Though Bob’s Burgers has seen as many guest stars as most other primetime animated programs, there’s a key difference: rather than drum up convoluted reasons for the Belchers to run into a different real-life celebrity each week, the guests almost always play brand-new characters. Instead of adding to a growing list of cameos that become dated faster than you can say “Gangnam Style”, Bob’s has cultivated an eclectic roster of memorable supporting characters. As the show goes into its fifth season, we thought it was the right time to review the highlights of the last four years. We cut the “guest star” distinction off at semi-regulars like Kevin Kline’s Mr. Fischoeder and the Silverman sisters as Ollie and Andy Pesto, but you might be able to spot a few repeat offenders.
Episode: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins”
It’s tough to picture Galifianakis and his formidable facial hair in a role depicting anything but a surly hobo or an amateur lumberjack, but he was almost unrecognizable in this Christmas episode. Not many could take Chet—a man who not only has a relationship with inanimate dummies but believes himself a former mannequin—and make him strangely lovable. Perhaps we shouldn’t expect anything less from the guy who made us laugh at a baby getting hit in the head with a car door.
“I used to be a mannequin. You don’t need to be afraid of me, I’m not one of those ‘murder mannequins’ or ‘satanic mannequins.’”
Episode: “Nude Beach”
As the replacement health inspector, Armisen had the unenviable task of portraying someone so off-putting that Bob wishes for the return of his prickly predecessor, Hugo. The SNL and Portlandia vet pulled it off, in part thanks to his experience as a real-life musician. Armisen was able to reverse-engineer the qualities of truly terrible songs, as evidenced in Tommy’s many prostitute-based ballads.
Bob: “You’re saying a rat just came in here and tossed a bag of its poop on my floor?”
Tommy: “Yeah, that’s a thing that happens.”
Episode: “Weekend at Mort’s”
Next-door neighbor Mort has taken a backseat in the last couple seasons, but early on he got a chance to shine next to his equally weird date Samantha, played with trademark creep by Sedaris. Their morbid dirty talk is enough to want a risque Six Feet Under-style spinoff, if only to cure sex addicts of any and all libido.
Samantha: “So, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found in a human body?”
Mort: “You first.”
Samantha: “Light bulb.”
Mort: “A football.”
Samantha: “A Far Side calendar.”
Episode: “Mutiny on the Windbreaker”
On Arrested Development, Tambor’s George (and Oscar) Bluth never shied away from screwball, but those antics were tame compared to the flamboyant Captain Flarty. Bestowing his character with an amount of zeal heretofore unseen in seafaring kidnappers, Tambor is at his most exuberant when baby-talking his giant capybara.
“Oooh, Kiki! That’s a big BM! Yes!”
Episode: “The Moody Foodie”
If you squint at any episode of any TV show and ask “Is that Patton Oswalt?” the answer is “Usually.” Casting directors everywhere know he puts out consistent quality, and his turn as the titular angsty food critic is no different.
Bob: “Are you expecting someone?”
Moody Foodie: “Oh, that must be my next kidnapper.”
Kooky newscasters have been commonplace on TV since the days of Mary Tyler Moore, but Chuck and Pam are a special breed. As the secretly-divorced pair of “married” news reporters, Lennon and Bee lace their passive-aggressive barbs with enough venom to kill Bigfoot, or at least a small child in a Sasquatch costume.
Chuck: “It’s great! It’s like when they got a chimp on The Today Show.”
Pam: “Yeah, that was in the 50s, but let’s base all our decisions on that.”
Episode: “The Moody Foodie”
This is one of those instances where a throwaway line is vastly improved by the story behind it. Apparently Madsen wasn’t scheduled to record for Bob’s Burgers at all—he was just accidentally dropped off in front of the studio the day they happened to be finishing up a Reservoir Dogs parody. Confronted with this stunning coincidence, writers had no choice but to do the obvious: Rope Madsen into voicing one off-screen line as Kevin Costner in Tin Cup.
“Now that’s how you make a birdie.”
Episode: “Sexy Dance Fighting”
Like every sitcom ever made, Bob’s first season took a while to find its voice, but Glaser’s Jairo hinted at the zanier side of the show’s potential. A far cry from his role as Councilman Jamm on Parks and Recreation, Glaser’s oddball Capoeira instructor wielded a set of infectious battle cries. Go ahead, try watching the whole episode without yelling “Ponytail! Ponytail! Brazil!” out loud, alone on the couch.
“Here, Bob, let me show you some very convenient sphincter-relaxing exercises. Tight! Relax. Tight! Relax.”
Episode: “Bob Fires the Kids”
Though Mullally has had plenty of screen time as Linda’s crackpot sister Gayle, one of her best moments came when she pulled in real-life husband Nick Offerman to play her on-screen partner. It’s a lot of fun seeing the pair stray so far from Ron and Tammy Swanson as the crunchy granola couple who may or may not (but absolutely) is using children as unwitting pot deliverers.
Cooper: “And then I woke up, nude, on horseback, in the forest, and there she was, my Beverly.”
Beverly: “I wandered away from a community birthing in a barn nearby.”
Cooper: “She looked like a fairy queen pooping under a tree.”
Episode: “Slumber Party”
Louise doesn’t have much in the way of competent rivals, or real friends, really—so it was refreshing to see her foiled by the deceptively boring Jessica. Hahn does an admirable job of playing a wallflower with more to her than meets the eye. In this case, it’s a dark, smelly secret.
Louise: “You picked my lock?”
Jessica: “It practically picked itself.”
Louise: “You pick yourself, you pick your nose!”
Jessica: “You pick your butt!”
Louise: “You pick your nose because you think your face is a butt and you should think that!”
Episode: “The Belchies”
After hamming it up in The Simpsons and 30 Rock, Lauper once again proves she’s game for self-parody. In this case, she lampoons her Goonies theme “Good Enough”, crooning about a confectious dummy filled with treasure. A tale as old as time.
“The next day / You will see / Taff is washed up on the beach and / Oh my god is that a gold bar? / The wave just washed him out far / The kids didn’t look close enough in the / Taffy Butt”
Unlike a lot of others on this list, you don’t have to wait until the credits roll to know for sure that it’s Ansari behind the mic. His pointed drawl and comic timing are unmistakable, and make him a perfect addition to the kids’ gang.
Bob: “I can’t really shake, cause my—”
Darryl: “You just wanna E.T. it?”
Bob: “God, I almost want to beat you up.”
Episode: “Nude Beach”
The rare self-playing celebrity on Bob’s Burgers is also one of the show’s most genius casting decisions. Who do you get to play the celebrity hocking for a Department of Health video? The dude who played Bubbles on The Wire, of course. Royo nails his part by playing it completely straight.
“Today, I’m here to talk about a different kind of bubbles: soap bubbles. Remember, when washing your hands, do it for the time it takes to count to a thousand.”
Episode: “Bob Day Afternoon”
Though he hasn’t seen the same amount of play as someone like Mr. Frond or Jimmy Pesto, Mickey feels like a regular part of the Belchers’ world. Despite Mickey’s criminal inclinations, strong work from Hader makes the character as relatable as he is seedy.
Mickey: “Sorry to eat and run. Is that a good line?”
Bob: “No, not really.”
Linda has rarely been tempted to cheat on her husband—sure, she’s been mad enough to take airplane-flying lessons without Bob, but she wasn’t mad to the point where she’d consider bagging her instructor. Forte makes it easy on Linda, putting on his best, most repulsive Zapp Brannigan anti-charm for the handsy “Upskirt” Kurt. It’s the kind of slimy performance that makes you want to check your couch for errant chest hairs.
Kurt: “We just had a brush with death! Our adrenaline and our endorphins are running wild, let’s go with it!”
Linda: “No, no no no! My endorphins wanna go home!”
Kurt: “Really? Well, my endorphins think we should take turns kissing each other’s faces. You go first.”
It’s probably a legal requirement. For you to appear on Bob’s Burgers, you must have first had a stint on Parks and Recreation. This holds true for Slate, whose turn as Jean-Ralphio’s sister Mona Lisa proved that she has a knack for playing terribly entertaining/entertainingly terrible people. Tammy in particular is great for the negative influence she has on the oldest Belcher sibling—bad Tina is best Tina.
Bob: “Uh, you’re kind of exaggerating, Tammy.”
Tammy: “I’m exaggerating?”
Bob: “Yeah, I think so, a little bit.”
Tammy: “That is literally the stupidest thing that anyone has ever said, in the history of mankind EVER!”
Episode: “Boyz 4 Now”
There are a lot of positive things to say about Greenfield’s Boo Boo, from the way the boy band star melts Louise’s frozen heart to the secret shame of his booster seat. Most impressive, though, is the New Girl star Bieber-ing it up in the end credits with the catchy and virulent “(I Wanna Hear Your) Secrets.” Interesting!
“Details / I wanna know details! / What’s your dad’s name? / Details! / And your mom’s? / Any allergies? / How was prom? / Interesting / So interesting”
Episode: “O.T. the Outside Toilet”
It’s unclear as to why Hamm didn’t want to be credited for playing the robotic voice of the luxury toilet. Maybe he’s used to his debonair image and didn’t want to be typecast as sentient sewage equipment. Maybe he really wanted to inhabit the role and play the character without the silken spectre of Don Draper. But really, he probably just didn’t want to hear endless jokes about how everyone wants to sit on him.
OT: “Loading… joke…”
Gene: “You know jokes?”
OT: “Knock knock.”
Gene: “Who’s there?”
Gene: “Botany who?”
OT: “Botany good toilets lately?”