-->''"Oh my God, they killed Kenny!"''
-->''"You bastards!"''
-->-''Stan and Kyle, WesternAnimation/SouthPark.''

A RunningGag which may risk wearing out its welcome but is always associated with a particular situation; the audience expects it whenever that situation comes up, but may not always find it as funny after a while. Removing the gag for a period of time ''will'' still make the audience ask where it went.

Usually not put in ''every'' episode, but frequently enough it becomes associated with the show as a whole. Writers may even start to make increasingly complicated setups for them just to keep the novelty.

If it's regularly being {{Lampshaded}}, then it's also an OverusedRunningGag.

See also CharacterExaggeration.


[[folder: Anime ]]

* Many ''MegatonPunch'' gags are adaptations of quick, one-panel visual gags. If {{filler}} episodes use them just as frequently, it can make a character seem [[{{Flanderization}} overly grouchy or abrasive]]. (Viz Akane Tendo from ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf]''.)


[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* In ''Series/HomeImprovement'', Wilson's un-shown lower face became this. Originally, he just stood behind a fence on stage. As the show progressed, Wilson was shown out of the house more and set designers went to town finding ways to keep the portion of his face hidden with props. In all these cases, he was never shown, being obscured by at least three props in the scene as he moved around the set. Even at the final curtain call, actor Earl Hindman came out holding a miniature fence in front of his face (he did move it, though). Hindman was even known to do ''out of character appearances'', for instance interviews about his experience working on the show, with his face obscured.
* In ''Series/{{The IT Crowd}}'' the apathetic Roy will always answer the phone with "Hello, IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?" In later seasons they progress to "is it plugged in?", and later still "I'm sick of saying that... what do you WANT?!"
* This was actually cited by Brent Gore as the reason he left the show ''Series/CaliforniaDreams'' in its third season as his character had been reduced from the focus character of the show to a one-trick pony who mostly showed up to whine 'Aww man' when things didn't go his way.


[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]
* Charles Schultz of ''[[NewspaperComics/{{Peanuts}} Peanuts]]'' said he was in a bit of a bind regarding the strip's annual, seasonal gags like Lucy and the football, and Linus and the Great Pumpkin. Some people complained the gags were stale, but even more people complained if he tried to skip them.


[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/MetalGear'': The cardboard box started out as a really overpowered gag item in ''VideoGame/MetalGear'' and has made an appearance in every game since, as it is now a signature item of the series, though changes in gameplay mean it has become progressively less and less useful. It even makes an appearance in ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance'', which isn't even a stealth game.

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' Bob's roof ''has'' to get destroyed at ''least'' once per story arc. Bonus points if it gets destroyed, fixed, and re-destroyed in a single storyline.


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* On Website/{{Usenet}}, the word [[http://catb.org/jargon/html/P/pred.html "pred"]] (for "predictable", naturally enough) denotes a response to a topic that is a) completely unoriginal and b) nonetheless required.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In ''WesternAnimation/SpaceGhostCoastToCoast'', Space Ghost would often abuse his Destructo Ray to blast the guest or Zorak when he tires of them.
* Much ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' humor is based on NonSequitur asides that play off the characters' metaphors. Occasionally, an aside doesn't happen, causing the character to flinch, "Oh? We're not doing one? Right?"
* In ''WesternAnimation/PinkyAndTheBrain'', Brain would often ask, "Pinky! [[AreYouPonderingWhatImPondering Are you pondering what I'm pondering?]]" before a zany scheme, prompting Pinky to agree, before spouting a goofy non-sequitur.
** They occasionally turned it on its head, with Pinky thinking the same thing once, then discarding it as too absurd, and another time they had an entire conversation about it.
** In one episode told from Pinky's point of view, the viewer sees his train of thought leading up to his non-sequitur, and it makes perfect sense.
* Kenny's frequent deaths in ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', one of the original hooks for audience attention. The creators quickly grew tired of the joke, however, and went to extreme lengths to lampshade or subvert the joke. They eventually left Kenny dead for a whole season, then brought him back and only killed him off occasionally. In a later episode, it's revealed that Kenny actually remembers being killed, but his friends don't. His mother gives birth to him again each time, and he matures to his current age overnight.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' is a show where the great deal of the humour comes from the formulaic plot and its OnceAnEpisode running-gags and catch-phrases. To keep them fresh, the show will constantly tweak, rotate or make them pointedly absent in funny ways.