- Avatar: The Last Airbender takes a few shots at itself in "The Ember Island Players", where the Gaang goes to see play done in tremendous detail about everything that happened to them since Aang's awakening. In an early episode ("The Great Divide"), the group stopped at a canyon and wound up trying to resolve the differences between two feuding clans. Many fans felt it was the worst episode in the series. In the play when the actors playing them spot the canyon they point out its existence... and then decide not to stop and just keep going. Also, during the scene based on "The Drill", much of the audience is visibly bored. The Gaang acts as the Audience Surrogate for both the audience and the Ember Island Players.
- The Legend of Korra: The Season 4 Clip Show "Remembrances" has several jabs at the less than stellar handling of the Love Triangle from Seasons 1 and 2, Mako's relationship issues with Korra and Asami, and Unalaq is treated like The Friend Nobody Likes when compared to Amon, Vaatu, and Zaheer.
- The Simpsons:
- Matt Groening has occasionally taken shots at himself, including having his Life in Hell comics have coffee deflected onto them from a superior comic, showing himself willing to sign anything at a comic convention, and having Homer insult his work being in an art gallery.
- Groening's appearance in The Simpsons Game takes it even further: it is revealed even he doesn't know whether his name is pronounced "Groan-ing" or "Grain-ing"; he introduces himself as "animation's greatest luminary" only for Bart and Homer to blurt out "Seth MacFarlane?", and he is a level boss that Simpsons have to fight. Once he's defeated, the family chide him for milking their franchise.
- In another shot at Groening, they passively encourage fans to hassle him by pretending he enjoys it:
Milhouse: Mr. Groaning, will you autograph my Bender doll?
Matt Groening: Sure! I'm happy to give anyone my autograph! Anytime or anywhere! On the street, in a store, or on my private property. But why be happy with just an autograph? What about an original sketch or snippet of my hair? And don't forget to pull my beard. They say it's good luck.
- The Comic Book Guy is also lightly based on Groening; specifically how he believed he would be perceived by fans.
- And at the start of The Movie, we have Homer chastising viewers for watching in a cinema something they could watch for free at home.
- In the Meta-episode, The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular, an impromptu interview with Mr. Groening has the camera barge into his office, to find an old, shriveled man with one eye doing tequila shots, who promply picks up a gun and shoots the cameraman.
"Groening": GIT OUTTA MAH OFFICE! *BANG* *BANG*
- From the same episode:
Troy McClure: Yes, the Simpsons have come a lot way since an old alcoholic made humans out of his rabbit characters to pay off his gambling debts.
- Another Clip Show episode also has the song "They'll Never Stop the Simpsons" (to the tune of "We Didn't Start the Fire") in which the line "Have no fears, we've got stories for years" is presented as Blatant Lies. A similar joke occurs in "Behind the Laughter", which ends with Homer concluding that the plot of the episode being filmed ("I can't believe we won another contest!" "The Simpsons are going to Delaware!") indicates that this will be the last season. (And yes, they did use that dialogue the following season in "Simpsons Tall Tales".)
- In the episode written by and guest starring Ricky Gervais, Gervais takes a swipe at himself, as Homer dismisses his schtick as "You take forever to say nothing!"
- The series frequently makes fun of the fact it's animated overseas in Korea. Once they recruited Banksy to help them.
- Rupert Murdoch appears as himself in "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" and refers to himself as "the billionaire tyrant." He also sends his goons after Homer and the others for breaking into his sky box.
- Lisa says someone is still a loser despite getting a job, due to the job in question being a writer.
- In Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming Bob laments "My crusade against television has come to an end so formulaic it could have spewed from the power-book of the laziest Hollywood hack!" Also in that episode, Sideshow Bob's rant against TV is interrupted by Rupert Murdoch who's angry because he owns 61% of the network being insulted. He's one of Bob's inmates in prison.
- In "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?":
Lisa: Wow, my first published article! Although someone else's name is on it...
Homer: Welcome to the humiliating world of professional writing!
- The opening subtitle of "Simpsorama" reads: "A show out of ideas teams up with a show out of episodes."
- Krusty takes a shot at the show's own writers (and all writers by extension) in one episode when his network executives are pressuring him to make his show appeal more to girls. His response?
Krusty: If my writers knew how to appeal to girls they wouldn't be writers!
- South Park:
- "Cartoon Wars", a two episode-long Take That toward Family Guy, takes a couple jabs at itself when a stranger drops Kyle off to save Family Guy, "I know the show is just joke after joke with no structure, but I kinda like that. At least it's not all preachy and up its own ass with messages, you know?"
- In the episode where Stan and Kenny go to Mel Gibson to get their money back for The Passion of the Christ, Stan says "This is just like when we got our money back for BASEketball," a film starring Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
- An in-universe example: Several times Cartman actually helps out with the jokes directed toward him, saying a large structure compared to his ass is nowhere close to rivaling him. That might be due to Cartman Comically Missing the Point combined with his massive ego.
- In the episode where Randy is going for the "Biggest Crap" Record along with a few jabs at Bono they would occasionally flash the words "Emmy Award Winning Series" on the bottom of the screen during the moments where the episode was reaching absurd levels of stupidity.
- The Movie features the kids going to see in-universe TV show Terrence And Philip's own The Movie. At the end they complain about the film's lame animation, and then have an especially badly-animated walk away from the theater.
- The season 16 episode "Raising the Bar" features this dialogue:
Kyle: How did shamelessness get to this? Did it start with fat people on scooters or did the bar get lowered way before that? And then I started thinking that maybe it was us. I don't know, but maybe somehow we lowered the bar... a long time ago and now we're just sitting in the stink of it all.
- In fact, the show's tongue-in-cheek opening disclaimer, which it has had from the start, could count:
Disclaimer: All characters and events in this show-–even those based on real people–-are entirely fictional. All celebrity voices are impersonated.....poorly. The following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone.
- In "A Very Crappy Christmas", after the boys recreated the 1995 "Spirit of Christmas" and showed it to the town:
Mayor: "Kids, that cartoon was fabulous. How would you like to have your own show and make 100 more of them?"
Stan: "Are you kidding? I think we'd rather stab ourselves in the head."
- ''Terrance and Philip" mocks their potty humor and jokes.
- Black Friday:
- Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: S.A.F.E.T.Y." a Senator proposes a law that bans cartoons that make fun of adults. (The whole idea of this cartoon.)
- In an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, Hawkeye points out how incredibly stupid it is that Spider-Man uses a Spider-Cycle when he can already get anywhere he needs to by using his webs.
- Drawn Together:
- Many episodes in the second and third season contain jokes about how bad the show is.
- One notable example is "Xandir and Tim, Sitting in a Tree", where the gang find out that their show was given a bad review by Entertainment Weekly. While the episode doubles as a Take That, Critics! by portraying the person who gave the negative review as an unflattering amalgam of every kind of person the show makes fun of, the characters agree that the criticism is well-deserved.
- Another example that stands out is in the two-part episode "Lost in Parking Space", where it is revealed that Hot Topic makes lots of money by allowing their patrons to torture despised cartoon characters and the Drawn Together cast are stated to be extremely reviled, which leads to Foxxy Love and Princess Clara being added to Hot Topic's prisoners against their wills.
- One scene in the direct-to-video movie has the cast listen to the audio commentary in order to find out how to get out of their current problem. They get very impatient in waiting for the creators to reveal how they solve their problem, with Wooldoor Sockbat even asking in an irritated tone who would even bother to listen to the commentary.
- Tiny Toon Adventures frequently takes shots at its own writers. In addition to all the examples listed on Who Writes This Crap?!, there are the lyrics for the theme song to the Wonderful Life Christmas special: "Our writers aren't gifted!/The story has been lifted..."
- Animaniacs is fond of this, and even contains an example in the opening credits:
The writers flipped, we have no script
Why bother to rehearse?
- "The Warners' 65th Anniversary Special" pokes fun at the abysmal reception of Buddy's cartoons by portraying Buddy as a villain seeking revenge against the Warners for stealing his fame.
- In the episode "Valuable Lesson", Attila the Hun, pursuing the Warner Siblings with the intent to seriously harm them, at one point storms into Warner Bros. Studios while shouting "Crush Warners!" A guard resembling Don Knotts witnesses this and remarks "Must be from one of our affiliates".
- The debut episode of Freakazoid! did this kind of joke when they do a theme for the show using the Animaniacs melody:
It's Freakazoid and friends
It's what your dentist recommends
To patients who chew gum
This show is really dumb
It's Freakazoid and friends
- Family Guy
- Quagmire is starting to become this, pointing the flaws and many things disliked by the fans. It reached its peak in a Take That, Scrappy! at Brian, of all people.
- In an episode that somehow has the characters ending up at an adult movie awards ceremony, the category for "Best Music Composition" comes up. One of them is John Williams, who apparently uses a full-fledged orchestra even when scoring a porn flick, and two grungy-looking guys with synthesizers. One of said grungy men with synthesizer is identified as Walter Murphy, composer for the disco hit "A Fifth of Beethoven", as well as long-time composer of Seth Mac Farlane's works, including Family Guy and Ted.
- In the episode Road To The Multiverse, Brian's dog tag on his collar in one of the universesnote has "LIBERAL" on it, making fun of Brian's left-wing viewpoints.
- An episode included a news anchorman whose name was Chevapravatdumrong, but changed it because no one would allow that name on television. This is a dig at Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, one of the show's producers, whose name appears at the beginning of each episode.
- The Return of the Jedi special ends with Lois, Meg, and Chris outright insulting MacFarlane, calling him unoriginal, an asshole, and a one-trick pony ("He watched television in the 1980s. We get it.").
- One episode has them complain about Scrubs and the way it often jumped to imagination cuts, in a drawn out way that makes it very clear that they are also talking about their own tendency to jump-cut to jokes.
- In the 100th episode special, Seth MacFarlane interviews several people about Family Guy (who don't know who he is). They all say that the show is terrible.
- The opening to "Valentine's Day in Quahog", which parodies the theatrical trailer for Valentine's Day, includes a text card saying that the episode is another sign of the show's declining quality.
- Brian goes back in time to Nazi Germany and is disgusted by a piece of Nazi propaganda featuring a horrible caricature of a Jew. The picture of the Jew is identical to Family Guy's recurring Jewish character Mort Goldman.
- In "Forget-Me-Not", an amnesiac Peter finds a jukebox and turns it on. The song "Surfin' Bird" starts playing, but Peter shuts it off after about three seconds and remarks "Boy, that got old real fast". This is, of course, a dig at the Running Gag of Peter's literally fetishisticnote obsession with the song.
- The creators of Robot Chicken occasionally insert themselves into sketches, usually for jokes at their own expense, and each season finale ends with the show's cancellation (necessitating the renewal of the series in each subsequent season premier).
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
- One episode of The Fairly OddParents! had Timmy trying to impress Trixie by winning a movie award. When he finally does, she still rejects him. When he asks why, she says:
Trixie: Because, anonymous voice from nobody, you won an award for comedy, and everyone knows that comedy is the lowest form of entertainment. Next to animation.
- Taken Up to Eleven with the new opening for Season 10, where the theme song portrays Timmy as being unreasonably selfish in his refusal to share his fairy godparents with his neighbor Chloe Carmichael.
- Fanboy and Chum Chum frequently takes jabs at itself for the excessive use of Toilet Humor and puns. An example from "Little Glop of Horrors":
Fanboy: Hey Kyle! It's pizza day! Come play pizza monkeys with us!
Kyle: You two are... pizza monkeys? What do you do, throw your poopparoni?
Fanboy and Chum Chum burst out with laughter
Kyle (sighing): I'm witty day after day - and this is what they laugh at.
- Season 2 of Yogi's Treasure Hunt reveled in self-deprecation, parody and self-parody. Most notably in the episode "Yogi's Heroes," where Dick Dastardly and Muttley capture Snooper and Blabber and torture them by making them watch old Dastardly & Muttley cartoons.
Blabber: Our brains will turn to mush!
- Rocky and Bullwinkle loved to poke fun at itself. One episode dealt with Boris and Natasha's attempts to open a giant trunk, and failing everything else, they opt to bring in an A-bomb. Cue the following exchange:
Rocky: They said "A-bomb"! Do you know what that means, Bullwinkle?
Bullwinkle: Sure. "A bomb" is what some people call our program.
Rocky: I didn't think that was very funny.
- Arthur did this quite a few times. One episode was when they wrote a contest and they were watching a parody of themselves. "If they're animals, do they eat garbage for lunch?" Also, "And Now Let's Talk to Some Kids" where they poked fun at the usually choppy segment.
- In another episode, Buster creates a self-aggrandizing cartoon based around his own imaginary adventures. Describing the premise to his friends, Arthur notes that to make things worse, Buster's show is also supposed to be "edutainment," which causes everyone to recoil in disgust.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
- In the episode "My Fair Mandy", Grim introduces the kids to an underworld makeover artist. Grim then says that she made him what he is today and once looked like a "total nerd". It then cuts to a picture of creator Maxwell Atoms.
- From the episode where Billy, Mandy, and Grim go to the Sassy Cat Amusement Park:
Mandy: I agree.
- There are a few times that Maxwell Atoms' other, far less successful show, Evil Con Carne, is mentioned and mocked. An example from the episode "Fear and Loathing in Endsville", when Billy and Mandy are apparently watching Jeopardy! on the TV.
Contestant: I'll take cancelled TV shows for 300, Alex.
Alex Trebek: Okay, this show starred a bear with an evil brain attached...oh come on, surely someone has seen that show!
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has had characters respond negatively to Pinkie Pie's Once an Episode singing a number of times:
- The very first song of the series is sung by Pinkie in the second episode, prompting the following exchange:
Pinkie Pie: When I was a littile filly, and the sun was going dooown... Twilight Sparkle:
Tell me she's not— Pinkie Pie: The darkness and the shadows, they would always make me frooown... Rarity:
- Pinkie Pie's announcement that she's written a song about Zecora in "Bridle Gossip" is immediately preceded by eye-rolling and a weary "Here we go" from Rainbow Dash. After the song finishes, Pinkie is met with an awkward silence and bewildered stares.
- In "Over a Barrel", after watching Pinkie Pie's song about sharing and caring, Chief Thunderhooves announces that he's found something he and Sheriff Silver Star agree on: "That was the worst performance we've ever seen." An ill-timed reprise of the song later on actually angers Thunderhooves into going through with his attack on Appleloosa.
- In "Baby Cakes", Pinkie's attempt to cheer up Pound and Pumpkin Cake with her excessively juvenile "Piggy Dance" song actually makes them stare at each other in disgust and start crying all over again.
- In "A Friend in Deed", Cranky Doodle Donkey is repeatedly annoyed by Pinkie's songs.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks features a scene where Twilight and the human versions of her friends hold hands and declare "Friendship is magic!", and are then quite shocked when this doesn't actually do anything. The commentary confirms this is a deliberate reference to the number of times the show has resorted to essentially doing this same thing as a Deus ex Machina (including the previous movie).
- In "Rarity Takes Manehattan", Rainbow Dash remarks that she's not usually into musicals. "Ponies bursting into song at the drop of a hat? Who does that?" This is immediately followed by Rarity bursting into song.
- In "Gauntlet Of Fire", when the Dragon Princess Ember ends up befriending Spike, she makes it clear to him that their friendship wont consist of "picking flowers or exchange necklaces or whatever pony friends do", a jab at the shows' own tendency to taste like diabetes. "Triple Threat" also has her Leaning on the Fourth Wall regarding the similarities in both name and design between Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer.
- "All Bottled Up" features a gag where the Mane Six are attempting to solve a Room Escape Game in record time, and once they (seemingly) solve it, the entire group breaks out into a musical number. Not only did they not actually finish the puzzle (the key had to be turned for the challenge to be completed) the musical number took so long that they fell short of the puzzle record by two seconds. It was even lampshaded by their guide, who told them the song wasn't necessary. The song itself was even a Self-Parody of the typical musical number the show usually does.
- "Fame and Misfortune" features angry fanponies complaining about Twilight getting her wings and Fluttershy learning the same lesson over and over again. The latter is justified in episode, as Fluttershy notes that it is really hard to completely change who you are based on a single event. They also didn't so much as mention the Broken Base surrounding Starlight Glimmer, particularly her Easily Forgiven status, as if to say even they couldn't defend that and instead are going to focus on the character she is now.
- However, this might have more to do with the fact that, In-Universe, the journal was finished before Starlight reformed, and in a more meta sense, the script being recycled from an old one written before she became a main character.
- In one episode of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, the main protagonists are captured by the villains and forced to watch the original live action film endlessly as torture.
- The Adventure Time episode "A Glitch is Just a Glitch" opens with Finn doing some crude animation of the Ice King on a computer. He soon becomes impatient with his progress:
Finn: Man, I don’t have the patience for this animation junk. Whoever does this must have no life whatsoever. *Punches himself in the face* Why did I do that?
- Beavis and Butt-Head:
- The show's first disclaimer said that they are stupid cartoon people completely made up by this Texas guy whom we hardly even know.
- Additionally, in "Animation Sucks", they both agree that animation sucks after seeing the hundreds of dead people that they drew turn into 2 repeatedly dying people. Plus, said dead people looked just like them. Earlier in the same episode, Van Dreissen goes on a lengthy spiel about the wonders of bringing your ideas to life with animation. During the entire speech, we simply see Beavis and Butt-Head just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing.
- The Star Wars: Droid Tales specials take jabs at some of the less than popular elements of the franchise, such as the focus on things like taxation and trade routes in The Phantom Menace, Palpatine being Obviously Evil, every planet having breathable oxygen, and much more.
- Done a few times on Brickleberry:
- In "Trip to Mars", Woody Johnson finds out that all of the progresses NASA made in space travel have been staged and that everyone involved is an actor. He ponders whether he is an actor and is on television right now, but concludes that in the time slot he's in "no one's watching this shit".
- The season 2 finale "A-Park-alypse" has a Native American remark that Brickleberry lasted more seasons than he expected.
- In "High Stakes", Malloy responds to Woody's claim that he made friends with a bigger asshole than himself by asking if he means that he made friends with Daniel Tosh, who happens to be Malloy's voice actor.
- In the episode "Too Far" of Steven Universe, Peridot notes in a personal audio diary that while she's grown to (begrudgingly) respect Pearl, she can't rationalize her "spontaneous singing, crying, ...singing while crying," a dig at the tendency of the show's main characters to cry or sing whenever things get emotional.
- The Show Within a Show, "Crying Breakfast Friends", is an even bigger example of this, as each episode has those characters cry and hug constantly: Steven is the only one who really likes the show, with almost every other character being confused by it.
- MAD ran for 100 episodes, then caps it off with a skit where One Direction watches the show and sings a parody of "Best Song Ever" calling it the worst show ever.
- It only made sense that the show do this a lot given that the source material is famous for it and even provides the image on the main page. For more examples, they had a skit where WALL•E attacks their studios for being the "biggest producers of garbage," and one where The Watcher awkwardly avoids answering Captain America's question of whether MAD wins an Emmy in the future.
- Gravity Falls:
- In one episode, Grunkle Stan tells Mabel that animation is made by moving things around one frame at a time, by an anti-social shut-in. Soos says that those people are called "animators".
- At the end of "Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons," the main characters sit down together to watch the finale of In-Universe cartoon Ducktective...which has the exact same plot twist that Gravity Falls did two episodes ago.
Mabel: He had a twin brother all along? That's the big twist we were waiting for?
Grenda: What a ripoff!
Soos: I predicted that, like, a year ago.
- In the Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja episode "Debbie Meddle", Debbie and Randy agree that the show's title sounds ridiculous, complete with an Aside Glance.
- Although Teen Titans Go! is notorious for insulting its detractors, it takes potshots at itself just as often. One suspects that the writers are aware of the show's infamous reputation and just enjoy playing it up.
- "The Fourth Wall" has Control Freak reveal that he created the show by rebooting the universe of the original series and he informs the Titans that his plan to win praise for creating the show has failed because nobody likes it. He also shows the Titans the original series, with the Titans being just as disappointed as the original show's fans that it got cancelled.
- "Wally T" is filled to the brim with jokes about the show's dismal reception, the most notable one being Robin expressing his skepticism at the idea of the show having a fan. Wally T also non-verbally shows that he prefers the original show and the Titans at one point lose their fan by attempting to pander to his favorite aspects of the show, leaving them with no fans at all.
- "TTG v. PPG", a crossover with The Powerpuff Girls (2016), goes out of its way to show the Titans as incompetent idiots. Mojo Jojo states that heroes don't care about fighting crime in the TTG universe, Cyborg and Beast Boy are shown as complete imbeciles who are easily deceived into helping Mojo Jojo create his monkey army, and Starfire, Raven, and Robin insistently patronize Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup and dismiss them as being "babies". In addition, the Powerpuff Girls prove to be better crime-fighters and they and their narrator waste no time in calling the Titans out on their incompetent and unheroic ways.
Narrator: And so, once again, the day is saved, no thanks to the Teen Titans! Seriously, what's wrong with these guys?
- Danger Mouse reveled in this, especially the original series.
Narrator: And so we come to the end of another load of...(catches himself) another amazing adventure.
- As a cross between Self Deprecation and Take That!, several segments of the Garbage Pail Kids Cartoon showed parents and Moral Guardians decrying the cartoon (which is something that actually happened in real life). The first episode even begins with a bespectacled woman stating that it's terrible anyone would put a show like it on TV and demands the audience to change the channel.
- The introduction to Madballs: Gross Jokes does this. It states, in the form of a Snicket Warning Label, that watching the cartoon will give the viewer "premature baldness, swelling of the nose, throat, and abdomen, and loss of facial hair" and that watching it is only recommended if you are "seriously considering a rewarding, challenging career as a lawn ornament." Then, when the characters are being introduced, Bash Brain (the host of the show) says "I've never seen anything so awful in my entire life."
- Kaeloo: Mr. Cat takes quite a few digs at the show. For example, in one episode, Stumpy proposes that they create a TV show with the same premise as the actual show they are on, and Mr. Cat says nobody would want to watch a show like that.
- The Tagline for the third season of Rick and Morty is "Only a show this smart can be this stupid."
- Johnny Test had an episode titled "Johnny X... Again?", alluding to the overuse of plots involving Johnny's superhero alter ego (this was roughly the tenth episode using him, and the second-to-last before the show ended).
- Sonic Boom has a lot of fun at the expense of itself and its original incarnation.
- "Let's Play Musical Friends".
Tails: Try this video game. You run, roll and collect rings as fast as you can.
Cubot: Ah, that sounds terrible!
- In "Alone Again, Unnaturally", Tails claims his new inventions uses "blast-processing technology".
Sticks: "Blast processing technology"? Those are just some phony-baloney buzz words to fool the simple-minded!
Knuckles: Blast processing technology?! GIMME GIMME GIMME!
- In "Mech Suits Me", Amy comments on how studios should stop recycling properties and try making something original. Followed by a very awkward silence.
- In "Mister Eggman", Team Sonic is trying to keep a washer ring away from Eggman. Sonic complains that catching rings is boring.
- "FiendBot" probably tops the list with their comments on Tomatopotamus 2.
Tails: That's the best one in the entire series! Tomatopotamus never worked in 3D.
Knuckles: Game companies always ruin their beloved franchises.
Sonic: They never should've changed the color of Tomatopotamus's legs.
- In the Wacky Races (2017) episode "Easter Express", Peter Perfect asks if the path inside a cave could be a trap. Penelope Pitstop tells him that that sort of thing only happens in movies and unimaginative cartoons.