Death by Cameo

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A version of The Cameo (usually a joke) where someone on the production crew (often the director, creator, etc) appears briefly to just die like all the other Innocent Bystanders.

See also Dead Star Walking, Creator Cameo.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Death by Cameo include:



  • On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo appears as the severed head of Holofernes.

Comic Books

Film - Animated

  • Ralph Bakshi's films with the exceptions of The Lord of the Rings, Fire and Ice, American Pop, and Cool World, in which Bakshi himself makes a cameo only to get killed:
    • Fritz the Cat: he plays a pig cop who gets beaten to death by the crowd of crows.
    • Heavy Traffic: he plays a pimp who gets his brains bashed in with a tire iron
    • Coonskin: he plays a cop who gets shot in the face.
    • Wizards: he plays two characters; one is a fat guy named Lardbutt whose fate is unknown but his other character Fritz gets accidentally shot by an ally twice, the second one being fatal.
    • Hey Good Lookin'': he plays a man who gets killed by gangsters.

Film - Live-Action

  • The live-action Transformers movie has Megatron casually flicking (a CGI approximation of) Michael Bay, saying "Disgusting."
    • There was actually going to be a much longer scene with Megatron personally plucking Michael out of a car for no reason other than to be a bastard and to have Michael in the movie. The cast and crew spent almost an entire day tormenting Michael by doing this scene over and over again. Hilariously, after Michael spent a day hanging on to a car, the scene ended up being cut from the movie due to time constraints.
  • Director Martin Campbell appears as the tanker truck driver murdered at Miami airport in Casino Royale. He also appeared in GoldenEye as a motorcyclist who gets run over by Xenia Onatopp, and in that same movie Pierce Brosnan's stunt double Wayne Michaels (who performed the bungee jump at the beginning) appears as a helicopter pilot who gets blown away with a machine gun by Xenia Onatopp.
  • In Creepshow, Stephen King (who wrote the screenplay) plays a character named Jordy who turns into a giant fungus. He commits suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun.
  • Volker Engel, who was head of the FX unit on Independence Day, had a three-second cameo as an office worker getting blown away. Bonus points for being killed by your own special effect...
  • Two of the writers of the first X-Men 1 movie ( one of them being David Hayter) show up as cops who are taken out in a sneak attack by Sabretooth and the Toad.
  • In the 1999 film Idle Hands, Dexter Holland, lead singer of the band The Offspring, who wrote two songs for the film, was killed when Anton's possessed hand rips his scalp off.
  • Peter Jackson appears in all three The Lord of the Rings movies. As a drunk in Bree eating a carrot, as a spear thrower at Helm's Deep and as the corsair who gets shot by Legolas (when Gimli hits his bow - extended edition only). Besides these cameos, he's also the 'star' of several inserts - he's Faramir's hand when pointing at the map and Sam's hand when holding the sword standing up to Shelob.
    • In fact, all the corsairs seen are members of the production making cameos, and though it's offscreen, all are killed by the Army of the Dead, making this scene quite full of this trope.
  • In The Lost World Jurassic Park had screenwriter David Koepp get chased and eaten by a T-Rex. He's actually listed in the credits as "Unlucky Bastard".
  • Frank Miller appeared in the Sin City film as the preacher who gets shot to death by Marv. He also appears as the man who is killed by Bullseye using a pen (to steal his motorcycle) in Daredevil and the detective who gets decapitated near the beginning of The Spirit.
    • And in RoboCop 2, for which he cowrote the screenplay, where he plays a lab tech named Frank who gets blown up.
  • Russell Mulcahy, director of Highlander, has a split-second cameo as a man who the Kurgan runs over with a car.
  • Christopher Paolini wanted to play a Red Shirt who is beheaded in battle at the end of Eragon, but his busy schedule prevented him from doing it. He's said that, in the event that any more films are made of his books, he'd like to make cameos in all of them where he dies horribly.
  • Special effects artist Tom Savini frequently dies in his works, including but not limited to Dawn of the Dead, Maniac, and From Dusk till Dawn.
    • He survives slightly longer than usual in Grindhouse: Planet Terror after having one of his fingers bitten off.
  • Some Star Wars crew members have such cameos. Sound designer Ben Burtt is punched by Chewbacca in Return of the Jedi (and tries to emulate the Wilhelm Scream while being Blown Across the Room), VFX supervisor Rob Knoll is a pilot whose ship is blown in The Phantom Menace and George Lucas' son Jett is the Jedi who attacks the troopers talking to Bail Organa in Revenge of the Sith.
    • Not especially visible in the movie, but one of the Jedi whom Anakin/Darth Vader kills on the security hologram in Revenge of the Sith is a cameo of stunt coordinator Nick Gillard. It might almost be a double cameo, in fact: this being Star Wars, he was playing an actual character with a name and history, Cin Drallig, the Order's "battlemaster" (the guy who trains all the up-and-coming Jedi in the basics of combat). Drallig even gets a proper boss battle in the Revenge Of The Sith tie-in game.
  • In Scary Movie 3, Simon Cowell appears in a cameo at a rap club harshly criticizing the gangstas rapping, only to get shot to death by the furious gangstas.
  • In Platoon, director Oliver Stone appears as a soldier who gets blown away by a bomb in a bunker.
  • Quentin Tarantino is often the victim of this:
    • In Grindhouse, he plays a minor baddie in Robert Rodriguez's half of the movie. And he gets shot...down there. With a grenade launcher.
    • As Mr. Brown in Reservoir Dogs, he's around just long enough to get fatally shot during the team's robbery. While not a Mook or Innocent Bystander, his appearance is still minimal enough to count as a cameo.
    • In Kill Bill, he plays one of the Crazy 88 and ends up being the first one to get sliced up by the Bride.
    • He is also killed off (executed) quickly in Desperado.
    • Sort of, kind of happens in Inglourious Basterds too; at the least his death is implied. He was the first one scalped on screen.
      • Also, Enzo G. Castellari, director of the namesake film "The Inglorious Bastards", cameoed as a German general who died in the theater explosion.
    • While not a cameo so much as a major character, Tarantino still manages to die in From Dusk till Dawn. He can't even get a break in movies that aren't his.
  • Bruce Willis appears in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle as a government agent protecting one of two rings that forms a top-secret government list. As he gets on his private jet, he is almost immediately held up by a masked assailant who takes the ring from him, and then shoots him point blank in the head (off-screen). We later find out that his assailant is an ex-Angel played by Demi Moore, who is Willis' ex-wife. Subtle revenge, perhaps?
  • Kurt Wimmer does this in both Equilibrium and Ultraviolet.
  • In Piranha (1978) special effects artist and creature sculptor Phil Tippett appears as a diver who is devoured by the swam of piranha.
    • The remake Piranha 3D features a handful of cameos. Several porn actresses make appearances, but most notably Eli Roth has a role as a wet T-shirt contest host. Naturally, they all meet gruesome piranha-related demises.
  • In Grindhouse, stuntwoman Zoe Bell, who appeares in Deathproof in a major role, has a quick appearance in Planet Terror as a zombie who gets blown away by Wray with a shotgun.
  • Forever Evil has the unintentional variety, where writer Freeman Williams shows up, only to die thanks to a mutant Jawa. This is actually the demo reel, which was added to the story during principal photography. It's easily distinguished from the rest of the movie (and the original cut puts it at the beginning) due to the fact that none of the movie's main characters appear.
  • Arguably the best part of the film Zombieland is Bill Murray's brief cameo as himself.
  • Former Coen brothers collaborator Sam Raimi has a cameo in their film Miller's Crossing. He appears as the cop wielding two revolvers who shoots a man trying to surrender to the police, and is subsequently riddled with Tommy-gun fire.
    • Sam's brother Ted often gets Cameos, sometimes deadly, in several of both Sam's and the Coen Brother's films.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the janitor who gets between the Robert Patrick's T-1000 and Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 in one of the maintenance hallways of the mall and is riddled with bullets was played by a fan who won the "role" in an MTV-sponsored contest.
  • Ted Turner appeared in Gettysburg, which he produced, as a Confederate officer, Colonel Waller T. Patton, who was fatally wounded during Pickett's infamous assault on Cemetery Ridge. Differs from other examples in that, given the context, it is an entirely straight-faced, respectful and even reverent depiction.
  • Turned on its head in Spaceballs; during the duel between Lord Helmet and Lone Starr, Helmet accidentally kills one of the film's camera operators.
  • Jane Wiedlin of the Go Gos appears as The Singing Telegram Girl in Clue, she gets about 10 seconds of screen time before she's shot dead by the killer.
  • Jackie Chan in Enter the Dragon was a stunt coordinator for the film before he became famous; he appears in two scenes in his second appearance where he has a short fight with Lee before his neck is snapped.
  • Professional skate boarder Rob Dyrdek has a cameo as a rapist in Righteous Kill before he's shot dead by Rooster.
  • In the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Kevin McCarthy (who starred in the original) appears as a crazy man who shouts, "They're coming!" as the main characters drive by, and is then promptly run over by another car.
  • John Landis, writer and director of An American Werewolf in London, appears as a pedestrian who is hurled through a plate-glass window by a crashing car.
  • In Starship Troopers, scriptwriter Edward Neumeier briefly appears as a murderer who is sentenced to death by lethal injection in a show trial (from what we can tell there wasn't even a trial, just a verdict).

Live Action TV

  • At the end of the classic Twilight Zone episode "A World of His Own". The episode is about an author who can create anything with his magic dictaphone. If the resulting dictation tape is destroyed, so is the created object. Rod Serling appears at the end and says something to the effect of "We hope you enjoyed this little fairy tale full of nonsense." When he does this, the main character says "Now, Rod, I wouldn't use the word nonsense." He then takes an envelope out of a safe—the envelope is labeled "Rod Serling" He tosses the envelope into the fire and Rod Serling says "That's the way it goes" before Rod Serling disappears in a puff of smoke.
  • Not a member of the crew, but close: Greg Grunberg has appeared in most works helmed by his childhood friend J.J. Abrams. When Executive Veto nixed the death of Jack in the pilot episode of Lost, Grunberg was cast for one scene just to get killed by the monster.
  • Also not a crew member, but every episode's special guest star on Police Squad! would only be in one scene, the opening titles. The announcer would voiceover, "And special guest star..." during the title sequence, and the special guest star would then be killed (often in a hilarious, over the top manner).
    • For completeness' sake, the list is Episode 1: Lorne Green (stabbed and thrown from moving automobile), Episode 2: Georg Stanford Brown (police officer crushed by safe), Episode 3: Robert Goulet (shot by firing squad), Episode 4: William Shatner (restaurant patron, survives machine gun, attack to die via poisoned glass of wine), Episode 5: Florence Henderson (cooking show host, gunned down by machine gun on the set), Episode 6: William Conrad (stabbed and thrown from moving automobile, bookending the fate of Episode 1's special guest star Lorne Greene).
    • Police Squad! also subverted this trope with the Once an Episode appearance in the credits of Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln, who instead of being fatally shot at Ford's Theatre ducks and fires back at his assailant.
  • Burn Notice did this in the fourth season premiere, with Michael Ironside. He was on the show for all of two minutes before an unmanned drone fills him with bullets. This troper feels the potential for a Sam Fisher/Michael Westen crossover sadly been missed.
  • Making a special appearance as the interviewer in the web-only production of R. Tam Sessions, Joss Whedon is killed by a crazed River.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Voyage of the Damned", composer Murray Gold and orchestrator Ben Foster appear in a band playing on a starliner called the Titanic. While their fates were offscreen, it seems unlikely that they survived, especially when the Heavenly Host droids slice up most every survivor of the meteor shower with their metal halos.
  • Danny Trejo is decapitated and has a bomb planted inside of his skull by cartel members, after appearing on one or two scenes of an episode of Breaking Bad.

Video Games

  • As always, subverted by The Simpsons. Specifically, The Simpsons Game. The family fails in their mission to kill and/or subdue Matt Groening.
  • Mortal Kombat's Ed Boon and John Tobias tend to appear as severed heads in the spike-pit levels. And then several Midway employees have their names written on the tombstones in the Graveyard stage.
  • In Doom II, the Big Bad of the game, the Icon of Sin, was actually a giant wall with a shoot-through brain texture. Behind the brain texture was a small passage leading to a chamber containing the skewered head of John Romero, one of the game's programmers and level designers. John Romero's head was the actual boss entity in the game, and the Icon of Sin was killed by firing rockets into the brain, which would travel down the passage and explode above Romero's head. John Romero actually found out about this while testing the final level and recorded a soundbite for the boss that was a backwards-masked recording of him saying, "To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero."
    • In the Doom II add-on level pack Requiem, the 24th level, "Procrustes Chambers," features a Space Marine crucified on an inverted cross, with a sign reading "ADEL" nailed to the top. The designer of the level, and the artist of that texture, was Anthony Czerwonka, also known as "Adelusion."
      • In the fanmade RPG Doom: The Rougelike, John Carmack is a secret boss at the end of the game, accessible by nuking the Cyberdemon while invulnerable.
  • Buddy Faith, the first corpse in Ace Attorney Investigations, was modeled in a member of the design department.
  • The development staff of Dead Space appear on the Ishimura's list of casualties.
  • In Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge, the developers appear as the lost souls in the second level.
  • Variant: a mission of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 features the EA headquarters in Los Angeles - which the player can demolish at will.

Web Animation

  • The Happy Tree Friends team animated a music video for Fall Out Boy's Carpal Tunnel of Love featuring the Happy Tree Friends characters. Fairly late in the video the four band members appear in Happy Tree Friends form, and just like those characters they all meet a gruesome over-the-top death.

Western Animation

  • Maxwell Atoms shows up in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy getting his best idea ever right before the hourglass that controls his existence is dropped and Billy assures Irwin that it was no one important.
  • In the Christmas Episode of Invader Zim, writer and storyboard artist Ian Graham makes a cameo as a man who is crushed by the debris from Zim and Dib's robot battle.
    • As well, Jhonen Vasquez swallows a piranha in The Wettening. That other guy who is a higher up later gets crushed by a wave buying a hot dog. The more you know!
      • Said higher-up is the episode's director, Steve Ressel.
    • Frank Conniff, who wrote for the show (but is more famously known as TV's Frank), is crushed by the giant mutant hamster's foot in "Hamstergeddon".
  • The season finale of Total Drama Island had a "new intern" appear (well actually two: one in Canada and one for America) who was the winner of the online game. The intern tested the final stunt, only to fall into the lake and get eaten by the waiting sharks.
  • Happens at least three times in the Disney Animated Canon
    • The deer featured in the opening of Beauty and the Beast is Bambi's mom, just before she is shot. This is a case of animation being reused. Since one of the heads featured on Gaston's wall strongly resembles Bambi's mom, it is implied that Gaston was the killer. A similar-looking deer made a brief cameo toward the end of The Jungle Book where she is instead stalked by Shere Khan, that film's Big Bad.
    • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, one can clearly Pumbaa being roasted in the background of scene.
    • In Disney/Hercules, when Hercules is posing for a painter, he is wearing Scar's hide.
    • Four times, as a director cameo: Those guys in Mulan lighting the fireworks were the movie's directors. They jump off and fall to their deaths after seeing Mushu.
  • It happens in The Fairly OddParents movie Abra-Catastrophe, although it requires a little bit of Fridge Logic. During his battle with Evil Overlord Crocker, Timmy and Crocker himself get shrunken down to subatomic levels. The audience is given an Establishing Shot zooming in on the pencil erasure of a rather frustrated looking series creator Butch Hartman. Fast forward a few minutes and Timmy splits an atom, resulting in a nuclear explosion, as expected. Timmy and Crocker survive via different forms of magic, but Butch and his studio are nowhere to be seen.
  • In Courage the Cowardly Dog, series creator John Dilworth's name appears on the list of people who checked into the Katz Motel. By the end of the episode, Katz made it clear that every guest before the Bagges was killed.
  • In Green Lantern Emerald Knights, Producer Bruce Timm makes an uncredited appearance as the Lantern Galius Zed, who gets killed off pretty quickly.