba" than some criminals have infiltrating someplace. One wonders if Tony is aware of an actor that looks just like him named Michael Weatherly, who was once engaged to Ms. Alba (and was her co-star on Dark Angel).
    • Tony's movie references cause all kinds of Celebrity Paradoxes after the fact. He directly referenced True Lies in the season 7 opener, yet Jamie Lee Curtis has a recurring role as Samantha Ryan starting in season 9.
  • Several examples in the Law and Order franchise:
    • Bobby Flay cameoed in an episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit as a TV chef who's enough like real Bobby Flay that if he wasn't playing himself he might as well have been. He had cheated on his wife—only since Flay is married to Stephanie March (Alex Cabot on SVU) in Real Life, on the show he had no wife to cheat on.
    • In the Law and Order episode "Turnaround," involving the murder of a studio executive, Briscoe mentions movie star Julia Roberts. The actress would guest star two years later as Katrina Ludlow in the episode "Empire." Unlike Ocean's Twelve, however, no one seems to notice the resemblance.
    • Law and Order characters have frequently referenced the O.J. Simpson trial, despite having an earlyish episode that plays off it (which itself got a sequel years after during the "If I did it" period). No one has mentioned Capricorn One, which co-starred an actor who looked a lot like a younger Jack McCoy.
    • Capricorn One was also not mentioned on the Law and Order Special Victims Unit episode in which an astronaut (played by James Brolin) listens to Munch's theory on the "faked" moon landing.
  • Larry Miller appeared as himself on Law and Order in 2003. Detective Briscoe never mentioned Miller's resemblance to comedy club owner Michael Dobson, whom Briscoe arrested for murder twice.
  • Chuck features a very prominent Tron poster in the main character's bedroom. It also features Bruce Boxleitner as "Woody" Woodcomb, father of one of the main cast. The poster is the real thing, with Boxleitner listed as the star, but nobody ever brings it up.
    • Also, Tricia Helfer has guested on the show as a fellow government agent, but Sarah has been spotted with a "Go Frak Yourself" T-shirt. Who played Six in the Chuck-verse? And now we find out that Romo freakin' Lampkin works for The Ring?
    • In one episode, Sarah and Chuck are watching Spies Like Us and Chuck specifically mentions Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase, he failed to notice that Chevy Chase looks a lot like season two villain, Ted Roark.
    • Chuck mentions Die Hard in a season four episode, though a season two episode had previously featured Reginald Vel Johnson as Sgt. Al Powell. Not a similar character. Sgt. Al Powell.
    • Season 5 plays with it even more: Bo Derek and Stan Lee appear in episodes of Season 5 as themselves. In the Chuckverse, both are secretly spies (Stan Lee with the CIA, Bo Derek working with Nicholas Quinn.
  • An episode of Happy Days had the Cunningham family watching the movie The Music Man. Mrs. Cunningham says that one of the boys in the movie looks like Richie while Mr. Cunningham finds that silly. A much younger Ron Howard did indeed have a prominent role in that movie.
  • On The Wire Wu-Tang Clan songs have been heard playing on stereos, and yet Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man has a recurring role on the show as gangster Cheese Wagstaff.
  • In the Cold Case episode "Creatures of the Night" Barry Bostwick plays a serial killer. The crime in question involved a 1977 murder and one of the main plot points had the killer and suspected victim attending a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show which starred a much-younger Barry Bostwick. So, flashbacks showed the younger version of Bostwick's character watching a movie starring a character played by a younger Barry Bostwick. Confused yet?
    • Now, if only Rush had called the killer "Asshole"...
    • A bit of The Breakfast Club confusion. Some kids watch the movie in an early season two episode and a character mentions it by name in season three, yet Paul Gleason appeared as a character in another season three episode.
  • The Big Bang Theory has cameos by Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, George Takei, Katee Sackhoff and Summer Glau, all playing themselves, and all the characters make a big deal about them. But when Michael Trucco appears as a visiting physicist, no one mentions how much he looks like Sam Anders, despite being big Galactica fans.
    • We're treated to an interesting take of this in the Summer Glau episode. Sheldon speculates that if Skynet were real, then the best strategy would be for them to copy and impersonate actors who have played Terminators on film.
    • In one episode in season 1, the characters have a discussion about how Mayim Bialik and Danica McKellar are serious academics as well as actresses. It would've been weird enough if just one of them had shown up later in the series, but both actresses would end up playing fictional guest parts in season 3.
      • Bialik has since become a series regular, playing Sheldon's friend who is a girl.
      • Raj also mentions "the girl who played TV's Blossoms" and suggesting she join their Physics Bowl team.
  • Thirtysomething, in its final season, featured a copy of John Updike's Rabbit at Rest as stage dressing. Guess what show the characters in Rabbit at Rest watch frequently.
  • Most of the cast members of Growing Pains haven't had much of a career afterwards. Alan Thicke's career consists mostly of playing himself, and Kirk Cameron has gone on to Christian Fundie work. Leonardo DiCaprio, however, has fared much better, which may be why he wasn't in the reunion movie. In the movie, the characters make reference to the missing Leonardo.
  • Entourage clearly exists in a contemporary Hollywood, with many actors and prominent movie industry personalities appearing and referenced but the main characters aren't recognised for their actors - no-one mistakes Eric for Kevin Connolly, or thinks Johnny Drama looks like Matt Dillon (actor Kevin Dillon's more successful brother)
  • Ally McBeal is set in the same universe as other David E. Kelley shows including The Practice, and in fact those two shows crossed over on at least one occasion. However, another episode has Ally watching TV (although the audience can only hear the sound, not see the screen) and the famous "head in the bag" scene from The Practice is playing.
  • An episode of Lucille Ball's '70s sitcom Here's Lucy has her character entering a Lucille Ball lookalike contest, and meeting - you guessed it - Lucille Ball.
  • In one Newhart episode, Dick Loudon (Newhart) is talking with Michael Harris about classic television, and at one point mentions the great Saturday night lineup CBS had in the '70s, with All in The Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, etc. "Yeah," Michael responds, "and how about that show with the shrink who stuttered?"
    • What makes this even odder, of course, is that Dick Loudon and the entire Newhart series are eventually revealed to have been a bad dream conjured up by that selfsame shrink.
  • In the TV movie "Degrassi Takes Manhattan," a TVM reporter mentions an interview with rap superstar Drake, who originally became famous for the role of Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi the Next Generation.
    • The previous film, Degrassi Goes Hollywood mentions meeting Shenae Grimes at a 90210 after party. Who appeared in that season playing Darcy Edwards for the last time.
    • Also, celebrity guest stars fall in various sides of this trope. A few appear as themselves, making this a non-issue (Kevin Smith, Jay Manuel), but others appeared as random extras (Billy Ray Cyrus, Colin Mochrie). Nobody comments on how familiar they look.
  • Both Mad Men and Community feature Alison Brie. When her character in the latter, Annie, offered to help her classmate Abed practice flirting, he suddenly became immensely suave.

Shirley: Abed, what are you doing?
Abed: Don Draper from Mad Men. What did you think?

    • In the Community episode "Contemporary Impressionists", French Stewart plays a French Stewart impersonator.
  • Here's a paradox capable of destroying the universe (or at least our own galaxy): Jaleel White appeared in an episode of Full House as Steve Urkel, where he met Uncle Jesse (played by John Stamos). White also appeared on Step by Step as Urkel, where he met Carol (played by Suzanne Somers). But then John Stamos appears on Step by Step as himself, where he meets Carol, and he mentions Full House! That means that in the Step by Step universe, Urkel is both a fictional character (having appeared on Full House) AND a real person, having appeared in person before their very eyes. Try getting your head around that.
    • It's possible that Urkel happened to land an acting gig on Full House as a part of some sort of contest or something.
    • Oh, and while we're at it, DJ's boyfriend Steve also meets Suzanne Somers on an episode of Full House, just in case it wasn't paradoxical enough already.
  • Played with in Furuhata Ninzaburou - big name celebrity actors make appearances on the show as victims and murderers, and no mention of whether or not they look like famous people, but the titular detective actually does butt heads with the J Pop group SMAP (one of whom already cameoed as a suspect in an earlier episode).
  • Averted on The Larry Sanders Show. Actor Garry Shandling exists alongside Larry Sanders In-Universe (and, according to guest Sean Penn, is a terrible and insecure actor.)
  • In The X-Files episode "Hollywood A.D.," Scully is played by Téa Leoni, who is actor David Duchovny's wife in real life.
    • Another X-Files episode has Alex Trebek play an M.I.B. agent, who is described as looking "like Alex Trebek."
      • The paradox is averted by this second example, though, as the character underwent extensive plastic surgery for the sake of looking like Alex Trebek. This was so anyone who saw him doing M.I.B. type things(i.e., trying to cover up the evidence of aliens a witness claimed to see) wouldn't be believed. And everything about the character we only get through the testimony of people claiming to have seen UFO's.
  • In a 2010 episode of Two and A Half Men, Charlie goes to his psychiatrist (played by Jane Lynch). As he and Alan later watch Glee, he says "that tall blond in the red track suit is freaking me out."
  • In an episode of Happy Endings, Brad, played by Damon Wayans Jr., mentions that before they were married, his wife used a picture of "one of the guys from In Living Color" as a placeholder for him. In Living Color was created by and starred Damon Wayans Sr. as well as his brothers and sister.
  • In the fourth season of Primeval, Abbey, played by former S-Club 7 member Hannah Spearritt, distracts a dinosaur in an arena with a light and sound system by turning the music onto max and the lights on... The song playing being Don't Stop Movin'.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel Air's Ashley Banks is a fan of both Tevin Campbell and in-universe teen heart-throb Little T (played by Tevin Campbell).
  • In the new Hawaii Five-O, Steve and Danny are watching CHiPs, comparing their lives to Erik Estrada's and Larry Wilcox's characters. Apparently they never watched Hawaii Five-O when they were younger. They should avoid Kahala Mall, where there is a sculpture of Jack Lord.
    • The new Hawaii Five-O also crossed over with NCIS: Los Angeles. NCIS:LA takes place in the same universe as regular NCIS, which referenced the original Five-O in the 2009 episode "Power Down." Meaning that there's a Five-O squad with a Danno in a universe with a classic TV show that has the very same things.

Gibbs: Book 'em, Dan-ozzo.
DiNozzo: Nice Hawaii Five-O reference, boss.

  • In Absolutely Fabulous both Joanna Lumley and Patsy Stone were minor Bond Girls. It remains unknown whether or not they were the same minor bond girl.
  • Millennium and The X-Files nominally take place in the same universe: A minor character, Jose Chung, appeared in two X-Files episodes before meeting his end in an episode of Millennium. Likewise, Millennium's Fully-Absorbed Finale was an episode of The X-Files. Mulder and Scully actually met Frank Black. Despite this though, one episode of Millennium has a very obvious Take That to The X-Files (complete with the X-Files theme) and in another episode, The X-Files can be heard from the TV as Frank is searching an apartment.
  • In Farscape (a Jim Henson Company production), the Halosians were modified Skeksis costumes from The Dark Crystal. In a later episode, John actually refers to them as Skeksis.
  • Moesha met Brandy (the latter of whom plays the former) in one episode.
  • An episode of Married With Children had Al and Peg walk into a video store featuring a display for the movie Dutch, starring Ed O Neil (though his face was covered up by a "new release" sticker). Peg picked up the copy briefly, only to put it back with a disgusted reaction.
  • In at least one episode of The Sopranos, Christopher mentions Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino wrote True Romance, which features James Gandolfini - Tony Soprano.
    • Goodfellas is also mentioned at least once. Goodfellas features actor Frank Vincent, who also plays Phil Leotardo in the show.
    • An episode of The Sopranos has a character watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. Conversely, characters on Curb have mentioned Sopranos and HBO.
  • In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, John Lithgow makes a reference to his own character from Footloose. ("I'm sorry, Mr. Small-Town Preacher, is there a law against dancing?")
    • In a sixth season episode, a gullible character talks about getting a part on Lost, yet a few episodes earlier, we met a friend of the group nicknamed "Blitzy" played by Jorge Garcia.
  • Richard Nixon is the most recent Real Life president to be referenced in The West Wing. All of the presidents between Nixon and Bartlett, as well as Bartlett himself, are fictional. This begs the question, then, of who was Nixon's vice-president, who presumably assumed office upon his resignation? Did this fictional president then pardon Nixon, which led to this fictional president losing reelection to another fictional president two years later?
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys had a lot of fun with this one. There were several Something Completely Different episodes in which the main cast of the show would play the main staff of the show (for example, Bruce Campbell played executive producer Robert Tappert). Kevin Sorbo played Hercules...playing Kevin Sorbo, the explanation being that Sorbo was simply the identity Hercules has taken on in the modern era. There was even an episode where Herc-Sorbo had to maintain the Masquerade while at a company wilderness retreat.
    • Just to complicate things further, in one episode of Hercules spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess, the real Bob Tapert appears as himself.
  • Related to a literature example up above, Sherlock contains a very minor but completely headwrecking reference to Arthur Conan Doyle, when a tabloid article about Sherlock Holmes contains the line "in a twist worthy of a Conan Doyle novella..." This implies that in-universe ACD wrote stories that had the same cultural impact as Sherlock Holmes but couldn't possibly have been Sherlock Holmes, or even anything too similar or it would surely have been referenced more often in the detective's rise to fame.
  • In a first-season episode of Due South, Constable Fraser (Paul Gross) mentions that Constable Buck Frobisher bears a striking resemblance to "noted Canadian character actor Leslie Nielsen. Frobisher is played by Nielsen.
  • In the second season finale of Raising Hope, the characters watch a fictional news show called Inside Probe, detailing the circumstances surrounding Jimmy meeting, impregnating, marrying, and turning in Hope's serial killer mother. During one of the commercial breaks, an ad for the real TV show My Name is Earl is shown. My Name is Earl and Raising Hope were both created by Greg Garcia, and several characters from Earl appear as recurring characters or guest stars on Raising Hope.
  • A Deleted Scene from The Thick of It reveals Peter Mannion MP's wife's dowdy appearance has been mocked on Have I Got News for You. A number of actors from The Thick of It have appeared in episodes of Have I Got News for You, including Rebecca Front (Nicola Murray MP) Chris Addison (Olly Reader) and Miles Jupp (John Duggan). Presumably those episodes in The Verse feature a different array of comedians cracking jokes about the politicians of The Thick of It.


Magazines[edit | hide]

  • Back when it was still a print publication, Cracked often played with the trope in its annual "summer movie" spoofs; they'd depict characters from one movie taking a break from the plot they were supposed to be forwarding to go to a theater and watch some of the other movies from that summer's lineup, as if they were as "real" as the readers were but the characters in the other movies were fictional. Their Batman Forever parody had Batman, Robin, and various villains going to see other 1995 summer blockbusters, with The Penguin storming out of a Pocahontas parody because he was offended by a scene showing Pocahontas and John Smith eating turkey (because he's a "bird-man," of course). Their 1999 parody of Adam Sandler's hit Big Daddy (titled Big Duddy) started out as a straightforward parody of that movie's plot but then had "Sony" take the orphaned boy to see Inspector Gadget and Mystery Men (titled Inspector Gagit and Misery Men). While watching the Mystery Men spoof, he is inspired to resolve the plot of the main story (social services wanting to take away the boy) by adopting the superhero persona of "Lawyer Man" (complete with a mask and cape), who uses his "super lawyer powers to clog up the courts with meaningless petitions and motions for the next ten years."
  • Mad also did these kinds of gags, such as in their 1982 parody Awful Annie, when "Daddy Morebucks" takes Annie to the movies. True, this was a direct reference to a scene in the actual movie being parodied, but here the characters constantly call attention to the fact that they are fictional. ("We'll go from this movie to another movie!" declares Morebucks.)


Music[edit | hide]

  • Katy Perry's "Waking Up In Vegas" has a rather bizarre version. In the video, Perry plays a woman tooling around Vegas with her boyfriend. They hit a run of good luck, then a run of bad luck. You could reasonably assume that some random woman wouldn't be able to phone up Perry's agent or whoever and ask for more money, but the character actually plays some of Perry's songs on her conspicuous phone, including "Waking Up in Vegas." Complete with album cover. During a poker tournament, the woman's name subtitle reads "Perry." Presumably, the music video for the song hasn't been released yet, or the character hasn't seen it yet, or it's much different from what it is in this world, and the character just happens to be named "Perry" and looks and sounds a lot like Katy Perry. Incidentally, the boyfriend is played by Joel David Moore, from the Bones/Avatar (film) example above.
  • Gorillaz has a particular example where they are well aware of their animated nature, actively sharing our universe. You have the many guests that work with them, whose identities are often altered to fit within the band's storyline, but then you have to wonder if these collaborators are that new identity, or if their real persona is somewhere out there. It's even an established fact that their creators Damon Albarn and Jaimie Hewlett are existing people, but aren't referred as such, jarring knowing that Albarn's is the main singing voice behind the band.
  • David Bowie's Concept Album 1. Outside plays with this via "The Diary of Nathan Adler", a short story setting up the album's plot and characters (played by Bowie) and "written" by one of them. The album was recorded in 1995 and set in a 1999 where "art-crime" runs rampant; in a brief history of the shocking art (performance and otherwise) that paved the way for this trend, Adler not only mentions Real Life artists such as Chris Burden and Damien Hurst, but notes that in The Seventies "Bowie the singer remarked on a coupla goons who frequented the Berlin bars wearing dull surgery regalia..." No first name is given, so this singer may or may not be David (who did live in Berlin for a time in the late '70s)...
  • The Beastie Boys' Fight For Your right Revisited features the 1986 Beastie Boys played by Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny Macbride, their future versions played by Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Jack Black as well as the real Beastie Boys themselves as the cops arresting the former six at the end.
  • Billy Joel's video for "Uptown Girl" has him playing a mechanic in a ca. 1960 garage who, at the beginning, is watching Joel's video for his previous single, "Tell Her About It", which was represented as having been performed on the Ed Sullivan Show.
  • Feist's video for "Mushaboom" starts out with Leslie Feist waking up in an apartment and singing along to the song itself on the radio while going through her morning routine. It's ambiguous if this is supposed to be Feist singing along to her own song, or just a fan who happens to look and sing exactly like her.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • One Peanuts cartoon has Lucy watching the Rose Bowl parade on New Year's Day when Linus enters, asking "Has the Grand Marshall gone by yet?" to which Lucy replies, "Yeah, you just missed him - but he wasn't anyone you ever heard of!" Naturally, the Grand Marshall that year had been Charles Schulz himself.
  • When Bill Watterson interviewed with the L.A. Times about Calvin and Hobbes, he drew this doodle to accompany it (Calvin and Hobbes appear to have no idea who the interviewer is.) More such rare drawings can be found here.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • In an angle where Shawn Michaels retires from WWE to work in a cafeteria, he uses the pseudonym "Hickenbottom" to avoid attention. Triple H goes on to make fun of the name. Michaels's real name is Michael Shawn Hickenbottom.
  • A TNA skit involved Kevin Nash figuring out new nicknames for Jay Lethal. He pitched names like "Vinnie Vegas" and "Oz" which were gimmicks Nash played in WCW at the start of his career. He openly acknowledged this while trying to figure out a gimmick for Sonjay Dutt. ("I wrestled two matches in that one year and earned six figures!")
  • As certain wrestling skits over the past quarter-century have established, the characters of Frank Drebin, Alex J. Murphy, and Charles Lee Ray all exist as their fictional selves....which gets freakin' weird once you remember that the wrestlers exist in our world as well as their fantasy one, not to mention that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have appeared as well (as lookalike actors playing them, of course). Granted, Robocop and Chuckie were established in WCW, and may or may not be canon to WWE, but considering that WCW was meant to be in the real world as well... ow, I think I just pulled my brain.
  • Also, Tiger Woods is apparently an actual tiger.
  • Adam Sandler appeared in the audience at WrestleMania 21 to see The Big Show wrestle. I wonder if Sandler asked him for a job again afterward....
  • And here's something to truly ponder: Sergeant Slaughter is both a "real" wrestler character and a fictional character in the G.I. Joe cartoon series. Wait....does that mean that the characters in G. I. Joe....actually exist? (And if that's true, why did they look radically different in the 1980s than in the 1960s? Were there some ultra-secret Cold War projects that the Pentagon didn't tell us about?)


Radio[edit | hide]

  • In The Gobetweenies, Tom is a huge Doctor Who fan. Tom's father, Joe, is played by David Tennant.
  • In Clare In The Community, a Radio 4 comedy series about a social worker based on a comic strip in The Guardian, reference has been made to a comic strip in The Guardian about a social worker, which Clare doesn't find funny. In addition, Richard Lumsden, the actor who plays Ray, was apparently old schoolfriend of Brian.
  • The Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Pier Pressure, set in the 1930s, features a young actor called Billy. References to his films make it quite clear that this is young Billy Hartnell, some thirty years before playing the First Doctor in the Doctor Who TV series.


Social Media[edit | hide]


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In the 1939 play Arsenic and Old Lace, one character is told repeatedly (and to his borderline homicidal annoyance) that he looks like Boris Karloff, who played the part in the original Broadway production. This is Lampshade Hanging in the play, as the part was written specifically for Karloff.
  • In a case of works, rather than actors, existing in-universe, Rent is a 20th century adaptation of La Boheme. In the show, Roger plays a strain of music on his guitar and Mark comments that it sounds like "Musetta's Waltz"... which is from La Boheme. One wonders if the characters noticed how closely their lives reflected the opera.
    • Well, there IS a song called "La Vie Bohême."
  • Older Than Steam: In Moliere's play The Imaginary Invalid, which satirizes the medicine of the era, the brother of Argan (the hypochondriac main character) asks him if he would like to see a Moliére play. Argan angrily berates Moliére for making fun of doctors.
  • Title of Show. A musical about writing a musical about writing a musical, the musical they're writing being [title of show]. The main characters are all played by themselves, and the musical debuted at the theater festival the characters discuss debuting the musical at. Needless to say, there is a very small window in which this musical works as well as it was intended to.
    • Which definitely passed by the time the play was performed by the Arizona Theatre Company.
    • The possibility of who plays them after the initial run was addressed in the [title of show] show episode 6.. Also, in other behind the scenes material, it can be seen that two standbys had been hired.
  • In Don Giovanni by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, Don Giovanni and his servant Leporello divert themselves by singing snippets of opera, first an aria from Una cosa rara by Vincenzo Martini, a colleague of Mozart's who frequently collaborated with da Ponte, then one from Fra i due littiganti by Sarti, and finally Non più andrai from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart and da Ponte, at which Leporello notes that the tune sounds very familiar. It is believed that this was part also a nod to the audience in Prague (where Don Giovanni was first performed), because in Prague unlike Vienna the Marriage had been a huge success.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Brutal Legend, oh so hard. Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, Lita Ford, and Rob Halford show up in the game, are IDENTICAL to their real-life appearance, and they're not recognized as such by metal uberfan Eddie Riggs.
  • A bonus cutscene in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, from The Verse's bizarre television, shows the actress Lee Meriwether (rather creepily) interviewing the screenwriter David Hayter—Meriwether and Dayter being the voice actors for Big Mama and Solid Snake respectively. In case we didn't get it, Dayter is dressed in a snakeskin jacket and digital eyepatch, and Meriwether talks to him in the somewhat stilted, poetic, dramatic tones of a Metal Gear character giving an important speech, only addressing him by his full name. Did we mention the Metal Gear Solid has No Fourth Wall?
    • More subtly, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater mentions many movies which served as an inspiration for the game, and the first Metal Gear Solid ends (if you submit to the torture) with Snake openly discussing his Theme Naming with his new friend, Otacon (they're called Dave and Hal).
    • Hideo Kojima exists within the Metal Gear universe, as a 'legendary game developer', and Otacon is shown to be a fan of his other games Policenauts, Zone of the Enders and Boktai. But Otacon, despite knowing Meryl and implicitly being friends with her, doesn't recognise Meryl Silverburgh as being an Expy of a character in Policenauts. He also doesn't notice anything strange about the Solar Gun, or the HIDE-CHAN noodles. The weirdness of this is massively dwarfed by the fact that Emma has a Metal Gear: Ghost Babel poster in her lab in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, with Snake on it. Ghost Babel also had Raiden in it, as well as the Show Within a Show IdeaSpy 2.5, which Snake and Otacon are fans of in Metal Gear Solid 4 and which was turned into a Radio Drama voice acted by Hideo Kojima and Yumi Kikuchi in the real world. If Snake recognises the resemblance between Yumi Kikuchi and Raging Beauty, he doesn't comment on it.
      • It's possible Emma's poster isn't an example; after Metal Gear Solid, an account of the Shadow Moses incident is made public and denied by the government. The denial is rather flimsy, because Metal Gear REX's blueprints are sold all over the world, so everyone knows the "walking tank" part of the story is true, at least. As a result, Solid Snake becomes a figure in popular culture with many different ideas of what he's really like, or if maybe the government is telling the truth and "Solid Snake" is just a myth playing up on the exploits of real, but normal, military special forces. Ghost Babel could exist in-universe as a movie or videogame depicting one particular idea of what a Solid Snake adventure would be like if he is, indeed, real.
  • Super Robot Wars loves to play with its Hey, It's That Voice! casting like this, with characters mentioning other characters' similar voices, and even making Shout Outs.
  • Double Dragon features an actual cabinet of the original arcade game in the scene before the final battle. The monitor of said cabinet gets smashed in an ensuing fight scene.
  • Captain Lou Albano played Mario in both the live-action and animated segments of Super Mario Bros Super Show. In a particularly memorable live-action segment, Luigi mentions that Mario idolizes Captain Lou, who goes missing. Albano appears at the end of the episode, shortly after Mario leaves...
  • In the Grand Theft Auto universe, California (and possibly part of Nevada) and New York City don't exist, having been replaced by San Andreas and Liberty City respectively, but some of the songs on the radio still reference California and New York City. For example, Grand Theft Auto IV takes place in Liberty City, but the song list still includes "New York Groove" by Hello.
    • A radio DJ in Vice City Stories explicitly mentions New York at one point.
    • Lampshaded in a Something Awful Forum Let's Play of San Andreas, when the narrator and his friend note Snoop Dogg's rapping about "Compton" is obviously a disguised version of the game's "Ganton." And there's a Jack Thompson Expy who thinks that rap music encourages people to violence.
    • In San Andreas, the DJ for the Classic Rock station (K-DST) is voiced by Axl Rose, who often takes shots at the heavy metal/grunge station Radio X. Radio X plays the Guns N' Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle."
  • A NPC in EarthBound says that he is eagerly awaiting the reference of EarthBound 2. In another level, a closed building is said to be housing a conference for the developers of "EarthBound 2" as well. A bit Hilarious in Hindsight, given what happened to the actual EarthBound 2...
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas had a few Splinter Cell arcade machines in it. However, Third Echelon is mentioned as having gathered intelligence for one mission, so Splinter Cell is probably canon within the R6 universe.
    • Maybe Third Echelon or someone else had the games commissioned in that universe so that any reports of the real Third Echelon would be dismissed as made by game obsessed nuts?
  • In Saints Row 2, it is mentioned that the character Benjamin King from the first game has written an autobiography, which will be made into a movie where King will be played by his real-life voice actor.
  • Averted in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, where if you use DFM to do a certain stunt, another character will directly say that "this isn't Ace Combat".


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Darths and Droids is about roleplayers playing a tabletop RPG following the basic plot of the Star Wars movies, but the notes on strip 50 have specifically stated that there is no Star Wars in the universe where they are. They then extrapolate on how that would impact things such as Mark Hamill's and Harrison Ford's careers, Spaceballs, the fate of sci-fi in media, and finally what the webcomic Darths And Droids would be parodying instead of Star Wars: Harry Potter.
    • On top of that, that very sentence links to a sample page from that alternate universe Harry Potter strip, which includes a full site layout, cast page, FAQ, and a (non-explorable) archive complete with 50 strips of punny stip titles. Then, when the main strip # 100 was released, this page was silently edited with the same extrapolation on a world where Harry Potter never existed, complete with a link to a The Sound of Music comic with the same bells and whistles. The process repeats every 50 strips, going through X-Men, Aliens, The Wizard of Oz, Three Hundred, Avatar, Terminator, Jaws, Casablanca, The Muppet Movie, Inception (appropriately enough), and now Pirates of the Caribbean. Given that we're still partway through Episode II, by the time Darths and Droids is finished, the innermost world will be very culturally poor indeed.
      • On the other hand, once you get deep enough into the recursion, the outer layers could actually start reappearing, and the entire thing could come full circle. After all, there's no reason why Star Wars couldn't exist in a world where the characters are playing a home-brew RPG based on 300...
      • The final layer will be the first Futurama movie everyone starred in.
        • Star Wars already exists in the Sound of Music RP 'verse, if the titles are anything to go by (It's a von Trapp!).
      • Of course the 300, Avatar and Inception ones, being based on recent movies, are more forced/less accurate than the previous ones (Avatar's nonexistence led to Titanic not existing?).
    • Although its spiritual predecessor DM of the Rings never explicitly referenced this trope, Fridge Logic leads one to wonder how D&D became popular in a world without The Lord of the Rings.
  • This Frakking Toasters strip has the cast of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined sitting down to watch Battlestar Galactica Reimagined.
  • This page of the fancomic Touhou Nekokayou describes a world without Touhou like Darths and Droids did. The author often silently adds more examples to the list ...
  • David Willis makes occasional appearances in Shortpacked and has an ongoing rivalry with Ethan regarding the Transformers Wiki. He even rented out the store to propose to his girlfriend.
  • The Contemporary Arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space is set in a version of the Present Day where the legend of King Arthur doesn't exist. This normally doesn't come up, but in this strip, Arthur is clearly listening to ... whatever their version of Camelot is.
  • Ashe Rhyder's Roommates fancomic completely reverses this trope. Both the movies/books and the characters from them exist. The characters often watch their own movies, mention their actors, or refer fan service.
    • Jareth: "Wait. Javert... When the hell did you get so bloody tall?!" Javert: "As it turns out, Quast is tall. Bet you wish Bowie wasn't so short."
  • This Ménage à 3 Strip: the authors of the comic, as authors of their other comic selling merchandise for it.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Nostalgia Critic has interacted with Ask That Guy on a few occasions. He never seems to notice that the two look similar.[4]
    • In the TGWTG Team Brawl special, the Nostalgia Critic and Chester A. Bum are both in the fight, and then "Ask That Guy" comes in near the end and gives the entire brawling mass a lecture about misdirected creative energies, and proceeds to take a group photo.
    • And this was also lampshaded when the three characters all explained how they ended up shaving their beards at the same time.
      • Don't forget the April Fool's gag where the three characters rotated sets for a video, so that the Nostalgia Critic became severely traumatized by all these horrifying questions he was getting from the audience while That Guy rambled on incoherently (in his same old monotone) and then demanded change, and Chester reviewed an old movie.
    • In an exclusive video on the Volume 2 DVD, Ask That Guy is asked why he, the Nostalgia Critic, Chester A. Bum, Dominic, Black Dog Bill, and General Zod all look alike. Rather than give a "wacky in-universe" explanation, Ask That Guy just breaks the fourth wall. "Because we're all the same actor, you idiot!"
  • New York Magician: Discussed when Michel meets Cthulhu. He's sitting in a bar later on, more than a little disturbed, and points out to the djinn he's discussing the incident with that said Elder is supposed to be fictional. The djinn's response is basically "That doesn't mean he isn't real."
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd fan game AVGN: Game Over, there's a level based on Castlevania II Simons Quest called James' Quest (referring to James Rolfe, who plays the Nerd). AVGN comments "Who's James?"
  • A variation of this trope is often run into in Journal Roleplay games that use "fandom" characters. Many games have a "no fourth-walling" rule—i.e., one character can't reveal to another character that they're fictional, or use knowledge of their original canon to their advantage.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In one episode of This Is America, Charlie Brown, the Peanuts gang visit the Smithsonian Institution. Among other things, Charlie Brown and Lucy discover the lunar and command modules from Apollo 10 (nicknamed "Snoopy" and "Charlie Brown," respectively), and a Peanuts Sunday strip.
    • For that matter, the caps that the astronauts wore under their helmets were referred to as "Snoopy Caps" for their resemblance to the aforementioned animated pup. No doubt Snoopy would enjoy it.
    • In another episode of the series, it is declared that Vince Guaraldi named the piece that would be permanently affiliated with the Peanuts characters through the specials "Linus and Lucy" "by coincidence."
    • In the January 1, 1974 Peanuts strip, Linus and Lucy watch the Tournament of Roses Parade on TV. Linus asks if the Grand Marshal had gone by, and Lucy tells him yes, "but he wasn't anyone you ever heard of." The actual grand marshal of the parade that year was Charles M. Schulz.
  • One episode of Jackie Chan Adventures has Jackie and company going to Hollywood. Of course, the actor Jackie Chan doesn't exist and this is confirmed by people asking "Who's Jackie Chan?" Furthermore, once Jackie is found by a studio and Hilarity Ensues, a hot-shot director claims that there will never be a Jackie Chan in Hollywood.
  • In the Futurama episode "A Head in the Polls," Leela, Fry, and Bender visit the Head Museum, where the preserved, living heads of various famous people are kept. The head of Katey Sagal (Leela's voice actor) is briefly shown in the TV stars section.
    • Matt Groening is there, too.
    • So's Frank Welker.
    • In "Silence of the Clamps" the crew finds a robot who claims that his name is Billy West. Fry calls it a "stupid, made-up name".
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, we at the end have episodes with many realities. In one of those, Spider-Man doesn't exist—but the comics and films do, and Peter Parker is an actor who plays him.
    • This raises the question of who the secret identity of the fictional Spider-Man in that universe is, unless Parker is using The Danza.
      • The actor was never said to be Peter Parker and his face was never revealed. For all we know, he could be alternate universe Tobey Maguire.
        • That or Nicholas Hammond.
  • In one Darkwing Duck episode, Darkwing tries to sell a screenplay about himself, but the studio rejects him. He threatens: "I think Disney will be more forthcoming!"
  • In the South Park episode "Passion of the Jew," Stan and Kenny want to get their money back from Mel Gibson just as they did from Baseketball, starring Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Buster And Babs Go Hawaiian" had a brief visual gag involving Robin Williams as Peter Pan in Hook. The very next episode ("Henny Youngman Day") featured Robin's Funny Animal counterpart, Robin Killems. Not that big a paradox, though, considering the nature of the show.
  • In What's New, Scooby-Doo?, JC Chavez hatches a plot to frame Mystery Inc by hiring some movie extras to impersonate them (he impersonated Scooby). When Mystery Inc discover this, Daphne is disappointed that she was played by an extra, saying 'What, was Sarah Michelle Gellar busy?'
  • An Animaniacs spoof of Beauty and the Beast cast the Tasmanian Devil as Beast. In a gag similar to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scene in Airplane!, the Warners recognize him and ask him to do "that thing he does," besides Beast vehemently insisting that "me not Taz."
  • The Simpsons:
    • A hair salon in one episode is named "Hairy Shearer's."
    • The end of the episode "Bart the Murderer" features a sensationalistic made-for-TV movie retelling the episode's events. In it, Fat Tony is said to be played by Joe Mantegna, who provides the voice for the Fat Tony character in the show.
      • In The Critic, Jay happens to be a fan of Jon Lovitz (who happens to provide the voice of Jay).
    • Danny Elfman's jaunty "Simpsons" theme has been heard as diegetic (in-universe) background music on the show. Hilariously, when Simpson family members hear the music, they don't realize it's about them!
  • In one episode of Men in Black: The Animated Series, the worms write a movie treatment for MiB which gets produced, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones... and the CGI version of the worms who look more like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than their actual selves. J complains that Will Smith looks nothing like himself.

K: *sighs* We're going to have to neuralize all of Hollywood. AGAIN.
J: So THAT'S why they keep making the same movies over and over!

Winston: Murray, Ackroyd and Ramis ? Isn't that a law firm?

  • Winked at in The Boondocks episode "Or Die Trying", which starts off with a trailer for Soul Plane 2: The Blackjacking. Among the numerous celebrities noted to star in it is John Witherspoon, Robert's voice actor.
    • Additionally, John Witherspoon actually plays Robert in an in-series music video, "Eff Granddad." Robert's comment: "That's the dude from Friday!" Robert also mentions Friday many other times throughout the series, once referring to it as his favorite movie.
  • In Family Guy Presents Laugh It Up Fuzzball, Darth Vader (Stewie Griffin) and the Emperor (Mr. Pewterschmidt) try to goad Luke Skywalker (Chris Griffin) into joining the Dark Side of the Force by mocking Seth Green, who is Chris Griffin's real-life voice actor. A double example, because Luke Skywalker shouldn't be aware of the existence of Chris Griffin or Seth Green!
    • Not to mention Mr. Pewterschmidt "playing" the roles of Emperor Palpatine and Uncle Owen, making a fictional character paradox. It's just a shame there weren't any lampshades hung.
    • Of course, at the end of the first two specials Peter argues that no one watches Robot Chicken (created by/starring Seth Green), which Chris defends. The second time, Peter even brings up the bomb movie "Up the Creek" (starring Seth Green). At the end of third one, Meg, Lois, and Chris all agree that Seth MacFarlane is a douchebag, which Peter, Brian, and Stewie (all three voiced by MacFarlane) take issue with.
  • Subverted for a throwaway joke in Earthworm Jim. When Professor Monkey-For-A-Head's monkey gains control of their shared body, it takes the opportunity to watch the aforementioned show.
  • In an episode of Sabrina the Animated Series, Sabrina ponders "Who needs Melissa Joan Hart's autograph?" Melissa Joan Hart plays both of the aunts in the animated series, and she also played the title character in the earlier live-action series of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Notes

  1. Admittedly, though, this might not be in actual BTTF canon. But still.
  2. for non-US readers, naturalized US citizens are not eligible to be elected to the presidency or vice-presidency under the Constitution.
  3. Wind resistance against his torso would cause his legs, assuming they could reach such a speed, to run right out from under his upper body.
  4. Fanon has explained this by saying they're very close brothers who live in the same house.