She was "in" or "on"?

Example sentences:

She was (in, on) the drama 'Title of the drama'.

She was (in, on) the show 'Title of the show'.

  • I feel like it's more natural to be "in" an one-time production (e.g. she was in Phantom of the Opera) and "on" a recurring production (e.g. she was on Friends)
    – Tony
    Aug 27, 2016 at 1:31
  • 1
    My intuition is that you'd be in a drama or comedy but on a gameshow or chatshow. I don't think this is an inviolable rule; I prefer "in Friends" but "on Friends" might work too.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 13 at 13:50

3 Answers 3


Just to show how malleable and complicated English can be:

  • She was in on the drama when the conman showed up at the stage door.

If you are an actor in something, it's in:

  • She was in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
  • She was in the movie Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.
  • She was in several West End plays.


  • to be on TV
  • to be on the radio

to be on tv or the radio just means that a person has been recorded in that medium.


It depends. One is normally "in" a standalone or live show like a play or movie, but "on" a recurring recorded show like on TV.

Hugh Jackman played the lead in The Music Man.

Carrie Fisher was in Star Wars.

Patrick Dempsey is an actor on Grey's Anatomy.

One would not typically say someone acted "on" a play or movie, although saying someone was "in" a TV show is also reasonably idiomatic.


To be on something, generally, means to be physically on top of something.

This wouldn't make sense here.

So in is more appropriate.

  • 2
    This doesn't follow- for instance, we say a person is "on TV" (and never *"in TV"), yet we don't mean they're physically on top of the box!
    – psmears
    Apr 13 at 10:55

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