Tragically defunct American absurdist/parody supermarket tabloid. When the National Enquirer switched to color in 1979, its publisher started the Weekly World News as a way to keep using their old black-and-white presses.The tabloid published deeply weird, tongue-in-cheek 'news' about bizarre 'science', astrology, Atlantis, Bigfoot, aliens, Elvis, vampires, the Loch Ness Monster etc. Also famous for the character Bat Boy, with recurring stories about his exploits making him a pop cultural icon who even inspired a hit off-Broadway musical.
Weekly World News defiantly remained focused on its own brand of weirdness when most of its competitors had switched to mindless celebrity drivel, which sadly might account for its decline in popularity and eventual disappearance from the shelves. Another possible contributor to its demise would be the direction the paper was taken after the 2007 buyout, when its sales really went in the toilet.
It survives as a web site, found here, and has reappeared as a section in the pages of the Sun (US). A TV series adaptation briefly aired on the USA Network in 1996, and a Comic Book was published in 2010.
A huge online collection of old Weekly World News issues can be found at Google Books
The Weekly World News provides examples of:
- Always Identical Twins: Averted. The magazine once ran a cover story on a set of conjoined septuplets: 5 male, 2 female.
- Ascended Extra: Some articles proved so popular that their subjects became regular features.
- One mid-2000s article told of Kevin Andrews, a gay man nicknamed "Miss Adventure" who scaled Mount Everest wearing a mink coat and high heels. By April 2005, Kevin's innuendo-laden exploits became a weekly feature with a continuous storyline.
- The May 16, 2005 issue featured a story on Chuck Lee, a fortune cookie writer who received visions of the future by drinking hot mustard. Chuck eventually got his own column where he shared his outlandish predictions.
- Author Appeal: A majority of the stories involved either psychics or space aliens in some way.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Self-explanatory.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Almost every issue had at least one story about a sighting, capture or sexual conquest of one or all of them.
- Contrasting Replacement Character: The August 1, 2005 issue introduced "Hi, Dolly", an advice column that replaced the recently discontinued "Dear Dotti". Whereas Dotti was rude, nasty, and prone to insulting those who wrote to her, Dolly was far kinder and more sincere.
- Crazy Cat Lady: Parodied and inverted with a headline of a "Fat Cat Who Owns 23 Old Ladies".
- Elvis Lives: The Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker.
- Evil Mentor: "Dear Dotti", a hilarious Evil Counterpart to Dear Abby, giving advice on taking petty revenge and getting away with cheating, among other things. Or just giving a written "The Reason You Suck" Speech to anyone confessing to a wrong they committed and asking what to do. A feature for over two decades, "Dear Dotti" was retired on May 2, 2005, explained in-universe as Dotti leaving Weekly World News to pursue a Ph.D.
- Fallen Hero: Bat Boy was apparently a decorated U.S. Marine who gained the reputation of a “super patriot” before he began stealing cars and biting children
- Harmless Freezing: In one issue, a lifeboat full of survivors of the sinking of the Titanic was found frozen in a block of Atlantic ice. When unfrozen, the survivors of course came back to life.
- Honest Advisor: P'lod is an alien who has come to Earth to advise politicians.
- Hurricane of Puns: Particularly after the Executive Meddling.
- In One Ear, Out The Other: They ran several stories using this trope, ranging from a man with transparent brain tissue (so one could shine a light in one ear and have it come out the other), to a Dumb Blonde woman who discovered someone blowing in her ear would result in a breeze coming out the other side, to a dimwitted Californian surfer dude who was cleaning his ear with a Q-tip, and "not finding much resistance" decided to see how far it could go (right out the other ear it turns out, which the surfer found "way cool").
- For decades, they never, ever, ever broke character or included a disclaimer that the "newspaper" was a parody, even when publishing stories that could potentially get them sued for libel. This finally ended in 2004, a few years before it ceased publication entirely, when it began adding the statement "the reader should suspend disbelief for the sake of enjoyment". Around the same time, they published a book about the paper called Batboy Lives! with the winking introduction that while Reader A may read the paper for real news, Reader B will read it for laughs.
- This was perhaps lampshaded during a "Guess the Fake Story" contest they ran featuring four real 'weird news' articles and one fake. In the description, they wrote, "While it's not like us to print a fake story, we're making an exception for our latest crazy contest."
- The Lava Caves of New York: One story was about a family on a trip that accidentally drove into an active volcano. They drove around lost before finding an exit as the tube glowed red behind them. It wisely withheld exactly where this family was at the time.
- Lurid Tales of Doom: The entire magazine.
- Meaningful Name: Ed Anger was pretty angry.
- Multiple Demographic Appeal: Two target audiences - people who actually believed it, and the larger group of people who thought it was funny.
- Negative Continuity: Among other things, the magazine predicted the end of the world more times than a doomsday cult.
- Page Three Stunna: Page 5 usually had a girl in a swimsuit.
- Poe's Law: Especially in its website incarnation. For example, when it declared that Facebook was going to be shut down, a lot of people who found the article via a web search and didn't know anything about Weekly World News thought it was real and panicked.
- Ed Anger was legitimately taken at face value by a loyal base of conservative readers despite his over-the-top insanity and was even considered one of the more "mainstream" elements of the tabloid at one point.
- Roger Rabbit Effect:
- They once ran a story about a construction worker who watched too many cartoons. Over time, he developed Four-Fingered Hands and astonishingly started to follow Toon Physics, resulting in much Construction Zone Calamity on the job.
- The July 11, 2005 edition ran a story about anime fans slowly morphing into animated anime versions of themselves due to being so obsessed.
- Roswell That Ends Well: To show their deep commitment to reporting on aliens wandering among us, besides all the expected major international cities, the News also boasted a bureau in Roswell, New Mexico.
- Rule of Sexy: Serena Sabak, "America's Sexiest Psychic", did a fortune telling column. She was also kind of their resident Page Three Stunna; she seemed to require a bikini for her job more often than is standard in the news industry. She was joined by her similarly-sultry sister Sonya around the early 00s. The column was retired on May 2, 2005, the same day Dear Dotti was discontinued, with the explanation that both sisters were going on sabbatical to India to study advanced meditation techniques.
- Strawman Political: Ed Anger's extremely right-wing editorial page "My America" veered into this territory. Ed Anger himself was a very obvious Stealth Parody.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: He was quite the industrious fellow, based on how many stories about him showed up.
- Take That!: Several. Notably, the ones toward the Bush Administration disappeared after the Meddling.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Hillary Clinton cover in the page image drew an angry letter from a reader...not because it was a frivolous depiction of the First Lady, but because the reader thought they'd pasted Hillary's head onto a real photo. They completely believed that somewhere, a human woman had adopted an alien baby, they just didn't believe it was Clinton.