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Remembering Jerry Springer's greatest sci-fi cameos: 'Happy!,' 'Sharknado,' 'The X-Files' & more

The legendary talk show host took time out to appear in some very famous cameos.

By Matthew Jackson
Sharknado: The Music Video

Jerry Springer, host of one of the most notorious talk shows of all time, passed away this week at the age of 79. If you were around during his show's heyday in the 1990s, you know that the guy was everywhere, a part of the cultural conversation even among people who'd never watched a minute of his scandalous, headline-grabbing daytime show. Virtually everyone knew who Jerry Springer was, and that eventually translated to a kind of secondary career as a cameo artist, lending his face and notoriety to various films and TV shows over the years. 

RELATED: First trailer for Happy! Season 2 will melt your eyes and blow your mind

And believe it or not, those appearances in various fictional universes actually had a big impact, in some cases putting Springer front and center in some of the most beloved genre properties out there. So, let's look back at some of Springer's most memorable appearances, from The Simpsons to SYFY's own Happy!

The X-Files - "The Post-Modern Prometheus"

The X-Files was a series that often dealt with a more realistic rendering of stories that felt like they could have sprung from a tabloid, and Springer was the king of tabloid TV while the show was on the air, so it makes sense that the two would merge. In the classic "Post-Modern Prometheus" episode, The X-Files' twisted riff on Frankenstein, Springer not only made a cameo, but his show proved crucial to the plot. It turns out that sometimes staying home and watching The Jerry Springer Show can lead you right to Fox Mulder.

The Simpsons - "Treehouse of Horror IX"

The Simpsons has long been a beloved spot for celebrity cameos, packing more animated appearances by celebrities than most live-action shows could ever hope to muster. So it makes sense that Springer, in his 1990s prime, would eventually make an appearance. He showed up, playing himself, during the ninth "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween special, during a story in which Maggie Simpson's first tooth turns out to be a creepy fang.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Mike Myers' beloved Austin Powers trilogy is packed with pop culture references, particularly the kind of references that emphasize the franchise's culture clash between the 1960s and the 1990s. That meant an appearance from Springer, during a scene in which Dr. Evil (Myers) and his son Scott (Seth Green) go on the Springer Show to try and work out their issues. In true Springer fashion, it devolved into a full-on brawl, with Springer himself even launching into a fight with Dr. Evil. 

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

By the time the Sharknado franchise reached its third installment, it was absolutely jam-packed with cameo appearances, just so various celebrities could say they'd had a bit part in the over-the-top disaster series. Sharknado 3 in particular is the kind of film that crams one celebrity or another into pretty much every scene, so it's no surprise that Springer got in on the action. And of course, he got the honor of being devoured by a giant shark at a Universal theme park because he couldn't resist getting his picture taken with the beast. 

Happy! - "What Smiles Are For"

The SYFY original series Happy! was one of the wildest genre trips you could take on cable while it was on the air, and it proved that pretty much immediately with a reality-bending, strange ride through the mind of Christopher Meloni's Nick Sax. And, as if being followed around by an imaginary unicorn voiced by Patton Oswalt wasn't proof enough of how weird the show was willing to get, Springer showed up in the series' second episode, playing himself in a segment that allowed Nick to reckon with the news that he might have a daughter.