Cameo roles. Every movie and TV show has them. Originally meant to walk in and out of our lives in the span of a single scene, episode, or issue, sometimes they have other plans. Occasionally characters with ridiculously small screen or page time find a way to worm their way into our hearts and stay there. They don't always get more time to show us more of what they've got, but boy, do they shine with the small vehicle they get. Here are some of the most memorable.
- Character's first appearance: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Length of appearance: 33 seconds
- Memorable line: "Traitor!"
Reason for popularity: Stormtroopers are not very efficient. They get taken out easily and can't seem to hit a target to save their lives (literally).
But they have been largely faceless, without personalities. Which is why audiences gravitated toward one that stood out: A Stormtrooper who felt betrayed and was efficient enough to physically prove it - and one that had a dope weapon. His brief appearance was such a hit that fans even gave the mystery trooper a name: TR-8R (say it fast to make sense). Many memes were made.
What happened after his debut? In the film world, he's officially dead, but his popularity reached such a height that he was later written into Finn's backstory to give people true emotional context of their scene in #TheForceAwakens. In the story, his name is revealed to be FN-2199. Hopefully, fans of the character will get to see TR-8R once more time in #StarWars' other mediums.
2. Wonder Woman (DC Extended Universe)
- Character's first appearance: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Length of appearance: 7 minutes
- Memorable line: "I've killed things from other worlds before."
Reason for popularity: This was, surprisingly, #WonderWoman's first cinematic appearance in her over 75 years of existence. And even though small role came down to mostly just fighting, it was an accurate representation of her as a worthy and powerful warrior. It was enough to get anyone excited and many fans declared her the best part (and even only good part) of the entire movie.
What happened after her debut? Wonder Woman plays a pivotal role in the future of the #DCExtendedUniverse. Next year, she'll appear in her first solo film, directed by Patty Jenkins, which, depending on the success, could spawn sequels. We'll also be seeing her in Justice League, and most likely in Justice League 2. Hopefully, DC will give us the Wonder Woman we love and deserve in these and other future projects.
3. Jesus Quintana
- Character's first appearance: The Big Lebowski
- Length of appearance: 2 minutes, 30 seconds
- Memorable line: "Nobody fucks with the Jesus!"
Reason for popularity: The Big Lebowski is a great absurdist ride, and "The Jesus" is a big part of that. This guy takes himself and bowling so seriously that he licks his bowling ball before throwing it and threatens the competition with... well, not so nice things. The film was a cult classic and ahead of its time before that type of comedy became as common as it is today, and Jesus was the type of absurd, over-the-top character people wanted to see to the point his most famous line has become part of pop culture lexicon.
What happened after his debut? Jesus Quintana's standout appearance earned him his own spinoff 20 years later. Back in August, it was revealed that John Turturro is writing, directing and starring in a remake of the French comedy, Les Valseuses, titled Going Places. Believe it or not, this will be The Jesus' movie, centered around two men (one of them being Quintana) competing to have sexual relations with a woman. The film stars Bobby Cannavale, Susan Sarandon, and Audrey Tautou.
4. Wade Wilson/Deadpool
- Character's first appearance: New Mutants #98
- Length of appearance: 22 panels
- Memorable line: "When I frost your big mechanical butt, don't take it personally, okay?"
Reason for popularity: Deadpool broke the "serious villain" #comicbook stereotype. He was a funny, carefree mercenary who loved throwing jokes at his target. That created a nice juxtaposition between the usual representation of a villain and a jokester-type character, a rare thing in those times.
Readers were drawn to him because of the completely new dynamic he brought to New Mutants and comics in general. Fabian Nicieza explained the outcome of #Deadpool's introduction during an interview:
"He could have just as easily have been a throwaway character but we started to get letters in... Over 75% of them, somewhere in the letter said, 'That guy was funny, bring him back.'"
And brought back he was...
What happened after his debut? The Merc with a Mouth became a regular character in X-Force, and appeared in titles like Heroes for Hire and The Avengers. After small roles in #animated TV shows (Hulk vs. Wolverine, Ultimate Spider-Man), a critically-panned and fan-reviled version of Wade Wilson, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Deadpool also became a playable character in several #videogames, including his own. Years later he was given his very own movie, made possible by the soft reboot of the X-Men franchise (which, if you think about it, doesn't make sense). It was loved by both fans and critics and became the most successful R-rated movie in history. Right now, even though there have been several setbacks for the project, we are eagerly awaiting #Deadpool2.
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5. Evan Baxter
- Character's first appearance: Bruce Almighty
- Length of appearance: 2 minutes, 42 seconds
- Memorable line: "The Prime Minister of Sweden visited Washington today and my tiny little nipples went to France."
Reason for popularity: Steve Carrell's deadpan portrayal of Evan contrasted nicely with Jim Carrey's famously cartoony approach to the role and elevated his comedic presence. Yes, Evan was a jerk but a real and likable one, who you could even feel bad for when he was bumbling away during his infamous news broadcast. Bruce Almighty director, Tom Shadyac actually discussed Evan's popularity:
"[Carell] delivered some of the funniest stuff in the movie. We thought, 'Why not take that character and spin him off into a different film?'"
After all, people are still comparing the newscast debacle scene to things today:
Which leads us to...
What happened after his debut? Baxter got a spin-off movie, Evan Almighty, in which he joined Congress and moved to Prestige, Virginia (don't Google it; it doesn't exist). There, he's tasked by God to build an ark for an upcoming flood. The movie was a critical dud and didn't fare much better financially, earning $173 million against its incredible $175 million budget. Still, failures aside, we can remember Evan Baxter for his scene-stealing role in Bruce Almighty.
6. Boba Fett
- Character's first appearance: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
- Length of appearance: 6 minutes, 32 seconds
- Memorable Line: "He's no good to me dead."
Reason for popularity: This is interesting to answer considering Ol' Boba did next to nothing in the movies except look cool. He didn't need to perform neck-endangering stunts or kill a thousand people to prove his worth; his stern, man-o-few-words personality earned him. He became the ultimate wish-fulfillment for fans: A space cowboy with an awesome power armor who had the trust of #DarthVader himself? That's a legendary badass. Even Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a fan.
What happened after his debut? Boba Fett became a pop culture icon. He's appeared in numerous Star Wars comics, #cartoons, has multiple action figures (one of the most sought-after ones being his prototype version) and appeared in the prequel trilogy as a clone child... Anyway, despite the bounty hunter's cultural relevance and even being rumored to star in his very own anthology film, in canon, his final moments remain...
7. Steve Urkel
- Character's first appearance: Family Matters, Episode "Rachel's First Date"
- Length of appearance: Calculating...
- Memorable line: "Did I do that?"
Reason for popularity: During a live taping of #FamilyMatters, the audience responded quite well to Steve's comedy and personality and he was further praised in home viewings. In the '90s geeks were seen as weird, anti-social people, incapable of being cool. Steve Urkel, with his strange demeanor and annoying voice, embraced the geek/nerd-related stereotypes and heightened them to the max, giving us nerds someone we could connect with. Those same exaggerated traits also gave people who found his type of personality strange a chance to fully appreciate and understand him.
What happened after his debut? Due to audiences' reception, Steve became a regular character on Family Matters and, eventually, the show centered almost entirely on him. He has had cameos in several TV series, including Full House, Step by Step and Meego. And, fun fact, in the Family Matters episode "Beauty and the Beast," Steve sends a chain letter to Cory Matthews in Philadelphia — the protagonist of Boy Meets World. In that show, Cory states he received a chain letter from Steve.
His success didn't stop there though; Urkel merchandise includes a cereal and a doll. To top it all, he was ranked #27 on TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Characters of all Times." Yes, Steve, you did that.
- Character's first appearance: The Incredible Hulk #180
- Length of appearance: 36 panels
- Memorable line: "I've got claws forged of diamond-hard adamantium...and the power to back them up!"
Reason for popularity: Have you ever been in a somewhat dangerous situation and wished you were brave and impulsive and tough enough to tackle it head-on? #Wolverine played that fantasy out in front of us: A guy with awesome claws that took on two superpowered monsters with rage issues and came close to defeating them both. He was the ultimate male power fantasy, but he's been a fan favorite ever since for men and women both.
These qualities made Wolverine stand out enough to avoid his original fate, as described by Herb Trimpe:
"It was just one of those secondary or tertiary characters, actually, that we were using in that particular book with no particular notion of it going anywhere. We did characters in The [Incredible] Hulk all the time that were in [particular] issues and that was the end of them."
Fortunately, that wasn't the case.
What happened after his debut? After the Wendigo storyline wrapped in The Incredible Hulk #182, Wolverine was integrated into a new X-Men team that debuted in 1975. Years later, Wolvie's popularity led to him getting his own series in 1982. Now, after 30 years of existence, he's one of Marvel's flagship characters, with multiple action figures, video games and cartoons.
He's also appeared in every single #XMen movie thanks to the talented Hugh Jackman (yes, that Deadpool magazine cameo counts) and his solo trilogy, which began in 2009 with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, will conclude in March with the release of #Logan. While his future on the big screen after that is still a mystery, we can be sure about the grumpy mutant's inevitable cinematic return.
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9. Agent Phil Coulson
- Character's first appearance: Iron Man
- Length of appearance: 4 minutes, 1 second
- Memorable line: "Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division."
Reason for popularity: Agent Coulson carried a charming mystery. When he first appeared, S.H.I.E.L.D. was not yet the giant, double-agent-breeding organization later established in the #MCU. With his serious earnestness and cordial approach, he made us believe in it and its strength and his unassuming demeanor and appearance endeared him to fans. He was the everyman, the one seemingly normal guy who could hold his own in the middle of a bunch of superheroes with deadpan humor - all the while fanboying out a little.
What happened after his debut? Coulson became the audience surrogate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The lovable agent had prominent roles in Iron Man 2, Thor and The Avengers where, spoilers, he was killed — but the wily agent had one last trick up his sleeve.
Fortunately, he was brought back to life a year later and given his own TV show in #AgentsofSHIELD where he's gone on crazy adventures and met all kinds of new super-powered characters while trying to keep the world safe from the threats the government won't talk about. He was even promoted to acting Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while, but he's most comfortable as an agelt. While his reappearance on the big screen seems far away, I'm hoping he and his team get to fight alongside Earth's Mightiest Heroes once again.
- Character's first appearance: Thimble Theater, January 17, 1929
- Length of appearance: One daily comic strip
- Memorable line: "Ja' think I'm a cowboy?"
Reason for popularity: Fun fact: Thimble Theater focused at first on Olive Oyl and her family. In fact, his brother was the one to introduce Popeye to the world, in the panels depicted here:
Popeye was rude and sarcastic, yet there was something endearing about him and his buffalo-size forearms, which gave the strip a different type of comedy. He was a superhero before superheroes, and readers loved it.
What happened after his debut? Popeye quickly became a regular character in the daily strip due to his growing popularity, which landed the strip in other newspapers. Soon after that, the spinach-eating sailor moved on to radio adaptations and years later starred in his own comic book series and his now-famous cartoon. A feature-length film has been in development since 2013; sadly, there's still no release date for it.
11. Felicity Smoak
- Character's first appearance: Arrow, Episode "Lone Gunmen"
- Length of appearance: 2 minutes
- Memorable line: "These look like bullet holes."
Reason for popularity: It comes down to simple, intense chemistry and great character development. Felicity Smoak was originally supposed to be featured in a very small, one-off role but, thanks to her charisma, talent and chemistry with #Arrow star Stephen Amell, fans were very vocal about her staying. The ship sailed and #Olicity was officially a thing.
What happened after her debut? She became a main character in Arrow and Oliver Queen's true love. Felicity also ties the various superhero shows on the CW together, making recurring appearances on both #TheFlash and #LegendsofTomorrow. While there's been heavy criticism directed at her role in the DCTV universe recently, Felicity continues to be an amazing character, someone who we'll hopefully keep seeing in the future.
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There are obviously many other one-off characters whole stole our hearts out there . Do you have any favorites that I didn't mention? Let me know in the comments after you tell me: