"Funny Aneurysm" Moment

1992: Funny Background Event
2001: "Funny Aneurysm" Moment

"But that joke isn't funny anymore
It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone,
More than you'll ever know"
The Smiths, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"

A "Funny Aneurysm" Moment is when a scene, joke, or offhand line that was originally meant to be funny or light-hearted makes the viewer cringe when it is seen in reruns due to the traumatic events in future episodes of a show or in real life. When someone says that a bit of comedy has been "overtaken by events", this is the trope in play.

This often has to do with a character or actor's death and is named for a line from the Buffy episode "The Freshman" in which Buffy hopes that her mother will have a "funny aneurysm" when she sees the cost of Buffy's college textbooks. Please see the Live-Action TV page for the full example.

Or, if you prefer, it's the moment when the funny drops down dead. A "funny aneurysm" is an oxymoron since having an aneurysm isn't funny; it's both and neither.note 

The inverse of this, where something in real life or more recent canon retroactively makes a lighthearted moment funnier, is Hilarious in Hindsight. Depending on how dark your sense of humor is (particularly your attitudes towards Black Comedy and Gallows Humor), a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment could actually be funny in a twisted way.

In a Roger Ebert Movie Glossary column, he defines the (related) Pentimento Paradigm: "Pentimento is when images from an old painting seep through and become visible in a newer picture that has been painted over the old. Thus the relation is when what we know about a filmmaker or actor seeps into our perception of his film work. Example: Any old Rock Hudson movie now that his private life is no longer private. Being aware of the reality behind the fiction may add to the complexity of the drama (Taylor and Burton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) or distract from its intentions (Woody and Mia in Husbands And Wives)." The Rock Hudson and Husbands and Wives examples are definitely "Funny Aneurysm" Moments.

There is also Harsher in Hindsight, where a scene that's already tragic becomes worse because of Reality Subtext or more recent canon. A joke about jumbo jets hitting skyscrapers published before 2001 will likely be a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment; a serious plotline about jumbo jets hitting skyscrapers that was published before 2001 is Harsher in Hindsight. note 

If this is done intentionally, this trope becomes a Cerebus Retcon.

Compare Too Soon, when the moment ends up being censored or removed because of a tragedy; Life Imitates Art, when something depicted in fiction is replicated in reality; Harsher in Hindsight, when the original moment is neither funny nor lighthearted, but becomes even less so in light of later events; Have a Gay Old Time, when an innocuous word takes a different meaning due to changes in common vocabulary; Unintentional Period Piece, when a work was intended to be timeless but the era in which it was made is easily distinguishable due to later events.

Contrast Hilarious in Hindsight, Heartwarming in Hindsight. Not be confused with Funny Moments - which is essentially the opposite, unless a recent event turns it into this trope.

For literal funny aneurysms, see Narm.

Note: since all actors and creators are mortal, if someone mentions death or plays a character who dies, and then die themselves, that's not a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment unless there's some connection to the circumstances of the death which was originally Played for Laughs.


Alternative Title(s): Not Funny Anymore, Funny Aneurysm