Crosses the Line Twice
aka: Cross The Line Twice

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"That's... wrong. That's... brilliant."note 

Kyle: Dude, why is your store called The Indian Burial Ground Pet Store?
Shop Owner: Well, there was an Indian burial ground here before I bought it.
Stan: So you just built your store on top of Indian burial ground?!
Shop Owner: Oh, hell no! First, I dug up all the bodies, pissed on 'em, and then buried them again upside-down.
Kyle: Why?
Shop Owner: Why? I don't know. I was drunk!"

"Pain is funny. Therefore, more pain must be even funnier!" Thus goes the logic in a lot of comedy shows and a few adult cartoons. Sadly, that's not the case. The line separating The Three Stooges-style painful fun from outright villainous squicky sadism varies from person to person but is definitely there; crossing it makes one fan's "Nyuk nyuk!" another fan's Guilty Pleasures.

However, if a show goes far enough with its violence, it may end up crossing the line not once but twice, as it goes around the planet and crosses it again. This second crossing takes the violence from sick back to funny in its ridiculous extremes. Similar to So Bad, It's Good, but done quite intentionally.

This isn't as easy as it sounds. Shows attempting to be Darker and Edgier with their humor this way straddle the line between sadism and comedy, and it's easy to make a mistake and fall on the wrong side of the S.S. Tightrope. Rather than cross the line a second time, the show makes a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque and breaks the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Some people just don't have a second line to cross in their minds, and will dislike any turn into sadism or vulgarity.

This can also apply to things other than violence for funny's sake; any time a little exaggeration would provoke a negative reaction, but exaggeration Up to Eleven is fine, that's crossing the line twice. Take action scenes, for example: some shows try to keep action scenes realistic in order to seem believable, while others go so far over the top that it breaks the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Still others take the over-the-top so over the top that what was before unbelievable garbage is now heart-wrenching, adrenaline rushing, undiluted AWESOME. Of course, this form of the trope is just as subjective as the last, so be careful what you put down as an example.

See also Black Comedy, Bloody Hilarious, Dude, Not Funny!, Refuge in Audacity, Vulgar Humor. If this happens completely by accident, that's Springtime for Hitler. Part of the Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror. When this trope isn't taken to extreme, over-the-top levels, it's mere Comedic Sociopathy.

The Hilariously Abusive Childhood depends on this trope, piling misfortune on misfortune until it becomes so ridiculous it's funny. For instance, the Boarding School of Horrors in Bleak Expectations would be abusive if the staff beat the students and deprived them of food. That they use the boys as ammo for artillery practice and make them play a game where the smallest boy is chosen as the ball, kicked and punched across the field, and finally has his head shoved in a bucket of manure to score a goal is just silly.

This is also the way the Heroic Comedic Sociopath holds the audience's hearts. This character does evil in such an over-the-top, outrageous fashion that the audience stops feeling any moral qualms, because it's so over-the-top and out of line that it becomes hilarious instead.

For the (mostly) non-vulgar variant, see Overly Long Gag.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Featured at the end of an episode of The Gruen Transfer was an ad for 42Below brand Vodka. The ad mercilessly poked fun at homosexual stereotypes, then, at the end, said the ad was run past "two fags and a queer" to make sure it wasn't offensive.
  • Metro Trains Melbourne's rail safety ad: Dumb Ways To Die here.
  • This Canadian PSA, which features a pop group at a school assembly singing about sex, with the audience uncharacteristically eliciting a Flat "What.". Just when you thought it couldn't get weirder, then came the dancers in penis and vagina costumes, and the people chanting "Go Penis! Go Penis!"
  • Nandos' "Last Dictator Standing" commercial amps this trope Up to Eleven.
  • A series of Pop-Tarts commercials have really pushed the boundary by portraying the Pop-tarts as sentient beings always being hunted by humans and animals out to gobble them up. Worse is that the Pop-tarts always lose; an especially weird one has a baby pop-tart eaten by a nurse as its parents watch.
    Mom: Ah Jammit.
  • This ad for the Squatty Potty, involving a unicorn pooping out ice cream... which the advertiser proceeds to eat. The entire ad is full of poop-as-ice-cream analogies, and the presentation in general is so ridiculous you have to take it seriously.

    Films — Animation 
  • Robots: Has a classic single example of the trope. After Aunt Fanny's Fartillery causes a nearby street lamp bot to literally keel over, the next morning, his body was replaced by a tape outline. Then again, it's Blue Sky, makers of the Ice Age movies...
  • Some characters' antics in The Boxtrolls, such as Lord Portly-Rind using his funds to build a cheese wheel instead of a children's hospital.
  • The Angry Birds Movie: Red kicking a blue bird into the ocean.
  • The Incredibles: The death montage of the Supers who died thanks to their capes. Normally, the means of death (including getting sucked into a jet turbine and crushed by an elevator) would be horrifying. But the rapid fire way that Edna Mode lists them, as well as the fact that they all died to something as trivial as a cape turns it back into a hilarious moment.
  • Inside Out: Sadness talking about the "funny movie where the dog dies". Double for when Joy desperately brings it up to try to cheer her up. This goes even further in at least one foreign dub, where it's "the movie where the lion's father dies."

    Jokes 
  • Three men and a woman were marooned on a desert island. After one week, the woman felt so guilty about what she had been doing that she committed suicide. After another week, the three men felt so terrible about what they had been doing they buried her. After another week the three men felt so terrible about what they had been doing they dug her back up.
  • Why did (insert name of child molester here) go to Walmart? Because children's clothes were half off!
  • The "Dead Frog" joke crosses it numerous times.
  • Why did little Suzy fall off the swing? She had no arms. Knock knock. Who's there? Not little Suzy. What did Little Suzy get for Christmas? A scooter! Just kidding, she couldn't open the box.
  • The entire point of The Aristocrats, a joke that's meant to be a challenge to come up with the most vulgar, offensive and outright wrong story one can think of all for the purposes of making things that should never be considered funny funny.
    • The joke is that a group of performers, usually described as a family, are auditioning for an agent or for a gig, sometimes at a circus. The person evaluating them asks to see their act, so they proceed to perform a long series of absolutely terrible things, from killing and torturing animals, to perverse sexual acts, to defecating or urinating. Eventually the act stops and the bewildered audience of one asks what the hell they call their act. "The aristocrats!" (Because this is the sort of thing aristocrats supposedly get up to.)
  • A man sees a crying woman by a pond. She is in a wheelchair and has no arms or legs. He asks her why she is crying and she answers that she has never been hugged. Feeling pity, he hugs her then jogs away. The next day he finds her crying again and she says she has never been kissed. The man kisses her and jogs away again. On the third day the man sees her crying and asks her thrice. She tells him she has never been fucked. The man picks her up...and throws her in the pond telling her, "You're fucked now!"

    Literature 
  • In A Brother's Price, one of the Whistler sisters tells the other that the neighbour's boy, Balin Brindle, is rumoured to have fathered his younger sisters. The reply? "And? At least we know he's fertile".
  • Candide by Voltaire has horrible things happening to almost all of the characters. Several times one character is forced to flee abandoning others to gruesome deaths. But as they often manage some to survive in some incredibly improbable way as it progresses the horrible events become funny.
    • Made even worse by the recurring quote "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds" with all the atrocities around, often repeated just after something especially terrible happened. Well justified as the book was intended to be a sarcastic approach to the government, society and philosophy, particularly Gottfried Leibniz's optimism.
  • The entire plot of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus could be this. According to this guy, it is.
  • In the first chapter of Starship Troopers, Rico drops a bomb into a room full of people. It's a talking bomb, programmed to announce, in the enemy's language, that it is a bomb, and count down until it explodes. Rico winces as he throws it, but the image of the whole thing is just hilarious. It's helped by the long-ish countdown, and that it's intended more to freak the enemy out than to actually kill anybody.
  • Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a book where twenty-six children die in alphabetized ways.
  • These lines from The Hunger Games:
    We were resting a moment by a stream when we saw him. A young buck, probably a yearling by his size. His antlers were just growing in, still small and coated in velvet. Poised to run but unsure of us, unfamiliar with humans. Beautiful.
    Less beautiful perhaps when the two arrows caught him, one in the neck, the other in the chest. Gale and I had shot at the same time. The buck tried to run but stumbled, and Gale’s knife slit his throat before he knew what had happened. Momentarily, I’d felt a pang at killing something so fresh and innocent. And then my stomach rumbled at the thought of all that fresh and innocent meat.
    • A pretty hefty portion of the humor in the series is this. For instance, "The Head Shackle" from Mockingjay.
  • Paper Towns:
    • At the prom afterparty, Ben sets a county record for longest keg-stand. Radar describes him as some kind of "autistic savant".
    • During the road trip, Radar is bought a T-shirt with a Confederate flag on it that reads "Heritage not Hate". Radar is black.
  • Pilgrim has a bit that has achieved a fair bit of infamy in fantasy circles. In brief: a woman is used by her grandfather to channel the soul of his long-dead wife (her grandmother), so that she basically possesses their granddaughter and they have hot, passionate sex while the granddaughter is still conscious and powerless to do anything about it. She gets pregnant, and over the course of the pregnancy manages to regain control of her body, forcing grandma's soul into the unborn fetus instead. She then beats herself into miscarrying in front of her grandfather's eyes, expels the aborted fetus, and crushes it's already-dead skull with her foot. All very macabre, twisted and Squicky. But when she smacks grandpa in the face repeatedly with the dead fetus while berating him, it becomes a stellar example of this trope.
  • Supervillainous!: Confessions of a Costumed Evil-doer has the dubious honor of being home to a supervillain named White Power, who is decked out in Ku Klux Klan robes and has the power to make white people violently racist. In one scene he and the rest of his team parachute into a prison yard and start to kill a bunch of inmates. When the guards come out he points to a group of black inmates and says "They did it!", prompting the guards to immediately attack said inmates.
  • Jonathan Swift's satirical essay A Modest Proposal definitely qualifies. Eating babies to prevent overpopulation is rather dark and gruesome. However, saying that they make for a delicacy, great gloves, and should have women act like cows to raise them up for being eaten is just plain hilarious.
  • The vampire feast in Almost Night features various animals being drained of blood and killed. Then their corpses are used as playthings such as impromptu pillow fights, and sword fights for birds. Carlisangel even tortures one for kicks during the first one.
  • The French novel/prose poem Les Chants de Maldoror crosses the line so many times that it becomes impossible to tell if it's meant to be funny or not. In one episode, the main character, sitting on a clifftop armed with a rifle, calmly watches a ship leave harbour during a storm, hit some rocks, and sink. Amid the mass of survivors, one sixteen-year-old boy swims bravely towards the shore, and the main character takes some time to admire the boy's beauty and bravery and then shoots the kid in the head. Then, a group of sharks attacks the remaining survivors. The main character watches all the survivors getting eaten, then identifies an especially large female shark as the most savage one. He waits until all the surviving humans are dead, picks off all the other sharks with his rifle, then dives into the sea, swims up to the female shark and fucks her.

    Podcasts 
  • Too many examples to list in The Scathing Atheist. One notable example was when they brought on the hosts of the Cognitive Dissonance Podcast in episode 128, where they listed jokes about the controversy regarding fetuses and Planned Parenthood.
    • One week Noah made a passing joke of making a top ten list of analogies involving puppy rape. Guess what was in the show the following week?

    Radio 
  • This sketch from Hello Cheeky, which is so short it can be transcribed.
    Boy: Mummy? When's Daddy coming home?
    Mother: Daddy won't be coming home any more, Julian. Daddy is...up high, in the sky.
    Boy: Has he gone to heaven?
    Mother: No, he's flying to the south of France with his secretary.
    Boy: Is that why Uncle Milkman's upstairs with his boots off?
    Mother: Yes. Go and play in the motorway.
  • To "bring something up" was/is a term for vomiting. ("Brought up my lunch", etc.) I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again was a sketch comedy which was usually plenty bawdy and occasionally touched on dark ideas, but often kept a light heart or a non-serious tone about it. This is all the context you need to get the next absolutely terrible yet horribly fantastic pun.
    David Hatch went to the countryside to bring up his babies, which serves him right for eating them.
  • One of the most popular and most requested sketches from The Mark & Brian Radio Program is the Parody Commercial Kruger's Supermarket, which emphasizes how cruelly they kill the animals to get the best taste out of the meat.
  • The Brewing Network: Pretty much all of the humor of Lunch Meet.
  • As mentioned at the top of this very page, Bleak Expectations does this with St. Bastards, the most sadistically cruel school in all Georgian Britain.
    • And there's also the Chinese... restaurant in Series 2, followed shortly thereafter by Abraham Bagel, a parody of the Greedy Jew who is in fact a Catholic.
    • The subversion of a "release the dogs" moment. Setting dogs on abused factory workers? Not funny. Dropping dead dogs on said factory workers, on the other hand...
  • Old Harry's Game uses this a lot.
    • Everything Thomas says or does.
    • This exchange, in the episode where the Professor starts interviewing the damned to find the true account of history.
    The Professor: [A]nd a Nazi who claimed he was just following orders.
    Satan: They all said that.
    The Professor: Yes, but this one was Hitler.
    • One episode had a Muslim suicide bomber confused as to why he ended up in Hell when he gave his life for Allah and blew up an American top-secret military base, which skirts if not crosses the line into Dude, Not Funny! territory. Then it becomes funny again after Satan reveals the "top-secret military base" was actually just a barber shop.
  • Peter Davison Work Com Rigor Mortis generally runs on black humour but in one episode a lack of bodies drives the pathologists to dangerous levels of boredom. So much so that they are appalled to hear that a very young patient survived the night and then consoled with the thought that he was small so the autopsy wouldn't have lasted long enough to be interesting. A fatal traffic accident ends the drought, cheering them all up.

    Short Films 
  • Don Hertzfeldt's animations have all sorts of violence inflicted on stick figures that go between horrible and hilarious routinely.
  • Jim Reardon, before he went on to do animation for The Simpsons, created this student short about Charlie Brown gunning his classmates down in a Scarface-style rampage. A perfect example of a film which straddles the line between "appalling" and "the most hilarious thing ever made." (Warning: video Not Safe for Work Or Sanity.)
  • Forklift Driver Klaus - The First Day On the Job.
  • Pogo et ses amis (warning: subtitles), so very much. A Quebecois stop-motion animated short chronicling a day in the suburban life of Pogo the clown and his friends Ed, Albert and Mister Z. The whole thing is presented like an episode from a children's show, with voices provided by locally known actors (including the voice actors for Ned Flanders and Mr. Burns in the Quebec translation of The Simpsons) and a cameo from a local right-wing politician. It's hilarious, especially if you understand French.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Da Orks do not live this trope; they are this trope. Psychotic, belligerent monsters (in a galaxy already filled to the brim with the psychotic, the belligerent and the monstrous) taken so far past the utter screaming extreme that they become endearing instead, not at all hurt by their ridiculous Funetik Aksents or their treatment of warfare as a cross between a mass migration, holy war, looting party and pub crawl, with a bit of genocide thrown in for good measure. Deyz show all deze udder gretchin gitz 'ere 'ow itz don'. Follow me, ladz! WAAAGH!
    • The setting in general is this on several levels, considering the absolute grimdarkness it revels in. One of the common jokes is that the Eldar literally Squicked a god (the god of sex no less) into existence and that the Catholic-Space-Nazi Imperium are the good guys.
    • Most things related to Slaanesh tends to pole dance on the line. Slaaneshi Chaos Space Marines tend to be genetically engineered drug addicts, possible sex maniacs, and often sport literal breast plates (with one boob no less). In previous editions they even went into battle wielding guitars.
  • Paranoia: each player is given several clones of his character on the assumption that The Computer and/or fellow players will find horrible and creative ways of destroy them. It usually happens.
  • Crossing the line is the whole point of Cards Against Humanity, which is Apples to Apples for people with a twisted sense of humor. Crossing the line twice is how you win.
  • In the "Attitude" sourcebook for 4th edition Shadowrun the electronically recorded memories of a dead Street Samurai are reviewed and commented upon by fellow Shadowrunners. One fellow he'd worked with was known for keeping a cloth bag filled with stray cats; in a fight he would grab one by the tail, whirl it around, then hurl it at someone's face. One of the Runners comments on how this bit of animal cruelty is the most disgusting thing he'd ever heard of and he wanted nothing to do with a psycho like that. Then the memory log notes the crazy cat guy's specialty: the Cat-astrophe, where he attaches a bomb to the cat first. The same Runner responds, "okay, I take it back. That's just awesome."
  • The game Public Assistance: Why Bother Working for a Living? is a parody of the American welfare/government assistance program where the object of the game is to stay on welfare as long as possible to make easy money (and even do illegal things on the side like prostitution, having illegitimate children, and selling drugs) whereas doing things people do a daily basis like working a 9-5 job and paying bills is considered a detriment to the player's success and such areas on the board are actually called "Worker's Burden" to simulate the burden of making income.

    Theatre 
  • Me and My Dick. The whole freaking thing.
  • A Very Potter Musical has a couple examples, but the Ron/Hermione kiss must be seen to be believed. It's… funny, but mostly just... wrong. A Very Potter Sequel does this with Umbridge and all her plot.
  • Reefer Madness. The Musical has Jesus show up to tell the main character to stop smoking pot...and that's at the halfway point.
  • The Book of Mormon. Just... well, it does starts as a black comedy mocking religious organizations in general, and then we have Hasa Diga Eebowai. It's a song about how the Africans resolve to endure with famine, poverty, and AIDS; they just throw their hands to the sky and say a seemingly innocent phrase: Hasa Diga Eebowai. What does it mean? Fuck you, God. How does it crosses the line a second time? With the following sentence sung out loud by women and men alike: Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt!. And that is just the fourth song in the story. Later you will find someone intending to fuck a baby Played for Laughs. And then someone else tries to do it, being none other than the most important prophet for a whole religion!. Trey Parker and Matt Stone indeed.
  • Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare's bloodiest play. The Rape of Philomela is used as the basis for a secondary plot line, lampshaded in the dialogue, and it goes From Bad to Worse. There is even a very blatant "Your Mom" joke.
    • Two of Titus's sons are framed for the murder of their sister's fiancé, and Titus cuts off his own hand to secure their release... except he's been lied to, and he only gets their heads back, along with his hand. So, he grabs one head, has his brother take the other, and orders his handless, tongueless daughter to carry his hand by picking it up in her teeth.
    • After Aaron is arrested, he tells his captors about his hobbies, including this gem: "Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves,And set them upright at their dear friends' doors, Even when their sorrows almost were forgot; And on their skins, as on the bark of trees, Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,'Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.'"
    • It has been described as the Kill Bill of the Elizabethan era.
  • This is the basic MO of many Jacobean and Elizabethan revenge tragedies. Shakespeare was unusual in how soberly (apart from in Titus, which crosses the line twice for the whole genre, that some critics see it as an intentional parody) he dealt with his tragedies.
    • Thomas Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy jumps back and forth over the line constantly. The title character Vindice exhumes his beloved's skeleton, dresses her, fills her mouth with poison, and then tricks her murderer into making out with it. Hilarious. Not quite dead, Vindice and his Brother then proceed to kick the dying man to death. Not so funny.
  • Hamlet can be played as a Black Comedy, and it works incredibly well if the actors involved are good. It mostly comes off as this. Notably, Hamlet casually dragging a dead body offstage while saying, "Goodnight, Mother!" can get a big laugh out of the audience.
  • Norwegian playwright Johan Herman Wessel managed this in his parodic play Love without stockings, taking the Driven to Suicide trope up to hilarious levels, because every single member of the cast commits suicide one after another, passing the same knife around. Made doubly hilarious because of a bowl of pea stew, also passed around at the same time.

    Real Life 
  • Fringe Republican candidate Rex Rammell of Idaho replied to a question during a debate about wolf tags by saying that many Idahoans would gladly buy "Obama tags", referring to then-president Barack Obama. He later refused to apologize for the remarks on the grounds that everyone knows that Idaho has no authority to issue hunting tags in Washington, D.C.
  • The following gem on the blog 'Shit My Students Write' has this to offer:
    "Helen Keller was a very naughty child. She never listened to her parents."

Alternative Title(s): Crossing The Line Twice, Cross The Line Twice

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrossesTheLineTwice?from=Main.CrossTheLineTwice