Celebrity cameos in movies and TV shows can be really fun if they’re done right. Who doesn’t love that feeling of spotting someone they recognize in an unfamiliar setting? Bonus points if you notice them before your friends/family/dog. Ben Stiller in Anchorman, Bill Murray in Zombieland, Chuck Norris in Dodgeball… All comedic cameos that were executed perfectly. And don’t get me started on James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher in The Big Bang Theory! Watching Darth Vader meet Princess Leia was a sight to behold.
However, there’s a fine line between a cameo being utterly hilarious or totally pointless. Unfortunately, far too many films and TV shows have had guest appearances over the years that fall into the latter of those categories. Here’s a round-up of some celebrity cameos that we really wish had never happened.
19. Donald Trump in Home Alone 2/Sex and the City/The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Before Donald Trump was making headlines as the “leader of the free world,” he was a prolific 1900s cameo artist. Unfortunately, a lot of these fleeting appearances fell about as flat as his 2017 Tweets. Who doesn’t remember his ‘star turn’ in Home Alone 2, which in hindsight is totally pointless?
Fun fact: that cameo wasn’t always supposed to be in the film. It only happened because Trump insisted on appearing on-screen whenever a filming crew used one of his buildings. Nice. He also popped up in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, looking really awkward as Carlton fainted in his presence. Most cringeworthy of all is a scene in Sex and the City where he has an equally awkward flirting session with Samantha. His cameos add literally nothing to these films and shows; they’re just a bit uncomfortable.
18. Snoop Dogg in 90210
‘Snoop Dogg‘ and’90210‘ aren’t exactly two things you’d expect to see in the same sentence. However, the rapper somehow bagged himself a cameo on the reboot of the teen drama back in 2011. He rolls up in front of a grocery store and proceeds to meet Dixon, himself a wannabe rap artist. They talk about Snoop’s fancy car, have a bit of a sing-song and a rap together. The two act like they’ve been buddies for years, which is totally not how things would go down if you got the chance to meet your idol (I imagine there’d be more screaming and sobbing involved).
Snoop then inexplicably takes Dixon for a ride in said-fancy car before zooming off into the sunset. What even? Did this sequence have any point except to promote Snoop’s latest single? Probably not.
17. Quentin Tarantino in a lot of his films
While Quentin Tarantino is an excellent director, he’s a pretty abysmal cameo actor. He’s popped up in quite a few of his films with varying results. In Django Unchained, his turn as an Australian miner was pretty roundly mocked. Not only was his Australian accent utterly terrible, his scene didn’t really make sense in the context of the rest of the film. A lot of viewers were quite pleased when the character blew himself up with his own dynamite. Oddly, Tarantino also made a cameo in one episode of Golden Girls, playing an Elvis impersonator with questionable dancing skills. Maybe Tarantino needs to stay behind the camera in future, for all of our sakes.
16. Katy Perry in How I Met Your Mother
Remember when Katy Perry made a guest appearance on How I Met Your Mother? No? Well, let me refresh your memory: “Oh, honey.” She was the center of that awful and a tad derogatory gag in which Ted is set up with a hopelessly naïve and gullible girl, but passes her on to Barney instead. Whenever the poor woman doesn’t quite understand something or betrays her lack of worldly knowledge, the gang chips in with the aforementioned chorus of “oh, honey.” Frankly, the only “oh, honey” appropriate in this situation is one for Katy Perry herself: Oh, honey, why did you let them give you such a terrible role?
15. Jean-Claude Van Damme in Friends
Friends is famous for having some pretty amazing cameos over the years. I’m thinking Brad Pitt as Ross’s school friend (back before Brangelina made things a bit awkward), Reese Witherspoon as Rachel’s sister, and Danny DeVito as the stripper that cries at Phoebe’s bachelorette party. However, one guest appearance that missed the mark a bit was Jean-Claude Van Damme’s cameo as himself. Monica and Rachel spot him on a film set and begin fawning over him, but the whole exchange comes across as more wooden and awkward than funny. You’d think Van Damme would have nailed it since a) he’s an actor by trade and b) he only had to play himself… But maybe he didn’t have the sense of humor necessary for a sitcom.
14. Michelle Obama in iCarly
Let’s be honest, Michelle Obama is an utter boss woman 99% of the time. Unfortunately, her cameo on iCarly falls into the 1% of awkwardness. It’s like she went into filming in full ‘political speech’ mode, which isn’t exactly Nickelodeon’s vibe. Sure, she has a cute lil’ dance at one point, but the whole thing is horribly wooden and contrived.
The overall message of her cameo – that we should support military families – is admirable. However, there must have been a better way to put it across than THIS. To give the former First Lady some credit, she apparently made a huge effort to learn her lines despite her obviously busy schedule. She was also an utter sweetheart on set and made the iCarly kids feel totally at ease. Maybe we can let this particular bad cameo slide.
13. Kim and Khloe Kardashian in 90210
To be fair, the fact that these two turned up in 90210 makes a lot more sense than Snoop Dogg’s inexplicable appearance. However, Kim and Khloe Kardashian‘s acting skills aren’t exactly excellent. They somehow manage to seem totally stiff and awkward despite the fact they’re talking about shopping, a clear favorite hobby of theirs. They do little fake laughs in the bits of the scene that are allegedly funny, and Kim even tries to crack a joke about Naomi’s butt looking like a ripe lemon. Needless to say, it’s a bit of a misfire. Also, the part where Naomi calls Kim a bitch is just cringeworthy. Like, even more so than 90210 normally is, which is actually kind of an achievement.
12. Michael Jackson in Men in Black II
It’s well known that Michael Jackson was a pretty eccentric guy. However, the story behind his Men in Black II cameo is bizarre, even for him. Apparently, he’d adored the first film not because he found it hilarious, but because he thought it was the perfect weepy tragedy. After it had finished, he’d sat in the cinema and cried, and became convinced that he needed to star in the sequel. He even stayed on board when the producers explained that the film was not a tragedy, but in fact, quite the opposite. Jackson playing an alien in an unashamedly weird fashion is admittedly quite funny, but if anything, he’s underused. It would have been great to see him become an agent or even just experience more of him playing his alien alter-ego.
11. Taylor Swift in New Girl
This is one of those cameos that could have been amazing, but just didn’t work in practice. Taylor Swift turned up in the finale of New Girl‘s second season as Elaine, the girl that Cece’s fiancee Shivrang truly loves. It’s kind of hilarious in an ironic way since the lyrics of Swift’s song Speak Now claim that she “is not the kind of girl who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion.” However, Swift tries a bit too hard to be kitschy and cute and ends up coming across as annoying.
Plus, having her just pop up out of nowhere was a bit weird. Surely Cece would have heard of this Elaine before the big day? And why would Elaine turn up to watch the love of her life marry someone else? So many questions.
10. Paris Hilton in Supernatural
My god. Who on earth told Paris Hilton that she had even the tiniest shred of acting talent? Whoever they were, they were a massive liar, and the world has suffered accordingly. One of her most infamous acting turns came in an episode of Supernatural. Hilton portrayed a demon who was upset that humans now worship celebrities instead of gods. It could have been some really on-point satire – after all, Hilton pretty much embodies the cult of celebrity. However, her total inability to act made the whole thing difficult to watch. It’s honestly so wooden that I thought they’d replaced her with a lifelike cardboard cutout. At least we got some kind of satisfaction from the fact her character ended up dead.
9. Britney Spears in Glee
The season two Glee episode Britney/Brittany wasn’t ENTIRELY awful. For one, it fully showcased Brittany actress Heather Morris‘s talents for the first time. Not only is she an insanely gifted dancer, she can also sing like a pro! Her perfect comedic timing also quickly made Brittany a fan favorite. However, the limelight was taken off Morris a bit by the episode’s numerous questionable Britney Spears cameos. The Brittany/Britney theme could have been amazing! The problem is, none of Spears’s scenes were actually that good. Critics called her cameos pointless and clumsy, and even those who spoke highly of Spears were grateful that she didn’t get more airtime. As anyone who watched Britney’s 2002 film Crossroads can testify, her acting skills aren’t exactly Oscar-worthy.
8. Madonna in Die Another Day
Madonna recorded the theme song for this questionable Bond movie, which apparently gave her the right to make a cameo appearance too. Die Another Day is infamous for being one of the worst 007 films ever made, and Madonna’s presence certainly doesn’t help things. She pops up for a few minutes to serve as eye candy for the main man, and delivers such wonderful flirty lines as “I see you handle your ‘weapon’ well.” So sophisticated. She then provides a bit of exposition and has the crucial task of drawing attention to a different disposable Bond girl. Her character eventually disappears into the background and is never mentioned again. Maybe it would’ve been better if she’d stuck to the singing…
7. Justin Bieber in CSI
Well, this is a throwback and a half. When Justin Bieber was a mere child of 16, he turned up on CSI twice as a grenade-wielding serial killer. I’m not sure which of the numerous terrible elements of his cameo is the worst. Is it his “Baby”-era swept-across hair? Is it the fact that the baby-faced Biebs made the most unconvincing criminal ever? Let’s face it, it’s probably his less-than-great acting skills. Justin tries, bless him, but he doesn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to making his lines even a little bit convincing. Still, we’re not sure he deserved all of those remix videos that mocked his character being shot to death. Poor JB.
6. Mike Tyson in The Hangover
It’s not necessarily the content of this particular cameo that’s the problem: it’s the circumstances in which it happened. In case your memory needs refreshing, Mike Tyson plays himself in a scene-stealing turn in this comedy about a bachelor party gone-wrong. The fictional Tyson invited Doug, Phil, Alan, and Stu to his mansion to join an epic party, only to end up pretty annoyed when the gang steals his pet tiger. So far, so entertaining. However, in the years after the film was released, Tyson revealed that there was more to his cameo than meets the eye. Turns out he only accepted the role to fund his drug habit and was actually high on cocaine as filming took place. Well. That certainly puts things in a new light…
5. Paul McCartney in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
If you were brave enough to go and see the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie (it gets a mere 29% on Rotten Tomatoes), you might have spotted a familiar face under one of the heavily exaggerated pirate costumes. That’s right – former Beatle Paul McCartney took on the illustrious role of Jail Guard #2. Why, I hear you ask? Well… Just because he wanted to, I guess.
Apparently, Johnny Depp dropped McCartney a text one day asking if he wanted to be in the film, and that was that. While the severe eyeliner and long, black wig undoubtedly suit the aged rocker, you can’t help but wonder if his presence was REALLY necessary. He does nothing of note – save for generating interest in the film. Not to be cynical, but this cameo smells a lot like a money-making scheme to me.
4. Simon Cowell in Scary Movie 3
Simon Cowell has stated that watching back his Scary Movie 3 cameo was the most embarrassing moment of his career. Frankly, it’s easy to see why. Cowell inexplicably shows up as the judge of a rap battle, and admits that “I don’t know what I’m doing here.” Was he in character at that point or not? It doesn’t really matter. What was he doing there?
After delivering some withering putdowns in his usual sarcastic style, Cowell is shot dead in a hail of gunfire. In a way, it’s a blessing: at least it cuts short his time on screen. As Cowell himself admitted, while he’s a great judge, he’s a terrible actor. Although his cameo in the DVD extras of Shrek 2 was pretty funny.
3. Ed Sheeran in Game of Thrones
Ed Sheeran‘s cameo in Game of Thrones was irritating, pointless, and clearly just a publicity stunt. The camera lingered on his face for far too long, as if to prove to us all that Ed Sheeran REALLY WAS THERE! LOOK! A FAMOUS SINGER PERSON! However, his inclusion in the scene added nothing to the plot and just meant he could give us a little song for a few minutes. He might as well have turned to the camera and said: “please buy my album. I need sales. PLEASE.” The whole point of fantasy shows like GoT is to give us a break from reality. Ed Sheeran essentially playing himself while strumming on his guitar was far too close to a normal day on MTV for our liking.
2. Ed Sheeran in Bridget Jones’s Baby
Game of Thrones wasn’t the only on-screen institution that Ed Sheeran popped up in recently. He made a brief appearance in the third installment of the popular Bridget Jones films, Bridget Jones’s Baby. Once again, he played himself: he shows up in a backstage tent at a music festival, before taking to the stage later on. The point of Ed’s role is to showcase Bridget making an utter fool of herself in front of a famous person. However, she could have made herself look stupid in front of ANYONE and us viewers would have been happy – plus, it would have made her more relatable! Hopefully, Ed learned his lesson and will leave his pointless cameo roles in 2016. Probably not though, tbh.
1. Lindsay Lohan in Eastbound & Down
A lot of hype was generated prior to Lindsay Lohan‘s cameo in the final episode of HBO’s Eastbound and Down. However, the whole thing just ended up being a bit odd. Lohan didn’t say a single line of dialogue – nope, not one – instead appearing as an adult Shayna Powers in a flash-forward sequence. She gets married, she greets her father Kenny as he leaves rehab, and she’s seen mourning him as his ashes are scattered.
We can’t really comment on her acting skills here, as, well, she doesn’t really do anything. Neither does Alexander Skarsgard, who makes an equally pointless appearance as Lohan’s brother. We’re all still a bit confused about why that had to happen.