"What kind of an emergency? What's the rush to get off the planet all of a sudden?"(meanwhile...)
The humorous counterpart to the Meaningful Background Event
, and sometimes overlaps with Distant Reaction Shot
Sometimes, a scene contains something funny going on in the background. Very often it is used during a conversation and if you are paying too much
attention to the foreground, you may even miss the scene, especially if (as is often the case) the characters are looking away from it. The event can contain simple slapstick humor, or be an inside gag.
It doesn't have
to be subtle, sometimes it is obvious while the conversation is unimportant. The important thing is that it is played in the background and is at least somewhat funny or cool.
Despite the name, sometimes this can actually be in the foreground, but the important point is that the audience has their attention directed elsewhere.
Occasionally, this might be a result of Artificial Atmospheric Actions
open/close all folders
- An advertisement from about 10 years ago (probably for an Internet search engine or some such) has as its tagline, "There's fun stuff everywhere. You just need to know where to look." In the immediate foreground we see a dour-faced man stepping out of a subway car while further back in the subway station, almost too far away to be seen, the doors to another subway car are opening and several circus clowns are stepping out! Made even funnier by the fact that the clowns have dour facial expressions, too.
- State Farm has a commercial out now (2011) featuring a guy claiming the money he saved on insurance bought him a falcon. The end of the commercial draws attention to a guy who used his savings to buy samurai armor, but throughout the commercial there are people walking by with all sorts of things, including a cockatoo, a clown car, a stuffed moose head, etc.
- During the Compare the Meerkat advert "The Battle Of Fearlessness" there are two soldier meerkats throwing sandballs at each other near the start.
- One of the commercials for Mio Energy involves every scene having something different. The only thing that doesn't change is an older worker pushing a cart.
Anime and Manga
- A few in the Haruhi Suzumiya anime:
- The scene where the two TV personalities "Hard Gay" and Akihiro Miwa appear.
- How about Taniguchi's expression when he saw Mikuru in a maid outfit.
- Live Alive, the episode containing the former incidents and others, is made of this trope.
- In Castle in the Sky, when the soldiers are in the glass-walled room that came out from the bottom of Laputa, you can notice Pazu peeking through the window from behind.
- Miyazaki loves this trope in general as it enables him to showcase his characteristic attention to detail. Watch Calcifer eating up empty eggshells while Howl is cooking and Hiin scrambling to his feet in the palace stairs scene of ''Howl's Moving Castle."
- In Lucky Star in the valentines day episode, a male student (Shiraishi, in fact) is seen giving Valentine's Day chocolate to another male student during a generic "front of school gates" establishing shot. Later in class, the two of them are seen in the background during a conversation by the main characters (who don't notice them), looking embarrassed.
- The anime comedy Haré+Guu features this as a signature detail. Done by at least one or several groups of pokute and manda (the show's own flora and fauna), birds, and always during scenes in Guu's stomach. They mostly just mimic whatever the central characters are doing in a scene, but often they go off on their own scenerios. At one point, a bunch of pokute have a big laugh during a wide shot, and one of them actually rubs itself underneath Guu's skirt!! It takes at least a second viewing of an episode to catch everything.
- Pokémon: After a brief shot of Pikachu activating a treadmill in the episode, "The School of Hard Knocks", we cut back to the main characters talking while Pikachu vs. The Treadmill carries on in the background.
- In "Showdown at Dark City", Pikachu discovers his love for ketchup. However, shortly afterward a Scyther slashes the ketchup bottle. For the next few minutes, the main plot of the episode goes on unhindered, but Pikachu is in the background (and occasionally in the foreground, looking straight at the audience) crying over his broken bottle as though it were his own child.◊
- In "It's Still Rocket Roll to Me", the gang accidentally get caught in zero gravity. While exposition was going on, Pikachu can be seen minding his own business swimming in zero-G!
- In "Uncrushing Defeat", while Team Rocket have a lengthy discussion on the events of the previous episode, their Pokémon are playing with a roller the whole time.
- BW42 takes the cake here, with so many things happening at once in a single scene: aspiring filmmaker Luke narrating his documentary at the foreground, while behind him we clearly see Ash and Stephan having an eating competition with Cilan watching in disbelief, and Iris and Bianca having a tug-of-war over Axew (which Bianca believes to be a disguised Zorua).
- Pokémon Special: Take a look at Pika's face when Bill nervously tells Green that Daisy is at home.
- Ghost in the Shell: Innocence has a scene in a police station, with an incredibly detailed background with hundreds of people, including a man randomly riding a unicycle, and getting grabbed on all sides by cops. It looks like a scene from a slapstick comedy taken entirely out of context.
- When first trying to play baseball, Koume from Taishou Yakyuu Musume does a somersault and ends up on her butt trying to catch a low ball. All this go unnoticed by the three characters having a conversation in the foreground, but not by the fandom.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has about one of these in each shot.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, during a discussion between the Ala Alba regarding Fate Averruncus' group, Sayo in her plush form can be seen holding up a sign saying "Terrorists are bad."
- Ken Akamatsu has a habit of throwing funny stuff in the background, though it's usually a shout out and not an actual joke.
- Another one has Godel and Takamichi in a choke hold while everyone else discusses how Negi's power-ups have made him borderline non-human.
- In Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, while the members of the main Love Triangle are discussing where to go on a date-like... thing there is a fountain in the background shaped like a cupid that spouts water out of its butt, in varying volumes and pressures. Also someone rides by on a unicycle.
- Also, in that very same episode while you see the main characters talk from an above angle, a shadow of a bird flies by, and then a shadow of a dragon goes by too. Other funny background things can be spotted too.
- This happens a few times in the Bamboo Blade anime.
- In the Baratie arc of One Piece we see a man eating off a girl's plate. Word of God said that he was the girl's father and is indeed mooching off a bite from his daughter.
- The running Panda Man gag. An OC of the author's who pops up frequently in the anime and manga, doing something or other in the background. Watch them all and an intricate story becomes clear.
- In the Jaya arc, once Robin gets back to the ship, as Nami, who is still angry about what happened in Mock Town, blames Robin's claiming that there might be a sky island, Chopper uses Jumping Point, accidentally falls overboard, and Zoro goes after him.
- Recently, when the Straw Hats are sailing to Dressrosa, a funny-looking, smiling crab - which has beome a Memetic Bystander in the meantime - appears randomly in the background while the characters are talking. A few pages later, you can see the ship's aquarium in the background, now the crab in it, which means that it has been caught and put in there off-panel.
- Done a few times in Keroro Gunsou. In one manga chapter, Momoka is gushing about Fuyuki while in the background, Tamama shoots himself with his own energy blast as part of his Training from Hell.
- Fullmetal Alchemist has many. Like here, blink and you miss it.
- Fullmetal Alchemist is peppered with these. In one episode of Brotherhood, Scar causes a wall to explode, and for a split second you can see a startled cat flying through the air. There's actually a subtle (or not-so-subtle) cat gag every five seconds if you read the manga closely, usually involving Al.
- At one point in Dragon Ball Z, King Kai is talking telepathically to the heroes and looking up Planet Namek. As he's doing that, his pet monkey Bubbles randomly starts hopping into the frame holding flowers for no reason—until King Kai whacks him with a hammer without comment or looking away from the book.
- In the DBZ manga, the beginning of the Namek arc, Mr. Popo is standing on a flying carpet outside the window of 20th or so floor in a hospital. One floor below, an elderly man is staring at him and praying.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: After Daitokuji-sensei dies as Amnael, Judai, Sho, and Hayato have a conversation while Pharaoh, Daitokuji's cat, plays with his owner's soul, then swallows it.
- Several times in the Crashtown arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, which takes place in an Old West setting, there's a place called "The Classy Ass" seen in the background in scenes that take place in the town street. (Given the nature of the town it's not surprising that there could be a business in Crashtown with a name like that. It was, of course, edited out in the dub.)
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL has Yuma's and Kotori's grandmothers talking about their respective grandkids, while a group of old ladies swoon over the waiter, who is then challenged to a duel by an old man. (What makes this even funnier is that the duel is won by one of them using Tongue Twister, a weak monster that is not meant to be used offensively.)
- A later episode has Yuma talking to his former opponent while Astral is checking out the construction site n the background. He looks rather amused.
- During a scavenger hunt in a sports fest episode of Azumanga Daioh, you'll see Kagura frantically running around in the background shouting 'SCHOOL SWIMSUIT!' while Osaka borrows Yomi's glasses.
- In the AzuDai manga, there's a strip where Osaka goes to ask Tomo about something — and we notice, but she apparently doesn't, that Tomo's got Chiyo-chan by the pigtails at the time. As they talk, we see Chiyo get released and run off.
- In the Hetalia Bloodbath 2010, as Iceland was talking to Turkey about how he was getting an ominous feeling about how something bad was going to happen, in the background we see that something attacking the rest of the Nordics and kidnapping them.
- Later, when the Nations are informed that they must figure out which of them has a mark on either their chest or their butt, England is examining his own ass in front of a full-length mirror in his office. As he reports in that the mark is not there, his assistant can be seen standing in the doorway, dropping his paperwork in shock.
- Episode 18 of SHUFFLE sneakily establishes itself as a romantic episode at the start. Watch what plays out in the background while Rin and Asa are chatting.
- Fushigi Yuugi gives us one example of this during the Suzaku Warriors' journey to Hokkan; Nuriko had just risked his life to save Miaka and Tamahome from being drifted off into a raging sea, all the while telling them something very profound. Miaka and Nuriko have a serious moment as they recall it. Meanwhile, Tamahome and Tasuki prepare to rip each other's heads off behind Nuriko.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena takes this to extremes.
- Student council meetings take place on a balcony over the school, and only student council members are allowed on the balcony. Yet somehow meetings take place in the middle of a baseball game or just as a train passes by.
- In other locales, Chuchu provides entertainment by eating things, causing trouble, and getting sucked into the occasional vacuum cleaner.
- The duels are initially fought in an empty arena with two duelists and the rose bride. Later, the arena gets more crowded — an array of desks each with a milkshake which Anthy drinks one by one, or a collection of red sports cars sticking up out of the ground.
- Mawaru-Penguindrum is absolutely made of this trope. Every single episode has the three penguins invoke this trope multiple times. (This should come as no surprise, considering that it has the same director as Revolutionary Girl Utena.)
- In Bleach, Aizen is explaining to Isshin what is going on with the MacGuffin. While Ichigo and Gin are fighting it out in the background. Hilarity Ensues.
- Also invoked in one of the endings, where Don Kanonji is flying off like a superhero in the background.
- In one scene in the manga Goth, while Itsuki and Morino are talking about a murderer's notebook Morino found, a couple of their classmates can be seen respectively play-fighting and sprouting flowers from their heads in the background.
- Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2 plays with this trope. When the Heartcatch and Fresh teams look for their friends, they end up passing them by as they're doing odd things - the Max Heart team just walking by, the Yes! 5 Go Go team rocking a bridge and freaking out one of their own and the Splash Star team unable to read a map. The Splash Star one had a background event of their own as Tsubomi and Love are DRENCHED by a water ride.
- All Stars New Stage adds in another one. As Cure Sunny goes to talk to Ayumi, Cure Peace - who'd just got through talk to Ayumi - is snatched away by parts of Fusion. As Cure March steps in to nag at Cure Sunny, Cure Peace is tossed around, saved at the last minute by Cure Melody. The next scene shows Peace bowing profusely at Melody as Cure Muse lures the creatures away.
- This scene in Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi. Watch everyone else in the background panic as Ritsu is trying to talk on the phone. Takano is screaming at Ritsu for the manuscript, Kisa loses the last of his sanity, Mino simply smiles but is obviously just as freaked out as everyone else, and Hatori...drops dead.
- Urusei Yatsura: In the first movie, Ataru is running down a church aisle towards Lum with a ball and chain around his ankle. The ball knocks a guest out cold.
- Detective Conan: While watching a movie, Ayumi and Ai fall asleep on Conan's shoulders, leaving him trapped for a page. When something happens behind him, however, he gets up to look. While the actions that will lead to Conan discovering the murder are occurring, a thud sound is displayed and the two girls are shown rubbing their heads while Conan tries to figure out what's going on.
- Project Ako Final: scene in a bathroom discussing Miss Ayumi's marriage, behind the blue haired girl, a brunette is using a female urinal for the entire conversation.
- In an early season three episode of Slayers, there's a scene where Xelloss is watching the antics of the other cast members from a rooftop and ends up laughing so hard that he falls off.
- Tokyo Majin has a few, many of them because of the main character. An example is a scene where two characters are having a serious discussion on whether or not to join forces against demons at night while the main character slurps up his ramen... and chokes.
- This◊ Air Gear page has a inverted example, while in the background the girls are commenting on Team Kogarasumaru's improvement in the running time, in the foreground, Buccha is holding Ikki in a Cobra Hold while Kazu forces his mouth open and forces Ikki to drink a deadly Gargle Blaster.
- In Eyeshield 21, it's pretty hard to focus on Sena being happy about the Devilbats finally being able to play with a full roster when Monta is getting mauled by Cerberos in the background.
- In the Persona4, episode 12: In Void Quest, while the Investigation Team is discussing that the killer might be inside the TV world in the foreground, Teddie is busy fighting off some dice Shadows with his Persona - and he's not doing a very good job of it.
- In Attack on Titan, in episode 14, Mikasa is giving Levi a Death Glare while he is kicking the crap out of Eren.
- In Kill la Kill:
- When Ryuko first calls out Satsuki, everybody stares at Ryuko in shock. A boy in the background puts his hand on a girl's butt and she doesn't seem to notice.
- When Mako asks Gamagoori what kind of pajamas he wears, he reveals he sleeps in the nude. A girl in the background blushes and puts her hand to her mouth.
- In episode 19, Sukuyo spends the entirety of her screen time during an otherwise completely serious post-battle discussion staring at Aikuro's crotch.
- Archie comics sometimes have funny background events, like a man is chased by a dog or a child is swept away into a tree by his kite. The same artist usually is the one who does this.
- The comic book writer and illustrator Don Rosa does it all the time: It's part of the appeal. There's hardly a panel without something funny happening in the background. If a painting (or any image of a character) is on-screen for more than one panel, it will invariably begin expressing emotion and reacting to what's going on in the foreground as if it were alive.
- Not strange, since Rosa taught himself to draw so he could emulate Carl Barks, who did the same thing.
- This is especially noticeable in Barks' Gyro Gearloose stories, where Gyro's little lightbulb Helper was always involved in some funny business in the background, sometimes even getting his own mini-plot line.
- Though Rosa took it so far that once Barks commented that he was overusing the joke. Rosa and his fans respectfully disagreed.
- Both funny and meaningful, in Rosa's early story, Last Sled to Dawson, Scrooge once again meets his old flame Goldie, who has since last time become owner of a hotel. As they have an awkward conversation, Donald is seen in the background, talking to the hotel attendant, and giving him a sly wink. If you're aware how much Rosa ships Scrooge and Goldie, you will realize that Don probably arranged for them to share a room without either of them knowing.
- MAD doesn't have a page that isn't scrawled with miniature comics in the margins, footnotes, and assorted other wackiness. In fact, reading these can take up as much if not more time than reading the magazine proper (if such a word can even be said to apply to Mad).
- The ur-artist of those margin comics is Sergio Aragonés.
- FoxTrot often has small, easily missed gags in strips where the characters talk in front of paintings, posters, or photographs. A recurring gag is the object in question changing between panels (such as a person on a magazine cover being in a different pose). Likewise, whenever a character is reading a newspaper there will usually be a joke about a cartoonist in the headline.
- Near the end of the Belgian comic Spirou and Fantasio in Moskow, one of the titular characters remarks that their speaking pet squirrel Spip has been very quiet, and the other says not to say anything, or Spip will start complaining again. Zoom in to the furious squirrel, who's been gagged with tape since an early kidnapping, which is clearly visible once you've been told. Interestingly enough, the squirrel stopped speaking in the next comics, until a change of artist.
- A regular occurrence in the comic series Amelia Rules!; often accessible only to an older audience. Example: Amelia and friends attend Joe McCarthy Elementary School (motto: Weeding Out the Wrong Element Since 1952).
- In Léonard le Génie, the cat and the mouse are usually engaged in their own activities when not commenting on the actions of the main characters. Especially in the older albums, these are small stories by themselves.
- There's a scene in the original ElfQuest storyline where Cutter is planning to go off on his own and is telling the other Wolfriders he needs them to stay safe at home. He doesn't notice that behind his back Leetah is whispering something to Skywise (ie she's persuading him to accompany Cutter).
- Chilean comic book Condorito is famous for this, with a crocodile slowly crawling inside someone's house, a sleepwalker about to fall down a open manhole or a soccer player's picture kicking it's ball out of the frame and then trying to recover it being the most famous ones.
- Ibańez, author of the Spanish Mortadelo y Filemón comic books series, absolutely loves to do this. It is not a rare occurrence to spot a random pedestrian with his nose coming out the back of his head, pigeons with horse-like faces, the bare feet of someone sleeping in an unorthodox place like a folder cabinet or a trash bin, mouses chasing cats chasing dogs, anthropomorphic buildings, cars parked upside down... The list goes on.
- The UK comic artist Tom Paterson (Calamity James in The Beano; Sweeney Toddler in Whizzer And Chips) is extremely fond of this, to the extent that sometimes the main action of the strip almost gets crowded out of the panels. (His "little squelchy thingies" in Calamity James eventually got their own full page spotters' guide◊).
- Chick Tracts use these quite frequently, usually in the recurring appearance of Fang the dog. Frequently during the obligatory one-to-one preaching scenes, Chick will pull these into the foreground so he's not just drawing talking heads in every panel.
- Done in Calvin and Hobbes when Calvin's Mom says that she hasn't seen Calvin for about fifteen minutes. We then see out the window while she's reading the newspaper, where the family car is rolling into the road and Calvin and Hobbes are chasing it. In the last panel, she says that it probably means he's getting in trouble.
- Top 10's setting of a city where every last person has superpowers and an outfit to match means there's probably more panels with something odd in the background than not.
- In a Justice League issue from the 1990s, the League has just dealt with an attack on a city by evil versions of themselves. After the villains are taken care of, an angry citizen chastises them for not stopping them sooner, never mind that the League was missing several key members during the battle and that given the power levels of the villains, the casualties could have been far worse. Green Lantern starts to argue with the man until Superman says that he'll handle it. The focus then shifts to the rest of the League discussing the threat, but Superman and the man are still seen in the background. In the first panel, the man is shouting at Superman. In the second, Superman is calmly speaking to the man. In the third, Superman and the man are respectfully shaking hands.
- The illustrations in Graham Oakley's Church Mice books are nothing but this.
- Used frequently by the comic artist George Herriman, often as Running Gags. A recurring Funny Background Event in his comic The Dingbat Family eventually led to his most famous creation, Krazy Kat.
- In one Krazy Kat strip, there is a Spanish-language poster that changes with every frame (and changes fence side for one frame), but is always a word or phrase in Spanish with an image that matches the text. Special props to the one on Ignatz's side of the fence that reads "Ratón Muerto", Dead Mouse.
- Used in What's New? With Phil And Dixie, with things like people in dice costumes walking behind the title characters, or little gag scenes going on in the back ranks of crowds.
- In this Candorville strip, the diploma on the wall changes from "M.A." to "Ph.D" to "WTF".
- In the short-lived Emma Frost comic series, Emma uses her psychic powers to manipulate a student who is trying to get a teacher (who is also Emma's Love Interest) fired. While doing so, Emma acts out the things she's making the girl say and do, resulting in Emma standing in front of a building, ranting and flailing. In one panel, another student can be seen giving her a very weird look.
- Astérix features a fair number of humorous gags in the background. Usually they involve animals being involved in some sort of minor gag, but oftentimes they're nameless people involved in an unspoken Orphaned Punchline. The familiar 'are you crazy' gesture appears in quite a few of these.
- One time, Power Girl and Terra duck into an alley to change into their costumes, with Power Girl lecturing Terra on how she should have Dressed in Layers. A bum in the alley enjoys the free fan service.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
- Issue #1:
- In the first splash page, a poor background pony falls victim to an Anvil On Head.
- Same issue, look closely during the Changelings battle when Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy are talking and you'll notice Spike running away from a Changeling he just set on fire.
- While Spike is horking up Queen Chrysalis' message after the changeling battle, Pinkie Pie can be seen re-inflating her mane to its normal wild curliness (much to the chagrin of Rarity, who had styled it during the battle).
- Paul Sample's Ogri cartoons have entire little subplots taking place as Funny Background Events. For example, a dog is looking down a drain; then the drain eats the dog; then the drain belches; then it spits the bones out. Or the main sequence of the strip involves a bike cop stopping Malcolm and rabbiting on endlessly as he pulls charge after charge out of the "Police Officer's Handbook of Fantasy Charges" to charge Malcolm with, while in the background Ogri is taking the cop's bike apart and selling the bits to random passers-by; when the cop is finally finished and turns back to his bike, Ogri has disappeared and nothing is left of the bike either.
Film - Animated
Film - Live-Action
- There are many in Pitch Perfect.
- In one scene, Donald is riding a unicycle and gets hit in the back of the head with a flying object. This causes him to fall off his unicycle and head face-first towards the concrete.
- When the Treble-Makers are all in the hot-tub, the TV is showing a porn movie, with two women in their underwear, one of them is using a feather-duster to dust a lamp.
- In Catch-22 two officers are having a conversation near the airfield while a B-25 crash-lands behind them. Neither character notices.
- During Cady's phone call with Regina in Mean Girls, you can see Regina's little sister watching Girls Gone Wild and lifting up her shirt while cheering.
- The two girls making out at the Halloween party. Tina Fey points this out in the commentary, and says she has no idea how they got away with it.
- The wrestling match in Sixteen Candles when Jake is talking to his friend about Sam.
- In Eurotrip, when Scott it talking to Mieke's father in their home in Berlin, her little brother is seen goose-stepping back and forth with a drawn-on Hitler mustache.
- Several in The Lord of the Rings movies.
- In The Fellowship of The Ring, Merry and Pippin can often be seen goofing off in the backgrounds of otherwise serious scenes.
- In The Two Towers, after the big flood we can see an Ent extinguishing his burning head in the water. Unusual in that he's actually in the foreground, but it's still easy to miss.
- In Return of The King, Gandalf wryly laments the tragic end of Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, while directly behind him, a maddened Denethor (who has gone mad from grief and guilt) — who is on fire — runs screaming in slow-motion for a long distance before finally leaping straight off the edge of a high cliff. Doubles as Narm (especially Narm Charm) and Meaningful Background Event. The supposed solemnity of the moment is very much not helped by the fact that Gandalf says "So passes Denethor, son of Ecthelion" just as the burning Denethor, well, passes Gandalf and a gaggle of guards as he runs out screaming, making it seem like Gandalf's tribute is an archaic way of saying "heads up, guy on fire coming through!"
- Also from the third, as Aragorn is taking a breather at the end of the battle near Minas Tirith, we see one of the giant elephant creatures still running around behind him, looking like it might get a little too close to Aragorn if he's not careful.. and then the ghost army that Aragorn enlisted the help of earlier in the film overruns and overwhelms it until it falls over.
- In The Breakfast Club, when John Bender has a "bender moment" and throws his knife into a chair, and gives a long-winded mean-spirited speech, Allison (weird girl) grabs the knife while he's talking.
- In Don Juan DeMarco, the opening scene shows Don Juan, wearing a mask, going up to a random woman in a hotel restaurant and romantically seducing her, then taking his leave just before his husband arrives. Later in the film, Don Juan goes into the restaurant without his mask. In the background is the woman, looking around longingly.
- In the MTV cult classic Welcome To Joe's Apartment, when the insane artist Walter Mud talks with Joe about his avant-garde experiment to create a new race of "periwinkle" (which involves dumping cans of paint on random passer-by in front of Joe's apartment building), a guy in a three-piece suit and briefcase is seen walking away in the background, his entire head and shoulders dripping in pink paint.
- In The Wild World of Batwoman, one long scene of exposition is punctuated by a couple of girls in the background, wrestling over a horseshoe.
- In GoldenEye as Q gives James Bond his latest gadgets, we see a hapless lab assistant try to make a call from a phone booth situated in the lab, only to get squashed against the glass by an airbag that explodes from within the booth. For bonus points, we briefly see the phone booth being wheeled off a minute later, with the whimpering assistant still trapped inside.
- Played with in Scary Movie 3. The news channel where the heroine works only cares about showing sexy, risque, or obscene things, so they intentionally shoot serious news with provocative things going on in the background.
- Any movie by Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers. Their movies are practically made of this trope.
- Airplane!: "The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only." And that's just the first example.
- Airplane II: The Sequel also had some, such as the drug deal gone bad in the flight control center.
- Hot Shots! and its sequel both do a ton of these. We have troop drills involving can-can dancing, four ex-presidents having the crap beat out of them, monks taking turns to impress the first girl they have seen in generations and a reference to the governor of Nebraska making a public apology for his state being so flat. Just for a start.
- Top Secret! has a scene where two characters are trying to have an exposition-filled conversation in a pizza place. The conversation quickly gets overtaken by two people struggling with an incredibly cheesy pizza in the background.
- Top Secret! has another when Nick, having been told a jacket and tie are required to enter the club, is led away. A foreground conversation then ensues between two minor characters; in the background Nick is seen being measured and fitted with a custom-made suit.
- An American Carol features some, one involving zombie lawyers. Given the film's clear stance, it's actually not that surprising that they threw in a background scene with them chasing a couple ambulances.
- The Men In Black movies, most memorably the scene (pictured above) with a Human Alien couple where K talks to the man while J struggles to deliver the woman's baby ("Did anything about that seem unusual to you?"). Also, Zed neuralyzing the rejected recruits as J and K walk by.
- The Three Musketeers (1973) becomes much funnier when you watch the facial expressions of the random extras reacting to King Louis' latest bit of loony behavior.
- Lots of them in Star Wars.
- An easy-to-miss one in Back to the Future because the camera goes slightly out of focus in the background: when Doc Brown is asked for a permit for his "weather equipment", the camera pans downward to focus on Marty putting the letter in the Doc's coat pocket. Meanwhile, in the background, the Doc, retrieving his "permit", is pulling some cash out of his wallet and handing it to the police officer.
- In 10 Things I Hate About You, we see one of the main characters in the archery range. Just as she is firing her bow, someone else begins talking to her; she misses the target and instead hits the teacher in charge of the class.
- In the movie Bottle Rocket, there's a very touching scene outside of a bar between Anthony and Inez. The camera slowly pulls back, and through the massive window, we can see that inside the bar Anthony's friend Dignan getting completely owned in a bar fight after trying and failing to hustle some guys at pool.
- The Steve Martin movie LA Story is full of hilarious background moments: During the opening monologue, Harris K. Telemacher is riding an exercise bike in an outdoor park (which has signs clearly stating "No Running"). While the camera is zoomed in on him, in the background a guy on a stationary rowing machine has a heart attack. An ambulance shows up, he's carted off, and another eager exerciser eagerly claims the now-vacant rowing machine. All in the space of 10 seconds, silently in the background.
- After Walter pulls the gun on Smokey in The Big Lebowski, The Dude notes that the bowling alley has called the cops. During the conversation in their car outside afterward, the police can be seen through the back windshield coming into the alley.
- An otherwise dour conversation scene in the (rather insular) Finnish movie Emmauksen Tiellä shows two unnamed men in the distance behind the actors, taking turns jumping on an anti-tank mine. The result is predictable.
- In Gremlins, when Billy's dad in on the phone at his inventor's convention, in the background is a time machine (like the one used in the 1960 film, The Time Machine, also seen on The Big Bang Theory). The time machine disappears (having gone back in time) and people start feeling the air around where it was, looking for it.
- KickAss: When Red Mist is trying to load the video from the "nanny-cam," take a look at the other videos saved on it...
- In one scene in Love And Death, while one of Napoleon's advisers plots treachery, in the background, Napoleon is teaching his Body Double how to walk like him, and the two of them get in an argument that ends with a fistfight.
- In the first Harry Potter movie, Harry and Draco are stuck wandering through the Forbidden Forest together and they stumble upon Quirrell drinking unicorn blood, who menacingly advances on Harry. The scene's rather terrifying... except for the part where you see Draco running across the background screaming like a pansy.
- Even better when you consider that they're told Fang is a coward, and he's the one who brings help.
- In the third film, as Harry stalks off furiously after blowing up his Aunt Marge, you can see Aunt Marge floating away in the distance. Also in the third film, during Buckbeak's first scene: most of the class backs off when Hagrid asks for a volunteer. Neville, still something of a Lovable Coward at this point in his character development, abruptly ducks out of sight behind a boulder.
- The fourth film has something of a Triumphal Background Event that plays off the humor of a Funny Foreground Event: after Neville exclaims "I've killed Harry Potter!" while facing the area of the camera, Harry leaps out of the water in the distance, disappearing again before Neville turns around.
- In the sixth film, Ron was under the effects of a Love Potion. Harry takes him to Slughorn, and while the latter two were talking to each other about Ron's condition, Ron, who was sitting on the sofa, falls on his back.
- In the final film, after the battle is over and Harry, Ron and Hermione enter the Great Hall, Filch stands behind them, contemplating the enormous pile of rubble before him and then ineffectually sweeping the bit of floor at the bottom of it.
- In the Bill Murray movie Larger than Life, one scene shows Bill Murray talking to the elephant while Matthew McConaughey is on the phone with his boss and he discovers that Bill Murray betrayed him. Watching McConaughey's exaggerated poses with the juxtaposition of the heartfelt speech from Murray is but one of the funny moments of this film.
- The movie: Young Doctors In Love, a 1982 Garry Marshall comedy. The scene: A midget attempting to hang up a wall phone placed very high.
- In Fight Club, the Narrator is talking to Marla on the phone as Tyler dicks around with nun chucks in the back ground.
- The unforgettable "Lovemaking Scenes" between Marla and Tyler, which are not on camera but HIGHLY audible when The Narrator is going about his daily life.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World features several of these, two of the best being Scott diving through the window of his apartment to escape when Knives comes ringing (and then reaching back in to get his jacket), and the other being the Vegan Police doing a jumping high-five and shouting "YEAH!" when they leave after depowering Todd.
- In the climax, one of the side characters remarks, "The comic is always better than the movie." In the pre-climax, the line was "Yeah, their first album was definitely better than their first album."
- At various times, Young Neil will do small, but weird things in the background. His very last moment is probably the strangest. In fact, in the cast commentary on the DVD, the cast basically tell the viewers to watch Young Neil every time he's in the background of a scene, because he's always doing something really weird and funny. Most of these "moments" were just Johnny Simmons messing around while remaining (semi) in character.
- In Close Encounters of the Third Kind during the 'communication' scene near the end, when the mothership finally, and quite forcibly, answers the human communication attempts in kind, you see some random guy suddenly deciding that it would be safer to be in the Porta-Potty.
- Jaques Tati's Playtime is entirely built on Funny Background Events. Tati wanted to make a comedy without a central character to focus on, so all of the humor comes from stuff in the background. And there are so many of them that you have to watch the movie over to catch all the visual humor.
- In Teen Wolf, one of the extras in the basketball game scene exposed himself. This was part of the reason this movie was rented so much.
- According to the IMDB's trivia page: "Immediately behind actors Michael J. Fox and James Hampton, an extra (in a red sweater) can be seen with an unzipped fly. This incident later resulted in an Internet rumor that the extra is a man exposing himself. However, the unmatted full frame version of the film reveals that the extra is actually a woman".
- In Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again, Dr. Lanyon hooks his patient Mrs. Simpson to a device that would enlarge her breasts. Lanyon then leaves her unattended as Dr. Jekyll comes in to tell him about his transformation into Mr. Hyde, in fact transforming again while explaining the situation. Meanwhile...
- In Idiocracy, when Joe goes to the hospital, the 'doctor' insults him for his low intelligence, then tells him that "There's lots of tards out there livin' really kick-ass lives. My first wife was tarded - she's a pilot now." Not ten minutes later, while Joe and Co are being chased by the police, a plane simply drops out of the air and crashes. Later in the movie, in Costco, the crashed plane is seen still stuck in Costco, where it crashed.
- Even better, when in later viewings you realize the plane didn't just crash, but one of the cops fired their rocket launcher backwards and shot the plane down...
- In Help!, when the other Beatles are talking to a jeweller to try and get Ringo's ring removed, George is quietly sneaking items into his pockets. In fact, George does quite a lot of this throughout the entire film.
- John and George do funny things in the background alternately in the "Another Girl" sequence. Usually it's George throwing rocks at the camera or Ringo.
- Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure has sort of a Funny ''Foreground Event. In a scene where Napoleon Bonaparte is in the car next to Missy, he begins to sidle closer (likely intending to hit on her) while Bill and Ted make their way back to it. Napoleon promptly pulls back when they appear beside the passenger's side window.
- The second Revenge of the Nerds movie combines this with an Overly-Long Gag. In one scene, the Alpha Betas are meeting at their local frat house, discussing their scheme to get rid of the Tri-Lambs, and during the whole meeting (which takes about five or so minutes), Ogre, the big, muscular member of the group, is in the bathroom behind them, peeing the entire time, only stopping at the end of the scene.
- In Zombieland, when Tallahassee is smashing up the minivan the building behind him has several posters in the window related to the plague including one showing a grenade and the phrase "Solve It." It's even funnier when you see it's a bridal store.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, at the end, just after the wall into Toontown is broken, a train zooms across the field of view. If you pause and go frame by frame, you'll find a different crime being committed in each car (murder, etc).
- In the very first scene of Spartacus, an extra can be seen slowly sliding backwards down the mountain behind the actors.
- In the film version of You Can't Take It With You, as the family is packing up to move away, Rheba and Donald are having a conversation in the kitchen. Behind them, Kolenkhov is stuffing his pockets with sandwiches.
- In The Waterboy, while Vicki is talking to a field reporter about her predictions on the outcome of the game, Bobby's mama walks behind them, notices she's on camera, and starts dancing to the marching band music.
- In Super 8, while Charles is filming Alice and Martin at the train depot, Preston walks up to a pay-phone in the background and silently pretends to be speaking into it, but he's obviously just opening and closing his mouth.
- That Thing You Do! makes a parking meter-jumping scene both funny and pivotal in the film.
- In Woody Allen's Sleeper, while Woody's character is disguised as a robot butler, he attempts to deal with an out of control, sentient gelatin mold while Luna and one of her party guests have an obliviously-mundane conversation.
- In Crank High Voltage, when an old lady is being interviewed about Chev Chelios' rampage, a goofy guy in the background smiles, waves, flaunts Eve's panties, and gives a thumb's-up.
- A Monster in Paris: When the commissioner is holding a conversation with Pâté at Lucille's restaurant, a disgruntled waiter can be seen struggling to open a bottle of champagne in the background.
- In X-Men: First Class, combined with a Brick Joke, the first woman that Charles tries to pick up at the beginning of the movie shows up at his graduation ceremony - then Moira McTaggart cuts in front to talk with Charles. Behind them, the blond woman leaves in a huff.
- The Cabin in the Woods: Inverted. During the celebration, we continually see Dana getting brutally savaged in the background on the monitors, while the operators carry on partying in the foreground.
- When the army of monsters is unleashed on the facility, quite a few darkly comedic moments can be glimpsed on the monitors: along with a Monster Clown giggling into one of the cameras, we see a monster with a jack-o-lantern for a head breathing fire at fleeing technicians, a huge creature stealthily creeping up behind an oblivious victim, the Sugarplum Fairy dancing balletically across a blood-splattered room, a couple of goblins taking one of the facility golf carts for a joyride, one of the Dolls hurling a molotov cocktail at a tied-down victim... and of course, Ronald the Intern holding up a sign reading "Help me! A dragonbat has my scent."
- Reversed and Played for Laughs in Loaded Weapon 1, when in the background of one scene a woman is seen being asked by the cops to describe a suspect. She gives an outrageous description, claiming the suspect had big red lips, eyes as big as plates, and so on. In a later scene, a person looking like Mr. Potatohead actually having these features is arrested by the police. (And protests that he's innocent)
- In the Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest, during the scene in the Mount Rushmore cafe, a boy in the background puts his fingers in his ears right before one of the villains fires a gun... because Hitchcock shot eleven takes on that one scene, and the boy was apparently getting bothered by the noise.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man, a delightfully aloof librarian carries out his business with noise-cancelling headphones playing classical music in his ear. He walks out of the Midtown High library, never realizing that Spider-Man and the Lizard have demolished the place mid-brawl, with Spidey even webbing a Lizard-flung desk away from the elderly man, very likely saving his life. This scene will likely go down as Stan Lee's best Creator Cameo ever.
- Later in the movie, when Spidey is talking to Gwen on the phone, three girls in the background can be seen spotting him, pointing to him, and then taking a selfie.
- In the beginning of Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd chauffeurs Mary to the airport, he turns his head and talks to Mary not to worry of anything while he runs a red light followed by an explosion behind the rear window.
- When Harry and Lloyd run from the two criminals near the beginning a bum can be seen in the background pissing on a wall.
- In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, at the climactic fight scene between the Pearl and the Interceptor, while Barbossa is looking all dramatic and shouting orders, a pirate can be seen behind him dangling in mid air from a bunch of ropes while his shipmates try to get him down.
- When Murtogg and Mullroy begin arguing about how just because a ship has black sails doesn't make it the Black Pearl, we see Jack slowly slide out of frame, then appear in the background walking across the gangplank to the Interceptor and happily positioning himself behind the wheel. It's only then they realise he's no longer standing next to them.
- In The Hobbit, Óin's Ear Trumpet was stomped on and crushed flat when the Company were captured by goblins. After when they escaped, Óin is seen using it, anyways.
- Plenty moments in Bag End during the unexpected party. One involved Fíli and Kíli trying to figure out how to operate a tap on a beer barrel, apparently giving up and just bringing the entire barrel out.
- When Bilbo suggests that the trolls skin the dwarves (to buy them time), Thorin is seen yelling and uselessly flailing in anger, along with the other dwarves (who are all on their backs except for Fíli who is desperately trying to turn over and failing).
- In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Jay and Silent Bob attempt to leave the film shoot, as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are filming Goodwill Hunting. A crew member is then seen escorting them back to their spot.
- An odd, possibly unintentional one occurs in Hulk Hogan vehicle Mr. Nanny. During a short montage of Hogan's character riding his motorcycle, he passes by the ocean - behind him, a man can be seen throwing a dog in the water.
- Even documentaries aren't immune. One of the Series/Up movies has the now-famous scene where one of the subjects' dog kills a rabbit in the bushes behind her during the interview.
- During the finale of the Elvis Presley film Fun in Acapulco, Raoul can be seen dancing on a hat!
- In Star Trek: Into Darkness, when the experimental torpedoes are delivered to the Enterprise, Keenser is seen in the background sitting on one and looking rather taken with it while Scotty is pitching a fit at Kirk.
- At the end of the Cold Open, the native casually dropping the sacred scroll as they start worshipping the Enterprise instead.
- When Kirk and Scotty meet up with McCoy in sickbay after Spock detonates the torpedoes, Scotty glances down at McCoy's arm and goes wide-eyed. The doctor rearmed all the torpedoes the same way he armed the first one, getting his arm repeatedly caught by the sliding panels.
- Subverted in The Hudsucker Proxy. Norville breaks the window in Mussburger's office, causing the pages of "the Bumstead Contract" to fly away. Trying to save them, Mussburger accidentally chases one out the window, in an apparent Ironic Echo of his boss's suicide earlier that day. Then it cuts to Bumstead himself downstairs, papers flapping past the window behind him, demanding to see Mussburger. "Or did he fall out a window too?" Instead of Mussburger falling past the window, we cut back upstairs and see that Norville has caught him by the legs. The scene then turns into an Overly-Long Gag as to whether he'll fall or not (he doesn't).
- In Pacific Rim, as Gottlieb rattled off his predictions to Pentecost and Herc, Geiszler can be seen making "blah blah blah" motions with his hand. Likewise, in an earlier scene, when Geiszler gushes about how much he loves Kaiju to Raleigh, Gottlieb is shaking his head.
- Similarly to the page image, Hellboy II: The Golden Army has an early scene where the main characters are just strolling past BPRD agents wrestling with some kind of tentacle monster.
- A rare literary example occurs in Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers: a scene in which a depressed Lister remembers how he arrived on Mimas is frequently interrupted by two pimps arguing over a girl called Sandra. This argument involves two ears being cut off and the death of both participants.
- One The Knowledge book dealing with magic tricks had plenty, based around the antics of the magician's bumbling assistant Clumsini. Perhaps the best was him hiding to avoid a squad of angry cats.
- The Pumpkin Soup series of children's picture books by Helen Cooper (Pumpkin Soup; A Pipkin of Pepper; and Delicious) all have a wide variety of amusing background details in the illustrations. In Delicious, the activities of the insects practically qualify as an additional story.
- A scary version in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime. Christopher, who is autistic, is focused on retrieving something he dropped on the train tracks. The text is almost all about his efforts, and gives only a few mentions to the consternation of the crowd, and the brightening light and growing rumble of what the reader (but not Chris) recognizes as an approaching train.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth, the campers are holding an emergency meeting about the search for Daedalus's workshop in Camp Half-Blood's fencing arena, while Quintus's pet hellhound Mrs. O'Leary is chewing on a fencing dummy.
- Many, many of them can be seen in the children's picture book Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth:
- When the book's protagonist, a nameless young girl starting first grade, is getting on the bus, her cat is standing on its hind legs and waving to her along with her dad.
- In the same scene, a kid is hanging upside down from the ceiling of the bus.
- While our heroine is listening to a second-grader scaring her with rumors about her new teacher (which takes up a few pages), a boy can be seen annoying the girl he's sitting next to, who proceeds to tape his mouth shut and his arms and legs together.
- As our heroine and the second-grader get off the bus, a kid in pajamas and bunny slippers walks out behind them and the kid from before is still hanging upside down from the ceiling.
- On the following page, which takes place in the school hallway, a girl opens her backpack to find a puppy in it.
- On the second-to-last page, everyone is back on the bus, the unnamed boy is being annoying again, and the girl is taking out her roll of duct tape. Also, there's a kid behind the bus running to catch up.
- The less serious nonfiction computer books sometimes might contain interesting or funny stuff used as examples or in the screenshots. For example, Elizabeth Castro's HTML 4 for the World Wide Web: if you pay attention to the text used in examples, you'll not only learn HTML, but also get to know every single bit of trivia about Elizabeth's four cats.
- Most of the illustrations in Pettson and Findus contain these as jokes.
- In one Wheel of Time book, Egwene is reflecting on an earlier conversation, and comments on a specific remark aloud, saying, "That's a bucket of horse spit." A man in the background carrying a bucket responds by staring at her in surprise and amazement.
- These are seen in MAD, most often in their television or film parodies.
- Vanity Police's video for "Things You Don't Mean" has a rather hilarious moment where someone's cat walks onto the set in the middle of the video and starts nudging the scenery. You have to wonder who didn't make sure that the cat couldn't get in while they were filming it...
- In The Beatles song "Girl," the word "tit" gets repeatedly chanted in the background of the the middle eight.
- The video for "Day Tripper". John and Paul sing blissfully with their guitars, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Ringo Starr is destroying parts of the set with a saw. To cap it off, only George notices.
- A black-and-white performance video of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" has John sitting at the harmonium making goofy faces, sometimes playing one note at a time, and peering mischievously towards the camera, while Paul does his best not to lose his composure.
- Not as frequent as Meaningful Background Event, which generally occur when wrestlers run in without any music announcing, but every now and then you have something hilarious going on in the background.
- Famously, during a match that ended up backstage between Booker T and The Big Show, Triple H and Ric Flair seemingly randomly drove a forklift by the match.
- While Vince McMahon was doing a walk to his limo (where he would eventually be "killed" in an explosion), you could see him pass by Paul London who, in contrast to the serious mood the production was attempting to set, was visibly trying not to crack up. (This incident was rumored to be why he was fired later.)
- An unintentional one happened at the WWF Free For All (a pre-game show) before the first No Way Out. Vader was being interviewed by Sunny, and near the end, a nearby door opens and Road Warrior Hawk steps out, looks around, and quickly backs away. The look on his face was priceless.
- Something similar happened on an episode of Raw once during the invasion when The Rock was being interview by Kevin Kelly in front of his "personal dressing room." The door opened and Pat Patterson comes out and quickly goes back in.
- During the in-ring introductions for the ECW World Television Champion Taz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow match at ECW Living Dangerously, March 1, 1998, a fan in the crowd was able to get a "TAZ FEARS GOLDBERG" sign positioned right above and behind Taz's head.
- In at least one Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park production of A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge is in the future listening to the businessmen discussing his funeral, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come stands calmly in the background, reading the newspaper.
- In Wicked, while the focus is on Elphaba, Nessarose makes some fairly hilarious hand gestures when she sings "Munchkin boy". (Poor Boq.)
- In Haunted by Eric Chappell, the ghost of Lord Byron haunts a writer going through a mid-life crisis. The woman he's having an affair with (another writer) comes in brandishing a newspaper review, which she tells him to read, but says not to look at her quoted age. Byron's ghost, being present at the time and only visible to the protagonist has a great opportunity to look over her shoulder at the review, double-check how old the female writer is, and react with some degree of incredulity.
- In Pokémon Live!, during the Dark Reprise of "You And Me and Pokemon", Professor Oak is banging on the bars of the cage he's locked in and climbing on them.
- Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D at Walt Disney World has this at least twice. It's fairly obvious that while Dr. Bunsen is explaining his invention, Beaker is getting heavily pounded by said invention. But most viewers of the 3D film are too busy watching Kermit give a tour of the inside of Muppet Labs to notice that in one scene, Scooter and Janice ride across the hallway in the background on a double-seat bicycle. Especially notable since it's one of the very few times you can see Muppets' legs.
- During Chapter 3 of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, you get a first-person cutscene of Monsoon through the eyes of a wounded Raiden in which you're able to look around. If you look to the right, you can watch a cyborg mook make friends with a stray kitty.
- In Tales of Graces, the team is discussing ways to enter the Big Bad's impenetrable dome whe... Hey what's Pascal doing with that hunk of metal and the computer?
- Divinity II: Ego Draconis has a permanent Undead minion which is already quite wacky. However, whenever a cut-scene triggers it will keep doing its random thing. So there can be an evil boss gloating about how you walked into his trap and you are at his mercy and foolish... while your Undead pet is pissing on his leg.
- In Bad Company, there are a few first-person cutscenes where Sarge talks to Juliet about their next objective, while Sweetwater and Haggard play Rock, Paper, Scissors behind him.
- As well as Haggard tickling Sweetwater like a bug, and Sweetwater showing Haggard golf swing techniques.
- Minor case in Resident Evil 3, but a lot of fans thought it was absolutely hilarious that there is a shop vacuum and random mundane cleaning supplies in the background beside the weapons locker that contains an M66 Rocket Launcher in the basement of the Dead Factory. Can you imagine explaining that to the new janitor?
Umbrella Scientist: Hey Frank! Go get the shop vac! Yeah, it's in the basement beside the rocket launcher!
- In Resident Evil 4, while Ashley and Luis are having an argument, Leon is running around and barricading the doors in the background.
- This type of thing occasionally occurred in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, with characters having smaller text bubbles in the background. At the beginning of the game when Mario is talking to Goombella in Rogueport Plaza, a couple of grunts from the Pianta syndicate can be seen in the back roughing up a couple of Robbos. The game to come is rife with yet more shenanigans such as this; sometimes they stop being background events to intrude upon business at hand (such as the audience during the fights clowning around, only for a Shy Guy to flip its lid, leap onstage, then rush off in a panic).
- The same game also had a moment that doubles as a Meaningful Background Event. When you're searching for General White all over the game's main locations, you return to Fahr Outpost to tell the mayor that you couldn't find General White anywhere...cue General White coming out of a house on the background asking to himself where could the mustached-man be, before returning to his house, while Mario is talking to the mayor, both completely oblivious to General White being a few steps close.
- Although not as much and usually not with text bubbles, the first game also had some moments here and there where townsfolk will be seen talking to each other or doing other little events (such as when Rowf first builds his badge shop with his son, which caused a few of the pillars to fall and both having to repeatedly put them back up). Too bad they tend not to last long after each new story event is completed.
- Luigi tends to do this in the Mario & Luigi series regularly. During the opening sequence of Bowser's Inside Story, for instance, Mario and Luigi are in a meeting with Peach and the Toads. Throughout the meeting, Luigi slowly falls asleep on the table and somehow manages to sleep through Bowser interrupting the meeting, destroying a section of said table and nearly setting fire to the princess, leaving Mario to fight Bowser on his own. Throughout the battle, you can see Luigi, still fast asleep. Bowser attacking the castle has to get boring after the third time or so.
- When you finish a race in Track Mania, the camera stays at the finish line while your scores are displayed. Many tracks position the finish such that behind your scores, your car is sent flying into a pool, wall, or off into the air. Hilariously.
- The same thing happens at the end of matches in Battlefield 2. The now-pilotless planes become indestructible and often come careening into view in hilarious ways.
- Need for Speed: Shift has drift races, where the car becomes notoriously difficult to control. After finishing the race the computer will take control of your car in an attempt to get it driving around the track looking cool. Except for wide-open drift course finish lines (which are pretty rare), the computer will inevitably lose control of the car and smash into...well, anything nearby, really. While your score is displayed.
- In this Let's Play of Red Faction Guerilla, at the end of a mission, an enemy vehicle unscriptedly knocks a character off screen... a character that, as mentioned in the beginning of the video is never seen again in the game.
Daerun: Yeah, I don't think we're going to be seeing Carmen again.
- It's hard to concentrate on important Yuna-centric scenes in Final Fantasy X when Tidus and Wakka are fooling about and attacking each other in the background.
- Just after Tidus learns the Jecht Shot, when talking to Yuna, you can see one of the blitzers try to imitate the move and fall on his ass.
- This is his default animation for the rest of the night, until you go to sleep. It's awesome.
- In Final Fantasy XII there is an early scene in which Larsa walks up to Penelo, who was caught after being set free by her kidnappers. The party is hiding behind some structures in the scenery. Once Penelo is show, Vaan walks out into the open to go after her...only for Balthier to grab him by the arm and drag him back before anyone sees.
- This happens a lot in Breath of Fire III. During one conversation between Momo and Palet at the Plant, for example, Nina and Ryu can be seen having a spat, which ends with Nina sticking her tongue out and Ryu crying.
- A regular occurrence in Shadow Hearts. They're usually Yuri's fault, helping to establish how he doesn't give a crap.
- A notable one is after rescuing Anatasia, while everyone asked what she's doing - Yuri is shown dancing with the wolf.
- Even during From the New World, these are commonplace. One occurs when stoic Tsundere Shania returns to her native village in the Grand Canyon. While she's discussing a matter of great importance with her bodyguard Natan in the foreground, protagonist Johnny and the rest of the crew - which by this point includes a Polish immigrant McNinja, a giant talking cat and an Antonio Banderas Expy - stand around watching and acting like complete morons.
- Some stages in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom have odd things happening in the background.
- One example: in the background of the Orbital Ring Station, over the course of the battle, human soldiers are battling giant aliens. It doesn't seem to be going too well.
- Stark Tower's intercom in Marvel Ultimate Alliance has a couple of good ones.
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: Linebeck accidentally knocking over a stone Tetra while Oshus is making an important speech about the Big Bad of the game, plus all the cutscenes in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess involving Barnes'usually show a moment of him being a pathetic coward while conveying major plot points.
- There are humorous off-camera hijinks throughout Ratchet & Clank. In one of the infobots in the first game, an anchorwoman (anchorbot?) covers news stories involving a blob monster infestation as an exterminator get eaten by one of said creatures shortly after waving to the camera. The monster later devours the reporter, ironically after her stating that she was completely safe from the blobs.
- In A Crack in Time, Quark makes a very dramatic speech about how life is precious and how it would be wrong to kill the War Grok. Meanwhile, Ratchet is in the background, desperately trying to keep said War Grok from eating him.
- In Mother 3, during a tragic scene with Fuel and Lighter, a bird can be seen apparently humping a flower if you start the cutscene at the right time.
- A number of stages in the Super Smash Bros. series:
- Melee, Great Bay: The moon slowly falls toward Termina. At the last second, giants push it back into the sky.
- Melee, Mute City: It's very possible for the F-Zero machines to get totaled.
- Many stages: Random characters flying through the background.
- Metal Slug is rife with these. The first stage in Metal Slug 2/X has a businessman and a local attempting to negotiate. Later in the stage, upon blowing up a truck, a human baby happily crawls around the area, as if nothing is happening. In Stage 3, several mooks on the ground below the train can be seen engaging in random acts such as having funny conversations and sunbathing.
- The businessman's backstory is that he is a video game salesperson for the company that makes Metal Slug, and has a chronic habit of losing the briefcase full of merchandise he's trying to sell to his customers, and blaming the briefcase's disappearance on the client stealing it. He yells at a young boy for this reason on one level. It's you who takes the briefcase for points, naturally, and if you stick around you can see the businessman realize his briefcase isn't there anymore and flip out on the client.
- Melty Blood has this twice with Neco Arc Chaos's midboss stage where the Damien Corps are having a party of some sort in the background and Satsuki is peeking in from even farther behind that.
- Open sandbox games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. While busy doing your own missions, it's possible to pass cops in a gun fight (sometimes with each other) or see a two seater plane just slam into a record building. Just two of many examples.
- This also happens in Just Cause 2, with the rebel factions occasionally getting into fights with military and then driving off in random vehicles. Planes frequently crash into skyscrapers in Panau City, too.
- In Bully, you can sometimes see people randomly start a fight or walk up and pull the fire alarm in the school.
- Grand Theft Auto IV, if you make the car friction -9, creates many instances of Apathetic Citizens getting killed by physics-defying cars (when you aren't the victim, anyway).
- Some of Eggman's best in Sonic Colors is the commentary he spouts in the background, spending much of the game parodying the intercom announcements at theme parks.
Would the owner of a white hovercar shaped like an egg please report to the front desk? Your car has been broken into. Repeat. Would the owner of a white hovercar shaped like an egg please report the front desk? Your car has been broken i— wait a minute, what the heck?!...
This ride not intended for small children... Or big babies!
Visit the Bucket'O'Sushi... Now with FISH!
- Anytime in Sonic Unleashed where Chip is not in the foreground. Activities range from doing the backstroke in mid-air to stealing a teapot in Professor Pickle's lab.
- Team Fortress 2 regularly employs the trope within its "Meet the Team" videos.
- In "Meet the Medic" the x-rays attached to a light box in the back of the operating room reveal that the Heavy has had a bomb lodged inside him. The extracted bomb is in the bucket underneath the x-rays.
- You can also peer through the areas that are barred from your access on other maps, revealing gems such as...
- The panel from "Meet the Spy" at Doublecross—it even lights up when the intelligence is stolen.
- Several BLU NPCs are standing in front of a black board behind Stage 1 of Thunder Mountain, and they randomly taunt from time to time.
- The RED Team has a swimming pool on Stage 2 of Thunder Mountain, and NPCs can be seen lounging there.
- A RED Sniper can be seen camping on Stage 3 of Thunder Mountain.
- The "campfire" in "Meet the Engineer" can be noted to be a corpse of a BLU sniper toward the video's end.
- Humorously-appropriate signs also appear in the "Meet the Team" videos, such as a Soldier conking out the constantly-cigarette-toting Spy with his shovel while a "No Smoking" poster is in the background in "Meet the Soldier".
- The "Meet the Team"'s title cards say "COPYRIGHT LOLOLOL" instead of an expected actual copyright warning.
- Bug! - At the level endpoint of Quaria Scene 1, you'll see a scuba-diving bug chasing a small fish offscreen, wait a while, and he comes back in... being chased by a hungry dog-fish.
- Mortal Kombat loves these, oftentimes making them into a form of Chekhov's Gun. The Pit 2 features a green Liu Kang palette swap fighting Blaze. Mortal Kombat II also gave us Sonya and Kano in chains in the Arena. The Living Forest has guys running around the forest. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3's Desert has Cyrax buried in sand.
- In 9, almost every stage has one. There are people fighting on the background bridge in the Pit, people are lowered into the Acid Pool throughout the battle, business is continuing as usual in the Forge...
- Portal 2 has three types of this trope. Act One has the various advertisements for Aperture Science products (the Thermal Discouragement Beam was apparently developed to prevent employees from moving from their cubicles), while Act Two has both the not-at-all-helpful signs posted around the place (Know your allergens: Pollen, Animal Dander, Plastics, Antimatter) and the hidden instructive recordings by Cave Johnson ("Best case scenario, you get superpowers. Worse case, some tumours, but we'll cut those out."). Act three is a bit more serious than the rest of the game, but in one test chamber you can see one of the co-op robots running through a door in the distance.
- Half-Life 2 contains a few if you know where to look. The easiest to find is just after meeting up with The Resistance at Black Mesa East. While Dr. Mossman takes you on an elevator ride down to Eli Vance's lab you can catch glimpses of how the Vortigaunt aliens help out around the house.
- At the beginning of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, while Travis and Sylvia are talking at a restaurant, a man randomly falls out of the sky and lands on a car in the background. This event attracts the attention of everyone except them.
- More of a funny sideground event, but in Persona 4, everyone is having a watermelon and Ryotaro and Nanako talks about how they can't break watermelons open...and Kanji is pulling a salt container out of his pocket and sprinkles his watermelon...
- In the Nintendo 3DS Eshop, when you buy a download, progress is shown by little drops/spheres/toroids being moved across a conveyer line and dropped into the box representing your download. Occasionally, the little shopping bag mascot will ride the line and gets knocked off, flying off-screen. They should've had a crash/cat scream gag for it.
- The Wii has Mario or Luigi running across the screen collecting coins, or sometimes both of them swimming all over the screen. There are 3 coin bricks that they hit to represent 33% done, 66% done, and almost done. If he happen to be Fire Mario, you can press the A button to throw fireballs.
- Triggering these is what makes the Living Books so fun. They are absolutely loaded with these. Tap-dancing pencils, ants playing orchestras, you name it.
- Often occurs in the Mario Party games, especially involving the loser of a mini-game with something bad happening to them.
- One worth mentioning: In Mario Party 5, after the Squared Away mini-game, the loser(s) is chased by a random herd of stampeding thwomps.
- This sometimes happens unintentionally in Knights of the Old Republic. Such funny examples include:
- Sometimes, when enemies are still alive in Guild Wars cutscenes (Especially necromancer minions) they start attacking the party members who're supposed to be standing around watching the events unfold. This becomes a funny background event when you see your party members watching characters have a conversation when minions are beating them up.
- Life and Death 2: The Brain has someone pouring coffee all over the floor in the background.
- Tales of Monkey Island: During the Brotherhood chase in Chapter 3, while Guybrush is asking Morgan for help, you can see Noogie suddenly stop while raising his wooden sword in the air before collapsing, and Guybrush running and passing through him before he gets up and rejoins the chase. So funny.
- Near the end of Chapter 4, though not a funny background event, while LeChuck shouts and laughs in glee, "LECHUCK! Arr, this name-shouting is jolly good fun!", you can see the wounded Guybrush sitting against the encased wind idol in pain in the background before Elaine runs up to him, kneels down, and desperately tries reviving him by holding him close to her. So touching.
- Some of the minigames in Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii have funny stuff going on in the background, like various people leaping to catch kicked footballs in "Double Date" or Mr. Game & Watch fooling around in the factory in "Working Dough".
- The end of a later chapter of Kid Icarus: Uprising features a conversation between Palutena and a certain god, but what you're more likely to notice is Pit being distracted with the Great Sacred Treasure... and eventually crashing into the floor with it.
- LEGO Indiana Jones: when the senior Dr. Jones is shot and his legs wander off by themselves, they can be seen in the background kicking the head of a fallen Nazi offscreen like a soccer ball.
- If you stealthily approach the VIP's house in Arcadia of Modern Warfare 2, you can surprise a Russian soldier inside, who is busy raiding the fridge, despite wearing a full gas mask to do so.
- A Black Comedy one in the infamous No Russian level where the player has to maintain his double-agent cover by taking part in a terrorist attack on an airport, gunning down multiple helpless civilians and somewhat less helpless (entirely serious with that statement) police officers for a good bit of the level. After the shooting starts, the flight schedule suddenly shifts all flights to "delayed".
- From Mass Effect 2, many players during Thane's loyalty mission are distracted from the person they were supposed to be tailing, since they are too busy watching the random Turian who calmly walks onto the dance-floor and then proceeds to own the room!
- Shepard walking into the AI core to find Legion doing the robot.
- During Conrad Verner's side mission, asking him how he got his armor will cause the bartender behind him to silently facepalm.
- Early on in Arc Rise Fantasia, when L'Arc and Co. are apprehended by General Freya, you can see Niko standing behind her squirming around in embarrassment/nervousness while she talks. When she finally yells "Arrest them!" and the camera zooms out, Niko hunches over and covers his head.
- In the original Spyro the Dragon, Spyro will be chasing sheep in the background while the interview is being conducted in the foreground.
- In Poker Night 2, when the camera zooms in on Sam during a showdown you can occasionally see Max jumping down from the ceiling in the background.
- Late In "Metro: Last Light" while waiting in a decontamination chamber the disguised Dark One child will wave to one of the soldiers outside of the chamber. Said soldier will smile and salute back.
- In the Gran Turismo series, at least in 4 and 5, the Loch Ness Monster◊ can be seen on the Trial Mountain course. She's in the lake to the left of the people in the boat.
- A little bit Easter Egg and a little bit Funny Background Event, but if you leave the menu screen on too long on Borderlands, Claptrap will eventually start doing random things in the background of your menu, including rolling around, dancing, bouncing back and forth, and attempting to hide corpses or displaying a human skull to the player. The first game has a wider variety of actions.
- Borderlands 2 mostly has Claptrap wandering around behind the player's chosen character, who is posing on a majestic cliff, but he still manages to get into trouble, such as when he encounters a Tremors-like worm Expy. It also has a Running Gag of him unintentionally going over the waterfall in hilarious ways.
- One of the more popular forms of entertainment in Deus Ex is bugging conversations, often resulting in this.
- In the middle of Bowser's Highway in Super Mario 3D World, there's one wall that you have to kick a soccer ball bomb at to break open. Way down in the water past it, you can see a large 8-bit Luigi (just as he looked in Super Mario Bros.) swimming under the actual highway portion of the level.
- In Sheep Happens, the backgrounds have lots of things going on in them that change constantly. From simple things like a cyclops eating a bucket of sheep to Charon crashing his boat through the side of a mountain.
- Tales of Xillia: Oh Teepo, you rascal you.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: In this strip, Kat and Andrew's facial expressions reference a Running Gag involving Kat's love of birds, while Annie talks to herself in the foreground.
- 8-Bit Theatre does this occasionally with Black Mage asking White Mage out and getting beaten up.
- Conversely, this strip had Black Mage asking her out with her trying to think of a proper response to get him to really stop asking her, while Fighter, Red Mage, and Thief float off into the sky seemingly because Fighter "slayed gravity".
- Also this strip.
- And down the bottom of this one, capping off the Running Gag about drilling for mana. Warning: spoilers.
- Happens in this Irregular Webcomic! strip.
- A rather common occurrence in Girl Genius, especially when Agatha's little clanks are around.
- MegaTokyo has tons of little side jokes and things in its backgrounds. Spotting them all has become a kind of official sport on the forums.
- The KA Mics does this occasionally.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl does it occasionally.
- A regular staple of Penny Arcade, especially involving the Fruit Fucker.
- Epic use in Sluggy Freelance (this strip), where the edge of the panel changes the meaning of some background text, which in turn finishes Torg and Sasha's sentences.
- Inverted in EarthBound fan comic The Chosen Four, thus making it a "Funny Foreground Event." While the main plot takes the back seat, two Exit Mice can be seen chatting. Meanwhile, Ness, Paula, and Jeff can be seen running around in the background in a comedic chase with the rabidly decreasing Guardian Diggers, which is then joined in by Gigantic Ants attempting to avenge their brother Titanic Ant, and then all of the sudden a horde of Mad Ducks and Noose Men.
- Homestuck combines this with Mood Whiplash. HoNk
- It also happens numerous times once Doc Scratch takes over the narration. For instance these two pages, wherein SS can be seen in the background (and page header) employing atrocious candy bowl etiquette. Then later, while the audience is distracted by Vriska vs. Bec Noir, SS wanders around in the header, casually spreading gasoline around the room, which he then lights on fire.
- Inverted as well in that some fans actually forgot to look at the main panels, focused on the Background events, such as Jade accidently killing Dave, and didn't notice Doc Scratch as he beat up Slick with a book.
- Something Positive has this gem. look at Choo-Choo Bear
- The Girl Next Door, this strip.
- These two College Roomies from Hell!!! strips. The first one becomes even funnier when you realize the relationship between her and April and how she would be feeling about her right now.
- Eerie Cuties shows what happens when the resident tomboy gets a good look at the local succubus.
- Following Heather "Spinnerette" Brown accidentally destroyed a hugely expensive genetic modification device thingy, we get to see a panel that's been installed in the lab: "In Case of Heather, Break Glass".
- Scandinavia and the World: This one has Norway trying to keep Denmark away from the beer while Sister Sweden is talking to her brother.
- Nuzlocke Comics ribs its own Schedule Slip in Ruby's battle with Lorelei, by way of the audience holding a sign that says "UPDATE FASTER".
- Numerous examples in Bite Me!, such as there being hilarious meanings to french written on signs in the background, or tiny snippets of background conversations, once even between rats discussing political philosophy.
- Miscellaneous Error has one across two strips.
- Done subtly in Freefall. During the visit to Ecosystems Unlimited arc, careful observation will show that every time Sam encounters someone with a differently colored security pass, he will steal it and replace theirs with whatever one he has at the time.
- In the General Protection Fault crossover with User Friendly, Fooker fights with the person who gave him the software that got him in trouble while Nick talks with his co-worker in the foreground.
- The guy in the background of this Questionable Content has made some mistakes.
- The Transformers Animated web comic Discovery had a very interesting background event that involved Wheeljack exploding something.
- The various wall posters on Academia. One of them is of Charles Darwin with the label "Chuck D", and another is of the extinct crocodilian Sarcosuchus, labelled "Snarkosuchus".
- In O Human Star, Sulla has absolutely no respect for awkward silences.
- The Wotch has a kid on a skateboard who runs into telephone poles a lot. See here. He gets a slightly more important role here.
- Unwinders Tall Comics. In this strip, Howard is in the background, apparently spewing flies out of his mouth. In this strip, Moist Rider can be seen working in the background of Howard's coffee shop, which ties in with that strip's Alt Text, "Howard won't hire anyone he didn't create."
- Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire features this trope, as can be seen in this comic.
- In El Goonish Shive, the non-canon "Oblivious Wand Waving" storyline has this in spades starting with this strip where a guy is turned into a girl complete with clothing changes after drinking a soda.
- Precocious: In the "The Protest" story, Tiffany is found in both the "down with Jacob" and the "Team Jacob" groups.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Fa La La La Ed", while Jimmy is complaining to Sarah about the pain of smashing his piggy bank, we see Ed falling over as he tries to prop up some Christmas lights.
- In "Look Before You Ed," while Edd and Jimmy are covered in snow in the foreground, Eddy and Ed steal Kevin's snowboard in the background.
- Parodied in the Futurama episode "That's Lobstertainment!" Zoidberg's Uncle, Harold Zoid, tells the extras in his film to throw a bit of humour into the background of a dramatic scene...which results in said extras running around screaming and throwing pies at each other. Later its mentioned that they spent the entire budget on pies before they could complete post production.
- In the episode "Mission: Responsible" of The Fairly OddParents, the first time Wanda dials Timmy, Cosmo tries to find out how a napkin (even a plate!) works!
- Rocket Power was actually quite fond of this trope. Whenever there was an episode where a camera was involved (i.e., Twister shooting a documentary, or even the news), there was something funny going on. During the episode about a documentary of Otto and his Sno-Mart ventures, you can see this trope playing through a LOT. Such examples include Ray coming out and dumping garbage all over the front lawn, a skater in the Blader Bowl flying out...then an empty skateboard coming out, and another where it was repeated, except a dolphin flew out of the Blader Bowl.
- There was also an incident in which a news reporter was complaining about how there wasn't anything to film, and then right behind him, a flying saucer comes in, pulls a whale out of the ocean, then flies off.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender : After the whole 'Appa ate Momo' incident, when the Gaang is talking about where Aang got off to, Sokka can be seen trying to get out of Appa's mouth, then slipping on the drool, twice.
- Even the people who did the small annotations comment on the event! (This is from the marathon Nicktoons aired leading up to the premiere of The Legend of Korra)
- Likely accidental example: The show usually avoid Faceless Masses which leads an an error in the fourth episode when Aang and Katara are talking at a marketplace and a man in the background is apparently talking to a wooden post◊, and then something it said made him depressed◊.
- When Prince Zuko and Iroh are invited aboard Commander Zhao's ship, Zuko and Zhao have a rather intense conversation in his cabin, while Iroh occupies himself by looking at a set of polearms leaning against the opposite wall. At one point, Iroh accidentally knocks them all over, scrambling to catch them with a huge wide-eyed face before putting them back in place. The whole thing lasts less than a second.
- The Legend of Korra: When Korra sneaks into the pro-bending arena, she's caught by Toza, who believes she's trying to watch for free. While the two bicker, Bolin walks by in the background, backpedals a step or two, and stops to fix his hair before conveniently interrupting the argument with awkwardness galore.
- Something of a Funny Sideground Event: When Tarrlok interrupts dinner at Air Temple Island, Pema gives Tenzin a Death Glare for allowing Tarrlok to stay. Then, when Tarrlok sits down to talk to Korra, Ikki can be seen doing the exact same glare as her mother, even after the camera isn't focusing on her anymore.
- Winx Club: Stella wakes up from a sleeping gas induced slumber, finds a ladybug on her arm, and runs around in the background.
- In the Family Guy episode "Fifteen Minutes of Shame," in which the Griffins get their own reality show, an argument at a seafood restaurant between Meg and her parents is hard to focus on while Stewie's fighting a live lobster in the tank behind them.
- Another episode has Peter and Lois conducting a kitchen-table conversation while a seeming Simpsons promo at the bottom of the screen morphs into Quagmire sexually assaulting Marge Simpson.
- And in yet another episode, the trope is not only lampshaded, but dressed up and sent to walk the streets as a serious conversation between Lois and Brian becomes completely secondary to the fact that Peter has just farted in the soundproof booth he has locked himself in, and is increasingly desperate to escape his own gas before collapsing into unconsciousness.
- Family Guy does indeed love this trope: Another episode had a discussion between Meg and Lois in the kitchen, while out the window a mind controlled Chris turns on Stewie and attacks him.
- Another twist on this trope comes when Peter and Lois are getting ready for bed and calmly discussing an issue about Meg. While donning bondage gear. None of the dialogue alludes to this until the very last line.
- In another episode, Peter announces that his father Francis has died. Lois and Brian (who never liked Francis) express sympathy, then leave. As Peter continues talking, through a window behind him we can see Lois and Brian dancing with joy on the front lawn, Brian grabbing Lois' chest, and her slapping him.
- At the end of another episode "Long John Peter", Chris tries to apologize to Anna, the young vet he has a crush on whom Peter suggests that he'd act like a jerk to, by bringing in a badly beaten Brian. While the two of them have a conversation, Brian wobbles back and forth for a few seconds and then falls over.
- The episode "He's Too Sexy For His Fat" has Chris and Lois talking about liposuction. While Lois wonders aloud what kind of idiot would go through such a procedure (right before a newly-thin Peter walks through the door), an overweight Stewie who is stuck in his high chair tries to get at a chocolate cake that Lois left on the counter.
- In the first episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (not counting the "season zero" pilots), as Thor is talking to Jane Foster after saving her from an uncontrolled car, we see said car's driver struggling to get out with the seatbelt jammed. When the scene finishes, the driver gets a face full of airbag.
- Borderline example from The Simpsons: Homer is having a relatively mundane conversation with his recently-new boss, Hank Scorpio, about how he's thinking of quitting and moving back to Springfield for the sake of his family. While this is going on, a massive battle worthy of the climax of a James Bond movie is happening in the background, but Homer doesn't seem to notice. Scorpio himself is killing ninjas and elite secret agents with a flamethower and launching a Doomsday Device during the whole conversation — which means it isn't completely in the background, but the effect is the same. At the end of the sequence, the background event comes to the foreground as Homer kicks a grenade out of his way before leaving.
- "Homer, if you could kill someone on your way out, that'd really help me out!"
- The episode "Jazzy And The Pussycats" featured Lisa adopting a load of abandoned and unwanted animals, and whilst trying to find owners, Chief Wiggum's car breaks down, so Lisa gives him an ostrich to ride away on. Later on in the background, you can see Chief Wiggum (still riding the ostrich) leading an arrested Snake away (on another ostrich).
- There's another example in the episode in which Bart become a boy scout, while seeing television with Homer and Lisa Bart criticizes Itchy & Scratchy for being unrealistic, Lisa says that the cartoons doesn't have to be realistic. In this moment a second "Homer" is passing by the window in the outside.
- In "The Color Yellow", the class is told to create family trees. While Lisa talks about family trees, we get a view outside of the window where Groundskeeper Willy is filling a hole in the ground with water from the hose, then sits in a folding chair and begins fishing in it.
- In the Joan of Arc segment of the episode "Tales From The Public Domain", in the background of one of the battle scenes an English soldier can be seen fighting a French soldier using a teacup instead of a sword, he then gets his hand cut off and runs around bleeding profusely.
- "A Streetcar Named Marge" has Homer beating the crap out of an uncooporative vending machine.
- The show's opening credits also contain this trope, though you often need to freeze-frame in order to see what's going on. An early 2014 episode's credits inserted a tribute to a character played by recently deceased voice actress Marcia Wallace, for example.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends example: in the episode "Frankie My Dear," Frankie makes small talk with her date while in the background Mac, Bloo, the pizza guy (disguised as one very tall guy) and the Prince Charming imaginary friend (Disguised in Drag) try to get into the restaraunt without a reservation, culminating with the prince friend punching the maitre d'.
- In American Dad! episode "Stan Time", Rodger and Steve are trying to write an original, modern porno, while behind them two sexy ladies repair the air conditioning in increasingly erotic ways.
- Used in Creature Comforts, both the original short, the series based on it and the various commercials made by Aardman in the same format, such as their Chevron campaign.
- Ads for Hubba Bubba Max bubble gum. Not done by Aardman, but clearly influenced by them.
- In an episode of King of the Hill where Dale gets a suit of armor, in the background while the other three are talking you can see him walk off a roof in his armor.
- After finding out Hank is entering Ladybird in the dancing competition in "Dances With Dogs", Bobby says "You told me dog dancing was only for weirdos!" as he says this a fat man dressed as Charlie Chaplin walks by twirling a cane and walking a french bulldog.
- In "Phish and Wildlife" when Hank and the ranger are discussing ways they could get rid of the hippies in the control room, on one of the monitors Bill can be seen dressed in his hippie garb stumbling around drunk, or possibly high.
- Robot Chicken did this in one sketch during a song recording. The two producers at the boards turn off the sound and take five to talk all while in the background the singer finds himself assaulted by a mutant, an alien and finally devoured by a wolfman with the producers unaware.
- There was also an episode where the Playmobil characters were inside the airport, talking about how silly the set was. If you watch the luggage conveyor belt in the corner, you can eventually see a Playmobil kid figure (which came with the set) rolling through.
- Easy to miss example in ReBoot. While Bob is begging Phong to give Hexadecimal an icon, we can see Ray sampling Hexadecimal's biscuits made out of Herr Doctor while Mouse tries to stop him from eating one.
- Used in Home Movies. An especially bizarre one comes when Brendan and his father are at a restaurant. Two men are seen at another table. One man draws an unflattering picture of the other as a severed head, and gets hit for it. The DVD Commentary said of this: "Whoa, what's going on at that table?"
- During the episode "It Was Supposed To Be Funny," when Brendon is admitting that he can't finish his fries, you can see a car going through the Alien Burger drive-thru being abducted.
- A Jimmy Two-Shoes short revolved around this, with Jimmy, Beezy, and Heloise complaining about how nothing ever happens in Miseryville... while the city is being destroyed in the background.
- In a less than subtle example in the DCAU, Harley and Mercy fighting it out in the background while Lex Luthor and The Joker are having the business meeting during The Batman Superman Movie.
- The South Park episode "A Very Crappy Christmas" features the characters watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV. The first two shots of the screen are normal and the characters take note of them. In the final shot, Charlie Brown is naked and Snoopy is hitting him with a piece of wood. Wonder what happened there.
- Another example is "How to Eat With Your Butt", The One With the people with asses for faces. They're sitting around having a conversation with Kenny's family, while in the background more and more people are crowding round the window to stare in and laugh.
- Superjail! is fond of these, especially in the second season, but they often turn out to be rather creepy, such as the monster eating its own guts, then its heart and finally dying.
- Despite being in the foreground more often than not, this is half of what makes Ferb one of the most hilarious characters on Phineas and Ferb. Since everyone's attention is usually on Phineas, he's free to be an oft-ignored source of silent snarking, small-scale Shout Outs, and Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- In both "Rollercoaster" and its Musical Episode version, almost all the humor to the scene where Candace is talking on the phone with Stacy is all the random stuff going on in the background; Phineas and Ferb carry in trucks, lions, construction parts...
- At the very end of the episode, just after the tree explodes. You can see the giant aluminium ball rolling in the background.
- In "Last Train to Bustville," you can see Doofenshmirtz being chased by the dodo bird through the window in the room where Lawrence and Grandpa Clyde are just sitting.
- In "The Magnificent Few," there's a sign that says "Egg laying contest this way."
- Batman: The Animated Series
- In "Heart of Ice" as the reporter is finishing up on Mr. Freeze's latest crime, you can see several kids run up to the snow and start playing with it. A policeman chases them off, as this is a crime scene. However just as he shoos them away the kids pelt him with snowballs.
- In "Mad Love", when we see Harlene Quinzel start her first day at Arkham, one of the patients is casually licking the glass in his cell as she talks about her fascination with people who are mentally insane.
- In "Almost Got 'Im", Poison Ivy inserts herself into the villain's card game after knocking down Killer Croc and swiping his chair. As the group continues their conversation, Croc can be seen throwing away another patron and taking his chair.
- Made even funnier at the climax when it's revealed Croc is Batman in disguise, and the other patrons are all cops. "Uhh, sorry about this Commissioner..."
- In the Sally Bollywood episode "The Return of Mr. Big", a science student points out that Doowee had garlic prawns for dinner several days ago. Then, (in the next shot) as Sally is talking to the science student a bit more, you can see Doowee (in the background) testing his breath, then gagging at the smell.
- In another episode, after it's been revealed that Bob looted the lockers of two students, the two furious students proceed to chase him off, the chase subsequently continuing throughout the background of several other scenes through the episode... Until Bob and another culprit run smack into each other near the end.
- At the end of the Transformers Prime episode "Convoy", after Optimus has stopped the train, you can see Miko punching Jack in the arm, then the pair giving each other a high-five.
- The Boondocks: When Huey and Riley are among a group sent on a "scared stiff" program with Tom, the prisoners are always adding little comments (off screen) during what ever is being said:
See kids, when you go to prison, booty
is the most important thing.
Random prisoner: Y'all better listen to him.
Prisoner:"Shit man, I done raped a few niggas myself.
Random prisoner: Yep.
Prisoner: But I didn't enjoy it.
Random prisoner: He didn't enjoy.
Random prisoner: Not that much.
Prisoner: I didn't let that nigga kiss me or nothing.
Random prisoner: No sir!
Prisoner: But I did tear that ass up.
Random prisoner: Off the frame!
- The first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic featured one of the guests at Pinkie's welcoming party for Twilight, a grey pegasus with gold eyes wearing a cross-eyed, vacant grin on her face. "Derpy Hooves" quickly became something of a sensation among the show's Periphery Demographic, enough that she made cameos in a few later episodes and by the next season was featured in a Funny Background Event Once per Episode.
- A green unicorn named "Lyra Heartstrings" is fond of this. Quite often in crowd scenes she will be jumping up and down ecstatically with a grin on her face, and it's common for her to do out-of-place human actions like sitting upright. In one memorable scene, she was seen in a city in the clouds, bouncing up and down. Despite the fact that she was a unicorn, they did not give her wings to make her a pegasus. In "Magic Duel" she appears in the background during the climactic fight calmly drinking a soda, uninterested in the battle.
- Gummy's antics with a ball of yarn in "Party of One".
- In Green Isn't Your Color, Pinkie Pie menacingly bites an apple while trying to scare Twilight out of telling Rarity's secret, only to really enjoy the apple and forget she was doing. During most of Twilight and Fluttershy's conversation following, Pinkie remains in the background still eating the apple.
- In "Too Many Pinkie Pies", Pinkie Pie clones herself, and her duplicates can frequently be seen doing something silly in the background, like one who keeps on dancing during the barn-raising scene even as she narrowly avoids getting squashed by a falling barn wall.
- Discord and Angel provide this trope in "Keep Calm and Flutter On" behind Fluttershy's back.
- Moral Orel has several of these, particularly on signs on labels. Notably, Reverend Putty's mug which reads "I Hate My Boss." Creator Dino Stamatopoulos talked about how he asked the animators to give more attention to these . . . which resulted in every shot featured the mug, even though it meant the mug was turned around in alternating shots.
- Code Lyoko: Odd gets one in one episode. On Lyoko, his tail gets shot at and catches on fire. He spends about two minutes flying around in the background trying to put it out. After the two minutes he FINALLY decides to blow it out when the camera focuses on him.
- What makes this Not Always Right story.
- This is Photobomb is devoted to pictures and videos of people goofing it up in the background of events.
- In the last couple of years, photobombing has become a full-out fad. Most photobombs these days are not random happenstance, but generally orchestrated by the photobomber. The 2014 Oscars ceremony raised photobombing to an art form, with respected actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Spacey, Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto all getting in on the act.
- During an ESPN interview of 14-year-old skateboarding prodigy Michie Brusco another young skateboarder is seen going through the half-pipe — on his back, with his board a few feet away.
- During an Australian news broadcast, office workers are going about their business... except for one guy who opens his email and starts going through nude pics of model Miranda Kerr. While on a live broadcast. Cue Oh Crap when he realises he's on live TV.
- This awesome child.
- This girl's little brother.
- This video of a sleepy kitten trying to stay awake. Many commenters have pointed out that the kitten's brothers and sisters wrestling and jumping on each other in the background is more fun to watch than the kitten.
- This is largely the point of the Brazilian Tenso meme — to zoom in on a bizarre event/face buried in the picture that would probably not have been noticed otherwise.
- This happens to everyone. People are always doing stuff that most people don't have the context to, so you could see someone doing something weird or nonsensical to you, but it could make perfect sense to the person performing said action. Just go to a comic con, for example, and you find a lot of people doing unusual things or wearing unusual clothing.
- This news report interviewee was slightly upstaged by an accident happening behind him.
- There was an infamous interview that is often shown on British outtake compilations from the news once where a spokesperson was discussing how the stretch of motorway he was on was quite safe... while behind him several cars crashed.
- There is a gif of a couple clips from a newscast that plays this trope for laughs, especially given it was edited to where the background event is made hilarious.
- In a study conducted by the American researcher Daniel Simons, people were told to count the number of passes in a ball game. The real point was whether or not the subject would notice a person in a gorilla suit walking through the game - about 50% of people did not!
- This Finnish live broadcast about vandalism is pure gold with some kids ruining it.
- In sports, the Bearcats love this trope.
- There is a famous You've Been Framed clip taking place on a pier were one guy is being filmed talking in the foreground...while in the background, a woman is attempting to put up her umbrella which results in her being carried away by the wind and into the water.
- In another clip, a little girl is being filmed bouncing on a trampoline while in the background, a second little girl attempts to put a garbage bag in a wheely bin. The second girl ends up falling in the bin.
- A staple of many news blooper compilation videos on YouTube.
- A prime example occurs at 7:10 on this blooper compilation when a man is being interviewed, oblivious to the fact another man dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow is carrying on behind him.
- After BBC News moved into a new studio with glass walls, its staff started to entertain viewers with picking noses, hugging and using umbrellas as lightsabers. When this happens during a grave piece of news, some viewers get appalled.