Was it ever. note Redd Foxx died of a heart attack. And it was right in the middle of filming another television show, no less.
A lot of 1970s TV shows that praise football player O.J. Simpson for being a nice guy and a wonderful person are unwatchable now, considering his murder trial and his robbery trial.
This also includes the Saturday Night Live episode he hosted in the 1970s, which hurts more since most of season 20's sketches and Weekend Update jokes were about O.J.'s murder trial.
ALF: One episode saw Willie – stranded in a small, backwards town (thanks to the title character) and his car out of gas – ask a mechanic for some help and to refuel his car. The gas station in question, owned by a scraggly old man, sells gas for $20 a gallon, to which Willie remarks in shock, "TWENTY DOLLARS for a gallon of gas???!!" (of course, getting audience laughter). In 2008, nearly 20 years after that episode aired, in the shadow of $150 per barrel oil and $4-plus gallon of gasoline, business and oil company executives were beginning to speculate about the days of $20 per gallon gasoline becoming reality (particularly with the imminent threat of war in the Middle East and closing of key shipping lines).
In the episode "Jack Meets Dennis", Pete wonders if they'll be preempted by a national news event and says "how's Gerald Ford's health?" Gerald Ford died less than a month after the episode aired. The line was edited out of the DVD release.
In the ''unaired'' pilot episode (NBC-only screener copy), Rachel Dratch plays the role of Jenna DeCarlo (she was later renamed), who excitedly tells Liz, "I got that apartment! [...] I'm living in New York, I have my own TV show. I mean, dreams do come true, right?" When 30 Rock was picked up for a full season, Dratch was replaced by Jane Krakowski. While Dratch hasn't been out of work (and even briefly reprised some of her SNL characters in the first season), the line already foreshadowing an impending retooling to her own show takes on an additional unfortunate meaning.
The whole Josh storyline in "Hard Ball", in which he and his agent have to negotiate a new contract to keep him on the show. We even get Liz insisting they can't do the show without him and, when Jack says everyone is replaceable, she replies "he's not replaceable as my friend." Fast forward a few seasons and it turns out they could do the show without him and Liz apparently wasn't so attached to him after all. He spent most of the third season Out of Focus and, at the start of the next season, was almost immediately Put on a Bus after lampshading the fact that he still exists. This time, no one, including Liz, seemed to care about Josh being gone. Oh, and a few episodes after being put on a bus, Josh made a cameo, his last appearance ever on 30 Rock, in which he fails to get his old job back and reveals he's been reduced to doing gay porn. This after "Hard Ball" featured Jack and Liz sabotaging his offer from The Daily Show to keep him on TGS. Ouch.
The episode in which Tracy has diabetes and Kenneth tries to get him to eat healthier becomes more uncomfortable in light of the kidney transplant Tracy Morgan had due to his real diabetic condition.
In Emanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land Liz's British date Wesley says how he doesn't want to go back to England saying that he doesn't want to suffer through the London Olympics. He says "You saw the Beijing opening ceremonies, we don't have that kind of control over our people." This line has become a lot more tragic in the wake of the London riots.
Although it is a little Hilarious in Hindsight, considering how the London opening ceremony really was quite spectacular.
Aladdin: During the 1993 Academy Awards broadcast, Billy Crystal joked that cult leader David Koresh, holed up with his followers at the Branch Davidian Compound in Texas at the time, would be performing "Friend Like Me" (from this film) via satellite ("You ain't never had a friend like me!"). Given the gruesome outcome of that standoff, the joke isn't as funny now.
In the episode where Cordelia gets her haunted apartment, she utters the line "How come Patrick Swayze is never dead when you need him?", a reference to the movie Ghost. However, since his death in 2009...
In "Ground State", as Fred goes on an uncharacteristic rant about her increased responsibilities, Gunn jokes he doesn't know what kind of "alien female thing" has replaced her. In season five, she is replaced by an alien female thing, and it is heartbreaking.
Similarly, Gunn's argument with Angel in "The Price" is almost word for word what Gunn himself did that contributed to Fred's death.
Gunn: This is because of you, what you did. Messing with scary ass mojo no sane person should be messing with.
Angel: I did what I had to do
Gunn: You did what you want to get what you want, to hell with the consequences.
Angel: My son—
Gunn: Is dead. Fred's not.
Babylon 5: In the fifth season, Richard Biggs, who played Dr. Stephen Franklin, complained about an episode where a character nearly died of a heart attack, since there had been no previous indications that the character had any kind of heart problems. Producer J. Michael Straczynski countered that many people live their whole lives with heart problems with no idea they're there until they suddenly strike. At the end of the series, Biggs came back asking why Franklin didn't get a big sendoff scene like G'Kar, played by Andreas Katsulas. Straczynski replied that he always saw Franklin as the type who would just leave with no warning, without saying goodbye, while G'Kar was more the type who would make a big production over his departure. A few years later, Biggs was killed instantly by a previously unknown congenital heart defect. A couple years after that, Katsulas died after a long battle with lung cancer, during which he got all his friends and family together for one last big party.
This is something of a running theme with Straczynski; any time he mentions a cast member's body part, especially in a lighthearted context, something bad happens to it. An early draft of "The Geometry of Shadows" made a mention of Ivanova's left foot; Claudia Christian's left foot got broken in a skiing accident just before that episode was shot. "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" has a character make a smart remark at Garibaldi, "what, you got a broken arm or something?" The line was written well before the episode was shot, and guess what—Jerry Doyle broke his arm in a fight scene in the previous episode, forcing them to shoot the episode with Garibaldi in a cast.
In "Passing Through Gethsemane" Ivanova challenges "Brother Edward" to bet on the outcome of a chess match. Edward makes a joke that "gambling is one of the lesser sins. I've always felt that if you're gonna sin you should go for one of the really big ones." Turns out "Brother Edward" is actually a mind-wiped serial killer named Charles Dexter, who murdered nine women on an Earth colony. "One of the really big ones" indeed.
Battlebots: During one of Surgeon General's fights, the announcer opened with "Do you believe in life after death?" Julio Roqueta, Surgeon General's driver, died a couple years later.
Though it was only ever very darkly funny in the first place, the scene in early season 3 of the new show where Ellen sleeps with Cavil to get Tigh out of prison becomes a lot more disturbing after it's revealed in season four that Ellen was the head of the team that built Cavil, thus making the scene toaster-incest. And the toaster's design was based on her father.
Made even more disturbing when you realize that, while Ellen was unaware of the connection (and that she was a Cylon), Cavil was fully aware of it and definitely thought of Ellen as his mother figure. That scene gets even worse because Tigh later kills Ellen for "collaborating" with the Cylons, only to discover still later that HE'S a Cylon.
Another in-canon example — in the very first episode of the series, Baltar quips to Six, "Well I'm sure someday, if you're a good Cylon, [God] will reward you with a lovely little walking toaster of your very own." Caprica Six had a devastating miscarriage of her full-Cylon baby in season four.
Dee and Billy are the subjects of Adama's line "They better start having babies" in the Miniseries. Both die childless, and not together.
A textbook example of the trope comes in Season 4. Kara jokes to her husband that if he turned out to be a Cylon, she'd shoot him in the head. Later on in the season, she find out that he is a Cylon, but doesn't do anything. Then someone else comes along and literally shoots him in the head, leaving her in grief for the rest of the season.
Bernie Mac's untimely death now makes the episode of his TV show about getting old horribly depressing, as he didn't live long enough to be that old.
At the end of an episode when Wanda considers having kids of her own, Bernie tells the audience he doesn't want to be a father, chasing his kids around at age 50 (which he illustrates by clutching his chest in manner of having a heart attack). Bernie died at age 50 (albeit from pneumonia, not a heart attack).
Beverly Hills 90210: Way back in season 2 (1991) Kelly's mom made a joke that she'd end up "dying from skin cancer". She later died of breast cancer in the 90210 reboot.
Boy Meets World: In a first-season episode, Shawn and Alan go on a fishing trip and Shawn trolls a jealous and regretful Cory by calling Alan "Dad". Come the end of season two, the joke becomes somewhat more depressing when Shawn's own father leaves him with the Matthews family to chase his mother across the country. Come season six, things get even more depressing when Chet tells Alan to take care of Shawn shortly before he dies and finally, in season seven the Matthews family actually offers to adopt Shawn after Shawn realizes he never had any real parents his entire life.
According to the "Bradymania" book, if this show had continued for another season, the Schwartzes were thinking of killing Mike off due to Robert Reed having become impossible to work with, and them being unable to find a replacement actor. In the 1988 Christmas movie, Mike's life was in danger when he got trapped in a building that collapsed. Mike's death was also proposed in 1990 following several on-the-set blowups with the Schwartzes (and at one point, co-star Ann B. Davis), had that series been renewed. Sadly, Reed – who had kept his personal life very quiet – was becoming very ill, and in 1992, he died of AIDS-related complications.
In Season 4's "Bobby's Hero," the family is trying to talk Bobby out of hero-worshipping Jesse James, with several of his brothers and sisters trying to list people more worthy of his respect. One of those was Wilt Chamberlin, then the most prolific NBA scorer in history; at the time of the show's airing in 1973, he was with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bobby remarks in jest that there's little chance he'd be 7-foot tall or black, which draws a laugh. However, it's highly unlikely that the family would want Bobby to be a womanizer, having sex with a reported 20,000 women (as some later-day biographies of Chamberlin have claimed). note At least the conversation didn't include the name of a young running back with the Buffalo Bills, who had excelled at USC just a few years earlier … named O.J. Simpson, although his first really great pro season wasn't until 1972, and this episode was filmed fairly early during that 1972 season.
In his autobiography and retrospective of the series "I Was a Teenaged Greg," Barry Williams reveals that he was involved in a 1973 car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, who was tending to her dog while driving and caused a head-on collision with Williams' Porsche. In an episode midway through the fourth season, his character, Greg, was nearly involved in a distracted driving-caused accident (looking at an album jacket while driving on the freeway, and narrowly avoids a rear-end collision with a semitrailer truck).
The Trope Namer: In early season four, Buffy is commenting on how her mother would react to the price of her text-books, stating flippantly, "I hope it's a funny aneurysm." Next season, her mother has a brain tumor removed, and later suddenly dies of a side-effect of surgery: an aneurysm.
Another Buffy the Vampire Slayer example: In an early episode of Season 7, Buffy kills a flesh-eating demon named Gnarl by poking his eyes out with her thumbs, a sight that Xander responds to with understandable and amusing disgust. (His exact words are 'Eww, thumbs?") Several episodes later, psychotic preacher Caleb drives his thumb into Xander's left eye. Earlier in the same episode (overlapping with Foreshadowing), when describing the critical targets on a potentially unknown enemy:
Xander:[G]o for the eyes. Everything has eyes.
Xander: I'm the guy who sees everything
Caleb: So I hear you're the guy who sees everything. Let's fix that
Way back in the Season 3 episode, "Dead Man's Party," Buffy said to Xander, "Didn't anyone ever warn you about playing with pointy sticks? It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye."
The season six episode "All The Way," in which Xander dressed as a pirate, complete with eyepatch. (Xander's first line after he loses his eye mentions that pirate costume).
"Bad Girls", in which Xander covers his eye to keep Buffy from seeing his post-sex-with-Faith twitch, and "Something Blue", in which Xander asks to be blind along with Giles after watching Spike and Buffy kiss.
Cordelia comments to Giles in the season 3 episode "Gingerbread" that he was going to "wake up in a coma" on account of all the head traumas he had received. At the end of season 4 of Angel, Cordelia was left in a coma; she died without ever waking up.
The season five episode "The Replacement," in which Xander is split into two versions of himself. At one point he says to Anya that "very soon you won't be worrying about growing old!" Roughly three years later, Anya is killed in the Final Battle.
The Columbine High School massacre occurred one week before the original planned air-date of the season three episode "Earshot," which was about preventing a school shooting. It included this line by Xander:
"Who hasn't idly thought about taking out the whole school with a semi-automatic?"
After Buffy glares at him, he adds, "I said idly."
Even The Stoic Oz would later have cringed over the comment about school shootings becoming trendy, since...well...they did.
In the cold open to the second season episode "Bad Eggs", Joyce asks Buffy if she thinks of anything other than boys and clothes. Buffy responds that she thinks about saving the world from vampires. Then we get to season six, "Normal Again", where we learn that Buffy was once institutionalized for telling her parents about vampires. Joyce's exasperation in "Bad Eggs" takes on a much darker tone.
For few episodes late in Season 6, Xander is shown drowning his sorrows a bit too much and later mentions "hitting bottom." Two years later, Nicholas Brendon revealed that he's an alcoholic.
In the season 5 episode "Triangle", Anya makes Xander promise that if he ever leaves her she wants lots and lots of warning, including "big flashing red lights and one of those clocks that counts down like a bomb in the movies and there's a whole bunch of coloured wires and I'm not sure which is the right one to cut but I guess the green one and then at the last second no, the red one, and then click, it stops, with three tenths of a second left, and then you don't leave." Next season, he leaves her at the altar with basically no foreshadowing.
The mostly-lighthearted song 'I'll Never Tell' between Anya and Xander from Once More With Feeling, in which they sing about their fears for the future becomes Harsher in Hindsight twice over: Anya's line "I know that come the day I'll want to run and hide" after Xander leaves Anya at the altar nine episodes later, and Anya's fears about growing older when she dies in the Series Finale. The latter lyric, "Will I get so old and wrinkly/That I look like David Brinkley?" led to a double example on its British terrestrial broadcast, as The BBC aired the final episode the very week Brinkley himself passed away.
John Ritter fans will find "Ted" very hard to watch since it involves him coming back from the dead.
Faith screwing Xander's brains out in The Zeppo where he singlehandedly stops a plot to blow open the hellmouth? Funny and awesome. When it's revealed men are less than nothing to her? It stops being awesome. When Willow finds out and is in the bathroom crying it stops being funny. And Faith later trying to rape then kill Xander makes it this trope.
"Lover's Walk" where the viewer is made to believe Cordelia died. Compare that with the Angel episode "You're Welcome" where the viewer is made to believe Cordelia is alive.
Anya in "Selfless" tells Buffy that it will take more than a sword through the chest to kill her. She is killed in the finale by a sword through the chest. Though, to be fair, swords didn't do as much permanent damage when she was a vengeance demon.
An in-universe example and lampshading occurs in the 07x07 episode "Conversations with Dead People":
Holden: Hey, you remember Jason Wheeler, you know, "Crazy J"?
Buffy: Oh, yeah.
Holden: He always had that shtick of [waves hands around] "Yeah, I'm crazy, I'm crazy!"
Buffy: How is he?
Holden: Crazy. He's been in the chronic ward since graduation. *beat* Not really that funny, I guess.
One that fits well enough to be mentioned: in Family, when Tara asks Willow how she can make her feel the way she does, and Willow responds "Magic." In light of the fact that Willow later erases Tara's memory to make her feel love instead of anger towards her with magic, it is incredibly sad.
In the Season Five episode "I Was Made To Love You", when the Scoobies discover that Warren built himself a robot girlfriend, it is Willow and Tara that show the most sympathy for him, that he couldn't find a nice, normal person to have a relationship with. At the end of the next season Warren kills Tara, and a heartbroken Willow murders him in revenge. The DVD commentary by episode writer Jane Espenson suggests this foreshadowing was unintentional.
Season One's "I Robot, You Jane" ends with Buffy, Willow, and Xander bemoaning how hard it is to have a nice, normal, happy relationship on the Hellmouth. It's fairly lighthearted as none of the character's failed relationships to date were actually that traumatic, but considering all that happens over the next seven seasons it's really painful. It also seems like a Lampshade Hanging when, just after the characters have finished saying how hard it is to have a happy relationship, the episode closes out to Joss Whedon's Executive Producer credit, but given that Whedon wasn't really known for putting characters through hell just yet, it's probably unintentional.
Well, it wasn't known to the audience, but seeing as the executives had already shot down his plan to have Jessie's actor in the opening credits (later done with Tara instead) and he had planned to kill Joyce in Season One just to make Buffy's life harder, it's safe to say that the writing staff knew how cruel he was already.
And that's not even considering the fact that that episode is Jenny Calendar's first appearance.
In a first season episode, Xander asks Willow to kindly stop beating a dead horse: "Will, yeah, that is the point. You don't have to drive it through my head like a railroad spike." Much later, we find out that this was Spike's preferred method of torture.
While introducing his infamous Blind Black White Supremacist sketch, Dave said "I haven't been canceled yet. But I'm working on it." Not as funny when you know about all the drama surrounding the end of his show.
There's an even worse one during the "Niggar Family" skit, a skit about a white family whose last name happens to be Niggar, allowing the character to make a whole host of n-word puns. Chappelle's character follows up a collection of n-word puns by saying in a humorous tone, "This racism is killing me inside." Guess why he left the show?
Trading Spouses was a sketch on an early episode of Chappelle's Show. About a year later, Trading Spouses was defictionalized.
In the "Negrodamus" sketch, Negrodamus, a black Nostradamus was asked whether Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver's marriage would last, to which he predicted no. Come 2011, that marriage is indeed ending.
Charmed: In episode 13 of Season 2, Prue and Piper transport a hostile venomous snake and hostile rabbit respectively. When Prue asks "Why do I get the snake?", Piper's joking response is "You're the oldest; you've lived a full life". Prue dies a season and a half later at the age of 30.
Chuck: The episode where the Buy More employees were being prepared for the chaotic stampede that would ensue on Black Friday, complete with plans for an emergency evacuation if necessary, was a lot funnier beforea Wal-Mart store employee was trampled to death in just such a situation on Black Friday.
In one episode of Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa makes a joke comparing being the understudy in a school play to being Princess Diana, "A job with tons of fringe benefits and no downside." I'm sure she would have seen a downside in 1997.
Had a segment on Obama's health care plans done in the style of a infomercial. At one point, Stephen mentions faking a cardiac arrest. The episode aired the same day that Michael Jackson died. Worse, it was originally reported that Jackson died of a cardiac arrest caused by a prescription drug overdose.
Since it was done infomercial style, it hit again as it was aired a day before Billy Mays' death.
Another incident, shared with its sister series The Daily Show, followed reports that journalist Robert Novak hit a man with his car in slow-moving traffic, dislocating the man's shoulder, and was completely unaware of it until witnesses approached him after. Both shows used the opportunities to mock Novak's age (77 at the time) as the reason behind his driving and memory loss. The following Monday, it was reported that Novak had been diagnosed over the weekend with a brain tumor, the actual cause of the incident. Jon Stewart responded on-air by apologizing and wishing Novak luck; Stephen explained during that night's show that the news reached him just in time to scrap a planned segment on Novak, and after wishing Novak well, proceeded to fill the remaining time with an "improvised" segment, where he took calls from people thanking him for his courage to not talk about Novak (trust me, it was less offensive than it sounds). Novak died a year later.
The December 11, 2012 episode opened with Stephen saying "It is now legal to carry a concealed weapon in all 50 states. So, if you are in one of them, be careful.". Three days later, a mass shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, in which 20 children and 6 adults were killed, making it the second deadliest mass shooting in a school setting.
In this segment, Stephen and Billy Crystal had this exchange about Pete Seeger and his nomination in the 2014 Grammy Awards in the same category for which they were nominated.
Colbert: But what I really meant was that I just hope that Pete Seeger doesn't win.
Billy Crystal What an asshole.
Colbert: Yeah, he is. And besides, he already won the Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1993.
Billy Crystal Yes, and he keeps on living! It's so selfish! Pete Seeger died on January 27, 2014, one day after the 2014 Grammy Awards.
Community: Around about the middle of one season 2 episode, Pierce meets Andre, Shirleys ex-husband. Pierces tries to hand Andre his leftovers and says he's finished, but Andre says he has two more good years. Two years later, Chevy Chase declares he is leaving the show.
Coronation Street: In a 1981 episode, Brian Tilsley's best friend Andy Rowland is named Nick Tilsley's godfather. Brian tells him that he's expected to make a toast after Nick's christening, like he did when he was best man at his wedding the previous year. He responds, "Flamin' hell. The wedding, the christening, all that's left's your funeral!" Brian Tilsley is murdered a few years later.
In the last series, Susan is pregnant, and the dialogue sometimes dwells with relish on the potential gruesomeness of the process. Kate Isitt (Sally) was pregnant for real at the time. Even in the context of the show, every time Susan would say something particularly gruesome (specifically the episiotomy) Sally would faint and go to her safe place.
An even "better" example is the episode in which Jeff, for reasons of typical Jeff-ness, has ended up pretending that his girlfriend is dead. A great episode is horribly dampened when you realize that Lou Gish, the actress playing said girlfriend, died prematurely from terminal cancer a few years ago. Especially when, all flu-ed up, she says to Jeff "don't mind me ... I'm dead."
At the end of the king crab fishing in season 3, the crew of the Cornelia Marie are harassing Captain Phil's son, Jake, as Phil looks on and laughs. Jake gets after his father, saying things like "One day, I'm gonna be taking care of you, you'll be in a retirement home, we'll have you chained up in the basement." Captain Phil never made it to retirement.
Then in the 2012 season, Wizard greenhorn deckhand Chris Scrambler (who had never even seen the ocean before he took the job) tried to quit in the middle of his first shift, informing Captain Keith that he was too "terrified" to continue working. Keith gave Chris a piece of his mind and told him to get back on deck, grumbling, "If this guy got a bruise he'd probably want to get medevaced out". The very next episode, Chris went into convulsions and had to be airlifted off the boat.
In one episode, a flashback reveals Gabrielle making a joke referring to shooting herself in the head and the person who would later commit suicide doing just that, sitting next to her right in the middle of the scene. They're beating a dead horse, but within the show's continuity, it still counts.
In the episode where Carlos's mother awakes from a coma but dies anyway, Bree remarks upon seeing the ensuing ostentation, "You have to hand it to the Catholics, they do grief better than anyone". Pope John Paul II died a day before the US airing, so the line was changed to "Gabby and Carlos" in place of "Catholics" (there was not enough time to bring Marcia Cross back into the studio to overdub the line, so the audio was pasted from another instance where she had used the phrase). The original line is used in syndication - this wasn't a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment for long.
The Very Special Episode dealing with child molestation featured a line where Mr. Drummond says that he's going to have a "hand to butt talk" with Arnold after learning that the boy has been drinking wine. Normally, the line would be a funny allusion to spanking, but considering the subject matter of the episode....
The actor that played Dudley admitted that he was actually being molested by a family friend while filming the episode (making that American Dad! joke about how Principal Lewis's life was based on Diff'rent Strokes and he did have a friend who was molested by a bike shop owner and is now messed-up because of it just as awkward).
In one episode, the Tenth Doctor absorbs high levels of radiation. When companion Martha Jones asks if that's likely to kill him, he light-heartedly replies "Nah, it's only Roentgen radiation. We used to play with Roentgen bricks in the nursery". Ironic and sad seeing that he ended up regenerating (dying) by absorbing radiation a few series later.
An episode of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy makes a Shout-Out to Doctor Who... by using the coordinates of Gallifrey for the location of a meteoroid field. Then came the new series, whose backstory is the destruction of Gallifrey in a "Time War." Later subverted when the Doctor manages to go back and prevent the demise of his planet.
The Night Of The Doctor turns a lot of the Eighth Doctor's adventures into this. In Max Warp he and Lucie are on a crashing spaceship that turns out to be a computer simulation. In Vengeance of Morbius it looks like the Eighth Doctor dies on Karn from a fall. He ends up dying in a spaceship crash on Karn.
This Nickelodeon game show was centered around making huge messes, with tons of wet, gooey multicolored slime getting everywhere. So it's a bit unsettling to watch after the show's host Marc Summers revealed he had pretty severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, especially considering how often he got covered in muck during the show's run. Seriously; go back and watch an episode where the team completes the obstacle course and embrace him, while covered in muck, then go watch him line up the fringe on a throw rug. Very unnerving.
On the other hand, you could go the Nostalgia Critic route and use this as proof of how Bad Ass Marc Summers is, turning the above into a long-running Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
Ellen: Ellen Degeneres' eponymous show featured an early episode in which Ellen falls all over herself trying to get the romantic attention of a hunky firefighter. Originally an amusing episode in classic Lucille Ball sitcom fashion, the show took on a tragic air when the character Ellen came out as a lesbian (a fairly short time after the comedienne herself did the same)—suddenly, the episode was a tale of a woman desperately lying to herself about her true sexuality by pursuing an unobtainable male.
ER: One season 12 (2005) episode shows Maura Tierney's character Abby Lockhart struggling with the idea of getting a mammogram, finally seen going for one at the end of the episode after admitting she's never had one and is at high risk for breast cancer. These scenes are particularly difficult to watch now as in 2009 Tierney was diagnosed with breast cancer (treatment of which forced her to drop out of the TV series Parenthood).
Family Feud: On an episode, the question was something along the lines of "Name something people think of when they're depressed/have a problem." One of the unrevealed answers wound up being "suicide", which is disturbing in and of itself (though logical); but the real shock comes because the episode was hosted by Ray Combs... who later committed suicide after a string of show-business failures. During the show, he even remarked, "No one should think of suicide." Bad survey group! Bad!
Farscape: D'Argo jokes that he hopes his half-Sebacean son has grown to have "his mother's nose." His son is later revealed to have mutilated his own nose to look less like his father's out of shame at being a hybrid.
Father Ted: The final scene of the last episode was initially going to show the titular character, driven to despair with his life, climb out on a ledge with the implication that he was going to commit suicide. The scene was Played for Laughs. Not long before the final series aired Dermot Morgan, the actor who played Ted, died from a heart attack. The scene was changed post-production to a montage celebrating the series in tribute.
The FBI Files:In "The World Trade Center Bombing" which aired in 1999 discusses the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. The announcer states that the Twin Towers "Were designed to withstand the violence of a sustained hurricane, or something as unimaginable as the impact of a fully fueled jetliner." After 9/11 it isn't so unimaginable anymore.
The episode "The Message" has this exchange that isn't so amusing after The Movie:
Jayne: You'll read over me when it's my time to shuffle off, won't you preacher? Book: Oh, I'm sure you'll outlive us all.
Another Firefly example - in the pilot, when the federal agent falls apart early on in Jayne's interrogation of him, Jayne laments "I was going to get me an ear, too," while playing with his knife. Later on in the series, Niska's interrogator cuts off Mal's ear with a knife as "compensation" for Zoe.
The scene in "Shindig" where Wash jokes about reading a poem at Zoe's funeral. It's a genuinely sweet and funny scene, until Wash ends up dying in the Big Damn Movie.
The part in "Heart of Gold" where Zoe and Wash are talking about having a child, and Zoe says, "I want to meet that child someday." Cue tears.
The still flying scene at the end of the (originally unaired) Pilot is slightly depressing now that the show has been canceled.
Of course, this could alternatively be seen as Heartwarming In Hindsight, because even if they don't make new episodes, this show Will. Not. Die. And still continues to bring in new viewers and sell DVDs ten years later.
"I'm thinking we'll rise again" (The Train Job)
Flash Forward (ABC's 2009 version) had a subplot, in which Lee Thompson Young's Al Gough committed suicide to prevent his disastrous flash forward from coming true. On August 19th, 2013, some three years later, Lee Thompson Young was found dead at his home from a self inflicted gun shot wound.
Flipper: The entirety of this show can become one of these once you learn that the dolphin who usually played Flipper died - possibly even committed suicide - in the arms of her trainer, Ric O'Berry, and that O'Berry now campaigns heavily against dolphin captivity.
In a season 2 episode, Jazz shows up with a life-size cardboard cutout of Bill Cosby, prompting Will to ask what happened to his Whitney Houston cutout. Jazz's response is that she fell apart in the shower. Twenty years later, "falling apart in the shower" would actually be how Whitney Houston's life would end.
The episode where Will tells off Uncle Phil's rival (played by Sherman Helmsley) and wishes that he would drop dead — which he does. In 2012, Helmsley dropping dead would be a sad reality.
"Home Is Where the Heart Attack Is", in which Uncle Phil ends up in the hospital with a heart attack brought on by his overeating, can be quite painful to watch after James Avery's death, due to complications from open heart surgery, in 2013.
Worse, there were countless fat jokes directed toward Avery's character Uncle Phil every season. All of them sting now that the actor in real life has passed away because of the heart disease brought on by his weight problems.
Four moments become less funny due to one event later in the series:
In earlier seasons, Chandler makes multiple jokes about not being able to have children.
In season 3, Monica considers getting pregnant from a sperm donor. It's played for laughs and the rest of the cast thinks it's a dumb idea, largely because she's single.
At Monica and Chandler's wedding, Judy Geller mistakenly thinks Monica is pregnant and gives Monica the cold shoulder when she discovers the truth.
After watching Pete (Monica's ex boyfriend) getting beaten up Ross quips: "Well, this is ironic. Of your last two boyfriends, Richard didn’t want to have kids, and from the looks of it, now Pete can’t." Her next boyfriend is Chandler and...
At the end of season 9, when Chandler and Monica are together, they turn out to be incompatible. Chandler has lazy sperm, and Monica's uterus is inhospitable, so the the chances of her getting pregnant are already low. As such, they have to consider surrogacy or a sperm donor.
Chandler's smoking addiction wasn't very funny later on when Matthew Perry went into rehab to control his drinking.
A season 2 episode showed Monica getting Chandler to get in shape reflecting Matthew Perry's later weight problem.
When Joey auditions for the lead of a new detective show, he tells his friends not to get their hopes up, as he isn't sure if he's good enough to carry his own TV show. Turns out he was right.
In season 8, Brad Pitt appeared as one of Ross's old high school friends, who hated Rachel to the point that he was president of an Anti-Rachel club in high school. At the time, it was a funny Casting Gag due to the fact that Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston in real life. The joke became a lot less funny after Aniston and Pitt's very, very public divorce.
In "TOW No One's Ready", Phoebe wears a Christmas ornament in order to hide a stain on her dress, stating that she'll explain it away as a political symbol. When Chandler asks her what she is supporting, she responds "Duh, Christmas." It's hard to believe that something treated as an absurd joke reflecting Phoebe's personality would become an actual politically charged issue a decade later.
April gives Kurt alcohol. When Emma questions him about his breath, he stares at her and says: "Oh, Bambi...I cried so hard when those hunters shot your mommy!" before throwing up on her shoes. If you ignore the fact that Kurt is a teenager who really shouldn't be drinking, that line is quite funny...until you realise that Kurt would've been the age to watch movies like Bambi right around the time when his mother died.
Sam auditions for New Directions with a light-hearted rendition of Billionaire...Before the season ends it is revealed that he's living below the poverty line.
Dave Karofsky's fake apology to the Glee club in season 2 mentions 'kids that got bullied so bad they hung themselves'. He becomes one of these kids in On My Way.
A really horrific Real Life one; in Season 3, it is revealed that Finn's father did not die in the military, but from a fatal drug overdose. Two years later, Finn's actor, Cory Monteith, died from the same thing.
Similarly in Season 2 (Furt), when Finn asks "Is this one of those interventions?"
There's one episode where the plot revolves around one of Sophia's friends being transferred into a really terrible nursing home, and the girls' efforts to find a place where she can receive proper care. At the end of the episode, they wonder what's going to happen to them as they get older, and make a promise to always take care of each other. After a pause, a worried looking Rose comments, "What happens when there's only one of us left?" This goes from simply sad to heart-breaking when viewed afteward. Since Rue McClanahan's death, Betty White (who played Rose), is the only one of the four actresses still alive.
Even worse, after Rose says that line, Sophia responds with a simple "Don't worry, I can take care of myself." Estelle Getty, the second youngest of the actresses, who logically (one would think) would be the last survivor, was the first to die.
The episode "Old Friends" features Sophia becoming friends with a man who has Alzheimer's disease. It got a lot Harsher in Hindsight when Estelle Getty died of Lewy Body Dementia.
The episode where Meredith describes the attempted suicide of her mother to her shocked therapist is dramatic, but also slightly cringe-inducing because the actress playing Meredith, Ellen Pompeo, states her earliest memory to be when she was 4 and her elder siblings were trying to wake her mother, who had accidentally overdosed on pain meds, and killed herself. Wonder if the writers knew that when they wrote it.
When Izzy was convincing Alex to take a chance on her after his traumatizing experience with Ava, she promised him passionately that she "wasn't going to go crazy." Later that same season, she began hallucinating her dead fiance due to a brain tumor. So much for that promise...
In the final two episodes of Season 5; when the gang finds out George enrolled in the army, they start joking about how he'd die. They talk about him over a John Doe that got hit by a bus...and then the bombshell that John Doe is George, who'd left early to start his basic and saved a girl from being hit by that bus, taking the blow himself and dying.
In the second season, when the nurses are on strike, George refuses to cross the picket line, stating that "Dad's a truck driver, mom's a teacher - if the evening news shows me crossing a picket line, they'll outlive me just to pee on my grave." (Although his father died in S3, his mother did outlive him.)
In the second season, when George and Derek are quarantined in the locker room, George begins to panic about the possibility of dying from the plague.
In the second season episode "17 Seconds", after a shooting at a local business, Derek remarks "Can you imagine, you're at work, just doing your job and somebody come in and shoots you.". Fast-forward to season 6 finale where Derek is at work, and someone comes in and shoots him.
George: You know, you're an ass. You've lived, you've done things. And you got the hair and the hot wife and the beautiful ex-mistress who pines for you.
Derek: She's pining for me?
George: My point is, you've lived! If you die, who cares? If I die - what, this is it?!
Mike would occasionally make fat jokes about his sister, Carol. At first, it seems like harmless sibling rivalry until you realize that prior to the show, Tracey Gold struggled with anorexia and the jokes caused her to relapse.
They also did a segment about old ads that involve the World Trade Center. One ad advertising a tour to the WTC roof observation deck had the tagline "The closest you'll get to heaven."
Hearts Afire: In one episode, due to a mix-up at a doctor's office, John Ritter's character thinks he may have a previously-unknown medical condition that will kill him suddenly. Death imitates art.
Hells Kitchen: In a confessional, Rachel from Season 2 jokingly pantomimed shooting herself in the head. She died of a gunshot to the head about a year later.
HolbyCity has a few in-universe versions of these. One involves Jonny's wedding with Bonnie. After Jonny arriving late, Bonnie quips that she'll have to put up with this for 40 years. This is three seconds before she is hit by a lorry and killed on impact.
Did this subtly with Amber's death in season 4. In episode 12, "Don't Ever Change," House confronts Wilson about why he is dating Amber (since he usually only dates extremely needy women, and Amber is anything but) and asks, jokingly, if she's dying. Wilson's response is a sigh and a "Yes".
And Amber's first words to Wilson were "I was never here." Cute at the time because she was acting like a sneaky little CTB, but after she died? Not so much. (Events near the end of season 5 don't help either.)
They also use the metaphor of being hit by a bus when discussing danger and unexpected deaths.
In a Season 3 episode, Wilson is asked by Cuddy why he's late, and he loudly snaps, "The buses suck!" (He was forced to take the bus to work as Detective Tritter impounded his car). Considering bus-related incidents in the next season, the line isn't quite so funny...
They got two Funny Aneurysms for the price of one in "Mirror, Mirror": Kutner and Amber are arguing over which one of them their patient will imitate when they notice that the patient's blood has gone solid. Kutner quips, "I'd say he's mimicking whichever one of us happens to be dying." That doesn't narrow it down.
They did it again in season 5. The reason for Kutner to get the cat to go peeing on House's chair? To quote the man himself: "Blood on my face." Technically it was cranberry juice, but he, uh, fixed that inconsistency two episodes later.
Even more poignant in the same episode, when the cat that is said to foretell someone's death strolls around Kutner's legs, House remarks sarcastically:
"Oh my god! The death cat is attacking your legs! You're gonna die!"
In the episode "Painless", the patient of the week attempts suicide, and the fellows argue over his mental status. When Taub attributes Kutner's position on "right to die" to Kutner's tragic childhood, Kutner argues that his past makes him less likely to commit suicide. Figures don't lie — but liars figure.
Unintended example: A case is caused by a father accidentally passing his supplemental testosterone on to his children (He made contact with them when it was dissipating from his body). The FDA has issued a warning about exactly this, with exactly the same effects.
"The Itch," an episode that aired in the first half of season 5, had as one of its plots House trying to convince Wilson that he really is getting bitten by a mosquito and not imagining it. He is right in the end - he kills the mosquito. Then, in the season finale, it turns out that House hallucinated the sex with Cuddy he had in the previous episode - and was also hallucinating that he had the evidence of that encounter, a lipstick that was really a Vicodin bottle. This at best makes the resolution of that plot "The Itch" a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, and at worst destabilizes it altogether.
This was probably intentional foreshadowing.
Season 5 episode 8, "Emancipation": House tells Wilson 'holding things in can give you cancer.'
Some dialog from Season 3, episode 23, regarding treating the patient of the week with magic mushrooms:
Cuddy: I assume you've considered he could have a psychogenic experience. Possibly suffer a fit of severe paranoia. House: Well, I have now. Yeah, it's definitely better that the Dean of Medicine prescribes it instead of an unhinged doctor with a history of drug use. Takes the stink off if the patient decides to put on a cape and fly off the roof.
The above lines become quite the "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when watching this episode after seeing the premiere of Season 6, in which one of House's fellow patients at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital does jump off a parking structure, believing he is a superhero and can fly. *** And it doesn't help that House made it possible for that fellow mental patient to get into that position.
Chase-related example: season 1, "Damned If You Do," Chase admits to having lost his faith, and the nun the team just cured tells him he'll find his way back to the church someday. Season 6 — Chase finally does, out of desperation, try to return to the church — about one month too late.
In a season two episode of House "Forever". When House is asking why Chase is working in the NICU and Chase say's he can't deal with all the patients lying House says, "Nothing more honest then a dead baby". Not so funny when later in the episode the baby Mikey dies.
A season 1 episode has Barney courting a bridesmaid, his excuse for never seeing her again being that in the morning he's shipping out with the Peace Corps for two years. We find out mere episodes later that his Start of Darkness was getting stood up by his girlfriend the day they were supposed to ship out with the Peace Corps together for two years.
In "Double Date" Marshall explains how a husband like him fantasizes about other women than Lily: First he has to kill Lily off via Soap Opera Disease, then lets "an appropriate amount of years" slip until said other woman reappears in his life and they can get it on. Of course everybody around Marshall agrees that this is ridiculous, disturbing, sad etc.. And it bears an uncanny resemblance to what the writers eventually do to Tracy/The Mother in order to have Ted end up with Robin.
Ted's kids rolling their eyes at the beginning of the story looks pretty darn callous knowing that their mother is actually dead.
iCarly: A very literal example occurred in the episode "iPsycho", in which Nora's birthday goes horribly wrong when her clown has an aneurysm and dies. In 2012, a clown abruptly died of a heart attack at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I Dream of Jeannie: One of the final episodes was "Mrs. Djinn Djinn", an episode where the other characters mistakenly believe that Jeannie is pregnant and shower her with baffling gifts and praise, all while trying to coax out her (non-existent) secret. In real life, Barbara Eden was struggling with infertility: her second child (conceived shortly after the cancellation of I Dream Of Jeannie) died in utero and she was forced to carry it to term despite knowing the child was already gone. She kept the tragedy a secret, and endured two months of strangers congratulating her and asking when "the little genie" would be born without saying a word... the trauma eventually broke up her marriage.
Invasion: The premiere episode of this short-lived series — which takes place in the midst of a powerful hurricane in Florida — was aired several weeks after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast, prompting ABC to air a disclaimer at the start of the broadcast and to pull hurricane-themed promos for the show.
At the end of the JAG episode in which Bud meets Harriett, Harm makes a face after they kiss. Mac says "picturing their children?" A long time later, the couple would have a stillborn child.
Kaamelott: In one episode, King Arthur finds the two inept knights Perceval and Karadoc trying to break a rock barehanded, and before they inevitably end up breaking their own hand he tells them something which amounts to "You know, for someone like me who often suffers from depression, what you are doing right now is really welcome". A few seasons later, Arthur actually suffers from depression, and tries to kill himself.
"Space Case". During "Space Week" at the P* lace, the kids are all writing to NASA, petitioning them to put a kid into space. Mickey mentions that NASA is "going to start taking regular people into space." This episode was filmed in 1984, and what Mickey's referring to is the then-recent announcement of the Teacher In Space project. The fruition of that project was the 1986 shuttle mission STS-51-L, which ended 73 seconds after launch with the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
Also, the number of times over the years these prepubescent kids mention how much they want to be like Michael Jackson.
Late Night With Conan O'Brien:
On the last week of this show, Nathan Lane sang a version of Your Way to Conan. The final verse had such lyrics as:
Go West! you'll find a place,
and if you're not the ratings victor,
you'll live inside a car with Andy Richter...
Don't ever stop, and if you flop, you'll do it your way!
Not quite how it went down, but eerily predictive. Conan sure did leave The Tonight Show his way.
One of Conan's "Actual Items" segments featured an ad for a cruise line. Buried in the fine print was a disclaimer that once aboard, guests would be taken captive on behalf of Osama Bin Laden. This installment of "Actual Items" aired in summer 2001.
Pilot Frank Lapidus successfully lands a commercial plane on a small runway on the island when the plane undergoes instrument failure as a result of jumping through time. This episode aired a few weeks after (but was clearly written and filmed many months before) Sully Sullenberger became a national hero for successfully landing a commercial jet on the Hudson River with no loss of life. Since no one died, this is thankfully a less disturbing version of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Air France Flight 447. When this passenger jet crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009, some pointed out the loose similarity with Lost. However, as the days passed, more and more eerily Lost-related coincidences began to appear, including the discovery of the plane's tail section (Losts Flight 815 lost its tail section during the crash), the statement that the plane was found on the bottom of the ocean with bodies (Charles Widmore hides a fake Flight 815 and bodies on the bottom of the ocean to throw off investigators), and, most disturbingly, a Spanish pilot's claim that he saw a "flash of bright light" where flight 447 disappeared (Losts flight 316 disappeared in a flash of time travel-related light). Finally, conspiracy theorists began pointing out that the area where flight 447 vanished is known for heightened electromagnetism as one of the infamous "vile vortices;" flight 815 on Lost was brought down in an electromagnetic incident. Sure enough, the claim that unusual levels of electromagnetism were in the area on the day of the disappearance was backed up by imaging reports from independent researchers.
The last sentence could be rephrased to say, "The crash took place in the vicinity of thunderstorms which were picked up by American and Canadian weather satellites".
In one episode, Malcolm questions Lois's authority and asks if she intends to control his life when he's 30 years old and married. In a separate entire episode, he spends the entire episode pondering what he wants to do with his life, but at the end of the episode, decides he'll just continue being a kid while he still is one. As the last episode reveals, the question from the former episode was "Yes", and the point of the latter was moot to begin with, because his whole family planned his future out for him from the very beginning. (Could be either this or Hilarious in Hindsight.)
Less than a week after Daniel von Bargen's (the man who plays Commandant Edwin Spangler) attempted suicide, a UK television channel aired the episode "Dewey's Dog", in which Spangler shows up drunk and suicidal saying he has nothing to live for.
Married... with Children: In a similar vein, the episodes where Peggy is pregnant are a little uncomfortable to watch, knowing that Katey Segal's first pregnancy ended in a stillbirth and the entire "Peg is pregnant" story arc had to be rewritten as a dream Al had.
Lots of the early episodes have scenes or bits with Henry Blake that have a new meaning now that we know the character's ultimate fate. In "Cowboy," Henry survives repeated attempts on his life by a disgruntled chopper pilot; in "Showtime," his wife back home gives birth to a son whom Henry will never see in person; in "O.R." he mentions his reluctance to go home, as he's done the best work of his career in Korea; and so forth.
Hawkeye also reassures him at one point that he'll die an old man in his bed. Ouch.
In "For Want Of A Boot", a dentist character says that, "In the great mouth of life, Henry Blake is but a temporary filling." Temporary is right.
In "Hot Lips and Empty Arms":
Margaret: Do you know that you look just like my father before he died?note Her father would be alive in a later episode, played by Andrew Duggan. Henry: Oh, uh, a lot of people have said that.
Let's not forget the superbly hilarious early episode, "Bananas, Crackers and Nuts", in which Hawkeye attempts to fake insanity to get some rest away from the camp. A few years later (in real time it was more like 11, but to Hawkeye that's probably more what it felt like), Hawkeye is sent to an institution after plowing a jeep through the mess tent.
Also, when he has yet another breakdown in "Hawk's Nightmare", Radar expresses surprise at his behavior because he was apparently coping with the war better than anyone. Even before the finale, that really wasn't the case anymore.
Margaret's excitement throughout Season Five over marrying Donald is pretty hard to swallow when you know how quickly the marriage went sour, ending in divorce.
The inscription on Margaret's wedding ring, according to episode "Patent 4077", is "Over hill, over dale, our love will never fail". Klinger loses the ring and gets a replacement, which Margaret ends up keeping, but one word in the ring is misspelled. "Never" has been engraved as "ever". This is much less funny in light of the marriage's end in the next season.
Another example unrelated to Hawkeye or Henry: the Season Nine episode "Blood Brothers" tells the story of a GI who can't give blood because he has terminal cancer. The GI was played... by Patrick Swayze.
Merlin: In Series Two, Guinevere confronts Arthur with his bad manners and asks: "would it kill you to say please and thank you once in a while?" Fast-forward to the Grand Finale and guess what Arthur's last words to Merlin are? Yup, "hold me please", and "thank you." Apparently saying it does kill him.
The Middle: In the fifth season, a Running Gag in "The Award" has Sue being mistaken for an exchange student from Ukraine. The episode, obviously written and filmed months earlier, aired the week after serious political unrest in Ukraine, including the deaths of dozens of protesters in the streets of Kiev, forced the country's president to flee.
The fourth-season episode "Arrested" has a brief, almost Crowning Moment of Heartwarming near the end when Haley, who has just been expelled from college six weeks into her freshman year, returns to her room and her younger sister Alex, with whom she normally bickers and feuds, tells her she's happy she's home again (it's quickly subverted when they go back to feuding). Within a week of that episode airing, it was disclosed that Ariel Winter, who plays Alex, had been removed from her mother's custody due to emotional and physical abuse and was now living with ... her own older sister.
The very next episode, "Mistery Date," had a scene where Alex, after washing out of a Brain Bowl-type event unusually early, accuses her mother of trying to live through her. Again, a little hard to watch given what was really going on in the actress's life.
Monty Python's Flying Circus: "The Upper Class Twit of the Year" involves the twits shooting themselves in the head in the end. However, the deaths of Oliver's actor Graham Chapman was also the first to die, paralleling that of his character being also the first to die in the sketch.
At one point in the episode "Mork The Practical Joker", Mork is acting overly-dramatic to Mindy's practical jokes and gasps "Oh, oh my heart", which is extremely cringeworthy after Robin Williams' heart surgery in 2009.
The Morton Downey Jr. Show: Morton Downey Jr. had a trademark habit of chainsmoking and blowing smoke into guests' faces. This is a bit darker looking back knowing that Morton died from lung cancer, and that even later in his life he regretted making smoking look cool.
The episode hosted by Zero Mostel contains a skit where he recites a poem about his fears, ending with his greatest fear: something for which he himself is only a fear that can be erased by that realization, upon which he vanishes into thin air. Mostel died suddenly before the episode aired, which must have made the scene pretty eerie.
And then there's the scene in Peter Sellers' episode where Kermit finds him dressed in a bizarre mix of costume pieces in his dressing room. ("I was trying to do Queen Victoria, but I've forgotten what she looked like.") When Kermit responds that it's okay for him to be himself on the Muppet show Sellers replies, "That would be impossible. There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed." The scene has since been quoted many times as summing up Sellers' view of himself as doomed to be seen only as his various characters and not his true self. In fact, he contributed to the sketch in lieu of the show's usual scene of the guest star out of character backstage, due to his discomfort at being seen out of character.
One of the show's best moments was Harry Belafonte singing "Turn the World Around" accompanied by African mask-inspired Muppets. The song is upbeat, but it's hard not to cry when you know Belafonte performed the same song at Jim Henson's memorial. The lead-in to the song—which talks about how life is very brief but we can change the world if we care about each other—only makes things worse.
In one episode Dr. Bunsen Honeydew enlarges a virus to make it easier to study. (Beaker, of course, gets overwhelmed by it) The virus is specifically mentioned to be a streptococcus virus. Jim Henson would die of a streptococcus infection a decade later.
The Muppets at Walt Disney World: This 1990 NBC special was created to metaphorically celebrate the forthcoming sale of The Jim Henson Company to The Walt Disney Company, which would allow Henson to focus on creating new Muppet (and other) works while Disney handled the business side of things. It culminates in Medium Blending when the live-action Muppets meet an animated Mickey Mouse and prove to have similar philosophies in the possibilities of dreams coming true. Unfortunately, Jim Henson died ten days after it originally aired, before he could sign off on the deal. This led to years of sales and resales that fractured the rights to the company's various properties, while new productions were often underpromoted, unheralded, and/or of poorer quality than before. In particular, the popularity of the classic Muppets (which was wavering by The Nineties) has never fully recovered from this — a major plot point of the 2011 film The Muppets is that they have to reestablish themselves with today's audiences. As a result, this special and the later tribute The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (which aired late in '90) come off less as marking the Dawn of an Era of new adventures and creations, and more the heralds of the End of an Age.
A Muppet's Christmas: Letters to Santa: With the Muppets: This 2008 Christmas Special features Nathan Lane as a sadistic TSA officer. He decides he doesn't like the way the Muppets look and pulls them into an interrogation room, planning to perform cruel and humiliating security searches on them. In 2008, it was funny. In 2010, it's a controversial reality.
Murder in Small Town X: A while ago, there was this reality show. The game was ultimately won by Angel Juarbe, a New York firefighter. The MiSTX finale airdate? September 4, 2001. Angel died in the attacks one week later.
The extremely popular song "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas" seemed slightly less funny during the 2009 holiday season, three months after Patrick Swayze died. But Swayze himself got a kick out of the sketch, which makes it okay, if a bit wistful.
In the first season episode "One Shot, One Kill", which aired in 2004, a marine recruiter is talking to two young men about joining the marine corp. About the possibility of being deployed to Iraq he says:
"What with boot camp, S-O-I, follow on schools... we're talking over a year and a half of training. Iraq will pretty much be over by the time you boys graduate."
In the second season episode "An Eye for an Eye", Tony tells Kate to "Work smarter not harder - you'll live longer." Six episodes later, Kate is killed on the job.
One of the more severe examples comes from the Titanic episode. At the end of the episode, Phil Hartman addresses the audience as Phil Hartman (rather than his character Bill McNeal), and explains that no one in the cast really died, at which point the rest of the cast show up and explain that Dave (Foley) drowned while filming the last scene. Hartman then explains that "Okay, so only one person died..." This was Hartman's last scene ever: he was killed soon after this episode aired. This scene was removed in syndication, probably for this reason, but kept in the DVD release.
The last in-character scene of that Titanic episode ended with the implication of, as Phil Hartman put it, "Matthew and I eating each other". Matthew was played by Andy Dick, who Jon Lovitz claims indirectly caused Hartman's death by re-introducing Hartman's wife to the cocaine that contributed to her murder-suicide.
Another cringe-inducing moment comes in an earlier episode where McNeal is arrested, and Dave concludes that the only way the police could have dealt with him would have been to shoot him.
The Halloween one, where the whole B plot revolves around Bill being depressed that a psychic tells him he's going to die 'so soon' (for him, although it was still far in the future) but ends when the psychic gets tired of him and tells him he'll live a ridiculously long time. Funny then, but in retrospect...
Then there is references to Bill's crazy ex-girlfriend Linda and Bill is oblivious to her behavior as being abnormal. (Ep. 218 "Led Zeppelin"). In Ep. 410 "Look Who's Talking", the woman he was seeing tried to set fire to his hair while he was sleeping.
Lest anyone think Phil Hartman's death is the only FAM material on Newsradio, the Aborted Arc with a character played by Lauren Graham being brought in as Mr. James' "Plan B" for the station became a little cringe-worthy in 2009 when Lauren Graham replaced Newsradio alumnus Maura Tierney on Parenthood after Tierney left to undergo treatment for breast cancer.
Night Court: (set in New York City, albeit well over a decade before 9/11) Mac's TRS80-esque computer starts picking up air-traffic control data. Right after he announces that he fixed it by wiping the information, everyone hears the roar of a jet engine. Dan looks out the window to deliver the punchline "You should see the looks on their faces!"
One episode had an actor who played a Lone Ranger-esque character who was upset about a new, grittier movie that went completely against what his show/movies were about. He threatened to kill himself with a suspended air conditioner. In the end, it all worked out because the movie bombed with audiences, so the old guy wins a moral victory. In 2013, a Darker and Edgierfilm adaptation of The Lone Ranger was made by Disney, and was also poorly received. This would seem Hilarious in Hindsight, except for the fact that Disney's Lone Ranger is on track to becoming one of the biggest Box Office Bombs of all time.
Only Fools And Horses: The ending of "The Sky's the Limit", where an aircraft is heading for Trotter Towers.
In the 1983 Christmas special "Thicker Than Water", Reg Trotter returns, and comes close to convincing his sons that he isn't really Del's father. Much later, the 1987 and 2003 Christmas specials "The Frog's Legacy" and "Sleepless in Peckham" would suggest that Rodney wasn't Reg's son (although "Thicker Than Water" already had a pretty strong implication of that itself - or at least that Del had reason to have always thought it was a possibility, yet he didn't know the truth until a drunk Albert told him).
The Only Way Is Essex: Any of Lauren Goodger's appearances qualify as this now given her break-up with Mark, and the fact that she has become something of a media sensation now. Lampshaded on a few British football forums. Watching any episode of The Only Way Is Essex or reading about her in the media shows how this trope comes into play.
Pitchmen: In one early episode, Anthony Sullivan is looking over recorded footage of Billy Mays driving for a commercial spot. When remarking on Billy's acting (as it's obvious he's not really driving), Anthony exclaims "It looks like he's about to have a heart attack!" Two months after airing, Billy Mays died of a previously unknown heart condition.
Queer as Folk: In Season 2, when Ted temporarily becomes "addicted" to porn, his best friend Emmett admonishes him that, "You're not sucking me into your black hole of depravity." When Emmett tells the others that they need to stage an intervention, Brian sarcastically guesses that Ted is addicted to crystal meth. In a later season, Ted really does become addicted to crystal meth, and tragically self-destructs while coming very close to dragging Emmett down with him. What is especially funny-turned-cringeworthy is Brian's comment that Ted is a schmuck who couldn't even get a decent addiction.
Revolution: The original trailer showed Wrigley Field with 2012 World Champion Chicago Cubs on it. The Cubs had one of their worst seasons ever in 2012 losing over 100 games. This was changed by the time the pilot episode aired.
Robot Wars: Craig Charles's quite prophetic introduction to the European Championship. This was recorded in about 2002, many years before the financial crisis and subsequent political turmoil:
Craig: I have in my hand a piece of paper, but it does not promise peace in our time, 'cause we have a continent in crisis! ... Yes, the borders have gone back up! We've said, "See you!" to the EU, and European harmony most definitely stops here!
Room 101: Beloved BBC Radio DJ John Peel's 2002 appearance on this show made for a very sweet and funny episode, which is also very sad to watch now, since one of his nominated items was death, and he spends a lot of the time talking about his eventual death and how he would or wouldn't like to go. He died suddenly in 2004.
An early episode has Roseanne and Dan planning out what will happen after they die, climaxing in Dan reassuring as distraught DJ that he's going to live for a long time/looks forward to seeing him getting married one day/everything fictional parents usually say when they're reassuring their kids that they won't die. Sweet at the time, but becomes painful when you remember that Dan ends up dying while DJ is still just a teenager.
In another early episode, Roseanne gets a call from the school that D.J. has been neglecting his school work, his excuse being that Dan died, and he has so many responsibilities at home now.
In another one, Roseanne gets a call from the school that D.J. had obscene materials, and Dan goes there, and since they haven't seen Mr. Connor before, he jokes that he's her oldest son and Mrs. Connor's a widow. Also, given that he died of a heart attack, any joke about Dan's weight qualifies.
Samantha Who: In the second episode, Samantha goes to a prescheduled doctor's appointment, assuming he's a neurologist, only to find out halfway through that he's a plastic surgeon whom, pre-amnesia, Sam had planned to go to for breast implants. The year after this episode aired, Christina Applegate, who plays Samantha, was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy.
Sanford and Son: The famous running gag of Fred Sanford faking a heart attack is painful to watch now since Redd Foxx died of a heart attack years later while relaxing between takes of The Royal Family. He might have survived had everyone around him not thought he was just doing his old schtick.
Saved by the Bell: There was a particularly brutal one in one episode. Kelly, who is running for homecoming queen, says that she's always wanted to be a princess. Lisa's response: "Well, if anything ever happens to Princess Di..."
Michael J. Fox playing a doctor with OCD is lent extra weight by his later commercials showing the effects Parkinson's has had on him. (The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder was originally added to explain the already-apparent tics.)
In the fourth season episode "My First Kill", Dr. Cox tells J.D that every doctor eventually kills a patient. When asked if he's ever killed a patient, Cox replies, "no, but I'm the exception that proves the rule". Next season, he ends up killing three patients and becomes almost catatonic with guilt.
Second Chance: The pilot episode (about an old man who is too good for Hell but not good enough for Heaven, so is sent back to Earth to make his teen self slightly less sinful) has a throwaway joke of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi being judged after his death, with the date given as July 29, 2011. Twenty-four years later, by coincidence, Gaddafi's death occurred within three months of the "predicted" date.
The episodes where Kramer gets Mistaken for Racist (e.g. "The Puerto Rican Day") are a lot less funny since Kramer's actor, Michael Richards, wound up in hot water for using the N-word against some hecklers while performing standup comedy in 2006.
Shipping Wars: After a harrowing run that turned out to be part of a practice paramilitary exercise, a client jokes with Roy that he hoped he didn't give him a heart attack. Just a few days after the episode originally aired, Roy in fact passed away from a heart attack.
Skins (UK): The first episode of the seventh series featured a smutty joke told by Naomi relating to the "Boris Bikes" promoted by London Mayor Boris Johnson. Four days after the show was broadcast, a female cyclist died in a collision with a lorry whilst riding one of the bikes.
Sooty and Co: One 1990s episode of this British children's puppet series features a constant running joke where Soo criticizes Matthew for his bad taste in music - with Matthew arguing that his music isn't in bad taste as he's a massive fan of Gary Glitter. At one point he even turns to the audience, says: "I do like Gary Glitter, don't you"? and winks. After Gary Glitter's arrest over having child porn on his computer, the line takes on a disturbing new meaning.
The Soup: Made hay with an Alternative Character Interpretation of reality show Jon and Kate Plus 8 that portrayed Jon as a henpecked husband to needlessly bossy Kate; one skit took an argument over coupons and ended it with him committing suicide. As it turns out, the marriage was indeed miserable, and while The Soup — irreverent by nature — kept up with the show and its stars even after they officially filed for divorce in June 2009 (the show continued for a while as Kate Plus 8), one episode joked that it was "just kind of sad now".
Stargate Atlantis: Back in season 3, when Rodney was blasted by some weird Ancient technology and worrying about the effects it could have on him, Elizabeth jokingly asked Dr. Beckett, "What are the chances it could make him more pleasant?" Then, in season 5, Rodney contracts a brain parasite whose effects are to take away his memory, drastically reduce his intelligence, and make him much friendlier.
One of the wacky, self-referential Milestone Celebration episodes had Martin Lloyd mention that it had been suggested that he go with a younger, hipper version of his fictionalized SG-1 for the movie he was making. We get an Imagine Spot to a hilarious soap-operatic version of Stargate, with Teal'c as The Pornomancer, people stopping to randomly make out during scenes when they really shouldn't, and Vala randomly telling Daniel she's pregnant. Then all other Stargate Verse projects are flushed in favor of Stargate Universe, which... seems like they used that scene as a blueprint for a new series without realizing it was supposed to be a joke. Now that SGU has failed (it lasted less than two seasons before its unceremonious cancellation), all other Stargate projects are on indefinite hiatus. Suddenly, 200 isn't nearly as funny as it was when it came out.
The initial oohing and ahhing about their UA Vs (unmanned aerial vehicle), to be followed by their casual use in pretty much every other episode of the series, takes on a whole new tone when you look at what the Real Life version of that technology lead to.
Another Star Trek example. The two part episode "Past Tense" sends Sisko, Bashir and Dax back to San Francisco in the year 2024 by way of a transportermalfunction. They are separated when Sisko and Bashir get taken to a Sanctuary District, a walled off part of the city where the city's homeless and destitute are left to live in squalor. The reason these places exist in the first place is because of widespread joblessness due to a wrecked economy, with hints of anarchy in Europe. The references to the economy are particularly cringe-inducing, given the current state of our own. Fortunately for our heroes, all of these conditions force tension in the Sanctuary Districts to come to a head. Riots break out, and through a series of events the normal timeline is restored, and so is the Federation.
Not only that, but as the episode was filming, the Mayor of Los Angeles proposed moving the homeless population into walled off districts, much like in the episode. The producers were understandably freaked out.
One episode featured David Ogden Stiers as a scientist who starts a relationship with Lwaxana Troi, but despairs that it's too late for them to truly be together as he turns sixty in a few days, which is when his species undergoes compulsory euthanasia. Stiers came out of the closet at age 66, expressing his regrets that keeping his homosexuality secret for so long had prevented him from having any kind of stable relationship, and that he hoped to finally have one in his remaining years.
That's nothing compared to the episode of Frasier that David Ogden Stiers guest-starred in. He plays a research scientist called Leland Barton who was a close friend of Frasier's mother Hester, and Frasier's father Martin becomes worried that due to Leland sharing the same hobbies, tastes and mannerisms as Frasier and Niles that he might have had an affair with Hester and be Frasier and Niles' biological father. Martin confronts Leland with this at the end, and Leland admits that he loved Hester - but only platonically, because he's gay, and she was very supportive of him when they worked together in the 1950s and it wasn't possible to be open about homosexuality.
While not exactly funny, episodes involving Romulus have gained a little bit of a bittersweet overtone since their airing. "The Defector" had a disgraced and banished Romulan general who'd defected to stop an all-out Romulan/Federation war (actually part of a ploy by Romulus to start said war, albeit the general didn't know that), leaving behind a suicide note to be delivered to his child; the ending played up the hopes that, one day, relations would eventually be good enough between the two sides that the Federation could deliver it personally. The two-parter "Unification" ends on a hopeful note that the young of Romulus will eventually replace their warmongering elders and embrace their relationship with Vulcan on far more friendly terms. Neither will happen; the Romulus of this universe was canonically vaporized by a supernova in Star Trek, giving Nero the impetus to go back in time and screw around with the alternate universe of the Abrams films.
The Enterprise crew goes back in time for the episode "Assignment: Earth." Spock mentions that an unnamed important person is supposed to be assassinated on that day. Since the episode was meant as a "backdoor pilot" for another show, this was not elaborated upon. However, six days after the episode aired, Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered.
This episode ended up being a lot more eerily prescient than just that. It's not that far ahead of Robert Kennedy's assassination either, and on top of that, Gary Seven was attempting to stop the launch of a nuclear weapons platform into orbit. On the same day as MLK's assassination, NASA also launched a Saturn V rocket (Not, however, carrying nuclear weapons) which suffered a malfunction and ended up going way off course, and was covered up in the Star Trek universe. Spock's prediction of an uprising in Asia is also sometimes tied to a coup in Iraq, but that was over three months later.
At the end of "The Changeling", Kirk cracks a joke about the Monster of the Week they just beat: "It's not easy to lose a bright and promising son. [...] Kind of gets you right there, doesn't it?" Oh... ow... yes. Yes, it does.
While the internal Mood Whiplash of this show's "Mystery Spot" made Dean's joke deaths slightly less funny, his being Killed Off for Real (at least until the 2008 fall season premiere) made them, and all of his other deaths and death wishes, unbelievably painful to watch during the summer of 2008.
The Trickster's antics in "Tall Tales" (one of their breather episodes) become a hell of a lot less funny when you learn just how cruel the Trickster can be—specifically, that he could kill Dean over and over again to stop Sam from thinking that he could save him.
Not to mention when you find out that the Trickster knows how it feels to have your family ripped apart, but still does it anyway to try and teach them a lesson.
The angel-inna-whorehouse sequence in season 5's "Free to Be You and Me" is funny. But the next episode, "The End," involves a burnt out, heavily stoned version of that angel, who apparently holds orgies on a regular basis.
A funny aneurysm within a funny aneurysm: when Dean gets back to his own time, he claps a hand on Castiel's shoulder and tells him, "Don't ever change." ComeSeason6...
The hunter accusing Sam of bringing about the Apocalypse is a lot less funny when you realise that he actually does end up bringing about the Apocalypse, albeit accidentally.
Dean's banter with Bela about her father becomes a lot less funny when we learn later that she was probably sexually abused as a child.
A small one, but in "Lazarus Rising", Bobby greets Pamela with "Well aren't you a sight for sore eyes." This promptly becomes less funny when her eyes burn out in the next scene.
The same episode does have a heartbreaking real world example though during the otherwise hilarious funeral scene when each character observes Grandma Forman's open casket and we hear the thoughs that run through their head. Laurie reflects on how life is complicated because you "get all old and die...thank God I'm young and hot!" In light of the death of actress Lisa Robin Kelly at the age of 43 it's cringe-inducing.
At one point Red fakes a heart attack to get Kitty to get off his ass about something. A few seasons later he actually has one.
The Thick of It: Chris Langham oozes sarcasm as Hugh Abbot. "What, Hugh Abbot as Home Secretary? But the man's a social spastic and probably a registered nonce." Not such a funny line in light of later events.
Also, in the first episode, Hugh Abbot hosts a press conference in a school. Considering the fact he was arrested for watching CP, it can make it not as funny.
This appearance by Robert Blake on New Year's Eve 1976, includes a discussion about what happens when Blake fights with his (then) wife, Sondra Kerr: "The blood flows," he says. In 2002, Blake would be arrested and tried (though ultimately acquitted) for the murder of his second wife, Bonnie Lee Blakely.
Don't forget Blake's appearance as a satanic figure (or embodiment of wrath and violence...or whatever...freakin' David Lynch...) in the film Lost Highway, which is primarily concerned with a man who is arrested for murdering his wife.
The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien: The first episode of this show featured Will Ferrell as a guest. At the end of his segment, Ferrell sings a farewell song for Conan as a joke, who is bewildered as it is only his first night on the job. Ferrell explains that considering how fickle the networks are, they could pull the plug on his show any time. Ferrell was also Conan's final guest on the show, sending him off with a proper goodbye song this time.
Absolutely anything that Richard Hammond says in episodes relating to "flying through the Pearly Gates backwards in a fireball" (or similar) that was recorded before his miraculously non-fatal high-speed crash.
Richard: I love that vision of just blasting through the gates, backwards, in a flaming Swedish supercar! "Yes! I'm here! Where are the women?"
Well, clearly doing it upside-down in a rocket car at 288 mph is the only way to top that.
Similarly, there is a clip of Jeremy Clarkson saying that "no series would be complete without an earnest attempt to kill Richard Hammond"; the BBC had to remove that from its website some time after the crash.
Reruns of the episode where Hammond managed to roll his van during the police chase challenge have omitted Clarkson's "Well, we've just killed Richard Hammond. If you'd like a job presenting Top Gear, please write to the BBC..." gag.
In a particular irony, that van show (S08-E08) was the last aired episode of Top Gear before Hammond's accident, which (had it not gone wrong) was intended to have been a feature in series 9. The footage was still shown in S09-E01, but it wasn't the footage they expected to have.
There was even a real time Funny Aneurysm Moment when the crash footage was aired: The entire studio audience, plus co-presenters Clarkson and May, winced when the videotaped Hammond (in what was meant to be the lead-up to an uneventful segment) described the 10,000hp afterburner on the Vampire as "possibly the biggest accident you've ever seen in your life." Clarkson unfailingly pointed out that the fateful line was meant to be funny.
In a double whammy for this show and Ashes to Ashes, the crossover Richard did with the cast of Ashes to Ashes for Children in Need becomes this when you find out in the series finale that Ashes to Ashes takes place in a purgatory for dead and dying police officers. Granted, Richard's not a police officer, but still. Creepy.
Of course, since the Hammster returned to filming, they have gone right back to making jokes. Including jokes related to how badly injured Hammond was.
As of Fall 2012, these two BBC shows, the second one a children's favorite, are forever tainted by the fact that presenter Jimmy Savile has posthumously been revealed to be a child molester.
There are popular clips on youtube of such things as incidents where a young woman standing next to him on Top of the Pops suddenly jumped and squealed in a way that suggested she'd just been grabbed, with the horrified subtext that this sort of thing was right in front of the whole country all that time.
There's a scene in the miniseries Children of Earth where Jack and Ianto attempt to get some alone time and try to make the most of the time they have together, but it's prevented because Rhys is making beans. The scene goes from funny to sad when Ianto dies in the next episode.
Gwen in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang": "Maybe you didn't realise: you can beat, shoot, threaten and even poison us and we'll keep coming back, stronger every time." Yeah...
In a way, the show's opening monologue makes the grade: for the first two series, viewers were told at the start of each episode that Torchwood would "be ready" for the challenges of the 21st century; series 3's miniseries Children of Earth effectively proved that the team was anything but ready.
Although it's actually an aversion too. The almost-arc phrase, "The 21st century is when everything changes", comes true. The 21st century IS when everything changed for the team. It just took a couple of series for it to happen.
The Tweenies: One of the Tweenies dresses as Jimmy Savile to present a talent contest, complete with his mannerisms. What may have seemed like a homage to a well-loved TV personality in the early Noughties can be seen in a very different light now...
The C Beebies channel even made the mistake of repeating it in January 2013, by which time the comedian's abuse had long came to light!
The Twilight Zone: In the classic episode "The Mighty Casey", after the eponymous robot is given a heart and gains compassion, he declares that he couldn't hurt other people's feelings and was quitting baseball to "help people". In 2005, the actor, Robert Sorrells, was sentenced to 32 years to life for murder and attempted murder.
After President Bartlet fires Leo McGarry, Leo wanders off into the woods around Camp David and has a massive heart attack. Though he survives, it takes until the morning for security to find him. During the filming of the seventh season, John Spencer, Leo's actor, died quite suddenly of a heart attack, necessitating the killing off of his character (by the same method).
In addition to that, when Leo returns to work after his heart attack, the rest of the senior staff pitches in to buy him a present: A defibrillator. Not quite so funny now...
The clearest example, though, is in the first episode of season 7. Leo suggests that maybe he shouldn't be Santos's running mate, to which Santos replies, "I'm not gonna fire you. You wanna get out of this, you're gonna have to drum up another heart attack or something." Of course, Leo dies of another heart attack and does "get out of" being VP.
Also in the episode that aired directly after John Spencer's death, which had been preceded by a message from Martin Sheen relaying the news, Toby Zeigler has the line "Disappointed to reach me? Somebody dead?" when Josh complains about how hard it was to reach him by phone.
This was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as John Spencer was having heart problems before he died; they wrote all those in as a way to reduce his screen time.
The first season finale is a twofer — the plot both concerns reentry problems with the Space Shuttle Columbia and has the President half-seriously threaten to invade Baghdad.
One episode featured Weird Newscasters. Wayne Brady, who is doing the sports, becomes Michael Jackson, who is trying to show that he can still perform even if he is 100 years old. On June 25 2009, he only lived half this age.
In another episode, also for the skit Weird Newscasters, Ryan was to do the weather as "Siegfried and Roy whose act is going dangerously wrong." In October of 2003, Roy was mauled by one of their male white tigers, Montecore, during a performance in Las Vegas.
Wings: There was an episode where Joe and Brian are hiring a temp and one of the applicants is a gorgeous woman. Although she's more than qualifed, Brian insists they don't hire her because she is so beautiful he'll be tempted to sleep with her. Joe agrees because he thinks Helen will be jealous. Mildly amusing when the episode aired in the late 90's, but in 2012 a woman in Iowa was fired by her married employer because he found her looks too tempting and he was afraid he would try to sleep with her and ruin his marriage.
The X-Files: In one early second season episode, Mulder is telling a woman about testimonies of alien abductees, trying to shock her; he asks her if she would like to know what they do to a woman's ovaries (she really doesn't). The end of the same episode sees Scully abducted, an experience which she later finds out leaves her unable to have children; her ova were extracted as part of the experiments she was subjected to.
Then there was the time a comic-relief stoner sarcastically suggests that area 51 is a testing ground for "robot planes for Gulf War II".
In the first series of Sherlock, Moriarty is found to be using the first name "Jim" for his consulting criminal business as a reference to the children's program Jim'll Fix It. In the second series, Moriarty returns as a Depraved Kids' Show Host. Later that year, it was discovered that Jimmy Savile, the presenter of Jim'll Fix It, was a paedophile.
The Cosby Show: in the first episode, Heathcliff and Theo have an argument over Theo's grades, ending with Heathcliff accusing Theo of being lazy and not trying. This is supposed to show that Heathcliff is a tough but fair father. However, Theo is based on Bill Cosby's own son, who was later discovered to have a learning disability. This was eventually added into Theo's character.