"If it's good for laughs, if it works, just do it."The limit of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to its funniness. Any violation of continuity, logic, physics, or common sense is permissible if the result gets enough of a laugh. This is the comedy equivalent of the Rule of Cool, and is accordingly weighted more in comedy shows. Especially easy to invoke in humor-based American animation and webcomics, where people expect the lack of realism in the art to translate to other areas. Rule of Funny is not a superpower. One of the characteristics of the rule of funny is that it can give some abilities to a character to the sole purpose of a gag, which means the character just CAN'T do that when it's not funny. For instance, it happened multiple times to Wile E. Coyote to walk on thin air because he had not noticed that he was at the edge of a cliff, and he falls when he notices it. It is Rule of Funny: Coyote can't walk on thin air as a previewed part of a scheme. Compare Rule of Fun.
— Noah "Spoony" Antwiler, The Spoony Experiment
Tropes existing purely due to the Rule of Funny:
- Absurdly Ineffective Barricade
- Amusing Injuries (and all subtropes thereof)
- Ass Shove
- Awesomeness Is Volatile
- Badly Battered Babysitter
- Breaking the Fourth Wall
- Broken Echo
- Bubblegum Popping
- The Cat Came Back
- The Chew Toy
- City of Everywhere
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Comical Overreacting
- Container Cling
- Crosses the Line Twice
- Cue the Falling Object
- Cutaway Gag
- Digging to China
- Dripping Disturbance
- Embarrassing Ringtone
- Everything Is an Instrument
- Gag Series
- Gigantic Gulp
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress
- How Is That Even Possible?
- Hyperspace Mallet
- Impossible Pickle Jar
- Inconvenient Itch
- Instant Gravestone
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum
- "Just Joking" Justification
- Made of Explodium
- Marilyn Maneuver
- Medium-Shift Gag
- Mundane Wish
- Negative Continuity
- Nose Shove
- Not Actually the Ultimate Question
- Organ Autonomy
- Painted Tunnel, Real Train
- Panty Shot
- Piano Key Wave
- Pinball Gag
- Quote Swear Unquote (at least now it does)
- Rapid-Fire Comedy
- Reading Ahead in the Script
- Readings Blew Up the Scale
- Silly Animal Sound
- Undignified Death
- Unplanned Crossdressing
- Vacuum Mouth
- Wacky Sound Effect
- Water Is Air
- Water-Geyser Volley
- Who Even Needs a Brain?
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- A running sight gag in Azumanga Daioh is Sakaki, after winning a race, running with the ribbon held up by her (for a Japanese teenager) extremely large breasts. Of course, this means that the ribbon was chest-level on the tallest girl, putting it high enough that some of the contestants would have run right under it...but it's still funny.
- Excel Saga, in a nutshell.
- One Piece uses this for a number of things (some of which later get a Cerebus Retcon), but one to note is Franky building a nice-looking wooden bridge out of scraps and rubble in less than a minute. It would be a Deus ex Machina if Franky's insistence on the level of detail and craftmanship didn't make it hilarious.
- For those who haven't seen the above scene, the bridge has carved, ornate hand rails. Oh and it was varnished.
- Luffy eating a cage he was trapped in certainly qualifies, especially because he's captured again before he achieves anything. The whole scene serves no purpose but Rule of Funny.
- One Piece has some pretty outlandish character designs, but some manage to go the extra mile (like Wanze and Jango's telescopic and heart-shaped eyes) just for the sake of a gag.
- This is the only thing that keeps the shower scene with Baron Ashura in episode 5 of Mazinkaiser from being Nightmare Fuel.
- In general, this trope applies to how the titular character beats enemies in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo.
- Pretty much everything in Mahou Sensei Negima! that isn't covered by Rule of Cool probably falls under this.
Chisame: Why the hell are you transforming with a sneeze?! That makes no sense!!
- Still both cool and funny parts are usually completely logical. When they're not, it's heavily lampshaded.
- Pokémon: The English Dub originally liked to tie in some puns now and then, but has since gone on a more faithful adaptation of the scripts once it passed out of 4kid's hands.
- Code Geass has a lot of jokes and slapstick during its comedic episodes which would already be enough to qualify, but it is also a curious case where the staff has explicitly acknowledged that sometimes they made the characters do something crazy, absurd or plainly hilarious for no good reason other than the Rule of Funny, regardless of the context appearing to be more serious on the surface.
- My Bride Is a Mermaid. The only things that the show ever plays seriously is the relationships between San and Nagasumi, and even then, tongue is lodged firmly in cheek.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann plays has equal shares of this and Rule of Cool as the laws of the universe, instead of the regular, boring laws of physics.
- Binbō-gami ga! practically runs on it- particularly everything Momiji does.
- Sgt. Frog: ...narrow it down to one example? Um.
- Larry Elmore used this in his classic Snarfquest comics that appeared in Dragon Magazine, citing that his manner of plotting the episodes was to figure out the ending goal of the characters then throw out the plan and write/draw the stupidest possible way they could get there.
- Don Rosa uses this trope from time to time as a justification for breaking realism in his otherwise painfully serious comics. He even mentions it (though not by name) in one of the comment pages for The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, when he had retroactively added the Eisner comic award◊ he won for the series in its last chapter, hanging on Scrooge's wall. Donald Duck even remarks that it has to be fake, since they're living in the 50s and the award reads "1995" with big letters. Rosa compares his relationship with the rule to the below-mentioned joke in Roger Rabbit.
- Justice League International is well-known for humorously Flanderizing a number of characters or having them Take A Level In Dumbass for the sake of comedy. This led to the period in League history being considered a Dork Age and Old Shame in-universe (in real life the series is beloved by fans), largely because the team had become a group of ineffectual jokesters.
- Squirrel Girl breathes this trope. How else can you explain how a girl with a tail who has the power to talk to squirrels, can defeat super villains like Thanos (Magnificent Bastard), Doctor Doom (Crazy-Prepared Personified) and Deadpool (Deadpool)?
- Me, the Merc with the Mouth, would have to say that I'm, myself, pretty much the incarnation of this trope. I mean, I never stop talking even when I'm getting beaten to a pulp, and most of the stuff I say goes straight into the Funny Moments section... Also, mention that percent sign, skull, colon, ampersand, swirly thingy, dollar sign, semicolon Squirrel Girl again, and I'll make rabbit leg roti, wrapped in rognonade with cherry and carrot puree out of you! Either that, or curry with rice.
- The Joker, of all people, points this out in Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?.
"Kid. I'm the Joker. I don't just randomly kill people. I kill people when it's funny. What would conceivably be funny about killing you?"
- Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. runs on this. It starts with the team fighting a giant green dragon in underpants, and proceeds to get unashamedly weirder without so much as stopping for breath — except to huff more laughing gas. To wit, Dirk Anger, director of H.A.T.E., (a Nick Fury expy) spends the entire series a) trying to kill Nextwave by, say, throwing Drop Bears at them from his flying submarine base, and b) concocting ever more elaborate suicide attempts due to the breakdown the Nextwave squad are giving him.
- This is the only reason for anything that happens in The Awesome Slapstick, including the Monster Clowns from Dimension X, the five-year-old toddler and his giant robotic teddy bear, and the highly explosive Neutron Bum.
- In one Brother Juniper strip Juniper is carrying a pipe organ in his cupped hands while a fellow monk on the floor above him yells "Put it here!"
- The Touhou M-1 Grand Prix is a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine competition staring characters from an Elegant Gothic Lolita World of Badass Shoot 'em Up. It runs on Rule of Funny. There's even an instance of with a finalist crying all-alone, running into a Hope Spot / Jump Scare that's played for laughs.
- In The Story To End All Stories, the Doctor only mentions there's food in the TARDIS after numerous attempts to find food elsewhere are thwarted.
Films — Animation
- The Disney animation The Emperor's New Groove repeatedly emphasizes its own ludicrous plot holes with lines such as "Now, what are the odds that trap door would lead me out here?"
Kuzco: No... It can't be! How did you get here before us?
Yzma: Ah— uh, how did we, Kronk?
Kronk: Got me. [pulls out a map, showing the two parties' paths] By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
- In Atlantis: The Lost Empire a chalk map that rubs off on Milo's shirt is not reversed, as the gag of Milo having to stand in that position would have been voided. The directors were amused that test audiences complained more about that detail and its plausibility than in the following scene where a photograph whirs into life in a 1920's movie style.
- The Madagascar movies follow RoF to an increasing degree with every movie.
- Ice Age has characters that might act goofy or out of character if the writers think the joke is funny. For example, Diego is a mostly serious character, yet will start acting silly or goofy if the joke depends on it (like him trying to hide that Sid's family abandoned him again by saying they were destroyed by an asteroid).
Films — Live-Action
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
- Roger declares this to be an actual law of cartoon physics. This being the most frequently referenced instance of the rule, it's interesting to note that Roger's phrasing makes it hard to tell whether or not he's just pulling Eddie's chain, but his apologetic tone suggests that he's being sincere about slipping the cuffs and not any happier about it than Eddie is.
Eddie: You mean you could have taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?!
Roger: No, not at any time. Only when it was funny.
- A consequence of this Rule: Judge Doom plus Rule of Funny equals Fridge Horror and Nightmare Fuel.
"Shave And A Haircut..."
- Roger declares this to be an actual law of cartoon physics. This being the most frequently referenced instance of the rule, it's interesting to note that Roger's phrasing makes it hard to tell whether or not he's just pulling Eddie's chain, but his apologetic tone suggests that he's being sincere about slipping the cuffs and not any happier about it than Eddie is.
- In The Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon malfunctions but Han Solo restarts the engines by punching the instrument panel. Which happens three times. (Two for Han, and once for Lando.)
- Every Monty Python movie, especially Holy Grail. The opening titles even contain faux Swedish subtitles that ramble off on tangents, leading the people in charge of the titles to be fired, mid title sequence.
- Any given Jackie Chan fight sequence.
- This is the entire point of Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter.
- The scene in Transformers where the Autobots hide in Sam's backyard doesn't make that much sense - why wouldn't Sam's parents hear them speaking? - but it's so damn funny it barely matters.
- Certain comedy films can't go one minute without violating all sanity for a joke. Consider Top Secret!, featuring a very young Val Kilmer as a rock & roll star protagonist in a Commie Land spy plot: this movie includes a motel called Gey Shluffen, a high speed action chase to change a radio station, and an underwater Bar Brawl. Or watch Airplane! for the sheer number of visual pun gags.
- Woody Allen's early films were very much of this order. Consider Take the Money and Run where Woody is imprisoned and punished by being locked in confinement with an insurance salesman, and briefly becomes an Orthodox rabbi as a side effect of medical experimentation. Or Love and Death where a battle scene is intercut with scenes of Woody as a cheerleader.
- Idiocracy. Bellisario's Maxim is writ LARGE across every element.
- Pavi Largo's accent in Repo! The Genetic Opera. He's the only one of his siblings with an Italian accent. It appears only to be there to make him hilarious. (It works.) note
- "All of-a eet? OHHHH NOOOOOO!"
- Every Marx Brothers film revolves around this, to a varying degree. Many of their best routines have absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
- Duck Soup really takes the cake in that regard: the plot makes absolutely no sense if you think about it for more than a minute, but you'll probably be laughing too hard to care. How is one rich heiress powerful enough to decide the leader of an entire country by herself? How does a fast-talking huckster with no political experience get appointed the leader of a country? Why is said country identical to 1930's America? How did a frizzy-haired mute and a guy with an incomprehensible Italian accent get jobs as spies? Just go with it.
- Ditto The Three Stooges.
- The final scene of Casino Royale (1967) is so completely nonsensical that it's impossible to describe. Allegedly, the scene is the heroes trying to get out of the casino before it explodes. So why the cowboys, Indians, flying roulette table, bubbles, kinescope police dispatchment, gun-turret banister, etc.? It's funny...at least if you're high enough to write a scene like that.
- The climactic battle of Blazing Saddles, which features the characters leaving their soundstage and breaking up a dance number on another set, getting into a pie fight in the studio commissary, then (eventually) getting to the end of the movie by sneaking into a theater playing Blazing Saddles and watching it with us.
- Seltzer and Friedberg aim for this trope... with unfortunate results.
- James Moriarty, formerly a Professor of Mathematics, being unable to perform long division, with decimals in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother.
- Pocket Ninjas attempts to use the Rule a lot but fails. It's full of things that can only be there because they're supposed to be funny but turn out mind-bogglingly, embarrassingly stupid, even for a children's movie. Examples: The Final Battle. In a videogame. The Big Good fighting the Bigger Bad. With balloons and horrible carnival music. And pat-a-cake and... seriously, what the hell are they doing??
- Combined with Stylistic Suck for the Swedish action-comedy Kopps. A policeman is given ridiculous superpowers, that begin with him arriving at the scene of a robbery seconds after the alarm is activated, flipping his car in the air and landing perfectly on all four wheels, and then...all of this happens.
- In the final scene of A Fish Called Wanda, Otto is seen hanging on to the window of an airplane taking off, having apparently survived being run over by a steamroller and smushed into wet cement. On the DVD, John Cleese argues that this joke wouldn't have worked at any point in the film other than the very end.
- Most of the amusing injuries Tony gets when testing the suit in Iron Man.
- Tranquilizers take several minutes to take effect; however, in Thor it happens almost immediately, causing one of the funniest parts in the film. In the hospital when Thor is fighting the doctors, this happens: (gets pinned against the wall) "You are no match for the mighty—" (gets a tranquilizer shot in his ass-cheek).
- This is the main reason why anything happens in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and its sequels. The number of Contrived Coincidences and random events the protagonists go through would be absurdly improbable in Real Life, but the films' inability to take anything seriously allows the audience to accept the absurdity.
- In the Discworld universe, this is an actual rule, akin to a law of physics. Terry Pratchett, author of the series, has cited this rule in interviews. The Discworld Roleplaying Game elaborates that it is a corollary of the Law of Narrative Causality, known as the Rule of Universal Humour. That term appears once in the novels themselves, mentioned as the reason someone still had his hat on after being turned into a pumpkin.
- Tom Holt and Robert Rankin have based their entire careers on this. With Holt, you know the book you're reading is based on the same plot as the last five books of his you read — and you don't care; with Rankin... well... the closest description anyone's ever found to his books is The Goon Show on crack, and this is pretty much the only rule it abides by.
- Craig Shaw Gardner's Cineverse Cycle, as a parody of B movies in general, pretty much lives and breathes this trope, whether it's the subtitles that appear underneath the inhabitants of the "foreign film" universe whenever they speak, or the mad scientist who turns into a Gargamel Expy whenever he's around this bunch of fluffy bunnies in the "cartoon" universe, or the slime monster in the "horror" universe which turns out to be the formerly-missing chimp companion of the Tarzan Expy in the "adventure" universe, clad in a monster suit.
- The steampower on which the works of P. G. Wodehouse run. Bizarre coincidences are commonplace, the Smart Ball and the Idiot Ball get juggled around by just about everyone, and the same things happen ten million times. By general consensus, he is the funniest writer in the English language.
- Deconstructed in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Sky Pirates, which is set in a Pocket Dimension based on jokes, but makes it clear that it's not funny if it actually happens to you.
- Magic in the Harry Potter universe is half this, half whatever the plot needs.
- Any "plot" elements in Mystery Science Theater 3000. See the mantra. For example, Season 7 ended with Dr. Forrester being reborn and then killed by Pearl, who then freezes herself. A later episode shows her and the cast go back to the present, so the second Dr. Forrester would still be around, if it had to make sense.
- While Tom Servo's arms are stated in-universe to be non-functional, he will nonetheless hold on to anything he needs so long as it leads to a funny gag.
- On the show Merlin during the episode "A Servant of Two Masters", Merlin continuously (and humorously) fails to kill Arthur by using weapons and chemicals. It is because of this trope the Merlin doesn't use magic to try and kill Arthur.
- Penny's intelligence and Sheldon's social skills in The Big Bang Theory both tend to vary wildly based on this trope.
- The title character of Angel could go from dead serious to goofball surprisingly fast. In fact, the entire point of "Smile Time" seems to be this trope. There is a mysterious bad guy, it could do anything. Why would it turn Angel into a puppet? Because it's hilarious, that's why.
- Pretty much what Red Dwarf is made of. The premise, every episode, almost every scene, and a whole lot of the individual lines are all just completely ridiculous (the characters giving out one-liners that are completely inappropriate to the situation is practically a staple of the show), that it's probably used about half of the sub-pages listed above at one point or another. And needless to say, all of this is forgiven by the fans, as it's probably one of the funniest (and most underappreciated) TV shows ever made, because as long as it's funny, it works.
- One of the show's creator's strategies apparently seems to be finding Refuge in Audacity. The sheer amount the show uses is perfectly exemplified in a condensed four minutes in the famous return of Ace Rimmer, where he escapes from ropes by dislocating both of his shoulders (yet retains full use of his arms for the remainder of the scene), shrugs off bullets with mild annoyance at his clothes being ruined, and flies a motorcycle. And then some. Really, it's easier if you just watch it. What a guy! (The fact that he's actually a solid hologram either explains it or makes all ten times better/worse.)
- They briefly Flanderized Holly's senility for a joke multiple times, with the extreme being "White Hole" (in which (s)he was counting by banging her head on the screen). However, (s)he is shown to be much more lucid (if not necessarily brilliant) in other episodes, notably in "Queeg" with a well-planned hoax based on the idiot-perception and in "Back to Earth" when (s)he saves the entire crew. Also, "White Hole" itself establishes that the ship's power generation requires her input, making you wonder why something hasn't exploded yet.
- Perhaps the flaw of the final two series where whole scenes seem to have been tacked on mainly for laughs. The most glaring are the tap dancing shuttle craft scene and the Tyrannosaurus rex, (of course) eating a giant curry. Pretty base stuff by the series previous standards and not helped by some not-very-convincing CGI.
- There's a glorious piece in the script book, where Naylor describes, step by painstaking step, just how complex the dancing Blue Midget scene was to do, then going on the messageboards and learning "the fans hate it, they think it's filler".
- Many of the "challenges" in Top Gear. Why turn a truck into an amphibious vehicle? Why launch a car on a rocket only to see it hit the ground and then explode? Why make James May try to drive fast? (Or why let him get lost—actually lost—on a race track? Because it's funny, durn it!)
- On The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, George made it clear in his occasional asides to the audience that he would go along with anything as long as it was getting laughs.
- Pretty much one of the main reasons Adam as well as the Chuckleheads (Kari, Grant, and Tori) are around in MythBusters is because they all fulfill the Rule of Funny. Jamie and Adam admit they really aren't that fond of each other in real life - if it weren't for the Rule of Funny, you can bet your bottom it'd just be two Jamie type people.
- The reason X-Play was very fond of finding a quote they thought was amusing, then repeating it. Again. And again. And AGAIN!
- This is practically Hyde's excuse for his antics—"Because, it's funnier this way."
- As an unrestrained parody of Cowboy Cops, Sledge Hammer! runs entirely on Rule of Funny.
- Police Squad! is nothing but this trope. Not surprising, as it was developed by the folks behind Airplane!
- Rule number one on the Colgate Comedy Hour.
- Frasier: There is no "Daphne Lane" in Seattle where Niles could find a street sign to steal (nor Maple Street, the intersection where he tries), but obviously you'd lose this plot if it were realistic.
- Devin Townsend
- Ziltoid the Omniscient in particular.
- Frank Zappa
- Megadeth has The Chosen Ones, based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail's Rabbit of Caerbannog.
- Ghostface Killah's Fishscale album includes the skit "Heart Street Directions", where a woman asks Ghostface directions to the title street and gets a rather explicit anatomy lesson instead (e.g. "you get on Bush Highway, you go past Vagina Street, you're gonna get off at Dick..."). Logically, someone in this situation would cut him off or just turn and walk away, but she lets him go on listing clearly fake, body-part-themed street names for nearly a full minute before finally calling him a "fucking pervert!". The listener wouldn't get to hear the whole monologue otherwise, and it's arguably funnier to picture her just patiently waiting for him to finish first.
- CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, Incredibly Strange Wrestling, and Lucha Va-Voom practically run on it.
- Why does Bluebottle in The Goon Show keep getting deaded by explosions even when he's in the middle of a desert on a different continent to the pile of dynamite he's fleeing, then come Back from the Dead to complain about being killed? Because it's funny. The same applies to...well...pretty much everything else related to the Goons.
- Bluebottle's resurrections are justified in later series by his inhabiting a separate but overlapping (and equally real) reality to the other characters, in which they are all children playing games, and his frequent and often contrived "deading" is the others not playing fair.
- Pretty much everything the Orks do in Warhammer 40,000. In this grimdark universe where there's only unceasing total war between every faction in the universe (who are all based on historical Badass Armies), you're likely to die being Eaten Alive by Tyranids and the very god of hope is an utterly insane demonic entity which is empowered by your emotions, da Orks are a laughable bunch of green-skinned, hyper-deformed and barbaric Football Hooligans who roam around fighting everyone (including each other if they lack anything else) in massive migrations/crusades/pub crawls, all speak in silly accents and build ramshackle technology which runs on Insane Troll Logic because they have subtle psychic powers which make it work like that. One famous Ork story had a Boss lead his Boyz into a Warpstorm which led him back in time to before he left, where he promptly decided to kill his past self so he could have a duplicate of his favourite gun. In the ensuing confusion, his Boyz all decided to call it off and go home.
- The election night newsreel in Of Thee I Sing relies heavily on the Rule of Funny. In particular, the actual opposition candidate is never identified, so all the election returns show Wintergreen vying with various celebrities, horses, intoxicating liquors, etc.
- Philocomasium's Zany Scheme in Miles Gloriosus depends very heavily on this, as she's masquerading as her free twin, while the man whose concubine she is has a guard for her.
- Kingdom of Loathing: A relentless Hurricane of Puns and a bizarre array of Everything Trying To Beat You Up make up only a fraction of the silliness.
- Conker's Bad Fur Day. To explain, antics such as producing toilet paper from Hammerspace when fighting a giant singing poo, and drinking from a conveniently placed keg in order to defeat fire imps with "yellow rain". Or as the game puts it, the "Context Sensitive Area".
- Atelier games are lighthearted in general, but the Mana Khemia and DS games (Liese, Annie, and Lina) are practically made of this trope.
- Mass Effect 2's infamous "probing Uranus" joke requires a deviation from format to execute. Normally, when the player deploys a probe, the ship AI will say something like "Probe away" or "Deploying Probe." It never, never says "Probing [Planet Name]"... except when you launch a probe at Uranus, at which point you hear "probing Uranus."
- Superhero League of Hoboken pretty much runs on this trope, with enemies like giant hamburgers and chests of drawers and superpowers like "eating spicy foods without distress" or "folding roadmaps correctly".
- The Dating Sim Always Remember Me has a few bonus silly endings where the protagonist declares her love for her high school sweetheart's father and the New Old Flame—as chibi versions of themselves.
- Bayonetta uses this a lot. To name a few instances:
- In one chapter, Bayonetta hijacks a motorcycle and starts it using her middle finger.
- If Bayonetta is crushed by large, ball-shaped objects, she gets flattened like a cartoon character, which looks very out-of-place in this game. It could either be this, the fact that the Umbran Witches may have the ability to flatten themselves, or both.
- In a scene where Luka and Cereza are making a daring escape, the camera zooms in on their faces as a sparkle comes from their eyes, accompanied by an Audible Gleam...and then Cereza's doll, Cheshire, even does it too, and meows as it does so.
- Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist: Do NOT attempt to follow any of the medical advice listed in the pharmacist's guide/manual. It is a parody of the more primitive state of medicine in the 19th Century and is only meant to be used as a source of humor and copy protection information.
- The entire basis for Goat Simulator, pretty much. Why are you playing a goat? Why are the in-game physics so terrible? Because it's funny.
- There was once a Cave Story fan comic called "Tale of the Cave" which provided a nice standardized definition: "Everything that happens, happens because it's funny". The strip was written to address some fanmail that asked about the comic's use of Depth Perplexion and Depth Deception (Bat could fly around some objects via the foreground and background, but not other objects).
- In 8-Bit Theater. Fighter and Red Mage regularly take actions that other characters realize should be completely impossible. The creator has said that the comic's continuity is whatever makes for the funniest joke at the time.
- Black Belt, who is notoriously bad at navigating, manages to get himself so lost that he goes back in time and encounters himself. Without any outside help. In a straight hallway. Yeah.
- Lampshaded when the character Drizz'l uses a joke to "break the ice". Literal ice that some other characters were trapped within. Everyone involved is amazed it worked. Drizz'l outright states he hates that it did.
- 8-Bit Theater isn't above having characters act completely out of character. At least, we've seen Fighter be intelligent and rational, Black Mage be cordial, and Red Mage briefly play The Straight Man.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is probably one of the most nonsensical works of fiction ever written. It's also absolutely hilarious.
- Sluggy Freelance lives and breathes this trope.
Dr Schlock: I'll be brief.Kusari: I'll be briefer [kills Schlock, turns to Daedalus] I've located and eliminated Dr. Schlock as you ordered, Daedalus.Daedalus: I wanted to hear what he had to say, but that was pretty funny so you get a pass.
- Ferrets can break the sound barrier when they're given sugar.
- A Cannibals' Anonymous support group includes a pair of zombies, an alien, and a miniature wooly mammoth clone.
- A small bunny can produce a switchblade from nowhere and proceed to beat up a grizzly bear.
- Brief references to the French Revolution or Oprah's Book of the Month club can instantly put people to sleep.
- This quote should be at the top of the page:
- This very much governs Brat-Halla. It tends to hew surprisingly closely to accurate Norse mythology within the confines of its premise... except when it would be funnier not to. Thus, Tyr is a pacifist, Fenrir is a rock star, half the dark elves are poser goths and emo kids who hang around coffee shops, and the closest thing the comic has to a Big Bad is the eye Odin sacrificed to the Well of Mimir, imbued with sentience and severe abandonment issues.
- In Jayden and Crusader this is referenced by a simple Saxon/Norse superstition being used in the 21st century, and turning out to be true for only the comic in which it is mentioned.
- Later the Artist of J&C himself cited the Rule of Funny regarding his own work
- As does the webcomic Bob and George where this is called "The Gag Reflex".
- In Stickman and Cube, Humour is one of the main guiding forces of The 'Verse, the other being Necessity, that is to say, stuff happens according to what is funny or needed at the time.
- The Wotch spin-off webcomic Cheer! features a pie catapult with an automatic targeting system designed to maximize laughs.
- In The Order of the Stick, Redcloak is able to summon Elementals based on the chemical elements even though no explanation is given for how he has come to learn of their existence in the first place.
- Questionable Content - "I have no idea whether this comic actually makes sense. All I know is I could not stop laughing as I drew the last panel."
- El Goonish Shive exists for this and Rule of Romantic. Slightly prone to Cerebus Syndrome.
- A lampshade is hung on it in Nodwick, when Nodwick is asked to lift a five-ton obelisk.
- Apparently Donovan Deegan has been pretending to suck at orcish for over twenty years purely because of this trope!
- In Girl Genius, Violetta is able to swap a hostage for a matching dummy of him, while the hostage is being physically held by his captor, while Violetta is physically separated from and arguing with said captor, with no explanation of where that dummy might possibly have come from. Just that she specializes in misdirection and sleight of hand.
- Electric Wonderland personifies the Rule of Funny in Aerynn Arlia, a Magical Girl with no apparent limits. Aerynn can literally do anything at any time, as long as it's amusing — usually with Buttmonkey NJ as the victim.
- Shortpacked!. How, exactly, did Galasso manage to resurrect Ronald Reagan (and later the historical Jesus)?
- Many things in Homestuck, as well as its predecessor, Problem Sleuth, can be explained by either this or Rule of Cool. Problem Sleuth leans more heavily on the "funny" side in comparison though.
"The villain [of Homestuck] is a FUCKING DOG WEARING SUNGLASSES."
- Compared to Problem Sleuth and Homestuck, their predecessor Jailbreak is even more so; Rule of Funny justifies its entire existence. It makes no pretense of having a coherent world or story; Rule of Funny is its be-all and end-all.
- Although there's a lot of Rule of Funny going on in Touhou Nekokayou, one scene sticks out to me. Why use a giant laser, Marisa, when you can use a giant pie?
- Dragon Ball Multiverse: Arale and Nekomajin have this as a power: Arale's basically an unconscious Reality Warper on Buu's level, and could have wiped the floor with Cell, and Nekomajin easily holds his own against Gotenks... as long as they can make a joke out of it.
- Two Guys and Guy: Not only is sex with Wayne so inherently shameful that inanimate objects are ashamed of it, even masturbatory aids have that reaction.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: This is pretty much how time travel operates by Word of God. In-Universe everyone treats it like It Runs On Nonsenseoleum.
- Dumb_RWBY could basically be described as everything from RWBY used for comedy. And yes, we do mean everything.
- Destroy the Godmodder functions off of this, even as a game. It doesn't matter how good your attack is, if it isn't funny, it will almost never work. On the flip side, something that is inherently a baby of this has a far greater chance to succeed. One of the earliest examples was the summoning of Magikarp, who proceeds (through screwy mechanics) to flail at the godmodder, and then summon a tsunami. Guess which one connects.
- The "Just for Fun" tropes on this site. Now, if only some people would realize that and stop putting them on the Cut List...
- Obleeq from Nat One Productions runs almost exclusively on this.
- L-Block wins GameFAQs Character Battle VI.
- Burnie Burns, writer of Red vs. Blue, explicitly stated in an interview that he would sacrifice continuity for the sake of a good joke even in the post-Cerebus Syndrome episodes of the series.
- Many jokes on the toad show are like this.
- Skippy's List has the line "I’m funny, so they let me live" to explain why he got away with being a goofball in the US Army.
- YouTube Poop takes this Serial Escalation with every second making absolutely no sense in the least, but still being extremely popular with a massive fanbase.
- Shiny Objects Videos runs on pure Rule of Funny. Abandon your sense of reality, all ye who enter here.
- In Midnight Screenings, Brad tends to chew out the Fridge Logic of bad comedies, but says he would have excused them if the films were actually funny.
- In Brad Jones' Demo Reel, it turns out a VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead can operate a camcorder.
- Happy Tree Friends pretty much runs on this trope. It's the reason why the characters are killed or injured so absurdly easily, how they keep coming back from the dead, how Cro-Marmot moves, how Handy does things that rehire hands offscreen, and how Lumpy and the Mole keep getting put into positions of responsibility despite their obvious incompetence, among other things.
- The nature of the main characters in Mr Deity makes no sense unless you assume that they just run on this trope.
- The whole premise of Epic Rap Battles of History is based on this trope. Don't try and figure out how dead people and fictional characters can randomly come to life for a rap battle, or how they know all about things that didn't exist in their lifetime.
- South Park is probably the ultimate litmus test for it. If they can't make it funny, no one can.
"You know what this means? AIDS is finally funny!"
- The Afterlife was never discussed in Season 1 of The Boondocks. However, in Episode 201, Stinkmeaner comes Back from the Dead. This is officially the funniest episode.
- The Cutaway Gag moments in Family Guy often show bizarre things. Their prevalence amped greatly following the series' return, which attracted criticism from various other cartoonists and comedians and was parodied in the "Cartoons Wars" episodes of South Park. MacFarlane's response was:
What should I know about the vast territory that lies beyond the confines of my little subculture of textbooks, Ramen noodles, coin-operated laundry and TV shows that seem to think they can skate by with random jokes about giant chickens that have absolutely nothing to do with the overall narrative? The boys at South Park are absolutely correct: Those cutaways and flashbacks have nothing to do with the story! They're just there to be... funny. And that is a shallow indulgence that South Park is quite above, and for that I salute them.
— Seth MacFarlane, in character as Stewie Griffin, Harvard Class Day 2006
- Arguably one of the most polarizing points in the show's evolution for fans was when the characterizations became dependant on the trope. Depending on the gag, the entire cast can switch between likable yet wacky characters akin to the original episodes or Faux Affably Evil psychopaths taking part in high order Comedic Sociopathy. This is even more jarring when originally level headed and more humanized characters such as Lois and Brian join in on the sadism of a gag.
- SpongeBob SquarePants takes this trope to physics. For some reason, the characters can light fire, have snow, and running water, while the series takes place underwater. Naturally, this leads to Lampshade Hanging:
Patrick: Hey, if we're underwater, how can there be a fi—(fire goes out)
- Another one is when a building is on fire. Disregarding the fact that they're underwater, the audience can accept this one. But then SpongeBob grabs a bucket, sweeps it through the "air" and collects a bucket of water to put out the fire. Hmmm...
- In "Doing Time" SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff drive over an unfinished bridge with the Mayor at the opening cutting the ribbon, because apparently in Bikini Bottom it's acceptable to open something that's half built.
- In "Snowball Effect" Patrick attempts to make a simple snowball. Instead, he manages to make a snow cube, a snow pyramid, and a snow double-helix.
- In "Patty Hype", the people who ate SpongeBob's Pretty Patties come to Mr. Krabs, now the owner of the stand selling them, demanding refunds after the patties change their colors. One guy got a glow in the dark tongue, and despite being outside he pulls a lamp chain hanging next to him, turning everything dark as if he turned off the light on a ceiling fan indoors.
- In "Boat Smarts", when SpongeBob crashes into Squidward's boat he sends Squidward's seat flying out. For no reason other than to screw him over, he gets launched toward a vehicle with two spiked grinding cylinders affixed to the front.
- The two times Squidward gets sent flying off his bike and off a cliff in "Jellyfishing" and "My Pretty Seahorse", he suddenly explodes for no reason other than this trope.
- In "SpongeGuard on Duty", SpongeBob attempts to save Patrick from drowning by drinking all of the water in Goo Lagoon. Despite SpongeBob using a straw, he somehow sucks Patrick up as well.
- In the Geronimo Stilton cartoon, Geronimo's cousin Trap is asked to provide a diversion, while the rest of the mains sneak somewhere undetected by pe... other mice. What does Trap do? Pretend on being a space alien (complete with a toy helmet with antennas). Geronimo thinks this is stupid. However, the whole city, even the mayor, fall for it!
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Serpent's Pass" Toph is rescued from drowning by Suki and (thinking she is Sokka) gives her a big kiss. Even though Toph is blind, there was nothing to stop her from noticing the makeup during the kiss, but the resulting scene is funny.
- It's funny because of Toph's deadpan delivery after she figures out it's Suki, not Sokka.
Toph: You can let me drown now.
- It's funny because of Toph's deadpan delivery after she figures out it's Suki, not Sokka.
- An instance similar to the SpongeBob example occurs in the Futurama episode "The Deep South", when Zoidberg's house burns to the ground... underwater. Zoidberg wails "How could this have happened?" and Hermes notes, "That's a very good question." Implicitly claiming responsibility, Bender picks his still-lit cigar out of the ruins and puffs on it — eliciting a cry of, "That just raises further questions!"
- What makes that really funny is that they explain everything that happens in that episode with pseudo-science (in fact, most of the episode is things being explained away.) But for that one last thing, there's absolutely no scientific reasoning.
- Futurama is fond of both this rule and lampshading it. In "When Aliens Attack", aliens are threatening to invade Earth and the planet sends Zapp Branigan to destroy the mothership. After an epic battle with a massive, well-guarded space installation, Earth succeeds in destroying the thing. Zapp celebrates the victory, before a substantially larger ship pops into view. This, it turns out, is the mothership. When Zapp asks what they just destroyed, Kiff looks at a computer screen, groans and says, "The Hubble telescope." Series producer David X. Cohen said in the episode's commentary track that he knew the joke made absolutely no sense, but loved it so much he had to keep it in.
- Lampshaded again by Amy in "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?", where the plot gets kicked off by the crew deciding to sign up for the gym. Leela and Amy walk into the Planet Express lounge, where a noticeably-chubby Fry and Bender are watching TV.
- Note to non-fans: Bender (a robot) has a door on the front of his chassis. The door itself is subject to Rule of Funny; sometimes it's a storage compartment for Noodle Implements or for things Bender has stolen, sometimes it gives access to his hardware or software, sometimes it has buttons or diagrams on the inside — whatever the gag of the moment requires. Also, because Bender is a robot, he can't actually gain weight through over-consumption of food or drink, let alone develop a "beer belly".
- Most classic theatrical cartoons, particularly Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes and much of the oeuvre of Tex Avery. Don't question where the anvils are coming from, just laugh at it because it's silly.
- Why, they come from ACME, Inc. of course.
- Looney Tunes is one of the kings of this trope. There is very rarely anything close to continuity and most stories are simply sketches where characters can be almost impossibly stupid just to be tricked in funny ways and both their lines and the gags depend on puns.
- In perhaps one of the most bizarre applications of the rule ever, the size of the character Endive in Chowder is governed by Rule of Funny. She can vary from about the same size as everyone else, if rather... large, to a towering giant, depending on what's needed for the joke at hand.
- Transformers Animated has a scene where Starscream, revived and granted immortality by a fragment of the Allspark, repeatedly tries, and fails, to kill Megatron. You'd probably spend the whole time wondering why the other Decepticons didn't try to get rid of him in any other way, were it not so amusing to see him getting blasted to crap and tossed into a river repeatedly.
- The Starscream death montage has been called one of the greatest moments in all of Transformers.
- Justice League Unlimited:
- In the episode "Kid Stuff" the kidified Justice Leaguers face off against a baby version of the demon Etrigan. There is absolutely no reason at all for why Etrigan should be a baby or why Etrigan should be in this episode at all. One would think that Mordred would have banished Etrigan along with all the other adults, seeing as they've been mortal enemies literally for centuries. But damn if Baby Etrigan isn't the funniest thing you ever did see.
- The writers have also admitted that this is why "The Great Brain Robbery" wasn't scrapped.
- Codename: Kids Next Door has a case of Rule of Funny backfiring: Father eating ice cream in Operation: Z.E.R.O.... instead of having an epic battle with Grandfather.
- Winx Club: This is probably the reason why Stella makes Kiko impersonate Flora in season 3 episodes 5 and 6 when there were enough pixies present to impersonate the other girls.
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Normal girls defeating Mojo Jojo with pillows at a slumber party.
- In a late-series episode, the Amoeba Boys discover that they can multiply and use this ability to steal all the oranges in Townsville. Everyone gets scurvy as a result.
- Any Robot Chicken sketch. One that immediately comes to mind is Robin adding Beavis and Butt-Head to his team.
- The The Simpsons has a few examples. After the first few seasons, the premise that it was simply an "animated sitcom" began to be interpreted a lot more loosely, with much more stereotypically "cartoon logic."
- "Cape Feare" invokes this trope to a significant extent. It was the last hurrah for a number of the show's original writers who were leaving. They threw every wacky or random gag into the episode with the mentality of "What are they going to do? Fire us?" This resulted in one of the most highly regarded episodes of the show ever. Among other things, the episode features an elephant stepping on Bob's face and Bob putting on a full Gilbert and Sullivan opera (complete with costumes and a playbill) after being asked to do so on the spot.
- The Simpsons is a Long Runner which slips a running gag past the Moral Guardians. Bumbling Dad and Jerkass Homer repeatedly strangles his son, Bart. This is always Played for Laughs and excused on the Rule of Funny. This may also serve as a show Getting Crap Past the Radar thanks to a show-level version of the Grandfather Clause; child abuse as comedy is not going to fly on most shows.
- Which makes it even funnier when they do treat it as child abuse. One episode had Homer take fathering lessons. He tells the class a story where Bart, the little dickens, calls him fat. He then casually say 'so then I was strangling him when...' causing the whole group to drop their jaws and question what kind of man he is. Completely played for laughs how they react, and even has Homer reveal that's how he was raised, not that Abe strangled him when he did bad, but that Homer strangled his father every time he tried to punish him. One of the funniest scenes ever.
- In several episodes, Ned's biblical references are complete nonsense, and simply sound like weird things from the Old Testament. In the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily", for instance, he expresses shock that Bart and Lisa are unfamiliar with the story of the "the Bridal Feast of Beth Chedruharazzeb."
- On the 80's G.I. Joe, Barbecue receives several cryptic phone calls from someone calling himself 'The Viper'. Each call gives information that ends up leading to victories over Cobra, and both sides desperately want to know who he is; Cobra to stop the leak, the Joes who fear an eventual set-up. Finally, the Viper reveals himself he is an older Eastern European man with a thick accent, 'The Wiper' there to 'Vipe Your Vindows'. Now, there are any number of ways both Joe and Cobra could have found this out long before the ba-rump-bump ending, such as hearing the joke before. None of them would have been as funny.
- Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic regularly pulls off hilariously impossible feats like being in multiple places at the same time, outrunning the faster flier in Equestria while only moving at a casual skipping pace, or suddenly appearing in places she couldn't possibly fit into. By 'couldn't possibly fit into' we mean Pinkie at one point simply manifests in a mirror. This may or may not have something to do with her connection to the Element of Laughter.
- One common mistake in fanfics is to have her doing unusual things because the author thinks they're inherently funny, when within the show her powers only manifest if they can deliver a comic payoff to an established setup. Think more Looney Tunes less Family Guy.
- The episode "Sleepless in Ponyville" has Sweetie Belle obnoxiously singing "99 Buckets of Oats on the Wall," even though an earlier episode established that she's actually a good singer. Of course, no one really cares that this is Out of Character of her, since it's funny.
- In the Regular Show episode "Prankless", when East Pines Park is at a deadly prank war with the main characters' park, Muscle Man defeats the East Pines manager Gene by scaring him with the illusion of him headed toward the sun. After Gene submits, Muscle Man explains that he created the illusion with giant mirrors around the East Pines watchtower.
- There was an episode of the Disney show The Buzz on Maggie in which Maggie got electrocuted by her older brother's hand buzzer, resulting in X-Ray Sparks. It should be noted that this show is a high school comedy involving insects, and insects do not have inner skeletons.
- In an early episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny is looking for a job and one of his choices is working at a battery factory where his job is to electrocute himself with the batteries to see which ones work and which ones don't. He accidentally puts a dud in the accepted pile and one of the workers uses it to replace the battery in one of the smoke detectors, but for no particular reason the factory has a cow next to an oil lamp who kicks it over and causes a fire, and thanks to the smoke detector not working the sprinklers don't go off.
- The cow is a reference to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Legend has it that a cow belonging to the O'Leary family knocked over a lantern, setting fire to a shed. The fire spread through much of the city, killing hundreds of people.
- American Dad!:
- In "A Ward Show", when Steve no longer has Principal Lewis' protection he gets beat up by three teachers whom he antagonized earlier because Lewis let him do what he wanted in the teachers' lounge. In response Roger plants bombs in their cars, but after the first two cars explode and the last teacher tries to make a break for it he explodes instead, leaving only his legs.
- In "Blagsnarst, A Love Story", Roger tries to make a weapon by combining some sticks, a rock and some gum. When the camera zooms out, he now has a functioning assault rifle.
- In "Permanent Record Wrecker", when a boy in a child cart gets sent flying over a produce bin and crashes into several jars of Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce, the sauce suddenly lights on fire, and when it reaches the overturned cart it explodes.
- In the Archer episode "Skytanic", Archer and Lana are on a blimp and discover a bomb. They put Ray, the (then) bomb expert, on video call as they try to read the bomb's serial code under interference. There's no explanation for why they can't just point the camera at the serial code, but the result is one of the funniest scenes on the show.
- Phineas and Ferb:
- "Raging Bully" reveals that Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Hilariously Abusive Childhood began with neither of his parents showing up on the day he was born.
- In "Out to Launch", all of Phineas and Ferb's attempts at simulating a rocket launch end in catastrophic failure until Ferb points out that their equation includes them dividing by the square root of a Cartoon Bomb. They're successful when Phineas replaces the bomb with a smiley face.
- In "Ain't No Kiddie Ride", the boys modify a set of kiddie rides to turn them into rocket-propelled vehicles. When Baljeet's machine powers down and he has no quarter to restart it, he tries to put a dollar in and the machine won't accept it. At the end of the episode Baljeet irons the dollar and the machine accepts it, but the ironing board takes off instead, and when he kicks the machine it takes off as well.
- In "The Lemonade Stand", Dr. Doofenshmirtz's latest get rich quick scheme is to use paper airplanes to give people paper cuts so he can sell them bandages. The paper is somehow strong enough to cut the thumb on Phineas and Ferb's lemonade-making robot, which shuts down when it gets lemon juice in the wound.
- During the "Way of the Platypus" musical montage in "Doof Dynasty", Baljeet tries to karate chop a board in half. Instead, the cinder blocks the board is on disintegrate and the board itself remains in mid-air.
- In "Skiddley Whiffers", when Doofenshmirtz explains to Perry why he's trying to protect Vanessa on her camping trip, we're treated to another flashback from his Hilariously Abusive Childhood where he gets attacked by bees, which leads to him falling off a cliff, through a patch of thorn bushes, and through a field of fire hydrants. He then shows Perry that he has a hydrant stuck inside his leg (he can't have it removed because it's too close to an artery), which appears out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly.
- A grim example (shared by Comic Books above) comes from Batman: The Animated Series in the form of the Joker. He only commits crimes if they're funny—unfortunately for everyone in Gotham, he has a really sick sense of humor.
The Joker: Except you had to EXPLAIN IT TO ME! If you have to explain a joke, THERE IS NO JOKE!
- This is lampshaded in "The Laughing Fish," when the Joker uses an altered version of his Joker venom to mutate every fish in Gotham to resemble him; he then attempts to copyright the fish so he can fund his criminal empire. When Mr. Francis, the bureaucrat who runs the Gotham Patent Office explains that natural resources like fish can't be copyrighted, the Joker threatens him. Later that evening, Francis wonders aloud why on earth the Clown Prince of Crime is interested in a meager civil servant like him; Batman responds that "in [the Joker's] sick mind, that's the joke."
- In "Mad Love," Harley Quinn devises a plan to kidnap and kill Batman based on one of the Joker's old schemes—put the Caped Crusader in a straitjacket and throw him in a tank full of piranhas. The Joker discarded this plan because piranhas can't smile; Harley finds a way around this by hanging Batman upside-down, which will make the fishes' frowns turn to grins from his perspective. When Joker discovers what Harley is up to, he flies into an absolutely terrifying rage and starts beating her. She protests, explaining how she altered the plan, which prompts the following response as he throws her out a three-story window to the streets below:
- In "Joker's Favor," everyman Charlie Collins has a terrible day and cusses out a motorist who cuts him off in traffic; the motorist turns out to be the Joker. Charlie begs for his life, and the Joker agrees to spare him if he promises to do "a little favor" someday. He then holds this over Charlie's head for two years, eventually calls him up to play an extremely inconsequential role in a scheme (Charlie has to hold a door open for Harley), and tries to kill him anyway. The audience is left to assume that the Caliph of Clowns did this because he thought it'd be funny.
- Overlaps with Rule of Three in The Fairly OddParents! episode "The Grass is Greener": the things that randomly explode in Timmy's Dad's face include a lawnmower, a barbecue grill, and a completely normal-looking burger.
- On Wallykazam, even though Norville talks more in later installments, he mostly just uses short declaratives or repeats what Wally says. Nevertheless, in the teaser segment of "The Bathmobile," he and Wally chat on telephones Wally created with magic stick like a couple of school-pals, apparently simply because of rule of funny.