Whether you’re watching a good movie, television show, or simply sitting back and enjoying a game, it’s always fun to feel our eyes pop out of our head when we see or hear a seemingly random celebrity make an appearance.
My favorite cameos across all mediums include Bill Murray’s hilariously over-the-top performance in Zombieland, Bob Barker picking a fight with Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore, and Liam Neeson playing your father in Fallout 3.
And truthfully, the list of cameos are endless when it comes to movies, television, and video games. The problem with games (and cartoons), however, is that it’s always a lot harder to decipher which celebrity is actually involved, and it’s even harder when the star is just providing their voice.
I can’t tell you the number of times I was doing research for this list only to experience a minor freak out upon discovering some of my favorite video game characters were voiced by my favorite celebrities. It’s sort of like seeing something you can’t unsee, because once you find out, you almost won’t look at a game the same way ever again.
It even gets better when you’re scratching your head wondering the headspace that some celebrities were in when they agreed to work on games. And it even gets better when the veil is ripped down and you realize that a lot of already cool celebrities are also gamers.
So today, we’re going to explore over 25 different cameos in our favorite games that you may or may not have overlooked. Hopefully, you’ll have a newfound respect for these celebrities and a new perception on some of our favorite games.
25 Halo 4: Conan O’Brien And Andy Richter
Our first cameo comes from Halo 4 and features the legendary comedic late-night duo of Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter. Conan is no stranger to games, as his segment “Clueless Gamer” has garnered tons of popularity over the years.
Hearing these two do their schtick in a Halo game is the best kind of fourth-wall breaking humor.
You can find them both at the beginning of the mission “Shutdown,” where you’ll find two marines in the loading bay guarding crates. And trust us, these two don’t pull any punches when it comes to meta-jokes.
24 True Crime: Streets Of LA: Snoop Dogg
Not only did Snoop Dogg provide some of his biggest tracks to True Crime: Streets of LA, but he even made a cameo in the game. Snoop is a hidden character in the game that, if you discover him, can help you get rid of crime in Los Angeles.
The best part is that Snoop also comes equipped with his own mini-game and he rolls around town in his custom convertible. Truly, Activision wanted the in-game version of Snoop to live up to his well-known reputation.
23 COD: Infinite Warfare: Kit Harington And Conor McGregor
Being a gamer that quit on Call of Duty a long, long time ago (Black Ops 2 days), I would’ve been clueless as to Kit Harington’s and Conor McGregor’s guest appearances in COD: Infinite Warfare.
The Game of Thrones star and UFC champ both appear in the campaign for Infinite Warfare, and Harington takes the role of the game’s main antagonist. What I do love about both of these cameos is just seeing how far technology has come in games as the video game versions of Harington and McGregor look like carbon copies of the stars.
22 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson making an appearance in a GTA game is something that was bound to happen eventually. Grand Theft Auto being the ultra-violent game that it is, and Jackson being one of the most successful stars in ultra-violent movies like Quentin Tarantino films, this just seems like a match made in heaven. Rockstar definitely knows how to utilize Jackson’s talents.
Jackson plays the main antagonist in the game as Officer Frank Tenpenny, and let’s just say that he’s a little over the top. Jackson uses some of his most “creative” language here.
21 WWE 2K16: Arnold Schwarzenegger
We tried our best to keep cameos from major sports games out of this or else you’d just be staring at a list featuring Justin Bieber and Kevin Hart in 2K.
But Schwarzenegger’s appearance in WWE 2K16 is just too good for us to pass up, especially since he reprises his role as the Terminator. It might be a game, but WWE 2K16 might be good enough for us to call it the best thing featuring Terminator lore in almost three decades (yeah, it has been that long).
20 Space Channel 5: Michael Jackson
Even the King of Pop himself made his gaming debut, even though it may be a game that many are sure to not recognize, and that’s for good reason. Space Channel 5 is by no means a bad game, it’s just a really weird one.
The game plays out like Sega’s version of PaRappa the Rapper, that’s also set in space. Oh, and no rapping. But it’s a rhythm-based game nonetheless and gained a cult following and a lot of mainstream attention for featuring Michael Jackson.
19 Fight Club: Fred Durst
Trust me, I was confused at first too. The game released back in 2004, and if you guessed that you haven’t heard of it because it’s absolutely the worst, then you’d be 1000% right!
Fight Club is a fighter that does a really good job of messing up the message that the movie so masterfully built.
And perhaps the funniest part is that Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst makes an actual appearance as a fighter. Durst says he had seen the film “about 28 times,” but obviously not enough to stay away from this dumpster fire of a game.
18 Postal 2: Gary Coleman
You know I’d easily name this one of the strangest cameos on this list if it weren’t for it appearing in Postal 2. If you’ve ever played Postal 2 then you know the edginess, brutality, and psychopathic fourth-wall breaking humor that is this game.
So Gary Coleman making an appearance is really no shocker in a game like Postal 2.
What is weird is seeing Gary Coleman fight off police with an M16 he has on him in the middle of his book signing. And yes, this happens in the MAIN storyline.
17 GTA Vice City Stories: Phil Collins
Phil Collins has released some of the most mesmerizing pop songs of all time. That’s why it was hilarious to see him pop up in a GTA game. Collins is actually featured in a full-fledged mission where you have to protect him while he plays the entirety of his smash hit song “In The Air Tonight.”
It’s easily one of my favorite missions from the game, but the absolute best part gets a little morbid. If you fail to protect Phil, the rafters fall onto him and the developers couldn’t help but stick a pun in.
16 Brütal Legend: Ozzy Osbourne
While we’d love to include Jack Black here, it’s fairly obvious that he’s in the game as we’re pretty sure that’s half the appeal to Brütal Legend. The real surprise cameo comes from the lead singer of Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne.
Osbourne’s inclusion in this game is one that sent me back in my chair because the developers handled it unbelievably well. You meet Osbourne in the Underworld, and he first greets you by saying “It’s about time!”
15 Saints Row The Third: Burt Reynolds
We don’t know what the celebrity draw is to video games like Postal 2, GTA, and now Saints Row, but honestly we’re not complaining. One thing's for sure: the studios behind these games really know how to handle a celebrity cameo.
Burt Reynolds absolutely amazes his role of the City’s Mayor.
The first time you meet Reynolds, he’s actually kissing a female cop at his desk, and that’s only really the start of this amazing character and cameo.
14 Tony Hawk's Underground: Gene Simmons
Frontman of Kiss, Gene Simmons, making a cameo in Tony Hawk’s Underground is maybe one of the least surprising on this list, but still one of the coolest. Tony Hawk’s Underground boasts a soundtrack primarily comprised of rock n’ roll’s greatest tracks, so this isn’t the biggest shock.
Still, it’s awesome knowing that after you finish the game you can shred as Gene Simmons.
Plus, after completing the game, you’ll unlock a special venue where Kiss is playing some of their best jams.
13 Metal Gear Solid V: Kiefer Sutherland
Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland (yeah, that’s actually his full name) gave one of the best vocal performances of all time with his portrayal of Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid V.
Leave it to Jack Bauer himself to own his role as Big Boss.
Sutherland brought something new to the character, giving Snake the much-needed subtlety that he needed to back his “cool guy” personality. Say goodbye to lines like “This can’t be!” and “That’s impossible!”
12 Halo 3: ODST And Halo 5: Nathan Fillion
Nathan Fillion is best known for his roles in Castle and Modern Family, but personally, I still think his best performance came from Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
In Halo 3: ODST Fillion actually gives one of the best performances of his life, offering his voice and his physical appearance for the character. Plus, he makes a Halo character feel so cinematic and so life-like; mad props to Fillion for this one. We hope he takes on more video games sometime.
11 Beyond: Two Souls: Willem Dafoe And Ellen Page
This is definitely one of the least subtle celebrity cameos on this list, but that’s only because this game is absolutely packed to the brim with stars. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe take the helm as the game’s two leading stars, but the game is littered with C and B-list celebs too.
With a cast like that, you’d think there’s no way the game could flop; unfortunately, it kind of did.
The game wasn’t received well critically for its weak story but at its current price point ($10 or less at GameStop) it’s worth a playthrough.
10 Payday 2: Ethan And Hila From H3H3
So Ethan and Hila from H3H3 might only be celebs to those who follow them on YouTube, but someone over at Overkill Studios must like them enough to get them into the widely-successful shooter Payday 2.
Ethan and Hila show up as playable characters and they might be one of the best new additions to the game.
Plus I love their designs, especially Ethan’s double chin and his iconic skinny but kind of heavy build.
9 Black Ops 2: Jimmy Kimmel
Even though Black Ops 2 was my last COD game that I put my time into, I couldn’t remember this cameo for the life of me. You’d think a digitally rendered version of Jimmy Kimmel would stick in my head, but I guess not.
Well, Kimmel does his thing, offering witty banter and the sarcastically dry humor we've all come to love him for.
The weird thing, though, is he’s talking to you, a harbinger of destruction that has brutally taken down hundreds of people... yet he gets you on his late-night show.
8 Command And Conquer: Red Alert 3: Ric Flair
Well, this wasn’t Ric Flair’s first rodeo when it came to getting involved in a video game, due to his work in the WWE 2K games. But this performance proved him once again to be a star.
We all should’ve seen his spectacular performance as Commander Hill coming, since the guy is a master on the mic in WWE. Flair really gets into the role and every cutscene he pops in, he’s either yelling at you, giving you backhanded compliments, or finding some clever name to call you.
7 Grand Theft Auto IV: Ricky Gervais
GTA is obviously the winner when it comes to the sheer amount of cameos in a game and the excellent way they find to implement each. Ricky Gervais is another prime example, as you can find spitting some hilarious jokes at the local comedy club.
It’s just so bizarre to see Gervais delivering real stand-up in a video game, and it’s actually really good stand-up at that.
This is how you make your game feel more grounded in reality while still not taking yourself too seriously. Take notes, Black Ops 2.
6 Broken Age: Elijah Woods And Jack Black
We’re glad we were able to get Jack Black on this list somehow, because the man has truly had some legendary video game appearances in the meager amount he’s been in.
Broken Age boasted the fact that Elijah Woods was behind the voice of the main character and that Jack Black was also making an appearance.
It was surreal seeing two big celebs make an appearance in a small overlooked indie game, but that just made it all the more fun for the people who picked up the game.
5 Fallout 3: Liam Neeson
This one seriously blew my mind as a kid, especially because at a young age I knew Liam Neeson as the cool guy from Taken, Batman Begins, and The Phantom Menace. Growing up, Neeson was just a face you always recognized. I was flabbergasted when I discovered he was your father in Fallout 3.
When you find out that he did the voice, you’re almost certain to say “ohhh.” I’ll never really know why this one never clicked for me, but I’m glad it eventually did.
4 DestinyL Peter Dinklage
Destiny was one of the most hyped up games of all time. The game looked massive, beautiful, and it had Peter Dinklage as a voice actor.
Dinklage takes the role of your robot companion, and fans were quick to give Ghost the apt nickname of Dinklebot.
Unfortunately, his work was met with a ton of criticism, some blaming his lines and others casting blame on Dinklage himself. Either way, Activision replaced all his lines with Nolan North’s voice work (talk about the disrespect).
3 Arkham Franchise: Mark Hamill
Most people usually experience a minor freakout upon discovering that Mark Hamill not only does Joker’s voice in the Arkham series, but also voices the character in most cartoon shows, including the highly praised Batman: The Animated Series.
It’s hard to believe that Luke Skywalker himself can alter his voice in such a way to absolutely nail his Joker impression.
Honestly, you have to watch a video to believe it because Hamill can go from regular talking voice to the sadistic clown prince in less than a second.
2 The Legend Of Spyro Trilogy: Elijah Wood
The Legend of Spyro trilogy might’ve been the final dagger in the franchise, but it still had some moments, and one of those moments was Elijah Wood’s voice work.
Wood has done some fantastic vocal work through his career, including voicing the protagonist from Over The Garden Wall and also working on a few video games along the way. There’s something just all too perfect about Elijah Wood as Spyro; he completely transforms the character, and even though the games were critically panned we can only find more respect for Wood.
1 Metal Gear Solid V: Hideo Kojima
Kojima is no stranger to showing up in his games, but it was his appearance in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain that completely floored me. In the middle of a rescue mission, you’ll find your target chained up with a bag on their head. I was thinking nothing of it even after the bag was removed, but as soon as Snake gave the man his glasses I almost dropped my controller. The scene is just too perfect, especially with the dramatic music playing and Snake taking his sweet time removing the bag.