Led by the sloth-loving angel Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars boasts one of the most charming casts in television history, but the show has also seen its share of exceptional guest stars. For this list, I decided to focus on characters that appeared in no more than five episodes, so that rules out a few of my favourites, like Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) and Cliff McCormack (Daran Norris).
Before we jump in, I need to point out that Paris Hilton will not appear on this list because she was never on Veronica Mars. Not once. Not in episode two of season one as Caitlin Ford. Nope. Wasn’t her. That. Never. Happened.
Kevin Smith as Duane Anders — “Driver Ed” (S2: E2)
I am a huge Kevin Smith fan. Dogma is one of my favourite movies and I can proudly quote Mallrats, so his cameo as a vaguely perverted gas station clerk delighted me to my core. Smith and his wife are huge fans of the show as well. Twelve years ago, he wrote an incredibly spirited review of the show for his blog, in which he called Veronica Mars the best show on television at the time. (He wasn’t wrong.) Smith doesn’t often step in front of the camera, but when he does, it’s usually as Silent Bob, so his appearance in the second season of Veronica Mars was a fun little gift for his fans. He brought his laid-back comedy stylings to the role without spoiling the show’s neo-noir vibe.
Joss Whedon as Douglas — “Rat Saw God” (S2: E6)
Not unlike fellow nerd Kevin Smith, Whedon was a huge fan of the show, and the guest appearance was an extra special treat for him. Joss played an uptight car rental agent — one of those employees-of-the-month but pain-in-the-butt-24/7 types. Not even Veronica’s wily charms can work their usual magic on this pompous cad. It’s a great little cameo, and my fellow Whedon fans will love seeing him in front of the camera instead of behind it.
Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat as Dean Rudolph and Stacy Wells — “The Rapes of Graff” (S2: E16)
While this episode’s mystery doesn’t exactly lend itself to a plethora of jokes, it does have cameos from two of the funniest young performers of this generation. Cera and Shawkat both bring something completely different to the table, but the meal their collaboration creates is a treat nonetheless.
Shawkat slays in a more dramatic role, a small glimpse of the wonders to come from future performances from her, like in Green Room. Cera excels at portraying slightly aloof and keenly awkward guys that are eighty percent limb, and this role is no different. This episode is also the return of one of Veronica’s ex-boyfriends, the troublesome Troy Vandergraff (Aaron Ashmore), but is thankfully his final appearance.
Rider Strong as Rafe — “My Big Fat Greek Rush Week” (S3:E2)
My TGIF crush was always Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World, so I was excited to see him pop up as a classmate of Logan (Jason Dohring) and Wallace’s (Percy Daggs III) in this episode. Unfortunately, my excitement faded when I realized he was playing a genuine jerk. Their sociology professor arranges a Stanford Prison study-style situation for extra credit, and Ronnie’s two best boys find themselves on opposite sides of the arrangement — Logan as a prisoner and Wallace as a guard alongside Rider’s character, Rafe. As a guard, Rafe is abusive and anti-Semitic towards Sam Horshack (Sam Levine), but later appears to be all smiles with that very same classmate. The whole third season is a dark look at college life and this, the second episode of the season, doesn’t hold back in several aspects.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Ben — “Weapons of Class Destruction” (S1:E18)
Yet another childhood crush of mine, JTT appeared in this incredibly important episode. It was a huge shift, not just in this season’s story but also in the whole show’s future. Jonathan plays Ben, a new student at Neptune High and bit of a creep. Veronica is investigating bomb threats at the school when she is seemingly abducted by the suspicious Ben. Logan finds Veronica and beats the teen dream right outta Ben before it is revealed that he is an undercover ATF agent. Logan gets booted from the room and Ben asks Veronica for help then our heroine steps outside, where Logan is waiting. There, we get the first kiss between the most epic and bloodshed-iest couple in Neptune.
In the end, it turns out this former Teen Beat treat was playing a bit of a turd, as he attempts to frame an innocent student to make himself look good. JTT’s former Home Improvement co-star Zachary Ty Bryan also appears in the series as Caz Truman, a jock classmate of Veronica’s.
Lucy Lawless as Agent Morris — “Donut Run” (S2: E11)
Badass meets badass in this exciting episode. This is literally one of two episodes I liked Duncan (Teddy Dunn) in, the other being the brief appearance in the season two finale, mostly because he finally disappears from Neptune for good. Here, Lawless plays the FBI agent on the hunt for Duncan with all the poise and confidence she had when she played a warrior princess. In her pursuit of the rich boy runaway and his illegitimate baby, it seems she may outsmart our beloved teenage detective, but this show is called Veronica Mars not Agent Morris, so that definitely wouldn’t happen. In fact, Morris and her partner walk away from the ordeal thinking Veronica and Keith are “very cool.” The best part about Morris is how little she cares about sparing Sheriff Lamb’s feelings; he’s the dumb big fish in the tiny pond, and she has no time for him.
Paul Rudd as Desmond Fellows — “Debasement Tapes” (S3: E17)
Rudd has a knack for playing a hot damn mess, and this episode is the perfect showcase for that particular talent. Paul plays Desmond Fellows, guitarist/singer for the popular 90s band My Pretty Pony and current disaster of a human being. He comes to Neptune to perform at a benefit concert and Piz (Chris Lowel) gets to be his handler while he is in town. When his back-up vocal tapes go missing, Piz calls on Veronica to help, with the added bonus of getting to spend more time with his crush. As much of a clueless jerk as he is throughout the episode, you can’t help but be charmed by Desmond. By the end of the episode, Des, previously disillusioned by the music industry, has his musical mojo back thanks to the dynamic duo of Ronnie and Piz.
Adam Scott as Chuck Rooks — “Mars vs. Mars” (S1: E14)
Get ready to feel incredibly uncomfortable about Adam Scott. He plays Veronica’s favourite teacher, one of those hip, fun instructors who doesn’t play by the rules. As it turns out, he really doesn’t play by the rules; he breaks them with reckless abandon by sleeping with his students. Carrie Bishop (Leighton Meester) levels the accusation against Mr. Rooks in front of the whole class. Something seems off, so Veronica works tirelessly to prove her teachers innocence. Unfortunately, in the end, we are presented with the facts: Chuck is indeed a sleaze and Veronica is once again disappointed by humanity.
Fun fact: Leighton Meester was replaced by singer Andrea Estella in the role of Carrie Bishop for the Veronica Mars movie.
Alyson Hannigan as Trina Echolls — “Ruskie Business” (S1: E15), “Hot Dogs” (S1: E19), and “My Mother the Fiend” (S2: E9)
Hannigan played it sweet and bubbly for most of her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then on How I Met Your Mother, she was a delightful swirl of ruthless and sweet. But Trina was a whole ‘nother barrel of self-absorbed and materialistic fish. Ruthless? Maybe. Smart enough to pull it off? Not so much. Trina only appeared in a couple of episodes and thank goodness for that. She leaves a lot to be desired, even with the sweet emotional arc of her third and final appearance. It’s hard to believe that Logan is the most well-adjusted of the Echolls children.
Anthony Anderson as Percy “Bone” Hamilton — “Lord of the Bling” (S1: E13)
As a fan of both Law & Order and Kangaroo Jack*, I was thrilled to see Anderson appear on this episode as a hardened and successful music producer, Bone Hamilton. His daughter, Yolanda (Jowharah Jones), a former pal of Veronica’s, has gone missing, and he hires Keith (Enrico Colantoni) to find her. It turns out to be a case of star-crossed lovers, and Bone learns an important lesson about how he treats his children. Anderson’s ability to play a scary badass nearly as well as he can play a loveable goofball is clearly on display in this episode.
*This is 100% a joke, I would never admit to liking that movie.
That’s all for this list, but check back because I have a list of my favourites regular characters from Veronica Mars in the works as well!
Did you agree with my list? Comment below or tweet at me (@Andraste) to let me know who would be on yours.