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Signs of Disrepair

"So if you've got a hankerin',
I'll tell you where to go,
Just look for the busted neon sign
That flashes... Eat at Joe's"
The Folksmen, A Mighty Wind, "Old Joe's Place"

A seemingly regular sign that, with letters broken or removed, portrays a different meaning. This can be caused by coincidence (neon tubes burning out, letters falling off), or it can be intentional vandalism.

Often used to create or highlight an unintended innuendo, such as "Public Library" becoming "Pubic Library".

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Film 
  • To get people to their party, the main characters of Revenge of the Nerds 2 modify they sign of their staying place: Hotel Coral Essex.
  • Max Payne has the building Raglan And Brock with half the letters on its sign unlit, leading to the name "Rag** n a** * rock".
  • In Batman Returns, Selina Kyle has a neon sign in her apartment that says "Hello There!". After becoming Catwoman, she smashes the o and the T, giving the sign a very different meaning.
  • Done deliberately by the protagonist and antagonist in Shoot 'em Up'. During a rooftop gunfight, Smith shoots out a neon "Faulk Truck & Tool" sign to read, "FUK U," while saying, "Fuck you, you fucking fuckers!" The camera pans to show the word "TOOL" next to it, whereupon Hertz shoots out the L to have it read, "FUK U TOO".
  • The Abbott and Costello movie Who Done It? also features a shootout on a rooftop. A light bulb-illuminated sign reading "VOTE FOR TOWNSEND PHELPS" gets shot up to read "SEND HELP", then again at the finish of the movie to read "END".
  • Tony Hancock's film The Punch and Judy Man, set in a seedy English seaside resort, has a scene where Hancock's title character is shaving just before performing at an important reception at the town hall. His faulty electric shaver shorts out some of the town's illuminations, causing them to spell out insults.
  • Elvira, Mistress of the Dark has this Not Safe for Work accident.
  • A variation occurs in The Dark Knight: The Joker adds an S in front of "Laughter is the Best Medicine" on his trailer.
  • Done offscreen with a submarine PA system in Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
  • In Madagascar, Alex makes a giant HELP to alert ships, but the top of the P collapses, turning it into an L.
  • In Zapped! the door to Prinipal Burnhart's office was regularly vandalised into Burnfart - so regularly that it was mispronounced like that by a teacher once. On the public address system.
  • In The Rocketeer, a fiery Neville Sinclair crashes into the tail end of the famous "Hollywoodland" sign, turning it into the rather more famous "Hollywood" sign.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture has Voyager 6, which is how the antagonist got its name.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens has a variant on this - Susan, running on the rooftops from the first Gallaxhar robot, goes past a rooftop billboard that presumably advertises accident insurance (the word 'Accident' is very prominent). After slipping off a sloping roof and landing on the street, that billboard is flung past her head and jabbed into a building, with the first few letters 'Accid' still visible. Given the strangely cross-eyed salesman gracing the billboard, this may have been deliberate.
  • Sister Act 2: The name of the classroom, Music Class, frequently has the first two letter of the second word scratched off.
  • The last letter of Motel Hello's sign is constantly flickering on and off, providing the Title Drop for Motel Hell.
  • The Crow: City of Angels included a shot of a neon sign reading "Jesus Saves" with only "Save Us" lit up (well, technically that would be "Us Save" unless you're reading from bottom to top).
  • A store called "Bootery" is actually renamed "Hooters" during the villain takeover scene from Shrek the Third.
  • In Winnie the Pooh, Piglet for some reason has a wooden sign above his front door that is apparently broken, reading "Trespassers Will". According to Piglet, Trespassers Will is his grandfather. The sign, if put together, actually reads "Trespassers Will Be Shot!!!"
  • The tailgate of the Pizza Planet truck reads "YO", with most of the letters scratched out. According to the truck's operating manual, the truck is actually manufactured by Gyoza Motors, and, not, as commonly believed, Toyota (with the letters scratched off for copyright reasons).
  • Towards the end of Jurassic Park, the mud-splattered jeep reads "Jurassic Park".
  • In the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes, Leo discovers the ape holy site "Ca Li Ma" is, in fact, derived from a sign that said "CAUTION: LIVE ANIMALS" aboard his long-crashed ship.
  • In Wyatt Earp, Wyatt puts the "NO FIREARMS IN TOWN" sign back up when he arrives in Dodge. The sign isn't missing any letters, but the bullet holes in it kind of undermine the message.
  • In Zoolander, a local drinking establishment called "The Mine Shaft" is visited; in reflection of it's less than savory, affluent circumstances, it loses the "f" as we watch.
  • Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird has a large sign at the entrance to a crooked carnival advertising it as the "Sleaze Bros. Funfair". Just as the camera pans past, the "F" slowly falls off.
  • By the end of The Avengers, the STARK marquee on the Stark Tower has been reduced to just the A....for "Avengers".
  • After Butch decides to rescue Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, a neon sign advertising "Killian's Red Beer" can be seen on the wall of the pawn shop. When several sections of the sign blink out, and the 'Z' on Zed's keychain is added, the sign reads "Kill Zed."
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs had the sign on top of the factory originally say SWALLOW FALLS. Disrepair caused the S in FALLS to fall off. In a blink and you'll miss it moment Finn accidentally knocks the F off rendering it SWALLOW ALL
  • Inspector Gadget 2 features a "Welcome to Riverton" billboard with Mayor Wilson's smiling face on it. At the very beginning, Gadget pulls out one of the front teeth while he's looking around, leaving her with a now gap-toothed smile! Better yet, she's still gap-toothed in subsequent scenes.
  • In Damsels In Distress, the first time that we see the "SUICIDE PREVENTION CENTER," one word has fallen off the sign. You can probably guess which one.
  • The villain in The Lego Movie plans to destroy the world with the Krazyglue.
  • Happens twice in Back to the Future: Part II. First, in 2015, in Hilldale, the development where the future Marty lives, its sign has gotten vandalized from "Hilldale: The Address of Success" to "The Address of Suckers". Later, in 1985-A, the "Welcome to Hill Valley" sign says "Hell Valley" instead.
  • In the Dutch movie Abeltje, after a heated argument with the manager of a Department store named "Knots" (club), where her son used to work, Abeltje's mother storms out of his office and slams the door so loud it knocks the "N" off the sign, reducing the name to "Kots" (barf).

    Literature 
  • In the horror story Right Inn, by J. B. Stamper, a traveller with a weak heart has to stop for the night, and the only place nearby is a hotel with a sign saying RIGHT INN, and as soon as he checks in, weird and creepy things start happening... the twist at the end is that it's a theme hotel, but the F has fallen off the front of the sign.
  • The ALLEN ROAD/ALIEN ROAD street sign in the Doctor Who spin-off novel Warhead. (And indeed the owner of the house on Allen Road is an alien, although it's never really explained who kept vandalizing the street sign or how they knew.)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a reference to a gigantic sign reading "SHARE AND ENJOY" (the advertising slogan of the ever-profitable Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints Department). Being too heavy, the sign falls into the underground office block underneath, which is a little unfortunate for the occupants. In the local language the exposed top halves of the letters now appear to read "GO STICK YOUR HEAD IN A PIG".
  • George and Harold of Captain Underpants vandalize a sign at least once a book, usually through a combination of rearranging and removing letters. For example, the first book sees them turning a sign outside a florist's shop from "PICK YOUR OWN ROSES" to "PICK OUR NOSES"
    • Also done in their comic books. For instance, a sign appears to say "BURY DEAD STUFF HERE", until a lightning bolt knocks over the tree covering the top part of the sign, which includes "WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T".
  • In the Soviet children's book The Adventures of Captain Vrungel (and its animated adaptation), the titular captain names his yacht "Pobeda" (Russian for "Victory") — but due to an accident at its launch, the first two letters in the name fall off its stern, making it read "Beda" ("Trouble").
  • In one of the Dear America books, the main character's cousin comes from a town in Texas called Heart's Bend, except that the B is missing from the sign at the railway station, so it says Heart's end.
  • Inverted in The Dark Tower by Stephen King (the seventh book of the series of the same name); Dandelo (an emotion-eating vampire) must allow a street sign warning of his presence in anagram form to exist—but he can deface the sign to read "Odd's Lane", which means nothing, rather than "Odd Lane".
  • In Going Postal, the letters on the facade of the building spelling out the credo of the Royal Mail read "NEITHER RAIN NOR SNOW NOR GLO M OF NI T CAN STAY THESE MES ENGERS ABO T THEIR DUTY". The missing letters turn out to have found their way onto a shop sign reading HUGOS.
  • In the James Bond novel Moonraker, Bond sees a neon sign from a viewpoint that partially obscures it: SUMMER SHELL IS HERE.
  • In This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall!, there's a sign outside Miss Scrimmage's school that reads, "Miss Scrimmage's Finishing School for Young Ladies". Miss Scrimmage accidentally shoots it, changing the word "Finishing" to "Fishing".
  • The sign for the recreation room in Holes actually reads WRECK ROOM.
  • Tongue Fu, a series of short stories in the Whole Earth Epiloguenote  which start as a parody/update of Kung Fu, stars a young monk who, due to the circumstances of his conceptionnote , has an Overly-Long Tonguenote . At one point, he uses his tongue to deface the sign over the door of an "AMUSEMENT CENTER", licking away the letters "AMU" and "T" from the first word.
  • There is one Choose Your Own Adventure-style puzzle book where the reader is stuck on top of the Hotel Polk (with a flashing neon sign proclaiming the building's name in big letters) and has to find some way to get their partner's attention. The solution is to take five of the marbles from your emergency pack that you received earlier in the story and throw them at the letters O, T, O, L, and K on the sign, so that the sign reads "H-E-L-P".
  • There is one in Winnie the Pooh with the sign over Piglet's door, reading "Trespassers W", which he claims is short for the name of his grandfather, Trespassers William, or Trespassers Will for short. It's likely that the sign actually read "Trespassers will be shot"
  • One book in the Just William series features the Outlaws attempting to raise money by offering to sell their hair to the local hairdresser, who suffers from classical male alopecia and who likes to pass the time between customers standing in the doorway of his shop beneath the shop sign bearing his name and profession - "Theobald Hairdresser". He finds their offer hilarious and tells the tale to everyone passing his shop. The next morning sees him standing in the doorway as usual, the sun gleaming off his pate, happily ascribing the laughter of the passers-by to their memory of the tale and unaware that it is really because the Outlaws had visited again during the night and painted out the O of his sign.

     Live Action TV  
  • The short lived sitcom version of Hot L Baltimore.
  • In one episode of Pushing Daisies, the owner of the candy shop across the street sabotages the sign of Ned's pie shop, called "The Pie Hole", to read "The Pie Ho". Olive and Chuck adopt the nickname when they get revenge: "Don't mess with the Pie Hos!"
  • Happens to a sign during the season 3 premiere of the sitcom Ellen when an earthquake hits Los Angeles. A live on-the-scene news reporter refers to the ruined store as "uy The Book", which, is later followed by an elderly customer inquiring about the new Jackie Collins and giving Ellen the advice of "you know, you should really get a new name, 'uy The Boo' doesn't tell you what (the store) is".
  • Ed owns Stucky Bowl, and vandals regularly steal the T. In the episode that dealt with it, they weld the T down, so the vandals change the sign to "Stucky Bowel".
  • One episode of Brian Clemens' Thriller was set in a motel. At the end of the episode the broken neon sign reads "WOOD HEATH MOTEL.
  • There's an episode of Scrubs where the sign for SACRED HEART HOSPITAL is amended to SACRED FART.
  • In Fawlty Towers, it's done Once an Episode — the sign saying Fawlty Towers is rearranged to say Flowery Twats, Flay Otters, Fatty Owls, Farty Towels, Watery Fowls and Warty Towels.
  • In one of Peter Kay's TV comedies, a road race starts from Scunthorpe. The town's name is spelled out on a nearby roof, but the first five letters fall off when all the cars tear away. As the mayor complains about it, the "S" falls on his head.
  • Kids Incorporated takes place in a club called The Palace, but the first A on the neon sign is missing, so it's just The Place.
  • Parodied in Between the Lions were a flickering sign outside of Sam Spud's office literally says "Flicker Flicker" (or "Flash Flash", depending on the episode.)
  • In one episode of That '70s Show, Eric, Hyde and Fez vandalize an out-of-business muffler shop, covering the "ler" on every occurrence of "muffler" they see. The next morning Red (who just happened to buy it) was puzzled to see the ads on the walls of the shop changed to "Winterize your muff", "People complaining about loud muff?" etc.
  • The pilot episode of Teen Angel featured a P.A. anouncement requesting that the first two letters from a "Class of '98" sign be returned. The recently deceased Marty then proudly shows Steve the two letters, knowing full well he could never be caught due to his being dead.
  • The building housing JJ's and Emily's therapist in Skins is headed with a sign saying "PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT", which pretty much says everything that needs to be said about how useless they are.
  • In Corner Gas, Dog River has a grocery store that presumably once had a sign that read "FOOD MARKET", but some of the letters have fallen off, making it the "FOO MART", which is what several characters have actually called it on the show.
  • One episode of iCarly involves a lightboard sign (which originally said "PLEASE GO ONLINE TO ICARLY.COM") malfunctioning, leaving just the letters "P E E ON CARL". Officer Carl is not pleased.
    • What makes this funnier is that a few seasons later, Spencer almost got arrested, and the very same, very pissed off officer was the one who bought him in. When Carly tries to thank the officer for not hauling Spencer in, the officer, unwavering, says to her: "Don't think I forgot about "Pee On Carl."
  • The Benny Hill Show loved this trope. One example is a group of priests entering an building with a sign that says "Tea Bar", but once they enter the other letters light up revealing the true name to be "Striptease Cabaret".
  • In Green Wing Alan Statham had trouble with people vandalising his badge, it should read "Alan Statham Consultant Radiologist" but on the word Consultant someone blacked out the letters O N S L T A.
  • In the India Special episode of Top Gear, the trio's attempt to promote "BRITISH I.T. FOR YOUR COMPANY" to Indian companies went pear-shaped when the sign ripped in two between the second 'I' and the 'S' in "BRITISH". On the opposite site, "EAT ENGLISH MUFFINS" also had the "INS" at the end torn off.
    • In an earlier episode they had to put sponsorship decals on their entry in a touring car race, but due to BBC regulations the companies had to be fake. They chose adverts for "PENISTON OILS" and "LARSEN'S BISCUITS", carefully positioning them for maximum juvenile humour when the car doors were open.
      • The Val Thorens episode saw "sponsorships" from French companies such as "Sophartel Industrie" and "Amerdea du Fromage".
  • Monster Garage features this in the opening to display the show's title. After a computer animation of a sport-utility vehicle entering the garage and getting hooked up to cables, we pan over to the garage's sign. Until it gets struck by lightning, the sign reads "Simon Stern's Garage."
  • In the pilot episode of Mighty Med after Kaz and Oliver are discovered to be normal humans. They're taken to a dimly lit cafeteria where the two notice the sign above the door reads "Now You Die". The head director of the hospital comes in and comments on the faulty sign before hitting the wall to which it now read "Know Your Diet".
    Kaz: Ooooh, that's much less scary.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A Rewatch Bonus version occurs in "The Harvest". Angel appears to be standing next to a sign saying 'WATCH YOU' — but when he walks away we see the sign actually reads 'WATCH YOUR STEP.' This is a fortuitous bit of foreshadowing for Angel's Face-Heel Turn into Angelus. Note that he wasn't even scripted as a vampire at this point.
  • In an episode of The Equalizer Robert McCall does this as part of his Mind Screw tactics. He tells a corrupt politician that he's got 24 hours to resign or else. Later the politician is feeling smug because he's just arranged for a witness against him to be silenced. He steps out of his office and sees a giant electronic billboard is flashing the word RESIGN at him.

    Music 
  • "The Guy Who Changes The Light bulbs" by Carla Ulbrich:
    "How about some French cuisine?" you might ask your spouse
    When up ahead you clearly see a sign that says "LE HOUSE"
    And whatever may befall me may I never sink so low
    As to have to give it up for food and become a WAFFLE HO
  • The cover of Push Barman To Open Old Wounds by Belle and Sebastian depicts a sign at a pub that's been altered to read that way (it originally said "Push Bar To Open").
  • The cover of Sebadoh's Harmacy is a picture of a pharmacy sign where the "p" fell off.

    Theater 
  • The title of Lanford Wilson's play The Hot L Baltimore.
  • Jersey Boys has a sign that displays FOUR SEASONS, which when the broken lights are fixed, becomes the name of the protagonists' music group.

    Video Games 
  • In Snatcher, there's a sign in Central Plaza saying GREAT MEALS. Later, Gillian sees a neon sign for Hospital OLEEN. It's supposed to read 'QUEENS'.
  • City of Heroes has a PAWN shop. Appropriately, it's run by retired Freakshow, a villain group who name themselves in l33t.
    • The "destroyed future" map has PARAGON CITY HALL.
  • The "Hotel Hell" level in Duke Nukem 3D.
  • The Hotel Coral Essex features in the first level of Pain. Players can fling their avatars into the sign's letters, performing the vandalism themselves.
  • The {S}Hell gas station in Silent Hill.
  • Left 4 Dead has graffiti reading "No zombie is safe from Chicago Ted".
  • Used as a sight gag in Tengai Makyou IV, with a sign reading "King of Lake Tahoe" being reduced to "King Aho" after one of the villains is defeated.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, when Travis and Sylvia have sex the NO MORE HEROES Motel sign falls apart, leaving MORE ERO.
  • Grand Theft Auto II features churches with neon signs that say JESUS SAVES. The letters flicker to reveal that they're save points (U SAVE).
    • Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, there's a mission in San Andreas that ends with a shot of a billboard, showing a girl drinking a white-colored soda, with the words "A taste of what's to come!" Your out-of-control car crashes through it, changing it to "A taste of come!"
  • Fallout 3 has the town of Arefu, whose name originates from a sign saying "careful".
    • Fallout: New Vegas has the town of Novac. The town's main building is an old roadside motel. The neon sign is mostly destroyed, except for the letters NOVAC in the NO VACANCY part of the sign.
    • The Lucky 38's marquee advertises a "Revol{T}ing Cocktail Lounge"
  • A variation from Luigi's Mansion: the file select screen has a message reading, "Welcome to your mansion." Wait a while before selecting a file and the message will fade out and come back with the 'y' missing: "Welcome to our mansion."
  • In Sonny 2, the pawn shop in the Dystopia also has the "a" darkened to spell "pwn". The game lampshades this when the sign is clicked on: "The 'A' is missing, but the sign still gets the point across".
  • In the Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, there is a popcorn stand in the amusement park level with the word "POPCORN" in large uppercase letters. One bomb takes out the second "P", the "C", and the second "O", spelling "PORN" from the still legible letters. Another bomb turns the stand into an ear of corn.
  • Pac-Man's Japanese name is actually "Puckman" (after "pakupaku", the Japanese onomatopoeia for munching food). The main reason why his name was changed into what it is now in the US (and worldwide, by association) is because Namco was actually afraid that the cabinets would be vandalized in a way so that the "P" is changed into an "F."
  • In Deathsmiles IIX, the ferris wheel at the entrace of the Circus of Fear Bonus Level has a sign that reads "Hello-Land". The "o" doesn't seems to be working, leaving us with the true meaning of the stage.
  • A major location in Deus Ex was the Hilton Hotel. Half the sign over the door was out.
  • Two instances in Tony Hawk's Underground 2: the first one is on a church sign in Boston, albeit done intentionally: "What is missing from CH__CH? U R". The second one, in Berlin, is actually an objective: there is a marquee reading "DOWNZEKD!" (which doesn't mean anything, just roll with it), and the player has to perform a grind over this marquee so the correct letters will fall offnote  and read "_OWN_E_D!"
  • A version of this trope occurs in Primordia. It eventually turns out that the odd spelling of the ship's name UNNIIC (pronounced "unique" by the protagonists) is not a result of someone's illiteracy: it was born when the ship's nameplate was damaged, leaving only the top halves of the letters still readable. Originally, the plate read "HORUS".
  • A variation occurs with the title screen in Bravely Default. After one of the big plot-twisting reveals, parts of the game's subtitle ("Flying Fairy" / "Where the Fairy Flies") on the title screen turn red and disappear. The remaining letters spell out "Lying Airy" and "Airy Lies", respectively.

    Web Animation 
  • A Homestar Runner cartoon published on April Fools' Day 2014 (after a hiatus of nearly four years) featured a worn-out version of the website's "Welcome" page, with the "come on in" and "watch intro" buttons falling apart and now reading "com_ on in" and "w_tch intro".

    Web Comics 
  • Sluggy Freelance had an example in the Kesandru storyline, where the house is choked with an unusual number of ghosts: cryptic ghostly graffiti on the wall says "NOTHING DEAD HERE", and it isn't until a character moves the furniture next to it that they realize it was in fact the partially obscured "NOTHING DEAD HERE LEAVES".
    • Another example in the same storyline involves a sign reading 'Brie Meighsaton', (the name of one of the ghosts trapped in the house) being damaged, and Torg puts the M back upsidedown. "Brie Weighsaton". Riff says "Not cool!", Torg asks what a ghost is going to do about it, and she scares him into hiding under his bed. Behold the power of cheese.
  • Freefall: Florence Ambrose, soaked, chilled, and bleeding, searches for a doctor, and sees a broken sign reading "mad Veterinarian". Fortunately, it turns out "mad" is the last syllable of the vet's name, Winston Thurmad, and he's a very nice person.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court knows how to label its doors: this one says "Used Instruments", though it's actually "Cursed Instruments", and the story of the haunted mandolin).

     Western Animation  
  • The Simpsons has had a few:
    • SLEEP-EAZY Motel (from the season nine episode "The Cartridge Family")
    • The "Only Bridge Out of Town", which after being blown up, read "BRIDGE OUT" (from the season six episode "Bart's Comet")
    • SHOT KICKERS (from the season five episode "Marge on the Lam")
    • The season four episode "Selma's Choice" had "The Buzzing Sign Diner" (all letters function, but it is still part of (and a parody of) the buzzing sign trope) and the sign Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney pass as they ride out of Duff Gardens on bumper cars reads, "You Are Now Leaving Duff Gardfns" (though it's not known whether this was supposed to be a broken sign or a mistake from the animation staff).
    • One episode ("Bart and Lisa vs. The Third Grade") featured a flag, which was originally supposed to read "To Fraternal Love". Bart tampered with it, and as a result it now reads "Learn to Fart!"
    • In "The Springfield Files," an already frightened Homer sees a large billboard that says "DIE." He screams. Then the wind shifts, moving a tree branch and revealing that the word is "DIET." Homer screams louder and flees.
    • In "Apocalypse Cow," Homer, disguised as a cow, is transported to the slaughter house mistaking it as "laughter house" due to his disguise obscuring his vision.
    • "PUB IC LIBRARY."
  • Futurama
    • At one point, the show was cancelled by the Fox Network, then was purchased and brought back by Comedy Central. The movies produced by Comedy Central had the characters spewing an incredible amount of extremely heavy handed vitriol against the executives at the "Box Network", who were portrayed as gibbering morons who didn't have the intelligence of yogurt. Just to make sure that everyone knew who all that hatred was actually aimed at, the sign on the side of the Box Network building had a flickering "B" that sometimes appeared as an "F".
    • In another episode, Bender, wanting to be remembered after he is gone, spray paints a self portrait with the caption "Bender lives large and kicks butt" on the side of a building. As soon as he finishes, the building is demolished. The debris left behind reads "Bender licks butt", with the portrait resembling a human's legs and posterior.
  • In Jonah: A WesternAnimation/VeggieTales Movie, the main characters come across a restaurant with a neon sign spelling out 'seafoo.' After the characters muse on whether seafoo is like tofu, the letter 'd' flickers on.
  • In an episode of Danny Phantom, there was an old rundown Hospital called NORTH MERCY hospital, the R, T, and H fell off, spelling NO MERCY hospital.
  • An old Popeye cartoon had him and Bluto in an auto race - Bluto rearranges a sign reading 'ROUTE D' to 'DETOUR', sending Popeye up a rocky mountain road.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Scoob is spooked when a sign for "The Drowsy Gator: Pool, Food and Sundries" suddenly reads "The Dog dies".
    • In Theatre of Doom, the Phantom Mummy of Friar Serra (the real one) hints that this isn't just a coincident, as he told the gang to "Heed the warning of the alligators". Poor Scooby.
  • Casper's Scare School in the pilot movie: "SECRET DREAMS OF THE ORANGE ROOSTER".
  • One episode of Arthur was actually about D.W. accidentally misplacing her backpack at the swimming pool and later ending up with an identical backpack reading TOMMY TIBBLE. She then starts to think that someone named "Omble" actually stole her backpack.
  • In one episode of Bobby's World, Uncle Ted has a boat named The Sea Sprite.
  • The second S for the "Mystery Shack" in Gravity Falls is seen falling off in the intro. It gets knocked off in the show proper in "Headhunters", leaving the sign reading "Mystery Hack" for several episodes.
  • In Goof Troop, the Wild West ancestors episode "Gunfight at the Okie-Doke Corral" has all of the townspeople hanging out at the "local salon", getting their hair and nails done. When Goofy's ancestor wipes some dirt off the window sign, they realize it's actually a saloon, and then everyone cheers because they don't have to treat it like a salon anymore.

    Real Life 
  • The famous "Ear Inn" by the Hudson River. The neon sign originally said "BAR", but the 'B' burnt out and they just left it.
  • A roadside restaurant in Florida next to I-4 had gone out of business, leaving various signs around. One of them advertised truck fuel, right in front of the off ramp from the passing interstate. Over time, half the sign fell down, and in large yellow letters on a black background, people would be greeted with DIESEL.
  • Comedian Eddie Izzard toured one year with a simple backdrop of two vertical banners with his name on them. Whoever put up the banners failed to notice the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe has a black cloth fringe at the front of the stage to conceal the lighting rig. This meant that to anyone not in the first few rows he did the show there framed by the legend "DIE IZZARD".
  • A common "fail" picture is of a Shell gasoline station with the "S" dark. Because what's the worst that could happen at a Hell gas station?
  • Some gas stations have FOOD MARTS attached to them. Years of neglect contribute to them being called OOD MARTS.
  • The famed HOLLYWOOD sign (which used to say "HOLLYWOODLAND" before something happened to it) was a falling-down wreck for many years, until it was restored in 1978. Prior to the restoration, it read "H⋃LLYWO D".
  • Due to one missing letter, the Ministry for Religious Affairs sign on Kanfei Nesharim Street in Jerusalem appeared for several years to read "the Ministry for Strawberry Affairs" in Hebrew.
  • The Cambridge, MA restaurant Nick's Beef and Beer House became "Nick's eef & Bee Ho e" due to letters falling off its sign, until it finally changed its name in 1996.
  • This album shows some funny real life examples of this trope: Who would want to go to a Petco Supplies & Fish store, a Blockbuster video store, the Dynasty Buffet? The Black Angus Steakhouse? The Burlington Coat Factory? Scrapbooks? The Hotel Cass? The Virginia Lodge? The Home Depot? There's even a place called Self storage where Santa must store his elves that he doesn't need.
  • The Japanese shopping center Canal City (perhaps best known online as "that place with the waterfall that makes pictures") had the first 'C' burn out on its sign, leaving "ANAL CITY".
  • Another Japanese example comes from Pachinko (パチンコ) parlors with the パ burnt out on the sign, leaving チンコ, meaning "penis".
  • A sign for Rogers Pass in Montana once had the "P" scratched off.
    • There was also a swimming pool (located near hot springs) with a sign that had a letter scratched off and seemed to be taking advantage of the fact:
    Welcome To Our
    OOL
  • A popular type of prank in Germany is obscuring the "K" on the frequently found "Gas weg: Kinder" signs (meaning "Slow down for kids", usually placed near schools), leaving "Gas weg: inder", meaning "Slow down for indians". As those signs also feature a caricature of two waving schoolkids with absurdly orange tan skin, and both the words "Gas" and "weg" have rather unfortunate connotations (gas and away, respectively), it makes the whole thing just more offensive.
  • There's nothing as funny as the first time you see a waffle house with the w missing.
  • If an Office Depot happens to have its second "e" go out, it leaves "officed pot". One might half-expect to see light smoke near the building ...

Rushmore RefacementVandalism TropesSpill Stain Sabotage
Signed Up for the DentalComedy TropesSimpleton Voice

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