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Filmography Credits

Cast/Acting credits guidelines

Updated 3-December-2021


This article provides guidance into our eligibility and formatting policies for submitting or modifying Cast/Acting filmography credits on the website -- if you're looking to add credits to the website, please see our Adding Filmography credits support article. 

Due to the wide variety of different roles someone can perform in this category, this article is quite broad - please use the links below to help navigate the page.

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 Getting started

For clarity, our definition of "Cast" includes both scripted and unscripted roles, these include:

  • Actors / Actresses (including voice work)
  • Hosts or Guests
  • Narrators
  • Athletes
  • Self appearances
  • Or other people not "acting" in the traditional sense

If the person is in-front of the camera or providing their voice, then they are considered Cast and this article should provide an idea on how to credits should be listed on the website. 

Please use the quick links below to learn more:

General guidelines


Eligibility
The roles we accept
Attributes
Supplementary credit info
On-screen credits
Credited vs Uncredited

Role-specific guidelines


Voice
For voice performances
Archive footage
Footage used from other title
Motion capture
For mo-cap performances
Self role
Non-scripted & playing self

Character naming


Episodic rules
Listing episodic characters
Punctuation
How to include punctuation
Superhero
How to list superheroes
Group names
How to list groups (e.g. bands)
Language
Which language to use
Spoilers
What to exclude
Descriptions
Additional character info
 


 

Main heading tag

 Guidelines


General eligibility for inclusion

We accept almost all types of acting credits you might find on a production.

In most cases, these can simply be added using the contribution interface — however there are a few instances where credits are not eligible and shouldn't be submitted. 

Below you'll find some more specific eligibility rules.

 

Animals and inanimate objects (e.g, Wilson the Volleyball)

These can be listed as actors if they appear in the credits as cast members. After the new name page is created, you should probably also include a biographical trivia note (e.g. "Is a dog").

Exceptions: Corpses, paintings, mummies, etc., should not be listed as cast members in any title.



People who appear only in still photographs

These can be included in filmography based on these guidelines:

  • The content was created specifically for the title, and they do receive an on-screen credit: they should be credited as reflected on screen with the addition of a (credit only) attribute.

  • If they are not featured in the end credits: they should instead be submitted as Photographic Model in Additional crew with the addition of an (uncredited) attribute.

  • If the content is not explicitly created for the title, and they are credited: they should be listed with a (credit only) attribute.

  • If they are not credited: they are not eligible for listing as a filmography item, but can be submitted as “Bio: Other Works” or “Title: Trivia” (as long as it adheres to our Trivia policies).

 


Appearing in footage from a different title

If someone appears in footage from a different title that is already listed in the database (or that should be listed), they should not have an additional cast credit added. The footage should instead be noted as a movie link.

 


Title is later re-released as an episode

If a title is later shown as an episode of a series, then it should be added as a shell episode.

This means the episode can be added to a series, but no filmography credits relating to the original title should be added to the shell to avoid crediting the work twice on the name pages of those involved.

If the individual contributed to new material relating solely to that episode e.g. hosting segment then they are valid credits and may be added to the shell episode). Please also add a trivia item and a movie connection linking the episode to the original title page.

 



Cast Attributes

Contains - what is an attribute | valid attributes | invalid attributes


What is an attribute?

An attribute is a snippet of explanatory information signifying the status of a credit - Cast attributes are entered into the 'attribute' field during the submission process:

Example of attributes field

Attributes aren't usually required - but in rare cases, they may be needed before a new credit can be approved.

A list of the existing attributes can be seen by clicking the  icon next to the attribute field.



Valid attributes

(uncredited) - No on-screen credit. For acting credits, this must include a character name or some kind of description. (more info)

(credit only) - Someone is credited, but didn't actually appear in the title. Common in episodic shows where regular performers sometimes don't appear in an episode but retain a screen credit. This includes news/talk/entertainment series with a person’s name in the title (e.g. Tucker Carlson Tonight), when a guest host appears.

(unconfirmed) - The name has been added to a title on the authority of a secondary source, but there is reason to believe it may be subject to change.
(rumored) - The name has been added on the authority of a secondary source (usually the entertainment media), and is based on a strong industry rumor.
(scenes deleted) - Someone has an on-screen credit for a scene that was filmed, but doesn't actually appear because the scenes were left on the cutting room floor.
(as...) - Someone's credited with a different name from their usual name. Example: when Francis Ford Coppola is credited as Francis Coppola, the entry includes "(as Francis Coppola)".
(voice) - Voice performance in a film, TV show. podcast, video game, etc. (more info)
(voice: English version) - Someone is credited in an animated title or video game on the USA English-language release of a title originally released in another language.
(motion capture) - Motion capture performance in a film, TV show, video game, etc. (more info)

(archive footage) - A cast member appears in some footage, such as newsreel, behind-the-scenes, or home movies. (more info)

(singing voice) - Singing voice performance in a film, TV show, video game, etc

(archive sound) - Voice work from elsewhere is used, but was not specifically created for that project.

 


Invalid attributes

(attached)

(In negotiations)

(In talks)
(Guest star)

Any series info (e.g. Season 8, 9 and 10)



On-screen credits (Credited vs Uncredited)


IMDb's general principle for cast is to always follow what's listed in the onscreen credits - this is why it's important to capture the difference between those listed in the end credits and those who aren't.

End credits example
Example end credit roll showing credited names

When a person was involved, but their name wasn't listed in the on-screen credits - we use the (uncredited) attribute to reflect it on the website. 

This isn't designed to undermine the importance of a person's involvement in the production, simply to ensure we're reflecting how the title was released as accurately as possible.

Furthermore, none of the following have any bearing on whether a person was (by our definition) credited:

pay stubs press mentions
call sheets resumes
agent listings visibility on screen

While the information above may be used to help verify a person's uncredited involvement in a production, it doesn't serve to prove a credited role. The logic is rather binary in that respect:

Do they appear in the production? Are they listed in the on-screen credits?  Are they considered "credited"? Attribute
Yes Yes no attribute
Yes No (uncredited)
No Yes (credit only)*
No No Do not credit at all
* (credit only) is most commonly used for principal cast members on episodic content

General Uncredited Rules

  • The following are likely to be discarded:

    • Uncredited submissions with an empty character field or with descriptions such as "lead", "supporting", "background, "extra", "featured". If that's the case, the character name should include a description of the part - Woman with Dog, for instance - and (uncredited) in the 'attribute' box. 

    • Background/extra work as a crowd member (or a similar role where it's impossible to recognize the subject)

    • It's not enough to have just worked on a production: The scenes must be included in the final cut, and it must be possible to easily identify their appearance.

 

  • We reserve the right to remove uncredited work at any time and periodically revise and adapt these criteria and reserve the right to retroactively restrict our eligibility rules for uncredited work.

  • We do not add additional uncredited roles to titles with a cast that has already been locked. Existing listings should not be taken as an indication that similar entries are automatically eligible. Please do not assume that the presence of a similar credit automatically implies that your entry should and will be accepted.

  • Finally, on new and/or yet-unreleased titles, all credits we list are not final and are subject to change, especially until they can be checked against an actual title print. It's fairly common, for example, for uncredited roles to be removed from the site when final credits become available to us, or when/if a scene has ended up on the cutting room floor.

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 Role-specific guidelines

Contains - archive footage | voice performances | motion capture | non-fiction / self

Archive footage


The (archive footage) attribute is used for the inclusion of footage shot for a separate, earlier production (and not for the same series if episodic), such as a newsreel, home movie, outtakes, etc., or for archival documentation and not the specific production it is used in.

You should append (archive footage) with (uncredited) where necessary, as this is often the case.

Example of archive footage & uncredited listings
Example of archive footage & uncredited listings

We allow or exclude archive footage credits based on the following guidelines (although we reserve the right to make exceptions for special cases where necessary):


  • Being listed in the on-screen credits - If someone's appearance is credited on screen it automatically qualifies as a valid archive footage credit, regardless of what type of archive footage it is (this supersedes any of the exclusions below). The only exception to this is "In Memorium" tributes (where a still photograph or video clip of the individual in one of their famous roles appears on screen), these should be added to the "thanks" section using the appropriate "occupation". They're not eligible for a cast (archive footage) credit. A movie connection should be added instead linking to the title from which the footage originates.

  • Can be covered by a movie link - If someone's appearance is uncredited and covered by a movie link entry (i.e., footage from a title is recycled as a "prologue" or flashback in a sequel or subsequent title in a series) it does not qualify as "archive footage”.

  • If the footage is integral to the narrative - If archive footage is an integral part of the film's narrative, it's eligible. Additional examples: scenes from Poor Cow creatively used as flashbacks in The LimeyPresident Clinton's appearance in Contact.

  • If the footage is integral to the topic - If the title is a documentary and the archive footage is an integral/essential part of the story/topic, it qualifies (which means that even if he didn't appear as himself towards the end of the film, Charlton Heston's NRA rally footage would be enough to qualify as a valid "archive footage" entry, while Willie Horton's brief clip from the old anti-Dukakis campaign ad probably wouldn't).

  • For compilation/retrospectives only: If the title is a compilation/retrospective made up entirely or almost entirely of archive footage, then the people appearing in that footage qualify for archive footage credits.

  • The "no degrees of separation" rule: Only archive footage that is used directly in the title is eligible. If an actor appears in a title shown as being watched on TV in a scene of another film, then the first title clip is not eligible as archive footage. In other words, James Stewart's footage from Vertigo shown in a scene in Twelve Monkeys where Bruce Willis' character goes to the movies is not eligible.

  • The footage must be real - If someone's stock likeness appears as a photograph or as a poster on a wall, or on the cover of a magazine etc. in a scene of a film, it's not eligible.

  • Note: The standard "two wrongs don't make a right" rule also applies: just because we have credits that violate some of the above, doesn't mean that the rules are not valid (it just means that those credits were accepted before the rules were established, or we didn't know better, or we just made a mistake).




Voice credits


Depending on the type of work performed, or how the person was credited - voice performances can be credited in the database as either:

  • Cast
  • Other Crew
  • Not at all

Below, you'll find guidance to help identify if a voice credit is eligible to be added. 

Additionally, voice work is signified by the (voice) attribute on the credit:

Example of a voice only credit

General voice rules

To be listed in the Cast section, actors performing voice work need to fulfill these three eligibility rules

1. Must have an on-screen credit - Due to the difficulty of verifying uncredited voice involvement, we don't allow uncredited voice credits.


2. Must be credited in cast - They must have been credited in the cast section of the end titles (i.e. no 'background voices' or adr work). Additional Voice credits are permitted for animated titles or video games as long as they are listed within, or immediately after, the main cast list.

Adr/looping/background voices & announcer credits for non-fiction titles (e.g. game shows, sporting events etc.) should be submitted as Additional (Other) Crew unless they are credited in the cast section.


3. Must not be a dubbing* - Their work must be featured in the original language version of the production. (* We do allow dubbing for animated titles & video games on the USA English-language release only.)

The table below includes some examples of our dubbing guidelines:

Breakdown of eligible voice credits
(click to expand)

What about Narrator credits?
If the individual performed work as a narrator on a project, they should be listed with the character name Narrator to reflect this.


What about voice and motion capture together?
If the individual performed both the voice and the motion capture, neither attribute is required for the credit, this is considered as a full performance.



Motion Capture credits


Motion capture performances in a production can be credited in the database:

  • Cast
  • Other Crew
  • or not at all

If approved, these credits are signified by the (motion capture) attribute - however, attributes aren't visible on the credit when viewed on the website.

General motion capture guidelines

To be listed in the Cast section of the credits, actors performing motion capture work on a title need to fulfill these three eligibility rules

1. Must have an on-screen credit - They must have received an on-screen credit (i.e. no uncredited performances)


2. Must be credited in "cast" - They must have been credited in the cast section of the end titles (i.e. no 'other motion capture' included elsewhere in the end credits or 3D modelling work).

Unspecific motion capture/3D modelling work must be submitted as Additional (Other) Crew credits. When in doubt, send it as a Additional (Other) Crew credit.


3. Featured in original - Their work must be featured in the original version of the title (i.e. no digital remasters).


If motion capture was used in a title, please add the motion-capture keyword to the title page. This will allow users to search and discover a list of these titles on IMDb.

What about motion capture and voice together?
If the individual performed both the voice and the motion capture, neither attribute is required for the credit, this is considered as a full performance.



Non-fiction & self credits explained


When an individual (or group) appears onscreen as themselves, the character name should be ‘Self’ (or ‘Themselves’). 

Justin Bieber Self credit
Example of Self credit

Where appropriate, this should include a hyphen and a description of their role in the title.

Other examples include: 

  • Self – Judge
  • Self – Interviewee/Guitarist
  • Themselves – Band

Where someone is billed in the credits as themselves in a fictional piece and are playing a scripted, fictional version of themselves, we use the performer's name as the character name to avoid moving the credit to the 'Self' category. 

Justin Bieber scripted credit
Example of scripted credit

 

Main heading tag

 Character naming


Contains - episodes | punctuation | superheroes | groups | language | spoilers | descriptions

Episode guidelines


Appearances in episodes shouldn't include any additional details about when the appearance may have been - for example:

  • John Smith (1956, 1960-1975) should be entered as just John Smith

  • Peter Parker #2 (1999-2002) should be entered as just Peter Parker

  • Sarah Thomas (season 2) should be entered as just Sarah Thomas

  • If an actor played a range of characters, or held different military rankings during the history of a series, only the actual characters played or rank held for a particular episode should be entered in the character field.

  • The main cast for a series is derived from the episode listings (where available). Changes to the existing series main cast lists (from the parent series) are generally no longer accepted.


Punctuation


Avoid punctuation within character names where possible:

  • Slashes should be used only to separate two different characters played by the same actor.

  • Commas should not be used.

  • Use a hyphen as a general separator if you need one.

  • Parentheses should only be used to define segments a character appears in (for productions with multiple segments): i.e. Friendly John (segment "Star Struck").

Please use standard English capitalization rules as used for titles in the database. All words in a character name should start with an uppercase letter except for prepositions and non-leading articles, for example:

  • Security Guard

  • Police Officer

  • Woman with Dog

  • Captain of the Guard

  • Woman at the Auction



Superheroes


Superheroes/Super villains and other characters with secret identities are considered to be two characters.

Sometimes, Superheroes and their alter-egos are manifestly distinct personalities - for example:

Clark Kent   Superman
Clark Kent Vs. Superman

 Most of the time, the alter-ego is literally playing a different character to disguise their superhero status.

As such, we have special guidelines for adding Superhero characters:

  • Unless otherwise displayed in the credits, character names for Superheroes and their alter-egos should be separated by a slash on the site (e.g. Bruce Wayne/Batman).

  • If the character names are displayed differently in the credits, the 'as credited onscreen' rule applies. Example: If Christian Bale is credited as 'Bruce Wayne - Batman', in the next Batman movie, then that is what will be displayed on the site.

  • If only one character name is displayed in the credits (either the Superhero name OR the alter-ego name), the ‘as credited onscreen' policy again applies.

  • Where no superhero/alter-ego names are credited onscreen, one or both may be submitted.

  • In the rare cases where no screen credit exists in any capacity (i.e. both actor and character names are missing), one or both character names can be submitted with an (uncredited) attribute.



Group names


Grouped credits

Where necessary, plural/group names should be converted into their singular form. Here are a series of examples that hopefully cover most eventualities.

EXAMPLE CREDITS
CORRECT CHARACTER NAMES
REASONS
MOVIE PATRONS + PARTYGOERS
Joe Blow
Nancy Doe

Joe Blow - Movie Patron/Party goer
Nancy Doe - Movie Patron/Party goer

We don't know which actor was specifically a Movie Patron or a Party goer. It could be the case that both actors played Movie Patrons and Party goers.

NEWLYWEDS
Joe Blow
Nancy Doe
Joe Blow - Newlywed
Nancy Doe - Newlywed

They are, in fact, individually newlywed!


U.S. MARINES
Joe Blow - Private Pyle
Nancy Doe - Corporal Vasquez


Joe Blow - Private Pyle
Nancy Doe - Corporal Vasquez



In this example, there is a sub-heading in the end credits detailing what type of characters the actors play, and each actor also has a separate character name. However, the subheading (i.e. U.S. Marines) is NOT a character name, so it should NOT be included with the credit.
 
 

Group Credits

When a group with identifiable members appears on-screen, we credit according to the way they are credited in the production.

  • If The Beatles are credited that way, we would not enter

      Lennon, John (as The Beatles)
      McCartney, Paul (as The Beatles)
      Harrison, George (as The Beatles)
      Starr, Ringo (as The Beatles)

    Instead, they would simply be credited as "Beatles, The".

  • In the above cases, individual members of the group can be added to credits with the (uncredited) attribute.
    e.g. Help! (1965):

      Paul McCartney ... Paul - The Beatles (uncredited)

    Or if appropriate (documentaries, talk shows etc.)

      Paul McCartney ... Self- The Beatles (uncredited)

    Please note, we prefer the "Paul - The Beatles" hyphenated character notation, rather than "member of" or "one of".

  • If they're credited in the credits both as a group and individually (i.e.: "The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr"), then both the group name and individual names would be listed as they are in the credits.

  • Where a band is credited in the form 'Bandleader and The Musicians' (Elvis Costello and the Attractions, for instance) they should be credited that way and will have an entry in the database all of their own. It's possible, though, that in other titles they'll be credited separately or independently. If either Bandleader or The Musicians appear somewhere on their own, we could end up with an entry for 'Bandleader' as well as one for 'The Musicians'. So, we have a page for Elvis Costello on his own as well as one for Elvis Costello and the Attractions. So far, we have no page for The Attractions, but if they ever get a qualifying credit on their own without Costello we'll create one. As long as they are credited on screen that way, this is fine.


Language


  • David Prowse plays Darth Vader in Star WarsClint Eastwood plays Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry. Even though the Italian release of those films changed those two names to Darth Fener and Harry Callaghan respectively, we will stick to the character names used in the original version.

  • For descriptive character names (i.e., Mayor, Man #1), they should generally be entirely in the language of the original version, but English can be used if the original is not known.


Spoilers


Warning: Spoilers ahead!

  • Ian Hart plays Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but you're not supposed to know he's also Voldemort.

    Ian Holm plays Sir William Gull in From Hell and his character name is not "Jack the Ripper".

    Those are both supposed to be surprises. If you haven't seen those two films, we just spoiled them for you. Sorry about that, but imagine how our users feel when they come to the site and see those character names before seeing the film. Even if factually correct, character names that constitute spoilers must be avoided at all costs.

  • This is especially true for multiple character names that can be easily omitted: it's just as effective to say that Cary Grant plays "Peter Joshua" in Charade. There is no need to say that he plays "Peter Joshua/Alexander Dyle/Adam Canfield/Brian Cruikshank", even if that's true.


Character descriptions


Character descriptions must be limited to the context of the film, and including extra information that comes from other sources than the title is not permitted.

For example:

  • Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the LambsBrian Cox plays Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter. Yes, they're the same character, but the spelling is different, and we will stick to each film's peculiar version.

  • Sigourney Weaver's character in Alien is called simply Ripley. The fact that her first name is Ellen is not disclosed/introduced until the sequel Aliens; therefore her character name in Alien is Ripley, not Ellen Ripley.

  • Nichelle Nichols plays "Uhura" in the TV series "Star Trek" and in the films. According to some Star Trek books and novelizations, Uhura's first name is Nyota, but that name is not used in the films or TV series, so it should not be used on the site.

  • Various Star Wars books and novelizations may include name, rank and serial numbers for every single Imperial Stormtrooper ever shown in the films, but we'll still list them all simply as "Stormtroopers" unless the on-screen credits have a different description.

 

Main heading tag

 Cast ordering


Order numbers are used to control the display of credits on a title page - they should be ordered according to the most comprehensive cast list (the one listing the most actors); in most cases, this will be the list appearing in the end credits.

 Example credit ordering
(Example credit ordering from 1917)

 

There are some additional situations to keep in mind when ordering Cast credits:

  • Where actors are listed more than once in the credit roll (as often happens in animation, for example) we list the characters as detailed in the Character Names section. Order numbers then skip the place where the actor's name appears again.

    So this:

    (as seen in the end credits)
    1 Alison Adams ... Ann
    2 Bill Brown ... Bobby
    3 Charlotte Clearwater ... Claire
    4 David Dewhurst ... Donald
    5 Alison Adams ... Abigail
    6 Eric Ehrhardt ... Ernest
    7 Francesca Fitzherbert ... Fiona

    Becomes this:

    (as listed on the site)
    1 Alison Adams ... Ann/Abigail
    2 Bill Brown ... Bobby
    3 Charlotte Clearwater ... Claire
    4 David Dewhurst ... Donald
    6 Eric Ehrhardt ... Ernest
    7 Francesca Fitzherbert ... Fiona

    The number 5 has been skipped so that all subsequent order numbers remain the same.

  • In some cases (i.e., TV movies), the cast list is split between the opening credits and end credits; in those cases, the two portions should be treated as one long cast list that happens to be interrupted by the actual movie. This also applies to some movies from the 1950s, where a list of the main cast appeared at the beginning, and was then repeated in reverse order at the end, with pictures, followed by additional cast members.

  • For documentaries or talk shows where the people appearing on camera are generally not in a separate cast list, their first onscreen appearance where they are identified either by a caption or spoken name is used to determine the order. Any narrator/host listed in opening or closing credits or the title itself would be treated as the first cast member, and would precede people identified only within the documentary or talk show.

  • We're aware that casts in order of appearance or alphabetical order sometimes mean a lead actor is buried relatively deep in the cast list. This is somewhat unfortunate. We do have a separate system for indicating the lead actors via the "Stars" section, but this can only be amended internally by IMDb staff members.

  • Do not enter an order number for someone who is uncredited.

  • Order numbers are not honored for projects before they have begun filming; such orders are far too subject to change. In addition, the order numbers will not affect the display of credits until a significant percentage of the credited cast has order numbers.

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