can show up in the most unexpected places. A series might be the most generic and inoffensive Dom Com
around; the darkest subject matter it normally handles might be teens drinking alcohol or married people being tempted by another man/woman. And even then, the subject matter is likely to be treated seriously rather than played for laughs
; it might even be the subject of a Very Special Episode
But then along comes a moment when the series brings in a topic it would normally never touch with a ten meter pole (abortion, suicide, rape, Nazis, what-have-you) and treats it with just as much casual, lighthearted humor as it does recipes gone wrong or a Two-Timer Date
. For that one moment, that one joke, the series becomes a Black Comedy
... then it goes right back to being nice and innocuous again.
Note that, if a series already is
a Black Comedy
, it's still possible to fit this trope, but the burst of black comedy has to be really
extreme. For example, Seinfeld
usually didn't shy away from dealing with plenty of dark subject matter, but it's usually just the characters discussing it
. If they had done an episode where the Main Characters
actually raped or killed someone, and they still played it as much for laughs as ever, then it would still qualify as a Black Comedy Burst.
Related to Genre Shift
and Mood Whiplash
open/close all folders
Live Action TV
- Saya's route in Little Busters opens with her attempting to murder Riki multiple times, and getting very close to managing it. None of the other characters seem to consider this any more than a tasteless prank. He won't actually die permanently, since this is in the dream world, but he doesn't know that and everyone else is keeping up the masquerade. What makes this especially out of place is that the whole game is based around how difficult it is to deal with the death of a loved one - in fact, the whole reason anything in the game happened at all is because Kyousuke knew Riki and Rin would be completely devastated by his, Masato's, and Kengo's death, and the whole game revolves around helping them to accept that their friends' death doesn't have to ruin their lives forever. Though apparently when it's Riki, it's not that important...?
- The Simpsons, despite being a Black Comedy in concept, is too idealistic to actually be considered one. The episode "Homer's Enemy," however, gives a good idea of what the series would be like if it were one. A Deconstruction based on a "real" character floundering to—and eventually getting killed by—the show's inherent silliness, it's considered one of the darkest episodes in the show's history. It culminates in Homer falling asleep at the man's funeral, talking in his sleep, and getting everyone attending the funeral to laugh.
- South Park is usually more gross than grim. But then there's "Scott Tenorman Must Die"... (And viewers can't even pretend it didn't happen, because Cartman likes bringing it up.) It starts out normally enough, with the teenager Scott scamming Cartman out of money by convincing Cartman to buy Scott's pubic hair. Cartman soon tries getting a refund, but Scott either tricks him again or outright refuses. It continues to escalate until Cartman is intent on publicly humiliating Scott with absurd ploys, like training a pony to bite off Scott's penis. Scott keeps outsmarting Cartman at every turn, until the climax, where Cartman reveals the cartoonish plot he told his friends about (that they told Scott about) was actually a misdirection, and Cartman's actual ploy, which he only reveals after it succeeds, was to kill Scott's parents, mix their flesh into chili, and feed it to Scott. Even the main cast recognize that the show definitely crossed a line this time.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic delves deep into this whenever a character undergoes Sanity Slippage, most notably Pinkie Pie in "Party of One", Fluttershy in "The Best Night Ever", and Twilight Sparkle in "Lesson Zero". The ensuing psychotic breaks from reality are often quite terrifying, yet they are all played for comedy.
- The show indulges in this more often than you might think. Discord, for example, almost seems to specialize in doing horrible things like plunging Equestria into an insane, chaotic Sugar Apocalypse and being Actually Pretty Funny at the same time, and is probably the closest thing the show has to a fully fledged sociopath.
- Naturally, he returns to this in "Keep Calm and Flutter On", where Fluttershy lets him stay at her house with the hope that she can reform him. When she leaves him alone with her pet bunny, Angel (who hasn't been buying any of his claims that he's turning good), Discord mocks Angel and confirms that he's been playing Fluttershy for a fool - all while wearing a pair of bunny slippers that look like they're made from actual dead rabbits.
- In "Hearts and Hooves Day," Sweetie Belle crashes a funeral, jumps on the back of the eulogizer (who is wearing a clerical collar), noogies him while singing that he's "too old" to be a suitable romantic candidate for Cheerilee, then jumps away. With a great big smile. While cheerful upbeat music plays. The fact that the coffin is almost entirely off-screen and that the shot only lasts for two seconds is probably the only way in hell the show got away with it.
- "Castle Mane-ia”, in the scene where the ponies are panicking, Fluttershy sees what she thinks is Angel getting crushed by a falling pillar when it's clearly just a couple of rocks and leaves, and hastily tries lifting the pillar before Applejack jumps on top of it and flattens "Angel" some more.
- In "Pinkie Apple Pie," Goldie Delicious clears some cats to get at a book. She blows at the last cat... and it falls apart into dust.
- American Dad! is certainly no slouch when it comes to black comedy, but it gets taken Up to Eleven in an episode where Roger, working as a limo driver, spends a night chauffeuring around a group of drunk frat guys who run off without paying his fee (twenty dollars). He responds to this by systematically stalking and murdering them. The entire thing is Played for Laughs.
- The ending to "Love, A.D. Style" where Roger cuts of Jeff's skin and grafts it onto his own, which is played for laughs. You know, a lot of Roger moments can come off as this.
- The "Turkey Scene" from Rover Dangerfield.
- In the Disney version of Peter Pan, Captain Hook nonchalantly shoots one of his own men — for singing badly.
- Then later, he tosses another of his pirates overboard, for speculating about "no splash?!" after Wendy walks the plank.
- Adventure Time (of course) had this at the end of the Christmas Episode of all places, when they reach the final of the Ice King's tapes, which is an Apocalyptic Log detailing the slow descent of Simon Petrikov into madness as he becomes the Ice King. It's a massive Tear Jerker/horror moment, yet the first reaction to it?
- The Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated gang visits a monster's victim in the hospital, resulting in a comedically stressful interview. After they leave we hear him flatline in the background, but the gang just exchange looks and leave.
- And there's Fred's visit to the blood bank in "The Secret Serum".
- The 1943 Popeye cartoon "Happy Birthdaze" ended with Popeye apparently murdering his Navy buddy Shorty (which is usually cut from modern TV prints).
- "You're a Sap, Mr. Jap" has the final scene where the Japanese admiral commits suicide by consuming gasoline and lit firecrackers.