Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains as strong as ever in its fourth season, which should come as no surprise to fans of creator Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation, The Good Place). Much of this has to do with Det. Jake Peralta’s (Andy Samberg) showboating and Terry Jeffords’ (Terry Crews) overdeveloped musculature, but as regular viewers have come to expect, occasional cameos and guest appearances by television’s best and brightest don’t hurt either. In fact, these minor blips often turn the show into something magical.
A quick survey of the full cast listing reveals a who’s-who of acting and comedy stars, Saturday Night Live alums, and many others, but who was the best in their short (sometimes extremely short) time with the Brooklyn Nine-Nine crew?
9. Eric Roberts — Jimmy Figgis
Towards the end of season three, Precinct 99 found itself dogged by the notorious Jimmy “The Butcher” Figgis. Yet the character existed in name only — even when his disguised voice called and threatened Jake and Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher). This all changed with the arrival of veteran actor Eric Roberts, who brought Figgis to life while his two targets hid out in Florida for the “Coral Palms” trilogy that initiated the fourth season. Of course, this is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so Roberts’ villainous “butcher” couldn’t help dropping a few deadpan one-liners — at Jake and Holt’s expense.
8. Jenny Slate — Bianca
Leave it to SNL alum and voice actress extraordinaire Jenny Slate to deliver one of Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s more enjoyable one-off performances as Bianca, the mistress of escaped gangster Freddy Maliardi. Following Jake’s successful sting operation in “Undercover,” Freddy apparently flees to Bianca’s arms before heading to Barbados. When Jake confronts her at her apartment, Bianca defends Freddy’s escape with a small revolver and a well-timed joke about the detective’s “lady fingers.” As soon as she finds out she isn’t the mobster’s only side girl, she goes ballistic and rats Freddy out to Jake and Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio).
7. Fred Armisen — Mlepnos
Police work’s best pop cultural representation is Die Hard, according to Jake, but the film leaves out the day-to-day details of good detective work — like going door to door to interview potential witnesses. Like Mlepnos (Fred Armisen), an immigrant from “Leirkrakeegovnia” that Jake and Det. Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) question on two separate occasions. In the pilot, Mlepnos mistakes a picture of a victim as a gift and takes it, while in their second meeting in “Operation: Broken Feather” results in his singing and dancing with Jake. The song? A traditional tune about a dog losing its virginity.
6. Neil deGrasse Tyson — Neil deGrasse Tyson
Who wouldn’t want astrophysicist and StarTalk host Neil deGrasse Tyson as a weightlifting partner? In the season three episode “The Swedes,” Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) struggles while studying for a test, so Terry offers the help of his profoundly intelligent (and ridiculously strong) gym buddy. After all, as Tyson tells Terry during an intense weightlifting session, “it’s physics.” Whether or not Gina truly understands “Spaceship Earth” after Tyson’s tutelage remains to be seen, but hey — it’s Neil deGrasse Tyson!
5. Maya Rudolph — U.S. Marshal Karen Haas
As the U.S. Marshal tasked with finding Figgis and protecting Jake and Holt while in witness protection, it’s Karen Haas’s (Maya Rudolph) job to keep both men alive. Unfortunately for her, one of these men is Jake, whose immature shenanigans irritate the marshal to no end: “It’s like you want to die!” Seeing the two former SNL co-stars together again onscreen offers one of the highlights of the “Coral Palms” trilogy, especially when they and Holt get together for their regular secret meetings. Meetings that, to the surprise of no one, Jake repeatedly ruins.
4. Andy Richter — The Doorman
“Idea for a novel,” says an unassuming doorman to Jake and Boyle. “A mild-mannered doorman gets bitten on the penis by a radioactive spider and becomes the world’s greatest lover.” The episode is the first season’s “The Vulture,” and the unnamed doorman is played by Conan O’Brien’s longtime partner-in-crime, Andy Richter. He’s supposed to be answering the pair’s questions about a murder weapon’s possible hiding place, but since he’s already been asked by uniform officers, he recorded his answers on a cell phone. When he goes to play them, he plays his “idea for a novel” instead and piques Jake’s interest.
3. Nick Offerman — Frederick
Technically, every single episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine features a cameo by Nick Offerman. That’s because the Parks and Recreation star’s voice announces the production company (Fremulon) during the closing credits. In season three’s “Ava,” however, Offerman appears on camera and stands out as Holt’s ex-boyfriend Frederick, a temperamental man who refuses to help Jake and the captain due to his long-held grudge. “What grudge,” you ask? As he explains to Jake, Frederick hates Holt because he threw his duck into the trash. Yes, his duck. What’s more, Holt later admits he actually tossed the duck off a bridge because he was tired of its “weak beak.” So yeah…
2. Adam Sandler — Adam Sandler
With all the money Netflix paid him to ignore critics, Adam Sandler doesn’t spend too much time these days dropping in on other people’s shows. However, during the first season’s post-Super Bowl XLVIII episode “Operation: Broken Feather,” the actor played a version of himself while squaring off with Jake at an auction. T-shirt and ball cap notwithstanding, the 30-second spot briefly reminded everyone watching that Sandler can be hilariously self-deprecating when he wants to be.
1. Patton Oswalt — Fire Marshall Boone
Comedian Patton Oswalt’s two-episode appearance as Fire Marshal Boone in “Sal’s Pizza” and “Operation: Broken Feather” is more than a mere cameo, especially since his character figures so prominently in the first. That being said, his rapport with Samberg’s Jake results in some of the funniest comedy produced for the first season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Like when the two first meet up after the opening credits of “Sal’s Pizza,” in which the NYPD and FDNY members find themselves investigating the same crime scene. Nothing beats two grown men joking about who’s a “nimrod,” police-centric “donut” jokes and bad burns.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.