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Trailer Joke Decay
We all know trailers are intended to promote their production. To do this, they will invariably use notable scenes depending on the type of movie. In the case of a comedy, Crowning Moment of Funny scenes may be selected. When first shown, they probably elicit the desired reaction: The audience will "laugh out loud", as it were. All fine and good, but this trailer is constantly airing and/or streaming, so you're inevitably going to see it more than once, meaning you're going to be seeing that same amusing scene over and over.

When it comes to finally seeing the movie/TV show and that rib-tickling scene plays out, you notice that the gag isn't doing it for you. In fact, you may find yourself thinking that it's kinda lame — this, ladies and gentlemen, is Trailer Joke Decay. Additionally, it may be due to the unfortunate exposure to a Memetic Mutation of the gag, or it can be a case of both Never Trust a Trailer and Trailers Always Spoil, oddly enough.

Expect that almost every comedy movie will fall victim to this. It's possible to get around it by using the joke out of context in the trailer so that it's funny on another level when you see it in context, but trailers rarely seem to have that much thought put into them. After time passes and the trailer is no longer widely shown, it's possible that the joke can become funny again to viewers who weren't overly exposed to the previews.

As noted, related to Never Trust a Trailer and Trailers Always Spoil (or possibly a subtrope). See also Discredited Meme.


Examples:

Film - Animated
  • Ice Age suffers from this. Many of the Scrat-related jokes were already run in the trailers, seriously diminishing their humor value when finally seen on the big screen. It's gotten to the point where the trailers are just entire Scrat segments, due to the fact that the kids love him so much. The 3D trailer for Dawn of the Dinosaurs managed to effectively say nothing about the movie's plot besides "Scrat's here".
    • You could also say it's largely a subversion as well, as Scrat is basically a walking Big Lipped Alligator Moment who rarely even remotely touches the plot.
    • The Continental Drift trailers did this with jokes involving Scrat as well as several other characters.
    • One frequently-aired commercial for The Meltdown showed the clip where Crash or Eddie is launched through the air, singing "I Believe I Can Fly" very horribly before hitting a tree.
  • This is thankfully averted with Pixar's movies by using extraneous footage not used in the final product. e.g. The Incredibles trailer has a now-too-small belt buckle ricocheting everywhere and taking out the lights - this did not stay in their movie. The Monsters, Inc. trailer involved an unused scene of Mike joking around with Sully in a kid's room (which is perhaps non-canon because Mike's job does not involve him entering the houses).
    • Though there have been exceptions particularly during the movie's completion as seen with the final trailers for Up and the "squirrel" gag.
    • Pixar frequently creates footage specifically for its teaser trailers (both Toy Story sequels and Cars 2 are other notable examples), the above mentioned material was never at any time intended to be a part of the films.
    • Three words: "Feast yer eyes".
  • Disney's Tangled suffered majorly from this problem, as their extensive commercials and "sneak preview" clips/interviews on the internet combined to contain Every. Single. Joke. In. The. Film (without exception). There was not a single gag left for audiences who followed the hype to laugh at.
  • DreamWorks Animation is taking the Pixar approach with Turbo, using scenes not featured in the movie in the TV spots. One scene includes Turbo's shell playing Salt n Pepa's "Push It". In the movie, the songs playing are actually "It's Tricky", "What's New Pussycat?" and "Drop It Like It's Hot".
    • However, this trope is played straight with Whiplash's line "Of COURSE I'm crazy! What made you think I was SANE?!"
  • Every trailer for The Simpsons Movie made absolutely sure to include the "Spider-pig" scene. In every commercial break, the entire joke played over and over and OVER again, until by the time the actual movie came out it was more of an annoying meme than a joke.
    • Also, the entire wrecking ball scene. You were basically watching a trailer in the middle of the movie that the trailer was advertising.
  • Quite a few Lilo & Stitch trailers featured a scene in which Lilo placed Stitch's claw onto a record player, then opened his mouth, and "Hound Dog" started playing. When Lilo actually tried this in the movie, Stitch played "Suspicious Minds".
  • Despicable Me clearly had a monstrous advertising budget, with trailers and ads everywhere. And these ads used several of the best jokes in the movie, particularly the memetic "IT'S SO FLUFFY!!"
    • And now the sequel is doing this with the Minions in nearly every second of the trailers and barely showing Agnes. The overuse of these side characters that add nothing to the plot makes you want to see "It's so fluffy" again.
      • On the other hand, overusing the Minions lets them save the funniest jokes, which involve the other characters, for the movie itself.
  • The commercials for the fourth Shrek movie Shrek Forever After used about every joke and surprise.
  • The trailers for Hoodwinked's sequel. Alright, we get it, granny farts and Twitchy doesn't wear pants.
  • The Lorax: "That's a woman?!"
    • The little Bar-ba-loot, Pipsqueak, going "Ooooooooooh!".
  • The third Madagascar film has a scene in which Marty does a little dance done as a clown. It would've been funny if DreamWorks Animation hadn't used it as part of their big advertising hype. Especially since it became popular over the internet, and 10-hour versions exist.
    • One advertisement seemingly portrays Marty as trying to dethrone "I Like to Move It Move It" as the franchises's leitmotif with this new song, by interrupting King Julien and seemingly making him feel uncomfortable.
  • Pick a trailer, any trailer or TV spot for Wreck-It Ralph. It's sure to feature the infamous scene where Ralph announces he doesn't want to be the bad guy anymore, putting everyone in shock, including Bowser, who spits fire and Clyde, who turns blue.
  • Hercules: "We dance, we kiss, we schmooze, we carry on, we go home happy. What do you say? Come on."
  • Almost every commercial for Ratatouille showed either the scene where Remy and Emile get struck by lightning, or the "It sounds like 'Rat petutie'" line.
  • Belt going "Dun, dun, dun!" in every commercial for The Croods.
  • Frozen: It's like a little baby unicorn...
  • The Book Of Life: "There's no one that big, man!"
  • Big Hero 6 averts this. The trailers have Hiro trying to fit Baymax into full armor, only for all of it to break off as Baymax is too big. Then he becomes fixated on a soccer ball and tries to pick it up but keeps kicking it away. The armoring up scene in the movie seems to be heading the exact same way... except the armor actually stays on Baymax. It almost creates a new joke with the audience expecting the armor to come flying off, but it doesn't. He also never becomes fixated on a soccer ball, and, in fact, wouldn't as it doesn't fit his character.

Film - Live-Action
  • Garfield: "The British are coming!"
  • Pretty much every trailer and commercial for The Love Guru had the scene where Pitka pretends Verne Troyer is an oscar statue. It was a little funny the first four times but by the fifth time, it got old!
  • The trailer for My Big Fat Greek Wedding highlighted the scene where Nia Vardalos' character slams onto the ground due to her still holding onto the phone. Come screening time, not so funny.
  • Lex Luthor yelling that Lois Lane's "WRONG!!!!!" in Superman Returns. Not only was it overexposed in the trailer, it was already an Internet meme weeks before the damn movie even premiered.
  • Harry Potter:
    • While not a comedy film, every ad ever for Half-Blood Prince included this humorous exchange:
      Hermione: Hey, she's only interested in you because she thinks you're the Chosen One!
      Harry: But I am the Chosen One!
      [SMACK]
    • Also from the first one:
      Hermione: Now, I'm going to bed before one of you comes up with another clever idea to get us all killed, or worse, expelled.
      Ron: She really needs to sort out her priorities.
  • Many of the Pirates of the Caribbean trailers, specifically Elizabeth's "try wearing a corset" and "I don't think now's the best time" lines from the first and third films respectively.
    • Averted with a gag from the second one - the trailer had the following exchange:
      Will: We have to go back for Jack!
      Jack comes running around the corner, chased by natives
      Will: Never mind, let's go!
    • The trailer had used an outtake - Orlando Bloom had made a mistake, and was indicating that they should try the line again.
  • The "We are actors, not astronauts!" line from Galaxy Quest.
    • Though averted as the much-played scene of Jason saying "The whole thing was just a misunderstanding" with the last part muffled by Sarris' hand over his mouth didn't end up in the film.
  • Spider-Man's "You're not Superman, you know."
    • Lampshaded in the film, as Peter Parker chuckles at the joke — probably the way anyone would. In the trailer, the line is followed by Peter's over-serious look from later in the scene. So the trailer version is actually funnier.
  • Men In Black II had an ad lib from Will Smith concerning the autopilot driver for their vehicles. Even the director was upset because he felt it ruined the joke by showcasing it ahead of time.
    Kay: Does that come standard?
    Jay: Actually, it came with a black dude, but he kept getting pulled over.
  • The Master of Disguise: "Am I not turtley enough for the Turtle Club? Turtle, turtle!"
    • "This is what you are doing. This is what I want you to do."
  • The Year One trailer overexposed every funny moment.
  • The Sherlock Holmes trailer featured an originally humorous gag where Holmes picks up a small hammer to fight a large goon with a much larger hammer and throws it at the guy after noticing the disparity, having no effect on him. By the time the gag showed in the theater, nobody in the audience was laughing at it.
  • There is also anything showing clips from Napoleon Dynamite, which holds an odd distinction of being a film that has its gags ruined by trailers, word of mouth, and merchandising. Yeesh.
  • Every TV spot of The Country Bears included that clip of the policemen's hair getting messed up in the car wash, eventually reaching the point where Disney released a commercial that contained nothing but that clip.
  • The trailers and commercials for Hancock seemed to go out of their way to spoil every single joke in the entire film, long after they'd secured an audience. Of course, by the third major trailer they were also giving away the giant plot twist, so their marketing team obviously has issues.
    • Probably the biggest offender was the whale scene. In the teaser, every actual trailer and a Best Buy advertisement that got a ton of airtime in the US.
  • Trailers for Theres Something About Mary included all of the major jokes in the movie, severely degrading the viewing experience.
  • People laughed out loud when the trailer of The Mask came out, whetting the viewers' appetites. Sadly it showed most of the funniest moments of the movie leaving those who saw the trailer unsatisfied with the movie.
  • All of the jokes in Old Dogs (not just the notable ones) were in the trailers and ads. This was so bad, that watching the movie was pointless. All you really need to do is watch the trailer. Don't worry, you won't miss a thing.
  • The trailers for the Yours Mine and Ours remake left absolutely NO gag unrevealed.
  • The trailers for The Informant! always included the line "They call me 0014, cuz I'm twice as smart as 007."
  • The trailers for The Change Up highlight two instances of Toilet Humor involving Jason Bateman: the first having a baby take a crap on his face and the other being Leslie Mann having a case of diarrhea which prevents them from having sex. Not only were the jokes overused, they weren't even funny to begin with.
  • Selena Gomez wearing cowboys boots at a fancy dinner party in Monte Carlo. We get it, her character is from Texas. This was even on the posters.
  • Perplexingly subverted in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as pointed out in Red Letter Media's review. Compare the reasonably amusing comic timing of the take used in the trailer, versus the humor-exsanguinated one used in the film.
  • Every single trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs The World showed the "No clue/Gets it" clip.
  • Cop Out. Looked funny, especially this gem (skip to 2:04) between Seann William Scott, Tracy Morgan, and finally, Bruce Willis:
    Scott: Knock Knock
    Morgan: No. No. NnNn. NnNn. No. No. No, No, No! NO! HELL NO! NO! NO! I refu- NO! No.
    Willis: (Deadpan) Who's there?
    • Needless to say, that scene was not in the movie, turning it into a colossal downer for those of us who watched it in the theater.
  • Big Trouble subverted this by editing a joke from the movie into a new one for the trailer. Good thing since the movie was pushed back six months due to 9/11.
    • The joke in the trailer:
    Monica: Sir, have you been drinking?
    Jack: No.
    Whiskey bottle crashes to the ground.
    Jack: Yes.
    • The joke in the movie:
    Walter: Is this your gun?
    Jack: Yes. (Beat) No.
    Monica: Sir, have you been drinking?
    Jack: Of course not.
    Whiskey bottle crashes to the ground. He runs.
    • Actually, the film prints had already been printed and ready to ship out before the delay (the date change happened just one week before it was set to open). The scene in question may have been an alternate take.
  • The Dictator averts this with the Kardashian exchange between Megan Fox and Aladeen ("You are much less hairy.") In the actual film, Megan gripes about getting a ruby when Katy Perry got a diamond, and Aladeen says, "That's because she let me Aladeen on her face."
  • Spider-Man's confrontation with a Car Thief in The Amazing Spider-Man and his humorous response to the thief pulling out a knife (and arguably one of the funniest things in the movie) was used in the third trailer for the film, the one shown in cinemas multiple times in the run up to release and was used in TV Spots (The whole scene was included on a promotional DVD!). Luckily the film had plenty more hilarious gags to surprise the audience with.
    (Car Thief pulls out knife)
    Spider-Man: Is that a knife?
    Car Thief: Yes it's a knife!
    Spider-Man: (falls to his knees as if begging for mercy) Oh no, you found my weakness! It's small knives!
    • Not to mention that in the movie the car thief is talking during the scene, making it a little hard to hear the punchline.
  • Samuel L. Jackson's famous line in Snakes on a Plane (you all know what line it is) gained memetic status before the movie ever came out. Its inclusion was actually enforced, because it gained memetic status before it was even filmed, which make the actual order of events somewhat reversed. The scene was filmed and added into the movie after originating in the internet buzz that started building up before the movie's release.
  • The scene where Prince Edward is run over by bicyclists mid-song in Disney's Enchanted is seen a lot in the promotional media before the film's release in theaters.
  • There are several jokes from A Haunted House that play in practically every promotional spot. For example:
    Demon-possessed Keysha: Can you connect the scars?
    Father Williams (pulls out a pocket knife and does so): Tic-tac-toe in yo face!
    • And this:
    Keysha: Yeah! I kicked you in yo ghost balls! I got something for you b-AAHHHH!!!
    • And this:
    Thug: What happened to your furniture cuz? (All of it falls on him).
  • A lot of TV spots for Here Comes the Boom overuse a scene in which Scott (Kevin James' character) tries to make a slam dunk by using a trampoline, but ultimately fails.
  • In every trailer of The Hangover, there's the scene of Mike Tyson singing "In the Air Tonight".
    • And Alan singing his "Three Best Friends" song.
  • A running joke of Bruce Almighty was how Bruce's dog would constantly urinate on his chair. After receiving God's powers, he directs him to start using the toilet like a man, and in one scene, his girlfriend walks in to see the dog using the toilet while reading a newspaper. These scenes were in every single trailer.
  • We're the Millers: The Willie Nelson weed line, and the "It's a skateboard" bit have a bit of this done to them.
  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has an excellent visual gag where Brick's green clothes causes his legs to disappear in front of the green screen ("Where are my legs?!"). It got used in every trailer.
  • Dark Shadows: "Are you stoned?" "They tried stoning me, my dear. It did not work."
  • An odd example. The mechanical middle finger joke in Guardians of the Galaxy was censored in the trailer, being censored by an in-universe computer that has a caption that reads "Obscene Gesture Imminent." This was uncensored in the film, and ironically many fans felt the joke was ruined because of it.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): "It's just a mask", since it's in every trailer so far. Luckily, later trailers and TV spots laid off on it.

Live-Action TV
  • iCarly: This happened pretty much Once an Episode near the end, especially since they had started calling them all 'specials' and airing one episode every 2 months. If the audience was lucky it's just the funniest joke, and not the entire episode, like happened in iGot A Hot Room.
  • This was Lampshaded in NBC's coverage of the 1997 World Series. Throughout the series, NBC showed numerous promos for their new sitcom Working. Play-by-play announcer Bob Costas pointed out after one particular spot that although the clips were funny, viewers might not find them as humorous in the actual show due to having seen those particular jokes so often.
  • Glee had a Vogue parody starring Sue. It probably would've been funnier and more surprising if they hadn't shown the entire thing in a trailer at the end of the previous episode.
  • The BBC boasts it does not carry adverts. This is not entirely true. It does. For itself. Between every programme. And their trailers are very good at spoiling jokes from their comedy series. For example one of the greatest moments from Red Dwarf, the 'Red Alert' gag ("Step up to red alert! Are you absolutely sure sir? It does mean changing the bulb") was trailed endlessly before the original broadcast.
  • Franklin & Bash: The scene where the title characters strip naked on Piers Morgan's show gets way too much mileage in TV spots - even after the episode featuring the gag had already aired.

Western Animation
  • Cartoon Network should be the worst offender. Almost any trailer for Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball and Regular Show shows the episode's funniest moment, like Mordecai's imitation of a dance beat ("Access Denied"), Lumpy Space Princess flirting with Jake ("Gotcha!"), Carrie saying "DUH!" at Gumball and Darwin ("Halloween"), and the list goes on and on and on...

Seasonal RotIndex DecayTrope Decay
Trailers Always SpoilTrailersTrailer Spoof
Toy ShipYMMVTrapped by Mountain Lions
Toy ShipYMMV/Home PageTrapped by Mountain Lions

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