[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Cracked125_3910.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:A typical cover from 1975, featuring mascot Sylvester P. Smythe and drawn by ''Cracked'' mainstay John Severin. ([[FunnyAneurysmMoment Ignore the plane crashing into the tower.]])]]

Before it became a humor website, ''Cracked'' was a magazine. Specifically, it was a [[FollowTheLeader knockoff]] of ''Magazine/{{Mad}}'' (in their own words, their fanbase was "primarily comprised of people who got to the store after MAD sold out"), using a similar formula of movie and television parodies with deconstructive humor and otherwise (ostensibly) humorous articles, as well as its own UglyCute "mascot," Sylvester P. Smythe. It was by far the longest-surviving ''Mad'' knockoff, lasting in print form from 1958 until the 2000s, when a great deal of ExecutiveMeddling reduced the mag to an erratic printing schedule and many of the original contributors left. Finally, it was {{ReTool}}ed as a "lad mag." This format didn't last long, and the magazine went under in 2007, only to re-establish itself as a website.

For tropes related to the website, see Website/{{Cracked}}.
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!!'''Tropes present in the original magazine:'''
* ArtEvolution: Mike Ricigliano, and how. His art for the early "Shut-Ups!" (later drawn by Don Orehek) was nothing like the sketchy, loose style he adopted for the "Spies & Sabs" (basically their version of Creator/SergioAragones' "Marginal Thinking" sidebar doodles in ''Mad'') and any other work.
** On the flipside, Walter James Brogan (who drew most of the parodies in the 1990s, plus a few covers) became a lot ''more'' sketchy in his later years.
* CreditsGag: Starting in the late 1990s, the artist and writer bylines often had funny nicknames pertaining to the theme of the article.
* CrowdedCastShot: Cracked's final magazine issue had ''all'' the mascots of satire and parody magazines - Alfred E. Neuman, Sylvester, and ''LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters''.
* DependingOnTheArtist: Early on, Sylvester P. Smythe was a lot [[http://www.satiregallery.com/cracked/html/regular_cracked_for_1959_4.html uglier]]. Once John Severin became the main cover artist, he evolved into a "cuter" looking character, as seen above.
* EmbarrassingMiddleName: As determined by a contest in 1998, Sylvester P. Smythe's middle name is "Phooey."
* ExtremeOmnivore: The Talking Blob.
* FollowTheLeader: By far, ''Cracked'' was the most prominent ''Mad'' clone: a parody mag with an {{Expy}} of Alfred E. Neuman in Sylvester P. Smythe.
* HourglassPlot: RealLife example. Cracked started off as a ripoff of MAD Magazine that eventually sputtered out and died...until it went online. Now the ripoff is extremely popular while the original is struggling to stay afloat. The website, of course, takes the opportunity to [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-cracked-is-finally-better-than-mad/ take a few digs]] [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/cracked-eases-mads-transition-into-obscurity/ at MAD for this.]]
* InheritedIlliteracyTitle: It was officially ''Cracked'' ma'''z'''a'''g'''ine.
* LastOfHisKind / LongRunners: By far the longest-lived of all the ''Mad'' knockoffs. For the last two decades of ''Cracked'''s print run, only it and ''Mad'' itself were still in print.
* MassiveMultiplayerCrossover:
** They tried a ''Teen People'' magazine parody called ''Toon People'', which was a very ShallowParody of the mag with toon characters attached, from MickeyMouse to MikeLuAndOg.
** Given the uprise of {{anime}} in the earlier half of the 2000s, they tried a story in which Western cartoon characters "attacked" popular anime characters.
** All of their 'Cracked Movies' were crossovers featuring Cracked's original characters (Sylvester P. Smythe, interviewer Nanny Dickering, cowboy Sagebrush, and the Talking Blob) joining forces, usually to stop some threat to the magazine. Many of them are are at least mildy amusing. The weakest is probably the fifth, where the regular cast gets DemotedToExtra while a bunch of heroes from 80's mystery and crime TV shows [[SpotlightStealingSquad take over the action]] to find out who stole the magazine's logo.
** The 'Greatest Film Ever Made' involved a crossover between Rocky, Jaws, C-3PO and R2-D2 of Star Wars, the Godfather, and a few other movies that were popular during the late 70's/early 80's. All these characters were gathered together to play a baseball game.
** They did a parody of Series/{{Survivor}} a few months after the first season ended (back when the show was massively popular) using the Cracked roster of characters. [[spoiler: Simpy Dumpkins, The World's Most Hated Man was the first to go. Naked Guy (Richard Hatch) ended up winning.]]
* PenName: John Severin (who often drew nearly half the magazine) was fond of switching out his signature for something silly, such as "O. O. Severin", "Seneriv", or "[[SdrawkcabAlias Nireves]]".
* ReTool: For the last few issues, it was remade as a "lad mag" akin to ''{{Maxim}}'' or ''{{FHM}}'' (i.e., suggestive photographs of females, stories about cars, etc.). Didn't work.
* RedundantParody:
** Many of their parodies played just like an actual episode of the series or like the movie itself, but with {{parody name}}s and lame jokes attached. Sometimes, they didn't even go ''that'' far. This was especially true in their parodies of sitcoms.
*** The mag also had an occasional habit of parodying things that were already parodies. Tell me, just how ''do'' you do a wacky parody of HotShots, which is a wacky parody of ''Film/TopGun''?
** Other times, the parodies were so OutOfCharacter that any semblance of humor was lost. Their comic strip parodies in particular were known for this.
** Still other times, there were song parodies that scanned so horribly that they didn't even work as original songs.
* RunningGag: Absolutely, positively, unquestionably, undeniably, the very very very last of ''The Cracked Lens'' (and we really really mean it this time, for sure!), part IX.
* SelfDeprecation: There were plenty of jokes at the magazine's own expense.
* SuperpoweredDate: ''Super People'', a superhero parody of ''People'' magazine, has an article explaining how to have an exceptionally cheap date using your FlyingBrick superpowers. The night starts with using SuperStrength and SuperSpeed to break into a theater and repair the damage while your date is distracted. The only expense for the night is bringing your own popcorn and using EyeBeams to cook it in a large garbage can. The popcorn, along with free sodas beaten out of the vending machine, help deceive your date into thinking you're very generous. After the movie, you fly her home to save on gas. Finally, at her doorstep, you use your SuperBreath in reverse to suck out all the local air, causing her to briefly faint and assume you have super-kissing powers.
* TakeThat: Countless attacks at ''Mad'' over time, including a section where they pointed out that the two mags had fairly similar cover gags (a takeoff of the cover to ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone'' with the respective mascot of each mag riding on Harry's broom). ''Mad'', being the high-class mag that it is, [[UnknownRival never once counterattacked]].
** They still sometimes [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/cracked-eases-mads-transition-into-obscurity/ indulge in it]] to this day.
* TheyKilledKennyAgain: One recurring sequence late in the mag's run involved a cat who kept getting killed in a most contrived fashion (lawn dart to the head while chasing a frog?).
* VerbedTitle
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