YMMV tropes related to the magazine:

  • Acceptable Targets: Increasingly so from the 1970s onward. Lawyers are some of the most frequently targeted.
    • Tobacco and alcohol companies, particularly in the early years of the magazine. Gaines had something of a Berserk Button when it came to smoking, particularly underage smoking. This was during the early Sixties, when alcohol and cigarettes were treated much more casually then today.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Just who is "Max Korn", anyway?
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • Occasionally in the parodies, such as failing to notice that Mystique replaced the dead Senator Kelly in the first X-Men movie.
    • In the Back to the Future Part II parody "Bleak For The Future, Part II," "Mutty" complains "Look at me in 2015! I'm a complete failure! Why don't I do something about that?" Probably because in the actual movie Marty a) has no idea how he turns out in 2015 and b) never does find out, although his girlfriend Jennifer does (she's in no position to tell him either, because she spends a lot of Part II and almost all of Part III unconscious).
    • In the "Mork and Mindy" parody, Darth Vader (who, beneath his armor, is a human) is shown as one of the aliens complaining about Mork.
      • Then again; Being someone from "A Galaxy Far Far Away", he would indeed qualify as a space alien to us.
    • In the parody for Twins they got the names of the protagonists mixed up, calling Danny DeVito]'s character "Juiceless" (Julius) and Arnold Schwarzenegger's character "Duncent" (Vincent).
    • And boy did they get it when they put out issue #292. They actually put a list on their letters page three months later (in small print, taking up a quarter page) of readers who wrote in to tell them that Luigi should have an L on his hat!
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • "You Can Never Win With a Bigot", which makes fun of bigots' contradictory prejudices. Has a family of new German immigrants moved in? They'll just sponge off of welfare. Wait, isn't one of them an electrical engineer? He's taking jobs away from the natural-born American citizens!
    • In another comic about racism, a white woman and a black woman are talking:
    White woman: I don't like the color of your skin!
    Black woman: Neither do I, but they won't sell me a more popular shade at the cosmetics counter because I'm black!
  • Genius Bonus: While most characters in parodies are given a name that sounds a bit like their actual name, in the Dirty Harry parody, the Scorpio Killer is named Libra. For those who know their astrology, that's the last astrological sign one would associate with the character.
  • Growing the Beard: For the original Kurtzman comics, the first few issues got off to a decent start, but sold rather poorly. But come issue #4, with its landmark Superduperman story drawn by Wally Wood, and the series officially made its mark.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • One of Mad's predicted headlines of 1962 was Marilyn Monroe checking into the hospital for a minor ailment, as a Worst News Judgment Ever joke. In Real Life, her death was one of the biggest stories of that year.
    • "When Beavis and Butt-Head Grow Old" from 1995 had a joke about Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley celebrating their 50th anniversary together, with Jackson having not been seen in public since his face exploded onstage in 2018, along with Tito having 28 multi-platinum albums. Jackson died at the age of 50.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • A parody ad for Cadillac back in 1960, showing a woman wearing an emblem of the car like a necklace to show off her status symbol. Who knew rappers would adopt the same style decades later?
    • A 2002 issue showcased wedding photos that were fated to be left out of the album. The first one is "another would-be photographer who doesn't realize that cameras held at arm's length never yield flattering pictures".
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Tom Richmond's art style is criticized by some fans as being too similar to Mort Drucker's art.
  • Memetic Mutation: Alfred E. Neuman is a rare pre-Internet example; his image, known as the "What, me worry?" Kid, appeared as graffiti as early as the 1920s and in several unlikely places in post-World War I Austria. Mad just named him and chose him as their mascot.
  • Nausea Fuel/Gross-Up Close-Up:
    • Basil Wolverton's hideously pock-marked, hairy, blemished women. His son, Monte, carries on in the same tradition.
    • Tom Bunk is fond of Basil Wolverton-esque women, as well as gags relying on blood, guts, puke, snot, pus, eyeballs, et cetera. His art is at its grossest when Michael Gallagher handles the script; strangely, most of Michael Gallagher's work with other artists is very tame.
    • Al Jaffee loves drawing grossout gags and obese people.
    • Spy vs. Spy has become considerably more visceral since Peter Kuper took over.
  • Seasonal Rot: After briefly being reduced to a quarterly issue (but then brought back to a bi-monthly process shortly after).
    • Other events that led to MAD magazines Seasonal Rot include: when the comic went from black and white to color, when William Gaines died, when the magazine was adapted to MADtv (the FOX sketch show that was set up as a rival to Saturday Night Live, not the Cartoon Network one made after the FOX version got canceled), and when the magazine started accepting advertisements and "sold out."
  • Shallow Parody: See the page for examples, some of which are based off early drafts, and others involve getting things wrong or not doing the research.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Ask longtime readers when Mad went downhill and you'll get answers ranging from "When it became a magazine" to "When Kurtzman left" to "When Gaines died" to "When they started accepting ads." Art director Sam Viviano says that Mad was funniest "whenever you first started reading it."
    "The second issue of MAD goes on sale on December 9, 1952. On December 11, the first-ever letter complaining that MAD 'just isn't as funny and original like it used to be' arrives."
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Averted, as the whole point of the magazine is to make fun of anything that's new and popular.

YMMV tropes related to the TV series (the Cartoon Network one, not the FOX one):

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment / Gainax Ending: The Reveal in "Gaming's Next Top Princess". After poking fun at the overly-drawn-out reveal, it cuts to a repeat of an earlier skit with a Spanish overdub.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Many fans see the show as a kid-friendly version of Robot Chickennote .
  • Critical Research Failure: Pokeharmony (a Pokemon/EHarmony parody) depicts a female Hitmonchan pairing up with a male Machamp. Anyone who knows their Pokemon would know that it should be the other way around—Machamp has a 25% chance of being female, but Hitmonchan is an exclusively male One-Gender Race.
    • Somewhat granted, considering Hitmonchan's rather feminine appearance.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: A criticism of the show, sometimes the sketches have to point out what their parodying since they figure most of the audiences (being kids) won't get it. It kills the pacing the sketches and makes some of them rather groan worthy rather then just letting the jokes present themselves.
  • Ear Worm: The theme song, which is just kazoo music and some guy making music with his mouth and "singing", "Hey yabba boy yamma, MAD!"
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Applejack Captain Ersatz from the Cowboys & Aliens parody skit (given the name "Maplejack" by fans to avoid confusion with the original).
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The How I Met Your Mother parody "How I Met Your Mummy" ends with Werewolf!Ted taking so long to finish his story, the titular mummy walks in to tell the kids how they met. HIMYM was in season 7 when this sketch aired, but the series finale eventually revealed why Future Ted's wife didn't do something similar: She died six years before Ted decided to tell their kids the story of how they met.
    • Any time Lightning McQueen has something terrible happen to him is this thanks to (the teaser for) Cars 3.
  • Geek Bonus: "Gaming's Next Top Princess" shows that they are very definitely One of Us (or, at the very least, actually did research on female characters in video games). They even got Samus Aran's birthplace right!
    • The "And That's What Superfriends Are For" sketch features countless B-list & C-list DC characters.
    • And for actual Genius Bonus points, in the episode with "Undercover Claus", the sketch with the boy who got a time machine has him knock out the boy who becomes his dad with a "Titor" aluminum bat. It sounds like an example of Brand X, unless you remember the guy who posted on various internet forums under the name John Titor - who claimed to be a time traveler from the future.
  • Growing the Beard: Maybe, with more features from the magazine and a new look for Spy vs. Spy. Also with less use of gross-out humor and more variety in their sketches.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: John Lasseter forcing Pixar characters to become 3-D against their will in "Taking Nemo" becomes a lot worse after allegations of sexual harassment came out against him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • "Dr. Mouse", as a sketch, may or may not have originated as a parody - namely, a 2009 storyline on Topolino, that is, the Italian Mickey Mouse magazine parodying the House TV series. Which, in turn, got its inspiration from a commercial, still from Italy, which celebrated the fact TV network Mediaset would start airing both franchises. Hell, even the cover you can see on the first link alludes to that commercial.
    • The skit about the ride of Paul Revere became funnier when Tea Partier Michelle Bachmann mangled revolutionary history on live TV.
    • The "Les the Miz / The Lex Factor" Episode had a segment called "Real Life Heroes" where a guy shoots down the antenna broadcasting Whitney. A little over two weeks later, Whitney was cancelled. Looks like his plan worked!
    • The skit "Money Ball Z" is about Dragon Ball characters playing baseball. Come Dragon Ball Super, there's an episode where the gang attempts to play baseball and comically failing at it.
    • In "Diary of a Wimpy Kid Icarus", Pit and Kirby fight Mega Man, Sonic, Pikachu, and Donkey Kong in a fight obviously based on Super Smash Bros.. Only Mega Man wasn't in the game and six players couldn't fight at once. Until the fourth entry, when it became possible.
    • Buzz Lightyear in the beginning of "The Buzz Identity" says that while Pixar movies are sad in the middle (and sometimes in the beginning), they're never sad in the end. Then came Inside Out, where one of the biggest Tearjerker moments happened near the end of the film.
  • Ho Yay: Happens between Edward and Jacob. For instance, one skit had them discover that they turned themselves into vampire-werewolves from biting each other. They walk off like best buds and leave Bella alone in the woods.
  • Internet Backdraft: "ThunderLOLcats" sparked tons of complaints from viewers who firmly believe that Internet jokes should not be used on TV.
  • Nausea Fuel: The two adaptations of Tom Bunk/Michael Gallagaher back cover gags from the magazine: the first involves a boy who deflates and spews goo and guts all over the place after popping a zit, and the second, a fat woman who says that her kids "eat like a bird" which she then demonstrates by vomiting up worms into their mouths.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The mini-sketch about the guy trying to pop his zit — which pops, and floods the room with his pus. And organs. And eventually his skeleton. That's right, that dude just died on camera in the most horrifying way possible. And before you ask, yes, he screamed.
    • Beauty Tips with Megan Fox. And not just the scene where Megan Fox turns out to be a cyborg , but her overall appearance makes her look like she crawled from the deepest trenches of the Uncanny Valley. The photo cut-out head and cartoon lips and eyebrows look really bizarre.
      • Doesn't help that HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey is in her circuits.
      • In Fantastic Megan Fox, Megan really is a fox [which causes Fridge Logic] — one who steals Kristin Stewart's long brown hair, Scarlet Johanssen's beautiful brea—er, uh eyeballs, and Angelina Jolie's full, pouty lips just so she can be the next big female screen star.
      • The models they use to show live action or CGI characters can sometimes invoke this, along with Uncanny Valley.
    • There's the music video parody of Katy Perry's "Firework" video (called "Flammable" by Katy Putty). Much like the actual song, the parody song does have lyrics that speak out and give hope to those who are often ostracized or feel like they're not special and need to look to their inner light and let it out. The parody (like most good parodies) takes this a bit too far with the fireworks causing the clay man, the stock paper woman, and the puppet man to catch fire. While the puppet is just singed [he is saved by a man with a fire extinguisher. He is shown running around on fire at the very end though.], the stock paper woman is screaming as most of her is now blackened ash, and the clay man's head melts and falls off his neck as Katy Putty [who inexplicably survives] is carted off by a police officer for arson and murder — but not jaywalking. It's also the last skit of the episode, AND the last skit of the first season.
    • The Cars parody with Lightning McQueen being crushed. For anyone who actually likes the movie Cars, this may be too depressing. For those who have either never seen the movie, hated it, or loved it but have a sick sense of humor, this is hilarious.
    • A sketch from the Halloween Episode where a rabbit farmer makes a Nightmare Face that fills up the screen.
    "This has been a nightmare brought to you by MAD."
  • Older Than They Think: A sketch show based on MAD magazine's parodies, cartoons, and random doodles is nothing new (besides MADtv [which had the TV and movie parodies and the cartoons on occasion, but the doodles were phased out after season three], there exists an unsold pilot/TV Special of a MAD-based sketch show in the 1970s that included parodies of Columbo and The Godfather; the pilot was never picked up and made into a series)
  • Shallow Parody: Most of the time this is averted (See Above) Naru210 is an example. The writers apparently only saw the first three episodes of Naruto. "Why do all these Naruto fights happen off-screen?" The relationship between the Genin, which is similar to a group of high school students' interacting, is also skimmed over.
  • Special Effect Failure: The CGI, whenever it's used. This appears to be deliberate though.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: One of the best sketches was "Once Upon A Toon" and could've been longer.
  • Uncanny Valley: Some of the CGI animated characters fall under this category. Take Mike Wazowski for example (the little green cyclops in the bottom right corner).
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Much like most of Cartoon Network's past and present offerings, this show is packed to the brim with a lot of Getting Crap Past the Radar moments that confirm that Cartoon Network's censors are either really bad at their job or this is all a part of Cartoon Network's plan for more risque programming outside of [adult swim].