NUMB3RS: In the later seasons whenever the FBI field agents go to a potential suspect, the suspects run, the agents tend to treat it more as an annoyance than an actual worry that the suspect might get away. Colby especially cottoned on to this to the point of becoming Genre Savvy and Lampshade Hanging whenever it happened or was about to happen, making this an example of a literal Running Gag.
You Can't Do That on Television built itself on running gags. For instance, any time someone on the show says "Water", they get water dumped all over them. Any time someone says "I don't know", they get covered in green slime (sometimes different colors).
Each episode is "filling in" for some popular show of the time due to some silly reason. A few times, the show is replacing itself.
The punchline "What do you think's in the burgers?" followed by the kids throwing up and Barth saving it in a bucket.
Barth hitting assistant cook Zilch on the head with a frying pan with a loud CLANG.
Dad: Don't encourage your mother! (and sometimes, it's the other way with the Mom going, "Don't encourage your father.")
Principal: For your detention, I want you to copy [insert page range here] from this dictionary. (Sometimes followed up by the kid getting out of it somehow and commenting, "Sometimes it's so easy, I'm ashamed of myself.")
El Capitan: Ready...Aim...! (Also, he tends to get himself shot and says as he falls, "That is one...sneaky kid.")
Here's one more to wrap this all up: all of them (and several others like the Teacher, the Doctor, and Blip the Arkaid owner) played by the Les Lyle, who also played Ross the Stage Boss.
Ironically, while Gottfried is now remembered for the gag, due to that one epic episode, he was actually mocking Penn Jillette's frequent use of "YOU FOOL!" (to tweak contestants he didn't like). It was turning into an Overly Long Gag before this episode aired.
In early seasons of Frasier, Eddie's staring at Frasier was very much a running gag, much to the annoyance of Frasier. Revealed to mean Eddie was staring at him in adoration, as we see him gazing at a framed photo of Frasier at the end of an episode.
Niles' intense crush on Daphne was also a running gag and major character arc.
Seinfeld featured several of these, the most notable being Kramer's mentions of his unseen friend Bob Sacamano, and the re-use of the name Art Vandelay as a false name or, in the finale, as the name of a judge. There is a reference to Superman, Superman model/action figure in back of shot, or reference to the Superman 'verse in absolutely every episode, in one way or another. Another one is George's childhood ambition to become an architect. Individual episodes often had their own running gags of the same phrase or idea being repeated by different characters (see protégés and mentors in "The Fatigues" episode).
"Hello, Jerry." "... Hellooo, Newman."
iCarly: A LOT. The "could that happen"-"will not happen" exchange between Freddie and Carly; anything Spencer sculpts or fixes has a high chance of bursting into flames; Gibby almost always takes off his shirt in every appearance; Sam equipping her locker with cooking or entertainment appliances; T-Bo's serves various food items by the stick.
Every episode has a "unique" gag or dialogue that will be mentioned at least twice throughout that episode.
The frequent mention of hobos, ointments, Ryan Seacrest and David Schwimmer.
The Cheese Man who appears throughout "Restless", the fourth season finale for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, on a larger scale, is Anya's fear of bunnies. Some gags even crossed over into Angel, such as the parallel universe made entirely of shrimp and the supernatural-savvy characters' insistence that leprechauns don't exist.
Season 8 gives us two from Dawn, her insistence that what she was turned into was not a centaur but a centaurette (girl centaur) and the VERY Genre Savvy (since she had a her-focused episode based on it) instance of "Monkey's Paw" after Buffy starts developing new powers (her point being that nothing good comes without tacked on bad).
One Buffy episode has Buffy looking to get drunk. She goes out drinking with Spike, hitting the whiskey hard. No matter how many times she drinks it though, (including when she grabs a bottle from a bartender's hand and takes a big swig right from it) she has a funny grossed out reaction every time. A later episode has Spike offer her a drink; her response is, "A world of no."
On both Buffy and Angel, Angel's tendency to disappear during a multiperson conversation without anybody noticing is often lampshaded. "Someone ought to put a little bell-and-collar on that guy!"
Xander the demon magnet. He becomes a literal one in "Something Blue".
Lampshaded powerfully in Season Seven, by which point everybody is aware of it and the Scoobies (sans Giles) attempt desperately to latch on to it to make the entire situation comedic as per their earlier adventures as opposed to increasingly desperate, as per this season's Story Arc.
Andrew in Season 6, and into Season 7, when he becomes a much more prominent character. "Who?" "Tucker's brother." "Oh."
In her first appearance, Faith borrows Buffy's stake to dust a vamp. This becomes a running joke, with Faith constantly borrowing Buffy's weapons. Used quite effectively in the series finale, when Buffy, mortally wounded, quietly hands Faith the Scythe, a sign that all is forgiven.
Also inverted in the third season finale, where Buffy takes Faith's knife mid-fight.
Faith: That's mine!
Buffy: You're about to get it back. (she then stabs her with it)
And in a fifth season episode, Angel and Spike apparently have a 40-minute fight about whether cavemen or astronauts would win in a fight. They proceed to get everyone else in the office involved in the debate. As the episode gets much darker, this Seinfeldian Conversation gets an Ironic Echo at the end.
Also, Angel would like it to be known to everyone that he is not a eunuch.
For a while, every other episode would open with some apparently grave situation, which would then turn out to be redecorating or playing board games. "Eternal" begins with this situation; Angel and Wesley are sitting in the audience and are forced to watch Cordelia's acting. Angelus makes fun of her acting later in the episode.
Regarding the Angel Investigation business cards, "Is that supposed to be an angel? It looks like a lobster."
Someone making fun of Angel's hair. When in an alternate dimension, he was able to his reflection and complained about how bad it looked and that no one told him. In Angel and Faith, one of Giles' aunts made fun of Angel's hair. There's also Cordelia's hair, which she changed frequently. No one told her outright that it looked bad, but one episode had her lose her memory of the last few years and complain about how horrible it looked.
From Friends, Ross's repeated cry of "We were on a break!" whenever anyone mentions that he once cheated on Rachel.
This running joke faded over time but resurfaced some years after it began when, in response to Chandler discovering his girlfriend had cheated on him, Ross hesitatingly commented "maybe it was okay, you know, if she thought you were on a break", provoking a rapturous response from the audience - a prime example of how a well implemented running gag can lead to eternal love for a show from its fans.
This got a crowning moment in either season 4 or 5, when Ross is about to marry Emily. Rachel's on a plane, venting her entire history with Ross to unwilling passengers when guest star Hugh Laurie snaps, takes off his earphones, and calls her shallow topping it off with "And I think it was quite clear that you guys were on a break." Cue shocked face by Rachel.
After an episode in which Joey showcased his greatest chat-up line - "How you doin'?" on Phoebe, proved extremely popular, it became synonymous to viewers with his terrier-like libido, and he went on to use it repeatedly whenever he suddenly realised that he might have a chance with a woman.
It was also a well known fact that Joey had an ongoing love affair with sandwiches of every kind.
Phoebe's liking for kinky sexual practices were discussed regularly.
There were regular gags about Rachel's pre-surgery nose, leading eventually to a flashback episode in which a teenage Rachel appeared with an enormous arch on the bridge of her nose.
Monica: (while discussing Rachel's pregnancy) Are you afraid she'll have your nose? Rachel:(piteously) I am. I really am.
Also, the references to Monica's previous fatness, and, in the last few seasons, Chandler's gay "qualities".
Chandler: Wow, we were meant to be together. We both have the soundtrack to "Annie"! Monica: Honey, those are both yours.
Ross' inability to get along with children.
Also, Ross' numerous marriages (and divorces) are brought up in conversation very often.
Chandler's cog-in-the-machine, corporate drone job, and the fact that no one can remember what it is. (It seems unlikely that he has people skills...)
And then lampshaded in a Crowning Moment of Funny when, years into the show, Chandler finally changes his job, and Monica suddenly rattles off the job he used to do.
In virtually every episode Mrs. Doyle obsessively offers somebody some cake, a sandwich, a little tiny drop of sherry or, in most cases, a cup of tea. It's funniest when it's subverted; e.g. she offers Ted cake, which he turns down. She reels off the list of ingredients (including cocaine), trying to tempt him, but still he declines. Until she says it has cinnamon in it, at which he says "I love cinnamon! Go on, I'll have a small piece" — at which point she refuses to give him any as she realises she's forcing it on him.
There's a gag whereby Ted would ring his friend Father Larry Duff on his mobile at the most inconvenient moments (When Larry Duff was skiing, being held up at gunpoint etc.). Duff would suffer the inevitable consequence only for Ted to conclude that Duff had his mobile switched off.
Ted's constant insistence that 'The money was just resting in my account!"
Firefly: In "War Stories", Jayne twice says "I'll be in my bunk" after seeing a beautiful woman that Inara is entertaining. At the end of the episode, Wash takes Zoe away, saying to the captain, "We'll be in our bunk".
In the pilot, every time Mal mentions dealing with Patience, someone brings up the fact that she shot him the last time they did so. Mal insists that it was a legitimate disagreement and that it's in the past, growing more and more frustrated the more times it's brought up.
Wash: Didn't she shoot you once?
Mal: Everybody's makin' a fuss.
On Bones, Dr. Brennan often doesn't get pop-culture references (generally made by Agent Booth), saying "I don't know what that means". This is in part Lampshaded when she makes a reference to a movie from the early 20th century and Agent Booth doesn't get it.
This is self-referenced again in an episode of Season 2 when Dr Brennan is absent and the team need to think like her. Booth says to Zack, "OK, be Dr. Brennan," and Zack replies, "I don't know what that means."
There's also repeated references (in Season 1 only, it seems) to the time in the pilot that Bones shot an unarmed man. The inevitable response:
Bones: He was trying to light me on fire!
Same vein, referenced for far longer, Booth once shot a clown.
Booth: It wasn't a real clown!
Hodgins and Zack (and, following Season 3, the interns that replace him) perform ridiculous and often dangerous experiments, Mythbusters-style, to prove something about the Case of the Day. Dr. Goodman, and in later seasons, Cam, have a habit of walking in just as the explosion/impact/etc happens, splattering them with debris.
King of the lab.
On House, almost every time they begin a diagnosis, someone invariably suggests lupus and House casually comments, "It's not lupus." This becomes a Running Gag of "it's never lupus" that finally culminates in a Lampshade Hanging:
Foreman: You stash your drugs in a lupus textbook?! House: It's never lupus.
This went on so long that House was recognized by a lupus advocacy group for raising awareness of the disease.
They went so far as to have a janitor (House had no assistants at the moment) suggest lupus. He only knows about the disease because his grandma had it.
Justified, in that Lupus has a large constellation of potential symptoms, making it a reasonable hypothesis for many of House's cases.
In Season 4 episode "You Don't Want to Know", it turns out it's lupus. Which I suppose is another Lampshade Hanging on the subject, especially because House seems very pleased that it's finally lupus.
Another running gag is House talking about Chase's great hair. Examples include:
Stacy: If Chase screwed up so badly, why didn't you fire him? House: He has great hair. (...) House: Genetics are a powerful force, Chase. That's why your sister has great hair.
(...) House:(regarding a patient that was flirting with Chase) Here's an idea. She has been molested, and takes refuge in romantic fantasies with older men with great hair. (...) Chase: (after House and Wilson point out he is good looking) So you attribute every relationship I've ever had to the height of my cheekbones?
House: Just the beginning. The rest is your hair.
This even shows up in outtakes. The season two gag reel has an outtake where Hugh Laurie forgets his lines when House is supposed to be yelling at Chase. Instead of the scripted line, Laurie ends up saying: "The hair is great! I don't deny that!"
Arrested Development is famous for this, with jokes running over not just multiple episodes but multiple seasons. In the first episode Gob claims that magicians perform illusions. Tricks are something a whore does for money... also cocaine. This is referenced in the final season with Gob claiming a he was pimping "Turns illusions for money".
"I've made a huge mistake."
"Going to Portugal... down ole' South America way..."
Due South: Fraser's autobiographical introduction, "My name is Constable Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father and, for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I have remained, attached as liaison officer with the Canadian Consulate." was a Running Gag throughout the third and fourth seasons of the show. It was often started by Fraser and finished in varying ways by other characters.
It was once hijacked by an FBI agent in the first season:
FBI Agent: Who the hell is he? Police Lt: He's a Mountie. FBI Agent: What's he doing here? Police Lt: I'm never entirely sure.
Doctor Who: "Harriet Jones, MP, Flydale North / (former) Prime Minister." "Yes, I know who you are."
The inability of the Tenth Doctor's companions to fake accents or modes of speech, and his pained reaction ("No. Don't... don't do that.") has been used four times; once in Season Two (Rose doing Scots), once in Season Three (Martha doing Elizabethan English), once in the animated special (Martha doing pirate talk), and once in the fourth season, when Donna Noble attempts to blend at a 1920s upper-class party). This gag is nicely subverted in "Midnight", where, after suffering a traumatizing experience with a monster that mimicked and eventually stole his speech, the Doctor tells Donna "Don't. Don't do that," when she repeats one of his catchphrases.
The Doctor being horrified by Rose's attempts at a Scottish accent in the Season 2 episode "Tooth and Claw" is also a slight reference to the fact that Tennant himself is Scottish.
Rose: Uh...aye! I've been..oot and aboot! The Doctor: No, don't do that. Rose: Hoots, mon! The Doctor: No, really don't, really.
Running gags aren't restricted to the new series, either. People have been asking "Doctor who?" since the very first episode. It's been asked so many times that it's the oldest question, the one hidden in plain sight, which must never be answered, or silence will fall.
Not to mention that anytime someone goes into the TARDIS for the first time, they have to say something along the lines of "It's bigger on the inside!"
Darkly used by the astronauts' absolute horrified reactions to it in The Waters of Mars.
Subverted in "The Three Doctors" when the Third Doctor asked Sergeant Benton why he hadn't said it yet, and Benton replied that it was obvious. And then lampshaded in "Smith and Jones" when the Tenth Doctor mouthed the words along with Martha, before saying, "Really? I hadn't noticed." Also subverted when Rory first enters the TARDIS he correctly guesses that it's another dimension, to which the Doctor says, "I like the bit when someone says, 'It's bigger on the inside.'"
Lampshaded in the audio dramaLegend of the Cybermen, when a character enters the TARDIS, she is just about to finish delivering the line when both Jamie and Zoe in unison say "Yeah, yeah, we know..."
Inverted by Clara in "The Snowmen." Clara: "It's smaller on the outside!" The Doctor: "That's a first."
The continued references to running, though it might be Arc Words rather than this trope.
Series 5 adds the Eleventh Doctor's insistence that "Bow Ties are cool".
Let's not forget that every time the Doctor regenerates, he spends a couple of minutes criticizing his new looks (Christopher Eccleston's ears, Matt Smith's chin, Jon Pertwee's nose...) And HE'S STILL NOT GINGER!
Another is the Doctor's complete inability to direct the TARDIS (though it's not so much his inability as the TARDIS's unwillingness to co-operate), so that he often steps outside in full tour-guide mode only for his companion/s to point out that they are not, in fact, in Rome/Mars/Peladon/1980/Croydon/Rio.
Doctor: But now we're in the most amazing place of all - Paris, France!
One of the arcs/running gags of the entirety of Season 10 would be The Doctor's desire (and inability) to make it to Metebelis Three. Much of the first episode of "Carnival of Monsters" was spent with the Doctor obstinately believing he had arrived on the planet, and not on a cargo ship bound for Asia, circa 1926. The joke carried till "The Green Death" at the end of the season when it became deadly serious for him.
Another one related to River that may or may not develop. Every time the Doctor finds a hat, he'll say "It's a X. Xs are cool," and River will shoot it (often right off his head.) It's happened with the poor fez, and in the preview for Series 6, it happened to a Stetson.
Eleven likes hats, and obtains one whenever he can. Especially a fez.
Even that was a reference to the Seventh Doctor serial Silver Nemesis.
Doctor Donna. Not a couple.
Also, the Doctor telling Jack to knock it off any time he says hello to anyone. Because when it comes to Jack, hello is never just hello.
In the new series, each of the Doctor's companions has encountered a prominent British writer under bizarre circumstances. In "The Unquiet Dead", the Doctor and Rose meet Charles Dickens on Christmas Eve and encounter ghost-like aliens. In "The Shakespeare Code", the Doctor, Martha and William Shakespeare meet aliens that resemble witches. In "The Unicorn And The Wasp", the Doctor and Donna help Agatha Christie solve a locked-room mystery (and Donna lampshades the situation, bringing up the Doctor's encounter with Dickens quite by accident). In "Victory of the Daleks", the Doctor, Amy and Winston Churchill save London from the Daleks (Churchill was not primarily known as a writer but in his later years he did write a comprehensive history of World War II).
This recently carried over to the IDW Doctor Who comic book, where the Doctor and Rory meet Ian Fleming, and Rory (who was wearing a tux at the time) apparently inspires the creation of James Bond.
In "You Kill Me", CSI: Crime Scene Investigation did a Lampshade of an existing running gag (David's tendency to say "No signs of sexual trauma.") and a episode-specific running gag (Hodges making Bobby a suspect in his murder simulations and Bobby exclaiming his innocence). This second gag was even Lampshaded by Grissom.
Grissom: What have you got against Bobby? Hodges: Nothing. Running gag.
That same episode also had Captain Brass turning his chair around whenever he interviewed someone.
Speaking of Brass, there was "Ending Happy" which featured a Rasputinian Death. Every time Brass thought he'd gotten the murderer to confess, Doc Robbins called to tell him that Happy Morales— the victim— was killed by something else. Brass's reactions got to be quite entertaining, after the second instance.
In Wizards of Waverly Place, almost every function seems to be occupied by the same female slacker character who speaks in a very dull and slow voice.
Supernatural has Dean with the magic fingers and his massive appetite.
There's also a Running Gag with two names of fictitious porn publications/video titles/websites: Casa Erotica and BustyAsianBeauties.com (seen in the Season 4 premiere as a print magazine labeled "Busty Asian Beauties").
Dean and Sam getting mistaken for a gay couple at least once every season
The fifth season has the continuing battle between Castiel and the mysterious "voice" on his cell phone.
There's also the guys using the names of band members when disguised as detectives/FBI/homeland security/etc. Even going so far as to have "Agent Bachman" and "Agent Turner".
And "Agent Lennon" and "Agent McCartney"
Early in season one Dean uses "Agent Ford" and "Agent Hammill", referencing Star Wars
Noah's Arc: The main group finishing a statement in unison is probably the most common running gag, occuring three times in the first episode alone. Typically one of the four main cast starts the sentence and the other three finish it together.
On NewsRadio there was a Running Gag of characters always forgetting Joe's last name. A reference was shot for every episode but most of them ended up getting cut out meaning that the cast in the commentaries think of it as a big Running Gag but the viewer only ever sees the joke a few times.
Generally Jon will mention an organization with a sizable name and then abbreviate it to "NAMBLA", often quickly and seriously enough that those not listening carefully could fail to notice it. This also evolved into other NAMBLA-esque names, such as referring to the National Rifle Association as "BLAMBLA".
"Dean suffered another setback over the weekend with an announcement by the 1.5 million member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees or NAMBLA." "Organizers from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, or NAMBLA" "I speak of course of the AARP, or (old voice) NAMBLA." "The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or NAMBLOPEC..." "However, for the record, The Daily Show has absolutely no affiliation with the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or, as it's called, UNICEF."
There's also the Bush hunch'n'chortle, the Joe Lieberman Droopy voice, and the strange quacking noise for Dick Cheney, portraying Dick Cheney as the Penguin (specially Burgess Meredith's version from the 1960's Batman). Though lately he's replaced this with playing the Imperial March and showing Dick Cheney rolling past in a wheelchair almost every time he does a story involving Dick Cheney.
The Colbert Report has a number of Running Gags, from the host's fear of bears to his Mexican counterpart Esteban Colberto to his insistence that he "doesn't see race" (cannot tell which race a person is) to his frequent question of interview subjects, "George W. Bush: great President or the greatest President?"
One recent gag stemmed from an offhand comment Colbert made while listing off John McCain's campaign stops, insisting that the Canton he was visiting was in Ohio, not "the crappy Canton" in Georgia. When Canton, Georgia reacted with outrage, Colbert apologized a few shows later, insisting he had confused it with Canton, Kansas, which is a "shithole". He apologized for that one before showing an elaborate music video insulting Canton, South Dakota. When a real newspaper article showed that many residents of the latest Canton more or less agreed with Colbert's sentiments, he apologized for "taking the piss out of a town with no piss to take out" and went on to equate Canton, Texas with being sodomized by a monkey. The gag came full circle when Barack Obama held one of the last campaign speeches in Canton, Ohio, upon which Colbert was naturally forced to find that one shitty.
An episode of NCIS featured Palmer hunting for a piece of lingerie that Agent Lee had misplaced during one of their frequent secret sex sessions. He kept turning up everywhere in the episode, to the consternation of the other characters who wondered what he was doing... also revealing (to the audience) that if Abby knew about it, she could find Palmer and Lee's DNA all over the building. The affair itself is a running gag.
Every member of the team getting "Gibbs-slapped" for doing or saying something stupid.
He doesn't... In one episode (don't know which anymore, sorry) that is asked by another character. Answer: He takes them apart and starts on a new one.
Except that we've seen one of them outside of the basement, so it's possible the answer about taking them apart was just another way of saying "you'll never know."
The meeting elevator.
Tony's fondness for superglue in his McGee pranks. Which is why Gibbs keeps a bottle of nail polish remover in his desk.
(to Abby as McGee sleeps at her desk) Tony: You got any superglue, Abbs? Gibbs:(Gibbs slaps Tony) What did I tell you about that, DiNozzo? Tony: The skin might not grow back?
Also, Tony referring to McGee as a random word that's relevant to what's happening, just with "Mc" in front of it. Examples: McSneaky, McSniper, McGoogle... the list goes on.
In the episode Bloodbath, someone is after Abby, and on several occasions, different people ask why anyone would want to kill her, it's not like she's Tony... Which is funny both because so many people say it, and because Tony actually has an impressive list of people who hate him.
Gibbs asking someone how long something will take, they tell him and he says they have considerably less time than they said they would need. Example:
Gibbs: "How long will it take?" Kate: "Two, maybe three days, tops. Gibbs: "You got four." Kate: "Four days?" Gibbs: "No, hours." Kate: "That sounds about right."
Ziva's crazy driving and inability to understand American sayings.
No one knowing what NCIS is.
The British motorhead show Top Gear has at least five running gags:
In almost every episode, presenter Jeremy Clarkson introduces the Power Lap segment of the show by introducing the show's "tame racing driver", The Stig, with a stylized humorous introduction. For example: "Some say that he once lost a canoe on a beach in the north-east, and that he once did some time in a prison in Canterbury, because his teddy is called The Baby Jesus. All we know is, he's called The Stig."
Two other gags have developed from this; the first is whenever they are in another country (usually during, although not restricted to the specials)they begin the "tame racing driver" introduction as above, "But it's not the Stig...it's his *insert nationality here* cousin!". The second has appeared after episode 3 in series 15, in which Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello reached the top of the Formula One stars in a reasonably priced car board-including the Stig. In subsequent episodes, half of the Stig's "Some say..." introduction refers in some way to his apparent hatred for Barrichello...
The original Stig was introduced with "Unleash [insert national/national sounding definite article of choice] Stig".
The Stig - most prominently, since his introduction was changed to the "Some say..." format - also listens to different music inside the car he is driving around the test track each season. That is, if the car in question has a stereo:
Series 8: "Teach Yourself <Language>" CDs.
Series 9: Romantic fiction audiobooks.
Series 10: Self-help/motivation CDs.
Series 11: Elton John music (primarily the song "Daniel").
Series 12: Morse code messages.
Series 13: Bagpipe music.
Series 14: "Cockney London" music (Chas 'N Dave, etc.)
Series 15: Vuvuzelas. Lots of them.
...and so on.
Presenter James May is affectionately ridiculed by his co-presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond for his generally unaggressive and leisurely driving style; often Clarkson and Hammond will refer to him as "Captain Slow" or similarly. The gag was inverted in the 9th season episode where May was given the chance to drive the Bugatti Veyron on Volkswagen's maximum security European test track. May took the Veyron to its top speed of 253.45 mph/407.90 km/h (about Mach 0.333333)—quite possibly the fastest anyone has driven a production automobile.
Clarkson lampshaded this when May topped his previous record in a new version of the Veyron in Series 15, reaching 417km/h/259 mph.
It's not just May. Much amusement is also had from Hammond's size, Clarkson's bad back, and love of POWER and SPEED etc etc. They all affectionately ridicule each other.
The presenters have a distinct hatred of caravans (trailers), and often use challenges as excuses to destroy them.
Ditto for the Morris Marina. Four have appeared on the show so far, and of those one was set on fire and the other three had pianos dropped on them. Richard Hammond attempted to protect their latest Marina from falling pianos by pre-positioning a piano on its roof. It didn't work.
Quite possibly a Catch Phrase, whenever the Top Gear presenters are given a challenge for the program (e.g., purchase a used vehicle, modify it to be amphibious, and then sail it across the English Channel), Jeremy Clarkson often jumps into the task with the enthusiastic rhetorical question, "How hard can it be?" Usually, very hard (e.g., the two times the Top Gear presenters were told to convert vehicles into amphibious vehicles, Richard Hammond's conversion sank. Both times).
Hammond: Oh, how I've missed the pang of dread I feel whenever you mention the words, "how hard can it be"!
They always present their challenges with "where we would be given a series of challenges." After so many of their experiences going wrong, they can hardly say the phrase "a series of challenges" without cracking up.
Related to this is Top Gear's Running Gag/Catch Phrase that all of their challenges/projects (usually involving modifying second hand cars, such as the convertible people carrier, the limos etc) are 'ambitious but rubbish'.
Inverted with their trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats, which Clarkson declared as "Ambitious and for the first time, successful!"
Series 11's running gag: "I went on the Internet... and I found this..."
Don't wanna know what "this" is? Then don't go HERE.◊ (horribly, horribly NSFW)
In series 12 "Are you wearing that for a bet?" "Of course."
And on that bombshell, let's end the Top Gear examples.
Most episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus have their own Running Gag. Even the pilot had one — with someone keeping a score of Pigs vs Admiral Nelson on a blackboard. The Cycling Tour episode included the endlessly repeated phrase "my pump got caught in my trouser leg". The Hamlet episode had all of Hamlet's faux psychiatrists trying to get him to admit to his frustrations — "you've got the girl on the bed, she's all ready for it, you've got her legs up on the mantlepiece..." It ended with Ophelia doing the same routine on stage. Another one had most sketches ending with participants admitting that what they really wanted was "dirty books, please".
The most famous is one involving the Spanish Inquisition. Every now and then within a skit, a character would respond to sudden questioning with "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" or something along those lines. At that point, there would be a crashing chord as Cardinals Ximenes, Biggles and Fang entered. It was announced by the high-pitched Ximenes that "Noooooobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" He would then go on to list the chief weapons of the Spanish Inquisition, realize he had listed one more thing than he had counted, and have to say it all over again (generally about five times).
Ximenes: Our chief weapon is surprise, surprise and fear... Our TWO chief weapons are surprise, fear, and a ruthless efficiency... Our THREE chief weapons are...
After several attempts, Ximenes would say, "I'll come in again," leave the room, and force the original character to say his line again, prompting a repeat of the entire thing (with variations). This would often happen two or three times until they gave up.
Another factor in the Spanish Inquisition Running Gag was their inability to torture anyone — often Ximenes would ask for a torture items that turned out to be pathetic (e.g. the rack would turn out to be a dish-drying rack), or actually outright ask for something that clearly was ridiculous.
Ximenes: Bring on... the Comfy Chair!!!
And now for something completely different, the end of the Monty Python examples.
We've already done that one!
You're a loony.
Monty Python also often has certain themes in episodes as running gags (such as "this sketch is getting too silly" or "you're no fun anymore") and other running gags that lasted the entire series (such as the knight with the chicken and Carol Cleveland's exclamation of "But it's my only line!")
This was actually an inspired solution to the fact that many sketch shows have skits that run out of steam and stop being funny, quite often long before they end. Monty Python's solution was to abruptly end a sketch while it was still funny.
The introduction to the show typically featured a running gag, such as the nude organist or quite possibly the world's shortest Catch Phrase, "It's..."
One Running Gag was a prop: a huge, foot-long fake nose held in place with a string.
Several skits (not all of them animated!) ended with characters being crushed by either a 16-ton weight or a giant hammer.
Or a foot, often followed by the sound of flatulence.
The 10th Kingdom: After entering New York and discovering what Earth culture was like, the three Troll siblings come upon a CD boom box with the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in it. Upon hearing it, they immediately become instant fans, toting it everywhere with them and singing along as loudly and annoyingly as possible until the batteries on the boom box die. They attempt to explain the music and its origin to their father, with genuinely hilarious results — although the usage of the Bee Gees' full name as the Brothers Gibb, hardly common knowledge, seems rather out of place, especially coming from such moronic characters who can't even read properly. (See: East Eighty-onest Street.) Presumably this was included in order to avoid being obvious or to make it funnier. (And it works.) They then proceed to continue singing the song for the rest of the miniseries.
Even Star Trek has some running gags. Chekov would often comment on a device or discovery and say it was invented by the Russians. (This is a topical joke; in the 60's the Soviets were "known" for taking credit for new discoveries.)
"I'm a doctor, not a troper."
And occasionally another character will reverse it with, "I'm a troper, not a doctor."
Self-sealing stem bolts. Nobody quite knows what they do, but they certainly pop up everywhere.
And related to this are reverse-ratcheting routers. No-one really knows what they are either, but they always crop up, and most of the time, it ties into self-stealing stem bolts in some way.
Cardassian Yamok Sauce and how disgusting it is to non-Cardassians will come up when characters discuss food.
Non-Federation species disliking Root beer. In one episode it's even used as a metaphor for the Federation itself.
Plain and simple Garak.
Garak's delight whenever he discovers someone doesn't trust him: "There's hope for you yet" is his stock reaction. (The Running Gag is lampshaded later on in the show when he's deeply unnerved to discover that everyone's started to trust him.)
One Running Gag was originally a plot point. The Andorian Commander Shran apparently cannot stand owing someone a debt, so he went out of his way to help Archer after Archer had helped him. Later, as the two formed a friendship, Shran began to keep track of who owed who a favor. In one Season Four episode, he hailed the Enterprise in the middle of a heated battle with the Vulcans, just to tell Trip the following message:
The A-Team has several, most notably them drugging B.A. so that they could fly a plane. Most of the show's running gags actually develop, as B.A. gets harder to drug each time they need to do it, and whenever Colonel Decker has the team cornered, he gives them a certain amount of time to surrender. He always gives them less time than he did before.
There are a few throughout Mystery Science Theater 3000, especially since multiple episodes refer to previous episodes, but a memorable one occurred during the movie, Eegah. An archaeologist and his daughter are wandering some foothills. The two walk out of the shot, and someone (presumably the archaeologist, but it doesn't sound like him) says, "Watch out for snakes!" off-camera. Joel and the bots wonder who said that, and repeat it at random intervals throughout the rest of the episode. For several episodes afterward, even into other seasons, Tom will say, "Watch out for snakes!" at completely inappropriate times during whatever movie they're watching.
Also, the episode featuring Puma Man, the title character early on pauses nervously, and notes "I always get this way when I sense danger!" Tom Servo helpfully adds "I sense danger!" every time from then on that something dangerous happens to him that he doesn't sense. It happens an awful lot.
The Indestructible Man, featured several jokes about cops eating donuts. The episode ended with Joel, Mike, and Servo signing an affidavit promising that they would never make cop-donut jokes again.
Pearl's Once an Episode mangling of Mike's surname: Nelkirk, Nelbell, Smellson, Nelson-of-a-. Once he got her back by calling her "Pearl-ez vous."
Pearl also frequently calls Crow "Art," harkening back to a picture a child had sent in during season 4 that labels Crow as Art. (The confusion was presumably caused by Joel calling him Art Crow in a prior episode.)
[[Dirty Harry "It was Callahan. The big one. He did this to me!"]]
One of MST3K's stranger running gags - a shot of hands getting coupled with "I thought you were Dale!" - is admittedly a mix-up of commercial references, involving an Ivory ad that focused on the restorative power of hand soap and a Grape-Nuts ad where a teen paramour mistakes his date's mom for his date thanks to the restorative power of cereal (the actual source of the quotation).
Mr. Bean has the blue three-wheeled Reliant Regal repeatedly falling victim to the title character's vehicular hijinks throughout the series (and sometimes several times in the same episode).
On Farscape, whenever the crew of Moya had to rely on John or one of John's plans for anything, Aeryn would remark in a completely flat voice, "We're dead."
The Office has a running gag about Gareth's title. Gareth: "As I'm Assistant Regional Manager" David (interrupting): "Assistant to the Regional Manager." The gag ran so far that they've been continuing it with Dwight in the American version.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? had a Running Gag that actually was a running gag: in practically every game of Sound Effects, Ryan (providing the sounds) would make whatever animal Colin (who acted in response to the sounds) was riding run away, forcing him to catch up; he even managed to do this in the Star Wars-themed game with Jedi Colin's spaceship. Similarly, Ryan would often play someone providing music (a Roman coliseum trumpeter, an Old West pianist, etc) whom Colin would grow annoyed with and eventually kill.
How about members of the cast somehow managing to work in Colin's baldness into a sketch? Or Drew Carey's supposed inability to get a date?
Wayne Brady being black and going to UPN where he wouldn't be on a show to begin with or get cancelled pretty quickly.
Whenever one of the performers comes up with a particularly hilarious line during a game, expect it to be repeated (regardless of the context) in some form in every other game throughout the remainder of that episode.
Colin always being chosen to be the woman.
Rebelde Way. Second season. Francisco kissing Laura. Again and again, on improbable circumstances. Notable on that it has actual running and actual gag.
The Closer's Brenda Leigh Johnson fails terribly at driving in LA.
In Season 6, Commander Taylor's office is non-existent/hard to find/too small/being used by the MCD. Enforced by the other characters; Flynn notes that they "haven't heard much complaining from the super-cubicle lately" and decides that that's a good reason to dump a large amount of evidence (mainly safes) in Taylor's office.
And a character pulling off some impressive feat, then revealing "I'm wearing my wife's underpants".
"It's kicking off!"
Plenty of these in Harry Hill's TV Burp, like the fights, cameos and ear cataracts (don't ask why). Recently, Harry has been repeatedly attacked by a puppet shark living under his desk. Wagbo, Heather, the bush push and the verge emerge from the new series.
Keeping Up Appearances has multiple other running gags, including: Onslow's garden gate falling down, Richard picking it up, and Hyacinth saying "leave it, leave it"; Hyacinth being startled by Onslow's dog and falling into the hedge; Elizabeth spilling coffee on Hyacinth's rug/table/holiday brochures; and many others.
"It's pronounced 'Bou-QUET'."
"The Bouquet residence! The lady of the house speaking..." whenever Hyacinth answers the phone.
Red Dwarf has two. One begins with Rimmer invoking a specific paragraph or section of the Space Corps. Directive by number. Kryten would then explain the instruction (often something sex-related or otherwise strange) and how he fails to understand its relevance to the events. Rimmer would then cite the correct one - one section or paragraph different. The other one again involved Kryten correcting someone; Cat would propose an unusually intelligent solution to a problem. Kryten would then point out the two flaws in that particular plan, smallest first.
Red Dwarf also has one where Kryten will give an incredibly long and complex explanation of or solution to a problem, starting "So, basically..." and ending "...so, is that clear?" Cat will then say "I was with you right up to 'basically'!"
There is also the running gag of Kryten being not-quite able to call Rimmer a "smeghead," resulting in him haltingly calling Rimmer a "Smu! Smee!"
Mail Call: Gunny Ermey's ongoing vendetta against watermelons, and extensive use of More Dakka to destroy them...
Not just any girl. He's assumed to be Howard's wife, more often than not.
Whenever a Richard Fulcher character is being attacked, "a little to the left."
"___, What is ____?"
In QI, tons of stuff involving Alan Davies: his constantly setting off the klaxons and coming last (although he's started to actually play the game more seriously lately, and thus that's been happening less frequently), his buzzer noises always being ridiculous and his repeatedly giving the blue whale as an answer and it always being wrong except for the one time when it was the right answer, but he didn't get it because the question was asked in French.
Turk and JD (especially JD) are big fans of the movie Judge Dredd and occassional references are made to their viewing habits and the absurd number of times they have watched it; in "My Déjà Vu My Déjà Vu," for example, Turk invites JD to watch the movie at his place, at which point they both loudly proclaim, "NINETY-NINTH VIEWING," before they high-five each other.
At the conclusion of "His Story II", JD is initially more interested in the movie than Elliot's sexual advances.
JD: What is she doing?! It's the Judge!
They watch Red Dawn on a regular basis, too. "Wolverines!" *lifts cups*
These are numerous in Dad's Army, most of them relate to Lance Corporal "They Don't Like It Up 'em" Jones.
In the 1970s The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin: "Super" (usually said in a deadpan or bored voice), "I'm not a X person" (for various values of X), "I didn't get where I am today by..."
Even Lost has some. Just ask Scott. Or is it Steve?
Nobody being able to pronounce Mr. Arzt's name was a running gag for an episode or two, but then he blew up.
Dynamite is volatile. If you're carrying some, you should move as little as you can: people tend to forget this and casually blow up mid-sentence.
Alias: While it doesn't start out a gag or even particularly funny, Sark's talent to escape any bad situation becomes universally acknowledged by both the creators, characters and the fans. Hell, it's outright highlighted in the last few minutes of the series finale.
Cpl Agarn inadvertently makes a suggestion; O'Rourke: "Agarn, I don't know why they say you're so dumb!" A few minutes later — long after anyone else would have caught on — Agarn shouts: "Who says I'm dumb?!"
The fort cannon, when lit, always fails to fire. Agarn kicks the wheel in frustration, it falls off, the cannon fires as it hits the ground, and shoots down the guard tower.
The war of insults between Agarn and Trooper Dobbs, which always ends with the insultee saying "I'm warning you, Dobbs/Agarn..."
Trooper Duffy's old war story, which always starts: "There we were at the Alamo, me and Davy Crockett, shoulder to shoulder and backs to the wall..." That's where someone else cuts him off. Presumably, they know that no Americans really survived the Alamo.
Agarn has numerous relatives who come through town, all of whom look like him (and are likewise played by Larry Storch).
Most of the troopers are background characters, but occasionally roll is called, with names like: "Dobbs, Duffy, Anderson, Henderson, Gilbert, Sullivan, Lewis, Clark, Holmes, Watson, Livingston — where is Livingston?" "Don't worry sir; Stanley will find him."
When Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show, one of his recurring skits was the all-knowing "Carnak the Magnificent", who would "predict" the answers to questions in sealed envelopes. There were several running gags:
Carnak tripping over the edge of the stage when entering.
"I hold in my hand the envelopes. As you can see, they are hermetically sealed. They have been kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls' back porch since noon today ..."
Carnak getting annoyed with Ed McMahon and throwing out a topical insult, such as "May Kareem Abdul-Jabbar slam-dunk your sister."
"I hold in my hand ... the last envelope," followed by thunderous applause.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Writer/creator Aaron Sorkin loves to incorporate throw-away running gags, often with each instance rephrasing the joke from a different angle. In "The Option Period", off-camera guest-host (and real-life Malaproper) Jessica Simpson supposedly had to fill in extra airtime at the end of the fictional show's live broadcast, as described by Cal:
Cal: Nice girl, nice performer... don't want her to extemporize on our air. She had time to thank her pets, and then she asked us all to pray for peace in the Midwest.*
(She should have said "Middle East".)
The regulars continue wisecracking about this as the (real) show continues.
Matt: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri... are rebel forces gathering?
Matt: Then why are we praying for peace in the Midwest?
Danny: Girl's nice to look at.
Jordan: Good show! ... I saw the end, and I think we should all take a moment to consider the suffering in Des Moines.
From Reba: Reba telling one of her offspring: "Have I told you you're my favorite?"
In season one of Talkin' 'bout Your Generation, the trophy each week was something different. It may have been a soccer trophy, a "World's Best Lover" coffee mug, or the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, according to Shaun Micallef.
The mysterious ways in which the End Game envelope will make it to Shaun Micallef; it may involve ninjas, monks, pandas or — frequently — Shaun's pet lady-hawk Isabeau.
As is typical for a quiz show, the host has a phone next to him which the producers can ring him on to allow for corrections. Unlike in most, Shaun Micallef invariably hangs up the phone without answering whenever it rings.
This invariably happens after Shaun has made a particularly-bad pun.
The 90's blooper show Roggin's Heroes featured the Gallery's guard, Officer Feldman. No matter what happened, no matter what he did, he kept absolutely silent with a straight face, and usually staring straight at the camera (though he may occasionally mime or have a voiceover).
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Every time FBI Agent Dana Lewis shows up, Stabler somehow or another winds up in the hospital. The second and third time it happens Stabler lampshades this fact.
People mistaking Benson for a lesbian. Lampshaded in a later season episode.
On Chuck, Chuck said Sarah had a "spastic colon" to justify her absence. Afterwards, this was always used as an excuse when she couldn't make it to something. Chuck also used it in Season 3 to explain why the band member he was replacing wasn't available.
Mercedes' Catch Phrase of "hell to the no" (which even gets its own song!)
People overhearing others sing for the first time in the shower. Will hears Finn in the pilot; Finn hears Sam in "Audition"; Rachel hears Brody in "The New Rachel"; etc.
Brad, the pianist who never speaks and yet magically appears in each musical number.
The demons in Charmed make a point to keep destroying the grandfather clock whenever they attack the manor. Piper lampshades this a couple of times saying "we can't afford to keep fixing that thing". When they go to the 20s, past-life Piper smashes the grandfather clock to the floor.
Leo orbing out while he's kissing Piper. Some episodes reveal that he sometimes orbs out during more intimate moments. A funny variation on this happened when he orbed out while hugging Phoebe. Also lampshaded: "I hate when he does that!"
It's mentioned a few times that Piper freezes Leo "in bed for her own personal pleasure."
Characters referring to Piper as "Pipper" or "Peeper."
Demons sometimes like to point out that Piper "is just plain mean," despite the fact that she's probably the nicest character on the show.
That '70s Show had Kelso falling off of the water tower nearly every time the gang climbs it. One episode featured a minor character dying this way, much to gang's amazement.
Every time Kelso and Hyde fight Kelso injures his eye.
Laurie's promiscuity is a running gag.
Red's recurring threat of putting his foot in someone's ass, and calling people Dumbasses.
The Dean's dalmatian-furry fetish is first seen about halfway into the first season ("I hope this doesn't awaken something in me"), and escalation (dalmatian mugs, posters, and rugs) every episode, to its exposure in Pascal's Triangle Revisited when two men in dog costumes show up for a school dance.
Character Just Learning About This: He's got a whirly what? Other Characters: Exactly.
Dick And Dom In Da Bungalow built up lots of these, mostly running for a season or two and then being dropped. The Butt Dance lasted longer. And then there was the Garlic Mayo Saga, which started when one of the hosts faked eating garlic mayonnaise (in an "eating something gross" competition), and the producers sent the law after him, in the person of Detective Harry Batt, possessor of the worst Geordie accent in television... and he was still trying to get his man right up until the final episode.
All That has the Big Ear of Corn in the Green Room.
Howard's mother and her horrifying beauty routine and list of ailments
Soft Kitty - you know what, the main page for the show has all of them.
Done a lot in Only Fools And Horses. Apart from the series gags like Trigger calling Rodney Dave, various others come up in individual episodes.
Merlin: Merlin getting sent to the stocks was a running gag for a while. Especially in one season 1 episode.
Gaius explaining Merlin's absences by saying he was at the tavern
Arthur getting knocked out while Merlin uses his magic.
"Shut up, Merlin." "Merlin, you idiot." Arthur throwing things at Merlin. Arthur abusing Merlin in general.
In s4, Arthur losing his trousers.
"Dollophead" started out as Merlin's word for Arthur, and has now become one of Arthur's go-to insults for Merlin — in one deleted scene, Arthur even refers to Merlin as "that dollophead," and the courtiers know exactly who he's talking about.
JAG: Whenever a promotion is announced, there are accusations of the person in question beeing "out of" or in "incorrect" uniform.
Also, coach Finstock's dislike of Greenberg, despite the fact that Greenberg himself has as of season 2 yet to appear on-screen.
The Baseball Bat and the almost hitting of Stiles with it by members of the Mc Call family. Stiles's reaction is always to question why they have baseball bats if no one in the house plays baseball.
Impractical Jokers: The unseen fifth-person in the troupe is either LARRY or (that bitch) Irene.
Highlander had an episode with an immortal who sneezed every time he felt the buzz of another immortal nearbye.
Earl Hickey's eyes are closed in every picture ever taken of him. This includes childhood pictures shown being taken in flashbacks, and there's even a painting of him in an unspecified Latin American country of him with his eyes closed.
On Win Ben Stein's Money, Jimmy Kimmel would tell the contestant in the booth during the Best of Ten Test Of Knowledge that "as host I must remain impartial, but since Ben is under the headphones and can't hear me...smoke him like a cheap cigar!"
The Range Game on The Price Is Right as per Bob Barker's instructions: "Don't hit the button until you want to stop it because we can't start it again for 36 hours."
On Conan O'Brien's TBS show, whenever he puts up a website address on screen, instead of the slash he puts up the face of Slash from the group Guns 'N' Roses.
Welcome Back, Kotter "Read chapter fourteen"
Lampshaded once when a Sweathog told Kotter they already read chapter fourteen. "Then read chapter seven twice."
In That's So Raven, the episode Clothes Minded had a running gag where everytime Raven had a vision of something going to happen, she tells a person that it's not a good idea, but then they tell her it's what they are going to do instead.