Different In Every Episode
This doesn't even begin
to cover the weird things
that you will frequently see on the Middleton High sign.
A Running Gag
If a Couch Gag
is where something different shows up every time in the opening sequence, this is where something from the episode itself is always different. Not just the obvious story telling devices like characters, plot, and settings, (though it can play into them,) but rather more mundane things that are different just because they can be.
May often overlap with Unlimited Wardrobe
if most characters in the series are usually subjected to Limited Wardrobe
, and one is different just because they can be.
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Anime And Manga
- In Is This a Zombie?, Ayumu's fantasies of Eucliwood are voiced by a different Seiyuu (frequently well known, but less commonly heard from nowadays) each episode. There is even a scrolling text placed onscreen saying who the Seiyuu is this week. This running gag is held up in the dub version as well, featuring and appropriately crediting such actresses like Alexis Tipton, Tia Ballard, Luci Christian, Leah Clark, Kara Edwards, Jamie Marchi, and Carli Mosier, to name a few.
- In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, the writing on the blackboard in the classroom, and a lot of writing seen elsewhere, will change in every shot, mid-conversation.
- Weird Pete's Games Pit in Knights of the Dinner Table has different signs (and occasionally graffiti) at each appearance. Some of the messages relate to the current plotline; others are stand-along jokes.
- Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus will change her dress in every episode to reflect the subject being covered in that episode.
- Someone or something with the name "Shuttleworth" appears in nearly every Aunt Dimity book. Occasionally, it will be attached to a minor character with actual lines, such as Rev. and Mrs. Shutttleworth of Penford Harbour in Aunt Dimity and the Duke. It was also the name of an inn in Salisbury that Lori had once visited, and which she used as part of her cover story for Simon's visit to the hospital in Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday. Most often, it is someone no longer on the scene due to death, or someone never seen yet referenced because they perform some plot function. Two of the references are from Finch (and possibly the same person), a Miss Shuttleworth once ran the village tea room, and Dimity names a Patricia Shuttleworth whose dog's unlikely victory in the local dog show caused a "kerfluffle". The same Shuttleworth (an art teacher in the nearby market town of Upper Deeping) is mentioned in Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree and 'Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch''. The name also appears on the tombstones of a family that died in an epidemic in Bluebird, Colorado; as one of Bill's clients whose demands keep him in London; as the pseudonym Sir Percy Pelham used to scout out Erinskil before his purchase of his island castle; and Mr. Barlow's Whitby informant on Prunella Hooper and Peggy Kitchen's secret son.
Live Action Television
- Friends: The Magna Doodle in Chandler and Joey's apartment has a different picture each time.
- The picture on Murphy Brown's Dartboard of Hate.
- The funny message on Frank's trucker cap on 30 Rock.
- The Prisoner has a subtle aural example: the section of the opening theme tune accompanying the scene where the future Number 6 confronts his boss is remixed to emphasize different instruments in each episode.
- The number on the whiteboard in Battlestar Galactica is a more-serious-than-usual example. It counts the population of the fleet and ticks down over the course of the series.
- Police Squad! had a few:
- Once an episode, Inspector Frank Drebin would visit Johnny the Shoeshine Guy for "the word on the street". After getting oddly detailed information from Johnny, Frank would leave and someone else would come, asking for (and receiving) advice specific to their line of work. This second person was different every episode—a heart surgeon, a theologian, Dick Clark, etc.
- Any time Frank Drebin parked his car, he would hit another car or some garbage cans. With every episode, the number of garbage cans he hit at once would increase.
- The opening credits of every episode would feature a different guest star. Who would invariably die before the credits ended.
- The first episode parodied the practice of playing the end credits over a freeze frame, by leaving the cameras rolling while the actors just stand really still. Every subsequent episode introduces a different variation on this gag: the actors all freeze while a chimpanzee trashes up the office in the background; an arrested criminal notices that everyone else is frozen and tries to escape; the actors continue pouring a cup of coffee during the credits until the coffee mug overflows, etc.
- One episode of The West Wing has CJ given a goldfish as a pet. It doesn't appear in every subsequent episode, but if Gail's bowl does make it into a shot it will include an ornament referencing that episode's plot.
- In the same vein, there's the ornament in Dorothy's goldfish bowl in Elmos World.
- The Spoony Experiment: Spoony does most of his reviews just sitting in a green chair while you can see posters hanging on the walls in the room corner directly behind him. In pretty much every review he does, he changes those posters to reflect something relevant to the review itself, usually a movie poster or wallscroll of the movie or game he's reviewing. If it's anything Highlander related, it'll usually be a poster of that movie. Anything Japanese game related, expect to see wallscrolls of the game or of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.
- Similarly, The Angry Video Game Nerd would often switch up his background posters hoping people would spot the references.
- The chief of The Secret Show changes his name every episode for security reasons.
- Kimiko from Xiaolin Showdown has an Unlimited Wardrobe where she's always wearing a different outfit (and often hairstyle) in each episode simply because she can. Everyone else in the show is subject to a Limited Wardrobe, with a few special occasions as the plot of the episode demands.
- In Squidbillies, Early Cuyler's hat says something different in every episode.
- The pizza restaurant has a different theme and the museum offers a sample of a different exotic food in each episode of The Weekenders.
- On Bob's Burgers, the Burger of the Day that is posted on the wall changes every episode. It will also change during episodes that take place over multiple days.
- During the intro, the building on the right changes every episode, and since Season 2, the truck that drives in front of the family also changes.
- The sign outside Charles Darwin Middle School in My Gym Partner's a Monkey.
- The sign outside Middleton High on Kim Possible.
- The sign outside the pet shop on Fish Hooks.
- If the vet is involved, the animals that come and go in Martha Speaks.