In certain situations, characters (and writers
, it seems) just have
to make certain puns. And they're usually the same ones. But Tropes Are Not Bad
, as in many cases the audience may feel disappointed or even slightly confused if the obligatory joke fails to come up.
Often relies on If It Was Funny The First Time
Nonetheless, many writers try to inject some freshness into the obligatory, by lampshading or overt and deliberate subversion.
- Anything involving a primate is going to involve lines like "Monkeying Around" or Making a Monkey('s uncle) out of someone," and "Monkey Business".
- We're just going to make it easy and say that whenever a situation with an animal comes up, somebody will have to quote a saying or phrase having to do with it.
- Anything involving honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc. will be described as a "sticky situation."
- A person Bound and Gagged, or even just bound, will be described as "a little tied up right now."
- If an animal of some kind is biting someone, an onlooker will be prompted to ask, "What's eating you?"
- Any hand-related pun when dealing with hand monsters or armless people.
- Cat-related jokes are sometimes catastrophic or catholic. They may leave you catatonic.
- Puns are elemental to all three of Fire, Ice, Lightning:
- Any time electricity is involved, you know someone will quip about a "shocking" situation.
- Expect An Ice Person to be surrounded by an abundance of "Ice to meet you," "Take a chill pill," Ice Queen, etc. jokes.
- Expect anyone with fire-based powers to say "things are heating up", "now we're cooking", they're hot, etc.
- Anything involving a living creature being inflated (usually due to Cartoon Physics) will result in someone saying he's "all full of hot air".
- Someone who's just seen a ghost will immediately be told You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost.
- Whenever a mummy (as in a preserved corpse, like from Ancient Egypt) appears, someone's gotta make a joke about the alternate use of "mummy" to mean "mother." ("I want my mummy!")
- Anything involving Pyramids, or simply Egypt, will be dubbed a "pyramid scheme" at some point.
- Clones will prompt jokes about being besides oneself, Me's a Crowd, using "I" instead of "he" or "she" when talking about one of their clones, and possibly jokes revolving around Screw Yourself (either overtly or past the radar).
- Murder in a mansion? Get ready for butler and Clue/Cluedo jokes.
- A lot of situations will nearly guarantee a Monty Python reference. The most common one may be "only a flesh wound" after someone loses a limb.
- If you have a Special Guest you had better make a remark on what they are most famous for. What's the point of having Mark Hamill show up if there isn't going to be a Star Wars reference?
These days, Obligitory Jokes tend to be subverted in the vein of Anti-Humor
or So Unfunny It's Funny
. One character could say "Aren't you going to say <X>?" and get a confused look or a deadpan "No.". Critics and reviewers tend to use them fairly regularly, Lampshade Hanging
See also Incredibly Lame Pun
, Bond One-Liner
, Quip to Black
, and others, which have considerable overlap. You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost
is one subtrope. A Punny Name
or Unfortunate Name
resulting in this may make someone a Phrase Catcher
Common responses include Lame Pun Reaction
, Collective Groan
, "You Just Had to Say It
," "Never Heard That One Before
," or if you're really lucky "That's... Actually Pretty Funny
- In Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure a one-shot comic by Walt Simonson and Mike Mignola, at one point Wolverine falls through a trapdoor and is held prisoner by Apocalypse.
Apocalypse: Greetings, Wolverine! I hope you don't mind, I'm required by law to say this, but how nice of you to drop in so unexpectedly!
- At the end of "Return To Plain Awful," as the gang are leaving the square-shape-obsessed land:
Scrooge: Oh, no, nephew, don't say it! Please!
Donald: They made it SQUARE!
- Quantum of Solace:
- Comes up, naturally, in Iron Man 3 when Tony's fighting the Extremis enhancile Ellen Brandt and her heat powers.
Tony: You walked right into this one — I've dated hotter chicks than you!
- Austin Powers, the first movie, had Austin and Vanessa escape Dr Evil's death trap, leaving the guard get his head bitten off by the ill-tempered sea bass. Austin then launches into a Hurricane of Puns about losing one's head, while Vanessa waits patiently for him to finish, both seemingly well aware of this trope.
- Discussed in Hot Fuzz.
Nicholas: I left him in the deep freezer.
Danny: Did you say "Cool off"?
- The Dresden Files: To hear Harry Dresden tell it, he's the original this. He claims that he's now so well known that if he isn't flip and punny to every supernatural being of a distinctly higher weight class than him, they'll be insulted, because they expect him to be. Note that this was a retrospective excuse to Sigrun for pissing off Odin's secretaries.
- Only a few people actually make jokes about Moist von Lipwig's name in Going Postal, but he seems to think people will, saying things like "I've heard all the jokes" and "Please don't laugh."
- Likewise with Adora Belle Dearheart. "As you can imagine, I have no sense of humor whatsoever:"
- On QI, giving the obvious-but-incorrect answer causes an alarm to ring and the panelist to forfeit points. Obvious riffs such as these sometimes trigger the klaxon as well.
- Castle uses the "tied up right now" variant when the eponymous character had bound himself to a chair to see whether he could free himself. Played with in another episode Lanie finds out that the recent victim, who had been burnt in a pizza oven, has the last name "Burns". She tells Castle, who had started to look excited, to make the Obligatory Joke...but it turns out that Castle had actually recognized the name.
- Castle is fond of these. In Castle's first novel, his expy says "It's raining men" when a crime scene contained an outdoor table umbrella with a victim's blood and guts on it.
- Get Smart. Maxwell Smart is trying to break into a villain's hideout when a trapdoor drops him into a chair in front of the villain who starts to say, "Mr Smart, how nice of you to..." with both Smart and the villain finishing in an ironic tone "...drop in, yes."
- Done in an episode of Grimm that featured music students:
Wu: "Guess they're going to have to face the music."
Wu: "Somebody had to."
- Paige does this in Charmed when talking to Cole:
- The X-Files: Upon finding the body of a black guy with all the pigmentation sucked out of him, Mulder comments, "There's a Michael Jackson joke in here somewhere, but I can't figure out where."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Life Serial" Buffy goes out for a night of drinking with vampire Spike, who invites himself to a demon poker game, only he hasn't got any cash.
Spike: Come on, someone's gotta stake me.
Buffy: (grinning) I'll do it! (Off Spike's look) What, you thought I was just gonna let that lie there?
- When CNN was reporting on 2011 Egyptian Revolution, one of the cycled headers printed at the bottom of the screen was "Pyramid Scheme". It's a stretch to call it a "scheme" and it's a stretch to say pyramids had much to do with it, but, hey, obligatory.
- It's lampshaded in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People episode 5. Homestar is in a dungeon suspended by his "arms". Strong Bad asks him what's up:
Homestar: "Oh, you know, not much..."
Strong Bad: (sighs) "You can say it, Homestar..."
Homestar: "Just hangin' around."
- In RuneScape, when the player talks to their creeping hand pet (an animated, severed hand), they would invariably make a hand-related pun.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man had Green Goblin do the "tied up" joke, chuckling to himself that you gotta love the classics.
- In the Danny Phantom episode "Doctor's Disorders", Penelope Spectra tries to get a sample of Danny's DNA to make a perfect body for herself. When she's not looking, Danny swaps it out with something from his dad's used handkerchief. The result is Spectra turning into a Jack Fenton-shaped snot monster. Danny comments, "There's a 'You blew it' pun here somewhere, but I'd rather not." When the fight begins, Spectra growls, "Let's boogie!" to which Danny replies, "That's exactly the kind of pun I was trying to avoid with the 'You blew it' comment!"
- In a particularly silly episode of The New Batman Adventures, Robin and Batgirl are fighting genetically altered giant cows. Batgirl lampshades the fact that Robin couldn't resist yelling "Holy Cow!"
- The page quote was used in Justice League after the heroes foiled Gorilla Grodd's plot to turn all of humanity into gorillas.
- In one episode of Kim Possible, Kim discovers that the villain keeps electric eels, to which she replies, "The puns just write themselves. Shocking, isn't it?" Of course, the villain says the very same line later when he reveals his electric eels.
- Subverting obligatory jokes makes up about 90% of The Simpsons—it's actually kind of shocking when they do play them straight.
- Launchpad gets 3 uses of "crash course" in DuckTales (including the movie).
- Subverted in Garfield and Friends where Garfield and Jon check into an in, and the nutty old innkeeper tells them to "Walk this way!" while showing them their rooms, hunched over and walking with a gait. Garfield turns to the viewers and says, "Don't worry, we aren't doing that old joke". (Probably a double subversion, actually, because simply saying that was a variant of the joke.)
- One example of this joke was unique to The Smurfs. In "The Astrosmurf", on a long trip to a volcano, one of the smurfs asked "Is it much father, Papa Smurf?" He replied, "Not far now." Another smurf repeated the question and he repeated the same answer again, through about three consecutive scenes; the joke ended with one of them asking it, and him replying angrily, "Yes it IS!" From that episode on, the joke was used every time they had to make a long trip; in fact, it was lampshaded in one late-season episode, where after one of them asked it a second time, Papa Smurf snapped, "Oh, don't start that again!"