[-[[caption-width-right:151:"That's not a running gag! That's a pun!" "[[VisualPun It's a running gag now.]]"]]-]
->''"That's not funny. But don't worry; it's a running joke, so they'll repeat it several times until you have no choice but to find it funny."''
-->-- '''WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic''', ''SuburbanCommando'' review
A joke that is only mildly funny the first time, but becomes funnier each time it is repeated. ''Must'' be repeated at least [[RuleOfThree three times]]. But repeat it ''too'' many times and it becomes an OverlyLongGag. A variant is a joke or scene that occurs OnceAnEpisode; doing ''that'' too often threatens to turn it into an OverusedRunningGag.
The ultimate fear for the use of any running gag is not that it becomes an OverlyLongGag; rather, it is that it was never funny in the first place. Nothing is worse than starting a one hour show with a joke that bombs that you're going to use twenty times over the next hour.
A Running Gag can be limited to a particular episode or recur throughout an entire series. If it recurs throughout an entire series, then it will often develop variations and/or be accompanied by LampshadeHanging. If a character [[BreakingTheFourthWall breaks the fourth wall]] to mention it, it's DidntWeUseThisJokeAlready. When the story goes on kill off the gag for good (either with a final payoff or just by referencing that it's become ''too'' overused and it's ending right then), that is RunningGagged.
A comedy CatchPhrase is a type of Running Gag. Can become potential for MemeticMutation if the gag itself is widely applicable. Compare ArcWords, which are a recurring phrase that isn't a gag. See subtropes OncePerEpisode and EveryEpisodeEnding.
->-- [[OneOverZero The Running Gag]]