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An ordinary writer steps on stage to give a little extra exposition on his show. But when he's ready to leave, the exits are blocked. He has just entered The Twilight Zone...

This is when a crewmember or executive for a show makes an appearance in a part that would ordinarily be cast with a professional actor.

This may start out as a Creator Cameo, with their original "extra" part becoming an Ascended Extra.

Not to be confused with Fallen Creator.

Examples of Descended Creator include:

Film - Animation

  • In The Incredibles, Brad Bird wound up voicing Edna Mode not because the actress he was seeking for it (Lily Tomlin) couldn't, but because she said he did it perfectly himself when demonstrating what she should sound like.
  • Walt Dohrn, head of story on Shrek Forever After, was cast as Rumplestilskin after everyone fell in love with the voice he came up for him when doing the readbacks on the recording sessions.
  • Meet the Robinsons director Steve Anderson voiced Bowler Hat Guy.
  • Tom McGarth, director and writer on the Madagascar films, voiced Skipper the penguin, a role he reprised on the TV Spin-Off The Penguins of Madagascar.
  • Chris Sanders as Stitch in Lilo and Stitch and the franchise that grew out of it.

Film - Live Action

  • When Michael Douglas began producing Romancing the Stone, he didn't plan to play the male lead. The part was offered to Sylvester Stallone and Christopher Reeve before Douglas finally decided to play the role himself.
  • The director of Metal Gear Solid Philanthropy never intended to play Solid Snake himself.
  • Kevin Smith cast himself as Silent Bob in Clerks after realizing he couldn't memorize Randal's (who he had written for himself to play) lines, displacing the friend who was supposed to play the character, simply so that if the film's production bankrupted him at least he'd have solid evidence he'd made a movie. He's in it for all of maybe ten minutes of footage and doesn't even do anything until the end. That changed drastically in Smith's later work. Silent Bob's one and only line of dialogue in the film wasn't even meant for him, either. It was originally meant to be spoken by Jay, but Jason Mewes (a heavy drug-user at the time) was unable to properly deliver the line and Smith took it upon himself. Since this line was more or less the moral of the story, Silent Bob became the sort of sage-like figure he is in later films, remaining quiet only until he has something important to say.

Live Action TV

  • Show creator Rod Serling was always the narrator of The Twilight Zone, but in the final episode of Season 1, he appeared on-screen for the first time. It was intended as a one-time gag, but it was such a hit that he appeared at the beginning of all subsequent episodes (while continuing to do closing narrations).
    • And he could have appeared in season one before the season one finale; when "A Nice Place To Visit" was in pre-production, the episode's writer Charles Beaumont suggested that Serling play the role of the main character. (Serling decided against it.)
  • Tom Braidwood was cast as Frohike of The Lone Gunmen while serving as an assistant director on The X-Files. Allegedly the casting director said "we need someone slimy--like Braidwood."
  • The character of BOB on Twin Peaks was played by a set dresser who had accidentally gotten stuck in the set and was later accidentally reflected in a key scene. Also, the voice of FBI chief Gordon Cole was provided by David Lynch himself. He later traveled to the town in person.
  • Originally, Tina Fey did not plan to star in 30 Rock.
  • As the show went on, Larry David made more and more appearances in bit parts in Seinfeld.
  • Michael Landon in Little House On the Prairie did not originally intend to both direct and lead in the role of Pa.
  • When Joel Hodgson left Mystery Science Theater 3000, he was replaced by the show's head writer, Michael J. Nelson.
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000 was built on this trope. Major and minor characters alike were all played by members of the production staff (because many of them had performing experience and it saved money). You can practically count on one hand the number of times someone appeared that didn't already work for the series in some capacity.
    • Leonard Maltin, The Apes' gift to Pearl, the Metalunan from the movie... I guess that's it.
  • Carl Reiner first played Alan Brady on The Dick Van Dyke Show as just a voice cameo, then with his face hidden, until finally he became the center of an episode ("Coast to Coast Big Mouth") and was fully seen.
  • Mark Gatiss's cameo as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock is half Mythology Gag and half Creator Cameo.
    • As of the second season opener, A Scandal in Belgravia, he's ascended from cameo to major recurring character. And the Fandom Rejoiced
  • Brent Butt, although he is a professional actor, did not intend to star in Hiccups.
  • Stephen J. Cannell, as well as creating Renegade and writing several episodes, played the Big Bad, Dirty Cop Lt. Donald "Dutch" Dickerson.
  • Lorenzo Music was just a writer before he was asked to lend his unique voice to the unseen doorman Carlton in Rhoda. He then became a well-known voice actor, most notable as the voice of Garfield.
  • Because it is filmed on a fast turnaround and a small budget, Power Rangers has been guilty of this multiple times. Producer Doug Sloan voiced Prince Gasket in Zeo, and was Kimberly's Uncle Steve in one episode. In a by-proxy example, one frequent example is stunt coordinator Koichi Sakamoto's wife, who was the A-Squad Pink Ranger in SPD and a woman with a baby carriage in RPM.
  • In Quantum Leap, creator Donald P. Bellisario played the guy Sam leaped into in "A Portrait For Troian". Writer/Producer/Wife of Bellisario Deborah Pratt plays title character Troian (who is named for their daughter) in the episode and voices both the Project Quantum Leap AI Ziggy and does the Opening Narration from mid-season 2 on.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess the Xena Scrolls: 1940, the umpteenth grand-children of the Heroes do an Indiana Jones and get the Scrolls with the story of Xena; 1990, young Joxer finds the Scrolls in Grandpa's attic and pitches the Story to real Robert Tapert the Producer.
  • Kids in The Hall had Jeffrey Berman, a producer who appeared in many skits as a background character, purely to save money on hiring extras. He was immortalized as the 'sixth' member in this skit. The punchline that he appeared in more skits than an actual member of the cast could conceivably be true.
  • Bill Lawrence appeared as the incredibly cynical justice of the peace who marries Lady and the Janitor in the Scrubs episode "My Soul on Fire, Part I."


  • When Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse wrote Life With Father, they intended the title role to be played by a famous actor. Howard Lindsay wound up playing Father, alongside his Real Life wife, Dorothy Stickney.
  • In 1939 Otto Preminger, then blacklisted in Hollywood, was directing Clare Boothe Luce's play Margin for Error. When, during rehearsals, the actor playing the consul to Nazi Germany walked out, Preminger, who hadn't acted since he was nineteen, agreed to step into the part. Most of the few characters he played from then on were Nazis.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that William Shakespeare played various minor roles in his own plays.

Western Animation

  • The crew of Freakazoid were having trouble finding a voice actor who could capture the manic breaks-out-into-Jerry Lewis-impressions-goes-off-on-fourth-wall-tangents-in-the-middle-of-a-fight voice of the title character. Finally, they just gave it to series writer Paul Rugg. Fellow writer John P. McCann voiced Douglas Douglas, Dexter's father.
  • Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick provide voices for a number of characters in The Venture Brothers. Almost all of the Those Two Guys pairs are them: 21 and 24, Pete and Billy, Doe and Cardholder, et al.
  • One of the oldest and most iconic examples: Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse.
    • When Walt retired from voicing Mickey, he gave the job to Jimmy MacDonald, head of the studio's sound effects department. Jimmy also voiced such characters as Chip and Dale, Humphrey the Bear, Jaq and Gus from Cinderella, and the Dormouse from Alice in Wonderland.
    • Upon his retirement, MacDonald passed the role to one of his trainees, Wayne Allwyne, who voiced Mickey until his death in 2009.
  • John Kricfalusi voiced Ren on the first season and a half of The Ren and Stimpy Show until he was fired.
  • Thurop Van Orman, creator of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, had to fill in as the voice Flapjack when the actor originally cast for the role, Paul Reubens, failed to show.
  • Jack Mercer was an animator at Fleischer Studios when he was asked to replaced the original voice actor for Popeye the Sailor. He ended up doing the official voice of the character for the next fifty years, as well as voice other iconic characters, such as Felix the Cat.
  • Goofy's memorable voice came courtesy of Disney storyman Pinto Colvig. Colvig also did Pluto the Pup, and both Grumpy and Sleepy on Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. He later did similar voices for other studios, and was even the original Bozo The Clown.
  • The current voice of Donald Duck is Disney animator Tony Anselmo, who learned how to do the voice from the original VA, Clarence "Ducky" Nash.
  • Bill Melendez, director on the various Peanuts specials, also provided Snoopy's growls and laughing.
  • Trey Parker and Matt Stone do more than half the voices in South Park, including a few incidental female characters.
  • For the first couple of seasons of The Simpsons, Matt Groening provided the noise for Maggie's sucking sound on her pacifier; he made an appearance as himself in a later episode.
  • William Hanna provided the vocal effects and the speaking voices for Tom and Jerry, as well as other animals, in a few shorts.
  • Happens on Robot Chicken all the time. Matt and Seth regularly appear as themselves, writers (especially Tom Root and Breckin Meyer) regularly voice characters and occasionally themselves. They even got Adult Swim execs Mike Lazzo and Keith Crofford to appear as themselves a couple times.
  • On Adventure Time, creator Pendleton Ward voices a few characters, most notably Lumpy Space Princess.
    • Ditto for Regular Show, which features creator J.G. Quintel as Mordecai and High-Five Ghost.
  • For the first season of Recess, series writer Jeff Wright voiced Hank the janitor. Paul Dooley took over in season two.

Video Games