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Also known as plain "bumpers" or "bumps", these are the short clips (less than five seconds) that appear between television programming content and advertisements. They serve as program identification, and also as delimiters that help bring an audience into and out of Willing Suspension of Disbelief. If they are produced along with the show rather than by the network, they are known as Eyecatches. They can also be useful to a VCR or DVR user fast-forwarding the commercials to signal the user to return to normal speed playback, which is why they're more often found at the beginning of a commercial break than at the end.
During the mid-1970s, at the height of Saturday Morning Cartoons on the Big Three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), each of the networks created these to signal to the audience when the show was going to commercial. This was due to regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission that required a distinction between programs and commercials, as some in the audience were unable to distinguish between a program and commercial without the aid of a bumper. Usually, these included the phrases "(Show) will be [right] back after these messages" and particularly for NBC "We now return to (show)"; the final commercial break usually had a different bumper with the notation "And now, these messages." These continued until each network ended their cartoon blocks, in favor of either primarily educational programming or by turning over the time spots to local stations.
In the United Kingdom, TV ad breaks tend to be in the format Programme → Channel Trailers → Ads → Channel Trailers → Programme. Often two bumpers will be seen, one programme-specific between the show and the trailers, and one more channel specific between trailers and ads. Nowadays, however, it's quite common to see short sponsor ads instead of bumpers.
When television shows are formatted for home video, the ad bumpers may occasionally remain, especially if they are entertaining of themselves. Fan Subs and localizations of anime often save these for the sake of completion.
They can also serve as Filler for shows which run a little short, but not short enough to add another commercial. They can also be removed to accommodate longer shows.
"After these examples... we'll be riiiiight back!":Networks
- Saturday Morning Cartoons: Each of the Big Three networks ABC, CBS and NBC had these, from at least the mid-1970s through the last years each network ended their cartoon lineups. Examples:
- ABC had two signature sets:
- The most famous was a series of Claymation bumpers where the characters would sing the line "After these messages we'll be right back!" (One of the most catchy can be seen here: "After these messages... we'll be riiiight back!".) The sets which ran from 1987-1990 and again from 1992-1994, included a doo-wop group, a dog and fire hydrant, and a cowboy.
- The second-most famous aired from 1980-1985 and featured an announcer, over a music bed, saying "We'll return to our show after these messages." This set which included an underwater submarine, a window shade, a clock and others was retained for the ABC Weekend Special, even into the late 1990s.
- A fairly comprehensive list from the late 1970s to early 2000s can be found here.
- ABC's One Saturday Morning and its successors, ABC Kids and Litton's Weekend Adventure, all used these.
- ABC's version of The Wonderful World of Disney (when it was a movie block) used these. To throw off fast-forwarders, a bumper was often included in the middle of the break saying, "We will continue in a moment."
- Before they got their own show, Mr. Bumpy, Squishington, and Molly Coddle all got their own bumpers.
- NBC's main themes during the late 1970s were "Fun Machine" and "Saturday Morning Fever." In the fall of 1979 and through most of the 1980s, generic introductions were used, featuring Casey Kasem saying, "[Show x] will be back after these messages]." By the late 1980s, medium blending including miniature sets and animated figures among them were used in the bumpers. Also in the mid-1980s, popular characters from several of NBC's (primarily) situation comedies would often announce the out-ros and intros. Going into the 1990s, NBC used stop motion for a "Secret Saturday Morning Club" with three performers trying various acts for kids with different results. After that came the Klasky-Csupo made "Perpetual Grinning Man" ads which were a mix of stop-motion and traditional animation. That would last until the final years when cartoons would be on the network with Chip and Pepper, a pair who had their own Saturday morning show that would do some silly activities in-between shows.
- ABC had two signature sets:
- Like its competitors, CBS had a number of bumpers as well, including ones using Fido Dido, which can be seen here. A unique set of bumpers were produced for the series Storybreak, which continued to be used throughout its run.
- In its early years, Fox Kids used a kid named Wilby Baxter (a play on "we'll be right back") in its bumpers. Several years later, they would present a question to a bizarre fact before the break, and reveal the answer upon return.
- Actually, they had a ton of these with different characters, Wilby just being one of them. Others included two aliens watching a TV, two military ox doing training drills and would often flub them, an actual fox doing various activities, a British deer and a Cajun lamb couple doing various household chores, an incompetent superhero called Fox Man who would mess up his saves or end up doing something embarrassing, an owner trying to get his dog named Loafie to do tricks, an old lady who would be constantly annoyed by a fly, a man trying to do karate which would end with him doing something embarrassing or his strikes not doing anything effective (often hurting himself in the process), a pair of children dressed up in 50's wear dancing and hanging out, a very brief one with another superhero name Sloth Man who as he name suggests does things very slowly, and another superhero this one named Pre-Historic Man who would try save the day in caveman times and of course would flub it. Action shows also had their own bumpers often depicting generic character doing something action-y (Climbing a building, jumping their car over a gap, riding a rocket, etc.).
- Back in the early 1990s, when it was known as the Fox Kids Network, there used to be bumpers that featured a fox that had a traditionally animated head with a stop motioned animated body that would do various activities such as riding on a roller coaster and playing a piano.
- Around 1992, Fox Kids introduced bumpers featuring its character Dynamo Duck. However, Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men: The Animated Series each had special exclusive bumpers for its "Fox Action Theater" lineup; the former featuring a hand (presumably Robin's) shining a flashlight and a shadow of Batman walking by in the background, while the latter featured Wolverine walk over the credits while Jubilee popped up in front of the logo.
- This is a regular (and necessary) staple of syndicated shows, especially ones airing on weekday mornings, weekday afternoons, and weekend morningsnote . On the other hand, not all syndicated shows have them.
- Cartoon Network is well-known for these. Some of the best known are:
- Their station idents in the late 1990s featured the CN logo integrated in some clever way into a scene from a show, old or new. These saw a brief revival in the late 2010s.
- Their Powerhouse era bumpers, used in the late 1990s and early 2000s, featured cartoon characters (or the logo itself, for shows that didn't have proper bumpers) in front of a different colored background doing Looney Tunes-type antics, with one of several different comedic announcer voiceovers (sometimes including characters from the featured show). The bumpers were colored differently depending on when they aired.
- The mid-2000s CN City series featured a huge CGI city with Cartoon Network characters as its residents going through their everyday routines.
- Pop-culture was often parodied in their late-'90s branding, including stunts like The Scooby-Doo Project, a series of Scooby-Doothemed parodies of The Blair Witch Project that aired during Halloween 1999.
- The channel currently uses a CMYK color scheme for their bumpers mixed with original animation. They also experimented with a "Mashup" campaign in 2018 that encouraged viewers to submit colored versions of drawings on their website for the Next bumpers.
- Adult Swim is also famous for a particular style of bumper: white text on a black background, which the Adult Swim runners use somewhat as a forum. Common messages include random announcement, announcements about upcoming shows and schedules, or responses to fans from the actual message boards. For shows appearing later in the block, image macros are used, and towards the early days of Adult Swim they would actually use "Adult-Swim themed" bumpers (as in relating to the actual time of day reserved for "adult swim" in public swimming pools). Also back in the day, they would keep the Eyecatches for anime, so you would have a bumper after a bumper (or a bumper appearing in the middle of the show without commercial interruption).
"You might think you're watching Family Guy on [adult swim], but no, it's still Fox."
- Bumpworthy catalogs each bump and lists the artist and song playing in that bump.
- Adult Swim is an interesting example in that the bumps are rewritten each week on Sunday; this means that for one day, the bumps actually do have something to do with the show that's on or coming up, however they are replayed every day throughout the week, even when the schedule changes, which can lead to some confusion for those who don't watch it on Sunday. They use the bumps to praise their new favorite shows (and sometimes yell at their viewers for not watching it enough), rag on the anime crowd, throw props to other networks (especially during the Conan Tonight Show debacle), deliver Word of God straight from the show creators, answer FAQs from the forums, show fanart, and occasionally preview upcoming movies.
- The bumpers that aired outside of the black & white text bumpers in the mid-00s were often vaguely creepy, with bizarre images, unsettlingly mismatched music, and Japanese text, often with one phrase in English like "ADULT SWIM IS YOUR FRIEND" or "FLEE THE COMING OF THE DAWN!"
- Family Guy parodied this with a fake Adult Swim bumper in the middle of the episode "Big Man on Hippocampus".
"You're watching Fox, but not that Fox, this Fox. The Fox for people who watch Fox on Adult Swim. So remember, that's Fox, on Adult Swim, on Cartoon Network. On Fox."
- And then when said episode premiered on Adult Swim, they replied with this promo right after said scene, in the style of a Fox promo.
- The music played during Adult Swim bumps bear mentioning as well. The music, largely instrumental hip hop, trip hop and other relaxing, low-key electronica, has a large following (if you search "bump music" on YouTube, most of your results will have something to do with the Adult Swim bumps and no others), and many people who came to like the "bump music" enough to seek out those genres more generally.
- Cartoon Network's spin-off channel Boomerang had a long-lived series of bumpers that used wind-up toys, toy movie-projectors, action figures and the like. This was replaced with more streamlined branding in 2015.
- The Sci-Fi Channel (back when it really was the Sci-Fi Channel) had its "I am Sci-fi" campaign in the 1990s, where celebrities appeared in humorous science fiction scenarios (WWF wrestler Sable in a parody of Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, Moby in a Close Encounters of the Third Kind pastiche, and so on).
- For quite some time after that it had bumpers of science-fictional situations. For instance, in one a man sits passively as a raven flaps around him, until it lands on his bald head. The top of his head opens up into a giant fanged mouth and swallows the raven whole, then closes again as he smiles. Sadly, more recent bumpers have been simpler, just showing something rapidly turning into something else. And now some of the bumpers are shorts of the actors of Syfy original shows in some weird location such as a collapsing building or on one of M.C. Escher's famous staircase paintings tossing a football.
- TBS had brief skits of people calling the TBS Comedy Research Institute to ask if a certain situation they were in was funny.
- For its first few years, Channel 4's spinoff channel E4 would have ad bumpers consisting of one word, with both bumpers in one ad break forming some two-word phrase, so (as an example) before the ads it would say "Hello" and after "World". Eventually sent up by both words once being "Bling".
- ITV would often use these.
- Global in Canada does these with specific characters saying memorable lines from their shows, accompanied by the Global logo, the show title, and a picture of said character. They also have a five second "did you know?" spot known as "Huh: Have U heard?" that provides interesting info on the show you are currently watching.
- The main government-owned network in Spain, TVE, used very bizarre and psychedelic ad bumpers throughout most of the 80s (akin to the audio visualizations on Windows Media Player). Who knows what they were thinking when they decided to put these on air?
- Kids' WB! had many bumpers starring an animated version of their logo on a CGI-generated version of the Warner Bros. studio backlot. Sometimes, characters from the shows featured on the block would make appearances alongside the logo.
- From the 1980s until the early 1990s, Disney Channel had claymation bumpers usually depicting Mickey Mouse logos hounding Donald Duck, the daily exploits of Mickey Mouse, or simply an interesting visual that eventually turns into the Disney Channel logo. '80s kids have been known to break down into tears of nostalgia upon seeing these on YouTube for the first time since childhood.
- Beginning in the early 2000s, a new style of bumpers were introduced where a Disney star will appear and say, "Hi, I'm (name) from (applicable Disney production) and you're watching Disney Channel!" before drawing the logo with a glowstick; sometimes they'll notice an error in the logo and fix it, or say something afterwards. This shows up before the next program instead of before a commercial break and also doubles as Station Ident (both on live-action shows and the animated ones below). It's become rather iconic for those who grew up watching the channel during the 2000s or early 2010s.
- Shows based on animated programs have no dialogue, but the characters creating the logo after some small antics I.E: Stitch would crawl across the screen while Lilo looks on annoyed before wrestling the glowstick from her and making the logo; Ron would try to get the pen to work before Kim would flip in and take it, drawing the logo with Rufus sliding down it; Perry crawling onto the screen before donning his hat and using a laser pen to create the logo while the wall behind it collapses to reveal Doofenshmirtz about to hit a button before running away etc. Heck, even the animated Lizzie had one of these as well.
- It's gotten to the point where characters from other Disney franchises might show up, i.e. Mickey looks at himself in a mirror and draws his head; Tinker Bell creates a machine that draws the logo; Rex can't find a wand so he uses Mr. Potato Head's arm etc. There was even occasions where The Muppets got to try it out, and one bumper featured BB-8.
- Central and Eastern European television has bumpers as a matter of course, usually showing a channel ident plus the word "Reklama" (the word is basically the same, changing only according to orthography, throughout the region) to show the division between programme and adverts.
- Creator/MTV practically turned this into an art form. This was mostly due to creative director Fred Seibert's belief that these short bumpers could be "the album covers of the new generation of music fans". Plenty of cartoonists (such as Danny Antonucci and Joe Murray) got their start animating short 5-10 second MTV bumpers before they went on to create cartoons of their own.
- MTV2 once made use of "sharts"; clips from old martial arts movies or cartoons, among other random clips, during the early days of the "two-headed dog" logo. This was intended to show that "anything goes" on the channel.
- Since the 1980s, Nickelodeon bumpers have featured a cast of zany cartoon animals and that impossible to forget jingle... as well as many other experimental things that verged on Nightmare Fuel.
- YNN (Your News Now), a 24-hour News channel owned by Time Warner Cable that serves a vast majority of New York State, has quite recently been showing some pretty cool bumpers for the channel's Capital Region affiliate that mostly consist of either shots of the sign in the office area of said affiliate's Albany studio or a control room board that is shown in some cases with someone operating buttons and levers.
- One Super Bowl commercial plays with this by presenting what appears to be the Super Bowl itself returning from the current commercial break, only to glitch out and be interrupted by a message from Optimus Prime and Megatron, promoting Transformers: The Ride 3D.
- The Hub had show-specific ad bumpers, but when the network switched to Discovery Family, they were replaced with more generic ones.
- Comedy Central in Poland had a series of bumpers which would tell a joke before the ad break, and deliver the punchline after it.
- Some top-rated shows on CBS in the 1980s had ad bumpers before or during the mid-point commercial break, notably M*A*S*H and 60 Minutes.
Harry Morgan: (over the M*A*S*H title card) Don't go 'way! M*A*S*H will be right back.Announcer: (over the ticking stopwatch) 60 Minutes, a CBS News weekly magazine, will continue.
- My Little Pony Tales retained its ad bumpers for its 2015 DVD release.
- The Banana Splits Adventure Hour had sponsor bumpers at the beginning and halftime portions of the show, which were intact on the DVD release Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1960s: Volume 2.
Fleegle: Stay tuned for more of The Banana Splits, brought to you by Kellogg's! You get more from Kellogg's!Bingo: More nourishment, flavor, fun...Drooper: And more laughs comin' right up!Snorky: (honk-honk-honk)
- Captain Kangaroo originally produced spots for major sponsors Kellogg's and Schwinn in-house, as the advertisers' own spots were deemed too jarring for the relaxed mood of the show. This ended with the FCC ruling, and animated bumps were created, typically with a handheld stop sign interrupting the action (going into the break) and the stop sign being flipped over to "Go", and the action concluding (coming out of the break), with a voice announcing, "Let's go back to Captain Kangaroo."
- The recent Warner Archive Blu-ray releases of Jonny Quest and The Jetsons retained their original network bumpers, which haven't been included in earlier home releases.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command used a few of these during its' run on UPN which were narrated by Buzz Lightyear.
- Garfield and Friends used these in Season 2 and again in syndication, which were done by Garfield. At least four of the lines from the ad bumpers were recycled for the Couch Gag.
- All of Disney's syndicated shows in The Disney Afternoon featured exclusive commercial bumpers. DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers both featured new still frames of artwork for their original runs in syndication in the 1980's, but once The Disney Afternoon started airing all shows merely featured bumpers that showed brief clips from the show along with some exclusive Disney Afternoon bumpers. However, some later reruns of DuckTales and Rescue Rangers on syndication post-Disney Afternoon went back to using the still artwork.
- The Transformers is well known for its use of ad bumpers, in part due to them being rotated out between seasons to focus on different characters and the sinister voice of series narrator Victor Caroli announcing when the show went to or came back from commercial.
Non-TV and Parodies
- Parodied in Anime Crimes Division. Being a web video series with episode lengths around ten minutes, there aren't any ads, but such bumpers are placed where there would be in a real show.
- In all three first season episodes. The second is an homage to "Who's That Pokémon" from the original Pokémon series, while the third references Initial D.
- The second season continues the tradition, with the first episode's being a homage to Sailor Moon, the second episode being one to Death Note, and the third episode being one to My Hero Academia.
- Asura's Wrath incorporates these, making the game even more like the interactive anime it was designed to be. You can even customize them from the main menu.
- Metro Manners: Each episode has a Title Card done in the style of anime ad bumpers that appears in the middle of the episode that explains its subject in English and Japanese, fitting the ad campaign's pastiche of Anime/Toku tropes. Of course, as a 3-minute Public Service Announcement, there are no ads in between segments.
- Futurama: "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" parodied this during the Strawberry Shortcake send up, often lampooning the ad bumpers with a cheesy visual pun.
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