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Always a Live Transmission

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In fiction land, it doesn't matter if you are watching a series, a movie, a commercial, or even a cartoon, they are always live, therefore they can always be interrupted in-universe, or the actor will always slip in a horrible way, with no chance of a second take. It's especially ridiculous when it's implied that they are doing the exact same thing with each take, yet it's always live.

Very likely that the show will be ruined in some way, or for one of the actors to do something that angers a higher-up, but no one is able to stop it, since everybody is seeing it at that moment.

It's important to point out that this trope is not "a show that happens to be live" or "a show that happens to be interrupted". This is for a show that is being transmitted live when it would actually make more sense for it to be recorded. Doesn't apply for transmissions that are expected to be live, like news or sports.

Very prone to be a Coincidental Broadcast, and depending on the series, also for The Television Talks Back. See "We're Live" Realization.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lelouch from Code Geass exploits this trope at least twice for his schemes, duping his marks (Mao in the first season, and Schneizel in the second) into thinking they are communicating with him live via a TV screen, whereas in reality, he prerecorded his lines (correctly predicting what they would say) and uses this distraction to sneak up on them within range of his Geass.
  • There's a scene in Dragon Ball Z where Cell invades a television studio to announce his Cell Games. In the manga he just barges into the newsroom which could be justified as a live broadcast, but in the anime he walks through the front door and flies up to the top of the building, crashing through each floor on the way. And the Z Fighters are able to track him by channel hopping, implying EVERY show that studio broadcasts is live.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: In the episode "Cartoon Buffoon", Dedede gets a bunch of the residents of Cappy Town to work for him to make a cartoon. As they've been behind schedule on the day the cartoon premiers, he and the crew have the animation broadcast and the voice work done and recorded live on television. After the cartoon bombs, Dedede has his own soldiers make another one that they animate live, drawing and inking in real time while feeding the projector.

    Comic Books 
  • In Uncle Scrooge story "The Lentils of Babylon", the Beagle Boys interrupt a live commercial.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: When Earth-One Diana ends up tossed into Earth-Two a man accuses her of being a fake because he'd just been listening to Wonder Woman on the radio and the idea of the message being prerecorded, which Diana brings up, is beyond his belief. (While during the early '40s most radio was performed live due to the poor quality of recordings it wasn't entirely unheard of.)

    Fan Works 
  • Lampshaded in Scarlet Lady's take on "Prime Queen": after Nadja's show is ruined by the heroes calling her out on her incredibly unprofessional behavior and storm out in the middle of their interview, one of the tech crew notes that they always seem to have trouble with shows going off the rails and wonders if they'd have better luck if they didn't film everything live.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Cats Don't Dance we have Woolie, an elephant that is the mascot of Mammoth Studios, they use him as their Vanity Plate (parodying MGM). Instead of filming him doing his stunt and playing it for all their movies, Woolie has to do the act for every new movie of the studio.
  • At the end of Toy Story 2, after Al has lost the toys he was set to sell for millions, we see him in a commercial where he breaks into tears in the middle of it. Possibly justified since he's incredibly depressed — he may have done any number of recordings and simply been unable to stop crying throughout any of them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dirty Work features a commercial for a car dealership which is broadcast live. Mitch and Sam interrupt the ad by revealing that the cars are all "loaded with dead hookers!" (actually, Sam and Mitch hired a bunch of prostitutes to play dead), then use the stolen spotlight to advertise their own revenge-for-hire business. And the commercial actually earns them a bunch of new customers.
  • There's a bit of exaggeration of this trope Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the knights read a text and it ends with "Aaargh" and they argue about whether this is possibly because the person writing it died while writing and went "aaargh". Maybe he was dictating it?
  • Space Jam. Michael Jordan's kids are watching Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner, when out of nowhere Porky comes in to say everyone is needed immediately and everybody leaves the scene. The kids are left with only an empty background to see.
  • In The Wolf of Wall Street, we see Jordan filming an infomercial offering his services. Then, after the phone number appears on-screen, some FBI agents appear to arrest him while another one covers the camera.

  • In the Thursday Next series, all literary characters are actually Animated Actors, and they reenact their scenes every time someone reads or rereads their book. So outside influences (or the characters' own off-page lives) can make even published stories play differently from one reading to the next. For example, in The Eyre Affair, Thursday pursues the villain Acheron Hades into the pages of Jane Eyre, and the resulting chaos permanently changes the ending... to the one we're familiar with.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in an episode of 30 Rock. Elisa's (Salma Hayek) grandmother hates Jack because he bears a striking resemblance to The Generalissimo, the villain of her favorite soap opera. Jack (being the President of NBC) acquires Telemundo and attempts to have the Generalissimo killed off. Unfortunately, since the show is apparently broadcast live, the actor playing the Generalissimo goes Off the Rails when the female protagonist attempts to shoot him.
    "Ha! You missed! You missed again! "And now, this potion's gonna make me live forever!"
  • The Brady Bunch:
    • In one episode, Cindy won a spot on a college bowl-type quiz show for elementary school kids. Sure enough, the show was broadcast live, and Cindy froze up when the red camera light came on. And the light was on continuously for the duration of the show; no breaks for commercials or anything.
    • Subverted the episode "Getting Davy Jones", Jan is desperately trying to meet The Monkees' lead singer while he's in town. When Davy is being interviewed on a local TV program, they race down to the TV studio to catch him before the show is over. When they get there, the station page can't figure out why a teen girl wants to meet the head of the Dept. of Sanitation so much! That's who was being interviewed that day; shows were taped (exactly) 24 hours in advance.
  • In Head of the Class, Mr. Moore takes an acting gig playing an Insane Proprietor in a series of late night commercials, all of which air live.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: From season 11 onward, the show is broadcast via Kinga Forrester's proprietary liquid video technology, which is great at streaming video but terrible for recording. So instead of recording the show's opening theme, Kinga forces Jonah and the rest of the cast to reenact it, every episode. This hasn't resulted in the opening song going off-script (yet), but every Cold Open ends with Jonah getting rudely pulled away from whatever he's doing so he can start the reenactment.
  • In Only Fools and Horses, the game show Gold Rush in the episode "If They Could See Us Now" is live, hence when Del calling Rodney as one of his lifelines is Mistaken for Prank Call, the entire nation hears Rodders telling Jonathan Ross to piss off. It also means that all Cassandra has to do is turn on the TV for him to realise his mistake.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Since a large part of the comedy of The Muppets is that The Show Must Go Wrong, it's always live. In the case of The Muppet Show it's not actually clear if the show is being televised "in-universe" or is just a stage show, but Muppets Tonight is definitely broadcast live (justified in the first episode as being because they suddenly realised KMUP had nothing scheduled in the timeslot and had to throw a show together immediately), and it seems that so is Up Late With Miss Piggy in The Muppets (2015). Played with in Muppets Now: the sketches are pre-recorded, but Scooter has to upload them all as it's being broadcast.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Homestar Runner universe, the inner fourth wall is flimsy enough that even a cartoon can somehow be a live broadcast. The episode "best thing" features the cartoon Limozeen: But They're In Space!, which gets canceled in the middle of broadcasting the pilot episode. The cartoon characters have just enough time to react to their impending cancellation.
    Teeg Dougland: I'm afraid I've got some bad news, boys. Our pilot episode has been canceled.
    Larry, Gary, Perry, and Mary: What?
    Gary: Oh well. I guess I won't be needing this anymore.[he throws his guitar offscreen]
  • TailsTube: This series is framed as it were a livestream taking place within the Sonic universe, complete with a chatbox, Tails and his guests taking questions from an In-Universe social media site, and even moments that are supposedly unscripted. This is despite all the episodes are pre-recorded short videos. In Episode 2, Eggman's takeover of the show is treated as if he were hijacking Tails' livestream, along with when he picks a question from Tails' social media account that pre-empts him losing control back to Tails shortly afterwards.

    Web Video 
  • SMPLive plays with this trope in a meta sense. Most popular SMP series prior to its debut were in the form of pre-recorded and edited videos uploaded to YouTube. On the other hand, SMPLive made it a requirement that any player online on the server was livestreaming their perspective at every given moment. Even if you logged on for a few minutes to do a single mundane task, you had to be live. This becomes downplayed by the end as this requirement became less enforced.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Flash the Wonder Dog", the titular Show Within a Show is broadcast live, as are the other shows made at the same TV studio. The episode is set in the late 1980s when most of these shows would have been pre-recorded, especially an action series like Flash. That said, the fact that it's live is what enables the Rescue Rangers to clear Flash's name after he becomes the victim of a Frame-Up courtesy of Fat Cat and his cronies. note 
  • In the Futurama episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television", a robot actor on the soap opera All My Circuits malfunctions in the middle of a scene and the viewers think it's All Part of the Show. When Bender takes the place of the broken actor, he ad-libs his scenes and his antics make him an audience favorite. The fact that all these mishaps make it to air is Hand Waved by lead actor Calculon refusing to do second takes, claiming that "amateurs do two takes."
  • The Miraculous Ladybug episode "Troublemaker" involves Jagged Stone taking part in a reality show filmed at Marinette's parent's bakery, which is live even though it isn't really the sort of show that would be expected to be live. This turns out to be a problem when the cameramen find their way into Marinette's bedroom, where she keeps pictures of Adrien on the wall (and Adrien is watching the show so he finds out), and things only get worse when Jagged's assistant Penny is akumatized.
  • In the Rugrats episode "The Word of the Day", Angelica overhears a kids' show host saying a "fun phrase" (Miss Carol, the host, isn't very fond of kids) so Angelica decides to say that phrase during the show. When it goes live everyone hears Angelica saying the word, and the exasperated Miss Carol follows through, ruining her career. It might be justified since they were holding a contest, but it still seems unlikely that a little kids' show might go live.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Lisa's First Word", during a flashback we see Homer and Bart watching a Krusty commercial advertising his Olympics promotion by biting into a Krusty Burger, cut to the studio saying the shot was finished... and Krusty immediately spitting the burger now that he is not live.
    • In "Rosebud", Burns interrupts all programing from Springfield until Homer gives his childhood teddy bear back. The first time it was just him interrupting the signal, but then he started appearing in all the shows in person to continue his demands.
    • In "Pygmoelian", Moe becomes an actor on a Soap Opera. When he receives a script in which his character is killed in a skydiving accident, he flips out and teams up with Homer to take revenge on the show. During a live broadcast, Homer arrives in the guise of Moe's character's "guardian angel" and proceeds to spoil every major plot point for the next year. This wouldn't work if the show was pre-recorded, as soap operas are. note 
  • South Park:
    • One episode has the new Terrance and Philip show being shown live when Kyle and his group, Millennials against Canada, takes over the studio. It's notable in that the show is backed by Netflix who don't do live shows.
    • The dilemma of "With Apologies To Jesse Jackson" is pivoted when Randy says the N-word on Wheel of Fortune, causing a nationwide scandal. The characters are sure to note the show was broadcast live, which isn't the case for its real life counterpart.