open/close all folders
- One ad for fast food chain Jack in the Box's "Jack vs Martha Stewart" series has Jack confront Martha in her own studio. Martha comes over and ends up grabbing Jack's nose clean off. The shock from both parties leads to color bars accompanied by Martha shrugging, with the text "Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By".
Anime and Manga
- In one episode of Death Note, the cult of Kira is being broadcast live worshipping him. Since they are presented as basically a scam, Mikami uses his death note to kill all of them. After their gruesome heart attacks, the screen changes to a "cutesy" "be-right-back" message.
- The anime version of Pesche drawing his sword in Bleach culminated with an angry Pesche declaring his "thing" was much bigger and better than Ishida's. Mid-rant, the video cut to a title screen with a puppet telling the audience not to act like Pesche.
- The Castle of Cagliostro: This happens to the broadcast of the Count's wedding, courtesy of some of his Elite Mooks, after Lupin starts disrupting things. Unlike most such examples, the broadcast is soon restored because the newscaster so happens to be Fujiko, who is quite capable of defeating them.
- In Tintin and the Picaros, San Theodoran television shows a Kangaroo Court sentencing Castafiore to life imprisonment, at which point she starts to sing an aria. It quickly cuts to a "PLEASE EXCUSE THIS INTERRUPTION" message, followed by a cartoon interlude.
- Used in The Sandman when Dr. Destiny makes the world go crazy and a kids show host encourages children to commit suicide.
- Alabaster: The Doomed Session uses this trope both for laughs and horror. Usually you don't want to see more clearly what's behind the noise.
- In Osmosis Jones, during the meltdown in Frank's body, when the two news anchors start arguing and beating each other up, we get "PLEASE STAND BY". We don't see them again until all the danger's clear.
- Shaun of the Dead features a sequence where a character flips through the channels and sees nothing but Technical Difficulty screens, even on the satellite channels which normally only stop working due to bad weather affecting the signal (such as the Discovery Channel).
- Romero's Living Dead Series films:
- This ultimately happens on every single channel shown by Clamp Cable in Gremlins 2: The New Batch as the titular critters wreak havoc throughout the building. Bonus points because the technical difficulties title card bear the image of a grinning gremlin.
- Even better when Clamp authorizes the "Final Broadcast" where a peaceful female voice over images of nature scenes and wildlife says, "Due to the end of civilization as we know it the Clamp Cable Network is now ceasing transmission." This is a parody of an Urban Legend that CNN has a tape narrated by Ted Turner over nature scenery ready to roll to close out world history just in case of global annihilation. In 2001, the New York Daily News reported that CNN does have a tape prepared for an end-of-the-world scenario, but it consists of a recording of "Nearer, My God, To Thee" over footage of a waving American flag. No nature footage.
- The original Godzilla (1954) has this when a radio newsreader is killed. Interestingly, we see the scene from his perspective.
- A humorous example in the film I Am Curious (Yellow): Lena and her friend Börje are about to make love in her archive room. There's no bed, so they drag in a mattress and some sheets and pillows from another room, and make all sorts of elaborate preparations. At the moment they actually begin intercourse, a test pattern flips up on the screen. Cut to a pleasant looking announcer fixing her hair, not realizing she's already on camera. She says "We regret that we have had some technical difficulties owing to erection fault" (or "faulty coupling", depending on the translation).
- Network parodies this and references the Chris Chubbuck tragedy after Howard Beale sarcastically announces that he's going to commit suicide on camera. At first the studio staff don't realize he's said it, mumbling gossip while the commercial is on; then panic, they open the studio mike to communicate with Howard, the immortal words "WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON" go out to 67 affiliates, he replies that he can't hear what they're saying, they come back from commercial and Howard is being pulled away from his desk by the floor crew — and just as the mayhem really starts the TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES PLEASE STAND BY card flips up.
- Happens in a bonus feature on Finding Nemo when Jean-Michel Cousteau loses it thanks to Nemo, Dory and Marlin.
- In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, a Gas station clerk flicks though multiple channels, each with a test card on. Further proof that Skynet is taking over
- Problem Child 2 has a patriotic puppet show suddenly hijacked, with the Uncle Sam puppet explaining "We are experiencing technical difficulties," and the bald eagle puppet chiming in with "Yeah - I had to scratch my butt!" Naturally, Ben assumes that Junior is the culprit - but he's not.
- At the end of The Running Man, the TV screens all read PLEASE STAND BY after Ben Richards and his girlfriend walk off the game show's studio set.
- When Buzz in Monster Brawl is forced to shoot his fully zombified (it was inevitable) co-host Sidney, the film displays a "please stand by" banner. When the program returns, Buzz is wearing a neckbrace and laments how his co-host had to be put down "like mongrel dog".
- This has happened at least twice in the Into the Looking Glass series of novels by John Ringo. Once it was in connection with Deadline News, another time a reporter "failed a SAN check" and started to scream, "I'm reading this on my TelePrompTer, but it's not really happening!"
- Happens in Stephen King's novel The Stand with the offending scene being a live assassination game show.
- In a non-fiction setting, for years when there were actual technical difficulties — often with transmitting equipment or video/film/camera equipment — or other loss of video/audio feed, etc., the station would simply place a card stating "Please Stand By," often with a graphic illustrating the point, until the issue was resolved. Many of these have been lampooned in fiction through the years, including those seen in many comedy programs.
- There was a Sitcom called Please Stand By named after this, taking place in a family owned-and-operated small market TV station.
- The Outer Limits (1963) was originally titled Please Stand By. However, the title was changed because the producers and the network were afraid that between the title and the famous Opening Narration ("There is nothing wrong with your television set..."), people might mistake the opening sequence for a real emergency alert. (To add some historical perspective, the series premiered not long after the Cuban Missile Crisis.)
- Home Improvement's Show Within a Show Tool Time would sometimes cut to these when Tim injured himself somehow. Such as the time he nailed his foot to the floor, and one of these pops up. Then we hear the sound of his co-host pulling the nail out...
- During a Brass Eye special on Paedophilia, there is "technical difficulties", as a member of the militant paedophile organisation "Milit-Pede" attacks the studio.
- Seen on The Colbert Report many times, usually when Stephen is doing something that would get him arrested or at the very least result in a lot of viewer complaints.
Colbert: Well, folks, I have been informed by my network's lawyer that even when complimenting, I should not racially generalize, and I assume he is right, Jews make the best lawyers-[cue second Technical Difficulties screen)
- The show experienced "technical difficulties" during the week the show spent in Iraq when Colbert is tranquilised with a dart in his neck and secretly transported to an "undisclosed American military location in Iraq".
- The January 7, 2013 show saw him invoke the wrath of the Technical Difficulties screen + lawyer appearing three times. First, when commenting on Bill O'Reilly's over-generalization of Asians, he said that black people were fast because they came from Africa, then the screen cut to a technical difficulties image.
- Played for laughs on an episode of Empty Nest. Womanizer Charlie Dietz becomes a meteorologist on the local news and compares the size of some hailstones to the anchorwoman's breasts. Cue the trope.
- A common subtrope for British shows that use this is to cut away to the classic Test Card F girl or a humorously modified version to fit the show. Used for example in Zero Punctuation.
- Subverted in real life with Christine Chubbucks's suicide: after she shot herself, the prevailing camera stayed focused on her while slowly fading to black. The camerawoman simply could not believe this wasn't a stunt or gag on Christine's part, but more likely because the producer of a 10am show in Sarasota in the early 70's usually didn't get a lesson on "What to do if your host shoots themselves on the air".
- Outright averted - because his news conference was not being aired live - with the similar suicide of Budd Dwyer, a Pennsylvania Republican treasurer who was convicted of a lot of fraud charges, including embezzlement.
- British one-off Halloween Special Ghostwatch does this just as things start heating up in the Haunted House.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "Severed Dreams", an ISN reporter interrupts the news broadcast to announce that several Earth colonies have seceded in protest of President Clark's bombing of Mars and that armed troops have invaded ISN headquarters. An explosion is heard, then the broadcast goes off the air and is replaced by a network logo (without an explicit "Technical Difficulties" message, but with the same implications).
- Saturday Night Live has used this multiple times.
- One sketch involved a children's show called "Jingleheimer Junction", with characters personifying Friendship, Unity, Caring, and Kindness. And yes, they all had their initials written on them. Naturally, this trope was used repeatedly.
- A season 28 sketch has host Bernie Mac playing a game show host, and he asks a contestant the question "Who is Winnie-the-Pooh's feline friend?". As the contestant is about to answer, the scene cuts to a "Please Stand By" screen, and then cuts to the host attacking the contestant, who is shouting "I meant to say Tigger, with a T!".
- On the season 35 episode hosted by Drew Barrymore (for the sixth time, making her the show's most frequent female celebrity host), there was a sketch featuring a cooking show on the roof of a building. The show cuts to a "Please Stand By" placard every time the show hosts (played by Drew Barrymore and Andy Samberg) are attacked by crows (which are attracted to the bread crumbs the two are using for chicken parmigiana).
- The TV Funhouse sketch "Conspiracy Theory Rock" immediately cut to a "Please Stand By" card (with the NBC peacock sweating nervously) as the song continued to accuse NBC of being GE's lackey. The song even pointed out that this trope is used as a cheap way to censor out anything sponsors or the network may deem inappropriate ("'Please stand by'/'Please stand by'/It means there's technical difficulties, supposedly/So if you see/A "Please Stand By"/You know it's all part of GE's big lie...")
- In one rather hilarious example on Bill Nye the Science Guy this happens when Bill flicks a red-kneed tarantula onto the cameraman, causing the cameraman to drop the camera onto the floor. The cameraman screams "THE TARANTULA'S CRAWLING IN MY PANTS!!" while the trope name is broadcast on the screen.
- Dead Set features any number of them. In this case the hopelessly non-descript "PLEASE STAND BY" of the messages serve to underline just how quickly and violently overrun everything was.
- The "Commentary by Gernot Hassknecht" in the German political satire show Heute Show always ends with this, after Hassknecht starts his inevitable Cluster F Bombing.
- 30 Rock uses this graphic.◊ (And no, it's not used by NBC in real life.)
- In the first season finale of The Hour, during the Show Within a Show, a graphic with this description goes up when a government official and higher-ups at the BBC think the show has gone too far.
- Played for laughs on Sports Night; in the episode "Thespis", the Show Within a Show has been plagued by difficulties all night, and the latest is when a power grid goes off upstate, which affects their transmission and forces them to put up the graphic detailing technical difficulties.
- James May's Man Lab: The cameraman gets so bored with the crew's argument over how to make tea that he simply puts his camera down and walks off. Cue an absolutely terrifying version of Test Card F, with Oz Clarke as the girl and James as the clown.
- In At Last the 1948 Show, a costume drama in the vein of The Forsyte Saga has been de-railed by heads of programming leading visiting TV executives from first Jordan, then Nigeria onto the set, unaware they are broadcasting live. The continuity announcer snaps that perhaps the head of children's television will follow this by leading a group of Eskimos onto the set. A placard appears reading "Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible" - and, sure enough, the head of children's television and a group of Eskimos smash straight through the placard.
- Right before the panellists show the audience their genitalia in the "Justice" episode of QI, the screen switches to the colour test card.
Oh, dear! We, um, seem to have a technical problem. We're working to fix that as soon as we can. Uh Good, it's fixed now, so let's get straight back to QI. Hopefully, we haven't missed anything quite interesting.
- In The Last Leg, this trope was played for laughs several times in series 6, usually whenever someone was about to say something controversial.
- Also subverted for the first episode of series 7, when genuine technical issues interrupted the programme for several minutes. This was then played for laughs in the following episode, when Alex was unimpressed with the voice over man, to which the latter interrupted the programme straightaway to insult Alex back.
- ECW held their event ECW Gangstas Paradise on September 23, 1995, which produced two TV episodes. Near the end of the first of these shows, there was a locker room confrontation between The Public Enemy and New Jack and 2 Cold Scorpionote where various cameraman were getting knocked out, leading to a "Please Stand By" message appearing on the screen.
- WWE Raw for a time would have a graphic for this which featured, of course, a picture of Triple H. If you do a Google Images search for "Technical Difficulties" and either "Triple H" or "HHH," you will find many parodies of this.
- DX did somewhat of a parody of this during one of their commercials for their merchandise. The two got into a Take That! contest that culminated with Hunter commenting on Shawn's thinning hair. Cue Shawn attacking Hunter, a quick flash of a graphic of DX with "Technical Difficulties," then flashing back to the two still fighting.
- Early in Ape Escape 3, Specter's taunting message to the heroes is interrupted by Dr. Tomoki's overdramatic posturing. When Specter loses his patience, the screen briefly cuts to a "Technical Difficulties" card showing a sad monkey.
- BioShock is littered with TVs that show nothing but a flickering test card reading "PLEASE STAND BY", emphasizing the theme of Rapture being essentially abandoned.
- Likewise, its spiritual predecessor System Shock 2, set on the starship Von Braun, has a movie theater displaying the Tri-Optimum logo, and stuck in a looping countdown with the words "Please Stand By", never showing any movies.
- Getting a Game Over in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker evokes this, as the screen flickers and goes to static, before switching to a flickering, test card-esque continue screen.
- Played for drama in Modern Warfare 2, where the intro sequence to the mission "Of Their Own Accord" is an emergency broadcast system alert containing evacuation instructions for residents of Washington, D.C..
- The hotel-room-esque Relaxation Chamber you start Portal 2 in has a TV in the corner; the first time you wake up it's off, and the second time it displays this message. It's pretty redundant with everything else going on.
- Shattered Union: In the intro, a news reporter is presenting a report from Washington DC when when the city is nuked.
- A news report on a motel television in Mystery Case Files 9: Shadow Lake is interrupted by a screaming face followed by a technical difficulties sign.
- Snaaaake! uses a technical difficulties sign as a loading screen.
- Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 all have a variation of the classic "Indian head" card that reads "Please Stand By" before loading the title card.
- In stage 2 of Space Channel 5, a test pattern briefly pops up when Jaguar crashes Ulala's broadcast. It also happens in Part 2 when Ulala is apparently killed by Purge, and one of these replaces the loading screen.
- This happens in the Zero Punctuation review of Stalker: Clear Sky when the video seemingly begins to stutter like a broken CD. Cut to one of these screens with Yahtzee and an imp playing Tic-tac-toe whilst smooth jazz plays.
- The Spoony Experiment combines this with Heroic B.S.O.D. when Spoony sees the VHS case for Highlander II: The Quickening call itself "the smartest sci-fi thriller since Blade Runner", though instead of a TV "Please Stand By" card, it invokes a Windows program-crash dialog box ("This application has performed an illegal operation and must close down"). It pops up again in his Ultima VIII review. Other variations include "Spoony needs CPR" after he passes out following a Motor Mouth description of the requirements of a single quest in Ultima VII "We'll be right back! Time for my medicine!" in Mazes and Monsters and an "Insanity Break" after his "transporter psychosis" flares up in the Star Trek: Borg review.
- The Nostalgia Critic sometimes switches to this when he really loses it; the "Technical Difficulties" screen shows him in a straitjacket (much like the one on the season five Simpsons episode "Marge on the Lam.")
- Another example is at the start of his review of The Magic Voyage where he goes berserk until he breathes fire, then a cartoon of him taking his "meds" appears with the phrase "One moment please".
- Linkara has occasionally cut to a Relax-o-Vision screen while music from Pokémon plays in the background. See Countdown To Final Crisis Pt. 1 for an example.
- One of these interrupts TheOrangeInsanity's freak out in his review of The Cat in the Hat, in which he stops caring about the review or the audience and begins screaming the names of fruit for no apparent reason. The screen shows him running away in a straitjacket, still spouting fruit in Pictorial Speech Bubbles and the message "We'll be right back! After this mental breakdown", the second half of it seemingly written in blood.
- Nash often uses these when a news story is just too much. They usually have a variable message: "Shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down", "Don't worry, we're pretty sure he won't find the gun this time", "Please don't provoke the raging jackass."
- Occasionally, this happens to The Necro Critic whenever something he's reviewing causes an insane breakdown, immediately followed by a brief scene of him after the off-screen sedatives have kicked in.
- Homestar Runner has used this both ways. In the Strong Bad Email "pizzaz", Strong Bad is interviewing himself, and at one point the interviewee gets mad and shouts "This interview is OVER!" Cut to the card shown at the top of the screen. Later, the cartoon "Fall Float Parade" cut to a similar card with a turkey instead of The Cheat when the Marshie balloon crashed into the hosts' booth (and, presumably, broadcast equipment).
- Ashens cuts to his logo card with a spanner sticking out a flip-top rendering of his head whenever he runs into difficulties with camera focus, tat malfunctions or it takes a long time to put a 'some assembly required' product together. Alternatively, a version featuring a sad eyed version of the logo with green vomit is used for when a food special item has actually made him sick.
- Brows Held High has a moment where Kyle flips out during the Sweet Movie review over actual footage of war crimes: "Cannibal Holocaust didn't use real bodies —" The screen then cuts to a "missing video" screen for an editing program, with the test card drone playing over it.
- Achievement Hunter has a white-on-black "Technical Difficulties" screen accompanied by mariachi music when a full-length Let's Play experiences a significant delay, such as a Minecraft server crashing and requiring lengthy work behind the scenes. It has become so common of an occurrence that they made a T-shirt out of the screen.
- On at least two occasions there have been enough cuts due to difficulties that the screen itself began experiencing technical problems, the music and video distorting.
- Subverted in I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC in the first confrontation between Jonah Hex and Iron Man, after Hex asked why they replaced Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2. But all you did was just stand there for a few seconds and then say, "That's why."
- This has happened several times during Kent Brockman's news reports on The Simpsons, with technical difficulties graphics that included a puppy that has pulled a plug from the wall, a bird flying into powerlines, and Kent Brockman wrapped in a straitjacket with a cuckoo clock bird coming out of his head.
- The Critic has many pun-based technical difficulty signs used on Coming Attractions with Jay Sherman, such as "We'll be right bark!" with a picture of Jay as a dog.◊
- Happens on the Beavis And Butthead episode "Tornado" where B&B are watching "Barney Bakes a Cake". Barney the Dinosaur sets himself on fire and we hear him [the guy in the highly flammable Barney suit] screaming "Ow, ow! I'm burning! Kids, help! This sucks!" behind the caption (the Edited for Syndication version immediately cut to the technical difficulties card featuring a blue Big Bird rather than show Barney's hands catching fire and shortened his line to "Kids, help! This sucks!") Heh-heh. Heh-heh.
- Happens on the Total Drama Island Show Within a Show Celebrity Manhunt. As Eva angrily throws objects at the covering hosts we get a black and white, "Technical Difficulties" screen... of Blainley getting choked by the Drama machine while Josh looks on in melodramatic shock as Muzak plays in the background.
- The Futurama episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television" had one after a child actor robot breaks down (literally) during an episode of All My Circuits. The technical difficulties card had a broken robot shrugging his shoulders and the words, "Oops! Broken Actor" and the show cuts to an episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad (which, Fry remarks, "...has been going downhill since season three").
Linda: We seem to be experiencing technical difficulties...Beam falls in the backgroundLinda: and crap like I've never seen before!
- Also used during the episode "The Problem With Popplers". When the Omicronians return to Earth, and the news station starts falling apart from the shaking.
- One episode of Freakazoid! starts like this, while you hear Freakzoid hastily try to put the finishing touches on the show in the background.
- This was a Running Gag in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Freaky". One instance had a screen with a chibi Spider-Man holding a messed up video tape when Wolverine in Spider-Man's body slammed into the side of a building after a botched web-swing.
- In Transformers Animated, Soundwave started a Robot War by turning machines against humanity. When the news guy's camera bot begins chasing him, turning the broadcast into a "Jaws" First-Person Perspective shot, and just as it catches up with him we get a "PLEASE STAND BY" screen instead of the probably un-TV-Y7 fate of the newscaster.
- One short for Gravity Falls featured a commercial for a show called, "Lil' Gideon's Big House", which starred Lil' Gideon after he was sent to prison at the end of the first season. It ends with a still of a sparrow with the words 'TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES' 'PLEASE STAND BY' and Bud Gleeful saying, "Lil' Gideon's Big House will return as soon as we contain this riot."
- In Spongebob Squarepants' "The Fry Cook Games", when the torch's flame is blown out by the wind, we get "PLEASE STAND BY" right before the runner brings back another, larger flame.
- The very same "PLEASE STAND BY" screen appeared during the Patchy segments from "SpongeBob B.C.", when Patchy has an accident as stagehands appear on the set.
- A card depicting a panicking cameraman dousing another guy with a fire extinguisher (in trying to aim for a camera that's on fire) appeared a few times in the Animated Adaptation of Dilbert, including once where a Bob Ross-Expy named Rusty Shanks was assaulted by a hitman from the "five families of art" (leading to a Brick Joke where Dilbert is delivered Rusty's head on a platter at a restaurant).
- Actually happened at ABC during the September 24, 1977 East Coast broadcast of Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics. In the middle of the Scooby-Doo cartoon, the film suddenly froze as it became jammed in the telecine. A black screen followed, then a bumper slide of the show appeared with the ABC announcer telling kids and their parents that they were experiencing technical problems and were working to resolve it.
- The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Wideo Wabbit" has the floor director in a panic putting up a "Please Stand By" card in front of a TV camera when Bugs disrupts and runs off Elmer Fudd's "Sportsman's Hour" show.
- One of the stranger causes of technical difficulties in the 50s and 60s was the weekly CONELRAD or EBS test. Before the two-toned attention signal was devised, stations would begin an alert by quickly switching their transmitter on and off. This was so stressful to the equipment that the procedure became known to engineers as the "EBS Stress Test".
- During times of extreme political turmoil, European radio stations have been known to switch to an all-classical all-the-time format.
- As happened most notably after the Chernobyl disaster, while officials were working out how to efficiently communicate what had just happened to the public.
- During the failed 1991 coup in Moscow, all three Soviet TV channels were broadcasting Swan Lake, so people realized that something monumental was happening.
- On 4 June 1989, what was then known as Radio Beijing began its shortwave broadcast with a brief statement that protesters in Tiananmen Square had been killed by army troops. The announcer then apologized for not being able to provide any more information or to continue the regularly scheduled broadcast and then played classical music without interruption for the rest of the hour.
- Roughly 2005 or so, in Chinese news, there was a statement, "Censorship has relaxed in China, however, it is still present, as in the case of... (broadcast interrupted)." Nobody died though, as the reporter was still around to announce the news.
- In the 60's, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi, which was owned by an insurance company looking to deny the Civil Rights Movement was happening and protect the interests of Jackson's white business community (which was hotly opposed to the movement), would often suddenly have "technical difficulties" (and throw up a slide to that effect) whenever a network news report about the Civil Rights movement and its activities would be broadcast, and even NBC primetime programming which showed African-Americans in any positive light would suddenly be knocked off the air due to "a network problem". Many, including the NBC network itself protested this and in 1968, the station became the first and only television station to ever have their FCC license to broadcast revoked for non-technical reasons. The new ownership group and future owners made sure the station was fair and evenhanded in their news coverage after they took control, and somehow magically fixed those "technical difficulties" permanently.
- While not quite technical difficulties per se, anyone in the USA who thought to flip through the channels as 9/11 happened (and no one can blame folks who didn't), saw that many non-news/non-kids stations had some sort of card up saying they would be off the air for the rest of the day due to the events going on.
- Also happened in England after the death of Princess Diana. Virtually every non-news channel only showed a caption stating she had died, and to switch to Sky News. All well and good, but considering this carried on for several hours, with no new news being broadcast, it got a bit annoying if you wanted to watch something else.
- On the day that Michael Jackson died, Channel Four cut out a sketch on one of its shows that was less than glamorous about the pop star. However, the announcement of him being hospitalised occurred between the original broadcast and the 1 hour delay channel. Due to this rush they accidentally put up "This programme will continue in sound only" instead of "Programmes will continue shortly".
- During the '50s and early '60s, West German TV would experience mysterious "Tonstörungen" (sound difficulties) whenever they were transmitting sports events of any kind - more precisely, whenever the East German anthem was played during the medal presentations.
- During the final speech of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu on 21 December 1989, broadcast on live television, the crowd that had "voluntarily" assembled in Palace Square in Bucharest began to boo and heckle their leader, an unprecedented event. As Ceaușescu trailed off in his speech with a look of utter disbelief on his face, the live feed quickly cut to a plain orange screen, with first picture, then sound coming back when order was (temporarily) restored and the speech could continue. (The cameras were still recording, however, and the sound of Ceaușescu resorting to pretending his microphone must be malfunctioning was captured for posterity.)
- Prairie Public Television in North Dakota experiences one during a broadcast of the British drama Heartbreak House after the tape malfunctions.
- An odd example: On Danish television channels from the early ages of TV till the 2000's, when the channels were off air, they would display the technical difficulties screen with a loud never-ending beep. Around 2007-08, due to TV stations getting better equipment, it's rare to see a single channel have it during the off-air hours. Now they are replaced with a slideshow overview of the next day of broadcasts with the TV-station's radio counterpart playing music in the background. This has mostly been because of the technical difficulty screen having next to no use, even when technical difficulties are happening, mostly with how easy it is to fix them and how it's faster to have the TV-station's narrator to explain what's up.
- A further odd example is the formerly annual Rebroadcast Standby test that was carried out by the BBC when analogue transmitters were still in use. Put simply, in the unlikely event that an individual transmitter lost all its data feeds (something that would require a pretty big disruption such as a nationwide power cut), it should have been capable of rebroadcasting on-air signals from operational transmitters, to varying levels of quality. The Rebroadcast Standby test, which would take place in the middle of the night on BBC 1 and 2 for a period of about three hours, allowed engineers to evaluate the quality of rebroadcast signals at selected transmitters by cutting off the data feeds at will. Thus, this was a case where a broadcaster was intentionally inducing technical difficulties, and anyone tuning in on an analogue signal was met with Test Card J and a creepy speaking clock. Here is an example from 2008.
- Many years before, back in The '50s, The BBC would go one better than a simple static message by showing its short "interlude films" (most famously "the potter's wheel") when there were breakdowns on set, which were frequent as most programmes (including drama) were broadcast live. (These films would also be shown during unscheduled breaks in programming, or for interludes in plays. A short feature showing some of the films can be found here.)
- The entire BBC suffered a major power failure on 30th June 2001, which affected the whole Television Centre knocking all its services off the air. Flipping through the BBC television channels didn't help either: all they displayed during the outage was We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties cards.
- This small error from CTV's feed of the 1987 Grammy Awards. The technical difficulty only lasts about two seconds, but it's slight Nightmare Fuel for those who didn't see it coming.
- In 1992 NBC's broadcast of the 1992 Orange Bowl was interrupted by a fire in NBC's studio. NBC was able to switch to the Japanese feed of the game. Fortunately unlike the below example, the game had been decided by that point so not much was missed in the dead time.
- On October 27, 2015 Game 1 of the 2015 World Series on Fox was knocked off the air nationally when a broadcast truck lost power. The game was off the air for about 30 seconds leaving commentators on screen referencing the incident and Fox switched coverage to that of MLB network. The situation lasted about five minutes.
- Similarly, in 1989, pregame commentary for the World Series was knocked off the air because of a huge earthquake in San Francisco, where the game was being played.
- The 2016 edition of A Capitol Fourth, PBS' broadcast of the White House's 4th of July celebrations, used footage of fireworks from previous years because cloudy skies in Washington made the live fireworks hard to view. PBS drew criticism from viewers for making this move but not mentioning it on camera.
- Similarly, on Dancing with the Stars season 21, Tamar Braxton became ill before she was to perform her week 9 dance, so dress rehearsal footage was shown in place of the live performance. She became well enough to perform a duet rumba with Nick Carter later that night, but had to withdraw anyway when she contracted pulmonary embolisms.
- On October 9, 2016 Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO experienced technical difficulties during the Cleveland Browns game against the New England Patriots. According to this article, most Cleveland sports fans that day were yelling at their TV after the game had come back on!
- This used to happen in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. If a balloon couldn't make it to the broadcast areanote , then they would have to put on prerecorded footage of said balloon, either test footage or footage of it from a previous year, while the hosts would remind us that "we're enjoying some of our balloons on video". After no less than five instances of this in 1997, new safety measures were brought in, and hardly any balloon casualties have happened since then; the last time they threw on the video was when the M&Ms balloon injured two sisters in 2005.
- For unexplained reasons, in 1992, Harry Groener and the cast of Crazy For You did not perform their selection live; rehearsal footage was shown in its stead.
- Atlanta TV station WATL once aired the movie Crash. What makes this unusual is that the opening logos were actually glitching.
- When CBS broke in to As The World Turns (east coast; west coast interrupted a repeat of Pete & Gladys) to report on the shooting of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, they only had their "Bulletin" bumper slide up as their cameras were not warmed up yet. This "technical difficulty" was never specified on-air but did occur twice. CBS eventually went live with Walter Cronkite at the top of the hour after they broke for ten seconds to allow their affiliates to identify themselves and join the network.