Format Specific Joke
The makers of a work decide to add a joke specific to the format it will initially be displayed in, usually a movie theatre or broadcast on TV. All meaning to the joke is lost when the work is released on Blu-ray or DVD.
- 3D-dependent elements in a 3D movie which are lost in 2D
- A TV show makes jokes about a commercial break is shown on DVD
- A TV show makes jokes about the ads which run at the bottom of the screen during a show
- A TV show interacts with or makes mention of the network's logo bug floating in the corner of the screen
This is not limited to movies. Early music albums which were recorded for distribution on vinyl records generally contained tons of these, generally involving the needle running off the track at the end of the record, or the need to flip the record to its B side. While the mentions of flipping were still relevant on cassette tapes, they didn't make any sense when the albums were distributed on CD.
Super trope of Born in the Theatre
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters: The movie begins with a parody of theater promos about the refreshment stall and theater etiquette.
- Toy Story 2 features a Barbie doll saying goodbye to people as they leave the theater. Doesn't really work on DVD or TV.
- The Simpsons Movie:
- It mocks viewers for going to the cinema to watch cartoons when they could watch them for free on television at home.
- As Homer and Bart are playing in the yard, a news banner rolls across the bottom of the screen displaying the message, "Yes, we even advertise during movies now." The implication is that the advertisement is being done live, but the joke is lost on a DVD.
- The last gag in Aladdin has the moon suddenly start laughing with the Genie's face, then for Genie to push back the film reel and announce "Made you look!" The gag was meant to psych out audience members who started leaving early because they thought the movie was over, only to look back when something else starts going on. Nowadays in home viewings the reason for the gag is much less clear.
- The Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse! had the characters coming through the movie screen and into the theater. When watching it elsewhere, the effect is somewhat less engaging.
- Averted with the VHS release of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Instead of the Gremlins invading a movie theatre, they break the VHS tape.
- Tropic Thunder begins with fake movie trailers. These might possibly make sense on DVD, but it also begins with a fake movie theater candy commercial.
- The original ending to The Little Shop of Horrors has a laughing Audrey II breaking through the movie screen.
- Bean: ends with an after-the-credits gag of Mr. Bean sitting in a cinema, saying that he stays after the credits as well.
- The Stinger of Ferris Bueller's Day Off consists of Ferris asking the audience why they're still in the theater, telling them to go home. CM Punk's Blu-ray/DVD, "CM Punk: Best in the World", along with Deadpoolnote also end this way, presumably as Shout Outs.
- In Fat Albert, the characters tell the audience to sit back down as the movie isn't over yet. However, they're clearly addressing a film audience, calling out "you in the back", so it doesn't have the same effect if watched on DVD.
- In the middle of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Tony Randall comes on screen out of character and compares film's big screen to the tiny TV screen.
Ladies and gentlemen, this break in our motion picture is made out of respect for the TV fans in our audience, who are accustomed to constant interruptions in their programs for messages from sponsors. We want all you TV fans to feel at home, and not forget the thrill you get, watching television on your big, 21-inch screens.
- In Spy Kids 3D, there are a lot of scenes specifically made in such a way to showcase the 3D effect as forcefully as possible. While this works if you're in a 3D theater, watching this movie in 2D shows very clearly just how forced such moments are.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features the famous line "The spaceships hung in the sky in exactly the way that bricks don't". The film adaptation, using visuals rather than narrative description, simply depicts brick-shaped starships... and the Lemony Narrator element of the humour is absent.
- Film adaptations of Terry Pratchett's novels are unable to indulge in his famous Footnote Fever.
"You're a wizard. I think there's something you ought to know," said the princess.
THERE IS? said Death.*
* That was a cinematic trick adapted for print. Death wasn't talking to the princess. He was actually in his study, talking to Mort. But it was quite effective, wasn't it?
- An episode of The X-Files about a plague of cockroaches threw in a gag where a roach appears to run across the TV screen on which the program is being viewed. Watching this episode on a large television detracts from this effect, because the roach looks so big that it'd be too heavy to scamper across a vertical surface.
- In one of The Drew Carey Show's April Fools' Day "spot the mistakes" episodes, one of the mistakes is the ABC logo bug floating away from where it's supposed to be (in the corner of the screen) and Lewis catches it & puts it back in its proper location. In syndication (and presumably on DVD release if there is one) the ABC bug is replaced by a balloon, but it makes no sense for a balloon to be there.
Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy
- When The Jack Benny Program moved to TV they realized that some of their most beloved running gags couldn't be replicated in a visual medium so they had to be abandoned: namely, Jack's underground bunker/safe and the polar bear guarding it, and Jack's very old car.
- Hey, Hey It's Darryl and Ozzie - one of the comedy LPs made by the cast of Hey Hey Its Saturday - has joke about someone getting upset and storming off to the other side of the album through the hole in the middle. Needless to say, this joke will not work in any other format.
- Some YouTube videos are dependent on annotations. The effect doesn't work if you watch the video on a device that doesn't support YouTube annotations (or turn them off).
- The Muppet Viral Video Beaker's Ballad is about Beaker getting harrassed by annotations. Unlike the other examples, the annotations are in the video itself, since it runs on Rule of Funny (Beaker walks in front of them, some of them move around, and some of them have bigger text — all of which are impossible with real annotations).
- This playthrough of the Game Boy Mega Man series uses annotations instead of a voice-over for its commentary. There are a few gags that rely on the annotation commentary. For example, if you watch this video without the annotations, you might get confused over the screen fading to black and immediately returning at one point. This is because the player initially dismisses an option to go to the shop as unimportant, then does a Fake-Out Fade-Out before saying, "Wait! I remember now!".
- Stuart Ashen sometimes puts annotation links to other videos, and he usually points to where they pop up. Examples include the 3D Color Games review, a Poundland Special featuring a dinosaur excavation kit and a racing loop among others, and the Game Child review.
- The Ultra Fast Pony episode "Shameless Self Reference" has a running gag of dialogue awkwardly referencing the series creator Wacarb's other works. Each time, an annotation pops up with a link to the object of the reference. Without these annotations, the joke makes a lot less sense.
- According to the DVD Commentary of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, when the Professor first creates the girls and stares right up at the screen, this was supposed to make the audience see his face the way the tiny girls did — huge and staring at them.
- On an episode of Chowder they made a joke about the Cartoon Network channel bug in the corner of the screen. On DVD the channel bug just appears and disappears when the joke comes up.
- Looney Tunes uses Is There a Doctor in the House? on more than one occasion, which makes no sense to TV or DVD viewers watching at home.
- They also use the "hair in the aperture" bit, where the projectionist's hand comes in to remove it.
- Family Guy:
- On at least one occasion, the show has built a gag around a promo running at the bottom of the screen. The joke stumbles a bit on DVD, or when viewed on TV in a country which doesn't have on-screen promos.
- In "Switch the Flip", Stewie encourages Brian to offend God by telling him, "Say something you couldn't say on TV." Brian looks up, says, "Hey, God..." and the rest of his speech gets censored.
- In The Cleveland Show, Cleveland Jr. gets into a rap battle with Kenny West. At one point, Jr. flips Kenny off, singing "On the DVD, this isn't pixelated."
- In the Ireland episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Huckleberry Hound makes a reference to a commercial break, which made no sense when it was shown on The BBC.