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Orphaned Punchline
"... and that's why the database hates you."

When characters are seen telling jokes to one another, we rarely get to hear the entire joke: usually we will just hear the setup or the punchline. Punchlines are often more common, as it allows us to cut to the end and see other people's reaction to the joke, whether it be rip-roaring hilarity, monocle-popping disgust or a deathly quiet.

An advantage of this over actually telling the joke is that the writer's sense of humor may not match with the viewers, leading to a different reading of the joke, when it's easier to just suggest it. It also functions as a form of Getting Crap Past the Radar, hinting at filth in works that would never allow it. The punchlines or setups are often from actual jokes (usually dirty or obscure ones), so there are several stock punchlines you hear. Alternatively they're intended to be as weird as possible, leaving the audience wondering what the setup/punchline could possibly be — in most of these cases, the setup/punchline never existed in the first place.

Another alternative is a dirty Limerick which is cut off before the end. People from Nantucket are common, as well as something akin to:
... and then I says to him, "That's no dragon, that's my mother!"

See also Late to the Punchline, Lost In Transmission, Noodle Implements and Forgotten Trope.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • An (infamous) Australian advert for Clayton's from the 70s began with actor Jack Thompson (not that Jack Thompson) in a bar giving the punchline "Now we can all get some sleep!" to uproarious laughter.
  • An American TV ad from the '70s began with a man at a bar saying, "And the kangaroo won!" to much laughter.
  • A current ad for Miller Lite begins with a man saying to his girlfriend, "And when I got there, he had 13 monkeys!" as she laughs.
  • In a memorable American Express commercial with Jerry Seinfeld, we hear the end of a joke tailored to British audiences. "...So I took the butcher some of the apples and pears and said, 'What is this, the tea interval?'"
  • A 2013 commercial for the New York State Lottery showed a series of clips of a man telling jokes (written by writers he hired with his lottery winnings). Each clip ends with one of these. Only one makes sense on its own:
    Man:(holding a melon)He was born with no face!

    Anime & Manga 
  • A surprisingly smutty one appears in the Pokémon 2000 movie (the English dub, at least). One character is heard finishing an anecjoke with "...and then she says 'No, but I have Krabbys!'"
  • A variation occurs in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's:
    Vita: We have a saying in Belka: "If you're an emissary of peace, don't bring a spear!"
    Nanoha: The girl who came at me fighting without even a warning is saying that to me?!
    Zafira: That's not a saying, that's the punchline to a joke.
    Vita: Shut up! Who cares about those minor details!
  • In one Darker than Black episode, April calls the phone of her partner, November 11 and gets a recorded message in which he tells a joke. In the English dub, the audience hears the beginning in which he starts talking about a Shepherd, and then the ending which is the traditional "That's my wife".
  • The beauty/comedy contest in episode 18 of Keroro Gunsou features a few of these. This is made more obvious in Funimation's Gag Dub version, highlights of which include the punchline of the funniest joke in Keroro's repertoire ("And she gets mad when I suck my thumb!") and a reference to the infamous "Japanese golfer" joke ("What do you mean, it's the wrong hole?").
  • In Lucky Star, some scenes cut in just as a character finishes a joke regarding 'something stinky'. Variations on this are played as a Running Gag. There's also a number of examples that don't follow that pattern.
  • In the "dream" episode/chapter of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, everyone's personalities are reversed, and so instead of his usual insightful/hopeful stories, Jun Kudo whispers a dirty joke in Sensei's ear. The audience doesn't hear it, but Nozomu comments that it was about a man who injured both of his hands and was helped by his mother-in-law. In a way, most of Kudo's stories are this, as the audience generally doesn't hear the whole story, but just sees the cast's reaction.
    • It's not that hard to figure out the joke.
  • Happens in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Abridged. As Jotaro is about to explain how D'Arby managed to cheat against Joseph (it involved letting the sun melt a piece of chocolate), the screen cuts to a still of Rule 63 Jotaro and Dio. When we get back to Jotaro, he finishes with "...Intercourse".

    Comics 
  • The Sandman story "Men of Good Fortune" began and ended with snippets of conversation in pubs, 600 years apart, with similarities including the punchline "... up her dress, and she says, 'Hunting for rabbits again, Vicar?'" ("friar" in the medieval version).
    • In the one-shot Sandman Midnight Theater a party scene includes what seems to be the middle of the same joke: "...so — no, this is funny — the farmer says, 'Vicar, I'll not say another word about the poaching, if only you'll tell me how you caught all those rabbits'..."
    • The joke can be found in the second reply here. It's not work-safe.
    • Also in The Sandman is Thor's joke resulting in the punchline, "You're Thor? I'm tho thore I can hardly pith!" It found a cold reception.
  • In the XXXenophile story "Hoisters", we get the punchline
    "... so the butler says 'Well, if it's that kind of party, I'll just stick my nose in the mashed potatoes.'"
    • This is a reference either to comedian Mantan Moreland, or more likely the Beastie Boys who sampled a line from That Ain't My Finger for "B-Boys Makin' with the Freak-Freak" on Ill Comunication.
  • The Far Side: "Then the bartender says 'Hey, that's not a duck!'" on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
    • Another cartoon had a butter knife doing a stand-up act in front of an audience of flatware. The caption read, "...and the waiter said, 'That's not a soup spoon!' But seriously, forks..."
  • In Garfield it's used several times with Garfield's fence act:
    And so the moose says: "That was no chicken, that was my wife!"
    So the guy says "Hey, I thought that was your face!"
    So the chicken says, "That was no herring, that was my trout!"
    So he says, "That was no aardvark, that was my wife!"
  • Zits has a number of strips that open with the tail end of one of Walt's stories, with the rest of the strip dealing with Jeremy's reaction.
  • A speech instead of a joke from Dilbert:
    Pointy-Haired Boss: Our top priority is quality. And our other top priority is price...and service...and... [one hour later] and that's why circles are round.
  • Astro City gives us Crackerjack's "...so the woman says 'You idiot — This is a duck, not a pig!' And the bartender says "I was talking to the duck!'"
  • The original graphic novel of The Crow contains a scene in which one of T-Bird's henchmen is telling T-Bird a joke. He's gotten as far as "so then the hooker says" before he's interrupted, first by his own laughter and then by a shotgun blast to the head through the roof of the car. When T-Bird later attempts to escape in the same car, with the corpse still in the passenger's seat, he facetiously asks him to finish the joke.
  • In the Bone prequel Stupid, Stupid Rat-Tails, Big Johnson Bone, having been run out of town for cheating in a card game, gives his monkey companion a long-winded explanation as to why there was an ace up his sleeves. The story is so long that it goes on to the morning of the next day!
    "—Then what did I see at my feet? Completely untouched by the explosion that leveled a good hundred miles of forest— Yes sir, that's right, a single playing card— An Ace of Spades to be precise. So I picked it up and put it inside my coat in case whoever lost it came lookin'.
  • The Pinkie Pie My Little Pony Micro Series gives us this one from Equestria's funniest clown:
    Ponyacci: "...so I said 'Alligator? I thought you meant bagpipes! '"

    Films — Animation 
  • Near the start of Finding Nemo, Marlin tries to tell a joke about a mollusk and a sea cucumber. We get to hear the punchline at the end: "With fronds like these, who needs anemones?"
    • The DVD has a bunch of bonus alternate orphaned punchlines, including "Hey, this stuff tastes like carp!"
  • In G.I. Joe: The Movie, Quick Kick is telling Gung Ho a joke that ends with "I says to the guy 'I don't care if it takes all night, we're gonna get there by morning."
    • According to writer Buzz Dixon, this is the punch line to the dirtiest joke he ever heard.
  • Chicken Run: "...So the pig turns to the horse and says, 'Hey, buddy. Why the long face?'"

    Films — Live Action 
  • in 2010 Dr. Floyd tries to keep a panicking Dr. Curnow calm during his spacewalk with a joke about a marathon runner and a chicken. When Curnow presses him for the punchline, Floyd admits he made it up.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: "...And then they made me their chief."
  • Men In Black. In the first film, K ends a joke with the line "But honey, this one's eating my popcorn!" This is the one about a man who brings a live chicken into a movie theater stuffed down his pants.
  • This was originally featured in the movie The Sting. The vaudeville comedian starts his routine but the main character is in the foreground talking over him so we don't here the first part. Once the main character leaves, the scene remains long enough, that we hear that punchline to the joke he just told.
  • One of the comedians in the movie Punchline has an act which seems to entirely consist of only the punchlines to old jokes.
  • An old Laurel and Hardy movie has Ollie leave the room for a bit, telling Stan to keep the women entertained while he's gone. When he comes back, Stan is telling the shocked women, "... so then the farmer walks in, and shoots the traveling salesman."
  • In Some Like It Hot, we hear the end of what was (apparently) a very dirty joke about a girl tuba player who was stranded on a desert island with a one-legged jockey:
    "... so the one-legged jockey says 'Don't worry about me, sweetheart! I ride sidesaddle!'"
  • In Ernest Goes to Africa, Ernest tells the tribesmen a joke with the punchline "It's a knick-knack, Patty Black, give the frog a loan!" The actual joke is about a frog trying to get a bank loan using a miniature model of the Eiffel Tower as collateral.
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Fozzie tries to bring Kermit out of his amnesia by giving examples of his "humor":
    Fozzie: "...so, the grizzly bear, he walks out of the room. Well, the panda bear's just sittin' there. And he thinks to himself, 'This is odd!' And then - whaddaya know, the phone rings. You know who it is? It's the polar bear. And the polar bear, he says to the panda bear, 'I didn't know it was a koala bear!' Get it? Koala? Wocka-wocka!"
  • Trading Places: Winthorpe's frat-mates sing their bawdy (by Ivy League standards) tune, cut to the patio, where Bunny is finishing her anecdote: "and she stepped on the ball!"
  • The first High School Musical sees Troy telling Chad about something involving pink jelly, apparently an ad libbed line about a dream Zac Efron had had. In the second film, Sharpay's father twice uses "...and then she stepped on the ball!"
  • "...and then she stepped on the ball!" is also an Orphaned Punchline in Auntie Mame (1958), and is probably the Ur-Shout-Out to all the above.
  • The Usual Suspects: To distract Saul and his bodyguards before attacking them, Hockney is telling a story - the line we hear is "so I open the car door, and this chick is totally naked..." Apparently, later in the movie one of the guards on the boat gives the setup to this line in Hungarian.
  • In the Rodney Dangerfield film Back to School, a new scene begins with Rodney's character Thornton telling a joke to the college dean: "...And she said, "Let's do it! The room's already paid for!"
  • RoboCop (1987): "I'd buy that for a dollar!"
  • A minor character tracks down the protagonist in Trois Couleurs, Bleu to return her necklace taken from the car crash at the start of the movie. In return he asks her to explain her husband's dying words to him "Essayez de tousser, maintenant" (try to cough now). She explains that it was the punchline to a joke he'd been telling about a woman who goes to see a doctor about a chronic cough and is given a powerful laxative.
  • A small scene towards the end of When Harry Met Sally opens at the New Year's Eve party before Harry shows up, and Sally has been buttonholed by a stranger who's been trying to tell her a joke. The punchline is "And then the nun says, 'Read the card!'" Sally is not amused. Given that the joke in question is about a nun pursuing a crush on her gynecologist by inserting a bouquet of flowers into an uncomfortable place, one can scarcely blame her.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "...And that, my liege, is how we know the earth to be banana-shaped." What's funnier, he might be serious - it's certainly in character for him to think the world is shaped like a banana. Stranger still is the fact that it's not that different to Stephen Hawking's theory that the universe is saddle shaped and was written 9 years before Hawking published his own theory.
  • In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes is briefly imprisoned following the destruction of a ship and is forced to pacify the other inmates with joke telling. Lestrade comes to tell him his bail has been posted just as Holmes delivers the punchline 'To which the barman says, "May I push in your stool?"'
  • In Star Trek: Generations, Data starts laughing, saying he's finally gotten a joke Geordi LaForge told during the events of the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" seven years earlier which the audience never heard. He repeats the punchline: "...The clown can stay, but the Ferengi in the gorilla suit has to go!"
  • In Millers Crossing, we hear Caspar deliver the punchline of a fairly well known joke: "He said 'fuck him, give him a fiver'. The coffee was my idea."
  • In Peewees Big Adventure, Pee-wee mingles into a crowd following Milton Berle just as he finishes a joke with the punchline, "So the other fella said, 'What do you think I got down here, a duck?'" Even though he didn't hear the rest of the joke, Pee-wee laughs heartily to fit in.
  • Black Sheep: A stoned Chris Farley delivers this gem.
    "Rectum? Damn Near Killed 'Em!"
  • Inverted in Four Flies on Grey Velvet. The audience hears the elaborate set-up for a joke title 'The Rape of Frankenstein', but never gets to hear the punchline.

    Jokes 
  • A real-life meta-joke.
  • The line "as the actress said to the bishop", used in British humour to lampshade Double Entendre, is believed to be one of these. Its original context is unknown, but many attempts have been made to reconstruct the joke.
  • Any inside joke between people is one of these.
  • It is also statistically bound to happen with Carambars. For those not in the know, it's a caramel candy with jokes inside the paper. But the paper is cut by a machine that doesn't know where jokes end. So you often get jokes missing a punchline, and orphaned punchlines.
  • A QI discussion of the oldest recorded jokes mentions an example of this caused by the fragment being broken;
    Stephen: It's joke 114 in the Philogelos, an ancient joke book – This Abderite asks a eunuch how many children he has. And the eunuch goes, 'Duh – none. I'm a eunuch.' So the Abderite says... and the fragment is missing. So we don't have the punchline. So I'm inviting you to provide the punch line. Okay, "How many children have you got, eunuch?" and the eunuch says "I don't have any, I'm a eunuch." And the Abderite, who's thick, says...?
    Clive: "How many grandchildren, then?"
  • Richard Pryor's famous fishing joke would probably fit here. Just saying, "... And it's deep, too!" can elicit laughter.
  • An arguable case: once a clay tablet from ancient Sumer has been unearthed, that — apart from several exchanges euphemistically described as riddles — bore a damaged fragment of text ending in "...your mother". Was it the world's oldest Your Mother joke? Lacking the setup, we will probably never know.

    Literature 
  • A semi-example of this type of thing is when we hear the middle of Vernon Dursley's "Japanese golfer" joke in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which apparently some people have recognized as not the kind of joke you tell in civilized company. (Well, the punchline is "What do you mean, 'wrong hole'?", if that tells you anything...)
    • Let's just say it's not the kind of joke you'd tell in front of your wife, your twelve-year-old son, your boss, and his wife, and leave it at that. It involves a Japanese prostitute and implied anal sex...
  • In the Discworld novels Feet of Clay and Jingo, Nobby Nobbs tells a series of inappropriate jokes in mixed company. In neither does the reader hear anything other than the punchline "That's funny, it's never done that when I've tried it!" and a reference to "the one about the very small man with the piano". The latter is mentioned in Feet of Clay as well, and is told in its entirety on this page.
    • That joke also comes up in this xkcd.
    • Nobby also mentions another joke he told: "And they laughed even though they don't have the same kind of doorbells here!" The joke just might involve a man with multiple broken bones.
    • Nanny Ogg's "Just twist the first thing you can grab, as the priest said to the vestal virgin." This seems to be used as the Discworld version of That's What She Said's ancestor, "... as the bishop said to the actress."
    • In Carpe Jugulum, Magrat mentions to Nanny that now that she's a mother, she gets most of Nanny's favorite jokes, "except for the one about the old woman, the priest, and the rhinoceros," to which Nanny replies "I certainly hope not! I didn't understand that one until I was forty."
    • Nobody knows the origin of the phrase "pull the other one, it's got bells on," (in real life, it's just a play on "pulling my leg") but it's been theorized in-story to come from a long-lost joke about a particularly torture-happy ruler who tried to outlaw Morris dancing.
    • Also, the Feegle battlecry "Bang went sixpence!", taken from an old joke about how Scottish are cheapskates: "I wasna there more'n two hours, and bang went sixpence!" Daft Wullie actually gets a line like this in Wintersmith.
  • Used at several points including in the Thursday Next novels, including unidentified jokes being mentioned and characters attempting to understand the jokes in question. Most jokes are identifiable, if obscure.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, the viewpoint character is told that "laughing because it hurts too much to cry" is the basis of all comedy, and she's shown to consider this by mentally listing the punchlines of all the jokes she knows:"-her entire bridge club."..."Should I bow?"..."Neither one, you idiot — instead!"..."-the Chinaman objects."..."-broke her leg."..."-make trouble for me!"..."-but it'll spoil the ride for me."..."-and his mother-in-law fainted."..."Stop you? Why, I bet three to one you could do it!"..."-something has happened to Ole."..."-and so are you, you clumsy ox!"
  • Kurt Vonnegut was fond of mentioning the punch line of his favorite dirty joke: "Keep your hat on. We may wind up miles from here." We never did find out the rest.
  • A flurry of these mark the climax of Chris Crutcher's short story The Pin.
  • Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy has one that shows up at least once in every book, serving as a common element between the various Alternate Universes between which the narrative (insomuch as one actually exists) jumps more or less at random.
    • It's the title of an article Malik read in Reader's Digest, if my memory serves me and if I'm pondering what you're pondering. And we never do find out what "No Wife, No Horse, No Mustache" is all about.
    • Errr... this may need a spoiler. apparently in a very old Western movie, later remade for TV and as a Reader's digest abridged novel, "No Wife, No Horse, No Mustache" is a derisory dismissal of a very young would-be greenhorn cowboy: too young to shave, too unappealing to have a wife, and too poor to own a horse, therefore no conceivable use to anyone.
    • And like all Wilson's aphorisms, it may also have a spiritual/mystical meaning; the seeker after truth should have no earthly encumbrances or family ties (no wife), should present only his own un-masked face to the world (no mustache) and trust only his own strength and resources (no horse - he walks).
  • David Brin, Earth:
    Teresa: This time, though, Bob didn't whisper in Thunder's left ear. He didn't whisper in the right. This time he held the horse's face, looked him straight in the eye, and said, "Read my lips, dummy. I told you to go get a Posse!"
    • The beginning of the joke has Bob being captured, but allowed to send his horse with a message. The hearing impaired horse brings back a woman.
  • In the Judge Dee book The Chinese Lake Murders, while the Judge has been occupied, his Lovable Sex Maniac assistant Ma Joong has been talking with other servants. When the Judge finds him again, he is at the end of a joke (or autobiographical anecdote) which concludes "... and that was when the bed broke."
  • The The Lost Years of Merlin book series has something like this. Bumblewy, the mournful jester, always asks if he can tell his Bell Riddle, but because of his reputation as a failed jester,everyone interrupts him before he can tell it. At the end of the story, when Merlin tells him to just tell it already, he realizes that he's forgotten the riddle, and that he just kept trying to tell it expecting people to interrupt him before he could
  • The same phrase shows up in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, referred to as "the punch line to a joke making the rounds". "Acres and acres and it's all mine!"
    • I heard a joke with similar punchline. It was about a dwarf who married a giantess, and then gleefully jumped up and down on her, shouting this.
  • In Sweet Silver Blues, Morley pretends to be telling Garrett a joke, so he can warn him that their campsite is being watched. Garrett plays along, and fakes a big laugh "like it was the one about the bride who didn't know the bird need to be cleaned before it went in the oven". The actual joke, though evidently hilarious, is never mentioned again.
    • Garrett tries to tell Gilbey a joke about a troll, ogre, and barbarian walking into a bar in Faded Steel Heat, but Gilbey's heard it before and jumps straight to the punch line ("Mice are never amusing"), leaving the middle of the joke unsaid.
  • In the young adult book Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst, one of Anastasia's friends complains that her older brother frequently begins to tell jokes at the dinner table, but is always hushed by her father. So she has heard many setups, but no punchlines. Some of the brother's jokes include: "A man goes to the psychiatrist, and says: 'Doctor, you have to help me, because everything I see reminds me of breasts.' " and "How do you make a hormone?" The punchline to the second one? "Refuse to pay her."
  • Morris Gletizman's Blabber Mouth briefly mentions a joke about an octopus and a combine harvester, which is apparently only funny if you tell it in sign language.
  • In The Han Solo Trilogy of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, we see one of these when Han tells Chewbacca a joke, right when Chewie is drinking some foamy beer, so the laughing Wookiee sends suds flying everywhere. When Chewie gets irritated at this, Han points out that's how the joke was told to him, too.
  • In Jurassic Park, we get to hear the punchline of a joke Malcolm tells Dr. Harding. Gennaro walks in just in time to catch the punchline: "So the other man says, 'I'll tell you frankly, I didn't like it, Bill. I went back to toilet paper!'"
  • In The Time Of The Transference, Mudge saves the group from a hungry dragon by sending it into uncontrollable laughing fits with a hilarious story. Details aren't given, but after their escape, the others recount which parts — the Baker's College, the traveling ladies' choir, the elephant, the six chimps — they found funniest.
  • In Alex Scarrow's Time Riders, an almost certainly crude Orphaned Punchline appears in the third book: "... and the pig says, 'If you seen the things I've seen your wife doin', you're tail'd be curly too!'", as told by a group of soldiers. Liam, the teenage main character accompanying them, doesn't get it. The soldier begins to explain, but an ambush prevents much elaboration.
  • Two (possibly more) of the Star Trek novels had someone walk in a room in time to hear; "I don't know where you've been lad, but I see you won first prize." Which is the last line (more or less, as it varies depending on who's singing it) from The Scotsman Song.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Restless," Anya is on stage telling a joke. We hear the very beginning, where she fumbles, and the end, when she says, "And then the duck says, 'There's a man attached to my ass,'" to much hearty applause and laughter.
  • Blackadder: "... and so the bishop said, 'I'm sorry Officer, I didn't realize you meant organist!'"
  • In Doctor Who serial "The Green Death", The Doctor tells a joke that ends with the line "Never trust a Venusian shanghorn with your perigosto stick."
  • In the Friends episode "The One with the Apothecary Table", a scene starts with Chandler finishing a joke: "And then the farmer says, 'That's not a cow, and you're not milking!'"
    • In "The One with the Joke", we don't even get told the punchline; we just get Chandler and Ross trying to explain it to Joey: "You see, the doctor's a monkey. And monkeys can't write prescriptions!" We also discover, courtesy of Monica, that it is offensive to women, doctors, and monkeys.
    • In "The One with the Male Nanny", Monica mentions a joke Chandler told to her about "Jerry Lewis and the girl with the lazy eye."
    • In "The One with Chandler's Work Laugh", Monica walks over to a group of people listening to a joke being told by Chandler's boss. The joke ends with "five dollars father, same as in town." Which is the ending of a joke involving a priest being propositioned by several prostitutes in town.
  • In the French Canadian show Le cœur a ses raisons, Brittany explains how she survived during what seems like several hours, and we only hear: "And then I gave birth in a submarine! And my four fingers grew back."
  • Herman's Head: As Herman discusses the Zany Scheme of an episode with Louise, she suddenly responds to his question if it's crazy by dramatically saying that it was Crazy Enough to Work, explaining to his puzzlement that there are two lines she had been dying to try, and that was one of them. The other? - "Captain - it is I, Ensign Pulver, and I just threw your stinkin' palm tree overboard! That one's gonna be a little harder to work into conversation." Later in the episode Louise's voice is heard triumphantly piping up with that phrase over the din of conversation and the audience is left wondering what gave her the necessary opening.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street had Meldrick Lewis frequently tell the same filthy joke, of which the audience only ever got to hear the punch line: "You're not here to hunt, are you?" In one episode, his partner Kellerman only says that line, to which Lewis replies that the build-up to the punchline is the whole point.
  • Night Court had, as a Running Gag, this punchline: "Twenty dollars, same as in town!" There were occasional variations like "So Anna Karenina says, 'Twenty rubles, same as in St. Petersburg."
    • This one's originally about a nun. [1]
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • In the episode "The Naked Now", Data reports a limerick he had heard from somebody who had been "intoxicated" by a polywater compound: "There was a young lady from Venus / Whose body was shaped like a—" He is then interrupted by Picard.
    • In the teaser for "Conspiracy", cue Geordi ending a joke he's telling Data...who then more-or-less recaps the content.
    Geordi: So the guy staggers to his feet, and goes back to the girl, right? Well she smiles, looks him straight in the eye and says, "Just try that in hyperspace"! (Laughing)
    • In "The Outrageous Okona" episode Data starts a joke "A monk, a clone, and a Ferengi decide to go bowling together..."; it's possible that "The clown can stay..." was the punchline, which would make this an unusual case where we hear the beginning and the end of a joke, but still have no idea why it would be funny.
  • Two from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, both told by Quark to Morn: "And the Andorian says, 'Your brother?! I thought that was your wife!'" And the other one is, "And then the Andorian says, 'That's not my antenna.'" The first one took Morn a little while to get, but then he busted out laughing; the other one was met with stony silence.
    • It's quite likely that the first joke was the writers being extra clever; Andorians have 4 sexes, two of which look roughly male and two of which look roughly female, so if an Andorian sees two males acting like they're family it's perfectly natural, from their perspective, to assume they're married.
      • Which makes it an ethnic joke about Andorians. Spacism is cool!
    • The pilot of Deep Space Nine establishes Morn himself as quite a storyteller; we first see him just after he's told the funniest joke in the universe and everyone is laughing. Morn is quite a talker, we just never see it.
  • The very first line of the very first episode of The Drew Carey Show:
    Lewis: ... and that's why the French don't wash.
    • Ryan Stiles originally used this line in a similar fashion on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Reportedly, Drew Carey saw the episode in question, and when Stiles was cast in The Drew Carey Show, Carey encouraged Stiles to use the joke again.
  • In an episode of Firefly, Wash (and the audience) come in just as Shepard Book finishes telling an anecdote that has the rest of the crew in hysterics: "No! There wasn't one among the brethren had the heart to say anything. He was so proud of it!"
    • Another had Mal finishing a joke with, "So the Companion says to the Shepherd, 'Well, a good goat'll do that.'"
  • Cheers featured more than one occasion in which Diane told a joke with a French punchline: "So I said, 'Si vous parlez lentement, je ne peux pas comprendre!'", which translates to "If you speak slowly, I can't understand!"
  • A famous Steve Martin monologue from Saturday Night Live: "Oh, did I assassinate your penguin?"
  • Heroes: Nathan Petrelli tells his campaign staff the joke that ends with "... holy cow, a talking dog!"
  • Used on Dexter, though the writers don't try to hide how dirty the joke is. Dexter walks into the bar just as Lila is telling Angel and Masuka the punchline, which is "But you fuck one little goat..."
    • Right after that Masuka starts telling a joke but is immediately stopped by Angel, fearing it might be inappropiate.
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks "And now, some punchlines we didn't have time to use this week."
    • Subverted in some Series 9 episodes by having a punchline announced before the cast intros and told in full later during the show.
  • Seinfeld's "The Yada Yada" features a joke about rabbi and the farmer's daughter, where the punchline is "Those aren't mahtzah balls." and an another one about the Pope and Raquel Welch in a lifeboat, where the punchline is either "I said, pass the buoys" or "Those aren't buoys." Interestingly, Jerry tells only the beginning and end of the joke to a priest (passing over the middle with the titular conversation fudger) and the priest gets a kick out of it anyway.
    • Invoked by Jerry in "The Little Kicks". Jerry asks Kramer to pretend they're talking, so Kramer says "So I killed the guy, and they're still looking for me."
  • On How I Met Your Mother, a montage of how Ted is like a dad starts with the ending to a lame joke ("Shredded tweet") and ends with the set-up ("What do you get when a bird meets a lawnmower?").
    • To explain away Alyson Hannigan's maternity leave, the show has Barney tell Lily a "hilarious boy joke", i.e. a dirty joke, that causes her to shun Barney for several weeks. The setup is "What's the difference between peanut butter and jam." While it's a real joke, and dirty, it's not as funny as they make it out to be. So, in this case Orphaned Setup.
      • The joke itself isn't that funny. The context of Barney telling it to Lily, on the other hand...
    • In the final season, Barney has gotten so drunk that the alcohol acts as a Truth Serum. Ted and Robin use the opportunity to ask him a number of questions that they (and the audience) have been wondering about for most of the series. For a number of them we only hear Barney's answers and without knowing the context they end up as NoodleIncidents. The natural assumption is that they relate to some sexual depravity Barney committed but one incident that is actually explained in more detail was actually referring to Barney sharing a cab. It is left to the viewer's imagination what kind of question could have prompted an answer of "not while she was the Secretary of State" and whether "now while she was the Secretary of State'' referred to the same thing or something completely different.
  • Played with on 3rd Rock From The Sun:
    Officer Don: So then I said to the robber, "Not your pants, the gun!"
    (everyone laughs)
    Officer Don: Yeah... that didn't really happen.
  • Farscape: In "Through the Looking Glass" Rygel has been telling John a joke in YellowMoya, which ends with "...And then the Trawlian priest turns to the Calanese cleric and says, "Doesn't bother me. You should have seen her mother!"
    • And in "We're So Screwed Part 2," two hooka-smoking Charrid officers in a Bad-Guy Bar are heard saying "Cause the Kalish had no idea, 'cause he's a frelling harpooda!"
  • An episode of Freaks and Geeks revolves around Sam not understanding a risqué joke that others keep telling. For most of the episode we only hear the punchline ("How do you think I rang the doorbell?") until the very end of the episode when Sam begins to tell it to his gym teacher and everything finally makes sense. "So there's this man with no arms and no legs..."
  • One sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look opens with a newscaster announcing Jimmy Savile has received three life sentences. "You think you know a guy, and then he goes and does something like that." This was years before the cover-up scandal exploded.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. "Putting your head on the camel, paste down the edge of the sailor's uniform, until the word "Maudling" is almost totally obscured."
    • Another sketch inverts it by having the participants of the sketch realize that neither knows the punchline. They go to ask the BBC executive what it was, who reads the script in his hand, laughs to himself while remarking "we could make a whole series out of that" and then tells everyone that the sketch has run too long and they need to cut to the next one.
    • The pre-Monty Python John Cleese special, How To Irritate People, Mr. Cleese sets up a sketch about asshole airline pilots with the joke about the two beautiful blondes who were on their first trip to a nudist camp. As he starts to tell the joke, the audio cuts out, and it returns in time for the punchline: "Well, I didn't know he played the violin."
    • The sketch about the funniest joke in the world, which kills people with laughter, is a variant of this trope. We never hear the joke, just see people laughing themselves to death.
      • We do hear the joke - only it's been translated into German, and several of the words do not exist in any German dictionary. The only thing that keeps that sketch from being lethal is the fact that nobody in the world knows the meaning of the words Slotermeyer and Flipperwaldt.
    • Used in Another Monty Python Record, though not as the punchline to a joke per se.
      Phone Caller: Hello; I was just listening to this record with my wife and our au-pair, and I'd like to say how shocked we are that a pleasant collection of Norwegian folk songs should be turned into an excuse for Communist propaganda of the shoddiest kind! What's gone wrong with the world? I can't even take a bath without six or seven communists jumping in with me! They're in my shirt cupboard and Breshnev and Kosygen are in the kitchen now eating my wife's jam! Oh, they're climbing up my legs! I can see them peeping out of my wife's blouse! Why doesn't Mr. Maudling do something about it before it is to late?! Ohhh, God - [Phone is hung up]
      John Cleese: And several butcher's aprons.
  • Mild subversion in the Corner Gas episode "Safety First": One scene begins with the punchline, and then the next scene includes a flashback that explains the joke.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Beatniks", Crow simply creates his own orphaned punchline.
    Guy: Wouldja get off my back?
    Crow: Hey, that's the punchline to a dirty joke!
  • This clip from a 1985 episode of Late Night with David Letterman finds guest Johnny Carson delivering the punchline to a joke that he'd started on his own Tonight Show earlier that same day: "And the man says to Mrs. O'Hara, 'I'm not so sure about that, he got out three times to go to the bathroom.'"
    • Letterman has had such top ten lists as "top ten punchlines to dirty Scottish jokes" ("Aye, but it took me a fortnight to get out the thistles!")
    • He also has used this trope when flashbacking the answers to Viewer Mail Questions. A viewer wrote in to ask him what the deal was with his pants on such and such a date. Cue flashback. Dave is just finishing his monologue with "Cloak of invisibility my foot, there were squirrels all over the place!"
  • In a subversion on The Young Ones, Neil remarks that he's not feeling himself today, and Rik promptly suggests that "feeling yourself" is a cue for a really dirty joke. Vyvyan threatens him with death if he doesn't shut up, so we never find out if Rik had some specific joke in mind, or was fishing for one of the others — possibly Mike, the most likely candidate to know a good one — to tell a dirty joke.
  • During Oliver's funeral on Slings and Arrows, a story gets told about him that ends "Well, if it's not my car, I'm certainly not going to clean the upholstery!"
  • In As Time Goes By, several times Lionel tells a joke about a parrot with no legs that ends with the punchline "I got so excited I fell off my perch." The repeated failure of the joke is actually a gag for the audience.
  • In House, Chase tells Foreman a joke that ends with "... and the bear wipes himself with the rabbit!"
    • This one is actually told (crudely) in its entirety at the end of Eddie Murphy's 'Delirious' comedy show.
  • The following punchline appears in both Babylon 5 and Crusade: "... that's not my leg, that's my airhose!" The joke, whatever it was, was always met with howls of laughter.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, we hear the end of a joke Howard tells Bernadette: "So, two years later there's another knock on the door, the guy opens it, and there on his porch is the snail, who says: What the heck was all that about?" That's not a dirty joke, though.
    • This joke appears in its entirety in the movie Training Day.
    • "Hey Leonard, your momma's research methodology is so flawed..."
  • One of the vox pops from A Bit of Fry and Laurie: "...so I said to him, if God loves me he's got a funny way of showing it, hasn't he? And that shut him up, pope or no pope."
  • It's a Running Gag on Pardon The Interruption, with Tony Kornheiser saying something that usually disturbs Michael Wilbon.
  • Played with on 30 Rock, where Jack has the idea to write the punchlines first, then come up with sketches to match them. ("Nuts to you, McGillicuddy!" "Who ordered the wieners?" "Beep beep ribby ribby!")
    • And apparently Frank actually wrote a sketch based on "beep beep ribby ribby!"
  • Murder, She Wrote featured a cut to a party scene in which a Jerk Ass guest character was giving the line, "No, it says 'Welcome to Jamaica, mon, have a nice day!'"
    • "It" in this case is the tattoo on the speaker's Gag Penis.
  • Top Gear has begun to feature Orphaned Seinfeldian Conversations during the challenge segments.
  • A M*A*S*H episode opens with Col. Potter and Father Mulcahy together in the mess tent:
    Mulcahy: So the priest says, "Oh, my gosh, I thought it was an altar boy!" (after Potter fails to laugh) Uh...did I mention that he had a pet collie?
    Potter: No, you didn't.
    Mulcahy: Oh, dear. It's much funnier if you know that.
    Potter: Maybe.
    • Also from M*A*S*H, episode "Where There's a Will", this featured Hawkeye having a flashback to the surgeons getting wasted at the officers' club, with Winchester completely passed out in his chair while Potter stammers "So the third cowboy — looks at the orangutan — and says to the bartender, "'I'll have what he's having.'"
  • From The Kids in the Hall: We come in at the punchline of a joke told by a man committing one faux pas after another at a party: “...Well, if that’s your canary, who’s your wife?” When, even after repeating the punchline, the other man reacts with a blank stare, the man proceeds to sarcastically ask if the other man is deaf—which it turns out he is.
  • From Quantum Leap: "...and she said, 'Of course you can: that's where lawyers come from!' "
  • The Two and a Half Men episode Hey, Does This Smell Funny To You? subverts it slightly, since we do actually hear the whole joke (kind of, the first part was told by Charlie, and the punchline was given by Jake while giving his report), but the two parts did not mesh well.
    • Miley Cyrus' Missi character gives one at the beach to Jake in "And You Know What The Lollipop Is For":
    "And that is why you don't smoke pot in church!"
  • Londo has a couple on Babylon 5:
    Londo: And then he says "goulash"! Get it? Hahahaha!
  • In one episode of The Charmings, the family is hosting a halloween party. When a giant shows up (long story), Prince Charming and Snow White go off to handle the situation, leaving Luther in charge.
    Luther: What should I do?
    Prince Charming: Tell them a ghost story.
    Luther: (to kids) OK, two ghosts walk into a bar...
  • In an episode of Chicago Hope, an elevator door opens and two characters have the following conversation:
    Dr. Aaron Shutt(Adam Arkin): There is no getting through to you! It's like that joke about the Pope, the penguin and the agnostic! (steps out of the elevator)
    Tom Wilmette(Ron Silver): Um, I'm not familiar.
    Dr. Shutt: (looks at his watch, then gets back on the elevator) I'll tell it fast. Phone rings at the Vatican, pope picks it up...(elevator doors close)
  • In the episode "The Spy Who Shoved Me" of The Suite Life On Deck, Moseby and London, on separate occasions, tell a joke (or perhaps two different jokes with the same punchline) whose punchline is "Nougat!" Apparently, the guests find it hilarious, leaving the audience to wonder what was so funny.
  • One episode of The Mighty Boosh has Bob Fossil finish an anecdote with "...and that's why you should never bring a Cricket Bat to Greece!"
  • During the first couple of CBS years, Match Game would break for a commercial, then when they returned, the audience would be in the midst of gales of laughter. Gene Rayburn would turn to us and say puckishly "We were just listening to a passage from Beethoven's Ninth symphony..." (He would eventually entreat viewers to write for tickets and see a taping to get the full brunt of what goes on during commercial breaks.)
  • The line "...I said Ping Pong Balls, not King Kong's balls" has cropped up in a few of Peter Kay's TV shows, including Phoenix Nights and it's spin-off Max & Paddy's Road to Nowhere.
  • From an episode of The X-Files: "...so the parrot says, 'I only got one question: what did that chicken in there do?'"
  • This happens twice in the TV version of Hello Cheeky. The first time occurs when Barry explains that transmission of the show cut out in some areas, and that they've therefore compiled some highlights of part one, resulting in a stream of orphaned punchlines and setups, at least three of which weren't actually included in part one. The second time...
    Barry: And now, in the interest of economy, the three of us will tell a joke all at once.
    All: (overlapping speech)
    John: ...which just goes to show he could have painted it blue and joined the police!
  • In Saturday Night Live, the early years, when they did the Saturday Night Report, Chevy Chase would always start by being caught on the telephone when the News started. You heard the end of the phone conversation. "No, it's just CALLED blow, you really suck ....... Oh, gotta go."
  • The Benny Hill Show would regularly use this same gag.
  • The Fast Show had a recurring character named Rowley Birkin, who would sit in his chair telling a long rambling story, and his speech was so garbled that the audience could only make out bits and pieces of it. The finisher was always "...I was very, very drunk."
  • Not really a "joke," but in the time loop episode of Stargate SG-1, every time O'Neill is sent back in time, O'Neill is back at his bowl of cereal with Daniel Jackson saying to him "Anyways, I'm sorry, but that's the way I feel about it. What do you think?" It's also the first hint to O'Neill that something was very unusual about the situation. Exactly what Dr. Jackson was talking about was never elaborated on. Notable in that this was also an in-universe example: not only does the audience have no idea what Jackson is talking about, neither does O'Neill. O'Neill wasn't paying attention the first time, he isn't given the option in any of the subsequent loops, and he mentions that one of the irritating things about being sent back in time is constantly hearing the orphaned line.
  • In the first scene of a 1990 episode of The Cosby Show, Olivia calls a dial-a-joke phone service twice and hears a different joke each time. She tries to tell the first joke to Cliff but doesn't say the punchline. She gives the set-up for the second ("Two men are playing golf"), doesn't say the middle, and goes straight to the punchline ("It doesn't work unless you know how to putt!"), to Cliff's confusion.
  • Lloyd's "tasty joke" from the Breakout Kings episode "There Are Rules":
    The kid's crying, the mom is naked, and then the party clown says, "Now that is what I call a 'balloon knot'!"
  • In Mad About You, Paul overhears the end of an anecdote at a party. "You can't do that! This is Pennsylvania!" Those who were in on the joke found it hilarious.
  • There's a Full Frontal sketch that opens with a man delivering the punchline "that's not my wife, that's my Latvian dental hygienist!" and then laughing uproariously. The people to whom he was telling the joke have heard the whole thing, but they don't find it remotely funny. The man ends up literally laughing himself to death, after which one of the others says "I guess you had to be there" and walks away.
  • Orange Is The New Black has the repeated abandoned punchline, "So the penguin says, 'He's not an eggplant; he's retarded!'"
  • In an episode of Still Standing, Bill is shown laughing at a joke told by his mother-in-law, marveling that "that joke has everything: a gorilla, a whorehouse, and beans!" Later, after sister-in-law Linda tags along, Bill is shown laughing again, while Linda complains, "What would a gorilla even be doing in a whorehouse?"
  • On the final episode of Police Squad!, Frank Drebin (undercover as "Tony Da Wonderful") is performing on stage at a nightclub. We hear only the punchline of a very filthy joke: "So anyway, the guy looked up at her and he said, 'Lady, I don't think I can take sixty-seven more of those!'" The audience roars.
    • That one is about an inexperienced man attempting the 69 position with a partner who is suffering from flatulence.
  • Leverage: In "The Broken Wing Job", all we hear of the joke Hardison is telling the monkey is the punchline.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati had one in the opening credit sequence. We see a driver searching for a decent radio station. At one point, he comes upon this:
    News reporter: The senator, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity.

    Music 

    New Media 
  • Zero Punctuation, right after admonishing the creators S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky for having the audacity to release a game that was clearly still unfinished and riddled with bugs:
    Yahtzee: But I'll tell you the worst part worst part ab- worst part ab- worst part ab- worst part ab-
    Windows dialogue box: This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down. Angry policemen are en route and resistance will only make them angrier.
    [test card]
    [static]
    Yahtzee: And whistled for a baboon!
  • Semi-common on Image Boards, where multiple threads are used to create coherant jokes or image-series. Unless you visited the website at the right time, the only way to understand the point of these threads is to wait until someone compiles the screenshots.
  • The Edit Reasons page can occasionally read like this, especially when the page they're from seemingly has nothing to do with it:
    It wasn't an Oreo, it was one of those Little Debbie snacks. (Giant Food)
    At least two of those three examples are not exceptions (Yes, there is Rosie O'Donnel porn). So not accepting examples of them without substantiated proof that no one has ever made porn of them. (Omniscient Database)
    God, what a cool title (Axe Cop)
    We're not stupid. (The Protomen)
    Your Obedient Serpent logged in from work to make this change. Heinlein didn't and wouldn't say "diaper", gang! Lazarus Long was from turn-of-the-last-century Missouri! (Humans Are Average)
  • This picture posted on Cheezburger.com. The decsription reads, "So Marx, Thoreau, Mao, and Lenin go hiking one day and... (omitted for explicit content) ...then Marx says, 'now that’s what I call the opium of the people!' God I love that joke."
  • An anecdote about a deceased contributor to Eyrie Productions Unlimited who had an extraordinarily keen sense of humor noted that punchlines of jokes or situations that had previously sent him into hysterics could be used again out of context to repeat the effect, especially in the presence of (thoroughly baffled) people not present for the original telling. Most intriguing was one that was never attached to a joke, appearing in an early Self Insert Crack Fic by the group's main writer, which was used on the "victim's" fictional avatar but eventually had the same effect on the real deal.
  • The very Not Safe for Work Homestuck fanfic Hivefled depicts the Last Words of Orphaner Dualscar as being part of a joke involving a maroonblood, a seadweller, and a rainbowdrinker walking into a bar. He ran out of time and was Killed Mid-Sentence before he got to the punchline.

    Print Media 
  • A couple of Dave Barry columns alluded to dirty jokes by only quoting their punchlines:
    • "Ding dong, dammit! Ding DONG!" (Joke involving marital infidelity and a closet.)
    • "But first, roo roo."
  • In The Onion, Orphaned Punchlines appear as banner quotes within fake articles which endlessly repeat the sentence, "Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood."
  • MAD ran these fairly consistently, as "Punchlines in search of a joke".
    • They also did the opposite: "Jokes That Don't Need Punchlines".
  • Leslie Nielsen said in an interview with Empire magazine that he doesn't remember the setup of his favorite joke, but the punchline is "It's not a bagpipe, lassie, but keep blowin'!"
  • In one Dragon magazine cartoon, one D&D character is telling another a joke about a paladin. He gets as far as that before the second character interupts to ask if the punchline is "something about his 'special mount'". He's told it isn't, it's the one where the paladin says "Oh, you meant lay on hands".

     Professional Wrestling 
  • From the 2003 WWE Divas: Desert Heat DVD. In of the montage sequences featuring out-of-context clips of the various Divas, there's a scene of Ivory saying, "I keep messing with my panties." The line did not appear in any of her sequences previously on the DVD.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Variation in an episode of The Muppet Show: the Swedish Chef tells a joke which elicits uproarious laughter from a group of other Funny Foreigner muppets. While most of it is in Scandinavian gibberish, the last word can be recognized as "linoleum".
    • On another episode of The Muppet Show, Fozzie tells a supposedly hilarious joke about an electrician and a polar bear that is drowned out by a passing train and all the audience hears is "... but the wallpaper is delicious!".
    • Also, "The Banana Sketch".

    Radio 
  • The Goons would often use the punchlines of filthy jokes learned during their Army service. This allowed fairly nasty gags to get past the stoic BBC censors.
  • A round in the radio Panel Game Im Sorry I Havent A Clue requires the panelists to recite the punchlines to old jokes, without any setup. They are eliminated (at least, in theory) if the Studio Audience laughs.
    • Another game on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue involves two competing players telling a story in turn and directing its course towards a punchline that each of them were given at the start. The punchlines are of this unlikely Noodle Implements type so as to be amusing (and it to be fun seeing how the players get there). For example "he grabbed it at each end, cut it in half and declared the supermarket open".
  • Occasionally used by The Burkiss Way.
    • "...bouncing bombs, and that was the end of the Irish air force."
      • That last one doesn't really count since it's a joke in itself.
  • An example from Paul Merton during a round of Just a Minute:
    Paul: The microphones weren't working particularly well when we did the soundcheck for this programme, but now they're... (Goes silent for several seconds)... and there was half a pound of mince left at the end of the evening!
  • Recent Ad Bumpers for a radio station in Nashville, 102.9 The Buzz, have the listener come back from a commercial break just in time to hear the punchline of some dirty joke or the climax of a dirty story as told by the usual ad bumper voice to his coworkers as if he didn't know the break was over yet.

    Standup Comedy 
  • Australian comedian Glynn Nicholas would use this to puzzle/punish latecomers to his show. Tipped off that some people were coming in late, he would tell the audience to laugh uproariously at a punchline. The latecomers would be allowed into the audience and Glynn would wait patiently. Then, when they had settled, he would pretend to be finishing the joke. Audience wets themselves laughing, with the exception of four unfortunates.

    Tabletop Games 
  • An old 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons article from Dragon Magazine offered optional rules to let bard characters cause damage to their enemies by telling jokes. An accompanying fictional account of this ability reveals only the opening line of one such joke, in which a traveling nobleman stops for the night at the home of a humble peasant.
  • Some of the comics in the Exalted books have an Orphaned Punchline (Manual of Exalted Power: Sidereals and one of the Compass books). The punchline was: "So the first man says 'A lantern? If I had a lantern I'd have found my horse and ridden out of here already!'"
    • A medieval version of an old joke involving a guy falling into a too-loose vagoo and running into someone else and commenting that it was too dark to see, but if he could find his flashlight... "A flashlight? If I had a flashlight, I could find my car keys and drive back out."
  • Vampire: The Masquerade had a segment in the Malkavian clanbook discussing the mysterious true purpose of the being known as the Word Eater—except that the text was being dissolved by an illustration of said being, continuing on the next page with "and other butcher's aprons."

    Theater 
  • Shakespeare's Hamlet has an idiom for which the origin is lost though the meaning may be discernible from context. This may have been the punchline to some obscure joke the audience would have understood back in his time:
    Hamlet: "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw."
  • In Rumors, Lenny spontaneously comes up with one of these ("So, Mrs. Thatcher replies, 'I don't know, perhaps it's in my umbrella stand.'") to try to get 'into character' as he prepares to cover up the events happening at the party when more guests arrive. Chris then puts him on the spot to finish the joke, leading him to awkwardly finish, "Mr. Gorbachev? ...He said, 'I don't know, I never ate cat food before.'"

    Video Games 
  • In Guild Wars: Eye of the North, one of Gwen's battle quotes is "...and I'm all out of mossgum!"
  • Enemy Chatter in City of Heroes: "...and he says 'Aren't you a little old to be believing in leprechauns?' Then I threw him out the window! Hah! I love that one."
  • In Quest for Glory I when you have to say the rhyme to enter Baba Yaga's hut, one of the choices given is a poem about an alien from Venus, "whose body was shaped like a..."
  • In a cutscene from the Terran campaign of the game StarCraft, a formation of Wraiths is attacking space platforms over Tarsonis. It starts out with an orphaned punchline.
    Wraith pilot 1: ...so I says, "Answer that and stay fashionable!"
    Wraith pilot 2: That's not funny anymore, Harley.
  • In three of the Leisure Suit Larry games (1, 2, and 6), a Ken Williams expy says nothing but random punchlines to Larry whenever they try to talk to each other. They are always of dirty jokes, and always impossible to understand if you haven't heard the joke.
  • The "Meet the Medic" video released as a supplement to Team Fortress 2 has this:
    Medic: "Wait, it gets better. When the patient woke up, his skeleton was missing and the doctor was never heard of again! [laughs] Anyway, that's how I lost my medical license."
  • Half-Life contains one of these, which was lampshaded by Freeman's Mind. As Freeman is heading to the Resonance Chamber, a security guard says to him "Looks like you're in the barrel today."
  • Uncharted: After a hectic shootout, Sully says, when back in their headquarters, "... so then guy says: Well, you better tickle mine too, 'cause now I gotta catch the goddamn thing."
  • Psychonauts: During a cutscene, Raz walks onscreen yelling about how "The crib wasn't even that clean!" (It was less of a joke and more of him ranting about things, but the point remains.)
    • A straighter example would be this line, said to Clem after Clem gets rebrained.
    Raz: "...And I said 'Brainer'? I don't even know 'er!"
  • Mechwarrior 4 has a mission where, if you take a certain lancemate, he starts telling you a joke until cut off by another person reminding him radio silence is required for this part of the mission. After the need passes, the guy decides not to finish it. The part he does manage to say sounds like a variation of the classic "a man enters a bar with weird companions he got due to receiving Three Wishes from a Literal Genie".
  • In Day Of The Tentacle, in a Bad Future where walking, animate tentacles rule the world, you can overhear a tentacle judge ending some anecdote with "...And Then I Said to her, 'That's not my suction cup'!"
  • Inverted in Mass Effect 3, where EDI, who is trying to understand human nature and behavior, observes that humans sometimes use humor to deal with painful situations and, after something very bad happens, starts telling a joke that begins "A penguin was driving through the Arizona desert..." Shepard, who is very upset, cuts her off.
  • In Dragon Age II, Aveline's last Act 3 quest starts when Hawke walks in on her sharing a bottle with either Varric or Isabela, who has just finished telling her about some Noodle Incident.
    Isabela:...and he says - he says - "I swear I had two when I came in here!" Mmm. You know, those stains never came out.
    Varric: And so I said, "It's a kingdom, and that makes him king. But it's also a country." Heh-heh-heh. I find interrogations are better as a two-way affair.
  • In one of the early missions in Star Wars: Jedi Academy, the opening cutscene has Jaden and Kyle piloting their ship, with Kyle relaying a a story of his previous adventures to his student before they're interrupted by a distress signal:
    Kyle: ...and Jan punches the Weequay right in the...
  • Overheard in a cutscene in The Simpsons: Hit & Run while Homer watches the news:
    Kent Brockman ...leaving the famous bearded cartoon creator incarcerated in a Peruvian jail.
  • Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 has one in the Allied mission in Cannes.
    Conscript: ...And Premier says, "If that is bear, then where is beloved mother?"

    Web Animation 
  • An Akatsukis Life Itachi lost his ears under uncertain circumstances, and can't hear his colleagues talking. He panics, prompting the others ot look at him, then after a short beat Kisame actually Greed says "Well the Zerg still suck".
  • Homestar Runner likes this one a lot.
    Homestar: ... But it turned out I didn't die.
    Strong Bad: ... And that's when I realized I didn't even need Lamaze classes.
    TV Announcer: And that's why come William Shakespeare was so awesome.
    • They even decided to play with this, by having several cartoons feature references to "DNA Evidence" until eventually releasing a cartoon explaining the whole story behind it.
    • It's gotten to the point where they're subverting it now. From "Where U Goin' 2":
      Strong Bad: He said he thought paunchberry sounded like a disgusting ice cream flavor. But I beg to differ.
      Strong Mad: I THOUGHT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT MOTORCYCLES!
      Strong Bad: Yeah, we probably were.
  • In one Neurotically Yours cartoon, Germaine goes into a brief flashback which begins with her saying: "... so I said to the Pope, 'I'll see you in Hell first!'"
  • Red vs. Blue has two examples:
    • From episode 58
      Tucker: And he says "Did I read it? I already ruined it!"
      Tex: That's disgusting.
      Caboose: I don't get it.
    • From episode 70
      Donut: And that's how I rescued you both, and saved the day. The, End. Any questions?
      Grif: Donut, that was the longest story I have ever heard. And I don't think I believed a word of it.
      Sarge: And quite frankly I found the showtune in the middle to be a little over the top.
      • How he saved Christmas.
  • Played with in a grand fashion in the Waterman internet cartoon series. One episode has a running gag that involves the titular character mistelling the same joke repeatedly, but all we hear is the mangled punchline: "Rectum? Damn near herpes!... Wait, that can't be right."
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Tristan says, "The talent agent said, 'What do you call that routine?' and the father said, 'The Aristocrats'."
  • Ultra Fast Pony, the episode "The David Bowie Drinking Game":
    Rarity: ...and that's where the term "gold digger" came from.
    Spike: I don't understand that, either.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Used a lot in Futurama:
    • "And that's why they call me Honest Bender."
      • In the commentary, the writer explains this joke to be from a 1934 WC Fields gag, where the second half of the story is given as the main character having found a glass eye on a pool table, returning it to the owner, and being given the nickname "Honest John".
    • "The moral is, if you want it to stay sunk, tie a weight to it!"
    • Super Collider? I just met her!
      • And then we built a super collider.
  • Numerous examples in The Simpsons:
    • Chief Wiggum, reading from a book of "Truely Tasteless Jokes", concludes "And the third travelling salesman says, 'Don't look at me, I just ate all the hot buttered corn!'" That joke is real and unbelievably filthy. Suffice it to say it involves a bodily orifice.
    • "So I says to Mabel, I says...."
    • Helicopter flying instructor: "... so he's so busy worrying about the front rotor, he walks right into the back one. Only in this business..."
    • "...and that's how I got the vending machine contract for the Kremlin."
    • "...and then Lenny says 'As if! Don't even go there, sister!'"
    • A scene in one episode starts with a Sunday school teacher saying, "...and that's why God causes train wrecks."
    • The Simpsons Hit & Run: "...leaving the famous bearded cartoon creator incarcerated in a Peruvian jail."
    • Marge asks Krusty to tell a joke at a party and he begins "A man walks into a bar with a small piano, and a twelve inch pianist— whooaaa hooaaa— I can't tell that one!" (This is a well-known joke involving a genie with poor hearing and a pun on the word pianist.)
    • Almost all Kent Brockman segments begin this way, leaving us to wonder what the start of the newsline was.
    Kent Brockman: ...which if true, means death to us all.
    • This exchange:
    Mr. Burns: ...and that's how you win an opium war!
    Homer: And the life lesson is?
    Mr. Burns: The Yangtze River swallows all secrets.
  • Several times on South Park:
    • The coroner in the episode "Pinkeye": "And then the necrophiliac said, 'If this ain't a cadaver...'" They are interrupted by the zombie Kenny.
    • One episode featured a democratic presidential debate being interrupted by a news report showing Britney Spears peeing on a ladybug. It cuts back just in time for Hillary Clinton to finish with "...and spearchuckers."
    • "What did the breast cancer say to the Polish monkey?"
    • In "The Last of the Meheecans", Stan gave us: "... so then the Pope says, maybe you should go check the toilet!" Later on, Butters follows this up with: "...and then the fireman says, that won't even fit in my scrotum!"
  • A variation from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "Sweet Stench of Success": Bloo is trying to communicate to the audience of his TV show that the producer is evil. In one skit, he and an actor go through a series of "Doctor, doctor!" jokes, but Bloo replaces one of the setup lines with "Doctor, doctor, Kip the producer is keeping me locked in a cage!" The other actor responds with the punchline of the original joke ("I guess you're two tents!"), which has become a complete non sequitur.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Zuko once trying to say a joke about Tea Iroh told him, but he can only remember the punchline ("Leaf me alone, I'm bushed.").
    • Which he says in an Iroh accent so terrible it immediately makes any real-life fan who has attempted that feel better about themselves.
  • The punchline "... that's no kindergardner, that's my wife!" was a running gag on Recess.
  • Erky Perky: "... so I said 'If you're doing that with my teeth, we should get married.'"
  • In the Daffy Duck cartoon A Pest in the House, Daffy is a bellhop working in a hotel. He awakens a sleepy guest solely to tell him an apparently hilarious joke about a traveling salesman. We hear some of the beginning, and then the guest walks downstairs to complain to the manager, Elmer Fudd (and by "complain", I mean "punch Elmer in the face"). By the time he gets back to his room, Daffy is almost done the joke, but can't remember the punchline. "And the salesman says... Ha ha!... the salesman says... hey, what do you know, I forgot what the salesman did say. But... Ha ha!... It was a riot!"
  • Used as a Shout-Out/Parental Bonus in the first episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold; as Jaime's flipping through channels, on one of them is a stand-up comic saying "...it's called The Aristocrats!"
    • Only on the Canadian broadcast — the US version had the TV announce "... to get to the other side."
  • From Family Guy:
    • In one episode we enter a scene wherein people at a dinner party are telling jokes. The orphaned punchline is "... and then the French guy says 'Deodorant? What's that?'"
    • Whatever it is that is so funny it keeps making Peter keeps crapping his pants, it ends with the punchline, "...P.S.: Your vagina's in the sink!"
    • Quagmire uses a variation in the episode where Stewie warms up to Peter. While at the bar, Quagmire is about to start a story of one of his sexy exploits but Peter covers Stewie's ears before he begins. We see Quagmire telling his anecdote and acting out the scenario and at the end, Stewie gets to hear "...and this is the hand that started all the trouble!" He then grabs Stewie's nose with the same hand and gets a very terrified reaction from Stewie.
  • After a string of terrible mummy jokes on Aqua Teen Hunger Force Meatwad starts to tell a joke about "a prostitute and a person of the Polish persuasion" but is cut off before he can continue.
    • From "Dummy Love"
    Shake: And the Gorrila says 'you mean the one that [BURP]'ed you up the ass?' And the lion said 'Why, did it already make the papers?'
    • That one's real. A gorilla rapes a lion while he's sleeping, but when the lion wakes up, the gorilla runs for his life, hiding his face behind a newspaper. The lion asks if he's seen a gorilla...
  • An episode of Animaniacs featured a Batman parody using Chicken-Boo. The villain was a guy called Punchline (obviously an amalgamation of Joker and Riddler), and his whole shtick was this trope. The one he used that stands out is "... Forget the subpoena, MY monkey doesn't DRIVE a Lexus!"
    • Slappy Squirrel once tells that famous old chestnut to someone on the phone: "Wrecked 'em? I freaking killed 'em!"
  • Code Lyoko's prequel "XANA Awakens" has the tail end of this joke from Odd: "And then the waiter says, 'I don't have frog's legs, that's just the way I walk!'"
    • Most of Odd's jokes are shown this way, like at the beginning of Season 4 episode "Double Take". His friends agree that said jokes usually aren't funny anyway.
  • It was a running gag on Hey Arnold! to hear Stinky telling the end of a story about his favorite flavor of pudding at the beginning of a scene. All the audience would ever hear is "...and that's why lemon pudding is my favorite pudding." We never got to hear why.
  • This is used often on Jimmy Two-Shoes, to the point of a Running Gag.
  • One episode of The Fairly Oddparents had Mark Chang telling a joke where all you heard was '... And Then I Said, The Aristocrats!' If you know anything about the setup for that joke, you can appreciate just how much implied crap they got past the radar there.
    • Given that Mark Chang enjoys eating diapers, the above could also count as an Incredibly Lame Pun, and would wind up being an enjoyable joke on Mark's home planet.
    • When Timmy throws a party, he is shown telling a joke to a group of Vikings: "...and he said is that a Honda? And I said no, it's a fjord!"
  • Turns up in an early episode of Exo Squad. We only hear the punchline: "Gulp... that's my wife!" and the entire squad laughing heartily, except for Marsala.
    "This is what you humans call... a joke?"
    "Not a very good one."
  • We got some interesting characterization out of this in one episode of Recess. The episode had two separate shorts. The first opened with Principal Prickly delivering the punchline, "...and so I said, 'That's no kindergartner, that's my wife!'," to great reception among his peers. The second short opens with his opposite number, TJ, delivering the same punchline to his own peers and getting a similar reception. Not So Different indeed.
  • Done often in Phineas and Ferb, like in 'The Lake Nose Monster'. Lawrence Fletcher attempts to tell the boys about his capture of a giant fish named Big Mouth Ramon, but the boys leave. Through the episode, we hear snippets of this tale.
    "A chilly April moning, 1980, disco was on the way out, and it was just beginning to dawn on everyone how ridiculous they looked in their...so it was either go up the fire escape or lose the pants altogether...I said, John, it's great, I love the tune, but the words! 'All you need is a Philips-Head screwdriver'? It just doesn't really ring true, now does it?...It seemed there was no way we could get through the entire petting zoo...and well, haha, and he was...and that was when I saw the way down, I saw Ted standing on the handles of the swing...so anyways there I was, four hours from the nearest dental supplies store, oh, there you are, Perry, and what a burglar I gasped… so I learned that it was too late, we were already headed off for Southampton, and that is the story of how I caught the Big Mouth Ramón."
    • "Leave the Busting to Us":
    Candace: And then Ferb says...
    Ferb: And that is why I will never wear suspenders in public.
    • In "Agent Doof", Doofenshmirtz becomes an agent of O.W.C.A. (he gets away with it despite being human because he was raised by ocelots), and in one scene is telling a joke that ends with "And the duck says 'got any grapes?'"
    • Lampshaded in "What'd I Miss?"
    Buford: So then the seamstress walks back into the stateroom and says, " 'Titanium'? I thought she said 'cranium'!" Hahaha, yeah. Pretty good punch line, huh?
    Baljeet: Yes. All you need now is the first part, and then you will have a whole joke.

  • A Garfield Christmas Special has this in the scene where the Arbuckles finish decorating their Christmas tree and have to put the star on. Dad asks why they can't just put the star on the tree first and then put the tree up, to which Mom replies by saying that "it just wouldn't be Christmas" if they did that. In the special itself, no response is given to that line, but in the Comic Book Adaptation, Dad replies ""One more remark like that, and you'll see stars, woman."
  • Episode 3 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic sees Pinkie Pie blurting out "And Then I Said, 'Oatmeal? Are you crazy?'" after Twilight Sparkle interrupts an argument between her friends. The original subject was who should get to go as Twilight's guest to the Grand Galloping Gala, so it's safe to say Pinkie got a little off-topic...
    • One scene in "Sweet and Elite" has Rarity amusing some upper-class ponies with an anecdote that ends with "That's not a hat; that's a natural disaster that somehow landed atop your head!"
  • ReBoot has one that you need to do a little work to notice. In an audition for Enzo's birthday party, a comedian binome tells a joke. The joke is said in Zeroes and Ones, so the viewer has no idea what he's saying but the characters all laugh at the end. Apparently if you translate the numbers into decimals, and then into letters, you get "Take my wife, please!"
  • Camp Lazlo would often feature the central trio walking in at the tail-end of one Edward's stories to the rest of the scouts; e.g. "...so that's why I don't play croquet any more."
  • Jane and the Dragon has Jester reading a joke that Dragon wrote for him that finishes "That isn't a cow. That's just my cave chicken". Crosses over into Cannot Tell a Joke territory to judge from Jane and Jester's reaction.
  • Robot Chicken references the Yoda vs. Palpatine battle from the end of Revenge of the Sith in this way in one sketch, which starts off with the Emperor telling two laughing guests, "So I threw the Senate at him. The whole Senate!"
  • An episode of Rugrats had a TV commercial director give one as he walked into the studio: "So whatever you do, don't sell that poodle!" resulting in uproarious laughter from the crew coming in with him.
  • In the 1960 Popeye cartoon "Who's Kiddin' Zoo?," Popeye and Brutus are bucking for a job as Olive's zoo assistant and to do so they have to make a lugubrious hyena laugh. Brutus tells his joke, set-up and orphaned punchline (he's the only one who laughs at it), followed by Popeye (whose joke is lifted from Groucho Marx):
    Brutus: (as himself) Say, Mr. Jones, I heard a mule kicked you yesterday. (as "Mr. Jones") Yeah, he did. (as himself) And where did he kick you? (as "Mr. Jones") Well, if my head was in New York and my feet in California, he'd have kicked me in Omaha!!
    Popeye: Well, it seems there was an elefink and a platypus. And the elefink sez to the platypus, "I never forgets a face, but in your case, I'll makes an exception."
  • One episode of Lil Bush opens with the kids eating lunch and Lil' Rummy saying "So then I said, how about I show you the places he didn't touch me?"


But seriously, folks...
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