We'll return to TV Tropes after these messages.
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.
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!":
- This is a regular (and necessary) staple of syndicated shows, especially shows airing on weekday mornings, weekday afternoons, and weekend morningsnote . On the other hand, not all syndicated shows have them.
- Cartoon Network is note well-known for its clever, humorous bumpers. The best known are:
- Several cartoon characters (or the logo itself) in front of a different colored background doing Looney Tunes-type antics (the colors were yellow for mornings, green for afternoons, blue for evenings/weekends and black for late-night).
- The CN City series. They feature a huge CGI-city with Cartoon Network characters as its residents going through their everyday routines.
- Then there are the other bumpers. They aren't commercials, they don't promote any of the shows, they're just there to be completely random, and confusing. Examples include clips of an animated, ridiculously over-muscled guy screaming and doing exercises, a guy walking into a brick wall with the line "walk fail" showing up, and a guy turning into a werewolf, and then into a chihuahua.
- Cartoon Network in the UK did something similar, for a bit
- Now their ad bumpers are just...surreal. They're more like shorts, but they're...very odd. There's one starring a zombie and his everyday life...one starring two fat gamer guys...and a multiple choice question...thing...They're all very surreal and have nothing to do with the network.
- They occasionally spoofed pop-culture in the Golden Age of the network, like in this collection, which was so popular it was compiled into short film form. (In case the video is deleted, the bumpers are Scooby-Doo–themed parodies of The Blair Witch Project that aired during Halloween 1999.)
- [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 prior to the "White text, black background" days 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!" You can still catch these in the 5 AM timeslot sometimes, when they are preparing to change back to Cartoon Network. Someone must have realized how much this can bother children, though, because in recent times they've switched to a Cartoon Network-style bump at the actual changeover point (6 AM).
- Family Guy parodied this by running an Adult Swim bumper in the middle of an episode's original network broadcast;
- Additionally, the channel once used a variation of the "Courage Wolf" image macro meme as an ad bumper.
"Or is it....?"
- And then when Adult Swim aired the episode for the first time on their network they used the Fox style bumper saying "You're watching Fox on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network".
- In addition, fans can make their own on both Adult Swim's website and app for phone and tablets.
- The music played during Adult Swim bumps bear mentioning, as well. The music, largely downtempo 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 "Boomerang" has a series of bumpers that use wind-up toys, toy movie-projectors, action figures... pretty much the same kind of stuff you played with as a kid. Only from the 60s and 70s.
- They have also used the Super Powers collection from the 80s at various times.
- Since the network began running Pokémon, they have featured bumpers with a Pikachu figurine with lightning bolts added in with CGI.
- 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 whether a certain situation they were in was funny.
- Channel 4's spinoff channel E4, for its first few years, 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 the most bizarre, trippy and even startling ad bumpers throughout most of the 80s. 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.
- The Disney Channel, back in the 1980s to early 1990s, had claymation bumpers usually depicting Mickey Mouse Logos hounding Donald Duck, the daily exploits of Mickey Mouse, or simply an interesting visual that eventually turned into the Disney Channel logo. 80's kids have been known to break down into tears of nostalgia upon seeing them on Youtube for the first time since childhood.
- These days, a Disney star will appear and declare, "I'm (name) from (applicable Disney production) and you're watching Disney Channel!" Then said actor/actress would draw the logo, sometimes noticing an error in the logo and fixing it, and sometimes saying a comment after the logo is done. This actually shows up before the next program, instead of going to a break. Also doubles as Station Ident (both on live-action ones and the animated ones below).
- Shows based on animated programs had 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 glowy stick pen from her and make 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 with her messing around with the stick before drawing the logo.
- 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.
- MTV practically turned this into an art form. This was mostly due to creative director Fred Seibert's belief that these short bumpers should 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.
- Classic Nickelodeon ad bumpers featured a cast of zany cartoon animals and the impossible to forget Nickelodeon theme. The ad bumpers would occasionally turn into Nightmare Fuel with Soundtrack Dissonance. It was an experimental time. Not like today. You kids don't even know.
- From 1987 to 1990, and again from 1992 to 1994, ABC's classic Saturday Morning Cartoon lineups used humorous Claymation bumpers, with perhaps the most infamously catchy sing-song ad bumpers in Saturday morning history: "After these messages... we'll be riiiight back!"
- 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."
- From the 1970s on trough most of the 1980s, NBC's Saturday Morning Cartoon bumpers featured Casey Kasem saying, "[Show x] will be back after these messages].
- And a fuller list here
- Like its competitors, CBS had a number of bumpers as well, including ones using Fido Dido. They can be seen here.
- 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.
- Fox Kids in its early years 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.
- Back in the early 1990s when Fox Kids was known as Fox 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 and it was created by Colossal Pictures.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Hub had show-specific ad bumpers, but when the network switched to Discovery Family, they were replaced with generic network bumpers.
- Comedy Central in Poland had a series of bumpers which would tell a joke before the ad break, and deliver the punchline after it.
- My Little Pony Tales retained its ad bumpers for its 2015 DVD release.
- 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.
And now back to TV Tropes!