Self Deprecation: Live-Action TV
- As he did in Real Life interviews, George Burns always credits his wife as the talented half of The Burns And Allen Show.
'George Burns': 20 years ago I made an investment of $2.00 that has paid off a million times over in the years since. I bought a marriage license.
- In The New Normal: Ryan Murphy delivers a nod to some of his less popular decisions concerning Glee.
- Numerous episodes of The Real Husbands Of Hollywood poke fun at some of Kevin Hart's less-than-stellar films.
Anthony Anderson: Kevin is about to be more embarrassed than he was at the Soul Plane premier.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Joss Whedon loves this trope. On Angel, Fred's mom mentions that her husband loves "those Alien movies", except for the last one, which made him fall asleep. Guess who wrote the screenplay for Alien: Resurrection? It might also be interpreted as a Take That, though, based on Whedon's dissatisfaction with how his characters' surprise developments were blown by typecasting.
- Season 3 of Veronica Mars had quite a bit more Product Placement put in it by creator Rob Thomas than previous seasons. In the second-to-the-last episode ever, after two Product Placements in a row, this conversation happened:
Hey, did anyone else hear there's gonna be a Matchbox 20 reunion show? Piz:
So? Rob Thomas
is a whore. Mac:
- iCarly: Some of the iCarly writers themselves cameo in the very weird clips (e.g., shrimps up the nose, biting off heads of dolls) that the trio shows whenever they have a technical difficulty.
- Andrew Hill Newman, one of the show's writers plays as Mr. Henning in "iGo Nuclear", where his hippie looks garner himself most of the jokes and insults from his students and Spencer, a Ridgeway alumna. Special mention is that Newman himself co-wrote the said episode. Newman also voices George, the "sentient" Bra who tells Ghost Stories (which are actually NOT horror stories) who is also poked fun by Carly and Sam in their webshows.
- The "iHave a Question" segments, which sometimes actually answer a question and usually just poke fun at the webshow's silliness.
- The Random Debates usually start well, then the debaters will suddenly change topic (as early as Round 2), as far as their arguments are not anymore related to the topics they defend. Hilarity Ensues considering the context of the skit's title.
- During its Dork Age, X-Play absolutely beat this trope into the ground in regards to Adam Sessler. This probably wouldn't have been so bad, except 1) every other joke on the show was about how pathetic he was, and 2) Sessler is actually an intelligent and well-spoken person, but the show made him look like a complete idiot and undercut his credibility.
- An episode of The Daily Show featured Lewis Black talking about how we shouldn't let celebrities teach us political views. For examples, he shows pictures of Tom Cruise, Oprah...and himself.
- Also when he discusses the Jews, although this may be more related to N-Word Privileges.
- Jon Stewart has also struck at his own past selves on more than one occasion. He mocks himself for his past condemnation of an NRA convention near Columbine High School as well as for his past commendation of conservative activist James O'Keefe.
- Even House has a surprising amount of these, considering that he's got a huge ego and calls himself "almost always eventually right". While he's very sure of his medical and observational skills, he shows much deprecation on the other aspects of his life. He calls himself a "lonely misanthropic drug addict" and says he should've died in the bus crash instead of Amber. He once tells Cameron that she wants to date him only because he's damaged. The man obviously has huge issues of self-worth.
House: You don't love, you need. And now that your husband is dead, you're looking for your new charity case. That's why you're going out with me. I'm twice your age, I'm not great looking, I'm not charming, I'm not even nice. What I am, is what you need. I'm damaged.
- His own subconscious is positively nasty to him, especially here
Hallucination Amber: (as House is [hallucinating] detoxing with the help of Cuddy, and spots a Vicodin pill lying on the floor) You're pathetic. If you want the pill, just send her home. But you can't because that would be admitting defeat to her. Now, this is interesting. If you take the pill, you don't deserve her. If you secretly take the pill, you don't deserve anyone.
- House and his subconscious actually seem to despise one another. In the episode No Reason, House gets shot and hallucinates that he wakes up in the ICU next to the man who shot him. Over the course of the episode, each one gives the other a scathing "Reason You Suck" Speech.
- Colin Mochrie of Whose Line Is It Anyway? often makes jokes about his own baldness. Everyone else also often makes jokes about his baldness... Everybody also makes jokes about the fact that people make jokes about his baldness. On occasion, they make jokes about making jokes about making jokes about his baldness. He wasn't even completely bald at the time of the show!
- Speaking of Drew Carey, the send-up to The Full Monty they did on The Drew Carey Show ended with him walking into the audience and handing out 50 dollar bills, saying "Sorry you had to see me naked" each time. Of course, he stopped when he realized he didn't get to see any of them naked and took his money back.
- An episode of CSI has a victim who is working on a "darker and edgier" version of a cheesy sci-fi show. In one scene, a fan shouts "YOU SUCK!" at the victim. That fan was played by Ronald D. Moore, executive producer of the darker and edgier Battlestar Galactica remake.
- In fact, most of the cast from BSG comes together as a nod to knowing how they had alienated the former fans. And Ellen Tigh is the murderer of Not Ronald D. Moore
- The teaser for another CSI episode, in which a fictional TV series based on the Vegas crime lab is being discussed, Grissom states there are too many CSI-style series on TV (a tweak of not only spin-off CSI: Miami, but also NCIS).
- In the Arrested Development episode "Spring Breakout" the program Scandalmakers is described thusly by Ron Howard's narration:
- "Due to poor acting, the burden of the story was placed on the narrator. [...] He was actually found in a hole near the house, but this inattention to detail was typical of the laziness the show's narrator was known for. [...] Real shoddy narrating, just pure crap."
- "In fact, Mr. Attell was portraying Tobias' actual never-nude affliction, but this perplexed the Scandalmakers' audience due to the unfocused nature of the narrator's explanation."
- Later in the episode, "Notice it wasn't something the narrator said."
- Alternately this is the Arrested Development narrator feeling threatened by the Scandalmakers one and attacking it gratuitously.
- From the Red Dwarf episode "Quarantine":
Lister: (sighs) We're a real Mickey-Mouse operation, aren't we?
Cat: Mickey Mouse!? We ain't even Betty Boop!
- "Back to Earth" has a character criticise the fictional show's use of Psi-Scan. Although given the Psi-Scan's response, this may have been more Take That, Critics!...
- When James May joined Top Gear in season 2, Jeremy Clarkson introduced him as a "complete imbecile." May then presented a segment about how no intelligent person would buy a luxury car out of a magazine just to say he owned one — and then showed off his own Bentley T2, admitting he'd bought it so he could own a Bentley and faithfully listing all the ways it had made his life worse.
- The show itself has the motto of "Top Gear - Ambitious but rubbish!".
- Jeremy Clarkson consistently refers to Top Gear as "That poky little motoring programme on BBC 2" and occasionally to himself as "a fat balding idiot" or words to that effect.
- Top Gear has a segment called "The Cool Wall", where the presenters debate the coolness level of the Cool Cars the show features. There are a number of common rules note but one of them states that if any of the presenters own the car in question, it can never be considered cool, even with all other considerations in mind.
- In the New Zealand series Pulp Sport, every third episode has some sort of reference to them being derivative and terrible, while every season finale ends with Bill and Ben being Fired.
- Larry David, of Curb Your Enthusiasm, when accused of being a "self-hating Jew", answered: "I do hate myself, but it has nothing to do with being Jewish."
- The concept of Wormhole X-Treme! as a Show Within a Show for Stargate SG-1 exists solely to make fun of themselves. Includes the concept of the Zat disintegrating things (long since ret conned in the actual show) and the question of why exactly, someone who is "out of phase" can stand on the floor and sit in chairs (reused years later).
Martin: <referring to apples about to be used on the set> Paint them or something. We can't have aliens eating red apples!
- The season 8 finale also mocks a particular infamous line from the pilot episode, when Carter was clunkily written as much more of a vocal feminist: "Just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside, doesn't mean I can't handle anything you can't handle." An alternate-universe Carter is in the middle of rehearsing a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her boss and starts saying the line, but stops halfway and exclaims, "God, that is awful! Who would ever say that?"
- Yet another episode introduces us to a barber who had visions of Jack's life. He tries writing out the stories for a magazine, but there are several that absolutely no one liked, particularly the unpopular episode Hathor. Hathor seems to be a common target for this sort of thing: in another episode, as Dr. Frasier is going through a list of files on O'Neill's injuries over the years and explaining them, she comes across one stack and immediately puts it aside, saying "Oh, that's the whole "Hathor" incident, which he has asked me to never speak of again."
- Monty Python's Flying Circus once did a sketch set in a Chemists where everyone had an embarrassing ailment—and then ran a mock apology for the poor quality of writing in that sketch. Similarly, a particularly violent Sam Peckinpah sketch was followed by a sketch claiming that the Python team only wrote it because they all came from broken homes (especially Eric).
- Another episode was linked by a spoof educational film on parts of the body. When they got to no. 17 (the inside of a country house), the following dialogue ensued:
That's not a part of the body.
It's a link, though.
Not a very good one.
Well, it's the end of the series, they must be running out of ideas.
- Done spectacularly on Supernatural:
- The boys meet a writer (whose pseudonym, Carver Edlund, is named after two of the show's writers) who receives visions of the boys' adventures and turns them into novels. When they confront him about it, he initially thinks that everything he writes comes to life. He instantly feels guilty about all the crap he's put Sam and Dean through, and then regrets writing "Bugs" and "Red Sky at Morning", two episodes notorious for being hated by the fans.
Chuck: I am so sorry. I mean, horror is one thing, but to be forced to live bad writing...
- Supernatural got one in the form of Paris Hilton. She plays an ancient pagan god in "Fallen Idols" who chastises humanity for worshiping the cult of celebrities, since all they have is "small dogs and spray tans". (She herself could be seen as the patron saint of the cult of celebrity.)
- In "The French Mistake", Sam and Dean get sent into an Alternate Universe that's basically ours—as in, they take on the role of their actors, playing themselves. This included this memorable bit of conversation:
Sam: Well, I mean, according to the interviewer, not many people do.
- Snooki's possessed by a crossroads demon. "Well, that explains a lot."
- The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson fills his monologues with self-deprecation, calling himself a "creepy European" and "a vulgar lounge entertainer". He goes so far as to slander himself, implying that he's some sort of severe sexual deviant, and that his show is unfunny and poorly produced.
- During the Late Nite Wars "We may suck, but we suck at the same damn time every night!"
- He also jokes that the audience is only laughing because they got free stuff, and are only there because they couldn't get into The Price is Right (which, admittedly, might actually be true, as they tape in the same building). "If you're watching this program regularly—I'm sorry."
- Heroes: Noah Bennet's comment ("Sorry about the Sylar thing. We all admit it was a terrible idea.") could be read as an apology for the volume 4 finale.
- One particular episode of Babylon 5 has what could be read as either Self Deprecation or Strawman Political: when Garibaldi is trying to break Sheridan out from his imprisonment by President Clark's forces (as atonement for setting him up while under mind control), he says to one of the guards, "Maybe you've seen me on the news?" The guard immediately replies, "I don't watch TV. It's a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite."
- Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle gave us this nugget in Mock the Week:
"There were concerns as to whether Mel Gibson could accurately portray a Scotsman [in Braveheart
], but look at him now—an alcoholic racist."
- John Cena posed for photos with fans wearing "I hate Cena" T-shirts after defeating Batista for the WWE Championship in Wrestlemania XXVI.
- Cena revels in being simultaneously the most loved AND most hated man in pro wrestling, as well as being the only guy who can get fans chanting stupid things like "Fruity Pebbles". From one post-injury-rehab promo:
John: I even miss that guy in section 26B telling me I suck!
Random Guy in the Audience: YOU SUCK!
John: [throws up his arms in victory with a huge smile]
- Cena was predated by Kurt Angle in WWE, who had fans chanting "YOU SUCK!" to the beat of his theme music, whether he was a heel or a face. During one Heel-Face Turn after neck surgery, he came out to those chants, declared "You have no idea how good it feels to hear those words again!" and then started leading the chants. The next night on Smack Down, when his proteges Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin said they were sick of getting those chants themselves, Angle replied "You don't deserve to have these people chant 'you suck!' I earned it!"
- An episode of Will and Grace guest-starring Rosie O' Donnell had her character watching TV looking bored, turning it off, and exclaiming, "Daytime television sucks!"
- Whenever he's not snarking at his producers, the Travel Network, foodies and foodie culture, Rachel Ray, or mainstream chain restaurants, celebrity chef and No Reservations star Anthony Bourdain frequently pokes fun at himself, particularly his wild and crazy past.
- After some critics called That Mitchell and Webb Look "hit-and-miss", the next series featured a sketch in which David and Robert were seen writing the "misses" for this week, with David saying he didn't envy the other writers who had to write the hits.
- Self Deprecation was a staple joke on the 80s sketch comedy Bizarre—jokes included Richard Nixon telling host John Byner (who played Nixon in the sketch), not to "make the mistake I did", but instead to "burn the tapes", and an ET parody, where the ET character was the children's grandfather who couldn't even bear to be in the house while they were watching Bizarre.
- Saturday Night Live had a series of skits called "Superfans", poking lots of fun at Chicagoans, especially their fanatical attitude towards sports and love of greasy meat-based food. With the exception of Canadian Mike Myers, all the actors in the skits were Chicago natives. And no one found the skits funnier than Chicagoans.
- People have been declaring that SNL "isn't funny anymore" since about 1980. They've been making fun of themselves for not being funny anymore since the '90s.
- An episode which guest starred Zac Efron had him reprise his role of Troy Bolton.
- Much of the humor in SNL skits in general involve celebrity hosts (or musical guests) using the opportunity to poke fun of themselves and their images or personal and professional lives, or to allow themselves to be spoofed, especially via Celebrity Paradox or Actor Allusion.
- During the 2013 episode that Kerry Washington hosted, the writers acknowledged the criticism the show had taken over its lack of women of color. The Cold Open featured a disclaimer apologizing to Ms. Washington for the sheer number of black women she'd have to play, and the skit itself had poor Kerry playing Michelle Obama, Beyoncé Knowles, and Oprah. All Played for Laughs of course.
- Scrubs had an episode about this, "My Night To Remember". JD even said, "A sitcom without new stories to do."
- You Cant Do That On Television is practically made of this. The opening preempt announcement, the closing announcement, and the locker gags are the biggest offenders, but in all honesty something like a third of the jokes are about how bad the program is. An episode revolved around the show being sold to a new producer every few minutes because none of them wanted it—one producer bought it without having seen an episode and sold it once he had.
- In one episode of Stargate Atlantis, Rodney McKay describes television as 'ridiculously attractive people in absurd situations' to Ronon and Teyla, who are amazed that someone would 'watch a box' for hours on end.
- Rick Harrison, of Pawn Stars, described The Rat Patrol as a "low budget TV show about four guys in the desert". He then looks right at the camera.
- Doctor Who:
- Literal in-universe example: Any time two or more different incarnations of the Doctor have met, it's a safe bet at least one will say something snarky about the others ("A dandy and a clown?"). Also doubles as a lighthearted Take That between the various actors who've portrayed the character.
- It's also something of a tradition when a new actor becomes the Doctor for the writers to, in the scenes immediately after the regeneration, single out one of the new actor's more distinctive or less-than-flattering features and then write a few lines of dialogue wherein the new Doctor looks at himself in the mirror and makes a point of noting how unsightly he thinks this feature is.
- Russell T Davies (Welsh) and Steven Moffat (Scottish) have taken potshots at their own countries. Aliens in Cardiff? Why Cardiff, of all places? And Scotland's never conquered anywhere, y'know—not even a Shetland.
In The Unquiet Dead
, The Doctor remarks about the possibility of dying in Cardiff of all places.
- The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is an internet special by Peter Davison about himself, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy trying to appear in the 50th anniversary story, and sending themselves up mercilessly in the process.
- In an arguable case of how this trope can backfire, the producers attempted to do this in Season 23, during "The Trial of a Time Lord" season. Since the Framing Device for this season was the Doctor and a courtroom of Time Lords watching excerpts from the Doctor's adventures as evidence in his trial, the characters were essentially watching Doctor Who throughout the season. At several points they make slightly meta-comments about the show; in one notable example, the Doctor points out how boring and inconsequential the scene the characters have just watched is and demands that they move forward to something a bit more relevant and interesting. Unfortunately, this was made during a period when the writing and production standards of Doctor Who had arguably been less-than-stellar to begin with, and the whole point of the season was to offer a defense of the show after it had been controversially taken off the air for eighteen months. Nobody seemed to consider the possibility that watching the Doctor essentially pointing out how his own show was un-watchable rubbish might prompt the audience—including those who believed it should be cancelled—to start agreeing with him.
- The Doctor's self-loathing is a frequent component of the new series, thanks to the events of the Time War.
The "Dream Lord" in Amy's Choice was implied to be a manifestation of the Doctor's own darker tendencies, much like the Valeyard from the classic series. The Dream Lord took several potshots at the Doctor along the way.
The Doctor: Where did you pick up this cheap cabaret act?
Dream Lord: Me? Oh, you're on shaky ground.
The Doctor: Am I?
Dream Lord: If you had any more tawdry quirks, you could open up have a tawdry quirk shop. The madcap vehicle. The cockamamie hair. The clothes designed by a first-year fashion student. I'm surprised you haven't got a little purple space dog. Just to ram home what an intergalactic wag you are.
The Doctor: There's only one person in the Universe who hates me as much as you do.
- When he was dying from River Song's poison lipstick in "Let's Kill Hitler", the TARDIS communicated with the Doctor through a holographic interface; when it used his own image as an avatar, he told it to show him "someone [he] like[d]".
- In "Time Heist", the Doctor refers to his current look as intended to have been "Minimalist" but winding up with "Magician". Also, throughout the episode, the Doctor continually mentions how he hates the Architect. Later, it turns out he is the Architect.
- "In the Forest of the Night": "I am Doctor Idiot!"
- The Planet's Funniest Animals, Animal Planet's Poor Man's Substitute for Americas Funniest Home Videos, had a host who did this about some quality of himself in almost every single clip introduction. He beat the shtick to death, then resurrected it and proceeded to beat it to a second death until he was canned and replaced.
- In the Friends episode "The One with the Blind Date", Phoebe and Joey intentionally set Rachel and Ross on bad blind dates to make them realize that they should be together. Rachel's date is Steve, who spends the evening with insulting himself.
Steve: I—I just have to say this; you're really beautiful.
Rachel: Oh, well, that's—that's very sweet. Thank you.
Steve: I'm kind of funny-looking.
Steve: Oh, come on, you're way out of my league. Everybody in here knows it. Bet that guy over there's probably saying, "ooh, why she out with him? He must be rich!" Well, I'm not!
Rachel: Okay...well, I guess then the joke's on him! So, what do think you wanna order? I'm really excited about that chicken.
Steve: I'm not funny either. So, if you were thinking, "well, he's not that good-looking, but maybe we'll have some laughs..." that ain't gonna happen!
- Also Chandler, who frequently throws out jokes at his own expense, especially concerning his love life.
- Done in the pilot and at the beginning of every single following episode in Burn Notice by Sam Axe:
Sam: You know spies, bunch of bitchy little girls.
- For the record, both Michael and Sam are former spies.
- Technically, Sam is a former Navy SEAL. But he apparently has similar skills to Michael, who is former/current CIA.
- Frequently done on MythBusters.
So we've proven that women can endure pain better than men. In your face, men! Wait...
- Friends parody Chums, from SMTV Live, has lots of these in its opening gags and cliffhanger recaps:
"Chums is filmed before an easily-pleased studio audience."
"Was Dane Bowers a vampire? Were the chums turned into lifeless zombies, and, if so, would anybody notice the difference? Find out now as we return you to Chums."
- It also poked fun at the previous pop careers of its stars Ant And Dec ("Everyone knows you've never been able to sing a note!").
- The first episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder lets Tommy poke fun at his mythical "Swiss cheese memory" from earlier seasonsnote . Tommy is running from an apparently reanimated Tyrannosaurus and runs to his car, buckles up, locks the door...and then realizes he's in an open-topped Jeep. "Yeah, real great Tommy, lock the door."
- Bones mocks itself mercilessly in "The Suit on the Set". A Hollywood studio is creating a movie based on one of Dr. Brennan's books. Technical accuracy takes a backseat to Rule of Cool. The lab has a superfluous environment, including for some reason a monorail in the background.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak enjoys doing this. Improbable military knowledge? He reads a lot! Unusual and fancy engineering equipment? It's a common tailor's tool! Ability to ooze power and order around Guls like you own them while spouting active and valid codes despite having been in exile years? Overheard it while hemming a woman's dress! Expert ability to rewrite high-class military encryption software? Any tailor can do it!
- In one season two episode of Monk at the end of the episode Monk gets a fangirl who tells him that if he somehow he gets a TV show, it should never change its theme song. By that point in the series the Randy Newman song "It's a Jungle Out There" had been used as the theme for the show; as an acknowledgement of the change, the original theme begins playing during the end credits rather than the instrumental version of the current one.
- On an episode of the NBC sitcom Night Court, Brandon Tartikoff, the network president at the time, shows up As Himself to post bail for a Neilsen family. Why? So they can get home in time to see Misfits of Science, another of the network's series that was struggling in the ratings at the time.
- Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs never misses an opportunity to snark on himself and the show, to the point of frequently starting things off by asking his host "What can I do to slow things down?" and reassuring his hosts about looking silly on the air by saying, "Nobody watches the show."
Host: You're probably right-handed, aren't you?
Mike: Oh, it doesn't matter, I'm equally incompetent with either limb.
- David Letterman does this all the time on his late night show(s), but a memorable one was back in the late 1990s when Leno/NBC placed a giant advertisement in Times Square for The Tonight Show with Leno's face and "#1 in Late Night" after winning the 11:35 ET time slot for the period. At that time, Letterman not only trailed Leno, but also ABC's Nightline. In response, Letterman put up an even bigger ad with his face on it proudly declaring himself "#3 in Late Night!"
- The hosts of New Zealand comedy show Jono and Ben at Ten frequently joke about the show's supposedly low ratings. In reality, it is one of the top-rated shows on its channel.
- In Dexter, Masuka makes a racist comment at the expense of his own race, followed by his trademark goofy laugh:
Vincent Masuka: Genius. He doesn't want to leave shoe prints, so he leaves sock prints. And I thought Asians were supposed to be smart.
- The Mick Molloy Show was a talk/sketch/variety show that aired in 1999 and lasted only eight episodes. It was more than just an inconvenience for Molloy at the time, as he and many others involved had made sacrifices that turned out to be for naught, but several years later in the ninth episode of his next show The Nation, he had various Australian celebrities, including The Wiggles, congratulate him on the milestone. Unfortunately for Molloy, the show was cancelled eight episodes later.
- While promoting the final season of How I Met Your Mother at the Comic-Com 2013, a promo trailer was released where Ted's kids, who are all grown-up, vented their frustrations at their dad for dragging the story out too long—over eight years—and wanted him to get to the point on how he actually met their mother.
Future Ted: So...you're saying you want me to wrap it up?
Future Ted: Alright, fine. I'll wrap it up.
Penny: Fuckin' A!
- The "Lights, Camera, Homicidio!" episode of Psych has this gem:
Shawn: You said you never had the opportunity to visit me while I was working a real job, and now I have a real job!
Henry: Acting is not a real job, Shawn. I mean, how much attention do you need?
- On Game of Thrones, Olenna Tyrell notes that her family's coat of arms (a rose) is lame and nothing like the Starks' (direwolf) or Greyjoys' (kraken). And their motto, "Growing Strong", is dull compared to "Winter Is Coming" or "We Do Not Sow".
- Castle wants to travel to Montreal alone to investigate his recent two-month-long disappearance; Beckett insists that it might be too dangerous. Castle (played by Canadian Nathan Fillion) responds with "It's Canada! How dangerous could it be?" to fellow Canadian Stana Katic.
- In a recent interview on one of the last episodes of The Colbert Report, Smaug called Benedict Cumberbatch a "hack". Cumberbatch, of course, did the voice and motion-capture for Smaug in The Hobbit, and in the interview.