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Encyclopedia > Running gag

The running gag is a popular hallmark of comic and serious forms of entertainment. A running gag is an amusing situation or line that reappears throughout the work. They are often unintentional at first, but familiarity or popularity of such gags among viewers encourage their reappearance. Often, the humor in a running gag derives entirely from how often it is repeated. A stilt-walker entertaining shoppers at a shopping centre in Swindon, England Entertainment is an event, performance, or activity designed to give pleasure or relaxation to an audience (although, for example, in the case of a computer game the audience may be only one person). ... Unintentional humor is the act of making other people laugh without actually trying to. ...


Examples of well-known running gags

  • Perhaps the best known of these running jokes come from The Simpsons. The most famous running gags throughout the series are the couch gag and the blackboard gag in the opening montage, in which Bart is always writing something different (and most times inane) on the school blackboard after school, and that the family always enters their house and sits on the couch in an absurd, new manner ever episode. Another of the famous gags from the Simpsons involves Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Homer. The joke is that Mr. Burns never knows who Homer is—despite Homer’s having worked at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant for many years—and consequently must be informed thereof by Smithers. On one occasion, Smithers even told Mr. Burns that “…all the recent events of [Burns’s] life have revolved around [Homer] in some way.” Yet another running gag involves Bart making prank calls to Moe’s; on one occasion, a person by the name of Hugh Jass for whom Bart asked was actually present in the bar.
  • Additionally, it is unknown what state The Simpsons takes place in. There are often many clues which do not fit (like traffic signs listing states on opposite sides of the country), as well as characters being interrupted when the state is to be revealed.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise, there was a running gag: whenever the main characters met people of a new alien culture and said they came from Earth, the stock response was “Earth? Never heard of it.”
  • For several seasons of the television series South Park, the character Kenny McCormick died in nearly every episode, followed by the character Stan Marsh shouting, “Oh my God, they killed Kenny!” and then Kyle Broflovski shouting “You bastards!” Kenny reappears in each subsequent episode as if nothing happened (even in two-parters), yet the children know that Kenny has died more than once.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there is a running gag about the “airspeed velocity” of an unladen swallow (“An African or a European swallow?”) and that King Arthur confuses the numbers 3 and 5.
  • Kramer’s way of entering Jerry’s apartment (bursting through the door, sliding in) in the American sitcom Seinfeld.
  • On each Cheers episode, Norm Peterson’s initial entrance into the bar is always met with a shout of “Norm!” from all the patrons. As he approaches his traditional barstool, another character always addresses him with a commonplace greeting and Norm always makes a woeful, pessimistic (and frequently literally interpretive) reply. For example: Sam Malone asks, “What are you up to, Norm?” to which Norm replies, “My ideal weight… if I were eleven feet tall.”
  • The sitcom Friends contains numerous running gags such as Ross’s line “We were on a break!”, references to Monica being overweight as a child, and the fact that nobody is sure what Chandler does for a living. Traditionally, in Thanksgiving episodes, someone gets a turkey stuck on their head and frightens the other characters.
  • In Futurama, there is a running gag wherein New Jersey is considered to the be worst place to live in the universe (“I, Roommate”). For instance, “Robot Hell” is in New Jersey. Another running gag involves Bender saying “Neat!” and taking a picture with a purple camera. Another one is that whenever a problem happens, everyone uses Zoidberg as the scapegoat for blame. Another running gag is that the Professor begins almost every announcement with the words “Good news, everyone!”—this is usually followed by terrible news. Last, owls are portrayed in the background of almost every episode as vermin, having replaced rats and pigeons by the 31st Century.
  • In the Metal Gear video game series, the cardboard box is an item used by the main character, Solid Snake, in order to hide from enemies. His fondness for the trick developed into a running joke over the course of the series.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air a favorite running gag is Jazz getting thrown out of the house after offending one of the Banks. Once Jazz was in the driveway and offended Phil, so Phil threw him inside the kitchen door after Jazz made a remark about already being outside. In another character’s dream sequence, a successful Jazz throws a down-on-his-luck Phil out of his house in the same manner.
  • In the television series Quantum Leap, Rear Admiral Albert “Al” Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) frequently confuses his third and fourth wives.
  • In Animaniacs, Yakko, Wakko and Dot frequently run through sketches not starring them, chased by Ralph the Guard. Also, whenever the brothers see a pretty woman, or the nurse in the series, they shout together, “Hellooooooooo Nurse!!!,” but Dot says it in reference to any well-built and studly man.
  • On Whose Line Is It Anyway?, when Drew Carey is introducing the show, he always states that “…everything’s made up and the points don’t matter” before saying something that reflects the points’ unimportance (for example: “That’s right, the points are like vows at a celebrity wedding. They just don’t matter”).
  • In both the English and American versions of The Office, a character always refers to himself as Assistant Regional Manager, only to be corrected by the boss that he is “Assistant to the Regional Manager.”
  • In Invader Zim, many references are made to Dib’s huge head. Gir is often found watching The Scary Monkey Show, and Zim usually responds, “I hate that monkey…” According to the commentary, the Chihuahua that appears in several episodes was originally going to be somewhere in every episode, but they were too lazy to continue the gag after a few episodes. Another example is Gir’s obsession with a small stuffed pig.
  • In the Adult Swim animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a popular running gag is the destruction of their neighbour Carl’s possessions. They destroy either his house, his pool, or his car, and on many occasions, he is either maimed or killed as well. Other gags have included Shake trying to harm Meatwad in some way by trying to convince him that what they'll do is fun, or anything the Aqua Teens discard blowing up once it hits the ground.
  • At the ending of each episode of Earthworm Jim(Animated series), a cow falls down, and lands on a character.
  • In the Adult Swim animated series Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, there are many running gags. Peter Potamus is often seen walking around saying, "Did you get that thing I sentcha?". Throughout the series, it hasn't been just limited to him saying it, with the phrase appearing in writing as well, such as emails. Also, the character Reducto is always carrying a shrink gun with him and threatening to shrink people with the phrase, "I'll make you [something]-sized!". The [something] often being replaced with words like, 'travel', 'fun', etc.
  • In the movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey constantly walks up the stairs in the house at 320 Sycamore in Bedford Falls, and when his hand grasps the newell at the first landing, it keeps coming off in his hand. At the point in the movie wherre Uncle Billy has lost the $8000, George comes home frightened and angry; he walks up the stairs to see his daughter Zuzu and the knob comes off in his hand; he almost throws it, but controls himself and rests it on the bannister. At the end, when he has experienced the unborn scene, he is ecstatic; this time when the knob comes off in his hand, he picks it up and kisses it.
  • In Jim Henson's The Muppet Show, Gonzo is seen at the end of the opening credits trying to blow a horn or strike a gong embedded into the Muppet Show logo, always having something unfortunate happen instead. For example, water might spray out of the horn, or the gong might shatter when struck. Another example would be the interruptions that always happen when Wayne and Wanda start to sing some number. A few seconds into each attempt, something unfortunate always happens, such as one or both being blown up unexpectedly.
  • Humphrey Littleton often reports that they have received a letter from "a Mrs. Trellis from North Wales" on the popular BBC Radio 4 show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. The letter is usually revealed to have been directed to ISIHAC by mistake, and that it should really have been delivered to one of Radio 4's other shows.
  • In the animated version of Wayside, one running gag is that the school principal, Mr. Kidswatter, always addresses Todd by his home address rather than by his name.
  • On the Disney cartoon Dave The Barbarian a running gag is that everybody thinks that Fang is a monkey, to which she replies by shouting "Not a monkey!".

Image File history File links Information_icon. ... Shortcut: WP:WIN Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and, as a means to that end, also an online community. ... Simpsons redirects here. ... The couch gag is a running visual joke in the opening credits of the animated television series The Simpsons. ... Bart writes The Pledge of Allegiance does not end with Hail Satan The chalkboard gag is a running visual joke that occurs during the opening credits of many episodes of The Simpsons. ... Charles Montgomery Burns, normally referred to as Mr. ... Waylon J. Smithers, Jr. ... Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons, voiced by Dan Castellaneta. ... Springfield Nuclear Power Plant Springfield Nuclear Power Plant is a fictional nuclear power plant in the television animated cartoon series The Simpsons. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Bart and his sister Lisa as news anchors Bartholomew J. Bart Simpson is a main character in the animated television series The Simpsons, voiced by Nancy Cartwright. ... A prank call, also known as a crank call or hoax call, is a form of practical joke committed over the telephone. ... An exterior of Moes Tavern, in The Simpsons. ... Simpsons redirects here. ... The starship Enterprise (NX-01) Star Trek: Enterprise is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. ... Adjectives: Terrestrial, Terran, Telluric, Tellurian, Earthly Atmosphere Surface pressure: 101. ... South Park is an American, Emmy Award-winning[1] animated television comedy series about four third/fourth-grade school boys who live in the small town of South Park , Colorado. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Kennys deaths. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a film released in 1975. ... This article contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... // Look up Krämer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A sitcom or situation comedy is a genre of comedy performance originally devised for radio but today typically found on television. ... This article is about the sitcom. ... Cheers was an American situation comedy produced by Charles-Burrows-Charles Productions in association with Paramount Television for NBC. Cheers was created by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles. ... Hillary Norman Norm Peterson was a character on the American television show Cheers, portrayed by George Wendt. ... Sam Mayday Malone was a character on the American television show Cheers, portrayed by Ted Danson. ... A sitcom or situation comedy is a genre of comedy performance originally devised for radio but today typically found on television. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, the lead section of this article may need to be expanded. ... Ross Eustace Geller, Ph. ... Monica E. Geller (born April 22, 1969) is a fictional character on the popular US television sitcom Friends (1994-2004), played by Courteney Cox Arquette. ... Chandler Muriel Bing (born April 8, 1968) is a fictional character on the popular US television sitcom Friends (1994–2004), played by Matthew Perry. ... Futurama is an Emmy Award-winning animated sitcom created by Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen for the Fox network. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... The Universe is defined as the summation of all particles and energy that exist and the space-time in which all events occur. ... I, Roommate is the third episode of season one of Futurama. ... Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180) Hell, according to many religious beliefs, is an afterlife of suffering where the wicked or unrighteous dead are punished. ... Bender Bending Rodríguez, more commonly known as Bender, is a main character in the animated television series Futurama. ... Doctor John Zoidberg, also known as Dr. Zoidberg or simply, Zoidberg, is a fictional lobster-like alien from planet Decapod 10 in the television series Futurama. ... The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1854. ... Professor Hubert Farnsworth Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (born April 9, 2841) is the extremely elderly proprietor of the Planet Express delivery service in the animated television series Futurama. ... Families Strigidae Tytonidae Ogygoptyngidae (fossil) Palaeoglaucidae (fossil) Protostrigidae (fossil) Sophiornithidae (fossil) Synonyms Strigidae sensu Sibley & Ahlquist Owls are a group of birds of prey. ... The bane of Australian farmers - the wild rabbit Mouse Vermin is a pejorative word given to animals which are considered by users of the word to be pests or nuisances, most associated with the carrying of disease. ... Species 50 species; see text *Several subfamilies of Muroids include animals called rats. ... Binomial name Columba livia Gmelin, 1789 The Rock Dove (Columba livia), or feral pigeon, is a member of the bird family Columbidae, doves and pigeons. ... One of many logos; used in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and the sequel to it. ... Staple cardboard box Cardboard boxes are industrially prefabricated boxes, which are primarily used for packaging commercial goods or storing goods and materials. ... Solid Snake ) is the protagonist of the Metal Gear video game series. ... The Fairly OddParents is an American animated television series created by Butch Hartman. ... Timothy Timmy Turner is a fictional character in the American animated television series The Fairly OddParents. ... The Sorceress by John William Waterhouse Magic and sorcery are the influencing of events, objects, people and physical phenomena by mystical, paranormal or supernatural means. ... The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a popular American television sitcom that aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. ... Quantum Leap is a science fiction television series that ran for 97 episodes from March 1989 to May 1993 on NBC. It follows the adventures of Dr. Samuel Beckett (played by Scott Bakula), a brilliant scientist who after researching time-travel, and doing experiments in something he calls The Imaging... Dean Stockwell (born March 5, 1936 in North Hollywood, California) is an Oscar-nominated American film and television actor. ... Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs, usually referred to as the shorter title Animaniacs, is an American animated television series, distributed by Warner Bros. ... Animaniacs logo, featuring Yakko, Wakko, and Dot plus Pinky and the Brain. ... Ralph the Guard was a fictional character in the Warner Bros. ... Animaniacs logo, featuring Yakko, Wakko, and Dot plus Pinky and the Brain. ... Drew Allison Carey (born May 23, 1958) is an American actor and comedian recognizable by his crew cut and black-rimmed glasses. ... Looney Tunes opening title Looney Tunes is a Warner Brothers animated cartoon series which ran in many movie theatres from 1930 to 1969. ... Robin Hood Daffy is a 1958 Warner Brothers cartoon featuring Daffy Duck as legendary outlaw Robin Hood. ... Daffy, as Duck Dodgers, faces off against Marvin the Martian in the 1953 short Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, a parody of Buck Rogers. ... Quarterstaffs in use, from Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs, published 1891 A quarterstaff is a medieval English variant of the staff weapon, consisting of a shaft of hardwood, sometimes with metal-reinforced tips. ... The main cast of The Office UK The Office is the title of two television situation comedy shows created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. ... Invader ZIM is an American animated television series created by comic book writer/artist Jhonen Vasquez and aired on Nickelodeon. ... dib or DIB may stand for: device-independent bitmap Dual Independent Bus Dib from the animated television series Invader Zim This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... GIR can refer to: GIR (Invader Zim), a character on the animated series Invader Zim. ... This is a show GIR is often seen watching in the show Invader Zim. ... ZIM has the following meanings: GAZ-12 ZIM, a limousine produced at the GAZ between 1950 and 1960. ... This article is about the pig genus. ... Adult Swim, sometimes rendered [adult swim] based on its logo, is the name for the adult-oriented television programming network. ... Aqua Teen Hunger Force (also known as ATHF or simply Aqua Teen) is an American animated television series shown on Cartoon Network as part of its Adult Swim late-night programming block. ... Carl Brutananadilewski (born February 19, 1961[1]) is a fictional character in the animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force. ... For the cartoon series, see Earthworm Jim (TV series). ... Adult Swim, sometimes rendered [adult swim] based on its logo, is the name for the adult-oriented television programming network. ... Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is a comedic American animated television series created by Williams Street that airs on Cartoon Network during its Adult Swim late night programming block. ... Its a Wonderful Life is a 1946 drama film directed by Frank Capra, produced by his own Liberty Films and released originally by RKO Radio Pictures. ... Bedford Falls is the fictional city in Frank Capras 1946 cinematic classic Its a Wonderful Life. ... Newell may refer to: // Eric Newell, Canadian businessman and university Chancellor Linda King Newell, Latter Day Saint historian Norman D. Newell, American naturalist William E. Newell, author and scientist Frederick Haynes Newell (1862–1932), First Director of the United States Reclamation Service Newell, Iowa Newell, Pennsylvania Newell, South Dakota Newell... Jim Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was the most widely known American puppeteer in modern American television history. ... The Muppet Show was a television program featuring a cast of Muppets (diverse hand-operated puppets, typically with oversized eyes and large moving mouths) produced by Jim Henson and his team from 1976 to 1981. ... Gonzo (aka Gonzo the Great or the Great Gonzo) is a puppet character, one of Jim Hensons Muppets. ... Humphrey Lyttelton at the Landmark Arts Centre, 22 April 2006. ... BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station which broadcasts a wide variety of chiefly spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history. ... Cover for, Im Sorry I Havent a Clue Collection 1 (Volumes 1-3). From left-to-right, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer, Humphrey Lyttelton, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Willie Rushton. ... Wayside is a Canadian and American co-produced animated television series airing on Teletoon in Canada and Nickelodeon in the United States, based on the Sideways Stories From Wayside School series of books by Louis Sachar. ... Disney may refer to: The Walt Disney Company and its divisions, including Walt Disney Pictures. ... Dave the Barbarian is a Disney animated television series, created and written by Doug Langdale, that premiered in January of 2004 on The Disney Channel. ...

See also


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