Shallow Parody

"The objections to breadth in parody are that it is not sporting to hunt with a machine gun, that jocularity is not wit, and that the critical edge is blunted. Most of what passes for parody is actually so broad as to be mere burlesque."

Simply put, this trope is what happens when The Parody is created by people who didn't research what they were parodying. Instead, they watched the trailer (or the commercials or just absorbed it through Popcultural Osmosis) and then wrote the parody from that. Close enough, they decide.

Therefore, the "parody" will only bear a superficial resemblance to what is supposedly being parodied. Just grab an Iconic Outfit, a Catch Phrase (whether or not it's authentic), and an Iconic Item if you're lucky, and you're good to go. Expect the parody to coast on Parody Names, Stock Parodies and Vulgar Humor. Also, all too often the spoof will be smug and sneeringly superior, as if simply being familiar with the source material and not liking it properly equips one to satire it.

More egregious cases will often ignore elements that justify the more ridiculous aspects of the work or mock the original for things the original doesn't even have.

Note this is sometimes unavoidable. For example, if you're parodying a film that hasn't come out yet, the trailer may be all you have to go on (although parodying something that has not yet branded itself into the public's consciousness would seem a little pointless). Occasionally, the parodists may make good guesses and succeed anyway. However, if you're making a parody of Citizen Kane and all you know is the "Rosebud" scene... well, there really is no excuse.

Also note that this trope does not encompass all bad parodies. Just knowing what you're parodying does not automatically make your parody funny... but it's at least a start.

However, Tropes Are Not Bad. Sometimes these parodies can be understood as effective parodies of trailers, of basic premises, or as exaggerations of elements in The Theme Park Version of said subject matter. For many people a Shallow Parody can be funnier than an overdone Affectionate Parody because of the lack of obscure inside jokes. Still, people who are actually fans of the subject of the parody will, more often than not, laugh at said parodies rather than with them (at best). It's notable that some of the below examples are intentional shallow parodies and derive humor from getting things wrong.

Related: Narrow Parody, in which the target is something relatively recent due to the assumption the target audience won't recognize something older even if it's riper for spoofing; and Redundant Parody, where the parody writers actually do what the piece's real creators would do, but think themselves as writing a clever spoof. Also related to Fountain of Expies. Has been known to overlap with Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch.

Subtrope of Outside Joke, a kind of humour that relies on the audience's unfamiliarity with the subject. See also Dead Unicorn Trope for a similar concept applied to tropes. Can also overlap with Cowboy Bebop at His Computer if the parodists are really on the ball with this.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • There are exactly two jokes used for 99.999% of Dragon Ball Z parodies: long powerups and training to get stronger. And the former is so overwhelming the latter barely rates a mention. The other 0.001% of parodies are Dragon Ball Z Abridged, which essentially has to actually mine the rest of the series for comedy since it's both recapping entire episodes and, being abridged, can't rely on jokes about powering up for twenty-seven years.

    Comic Books 
  • It's pretty much a given that any parody of Aquaman will depict him as if he were still the way he was on Super Friends—even though the character has borne little resemblance to that portrayal in recent decades. Outside of DC Comics, the media in general seem to be utterly determined to never let Aquaman live down his portrayal on that show. Unfortunately, this has been so pervasive that most members of the general public seem to have no idea of the changes the Aquaman character has undergone since The Modern Age of Comic Books began.
  • MAD magazine (and the TV series) sink to this. It can be justified, as the parody has to fall close to the date of the work's release, and often the writer(s) are working on early script drafts or leaked information.
    • For example, the parody of the first Harry Potter movie included a scene that was in the book, but was left out of the movie.
    • Mad parodies used to be written after the film was released and thus published a few months later, in part to keep on top of what movies were well-known enough to warrant them. One late-1970s article had them "selling" prematurely written parodies of movies and TV shows that weren't popular (Gable and Lombard, for instance) at a discount. This lag still applies to TV shows — their parody of 8 Simple Rules was in the October 2003 issue... just in time for John Ritter's sudden death.
    • The Watchmen parody claimed that "The book is still great" while making fun of many of the things that were directly lifted from the book. This is a recurring trend; MAD will often make fun of a work at the time of its release, then later unfavorably compare newer works to it, but it is rarely this inconsistent.
      • On the same note their Jurassic Park parody included the subplot from the book about some of the dinosaurs stowing away on a commercial freighter, a subplot that was dropped quite early during the production of the movie.
    • Mad explained away in another Harry Potter parody that they knew they got things wrong but didn't particularly care.
    • They also did a parody of X2: X-Men United from a draft script of the movie, as it poked fun at subplots that weren't actually in the film.
    • Similar to the Jurassic Park example, the parody comic of Star Trek: First Contact was based on the first draft screenplay, which was significantly different from the finished film. In their rush to get a parody out on time, they ended up parodying something that only barely resembled the movie itself.
    • MAD's parody of the movie version of The Hunger Games actually used a more detailed plot-point from the book, rather than the shallower moment from the movie The mutations in the movie are larger, scarier versions of wolves, wolf-like creatures in the book were also psychologically horrifying because their eyes and fur resembled the ehair of the dead tributes. MAD's writer obviously read the book, but hadn't seen the movie yet.
    • From the animated TV show's Naruto parody you'd think they only watched the first three or four episodes. Same with their Legend Of Korra parody, which gives the impression that they just watched the commercials.
    • Their parody of The Goonies made fun of the kids for being nothing but stereotypes, claiming that Chunk was a "lying jew" and making fun of Data's stereotypical Asian accent. However Chunk and Data were written as the stereotypical fat kid and smart kid, Data's actor really did have that accent and Chunk's actor really was Jewish (he only makes two references to it in the movie anyways and they were both improvised by the kid.)
    • One of their Lord of the Rings parodies has Gimli claim that he's Compensating for Something by using a big... sword. There's pretty much no excuse for that one, considering that "uses an axe" is about 40% of Gimli's character in all versions. And it wasn't the first movie's parody, either.
    • It wasn't just movies and TV shows that suffered from this in Mad's pages. In 1978, they decided they'd do "Mad's "Punk Rock Group" Of the Year. It reads as if having read a few newsmagazine articles about The Sex Pistols was enough research for the middle-aged writers, who have their fictional "Johnny Turd and the Commodes" sing songs with lines like:
      The world is garbage, and life is full of crap!
      The United Nations has got the clap!
  • Marvel's Marville hopes irrelevant pop culture is enough to count as parody.
    • It even explained the shallow parodies to people in the first page. Like nobody would get the jokes.
  • Marvel's parody comic Not Brand Ecch portrayed the Doom Patrol as shameless rip-offs of the more popular X-Men when in reality the Patrol came first. Though only by a few months at a time when comic book scripts were written longer in yes and advance than that. The creator of Doom Patrol used to work for Marvel.
  • Cracked, when it still was a magazine along the lines of Mad, had an issue covering the 1989 Batman film wherein a Burt Ward-style Robin complains that not only is he absent from the film, but he's dead in the comics. Never mind that it was Jason Todd who died and Dick Grayson was currently Nightwing. (To be fair, in the eyes of most casual Batman fans that is nit-picking.)
    • Any Cracked magazine parody, for that matter. They did little more than re-tell the movie or TV show straight up, with parody names.
  • The LucasArts Sam & Max strips frequently fell into this, possibly deliberately. Being produced for the LucasArts company newsletter and Sam And Max not starting out as LucasArts characters, Steve Purcell was allowed to draw them only if he parodied whatever games were coming out at the time. Because of this, he preferred to take the basic setting of the game he was parodying, dress Sam up as the main character of that game, and then just have the characters do their own thing - being more like one-off, themed adventures about fighting monsters or being bikers instead of parodies of Maniac Mansion and Full Throttle. Notably, the Monkey Island parody had Sam and Max in pirate costumes going to a desert island... full of monkeys. To be fair, the strips are probably more hilarious for not being true parody.
  • In a glaring example of Tropes Are Not Bad, Rat-Man's first story was a parody of Tim Burton's Batman, which the author had never seen. Despite this, it won the Lucca Comics award for the best script and set the foundation for what in Italy is considered one of the funniest comics ever published.
  • It's very amusing indeed to read old comics and magazines from the early/mid-1960s and come across a Shallow Parody of The Beatles. One can just imagine a stodgy, middle-aged writer writing one in hope of shaming those silly kids for falling for this ridiculous fad. Shallow Parodies of the Beatles usually have them all dressing, looking and speaking identically (hilariously, this usually means that they all look and talk like Ringo Starr), and have them endlessly singing "Yeah Yeah Yeah" (far from the Beatles' best or most notable song, but likely a victim of Pop-Cultural Osmosis). Later parodies would have them playing concerts in their "Sgt. Pepper" uniforms (which they never did) and occasionally would depict John Lennon in his iconic 1969-era look while the rest of them still looked like they did on the Ed Sullivan Show. Nowadays, of course, parodies like this have effectively died out.
  • In the third volume of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, numerous references are made to the characters and locations of Harry Potter (albeit never by name), under the idea that all of Harry's adventures have been manipulated in order to drive him to destroy the world as Anti-Christ. However, in an oddity for the series, few actual plot points of the stories are mentioned, and the few that are referenced are wildly inaccurate. Fittingly, the only character that seems to escape disapproval is Severus Snape who is given the dignity of delivering a foul-mouthed "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner and that seems based on the fact that Snape is the only Harry Potter character who shares the author's views on the character.
    • This was a common criticism of the final chapter of the third volume which, in contrast to the heavily-researched and densely metatexual nature of the previous volumes, features few direct references to modern popular culture. Furthermore, as with the Harry Potter examples those which do appear are often presented in a fashion that suggests that Moore isn't particularly familiar with them (President Bartlet, for example, is mentioned in terms that suggest him to be an analogue to George W. Bush, whereas you don't have to watch the series very hard to realise that he's actually a lot closer to Bill Clinton). This arguably tips into Clueless Aesop territory, in that the whole point of the later chapter is that twenty-first century popular culture, in contrast to fiction from earlier generations, is soulless, empty and even poisonous, which is rather undercut by the evidence suggesting that Moore doesn't actually know a lot about twenty-first century popular culture beyond some Small Reference Pools.
  • The Nagma in Astérix and the Falling Sky is supposed to be an insulting parody of manga and anime culture, but it's very obvious from the character's appearence and behaviour that Uderzo's knowledge of the whole artform extends to having flicked through some Super Robot thing on television back in the 70s and to seeing Beyblades in a toy shop. In his public apology for the quality of the book, he admitted his hatred of manga stemmed from flipping through a sexually-explicit one at the library and wishing the Japanese would Think of the Children! (it's worth noting that France has legally binding age restrictions for comics).

  • Any parody of James Bond will always seem to be a spoof of the Sean Connery version of the character, even though there have been five other actors in the role to date.
  • Saw is a popular target for this, mainly because the very concept paves way for some very creative takes that don't require much research. One thing that more targeted parodies love to point out, however, is that Jigsaw shouldn't have been able to lie as still as he does through-out the entirety of the first movie, few - if any - taking into account the muscle relaxant that was alluded to throughout the movie. (Though granted that still doesn't explain how he breathed with his face in a puddle/ how the prisoners didn't notice his breathing.) The writers finally spelled it out in the third entry.
  • Kaiju films are usually only targeting Godzilla and especially the 1960s and 1970s movies, which were cheesy rubber suit monsters aiming at a children's audience. Since 1985 kaiju movies don't aim at that demographic alone anymore and the rubber suits look far less infantile.
  • Parodies of slapstick movies usually feature lots of Charlie Chaplin lookalikes hitting and chasing each other, while throwing pies at each other. This while Chaplin actually played down these crazy comedic violent chases compared to his colleagues in the field and didn't use pie fight scenes that much. (It didn't help that Charlie got his start in Hollywood working for Mack Sennett, who - Chaplin's creative input notwithstanding - relished that kind of knucklehead humor.) Buster Keaton, another icon of the era, never even had a pie-in-the-face gag in his movies.
  • One of many, many flaws in the Seltzer and Friedberg "parody" films, such as Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and the aptly named Disaster Movie. In fact, Disaster Movie parodied films which were not released at the time the script was written (which would go on to become a theme in their next several movies). As a result, it included parodies of films which flopped and were already forgotten by the time Disaster Movie made it to theaters.
    • Vampires Suck mostly averted this, except for a couple of throwaway gags.
    • The Starving Games continues their trend of no real content outside of the trailers and focuses all the comedy on sight gags and random pop culture references, to the point where calling it a "parody" is a bit of a stretch.
    • Cracked noted that one "gag" from Epic Movie takes shallowness to its extreme by having a Wolverine expy flip someone the bird with his claws, which had already been done in the real thing in X-Men. It was literally just regurgitating a better joke from a better movie.
  • Tellingly not the case with Superhero Movie, not by Seltzer and Friedberg, though often assumed to be. Though not a great movie by a long shot, it is a rather direct parody of the first Spider-Man film, and is the better for it.
  • Somewhat more excusable example: Airplane! includes a parody of a famous scene from From Here to Eternity despite none of the writers having watched that film. Mind you, that's one parody in a film which included many more. (The majority of the film is a direct parody of Zero Hour!)
  • The 41-Year-Old Virgin who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It. "Hey, remember this scene from a Judd Apatow movie? Well we don't have any writers, so we're just going to do the scene just the same, but make it longer and less funny. Hey, here's the Verizon guy!"
    • The same director also has done 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with The Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Breaking Wind. Like the above example, they largely consist of pop culture references combined with out and out plagiarism of dialogue from these movies to pad out the run time.
    • Breaking Wind is especially bizarre, as despite its title the film is a direct parody of Eclipse, easily the part of the series least suited to parody. Anyone hoping for gags about falling in love with babies will be disappointed.
  • A bizarre example in the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach movie Bikini Beach: Avalon plays a British invasion rocker/race car driver called "The Potato Bug" to send up the British Invasion — and resembles nothing so much as Terry-Thomas in a blond shag wig.
  • Ingmar Bergman parodies are usually just spoofing the Death playing chess scene from The Seventh Seal and the two women in extreme close-up talking to each other while not looking each other straight in the face from Persona. It's such a Pop-Cultural Osmosis that most parodists haven't even seen the entirety of these films and just base their Le Film Artistique spoofs on these two scenes. Not to mention that The Seventh Seal is one of the single bleakest pictures in film history, and not something one should just casually make fun of.
  • Murder by Death, being a parody of famous fictional detectives, had this happen with some of its parodies:
    • The way Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are parodied has completely nothing to do with these characters. Miss Marple was prone to long-winding stories about her home village and was a mild-mannered sweet old lady. Poirot was very composed and precise and, most of all, very polite to everyone he met, he wouldn't dream of screaming at people. The characters in the film are pretty much their opposites, which would work, but none of the others are portrayed that way.
    • The film also arguably misses the point of Nick Charles. Dick Charleston is portrayed as "enormously well bred" and sophisticated. Nick's wife was classy, but Nick himself was a streetwise New York flatfoot, and one of the series' Running Gags was how little he tried to fit in as a socialite.

  • Parodies of Harry Potter that rely on taking the premise of a wizard school and throwing in lots of cursing, fart jokes, and other inappropriate behaviour. There are lots of other wizard schools, so the similarities are going to be very shallow if you don't keep some of the characters in character.
    • Not to mention that Harry Potter itself is no stranger to Toilet Humour.
  • The Jennifer Morgue in The Laundry attempts to parody James Bond. However, its treatment of the subject seems primarily informed by Austin Powers.
  • Candide by Voltaire fits this trope in its attempts to parody the philosophy of Leibniz.
  • Phule's Errand by Peter J. Heck includes a long sequence which is a painfully Shallow Parody of Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels. "Perry Sodden" = Comedy gold!
  • "Most parodies of one's own work strike one as very poor," noted T. S. Eliot. "In fact one is apt to think one could parody oneself much better." He noted this in the context of praising an aversion; Henry Reed's "Chard Whitlow", which doesn't settle for making cheap swipes at Eliot's best known works, but parodies what his poems are actually like.
  • Captain Underpants:
    • The "Extra-Crunchy Book o' Fun" books have their own comic starring a hairy toilet Kaiju named "Hairy Potty". Aside from the name the comics have nothing to do with Harry Potter and are more parodies of Frankenstein and King Kong, especially the second comic, which introduces the Bride of Hairy Potty and the Son of Hairy Potty. In fairness, the comics were created by George and Harold, for whom calling Harry Potter "Hairy Potty" is the height of wit.
    • The main Captain Underpants books themselves are largely their own plot, with the titler superhero being a simple parody of superheroes looking like they're wearing underwear. The only major instance of direct parody is in the fifth book, where Captain Underpants reads his own origin story which turns out to mirror Superman's.

    Live Action TV 
  • MADtv once did a parody of The Dark Knight during its final season where Batman (played by Matt Braunger) couldn't afford good gadgets because of current economic issues and make it seem like that without gadgets, his villains could easily kick his ass. The movie portrays Batman as being the "greatest student" of Ra's al Ghul. Batman portrayals haven't been especially gadget-heavy since the campy 1960s TV show starring Adam West. He still has the coolest toys, but he relies mainly on his detective work and physical abilities.
    • Ironically, the sequel The Dark Knight Rises does in fact have Bruce Wayne's company hit by hard economic times and having difficulty, culminating in his losing his personal fortune as well. And he does indeed get the everloving crap beaten out of him when he has to go hand-to-hand with no gadgets. Of course it was played out with more nuance — namely the fact that Rises has Bane beat the crap out of Batman, so Batman losing was basically a Foregone Conclusion — but one has to be amused that the parody was halfway prescient.
  • Zigzagged with Saturday Night Live. Some of their parody sketches will be dead-on with what they're parodying; others...not so much.
    • On the one side of the spectrum, there are shallow parodies that are just there to serve as the backdrop for an SNL recurring character to appear note  or are intentionally made shallow to deconstruct the work (as seen in the Digital Short Party at Mr. Bernard's or the "Little Mermaid" sketch with Reese Witherspoon as Ariel telling Eric [played by Will Ferrell] that she's an actual half-human, half-fish creature whose father had sex with a mackerel to create her) or shoehorn a political message or warped Aesop (as seen in their other parody of The Little Mermaid — this time with Tina Fey as Ariel trying to justify the decision to have Osama bin Laden wrapped in a shroud and sunk into the ocean).
    • On the other side of the spectrum, you have the SNL parodies that are actually well-researched and spot-on, such as the Harry Potter parodies (which use characters that aren't featured in the movie trailers, use the first names of the Hogwarts teachers, and mention things like butterbeer) note  and the one-off parody of There Will Be Blood from the season 33 episode hosted by Tina Fey (which was a Food Network show called "I Drink Your Milkshake," in which Daniel Plainview [Bill Hader] travels to America's malt shops and literally drinks their milkshakes). Bill Hader's Daniel Day Lewis is pitch-perfect, and the sketch references moments in the film that aren't Memetic Mutations, such as "I'VE ABANDONED MY CHIIIIIIIIIIILD" and Plainview's opening speech.
    • Intentionally used with the sketch "What Is Burn Notice?" from the season 35 episode hosted by Ashton Kutcher. The sketch was a game show in which the contestants have to tell the host (Jason Sudeikis) what the premise of Burn Notice is about, because he apparently doesn't know. The joke being that even though Burn Notice is purportedly one of the most popular shows on television, no one you know has ever seen it.
    • The "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches fall into this trope. The sketches always make it look like Jeopardy! packs its special weeks with A-list Hollywood stars, that they're too stupid to answer a single question, and that Alex Trebek spends the whole time groaning at their inane responses. Anyone who's watched the actual celebrity marathons knows that most contestants are second tier TV stars, not royalty like Sean Connery; that the contestants do okay for someone who doesn't take the game that seriously; and that Trebek's attitude toward them is solicitous, if anything. Will Ferrell also loved playing Trebek as being borderline British (just as he did with James Lipton on Inside The Actors Studio spoofs), when in fact Trebek is Canadian and can easily pass for American.
    • Indecisive Parody: The real Jeopardy acknowledges the skit a lot of times and at one point Trebek cameo in one of the episodes.
    • SNL's Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer spoof tells us everyone is too old by recreating parts from IV and V and adding in nonsense like using a walker/walking frame made out of lightsabers.
  • Get Smart usually did targeted parodies pretty well, considering its entire premise was general parody. However, its parody of The Avengers falls into this. Donald Snead and Emily Neal are British, styled correctly and have a lot of sexual tension, but that's where the similarities end. Snead bears very little resemblance to John Steed personality-wise, and Mrs. Neal's use of a deadly lipstick is particularly glaring, much more reminiscent of April Dancer than Emma Peel. The episode is funny, but it's pretty clear the creators are unaware of just how stylistically different The Avengers was from most other spy shows.
  • Done intentionally and fully admitted to on the "Movie Trailers That Are Destroying America" segment of The Colbert Report, where Colbert thinks of ridiculous reasons to consider movies offensive based entirely on the trailers.
  • French and Saunders did a sketch about the Lord of the Rings apparently without having read the books or seen the movies: Gandalf and Frodo repeatedly mention Frodo's quest to find the one ring to rule them all.
    • Another example of the same flaw can be seen in Dead Ringers' early LOTR parodies, in which indeed Gandalf sends Frodo on a quest to find the Ring. Later on they were better researched.
    • Similarly on The Chaser's War on Everything with a sketch about rumours of a movie version of The Hobbit and imagining it directed by various people (Nick Giannopoulos, Woody Allen and Michael Moore). For some reason the first one had two Hobbits with a dynamic suspiciously similar to Frodo and Sam, and not a dwarf in sight. Note though that this was technically a parody of The Wog Boy and not of The Hobbit. Same for the Woody Allen and Michael Moore trailers.
  • Bob Hope parodied Shogun on one of his specials. The sketch writers assumed Anjin-san (Richard Chamberlain) was the title character.
  • The Julie Brown vehicle The Edge never got much past this.
  • Que Vida Mas Triste had a Back to the Future parody where the main character was sent to the past to make sure his parents got together. Of course, anyone who actually saw the movie knows Marty went to the past to save his life (more or less), accidentally prevented his parents' meeting and THEN tried to get them together. They probably got confused with the second movie where Marty goes to the future to save his son. The worst part? Another Spanish show made the EXACT same mistake.
  • Averted on RuPaul's Drag Race by Season 4 contestant Chad Michaels. A professional Cher impersonator, he talks about how he doesn't go for the usual mannerisms that other impersonators do that Cher herself actually doesn't.

  • A notable aversion is "Weird Al" Yankovic's "The Saga Begins," a parody of "American Pie" about Star Wars Episode I, almost entirely before the movie was released. It works because he got all the plot details from fan sites. He also spent $300 to attend an early screening of the film to make sure he had all of the details correct. In fact, he only had to change one detail after the movie came out, because Episode I left it rather vague whether or not Padme and Anakin would marry. Reportedly, when Al sent the song to Lucasfilm for approval, George Lucas himself was impressed at how accurate it was (and he absolutely loved the song on top of that).
  • Mitch Benn is a Doctor Who fanboy. So he knows that the companions rarely fit the stereotype of the Generic Companion. But his song "Doctor Who Girl" is based entirely on that stereotype, because a) it's funnier and b) it's what most of the audience will think of. (But, seriously, "keep quiet and never argue"? And the song previously establishes he was a Fourth Doctor kid, so he's talking about Sarah-Jane, Leela, and the Romanas??)
  • French-Canadian parodyist François Pérusse once did a rap song about Bart Simpson... Which was two minutes of jokes about Bart's spiky hair. Also claiming the rest of his family's hair matches his, and that "family photos end up looking like a bunch of broken bottles". In case you couldn't tell, he never watched an episode of The Simpsons.
  • Most parodies of Heavy Metal music portray the music as loud, incomprehensible noise with over-the-top songtitles and lyrics (none of which most metal bands would typically use) relating to Satan, demons, and violence. Somewhat averted with Dethklok, despite having the violent lyrics, they are also portrayed as skilled musicians.
  • Before Death Metal gained a hold on the culture, parodies of metal music were more likely to fall back on wild, screaming guitar solos and lots of '80s Hair, when in fact metal began in The '70s and continued to develop long after the '80s ended, and guitar solos are often eschewed in metal in order not to distract from the general heaviness. The musicians would also have either British or Valley Boy accents - a great disservice to the worldwide, multicultural metal community, and also an insult to their intelligence.
  • Classical Music and Opera are often parodied as fare strictly for pretentious rich snobs who only like it because it makes them look "cultured", while others who try it may find that Classical Music Is Boring enough to send people off to sleep. A common parody scene concludes with the down-to-earth working class heroes playing some "real" music like rock or hip-hop, eventually getting all the classical concertgoers to come around and groove enthusiastically to the beat. Of course, the simple existence of the Orchestral Bombing trope shows just how shallow this parody is!

    New Media 
  • Something Awful's "Truth Media" reviews are an intentional combination of this and Stealth Parody in regards to "leaked scripts" of movies and other "sneak-peek" reviews of popular media. A particularly noteworthy example was their Star Wars Episode II "leaked script" review, mostly because pretty much everything they predicted wound up being true.
    • Truth Media usually tries really hard to get everything wrong so they can post and mock the inevitable replies from Trolls and so-called-experts. The GTA San Andreas review was quite noticeable for getting the main character's name wrong despite knowing his initials.
  • As an April Fools' Day joke, Maddox of The Best Page In The Universe did a trailer for a fictional film, Vague Genre Movie, mocking shallow parodies such as the Seltzer and Friedberg ones mentioned above.
  • This Cracked article that talks about Ang Lee's Hulk movie and how it differed from the comics, saying that The Incredible Hulk didn't delve into psychological themes and that it spent an odd amount of time focusing on Bruce Banner's father. The thing is, though, Bruce Banner's multiple personality disorder and abusive childhood became a huge part of his mythos starting as far back as the 80s with Joe Fixit (and maybe even earlier than that) and continued during the 90s. Assuming this is still canon then that accounts for over half of the The Hulk's canon.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Pop Culture Shock Therapy uses Shallow Parody as mortar and brick. Every strip is just some random thing happening, only for a random character to be involved and thus... and thus... it is considered a "joke". A highway worker finds a dead cat on the road... ha ha! It's Garfield! A woman making a bed is revealed to sport a tramp-stamp... ha ha! It's Snow White! A person spontaneously combusts and burns to death... ha ha! It's Thing #1 from the Cat in the Hat! Aren't you just killing yourself laughing right now?
  • When Frank Cho was drawing Liberty Meadows he took plenty of mean-spirited potshots at Peanuts . It's pretty clear from his parodies, though, that he never actually read the strip (at least not as an adult).

    Professional Wrestling 

  • The 2000s British radio comedy Atomic Tales parodies 1940s and 1950s American radio sci-fi drama. The only problem is that it largely does so based on the popular conception of what such shows were like rather than what they were actually like. A major feature of the parody is unsubtle, invariably rightwing, "moral lessons" at the end, despite the fact that such radio drama rarely had characters deliver political speeches (not least because they were primarily adventure stories largely intended for children and were supposed to be escapist). Another target of the parody is the notion that science is "evil" despite the fact that such shows often celebrated scientific endeavour and achievement in a way, ironically, that makes them look naive now; the "dire warnings" aspect usually came-about from "mad scientists" who twisted science to evil purposes rather than science being evil itself.
  • That Mitchell & Webb Sound, the radio predecessor to That Mitchell and Webb Look, had a few notable (and clearly deliberate) examples.
    • A series of skits in the fourth season parodying Pinocchio bore almost no resemblance to the source material, centering mainly around how Pinocchio was an annoying, wide-eyed and overeager goof who kept getting in Gepetto's way and was oblivious to the fact that his "Papa" absolutely hated him and made several attempts to send him away or even outright murder him. Which is almost the opposite of the original book, where the problem was that Pinocchio kept running away from Gepetto, and was a bit of a Jerk Ass from the start.
    • The same series had a number of skits parodying the Stargate Verse, all of which are solely built around the premise of people getting reprimanded for throwing their rubbish into the Stargate, or using it as a supply cabinet, or a toilet, etc.
    • Most obvious (and obviously deliberate) of all were the "Lazy Writer" sketches, in which they played a pair of writers who couldn't be bothered to research medicine/sci-fi/spying before writing their drama series, and so got even fairly basic details wrong. (Similar sketches also appeared in That Mitchell and Webb Look).

  • Plastic Serpent in Dino Attack RPG served no other purpose than to make Snake look better by comparison (which he failed at doing), and provide an allegory about how Solid Snake supposedly ripped off Snake Plissken. The problem was that Atton Rand had never played Metal Gear, and was making his case based on very flimsy evidence (namely a few message board conversations) that turned out to be easily disproven.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Pretty much any parody of Jerry Seinfeld will include the line "What's the deal with airline food?" Jerry's entire stand-up career was based around the fact that he tackled much more esoteric subjects than the standard hack topics of airline food. He did, however, use the line in an SNL sketch about a game show of Seinfeldian comedians.
    • Jerry Seinfeld does have material on airlines and flying however, though the most famous bit is probably the one about the slot for used razor blades in the bathroom; some shows, like Family Guy, have actually referenced that joke directly. He also has a bit mocking the size of the bags of peanuts on airplanes, which may be where the "airline food" parody jokes come from (assuming it's not meant to be a general observational joke in his style, or just plain poorly researched).

  • Whenever opera is parodied it's inevitably one of two things:
  • The Drowsy Chaperone purports to be a forgotten Broadway musical from 1928, but bears very little resemblance (especially in its songs) to the musicals of The Twenties it aims to parody. This may have to do with actual musicals of the period being rarely seen on stage generations later except in Adaptation Decayed revival editions. The review at even pointed out that complete cast recordings of shows weren't made back then, which means that the musical theater fans the show is meant to appeal to will realize this is shallow almost immediately. (A more accurate Affectionate Parody of these shows is The Boy Friend, which was written in the 1950s.)
  • Travesties, in which characters from other works were placed in ridiculous situations that had little to do with the original, may be older than deeper parodies. As Macdonald notes in his careful dissection of the delicate art of parody, this was a sure recipe for dumb, cheap laughs. Disaster Movie and its ilk are therefore Older than You Think, and demand our respect and veneration. Then again, with a name like Travesty, at least you know what to expect when you go into it.
  • Parodies of/jokes about Cirque du Soleil, no matter the medium, can wind up as this. Apparently, everybody in a given troupe is French or French-Canadian, they spend the whole show posing or contorting pretentiously if they aren't weird clowns who accost helpless audience members — as in an ad with a man's Imagine Spot having him pulled on stage to have a smiley face painted on his stomach — and it's all boring, needlessly expensive, and incomprehensible. This is a side effect of Cirque being a Love It or Hate It thing, possibly in conjunction with its perceived "unmanliness".
  • This is Older Than Feudalism. Aristophanes' portrayal of Socrates in The Clouds has pretty much nothing to do with Socrates' actual views as a philosopher, and treats him as a combination of a pre-Socratic natural philosopher and a rhetorician. It also includes the common misconception of natural philosophers as atheists (which they generally weren't). Unfortunately, the misconceptions voiced by the play were partially responsible for Socrates' execution.
    • Of course, Aristophanes would sometimes use well-known figures as a representation of ideas or ways of life. For example, in The Frogs the playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides are respectively used as representations of the heroic old Athens during the Persian Wars and the new unpleasant Athens of demagogues.

    Video Games 
  • Probably the most ancient gaming Shallow Parody of them all comes from those of Super Mario Bros. 1: "Mario breaks blocks with his head." Countless jokes have been made about it, countless people have proclaimed that Mario must have head trauma to imagine the game's universe, and art featuring Mario headbutting blocks and winding up with bruises is quite common. It can also be nullified with one look at the original jumping sprites, where Mario is clearly breaking the blocks with his fist. Even the minuscule non-Super Mario has his fist clearing the top of his hat by two full lines of pixels.
  • The Gex series was about a wise-cracking Gecko going into shallow parodies of pop culture. Notably, some levels can't even decide what they're parodying.
  • Most parodies of Pokémon Red and Blue (and you'd be lucky to find a parody about the later games that's not made by actual Pokémon fans) will name the main character "Ash" and give him his anime counterpart Ash's personality, when the game character's actual name is Red. Likewise, his rival will be named Gary instead of Blue, and if Team Rocket shows up, they'll usually be the more-or-less anime-exclusive Jessie, James and Meowth. In general, the parody will base itself mostly on the anime, even though it's quite different from the games. Even parodies made by gamers and fans are, at times, guilty of this.
    • Even Pokémon appearances on other games use the anime for judgment. For example, in Super Smash Bros. a lot of people use the anime for basis on wondering why certain decisions are made. People wondered why Ivysaur was used for one of Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon as Ash never had one, disregarding his appearance being based on the games rather than the anime. Jigglypuff is another example, as people citing her as The Artifact because she never appeared in the anime anymore, despite the fact that Jigglypuff as a species is still very popular.
  • Thelemite. It's a fairly good game on its own merits, but as a parody of [PROTOTYPE], it sort of kind of resemble the original game if you squint, and seems to have been written by someone who heard a summary of the game and once saw a picture of Alex Mercer. For starters, their Mercer stand-in becomes a "mutant ninja" who flies around kicking people complete with Power Glows and Kiai. This is roughly the equivalent of a parody of The Incredible Hulk that's utterly convinced the Hulk is a physically-ten-year-old Robot Girl whose primary form of attack is an exploding Rocket Punch — the character is entirely unrelated, and although the attack does somewhat resemble something in their arsenal, it gets almost every other detail of it wrong.
  • Damn near any parody of Shenmue will invariably center around Ryo looking for "sailors." While it is pretty funny out of context, it's also a plot point that gets resolved in about five minutes near the start of the game.
  • An advertisement for the racing game blur acts like the Mario Kart games are kiddie games that are about "making friends" rather than competition. Only the complete opposite is true, especially in online races with other players. Wi-Fi competitions can be brutal.
  • The movie Dragon Brain in Grand Theft Auto IV appears to be a parody of High Fantasy films in general, but most of the jokes are about merchandising and CGI, rather than about typical fantasy movie cliches. (Though it's also at least a bit hilarious in hindsight due to Peter Jackson engaging in relentless mercantile greed by making THREE MOVIES out of The Hobbit.)
    • The Show Within a Show Princess Robot Bubblegum ended up with a Broken Base, accused of being another retread of the same tired anime jokes (tentacles, oversexualized schoolgirls, "Look how weird Japan is", etc.).
  • One of the enemies one may encounter in one of the underwater zones Kingdom of Loathing is a malevolent sponge. While SpongeBob SquarePants references were perhaps inevitable, most of the jokes encountered in its various battle messages revolve around how SpongeBob lives in a pineapple and how dumb that is and the show's annoying Title Theme Tune, giving the impression that none of the game's writers actually watched the cartoon in question.
  • Quite a few of Parroty Interactive's parody "games", if not all of them are subject to this, including Microshaft Windblows, a Microsoft parody created during their anti-trust scandal days, which never seems to go beyond jokes revolving around nerd stereotypes, "Windows crashes a lot" and "Bill Gates is a Corrupt Corporate Executive," when it isn't getting facts about Microsoft outright wrong.
    • There's also Pyst, a parody of Myst with a promising premise (what if millions of people went to Myst before the player and left the island a vandalized wreck?) but unfortunately makes only a few token attempts at humor that actually have something to do with the game (mostly just revolving around giving everyone Punny Names) before just devolving into Toilet Humor, unrelated pop-culture references, and silly voices.
  • Modern Warfare is often mocked for being a bellicose right-wing power fantasy, as in Duty Calls. But the series (particularly the second game) are actually anti-nationalist, where both sides inflame and exploit people's patriotism to get them to fight wars. The fact that the player characters don't question the Patriotic Fervor is what seems to throw players for a loop.
  • While some of the parodies in Comic Jumper can get fairly in-depth, like the racism and Values Dissonance present in Silver Age and earlier comics, the manga stage doesn't go very far beyond your typical All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles/"Japan sure is weird" jokes (with some Tastes Like Diabetes thrown in.) Smiley even spends the whole stage dressed as Cloud Strife, who's a video game character and not an anime character.
  • You'd be hard-pressed to find a Halo parody that doesn't have Microsoft Sam voice Master Chief, despite him having an actual voice actor in the games. It started as a tribute to the famous parody series "Master Chief Sucks At Halo", but after that it sort of became a strange example of Internet Pop Culture Osmosis.

    Web Comics 
  • This PHD strip was apparently written by someone whose entire understanding of MythBusters comes from the commercials — especially seeing how there's hardly an episode where they don't use a control in their experiments. While they openly admit that most of the science that goes into each episode is left on the cutting room floor due to time constraints, their methodology does not exactly boil down to "blow something up and call it science". This xkcd provides a nice counterpoint.
  • Lil' Formers seems to think that all of the humor in Transformers came from endless repetitions of "more than meets the eye". The quotation was only used twice; once by Optimus Prime at the end, and again by Sam near the beginning, and even then he remarks on how lame his use of it was.
    • Anytime Lil' Formers parodies Transformers that aren't Generation 1, this trope comes in full effect. The films, Transformers Animated, the Unicron Trilogy... Eventually, Shortpacked! did a strip parodying Moylan's tendencies to not research his stuff at all and only mock them because they're "new" and "not G1".
  • Intentional in Problem Sleuth, which purports to be a Film Noir parody, but has very little in common with the genre except for using lots of black and white, taking place in a 'vaguely Prohibition-era' setting, and having three fedora-wearing detectives as the main characters (who don't actually do any crime-solving until right at the very end). They don't even act like film noir characters, except for Problem Sleuth, who is occasionally Wrong Genre Savvy and dreams of solving crimes for 'hysterical dames'. As mentioned, this was on purpose; Problem Sleuth has just about nothing to do with any genre, save possibly an extrasurreal JRPG.
  • Unwinder's Tall Comics: The Rant for this page discusses this trope. Parker noted that everybody and their mother has parodied Citizen Kane at some point, but the majority seem to only reference the scenes (the bit about the sled, "Rosebud", etc) that have spread via Popcultural Osmosis. Parker deliberately set out to avoid doing that with his parody, so he imagined a Citizen Kane sequel made by a director who's obviously familiar with the original but still managed to completely miss the point. Furthermore, Parker wasn't content to simply make "the Citizen Kane parody for people who actually watched the film"—he referenced a subplot that was left out of the finished film, making his comic into "the Citizen Kane parody for people who read the screenplay".
  • Electric Wonderland: Peter Paltridge admitted to have written this parody of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers without watching the show, instead relying on Linkara's History of Power Rangers videos about the series.
  • In-universe in Bobwhite. Cleo tries to play an ironic ukelele cover version of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way". She gets a few lines in before admitting that she's never actually listened to the song.
  • The Bob the Angry Flower parody of Atlas Shrugged is built around the heroes being unwilling to take upon themselves the responsibilities of rebuilding society, despite spending the last third of the book in a commune seemingly devoted entirely to demonstrating they could.

    Web Original 
  • There's only the stuff Miyazaki makes on the one side and Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Pokémon and Naughty Tentacles on the other. And NOTHING else. (Pretty textbook for the prevalent Western attitude towards Japanese animation outlined under Western Animation.)
  • Mondo Media's Like News shorts repeat one point without parodying much of the content. For example, Charlie Brown is old, or Indiana Jones is old. That's it.
  • Homestar Runner's stock anime parody Stinkoman 20X6. Possibly an in-universe example as it was created by Strong Bad, whose knowledge on the subject is limited to having seen one of them once in The '80s, back when it was okay to call it Japanimation.
    • Another cartoon on the subject of webcomics takes a gentle (lawyer-friendly) jab at Penny Arcade, with Strong Bad and and Strong Sad's dialogue inexplicably devolving into vague, convoluted Techno Babble, which really doesn't resemble anything done by the source material.
  • The Editing Room is a satirical website consisting of "abridged screenplays", whereby the author takes the mickey out of a film by having its character hang lampshades all over the place and by snarking away at story points. Most are quite clever, but after a while some seem juvenile and shallow. Things get worse when you realize that a few times the writer doesn't even bother to do any research into the background of the movie, or at times doesn't appropriately represent the story.
  • A review of Game of Thrones on attempted to parody A Song of Ice and Fire... by using a prose style more reminiscent of Jim Theis than George R.R. Martin.
  • Peter Coffin's parodies of the New Moon trailers are the Tropes Are Not Bad version of this trope. It's also justified, as the intention was to fool Twilight fangirls into thinking they were the real trailers - so he had to make them right after said trailers were first released. And it works; if the videos themselves aren't hilarious enough for you, the angry responses from fans about how they were TRICKED!!!!1111 will be.
  • Invoked in MSF High, in-game. Lily, when asked to cosplay as her boyfriend, instead did a Shallow Parody of RPG heroes, of which her boyfriend, Drake, is a Deconstruction/Reconstruction.
  • Peta's parody of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 is this. It seems they just barely glanced at the first twenty minutes of the game. While the writers of this game apparently know Ghetsis was a secretly evil ruler of Team Plasma, they praise Plasma anyway and act like Ghetsis isn't indicative of Plasma's true goals. The Final Boss is also a corrupt version of Ash Ketchum even though he's an anime character. The game goes out of its way to depict Ash as a Jerkass who has never cared for his Pokémon and made Pikachu ride in his ball, proving they didn't even get past the first fifteen minutes of the first episode of the series.
    • There's also their parody of Super Mario 3D Land, Super Tanooki Skin 2D, featuring a skinless tanuki chasing after Mario for stealing his hide to wear as a suit. Nevermind that not only do tanukis themselves never actually appear in any Mario games, but the suit is gotten from blocks, while PETA's parody implies that Mario skins actual tanukis to get the Tanooki Suit.
  • College Humor did a video parody about bronies which was pretty much just a montage of generic nerd jokes with a My Little Pony colored coat of paint on it (coincidentally, it also manages to be a Shallow Parody of Friendship is Magic at the same time, by having the pony figures talk about stereotypical Girly Girl things.)
    • College Humor also did a video parodying The Hunger Games called "Hunger Games Unabridged," which was all about defying the Nobody Poops trope. A hilarious idea, to be sure, and the video itself is rather well done, but there's just one problem—the "unabridged" excerpts read in the video are written in third-person point of view, whereas the actual series is written from Katniss's first-person point of view.
    • Their Starcraft parody "The Worst Starcraft General" has one space marine suggest attacking an enemy without a direct order from the player; this nearly gets him shot for mutiny. The problem with this is, in the real game units actually ARE allowed to attack things in their line of sight without a direct order.
  • Real-Life Anime, in which two guys act out your average episode of The Prince of Tennis (except not even as over-the-top as the real thing).
  • The memetic Screw the Rules, I Have Money! scene from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, as Kaiba only summons three Blue-Eyes White Dragons in a single turn in the abridged series itself. In the episode of the anime it was based on, he summons them across three different turns, which is perfectly legal.note  It was the first episode, and LittleKuriboh hadn't worked everything out yet.
    • Coverage of the spinoffs tends to be pretty hit-or-miss, as well. While most of the 5Ds jokes are pretty on point, approximately 94% of GX jokes focus on Jaden being a "wannabe gangsta" - most of his dialogue in the dub, while very much Totally Radical, was more 90s surfer slang than anything. It's also pretty evident that LK has seen approximately 1/3 of one press release about ZEXAL, best seen by the fact that the main joke of Abridged Yuma is an irritating catchphrase... and it's the wrong catchphrase.
    • Dartz is an odd case, in that he started out as a pretty accurate parody, playing him as an indignant narcissist trying to upstage Marik with his three motorcycle-riding henchmen. In a later appearance, he spontaneously turned into a completely different character with a completely different voice, whose principal jokes (a silly accent and hair that changed color from shot to shot) had basically nothing at all to do with any incarnation of Dartz in favor of an extended Perfect Hair Forever reference.
  • YouTube contributor Ben Loka posted a video titled "My Life: if it were an episode of Lost" which wasn't completely accurate. At the end, he apologizes to other Lost fans, admits that the video was nothing like the show, and recommends watching the actual show which he says is much better.
  • 4chan's "Fourth Wave Feminism" hoax, in which the /b/tards opened fake Twitter accounts and faked images in Photoshop to tried to create a social-media trend via hashtag of feminism that supposedly glorified thin, sexy bodies via the "bikini bridge" and "free bleeding", thus creating a civil war among feminists, "was fatally flawed from the very beginning because [/b/] has no grasp of the different waves of feminism," as The Daily Dot put it.
  • The Nostalgia Critic usually averts this, doing at least cursory research so a joke works. However he can sometimes slip into it with stuff he doesn't know much about:
    • The review of Sharknado had a painfully shallow parody of MythBusters that seemed to think the entire show was blowing things up with no regard to actual science. It was like they were trying to parody the show based on having seen a couple of commercials. This especially comes through in their portrayal of Kari Bryon, who in the video is implied to only be on the show for there to be a hot chick who makes bad puns, when she is actually just as involved in the show's physical processes as the rest of the male team.
    • His Sailor Moon review had a lot of Critical Research Failure, which caused quite a bit of fan complaints and some to think that he hadn't bothered watching any of the show before the review.
    • His jokes about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic veer into this. Doug Walker said in commentary he only saw one or two episodes and doesn't think it's particularly bad, despite the fact that the Critic mocked it in many of his reviews (he does it three times in Ghost Rider!). Though he's since seen a few episodes and admitted it's not bad like he thought it would be.
    • He also tends to criticize Harry Potter a lot, specifically in regards to The Chosen One plot, on the basis that having the entire Wizarding world just instantly dub somebody as their hero and saviour would not be healthy for a young kid. Which, of course, is one of the main themes of the books. (It rather seems like all he knows of the series comes from the films and Popcultural Osmosis.)
    • Doug also borrowed a Shallow Parody joke from Family Guy (see the Western Animation folder below) at least four times in his own reviews: Randy Newman is depicted as if he is nothing more than someone who writes songs about stuff he sees around him. In both shows' cases, Newman's voice is imitated as if he's some kind of mentally retarded idiot. For the record: Newman has never remotely recorded any song that justifies these parodies, and actually writes songs about far more adult topics that one would assume on basis of these spoofs. (Part of this stems from Small Reference Pools — most people only know him, if at all, for the songs he's written for animated features, which are considerably Lighter and Softer.)
  • The Cinema Snob: Brad Jones based his reviewer persona on your typical snobbish movie critic, complete with making shoutouts to pretentious film directors such a critic would like. The main inspiration is Roger Ebert, whom Brad actually respects. When you check out many of Brad's other reviews and movie discussions on his site you quickly notice that the character is mostly based around his dislike of pretentious arthouse movies and the critics who tend to praise these movies instead of the exploitation films he enjoys. Brad has admitted he's never actually seen many of the arthouse films he has his character praising. So, in a sense, he's attacking an entire movie genre that he really doesn't watch and has a preconceived dislike of, making it very unfair to act as if all these movies are all the same kind of needlessly ununderstandeable and pretentious unwatchable nonsense.
  • When the trailer for Unfriended was released, Shane Dawson created a parody of it in which the main joke is that the kids are Too Dumb to Live because they won't just turn off Skype. In the actual film, a major plot point, and one of the very first things the viewer learns, is that Laura is manipulating the characters' computers so that they can't disconnect — and when they try to do so, as in the case of Ken, she kills them almost immediately for it.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park has been guilty of this a few times. They really enjoy taking the piss out of media celebrities, but often they just have them appear on the show, ridicule them by letting them say or do stuff that has virtually nothing to do with their real-life personas and to top it all off they usually murder them in gruesome fashions, much like an angry child who draws an unflattering and infantile doodle of a teacher he's angry about.
    • The episode "W.T.F." attempted to satirize wrestling by saying it's all just soap opera theatrics. In it, the main characters start a wrestling federation and just recite lines, as if they were doing a play. The episode completely ignores the athleticism of wrestling, even ignoring the fact that a wrestling show has, you know, wrestling matches. It also had a Greco-Roman wrestling instructor repeatedly saying professional wresting isn't real, as if that's supposed to somehow invalidate wrestling, or be news for wrestling fans. Matt and Trey most likely didn't know that today's wrestling fans know that wrestling is scripted, and criticizing it for that would be like criticizing a movie for having a script.
    • The episode "Jakovasaurs". The Phantom Menace wasn't out when this was made, so all they had to make fun of Jar Jar was the trailer. Yet it kinda works because it shows they knew, as they stated, "This is the new Ewok! This is what's going to ruin the movie!" Still, it's often listed around the worst episodes of the series.
    • Their parody of Inception was said to have been based on College Humor's parody of the film, and that that was all they had seen. In the commentary for the episode, Matt and Trey said that Matt had, in fact, seen the film, and the blatant similarities between the two parodies was because of a miscommunication (to wit, they only had one chance to see the movie before the episode's deadline and had to consult outside sources to fill in on some details they didn't have time to go back and rewatch).
    • Many Phish fans have criticized the episode "Die, Hippie, Die" for making the band's music seem much more simple, repetitive, and drug-dependent than it really is.
      • Their depiction of late 1960s/early 1970s music is also false, since the hippie festival seems to feature nothing but random jamming, as if the acid-rockers had no real musical ability - and the "protest songs" performed by the hippies earlier in the episode are very boring and whiny, more like the stereotypical folk songs of the early and mid-'60s than anything truly linked to the counterculture. It's also amusing that Cartman frightens the hippie crowd off by playing a Slayer CD ("Hippies can't stand death metal"), because, technically speaking, hippies invented Heavy Metal; Black Sabbath even called themselves "the last hippie band." True, no one would ever confuse the gonzo, violent style of Slayer with the slow, plodding style of Sabbath, but to assume that 1960s music was played by effete and/or drugged-out pacifists with a ridiculously innocent stance toward the world is not accurate at all.
    • Their parody of Ghost Hunters seems to have heard about the "Dude, run!" meme and ran with it. First of all, the guy who said that was the only example of anyone ever panicking during the show, and he never lived it down. The two main characters (who were being parodied), do the exact opposite. They're more attracted to an area if there seems to be something unnatural going on. Likewise, it portrayed them as coming to the conclusion that everything was a ghost. In the early seasons especially (when this parody was made), they spent a good chunk of an episode disproving most (if not all) of the claims (in fact, the early show was a lot more about helping normal people feel safe in their homes and not about catching ghosts). Infamously, Jason would often declare, at the end of an episode, that a place was not haunted, even if they still had a pile of evidence that they could not debunk.
    • Richard Dawkins had the same problem with "Go, God, Go"; a joke of the episode is Richard Dawkins sleeping with an ugly transsexual, which has basically nothing to do with his actual ideas. That, and they got his accent wrong.
      • Of course he is portrayed as quite reasonable with his ideas on evolution and religion not really being parodied. The joke was largely around people interpreting his idea to extreme levels and despite getting rid of religion still getting into wars over silly reasons.
    • The whole concept of "Princess Kenny" seems like Matt & Trey watched exactly one episode of any arbitrary magical girl series, crammed together a few rainbow/kawaii/pink dresses jokes and called it a day. Oddly enough, because the duo should be familiar enough with Japanese culture. After the excellent Ninja episode and the deconstruction of the "Pokémon fad", this seemed like a pretty lousy effort.
  • A Robot Chicken sketch parodying Into the Blue lampshaded this, with creator Seth Green explaining that it was written before the movie came out and that they could only make the parody based on their guesses of what the movie would be like. He goes on to state he's sure that Into The Blue by now will be a complete success and received several Academy Award nominations.
    • The skit runs thus:
    Paul Walker: We're going to have to go... Into The Blue!
    Jessica Alba: Into the blue?
    Paul Walker: Into the blue

    Jessica Alba: I'm in a bikini!
    Paul Walker: I do lots of situps...
    • One Pokémon parody wasn't much better. It involves Pikachu and Squirtle babbling nonsensically at each other in Pokémon Speak for several seconds until Squirtle gets fed up and starts ranting about how stupid the show is, yelling at viewers to read a book or something. The anime never does this; on the rare occasion that conversations between Pokémon are focused on (the main characters are, in fact humans, and the focus is on them), it's typically arranged so that it's possible to guess at what they're saying based on context, body language, and facial expressions. Subtitles were used in the early episode "Island of the Giant Pokémon", since the intended dialogue was too specific for that.
    • Another Pokemon parody focuses on what goes on inside of Pikachu's Poké Ball, despite the fact that Ash's Pikachu almost never goes inside its Poké Ball because it doesn't like it. Also, the sketch ends with Ash pitting his Pikachu against a Charizard, which causes Pikachu to sigh in resignation to defeat, thinking Ash must be an idiot to put him up against a Charizard. While Pikachu is a lower-tier Pokemon than Charizard, Charizard is part flying type and is doubly vulnerable to electric attacks, so even a regular Pikachu would have a type advantage over Charizard. This, combined with the fact that Ash's Pikachu is absurdly powerful and has held its ground against a Dragonite and a Regice (among other legendaries and pseudo-legendaries) makes this joke grating for anyone familiar with the series to watch.
    • Goku carrying a handgun in one Christmas skit. Guns of almost any caliber are inane, insane jokes in the DBZ universe. Goku as a kid kicked missiles and rockets back at the ones who launched them. Buu's puppy and the farmer who greeted Raditz in the pilot are about it for gunfire casualties in almost 300 episodes.
    • An episode mocking The Golden Girls features Blanche accidentally killing a man during, well, what Blanche is known for; and Rose is surprised at this being possible. In the original series, a running joke was that was how Rose's husband (and some boyfriends) died. This is to say nothing of how the entire skit is a Redundant Parody too.
    • One Doctor Who sketch gives this vibe. For starters The Nerd says he's never seen the show, though he thinks he gets the gist of it through nerd osmosis. Secondly, The Doctor doesn't seem to match with any of his previous incarnations. Even people who've never seen the show typically depict their parodies/shout outs as the Fourth Doctor (Classic) or 10th Doctor (Modern). Finally their mockings/criticisms (The Doctor goes to a boring planet that's an allegory for how people have too much stress in their lives) only superficially resemble the show. The only on-the-mark joke is that the BBC's costumes are really cheap.
    • An episode mocking iCarly consistently poked fun at how morbidly obese Gibby is, despite the fact that the actor had lost the weight years ago.
  • Most Western animation parodies of anime fall into this. Many draw from extremely small reference pools, and are done by people that seem to fall into one of three camps: saw half an episode of Pokémon, saw two minutes of Sailor Moon, or has some vague memories of watching Speed Racer. If they're really, really, really on the ball, they might get so edgy and modern as to crack jokes about powering up for three months and yelling while looking constipated.
    • Often with internet parodies, they'll even go so far as to make it a shallow parody of Japanese culture, playing into the stereotype that Japanese men are all anti-social otaku obsessed with tentacle rape.
      • And tentacle rape itself results in a lot of shallow parody, as it's actually considered a niche market in Japan.
    • It's generally agreed that this is what killed Kappa Mikey, considering that the entire premise of the series was "western animation character in animeland," but the actual series wound up being a fairly standard cartoon. When they did parody, it was more based on vague approximations of Japanese cultural stereotypes than anything to do with anime.
  • The Simpsons
    • There was something resembling an anime parody on the Season 12 episode "HOMR". While at an animation convention, Bart and Lisa watch a Japanese cartoon (which Bart refers to as "Japanimation", a term which hasn't seen much use since The '80s) in which a robot-wolf-like creature captures a female warrior who turns into a prawn and destroys the robo-wolf, who then turns into a pair of wind-up shoes and walks away. So the point Al Jean (the episode writer) is making is "Ha-ha-ha, anime is weird" (which Bart and Lisa lampshade). Oddly, it seemed more like a parody of American science-fantasy cartoons from the '80s (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), Thundarr the Barbarian etc.) than actual anime. Same thing with the "Battling Seizure Robots" parody from Season 10's "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" (though that was more of a reference to that infamous Pokémon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon", which was banned after viewers suffered seizures).
    • Of course, there is a homage counterbalance — one of the couch gags is Japan-themed and adds Ultraman (complete with his famous attacks) and Jun the Swan among other things.
    • As the title implies, Season 23's "The D'oh-cial Network" is established as a parody of a certain 2010 film. The similarities are more or less restricted to: Lisa starting a Facebook Expy networking site; use of Radiohead's "Creep" (used in the trailer, not the actual film); cameo by Armie Hammer. It seems like the writers watched a trailer for The Social Network before penning this one.
    • The parody of The O.C., which DID get the title, theme song and general age ("young") of the characters right, but only featured two lines of dialogue ("-I can't believe you cheated on me! -Well, that's how it goes down in the O.C.") followed by a montage to the main theme, with some guys (one of whom is dressed in a Snoopy suit) walking cheerfully down the street, visiting an amusement park and withdrawing some money from an ATM while being held at gunpoint by the guy in the Snoopy suit. What any of this has to do with the series is a mystery.
    • Whenever South Park is referenced usually the line "Oh my God, they killed Kenny" is spoofed, a joke the makers of South Park haven't used for years.
    • One episode had a Precious parody that consisted solely of jokes about how fat the lead actress was. This may be somewhat explained seeing that the movie's subject matter is very family-unfriendly.
    • A parody of Tintin in the episode "Husbands and Knives" referenced the moon rocket from "Explorers to the Moon", the isle of "The Black Island", Captain Haddock, Thompson, Thompson, Snowy and Tintin's Belgian nationality. Apart from that the general tone or style of the series wasn't satirized at all.
    • The Rin Tin Tin parody in "Old Yeller Belly" is equally shallow. All we see is Rin Tin Tin biting Adolf Hitler in the ass. First of all: the Rin Tin Tin movies were popular during the 1920s and early 1930s, way before Hitler took power. Secondly the series never became political, so it seems that Hitler just makes a cameo appearance here because both he and Rin Tin Tin appeared in black-and-white movies. And because having Hitler randomly pop up everywhere is always good for a cheap laugh, right?
    • One episode featured an Itchy and Scratchy episode that parodied House. During the brief short, the writers demonstrate knowledge of the following things about House: it's a show about a doctor, and the theme song is "Teardrop."
    • There's a Treehouse of Horror episode that parodies Twilight. Despite Twilight being a parodist's wet dream, the only things it parodies are a few scenes that seem to have been taken from the first film's trailer and a gag about Milhouse being a were-poodle. No sparkly vampires, no baseball, no creepy romance, no classism, no preachiness, no shirtlessness... hey, he stopped a bus and leaped through the trees; that happened in Twilight, right? And then Dracula shows up for some reason (namely, the writers didn't know enough about the series to fill seven minutes and they need filler), never mind that Dracula is usually considered diametrically opposed to Twilight. And no, before you ask, they don't fight - the difference between classical vampires and Twilight vampires never even gets acknowledged. Basically, for this one, they hadn't even seen other parodies of Twilight.
    • Another Treehouse of Horror has a parody of Dexter. All it takes from said series is a song similar to its theme tune and that it's about a guy who doubles as a killer.
    • Their "Bartman Begins" parody was just as bad. They didn't even try to spoof Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Instead they presented a general recapitulation of the character type, drawing from various Batman media promiscuously. The campy villains and bizarre decision to set the story in 1933 (six years before Batman even existed!) were bad enough, but worst of all was their making Ba(r)tman a Sociopathic Hero. He avenges his parents' murders by killing all criminals, even nonviolent criminals - and, in some cases, people who simply look like criminals! He shoves them into exposed electrical wiring purely out of spite, and they die instantly; this is something that Batman, even at his angriest and most antisocial, has NEVER done.
  • For a dizzying combination of the traits described above, there's the recurring Pokémon parody Tinymon in Johnny Test, whose hero looks like Ash Ketchum but acts more like a Bruce Lee parody and, naturally, talks like Speed Racer. The "Tinymon" also have more complex and unnatural appearances making them look more like Digimon than Pokémon.
    • Subverted on the gaming front however. Besides getting a legitimate parody of the gaming console, they also featured obscure references like "evolve through happiness", legendary Pokémon that may not even exist and Magikarp Power. Even small things like unlockable options from league battles and stealing Pokémon. They may not have paid attention to the anime but they have definitely played the games.
  • While The Fairly OddParents episode "Channel Chasers" visits two animesque shows, the one with poor lipsync and bizarre enunciation is specifically a parody of Speed Racer, so it's somewhat better than most other examples.
  • Dexter's Laboratory did an anime parody twice, once specifically of Speed Racer and later in the series of common anime villains traits (like being Bishōnen and wearing Scary Impractical Armor). The only problem was that the villain from the latter was a Card-Carrying Villain while the majority of villains he was parodying at least try to justify their crimes. And he has a speech pattern like he ran away from Speed Racer.
  • Popeye versus anime is an internet animation that does this.
    • The parody of Popeye is more egregious than is the parody of anime, at least for anyone who has read the original Thimble Theatre comic strip. In both the comic strip series and the animated shorts, Popeye fought the magical villain The Sea Hag, rehabilitated the bizarre superhuman Alice the Goon, and befriended Eugene the Jeep, a magical 4th dimensional animal from Africa who could turn invisible, teleport, and walk through walls. The comic strip explains that Popeye gained his invulnerability from stroking the head of the magical Whiffle Hen, a chicken whose touch conveyed preternatural luck. Popeye would have taken the world of anime in stride.
  • A lot of animated shows parody comic book superheroes. Almost all of them act as if comic books stopped being published after the Silver Age and the last comic book adaption released was the Adam West Batman series.
    • And some go into the notion that superheroes aren't about fighting evil but violence and that every supervillain in history is a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • There was an episode of Droopy, Master Detective that was a satire of Romeo and Juliet, and apparently, whoever wrote that episode was under the impression that Juliet was a princess who got captured and that Romeo rescued her.
  • An episode of Drawn Together included Daria as a victim of torture in Hot Topic's basement. She quips this is men's fault, which is missing the point, since she tends to be misanthropic towards everyone regardless of gender (the mischaracterization was probably because Daria looks so much like the stereotypical Straw Feminist, being "ugly" and all).
    • A Robot Chicken episode also featured a parody of Ms. Morgendorffer... or rather, Mr. Morgendorffer. In the segment, sometime after the events of the show and being interviewed by Michael Moore in a "Where Are They Now? 90s" send-up, Daria became a post-op FTM transgender person named Daryl. Daryl drolly explained the procedure to Moore, who in turn lost his lunch. That was based on the other generalized misperception (by many who didn't watch the show as well as some of the characters in the show itself) of Daria as being emotionless or "The Misery Chick". Being Robot Chicken, though, it's entirely conceivable they made the parody for the people who didn't watch Daria.
    • Several of the main characters of Drawn Together also fit this trope. In particular, many lines involving Princess Clara parody "Disney movie cliches" that were never in any actual Disney movie. Toot also has no resemblance to Betty Boop besides appearance.
  • This trailer for a canceled animated movie called Blue Planet begins with a rather shallow parody of Toy Story and A Bug's Life.
    • The movie itself was eventually released as an FMV on-rails shooter called Deadly Tide.
  • The Futurama episode that does the show in different styles (classic animation, video games, and anime). Most anime fans agree that the anime skit was bad for this reason. Although this is more a case of said fans missing the point, as the three skits were of specific eras of their given mediums (1920's black and white animation, 1980's 8-bit era games, and early limited animation anime). The anime parody wasn't meant to involve all anime, the anime fans simply judge the skit as if it was supposed to.
  • The Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest" parodying Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope features a joke about the Cantina band, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, simply playing only one song over and over again. It's a joke that isn't even unique to Family Guy, and is just plain nonsense if you ever watched the movie in question. Not only can you very clearly hear a change in music from the uproarious Benny Goodman-like "Mad About Me" to a mellower BGM, the friggin' soundtrack has both Cantina songs!
    • Also, in spite of the joke about how they'll have to continue the movie with Danny Elfman after John Williams kicks it, Elfman doesn't conduct his scores.
    • In general, Family Guy has a tendency to fall victim to this whenever they feel like inserting a mean-spirited Take That at a show/person that the writers don't like, and many of the things it tries to pass off as "parodies" feel more like random plagiarism.
    • The infamous "Randy Newman sings about whatever he sees in his vicinity" joke from "Da Boom". The writers only seen to have chosen him because his is an easy voice to imitate — Newman is actually an accomplished protest writer and satirist who writes about very adult topics, though due to Small Reference Pools most people only know him for the Lighter and Softer fare he's written for animated features. (The joke makes slightly more sense in context: it's After the End and most of the world's a barren wasteland, and one must pass the time somehow...)
    • Another bad example was showing an episode of All in the Family that depicted Archie Bunker joining the Klan and burning a cross...despite one of the most famous episodes having Archie denounce the Klan and prevent a cross burning.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode "Wizard of Odd" is a dream sequence inspired by the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — Candace is explicitly shown to be reading the book before the dream sequence occurs. Except that it continually takes its cues from the MGM film, from the appearance of the characters, to a joke about the film-exclusive hourglass scene, to using the film version of the arrival in Oz as the basis of its equivalent segment — said scene is different in nearly every detail between the two versions. Justified in that she reads the book for all of 2 seconds before being interrupted.
  • 2DTV: This British animated series spoofed politicians and media celebrities by having them appear as caricatures on the show, but was one colossal Shallow Parody from beginning to end. Most of the time it seemed as if the makers were a bunch of children who didn't know anything about politics, actual events or adult topics. They just focused on the physical features or supposed lack of intelligence of the public persona of these famous people, without actually referring to real-life situations. For instance, Bush was depicted as a Man Child doing stupid stuff that could have easily been done by Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin, and you wouldn't have known the difference. He was assisted by a colonel with a large moustache, because the writers had apparently no idea that the US President collaborates with an administration.
  • While the overall accuracy of Metalocalypse's parodying depictions of Heavy Metal (particularly Death Metal) music and subculture is debatable, the series tends to flip flop between decidedly knowledgeable Shout Outs and Shallow Parody in the case of scenes that are simply Played for Laughs. For example, recent Dethklok (the fictitious metal band of which the protagonists are members) releases are usually regarded as competent slabs of Melodic Death Metal even outside the series' context; however, in the earlier days of the series the band's music tended to be somewhat of an indiscriminate mish-mash of metal cliches ranging from squealing cock rock solos to indecipherable guttural growls accompanied by vanilla downtuned power chords. The band itself is comprised of both knuckle-dragging neanderthals representing a Dead Unicorn Trope for American death metal musicians as well as awkward, effeminate Europeans. The band is also portrayed as world-famous celebrities which is confusing considering that no death metal band has ever achieved this feat, although this too can be chalked up to Rule of Funny depending on how charitably the viewer decides to interpret the parody.

  • In 1982, the conservative Dartmouth Review ran an infamous editorial questioning whether black students admitted to Dartmouth under affirmative action were really qualified to be at the Ivy League school. The editorial is not referred to as "infamous" today because of that - the sentiment was hardly unique at that time. It was unique, instead, because it was titled "Dis Sho' Ain't No Jive, Bro" and written entirely in what the editors seemed to think was contemporary African American vernacular English. However, sentences like the title and "Now we be comin' to Dartmut and be up over our 'fros in studies, but we still be not graduatin' Phi Beta Kappa" revealed that, as much as the authors might have claimed their inspiration was that "jive" scene in Airplane!, their ideas of black American colloquial speech were at best a decade out of date and at worst seemed to come straight from mid-century Stepin Fetchit movies.
  • There are quite a number of politicians who live on in the public consciousness as being Too Dumb to Live idiots or simple minded everymen: Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Idi Amin, Nikita Khrushchev, Benito Mussolini, Boris Yeltsin... Most of the time their public image was shaped by countless cartoons and parodies that reduced them into caricatures. Idi Amin, for instance, may have even clowned up his dumb child like African persona so that the foreign media would depict him as a harmless naďve hayseed and draw attention away from his real-life horrific politics.
  • John F. Kennedy is a particularly unfortunate victim of this. If you listen to recordings of his voice, you can hear a Bostonian twang, but not to the point that you couldn't take the man seriously. But The Simpsons has convinced millions - perhaps even billions - of people the world over through their character of "Diamond" Joe Quimby that JFK had an extremely obnoxious nasal voice that often sounded more British than American, spoke haltingly and said "uhhh" and "ahhh" a lot. So Kennedy impersonations invariably sound more like Quimby, and impersonators actually trying to do the man justice are criticized for "not getting the accent right."