It's Tough To Be Famous was a 1932 farce starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as a Charles Lindbergh expy coping with the travails of overnight celebrity. Barely a month after the film's release, Lindbergh's missing son was found dead.
In Manhattan, Woody Allen ends the film by going back to the high school girl he dated at the start of the film. Many years later, Allen started a relationship with his ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow's adopted daughter Soon Yi, whom he had helped raise.
An example of this phenomenon known only to studio execs for many years occurs in the movie To Be or Not to Be: After the 1942 death of star Carole Lombard in a plane crash, the studio had to cut out a scene (before the film was released) in which her character remarks, "What can happen on a plane?"
Heather Chandler of Heathers asks, "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" Tragically, Kimberly Walker, the actress who uttered the line, died of a brain tumor at age 32. Uncomfortably, her character's death and funeral is a huge part of the movie, and her ghost turns up in a dream sequence to complain about the quality of the afterlife.
Also, the plot of the movie: High School students murdering each other due to rivalries and popularity. Absurd for 1989, real for Columbine (1999) and Virginia Tech (2007), hence why we're not going to get a remake any time soon.
From the same movie, the character Peter Dawson (sort of a nerdy, sycophantic character on the yearbook staff) says, as voice-over, "Dear God, please don't let this happen to me, 'cause I don't think I could handle suicide," while at Heather Chandler's funeral. Jeremy Applegate, the actor who played Dawson, later committed suicide.
Q:(to Bond, while getting into an elevator platform.) I've always tried to teach you two things. First, never let them see you bleed. Bond: And the second? Q: Always have an escape plan. (Elevator lowers Q out of scene.)
In The Living Daylights, Art Malik plays a Mujahideen warrior who helps out James Bond. Several years later in True Lies, he plays a Middle-Eastern extremist about to detonate a nuke on United States soil. The uncomfortable part is that his character in True Lies could have in effect been the same one as in The Living Daylights, as the Mujahideen was the genesis of the Taliban and was where many future extremists were incubated.
The entire second act of True Lies revolves around Arnold Schwarzenegger's suspicions that his wife is cheating on him. Given what we now know about Schwarzenegger's own indiscretions, this is more than a little uncomfortable.
In Zombieland, Tallahassee has an obsession with Twinkies, which he immediately states have a shelf-life. Hostess, the company that made Twinkies, would go out of business three years later, though it resumed under different ownership soon afterwards.
Monster In A Box is more poignant and sad as Spalding Gray talks endlessly about his mother's suicide, and his own suicidal tendencies. One particular moment has a chilling subtext now, a previously funny line when trying to do volunteer work with the Suicide Hotline and they tell him he should go into therapy.
Spalding Gray: When the Suicide Hotline says it's time for you to go into therapy, IT'S TIME!
A similar effect comes from any movie or TV show set in New York that shows an image of the World Trade Center. For quite a while after 9/11, the WTC was edited out of places it would appear in.
Appears in the otherwise forgettable and inexplicable Super Mario Bros. movie out of nowhere. The film featured a plot by King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) to merge our dimension with his own (the film has an... interesting take on the games' plot). When the alternate dimensions start combining in New York, the film shows the Twin Towers disintegrating.
Escape from New York stated that the only place in New York that a plane could land on in the future (1997, when they still existed) was the roof of the World Trade Center. In the same film, a plane crashes into a building. On purpose. In New York. It had been hijacked by terrorists who were crashing the plane as an act to oppose U.S. policy.
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence starts in the near future, where New York is flooded. Among other buildings sticking out of the water are the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. The end goes into the way far future, showing a frozen-over New York with the Twin Towers as the tallest structures sticking out of the ice sheet. The movie came out before 9/11, but the DVDs came out after. Knowing he would take flak for the decision, Spielberg decided to keep the buildings in.
The poster for the 1987 movie "The Squeeze". Yes, those are the Twin Towers. Same goes for the poster for Die Hard
In Ghostbusters (1984), the containment system is shut down, the trapped ghosts are released throughout New York and see them flying out over Manhattan. During a long-distance shot, they seem to originate from right around the towers. So we have bright lights and ghosts flying out from the World Trade Center towers. One of the memorials to the Twin Towers has been shining twin spotlights straight up into the sky from Ground Zero once a year.
The catastrophe movie Down (AKA The Shaft) takes place in a skyscraper. The characters make an offhanded remark about somebody blowing up WTC and mention Osama bin Laden in a separate conversation. To top everything off, the movie was released in the summer of 2001, and quickly pulled from distribution for obvious reasons.
The song "All for the Best" from the 1972 movie of Godspell ends with an aerial shot of the cast dancing and singing on a rooftop in NYC. The shot pulls out to show that the roof is that of the North Tower, as the cast sings the last line, "Yes, it's all for the best!" The second last line in that song, just before the camera pulls out to reveal where they're dancing? "Someone's got to be oppressed!"
Just before the climax of Trading Places, Louis Winthorpe tells Billy Ray Valentine "Nothing in your life can prepare you for the unbridled carnage you're about to witness." and "In this building, it's either kill or be killed." as they walk into the WTC.
In Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, where Clark Kent goes to a gym with Lois Lane and pretends to injure his back lifting weights. It's not a direct parallel, but the image of Christopher Reeve holding his spine and wincing in pain is very eerie.
Christopher Reeve's last movie before the accident was Above Suspicion, in which he played a paralyzed cop who uses the sympathy he receives to literally get away with murder. The movie was released two days before he got paralyzed.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the film Heath Ledger was working on when he died, introduces Ledger's character hanging by his neck from a bridge and having to be resuscitated, which has been noted by several reviewers as being uncomfortably eerie.
King Kong (1976) is best known for King Kong standing on the World Trade Center instead of the Empire State Building. It was dated even before 2001; after...
The 1992 film Sneakers features a scene in which one character hacks into the federal air traffic control computers and quips, "Anybody want to crash a couple of passenger jets?". His friends don't find the joke funny at the time, but the audience still could... at least before 9/11. At least the character didn't throw it out as a joke, but more to snap the others in the room back to cold reality when their comments about the other things they could do with the device started getting a little too lighthearted.
Airplane!. The tag line "...and able to hit tall buildings at a single bound," and the plane running through and destroying a radio tower on a building (also taking out the neon sign). After 9/11, planes crashing into buildings are less funny... (And yes, the WTC had a major radio tower!)
Airplane II: The Sequel had scanners that can generate images of naked people. More than two decades later, the TSA adopted similar privacy-invading technology.
John Lennon getting menaced with a gun in Help!, however silly it looks, is a little chilling now. And it's up in the air whether George being the one who is most affected by "filthy Eastern ways" is funnier or not, considering how George was the one who most actively pursued Hindu spirituality.
In A Hard Day's Night, Norm tells John Lennon more than once that he'll murder him if he doesn't behave.
The late-'60s anti-war comedy How I Won The War has an especially cringe-worthy moment near the end when Gripweed (played by John Lennon) is shot and killed. Made worse when he looks directly into the camera and says, "I knew this would happen. You knew it would happen, didn't you?"
The plot of the Affectionate ParodyThe Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu hinges on the title character trying to stave off death by concocting a youth elixir, occasionally using electrical shocks to prolong his life in the meantime. Peter Sellers played Fu (and Nayland Smith), and what makes this trope-worthy is that he had been suffering from heart problems for years, had a pacemaker, and died of a heart attack a few weeks before this film made it to theatres. Roger Ebert admitted the attempt to play Fu's rejuvenation efforts for laughs was unpleasant in that context. That said, Peter was never above joking about his real-life health problems, especially late in life, which softens this a bit.
"I should go to Paris and jump off of the Eiffel Tower. If I took the Concorde, I could be dead three hours earlier."
Some years after the film was released, the crash of Air France Flight 4590 led to the permanent grounding of the entire Concorde fleet. Ironically, the Concorde that crashed as Flight 4590 had also been used in one of the Airport movies.
This movie was not released in Poland until 1997, which brought another aneurysm moment when one of the characters says, "We spend Christmas always in Paris at Ritz". By this time the Paris Ritz was all over the media in association with Princess Diana's death.
Clark Gable was so stressed out at Marilyn Monroe's antics during the filming of The Misfits that when the film was finished, he remarked "Christ, I'm glad this picture's finished! She damn near gave me a heart attack!" Gable died of a heart attack eleven days later. The Misfits turned out to be the last completed film for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, who died a year later.
Robert Newton's portrayal of Blackbeard in 1952's Blackbeard the Pirate includes several scenes near the beginning of him drinking from a large flask. It's mild, but it comes off as a little awkward when you know that Newton struggled with chronic alcoholism, eventually dying from it.
If you happen to know what became of the killer whale, Keiko, who played Willy in the Free Willy films, and just how well freeing him for real worked, then the whole Free Willy trilogy becomes a sustained Funny Aneurysm.
Doubly so when you remember "Keiko" means "The Lucky One".
In 1999, Jeffrey Jones played Uncle Crenshaw in Stuart Little. In at least two scenes, he's shown cuddling Jonathan Lipnicki, who was eight or nine years old when the movie was made. In 2002, Jones was convicted of possession of child pornography and employing a minor for purposes of taking sexually explicit photos, becoming a registered sex offender.
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. The movie tells Bruce Lee's life in a part biographical and part mythical way. One thing suggested was that he had a family demon that wouldn't stop hunting him. Towards the end of the movie, a daydream sequence had him end up battling the demon to protect his son, Brandon. The movie came out just a few months after Brandon's death in 1993.
Worse yet, Brandon Lee had been offered the opportunity to play his father, but declined, opting to do The Crow instead.
In the 1977 Brucesploitation film The Clones of Bruce Lee, a corrupt gold smuggler/movie producer suspects his new "star", one of the clones (Bruce Lee 2), of being a spy. He and his partner brainstorm a plan in which they continue to film the movie and arrange for him to be shot by an actual gun during filming, thus eliminating the threat, making it look like an accident, and causing instant publicity. Let's hope that Bruce's son Brandon didn't die for the same reason...
The Spoony One (Noah Antwiler) comments on this movie with his flavor of dark humor
Dr. Insano: Why that's brilliant! We stage a weapons malfunction with one of the onset firearms so that Bruce Lee gets shot but it still looks like an accident! Spoony Bum: It worked for Brandon Lee... * A resounding chorus of boos* Spoony: Darkest sketch! Darkest sketch! Darkest sketch!
Clones of Bruce Lee is already a shameless exploitation of Bruce Lee's death. It just got considerably darker later.
The movie contains repeated references to the concentration camps, but it was released in 1942, before the whole truth was widely known. The Nazis could kill that fast.
In Ernest Goes To Jail, right before his electrocution (he lives), the guard asks if he wants a blindfold or cigarette. He answers "No, I'm afraid of the dark, and cigarettes will kill you." Jim Varney died of lung cancer due to a life of smoking.
Nearly every scene of The Great Dictator after the WWI sequence, especially the concentration camp sequence and the scenes of "Hynkel" killing his men. Chaplin himself said that if he had known the extent of the Nazis' "homicidal insanity," then he could not have made the film.
The sequence in Modern Times where the Tramp is mistaken for a Communist and arrested before coming to enjoy prison life more than the outside world became very hard-hitting in 1952, when Charlie Chaplin's visa was revoked (keep in mind that he was a British citizen) under allegations of him being a Communist sympathizer. Furthermore, though Chaplin could have applied for re-entry into the US, he chose not to, finding life in exile to be far more appealing than life in America.
A personal example: Elvis Presley, devastated by the tragic death of his young co-star Judy Tyler in a horrific car accident, vowed never to watch Jailhouse Rock, the movie they made together.
The Fearless Vampire Killers: The whole film is about Roman Polanski trying and failing to save Sharon Tate from a murderous cult. They fell in love while making the movie and got married. Two years later, Tate and their unborn child were murdered by members of the Charles Manson family while Polanski was out of the country. He's since said that he's sure he would have been able to save her had he been there.
Jackass 3D has a rather jarring one. In the ending scene, Ryan is sitting with a mug of beer that shatters while a explosion goes off behind him. A few months after the movie was released, he died - drunk in a freak car explosion.
In the cast commentary track on the DVD of the first film, cast members note that "Dunn can't drive for shit!" And Bam recalls a years-earlier accident involving Ryan (who was driving, natch), Bam and Bam's brother where Ryan's car reportedly flipped over eight times.
Then there's Dunn's final film, Living Will, in which he plays a slacker who dies and comes back as a ghost. Lines like "being dead is the best thing that ever happened to me," are beyond eerie.
Ah, Armageddon. The line "Saddam Hussein is bombing us!" Check. People falling out of collapsing New York City office buildings? Check. Shots of the World Trade Center with a burning hole in each tower? Double-check.
In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Christina Applegate declares that her character, Veronica Corningstone, has "exquisite breasts." A few years later, Applegate would undergo a double mastectomy as treatment for breast cancer.
Similarly, there's a scene in The Sweetest Thing where a group of women are fascinated by fondling her breasts.
The sequel has what could be considered an in-universe funny aneurysm, as the film is set in the 1980s. One of the characters mentions that when he's in Los Angeles, he likes to go out on the town with OJ Simpson and Phil Spector. The punchline? They call themselves "The Lady Killers."
Every frame of Network. With the way American entertainment has evolved (devolved) from 1976 to now, it's genuinely gotten to the point where the entire movie has effectively ceased to be fictional and has become a completely accurate documentary released 20 years too early. The only part that hasn't come true is that we haven't seen anyone killed for ratings — yet.
A meta example. Peter Finch, an Australian previously Oscar-nominated for playing a homosexual man, died soon after playing the part of an anti-establishment nutcase and ended up winning a posthumous Oscar for the role. Who does that remind you of?
On the Special Edition DVD release of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in the text commentary by Mike Okuda for the scene where the Starfleet commander tells Kirk the Enterprise is to be decommissioned because she's twenty years old, he remarks that NASA has less trouble with old spacecraft, as the Space Shuttle Columbia was still flying despite being over twenty years old. Shortly after the DVD's release, the Columbia burned up on re-entry, killing all on board.
The Enterprise burning up in the atmosphere resembles the Columbia disaster.
Star Trek: Nemesis ends with the hope that the Federation and the Romulan Empire will be able to put the past behind them and band together for the common good; even after all the time they've spent fighting. Neither will happen, Romulus of this universe was canonically destroyed by a supernova in the Continuity RebootStar Trek; giving Nero the impetus to screw around with the Alternate Continuity of the Abrams films.
Nordberg is a police detective whose wife tearfully shouts, "He's a good man! He'd never hurt anyone!"
Nordberg's very first scene has him sneaking around a shipyard at night while brandishing a gun. It's difficult to not associate the scene with Simpson's alleged murder in 1994 or his attempt at armed robbery in 2007.
The Terminator was originally going to be portrayed by O.J. Simpson, but according to director James Cameron, "people wouldn't have believed a nice guy like O. J. playing the part of a ruthless killer."
This even happens with films where Simpson is referenced but doesn't appear in himself. The 1976 Freddie Prinze TV movie features the following exchange between a couple of cops talking about their chief:
“We do all of his down-field blocking, and he comes off like O.J. Simpson!”
“You carry that grudge like a knife in the belly.
In Snow Dogs, James Coburn's character Thunder Jack talks about how it will be his last race. Coburn died later that year.
In Eagle Eye (2008), there's an extensive Product Placement scene set inside a now defunct (as of 2009) Circuit City. Maybe Shia should have bought himself a couple of flatscreens at clearance while he was there.
If you pay attention to various displays in the movie, you can see that the timeframe in which the movie takes place is a few days after Circuit City officially announced its bankruptcy. They would still be open, mind you (they didn't close the stores until 2009 or all the merchandise was sold, whichever came first); but yes, it would be a good time to get a TV, or maybe a webcam, and a bad time to get the extended warranty.
In the one of the segments of the 2003 film Love Actually, Liam Neeson plays a man who is grieving the death of his wife from cancer. In 2009, Neeson's own wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died tragically. Although Richardson died from a brain injury caused while she was skiing, it still makes that movie, and also Blow Dry, in which she plays a character dying of cancer, tough to watch.
As an addendum to that, this clip on the American talk show The View is terribly, terribly a funny aneurysm moment in light of his wife's death.
Possibly made even worse when you're aware that Natasha Richardson herself has said in interviews that a major accident Liam Neeson was in years ago is what convinced her that life was precious and fleeting, and should be treasured because it could end at any moment.
In the Harry Potter movies, Richard Harris as Dumbledore explains to Harry how a Phoenix rebirths itself. Mr. Harris died shortly after completing the movie. Dumbledore was promptly recast.
The 1993 film Addams Family Values showed a summer camp detention cabin, were non-conformists Joel, Wednesday and Pugsley are made to watch Disney films while a poster of Michael Jackson looks on over them. Michael in this case is meant to showcase the over-the-top positive image of the place that he had when the film was shot. Unfortunately, 1993 was the year Michael Jackson was first publicly accused of child molestation. (In fact, he had planned to contribute the song "Is It Scary?" to the soundtrack and, with Stephen King, hashed out a premise for a video in which Michael, along with Wednesday and Pugsley, would confront a Torches and Pitchforks mob that regarded him as a freak. This was put on hold in the wake of the allegations. Jackson later revived the project as the stand-alone short ''Ghosts'' in 1997.)
Morticia's comments on the fragile state of her family in the second half of Addams Family Values includes the woeful line "My husband is dying." Raul Julia would do just that a little less than a year later. In the movie, he is even seen lying sick in bed feebly singing "Swing low, sweet chariot.". What's more, when Gomez is horrified that his son is turning normal, he calls out to God, "Take me!"
In Moonwalker, the scenes in "Smooth Criminal" where Michael Jackson plays happily with young children — completely absent any other adult characters — showcase this trope due to the court cases involving Jackson. Whether the combination is funny or troubling depends on whether you believe he's an unconvicted pedophile or an eccentric crucified by the media.
Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You has a scene where Lionel Barrymore's character, Grandpa Vanderhof, is confronted by an IRS agent over his failure to pay income taxes. When Barrymore demands to know what the government will provide in return for his money, the taxman mentions protection from invasion. (Keep in mind this is from 1938):
Taxman: How do you think the government's going to keep up the army and navy, with all those battleships? Grandpa: Battleships? Last time we used battleships was in the Spanish-American War, and what did we get out of that? Cuba, and we gave that back. I wouldn't mind paying for something sensible.
In the first Shrek film, The Gingerbread Man is tortured for information by being repeatedly dunked into a glass of milk. Milkboarding, anyone?
In 200 Motels, Keith Moon plays a groupie who's convinced he's dying of a drug overdose. His death was related to substance abuse. Moon's substance abuse was pretty well-established at the time of the film, however.
In the 1964 film Sex and the Single Girl, Bob (Tony Curtis) and Helen (Natalie Wood) accidentally fall into the sea. They're rescued, and later, share a romantic moment in Helen's apartment, but she rejects Bob, because she thinks he's married. On the next day, Bob tries to convince her, saying, "Last night, something happened that was very real. Something that very few people get." Helen replies, "I know, drowned". In 1981, Natalie Wood fell off her yacht, and drowned.
Andy Kaufman's unfilmed project The Tony Clifton Story (which he co-wrote) opened its third act with the "real" Andy explaining that Tony Clifton died of lung cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles before the film had finished shooting. From there, Andy plays Tony for most of the remainder of the film until the "real" Tony appears, having been alive all that time, to take back the film for the finale. On May 16, 1984, Andy Kaufman died of a rare form of lung cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.
David Carradine has a cameo in the movie Bed and Breakfast. He's in one scene and gets killed. After that there are a few probably-supposed-to-be-funny references to his character's botched autopsy. Since then, he died, and the autopsy went counter to the immediate first impressions about his death... Also, there is the look on his face in the movie Kung Fu when the bad guy puts a rope around his neck. There is also a scene in "Evil Toons" where at one point David Carradine's character hangs himself, he comes back because of his supernatural powers.
Universal and Sacha Baron Cohen had to remove a scene from Brüno where Bruno interviews LaToya Jackson and steals her phone to get Michael Jackson's phone number just hours before the film's red carpet premiere in Los Angeles on June 25th, 2009 when news broke that Michael had died.
The scene in Lethal Weapon 2 where Riggs calls the head of the South African embassy a racist (referring to him as "Aryan") and the scene in Lethal Weapon 4, where Riggs unleashes several anti-Asian slurs became examples after Mel Gibson's racist and anti-Semitic tirade during his 2006 arrest.
The scene in Semi-Pro where Jackie Moon wrestles a "killer" bear, which subsequently escapes and causes danger becomes much less funny when the bear used in the film killed its trainer shortly after release. The bear was put down.
Kyle in Darkness Falls (2003) suffers night terrors and is afraid to sleep at night. The actor playing Kyle, Chaney Kley, died of sleep apnea in 2007.
In the Adam Sandler movie Click, a futuristic news report has two funny aneurysm moments: the first for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline having their 23rd child together; in Real Life, they divorced a few months after the movie was released. The second was about Michael Jackson being cloned and having the clone sue him for molestation.
At the end of her introductory song "I'm Tired", Lili von Shtupp (played by Madeline Kahn) exclaims "Let's face it - everything below the waist is kaput!" Two decades later, Kahn died of ovarian cancer.
Alex Karras, who played Mongo, suffered from dementia in his last few years. Puts a rather different spin on his act as The Ditz.
In Black Hawk Down, there is an early scene in the movie when they capture an arms dealer. After the interview, the commander in charge talks to a subordinate about how Somalia is "different to Iraq, more complicated." While this was a reference to the original Gulf War, the movie was released in late 2001, just as the US was invading Afghanistan.
In the first American remake of Godzilla (1998), a newscaster makes a reference to Godzilla's attack being the "worst act of destruction since the World Trade Center bombing". Y'know, the one from 1993.
John Candy and jokes about his weight became much less funny after he died at the age of 43 due to a weight-related heart attack. Some particular examples include:
Stripes: Seeing Candy talk about joining the army so he could lose weight and avoid having heart attacks. At the time of his death, Candy was making an effort to lose weight.
The Great Outdoors includes a scene where Candy's character is challenged to eat a 96-ounce steak. After a grueling and gut-busting ordeal, he manages to eat the steak along with all the gristle and fat as well.
The French Thriller Les Diaboliques ends with the school teacher dying of a heart attack. A few years later, the actress died... of a heart attack.
Since it features two missions on the Challenger and two of the astronauts who would die in the accident, all of the otherwise excellent vintage IMAX film The Dream is Alive is one of these.
Dr. Strangelove: "Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost,]] if you keep it asecret! The article also elaborates on the purpose of keeping the secret—namely, there is no guarantee the opposite side would believe such a thing (because Washington was so inclined to trust Moscow, and vice versa), and to guarantee that a retaliatory response as necessary—ensuring that any hotheads in the position to demand a preemptive attack (and thus would know about the system) would have no grounds for an argument. To quote the article, the kept the secret because they took game theory a step beyond Kubrick and Szilard. To anyone who's seen the film, these concerns would sound very familiar though...
In one scene in Shallow Hal, a gorgeous woman tells Mauricio that she has tickets to The Beatles reunion and clarifies, "Well, not the Beatles, but Paul, George, and Ringo will be there, and Eric Clapton is filling in for John." Between the time the movie left the theaters and the DVD release, George Harrison died of cancer.
In the documentary Number Our Days, anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff explains she wanted to study the culture of a Jewish seniors center because "I'm going to be a little old Jewish woman one day." Nine years later, she died of breast cancer just shy of her 50th birthday.
In the first film, as Doc initially planned to travel 25 years into the future, he says offhand he'd get to find out who wins the next 25 World Series. In Part II, we see the horrific results of someone using future sports knowledge, as Biff becomes a Corrupt Corporate Executive who turns Hill Valley into a nightmarish Dystopia. Plus, going ahead 25 years would put him smack in the middle of the US recession. Not exactly a time to visit to give you optimism for the future.
In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the titular characters are mistaken for terrorists. The movie came out less than a month before 9/11. What's really eerie is Jules Asner referring to them as "hot new terrorists".
A poster for the movie Deadline, featuring actress Brittany Murphy lying dead in a bathtub had to be altered after Brittany Murphy was found dead in her shower from heart failure, caused by a mix of prescription drug intoxication, iron-deficiency anemia, and pneumonia.
The 2007 TMNT movie uses a newscast about the collapsing real estate market to establish its Next Sunday A.D. timeframe, since the real estate market had actually been thriving for years. Three years and a global real-estate-fueled recession later, that subtle gag is now a harsh reality.
Delirious, a 1991 film starring John Candy, features Charles Rocket (a former cast member of SNL's disastrous sixth season) as a Jerk Ass character who joked about suicide. In October 2005, Charles Rocket was found dead outside his home in Connecticut with a slashed throat, which the police ruled a suicide.
The Wedding Singer has a couple of jokes at the expense of George near the beginning: Steve Buscemi's drunk best man character checks him out and muses "Ooh, I like her", while two of the groomsmen quietly agree that George looks "scary". George was played by Alexis Arquette, who identified a male transvestite at the time. After Arquette came out as a Transsexual woman, the jokes took on some Unfortunate Implications in retrospect.
In Hocus Pocus Sarah Jessica Parker plays one of three The Hecate Sisters who is hanged after killing a girl in Salem, MA. In Who Do You Think You Are, Sarah Jessica Parker learned that her ancestor was accused but not convicted - luckily the witch craze ended one month before her trial of witchcraft after a girl claimed she saw her and two other women's "specters" choking an ill woman to death in Salem, MA.
In Monkey Business, Groucho Marx tells Thelma Todd: "I know, you're a woman who's been getting nothing but dirty breaks. Well, we can clean and tighten your brakes, but you'll have to stay in the garage all night." Two years later, Thelma Todd died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a garage. While many people think it's an unsolved murder and the police claimed it was an accident, the grand jury ruled that Thelma Todd's death was a suicide.
The Prospector's line in Toy Story 2: "Do you really think Andy would take you to college?" A lot more poignant after you've seen Toy Story 3.
Then his threat as the toys gang up on him in the cargo room of the airport: "You will all spend eternity rotting in some landfill!" They almost did in the next movie.
It's either this or Harsher in Hindsight, but Barbie, when the toys are caught by Lotso, quote the Declaration of Independence ("Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not by threat of force!") when refusing Lotso. This gets a bit uncomfortable when Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya basically did this sort of thing in a method a lot closer of "threat to force" rather than the consent of the governed, leading the Muslim Brotherhood's rise in those countries.
The 1998 remake of The Parent Trap is kind of depressing to watch now since it's a family movie starring the now late Natasha Richardson (who of course, died in a skiing accident). It also of course, stars a young Lindsay Lohan in more innocent times. Also, the whole plot centers on Dennis Quaid's twins (both played by Lindsay Lohan). In real life, Dennis Quaid's own newborn twins almost died due to an accidental overdose.
In An American Carol, the film that Rosie O'Donnell's Expy shows concerns alleged terrorist attacks by Christians. Passengers at an airport are herded through a full-body X-ray machine, as one cynically remarks that it's all thanks to "the underwear bomber." The movie was released in 2008. One year later, of course, what was once hyperbole became a harsh reality.
In Victor/Victoria, Julie Andrews says near the beginning that she's had enough personal experiences to tell her that it does not pay to take chances with your health. The Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of this film turned out to be her last major musical before she lost her voice due to a botched surgery.
Speaking of Victor/Victoria: At the end of Robert Preston's rendition of "The Shady Dame from Seville," he is given a bouquet of roses. He says "I might as well. They're the last roses I'll ever see." Preston died just four years later.
Maybe not so much "funny" as "romantic", but The Empire Strikes Back is now infamous for the scene where Luke and Leia make out in Echo Base. When the movie first came out, this would be an innocent Ship Tease. But when you factor in therevelation in Return of the Jedi...Yeeeecchhh. Not to mention what Leia says in the next movie "...I've always known." (Worse, George Lucas stated that he'd always intended Luke and Leia to be siblings. Oh, really? Check out how Luke first meets Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope and try not to puke.)
In The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo gets injured while trying to fix the Millennium Falcon. In 2014, during filming of Episode VII, Harrison Ford got severely injured when a mechanical door from the Falcon's set fell on top of him.
The whole "Han shot first" debacle is less funny after the Trayvon Martin shooting sparked controversy over "stand your ground" laws in Real Life.
A major Running Gag in the original trilogy is many parties wanting Han dead over botched smuggling jobs or unpaid debts; which continues into The Force Awakens in at least two key scenes. Far less amusing come the final battle; where he's Killed Off for Real by Kylo Ren.
One of the biggest in both Star Wars and pop culture history occurs in Rogue One. For nearly four decades, Star Wars fans have mocked the Empire for the infamous exhaust vent that allowed Luke to blow up the Death Star with a single torpedo strike. After this film revealed that the flaw was purposely created by the main designer (who was enslaved by the empire to create the weapon in the first place), and that the schematics to exploit that flaw were obtained by the Rebel Alliance at the cost of dozens, if not hundreds of lives, it doesn't seem so funny anymore.
Both Grumpy Old Men and its sequel Grumpier Old Men end with Hilarious Outtakes of bloopers and flubbed line readings. It's funny until you realize that Burgess Meredith's mistakes were due to the fact that he was suffering from late-stage Alzheimer's.
The early Alfred Hitchcock comedy Champagne was about a millionaire trying to teach his spoiled daughter a lesson in humility by claiming that the stocks had crashed and that they had lost everything. The movie premiered in August 1927. Two years and two months later, the Great Depression happened, which included stocks crashing and people losing everything.
Pillow Talk stars Rock Hudson as a straight man pretending to be gay. In real life, he was a gay man pretending to be straight, and he would die of AIDS in The '80s. (To make matters worse, at the time AIDS was seen as a gays-and-junkies only disease, and Hudson's death was seen as proof that "Straight men are dying, too!" by activists before the truth of his orientation came out.)
Richard Pryor and Michael J. Fox first discovered that they had multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's respectively, while on the set of medical themed movies (Critical Condition and Doc Hollywood respectively).
Seeing Gordon Gekko drinking booze and smoking rather excessively in Wall Street and its sequel is perhaps a bit cringe inducing in light of Michael Douglas being diagnosed with throat cancer prior to the sequel being released. During Gordon's lecture in the second movie, he even uses "cancer" as an analogy.
In Bicentennial Man, Andrew is seen getting a mechanical operation in his chest area (with his human covering on). Ten years later, Robin Williams would undergo open heart surgery.
A TV spot for Godzilla (1998) that aired during the Seinfeld finale opens with the message "It's time to say goodbye to something that holds a special place in our hearts..." over a shot of New York City with the WTC towers visible, followed by the words "NEW YORK" and scenes of Godzilla destroying the city. You can guess what event soured this.
Toys is based around an aging general trying to weaponize toys and trick children into remotely piloting them in real war scenarios. Now that the military actually has toy-sized drones killing people from the sky, the film seems a lot darker.
The scene with the general in the arcade has him deliberately destroying UN vans in a military video game. This scene became this after media outlets blamed violent video games for tragedies like Columbine.
The Jackie Chan film The Tuxedo contains a scene where he and his female cohort played by Jennifer Love Hewitt knock out James Brown before he has to perform at a concert. They believe Brown has been killed. The scene lost all its humor when Brown died in 2006.
In Wedding Crashers, Owen Wilson is shown reading "don't-kill-yourself books" after the woman he loves decides to marry someone else. A few years later, Wilson would (unsuccessfully) attempt suicide.
In the Jack Reacher movie with Tom Cruise, the first scene has The Dragon sniping five innocent bystanders. It's rather disturbing to watch considering what happened at Sandy Hook; as it happened, the red-carpet premiere of the film was scheduled for the weekend after that massacre, so it was cancelled.
In Wreck-It Ralph, the scene with Felix and Sgt. Calhoun sinking in NesQuiksand became tasteless when Nestle recalled more than 200,000 containers of NesQuik bearing the film's characters on the containers for fears of food contamination.
A key plot device in Days of Thunder is driver Rowdy Burns having his career destroyed after being involved in "The Big One" at Daytona. The fact that Dale Earnhardt Sr., who Burns is based on, and Neil Bonnett who made a cameo appearance in the movie died under similar circumstances just makes the movie so much more painful to watch.
The week before the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in April 2013 was part of the Easter holidays from school in the UK. Throughout the week, Film 4 showed The Wizard of Oz frequently. That film features the song "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" — which in poor taste was applied to Thatcher and was propelled to No. 2 in the UK singles chart in the week immediately after her death. Radio 1 refused to play the track in its entirety.
In Black Sheep (1996) after Chris Farley's character gets his tie caught in an old man's car trunk and while trying to remove it appears to be chasing him, the old man comments "he must be high on crack cocaine!", Chris Farley would die one year later of a cocaine overdose.
Jay: I ain't playing with you, Kay. Did you ever flashy-thing me?!
This originally referred to how Kay wiped Jay's memories after his first meeting in the film, but in Men in Black 3, we see that Kay also erased a young Jay's memories in 1969 after he failed to save Jay's father.
In Paint Your Wagon, a pretty, blonde, Mormon girl named Elizabeth is married off (somewhat against her will) to a scruffy, drunken mountain man. After the Elizabeth Smart case, this has a whole new meaning.
Poltergeist can get really discomforting once you remember that the actress playing the older daughter was murdered by her ex shortly after release, and younger daughter Heather O'Rourke herself died at only 12.
The 1999 Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence film, Life, contains a montage showing the passage of time where other criminals in the prison living out life sentences fade away and disappear, to show that they died. This became a lot more unsettling when actor Bernie Mac, who played one of them, died in real life in 2008.
The suicide of Robin Williams has made many light-hearted moments from his films less so.
In ''Good Morning, Vietnam', the line "He's also your roommate, so if I were you, I'd think about committing suicide" is said to Adrian Cronauer, played by Williams.
Also, in his first broadcast, Adrian Cronauer says while impersonating Elvis Presley, "Why don't they get a rope and hang me?" It stopped being funny when Robin Williams committed suicide by hanging himself.
"Fathers' Day" (1997): A Comedy featuring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. Robin Williams' character "Dale Putley" is suicidal and first introduced by answering a phone call while trying to "eat his gun" and keeping the conversation with it in his mouth.
Actual quote from the movie:
Dale Putley: For years I've thought about killing myself. It's the only thing that kept me going.
Death to Smoochy had a despondent Rainbow Randolph attempt suicide by dousing himself in gasoline and setting himself on fire in the middle of Times Square.
In Happy Feet he voices a penguin slowly being choked by a 6 ring soda can holder.
Robin Williams' last line of dialogue in the movie Hook is, "To live would be a very big adventure."
Two in RV: The first, when the RV rolls over Robin Williams' character and he narrowly misses being crushed, and another when he walks into a lake after the RV when it rolls underwater and disappears (he comes out a few seconds later with one of the bikes from the back, but it's still rather tense)
The children's book and 2005 movie Because of Winn-Dixie has the dog given the name of the prominent Southern grocery chain. The Winn-Dixie chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy later that year that caused the chain to retreat to its native Florida as well as scattered locations in Louisiana (it would emerge from bankruptcy in 2006).
In the 1955 comedy The Seven Year Itch, the protagonist, played by Tom Ewell, contemplates having an affair with a much younger woman (Marilyn Monroe), begins to feel tremendous guilt about his feelings toward her, and briefly entertains the thought of murdering her to stop her from "tempting" him. Kind of unfunny to begin with, but get this: forty-six years later, California Congressman Gary Condit - who looks almost exactly like Tom Ewell - had an affair with a much younger woman and then was accused of murdering her. (Condit was eventually cleared, but it's still pretty eerie.)
After playing a narcotics officer in two Cheech and Chong films, Stacy Keach was arrested and served a 6 month sentence for cocaine smuggling in 1984.
It would be no problem at all to convince someone who doesn't know Starship Troopers that it's a 2007 film criticizing The War on Terror and the reactions in American society that didn't even attempt to fool anyone. In truth, the movie was made ten years earlier, in 1997. At the time, it was widely considered an incredibly cheesy and badly acted action movie by a huge Eagleland fan, but in hindsight the obvious parallels (how America probably would react to a low-tech but highly visible attack by a hopelessly outmatched enemynote Although in the Bug War case, the humans are the outmatched one... from a place most people have never heard of) couldn't even be made any more obvious if they tried.
A major part of the dark comedy surrounding A Series of Unfortunate Events is the fire that burns down the Baudelaire orphans' mansion, killing their parents. While his father had passed away years before, while Liam Aiken (Klaus) was away filming the movie with his mother, his house caught fire and was burned to the ground.
In Team America: World Police, the scene showing dead bodies floating after the Panama Canal exploded was met with a deathly silence in cinemas, as it was released around the same time as the Boxing Day Tsunami.
The opening scene of Team America was about a terrorist attack in Paris. Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings of January 2015 and especially after the November 13 terrorist attack, this scene is very uncomfortable to watch.
A scene of Bruce Almighty, released one year prior to the tsunami, has the turned-God protagonist pulling the Moon closer to woo his girlfriend, and the next day there's a report where around the world the Weird Moon caused devastating floods.
One of the highlights in X-Men: Days of Future Past is Quicksilver effortlessly defeating dozens of prison guards and nonchalantly evading assault rifle gunfire. This did not go so well with this Quicksilver, who is portrayed as slower. He thus wasn't able to evade Gatling guns with ridiculously high fire rates.
Spanish-Argentinian film Wild Tales starts with many people being duped into boarding the same plane, all of them having wronged someone called Pasternak. This is a trap, and the plane is deliberately crashed by Pasternak into his parents' house. Probably not so funny after the recent Germanwings disaster, where the copilot deliberately crashed the plane in a (successful) suicide attempt.
The Martin Scorsese film Bringing Out the Dead has Nicolas Cage's paramedic character tending to a black kid shot in a Manhattan gang war. The kid says, "Man, next year I'm going in the army, where it's safe!" The film came out in 1999, when peacekeeping in Kosovo was pretty much the extent of US Army operations.
In his review for the movie Dice Rules (which made his most hated list), Roger Ebert referenced tracheotomy and having the voice box removed because of cancer. 15 years later, Ebert had to undergo surgeries for thyroid cancer that ultimately took his ability to speak, eat, and generally make facial expressions away, and the cancer eventually returned and took his life in 2013 (and this is after his colleague Gene Siskel underwent surgeries for a brain tumor and had complications that killed HIM in 1999.)
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as Indy and Henry Sr. are escaping in a biplane, Henry says "I didn't know you could fly a plane.", to which Indy says "Fly, yes. Land, no...". In March 2015, Harrison Ford was injured when he crashed his plane, which was also a WWII-era plane.
It also makes the scene Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Indy panics over an impending plane crash awkward. Although, as a bit of dark comedy, when Ford recounted the crash later that year, he said "I didn't crash, the fucking plane crashed!", echoing Indy's subsequent statement "We weren't brought here, our plane... crashed."
The opening scene of the 2011 horror parody Detention has a one-off joke about how "your lack of faith in the durability of Kesha is disturbing." That joke became funny when Ke$ha did indeed seem to vanish off the face of the earth in the following years... only to become a lot less funny in 2016 when the world learned that Ke$ha's producer, Dr. Luke, had essentially destroyed her career through a combination of an ironclad contract and a history of sexual abuse that made her uncomfortable being in the same room as him, let alone working with him.
In Zootopia, a child hippo tells Judy, a rookie cop on meter maid duty, "My mommy says she wishes you were dead". This becomes very cringe-worthy following the deadly attacks on police officers later that summer.
Police take time away from an arrest that they were already dealing with to attack an unarmed black man and misidentify the book he was reading as a gun: scene from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle , or an incident in Charlotte, North Carolina that resulted in police brutality and multiple nights of violent protests?
In Elf, Jodi's (African-American) boss taking over at the Mall Santa on short notice is Played for Laughs, but is otherwise a non-issue. Thirteen years later, Mall of America's announcement that it's Santa would be played by a Black man received a nation-wide racist backlash.
Ghost Dad: To quote John Oliver, an invisible Bill Cosby who can walk through walls was "a bad idea then, but horrifying now."
In the pool party scene of La La Land, Emma Stone's character taunts Ryan Gosling's piano-player character by shouting, "Hey! George Michael!" at him. The film's script was written in 2011, but by the time the movie had been greenlit and completed, becoming popular in December 2016, George Michael died of heart failure later that month, making the joke seem ill-timed and Too Soon.
In Tommy Boy, when Tommy tells Richard he'd finally graduated from college, he says "You know, a lot of people go to college for seven years.", to which Richard replies "I know, they're called doctors.". Since then, college education has gotten so expensive that it isn't uncommon for people to take at least 5 years to work towards their degree.
In the movie Boogie Nights, a running gag in the beginning of the movie involves Little Bill, whose wife always humiliates him by having sex with other men. It's a nice laugh until the New Years Eve sequence, where Little Bill sees his wife cheating again, leaves the house, gets a gun out of his car, reenters the bedroom, and shoots his wife and partner before turning the gun on himself. That scene, taking place at the end of the 1970s, is meant to be a grim foreshadowing of the hardships the main characters face in the uptight '80s.
ParaNorman: one of the movie's Running Gags is the townsfolk's endless attempts to cash in on the legend of the witch. After we find out that the "witch" was just a terrified little girl who was hanged for speaking with the dead, it becomes horrifying. Not only that, their insulting caricature of her actually contributed to her rage and bitterness.
Particularly cringe-inducing is the town sign, which has a picture of a hanging witch and two Puritans. When you learn what that scene would actually havelooked like...
In Mulan, the happy travel song "A Girl Worth Fighting For" is cut off when the troops discover a massacred village. The doll Mulan finds represents a very different little "girl worth fighting for."
In Pulp Fiction, Jules says, "Marcellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by nobody except Mrs. Wallace." Well....
To be fair, he didn't LIKE it. Just before Butch leaves, he refers to his soon-to-be victim as a rapist.
Dobby's line in Deathly Hallows: "Dobby didn't mean to kill you! Only maim or seriously injure!" Guess what happens two seconds later?
"Promise me one thing, Dobby." "Anything, sir!" "Never try to save my life again." Except he does. And he succeeds. And he dies.
In the movie version of Goblet of Fire, Fred and George have a fight after being turned into old men by the age line, which in itself is ironic considering it's the closest Fred will ever get to growing old properly. But also, if you listen close enough and/or turn on the captions, one of them says, "I'll tear your ears off!"
In The Avengers, the Stuttgart scene when Tony pulls off a ranged attack Dynamic Entry on Loki has this exchange right after. As it turns out, it is a good move, and made the heroes' eventual victory that much costlier.
Tony: Make your move, Reindeer Games. (Loki surrenders) Tony: Good move.
The silly argument in The World's End about the five main characters somehow being the Three Musketeers is a lot less funny if you know that two of them will die. This is actually lampshaded: when the three survivors are reunited, the Three Musketeers comparison is brought up again.
Fictional example that mixes it with Gone Horribly Right: In an early scene of the original TRON, Flynn is communicating with his hacking program, Clu.
Flynn:I wrote you. I taught you everything I know about the system...Now, you're the best program that's ever been written. You're dogged and relentless..."
...Then in the sequel TRON: Legacy, we find that Clu (2.0) turned on Flynn, and his list of crimes include taking over the Grid, turning it into a totalitarian state, and committing genocide. And he's still practically the toughest program around.
Ocean's Eleven: Bernie Mac's character gets transferred to Las Vegas on the grounds that it'll be better for his health and it is implied to be related to a lung disease (he coughs during his transfer scene). In the film, it looks like he could be faking or overplaying the health benefits in order to be part of the robbery team. In real life Bernie Mac had Sarcoidosis which often targets the lungs. He died from complications related to pneumonia.
This exchange from Steve Rogers and Tony Stark is Played for Laughs, only to turn out to be exactly the type of issue Tony is struggling with in Iron Man 3.
Steve Rogers: Big man in a suit of armor, take that off and what are you? Tony Stark: Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.
It's mentioned that Steve Rogers is on a S.H.I.E.L.D. watchlist as potential threat. Though funny at first, this joke lost its edge once Captain America: The Winter Soldier revealed that HYDRA has been active inside S.H.I.E.L.D. for years. Steve Rogers is their old enemy. Odds are good that HYDRA put him on that watchlist.
At the beginning of If I Stay when finding out that it's a snow day, Teddy says "School's out forever". For him, it would be.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Clint gets tired of Pietro one-upping him, so he mutters to himself how he could easily put that haughty snot out of his misery and blame it on Ultron. We also see Pietro get shot by a police officer and shrug it off. Then Pietro gets shot to death by Ultron himself.
Finding Nemo where Dory talks about her short term memory loss to Marlin for the first time, mentioning that she thinks it runs in her family, following up with "Where are they?" before quickly changing the subject. This, and other Dory moments that play her memory for laughs, become a lot sadder in the context of Finding Dory.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Peter and Ego have a nice reunited father-and-son bonding moment as they play catch with a ball of energy Peter has manifested with his newly discovered Celestial powers. Then it turns out that Ego doesn't care about Peter and is just using him as a pawn in his plan to replace all life in the Galaxy with extensions of himself.
There's also the Running Gag in the first film about Yondu being accused of going soft becasue of his treatment of Peter and his reluctance to deliver him to his father. Come this film, Yondu really was helping Peter survive on his own, becoming a Parental Substitute towards him; and even dies trying to help Peter escape from Ego.
In Moana, Maui's huge ego and Moana telling him that he's "nobody's hero" due the repercussions of his actions (which was supposed to be a humorous victory for her) get a lot less funny once you learn that Maui originally wanted to help people, and he views himself as worthless without his powers.