"This is one of those moments where I think, 'Oh, is my stock joke about one of the strips I cover really accurate?' and then realize 'Yes, it’s more horribly accurate than I could ever have wanted it to be.'"Parodies are hard to write if you're unfamiliar with the original work. Sometimes, you'll make points that the work itself refutes. Sometimes, you'll treat tongue-in-cheek works like they're serious. But some spoofs make an even more serious error. They try to mock the original work with their own humorous spin but reproduce the original instead of parodying it. The original included the exact same material, perhaps as a self-aware joke, which renders the parody superfluous. As a result, the parody doesn't actually twist or exaggerate the original work. People unfamiliar with the original may laugh at the joke, but others will be put off by the spoof writer's ignorance and the redundancy of the resultant parody. Some comedy writers avoid this trap by limiting their targets. RiffTrax, for example, refuses to mock comedies, fearing their commentary will sound too much like the original. For parodies that do this deliberately, to send the implied message "We can't make this any dumber than it already is", see Spoofed with Their Own Words.
- Josh Fruhlinger, The Comics Curmudgeon
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Spain, saying you're "turning black" means you're getting angry, much like a video game boss Turns Red, but black. A Dragon Ball parody comic had Mr. Popo (who is black) say he was "turning black" as a joke... except he actually says that on the Spanish anime dub at one point.
- Sailor Moon:
- Many parodies supposedly mocking the conventions of Moon's ditzy and at times ineffectual behavior, ridiculously idealistic heroines, flashy but impractical transformations, melodramatic and long-winded speeches about love and justice, and blatantly terrible attempts at keeping their identities secret largely repeat what the original work lampshaded. Although most of these things are more or less played straight and accepted as genre conventions, truth be told the Magical Girl formula was far from new when Sailor Moon debuted. Usagi started out looking like an Affectionate Parody at first, being not nearly as competent as she was believed to be which earned her no small amount of snark from her teammates, her first attempts at heroism usually left her falling flat on her face, and extremely girly personality were consistently Played for Laughs. Indeed, the cornerstone of her early Character Development was learning to take on her responsibilities as princess of the moon.
- Many of the villains both one-off and arc-based often looked terrifying as well as acting equally horrific, at times causing enough suffering that they'd not look out of place in a much Darker and Edgier deconstruction.
- The manga has a famous scene where Venus has a speech so elaborate and long that it runs for two pages, to the point where the Youma cuts her off in annoyance.
- An episode wherein Usagi has trouble transforming when in her house, to the point where the angelic wings are long enough to knock dishes over when she turned around, and in general would have been more effective had she not transformed to begin with.
- And the hilariously terrible attempts to keep her identity safe were played so straight as to be a Stealth Parody.
- Mother Goose and Grimm:
- There was a comic once of a man watching TV with a woman behind him looking shocked, and the caption, "Scully discovers the XXX Files." Which wasn't actually funny if you had any knowledge of The X-Files, since it was well-established that Mulder really did stash porn all over the office, and that Scully was perfectly aware of it and didn't care. (Not that it would be all that funny anyway...)
- Another strip featured Edward Scissorhands playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with a little kid, and continually losing. This joke especially falls flat considering it was used in the movie as a running gag. And he did it again.
- Inverted and Hilarious in Hindsight in an Off The Mark comic making fun of The Simpsons. Bart goes to a barber who is confused as to where his head ends and hairline begins. This joke was made on the show years later.
- Bill Watterson barely dodged this with a few Calvin and Hobbes strips in which Calvin tries to get Hobbes interested in the magazine Chewing, which is completely devoted to bubble gum. All the various gums are profiled like baseball stars, with "stats" and attributes. All Hobbes could say was, "What kind of nut would care about all this?" But Watterson later admitted that at the time he had drawn those strips, there were already a huge number of absurdly detailed magazines about freakishly specific topics, and so a magazine about bubble gum documenting "flavor retention" and such was only a slight exaggeration of reality. ("It's hardly satire.")
- In its 1950s Comic Book incarnation, sometimes ended up committing this trope. In their Disney parody, for example, much of the humor derived from Donald Duck losing his clothes and getting captured by a duck farmer who could barely understand him. Pretty funny in itself, but Donald winding up naked and coming off as incomprehensible due to his quacking voice happened in quite a few actual Donald Duck cartoons (though not necessarily at the same time).
- Inverted and Hilarious in Hindsight with a Shrek-scenes-we'd-like-to-see comic written when the first movie was released. It shows Donkey with dragon/donkey hybrid babies. This became a reality in the sequels.
- MAD also had a comic in which the Disney version of Pinocchio stomps on Jiminy Cricket. Although such a thing would never happen in a Disney movie, something similar did happen in the original book in which the movie is based on.
- The Dilbert Future, a 1997 book featuring Scott Adams' cartoons and musings about the future, has a part about the holodeck from Star Trek. The central joke is that people in real life would use the holodeck for sex. This isn't very funny if you've watched much Star Trek (especially Deep Space Nine) because that's actually what it's used for pretty often.
- This joke is also used in the copypasta "10 Things I Hate About Star Trek."
- At the height of Pottermania were many out-of-touch parodies that focused around the idea of Harry and his friends growing up and becoming teenagers with all the foibles that entails such as sexual attraction and social awkwardness ("Harry Potter and the Onset of Puberty"). Of course, this is what much of the series actually concerns itself with. Apparently they assumed later entries to continue the "kid in a candy store" sense of wonder from the first book (perhaps combined with Not Allowed to Grow Up) instead of maturing along with the target audience.
- There are often Naruto parodies where other, better ninjas will mock Naruto for all of his negative traits, such as his lack of stealth, annoying attitude, and small movepool. Name a single Naruto character that DOESN'T do one of these and they're from Shippuden.
- Avatar: The Abridged Series suffers from this some of the time, due to parodying a show that already has a high joke quotient. For example, its parody of the episode "The Storm" has a scene where Katara says: "Aang would never run away! [Aang gets on his glider and flies off] Aang, stop running away!" The original was exactly the same, only with different wording.
- Hellsing Ultimate Abridged has much the same problem, as Hellsing was already an incredibly silly show. Jan Valentine in particular is virtually identical to his original incarnation — you could probably switch out his scenes with the ones in the actual dub and barely notice.
Films — Live-Action
- Seltzer and Friedberg, masters of the Shallow Parody, typically parody trailers rather than actual films; as such they have no idea if their "jokes" will actually be in the final films (which inevitably come out before their own movies do). Highlights include:
- Epic Movie decided to parody X-Men by having Wolverine position his claws to look like he was flipping the bird, even though this same joke was used at one point in the original movie. And it was a pretty memorable moment, so it just goes to show that nobody involved had seen X-Men even once.
- Before them both Scary Movie was a parody of primarily Scream, a movie which was already a satire of the Slasher Genre.
- A common joke about or criticism of RoboCop (1987) is that ED-209 is really terribly designed for a police robot. The entire reason the title character exists at all is because of in-universe Troubled Production for ED, which ultimately culminates in the glitchy, poorly-conceived robot gunning down an OCP employee during a meeting intended to demonstrate its capabilities. Hence, RoboCop is created to have something with ED's durability and a human's better judgement. On top of this, ED's difficulty fitting through normal-sized doors and inability to traverse stairs with its over-sized feet are what allow RoboCop to escape when attacked by one. The entire satirical thrust of this element is that it's a flashy toy designed solely to sell, with the issue of whether it actually works being a secondary concern at best (as the ED-209's model designer quipped, "just like an American car").
- Spot's Third First Christmas, according to author Kibo, was "a parody of those crappy 'Choose Your Adventure' books" with many bad endings and only one happy ending which is unreachable from any path. One actual book in the CYOA series, "Inside UFO 54-40," the best ending was deliberately unreachable (and not unreachable by oversight, as it was in plenty of others).
- One of the very last Bob Hope specials on NBC tried to lampoon the 1989 Batman movie, and had Hope done up as Jack Nicholson's Joker. Both Batman and Superman were in the skit, and Hope refers to them by derisive names like "Bat-Brain" and "Super-Stupe", and getting laughs from his equally aging studio audience. Hope and his writers must have thought that villains do not talk like that to heroes, but especially since Denny O'Neil, this is almost exactly the way the Joker talks down to opponents.
- Doctor Who:
- The Dead Ringers spoofs are insanely well-researched as the writers are all big fans, but one of these managed to slip in there. In a sketch where several of the Doctors are celebrating Christmas together, there's a scene where the Ninth Doctor is flicking through Christmas television trying to find something to watch with the Fourth and Seventh Doctors, identifying celebrities and deciding that they are aliens. ("Cat Deeley! Alien!" "The Queen! Alien!") This exact same joke is used by the Ninth Doctor in the very first Ninth Doctor episode, in which he flips through one of Jackie Tyler's gossip magazines and identifies which ones are aliens. The premise of the skit, too (multiple incarnations of the Doctor having a Christmas party together), was done in an Expanded Universe anthology story published as part of Short Trips: "The Feast of Seven... Eight (and Nine)".
- It's a standard Doctor Who parody joke to make fun of the Fourth Doctor's ridiculously long scarf (MAD joked that it was self-knitting and a newspaper cartoon featured a giant tape dispenser with the striped pattern reading "Dr. Who Scarf (cut to length)"). Half a second looking at a picture of the Fourth Doctor should be enough to convince you that the garment is not intended to be taken seriously and is meant to look absolutely ridiculous.
- And, while we're on the subject of Doctor Who, jokes involving presenting the title as an actual question or similar gags on its odd name have been part of the actual show since the second episode of the original series. That's episode, not serial. It is also, in fact, the intended MEANING of the title.
- There's a parody out there of "The Blue Tail Fly" in which the chorus is changed to "Jimmy drinks corn, and I don't care", meaning that Jimmy is drinking corn whiskey. Apparently the would-be parodists were unaware that the most common interpretation of the lyric "Jimmy crack corn and I don't care" is that of "cracking corn", which is to say, making corn whiskey. They not only failed to parody it, they arguably watered it down a notch...
- The YouTube meme of taking isolated vocal tracks of classic songs and running them through Microsoft's Songsmith program has led to some hilarious musical juxtapositions ("Crazy Train" as bluegrass, "Ace of Spades" as folk-pop). The lounge jazz version of "Runnin' with the Devil" by Van Halen is amusing, but David Lee Roth did several loungey Cover Versions in his solo career ("Just a Gigolo", "That's Life"), and he even released an album of Van Halen hits rearranged as bluegrass versions in 2006, so it's not really that outlandish of an idea.
- The Lonely Island are probably the biggest victims of this in music history. Every single song in their library has at least a dozen parodies, usually ones that change a few words and don't actually change the jokes. On top of that, they usually distort the actual joke of the song — for instance, ignoring the Sanity Slippage Song aspects of "Like a Boss" in favor of just blandly listing things, and ignoring that "I'm on a Boat" is already a parody of glitzy rap videos.
- The Bob & Tom Show likes to cast its hosts and/or characters in wacky variants on recent hit movies, and fell victim to this when they cast white trash caricature Donnie Baker in "Funeral Crashers" — apparently unaware that the concept of picking up women at a funeral had already been explored in the third act of Wedding Crashers.
- Lampshaded in Mitch Benn is the Fat Pink Duke; at the end of his "Laughing Gnome" parody, the gnome itself questions the point of parodying a humorous novelty song. It also complains the jokes are worse than the original.
- Lampshaded/parodied by Forbidden Broadway's take on "The Song That Goes Like This" from Spamalot. The song starts out using the exact same lyrics as the original, then points out that fact, and then accuses the show of stealing from Forbidden Broadway.
- When the cast of Wicked appeared in a German talkshow, the host joked about Elphaba: "That's what happens if you eat too much spinach as a child." In the musical, Elphaba does in fact sarcastically remark to the other students: "No, I'm not seasick. Yes, I've always been green. No, I did not eat grass as a child."
- There is a somewhat common joke among the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom concerning the fact that Sonic Drift (and later on, Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing) has Sonic, whose defining trait is his Super Speed, driving in a race car. While this seems justified, it ignores that the manual for Drift clarifies that Sonic does dislike cars, and it's clear in both games that he's only using a car to keep the competition balanced for all the other racers.
- A lot of deconstructive parodies of Pokémon like to focus on the implications of wild animals being contained in small, enclosed spaces until released to do battle with other captive animals, often drawing direct comparisons to cock- or dog-fighting. This was actually brought up in-game in Pokémon Black and White , where it was part of the enemy team's plot. Even most non-satirical attempts to make the series Darker and Edgier fall kind of flat, considering that even the main series games have had everything from terrorist bombings to child abuse to freezing half of a country to attempted genocide. In most cases they end up as plots that could have been used in an actual Pokemon game with added sexual content, violence, and profanity of questionable necessity.
- Bob the Angry Flower has a parody sequel◊ to Atlas Shrugged which been widely circulated, where people admit, sometimes quite proudly, that they found Ayn Rand's book too long to read. If they had actually read it through, they might have discovered that industrialists such as Dwight Sanders do take up farming after leaving the world behind for Galt's Gulch. Notley later apologized for this and produced another cartoon that spoofed Objectivism directly and more accurately.
- This comic becomes significantly less funny if one realizes that beating other proto-humans over the head with the bone is actually what the proto-human did immediately after the iconic monolith scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Hiimdaisy makes a joke at one point in the Persona 4 comics about Nanako spending all her time singing the Junes ad jingle and Yu finding it disturbing. This would be funny if it wasn't an almost exact quote from the game. (Nanako's loneliness, to the point the Junes commercials are the bright spot in her day, is a major plot point.)
- PennyArcade had a strip about Gabe's past obsession with Kris Kross, an early '90s rap duo who wore their clothes backwards. The punchline is that it's hard for a guy to go to the bathroom with his jeans on backwards. Kris Kross' first album actually made that same joke in one of the spoken word tracks between songs.
- Before he became The Irate Gamer, Chris Bores made a "parody" of MythBusters. Though it's not as much a parody as it is a bland imitation.
- Key of Awesome's "I Need a Doctor" parody pokes fun at the Ho Yay between Dr Dre and Eminem by having Eminem hit blatantly on Dre, Dre responding with a sarcastic and only mildly irritated rejection, and Eminem desperately attempting to backpedal and pretend he didn't mean it to regain some shred of heterosexuality. Eminem used this exact same joke in the song and video "Just Lose It", where he hits on Dre at a bar, and when he gets shot down, claims he's blind. The song and video also had a Ho Yay-ridden hook that went "Yeah, boy, shake that thing - whoops, I mean girl. Girl girl girl" and a section where Eminem cosplayed gay icon Madonna.
- The Nostalgia Critic:
- In his Top 11 Drug PSAs, he makes a joke about R2-D2 from Star Wars smoking a cigarette when robots don't have lungs to damage... which C-3PO himself comments in the PSA.
- Referenced in his A Simple Wish review when he yells at the character with a magic wand, "stop turning my jokes into things that already exist!"
- In his review of Last Action Hero, while he devotes one rant to how Danny points out all the clichés and plot holes that he could be commenting on, he also cracks a joke about F. Murray Abraham's character's betrayal being unsurprising because he's never played a good guy in a movie yet. A trait that's brought up repeatedly in the film, usually focusing on how he killed Mozart in Amadeus.
- He's also made a couple jokes about Harry Potter, imagining a version where Harry has some serious issues due to everyone acting like he's The Chosen One. While the issue is skated over in the movies, its a huge theme of the original books.
- An online video called The Hungry Games, mocking the trailer for The Hunger Games by making it about an eating contest, calls the main character "Catnip" as a Parody Name. The creator evidently didn't realize that in-universe, that's Gale's personal nickname for Katniss.
- This often happens in snarky blogs.
- For example, the review Jesus Beezus (a blog of the Ramona Quimby books) does of Ramona and her Mother has this line:
"Mr. and Mrs. Quimby get into a sniping contest about whose grandmother was better. Yeah, really, that's what they fight about. Lame."
- However, the Quimbys acknowledge later how ridiculous their fight was and Mrs. Quimby even jokes to her daughters:
"We want you to be perfect so you won't grow up to bicker about your grandmothers and their pancakes."
- Similarly, snarky blogs will tend to sarcastically point out perceived flaws and confounding variables when they see articles on scientific papers with conclusions they don't like, but more often then not, if you read the original journal article (rather the news summary the blog linked to), you will notice the issues have already been addressed in the study design.
- For example, the review Jesus Beezus (a blog of the Ramona Quimby books) does of Ramona and her Mother has this line:
- RiffTrax ran into this problem with The Avengers, with Joss Whedon's typically witty script. At one point Bill makes a joke only to have Tony Stark repeat it, and Mike responds, "I keep telling you, you have to make better jokes than Robert Downey Jr. or this whole thing collapses on itself!"
- Discussed in Obscurus Lupa's reviews of Charmed — near the end, she starts laughing at one scene (where a Mind Controlled Piper casually vacuums up a murdered fairy), saying "It's like my horrible fanfic brought to life!"
- The TV Land Awards featured a skit that combines Sex and the City with The Golden Girls, or at least were aimed in that direction. Problem is, 70% of the humor in The Golden Girls derives from these aging women unashamedly talking about their sex lives.
- A MAD skit showed Bluto gaining massive strength and beating Popeye up after a waitress inadvertently switches their lunch orders and he gets the sailor's spinach. The problem is, this was done way back in the classic era at least once. Why it doesn't happen more often is usually explained simply by saying Bluto hates spinach, and when he does partake, it's because it's either forced on him, or he makes the supreme sacrifice to help Popeye fight against a common enemy (such as a group of Japanese soldiers in one of the WW II-era pictures).