Acting's version of Hollywood Tone-Deaf
. In Hollywood, bad acting can only come in two flavors: Large Ham
and this trope. Stilted, wooden, or monotone. These actors have never heard of suspension of disbelief. They couldn't act wet in a thunderstorm.
This often happens when characters are forced to reenact a specific event in hopes that it will have the same consequences. Often afflicts school rooms around the world where teachers have students read lines aloud, with the students not caring for the actual tone of the piece at all. What can almost be considered a trope in its own right is to attempt to homage William Shatner
with strangely.. placed.. staccato pauses and.. random jumps in
pitch. Another popularly used example is if the characters are attempting to fool a third party by acting as if they are having a conversation or argument. Usually the third party doesn't pick up on this.
Bonus points if the character's eyes scan slowly back and forth as they read the out-of-shot cuecards.
Also like Hollywood Tone-Deaf
, in that professional actors can, well, act
. If they aren't
very good at their job, you wouldn't be able to tell if they were sucking on purpose for the Show Within a Show
. Those that are good at acting typically couldn't mimic a poor actor, and even then, just like above, it'd be hard to tell if the actor was trying to fail — though it's something like common wisdom that only someone who's very
good at something can be deliberately
bad at something. Also, as per Rule of Funny
, genuinely poor acting isn't amusing — or at least not as amusing as Bad Bad Acting. Impersonations done in Bad Bad Acting tend to involve Hugh Mann
, Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud
and Most Definitely Not a Villain
Just to reiterate, this is where characters try to act and do a horrible job at it, not
when you think someone does a legitimately horrible acting job or even a So Bad, It's Good
performance. We have a whole other set of tropes for that.
See Stylistic Suck
, the Super Trope
of this, and its subtropes Bad Impressionists
and Hollywood Tone-Deaf
Contrast The Power of Acting
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Anime & Manga
- Zodon from PS238 takes this route when a playground bully punches his (holographically disguised) metal hoverchair and hurts his hand.
Films — Animation
- In The Castle of Cagliostro, Inspector Zenigata learns about an illegal counterfeiting operation in the basement of a building. The problem is that his superiors refuse to act on this, since many nations are buying these counterfeit bills. His solution? He brings a TV news camera crew down to the basement of the building while pretending to chase Lupin and badly feigns surprise at finding counterfeiting equipment, "discovering" it in a way that makes it impossible to ignore. This makes one of his superiors comment, "He's such a bad actor."
- See the mutant-brain movie Hogarth watches on TV in The Iron Giant.
- Subverted for effect in the first Naruto movie: the actress the team escorts played out a scene they see her shooting quite convincingly; this shocks the team because it sharply contrasts with how distant and snide the actress really behaves. She's not, however, able to fake crying.
- Sully's performance in Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me at the end of Monsters, Inc. is unquestionably this.
- In the animated version of the Astérix story The Mansions of the Gods, the Gauls are not very good at faking being hit by an allegedly magic-potion-enhanced Asterix. However, while the Roman Centurion is obviously not fooled, his legionaries are and they flee.
Films — Live-Action
- The mockumentary Waiting for Guffman has a cast of talented actors... playing small-town hicks trying to make it big on Broadway.
- Be Kind Rewind is built on this trope. The protagonists need to replace a bunch of VHS tapes that were accidentally erased, so they record their own versions using a hand-held home video camera. They claim the differences from what people remember is because these are the Swedish versions. They're way too short, the special effects are pretty ... special, the plot is based on what they remember of the movie, and (where this trope comes in) instead of big-name stars they have random people from the neighborhood. Turns out people love the "Sweded" movies, because they're So Bad, It's Good.
- All the characters in Boogie Nights in their movie-within-a-movie pornos. Amber Waves' affectless "You have a giant cock" is a good example.
- Ben Affleck and Matt Damon give us a taste of this on the scene of "Good Will Hunting 2" in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
- In Charlie Chaplin's The Circus, the Tramp amuses the crowd by accident, but fails utterly when the circus master tells him to be funny.
- In the So Bad, It's Good movie Reefer Madness, two characters "act" out Romeo and Juliet for a few seconds. Very funny to see bad actors trying to act badly.
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding has Toula's aunt acting this way when they're trying to trick Toula's father.
- Daddy Day Care features a scene where Marvin has to fill in for a professional actor. His attempt can be put in this category.
- A truly spectacular example occurs in Super 8 during the short film the main characters are producing throughout the movie. During the credits, you see the finished film, and the acting is bad. In fact, it shows off the acting talent of the young actors in being able to act that badly. The film even shows that their actress Alice is actually really good, but the kid director chose a cut where she had to yell above the sound of a train, causing her to sound just as bad as the rest of them.
- In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Robert Downey, Jr.'s character, a petty thief, is running from the cops and bursts into some acting auditions. In order to escape the police, he goes ahead and does an audition, reading out the lines in a monotone ("Um... beat up on me all night. You want me to give up my client, you can go spit.") until some of the dialogue hits too close to home. Then he appears to be doing a great acting job, but it's really genuine emotion. (Ah, Method Acting...)
- The entire film The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is this way — the actors were playing the part of B-movie actors in a film, not like the characters.
- Zack and Miri Make a Porno includes this when the main characters and the people they hired attempt to "act" in the film they are making. (Just as well that it's, um, a porno... Pity a mainstream film can't show "the good parts".)
- In The Naked Gun 33 1/3, Frank Drebin has to replace a host at the Oscars Gala. At first he doesn't know what to say, so his co-hostess tells him to read off the autoprompter. Which he does, word for word, including the stage directions and the co-hostess' own lines. Things don't exactly improve when he starts to ad-lib. Hilarity Ensues.
- Borderline example in Son of Rambow, where the older brother is used in the film within a film. He reads his lines exactly as someone with no acting experience and no preparation would realistically have read them. The makers of the movie then comment about how bad of an actor he was.
- In Ghostbusters II, Janine and Louis are roped into acting for a commercial for the company. They fall squarely into this.
- This scene follows the similar commercial from the first movie, with the original three Ghostbusters reading very stilted lines, and Egon even looking down when he steps forward and back to make sure he steps on his floor mark.
- This was actually Harold Ramis making sure he hit his mark — the director thought it was so perfect he kept that take.
- This scene was later referenced in Evolution (also directed by Ivan Reitman), with the main characters doing a really badly acted commercial for Head & Shoulders (with one of them even holding the bottle upside down).
- Likewise Alexander Dane, Alan Rickman's character in Galaxy Quest, when the out-of-work and typecast actors are advertising the opening of an electronics store. Alexander Dane is a perfectly good classically trained actor otherwise, but there he was feeling very unenthusiastic. The others are all pretty stilted too, he's just the most obvious about it.
: By Grabthar's Hammer... *beat
* ...what a savings.
- Averted in Cold Souls: when the newly soulless Paul Giamatti is acting in Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya", his performance is not stilted or hammed up, but it is still very noticeably and realistically bad.
- Outrageous Fortune. Shelley Long's Russian acting instructor asks her to simulate being shot, which she grossly over-acts. Later on in the movie he takes a shot at her for real and appears to have killed her, but it turns out her performance has improved.
- In Dunston Checks In, a maid's boss's boss wants her fired, but her boss likes her and knows his boss will never remember the incident when he shows up again next year, so for the meantime the maid is on two weeks paid vacation. The joke is supposed to be that she's trying to seem sad in front of her boss's boss but is actually happy to be on vacation and is bad at acting. Interestingly enough, the actress seems to have been trying for Bad Bad Acting as a way of making the joke clear to the audience. What came out was more like bad bad bad acting.
- Black Dynamite is a spoof of blaxploitation films, complete with bad acting as part of its Stylistic Suck. In one scene, Black Dynamite's girlfriend is playfully frolicking with him in a park, but whenever the shot cuts back to Black Dynamite, he's scowling and clearly confused about what he's supposed to be doing.
- Reds has an example of this with Louise Bryant's terrible acting in one of Eugene O'Neill's plays. In general, Diane Keaton, who plays Louise, is the master of this trope.
- The "homage" to Romeo and Juliet in Hot Fuzz is Martin Blower and Eve Draper. It's so bad the stoic Angel finds their 'kiss' at the end to be the only convincing thing. It's no wonder the NWA decides that they get decapitated in a "car accident" that same night.
- Adam in the first Saw movie does this when pretending to have been poisoned. In the DVD commentary, Leigh Whannell wants to make it clear that it's supposed to be a horribly unconvincing performance.
- The girl playing the role of the Saxon Princess on the film set in The Rocketeer. Justified in that she got the part by reason of being the director's niece; the rest of the cast is pretty good.
- Signs: I'M INSANE WITH ANGER! I'M LOSING MY MIND!
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: "Good morning starshine... the earth says... 'Hello'...I shake you warmly by the hands."
- In Scream 3 when Sarah is asked to read her lines from the script, she reads them out with a pretty hammy performance, somewhere between Marilyn Monroe's president voice and a bad scared sounding voice.
- In Help!, the ineffectual Scotland Yard inspector impersonates Ringo to fool pursuers on the phone:
Inspector: Allow me; I'm a bit of a famous mimic in my own small way, you know...James Cagney...[on the phone] Hul-LO there, this is the famous RING-o here, gear fab! What is it that I can do for YOU as it were, gear fab?
George: Not a bit like Cagney.
- In "Girls Will be Girls," which features a cast of Drag Queens, bad yet self-deluded actress Evie gives the most stilted performance possible in her One-Hit Wonder film. At one point the script is simply placed open on a table on set, with Evie "subtly" cribbing looks at it, sounding out her lines.
- Gustav von Wangenheim (Eddie Izzard) in Shadow of the Vampire. The guy couldn't even fake a yawn without it looking hilariously bad.
- Parodied in this part of the DVD commentary for Zombi 3D.
Deran Sarafian dubbing the voice of the late Robert Marius: Zombies are bad!
- In the first Major League, as the team is starting to turn things around they're pulled in for an American Express commercial. Everyone is horrible, either completely monotone, reading their lines slowly, awkwardly trying to snap their fingers, or just talking about "you know, your favorite... movies or... restaurant type places." The only one who seemed a natural in front of the camera was Willy "Mayes" Hayes who, in the sequel, had done an ACTUAL action movie in the off-season. It was every bad action cliche possible rolled into one and tanked at the box office. This may have been a reference to the fact that Willy's original actor, Wesley Snipes, didn't come back because he was doing other projects.
- The first few WALL•E live-action "commercials" we see the title character drive by for the Axiom is filled with the acting level you would expect from any commercial. Overexcited family, painfully fake smiles, a obviously fit "grandma" sitting in a hover chair for little reason, and the CEO of the company making a forced pun ("Space is the Final Funtier!").
- Jett Jackson: The Movie has the titular character (a teenage actor) playing a super-spy named Silverstone in a Show Within a Show, same as he does on the original Disney series. However, due to a fluke with a prop, he swaps places with his character. Jett is forced to be an actual spy with the world hanging in the balance, while Silverstone finds himself a school-going teenager in a small town. The scene where the actors of Silverstone are rehearsing their lines has Silverstone do such a terrible job that everybody collapses in hysterical laughter (which confuses Silverstone, as nobody behaves this way in his world). This is strange, as the Disney series frequently showed Silverstone engaging in undercover operations (i.e. acting).
- In the 90s film version of Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio fall into this when they're discussing Beatrice's supposed love for Benedick loudly enough for Benedick to hear as part of the initial matchmaking plot. They're pretty terrible actors (in-universe) but Benedick falls for it, hook, line, and sinker.
- In Harold and Maude, following Harold's faked suicide, his would-be date Sunshine launches into a terrible and hamtastic attempt at a soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet.
- Orgazmo: Most of the pornstars are terrible at delivering lines, which is why the hero is so successful. In one scene, he's paired with two Asian girls who barely speak English. One repeatedly delivers the line, "Prepare to meet your doom," in a sing-song voice as if she's memorized the line phonetically and is amused by how it sounds. "Pree-PAH to-MEEET jo-DOOOOM!"
- Inherent Vice: The Cowboy Cop known as "Bigfoot" is also an aspiring actor who apparently takes whatever roles his meager skill can land. He's introduced playing an unconvincing hippy in a commercial for cheap apartments. His stiff and dreary reading of his "far out" lines is played for comedy.
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Katniss is, as Haymitch notes, horrible when given lines to deliver in front of a greenscreen.
- The Brady Bunch: The episode "And Now a Word From Our Sponsor" – where the Bradys are offered a chance to star in a TV commercial – has Mike and Carol hire an actress acquaintance (Myrna Carter) to help them brush up their acting skills, hoping to become believable when the fateful day finally comes. However, Myrna is – at best – a method actress to the extreme and more than likely just a very bad actress who is completely unqualified to give lessons or advice. Nonetheless, Mike and Carol (and the rest of the family) take her well-intentioned advice to heart ... and the resulting stiff, bombastic acting winds up costing them their shot at TV commercial stardom. The director, Skip Farnum, had wanted the family to "be themselves," and at the end of the last scene, Skip angrily asks his cohort the name of that bad actress they used to work with, because the Bradys' style was just like hers.
- There's an episode of NewsRadio where a camera crew decides to shoot Jimmy James for a documentary. Whenever they start filming, though, he starts going all monotone and speaks like a robot.
- Vanessa Bayer on Saturday Night Live reoccurring sketch "The Miley Cyrus Show"
- Another one of Bayer's characters, Laura Parsons, is a parody of adolescent drama students who think showing off acting technique is the same thing as giving a performance. She performs scenes from Age Inappropriate movies like Brokeback Mountain and The Social Network with a singsong vocal rhythm and gratuitous hand gestures.
- An older SNL sketch, "Goth Talk" was more or less Bad Bad Acting of the hammy variety. The two black-shrouded hosts, Stephanie and Todd (aka Circe Nightshade and Azrael Abyss), as well as all of their guests, tried to be ludicrously morbid, gothic and emotional, even when referencing very modern, pedestrian things. The fact that they essentially broke character every few sentences did not help.
- In the third season of Breaking Bad, Jesse and his buddies decide to take advantage of a Drug Addict Recovery Program with them all posing as concerned former users not so stealthily advertising their meth to the addicts. It predictably doesn't go very well ("there's like positivity goin' on and shit" as Pete puts it).
- Miranda's acting in Lizzie McGuire, complete with her accidentally reading out stage directions.
- The Daily Show: For a while, the end segment (a.k.a. "the toss") that segues into The Colbert Report was pre-taped, instead of done with a live audience as usual. Fans noticed and were displeased. On the show that returned to live tosses, Jon Stewart acknowledged that the fans enjoyed the expression of "warmth and genuine camaraderie" between him and Stephen Colbert — and both immediately became very wooden, read robotically off the teleprompters, and expressed relief when it was over.
- Sophie from Leverage is terrible. Really terrible. Once, Parker compared Sophie's acting in Death of a Salesman* to a horror movie saying "Attention must be PAID!" and Eliot declared that that was the worst night of his life. This was juxtaposed with a flashback of him playing Russian Roulette somewhere. As is made clear throughout the series, she's only terrible when she's trying to act outside of a con. If it's during a con, she can pull off almost any role effortlessly. As Nate puts it, "She can act... when it's an act."
- There's also times when Parker, called upon to act, does so very unconvincingly.
- Face from The A-Team had a very similar example. When the A-Team had to help Hannibal make a monster movie on location in Season 4, the plot started to happen, and Face wound up playing the male lead. Normally, he was the slickest con man around, convincingly pretending to be all sorts of different occupations, but when they put him in front of a camera, he was wooden. Face, being Face, immediately made excuses for it, saying that he was getting the feel for the character, etc.
- Subverted by an episode of The Big Bang Theory. The show worked up an expectation that Penny, who is an aspiring actress, (and also shown to be a horrible singer), was also not that good an actress either. Whilst the fans of the show would expect her to be a typical sitcom style bad actor (and this is lampshaded to an extent in the lines previous), the first time her acting is revealed, it's in a tense moment with the Dogged Nice Guy, Penny exclaiming that if they moved in together (to save on rent) that "She couldn't keep her hands off him". He believes her, at which point she reveals her acting classes "weren't a waste of money".
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- In an episode, Barclay performs a play with Dr. Crusher. He is terrible at acting, stammering and forgetting lines. The audience, however, is too nice to criticize him and politely applaud the performance while saying things like "bravo" — except for Data.
- In "Time's Arrow, Part II" the Next Generation crew have travelled back in time to 1893 San Francisco. When the landlady Mrs. Carmichael demands their overdue rent they pretend to be actors rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream and encourage her to read the part of Titania. Captain Picard then praises her stilted performance, and Mrs. Carmichael is so flustered she forgets about the rent for another day.
- In "Menage a Troi", Lwaxana's plan for getting away from a Ferengi Daimon who'd kidnapped her is having Picard to act like an insanely jealous lover with the guns of a Galaxy-class starship at his disposal. Picard starts out with "It's not over between us. I must have you back," delivered like he's reading off a card with a gun to his head before resorting to large gestures and lines from Shakespeare sonnets. And ordering Worf to warm up the weapons.
- Parodied in several MADtv skits entitled "Prehistoric Glamazon Huntresses A.D" that poked fun of B-rated television series.
"You are not a scientist... from the future... AS I am."
- Young Hercules: Hercules and friends have found an Ares lookalike, and need to convince Strife and Discord he's the real thing.
Jason: Don't hit Hercules or I will hurt you...no don't throw me backwards Ares!
Ares: (to Discord) You are insolent, and disobedient...and naughty!
Jason: Oh no it's Ares! ::cringing - badly::
- Played with in Monk. In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater", Monk becomes the understudy for an actor who was murdered. When he's re-enacting the scene in the play to try to solve the crime, he's really good; Sharona does her part much less convincingly. Monk starts to lose it in rehearsals; during the actual performance, he makes a lot of mistakes and veers into Large Ham territory. During the actual performance, he was also rather flustered due to having just figured out that the murderer was the person he was acting with on the stage.
- All of the Blockblister videos seen in The Amanda Show.
- There was an episode of Hey Dude that featured Ted performing a script for someone outside eavesdropping. His performance was also typically stilted and wooden.
- Max Evans of Roswell, formerly Roswell High, auditioned for a part as an alien prince. He stumbled over his lines a lot, but other than that it wasn't much different from usual.
- The eponymous Bones, when trying to trick Gormogon.
- Everyone in Garth Marenghis Darkplace does this in their own particular way. Garth (as Rick Dagless) hopelessly overangsts his every line, the actress playing Liz lives in a world of Dull Surprise and breathless delivery, Dr Sanchez is played as the Ham to end all Hams, and Thornton Reed blurts out all of his lines in an awkward rush.
- Simon in the episode "Jaynestown", when he's pretending to be a merchant looking to buy "mud".
- When Simon and River come back onto the ship at the end of "Safe", Jayne's attempt at welcoming them back (and covering up that he's been looting Simon's luggage) is all about this.
- Also in "Trash", where at the end it's revealed that everything was played by the entire crew from the moment Mal released Yo-Saff-Bridge from the crate, Inara insists that the crew's acting skills were sub-par. In fact, if you watch closely, the crew's performances really weren't that great, with Kaylee lapsing into giggling fits a few times, and Wash being a bit of a Large Ham.
- J-Roc's numerous porno films in Trailer Park Boys, where the "actors" are absolutely terrible.
- Funky Squad, an Australian Affectionate Parody of 70's cop shows like The Mod Squad, most notably with the "spontaneous laughter" in the Everybody Laughs Ending.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has several examples of this:
- Such as a painful rendition of Oedipus Rex by the main characters for a mandatory talent show in the first-season episode "The Puppet Show".
- Nice-girl Willow trying to pass as her evil vampire counterpart in the third-season episode "Doppelgangland". ("I'm a bloodsucking fiend! Look at my outfit!")
- Also in "Doppelgangland", not only does Willow try to pass herself off as the evil vampire Willow, but the vampire Willow tries to pass herself off as good Willow, so Cordelia will let her out of the book cage. "Look at me. I'm all... helpless." Hilarity Ensues.
- A variant: a robot (in seasons five and six) designed to look like Buffy moving among her friends using such cunningly in-character lines as "Willow, you are my best friend. You're recently gay!" What annoys Buffy is that it manages to fool them for a while.
- Faith trying to impersonate Buffy. This involves Sarah Michelle Gellar, who plays Buffy normally, in the role of playing Faith pretending to be Buffy. Includes rehearsing some lines Faith thinks Buffy would say before a mirror over and over, hilariously.
Faith-in-Buffy's-body: Because it's wrong. Because it's wrong. [fiercely] Because it's wrong....
- Spike pretending to be American so Initiative soldiers won't realize who he is. When he tries it again in a later episode, he gives up before he's even finished speaking.
Soldier: Do I know you?
Uh, no. Uh, no sirrr, I'm just an old friend of Xanderrr...herrre.
- Which becomes doubly hilarious when you realize James Marsters is actually American, so he's an American playing a Brit (badly) pretending to be an American.
- Vi's Slayer recruitment commercial in Season 8, where she plays a typical suburban housewife-type who tells her husband (played by Andrew) about her sudden super strength and mystical Slayer dreams.
- Doyle's video ad for Angel Investigations in the first season. After his death, it's played later on in the first and then the fifth season, turning into a Tear Jerker.
- Cordelia also displays this — especially in a risible performance in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House — but improves markedly. Strangely, although she was shown as being a poor actress at first, she was always an excellent liar; capable of fooling even Angelus.
- In Season 5, Angel when he does a We Care add for Wolfram & Hart.
- The League of Gentlemen has Pam Doove, who became The Unintelligible whenever it was time for her to speak a single, easy line. Played with in that in-universe her unintelligible phrase becomes a popular meme, her advert is actually filmed and broadcast and, in the minds of the writers according to the DVD Commentary, she becomes a famous actress and wins an Oscar.
- Reno 911! occasionally shows its police-officer characters doing incredibly stilted Public Service Announcements.
- An episode of Green Acres, where the town puts on a play. Arnold, a pig, is considered to be a great actor and is sent to Hollywood. Considering the quality of the human acting, I don't blame them.
- There's a spoof behind-the-scenes production of a Dickensian costume drama with a useless lead actor, who can barely read and can't even say his lines in the correct order: "I think it now not far... is?", "I too, wife weary... am?".
- Bad Bad Acting is a staple of KYTV's "Brazilian soap opera, Ole!, translated and dubbed by KYTV," where the "Brazillian" actors play with exaggerated melodrama, while the voice-over actors read their lines in a dull, monotone way, regularly missing their cues, reading the wrong lines and mispronouncing words.
- KYTV was based on the radio series Radio Active which also used this trope regularly. The radio version of the Dicken parody featured the narrator saying "Children die on the street happily.... Die on the streets. Happily our story concerns on who lives." And the Oliver Twist expy saying "Gruel, please can I have some moron... Please can I have some more on my plate."
Hayes: You're thinking too much.
Joey: I really doubt that.
- Phoebe and Ross also go overboard when they "act".
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Ice Warriors", the Doctor indicates to Victoria that she needs to start pretending to cry as a distraction. Her fake crying is absolutely horrible, although it works (perhaps the Ice Warriors don't know what human crying is supposed to sound like).
- "Enemy of the World", which has an Impersonating the Evil Twin gimmick (where both the Doctor and Salamander are played by Patrick Troughton), uses multiple and subtle layers of this:
- When the Doctor first impersonates Salamander, as he knows little about the man, his accent and appearance is good but his acting is just the generically commanding personality he usually uses in his Bavarian Fire Drills. He also noticeably pauses while thinking of new ways to bluff. This does turn out to be good enough to fool the agent he was doing this to, but not good enough that he doesn't think that Salamander was 'not himself' and 'acting really strangely'.
- When Salamander is lying his face off in front of the scientists, he becomes noticeably uncious compared to his usual personality, which isn't the way the Second Doctor tends to indicate a bluff. Cracks in the facade definitely begin to show as he realises some of them have him figured out.
- Subverted when the Doctor impersonates Salamander for the second time, where the fact that he's nailed the character so completely (compared to his weak performance before) is used to fool the audience into thinking it actually is Salamander. Significantly, when the Doctor drops the facade, it's in response to physical violence and the intended audience reaction isn't "hooray, it's the Doctor!" but "oh no, Salamander can act like the Doctor too!". The Doctor has to use Shave And A Haircut as a Shibboleth to prove who he is to them.
- In the story "Meglos", the Doctor and Romana are caught in a chronic hysteresis (a time loop), which results in them going through the same scene involving repairing K-9 by waggling his tail several times. In order to break themselves out of said loop, they have to deliberately recreate the scene, which results in Romana acting very woodenly, and the Doctor actually forgetting what he has to say next, even though he's already delivered the line at least three times already. Hilarity Ensues.
- Scrubs has J.D. and Turk perform a concept scene for J.D.'s screenplay "Dr. Acula" and requisitely has them doing a horrible job at line delivery and staying in character when their line is over.
- Despite Miley Stewart's successful Clark Kenting in Hannah Montana, Hannah herself couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. In one episode while co-hosting an award show, she speaks in a robotic voice and reads the instructions from the teleprompter. In another episode she is fired from a voice acting job for an animated movie. Ironically, director Rob Reiner gives her a role only after she goes out of her way to try not get the part.
The latter scenario was more of a Springtime for Hitler situation; Miley was deliberately botching the audition as Oliver was jealous of Hannah's successes in life while Oliver was doomed to failure. Oliver would eventually forgive Miley for sacrificing her opportunity to save their friendship.
- In Supernatural's "The French Mistake," Sam and Dean are thrust into an alternate reality in which they are Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. At one point Sam and Dean are forced to play themselves, and they do a spectacularly bad job of it.
Dean: Don't look at the camera.
Dean: Look anywhere but the camera.
- One can only imagine the "real" script directions for Jared and Jensen who were told to act as Sam and Dean(normal), who are acting like Jared and Jensen(would already be difficult) who are acting as Sam and Dean (OMGWTFBBQ).
- We also see the this played with by the cast of Hell Hazers II: The Reckoning in the episode "Hollywood Babylon" of Supernatural.
- Everyone on Acorn Antiques from Victoria Wood as Seen on TV. But especially Miss Babs.
- Ed Norton (no, not that one) on The Honeymooners when Ralph Kramden's Zany Scheme of the Week is to sell a multi-purpose tool on TV. "Can it core an apple?" However, when the time comes to actually do the commercial (live in those days), Ralph is even worse: "Homminahomminahommina...."
- The State does this sometimes. A classic example is the "Spaghetti and Fried Bumblebees" sketch.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000
- While trying to escape Hobgoblins, the Satellite of Love crew set up some decoy lookalikes and a prerecorded riff track, which combines this trope with some... odd phrasings.
- Also somewhat earlier in the series, when Dr. Forrester forces the crew to put on an act for his visiting mother. Starts at about 4:45, and runs the gamut.
- The Roadie is a borderline nightmarish clown who doesn't entirely hide his distaste for his work and The Umbilical Brothers.
- F/X: The Series, season 1 episode 5. Carrie Ann Moss absolutely mangles Margaret's speech to York in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part III.
- Will and Grace: it seems that Jack's a pretty terrible actor: he often breaks character to laugh at his own mistakes and doesn't read the script ahead of time:
Jack: (auditioning, fake-shivering violently) "Please, Mr. O'Shaughnessy, I'm begging you. I can't stand out here any longer in this unbearable—" (turns page) "heat." Oh. Oh... it's hot. (fans himself) "We need food or else I fear my family will perish, and my harp will break." Oh, "heart." (laughs) "My heart will break." I said, "harp will break." Did you hear that?
- Margo's performance in The Sound of Music on Good Neighbors. Among other issues, she at one point starts singing "Mack the Knife".
- Skins series five. The third generation gang are involved with putting on a college show towards the end of the series and chief organizer, head girl and all-round queen bee Mini McGuinness turns out to give a horribly stilted and melodramatic performance that she naturally thinks is really good. Meanwhile the most extreme outsiders of the group, Franky and Richard, give extremely good performances that are well-received by the audience.
- Neighbours runs into this at time, especially with staged arguments. The fight between Rachel and Stingray, intended to convince Susan they weren't really interested in each other, was particularly cringe-worthy.
- In the Married... with Children episode "Kiss of the Coffee Woman", Al and Marcy try to act in a coffee commercial, but deliver their lines in a completely stilted and unnatural way. After everybody has given up and left, they try it for one more time, and do it perfectly.
- In the British cop series Jericho the title character is asked to introduce a television series about his 'real life' cases (actually fictional cases delivering moral Aesops). He's eventually replaced by an actor because his performance is too stilted.
- On Arrested Development, Tobias Funke's entire acting career falls squarely into this. Highlights include his performance as George Sr. on Scandalmakers and his audition for the fire sale ad.
Tobias: OH MY GOD WE'RE HAVING A FIRE (sale), women and children first! Amaaaaaaaazing graaaaace... aaaaaand end scene.
- On Californication when Hank is asked to read out loud from a screenplay he wrote, the result is stilted and incredibly awkward. It's especially interesting since the scene he's reading is based on events that occurred in the series' pilot episode, and the dialogue matches the earlier scene almost word for word.
- The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth" featured an absurd showing of a fan film made by the main characters: Lethal Weapon 5. Aside from all its other problems (like the horrible racism), it featured some of the worst acting imaginable. Like Charlie's dreadful line readings ("Turns out someone tainted - tapped the tainted water supply! The person who just died was your wife!") and Frank's turn as the screeching Large Ham villain.
- The Gang's venture into musicals in "The Nightman Cometh" also featured loads of bad acting.
- The MythBusters sometimes do Stylistic Suck videos that illustrate a myth that they're doing. When they do this, the acting is either over-the-top or oddly stilted. While this is somewhat justified by the fact that none of them (with the possible exception of Adam) are professional actors, it still manages to be So Bad, It's Good in the exact way Bad Bad Acting generally is.
- An interesting episode was about testing to see if hypnotic recall could actually work to make you remember things that you couldn't before. To test this Adam and Jamie set up an altercation with with some delivery guys (who were planted actors) with Tory, Kari and Grant nearby. As a viewer in on the deception you could tell it was an act but it would be convincing enough for the casual observers.
- A Murphy Brown episode had the title character hired for a cameo on a comedy show. Unfortunately, Murphy keeps delivering her single line in a horribly stilted manner:
Murphy: I GOT your APOLOGY, Kelly! NOW I'm SORRY that I filled your CAR with HERRING!
- Eden Sher as Sue Heck in The Middle when Sue does public speaking or things on camera
- Usually in That '70s Show, the actors will indulge in this trope, especially prevalent in a parody of the cult film Reefer Madness and a short about the future.
- Game of Thrones: In "Valar Morghulis," the Lannisters, their Small Council members, and the Tyrells enact a scene for the benefit of the court. King Joffrey turns to his mother in anticipation for her line before Queen Cersei starts speaking. Margaery Tyrell enthusiastically participates in the rehearsed charade, but Ser Loras is literally a bad actor. He can't be bothered do his small part properly, as his body language practically oozes with contempt for Joffrey, and Loras even messes up one of his lines because he inadvertently lets out a Freudian Slip regarding his feelings for Renly.
- Full Frontal: Shaun Micallef has the character of David McGahan, a media personality whose ego far outstrips his talent. One recurring McGahan sketch, Roger Explosion: Secret Agent has him manage to hit every single point of this trope. McGahan continually forgets his lines, misses his cues, flubs the blocking (to the point where there's a giant cross on the floor) and even messes the cues of other characters.
- Chewin' the Fat featured Ronald Villiers, "the second-worst actor in the world." He cannot remember the simplest of lines, respond to any cue, or take any form of direction. He can ruin any scene no matter how small the part (when playing a Puritan villager in an angry mob during the Salem Witch Trials, he constantly mumbled over the main actors) and even when he has no lines (when playing a prison warden who is only there to open the door of a cell, every take failed because of him noisily clanging the door or fumbling with the keys.)
- On the Israeli sitcom Zanzuri, the eponymous character botches the funeral scene he’s participating in as an extra by trying to hog the focus repeatedly with hilariously over-the-top crying and screaming.
- An episode of the original De Grassi High features It Creeps, a "feminist slasher film" made by one character in the series and starring half a dozen other characters. As so-so actors playing teenagers playing terrible actors playing teenagers, they do an impressively dreadful job.
- Lampshaded in the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Spanish Inquisition" sketch:
Cardinal Ximinez: How do you plead?
Lady Mountback: We're innocent.
Ximinez: HA! HA HA! (superimposed caption: "Diabolical laughter") We'll soon change your mind about that! (superimposed caption: "Diabolical acting")
- One defendant in Bad Judge makes a show of himself playing both defendant and defense attorney.
- An episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Simmons and Coulson on a train during an undercover operation. To make up for her poor skills at deception, Simmons invents an entire back-story for her 'character' and lets the entire train know it in an incredibly detailed and over-the-top monologue.
Simmons: All mom ever wanted was your love. To be with you! In our two-story Victorian home in the Cotswolds! But could you even give her a moment, what with your banking job requiring you to travel to the States from Tuesday to Saturday every other week? No! You may not have had any time for her, but you had time for your work... and your prostitutes!
- In a very rare case where this trope is actually useful is during Hells Kitchen. The final 3-4 chefs each have a turn running the pass, with the sous chefs (and sometimes the maitre'd) deliberately sabotaging the dishes to see if the contestants have picked up Ramsay's attention to detail. Whenever a contestant catches them out, Scott (normally) will show this trope, which to a Genre Savvy contestant is a clue that they've done something right.
- America Unearthed host Scott Wolter exhibits this trope during obviously scripted scenes inserted into the otherwise 'reality' show. This happens most often around the beginning of the episode.
- In the Dom De Luise episode of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy is trying to get noticed by Kermit. Among her efforts is a badly-acted conversation between Miss Piggy and Scooter involving her having gotten an offer from another show.
Kermit: Uh, Scooter, that performance by you and Miss Piggy was terrible.
Scooter: Gee, I didn't think it was that bad. I missed one line, but... Oh, no.
- Used frequently by radio satirists Bob & Ray, in the course of poking fun at various conventions of the medium. One of their mock talk shows was called "Us, the Folks, Mumble!" and featured the following running gag:
Bob: (as host) OK now sir, tell us what happened in your own words...
Ray: (as guest) Um... mph schmpfl reffle flp...
Bob: (hastily) Er, maybe you'd better use our words, sir. Right here on the card.
Ray: OK, sure. (reads off card in stiffest and most unconvincing manner possible)
- Early episodes of the BBC radio comedy The Burkiss Way opened with "unsolicited testimonials from satisfied customers" in which people would explain how the titular correspondence course had changed their lives. These were often delivered with reading-off-the-cue-cards stiltedness; The female customers (all played by Denise Coffey) would always end by asking "Was that all right?", but the worst example is an illiterate man explaining how the course taught him to read:
Customer: Then, a fiend in-tro-dunced me to... The Burgess Wag! Now, I can read and... re-redistribute all the choice lapels I want.
Prompter: Cheese labels!
- Done every other year or so in The Archers with Ambridge's Christmas Pantomime
- In one episode of the Bert Coules Sherlock Holmes radio plays, Holmes and Watson act out a scene from the 1899 play by William Gillette. Watson reads his own part rather woodenly, and Holmes reads the part of himself and the female lead.
- Lum And Abner did this frequently, both in their wartime "plays" on fighting inflation, and the plotline where they buy a radio transmitter at an auction and decide to start their own radio station, reading their lines deadpan like it was the first time they'd even seen the scripts (which was probably the case).
Abner: I can tell you've been to Moze Moots' Barber Shop. By the way, you smell!
- In Curtains, Jessica Crenshaw is a triple threat: she can't sing, dance or act.
Jessica: Kiss me while you can, boys! I'm bidding you!
Jessica: Farewell! I'm bidding you Farewell!
- In the Sondheim classic Into the Woods, there are examples of this with the Baker and the Baker's Wife, the most notable being The Baker's Wife trying to get Jack to trade her magic beans for his "cow as white as milk".
Baker's Wife: Oh -
Baker's Wife: Ooooohhhhh! Oh, no! We mustn't give up our beans!
- In the "Madonna's Brain" sketch from Forbidden Broadway, the actress plays Madonna trying to rehearse a line for David Mamet and delivering horrible line readings.
Madonna: (in a monotone, with no inflections or pauses) I know what it's like to be bad, I've been bad. (then, a second try) I know what it's like to be bad, I (pause) 've been bad.
- One of the races in Mass Effect is the Elcor, who communicate emotion and nuance through scent and facial cues. Speaking in monotone and prefacing their statements with a description of how they feel for the benefit of other races doesn't make for good acting, but there is still a famous, award-winning all-elcor run of Hamlet. See the trailer:
Gertrude: Uneasy: What wilt thou do. Thou wilt not murder me. Help. Help. Ho.
Polonius: Shocked: What ho. Help. Help. Help.
Hamlet: Startled: How now. A rat. Dead for a ducat. Dead.
Polonius: Agonized: O. I am slain.
Gertrude: Horrified: O me. What has thou done.
Hamlet: Shaken: Nay. I know not. Is it the king.
Gertrude: Horror gives way to anger: O. What rash and bloody deed is this.
Hamlet: Venomous Sarcasm: What a piece of work is a man!
- In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, one of the Prism Rangers delivers half his lines like this, and the other half of his lines as if he's trying to do this and failing to entirely remove the inflection... and then Etna shoots them.
- In Phantom Brave, Ash and Marona employ this to get rid of a Bonus Boss who keeps coming back. Laharl is dumb enough to fall for it, too.
- Dragon Quest VIII featured a scene in which the party is locked in a prison and acts out a scene to attract the guards' attention. In the English dubbed version, their delivery during this scene is wooden, but the guards are stupid enough to buy it.
- In Borderlands 2 there is Jack's Body Double, which, in a monotone voice, says incredibly convincing dialogue such as "I am Handsome Jack and I am very good at intercourse." and, upon death, "Noooooo. I am Handsome Jack and I am dead."
- The theater stage, where all of the actors play out past events from Gloria Von Guten's life in this manner.
- And "The Milkman Conspiracy" level, with all of the FBI agents hold marginally related objects while trying to act like normal citizens of Suburbia, like road crew workers, gardeners, housewives, and... assassins.
Agent: I am a road worker. This is my stop sign.
Agent: I am a sad widow. Boo, hoo. Boo, hoo, hoo.
- The PSP game Dragoneer's Aria contains a segment wherein the two female characters need to agitate a spirit guarding a tree that wouldn't listen to anything they say (thus necessitating the threat). Their delivery is wooden, but, somehow, the centuries-old spirit falls for it.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion contains a set piece in which an NPC "puts on a little act" as a prelude to faking his own death with the assistance of the player character. The result is positively hilarious.
- The various parody TV shows within the Max Payne games feature some clearly terrible "acting".
- Locke's performance in the Opera scene of Final Fantasy VI is supposed to be this. Due to technical limitations, it's left as an Informed Ability. Although he does refer to the main character of the opera by the name of her actress. That's a pretty amateurish mistake.
- Some Suikoden games feature a theater minigame. Generally speaking, you can cast a good chunk of the Loads and Loads of Characters as any individual role in such works as Romeo and Juliet, or William Tell. The game will usually warn you which characters are bad actors... but then that's half the fun. Sometimes the acting is so bad that the set itself falls down.
- Also plays as part of the plot in Suikoden V, during Sialeeds's plan to discredit the foppish Euram Barows.
- In the second Sam & Max: Freelance Police season, during the special episode of Midtown Cowboys.
"CAN'T WE JUST IGNORE THE PROBLEM AND HOPE IT WILL GO AWAY?"
- Max and Strong Bad's website plugs in Poker Night at the Inventory:
Max: Oh! When I'm on the intern-net, I always go straight to DOUBLE U DOUBLE U DOUBLE U DOT TELL TALE GAMES DOT COM SLASH STORE! Beat. Grin.
- The infamous laughing scene in Final Fantasy X qualifies, since the characters themselves are fake-laughing as a sort of game. Final Fantasy X will Never Live It Down.
- The Passion Play from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood surely has to count.
- The Way of the Samurai series shamelessly uses most of the tropes you'd find in an old samurai film (Mook Chivalry is explicitly noted in the tutorials), so the English version of the sequel decides to up the ante and invoke the poor dubs such films would receive.
- In Tales of Symphonia, Remiel's wooden delivery during the early stages of the game turns out to be this. His voice acting gets much more natural when he's revealed as a villain.
- One of the endings of Saints Row: The Third has you chase the villain to Mars, with a mixture of extremely contrived plot devices and wooden acting meant as clues that he actually got away in that ending and you're making a film about going after him.
- The Protagonist even forgets the lines to his ending speech, despite the fact that it's just a copy of the opening lines to Red Faction: Guerrilla.
- The same goes for the Gangsta's In SPACE! DLC, where the entire mission pack is around similarly cheesy film scenes.
- In Saints Row IV, Jane Valderama invokes this when she's brought in to help Zinyak read a selection from Romeo and Juliet on the classical station. She reads it in the same smarmy newsreader monotone she used for her news reports in the last few Saints' Row games.
- In the prologue of Final Fantasy XII, listen carefully to Basch during the assassination scene. In it, he sounds a bit... strange. That's not him, it's Gabranth doing a really bad job of imitating his brother.
- In the "Deja Vu" storyline in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Kaz occasionally does wooden, silly and virtually unrecognizable impressions of various Metal Gear Solid characters when you call him. Apparently, when they asked Robin Atkin Downes to imitate the lines, he did them too well and got most of them bang-on, so they had to make him redo them all intentionally badly as Kaz himself is not much of an actor. This serves also to contrast to the True Ending where the game suddenly changes into a quiz hosted by Liquid Snake and Ocelot, all Other Darrined by Downes rapidly flicking between voices and all immediately recognizable.
- Homestar Runner
- Frequently done by the characters when they're given a script to read.
- The tutorial of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People is full of Bad Bad Acting, with Strong Sad and Bubs reading their lines with all the pathos of a plank of wood, occasionally broken up with complaints about the awful, awful script.
- The Dangeresque installments are full of this, especially from Coach Z.
- A DVD bonus toon opens with the King of Town on stage, reading from a cue card in an extremely forced manner, and giving a reaction after the line is read indicating that he didn't even know what he was reading until after he read it. This bit of bad acting is justified when the viewer gets to see the cue card... and Homsar is holding it upside-down.
- The Strong Bad E-Mail "Big White Face" involves Strong Sad thinking that Strong Bad will do something nice for him. He decides to "wait someplace inconspicuous and act none the wiser" when, in fact, he is in plain sight and clearly showing that he knows Strong Bad is up to something.
- Red vs. Blue. Donut tried to orchestrate a play to illustrate how the time jump happened. The reds actually do good, but Caboose, being The Ditz, reads his stage directions aloud. However, that was his only flaw; he wasn't monotone or wooden.
- Ultra Fast Pony has the cast putting on a play in "The Best Episode Ever". Twilight Sparkle (playing the role of Clover) is rather realistically bad, as she breaks character to correct other actors, and she just doesn't have the chops to convincingly pull off her dramatic death scene. Rarity (as Princess Plutonium) on the other hand, is ridiculously wooden, reading all of her lines (and her stage directions, and her dialogue tags) as a monotone, run-on sentence.
Princess Plutonium: Enter stage door fall dramatically cry out for help. Princess Plutonium, Clover red rover, we call you over.
Clover: You know, you don't have to read out your stage directions.
Princess Plutonium: And you don't have to break character! But hey, look at that.
- Sid from Fey Winds can't be bothered with question marks.
- Girl Genius: "Oh, help. I-hef-been-ceptured-by-a-clenk. Help. Help."
- In The Order of the Stick, Elan (a bard) can't act for the sake of his life. He is not the only one, either.
- Free Spirit has Winnie criticize the acting in kid-com Boss of the World. She soon declares that even Gene could perform more professionally than that show's cast members, so the two of them decide to visit Hollywood, and have Gene audition for the studio's next show.
- In Knights of Buena Vista, Mary cannot act when she's playing in character, unless there is action involved.
- Darths & Droids: Jim / Padmé's attempts at acting casual.
Padmé: Yes. I will help you bring Anakin to justice. After all, you are the only thing standing between Anakin and complete domination of the galaxy. On his own, obviously, without me faithfully by his side. Seeing as I'm Good.
- A Running Gag with The Nostalgia Critic is that he responds to instances of bad acting in the movies he reviews by staring at the camera and saying "I'm acting!" in a dopey voice and style reminiscent of the actor.
- Also variations, e.g. in his Red Sonja review he imitates the actress' uncertain-sounding tone with "I'm... acting?"
- Other That Guy with the Glasses contributors have also dabbled in this: Spoony and Linkara's Warrior crossover video showcased an alternate universe (one of several) where Spoony and Linkara are terrible actors, reading their lines flatly from the script, fumbling with the props and making no attempts to emote. Linkara's commentary hung a lampshade on this by mentioning that some people think they were already terrible actors to begin with...
- There's also The Nostalgia Chick's review of Showgirls. Because she can't show the naughty scenes on blip, she has to get her friends to play the parts. They either look bored or uncomfortable and one is even reading a book while he gives a lapdance.
- In the review of The Last Airbender, the Critic gets "Shyamalized" — stripped of acting ability by the movie's director M. Night Shyamalan.
NC: (in monotone) Hi, guys. I just wanna stand directly in the middle of the shot and stare blankly into the camera.
- In Unforgotten Realms, when Rob is forced to do a scripted event, he seems to go out of his way to act as bad as possible. After a certain point, he gets sick of it and acts normally. Normally being kill everything.
- PG Porn's construction worker/adult movie actor Chris can't remember his partner's name, delivers his lines in the most stilted way imaginable and looks on his mark before stepping on it. Leave it to Nathan Fillion to make bad nekkid-film acting even more hilarious than it already is.
- Shows up in Echo Chamber episode Tyrant Takes the Helm, where Tom and Dana are pushed into performing an episode of Echo Chamber with "class" (read: obnoxious Britishness) by the new Executive Producer. Cue the world's most exaggerated cockney accent from Tom and a deadpan hate from Dana.
- On the Half in the Bag series, produced by Red Letter Media, this is the acting style of both hosts (supporting characters generally play it straight as a deliberate contrast). Mike, however, is much better at it than Jay, to the point that he could be called Giftedly Bad if he wasn't doing it on purpose.
- Arin of the Game Grumps often uses this type of bad acting. Jon prefers the Large Ham type, however.
- In Death Note: The Abridged Series (Kpts4tv) Light does this when Higuchi dies. "Oh right, cover... Dad, you idiot! We needed him alive!" Made even more hilarious since he had been calling for his blood moments before. Later there's another instance of this with Near's obvious line reading:
Near: I want to tell you about a party... we're throwing... There's going to be booze... and pur-etty ladies with... Rester, do I really have to read this?
- Played for laughs all the time in Third Rate Gamer. His idea of "looking irate" equals puffing his cheeks full of air.
Well fine! I don't need you, I'll just do this review by my... *looks at script* self!
- In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, whenever a character steps in to play another character and their acting styles says a lot about the character themselves.
- Lizzie tends to exaggerate and caricatures.
- Lydia overacts flamboyantly.
- Jane starts out as a Deer in the Headlights every time the camera turns on her but through Character Development, she showcases her growing thespianian.
- Charlotte gives realistic but emotionally cold/uninteresting performances.
- Mary's attempt at costume theater is melodramatic and she breaks character twice.
- Darcy finds it too hard to imitate his sister but he does an excellent job as his best friend Fitz.
- The persona of the Twitter account @tips4actors is a derangedly pretentious Large Ham with no understanding of reality who treats everything as Serious Business. This video shows him coaching a student through a scene from Friends, which he thinks was "misinterpreted" as sitcom and insists on playing as a scene about domestic violence.
- An episode of The Amazing World of Gumball called "The DVD". In the episode Gumball and Darwin try to produce their own version of "Alligators on a Train" to replace the one they destroyed. Obviously, the end result had hilariously Bad Bad Acting and did not fool anybody.
- Lor in The Weekenders episode "Radio Drama".
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Occurrs when the girls try to act in their own movie.
- Also, when they create a fourth sister to help them in crimefighting, they faithfully act out the part of "accidentally" adding Chemical X this way.
- During the Aliens Steal Cable episode, when the crew has to act out an episode of Single Female Lawyer.
- Also in the porn film featured in "A Big Ball of Garbage" — with gusto!
- Also, the two educational films shown within the show: I Dated a Robot!! and Global Warming — None Like It Hot!!! (the second features the claim that the Earth is warming due to the piling-up of corpses after gang-member-like greenhouse gases beat sunbeams to death).
- Also in the Star Trek episode where William Shatner himself does it. It's the complete opposite of his usual unholy acting talent, and the entire Star Trek cast follows suit with their own embarrassingly monotone acting — though the fact that they're being held captive and forced to perform a fanboy's Marty Stu script goes a long way towards explaining their complete lack of effort.
- Despite being a dream of Zapp Brannigan, The Transcredible Exploits of Zapp Brannigan is loaded with this.
- Also frequent in the Show Within a Show All My Circuits, though Calculon is more of a Large Ham. Played straight when Zoidberg's uncle directs a movie, which also includes Bad Bad Directing. Robot Devil gave Calculon UNHOLY! ACTING! TALENT! Which, of course, he'd soon live to regret.
- In one episode Bender auditioned for a role in All My Circuits. He gives a performance so bad Calculon (who is a robot), claims it gave him cancer.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Katara and Sokka when they're trying to get Katara arrested for earthbending and speak in the most stilted tone possible:
Sokka: Get out of my way, pipsqueak!
Katara: How dare you call me pipsqueak, you giant-eared cretin!
Sokka: What did you call me?
Katara: A giant-eared cretin! Look at those things. Do herds of animals use them for shade?
- In the Sealab 2021 episode "Swimming in Oblivion", which features the crew as Animated Actors, Hal, playing Capt. Murphy, sandbags his lines because he thinks they're stupid.
- The Critic does that quite a bit. Jay Sherman is a movie critic who ends up seeing mostly bad films....
- Borderline case in The Pilot: Jay finally gets around to watching the movie his latest girlfriend is starring in. "I'll GIVE you a KISS alRIGHT. A kiss... OF DEATH!!!!!"
- The Angry Beavers
Daggett: Oh my! It's going to crash into!... Us? Save yourselves!
Daggett: The End... Question mark?
- Practically every other episode features at least one example. In-universe B-Movie actor Oxnard Montalvo is the embodiment of this trope.
- The Beavers idolize Oxnard Montalvo and he is probably consciously or subconsciously emulating him. (And really, why wouldn't anyone want to be Just Like Oxnard Montalvo.)
- In the episode of Metalocalypse where Dethklok acts in a movie, they all do this.
- In a good few Recess episodes the gang sometimes have to act for a scam and deliver horrible performances. One episode has a kid forgetting what word he's supposed to say... halfway through saying it and he has to check his hand for the rest of it (said word was "automatically"). Though subverted in one episode where Gus convincingly disguises himself as a girl in order to steal a baseball bat from the Ashleys.
- Danny Phantom: Jazz and Danny has to perform a mock battle in front of Vlad, so convincing that even Danny himself didn't get it until the last minute. That was good acting, at least on Jazz's part. Then they commence the bad acting with Jazz having "killed" Danny; the two perform stilted acts that somehow gets the usual Chessmaster Vlad convinced. Later, Danny and Jazz poke fun at their poor attempts at drama.
- The ninth episode of The Venture Bros., "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean", ends with the characters delivering a PSA. Their delivery is an awkward monotone and their eyes shift from left to right to indicate that they're reading from cue cards.
- A trope constantly employed in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo; the characters would act like this every time they needed to trick a monster into falling for a trap. Lampshaded in one episode when Scooby's scolded for going off script by showing genuine emotion.
- Darkwing Duck is a terrible actor, although his ego won't allow him to realize it. So he... starts and stops... all of his lines... with Hollywood Tone-Deaf... and wrong inflection... to indicate intent?
- In an episode of W.I.T.C.H., the Guardians need to leave to fight the forces of evil just before their slot in a school talent show. They leave behind copies of themselves to take their places, but it turns out that the copies don't retain any memories and therefore are not familiar with the short play they are putting on. It all goes downhill when the Taranee copy begins her narration with "Taranee speaks dramatically..."
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- In "As Seen on TV", Mr. Krabs films a commercial for the Krusty Krab, where him, Squidward, and Pearl are obviously not good actors. Then again, it aired very early in the morning.
- There's also the bit in "Nature Pants" where Sandy and Patrick are trying to convince SpongeBob to return home. It obviously doesn't work very well; Patrick is both too dense and (at the time) too teary-eyed to act worth a damn.
- In "Karate Island" there are the "opponents" SpongeBob has to face to take the throne as "King of Karate". They all play dead when SpongeBob throws a punch, and he didn't even touch them.
- In one episode of Sushi Pack, Titanium Chef "acts" horrified that Wasabi has discovered his plot in a ploy to get the blob of mustard to attack, giving him the final ingredient for his plan. One of his henchmen even face palms at how bad this acting is, but Wasabi takes the bait.
- The Simpsons
- The "Mr Plow" episode, where the family produces their own (badly acted) TV commercial.
- And then there is the nuclear plant's commercial to convince graduates to work there.
- In one episode of Freakazoid!, a man who runs into the room the main character is, panicking and yelling that the Lobe has arrived. He's promptly scolded and forced to repeat the scene. At a second instance, the titular character tells him to take acting lessons. Much later during the final showdown between the hero and the Lobe, the same man breaks up the fight to show them that the acting lessons have payed off, by performing the Death of Romeo, from Shakespeare's famous play.
- Family Guy
- Stewie programs two robot lookalikes of himself and Brian so that no-one notices they've gone on a trip. They move around stiffly and talk in completely monotone voices:
Robot Stewie: Damn you vile woman. Blast. What the deuce.
Robot Brian: I am a tool. Stewie is much better than me at everything including arts and crafts and the guitar. I have no friends.
- Total Drama Island
Noah: (flat voice) Think of the childreeeeeen.
Bridgette: Oh honorable samurai, do you have any FOOD?
- Duncan's "crying" in "African Lying Society". His mother actually falls for that!?
- Sierra's attempt at a dramatic farewell to Cody in "Planes, Trains, Hot Air Mobiles" is so Narmy it's actually hilarious that she thought it sounded heartwarming.
- In an episode of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, a TV commercial for a used car dealership shows off one of its "satisfied customers". Said "customer" is obviously reading from cue cards, to the point of stumbling over the word "courtesy".
- In The Smurfs, Smurfette's crocodile tears when she was working for Gargamel and trying to turn the Smurfs against each other. Funnily enough, whenever she cries for real it's exactly the same, except with actual tears.
- Cow and Chicken
- Played with in an episode where Cow plays the title character of a film called "Pretty Little Girl". Not only is the acting atrocious, the actors (especially Cow, who's also nervous) keep mixing up random words on the cue cards. The director (who's actually the Red Guy) eventually decides to employ a little Enforced Method Acting, which makes the entire staff (himself included) burst into tears. Too bad the cameraman forgot to put the film in the camera.
- Also, in the episode "Meet Lance Sackless," when they film a video to send to Canada's Funniest Home Vidiots, Cow pretends to accidentally put glue on her head as she mistakes it for anti-itch cream to heal her horns from doing chores and then Chicken falls onto Cow from the ceiling having their heads stuck to each other's, while saying their lines in a seemingly sarcastic manner. Also, when Cow reaches for the anti-itch cream, Chicken tells her to reach for the glue.
- Seen in the Mega Man cartoon on two separate occasions when Mega and Roll try to fool Wily. (You can also tell which of Roll's voice actresses voices her by this—Robyn Ross doesn't do this, while Kathleen Barr does.)
- Martha Speaks has a habit of doing this any time there's a Show Within a Show. Take for example a Harry Potter-esque home movie directed by TD:
Martha: (monotone) Oh, bad luck? I've been turned into a talking dog.
Martha: (stilted) Dark Lord of... Really Dark Darkness, I will not let you stop me?
- In The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy is cast to play Foghorn Leghorn in a movie about Foghorn Leghorn, and he.... doesn't do such a good job.
Daffy: Oooh, boohoo, man! I'm crying so hard! I say, I say, look how hard I CRYYY!
Foghorn: Don't say it, do it!
Daffy: (starts laughing hysterically)
- In Code Lyoko, Ulrich's performance in the production in "Laughing Fit". It's painfully bad acting despite his voice actress being a former Broadway star. It takes talent for someone that good to sound that bad.
- Doug: "Doug's On Stage". The Bluffington Founder's Day pageant's traditional version is a prime case of this. Luckily, Judy arrives and reinstates her own, livelier version.
- In the Tiny Toon Adventures segment "Bat's All Folks" Hamton as Decoy the Robin equivalent is told by Batduck to plant a bomb in the villain's hide, he knocks himself out by accident and two thugs find him, their acting is very wooden:
Thug 1: (monotonous) Look it is Decoy the pig hostage, we must bring him inside.
Thug 2: (unenthusiastically) What is this thing? (picking up the bomb)
Thug 1: (just as unenthusiastic) Who cares, just toss it over into the all concealing shadows.
- Shows up a number of times on Adventure Time, such as Finn and Jake's fight with the Cuties in "Conquest of Cuteness".
- There's a scene in the South Park Season 16 episode "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" that is done entirely in live-action and features young adults standing in for the main characters.
- The Bakshi Mighty Mouse episode "A Star Is Milked" has the hero going to Hollywood to appear in a movie about him (with arch villain the Cow tagging along to sabotage it). Mighty Mouse actually struggles to say his tag line "Here I come to save the day" and delivers it half-heartedly.
- The start of the Danger Mouse episode "Bandits, Beans and Ballyhoo!" has DM and Penfold doing a bland but obvious introduction after the show's announcer, Isombard Sinclair, leaves the studio in protest.
DM: (whispers to Penfold) Isombard is having another temperment. We'd better do this ourselves. (loudly and stiltedly) Well, Penfold, my faithful assistant...here we are.
Penfold: (same as DM) Oh yes. "Cor it's nice to be back in the Mayfair abode of the world's greatest secret agent! (DM smiles cheesily to the camera and points to his badge)
DM: Yes...but that holiday in Mexico was most enjoyable. (Penfold unsubtlely shows the suitcase)
- Count Duckula was a master at bad acting. He turns overacting and bad acting up to eleven in "The Return Of Count Duckula" when he's cornered by our heroes.
Duckula: Look not so fierce. No villain I. 'Tis but a little, a little thing I crave. I need a TV show. Let not poor Nelly starve. Stay but the hour of execution and let a lonely cripple orphan duck smile one more time, before the shades of night overwhelm him.
Agent 57: (disguised as an American talent agent) Yep, I was right. That's the worst acting that I ever did see!
- PJ's attempts at acting on Goof Troop run into this most of the time. He falls into emotionless monotone both when trying to sway Pete emotionally into taking him fishing (against his wishes) and when trying to trick Pete into thinking he's in life-threatening danger as a result of Pete's unrealistic and hypocritical expectations. The weird part is, it works both times. Averted when he was playing a baby, though that time he had other problems.
- In the Young Justice episode 'The Runaways,' Blue Beetle's voice sounds weirdly stilted and flat compared to previous episodes. Jaime has an accent. The Scarab doesn't. Guess who's in control?
- In the Quack Pack episode "Pride Goeth Before the Fall Guy", Donald sets a trap for world-class thief Nigel Nightshade by having his nephews stand outside his window and talk loudly (while reading from cue cards) about the treasure to which Nigel supposedly now has access. Although they manage to avoid speaking in monotone, the resulting inflections still sound awkward and unnatural.
Huey: Oh no! I don't be-lieve it! You'd think a smart guy like Nigel would know what that key opens.
Louie: Oh! You mean theenote chest back on theenote ship?
Dewey: Yeah... the one that holds the trea-sure of... (squints) Tral-fa-ma-dor.
Huey: Oh well, I guess Nigel's not the greatest thief, in the world, after all.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic likes this trope:
- In the Dragons: Riders of Berk episode "Twinsanity", the kids' efforts at fooling Dagur the Deranged by staging a dragon attack are more wooden than the average coffin. Dagur still falls for them, probably because the dragons were much better at it.
- Mordecai and Rigby win a spot on a TV series in episode of Regular Show "Carter and Briggs". Mordecai's Bad Bad Acting goes so deep his voice even cracks during his line. Unlike other examples of the trope, this really was bad acting, as the rest of the cast spares their feelings when they ask for feedback by hastily evacuating the room.
- The Archer episode "Lo Scandalo" has the ISIS staff's fake "eeeeee-legant dinner pah-ty", which they put on in a feeble attempt to distract the police from the murder that took place in Mallory's apartment. It involves hilariously bad upper-crust British accents from everyone but Lana (who ends up pretending to be the maid, much to her chagrin).
- Snagglepuss, from the Hanna-Barbera stable, is equal parts Large Ham and bad actor. He claims to know Shakespeare backwards, which he does literally: "Eraepsekahs!"