In more recent riffs this is often accompanied by Mike's Nick Nolte impression, with which he delivers a brief explanation as to why he is in whichever scene the riffers are mocking (e.g., finding himself in Oz after being flung there by a tornado made of his own feces, or appearing in a town overrun with zombies in order to siphon a turned over truck full of benzine). This was also a running gag within The Curse of Bigfoot riff, which featured three or four Nolte monologues.
This tendency gets Lampshaded in Breaker Breaker when "Nick Nolte" (actually Mike doing the aforementioned impersonation) breaks into the studio to threaten the riffers, having developed a sixth sense as to when they were about to crack a joke about him.
Similarily, Gary Busey.
Crispin Glover gets brought up if they need someone lanky and/or weird.
Expect there to be at least one The Room reference in riffs made after they originally riffed said movie.
They spent a lot of time trying to guess what different characters' X-Man names were, by making a bland—and often wordy—description of the character's mutant ability and/or appearance, and adding the letter O to the end. This despite the fact that there are only two characters in the trilogy whose names end in an O (Magneto and Pyro). Not to mention that both those names are real words. It even carried over to the riff of The Dark Knight, where they guessed that Scarecrow's name was "Gunny-Sack-Head-O."
Bonesaw references. Often variations on "BONEsaw is REA-DYYYYYYY!"
In the Twilight commentary, Mike, Kevin, and Bill keep saying "Line?" whenever Bella and Edward have a moment of awkard silence, which is at least half the film. This also appeared in The Last Airbender (which featured Harpo from Twilight).
Taken Up to Eleven in Breaking Dawn: Part 2 when they keep cutting back and forth between all the people ready for the final showdown, and every cut is accompanied by a 'Line?'
In the New Moon commentary, they keep trying to guess whether Bella's next line will be a full sentence.
In the Eclipse commentary, they interpret the characters' excessive pausing as contempt for their own dialogue.
For Breaking Dawn: Part 1 this is mostly exchanged for reminders of how the book couldn't possibly fit in one movie, during the numerous time-wasting montages.
After experiencing the soundtrack of New Moon, Mike will find any excuse to deliver his rendition of "It's a possibilityyyyyyyyy" in a whiny falsetto.
They get "Hey, Arizona, how you likin' da rain, girl?" into each of the Twilight movies at least once.
Bill: Though Johnson's son may not be the marrying type, If you know what I mean.
Mike: He's considering moving to Athens, if you catch my drift.
Kevin: We think he may be a homosexual, if you can read between the lines.
Mike: Yes, thank you, Kevin.
In Star Wars Episodes 4, 5, and 6, they get a lot of mileage out of referencing things from the prequel trilogy that change the way you look at the original, including R2-D2's ability to fly and the revelation of C-3PO's creator, and facts about Luke and Leia's parents.
Leia: I was very young when [my mother] died.
Bill (as Leia): Like hours old, but I did know her.
Leia: She was kind but sad.
Bill (as Leia): Yeah, sure did learn a lot about her in those few hours.
Luke Skywalker never did get those power converters from Tosche Station in A New Hope...a fact repeatedly lamented all the way through to Return of the Jedi.
Not to mention Anakin's extreme hatred for sand (in the prequels at least).
For superheroes with animal motifs, (like Wolverine, Batman and Spider-Man) referencing the abilities they have that don't fit the motif and (typically unpleasant) abilities/behaviors they lack from their animal motif.
Mike Nelson: Do Wolverines like cigars? Is that a fact I somehow missed out on?
Bill Corbett: Oh! His retractable metal claws can cut through hardened steel. Just like a real wolverine.
Especially disgusting with Spider-Man, where Bill complains that Spider-Man doesn't liquefy the insides of his enemies to slurp them.
The werewolves in the Twilight movies get a similar treatment.
Blatant product placement. For instance, the giant posters advertising Dramamine (and later the huge banner for Thrush Performance Products) are paid a lot of attention in the riff for Mutant.
Alternatively, they'll claim that the appearance of some local, small business is shameless product placement. For example, during one scene of Over the Top, Mike keeps praising Kathy's Florist, a store which can be dimly seen in the background.
Arby's, especially their Big Montana sandwich.
Taco Bell used to get heat from them, such as when the humans are fed green paste-like "food" in Battlefield Earth, but not so much any more.
"So you're really going to go with that performance."
Any scene of people walking and talking is inspired/directed by Aaron Sorkin.
An animal with a high-pitched, screeching voice frequently gets compared to Kelly Clarkson.
References to terrible travel conditions that are still preferable to Northwest flights.
Northwest may be no more but the joke lives on through Delta.
Noting the similarity of film characters and situations to 'an average day at Comic Con.'
Ron: "Third year he fought off about a hundred dementors at once."
Bill: "Well, I've done that in the snack line at Comic Con."
Any scene featuring Darth Vader will inevitably be accompanied by a reference to his hatred of sand; e.g., in The Star Wars Holiday Special the brief scene with Darth Vader is accompanied by the riff, "I saw a grain of sand in my office. Eliminate it immediately."
From Return of the Jedi, "Security is tight after a terrorist tried to smuggle some sand on board. Turned out it was just a dude coming back from the beach." "And now he's dead." This also appears in non-Star Wars riffs, including Twilight and The Hunger Games.
If a character reacts with surprise to something off-screen, it's almost always "two dogs humping."
When characters are sitting around doing nothing, they try to inform the actors that the camera has been rolling for a while now.
Whenever someone dies by falling or being launched, the Riffers provide their dying message. Said message usually involves something the dying person regrets doing/not doing, or a request to tell someone/something that he loved them.
In The Last Airbender, they keep making jokes about Aang being a Jawa. "Utinni!" And arguing whether it's pronounced A-vatar or Ah-vatar. Also whenever water or ocean is mentioned they wonder if it's connected to the water of the ocean.
Particularly in their Star Trek riffs, they miss no opportunity to use their excellent George Takei impression, the best instances being when they voiced Sulu's daughter as Takei and rejected John Cho as the new Hikaru Sulu.
Bill: Yakov Smirnov's calling him from Balki's house, telling him to tone it down..."
Scotty's weight gets brought up quite a bit. Any joke about Scotty that doesn't involve food will have him drunk. This doesn't happen in the 2009 reboot, since Simon Pegg, like James Doohan during the original show, is thin.
The Kansas City Royals take a lot of abuse. Also, they're a running gag.
On the Inception RiffTrax, continuous Titanic jokes are made at Leonardo DiCaprio's expense.
Moreso than pretty much all the other running gags on this list, Monty Python quotes. They do it better than most geeks do.
On the Eragon RiffTrax, the plot and characters are repeatedly compared to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix.
"Kids are all the same. They beg and beg for a pet and then it gets old and they argue about who has to walk it. Then they end up banishing it to the furthest reaches of the Shire, urh, Tatooine, urh, wherever the hell we are."
(When Eragon and Murtagh are swimming) "If they run into Jar Jar Binks, I'm gonna put my head through the wall."
"Well, if Lucas was directing this guy would now say I've got a bad feeling about this, at which point, I'd put my head through the wall."
Mike mixing up the current movie with one they've done before, prompting the others to beg him to take a vacation.
Whenever a character in the movie says "What's happening?", Bill will break into the strains of the What's Happening!! theme song, on at least one occasion being soundly silenced by Kevin.
Culminating in a short called "What's Happening?", wherein Bill was allowed to indulge himself and spent the entire length of the short humming the theme song while Mike and Kevin completely ignored him.
Kevin provides a multitude of vehicle sound effects, to the others' annoyance.
A character in a hopelessly remote location encounters a (or several) Starbucks.
Any disturbing sexual content will be greeted by Disembaudio wandering in, reacting with complete and utter horror, and running away. Was a running gag withinThe Room.
And since then, they come with comments about Tommy Wiseau guest directing.
Kevin singing along to any notable background music, after which Mike and/or Bill threaten him with bodily harm. This is almost Once an Episode when it comes to the shorts.
Weirdly, many of the shorts cite anti-Semitic propaganda whenever someone starts reading something or learning something, although it's clear that they're just mocking it. (For instance, Willy going on about how the Jews and the Queen of England control the economy in "Paper And I".) Only in RiffTrax can The Protocols of the Elders of Zion be used as a Running Gag.
In Independence Day, they have Judd Hirsch mention Jews running the banking system when rattling off Conspiracy Theories. This is especially noteworthy because Hirsch plays a walking Jewish stereotype in the movie, making him come off as a Boomerang Bigot as well as a conspiracy nut.
(I dare you to) Diagram that sentence!
Giving ridiculously broad responses to vague statements. For instance, in "Down and Out", when the narrator starts talking about "stumbling over an object, large or small," Kevin gives the examples "Like a bobby pin, or an airplane hangar."
Whenever a movie is inconsistent about something's name (or the pronunciation of that name), Bill calls back to Over the Top by impersonating the villain of that film and screaming the hero's name, "Hawk! Or, Hawks!" Even though his name is clearly written on his goddamn truck ("Hawk Hauling"), Lincoln Hawk's name is both said and written elsewhere in the movie as "Hawks". This will also come up on the less frequent occasion wherein a semi truck is prominent in a scene (as in the opening to Fast and Furious), and sometimes when actual hawks are onscreen (as in Treasure of the Amazon).
What's especially weird about this Running Gag is that Bill always fields it, even though Mike did the RiffTrax for Over the Top by himself.
This also becomes a running gag within Psycho II, as it features Robert Loggia, who played the bad guy in Over the Top. Bill hopes Loggia's character will alternately refer to Norman as "Bate" and "Bates", for instance. Late in the movie, when a lot more time is spent on Loggia's character, Bill goes for broke by applying the joke to things that rhyme with the word "hawks."
Another aspect of that movie that is mentioned in other riffs now and then: the constant reiteration of the arm wrestling tournament being double-elimination (that is, you have to lose twice to be out of the competition). Whenever the rules of a game are being explained or something is being repeated incessantly, expect a reference to this.
During an unsafe situation, Mike intones "Shake hands with danger!" and Kevin sings the opening part of that short's theme.
Managing to shoehorn in singing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face"
It has since branched out to other pop songs, like having a crook in the 1930s Batman shorts singing Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" to himself. Or the club singer in Neutron the Atomic Superman singing Amy Winehouse's "Rehab." The general trend seems to be to include the songs in movies that came out decades before the song was written.
After one of the three makes a particularly groan-worthy riff, one of the other riffers will frequently come up with an inventive and unique way to tell him to "go straight to Hell."
Bill: Kevin? Get on a plane and go straight to Hell.
Occasionally, it will be something about the movie or short they're watching that will be encouraged to go to Hell.
During the Riff of "Join Hands, Let Go!" Mike: (with revulsion, as a bottle spurts gobs of ketchup all over one of the actors) Eww! Go to Hell, short.
During the Riff of "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" Mike: (when Jar Jar Binks appears and starts talking) Go to Hell, go straight to Hell!
In Birdemic whenever things get slow, one of them will just yell BIRDEMIC!
They've done this several times during slow sequences in movies with dramatic titles. It goes all the way back to MST3K's riff of "Manos" The Hands of Fate.
Similarly, during the (many) slow scenes in that movie, they will shout "SHOCK! TERROR!" from the movie's subtitle (Birdemic: Shock and Terror).
This can also be substituted for Indiana Jones theme music during the last one, when nothing is happening.
In the older Rifftrax, usually near the end of a film, one of them will make a terrible pun, and the other two will slap him (complete with sound effects). Often, they comment on how well they synchronized their slaps.
Using the lyric "Turn around bright eyes" from "Total Eclipse of the Heart." This one reaches its zenith in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which actually features a character named Bright Eyes.
In the second half of Breaking Dawn Part 1, whenever a character would greet Jacob for the first time, the riffers would go 'Sorry about Abduction.'
In Breaking Dawn Part 2, from the moment it's revealed that he imprinted on Renesmee, every single joke about Jacob references him being in love with a baby.
Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man isn't wearing a suit, it's a sport coat and slacks! To be fair, Mike is correct.note To be a proper suit, the pants and the jacket have to be made from the same fabric.
"Sorry, Ft. Worth!"note From the live version of the short "Flying Stewardess", where the guys apologized for the multiple potshots at Ft. Worth, Texas.
They are merciless whenever a movie invokes Let Me Tell You a Story, only to fail to live up to the tightness of narrative that device implies.
"And then, children, executive producer Armand Cerani hired Barry Mahon to direct. Isn't that wonderful?"
They will frequently state that a scene in a movie has more X than "X: The Movie," or some variation on that theme. For instance, during a chase scene in Eclipse, Kevin said "I once watched The Running Man while on my treadmill, and it still had less running than this!"
Subverted in Nightmare at Noon; Kevin, complaining about a long helicopter chase, does this joke in reference to the movie Chopper. This leads to a discussion about the fact that Chopper didn't feature any helicopters at all, which Kevin doesn't seem to understand.
Often, one of the guys will say a line as though he's speaking for one of the characters on screen, and one of the other guys will respond as though he thought it was a serious statement by the other guy.
Mike: (as Leonidas in 300) So, as I was saying, how does my ass crack look from 50 feet away? Still a nightmare?
Bill: Yes, Mike.
It's a rare RiffTrax that doesn't reference Phil Spector and his 2003 conviction of second-degree murder. It's tapered off since their earlier riffs, but it does still pop up now and again.
Anyone posing in a way that looks like they could be cheering, and/or charging on screen, Bill will usually shout "Packers," referring to the Green Bay Packers American Football team. Especially if they look monstrous or savage in some way.
While sitting through particularly torturous movies (such as Battlefield Earth or Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny), the riffers will start wondering if they died and went to Hell, and their eternal torment is to keep watching the film.
When a film has a slow Fade to Black, the riffers tend to assume the movie is over. This became a Running Gag within Return of the King as the film seemed to have 4 or 5 endings. Sometimes they'll think the movie has ended before the main title has even displayed, causing them to comment on how short the film was.
This tendency got Lampshaded in Eragon, with Kevin muttering "I never get that right."
Often, when a character is passed out drunk, looking like he might be passed out drunk, or is pouring a drink, one of the riffers will comment that it reminds them of one of the other riffers. "Look familiar, X?" is a common format, as is "How'd they get footage of you, X?" The person being accused of alcoholism will usually object, sometimes about a niggling point such as "I don't wear an eyepatch!" (from Frankenstein Island).
Obvious, flashy displays of knives will generally bring on Crocodile Dundee jokes/impersonations, usually centered on questioning whether that qualifies as a knife or not. In the short Don't Be a Bloody Idiot, they kept trying to cajole the Tasmanian host into showing them a knife. They were rather furious when the knife he finally does produce is a small Swiss Army Knife.
Kevin saying "She can X my Y/I'd X her Y anytime" when an attractive female (not always human) makes the scene.
The Roomba is often treated as the pinnacle of human technology.
Perhaps the ultimate running gag, in reference to Mike Nelson's love of Road House, whenever you add an item to your checkout cart the additional purchases suggestions are labeled as "Pain will not hurt if you order these."
During quiet scenes, one of the riffers will mention how they once experienced something just like the scene they just watched (such as waking up with amnesia or getting stabbed with a sword). When pressed for details, it will usually turn out to actually have been something very mundane only vaguely related to his original claim (he fell asleep during a car ride and was disoriented upon awakening, he got poked with a sharp stick).
Clowns (and anything even slightly resembling clowns) are almost always reacted to with screams of terror and pondering what unspeakable crimes said clowns are guilty of. This is especially clear in the shorts where they tend to appear far, far too often for the riffers' comfort (e.g., Old "Pile of Torsos" Bobo from The Creeps Machine or the "Living Clown Erection" from the Story-Telling short.). Strangely, this did not apply to The Joker.
The guys will often reference a character's hatred of something by saying that the person has a bumper sticker of Calvin peeing on it.
Whenever the guys riff a franchise they seem to genuinely like (i.e., Lord of the Rings, Marvel Comics Movies, Harry Potter, and Star Wars) they will make a vast number of in-jokes and fairly obscure references to said franchise's universe/EU (e.g., referring to Cade Skywalker in Star Wars, Beedle the Bard in Harry Potter, obscure Thor storylines in Thor/The Avengers, and pretty much every other joke in their Lord of the Rings riffs).
When a sufficiently well-known and/or prolific actor is sitting in front of a computer screen and typing away, the guys will provide an Internal Monologue where the guy is writing about how underestimated his career has been. This has happened twice to Joe Pantoliano alone, in Daredevil and The Matrix
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, they comment on how weird it is that Harry and Arthur Weasley take a magic elevator disguised as a broken phone booth to get to the Ministry of Magic, even though people can be seen Apparating and using Floo Powder all over the entrance hall. They chalk it up to a need for more whimsy. In the book, it's explained that Arthur felt that since Harry was in trouble for underage magic in front of Muggles, it would make a good impression on the court if Harry arrived in as non-magical a fashion as possible.
In The Hunger Games, Rue and Katniss demonstrate how mockingjays are perfect mimics. The guys comment on how it's fortunate that the birds don't go and repeat Katniss and Rue's plans to their enemies. In the books, it's explained that mockingjays can only reproduce music, not speech.
Any time a character says "Have it your way," the guys will respond with "at Burger King!"
Continued references to the more notorious characters in the films they have riffed under increasingly (and occasionally ludicrously) thin pretenses.
Anakin Skywalker and his pathological hatred of sand tend to be referenced whenever they see sand or hear anything sounding like "Anakin" (anaphase, anacin, etc).
Bella and her inability to form a sentance are liable to be referenced whenever there is a long pause or an awkward romantic moment.
They even find ways to stick it in when neither the name Tommy nor San Francisco are brought up. One of the most inspired was probably "Oh HIGHLANDER!"
The Ice Cream bunny has become the benchmark of nightmarish creepiness cited whenever something especially unsettling happens, and the plot of the perverted old Mr. Digger and his forced marriage to Thumbelina sometimes gets a Shout-Out when they see someone or something digging around in the ground.
As a subset to this, they like saying that thuggish, stupid-looking Mooks are actually highly educated and/or employed in some humanitarian career. Examples include the moronic buffalo hunter in Buffalo Ridernote Master's in Latin American Poetry, the misshapen giant in 300note a highly sought-after family therapist, all the arm wrestlers at the climax of Over the Topnote Professor of Biomedical Studies at Johns Hopkins, etc, and both the hairy viking in Jack the Giant Killer and the "batch handler" in This Is Hormelnote Women's Studies.
"THRILL as [character performs very mundane task]!"
They make damn sure to point out every single time the camera lingers on someone parking or pulling into traffic in Birdemic. And in true Rifftrax fashion, they now reference Birdemic every time they see a similar scene in any other movie.
They also make jokes about Elaine Benes from Seinfeld.
Odin: YOU'RE UNWORTHY—
Mike (as Odin): Of ELAINE BENES'S SPONGES!
During action movies, one of the guys will comment on how tense they are, can't wait to see what happens next, etc. It will then turn out they're not actually paying attention to the movie, and are commenting on whatever else it is they're focusing on (day trading, nursing an injured joint, etc).
Grim scenes have a tendency to be called the Werner Herzog version of some warm family film.
If an actor appears in a cheap animal/robot/etc. costume the riffers will comment that the person inside is Sir Laurence Olivier.
Mike mocking Kevin for being "ancient" (he's four years older than Bill and eight years older than Mike) because of obscure older riffs.
Norman Krasner, the hapless loser star of a series of bizarre "comedy" shorts. Two things about Norman get mentioned in other riffs: 1) The fact that no human or animal could ever like him, and 2) his catchphrase, a groan that very clearly communicates that he knows nothing but despair.
Since riffing Birdemic, the guys have made a habit of transposing the newscaster's line "...such as seals," into as many riffs as possible. Sometimes it will have something to do with what a character just said (like if they mentioned an animal or are giving an example of something) and sometimes it's just peppered on as flavoring to make a dull sentence funnier.
Henry Slinkman, the man who bought three pints of oysters on an impulse buying spree in the "Buying Food" short, gets mentioned in some subsequent food-related shorts.
Since the riff of Nightmare at Noon, which according to "Talkin' Rifftrax" advertised its helicopter stunts heavily and claimed to have blown those in Blue Thunder out of the water, any time a helicopter is shown Mike will praise [whichever movie they're watching]'s helicopter stunts and disparage Blue Thunder's. Or just disparage Blue Thunder in general.
In one Riff, he admits that he's never actually seen Blue Thunder.
Having someone sound stupid(er) by saying "I LIKE TURTLES!"
Referring to "breeder hogs" when calling someone or something loud and/or disgusting.