• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
File:FakeShemp 4945.jpg

Instant resurrection: just keep the body double out of focus!

"Hey, don't let something like a little death get in your way. There's money to be made."

Every once in a while, you want to bring back a guest star or former recurring character, and you want this so much that the fact that the appropriate actor isn't available (i.e., unwilling, busy or dead) doesn't stop you.

Pulling off The Other Darrin is tricky under the best of circumstances. Trying to do it for a one-shot appearance is pretty much impossible.

So you pull off something dicey: use a stand-in, and don't show their face. You can combine this with a little Stock Footage to improve the effect. Not bad, as long as the audience doesn't get wise. In more recent years, creating Serkis Folk that can pass for the real deal has been tried, but it's rarely passable (and ethically dubious).

This is somewhat easier to do with animation — after all, the characters look the same no matter what actor you use, and sometimes you can even get away with a silent cameo. Just...if they have to talk, be very careful of which voice actor sound-alike you hire.

Examples of Fake Shemp include:


  • Shemp Howard died before The Three Stooges had finished enough films to fulfill their contract. So, the last few Shemp shorts mainly featured just Larry and Moe, borrowed some Shemp scenes from old films, and used a body double (bit actor Joe Palma) wherever they absolutely had to.
  • Director Sam Raimi coined the term "Fake Shemp" and "Shemping" when most of the cast of Evil Dead had to leave for their regular jobs, and he and his brother Ted Raimi had to fill in a lot of scenes just by themselves.
  • George McFly in the Back to The Future sequels did this, The Other Darrin, and Filming for Easy Dub to get around the absence of Crispin Glover. This trope was invoked by disguising The Other Darrin, Jeffrey Weissman, with sunglasses, out of focus shots, and even having him spend the entire "future" portion of the film "inverted", in which George was actually upside-down. Where the filmmakers got in trouble was with the recycling of stock footage of Glover from the previous film - this led to a lawsuit from Glover, who claimed they had misappropriated his likeness. Though the suit was settled quietly before its court date, the Screen Actors Guild rewrote their rules on stock footage as a result of this.
    • With all the age makeup he's under in Part II it's not like anybody'd notice they switched actors, even if he were shown rightside up.
  • After Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed during the filming of The Crow, a stand-in and some clever early digital manipulations were used to finish the film.
  • One of the most infamous examples is from the legendary Plan 9 from Outer Space. Bela Lugosi died after filming only a few scenes, so Ed Wood had his wife's chiropractor stand in for Lugosi and cover his face in all his scenes. This, despite the fact that he was about a foot taller than Lugosi and had a completely different-sounding voice.
    • Even worse was that the Lugosi footage wasn't even for the movie; it was just random footage of Lugosi in Tor Johnson's front yard and walking through a cemetery. Wood just wanted to recycle that when he got around to Plan 9, which is why Lugosi only appears in one scene that's just played over and over with no relevance to the actual film.
    • And "cover his face" means "behind a Dracula cape". The movie has no connection to Dracula, other than that Lugosi was famous for playing Dracula.
  • Being deceased didn't stop Peter Sellers from starring in Trail Of The Pink Panther, for which Blake Edwards borrowed outtakes of Sellers from earlier Pink Panther movies and fabricated a plot about Clouseau taking off in a plane and disappearing.
    • Prior to his death, Sellers had been planning to make one more Clouseau film without Edwards (as their professional relationship had become so strained); in fact Edwards was paid not to do it. When Sellers died, Edwards made Trail Of as the first part of a relaunch of the series with a new lead character (introduced in the second part, Curse Of), which comes across as a downright ghoulish grab for a Cash Cow Franchise. Sellers' widow successfully sued Edwards and United Artists for disgracing the actor's memory.
    • In Curse Of, Clouseau undergoes plastic surgery and turns evil, played by Roger Moore. Son of established that he died of old age after that.
  • Infamous movie example: Oliver Reed died during the filming of Gladiator with only about half of his scenes filmed. So they used shadows, CGI, and creative re-editing of already-shot scenes, along with some stock footage, to finish filming and rewrote several important scenes that would have been otherwise unfilmable.
  • While James Bond's nemesis Blofeld is played by one partly seen actor in three movies and three different ones after being revealed, For Your Eyes Only has him returning, with his face never shown, just for Bond to kill him off for real (so the producers wouldn't need to reuse him considering the legal disputes for the creation of Blofeld and SPECTRE).
  • Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow: Laurence Olivier, via the magic of stock footage and CGI, managed to appear as Doctor Totenkopf, the Big Bad, despite the huge setback of being dead.
    • Although, to be fair, Totenkopf is dead, too. You only see him as a hologram.
    • In the same way, Marlon Brando reprised his role as Jor-El in Superman Returns from beyond the grave, making use of stunningly realistic CGI and recycled and unused dialogue from the Richard Donner movies.
  • A particularly and truly infamous example which is also at least a borderline Other Darrin concerns Bruce Lee's "last movie", Game of Death. Bruce Lee had died when very little of the film had been made (in fact, only the famous fight scenes had been finished), and in the end the film not only had minimal resemblance to Lee's original vision, but the filmmakers went to obviously great lengths to hide the fact that "Bruce Lee" was in fact an unknown Korean martial artist (who was not a stuntman or an acrobat so he had to be doubled by Yuen Biao in more stunt-oriented sequences). In addition to the typical tricks of the time (face-obscuring glasses and lack of headshots), one truly Egregious example comes within the first minutes of the film when the baddies try to threaten a perfectly stoic Lee, portrayed in the scene by a cardboard cutout taped to a mirror.
    • Let's not forget about the footage from Lee's actual funeral.
    • Not only that, but they did a follow-up film in 81 that again used Kim Tai Chung (with Biao again doubling him) along with Bruce Lee footage, called Tower Of Death in some places and Game of Death 2 in others. In this one, Bruce's "character" dies midway through the film and his brother takes over the role, played by Kim Tai Chung (with Biao still doubling) without any need to splice Lee in. Oh, and they used footage from Bruce's funeral again.
    • Notorious Bruce Lee Clone Bruce Li was offered the role in tandem with Kim Tai Chung but turned it down, not thinking it appropriate that he should officially try and pass himself off as Bruce Lee (his real name is Ho Chung Tao, and Bruce Li was a name forced on him by producers).
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the Terminator in Terminator Salvation while being the Governator at the exact same time, thanks to the magic of CGI and a mold from 1984 combined. This example is unique in the fact that the crew decided to get permission from the actor before shemping him.
    • It looks good. Really good. (Some would say it falls under the Uncanny Valley... which just makes it more appropriate for the character since we're supposed to be seeing a soulless human-looking death machine.)
    • The directors' backup plan just in case Arnold said no was to just have the Terminator's face blown off just before anybody could see it. Voila.
  • John Candy died during filming of Wagons East, and had to be digitally edited into his remaining scenes.
    • Watch the ending--there are a lot of far-away shots and his face isn't shown in close-up.
      • A similar situation occurred with Chris Farley and Almost Heroes.
  • When Superman II was turned over to Richard Lester, Gene Hackman refused to work with the new director, so some scenes feature a body double (watch him climb down the ice in the Fortress of Solitude... backwards). All shots with the real actor were filmed under Richard Donner.
    • According to Tom Mankiewicz, a reviewer even said that Hackman was funnier under Lester.
  • Hollywood screen legends such as Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman were "Shemped" in the movie Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.
    • Cheryl Smith bore a remarkable resemblance to Veronica Lake, but her role was limited to playing the back of Lake's head.
  • In the "Can't Buy Me Love" sequence in A Hard Day's Night, the audience doesn't see John Lennon much, because he was also promoting his book In His Own Write during production.
  • During production of Alien³, it was discovered that Carrie Henn (the girl who played Newt in Aliens) was too old to convincingly play the part. This, coupled with substantial script rewrites and behind-the-scenes shenanigans led to her and fellow survivor Hicks being killed off for real at the beginning of the film. Newt's body is played by a body double (and only glimpsed in closeup shots of her eye and mouth for most of the time she's onscreen) in the finished film.
  • In the Soviet Sci Fi Cult Classic Guest From the Future, Alisa shows off her abilities to the class by describing London in perfect English with Received Pronunciation. The problem is Natalia Guseva could not speak English with RP. So the director had Natalia Guseva mouth the words, but dubbed in lines spoken by the daughter of a British diplomat stationed in Moscow. Noticeably, after Alisa speaks for a second, the camera cuts to a shot of the class.
  • Heath Ledger died in the middle of filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, so director Terry Gilliam ended up using Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all for the same character.
  • During filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Harrison Ford injured his back and was out for several weeks. To continue production, Steven Spielberg used Ford's stuntman Vic Armstrong to perform the action sequences (even the simpler ones Ford could do) from behind, and Ford later filmed a few token close-ups.
  • On Casino Royale 1967, due to the feud between Peter Sellers and Orson Welles, Sellers dropped out of the picture midway through filming. Because of this, the part of Peter Sellers, in the final scenes of the movie, is played by... none other than a cardboard cutout of Peter Sellers. In later versions, this cardboard cutout is replaced by previously shot footage of Sellers, dressed in Highland garb.
  • The original Godzilla was famously redone by inserting footage of Raymond Burr interacting with the Japanese cast via clever editing and shots of body doubles seen from behind.

Live Action TV

  • Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor, refused to join the Doctor Who anniversary special "The Five Doctors", with the other actors to play the role up to that point. His appearances were faked using stock footage from the unfinished story Shada. A well-known and very convincing publicity shot for the story did feature Baker — in the form of a frighteningly lifelike wax dummy.
    • Colin Baker was fired from the role of the Doctor, and (understandably) refused to come back to do a regeneration scene in Time And The Rani. So instead, his successor Sylvester McCoy very briefly played the Sixth Doctor, wearing a wig and having his face blurred out before the regeneration into the Seventh.
      • An Easter Egg on the DVD revises this scene using CGI to morph Baker's likeness into McCoy's.
    • Barack Obama appears in The End of Time, with his face constantly covered and his sole line being stock audio. This isn't necessary for long, however, as he is transformed into the Master as the rest but two of the human race. You can see his face in a few shots and in the episode's accompanying Doctor Who Confidential... and besides being black, he looks nothing like the real Barack Obama.
    • During the making of the Second Doctor story "The Mind Robber", Frazer Hines (Jamie) came down with chickenpox and was replaced by Hamish Wilson until he recovered. The change was explained by the Doctor putting Jamie's face together incorrectly on a cardboard cutout.
  • So Weird: Subverting the Estranged Soap Family, Fiona was given a cameo in a third season episode where her family celebrated Thanksgiving, but as Cara de Liza wasn't available, she is only seen as a stand-in some distance off.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise did this in the alternate version of Star Trek: First Contact that was The Teaser for "In a Mirror, Darkly". Unable to afford James Cromwell to return as Zefram Cochrane, they pulled it off by using scenes from First Contact and then filming the new parts such that Cochrane's face is not seen in them.
  • The West Wing, "Tomorrow": As a matter of course, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has to show up for the presidential Inauguration. Apparently, Glenn Close, who had previously played Chief Justice Lang, wasn't available, as a lectern blocks our view of the Chief Justice's face during the oath of office.
  • Team Knight Rider, "Legion of Doom": As we had all hoped, Michael Knight made a cameo in the series' final episode. As we had all feared, he was played by the back of some stand-in's head.
    • Thankfully (?), the pilot movie that launched the remake of the original gave us the real deal.
  • In the original Batman TV series, one baddie had the clever idea of forming a gang out of all the major bad guys from the show. Since it would have been impossible to bring in all the guest stars who played those characters, the big fight took place in the dark.
    • Also, they didn't have enough money for fight choreography that week.
  • The Charmed episode "Cat House" (the one with Piper and Leo's visit to Phoebe's therapist, played by John Rubinstein), had clips from previous episodes. Anything from Shannon Doherty-era episodes was altered to be Prue-less, such as this scene from "Just Harried". This might be due to the cast and crew wanting no more of Doherty's egomaniac attitude.
  • Is very common in Tokusatsu shows. Because most heroes have transformed forms that obscure their face, characters can easily show up, despite the actor not being on the set. This way, appearances of past characters are easily realized.
  • Some examples from Power Rangers:
    • In the early second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, actors Austin St. John, Thuy Trang, and Walter Jones (playing Jason, Trini and Zack - the Red, Yellow, and Black Rangers) refused to show up for ADR sessions. Their voices were recorded by other actors for several episodes. They were eventually fired, and their characters only appeared from a distance, in stock footage, or in full costume, until they were finally written out.
    • David Yost (Billy) walked out of the show during Power Rangers Zeo, depending on the source, either after being fed up with crew harassment over his homosexuality or after having problems with his salary... before his character could be written out. Thus, redubbed stock footage of Billy was employed 'till the two-parter "Rangers of Two Worlds", which saw the character experiencing accelerated aging (allowing for a Timeshifted Actor); at the end of the second part, he's rejunevated offscreen and Put on a Bus to an alien planet, his departure shown via more redubbed stock footage.
    • The episode Forever Red (part of Power Rangers Wild Force) had (almost) every past Red Ranger team up. Apparently, the actor for Aurico (the Red Alien Ranger) had quit acting and couldn't be found, so Aurico was shown only in morphed form and given little dialogue. This despite Aurico's heavy Rubber Forehead Alien-ness making him a character that very much lends himself to The Other Darrin.
      • Narrowly averted with Danny Slavin (Leo, the Red Galaxy Ranger). He initially refused to film the episode since he had quit acting (after refusing to do the ADR for a previous Reunion Show), but changed his mind, agreeing to do it as a personal favor to the producer, after principal filming was finished. Slavin had to be digitally inserted into the already-shot scenes. Despite arriving together, Aurico doesn't appear in the final scene; Leo does.
    • In the Power Rangers Dino Thunder/Power Rangers SPD crossover Wormhole, Tommy Oliver was always shown morphed and voiced by the White Dino Ranger's actor. In a panel, Jason David Frank states that he was slightly ticked that they didn't ask him first if he was available, because he knew the fans would know right away that he wasn't actually in the suit.
      • Earlier, in Dino Thunder itself, Jason David Frank had commitments requiring him to return to the United States for a time (the show is shot in New Zealand), so Tommy was trapped in his Ranger armor for part of the season, though the original actor did dub his voice. After that they trapped him in a block of amber for a few episodes, and after THAT they freed him from the amber but rendered him conveniently invisible for several more episodes until Frank was finally available again.
    • Speaking of SPD, the entire character of Sam the Omega Ranger was a Fake Shemp. Disney didn't want to pay up for yet another regular actor, so it was made that some Negative Space Wedgie had turned his "civilian form" into a floating ball of light. It was so awkward that the writers involved him as little as possible, and might have written him out entirely if they didn't have to work around Stock Footage. And to add insult to injury, Human!Sam did show up in a one-scene cameo in the finale.
    • Power Rangers Samurai did a team-up with RPM without ever actually teaming up. All we got was the Red Ranger, constantly morphed (the justification being that he was unsure if the air in the Samurai Rangers' dimension was breathable) and not even with his real voice. That's right, not a single actor from RPM was even in the team-up. Even more unexpectedly is that Steven Skyler wasn't present for the filming of the episode so the Gold Samurai Ranger got Fake Shemped too!
  • After filming nine episodes of the Super Sentai show Choudenshi Bioman, actress Yuki Yajima (Mika/Yellow Four) abruptly left the series for reasons unclear to this day. In Episode 10, her character is thus entirely played by a costumed stunt actor and killed off. Even earlier than that, starting in Episode 7, her lines are dubbed over by an uncredited Mayumi Tanaka.
    • In JAKQ Dengekitai vs. Goranger, Momo Ranger (Peggy Matsuyama, who is played by Lisa Komaki) is the only Goranger who appears out of costume. Not even Ao Ranger appears untransformed, despite the fact that his alter-ego Akira Shinmei is played by Hiroshi Miyauchi, who appears in the movie as Sokichi Bamba (Big One), his character in JAKQ. Besides Ao and Momo, only Ki Ranger is voiced by his original actor (Baku Hatakeyama), while Aka's and Mido's voices were provided by a combination of previously recorded voice clips of the two and a new actor for Aka.
    • For an incredibly rare example of a Tokusatsu show doing the traditional methods of Fake Shemping rather than only showing the character transformed, look no further than the opening scene of Episode 31 of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, which depicts Basco sucking the greater powers off a former Changeman member... said former member being portrayed by a stand-in in a Earth Defense Force uniform whose face is never seen.
  • On the subject of Kamen Rider...
    • During the filming of Episode 10 of the original series, star Hiroshi Fujioka shattered his legs when a motorcycle stunt went awry. They wrote around their star's injury by dubbing actor Rokuro Naya's voice (Goro Naya's brother, sounds nothing like Fujioka) over outtakes of him out of suit and a stuntman in costume for new footage[1]. This lasted for four episodes before they just decided to bring out Kamen Rider 2.
    • In the remake film Kamen Rider the First, there's a cameo by original series villain Dr. Shinigami. But with actor Hideyo Amamoto having died in 2003, they ended up using archive footage from the series and voice actor Eiji Maruyama to fill in the void. The character only appears on monitors, so this wasn't that noticeable or distracting like some other examples.
    • In the TV special Ultraman vs. Kamen Rider, Ultraman and Kamen Rider 1 are only shown transformed/in suit respectively and voiced by archived sounds.
    • It'd be easier to list who isn't a Shemp out of approximately 33 Riders[2] in All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker: Black, Black RX, Agito, Ohja, Kick Hopper, Den-O Sword Form, Decade, Diend, Decade!Kuuga and Double. Doing the math, that means that 70% of the movie's cast is a Shemp! Even Amazon - who had a Decade incarnation and got some quality lines in the film - got a new VA.
      • Fujioka was going to appear in the movie, but there was a miscommunication and they had to recast the part. In the next big reunion movie, OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Rider, Fujioka, Takeshi Sasaki and Hiroshi Miyauchi came back to voice their characters, although they did not appear out of suit. And like in the Super Sentai example above, Miyauchi had to do two voices, as Kamen Rider V 3 and Zubat. However, everyone else wasn't important to the story so they were, as in All Riders Vs. Dai-Shocker, always suited (with the exception of Kamen Rider Doubles lead actors, and that was only because of the convenience of Doubles Direct to Video movies being filmed at the same time as Let's Go Kamen Riders) and their grunts during their fight scene were given by the same VAs who provided their voices in Vs. Dai-Shocker. Same goes for bad guys, though many do get their original actors, such as General Shadow. On that note, Kikaider is voiced in the film by Tomokazu Seki, his voice actor in the 2000 Kikaider anime series.
      • In Movie Wars Megamax, the original seven Riders are voiced by their [VA]s from previous films when possible. It seems the torch for those roles is officially passed, except for super-special occasions.
  • In the final season of Angel, when Sarah Michelle Gellar was no longer available for the role of Buffy, a blonde stand-in was used and only the back of her head was in the shot.
    • The season 8 Buffy comics revealed that this wasn't Buffy at all, but one of several Slayers sent to various spots around the world to impersonate her so the real Buffy wouldn't constantly be under enemy fire. The fact that a decoy was sent with this particular old foe of Angel and Spike was Andrew's idea of a joke.
    • According to Joss Whedon, he never planned to have Sarah Michelle Gellar for this scene, because the whole point of the episode was to have Angel and Spike running after Buffy, never catching up with her, and looking pathetic while doing so. However, he stated he intended to have Dawn appear. Michelle Trachtenberg was not available, so Andrew filled the role instead.
    • However, there was a very painful-to-watch dream sequence where Spike was supposed to be having sex with Buffy. It was actually a blonde stand-in with her face away from the camera and some of Sarah Michelle Gellar's lines from a previous Buffy episode ("The Prom") looped in.
  • In the last episode of Land of the Lost in which he's seen, Rick Marshall is played by an extra in a curly black wig and seen only from behind.
  • Subverted in the Stargate SG-1 episode "200", in which Richard Dean Anderson's character O'Neill is invisible for most of his guest appearance — because the producers were afraid he wouldn't be available. However, they wanted the performance to be as realistic as possible, and so used a green-screen suit whenever the environs had to be manipulated. And, wanting it to be as realistic as possible, when Anderson turned out to be available, they had him play in the green suit. Basically, the Fake Shemp played by the original actor pretending not to be there.
    • Ra, the villain from the movie, appears in one episode, Moebius part 1. Since they couldn't obviously get Jaye Davidson to reprise the role, they had the character wear a mask that hides most of his face.
      • To be fair, Ra also wore a mask of the same style in various scenes of the original movie. The mask was intended to resemble ancient Egyptian burial masks, such as the famous Tutankamun mask, as well as the inhuman heads gods were portrayed with in drawings; Jaffa soldiers also wore head-covering helmets based on this idea, in the movie and early seasons of SG-1.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 doubled up their cast's roles often enough that they had to do this occasionally when the doubled characters appeared together on-screen.
    • Roman gentleman Callipygeas' final appearance consisted of only an arm and a voice, not because Kevin Murphy was unavailable, but because he had to also play the character of Bobo in the scene in a completely different costume, and in the show's typical fashion the scene was done in one long take.
    • In episode 613 ("Kitten with a Whip") Crow (puppeteered by Trace Beaulieu) visits Deep 13, and is silently menaced by Dr. Forrester's hand and lab coat being worn by someone else so Trace Beaulieu could puppeteer. An outtake from the episode feature's Trace's head accidentally popping into frame next to his own stand-in; Trace acknowledges the flub and says "Hi, I'm not in this."
    • Crow also joins the crowd in Deep 13 for Thanksgiving dinner during a Turkey-Day special. With Trace onscreen as Forrester, Crow was puppeteered by someone else and his voice dubbed in later.
    • During a "Little Gold Statue" special Bobe and Observer appeared in the theater at the same time as the puppets they performed, so others did the puppeteering.
    • On multiple occasions the 'bots would Fake Shemp themselves as multiple copies of them appeared on-screen together, such as time-travelling Crow meeting his past self, or Servo's penchant for randomly cloning himself. And the beauty of using puppets for this sort of gag becomes apparent.
    • In The Movie, Gypsy was being puppeteered by Patrick Brantseg so Jim Mallon could concentrate on directing. Brantseg was successful enough at the job, and Mallon tired enough of juggling the role with his other duties, that Brantseg was eventually given the role in the series proper, now with voice duties and official credit.
  • Nancy Marchand of The Sopranos died between seasons. Her final scene was in the premiere of the following season, and was cobbled together from previous scenes and CGI added into the shot with Tony.
    • Several seasons later, while Tony is in a coma and envisions standing before a house that is implied to be the gateway to the afterlife, there's a shot of an old woman at the door who turns away before we see her face — based on her hairstyle and movements, this is almost universally interpreted as being Marchand's character (Tony's mother).
  • In one episode of the Witchblade TV show, Sara is being haunted by someone who is kept mostly in the darkness. His face is shown pretty clearly in at least one shot, but at the last second some Special Effect Failure reveal that the ghost is John F. Kennedy, whose face was superimposed (badly) on the actor when he came into the light.
  • Bill Owen in Last of the Summer Wine died having only semi-completed his last three episodes. As a result, these episodes contain lengthy scenes without Compo, preceded by a long shot of Bill Owen's stunt double waving good-bye to the other two and a recording of Compo making his excuse for leaving.
  • The Tales from the Crypt episode "You, Murderer", which "starred" Humphrey Bogart and had a cameo by Alfred Hitchcock, is notable for being one of the first uses of CGI (along with some inventive camera tricks) to insert deceased actors into a live action work.
  • Rather interesting example in Coupling: The actor who played Jeff had left the show by the last season, but was "brought back" in one episode in a dream Steve has. In this case, Steve imagines that Jeff had a sex change, and "Jeff" is played by an actress who adopts the original actor's mannerisms.
  • The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica had numerous body doubles for Cylons that did not need the actual actor on set.
    • The direct-to-DVD movie The Plan did this with Number 3/D'Anna (played by Lucy Lawless) by splicing in stock footage for her single scene. She didn't even have any dialogue.
  • A subversion happens in the first episode of season six of Lost. Several scenes featuring Charlie were shot so as to hide his face, making some people watching think that this trope was going on - however, eventually the camera focused on his face after all.
    • Played straight with Walt during his flashback appearance in "Meet Kevin Johnson."
  • Averted in The X-Files episode "The Unnatural". Recurring character Arthur Dales was set to tell Mulder about the plot of the episode, but actor Darren McGavin was ill. Therefore, Mulder goes to Dales' apartment to find his brother living there... whose name is also Arthur. Perturbed, Mulder questions this. Apparently, they had a sister and a goldfish also named Arthur.
  • Passions did this to Timmy after Josh Ryan Evans died, as Timmy was so intricately linked to the show's stories that it made no sense to Brother Chuck him. Bizarrely, despite Timmy's final actual appearances in the show being after he became a real boy, he would be represented instead by the gloves used when the character was an animated doll.
  • Mad TV did a Stuart sketch after Mo Collins, who played Stuart's mom, left the show. Her character was sleeping on the couch with her face not shown.
  • In the Norwegian version of The Julekalender the farmer's dog is played by the same animal that appeared in the original Danish version - even though it had gone to the happy hunting grounds in the meantime. All the shots of the dog are footage from the original series, and a scene where one of the characters talks to the dog is actually an elaborate composite shot.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode Stasis Leak, the actress playing Kochanski was unavailable for the studio shoot, so in her one scene her dialogue was removed and the assistant floor manager had to stand in for her, wearing a big hat that partially covered her face.
  • When Genie Francis left General Hospital, her character Laura Spencer was put into a catatonic state after killing her beloved stepfather. Whenever Laura's friends and family went to visit her, the producers used a body double sitting down in a chair and framed each shot over the body double's shoulder so the audience would see the person talking to Laura but would never cut to Laura herself (which worked because Laura couldn't talk back anyway).
    • This was played with when Genie Francis made two brief returns in 2006 and 2008.
      • In her first return, the shot was framed as it always was when Laura would make an 'appearance', but then cut to a shot of Genie Francis as she spoke signalling that Laura had awoken from her catatonic state. Then once Laura had relapsed (and Genie Francis had finished her guest stint) the producers went back to using the same methods they used before.
      • In Genie Francis' second return, Laura began having conversations with her daughter Lulu (who was locked up in the same mental hospital) in scenes where Genie Francis actually played the role, but it was left ambiguous as to whether Laura had awoken or was just a figment of her daughter's imagination since none of the other characters were aware that Laura had seemingly recovered. Once Lulu had been convinced that she'd imagined her conversations with her mother, the Fake Shemp returned and it seemed to many viewers that Genie Francis' second stint was already over. That is until Lulu was threatened by another character whilst visiting the supposedly Fake Shemp version of Laura and Laura (the real version, played by Genie Francis) rose out of her chair to protect her daughter. This time Laura stayed lucid and was sent off to Paris to 'fully recover', and has not returned since then.
  • In the mid-80's, actor Stacy Keach was arrested for drug possession while starring in Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer on CBS. As the show was in the middle of production, the producers brought in a body double to stand in for Keach, and famed impersonator Rich Little to do the dialogue in voiceover.


  • The Beatles' "Real Love" and "Free as a Bird", recorded for their Anthology album series and TV special. They were billed as two "new" songs by the Fab Four, but in fact are actually two demos made by John Lennon in the late 1970s, which the rest of the band added to.
  • Natalie Cole has released a couple of songs[3] that are "duets" with her father Nat King Cole.
  • Actually very common in music, as any given song may actually contain one band member overdubbing several instruments, or parts played by hired studio musicians or uncredited friends of the band (a famous example being Eric Clapton guesting on the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"). An essay in the book Kill Your Idols points out that on the Rolling Stones' supposed greatest album, Exile on Main Street, most of the bandmembers were trotting in and out of rehab during the recording, and that very few of the parts were played by actual Rolling Stones.
    • Despite the ubiquity of this practice, it was reported as a disgraceful thing that the duo that appeared onstage as Milli Vanilli were not the ones who sang the actual single. The ensuing scandal effectively ended their career.
  • Tupac Shakur rose from his grave to appear on stage alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg during Coachella 2012 thanks to the deployment of a Peppet's ghost and CGI courtesy of Digital Domain. Oh, and the idea of bringing in Tupac's ghost was Dr. Dre's, by the way.


  • The Phil Hendrie Show subverts this, as the concept is to interview fake "guests" who are actually characters voiced by the host. Gullible callers are then allowed to interact with the "guests" who they believe to be real people. Also, during some non-call-in segments, Phil "interviews" various celebrities, but gives them arbitrary voices, such as voicing Martha Stewart as an Angry Black Man. He did once play a "guest" who was supposedly Los Angeles Laker Brian Grant, who outraged listeners by complaining about Vlade Divac's preference for "stinky Lithuanian cheese", but was asked to stop because listeners who did not get the joke were getting angry at the real Brian Grant.

Theme Parks

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney Theme Parks features an introduction by the late Rod Serling. His voice-over narration is done by a sound-alike. The part where you actually see Serling is recycled footage from the Twilight Zone episode "It's A Good Life". His original dialogue was "Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States." The boarding video changes the background and cuts away from him before he says "map of the United States". The Rod Serling sound-alike finishes the sentence as "a maintenance service elevator, still in operation, waiting for you."

Video Game

  • In Kingdom Hearts II, James Earl Jones and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are credited for reprising their roles as Mufasa and young Simba in The Lion King. In reality, it's done entirely through archived sound. Thomas' case works well as the audio recycling was done only for a flashback adult Simba has of Mufasa's death --- his only line is the Big No, by the way.
  • Bill in the Left 4 Dead DLC campaign "Crash Course" counts. His voice actor was unavailable for almost a year (no news yet as to why), so the only lines he has are his generic stock lines. Valve Software then decided it would be easier to just kill the character off in "The Passing".
  • On a similar note, the Team Fortress 2 video "Meet the Spy" uses stock audio for the Engineer, Sniper (who only grunts in this case), and Medic — the last being especially noteworthy for recycling a completely unrelated Dummied Out line and still sounding completely natural. The voice actors technically would have been available, though (especially the Sniper's, who besides Ellen McLain is the closest thing Valve has to a full-time voice actor, and who also recorded new lines for that very update.).
    • "Meet the Medic" involved reused clips to a lesser extent. The Demoman's only word ("MEDIC!") is a stock voice clip despite the fact that his voice actor also plays the Heavy, who has plenty of original dialogue in the video. The Scout and Heavy both receive an instance of reused stock phrases mixed in with original dialogue. Interestingly the two words the Spy utters in the video ("Kill me.") are original.
  • They appear to attempt this in Jak 3, as Keira only has one line in the entire game ("Jak, you did it!"). Didn't really fool anyone, though.
  • Happens a lot with in both Super Robot Wars and SD Gundam G Generation game series with voice actors who recorded lines in older games but died later on (especially with Kaneto Shiozawa, Hirotaka Suzuoki and Daisuke Gouri recently) since they used archived voices of them in later games.
  • Happened with Meryl in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty: Substance, where she is a boss character in one of the VR missions and she just reuses Olga's lines from her boss fight in the main game. This actually works out well in the Japanese version, as the two characters were voiced by the same person.

Web Animation

  • The Homestar Runner short "original" parodies this (along with The Other Darrin). Strong Bad claims that after Original Bubs left the show, the next few episodes pretended that he was still around, just obscured behind conveniently-placed scenery. Such as a toothpick model of the Eiffel Tower, far smaller than Original Bubs himself.

Western Animation

  • Spoofed by The Simpsons when Milhouse abandons his role as Fallout Boy and the directors resort to hilariously obvious stock-footage to replace him.
    • A similar gag in another episode has the Simpsons discussing the nature of cartoons, to have Flanders walk by the window and add: "Plus, you can change the voice actor, and no one will know the diddly-ifference." He was, obviously, voiced by a different actor.
  • When Isaac Hayes left South Park, it took the creators completely by surprise. The solution: blatantly copy and paste lines from earlier episodes, edit them together in a ham-handed fashion, chalk it up to Chef being brainwashed by a cult, then McLeaned the character at the end. They made it sound obviously cut together, but when Chef is temporarily un-brainwashed for about 3 minutes, they actually make it sound good.
    • "I/specializes in your assholes/Kyle!"
    • (singing) "I'm gonna make love to..." (spoken) "the children".
  • One episode of The Batman has a Battle Royale With Cheese between Batman and all of his villains. They aren't voiced, though, really stealing the thunder from what should be an awesome fight.
  • An episode of The Fairly Odd Parents has Chip Skylark singing in archived sound by Chris Kirpatrik.
  • Batman the Brave And The Bold often has returning heroes and villains, sometimes as minor cameos and sometimes in full-on team brawls, but usually only about half of them actually get spoken lines. For example, the evil alternate superheroes and the good alternate villains only get a handful of voiced parts (such as Red Tornado's alternate, Silver Cyclone). Others, such as the unnamed evil Aquaman, are unheard.
  • In the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", they put in a completely silent McCoy (as DeForest Kelley had been dead for a few years by that time), not to mention Welshie.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a bit of this at the start of season three. Iroh's voice actor died not long after finishing recording his season two lines, and Iroh doesn't speak for several episodes at the start of season three (though he is present, and occasionally grunts while exercising in prison). Word of God is that this was already written into the script and had nothing to do with Mako's death, but it was highly, highly convenient.
  • The Justice League Action episode "Mxy's Mix Up" has cameos from various heroes having their bodies switched, but most of them either don't have lines, or their dialogue is grunts and yells. For example, Zatanna is normally voiced by Lacey Chabert, but for her grunts and yells here, she's instead voiced by Natalie Lander since she was already in the episode as Stargirl.
  1. On a related factoid, before his accident, Fujioka did all his stunts in and out of suit; his injury is why every Tokusatsu hero since then is portrayed by a stuntman in costume when transformed.
  2. including cameo appearances. Shadow Moon is not accounted for because he doesn't qualify as a Rider by Shotaro Ishinomori's Word of God; besides, he's the only one in the movie who's neither the original nor a Shemp since he gets to prominently appear outside of his suit, making him one more Decade AR Rider.
  3. "When I Fall in Love" and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home"