Created By: StevenT on April 16, 2013 Last Edited By: SpiderRider3 on October 12, 2014
Troped

Format Specific Joke/Ruins The Joke

When a element or joke is designed to only be effective in a work\'s original format

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The makers of a work decide to add a joke specific to the format it will initially be displayed in, usually a movie theatre or broadcast on TV. All meaning to the joke is lost when the work the work is released on Blu-Ray or DVD.

Possibilities include:
  • 3D-dependent elements in a 3D movie which are lost in 2D
  • A TV show makes jokes about a commercial break is shown on DVD
  • A TV show makes jokes about the ads which run at the bottom of the screen during a show
  • A TV show interacts with or makes mention of the network's logo bug floating in the corner of the screen

This is not limited to movies. Early music albums which were recorded for distribution on vinyl records generally contained tons of these, generally involving the needle running off the track at the end of the record, or the need to flip the record to its B side. While the mentions of flipping were still relevant on cassette tapes, they didn't make any sense when the albums were distributed on CD.

Super trope of Born in the Theatre.

Examples

Film
  • Averted with the VHS release of Gremlins II: The New Batch. Instead of the Gremlins invading a movie theatre, they break the VHS tape.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The movie begins with a parody of theater promos about the refreshment stall and theater etiquette.
  • Tropic Thunder begins with fake movie trailers. These might possibly make sense on DVD, but it also begins with a fake movie theater candy commercial.
  • Toy Story 2 features a Barbie doll saying goodbye to people as they leave the theater. Doesn't really work on DVD or TV.
  • The Simpsons Movie mocks viewers for going to the cinema to watch cartoons when they could watch them for free on television at home.
    • As Homer and Bart are playing in the yard, a news banner rolls across the bottom of the screen displaying the message, "Yes, we even advertise during movies now." The implication is that the advertisement is being done live, but the joke is lost on a DVD.
  • The original ending to The Little Shop of Horrors has a laughing Audrey II breaking through the movie screen.
  • Bean: ends with an after-the-credits gag of Mr. Bean sitting in a cinema, saying that he stays after the credits as well.
  • The Stinger of Ferris Bueller's Day Off consists of Ferris asking the audience why they're still in the theater, telling them to go home. CM Punk's Blu-ray/DVD ''CM Punk: Best in the World", also ends this way, presumably as a Shout-Out.
  • In Fat Albert, the characters tell the audience to sit back down as the movie isn't over yet. However, they're clearly addressing a film audience, calling out "you in the back", so it doesn't have the same effect if watched on DVD.
  • In the middle of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Tony Randall comes on screen out of character and compares film's big screen to the tiny TV screen.
    Ladies and gentlemen, this break in our motion picture is made out of respect for the TV fans in our audience, who are accustomed to constant interruptions in their programs for messages from sponsors. We want all you TV fans to feel at home, and not forget the thrill you get, watching television on your big, 21-inch screens.
  • In Spy Kids 3D, there are a lot of scenes specifically made in such a way to showcase the 3D effect as forcefully as possible. While this works if you're in a 3D theater, watching this movie in 2D shows very clearly just how forced such moments are.
  • The last gag in Aladdin has the moon suddenly start laughing with the Genie's face, then for Genie to break the fourth wall and announce "Made you look!" The gag was meant to psych out audience members who started leaving early because they thought the movie was over, only to look back when something else starts going on. Nowadays in home viewings the reason for the gag is much less clear.
  • The Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse! had the characters coming through the movie screen and into the theater. When watching it elsewhere, the effect is somewhat less engaging.

Jokes There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't. In this context 10 is pronounced "one zero" instead of "ten" so it ruins the joke if you say it aloud.

Literature
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features the famous line "The spaceships hung in the sky in exactly the way that bricks don't". The film adaptation, using visuals rather than narrative description, simply depicts brick-shaped starships... and the Lemony Narrator element of the humour is absent.
  • Film adaptations of Terry Pratchett's novels are unable to indulge in his famous Footnote Fever.
  • Invoked by Terry Pratchett in Mort, when he tries to use a Twisted Echo Cut in prose, then has to explain it in a footnote:
    "You're a wizard. I think there's something you ought to know," said the princess.
    THERE IS? said Death.*
    * That was a cinematic trick adapted for print. Death wasn't talking to the princess. He was actually in his study, talking to Mort. But it was quite effective, wasn't it?

Live-Action TV
  • An episode of The X-Files about a plague of cockroaches threw in a gag where a roach appears to run across the TV screen on which the program is being viewed. Watching this episode on a large television detracts from this effect, because the roach looks so big that it'd be too heavy to scamper across a vertical surface.
  • In one of The Drew Carey Show's April Fools' Day "spot the mistakes" episodes, one of the mistakes is the ABC logo bug floating away from where it's supposed to be (in the corner of the screen) and Lewis catches it & puts it back in its proper location. In syndication (and presumably on DVD release if there is one) the ABC bug is replaced by a balloon, but it makes no sense for a balloon to be there.

Music
  • All the gags in the "run-out groove" of a vinyl LP, as the record ended and ran out to the finish, are lost on CD. (For instance, the "backwards bit" at the end of "Sergeant Pepper".)
  • Neil Innes on the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's Gorilla album opens a track with
    Good to see you, happy you could stick around!
    • This is puzzling to people who buy the CD, but in the original format it was on the start of Side Two, where you physically had to lift the playing arm, flip the record over, and re-start on the other side.
  • The people who physically created vinyl LP's used the format to add written messages in the dead space between the last track and the label; one technician used to sign his LP's with things like Another Prime Porky Cut, just to make his own creative mark on the record-making process.
  • CD pressings of Tom Petty's fourth album, Full Moon Fever, contain a hidden track inserted about midway through the album, consisting of Petty giving a brief monologue while his bandmates make animal noises in the background.
    Hello, CD listeners. We've come to the point in this album where those listening on cassette or records will have to stand up— or sit down— and turn over the record or tape. In fairness to those listeners, we will now take a few seconds before we begin Side Two. [Beat] Thank you. Here's Side Two.
  • Electric Light Orchestra's hit song "Mr. Blue Sky" ends with a distorted voice saying "Please turn me over." This is because, on the original double-LP Out of the Blue, "Mr. Blue Sky" was the last song on side C—so there were still four more songs to hear on the last side.

Radio
  • When The Jack Benny Program moved to TV they realized that some of their most beloved running gags couldn't be replicated in a visual medium so they had to be abandoned: namely, Jack's underground bunker/safe & the polar bear guarding it, and Jack's very old car.

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation
  • According to the DVD Commentary of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, when the Professor first creates the girls and stares right up at the screen, this was supposed to make the audience see his face the way the tiny girls did — huge and staring at them.
  • On an episode of Chowder they made a joke about the Cartoon Network channel bug in the corner of the screen. On DVD the channel bug just appears and disappears when the joke comes up.
  • Looney Tunes uses Is There a Doctor in the House? on more than one occasion, which makes no sense when watching at home.
    • They also use the "hair in the aperture" bit, where the projectionist's hand comes in to remove it.
  • On at least one occasion, Family Guy has built a gag around a promo running at the bottom of the screen. The joke stumbles a bit on DVD, or when viewed on TV in a country which doesn't have on-screen promos.
  • In The Cleveland Show, Cleveland Jr. gets into a rap battle with Kenny West. At one point, Jr. flips Kenny off, singing "On the DVD, this isn't pixelated."
Community Feedback Replies: 60
  • April 16, 2013
    arbiter099
    Music example: In Weird Al's Theme from Spy Hard, the lyrics go: By the way if you walked in late allow me to reiterate The name of this movie is Spy Hard
  • April 16, 2013
    AmyGdala
    This should focus on the joke using he big screen medium. Its being "ruined" on TV is secondary and can be mentioned in the description.

    • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The movie begins with a parody of theater promos about the refreshment stall and theater etiquette.
    • Tropic Thunder begins with fake movie trailers. These might possibly make sense on DVD, but it also begins with a make movie theater candy commercial.
  • April 16, 2013
    pcw2727
    Toy Story 2 features a barbie doll saying goodbye to people as they leave the theater. Doesn't really work on DVD or TV.
  • April 16, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • Looney Tunes uses Is There A Doctor In The House on more than one occasion, which makes no sense when watching at home.
    • Loony Tunes also uses the "hair in the aperture" bit, where the projectionist's hand comes in to remove it.
  • April 16, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    Related to Born In The Theatre.
  • April 16, 2013
    SharleeD
    • In an all-television variant, an episode of The X Files about a plague of cockroaches threw in a gag where a roach appears to run across the TV screen on which the program is being viewed. Watching this episode on an oversized flat-screen television detracts from this effect, because the "roach" looks so big that it'd be too heavy to scamper across a vertical surface.
  • April 16, 2013
    Waterlily
    Ferris Buellers Day Off ends with Ferris coming out again after credits and asking the viewers what they were still doing. "Go home."
  • April 17, 2013
    foxley
    The Simpsons Movie mocks viewers for going to the cinema to watch cartoons when they could watch them for free on television at home.
  • April 17, 2013
    PurpleAlert
    The original ending to Little Shop Of Horrors has : a laughing Audrey II breaking through the movie screen.
  • April 17, 2013
    GoopsWorld
    Another example from The Simpsons Movie: As Homer and Bart are playing in the yard, a news banner rolls across the bottom of the screen displaying the message, "Yes, we even advertise during movies now." The implication is that the advertisement is being done live, but the joke is lost on a DVD.
  • April 17, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Often involves Breaking The Fourth Wall.

    (Also, does it count as this trope when the jokes in question are cut from the adaptation specifically because the new format would ruin the joke, or would that be an aversion?)
  • April 17, 2013
    Chernoskill
    I could imagine some 3D films having some jokey gimmick that is lost when viewed in 2D.
  • April 17, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    ^^ An alternate interpretation for the interrupting ad is that movies (both in theaters and home entertainment) have previews, yet the tendency for some television networks to have banner ads during a show has now leaked over into film. If the movie gets aired on television, that joke would then be lost because it would once again become "a television ad during the television presentation".
  • April 17, 2013
    abloke
    Any gag in a TV show which relies on an ad break will have this issue. Broadcasting the episode on a channel which doesn't have adverts has the same effect.
  • April 17, 2013
    Nemmington
    Television:
    • On at least one occasion, Family Guy has built a gag around a promo running at the bottom of the screen. The joke stumbles a bit on DVD, or when viewed on TV in a country which doesn't have on-screen promos.

    Film:

    Video games:
    • One of the tutorials in Kirby Superstar describes the joypad as "that thing with the purple buttons on it". This line remained in the British release, even though European SNES controllers have the original Japanese multicoloured buttons.
  • April 17, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Also, for suggested names, I considered "In Theater In-Joke", but that depends on whether film becomes the primary focus. "Medium-Specific Gag" is more generic, and can change the 'tone' of the Gremlins example, indicating how the gag changed to adapt to the new medium.
  • April 17, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy features, for example, the famous line "The spaceships hung in the sky in exactly the way that bricks don't". The film adaptation, using visuals rather than narrative description, simply depicts brick-shaped starships... and the Lemony Narrator element of the humour is absent.

    Similarly, film adaptations of Terry Pratchett are unable to indulge in his famous Footnote Fever.
  • April 18, 2013
    Arivne
    One of the "Is there a doctor in the house?" examples is in the Bugs Bunny short "Hair-Raising Hare". Bugs says "Is there a doctor in the house?", a man stands up and says he is, and Bugs says "Eh, what's up, doc?"
  • April 18, 2013
    NESBoy
    In the Tex Avery short "Magic Maestro", there is a gag where the opera singer plucks an until-then-ignored hair caught on the film projector, which is clearly meant to make sense in theaters.
  • April 18, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^ & ^^ Those are covered under Born In The Theatre. In fact many of these examples are. There should be a note in the description about how Format Ruins The Joke is a supertrope and that Born In The Theatre is a subtrope dealing specifically with movie theatre to television format changes.
  • April 18, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I think Format Specific Joke is a better name.
  • January 29, 2014
    HumanTorch2
    The Stinger of Ferris Buellers Day Off consists of Ferris asking the audience why they're still in the theater, telling them to go home. CM Punk's Blu-ray/DVD ''CM Punk: Best in the World", also ends this way, presumably as a Shout Out.
  • January 29, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In one of The Drew Carey Show April Fools Day "spot the mistakes" episodes, one of the mistakes is the ABC bug logo floating away from where it's supposed to be (in the lower righthand corner) and Lewis catches it & puts it back in its proper location. In syndication (and presumably on DVD release if there is one) the ABC bug is replaced by a balloon. It makes no sense for a balloon to be there though.
  • January 29, 2014
    BOFH
    Re: The Gremlins 2: The New Batch example; not entirely averted - when it's broadcast on TV, the schedulers often completely miss the point and broadcast the theatre version.
  • January 29, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    In Fat Albert, the characters tell the audience to sit back down as the movie isn't over yet. However, they're clearly addressing a film audience, calling out "you in the back", so it doesn't have the same effect if watched on DVD.
  • January 29, 2014
    Ryusui
    Agreed with Format Specific Joke.
  • January 29, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
    • The Mickey Mouse short Get A Horse had the characters coming through the movie screen and into the theater. When watching it elsewhere, the effect is somewhat less engaging.
    • An episode of Chowder has Chowder pointing at the bottom-right corner of the screen to where the Cartoon Network logo bug would be. When watching on DVD or anywhere that's not live TV, the joke is ruined.
  • January 29, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare Spoiled By The Format.

    And I think it doesn't have to be Film-To-TV examples.
  • January 30, 2014
    robinjohnson
    • Deliberately invoked by Terry Pratchett in Mort, when he tries to use a Twisted Echo Cut in prose, then has to explain it in a footnote:
      "You're a wizard. I think there's something you ought to know," said the princess.

      THERE IS? said Death.*
      * That was a cinematic trick adapted for print. Death wasn't talking to the princess. He was actually in his study, talking to Mort. But it was quite effective, wasn't it?

    Actually, that might make a good page quote.
  • January 30, 2014
    NESBoy
  • January 30, 2014
    randomsurfer
    When The Jack Benny Program moved to TV they realized that some of their most beloved running gags couldn't be replicated in a visual medium so they had to be abandoned: namely, Jack's underground bunker/safe & the polar bear guarding it, and Jack's very old car.
  • June 29, 2014
    NESBoy
    • "Facebook Quizzes Are Stupid", an April Fools Day episode of The Best Show in the Universe, has Maddox offer a variety of links for things such as social networks and videos, the joke being that only four of those are actual links (the subscription button, his wedding veil review, the first episode of the show, and the link to his store).note  Of course, since the video uses annotations for this, the joke is lost.
  • June 29, 2014
    DAN004
    Visual Pun is a subtrope, if this is to be called Format Specific Joke.
  • June 29, 2014
    MetaFour
    Another example of a joke depending on Youtube annotations:

  • June 29, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    I prefer Medium Specific Gag, because the medium of communication is what's changing.
  • June 29, 2014
    MrRuano
    • Homestar Runner has a rather egregious example for sbemail 118 (Virus). Besides the widescreen aspect ratio, there is also a part where Homestar is literally able to pick out words from the bottom menu as well as the pop-up storm. In any other form, the top and bottom get cut off, making the taskbar invisible, and the pop-ups cannot appear outside of the webpage.
  • June 29, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • In the film version of the musical version of the original film The Producers during "Betrayed" as Bialystock recaps the show the "Intermission" gag is cut, since the film doesn't have an intermission. (Aversion I guess.)
    • In the middle of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter star Tony Randall comes on screen out of character and compares film's Wide/Big screen with the tiny TV screen.
      Ladies and gentlemen, this break in our motion picture is made out of respect for the TV fans in our audience, who are accustomed to constant interruptions in their programs for messages from sponsors. We want all you TV fans to feel at home, and not forget the thrill you get, watching television on your big, 21-inch screens.
  • July 2, 2014
    AgProv
    Related; a lot of jokes inherent in the old days of twelve-inch vinyl records have been lost completely in the transition to CD. This is puzzling to people who buy the CD, but in the original format it was on the start of Side Two, where you physically had to lift the playing arm, flip the record over, and re-start on the other side.

    • Also, all the gags in the "run-out groove" of a vinyl LP, as the record ended and ran out to the finish, are lost on CD. (For instance, the "backwards bit" at the end of "Sergeant Pepper".)

    • The people who physically created the vinyl LP's also used the format to add written messages in the dead space between the last track and the label; one techician used to sign his LP's with things like Another Prime Porky Cut, just to make his own creative mark on the record-making process.

  • July 6, 2014
    StrangeBro
    Here's an example that would work better under the proposed Format Specific Joke title:

    • CD pressings of Tom Petty's fourth album, Full Moon Fever, contain a hidden track inserted about midway through the album, consisting of Petty giving a brief monologue while his bandmates make animal noises in the background.
      "Hello, CD listeners. We've come to the point in this album where those listening on cassette or records will have to stand up— or sit down— and turn over the record or tape. In fairness to those listeners, we will now take a few seconds before we begin Side Two. [Beat] Thank you. Here's Side Two."
  • July 6, 2014
    ZuTheSkunk
    • In Spy Kids 3D, there are a lot of scenes specifically made in such a way to showcase the 3D effect as forcefully as possible. While this works if you're in a 3D theater, watching this movie in 2D shows very clearly just how forced such moments are.
  • July 6, 2014
    JonnyB
  • July 6, 2014
    NESBoy
    The Spy Kids 3D example reminds me of the Paddleball Shot trope dealing with such cases.
  • July 6, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • The last gag in Aladdin has the moon suddenly start laughing with the Genie's face, then for Genie to break the fourth wall and announce "Made you look!" The gag was meant to psych out audience members who started leaving early because they thought the movie was over, only to look back when something else starts going on. Nowadays in home viewings the reason for the gag is much less clear.
  • July 8, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Not sure the OP has been back n the last few months....
  • July 8, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 9, 2014
    robinjohnson
    The laconic shouldn't say that the joke has to be for (or broken in) specific formats.
  • July 9, 2014
    Arivne
    ^^^ The OP hasn't posted since they first created this proposal in 2013, so it is indeed Up For Grabs.
  • July 9, 2014
    DAN004
    This thing ain't my thing so I'm not gonna grab it. :P
  • July 9, 2014
    DRCEQ
    • In The Cleveland Show, Cleveland Jr. gets into a rap battle with Kenny West. At one point, Jr. flips Kenny off, singing "On the DVD, this isn't pixilated."
  • July 11, 2014
    Folamh3
    Probably the most fundamental example of this trope would be jokes which only make sense when spoken aloud, or when read, but not both. Many puns, for example, are homophones which depend on the listener mistaking one word for another before the punchline, the effect of which can be lost when the joke is written down.
  • July 11, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    May be deserving a vignette how adaptations can ruin the previous perceptions. Like poor voice acting or (subjectively-)irresponsible casting can make anime lose appeal compared to original manga and how it is NOT this trope (candidate).
  • July 12, 2014
    BKelly95
  • July 18, 2014
    Chernoskill
    • In The Secret Of Monkey Island, the player could examine a tree stump in the jungle. Guybrush would exclaim that there is an opening to a system of catacombs and attempt to enter, but this would result in a message stating the player needed to insert disc 22, then 36, then 114 in order to continue.
  • July 25, 2014
    MJNSEIFER
    Final Destination 5: Isaac's death involves his blood splashing onto the camera, but it is supposed to look like it was splashed onto our 3D Glasses, but if we're watching it on 2D, the joke is lost.
  • July 25, 2014
    MJNSEIFER
    Any time a show has someone (either a narrator or a character) refer to todays episode as "this week" only works if the show's episodes are seperated by a week.
  • July 26, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • Batman was originally a half-hour program with a Cliff Hanger in one episode, resolved at the beginning of the next. "Tune in tomorrow! Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!" In syndication it is often shown in hour-long blocks, with the second episode running right after the first. Similarly, watching on DVD removes the nail-biting of waiting until tomorrow to find out how Batman gets out of it.

    ^^^^^^ There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't. (In this context 10 is pronounced "one zero" instead of "ten" so it ruins the joke if you say it aloud).
  • July 26, 2014
    SpiderRider3
    If we were to list all the shows which use cliffhangers, we could be listing a lot of shows. It's best to just keep this to the notable occurrences.
  • July 26, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Well but Batman specifically says "tune in tomorrow," not "next time" or anything like that.
  • July 27, 2014
    Alucard
    Anime And Manga
  • October 12, 2014
    Alucard
    Anime And Manga
    • In K On, Ritsu sometimes speaks with the text boxes usually reserved for internal thoughts or narration, designed to trick the reader and show off her vocal flexibility. Lacking any such text boxes and relying on her actual voice actress' range, this joke tends to fall flat in the anime.
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