: We have to see this movie, dude! Cartman
: Aw, screw it. It probably isn't all that good anyway. Kyle
: Cartman, what are you talking about? You love Terrance and Phillip! Cartman
: Yeah, but the animation's all crappy.
When a work parodies itself.
There are several ways to do this. Some involve Breaking the Fourth Wall
If a self-parody is to be done without direct self-reference, an easy method is having a Show Within a Show
be a parody of the original show. The parallels should be obvious to the alert viewer, but the characters may write them off.
Since writers usually like their own works, self-parodies typically fall towards the affectionate
end of the parody spectrum, though this may not hold true if a particularly jaded
creator is put in charge. In either case, all deliberate self-parodies tend toward Self-Deprecating Humor
, and even the most affectionate of self-parodies can be very harsh on themselves. The sort of work most likely to have one is a series that is a Long Runner
or is in an established "verse"
- else there isn't enough material.
This is hard to do well. And woe to the work that does it by accident.
See also: Parody Assistance
, wherein people involved in the production of a show help in the production of an otherwise unaffiliated parody of the show, and Adam Westing
, a specific type of self-parody centered more around individual actors and characters rather than the work as a whole.
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- A law firm released several ads showing people hugely distraught over minor things, such as a paper cut or power going out during an intense video game session, and the "victims" demand justice for the parties responsible. The ads usually end with the number to call to firm and a disclaimer saying "But keep in mind that you really need to be injured."
- Billy Mays did this in the ads for ESPN 360.
- In 2012 Samsung ran an ad for its new smartphone where a dad is going away on a business trip and his daughters have made him a video which his wife gives him via touching phones. She has also made him a video - to be seen in private. Christmas 2012, Samsung runs the exact same ad - only dad is replaced by Santa going out Chirstmas Eve to deliver presents, mom by Mrs. Claus, and daughters by elves.
- Old Spice has made a borderline art out of this, the protagonists being increasingly manly men doing manly things with manly results.
Anime & Manga
- A Filler episode of Bleach has Ichigo being suddenly in an "Arabian Nights" setting and his adventure is a parody of the Soul Society arc. It turns out that it was All Just a Dream of Isane.
- Dragon Ball Z invokes this trope during the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai when there's a screening of a movie about "How Mr. Satan defeated Cell".
Well, it was ridiculous and untrue
, but it kept me entertained!
- Gintama invokes this with Gintaman, an overly generic action manga with bad art, drawn-out dialogue, and characters who lack any distinctive traits. The author turns out to be an ordinary gorilla, who relies heavily on the editors to turn his scribblings into something remotely coherent. It temporarily gains popularity after Gintoki offers some suggestions that turn it into a Dragon Ball Z ripoff, but it fades the moment a new editor is assigned to it, and it's later shown that everyone who worked as its editor eventually ended up going insane as a result of how terrible it is.
- Darker Than Black: The OVA (episode 26 of season 1), which chronologically occurs somewhere in the middle and comes with a convenient Reset Button that makes it not affect the rest of the series.
- Nurse Witch Komugi: a spin-off/self parody of the The SoulTaker.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion had a very funny radio play called "Neon Genesis Evangelion: After the End". It basically involves the cast discussing how they should go about rebooting the series—which had a very miserable end, it should be noted—in various absurd ways, including a Super Sentai show, making it a sex comedy, and even turning Asuka into a bully who talks like a Yakuza, which leads to Rei becoming a motormouth. On top of all this, it also features Hideaki Anno himself being a Large Ham.
- This trailer of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has idiocies like Henshin Hero Setsuna F. Exia, Lockon's ghost freaking out Tieria and Allelujah, Haro playing Body Snatcher with Tieria, Sergei and Marie/Soma eating bamboo as pandas and Patrick getting shot in the ass by a UFO.
- Saint October really likes this trope: For an example: One of the villains can distribute Tarot cards to his henchmen in order to create mooks. A recurring underling of his has only two of them, but needs a whole army of mooks, so in order to create more, she just copies them. It works.
- Witch Craft Works anime official soundtrack has a "Watch Activity" song, which is not used in the anime itself. Anime has an ending theme by the name of "Witch☆Activity" though, of which the "Watch Activity" is a recognizable spoof (music itself, guys instead of girls as vocals, both witches and The Watch being part of the story, a song in Engrish instead of a song with Gratuitous English, lyrics).
- Magic: The Gathering has joke sets Unglued and Unhinged. While a lot of the cards are just silly in general, many cards take potshots at both Magic's fans and its developers. For example, one card called "Look at Me, I'm the DCI" depicts a blindfolded Wizards employee making banning decisions with a dartboard.
- Some interpretations of All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder suggest that it is a Self-Parody of Frank Miller's earlier work.
- The Marvel Super Heroes: What The-?! series by Marvel Comics is a Stop-motion style series of parodies and jokes regarding the Marvel universe, with oddities such as M.O.D.O.K., the old shame of Tony, Civil War, and the highly regarded Old Man Logan.
- The "Night At the Comic Shop" issue of Archie Comics had comic book characters come to life. One of the characters was "Wilbur", who dresses pretty much identical to Archie's old design (except with a "W" on his cardigan). He's described as a "wacky teenager who's always chasing girls" and true to art Veronica shows attraction to him.
- This is actually a clever double self-parody; on one level Wilbur is a parody of Archie. On another, Archie Comics are using a pre-existing character for the Genius Bonus of "Yeah, back in the day Archie had spawned a Fountain of Expies, we ripped off our own character for some reason."
- Knowledge is Power: The "Humour" promised by the header is mostly of this kind, and doesn't always seem to be intentional.
- Enchanted was Disney making fun of itself.
- Diamonds Are Forever remains one of the campiest James Bond films.
- The James Bond series acknowledged the parodic Casino Royale (1967) many times.
- The true series subtly borrowed its 'James Bond is a codename' concept (which Niven's 'original' Bond blatantly ties to the official series by mentioning Connery).
- At the time, real Bond/Q scenes were played straight. The "Casino Royale" exaggeration has Q walking Bond through a room full of mayhem, injury and cartoonish background gags. Eventually, the true Bond films adopted this style exactly. Speaking of....
- Peter Sellers' Bond finds a deadly pen in Q's lab, and jokes about it being used to write 'poison pen letters.' In Octopussy, Roger Moore and Q have this same exchange.
- In Daniel Craig's Casino Royale, Bond is told not to expect the Cavalry to ride in and save him this time. Of course, that's EXACTLY what happened at the end of the spoof "Casino Royale".
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch basically made fun of the first film and audience reactions to it.
- A Cock And Bull Story thrives on this. From Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing caricatures of themselves to everyone always talking about how difficult it will be to make a Tristam Shandy adaptation, the film's willingness to play with itself is rivaled only by its willingness to play with the Fourth Wall.
- Snakes on a Plane seems to be well-aware that airline disaster movies are nearly impossible to take seriously anymore, by not even trying.
- The unfilmed sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, "The Revenge of the Old Queen", had a throwaway joke in which a character referred to Brad as "asshole" and Janet as "slut." (Taking it one step further, Janet IS truly a slut this time - she is an aged hooker.)
- The writer he's posing as has a long-established background, including several other novels. A throwaway remark notes that he actually finishes the novel this excerpt is from, and it's widely acclaimed as one of his best.
Live Action TV
- Believe it or not, but Sesame Street had a "Cookie World" episode. Starring who else?
- From House, some of House's favorite soaps (though they're really more parodies of General Hospital, or at least parodies of what people who don't like soaps think General Hospital is like).
- "Jerry" on Seinfeld.
- "Wormhole X-Treme" and "200" from Stargate SG-1.
- In Monty Python's Flying Circus, the sketch "What the Stars Foretell" has a character starting to rattle off synonyms, then a poster drops down so the studio audience can continue reading from the Long List. Terry Jones and Michael Palin wrote this as a parody of Chapman and Cleese's thesaurus-inspired sketches; they were surprised when it was accepted for the show.
- Also written as a joke was the sketch "The Extremely Dull Life of a City Stockbroker," a parody of Jones and Palin's sketches by Chapman and Idle. This goes to show how easily a Gag Series can accommodate Self-Parody.
- Gekisou Sentai Carranger is both a full Super Sentai series and a parody of the Sentai formula. Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is its Spiritual Successor.
- And on the other side of the Pacific, Power Rangers Ninja Storm and (to a lesser extent) Power Rangers RPM. RPM was something of an interesting clash, as it was the same time a Darker and Edgier take on the source material (the Rangers are the main force protecting the only human city left after a robot apocalypse) and constantly lampshaded its own tropes at the same time ("Sometimes when I morph, I can't help but notice this gigantic explosion right behind me for no apparent reason. (...) Now, could that happen to me in the kitchen or something?").
- In Father Ted, the priests are big fans of a series called Father Ben about stupid priests who live on an island.
- In Black Books, also by Graham Linehan, invokes this when book shop owner Bernard Black reads out a cinema advertisement:
Bernard: What this, Blue Tunes? Grouchy Leonard Blue runs a second hand record shop with his half-wit, mustachioed assistant Danny...
Bernard: When this zany pair team up with bitchy, neurotic neighbour Pam, things are sure to be a riot of laughs. Where do they get this crap? Even a child could—
Manny: They must think we're idiots.
Fran: [looks at picture] Look at them. Wankers.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo" (season 3, episode 13) made fun of the cliches the show established.
- Supernatural does this at least once a season, in episodes such as "Hollywood Babylon" and "The Real Ghostbusters". Both of which pale into insignificance next to "The French Mistake".
- Boy Meets World: The Show Within a Show "Kid Gets Acquainted With the Universe".
- Xena: Warrior Princess had "A Day in the Life" in season 2 and "The Play's the Thing" in season 4.
- Every The X-Files that bordered on Deconstruction entered this at times (examples include "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", "X-Cops" and "Hollywood AD").
- How I Met Your Mother's "The Stinson Missile Crisis" parodied itself via the setting of Robin in court-mandated therapy after a mysterious sequence of events, telling her therapist the story of How She Wound Up Assaulting A Woman And Getting Stuck In This Court-Mandated Therapy. She then proceeds to use an unnecessary level of detail and a ridiculous number of tangents that she insists are essential in order to understand the full story while her therapist waits impatiently and is repeatedly fooled into thinking that this moment is the one where she finally Assaults The Woman — basically, doing to her therapist exactly what the show has been doing to its viewers for seven years. The episode also takes advantage of the parody format to push its specific style of using Flash Forwards, Flash Backs, Flash-Sidewayses, imagine spots, cutaway gags, InternalMonologues, Three Lines Some Waiting, and Lemony Narrator-esque commentary Up to Eleven, rather like "The Zeppo" above. Between this and "Symphony of Illumination", one might start to suspect that the entire Framing Device of the show is an idea Future!Ted got from Future!Robin.
- Not only that, but her story leads both Kevin and the viewers to believe that the woman she assaulted is Nora, when in fact it turns out to be someone completely different, possibly referencing HIMYM's pilot episode, where both Ted's kids and the viewers were falsely led to believe that The Mother was Robin.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Actor," the previous episode "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut" is getting made into a movie. Among the changes made is Disher is cast as a woman who has an affair with Leland. When the real Stottlemeyer and Disher view the filming of that scene:
Captain Leland Stottlemeyer: That didn't happen.
Lt. Randy Disher: Not even once.
- Bones parodied itself when they investigated a murder in a movie set based on them.
- Person of Interest season 2 episode 12 "Prisoner's Dilemma". Doesn't change the fact that its also a Wham Episode.
- The final clown segment in Cirque du Soleil's Dralion goofily reenacts all of the show's serious acts, complete with threadbare mockeries of key costumes and props.
- An accidental example of this is "Right Brain", a song from the 1994 New York Theatre Workshop version of Jonathan Larson's RENT. Later becoming "One Song Glory", many fans who hear this old version of the inspirational song can hardly listen without feeling the need to vomit or burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
- The tribute concert to Cameron Mackintosh, "Hey Mr Producer", features a pre-taped segment in which Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber parody their songs "Send in the Clowns" and "Music of the Night", while ribbing Cameron Mackintosh at the same time. It can be called the highlight of the show.
- KMFDM has quite a few songs dedicated to lampooning itself. There's Sucks (KMFDM SUCKS! remains a popular chant to this day) and Megalomaniac and Light and Intro. Oh, and Virus, to a lesser extent.
- "Insert Generic Title" by Daniel Kandi. Though just the title. The song itself is actually pretty good.
- In the world of drum and bugle corps, Cadets of Bergen County's championship-winning 1990 show (especially the closer) was a self-parody of sorts. The drill moves (the Z-pull, reversed(!) and the company front coming from 1984), the musical phrases (one can detect West Side Story, Candide, and Appalachian Spring in the mishmash of statements that form the closer) and some of the entire show concept are all reprising their earlier ventures in some way or another
- Orson Welles was the guest host of The Jack Benny Program for four episodes in 1943 while Jack was ill. The main humor of the episodes comes from Welles parodying his own image as a director with a huge ego and a flair for over-the-top filmmaking:
Don: Oh, by the way, Orson, what's the title of this picture you're making?
Welles: Well, I've called my story very simply "The March of Destiny", and it deals with everything that ever happened.
- Metal Gear: Ghost Babel has the secret radio show Idea Spy 2.5, a parody of the Spy Genre as well as Metal Gear itself, with all the ridiculous events that happen. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has the secret theater, which play the ridiculousness of the Metal Gear series for comedy.
- Parodius, to Gradius. As the Laconic entry for Parodius states, it's "Gradius on acid", featuring an aesthetic that would not be out of place in a kid-oriented Widget Series. Many moments spoof specific elements of the Gradius series, such as bellydancers mimicking Gradius crab walker bosses and a bald eagle in American patriotic garb replicating the Stage 1 boss of Gradius II.
- Borderlands 2 makes fun of one line of quests in the original Borderlands where a gun is hidden in pieces on one of the maps and must be found and reassembled. These Scavenger quests tended towards being lengthy and obtuse, and the payout was no better than any other randomly generated item in the game...so Borderlands 2 included the Hungry Like The Skag optional mission, where the Vault Hunters find a recorder from a bandit. In it, he talks about how it's a great day to walk around blithely talking into an ECHO recorder without skags perparing to ambush him and tear his favorite gun to four separate pieces, then eating it and him—whereupon that exact scenario happens. The Vault Hunters must once again go rooting through Skag guts to find the parts and put the gun back together, just like old times.
- Mission404 is a short film made specially for the web, parodying the web as a Crapsack World, with an Anthropomorphic Personification of Youtube (where the video was first posted). Also, the cast consists entirely of actors who started on the Internet as youtubers, and one of the characters is famous on Youtube in-universe as well.
- IOSYS has done many famous Touhou parody songs and Flash animations. They've also done plenty of parodies of their own parodies. A couple examples:
- Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Ember Island Players".
- South Park does this on occasion:
- The episode "Butt Out" is a parody of the standard South Park formula, as Kyle points out in a moment of Genre Savvy.
- Word of God confirms this in the case of Terrance and Phillip: When the Moral Guardians first started complaining about the show, they decided to make a show within their show that was even worse.
- It goes meta in 200, in which Kyle and Cartman call each other fat-ass and jew, and Stan complains that they always do the same thing. The exact same dialogue took place in an earlier episode.
- The episodes "Cartoon Wars Part I" and "Cartoon Wars Part II" spend a good amount of time criticizing Family Guy for its formula. South Park says Family Guy is just random joke after random joke with no consistent relationship to the story. However, in Cartoon Wars Part II, a trucker is talking about how he likes Family Guy, and says: "I mean, I know it's just joke after joke, but I like that. At least it doesn't get all preachy and up its own ass with messages, you know?"
- ReBoot has "The True Stories Of Mainframe."
- The Super Hero Squad Show could be said to be this for Marvel.
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee had a monster filming Juniper's adventures and broadcasting them in a show named "The Battles and Brawls of Juniper Lee".
- At the end of the Wizard of Odd episode of Phineas and Ferb, Candace parodied her song "Busted" from a previous episode by singing about how the Tin Man was "Rusted."
- "Fairly Odd Primates" from the The Fairly OddParents special "Abracatastrophe", in which the theme song was spoofed. "Bananas, bananas, bananas, bananas!"
- In Johnny Test The Dawg and Bone Show in is a parody of the show itself starring Flanderized versions of Johnny and Dukey named "Dawg" and "Bone" respectively. Their only personality traits are talking with slang accents and being obsessed with zombie hunting.
- Additionally, the episode also parodies its own animation by stating that Dawg and Bone are Squash and Stretch and therefore cannot be stopped from physical harm, but Johnny and Dukey now have to go out of their way to avoid being injured.
- A lot of The Simpsons episodes have played out as self-parodies of how weird and wacky the show has become. Some examples:
- Animaniacs: The episode where Yakko sings all the words in the English language to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance (the same tune he sang "Yakko's World" to).
- The 1991 Looney Tunes short "(Blooper) Bunny" is a parody of the Bugs Bunny Milestone Celebration the previous year.
Daffy: Oh brother! Fifty-first and a half aniversary!
- In AN episode of Arthur which parodies various cartoons the characters are shown watching Artie and Friends, about characters who are blatant expies of them. They point out how weird the characters being animals is and Arthur isn't certain what animal Artie is supposed to be.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 "Turtles In Space part 1: The Fugitoid" has the heroes in a half-shell stranded on an alien planet. They retreat to the sewers, where Michelangelo witnesses four alien rats in masks, much like the kind he and his brothers are wearing, led by a terrapin-sensei in a robe and cane like Splinter's.
Ninja Rat: (Indecipherable noise, subtitled as "Cowabunga!")
Michelangelo: Whoa... Bizzaroworld!