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[[quoteright:280:[[WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/medium_shift_gag_4.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:280:[-Who looks like a puppet when out of the sea?-]]]

So you're watching your favorite SaturdayMorningCartoon, all the bright and colorful characters are bouncing across the screen, and... oh hey, one of them is a puppet now. Or a clay-animated doll. Or a stop-motion figurine. Or a guy in a [[StylisticSuck purposely bad costume]].

This is the Medium Shift Gag, a joke that plays on the audience's expectations for a show to keep to a certain medium, but catches them by surprise when suddenly the world they've been witnessing is viewed through a strange and different new light, if only momentarily.

Usually MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext. Differs from MediumBlending, which usually involves two or more different media constantly mixing together in the same work, while a medium shift gag involves a quick and abrupt change that's PlayedForLaughs.

Compare FisherKingdom.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/{{FLCL}}'':
** In two of the anime episodes, the art suddenly changes to manga style for a while.
** There is also the scene where it shifts to ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' style animation for Amarao's haircut.
* Claymation is used as a form of censorship in the ''LightNovel/MagiciansAcademy'' anime adaptation, also [[TooHotForTV not appearing in the DVD]].
* ''Anime/PantyAndStockingWithGarterbelt'': Whenever a ghost is killed, it switches to a live action shot of a paper mache model of the ghost exploding. Also there is a blink and you miss it scene in the [[BeachEpisode beach episode]] where the animation shifts to ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' for a quick scene.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/TheFabulousFurryFreakBrothers'' decide to go without smoking dope to see how it feels, and as they sit around a table and the effects wear off, the strip goes from pen & ink to photographs of people made up to look like them. They get bored very quickly and revert to their old selves.
* ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye'' #45 has a one-off panel of four of the Scavengers, where the usual art has been replaced with a photo of their real-life G1 toys in a field.

* ''Film/BetterOffDead'' has gag sequences in both clay and regular animation, representing the teenaged protagonist's bizarre daydreams about dancing hamburgers and so forth.
* In ''Film/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'', after the ''Heart of Gold'' uses the infinite improbability drive, everything and everyone in the ship briefly turns into yarn. The actors are all replaced by stop-motion yarn figures for this gag.
* ''WesternAnimation/HortonHearsAWho'' does this twice. First, when Horton hears the yelp and wonders what could be on the speck, the resulting ImagineSpot is traditionally animated in a style resembling Dr. Seuss' illustrations. Later, the film briefly shifts from [[AllCGICartoon CGI]] into more traditional 2D {{animesque}} animation as Horton imagines himself as a ninja sworn to protect the tiny world on the clover and take it to Mount Nool, complete with LipLock.
* ''Film/StayTuned'': Roy and Helen are TrappedInTVLand; at one point they're in a cartoon as mice (in a sequence directed by Creator/ChuckJones).
* When Jeff recounts the legend of Cthulhu in ''Film/TheLastLovecraftRelicOfCthulhu'' it switched to a comic-book style animation.
* In ''Film/BigManJapan,'' during the final fight scene, live action and realistic but very strange CGI shifts into what looks like a ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' knock-off. The deadly monster becomes a goofy guy in a red suit. This can be interpreted as the protagonist's fevered visions before death or something even stranger.

[[folder:Live-Action Television]]
* ''Series/{{Community}}'' has had several instances of this:
** "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" was done entirely in stop motion animation to go along with Abed's breakdown.
** In "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism", when Jeff and Shirley get into a fight over foosball, their anger is expressed via an abrupt shift to an {{animesque}} cartoon sequence.
** In "Digital Estate Planning", most of the action is on 8-bit avatars of the characters as they play a video game.
** In "Intro to Felt Surrogacy" about half the scenes have the main characters as muppets, since the Study Group is recounting a story via puppet-therapy.
** "G.I. Jeff" is mostly animated in a dated, low-quality fashion that fits the episode's title- with little interludes of stop animation from fake GIJoe action figures.
* ''{{Series/Fringe}}'' did this unexpectedly. In one of the latest episodes of Season 3, it turned into a cartoon... because they couldn't get [[Creator/LeonardNimoy William Bell]]'s actor to show up.
* One episode of ''Series/HomeImprovement'' had a Christmas DreamSequence done in stop-motion animation reminiscent of ''WesternAnimation/RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer''
* Non-joke version (sort of) in ''Series/{{Life On Mars|2006}}'', with a brief sequence of Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt as stop motion characters in a ''WesternAnimation/CamberwickGreen'' sequence caused by the drugs Sam Tyler was being fed while in his coma.
* In ''Series/MyNameIsEarl'', Randy was given some drugs and [[POVCam saw the world]] in clay animation.
* The full version of the musical number "Tongue Tied" from ''Series/RedDwarf'' includes a clay-animated sequence.
** "Back in the Red, Part 3" sees the crew trying to escape a computer simulation. On pulling it off, they end up in the claymation screen saver for a time.
* During the period it was part of ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'', this was a feature of "TVFunhouse". More recently, one of the Digital Shorts had the characters from "TV Funhouse" segment "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" transformed into live-action versions of themselves.
* ''{{Series/Farscape}}'' did an episode where Crichton started hallucinating everything happening in a Looney Tunes Coyote and Road Runner type of cartoon.
* ''Series/BlackBooks'' at one point has all the characters turn into puppets. One DVD extra has a "mini-series" made completely of these puppets.
* In one episode of ''Series/That70sShow'', the guys are discussing ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'' and they briefly appear as cartoon characters.
** For one ChristmasEpisode, Kelso has a dream that he's in a StopMotion Creator/RankinBass special.
* In the final episode of ''Series/TwoAndAHalfMen'', Rose's account of what really happened to Charlie is presented as a CGI cartoon.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The rabbit mascot of ''Nintendo Badge Arcade'' turns from a cartoon character into a realistic pink bunny when discussing the game's use of {{microtransactions}} ("You need real money to play. And by 'real', I mean ''this'' kind of real.")

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Used for an AprilFoolsDay prank in ''WebAnimation/BattleForDreamIsland'' (live-action puppets).
* Used in episode two and three of ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'' with the art direction taking a turn toward a more anime-esque style. The first when Ruby starts to fangirl over the other students weapons, the second occasion comes toward the end of the episode when Ruby and her sister, Yang, begin play-fighting (complete with [[BigBallOfViolence Big Ball of Violence]])

* In ''Webcomic/{{Hoofstuck}}'', when Pinkie Pie agrees to answer the CMC's questions, the picture turns into a Tumblr-style "Blog/AskAPony" image, with textboxes. When Fluttershy retreats into her imagination, the whole comic shifts into a black-and-white ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth'' homage, with Fluttersleuth engaging in some absurd puzzle solving on the side.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Aside from an animated title sequence, ''WebVideo/TheCartoonMan'' is entirely live action for its first half hour, with all "cartoon" elements being portrayed with cheesy physical effects. Then suddenly, Roy removes his sunglasses to reveal a pair of 2-D animated eyes. This begins the use of animated effects throughout the movie's last act and the sequel.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Chowder}}'' occasionally cuts to stop motion or puppetry for brief moments. One episode had a dancing minotaur baby in ConspicuousCG, whose appearance freaked out the other characters in an InUniverse example of the UncannyValley effect.
* ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'' has several cases of MediumBlending that are brought up very suddenly for the sake of [[SlidingScaleOfComedyAndHorror both humor and horror]]:
** In "'Courage in the Big Stinkin' City", Courage walks in on a young girl playing a violin from behind. As soon as Courage lets his guard own, she turns around and makes a claymation NightmareFace.
** In "[[Recap/CourageTheCowardlyDogS4E52RemembranceOfCouragePastPerfect Perfect]]", one of Courage's AnxietyDreams is a ''very'' bizarre figure (seemingly Eustace's bugle given a human head on the end) animated in CGI.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'':
** In the "Road to the Multiverse" episode, Brian and Stewie find themselves in a dimension where they are a live-action dog and baby, and instead of commenting on it, they merely state that the universe scares them, and they immediately leave.
** An earlier example occurs when Peter turns live action during a drug-induced FreakOut.
** The ''Franchise/StarWars'' episodes all have this.
** In one episode a sex scene between Peter and Lois is represented by [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext a live action]] Wrestling/DwayneJohnson [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext bashing their action figures together.]]
* The punchline of the WesternAnimation/BugsBunny cartoon "WesternAnimation/RabbitHood" is that RobinHood has been [=MIA=] for most of the film, and when he finally appears, it's live-action footage of Creator/ErrolFlynn from ''Film/TheAdventuresOfRobinHood''. A dumbfounded Bugs comments, "That's silly, it couldn't be him!"
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius''[=/=]''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' crossover episodes had fun with this. In the second, one character jumped back and forth between CGI and 2D animated "worlds", shouting, "I'm bulgy! Now I'm flat! I'm bulgy! I'm flat!"
** The ''Fairly [=OddParents=]'' episode "Channel Chasers", though mostly in the show's normal 2D animation (and full of {{Art Shift}}s, given the TrappedInTVLand plot), features a brief segment where the characters appear on a preschool TV show, turning them into ''Sesame Street''-style Muppets (in fact, when they jump through the TV, a hand can be seen pulling their puppet forms out of frame).
-->'''Cosmo:''' I've never ''felt'' more alive! ...Get it? "Felt?"
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** In one segment in the 2010 ChristmasEpisode, everybody in Maggie's dream was a [[Franchise/TheMuppets Muppet]]-like "Fluppet" instead of a cartoon character, with the exception of special live-action guest Music/KatyPerry.
** In one Halloween episode, Homer entered "the third dimension" and became CGI 3D, as did Bart when he went into that dimension to rescue Homer.
** Another HalloweenEpisode had Bart and Lisa TrappedInTVLand, at one point interrupting ''Live with Regis and Kathie Lee''.
** One episode had the opening re-enacted by live actors (actually a promo for Creator/SkyOne).
** One CouchGag was a parody of the ''Series/BreakingBad'' opening, being watched by a live-action Walt and Jesse.
** Another CouchGag was done in StopMotion by the team behind ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken''.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'':
** The show occasionally shifts from a cartoon to a [[StylisticSuck cheap puppet show]]. One episode in particular is "Pressure", in which [=SpongeBob=], Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Squidward and Sandy all leave the ocean, and when they arrive on dry land...they are lousy toys or models propped up as puppets. The only exception, of which, is Squidward, whose puppet looks disturbingly like the actual Squidward.
** The multiple cuts to an extreme close-up of a deer fly in "Wormy".
** A slightly disturbing example from "Krusty Love":
-->'''Mr. Krabs:''' ''Mrs.'' Puff? Aw, she's married.
-->'''[=SpongeBob=]:''' Oh no, Mr. Krabs, she's single.
-->'''Mr. Krabs:''' Then what happened to Mr. Puff?
-->''[cut to someone turning on a lamp made out of a pufferfish]''
-->'''[=SpongeBob=]:''' She doesn't like to talk about it.
** In "[=SpongeGuard=] on Duty", [=SpongeBob=] imagines being a lifeguard, represented by live-action footage of a person in a [=SpongeBob=] mascot costume standing in a lifeguard tower.
** There's also the classic scene in which Squidward wonders who was flickering the lights throughout an episode, and the camera shifts to see Film/{{Nosferatu}} turning the lights on and off.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' featured a scene reshot in flashy CGI, to make fun of Creator/GeorgeLucas adding CGI effects to the original ''Franchise/StarWars'' trilogy.
** The episode "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" is presented as a documentary about the boys' disastrous field trip. At one point a disclaimer card introduces a {{Dramatization}} of events and suddenly Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are live [[DawsonCasting adult]] actors in a real boat filmed on a real lake.
* There was an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' that had fantasy segments based on ''South Park'', ''WesternAnimation/BeavisAndButtHead'', ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' and ''WesternAnimation/DrKatzProfessionalTherapist''.
* In the closing credits of an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'', Hoss Delgado wakes up as a live action puppet in a Cartoon Network dumpster.
** Similarly in ''[[TheMovie Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure]]'', there's a scene where the protagonists go into the "Hole of Oddities" and turn into hand puppets.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', Pinkie Pie's imagination is in felt animation.
** In the episode "Pinkie Pride", [[Music/WeirdAlYankovic Cheese Sandwich]]'s rubber chicken Boneless and Pinkie's pet alligator Gummy are briefly rendered in live-action during a musical number.
** Then, in "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS5E7MakeNewFriendsButKeepDiscord Make New Friends But Keep Discord]]", the dimension Discord threatens to throw Tree Hugger in is live-action as well, this time a Mexican sockpuppet walking around with a kid's drawing for a background.
* The Creator/TexAvery MGM cartoon ''Lucky Ducky'' has a scene where two hunters chase a duckling past a sign, and suddenly find themselves in [[DeliberatelyMonochrome black and white]]. Doubling back, they notice that the sign reads "Technicolor ends here".
* ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'' did this on more than one occasion, with notable examples being the "murder mystery" episode where a "dramatization" of the crime is shown with a fat live-action man playing the part of Numbuh 3's sister.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' did this in an episode set in the Stone Age, where cutaways to the show's creators in deliberately choppy photoanimation explained what was going on.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' already has loads of MediumBlending, but still manages this trope by occasionally having ''individual characters'' change medium: for instance, a twister in "The Storm" ends up making a bunch of characters have their individual mediums scattered between each other. Not to mention "The Money" having the animation's budget degrading along with the Wattersons' own to the point the quality starts degrading by the second until they finally [[ItMakesSenseInContext sell out]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitansGo'': The season 1 finale has a part of the episode done as puppets.
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'':
** In "Weirdmageddon", Dipper and Wendy at one point drive through a weirdness bubble that turns them briefly into [[ArtShift a variety of styles]] - including their live-action voice actors! This is especially odd given that 12-year-old Dipper's voice actor was 36 at the time, and had a beard.
** In “Little Gift Shop Of Horrors” at the end of the story dubbed ‘Clay Day’, where Soos is turned into a clay figure.
** This trope is also shown in the end credits of “Sock Opera”, where Mabel has a dream where Dipper, Stan, Fiddleford and herself are featured as live-action puppets.
* ''WesternAnimation/WanderOverYonder'':
** "The Matchmaker" features Sylvia chasing Wander (bearing a love letter from Lord Hater to Lord Dominator) through a number of alternate dimensions, culminating in one where Sylvia and Wander are replaced by a live-action still of their voice actors April Winchell and Jack [=McBrayer=].
** "The New Toy" features a ParodyCommercial for Hater's H.A.T.E.R.V., done as a live-action segment.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Superjail}}'' ended with an actor playing the Warden as a hobo in the real world. Another one featured Jailbot's dream of being a real boy and going fishing with the Warden, rendered in [[UncannyValley creepily realistic]] CG.
* In Episode 34 of ''WesternAnimation/SonicBoom'', Sonic has to wake up from his alarm beeping. He goes from his [[BlankWhiteVoid happier place]], to his HappyPlace, to where he's sleeping, to a live-action man dressed up in a bad Sonic costume and throwing a bag in the garbage.
--->'''Creator/RogerCraigSmith''': (As Sonic) Whoops, one too many.