Some things just go hand in hand: Peanut butter and jelly. Surf and turf. Beards and flannel shirts. But one symbiotic relationship will continue forever (or at least until the world ends in 2012): gimmicky celebrity cameos and TV producers’ lazy, last-ditch attempts to boost ratings.

ABC Family has released a clip of Bristol Palin’s upcoming cameo on Secret Life of the American Teenager (which you can watch with delight, over and over again, below), and it got me thinking: what other embarrassing TV cameos can I find on Youtube today?

The answer? Too many to count! The shoe-horned celebrity cameo has a long, rich and varied history in television, from Buzz Aldrin’s recent awesomeness on 30 Rock (“You dumb moon! I walked on your face!”), all the way back to that time Michael Jackson performed “Do the Bartman” on The Simpsons, and even beyond! Just name a star who couldn’t act his or herself out of a diamond-encrusted bag, and they probably received one as part of a gift box for that cameo they did on that show you like. But anyway:

Watch Bristol Palin “act,” and then check out my seven favorite “YIKES!” celebrity cameos of recent TV history.

July 5, 2010: Bristol Palin as Yo-Yo Ma (or something) on Secret Life of the American Teenager. This clip supports two theories of mine: that Bristol Palin is an automaton, and that Secret Life of the American Teenager is under some sort of contractual obligation to shoot every scene in only one take. There’s just no other explanation.

BONUS! Coming in August 2010: Bachelor Jake Pavelka as himself (but under the name Toby Davlin) on Drop Dead Diva.

October 2009: Tyra Banks as Ursula (not the sea witch, but definitely some sort of witch) on Gossip Girl. Her magical power? Hair whose height directly corresponds to her level of fury.

October 2009: Paris Hilton as a demonic version of herself (is that redundant?) on Supernatural. We actually didn’t think she was that bad (and, in a few ways, thought she was actually good for the show) but in the grand scheme of all cameos? Sorry, still pretty darn bad.

October 2009: Paula Abdul
as JUDGE Paula Abdul on Drop Dead Diva. The only thing Paula should be judgin’ is the (lack of) talent on American Idol. And this clip proves that she’s at her best when she’s ab-libbing, not acting out, her crazy.

October 2008: Lindsay Lohan as Betty’s high school nemesis Kellie Keegan on Ugly Betty. Again, not the worst cameo in the world–but her personal life problems overshadowed the acting, which fell flat and felt forced, especially compared to her similar Mean Girls role.

March 2008: Britney Spears as lovesick receptionist Abby on How I Met Your Mother. Thanks to Spears’ troubled public life at the time, the expectations for her HIMYM cameo were so low that the general consensus after the fact was that Brit performed well above expectations. But that doesn’t mean she performed well–in fact, for a character meant to be so over-eager and ingratiating, Ms. Spears still managed to try too hard.

February 2007: Bai Ling as Achara on Lost. Generally considered to be the worst episode of Lost ever, Bai Ling’s appearance in “Stranger in a Strange Land” is a big reason why: her lack of acting skills or chemistry with Matthew Fox took these flashbacks down a painful path.

October 2006: Kevin Federline as ‘Pig’ Tritt on CSI. Perhaps the most gratifying of all gratuitous and unearned celebrity cameos, but only because, at the end of it, K-Fed gets punched in the SMUG-MACHINE! (AKA His face.) If only it was for real, and then we could call it K-Fed Karma!

Did I miss your favorite (or least favorite) celebrity cameo? Shout ’em out (with a video link if possible!) in the comments.

Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.