[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mad-magazine_6300.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:"What, me worry?"]]

For decades a key influence on [[TheParody parodists]] and satirists in all entertainment media, ''Mad'' began in 1952 as a full-color ComicBook, ''Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad'', published by ECComics. Harvey Kurtzman, the founding editor and writer, started it when he complained how other artists got more money with more page counts, especially when he was so meticulous with his war comics. His publisher, William Gaines, suggested that he do a humor book on top of his present work since that material came easily for him.

Kurtzman began by satirizing popular comic book genres of the time (horror, crime, SF and adventure), but soon found his niche concentrating on parodies of specific comic books and strips, TV shows, films, and classic literature, as well as broader satire of American pop culture. EC artists, such as Jack Davis, Will Elder and John Severin, accustomed mostly to drawing in a "serious" style, were encouraged to cut loose for ''Mad'', resulting in panels filled to capacity with outrageous caricatures, physics-defying antics, gross-out humor and innumerable background signage gags.

In July 1955, with issue 24, ''Mad'' became a black-and-white magazine (only to become color again in the 2000s). Contrary to popular belief, EC did not do this in order to escape UsefulNotes/TheComicsCode. Rather, Kurtzman had received an offer from the more lucrative magazine market, and so EC publisher Bill Gaines proposed the change in format in order to retain him. Nevertheless, the new medium benefitted from the lack of [[MoralGuardians censorship]], as well as the broader range of subject matter and media available (including prose and photo features). By late 1956, ''Mad'' had become EC's only surviving publication. As history shows, it was more than enough for the company to prosper with.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, ''Mad'' began to take on its most familiar (and commercially successful) form, with a long-lasting team of core writers (Jerry [=DeFuccio=], Dick [=DeBartolo=], Frank Jacobs) and artists (Don Martin, Al Jaffee, Dave Berg, Mort Drucker, Angelo Torres, Bob Clarke, Paul Coker (jr.), Norman Mingo (long time cover artist), George Woodbridge, [[ComicStrip/SpyVsSpy Antonio Prohías]]) and a willingness to take on [[AcceptableTargets any target it felt it could get away with]]. More recent contributors (since the 1980s) include writers Desmond Devlin, Arnie Kogen, Michael Gallagher, Charlie Kadau and Joe Raiola, and more recent artists include Don "Duck" Edwing, Tom Bunk, Sam Viviano, Creator/SergioAragones, Rick Tulka, Tom Richmond and James Warhola.

Currently in its fifth decade, ''Mad'', now published by DCComics, lacks the circulation and cultural impact (and [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks some would say quality]]) it had at its peak. All the same, entertainment figures and critics ranging from [[TheSimpsons Matt Groening]] to RogerEbert to Patti Smith have cited ''Mad'' as a major influence.

For the page on the animated spin-off see ''WesternAnimation/{{Mad}}''. See also ''Series/{{MADtv}}'', the loosely-affiliated SketchComedy show, and ''Literature/PlanetTad'', a regular feature in the magazine that was released as a book in 2012.

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!!This magazine contains examples of:
* AbsenteeActor: A literal example in parodies from time to time, such as "Goofies" (''Film/TheGoonies'') which is notably missing Martha Plimpton's character Stef.
* ActuallyPrettyFunny: It's almost become routine for celebrities to write to the magazine with positive reviews of articles that parody their works, some of them including photographs or even original artwork, which the magazine always displays on their letters page.
** In one "A Mad Look At", a student tells an apparently offensive joke. The teacher steps out into the hall, laughs, then returns to class to scold the student.
* AdaptationalVillainy: In several cases, often in parodies of TV shows, the culprit is one of the heroes.
* AddedAlliterativeAppeal: "Duck" Edwing titles ''every'' one of his one-page "Tales From the Duck Side" strips this way, with colorful titles like "The Demonic Detector Disaster" and "The Cannibal Coffee Shop Conundrum".
* AlanSmithee: Many articles have had pseudonymous bylines for various reasons. Some of the more popular are J. Prete, Josh Gordon, and Jack Syracuse.
* AmericanAccents: Exaggerated Beatnik Speak and Hippie Speak.
* AnimatedAdaptation: For its first few years on the air ''Series/{{MADtv}}'' aired animated bumpers featuring Don Martin characters and "Spy vs. Spy".
** Similarly, Creator/CartoonNetwork premiered an animated adaptation, also titled ''WesternAnimation/{{Mad}}'', in September 2010. It's the magazine in animated form: parodies and quick gags.
* AnimeHair: Monroe of the ''Monroe and...'' series had [[HairAntennae two antenna-like hair protrusions]].
* AppealToWorseProblems: Sometimes, people are mocked for their own exceedingly petty concerns when there are worse problems out there, especially when the news media cover celebrities over important events abroad
* ArtEvolution: Many of the longtime artists have done this, whether by choice (e.g. Creator/SergioAragones going from a somewhat plain style to his loose but highly-detailed SignatureStyle) or by old age (e.g. Dave Berg's style becoming sloppier as his motor skills declined). Al Jaffee had a little bit of both — his early art in the 1950s and 1960s was far less cartoonish, and the late 1990s has seen his art become a little more muddy looking due to old age.
** Everyone's art was a lot more staid in the 1950s, even stalwarts like Mort Drucker, George Woodbridge, and the aforementioned Jaffee. One gets the impression that they were being told to copy the Elder/Kurtzman style instead of pursuing their own.
* ArtifactTitle: The 'departments' listed at the top of each article. This is a leftover from the days when Mad was a color comic book in the 50's, when it actually had things like "Western Department" or "Horror Department" depending on the article's subject matter. Now (and at least since the 60's) it's little more than a throwaway gag and usually JustForPun.
* AskAStupidQuestion: The premise of Al Jaffee's recurring "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions."
* AuthorTract: ''Mad'' has had quite a long-running relationship with ''TheSimpsons'', prompting the former to regularly launch [[TakeThat take thats]] against ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' for perceived plagiarism and causing the latter to regularly feature ''Mad'' (with one notable episode having it be integral to the plot).
* BadassBeard: William Gaines and Al Jaffee. Jaffee's signature is a caricature of himself, with "Al Jaffee" in place of the hair.
* BadassMustache: Dick [=DeBartolo=] and Creator/SergioAragones.
* BadassPreacher: The Ventriloquist Priest, who appeared in many Duck Edwing comics; he knew ventriloquism, and became somewhat of a non-violent ChurchMilitant with it, doing everything from tricking miserly people into donating to charity to convincing would-be suicides not to jump, and even fooled Satan himself into leaving a [[DemonicPossession possessed child]] by imitating the voice of God!
* BeastlyBloodsports: ''MAD'' had an article parodying bullfighting as the noble sport of [[KickTheDog Dog Kicking]] (literally).
* BigDamnHeroes: Subverted in one early feature, in which in the "real life" version of the scene, more Indians arrive instead of the cavalry, overwhelming the settlers.
* BlackComedy: "Celebrity Cause-of-Death Betting Odds" is but one example.
** They actually got [[DudeNotFunny angry mail]] after running an issue in 1999 in which readers were encouraged to choose which way {{P|okemon}}ikachu was going to die[[note]] A few issues later, after the votes were counted, Pikachu was killed via inserting a stick of dynamite into its behind[[/note]], and on the back page, a spoof advertisement about several children's books as written by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, all with suicide or death themes.
* BlatantLies: One picture has Richard Nixon as George Washington. Holding an axe behind his back, he says "I cannot tell a lie! I DIDN'T DO IT!!"
* BluffingTheMurderer:
** One prisoner is tricked into confessing by being told that he will be given a pardon. His crime was [[DisproportionateRetribution stealing a loaf of bread]].
** A more benevolent example of this Trope appeared in one of Duck Edwing's comics, where the Ventriloquist Priest fooled a killer into confessing this way.
* TheBoardGame: Manufactured by Parker Brothers in 1979. Kind of like TabletopGame/{{Monopoly}}, but with the goal of ''losing'' all your money.
* {{Bold Inflation}}/EmphasizeEverything: '''Dialogue''' in the magazine tends to have '''several words''' bolded for '''no particular reason''', particularly '''the majority of the nouns''' and '''almost every sentence''' ends in an '''exclamation point'''!
* {{Bowdlerise}}: This trope gets parodied mercilessly in Harvy Kurtzman's and Jack Davis's sketch [[http://www.litkicks.com/BookMovie/ Book! Movie!]] about the many changes made for a book's LiveActionAdaptation.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Also in the movie / TV parodies.
* BriarPatching: A boy gets in trouble, and begs his mother not to tell his father, resulting in her deciding to do so. The boy's friend chastises him for letting his mother know his weakness, but the boy says his father is soft.
* BrickJoke: In the parody of TheMatrix, as in the film, Neo's mouth vanishes when the Agents plant a bug in him. At the end, after realizing his status as the One, he does this to Morpheus when facing another one of his long speeches.
* BrokenAesop: {{invoked}}. One article talks about how various lessons in childhood are undermined by certain people and organizations not being held to those standards (a lesson about admitting your wrongdoing and accepting punishment is undermined by headlines about [[KarmaHoudini Nixon getting pardoned and Spiro Agnew getting off with a fine]]).
* BullyingADragon: A mugger avoids robbing several strong people, but then chooses an old woman... who then blows him away with a gun.
* ButtMonkey: Monroe
* CallBack: A few in the Monroe stories, typically identified by "See Monroe and...". The ones that don't have this notificaition are typically [[NoodleIncident Noodle Incidents]].
* {{Calvinball}}: [[http://www.madcoversite.com/quiz_olympics.html 43-Man Squamish]]. Also an example of {{Defictionalization}}, as one group in Canada actually formed a 43-Man Squamish team.
** An earlier example is an article for a board game called "Gringo," written back in the 1950s, with intentionally silly rules.
*** Which was guest-written by Ernest Kovacs, the famous TV comedy pioneer.
** ''MAD'' also did this again with "Three-Cornered Pitney".
* CapturedByCannibals: A common theme in "Duck" Edwing's one page comic features.
* CarloadOfCoolKids: In one issue, there is a Dave Berg piece from the 60s or early 70s with a car overloaded with teenage boys.
-->'''Father:''' Where are you going?
-->'''Boy:''' To the school dance, Dad. But first we gotta pick up our dates.
* CasualDangerDialog: In movie parodies, heroes and villains will often converse amongst themselves or with each other in the middle of battle or chase scenes.
* CatchPhrase: "What, me worry?", "Price: $x.xx (Cheap!)", "Fa! Fa! Fa!", and "The Usual Gang of Idiots" (used to describe the creators on the credits page of almost every issue).
* CensorshipBySpelling: In one "Lighter Side Of" strip, the parents are talking about their son's bad report card in front of him; the mother is reluctant but the father says "just spell it." So they have the conversation, which ends with:
-->'''Mother''': I-M W-O-R-R-I-E-D T-H-A-T H-E M-A-Y B-E S-T-U-N-T-E-D I-N-T-E-L-L-E-C-T-U-A-L-Y.\\
'''Son''': That's I-N-T-E-L-L-E-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y!
* CheekCopy: As part of the changeover to the "edgier" style in the late 1990s, the first cover of the era (issue 356) had Alfred copying his butt, and pictures of his face coming out of the copier.
* ClicheStorm: {{Invoked}}; in the ''DirtyDancing'' parody, every single panel except the introduction has a footnote describing the cliche in it, such as "[[UptownGirl Rich girl meets boy from the wrong side of the tracks]]..."
* CobwebOfDisuse: Done frequently, particularly in Creator/SergioAragones' "A MAD look at _____". If a person bought something that sits in disuse, you'll see it sitting on a shelf or in a closet with spider webs.
* ComicallyInvincibleHero: Fantabulaman.
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: Very frequent, to the point of being one of the magazine's stock jokes. "The Lighter Side" features this especially frequently.
* ContractualImmortality: Often made fun of for long-running franchises. Batman and the Joker attempt to defy this trope at the end of the Tim Burton's Batman parody; the Joker, falling to his death, tells Batman not to save him lest they put him in the sequel. In the last panel, Batman cuts the line he's swinging on in hopes of doing the same.
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment:
** In the parody of "All the President's Men", a girl from the Republican Party who squealed on the party was tied to a chair and forced to listen to the "Checkers" speech, and watch home moview of Julie and David's wedding.
** In the parody of "Up the Academy", the main characters are set to the academy as punishment for various offenses (stealing, getting a girl pregnant, being a disgrace to the family
* CoolOldGuy: Lots. Most of the magazine's old guard are in their seventies and eighties, and Al Jaffee is in his ''90s''.
* CouldntFindAPen: Amusingly done in one "A Mad Look At", in which the victim writes out not only the name of his killer, but also his motivation.
* CreatorKiller: {{invoked}} MAD is relatively quick to label works as this.
* CreatorThumbprint: Harvey Kurtzman had some odd attraction to the name "Melvin": an overwhelming amount of stories from his reign as writer have one of the characters named Melvin in them. The name's even on the first cover.
* TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks: "If Truth in Advertising Laws Applied to Comic Books" skewered a lot of trends that plagued comic books in the Nineties.
* {{Deconstruction}}: One of the older issues dealt with how a movie cowboy "Lance Sterling" would be different from a real life cowboy, "John Smurd". In the movie, Sterling defeats his rival in a long fistfight and gets the girl. Smurd, however, misses several shots in a shootout, gets knocked out for some time after being hit with a chair, and shoots his rival dead after taking him by surprise, but gets hanged for murder.
** ''Reel Life vs. Real Life'' was a brief feature in the early 1990s that took several popular movies and asked how they would play out in reality. Similarly, the ending of the ''Film/TopGun'' parody has the hero's actions resulting in WorldWarIII.
* DeconstructorFleet: Unlike many examples, though, the deconstruction is typically PlayedForLaughs.
* DeniedFoodAsPunishment: Averted in the parody of ''Film/TheShining''. Danny asks his father, who is chasing him with an axe in order to punish him, if he could not send him to bed without supper like other fathers, but Jack says that with the food they have, that would be a reward.
* DependingOnTheArtist: Most artists who drew front covers stuck close to Kelly Freas's design of Alfred E. Neuman. Creator/SergioAragones's three covers were closer to his loose, sketchy style, and John Caldwell's [[http://madcoversite.com/mad295id.jpg cover]] was closer to his squiggly style. (He drew a second cover in 2001, but it was changed at the last second because his original cover art was deemed possibly offensive after 9/11.) Lampshaded in Frank Jacobs' anthology of ''Mad'' covers, where Jacobs recalled a conversation with Aragonés over one of his covers: Jacobs said that it was one of the only Alfreds not to follow Freas' style, but Aragonés protested it was "the best [he] could do".
** Drew Struzan's [[http://madcoversite.com/mad379id.jpg lone cover attempt]] is eerily OffModel too.
** Averted since the early-mid 2000s, as Mark Fredrickson has done most of the covers.
* DeusExMachina: Many parodies are like this, such as their ''DesperateHousewives'' parody, which ended with [[spoiler:[[DoctorPhil Dr. Phil]] visiting the wives]].
* DieLaughing: Elijah, at the end of the ''{{Film/Unbreakable}}'' parody. In his case, he laughs so hard that he literally disembowels himself.
* DisneyDeath: Frequently mocked in parodies, especially if the writers know the death will be reversed.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Frequently brought up and PlayedForLaughs, with characters in parodies often threatening to kill others for inconveniencing them, committing a FelonyMisdemeanor, or even doing a good deed that they don't like for a petty reason. One woman opposes the death penalty... [[{{Hypocrite}} except for]] a [[WouldHitAGirl man who gives]] [[DomesticAbuser his wife]] [[WouldHitAGirl a black eye]].
* DivorceRequiresDeath: In the parody of ''Film/TheGodfather Part II'', when Kay demands a divorce from Michael, he refuses because it is against God's will. He then turns to family consigliere Tom Hagen and orders a "hit" on her. Hagen then tells Michael he is a good Roman Catholic for not divorcing her.
** Also in the parody of the Shining, in which Dinny's mother tells him that his father is trying to kill her because, as a Catholic, he cannot divorce her.
* DoggedNiceGuy: In the "Superduperman" parody, Clark Bent is this to Lois, and is played in a creepy and StalkerWithACrush sense. He spends his life savings to buy a pearl necklace for Lois, just for the chance to sniff her perfume.
* DontExplainTheJoke: In the "Plastic Sam" parody, a guard pauses to explain why he's looking around in surprise like he did in the previous panel, before doing so again in the next.
* DontYouDarePityMe: In one "The Lighter Side Of", a man politely refuses assistance carrying his groceries to the car, saying there are things he has to do himself. It turns out he parked in a handicapped parking space despite not being handicapped, and this attention is the reason he regrets doing so.
* DownerEnding: Every entry in the "Monroe and…" series has one.
* DrugsAreBad: Bill Gaines did not smoke or drink, and had a strict policy against alcohol and tobacco being portrayed in a positive light. He once required Creator/SergioAragones to redo one initial sketch of a "Spy vs Spy" comic because the two Spies were smoking and sipping cocktails in the first two panels.
* EarlyBirdCameo: Many artists and writers submitted one-offs well before they became regulars. Examples include:
** Al Jaffee, who first illustrated for the mag in the 1950s, jumped ship to ''Magazine/{{Cracked}}'' and returned by the 1960s.
** Sam Viviano drew a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MAD223.jpg cover]] in 1980, four years before any of his other work appeared in the mag. By the late 1990s he was promoted to art director, and what little illustration he did after that was typically credited to Jack Syracuse.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: The early issues (of the magazine format) were very different. The humor was "lighter and softer", the tv/movie satires were less biting and more likely to deviate from the plot, and most notably, they had contributions by famous humorists of the day (Bob and Ray, DannyKaye, Sid Caesar, Andy Griffith, Stan Freberg, Jean Shepherd, etc.). It wasn't until the sixties until it gained its traditional format it's most known for.
** Even some of the artists and writers display this beyond the scope of ArtEvolution. For instance, Don Martin's early gags were often BlackComedy, lacking the manic pacing and wacky sound effects he would soon become known for. His change in tone may be in part to Duck Edwing joining as a frequent ghost-writer of his gags.
** Some of the very early (1955-56) issues had some very long essays with very little artwork, something that rarely happened in later issues.
* DrugsAreBad: Bill Gains didn't smoke or drink, and he had a strict policy against tobacco and alcohol being portrayed in a positive light. One well-known example was a ''Spy vs Spy'' comic that Sergio Aragones had to edit, because the two Spies were smoking and drinking cocktails in the first two panels.
* ExplainExplainOhCrap:
** In the parody of "The Godfather"
-->'''Vino Minestrone''': Could I be harmed by that cute Italian fish peddler? By those sweet Italian kids, playing Hop-Scotch? [[BreadEggsMilkSquick By those nice Italian button men in their big black car... barreling down on me at 80 miles an hour]]? '''[[OhCrap OH-OH]]!!'''
** Subverted in "[[XMen Ecch-Men]]"
-->'''Judo-Lee''': If they register me with the Federal Mutant Agency, I'll be taken away! That means I'll never see mom and Dad again! Hey, cool!
* DracoInLeatherPants: {{Invoked}}; many parodies will have characters expressing admiration for the villains, such as in the parody of "Bonnie and Clyde"
* EndingFatigue:[[invoked]] Movie parodies often make fun of the film continuing even though it doesn't make any sense to.
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: One recurring sketch in the "Fundalini Pages" (a slapdash collection of mini-gags at the front of the mag) involves randomly adding monkeys to certain famous photos. Taken UpToEleven with an ''issue'' featuring nothing ''but'' monkeys.
* {{Expy}}: Al Jaffee's feature ''Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions'' uses the same format as Rube Goldburg's early 20th century newspaper feature ''[[http://www.toonopedia.com/foolishq.htm Foolish Questions]]''
* {{Fanservice}}: Dave Berg's and Mort Drucker's women, or at least until old age took its toll on Dave's drawing skills.
** The Grey Spy as well. Yow.
** Bill Elder was drawing hot chicks since the book's start. The lady in red in "Dragged Net!" in #3 is a good example.
** Wallace Wood's women, either. The preface to the 2002 re-release of ''The Mad Reader'' goes out of its way to point out all of the fanservice contained in Wood's ''ComicStrip/FlashGordon'' parody.
** Jack Rickard and George Woodbridge drew some very attractive women as well, although their styles were a little more understated.
* EvilLawyerJoke: Used quite frequently, and discussed in one Lighter Side strip, in which it a lawyer points out that no one likes lawyers until they need one.
* ExplosiveDecompression: The fate of one worker in "Outland".
* FakeBand: In 1959, a novelty record was released with the credit "[[http://www.discogs.com/Alfred-E-Neuman-And-His-Furshlugginer-Five-What-Me-Worry-Potrzebie/release/1977279 Alfred E. Neuman and his Furshlugginer Five]]", a series of uncredited musicians. The A-side is a novelty song titled "What, Me Worry?", with an uncredited man singing in the role of Alfred, and the B-side is an instrumental piece called [[GagWords "Potrzebie"]].
* FamilyUnfriendlyAesop: {{invoked}}. The Superman III parody, discussing Superman's inner struggle, points out that good triumphs over evil, if good is more violent than evil.
** The E.T. parody has the main character's mother tell him, in response to E.T.'s DisneyDeath, that death is nature's way of saying you're now nothing but useless garbage, a vastly more cynical take on the [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped "everyone dies someday" aesop that some works for children refuse to shy away from]]. The main character is understandably disturbed by what he hears.
* FantasticMeasurementSystem: Issue #33 had the "Portzebie System of Weights and Measures", sent in by a 19-year-old Donald Knuth, who later became a computer scientist. The base unit was the thickness of ''Mad'' issue #26, or 2.263348517438173216473 millimeters.
* FarSideIsland: A frequently-used trope in Don Martin's work.
* FauxAffablyEvil: One mugger approaches a target, pretending to be a beggar, and acts polite while he says he has nothing to his name, before threatening his victim with a gun.
* FelonyMisdemeanor: A running gag, especially in parodies, when characters get angry with others over minor slights rather than things that would be considered unforgivable.
* FinalSpeech: Mad often parodies the tendency of characters to do that in spite of injuries that should have killed them, and the "Tumbrel Cart" cliche movie prop is designed for this purpose, with a reference to ''Literature/ATaleOfTwoCities''
* FlippingTheBird: The cover of ''Mad'' #166, which was nothing but an illustration of someone doing just that, captioned by "The Number One Ecch Magazine". Many newsstands refused to display this issue.
* FollowTheLeader: The magazine's success inspired a succession of copycats, including ''Magazine/{{Cracked}}'' and countless others, many of which even had {{Expy}}s of Alfred E. Neuman as their mascots (and many of which lasted for only a few issues). William Gaines supposedly kept a voodoo doll that had pins marked with the names of ''Mad'' knockoffs; by his death in 1992, only the ''Cracked'' pin remained.
** Gaines even launched his own rip-off, ''Panic''.
* ForInconveniencePressOne: Parodied in one "The Lighter Side Of", in which a woman eagerly chooses the option for people who want to speak with a human being like they used to.
* FracturedFairyTale: One of Frank Jacobs' favorite tropes was to write satirical versions of MotherGoose rhymes, typically in some sort of theme.
* FreudianExcuse
** In the parody of ''Film/QuizShow'', Charles mentions that he wanted some way to impress his father, when he couldn't find a word that rhymed with Orange.
** In the parody of Tim Burton's Batman, the Joker's maniacal speech about wanting to cut up Batman and spread him over the city is said to have been from watching WWE interviews.
** In the parody of "Contact", "Ellie Outaways" is an atheist because her father died when she was young, as a result of her getting him his medication, but running to the bathroom and back in slow motion.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: The main premise of Creator/SergioAragones' "Drawn Out Dramas" in the margins. Many of the parody artists tend to do this as well, some moreso than others. They're quite common in the direct parodies of television shows and films.
* GagWords: "Fershlugginer" and "potrzebie" in the early years.
* GambitPileup: In ''ComicStrip/SpyVsSpy''.
* GetIntoJailFree: [[DeconstructedTrope Deconstructed]] when they point out that Michael of PrisonBreak will have to serve his own sentence even if he clears his brother's name.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Although the magazine had become more vulgar in the 1990s, it has usually refrained from using "fuck" and "shit", and the few times it does, they are censored with asterisks (for example, "F**k."). [[http://www.madcoversite.com/mad326printid.jpg Usually.]] (The F-bomb is to the left of the cardboard box.) Al Jaffee snuck the word "shit" into an article entitled "Who's Who at a Comics Convention" and Aragonés drew barely-visible uncensored penises in the graphics accompanying a Frank Jacobs-penned parody of "We Are the World".
** Sergio got away with female nipples a whole lot of times.
** A parody of Archie has Betty hurl herself at Archie. As she does so, several syringes and bottles of pills spill from her handbag, and this was a strip from the fifties!
** "Woman Wonder!" saw the titular character change her outfit inside her invisible jet with it implied her boyfriend was watching her. He keeps a horrifically lecherous face through the next few panels.
** They've never been afraid of the [[StealthPun Stealth F-bomb]]. For instance, their parody of WelcomeBackKotter included the exchange
--> Minus five percent? How can you get -5% on an exam?\\
He spelled his '''name''' wrong! That's S-H-'''O'''-T, Horseshot!
* GilliganCut: In the parody of "The Godfather", Micrin reminds himself of what he was instructed to do on the hit on Plotzo, and in the next panel, starts screaming and swearing at Plotzo.
* GladIThoughtofIt: In one "Lighter Side" feature, an editor brings up an idea his subordinate has, while mentioning that he isn't fully convinced of what his subordinate suggested. When his superior approves, the editor claims the credit.
* GodModeSue: Fantabulaman is a [[InvokedTrope deliberate example.]] [[invoked]]
* GoldDigger: A few are parodied. In one "Ventriloquist Priest" strip, the priest forces one into an EngineeredPublicConfession by pretending to be God and saying that her groom's death will come in days.
* GoodNewsBadNews: From the "Billy Jock" parody
-->'''Billy''': Barby Doll, I'm afraid I've got some bad newws... and some good news for you! First... I shot and killed your Father!
-->'''Barby''': Okay... now tell me the BAD news!
-->'''Billy''': Oh, wow! You're even tougher than I am!
* HelpingGrannyCrossTheStreet: The magazine had a series of comics based on this trope. The final one subverted it - the scout ignored the old lady in favor of a young attractive one, and an older scout master had to comfort the poor granny.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Justified in the "Ecch-Men" parody, when Professor Ecch complains about Geraldo and others who "fight and scorn" them, but Cyplops points out that their out of control powers "have killed a fair number of totally innocent people."
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade: Lampshaded in the introductory text of "[[ABeautifulMind A Booty-filled Mind]]" regarding John Nash, but [[InformedAttribute not referenced in the actual parody]].
* HonestAdvisor: The magazine, especially in the '60s and '70s, was popular among kids because it was one of the few places adults would be honest about some aspects of the world.
* HotterAndSexier: The magazine got considerably more vulgar in the late 1990s, leading to the departure of some veterans such as longtime artist Jack Davis. Lampshaded in the first "hotter and sexier" issue, which had Alfred E. Neuman [[CheekCopy photocopying his ass]].
* HumanKnot: One of the magazine covers from 1999 has Steve Austin doing this to Alfred E. Neuman.
* HurricaneOfPuns: Often done, such as in the fight between Superman and Zod in the Superman II parody. Often, the puns are the subject of the joke, rather than the joke itself.
* {{Hypocrite}}: Frequently and mercilessly made fun of. For example, in the parody of ''Film/{{Gremlins}}'', the main character tries to get the gremlins to live in peace with their own kind, but one of the evil ones thinks that "You HUMANS shuold talk about living in peace with your own kind!"
* IHaveNoSon: In the parody of "Superman II", Superman's mother does this to him, along with taking his powers.
* IJustShotMarvinInTheFace: This is frequently parodied, such as one person complaining that "Durn thing don't wor-" before emptying an entire clip into his chest.
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy:
** Often joked about in many parodies, such as TheMatrix.
-->'''Agent''': What are these, smart weapons with stupid bullets?
** This was also lampooned in Wally Wood's ''Batboy and Rubin'', featured in an issue that predated even ''Franchise/StarWars''.
* InThatOrder: In ''[[Main/PlanetOfTheApes Conquering the Planet that Went Ape]]'', the intelligent ape addresses his army:
-->All right! If we're going to win against the humans you need to listen up and stop embarrassing me! For example, when I tell you to put on your shoes and socks, I don't mean in that order!
* InsaneTrollLogic: Often parodied, such as when Melvin, in response to the [=Y2K=] bug, does a GroinAttack on a police officer and claims that the other can't arrest him, as he was never born.
* InsistentTerminology: The point of "When You're Poor... When You're Rich"
-->When you're poor, you vomit. When you're rich... you succumb to a sudden attack of nausea.
* IWantGrandkids: In one parody of {{Cathy}}, Cathy's mom torches the abortion clinics in town and sends two pro-lifers to prevent Cathy from getting an abortion even though Cathy was ''gang-raped''. She comments in the last panel that "the need to be a grandmother overrides all else"
* IWasToldThereWouldBeCake: And there ''is'', sort of. Traditionally, they have an annual letters page where they display photographs sent from fans with ''Mad''-inspired cakes, which are frequently mailed in.
* JustBetweenYouAndMe / WhyDontYouJustShootHim: In a feature discussing how movie scenes happen in the film and in real life, one scene had Lance Sterling and his girlfriend at the mercy of some mobsters. Instead of just shooting them, one mobster decides to take them outside to avoid drawing suspicion to the others (justified), then proceeds to tell him the plan (stupid) and then gives him a chiclet as his last request (completely unnecessary), allowing Sterling to jam his gun, defeat him and destroy the gang. In the real life version, Sterling and his girlfriend get shot on the second panel.
* KarmaHoudini: A major pet peeve of Mad's writers is when someone gets off without punishment, or a disturbingly light sentence. A RunningGag is how first-degree murder will get the offender only a few years in prison.
* KickTheDog: In ''{{Film/Dave}}'', when "Bund" forges the President's signature to cut funding for children's shoes, he offhandedly suggests that if the funding's cut in half, the children can simply hop.
* KingKongClimb: One cover features Alfred as King Kong.
* KingIncognito: A king who wants to raise taxes decides to pass himself off as a beggar to see whether they're as badly off as his minister claims... and he [[WhatAnIdiot panhandles using his crown]].
* LampshadeHanging: Especially in Kurtzman's early deconstructionist parodies.
* LargeHam: The magazine often makes fun of actors who act this way.
* LastSecondWordSwap: One feature showed how to turn an offensive statement into a non-offensive one, often the ''complete opposite'' of what was about to be said.
* LikeASonToMe: Often parodied and even possibly deconstructed.
** In the "NYPD Blue" parody, one character says that his boss was like a father to him, but it's pointed out that the speaker was abused as a child.
** Nicky and Rockhead
-->'''Nicky''':I've always treated you like a Father would!
-->'''Rockhead''': [[FlatWhat What]]? You t'row my stuff in the street... you yell at me in front of everyone... you make me feel like a stupid useless little kid!
-->'''Nicky''': See! I told you I treat you like a Father would!
* LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt: [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] for humor. It's often pointed out that a certain outcome to a situation would make for a very short movie, such as Billy Jack getting killed at the four minute mark, and the cops being told to "shoot to miss" against [[TheJoker Jack Napier]] in the Tim Burton Batman film parody.
* LonelyAtTheTop: One "Lighter Side" strip has everyone, up the chain of command of a company hoping to take their immediate superior's job. The CEO says he wants nothing more than to be an entry-level stock boy again, since his position has brought him nothing but heartache.
* LongTitle: The original title of the comic version was ''Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad: Humor in a Jugular Vein''.
** The title for the parody of the movie ''Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice'' started out ''Boob & Carnal & Tad & Alas & '' and continued adding name after name of historical, entertainment, and political people running around the borders of the panels of the 6 page article, finaling ending next to the final panel with ''...& Everyone Else in the World [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg & Alfred]]''.
** The parody of the TV Series ''Room 222'' became ''Room 2222222222ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz''.
* LudicrousGibs: Used frequently in ''Spy vs. Spy'' ever since Peter Kuper took over. Also, nearly any one-page gag written by Michael Gallagher, especially if Tom Bunk is handling the art. (Oddly, Gallagher tends to avert this when someone else is drawing for him.)
* {{Mascot}}: Subverted with the ugly Alfred E. Neuman. Covers often show Alfred inserted into various scenes, such as in the role of the main character, with everyone else reacting in disgust and/or horror.
* TheMasqueradeWillKillYourDatingLife: In their parody of the '60s ''Series/{{Batman}}'' show, Robin's having to deal with his girlfriends leaving him because he's called away on crime-fighting business and can't adequately explain what happened without exposing himself, combined with Batman's lack of sympathy for him over having to do this, is the Boy Wonder's reason for his FaceHeelTurn.
* MayTheFarceBeWithYou: TropeNamer. They naturally did satires of all six movies, each of them under a "department" with this label.
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: In the Monroe story in which he goes to China and gets tricked into working for a sweatshop, you can see his actual host family trying to get his attention at the airport as he runs into the sweatshop people.
* MortonsFork: In "You Can Never Win With A Bigot," the prejudiced people spout off contradictory prejudices- if the elderly don't work, they are drains on society, but if they do work, they take jobs away from the young.
* TheMusical: ''The Mad Show'', a 1966 off-Broadway production starring Paul Sand and Linda Lavin. With lyrics by Creator/StephenSondheim, no less.
* {{Nepotism}}: In one children's rhyme parody, a congressman gives his family jobs.
-->His brother is his right hand man
-->(He's never worked before)
-->His father earns twelve grand a year[[note]]This was in the 1970s[[/note]]
-->(He's paid to shut the door)
-->His mother is a filing clerk
-->([[NeverLearnedToRead She cannot read or write]])
-->His sister mans the telephone
-->(A chimp is twice as bright)
* NeverSpeakIllOfTheDead: Averted; Mad Magazine often likes making fun of or criticizing even recently deceased people.
** Discussed in ''The Lion King'' parody when Simba, watching Scar flee into exile, tells his subjects to never speak well of him again, and TheSimpsons in attendance note that people spoke well of Richard Nixon after his death.
** After Michael Jackson's death, they first ran a "Brutally Honest Obituary" that pointed up all the strange and suspicious things he did in life and printed his mugshot (taken, as they put it, "in happier days") from his 2003 arrest on child molestation charges alongside it. The world essentially canonizing him as a saint was later declared the Stupidest Event of 2009.
** One comic has a ventriloquist priest pretend to use the voice of a dead man to bring up his rapid promotion. The assembly at the funeral, including the murderer, angrily denounces him.
* NoDialogueEpisode:
** Creator/SergioAragones' ''A Mad Look At...'' almost never uses dialogue; if a character needs to speak, it's usually represented through pantomiming or icons in a speech balloon, or very rarely, a "gesundheit." On one occasion, bodyguards listening to soccer on their earpieces scream "GOAL!".
** And ''Spy vs Spy''.
** Some Don Martin installments qualify such as one with a motorist approaching a toll booth marked 'Pay Toll 50 Feet' .... And pulls 50 disembodied feet out of his trunk and hands them to the horrified tool taker.
* NoEndorHolocaust: In the parody of Tim Burton's ''Batman'', Batman causes the gas spewing balloons to drift away, and says that even if they poison other people elsewhere, "That's their problem!"
* NoExceptYes: In the "Ecch-Men" parody, the Mutant Control Agency is not run by the government- it just gives them a building, funds them, and looks the other way when they attack mutants. Beast calls it "Federal-speak."
* NoFourthWall: Quite often, the characters in movie and TV parodies are [[GenreSavvy blatantly aware]] that they're in a parody.
* NoSympathy: Often played for comedy, with parodied characters and original ones.
* NormalFishInATinyPond: One ''Nasty File'' article says the ''PoliceAcademy'' movies "...prove that even Bubba Smith can seem like a talented actor if he's surrounded by a cast that's sufficiently untalented."
* ObviousObjectCouldBeAnything: Given the surreal nature of the magazine, this is usually inverted.
* OhCrap: In one page showing a nuclear power plant melting down, Alfred E. Neuman's smile fades, and he says "YES... ME WORRY!"
* OncePerEpisode: Nearly every issue since the 1960s has featured a Mad Fold-In and ''A Mad Look At...'', with several other recurring features coming and going over time. Also, Alfred has appeared on almost every cover.
* OneSceneWonder: [[InvokedTrope Some parodies]] mention that very good actors often have only a single scene in a given film.
* OnlySaneMan: The dog in the FatalAttraction parody.
-->"I hate watching my master cheat on his beautiful, trusting wife without feeling any pangs of conscience! He's acting like an animal! Not this animal, mind you- me he had fixed! Had he been fixed, it would've saved us all a lot of trouble!"
* ParentsAsPeople: The most generous Mad will get with the parents it lampoons, showing them as benevolent, if misguided. When they're less charitable, they'll be depicted as low-grade AbusiveParents in their tendency to nag and belittle their kids, and [[ParentalHypocrisy hypocrites]], if not worse.
* ParentalHypocrisy: The parents are often portrayed as this, not letting children do the things they did when they were young. Additionally, parents are often made fun of for making children take on "adult" responsibilities but telling them they're still too young to do "adult" things.
* ParodyAssistance: Chris Houghton, who draws covers for the ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' comics, also did the cover to the ''Adventure Time''-themed issue #520.
* ParodyCommercial: A recurring motif. Sometimes the commercials themselves are parodied, while sometimes they're used to make fun of something else.
* ParodyNames: Notably averted in the ''{{Seinfeld}}'' parody (and with Ripley - but only Ripley - in the ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' parody), but usually played straight.
* PedophilePriest: A common joke; in the RoadToPerdition spoof, Michael tells his son not to go to their Catholic priest, not because of his ties to the mob, but because he might be this.
* PerfectlyCromulentWord: "Potrzebie" was a RunningGag in the magazine's first decade. A fan ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Knuth Donald Knuth!]]) made a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Potrzeb.jpg "Potrzebie System" of weights and measurements]] which got published in the magazine.
* PoliteVillainsRudeHeroes: An article on [[AffablyEvil villains politely discussing their plans to kill or torture the heroes]], while the [[GoodIsNotNice heroes rudely reply]]. It even provides the page image.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: It's often mocked, such as in the parody of ''Film/TheGreenMile'', it's pointed out that what's ''really'' unlikely about the story of John Coffey's arrest is how, as a black man suspected of murder in the Deep South, he wasn't lynched on the spot.[[note]]John Coffey was almost killed on the spot at the beginning of the actual movie, though[[/note]]
* PopularityPolynomial:[[invoked]] Foreseen in an article from the early 1960s predicting that when rebellious teenagers of the '50s have children of their own, the children will rebel against them by doing "square" things like refusing to put off studying, and pursuing careers in medicine. Then, when those offspring have children of ''their'' own, this new generation will rebel against ''them'' by practicing the same behavior that their grandparents did as '50s teenagers.
* PromBaby: One issue has a series of fake magazine covers, including one called "Prom Mom" with articles like "Drinking the spiked punch: What the hell, it's not like anyone expects good judgment from you at this point!"
* RandomEventsPlot: Some TV show spoofs are like this. Others go through plot points in a given season, and still others create a new plot.
* RapidFireComedy: Many of the comic book issues managed to overstuff ''every'' panel with little gags. It originated with Will Elder's work in the 1950s, when ''Mad'' was still a comic book; Elder and Kurtzman called these little gags "chicken fat." Kurtzman was reportedly pretty bad about forcing the other artists to follow Elder's example. The stalwart artists such as Angelo Torres and Mort Drucker often engaged in this to varying degrees, as does Tom Richmond in the present day. (Gary Hallgren also went all out in the two parodies he drew, of ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' and ''WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire''.)
* RealityEnsues: A recurring theme for humor.
* ReallyGetsAround: At the end of the ''Film/PearlHarbor'' parody, ''every single pilot flying in to bomb Tokyo'' has the picture of the same girl in his cockpit, as the commander says that they're all fighting for the same thing.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: One character gets a lengthy one in ''The Lighter Side of'', capped off with the following exchange.
-->'''Woman''': I think you listen, but you only hear what you want to hear! And I think that's a good summary of what you are!
-->'''Man''': [[ComicallyMissingThePoint Hardly... All you did was talk about what YOU think! You didn't say ANYTHING about ME!]]
* TheReveal: Some of the parodies have one of the heroes turning out to be the main villain.
* ARiddleWrappedInAMysteryInsideAnEnigma: One white-paper front cover for the magazine greatly [[ExaggeratedTrope exaggerated]] this phrase [[PlayedForLaughs for laughs]].
* RightWayWrongWayPair: "Melvin and Jenkins". Jenkins, a nerdy-looking chap, is polite and intelligent and always tries to do his best; Melvin, on the other hand, is a gangsta wannabe hoodlum who delights in petty mischief.
** They're obviously a [[ShoutOut parody]] of HighlightsForChildren's GoofusAndGallant, with the order reversed so that Melvin's sociopathic and insane antics contrast with Jenkins' reasonable behavior.
* RosesAreRedVioletsAreBlue: A RunningGag in the Quiz Show parody. Charles Van Doren's FreudianExcuse was his failure to do one with an "orange" rhyme.
* RunningGag: Over time, the magazine has adapted a large number of icons that appear at random spots, such as a skinny bird named [[PunnyName Flip]], a potted plant named Max, a zeppelin with "MAD" written on it and the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blivet.png poiuyt.]]
** The table of contents lists the articles in the magazine as being from various departments whose titles are [[PunnyName various plays on words]]. The two constants through the run are the letters section, which is listed as being from the "Letters & Tomatoes Dept.", and "Spy Vs. Spy" from the "Joke and Dagger Dept."
** Whenever they do a parody of Batman, Alfred (the butler) is always named Neuman, after the mascot.
* SadistShow: ''Monroe and...'', where something bad ''always'' happened to the title character.
* SadistTeacher: Often made fun of. There's even an entire catalog of school supplies that are designed to break at certain points for the purpose of causing kids frustration and/or getting them in trouble.
* SelfDeprecation: The masthead's listing of the creative team as "the usual gang of idiots".
** The magazine has done this a lot over the years, and they sometimes take their own affected self-deprecation to the extreme: In an article on how to make a food poisoning victim throw up (in issue #256), reading ''Mad'' magazine to him is described as the very last resort, because it's so effective that he'll drown the house with puke.
** Their Christmas-season magazines suggest giving a subscription to Mad as a Christmas present. The ads rip the magazine as dumb and unpleasant, but conclude it's good to give to someone because it's a cheap present.
** Even Bill Gaines, the magazine's owner, was constantly mocked in the magazine due to his stinginess and obesity. A man who strongly resembles him is often seen in "The Lighter Side."
** Occasionally the parodies lampshade the fact that MAD's love of ParodyNames is taken to such ridiculous extremes that a casual reader can't tell what the original character name was supposed to be.
** Those who write in to the magazine are often mocked for reading something as bad as it.
* SelfMadeOrphan: In the ''RoadToPerdition'' parody, as [[spoiler:John is killing Rooney]], who protests that he's [[LikeASonToMe like a father to him]], he declares that [[BondOneLiner now he's become an orphan]]
* ShooOutTheClowns: Invoked on the Roseanne parody, when the kids are discussing their frustrations with their mother. "D.D.T." starts mumbling, which typically is an almost guaranteed laugh, but is told that "this is no laughing matter!"
* ShoutOut: Many, such as the frequent cameos from {{Peanuts}} characters early on. Schulz later returned the favor by giving Alfred E. Neuman a quick appearance in his strip, as the punchline at the end of a story arc in which Charlie Brown kept seeing baseballs everywhere he went. Watching the sunrise, he doesn't see a baseball over the horizon, but Alfred's face!
** There will often be shout-outs to other works with the same creator or actors in parodies. For example, in ''Film/TheShining'' parody, Wendy asks Danny if he remembers Film/OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest, and when Danny says yes, she says "[[AxCrazy (Jack)'s still flying]]!"
* SoapOperaDisease: Parodied in the parody of ''LoveStory'', in which the main character's wife gets more beautiful as her condition worsens.
* StealthPun: While most parody names are typically something that sounds similar to their original name (In ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', Aragorn/Peppercorn is also called "Strider/Spider"), whenever Alfred from ''Batman'' appears, he's typically called "Neuman", [[DontExplainTheJoke as a reference to Alfred Neuman]].
* SpinOff: ''Mad Kids'', a magazine with similar content for younger audiences.
* {{Spoonerism}}: "Mad Switcheroos" were a couple of articles by Al Jaffee that had some nutty examples as jokes, and to make them funnier, left the punch line blank for the reader to figure out. (The illustration helped.) For example:
-->'''Set-up line:''' What's the difference between a spanking and a tourist in Mexico?
-->'''Punch line:''' A spanking '''Rattles the Buns'''. A tourist in Mexico [[spoiler: Battles the Runs]]
* StatingTheSimpleSolution: Quite frequently, when the characters of a movie they parody do something illogical, and the most common response is "[[LampshadeHanging It makes too much sense]]!" For example, in the ''DoubleJeopardy'' parody, it's suggested that the main character could bring to light that her husband is still alive, clearing her name and getting custody of her son.
* StayInTheKitchen: Nivlem forces the Woman Wonder to do this, as he turns out to be her boyfriend and is jealous of her superior skills.
* StealingFromTheHotel: In a "Lighter Side of" feature by Dave Berg, a husband and wife are traveling abroad, when the wife is suddenly alarmed that one of their suitcases was stolen. She rants about how those foreigners are all crooks. When her husband asks what was in that particular bag, she replies "The ash trays and the towels and the silverware" that they took from the hotel.
* StupidCrooks: The two protagonists of ''Spy vs Spy''. When they debuted, the introduction claimed that they "taught James Bond everything he knows... about what ''not'' to do!" And it shows.
** Taken UpToEleven in the ''Film/DogDayAfternoon'' parody; one of the robbers gives the other flowers instead of a gun (originally intended to be concealed in a box of flowers), which he [[CrowningMomentOfFunny put in a vase of water on the kitchen table]]
* SuicideAsComedy: Frequently done, especially with completely outlandish suicide methods (such as eating until you become heavy enough to cause an elevator to exceed the weight limit).
** A subscription ad on the letters page carried the headline "WHY KILL YOURSELF? ... Just because you missed the last issue of Mad. The drawing would be of a man or woman about to commit suicide in an outlandish way.
* SurpriseIncest
** In a list of cliche movie props, one Arab beggar reunites his necklace with that of the Caliph's daughter, whom he loves and learns that they are brother and sister.
** In the parody of ''Film/{{Maverick}}'', the [[WhamLine final line]].
-->"There's still one final plot twist- you can't marry your own sister!"
* SymbolSwearing: Shows up from time to time (most notably in the ''{{Series/Deadwood}}'' spoof), because the magazine usually steers clear of certain profanities. However, since the writers (most often Arnie Kogen) leave in at least one letter in each swear, it's often blatantly obvious what words the grawlixes represent.
** Lampshaded in the parody of '''E.T.'''s "penis-breath" scene. Elliot's Mum: "That's it! I will NOT have any asterisks, ampersands, or percentage signs spoken in MY house!"
** In "Who In Heck is Virginia Woolfe"
-->'''Dick''' $*&#+=*!
-->'''Liz''': %$?
-->'''Dick''': Huh? %$?"...? What kind of profanity is that, Liz?
-->'''Liz''': That's no profanity, Dick! I just wanted to know what percentage of the gross we're getting for this picture!
* SympatheticMurderer: In one Ventriloquist Priest comic, a receptionist falls in love with a mail clerk, who gets her pregnant but leaves her for the boss' ugly daughter in order to gain a promotion. She then poisons his coffee in retaliation.
* TailorMadePrison: "Plastic Sam" is put in a freezer, essentially reducing him to a cube of plastic that can't do anything.
* TakeThat: '''''HUNDREDS.''''' If we listed them all, we'd be here all day, since the magazine has been running for decades, and believes nothing is sacred.
* TakeThatAudience: They often imply that anyone who actually reads their magazine ''has'' to be a moron (this goes hand-in-hand with their constant SelfDeprecation). They also insult anyone who writes them a letter when it appears in their "Letters and Tomatoes Department".
* TakeThatCritics: Not necessarily their critics, but in the 80s, Mad ran a piece in which film critics made several promises concerning their trade, such as dismissing all ChuckNorris films as mindless violence, and deriding them as boring if they even try to have a plot.
* TeethFlying: A Running Gag in "Spy Vs. Spy". Whenever one spy is caught in an explosion, a set of teeth come flying out of the blast.
* ThinkNothingOfIt: A response given at a few points, such as in one The Lighter Side strip and in the Batman Returns parody. It's then followed by the person thanking the benefactor revealing that he or she is not actually grateful. Below is a paraphrased exchange from one Lighter Side strip.
-->'''Birthday Girl''': I must thank you for this gift!
-->'''Gift Giver''': It was nothing!
-->'''Birthday Girl''': (scowling) [[UngratefulBastard I know]]! But my mom said I should thank you anyway!
* TomatoInTheMirror: In "[[ABeautifulMind A Booty-Filled Mind]]", Nash's wife turns out to be a hallucination.
* TopTenList: A staple of the Fundalini pages.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: In a 60s parody of TVGuide Commercials are listed in the listings. Many online guides now list infomercials by the program's name instead of the standard ''Paid Programming''.
* TwistEnding: Especially in the ECComics era. Most movie parodies end with an altered version of the film's ending, sometimes revealing something about the plot that had been concealed all along.
** In "[[Film/ABeautifulMind A Booty-Filled Mind]]", it's revealed that "Mash's" wife is also a hallucination.
** "[[Film/BramStokersDracula Drek-ula]]" mocks the 1992 adaptation's huge RomanticPlotTumor when the title character is transformed by ThePowerOfLove into the Beast from ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast''. To make matters worse, Disney's lawyers arrive to sue Francis Ford Coppola and company for ripping off their movie, only for Drek-ula to counter that since it was a better movie, there's no comparison.
** "[[Main/ETTheExtraTerrestrial Q.T. -- The Quasi-Terrestrial]]" ends with Q.T. going up the ramp of the spaceship...and Richard Dreyfuss coming down, thankful that they finally made a sequel to ''[[Film/CloseEncountersOfTheThirdKind Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind]]'' allowing him to get away from all those crazy aliens.
* UnderdogsAlwaysWin: Subverted with the parody of Rocky
-->'''Nicky''': This movie shows what can happen to an underdog who [[{{Determinator}} keeps his faith and fights valiantly against tremendous odds]]!
-->'''Man''': You mean he wins in the end?
-->'''Nicky''': No, he gets his brains beaten out!
* UnderestimatingBadassery: A firing squad in one comic strip suggests there's no way a man could have killed as many people as he did on the basis that he's skinny. He then proceeds to kill them all [[WithMyHandsTied with his hands cuffed]], and then [[HereWeGoAgain later gets recaptured, with the new firing squad saying the same thing that the old one did]].
* UnlimitedWardrobe: Parodied on the "Mary Tyler Moore" show parody.
* UnsettlingGenderReveal: At the end of the ''American Graffiti'' parody, Squirt seemingly recognizes the "chick in the white T-Bird," only to find out that it's RingoStarr from TheBeatles.
* VerbalBackspace: In the "Dave" parody, Dave initially refuses to be a body double for the president, but when he's told that he'll get $200, he says "My fellow Americans...!"
* ViewersAreMorons: Usually done jokingly.
** In the ''Film/PearlHarbor'' parody, this trope is suggested to be the reason why the film included a bombing mission on Tokyo; the way history is taught, viewers might have left theaters with the impression that the Japanese won the war after bombing Pearl Harbor.
* WhamShot: Gags commonly end with shots revealing more about those involved. For example, in one "The Lighter Side Of", a man talks with his friend about how he and his wife had "chemistry" when they met and "biology" when they married, but "Now it's all history!"- and the last panel shows that they're walking out of a courthouse, presumably after his divorce.
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: Defied on a few jokes regarding the church panhandle. In one "A Mad Look At" strip, a priest records the collection, prompting people to give generously out of fear of being seen. In a Ventriloquist Priest strip, the priest forces the statues to talk about how people who don't give generously are going to hell.
* WorldsShortestBook: They occasionally had a shelf of these, usually political- or current events-themed. A few examples:
** "Etiquette" by Lyndon B. Johnson
** "Truths I Have Told" by Richard Nixon
* WritersCannotDoMath: The ''Film/{{Ghostbusters}}'' parody, "Ghost-Dusters," (''MAD'' #253) featured the characters explaining the $10,000 charge for capturing the parody's equivalent of Slimer. The individual prices actually totaled $11,000. A reader wrote in and the magazine had to admit its error.
* WrittenSoundEffect: Don Martin was very fond of atypical ones, such as "Dingalinga" for a bell ringing, "Ferrap" for shuffling cards, etc. Sometimes he would use {{Unsound Effect}}s: "Don't Walk," "Applaud," etc. He even had a vanity plate reading "SHTOINK." There's also a [[http://www.madcoversite.com/dmd.html dictionary]] of them.
** [[ShoutOut "I'll take]] [[WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy the Don Martin sounding guy"]]
* WrongfulAccusationInsurance: In the DoubleJeopardy parody, this is defied, when [[RealityEnsues the mother gets arrested for all the laws she broke in the process of tracking down her husband]].
* YetAnotherChristmasCarol
** One had Archie Bunker facing the ghosts of Ratings Past, Laughs Past, Bigotry Past and Ratings Future, who confronted him over the fact that if his show is no longer bigoted, it's no longer funny, either.
** Ronald Reagan was shown as Scrooge in one parody. After saying "Humbug!" to unemployment going up, health care going down, and farms being foreclosed, he gets a visit and an expression of approval from [[YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame The Ghost of Depression Past, also known as Herbert Hoover]].
* YiddishAsASecondLanguage: Most prominently "fershlugginer," but plenty of Yiddish appeared in the mag's early years.
** From the ''ComicStrip/{{Popeye}}'' parody: "Right in the kishkas!" Also an example of GettingCrapPastTheRadar.
*** Likely because a good chunk of the staff were Jewish, and many of them are still around.
* YourCostumeNeedsWork: Averted in one "A Mad Look at Batman" strip," Batman chases a criminal into a costume party and walks out with first prize.
* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: Several people are mentioned as being close to this level. In the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book for the 2000 presidential election, one of the paths leading to the bad ending has your own mother refuse to vote for you, and you being so far behind in the race that the networks declare your opponent the winner ''eight hours before the polling ends''.
----