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Bad "Bad Acting"

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Acting's version of Hollywood Tone-Deaf. In Hollywood, bad acting can only come in two flavors: completely over-the-top and exaggerated, or a stilted, wooden, monotone delivery of every single line. These actors have never heard of suspension of disbelief. They couldn't act wet in a rainstorm.

This often happens when characters are forced to reenact a specific event in hopes that it will have the same consequences. Often afflicts school rooms around the world where teachers have students read lines aloud, with the students not caring for the actual tone of the piece at all. What can almost be considered a trope in its own right is to attempt to pay homage to William Shatner with strangely... placed... staccato pauses and... random jumps in pitch. Another popularly used example is if the characters are attempting to fool a third party by acting as if they are having a conversation or argument. Usually, the third party doesn't pick up on how awkwardly the others are talking.

Bonus points if the character's eyes scan slowly back and forth as they read the out-of-shot cue cards.

Also like Hollywood Tone-Deaf, in that professional actors can, well, act. If they aren't very good at their job, you wouldn't be able to tell if they were sucking on purpose for the Show Within a Show. Those who are good at acting typically couldn't mimic a bad actor. Even then, just like above, it'd be hard to tell if the actor was trying to fail — though it's something like common wisdom that only someone who's very good at something can be deliberately bad at something. Also, as per Rule of Funny, genuinely bad acting isn't amusing — or at least not as amusing as Bad "Bad Acting". Impersonations done in Bad "Bad Acting" tend to involve Hugh Mann, Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud, and Most Definitely Not a Villain.

Just to reiterate, this is where characters In-Universe try to act and do a horrible job at it (sometimes intentionally, other times not so much). This is not when you think someone does a legitimately horrible acting job or even a So Bad, It's Good performance - there's a whole other set of tropes for that.

See Stylistic Suck, the Super-Trope of this, and its subtropes Bad Impressionists and Hollywood Tone-Deaf. This trope can also be an element of The Show Must Go Wrong.

Contrast The Power of Acting. Compare Terrible Artist. See also Acting Unnatural, where a character makes a flimsy attempt to "act natural".


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: The SOS Brigade's film is shown in the anime adaptation to be as amateurish as you'd expect from a movie made by high school students, and that extends to the acting. Most of the participants genuinely can't act, though in Yuki's case, she simply can't break out of her typical Spock Speak. In Koizumi's case, it isn't the way he speaks that makes him a bad actor, it's the way he exaggeratedly gesticulates his way through every line he gets. Surprisingly, during the school festival when he's cast as one of the leads in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, his style of acting is oddly appropriate.
  • In High School Star Musical, when StarMyu is trying to show Hoshitani's bad acting, as in s1e2, or when he's practicing with Uozumi in s2e3, they tend to go for the "large ham" version of this trope. However, if you look closely, it's averted in quite a few places. Notice, for example, in s2e7, the difference between his rehearsing Alexis' Shadow's song and Lambert's song. In the former, he gives off completely the wrong emotion for the scene, whereas in the latter, he plays it right - motivated by his feelings for Otori.
  • Late in the Ouran High School Host Club anime, Haruhi is kidnapped by the Zuka Club and forced to participate in a tragic play (as part of an excruciatingly complex revenge gambit by Benio). The characters comment on Haruhi's "robotic" acting, which consists of repeating the same line with virtually no intonation. (As an aside, Haruhi's English voice actress does an excellent job of crappy acting in this instance; the rest of the time, Haruhi is acted with great aplomb.)
  • Glass Mask has the idol Emi Tabuchi do her first movie. And her acting is horrible. It's so bad that, when the students from Tsukikage theater watch the movie, Rei comments that she thought this was the type of bad acting one only reads about.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura:
    • Syaoran in volume 5. So bad it actually comes across in a manga. That is not easy to do.
    • The anime only play of Cinderella done by Toya's school features him doing this as Cinderella. One can assume he really, 'really is not happy to be in this role, since everyone else does at least reasonably well.
  • There is a kind of "flashback" scene in The Big O, where Roger and his butler Norman are on a theater stage and re-enacting the events of their first meeting, in very stilted melodramatic dialogue. It's some kind of Fourth Wall thing, probably.
  • Sgt. Frog:
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The "Cell Games Historical Reenactment" in Dragon Ball Z. Promptly Lampshaded by the heroes, who are incredulously watching it. In the Kai version, they are notably played by Team Four Star, and their dialogue references numerous memes.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Goku pretends to take a punch from Mr. Satan to escape from a crowd without revealing to the populace that he can fly. His hilarious fake scream of pain as he flies off is made gut-bustingly funny when in the middle of it all he takes the time to pick up his tractor (which he wanted Satan to fix) while still screaming.
      Goku: (as he's faking being punched away by Mr. Satan) Owwwwww! ''WhoooahhhhhIforgotmytractorrrr...'' (picks up his tractor and flies away) Ohhhhhhhthathurrrrrrt!
  • In a Lucky Channel segment of the first Lucky Star episode to feature Minoru Shiraishi's voice in the main segment, Akira criticizes his reading and offers to help him practice by going over the scene again, with her as Miss Kuroi. Her reading of Kuroi's line is really dull, except for a bit when she has trouble reading the word "quiet" and Shiraishi whispers the correct pronunciation to her, provoking a bit of mild annoyance that shows as she says it correctly.
  • In episode 4 of The Familiar of Zero Final, some people (who are presumably part of the staff at the tavern) put up an act that "re-enacts" the fight between Saito and King Joseph of Gallia. The acting is...deplorable to say the least.
    Guy acting as Joseph: Oh no. I have been slain. Ahhhhhhhh... (collapses)
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the girls of the "Beauty Village" claim to be under attack and ask for help from Team Gurren, pretending to be terrified. It is obvious to the viewer that they are faking it, and most of the brigade realizes that it's at least "suspicious". But Kittan is so excited to be able to save an all-female village that he agrees to help.
  • The student-made murder mystery film in Hyouka is full of this; most of the actors seem like they aren't even trying to behave naturally. Oreki actually incorporates this into his theory of the story's intended ending, claiming the acting was bad because the characters knew the cameraman was the culprit the whole time and were awkwardly playing along with the script. This turns out to be wrong, though, so either the students are just amazingly bad actors, or they couldn't get into the story since the ending didn't even exist yet.
  • In Bleach, the film Renji makes for the Seireitei Film Festival is full of this, especially from Rukia (less so from her in the dub). Also notable is Orihime's improvised lines (which you would never hear any character under mind control say).
  • Done deliberately by villain Rubber Soul in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. He knows how the person he's impersonating should act, but he enjoys making the people he imitates look like total idiots and perverts.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! features a sequence in which Tomoko records over the dialogue in an Otome Game in her own voice. She is... not very good.
  • Erza from Fairy Tail is a rare mix between Large Ham and this. She apparently loves acting, and she has the spirit, but she can barely remember her lines, and her enthusiasm about delivering them in the hammiest way possible just makes her spout some random nonsense...when she's not stuttering.
  • Petralka suffers from this in episode 10 of Outbreak Company. While the film she was in was a deliberate case of Stylistic Suck, Shinichi, the protagonist who also directed said film, leaves scenes in the film where she accidentally flubs her lines. She becomes incredibly embarrassed by it and tries to ban the film, despite the fact that the audience seems to be enjoying it.
  • In an episode of Pumpkin Scissors, the titular military unit pretends to stumble upon a drug deal purely by accident after they've received orders not to make any intentional drug busts. One of the officers, Oreldo, hams up his performance with obvious glee, while Oland, the protagonist, takes the Dull Surprise route and essentially just reads his lines off of a piece of paper.
  • The titular character of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (who provides the trope image) stands in for a few scenes in the drama club play to see if he's fit to replace the original actor, Hori. However, Nozaki's lines are delivered in a monotone voice and his falling looks completely fake. Hori quickly moves on to a new stand-in.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS, Ai likes to dramatically panic about Playmaker being backed into a corner to lull their adversary into a false sense of security only for said opponent or even Playmaker himself to tell him he isn't fooling anyone with his act and they can see right through him. One duel had his acting backfire since it clued in Playmaker's opponent that he had a counterattack ready for her.
  • In Kotoura-san, Yuriko tries to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, but Dai'chi points out plainly that she's just fooling herself in thinking she's that cold-hearted. While she does have a partially hidden agenda regarding Haruka (presumably to make Haruka well-known as a psychic in order to vindicate Yuriko's mother), she still seems to care about her greatly.
  • In The Castle of Cagliostro, Inspector Zenigata learns about an illegal counterfeiting operation in the basement of a building. The problem is that his superiors refuse to act on this since many nations are buying these counterfeit bills. His solution? He brings a TV news camera crew down to the basement of the building while pretending to chase Lupin and badly feigns surprise at finding counterfeiting equipment, "discovering" it in a way that makes it impossible to ignore. This makes one of his superiors comment, "He's such a bad actor".
  • Subverted for effect in the first Naruto, Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow: the actress the team escorts plays out a scene they see her shooting quite convincingly; this shocks the team because it sharply contrasts with how distant and snide the actress really behaves. She's not, however, able to fake crying.
  • The GUND-ARM commercial in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury has Suletta visibly exhausted from hours of filming and failed takes, to the point that she's basically screaming her lines, along with an accompanying chorus where no one is on-key.
  • Anya from SPY×FAMILY is horrendously bad when having to act things out, though it's understandable because she is a young child. When she tries to get Yor to ask Loid to be her boyfriend for a coworker's party, but she hesitated because seeing Anya made her think he was married, her subtleness is loudly start bemoaning the fact that she has no mama and how lonely this makes her. And the only reason this works is because Yor is Super Gullible.
  • Discussed in Oshi no Ko. Aqua gets a walk-on role in a live-action adaptation of a Shōjo romance manga starring Former Child Star Kana Arima, which is being completely phoned-in by the studio and mostly only exists to advertise the male models that make up the Reverse Harem, who are horribly under-acting everything because the director doesn't care enough to make them do it properly. Aqua upends the paradigm in his role as a Stalker with a Crush in the last episode by playing his role completely straight and ad-libbing several lines, which tricks the Love Interest into actually emoting and allows Arima to show off her real acting chops for once. This causes the last episode to go from Merchandise-Driven schlock to critical praise.
  • One episode of You're Under Arrest! has the Bokutou officers staging a play for school children about traffic security, with Natsumi, Yoriko and Aoi acting as Sentai-themed heroines, Ken as the monster and Miyuki as the schoolgirl the heroines have to save. In their first attempt they completely botch it and the kids hate it, while in the second, a group of costumed "villains" decide to get on the case to improve it a little, which the kids end up loving.

    Comic Books 
  • Zodon from PS238 takes this route when a playground bully punches his (holographically disguised) metal hoverchair and hurts his hand.
  • Hercules has an odd take on this in Avengers Academy when he's told to pretend he's been taken down by an attack. Turns out he's actually a classically-trained actor (literally, he worked with Sophocles), but that means shouting "O cruel Fates, why have you cursed me so?" and then stumbling around for about five minutes delivering a monologue.
  • In the adaptation of the Scooby-Doo episode "Go Away Ghost Ship" (as "The Ghost of Redbeard", Gold Key issue #6), the gang is aboard Redbeard's ship. As Fred, Daphne, and Velma investigate one part of the ship, a loud bang rings out causing Velma to clutch her chest and (over)act as if she'd been shot ("by a pirate's old rusty musket!"). Turns out, it was a door slamming shut. But when the door won't open:
    Velma: Now I do feel like dying!

    Fan Works 
  • This fanmade "Secret ending" to Bioshock 1.
  • In the Facing the Future Series, Paulina shows she's no award-winning actress when she tries to get Danny Phantom's attention during a ghost attack.
  • In Chapter 18 of BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant, Yang almost outs Pyrrha when she's in disguise before backtracking, leading to Pyrrha playing along and showing that despite being The Ace, acting isn't one of her skills.
    Pyrrha: Oh Yang, you have bested me. Woe unto me for my failure.
    Yang (thoughts): Huh, so Pyrrha is not a good actor, good to know.
  • Interviews with a Screenbug: The first time Taylor acted in a movie, the director was awed by how perfect she was as a horrifying undead mummy... right up until she started speaking, which amounted to yelling in a dramatic, rushed monotone. In an interview as Silverbug, her cape identity, she admits to needing two years of acting lessons and taking bit parts in movies to help learn. Becomes a Brick Joke later when Taylor learns Eidolon is just as bad when not using a power specifically for public speaking.
  • In Cards of Remnant, Astral possesses the body of and attempts to pretend to be Jaune a few times and isn't particularly great at it. When he duels Ruby and Weiss and they figure out the truth, his attempts at denying it are far from convincing. It's only the fact that they'd barely interacted with Astral that kept them from figuring it out sooner.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods, the Gauls are not very good at faking being hit by an allegedly magic-potion-enhanced Asterix. However, while the Roman Centurion is obviously not fooled, his legionaries are, and they flee.
  • Frozen II:
    • Elsa is terrible at charades. Her movements cause Anna to just yell out the facial expressions she's making. When Anna discovers that the word was something that should've been easy to act out ("ice") and sees Elsa by the window with their mother's cape, she knows something's weighing on Elsa's mind.
    • Olaf recaps the events of the previous film to the Northuldra in a needlessly exaggerated manner. Everyone watches with confusion save for Mattias, who is emotionally invested in the story.
  • In Inside Out, Riley's dreams are portrayed as movies, and one of them has very wooden acting (the actress literally reads from a cue card). Fear, who is on "Dream Duty", notes this.
  • Monsters, Inc.: At the end, Sully's performance in Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me at the end of is unquestionably this.
  • In Moana, Moana is sent into Tamatoa's cave to attract his attention by dressing up as a shiny trinket and gives a lackluster, deadpan performance. Maui even makes mention of the fact that she's not selling it. And even though Tamatoa sees through her charade, he still can't resist falling for the trap due to his narcissism, but still, she definitely wasn't selling it.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: The Mario Bros. are introduced with a Kitschy Local Commercial for their plumbing business. At one point, the commercial shows a "satisfied customer" clearly reading her lines from an off-camera cue card or teleprompter in a stilted manner (and finding said line to be cheesy). Also, her line suggests she's checking her bank account on her phone, but the screen clearly shows that's not what she's doing.
  • The first few WALL•E live-action "commercials" we see the title character drive by for the Axiom are filled with the acting level you would expect from any commercial. Overexcited family, painfully fake smiles, an obviously fit "grandma" sitting in a hover chair for little reason, and the CEO of the company making a forced pun ("Space is the Final Funtier!").
  • In the school play at the beginning of Zootopia, Judy plays her death too dramatically, with large amounts of fake blood (which consists of red ribbon and ketchup). Her mother facepalms.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All of the films by Larry Blamire, including The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again, Dark and Stormy Night, Trail Of The Screaming Forehead, and his Tales from the Pub shorts, are this way — the actors are playing the part of B-movie actors in a film, not like the characters. Plus repetitive dialogue, horrible special effects, repeating the dialogue, and dialogue that is repetitive.
  • In Annie (1982), when Daddy Warbucks is performing a radio play, he reads off everything word for word, including the stage directions.
  • Bowfinger is all about a producer with no money and no filming permits trying to film a movie with a totally unaware star (by filming around him with hidden cameras). At one point, in order to have a real cop car in the film, they bribe the cop driving it with a walk-on role in the movie. He has one line, and he delivers it like he's never spoken English before...or seen human movements. "Tough guyyyyyzzlikeyou don' get farindiswhorle, Miss-Terr!" All while waving his arms as if to shoo a fly.
  • The mockumentary Waiting for Guffman has a cast of talented actors... playing small-town hicks trying to make it big on Broadway.
  • Be Kind Rewind is built on this trope. The protagonists need to replace a bunch of VHS tapes that were accidentally erased, so they record their own versions using a hand-held home video camera. They claim the differences from what people remember is because these are the Swedish versions. They're way too short, the special effects are homemade, the plot is based on what they remember of the movie, and (where this trope comes in) instead of big-name stars they have random people from the neighborhood. Turns out people love the "Sweded" movies, because they're So Bad, It's Good.
  • All the characters in Boogie Nights in their movie-within-a-movie pornos. Amber Waves' affectless "This is a giant cock" is a good example.
  • Ben Affleck and Matt Damon give us a taste of this on the scene of "Good Will Hunting 2" in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
  • In Charlie Chaplin's The Circus, the Tramp amuses the crowd by accident but fails utterly when the circus master tells him to be funny.
  • In Reefer Madness, two characters "act" out Romeo and Juliet for a few seconds. Very funny to see bad actors trying to act badly.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding has Toula's aunt acting this way when they're trying to trick Toula's father.
  • Daddy Day Care features a scene where Marvin has to fill in for a professional actor. His attempt can be put in this category.
  • A truly spectacular example occurs in Super 8 during the short film the main characters are producing throughout the movie. During the credits, you see the finished film, and the acting is bad. In fact, it shows off the acting talent of the young actors in being able to act that badly. The film even shows that their actress Alice is actually really good, but the kid director chose a cut where she had to yell above the sound of a train, causing her to sound just as bad as the rest of them.
  • In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Robert Downey Jr.'s character, a petty thief, is running from the cops and bursts into some acting auditions. In order to escape the police, he goes ahead and does an audition, reading out the lines in a monotone ("Um... beat up on me all night. You want me to give up my client, you can go spit".) until some of the dialogue hits too close to home. Then he appears to be doing a great acting job, but it's really genuine emotion. (Ah, Method Acting...)
  • Zack and Miri Make a Porno includes this when the main characters and the people they hired attempt to "act" in the film they are making. (Just as well that it's, um, a porno... Pity a mainstream film can't show "the good parts".)
  • In The Naked Gun 33 1/3, Frank Drebin has to replace a host at the Oscars Gala. At first, he doesn't know what to say, so his co-hostess tells him to read off the teleprompter. Which he does, word for word, including the stage directions and the co-hostess' own lines. Things don't exactly improve when he starts to ad-lib.
  • Borderline example in Son of Rambow, where the older brother is used in the film within a film. He reads his lines exactly as someone with no acting experience and no preparation would realistically have read them. The makers of the movie then comment about how bad of an actor he was.
  • Ghostbusters:
    • Ghostbusters (1984): The three founding Ghostbusters do a Kitschy Local Commercial in which they read very stilted lines, and Egon even looking down when he steps forward and back to make sure he steps on his floor mark. This was actually Harold Ramis making sure he hit his mark — director Ivan Reitman thought it was so perfect he kept that take. This scene was later referenced in Evolution (also directed by Reitman), with the main characters doing a really badly acted commercial for Head & Shoulders (with one of them even holding the bottle upside down).
    • Ghostbusters II does something similar as Janine and Louis are roped into acting for a commercial for the company. They fall squarely into this, as Janine appears to stare straight into the camera while reading her lines.
  • Likewise Alexander Dane, Alan Rickman's character in Galaxy Quest, when the out-of-work and typecast actors are advertising the opening of an electronics store. Alexander Dane is a perfectly good classically trained actor otherwise, but there he was feeling very unenthusiastic. The others are all pretty stilted too, he's just the most obvious about it.
    Dane: By Grabthar's Hammer... *Beat* ...what a savings.
  • Cold Souls: When the newly soulless Paul Giamatti is acting in Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya", his performance is not stilted or hammed up, but it is still very noticeably and realistically bad.
  • Outrageous Fortune. Shelley Long's Russian acting instructor asks her to simulate being shot, which she grossly over-acts. Later on in the movie, he takes a shot at her for real and appears to have killed her, but it turns out her performance has improved.
  • In Dunston Checks In, a maid's boss's boss wants her fired, but her boss likes her and knows his boss will never remember the incident when he shows up again next year, so for the meantime, the maid is on two weeks paid vacation. The joke is supposed to be that she's trying to seem sad in front of her boss's boss but is actually happy to be on vacation and is bad at acting. Interestingly enough, the actress seems to have been trying for Bad "Bad Acting" as a way of making the joke clear to the audience. What came out was more like bad "bad 'bad acting'".
  • Black Dynamite is a spoof of blaxploitation films, complete with bad acting as part of its Stylistic Suck. In one scene, Black Dynamite's girlfriend is playfully frolicking with him in a park, but whenever the shot cuts back to Black Dynamite, he's scowling and clearly confused about what he's supposed to be doing.
  • Reds has an example of this with Louise Bryant's terrible acting in one of Eugene O'Neill's plays. In general, Diane Keaton, who plays Louise, is the master of this trope.
  • The "homage" to Romeo and Juliet in Hot Fuzz is Martin Blower and Eve Draper. It's so bad the stoic Angel finds their 'kiss' at the end to be the only convincing thing. It's no wonder the NWA decides that they get decapitated in a "car accident" that same night.
  • Adam in the first Saw movie does this when pretending to have been poisoned. In the DVD commentary, Leigh Whannell wants to make it clear that it's supposed to be a horribly unconvincing performance.
  • The girl playing the role of the Saxon Princess on the film set in The Rocketeer. Justified in that she got the part by reason of being the director's niece; the rest of the cast is pretty good.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: "Good morning starshine... the earth says... 'Hello'...I shake you warmly by the hands."
  • In Scream 3 when Sarah is asked to read her lines from the script, she reads them out with a pretty hammy performance, somewhere between Marilyn Monroe's president voice and a bad scared sounding voice.
  • In Help!, the ineffectual Scotland Yard inspector impersonates Ringo to fool pursuers on the phone:
    Inspector: Allow me; I'm a bit of a famous mimic in my own small way, you know...James Cagney...[on the phone] Hul-LO there, this is the famous RING-o here, gear fab! What is it that I can do for YOU as it were, gear fab?
    George: Not a bit like Cagney.
  • In "Girls Will be Girls", which features a cast of Drag Queens, bad yet self-deluded actress Evie gives the most stilted performance possible in her One-Hit Wonder film. At one point, the script is simply placed open on a table on set, with Evie "subtly" cribbing looks at it, sounding out her lines.
  • Gustav von Wangenheim (Eddie Izzard) in Shadow of the Vampire. The guy couldn't even fake a yawn without it looking hilariously bad.
  • Parodied in this part of the DVD commentary for Zombi 3D.
    Deran Sarafian dubbing the voice of the late Robert Marius: Zombies are bad!
  • In the first Major League, as the team is starting to turn things around they're pulled in for an American Express commercial. Everyone is horrible, either completely monotone, reading their lines slowly, awkwardly trying to snap their fingers, or just talking about "you know, your favorite... movies or... restaurant type places". The only one who seemed a natural in front of the camera was Willy "Mayes" Hayes who, in the sequel, had done an ACTUAL action movie in the off-season. It was every bad action cliche possible rolled into one and tanked at the box office. This may have been a reference to the fact that Willy's original actor, Wesley Snipes, didn't come back because he was doing other projects.
  • Jett Jackson: The Movie has the title character (a teenage actor) playing a super-spy named Silverstone in a Show Within a Show, same as he does on the original Disney series. However, due to a fluke with a prop, he swaps places with his character. Jett is forced to be an actual spy with the world hanging in the balance, while Silverstone finds himself a school-going teenager in a small town. The scene where the actors of Silverstone are rehearsing their lines has Silverstone do such a terrible job that everybody collapses in hysterical laughter (which confuses Silverstone, as nobody behaves this way in his world). This is strange, as the Disney series frequently showed Silverstone engaging in undercover operations (i.e., acting).
  • In Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio fall into this when they're discussing Beatrice's supposed love for Benedick loudly enough for Benedick to hear as part of the initial matchmaking plot. They're pretty terrible actors (in-universe) but Benedick falls for it, hook, line, and sinker.
  • In Harold and Maude, following Harold's faked suicide, his would-be date Sunshine launches into a terrible and hamtastic attempt at a soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet.
  • Orgazmo: Most of the pornstars are terrible at delivering lines, which is why the hero is so successful. In one scene, he's paired with two Asian girls who barely speak English. One repeatedly delivers the line, "Prepare to meet your doom", in a sing-song voice as if she's memorized the line phonetically and is amused by how it sounds. "Pree-PAH to-MEEET jo-DOOOOM!"
  • Inherent Vice: The Cowboy Cop known as "Bigfoot" is also an aspiring actor who apparently takes whatever roles his meager skill can land. He's introduced playing an unconvincing hippie in a commercial for cheap apartments. His stiff and dreary reading of his "far out" lines is played for comedy.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss is, as Haymitch notes, horrible when given lines to deliver in front of a greenscreen.
    Katniss: People of Panem...we fight, we end this hunger for...justice.
  • In a Deleted Scene from Kill Bill, Michael Jai White plays a kung fu warrior seeking revenge for Bill killing his master. As befits the Kung Fu movies the movie is homaging, White deliberately overacts the role, as if he was cast for his fighting skills instead of his acting ability.
  • Living in Oblivion
    • The first act has actresses Nicole and Ellen repeatedly giving rather bland performances, which provide a contrast to the one take where they really nail it...while the camera is off.
    • Chad's attempt at improvising in the second act is humorously awful, putting exactly the wrong spin and timing on every line.
  • Stroker Ace: Part of the Impersonation Gambit involves fooling Torkle into believing the Miller Brewing Company is trying to buy his fried chicken franchise. Doc, one of Stroker's friends, is taking acting courses and uses this to his advantage. The problem is Doc's dad, who hasn't had these same courses and is likely to fall to this trope while helping Doc. Doc instead tells his dad to repeat the same phrase to Torkle and then coaches him to pronounce it without his usual drawl. His dad's performance is still awful, but since he nails the accent despite only using the one line, Torkle doesn't catch on.
  • In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine does this when Obi-Wan and Anakin rescue him from his "kidnapping" (really a Secret Test of Character for Anakin) by Count Dooku. Naturally, Anakin doesn't pick up on it.
  • SHAZAM! (2019):
    • When we first meet him, Billy puts on a gee-whiz show of alarm and excitement to lure a couple of cops into a shop that is supposedly being robbed, so that he can trap them and gain access to police license records through the cruiser's terminal.
    • Billy acts very bombastic when using his alter ego to pose as an adult to do things like buy beer and get himself and Freddie out of school.
  • In Avengers: Endgame, Bruce Banner (who has merged his body to become Smart Hulk) and the Avengers travel back in time to the events of The Avengers, where he is told to act like the Savage Hulk. He ends up doing so...very badly, giving off a lazy roar and smashing cars with little enthusiasm.
    Smart Hulk: It's a bit gratuitous, but I'll do it. (proceeds to imitate the Savage Hulk badly)
  • The Truman Show: Just about all the actors playing the people in Truman's life fit this. The extras frequently flub their lines and only go unnoticed because Truman wasn't paying attention to them, regulars playing his family and friends tend to be overbearing and awkward with their emotional displays, and the children and animals sometimes act up on-camera, like a random little girl loudly asking her mom a question about Truman when he walks on a bus or the neighbor's dog acting aggressive towards him. The one thing they all have in common is being totally unprepared to improvise whenever Truman does or says something unexpected, and all too often they have to have lines fed to them via earpiece.

    Live-Action TV 


  • A few shows on [adult swim] have this such as Decker: Unclassified, which stars a C.I.A. agent who constantly underacts and flubs his lines.


  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Acting Director", the school faculty tries to impress a visiting talent scout from Warner Bros.. Features over-the-top bad acting from Mr. Conklin, Mr. Munsee, Mr. Talbot. The episode ends when Miss Brooks herself tries to impress with an overemotional (and dressed) portrayal of Lady Godiva!
  • An episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Simmons and Coulson on a train during an undercover operation. To make up for her poor skills at deception, Simmons invents an entire back-story for her 'character' and lets the entire train know it in an incredibly detailed and over-the-top monologue.
    Simmons: All mom ever wanted was your love. To be with you! In our two-story Victorian home in the Cotswolds! But could you even give her a moment, what with your banking job requiring you to travel to the States from Tuesday to Saturday every other week? No! You may not have had any time for her, but you had time for your work...and your prostitutes!
  • All of the Blockblister videos seen in The Amanda Show.
  • America Unearthed host Scott Wolter exhibits this trope during obviously scripted scenes inserted into the otherwise 'reality' show. This happens most often around the beginning of the episode.
  • Angel:
    • Doyle's video ad for Angel Investigations in "Hero". After his death, it's played later on in the first and then the fifth season, turning it into a tearjerker.
    • Cordelia also displays this — especially in a risible performance in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in "Eternity" — but improves markedly. Strangely, although she was shown as being a poor actress at first, she was always an excellent liar; capable of fooling even Angelus.
    • In Season 5, Angel when he does a We Care add for Wolfram & Hart.
    • Then in "Fredless", when Angel absconds to see Buffy, Cordelia and Wesley use overly melodramatic acting to poke fun at their romance.
  • On Arrested Development, Tobias Funke's entire acting career falls squarely into this. Highlights include his performance as George Sr. on Scandalmakers and his audition for the fire sale ad.
    Tobias: OH MY GOD WE'RE HAVING A FIRE (sale), women and children first! Amaaaaaaaazing graaaaace... aaaaaand end scene.
  • Face from The A-Team had a very similar example. When the A-Team had to help Hannibal make a monster movie on location in Season 4, the plot started to happen, and Face wound up playing the male lead. Normally, he was the slickest con man around, convincingly pretending to be all sorts of different occupations, but when they put him in front of a camera, he was wooden. Face, being Face, immediately made excuses for it, saying that he was getting the feel for the character, etc.
  • One defendant in Bad Judge makes a show of himself playing both defendant and defense attorney.
  • Barry: All of the students in the acting class are terrible, ranging from stilted to hack, which is why they're taking acting classes from a third-rate hack like Cousineau. Sally is the only one who ever shows any talent, and even she runs hot and cold. The truly awful Shakespeare class in "Do Your Job" is a standout.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Subverted in one episode. The show works up the expectation that Penny, who is an aspiring actress, (and also shown to be a horrible singer), was also not that good an actress either. Whilst the fans of the show would expect her to be a typical sitcom style bad actor (and this is lampshaded to an extent in the lines previous), the first time her acting is revealed, it's in a tense moment with the Dogged Nice Guy, Penny exclaiming that if they moved in together (to save on rent) that "She couldn't keep her hands off him". He believes her, at which point she reveals her acting classes "weren't a waste of money".
    • Also subverted in The Weekend Vortex; Leonard asks her if it's OK to spend the whole weekend playing video games with his friends and is a little disappointed when she gives permission without the expected pushback. She asks Leonard for the chance to run the "scene" again this time playing for dismay on her part followed by resigned acceptance. It comes off as very natural and almost fools Leonard even though he knows it's completely fake.
    • In The Thespian Catalyst, Penny reads a script by Sheldon as part of an acting lesson she is giving him. He wants to play the Spock character, but she insists on playing Spock with Sheldon playing the character of his mother. This ultimately results in Sheldon having a minor emotional breakdown and she has to call his real mother to reboot him.
    • A later episode had Leonard, Sheldon, and Amy attend a class performance of A Streetcar Named Desire with Penny as Blanche. The few snippets we see are rather convincingly that of an amateur production.
    • The shows-within-a-show "Serial Apeist" and "Serial Apeist II: Monkey See, Monkey Kill" that Penny features in are said or seen to be pretty bad. A later scene has a character asking Penny if she was trying to act that badly.
  • The Brady Bunch: The episode "And Now a Word From Our Sponsor" – where the Bradys are offered a chance to star in a TV commercial – has Mike and Carol hire an actress acquaintance (Myrna Carter) to help them brush up their acting skills, hoping to become believable when the fateful day finally comes. However, Myrna is – at best – a method actress to the extreme and more than likely just a very bad actress who is completely unqualified to give lessons or advice. Nonetheless, Mike and Carol (and the rest of the family) take her well-intentioned advice to heart ... and the resulting stiff, bombastic acting winds up costing them their shot at TV commercial stardom. The director, Skip Farnum, had wanted the family to "be themselves", and at the end of the last scene, Skip angrily asks his cohort the name of that bad actress they used to work with because the Bradys' style was just like hers.
  • In the third season of Breaking Bad, Jesse and his buddies decide to take advantage of a Drug Addict Recovery Program with them all posing as concerned former users not so stealthily advertising their meth to the addicts. It predictably doesn't go very well ("there's like positivity goin' on and shit" as Pete puts it).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The painful rendition of Oedipus Rex by the main characters for a mandatory talent show in the first-season episode "The Puppet Show". They go for three different bad-acting styles: Buffy is wooden and expressionless, Xander is over-the-top and hammy, and Willow is terrified into muteness until she runs offstage.
    • Nice-girl Willow trying to pass as her evil vampire counterpart in the third-season episode "Doppelgangland". ("I'm a bloodsucking fiend! Look at my outfit!")
    • Also in "Doppelgangland", not only does Willow try to pass herself off as the evil vampire Willow, but the vampire Willow tries to pass herself off as good Willow, so Cordelia will let her out of the book cage. "Look at me. I'm all... helpless."
    • A variant: in "Intervention", a robot (in seasons five and six) designed to look like Buffy moving among her friends using such cunningly in-character lines as "Willow, you are my best friend. You're recently gay!" What annoys Buffy is that it manages to fool them for a while.
    • In "Who are You", Faith trying to impersonate Buffy. This involves Sarah Michelle Gellar, who plays Buffy normally, in the role of playing Faith pretending to be Buffy. Includes rehearsing some lines Faith thinks Buffy would say before a mirror over and over, hilariously.
      Faith-in-Buffy's-body: Because it's wrong. Because it's wrong. [fiercely] Because it's wrong....
    • Spike pretending to be American so Initiative soldiers won't realize who he is. When he tries it again in a later episode, he gives up before he's even finished speaking. It becomes doubly hilarious when you realize James Marsters is actually American, so he's an American playing a Brit (badly) pretending to be an American.
      Soldier: Do I know you?
      Spike: Uh, no. Uh, no sirrr, I'm just an old friend of Xanderrr… herrre.
    • Vi's Slayer recruitment commercial in Season 8, where she plays a typical suburban housewife-type who tells her husband (played by Andrew) about her sudden super strength and mystical Slayer dreams.
  • On Californication when Hank is asked to read out loud from a screenplay he wrote, the result is stilted and incredibly awkward. It's especially interesting since the scene he's reading is based on events that occurred in the series' pilot episode, and the dialogue matches the earlier scene almost word for word.
  • Cheers:
    • One episode has the gang doing this for a home movie Diane's trying to record. Not helping is Diane also gives them extremely pretentious and stilted dialogue to read, and they're rebelling against it.
    • Woody is an amateur actor, emphasis on the 'amateur'. He only eventually gets a part because of an outbreak of sickness. That said, how terrible he is tends to vary wildly - he can do well, such as when he does Mark Twain, or in Twelve Angry Men, but in other occasions his ability to convincingly do romance is awful... until he realises fear is the key.
    • Rebecca's sister Susan did some B-Movies. She shows off one of her death scenes when she visits the bar. It's exactly as over-acted as you'd expect from a cheesy B-movie. But it's enough to fool Sam.
  • Chewin' the Fat featured Ronald Villiers, "the second-worst actor in the world". He cannot remember the simplest of lines, respond to any cue, or take any form of direction. He can ruin any scene no matter how small the part (when playing a Puritan villager in an angry mob during the Salem Witch Trials, he constantly mumbled over the main actors) and even when he has no lines (when playing a prison warden who is only there to open the door of a cell, every take failed because of him noisily clanging the door or fumbling with the keys.)
  • The Daily Show: For a while, the end segment (a.k.a. "the toss") that segues into The Colbert Report was pre-taped, instead of done with a live audience as usual. Fans noticed and were displeased. On the show that returned to live tosses, Jon Stewart acknowledged that the fans enjoyed the expression of "warmth and genuine camaraderie" between him and Stephen Colbert — and both immediately became very wooden, read robotically off the teleprompters, and expressed relief when it was over.
  • An episode of the original Degrassi High features It Creeps, a "feminist slasher film" made by one character in the series and starring half a dozen other characters. As so-so actors playing teenagers playing terrible actors playing teenagers, they do an impressively dreadful job.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Ice Warriors", the Doctor indicates to Victoria that she needs to start pretending to cry as a distraction. Her fake crying is absolutely horrible, although it works (perhaps the Ice Warriors don't know what human crying is supposed to sound like).
    • "The Enemy of the World", which has an Impersonating the Evil Twin gimmick (where both the Doctor and Salamander are played by Patrick Troughton), uses multiple and subtle layers of this:
      • When the Doctor first impersonates Salamander, as he knows little about the man, his accent and appearance is good but his acting is just the generically commanding personality he usually uses in his Bavarian Fire Drills. He also noticeably pauses while thinking of new ways to bluff. This does turn out to be good enough to fool the agent he was doing this to, but not good enough that he doesn't think that Salamander was "not himself" and "acting really strangely".
      • When Salamander is lying his face off in front of the scientists, he becomes noticeably unctuous compared to his usual personality, which isn't the way the Second Doctor tends to indicate a bluff. Cracks in the façade definitely begin to show as he realizes some of them have him figured out.
      • Subverted when the Doctor impersonates Salamander for the second time, where the fact that he's nailed the character so completely (compared to his weak performance before) is used to fool the audience into thinking it actually is Salamander. Significantly, when the Doctor drops the façade, it's in response to physical violence and the intended audience reaction isn't "hooray, it's the Doctor!" but "oh no, Salamander can act like the Doctor too!" The Doctor has to use Shave And A Haircut as a Shibboleth to prove who he is to them.
    • "Meglos": The Doctor and Romana are caught in a chronic hysteresis (a time loop), which results in them going through the same scene involving repairing K-9 by waggling his tail several times. In order to break themselves out of said loop, they have to deliberately recreate the scene, which results in Romana acting very woodenly, and the Doctor actually forgetting what he has to say next, even though he's already delivered the line at least three times already.
    • "Amy's Choice": This is Amy's opinion of Upper Leadworth's amateur dramatic society.
  • In the Enemy at the Door episode "The Polish Affaire", most of the regular cast get roped into a friend's amateur theatricals. Peter, in particular, is very wooden.
  • Elsbeth
    • As a former criminal attorney, Elsbeth knows full well when a client is acting too much and so can see when a murder suspect is going too far seeming shocked at a death or other evidence.
    • Subverted in the first episode by Elsbeth explaining she knew theater director Alex was guilty.
    Alex: You weren't convinced by my acting?
    Elsbeth: Oh, no, I was. People in life...don't act.
  • Los Espookys: When forced to play the role of the creepy butler in an inheritance scare, Renaldo's performance is too over-the-top to be scary and he breaks character at the end by standing upright when he's supposed to be a hunchback. In response to criticism, Renaldo reminds the others that he's not an actor, and if he were an actor, the role would've been out of his range.
  • Everything Now: Mia joins the drama club at her school as the girl she likes is there. When she does improv, she's really awkward, showing little emotion in a very dramatic scene. She's also quite hesitant while reciting a bit from Romeo and Juliet.
  • In the wrap-up movie to The Famous Jett Jackson, Jett swaps places with his superspy Show Within a Show character Silverstone. While Jett is struggling to survive in a world of spies and supervillains with zero training, Silverstone has to deal with being a (more or less) normal teenager in a small town, as well as an actor. Despite being a spy, Silverstone is utterly terrible at acting, causing his co-stars to burst into laughter, assuming he's just pretending.
  • Father Brown: Bunty's performance as the Fairy Godmother in "The Tree of Truth". She is very stiff and wooden and keeps forgetting her lines. Ultimately, she realizes how awful she is and feigns illness to allow Mrs. McCarthy, who originally read for the role, to take over the part.
  • Firefly:
    • Simon in "Jaynestown", when he's pretending to be a merchant looking to buy "mud". Revealed in The Movie to be more of a prep and motivation problem rather than skill - he manages to get into a top-secret government experiment slicker than snot on a doorknob in Serenity, because he was playing a role he was reasonably close to and had time to prep and his sister's life on the line, while in "Jaynestown" he was roped into it at the last second and had no idea what he was doing.
    • When Simon and River come back onto the ship at the end of "Safe", Jayne's attempt at welcoming them back (and covering up that he's been looting Simon's luggage) is all about this.
    • Also in "Trash", where at the end it's revealed that everything was played by the entire crew from the moment Mal released Yo-Saff-Bridge from the crate, Inara insists that the crew's acting skills were sub-par. In fact, if you watch closely, the crew's performances really weren't that great, with Kaylee lapsing into giggling fits a few times, and Wash being a bit of a Large Ham.
  • Friends:
  • Full Frontal: Shaun Micallef has the character of David McGahan, a media personality whose ego far outstrips his talent. One recurring McGahan sketch, Roger Explosion: Secret Agent has him manage to hit every single point of this trope. McGahan continually forgets his lines, misses his cues, flubs the blocking (to the point where there's a giant cross on the floor), and even messes the cues of other characters.
  • Funky Squad, an Australian Affectionate Parody of '70s cop shows like The Mod Squad, most notably with the "spontaneous laughter" in the "Everybody Laughs" Ending.
  • F/X: The Series, season 1 episode 5. Carrie Ann Moss absolutely mangles Margaret's speech to York in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part 3.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In "Valar Morghulis", the Lannisters, their Small Council members, and the Tyrells enact a ceremony in which King Joffrey dismisses Sansa and takes Margaery as his betrothed for the benefit of the court. Joffrey turns to his mother in anticipation for her line before Queen Cersei starts speaking. Margaery Tyrell enthusiastically participates in the rehearsed charade, but Ser Loras is literally a bad actor. He can't be bothered to do his small part properly, as his body language practically oozes with contempt for Joffrey, and Loras even messes up one of his lines because he inadvertently lets out a Freudian Slip regarding his feelings for Renly.
    • Also, Grenn when he fakes being beaten by Sam in the training yard.
  • One episode of GARO: Makai Senki involved a popular idol making his acting debut as the hero of a classical play. He delivers all his lines in ridiculously stilted fashion, ignoring all direction in favor of his own ad-libs. The rest of the cast and crew despairs of him but are forced to put up with him because he draws in audiences.
  • Everyone in Garth Marenghis Darkplace does this in their own particular way. Garth (as Rick Dagless) hopelessly overangsts his every line, the actress playing Liz lives in a world of Dull Surprise and breathless delivery, Dr. Sanchez is played as the Ham to end all Hams, and Thornton Reed (notably played by 'not an actor' Dean Learner) blurts out all of his lines in an awkward rush. Even the extras have their own bad acting, from bored tones in what's supposed to be a sex scene to being a Motor Mouth to get through their lines as soon as possible. The only person that can be said to avert this was The Temp, played by an actor with genuine talent, but stuck giving horrible lines.
  • Blaine's brother in Glee is an awful actor who thinks he's a brilliant actor. His highlights include shuffling around after his 'death' to show the camera his better side, pointing dramatically, ignoring everyone in the scene with him, and of course, SCREAMING ALL HIS LINES because he's AN INTENSE ACTOR and the things that he's feeling are REALLY INTENSE! But mostly pointing.
  • GLOW (2017):
    • Most of the GLOW wrestlers are completely untrained actresses who simply ham up their exaggerated characters. Debbie and Ruth are the only actresses in the cast who have any sort of training.
    • In the first part of season 2, Cherry's disastrous attempt to star in a cop show reveals her total lack of dramatic acting skill. She delivers her lines in a blank, stilted fashion as if she's using all her concentration to just pronounce the words. In a moment of desperation, she turns to Sam for help, and he honestly tells her what she knows is true: at present, she is not competent enough to do the job. In a few years, she might acquire the necessary skills but right now her only choice is to find a way to walk away from the show before she gets fired and gets a bad reputation in the industry. Sam ultimately finds a way for everyone involved to save face and release Cherry from her contract so she can come back to GLOW.
  • The Goes Wrong Show (by the same outfit that did The Play That Goes Wrong below) features the Cornely Amateur Dramatic Society, and boy is it ever. A few of the performers are halfway decent and struggle gamely through set malfunctions, prop mishaps, and their fellow performers. A few, however, are notably bad. Dennis can be counted on for high-volume, stilted delivery, Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud, and tendency to forget his own lines and start saying his partner's instead. (As a result he is usually "cast" as deer heads and teletype machines; even then he screws it up.) Max can't keep a straight face, mugs for the audience, and never stays still when he's meant to be dead. Robert is all right, but the fact that he wrote a book titled "Anything You Can Act, I Can Act Louder" illustrates what his usual issue is.
  • Margo's performance in The Sound of Music on The Good Life. At one point she started singing the song "Maria" from West Side Story simply because she herself was playing Maria and was panicked by everything else going wrong.
  • An episode of Green Acres, where the town puts on a play. Arnold, a pig, is considered to be a great actor and is sent to Hollywood. Considering the quality of the human acting, we don't blame them.
  • Despite Miley Stewart's successful Clark Kenting in Hannah Montana, Hannah herself couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. In one episode while co-hosting an award show, she speaks in a robotic voice and reads the instructions from the teleprompter. In another episode, she is fired from a voice acting job for an animated movie. Ironically, director Rob Reiner gives her a role only after she goes out of her way to try not get the part.

    The latter scenario was more of a Springtime for Hitler situation; Miley was deliberately botching the audition as Oliver was jealous of Hannah's successes in life while Oliver was doomed to failure. Oliver would eventually forgive Miley for sacrificing her opportunity to save their friendship.
  • In a very rare case where this trope is actually useful is during Hell's Kitchen. The final 3-4 chefs each have a turn running the pass, with the sous chefs (and sometimes the maitre'd) deliberately sabotaging the dishes to see if the contestants have picked up Ramsay's attention to detail. Whenever a contestant catches them out, Scott (normally) will show this trope, which is a clue that they've done something right.
  • There was an episode of Hey Dude! that featured Ted performing a script for someone outside eavesdropping. His performance was also typically stilted and wooden.
  • Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha: When Du-sik requests that the neighbors go along with his fake dating ruse with Hye-jin, he offers a discount to her clinic to whoever is the best at keeping up with it. The result is a very cringeworthy dialogue with the villagers who all sequentially introduce themselves and woodenly praise Du-sik and Hye-jin. Du-sik even complains that they're all very bad at acting.
  • Ed Norton (no, not that one) on The Honeymooners when Ralph Kramden's Zany Scheme of the Week is to sell a multi-purpose tool on TV. "Can it core a apple?note " However, when the time comes to actually do the commercial (live in those days), Ralph is even worse: "Homminahomminahommina..."
  • The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth" featured an absurd showing of a fan film made by the main characters: Lethal Weapon 5. Aside from all its other problems (like the horrible racism), it featured some of the worst acting imaginable. Like Charlie's dreadful line readings ("Turns out someone tainted - tapped the tainted water supply! The person who just died was your wife!") and Frank's turn as the screeching Large Ham villain.
    • The Gang's venture into musicals in "The Nightman Cometh" featured loads of bad acting.
  • In the British cop series Jericho (not Jericho (2006)) the title character is asked to introduce a television series about his 'real life' cases (actually fictional cases delivering moral Aesops). He's eventually replaced by an actor because his performance is too stilted.
  • Jessie:
    • Jessie and Petey's improv acting in "Green-Eyed Monsters". It's even lampshaded by Emma.
    • Zuri's "Oh no! The lizard ate my homework!" in "Make New Friends but Hide the Old".
    • Luke's "They (Chris Bosh's socks) have been washed!" In "Say Yes to the Messy Dress".
  • KYTV:
    • There's a spoof behind-the-scenes production of a Dickensian costume drama with a useless lead actor, who can barely read and can't even say his lines in the correct order: "I think it now not far... is?", "I too, wife weary... am?".
    • Bad "Bad Acting" is a staple of KYTV's "Brazilian soap opera, Ole!, translated and dubbed by KYTV", where the "Brazillian" actors play with exaggerated melodrama, while the voice-over actors read their lines in a dull, monotone way, regularly missing their cues, reading the wrong lines and mispronouncing words.
    • KYTV was based on the radio series Radio Active which also used this trope regularly. The radio version of the Dickens parody featured the narrator saying "Children die on the street happily... Die on the streets. Happily, our story concerns on who lives." And the Oliver Twist expy saying "Gruel, please can I have some moron... Please, can I have some more on my plate."
  • The League of Gentlemen has Pam Doove, who became The Unintelligible whenever it was time for her to speak a single, easy line. Played with in that in-universe her unintelligible phrase becomes a popular meme, her advert is actually filmed and broadcast and, in the minds of the writers according to the DVD Commentary, she becomes a famous actress and wins an Oscar.
  • On Legends of Tomorrow, the episode "Hey World" has a rather disastrous attempt at filming a commercial: Gary puts way too much emphasis on the pun they're saying, Nate pitches their voice so low and growly its almost unintelligible, and Sara can't get through their lines without laughing. Once it's done, they all agree: "Great take."
  • Leverage:
    • Sophie's acting is terrible. Really terrible. Once, Parker compared Sophie's acting in Death of a Salesman* to a horror movie saying "Attention must be PAID!" and Eliot declared that that was the worst night of his life. (This was juxtaposed with a flashback of him being forced to play Russian Roulette while held captive.) As is made clear throughout the series, she's only terrible when she's trying to act outside of a con. If it's during a con, she can pull off almost any role effortlessly. As Nate puts it, "She can act... when it's an act."
      "Never before has a production of The Sound of Music made me root for the Nazis."
    • There are times when Parker, called upon to act, does so very unconvincingly.
      Parker, hanging off chairlift: "Oh yeah. Help. Help."
  • Miranda's acting in Lizzie McGuire, complete with her accidentally reading out stage directions.
  • MADtv (1995):
  • One of the Francis subplots from Malcolm in the Middle had Otto hiring an acting troupe to stage a live murder-mystery, only the performance was a Cliché Storm whose annoyance and direct interference with the guests caused them to leave en masse. Too soft to fire them, Otto hired an audience to watch and praise them to help boost their confidence. The audience was also an example of Bad Bad Acting, although they were deadpan in contrast to the Large Ham performance of the troupe, to which the troupe's leader was totally oblivious.
  • In Married... with Children:
    • Episode "Kiss of the Coffee Woman", Al and Marcy try to act in a coffee commercial, but deliver their lines in a completely stilted and unnatural way. After everybody has given up and left, they try it for one more time and do it perfectly.
    • In "Birthday Boy Toy", Al's boss, Gary, hires Bud and Kelly to make a commercial for her shoe store. Al tried out for the commerical, but his performance was anything but good. After he's fired, no one hesistates to tell him why.
      Al: Why the sudden change of heart?
      Bud: No, no, it's not sudden. Your acting sucks. It sucked when we started, it sucks now, i-it will always suck!
      Al: Well, that's just one person's opinion, isn't it?
      Kelly and Griff: It sucks.
      Three Men: (outside of the store) It sucks.
      Woman: (over loudspeaker) Attention, shoppers, Al Bundy sucks.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: In "Vote For Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy", when Sophie Lennon is called upon to interview people with rheumatoid arthritis during the MDA telethon, she switches rapidly between sympathetic and humorous modes, and makes little to no effort to conceal the transitions. After taking a moment to operatically moan in sorrow for the poor victims ("ARRRRR-THRITISSS!"), she drops her facade and sorts through her note cards again. Sophie Lennon, it should be noted, is a classically-trained actress with a passion for legit theater who got pushed into this character of a "fat Apron Matron", so safe to say she's just going through the motions here.
  • In the Matlock episode "The Play", Matlock and his associate Cliff are this while trying out for a community play.
  • The Middle:
    • Sue Heck when she does public speaking or things on camera.
    • This is the result when Brad and Sue write, direct and star in the senior play in "The Lonliest Locker".
  • Played with in Monk. In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater", Monk becomes the understudy for an actor who was murdered. When he's re-enacting the scene in the play to try to solve the crime, he's really good; Sharona does her part much less convincingly. Monk starts to lose it in rehearsals; during the actual performance, he makes a lot of mistakes and veers into Large Ham territory. During the actual performance, he was also rather flustered due to having just figured out that the murderer was the person he was acting with on the stage.
  • Lampshaded in the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Spanish Inquisition" sketch:
    Cardinal Ximinez: How do you plead?
    Lady Mountback: We're innocent.
    Ximinez: HA! HA HA! (superimposed caption: "Diabolical laughter") We'll soon change your mind about that! (superimposed caption: "Diabolical acting")
    • Another sketch features a tremendously pathetic version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, put on by a boys' school. Both the boys and the girls act incredibly woodenly.
  • Murdoch Mysteries
    • An episode featured a direction making a "moving picture" based on Detective Murdoch's investigations and the police department he works at. The in-universe actor playing Murdoch is injured and Murdoch himself has to stand in, resulting in the surreal situation of Murdoch's real-life actor playing Murdoch playing himself, badly.
    • Another episode features a play that Inspector Brakenreid's son is appearing in. He is the only actor who isn't either stilted, hammy, or alternating between the two. It doesn't help that the script is terrible as well.
  • A Murphy Brown episode had the title character hired for a cameo on a comedy show. Unfortunately, Murphy keeps delivering her single line in a horribly stilted manner:
    Murphy: I GOT your APOLOGY, Kelly! NOW I'm SORRY that I filled your CAR with HERRING!
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • While trying to escape Hobgoblins, the Satellite of Love crew set up some decoy lookalikes and a prerecorded riff track, which combines this trope with some... odd phrasings.
    • Also somewhat earlier in the series, when Dr. Forrester forces the crew to put on an act for his visiting mother. Starts at about 4:45, and runs the gamut.
  • The MythBusters sometimes do Stylistic Suck videos that illustrate a myth that they're doing. When they do this, the acting is either over-the-top or oddly stilted. While this is somewhat justified by the fact that none of them (with the possible exception of Adam) are professional actors, it still manages to be So Bad, It's Good in the exact way Bad "Bad Acting" generally is.
    • An interesting episode was about testing to see if hypnotic recall could actually work to make you remember things that you couldn't before. To test this Adam and Jamie set up an altercation with some delivery guys (who were planted actors) with Tory, Kari, and Grant nearby. As a viewer in on the deception, you could tell it was an act but it would be convincing enough for the casual observers.
  • Neighbours runs into this at times, especially with staged arguments. The fight between Rachel and Stingray, intended to convince Susan they weren't really interested in each other, was particularly cringe-worthy.
  • There's an episode of NewsRadio where a camera crew decides to shoot Jimmy James for a documentary. Whenever they start filming, though, he starts going all monotone and speaks like a robot.
  • The Office (US)
    • "Threat Level Midnight" showcases Michael's personal pet project movie of the same name, which has the Dunder-Mifflin staff as the actors. But since they aren't professional actors, much of their dialogue delivery either comes off as way over the top (especially Jim as the Big Bad), sounding like they're phoning in their performances, or trying to sound dramatic in spite of the cliched writing, resulting in all kinds of narm. Karen's line delivery is especially bad, to the point the documentary crew actually tracked her down to ask her about this, much to her irritation.
    • In one episode, Karen participates in a prank with Jim and says her lines in an obviously artificial manner, which Dwight is too dim to notice.
  • Party Down: While partying with Steve Guttenberg, the catering staff (of struggling actors) perform a scene from Roman's bad science fiction screenplay, delivering stilted writing in a stiff and confused manner. After an emergency rewrite, the actors start to get a feel for their roles and perform the much-improved scene with genuine skill.
  • In Pixelface, Athelwynne plays up his Large Ham tendencies in his cut scenes, even adding extra syllables to words to stretch out his screen time. Clairparker, on the other hand, says everything in a bored monotone and reads the stage directions out loud.
  • Reno 911! occasionally shows its police-officer characters doing incredibly stilted Public Service Announcements.
  • Max Evans of Roswell, formerly Roswell High, auditioned for a part as an alien prince. He stumbled over his lines a lot, but other than that it wasn't much different from usual.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • Vanessa Bayer's reoccurring sketch "The Miley Cyrus Show".
    • Another one of Bayer's characters, Laura Parsons, is a parody of adolescent drama students who think showing off acting technique is the same thing as giving a performance. She performs scenes from Age Inappropriate movies like Brokeback Mountain and The Social Network with a singsong vocal rhythm and gratuitous hand gestures.
    • An older SNL sketch, "Goth Talk" was more or less Bad "Bad Acting" of the hammy variety. The two black-shrouded hosts, Stephanie and Todd (aka Circe Nightshade and Azrael Abyss), as well as all of their guests, tried to be ludicrously morbid, gothic, and emotional, even when referencing very modern, pedestrian things. The fact that they essentially broke character every few sentences did not help.
  • Schitt's Creek: Notably averted when we see clips of Moira's acting in The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crowening and Sunrise Bay where Catherine O'Hara pulls off the trained actress Moira's effort to be good while only being mediocre. Played straight, however, whenever she and her son David try to "act" together.
  • Scrubs has J.D. and Turk perform a concept scene for J.D.'s screenplay "Dr. Acula" and requisitely has them doing a horrible job at line delivery and staying in character when their line is over.
  • Skins series five. The third generation gang is involved with putting on a college show towards the end of the series and chief organizer, head girl and all-around queen bee Mini McGuinness turns out to give a horribly stilted and melodramatic performance that she naturally thinks is really good. Meanwhile the most extreme outsiders of the group, Franky and Richard, give extremely good performances that are well-received by the audience.
  • Slings & Arrows has Claire portraying Ophelia in Theater/Hamlet. In the scene where Ophelia, mad with grief, is singing "go to thy death-bed", Claire sings her lines while staggering with her mouth gaping open as if she were stoned. As the director informs her after her performance, she has completely failed at portraying the heartbroken Ophelia.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "The Nth Degree", Barclay performs a play with Dr. Crusher. He is terrible at acting, stammering, and forgetting lines. The audience, however, is too nice to criticize him and politely applaud the performance while saying things like "bravo" — except for Data.
    • In "Time's Arrow Part II" the Next Generation crew have traveled back in time to 1893 San Francisco. When the landlady Mrs. Carmichael demands their overdue rent they pretend to be actors rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream and encourage her to read the part of Titania. Captain Picard then praises her stilted performance, and Mrs. Carmichael is so flustered she forgets about the rent for another day.
    • In "Ménage à Troi", Lwaxana's plan for getting away from a Ferengi Daimon who'd kidnapped her is having Picard act like an insanely jealous lover with the guns of a Galaxy-class starship at his disposal. Picard starts out with "It's not over between us. You're mine, and I will not let you go", delivered like he's reading off a card with a gun to his head, before resorting to large gestures and lines from Shakespeare sonnets. And ordering Worf to warm up the weapons.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Our Man Bashir" they go to a Holodeck program which is a Bond Affectionate Parody, most of the characters are large hams and/or Hollywood Tone-Deaf, especially Avery Brooks as Dr. Noah, who is even more Hammy than usual, and Nana Visitor as Anastasia Komananov, where she admitted in interviews it was a "necessity to do a bad Russian accent".
  • The State does this sometimes. A classic example is the "Spaghetti and Fried Bumblebees" sketch.
  • Supergirl: J'onn, despite being a shapeshifter, is... mediocre at acting. Everyone who has ever interacted with one of his disguises for more than five seconds notices something is weird, though usually, nothing comes of it. Special mention goes to when J'onn has to pretend to be Kara when she is indisposed and Lena wants to visit her. J'onn puts absolutely zero effort into his acting, stiffly referring to James as "Mister Olsen" and not even bothering to smile. Lena completely fails to notice anything is wrong since she thought Kara was sick and assumed anything strange was the result of that.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "The French Mistake", Sam and Dean are thrust into an alternate reality in which they are Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. At one point, Sam and Dean are forced to play themselves, and they do a spectacularly bad job of it.
      Dean: Don't look at the camera.
      Sam: What?
      Dean: Look anywhere but the camera.
    • One can only imagine the "real" script directions for Jared and Jensen who were told to act as Sam and Dean (normal), who are acting like Jared and Jensen (would already be difficult) who are acting as Sam and Dean (WTF?).
    • We also see this played with by the cast of Hell Hazers II: The Reckoning in the episode "Hollywood Babylon".
  • Taken: In "Maintenance", Charlie Keys fumbles over his lines while playing Neil Armstrong in his class' play about the space program.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Cold Reading", Jack Holland, who plays the title character in Dick Noble, African Explorer, constantly struggles with his lines and the other actors have to cover for him as the series is broadcast live. He mispronounces words such as "azure" and "tut" on air. When his co-star Marilyn Cavendish, who plays Dick's Girl Friday Millicent, helps him with the pronunciation of the former, he breaks character and thanks her. Unlike both Marilyn and the novice actor Milo Trent, he is completely unable to improvise when the things mentioned in the script begin appearing in the studio.
  • Usually in That '70s Show, the actors will indulge in this trope, especially prevalent in a parody of the cult film Reefer Madness and a short about the future.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look:
    • The recurring "Coverage of People [doing something patently obvious]" sketches, where everyone involved is bored out of their mind and making no attempt whatsoever to hide it.
    • The Dreamy Pastures Insurance "advert" has a part where two of the actors recite their lines in a bland monotone, despite before and after emoting normally.
  • J-Roc's numerous porno films in Trailer Park Boys, where the "actors" are absolutely terrible.
  • Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV: Everyone on Acorn Antiques. But especially Miss Babs.
  • Whiplash: "The Actress" features a rather poor troupe of travelling players whose wooden and melodramatic performances are met with derision from their audiences. The leading man acknowledges that they aren't very good, or they wouldn't be playing remote towns in the goldfields. The climax involves the leading lady demonstrating that she has some serious acting chops in order to save a man from a lynching.
  • The Whitest Kids U' Know: The "Abraham Lincoln" segment begins with William Shakespeare's Hamlet reimagined with vampires. The two actors in the play put on a mediocre performance.
    "Save yourself, Hamlet! Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!"
  • Will & Grace: it seems that Jack's a pretty terrible actor: he often breaks character to laugh at his own mistakes and doesn't read the script ahead of time:
    Jack: (auditioning, fake-shivering violently) "Please, Mr. O'Shaughnessy, I'm begging you. I can't stand out here any longer in this unbearable—" (turns page) "heat." Oh. Oh... it's hot. (fans himself) "We need food or else I fear my family will perish, and my harp will break." Oh, "heart." (laughs) "My heart will break." I said, "harp will break." Did you hear that?
  • Young Hercules:
    • Hercules and friends have found an Ares lookalike, and need to convince Strife and Discord he's the real thing.
      Jason: Don't hit Hercules or I will hurt don't throw me backwards Ares!]]
      Ares: (to Discord) You are insolent, and disobedient...and naughty!
    • And later
      Jason: Oh no it's Ares! [cringing - badly]
  • On the Israeli sitcom Zanzuri, the eponymous character botches the funeral scene he’s participating in as an extra by trying to hog the focus repeatedly with hilariously over-the-top crying and screaming.

  • The Lonely Island's series of songs including "Just 2 Guyz", "We Like Sportz" and "We'll Kill U". In each respective song, Those Two Guys rap about how happy, enthusiastic, or badass they are - in a deadpan monotone.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Mr. Fuji and The Magnificent Muraco, in a series of parody acts where they impersonated an Abbott and Costello-type duo that didn't know how to act, in a series of memorable skits on the WWF's Tuesday Night Titans program. Throughout the run, the pair butchered such programs as Miami Vice and General Hospital.
  • Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan's infamous main event match on SummerSlam 2005 was fraught with backstage politicking, with Hogan screwing Michaels over by reneging on the original plan at the last second (Michaels reluctantly agreed to turn heel and lose to Hogan during the SummerSlam match, which would lead to a rematch later where Michaels would be victorious — Hogan backed out of said rematch due to "back problems," widely seen as Hogan wagging the books to put himself over). Michaels retaliated by turning the whole situation into a total farce: his promo the night before the match featured him impersonating Hogan as a stilted, over-the-top caricature, and most infamously, the actual match featured Michaels overselling every move dealt by Hogan, flipping and bouncing around the ring from every slight hit like he was made out of rubber and cartoon physics, making the show (and more importantly, Hogan's victory) impossible to take seriously.

    Puppet Shows 

  • Used frequently by radio satirists Bob & Ray, in the course of poking fun at various conventions of the medium. One of their mock talk shows was called "Us, the Folks, Mumble!" and featured the following running gag:
    Bob: (as host) OK now sir, tell us what happened in your own words...
    Ray: (as guest) Um... mph schmpfl reffle flp...
    Bob: (hastily) Er, maybe you'd better use our words, sir. Right here on the card.
    Ray: OK, sure. (reads off card in the stiffest and most unconvincing manner possible)
  • Early episodes of the BBC radio comedy The Burkiss Way opened with "unsolicited testimonials from satisfied customers" in which people would explain how the titular correspondence course had changed their lives. These were often delivered with reading-off-the-cue-cards stiltedness; The female customers (all played by Denise Coffey) would always end by asking "Was that all right?", but the worst example is an illiterate man explaining how the course taught him to read:
    Customer: Then, a fiend in-tro-dunced me to... The Burgess Wag! Now, I can read and... re-redistribute all the choice lapels I want.
    Prompter: Cheese labels!
  • Done every other year or so in The Archers with Ambridge's Christmas Pantomime
  • In one episode of the Bert Coules Sherlock Holmes radio plays, Holmes and Watson act out a scene from the 1899 play by William Gillette. Watson reads his own part rather woodenly, and Holmes reads the part of himself and the female lead.
  • Lum and Abner did this frequently, both in their wartime "plays" on fighting inflation, and the plotline where they buy a radio transmitter at an auction and decide to start their own radio station, reading their lines deadpan like it was the first time they'd even seen the scripts (which was probably the case).
    Abner: I can tell you've been to Moze Moots' Barber Shop. By the way, you smell!

  • Coarse-acting plays are based entirely on this trope, plus the various set disasters that occur in any production. However, like all comedy, they require good acting to pull off.
  • William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream features a play about Pyramus and Thisbe, performed by a group of Athenian workers fifth act's first scene. The performance is so awful (and the "lead man" Nick Bottom's performance so unbelievably hammy), the in-universe audience assumes it's a comedy and it's a hit.
  • In Curtains, Jessica Crenshaw is a triple threat: she can't sing, dance, or act.
    Jessica: Kiss me while you can, boys! I'm bidding you!
    Actor: ...Farewell.
    Jessica: Farewell! I'm bidding you Farewell!
  • The Farndale Avenue Townswomen's Guild plays are depictions of extremely amateurish productions of standard plays, put on by a local townswomen's guild. They feature tons of bad acting, as well as lots of drama between the actors and the production staff. For instance in The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society's Production of The Mikado, the actor playing Ko-Ko recites all her lines in a monotone and is prone to Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud.
    Ko-Ko: I can't kill you. I can't kill anybody. Weeps.
  • In the Sondheim classic Into the Woods, there are examples of this with the Baker and the Baker's Wife, the most notable being The Baker's Wife trying to get Jack to trade her magic beans for his "cow as white as milk".
    Baker's Wife: Oh -
    Baker: Ahem?
    Baker's Wife: Ooooohhhhh! Oh, no! We mustn't give up our beans!
  • In the "Madonna's Brain" sketch from Forbidden Broadway, the actress plays Madonna trying to rehearse a line for David Mamet and delivering horrible line readings.
    Madonna: (in a monotone, with no inflections or pauses) I know what it's like to be bad, I've been bad. (then, a second try) I know what it's like to be bad, I (pause) 've been bad.
  • In The Play That Goes Wrong, the cast of The Murder at Haversham Manor is equally split between Large Ham and this trope. Most of the Mischief Theatre's "Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society" productions play with this trope, in that the performers may not necessarily be terrible, but they are over-confident amateurs who have certain bad habits which tend to lead to this trope. In addition to Chris (the company's director/lead/Straight Man) and Robert (the resident Large Ham), we have the following:
    • Dennis is closest to this trope being played fully straight; he can barely remember lines, mangles words, seems to be unable to distinguish the character being played from the actor playing them, repeats every line (and direction) which is fed to him in a panicked monotone, and all-up generally comes across like the sum total of what he knows about acting comes from having half-read the dictionary definition mere seconds before being shoved on stage. Interestingly, though, he seems to have an encyclopedic recollection of everyone else's dialogue, and on occasions where he and another actor somehow get confused and start reciting each other's lines he starts performing quite well.
    • Sandra is very good at playing The Vamp — but, thanks to her own vanity, tends to play every character as a sultry femme-fatale type, even when it's inappropriate (such as the Virgin Mary).
    • Max would probably be very good if he were able to stop getting distracted by the audience, since he reacts with childlike glee whenever they applaud him and starts goofing around to try and get more of it.
    • Lucy is shy, suffers from stage fright, and doesn't really want to be there but keeps getting bullied into it by Robert, her uncle. Ironically, when she actually starts loosening up and getting into it, he'll usually find some fault to pick at and start bellowing at her again, shattering her confidence (or, on occasion, getting her seriously injured).
    • Vanessa is probably the best in the company in terms of sticking to the script, but she suffers from a crippling "fear of spontaneity" and a consequent inability to improvise when things go off-script... which is not ideal for the CPDS, seeing how things always go off-script.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: The song "The Groom When It Happened" centers around an event that caught most characters present by surprise. Margaery, who has a hand in the event in question, is very obviously trying to look shocked at it a little too hard.

    Video Games 
  • Double subverted in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. B.J. Blaskowicz has to infiltrate the Nazi base on Venus disguised as an actor to star in a propaganda movie about himself. His disguise persona as an actor is good enough to fool a director, and even a senile and frail Adolf Hitler. But when it comes time to read the actual lines for the part, his acting is stiff, wooden, and monotone. Hitler even berates Blaskowicz for it.
    • But then he changes his tune when the actors have to perform a fight scene. B.J goes in, kills his Nazi training partner brutally in a fit of rage, and Hitler practically squeals in delight at the performance, calling him "better than perfect". Of course, that was just B.J normally.
  • Mass Effect:
    • One of the races, the elcor, have monotone voices and primarily communicate emotion and nuance through scent and facial cues, which other races cannot parse, so they have to resort to saying how they feel out loud to communicate with other races. This doesn't typically make for good acting, but there is still a famous, award-winning all-elcor run of Hamlet. See the trailer:
      Gertrude: Uneasy: What wilt thou do. Thou wilt not murder me. Help. Help. Ho.
      Polonius: Shocked: What ho. Help. Help. Help.
      Hamlet: Startled: How now. A rat. Dead for a ducat. Dead.
      Polonius: Agonized: O. I am slain.
      Gertrude: Horrified: O me. What has thou done.
      Hamlet: Shaken: Nay. I know not. Is it the king.
      Gertrude: Horror gives way to anger: O. What rash and bloody deed is this.
      Hamlet: Venomous Sarcasm: What a piece of work is a man!
    • The director of the elcor Hamlet is later revealed to be working on a krogan Macbeth, which should be interesting given that a typical krogan is likely to open negotiations with questions regarding Shakespeare's ability to beat up Christopher Marlowe. Despite this, the hard part is apparently the pyjak.
    • Mass Effect 3 has an in-universe action movie Blasto 6: Partners in Crime. Blasto is a hanar, a race of excruciatingly polite jellyfish-like aliens who have little ability to express emotions vocally - and his partner is an elcor (see above), and over and above that, an elcor who either can't or won't use any tone other than "badassfully".
      Blasto: [monotone] Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
    • The Citadel DLC gives you the chance of acting in Blasto 7: Blasto Goes To War, alongside Javik. Between Blasto acting like a prima donna, Shepard having his/her heroics stolen by Blasto himself, a Citadel Council where only one of the species present is actually on the Council and the vorcha councillor keeps forgetting his lines, Javik's backstory being completely butchered, and the atrocious model of a Reaper, one has to wonder what the writers were tanked on when they wrote this. Especially amusingly, six months previously, in the second game, they had only recently released the first Blasto movie; six sequels in six months, with a seventh being lined up immediately after the sixth for Blasto curing the genophage. It is likely people thought In-Universe the movies were So Bad, It's Good they came to watch it in droves.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: On both sides in the Movie Night quest. Ryder goes and purchases the turian movie "Legion of the Lost" on Liam's recommendation - namely that the movie doesn't have to be good. Seems Ryder took that to heart, since the little we see is cheesily overacted. Then Ryder and Kallo decide to copy the movie themselves, and get to do some overacting of their own. (That said, Peebee doesn't seem to mind, even offering to reenact it with her in Kallo's place).
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, one of the Prism Rangers delivers half his lines like this, and the other half of his lines as if he's trying to do this and failing to entirely remove the inflection... and then Etna shoots them.
  • In Phantom Brave, Ash and Marona employ this to get rid of an Optional Boss who keeps coming back. Laharl is dumb enough to fall for it, too.
  • Dragon Quest VIII featured a scene in which the party is locked in a prison and acts out a scene to attract the guards' attention. In the English dubbed version, their delivery during this scene is wooden, but the guards are stupid enough to buy it.
  • In Borderlands 2 there is Jack's Body Double, which, in a monotone voice, says incredibly convincing dialogue such as "I am Handsome Jack and I am very good at intercourse." and, upon death, "Noooooo. I am Handsome Jack and I am dead."
  • Psychonauts:
    • The theater stage, where all of the actors play out past events from Gloria Von Guten's life in this manner. Their mouths gape open at all times when they're not speaking, and what words come out have wrong inflections, with overdone gestures to match.
    • "The Milkman Conspiracy" level, with all of the FBI agents holding marginally related objects while trying to act like normal citizens of Suburbia, like road crew workers, gardeners, housewives, and... assassins.
      Agent: I am a road worker. This is my stop sign.
      Agent: I am a sad widow. Boo-hoo. Boo-hoo-hoo.
  • The PSP game Dragoneers Aria contains a segment wherein the two female characters need to agitate a spirit guarding a tree that wouldn't listen to anything they say (thus necessitating the threat). Their delivery is wooden, but, somehow, the centuries-old spirit falls for it.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion contains a set piece in which an NPC "puts on a little act" as a prelude to faking his own death with the assistance of the player character. The result is positively hilarious.
  • The various parody TV shows within the Max Payne games feature some clearly terrible "acting".
  • Some Suikoden games feature a theater minigame. Generally speaking, you can cast a good chunk of the cast as any individual role in such works as Romeo and Juliet, or William Tell. The game will usually warn you which characters are bad actors... but then that's half the fun. Sometimes the acting is so bad that the set itself falls down.
    • Also plays as part of the plot in Suikoden V, during Sialeeds's plan to discredit the foppish Euram Barows.
  • In the second Sam & Max: Freelance Police season, during the special episode of Midtown Cowboys.
  • Max and Strong Bad's website plugs in Poker Night at the Inventory:
    Max: Oh! When I'm on the intern-net, I always go straight to DOUBLE U DOUBLE U DOUBLE U DOT TELL TALE GAMES DOT COM SLASH STORE! Beat. Grin.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Locke's improvised performance in the Opera scene of Final Fantasy VI has the Impresario comment on how terrible his acting is. Due to technical limitations, it's left as an Informed Ability, since a player can't actually hear him talk. However, Locke refers to the main character of the opera by the name of her actress instead of the name of her character, which is a very amateurish mistake.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud and one of the girls end up starring in an incredibly bad play. Depending on player choices, Cloud's acting will either be sincere or a Ham and Cheese exercise in doing the stupidest possible thing in every situation to push the show Off the Rails. The girl will ask 'did I do that right?' after her first line but will try to play the role seriously unless Cloud's antics make it impossible.
    • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, when Reno delivers an ultimatum to Avalance operatives defending the pillar while pretending they are the bad guys, his delivery is very wooden and unenthusiastic, and he even messes up his lines.
    • The infamous laughing scene in Final Fantasy X qualifies since the characters themselves are fake-laughing. Tidus has just learned that Sin is actually his father Jecht, though he doesn't know how or why yet, and is forcing a laugh to cheer himself up at Yuna's suggestion, so it's as awkward in-universe as it is for the audience. Wakka even says "we were just worried you guys might have gone crazy" after Tidus and Yuna are done fake-laughing.
    • In the prologue of Final Fantasy XII, listen carefully to Basch during the assassination scene. In it, he sounds a bit... strange. That's not him, it's Gabranth doing a really bad job of imitating his brother.
    • Final Fantasy XV has a Meta example, with the side-quest dedicated to Cup Noodles, with cheesy dialog talking about how no matter what ingredients you use, ramen tastes best when you eat it with your friends. The voice actors later said that they recorded two takes for this quest, one played straight and the other with tongues firmly planted in cheeks. The latter ended up being used in the game, which makes it sound like Noctis, Gladio et al are engaging in this trope themselves.
  • The Passion Play from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood surely has to count.
  • The Way of the Samurai series shamelessly uses most of the tropes you'd find in an old samurai film (Mook Chivalry is explicitly noted in the tutorials), so the English version of the sequel decides to up the ante and invoke the poor dubs such films would receive.
  • At one point in Tales of Graces, the party attempts to put on a play based on Snow White. Most of them have no acting experience, and it shows. Cheria as the princess is so excited by her role that she ends up overacting every word out of her mouth, Asbel as the prince and Sophie as the narrator are completely wooden, and Hubert as the evil queen hams it up as much as possible in hopes that it will keep people from recognizing him.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Remiel's wooden delivery during the early stages of the game turns out to be this. His voice acting gets much more natural when he's revealed as a villain.
  • Tales of Zestiria has this happen - to fool a knight into thinking Rose and Sorey are married. Sorey of all people. Sorey is the worst by far, though Rose isn't much better. But at least she doesn't need to be puppeted by the Seraphim. And yet, the knight buys that despite already realizing they were lying before that. Mikleo looks halfway to banging his head against the nearest hard surface, it's that bad.
    • The Prequel Tales of Berseria has a similar thing happen, in this case Velvet has to pretend to be Magilou's apprentice and then act like a dove. Her reaction makes it clear she knows how bad her acting is. Later on, a sidequest chain has Magilou attempting to form a comedy duo with every member of the party, with uniformly disastrous results.
  • One of the endings of Saints Row: The Third has you chase the villain to Mars, with a mixture of extremely contrived plot devices and wooden acting meant as clues that he actually got away in that ending and you're making a film about going after him. The Protagonist even forgets the lines to his ending speech, despite the fact that it's just a copy of the opening lines to Red Faction: Guerrilla. The same goes for the Gangsta's IN SPACE! DLC, where the entire mission pack is around similarly cheesy film scenes.
  • In Persona 5, Morgana can only be understood by those who've visited the Mental World before. Most party members react with genuine shock when they hear him (a cat) talk for the first time, but one's reaction is noticeably wooden. The Thieves even caught on to this in-universe, mentioning that Akechi's bad acting was their first red flag towards him being the traitor. Sure enough, he'd already heard Morgana talking much earlier in the game.
    • Where do we start with Ann? Despite her persona Carmen coming from theatre, her acting throughout the game is HORRIBLE. Despite that, somehow practically everyone on the receiving end somehow believes her, potentially because they're too distracted by her beauty.
    Ann: (hammily wailing) M-My cat François got run over by a car... and also has an incurable illness! I need money fast! I-If François were to die, I think I'd die too! Probably...
    Ann: (in falsetto) So... what's in this room?
    Ann: (in fake British accent (Engrish in the original Japanese)) I'm quite charmed to meet you, sir!
  • In Saints Row IV, Jane Valderama invokes this when she's brought in to help Zinyak read a selection from Romeo and Juliet on the classical station. She reads it in the same smarmy newsreader monotone she used for her news reports in the last few Saints' Row games.
  • In the "Deja Vu" storyline in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kaz occasionally does wooden, silly, and virtually unrecognizable impressions of various Metal Gear Solid characters when you call him. Apparently, when they asked Robin Atkin Downes to imitate the lines, he did them too well and got most of them bang-on, so they had to make him redo them all intentionally badly as Kaz himself is not much of an actor. This serves also to contrast to the True Ending where the game suddenly changes into a quiz hosted by Liquid Snake and Ocelot, all Other Darrined by Downes rapidly flicking between voices and all immediately recognizable.
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Beerus accuses Whis of this if you end up beating the latter before the former, with Beerus telling him that if he intends on faking it, do it convincingly.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, you can have a run-in with a theater troupe whose leading man has been kidnapped. You are forced to sit through a performance of their headliner, with "Biff The Understudy" delivering a performance exactly as wooden as you think.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The first Imperial-side planetary quest on Belsavis culminates in the Player Character crippling a guard captain at the Republic prison. As the PC closes in for the Coup de Grâce, the captain's supervisor makes a hologram call asking to speak to them. One silly option is for the PC to do a hilariously bad impression of the captain:
    Warden Graal: Ruger! Come in, Ellis Ruger. This is Warden Graal. We're taking fire and can't reach your position. What's your status!
    Player Character: Roger that. This is Ellis Ruger. Wish I could help, but I'm busy dying for a worthless cause. Over.
  • Disney Magic Kingdoms: Mamá Imelda pretending to ask Ernesto de la Cruz for help in the the quest "Master Class?" from the Coco event. De la Cruz still fails to see through it.
    Mamá Imelda: Ernesto. Not only am I here to apologize. But also to ask you. For advice. You see. Nobody knows about our performance. Because surely we are worse than you. At music. We are so VERY sad.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: Harley sounds rather strange in the first and second Interview Tapes you find until it's revealed that she's trying to sound more professional as opposed to her more bubbly normal persona.
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris 2: Ringo and Maguro engage in obviously fake acting in Chapter 6 before battling, not only acting very melodramatically but with both coming up with scenarios such as Ringo overwatering Maguro's cactus and almost killing it and Maguro beating Ringo's grandma so badly at checkers that she becomes too traumatized to eat much for weeks. Despite the awful acting, this works well enough to help Marle, who is legitimately astonished at this performance, to further remember what the battle is supposed to help her remember.
    Arle: What kinda third-rate acting is this!?
  • Octopath Traveler: Olberic Eisenberg is the team's Warrior, a skilled fighter and tactician, and a horrible actor. In the side quest "Star of the Stage," if Olberic impresses the Impersario with his fighting ability, he is taken onto the stage. There he gives a stilted reading in a monotone voice before ending his scene with, "Was that all right?" The scene ends and the Impersario is giving him an honest critique of his lack of talent.
  • Life Is Strange: Before the Storm: When Cloe gets recruited to perform as Ariel in The Tempest moments before curtain time, she performs about as well as you might expect from a teen rebel who doesn't like theater and has never rehearsed. Struggling to remember her lines, she swings wildly between awkwardly uncertain and overly bombastic.
  • The Koskela Brothers' TV commercials in Alan Wake II are done this way, being prime examples of the Kitschy Local Commercial. The more entrepreneurial of the two, Ilmo, overacts his hopelessly cheesy lines, while his brother Jaakko has all the acting chops of a plank of wood, and outright admits to Saga Anderson that he's only in them because it means free beer.
  • Megatagmension Blanc Plus Neptune VS Zombies has the main characters write and film a movie. Even if the script had been good, most of the actors partake in all of the classic bad acting tropes, ranging from Large Ham Chewing the Scenery to Dull Surprise, complete with a few instances of Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud. A video compiling all of the movie scenes into what the finished movie and its sequel supposedly look like in-universe is available here.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Heist: Monaco has Peter Graves introduced in Chapter 6 when Lee and the gang have need of a Grifter, especially after the Muscle asks them to never have to act on the spot ever again. Lee, Rye, and Eris go to a one-man performance in Amsterdam and see him bombing horribly on stage to the point a heckler gets the audience booing and Produce Pelting him on stage until security has to throw him out when he ends up getting the stage curtain caught on fire during his "exit" from a lit candle prop, causing the audience to flee. Turns out it was all part of the plan as the heckler and security guard were part of his operation.
    Peter Graves: "Good acting's hard to come by, but pretending to act badly is even harder. The audience looked on the verge of tears!"

    Web Animation 
  • Angel Hare: Angel Zag is, essentially, a noir detective forced to go undercover into a cutesy kid's show and he clearly hates every second of it. He barely sticks to the script, rarely changes his expression, and delivers his lines in a bored monotone.
  • Homestar Runner
    • Frequently done by the characters when they're given a script to read.
    • The tutorial of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People is full of Bad "Bad Acting", with Strong Sad and Bubs reading their lines with all the pathos of a plank of wood, occasionally broken up with complaints about the awful, awful script.
    • The Dangeresque installments are full of terrible acting, ranging from "passable but untrained" (Marzipan, the King of Town), "trying but incompetent" (Strong Bad, Homestar), "not trying at all" (Strong Sad, Bubs), "utterly abysmal" (Coach Z), and "hasn't realized he's in a movie" (Senor Cardgage). Homestar finally breaks this trend in "Dangeresque: Puppet Squad - the Hot Jones Hi-Jack!" as Stingy Relenque, going over the top as a Decemberween-themed bad guy, though he still breaks character twice.
    • A DVD bonus toon opens with the King of Town on stage, reading from a cue card in an extremely forced manner, and giving a reaction after the line is read indicating that he didn't even know what he was reading until after he read it. This bit of bad acting is justified when the viewer gets to see the cue card... and Homsar is holding it upside-down.
    • The Strong Bad Email'' "big white face" involves Strong Sad thinking that Strong Bad will do something nice for him. He decides to "wait someplace inconspicuous and act none the wiser" when, in fact, he is in plain sight and clearly showing that he knows Strong Bad is up to something.
  • Murder Drones has a very crafty example in The Absolute Solver: It employs illusions — low-resolution, transparent, flickering hologram illusions with clearly visible, blue projector lights shining from the Solver's hiding spots — and is, on top of that, also quite prone to Saying Sound Effects Out Loud — including loudly announcing "Sneaky sneaky. Sneaking away. Get snuck-up on." when it's, well, "sneaking"... This leads up to the moments when it reveals that it's actually capable of creating complex illusions indistinguishable from reality and is furthermore able to remain Hidden in Plain Sight for extended periods of time, all which lay bear the fact that its "bad acting" is emplyed to trick those Too Stupid To Live into early graves and to fool those smart enough to see through its deceits into a false sense of safety and security.
    The Absolute Solver: Hahahah. Oh, yes. Get snuck-up on.
  • Red vs. Blue. Donut tried to orchestrate a play to illustrate how the time jump happened. The reds actually do good, but Caboose, being The Ditz, reads his stage directions aloud. However, that was his only flaw; he wasn't monotone or wooden.
  • Ultra Fast Pony has the cast putting on a play in "The Best Episode Ever". Twilight Sparkle (playing the role of Clover) is rather realistically bad, as she breaks character to correct other actors, and she just doesn't have the chops to convincingly pull off her dramatic death scene. Rarity (as Princess Plutonium) on the other hand, is ridiculously wooden, reading all of her lines (and her stage directions, and her dialogue tags) as a monotone, run-on sentence.
    Princess Plutonium: Enter stage door fall dramatically cry out for help. Princess Plutonium, Clover red rover, we call you over.
    Clover: You know, you don't have to read out your stage directions.
    Princess Plutonium: And you don't have to break character! But hey, look at that.
  • Sam & Mickey: "Horseback Mountain" comprises heavily of Barbie and Ken messing up a new direct-to-video movie.
  • DSBT InsaniT: In 'Untamed and Uncut', Balloon when he can't squeeze through the bars to get into the Windear exhibit with Snake, Bear, and Duck. Duck doesn't buy it and just pulls him through.
    Balloon: Oh no, I can't fit! I guess you guys will have to leave me behind!
  • Fazbear and Friends (ZAMination): In the episode "🎃 Fazbear and Friends Halloween SCARE CONTEST!! 🎃" Indie horror video game characters participate in a Halloween contest to win the prize, some of whom perform very poorly: The Rainbow Friends put on a black and white movie and scare themselves, Among Us and the imposter They make a terrifying scene where the latter kills Among Us, Gregory drives a tricycle smiling macabrely at Glamrock Freddy, Bendy becomes Ink's demon but retaining his current voice and Huggy Wuggy squeezes Steve too hard to make him explode, however, Baldi, who has a very good performance, ends up scaring everyone with his period and wins the contest.


    Web Original 
  • A Running Gag with The Nostalgia Critic is that he responds to instances of bad acting in the movies he reviews by staring at the camera and saying "I'm acting!" in a dopey voice and style reminiscent of the actor.
    • Also variations, e.g. in his Red Sonja review he imitates the actress' uncertain-sounding tone with "I'm... acting?"
    • Other Channel Awesome contributors have also dabbled in this: Spoony and Linkara's Warrior crossover video showcased an alternate universe (one of several) where Spoony and Linkara are terrible actors, reading their lines flatly from the script, fumbling with the props and making no attempts to emote. Linkara's commentary hung a lampshade on this by mentioning that some people think they were already terrible actors to begin with...
    • There's also The Nostalgia Chick's review of Showgirls. Because she can't show the naughty scenes on blip, she has to get her friends to play the parts. They either look bored or uncomfortable and one is even reading a book while he gives a lapdance.
    • In the review of The Last Airbender, the Critic gets "Shyamalized" — stripped of acting ability by the movie's director M. Night Shyamalan.
      NC: (in monotone) Hi, guys. I just wanna stand directly in the middle of the shot and stare blankly into the camera.
  • In Unforgotten Realms, when Rob is forced to do a scripted event, he seems to go out of his way to act as bad as possible. After a certain point, he gets sick of it and acts normally. Normally being kill everything.
  • James Gunn's PG Porn's construction worker/adult movie actor Chris can't remember his partner's name, delivers his lines in the most stilted way imaginable and looks on his mark before stepping on it. Leave it to Nathan Fillion to make bad nekkid-film acting even more hilarious than it already is.
  • Shows up in Echo Chamber episode Tyrant Takes the Helm, where Tom and Dana are pushed into performing an episode of Echo Chamber with "class" (read: obnoxious Britishness) by the new Executive Producer. Cue the world's most exaggerated cockney accent from Tom and a deadpan hate from Dana.
  • On the Half in the Bag series, produced by RedLetterMedia, this is the acting style of both hosts (supporting characters generally play it straight as a deliberate contrast). Mike, however, is much better at it than Jay, to the point that he could be called Giftedly Bad if he wasn't doing it on purpose.
  • Arin of the Game Grumps often uses this type of bad acting. Jon prefers the Large Ham type, however.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv), Light does this when Higuchi dies. "Oh right, cover... Dad, you idiot! We needed him alive!" Made even more hilarious since he had been calling for his blood moments before. Later there's another instance of this with Near's obvious line reading:
    Near: I want to tell you about a party... we're throwing... There's going to be booze... and pur-etty ladies with... Rester, do I really have to read this?
  • Invoked in World's Greatest Adventures for Talltales, who is too much of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander for his bad acting to even resemble anything someone with an ounce of sense might put out.
  • Played for laughs all the time in Third Rate Gamer. His idea of "looking irate" equals puffing his cheeks full of air.
    Well fine! I don't need you, I'll just do this review by my... *looks at script* self!
  • In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, whenever a character steps in to play another character and their acting styles says a lot about the character themselves.
    • Lizzie tends to exaggerate and caricatures.
    • Lydia overacts flamboyantly.
    • Jane starts out as a Deer in the Headlights every time the camera turns on her but through Character Development, she showcases her growing thespianian.
    • Charlotte gives realistic but emotionally cold/uninteresting performances.
    • Mary's attempt at costume theater is melodramatic and she breaks character twice.
    • Darcy finds it too hard to imitate his sister but he does an excellent job as his best friend Fitz.
  • The persona of the Twitter account @tips4actors is a deranged pretentious Large Ham with no understanding of reality who treats everything as Serious Business. This video shows him coaching a student through a scene from Friends, which he thinks was "misinterpreted" as a sitcom and insists on playing like a scene about domestic violence.
  • In Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, the red hairy character (Harry) has wooden acting as his speech quirk.
  • The Ben Heck Show: All the characters pull this off for laughs in the prologue to warm the viewers up. And then it's promptly lampshaded in the opening sequence.
  • Diao Chan in Farce of the Three Kingdoms. Neither Dong Zhuo nor Lu Bu notice.

    Web Video 
  • In Critical Role's second campaign, Caleb is asked to disguise his Zemnian (German) accent so as to not stand out too much while traveling through Xhorhas. What follows is a solid minute of American Liam O'Brien doing a flawless impression of a German accented man trying his best to imitate other accents and failing miserably.
  • Kitboga is a scambaiter popular on Twitch and YouTube. As he points out, this is practically written into the script of the standard "refund" scam. The scammer will claim to be giving the victim a refund, then pretend to have either "accidentally" added an extra digit (usually a 0) onto the end and having transferred way too much money, or claim that it was the victim who did this. Then they go into full-on panic, acting like they can't believe what just happened and claiming that the victim has to give them back the extra money (usually via gift cards) ASAP or they're going to lose their job.
  • Mystery Incorporated (2022): Shaggy tries to call Scooby to scare off the jocks trying to blackmail him in the first episode. Despite being a huge dog with police training, Scooby completely fails at being intimidating and the jocks end up doubling down on Shaggy.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Shows up a number of times, for example during Finn and Jake's fight with the Cuties in "Conquest of Cuteness".
    Finn: Oh no, my blood! (squirts ketchup all over himself)
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In the episode "The DVD", Gumball and Darwin try to produce their own version of "Alligators on a Train" to replace the one they destroyed. Obviously, the end result had hilariously Bad "Bad Acting" and did not fool anybody.
  • American Dad!: One episode revealed Stan is such a horrendous actor that he can't even pretend to be a waiter convincingly. When he offers the diners water, he does so in a stiff and clearly nervous manner that prompts them to respond, "What was that? It was like you were offering me water, but I just didn't believe it". Director Bullock refuses to let Stan go on any more sting operations because his acting turns them into violent shoot-outs, so he ends up taking acting lessons from Roger.
  • The Angry Beavers:
    • "Dag for Night":
      Daggett: Oh my! It's going to crash into! Save yourselves!
      Daggett: The End...question mark?
    • Practically every other episode features at least one example. In-universe B-Movie actor Oxnard Montalvo is the embodiment of this trope.
    • The Beavers idolize Oxnard Montalvo and he is probably consciously or subconsciously emulating him. (And really, why wouldn't anyone want to be Just Like Oxnard Montalvo.)
  • Archer: Archer himself, probably because he revels in being an Overt Operative, is terrible at undercover work. He tends to use incredibly transparent cover identities (e.g. Col. Lando Calrissiano) and suffers from frequent failure of his fake mustache and tendency towards Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping whenever he tries to disguise his voice.
    • The episode "Lo Scandalo" has the ISIS staff's fake "eeeeee-legant dinner pah-ty", which they put on in a feeble attempt to distract the police from the murder that took place in Mallory's apartment. It involves hilariously bad upper-crust British accents from everyone but Lana (who ends up pretending to be the maid, much to her chagrin).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • "Imprisoned": Katara and Sokka when they're trying to get Katara arrested for earthbending and speak in the most stilted tone possible:
      Sokka: Get out of my way, pipsqueak!
      Katara: How dare you call me pipsqueak, you giant-eared cretin!
      Sokka: What did you call me?
      Katara: A giant-eared cretin! Look at those things. Do herds of animals use them for shade?
      • Though Sokka's acting does improve slightly, because he was genuinely irked by the crack about his big ears.
    • And then there's "The Ember Island Players".
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "Hollywaste", Dr. Blight impersonates her sister, who's a Hollywood star, and has to play her part in an eco-friendly movie. Unfortunately, the evil sister has none of the good one's acting talent. Her performance is so bad that the producers decide to later have her lines looped over by another actress.
  • In Code Lyoko, Ulrich's performance in the production in "Laughing Fit". It's painfully bad acting despite his voice actress being a former Broadway star. It takes talent for someone that good to sound that bad.
  • Cow and Chicken:
    • Played with in an episode where Cow plays the title character of a film called "Pretty Little Girl". Not only is the acting atrocious, but the actors (especially Cow, who's also nervous) also keep mixing up random words on the cue cards. The director (who's actually the Red Guy) eventually decides to employ a little Enforced Method Acting, which makes the entire staff (himself included) burst into tears. Too bad the cameraman forgot to put the film in the camera.
    • Also, in the episode "Meet Lance Sackless", when they film a video to send to Canada's Funniest Home Vidiots, Cow pretends to accidentally put glue on her head as she mistakes it for anti-itch cream to heal her horns from doing chores and then Chicken falls onto Cow from the ceiling having their heads stuck to each other's, while saying their lines in a seemingly sarcastic manner. Also, when Cow reaches for the anti-itch cream, Chicken tells her to reach for the glue.
  • The Critic does that quite a bit. Jay Sherman is a movie critic who ends up seeing mostly bad films. Borderline case in The Pilot: Jay finally gets around to watching the movie his latest girlfriend is starring in. "I'll GIVE you a KISS ALRIGHT. A kiss...OF DEATH!!!!!"
    "It STINKS!"
  • Danny Phantom: Jazz and Danny have to perform a mock battle in front of Vlad, so convincing that even Danny himself didn't get it until the last minute. That was good acting, at least on Jazz's part. Then they commence the bad acting with Jazz having "killed" Danny. The two perform stilted acts that somehow gets the usual Chessmaster Vlad convinced. Later, Danny and Jazz poke fun at their poor attempts at drama.
  • The start of the Danger Mouse episode "Bandits, Beans and Ballyhoo!" has DM and Penfold doing a bland but obvious introduction after the show's announcer, Isombard Sinclair, leaves the studio in protest.
    DM: (whispers to Penfold) Isombard is having another temperament. We'd better do this ourselves. (loudly and stiltedly) Well, Penfold, my faithful we are.
    Penfold: (same as DM) Oh yes. "Cor it's nice to be back in the Mayfair abode of the world's greatest secret agent! (DM smiles cheesily to the camera and points to his badge)
    DM: Yes...but that holiday in Mexico was most enjoyable. (Penfold unsubtly shows the suitcase)
    • Count Duckula was a master at bad acting. He turns overacting and bad acting up to eleven in "The Return Of Count Duckula" when he's cornered by our heroes.
      Duckula: Look not so fierce. No villain I. 'Tis but a little, a little thing I crave. I need a TV show. Let not poor Nelly starve. Stay but the hour of execution and let a lonely cripple orphan duck smile one more time, before the shades of night overwhelm him.
      Agent 57: (disguised as an American talent agent) Yep, I was right. That's the worst acting that I ever did see!
  • Darkwing Duck The title charater is a terrible actor, although his ego won't allow him to realize it. So he... starts and stops... all of his lines... Hollywood Tone-Deaf... and wrong inflection... to indicate intent?
  • Doug: "Doug's On Stage". The Bluffington Founder's Day pageant's traditional version is a prime case of this. Luckily, Judy arrives and reinstates her own, livelier version.
  • In the Dragons: Riders of Berk episode "Twinsanity", the kids' efforts at fooling Dagur the Deranged by staging a dragon attack are more wooden than the average coffin. Dagur still falls for them, probably because the dragons were much better at it.
  • Family Guy:
    • Stewie programs two robot lookalikes of himself and Brian so that no one notices they've gone on a trip. They move around stiffly and talk in completely monotone voices:
      Robot Stewie: Damn you vile woman. Blast. What the deuce.
      Robot Brian: I am a tool. Stewie is much better than me at everything including arts and crafts and the guitar. I have no friends.
    • Also when Peter became a football player, he did a bad commercial for a Hyundai and Subaru dealership.
      Peter: (speaking in a dull monotone) We will blitz the competition and in no time you will be driving your Hyundai or Subaru to a touchdown! (waits a minute then does the touchdown gesture)
    • Subverted when Peter stuntcasts news anchorwoman Diane Simmons as the lead in The King and I. Lois has low expectations for her but when she performs exceptionally during a brief reading, her opinion is immediately turned.
  • Father of the Pride: Siegfried & Roy are so hammy and silly that they are even bad at being bad actors in "The Siegfried and Roy Fantasy Experience Movie".
  • Fireman Sam: In "The New Hero Next Door", James is cast as the villain in Mandy's movie. He gives a very wooden performance, and has to be prompted to leave by the Damsel in Distress played by Sarah.
  • Franklin and Friends: In "Franklin Plays Hoppity Bop" from, Franklin and his friends miss shots on purpose in order to try to make the game fun for Bear, who is bad at it. Rabbit, however, is very bad at pretending that he's bad at the game. Somehow, Bear doesn't notice his obvious acting.
    Rabbit: (stilted) Oh dear! How could I miss the ball?! Clumsy old me, Bear.
    Franklin: Oh brother. That's enough, Rabbit.
  • Freakazoid!: In one episodeof, a man runs into the room the main character is, panicking and yelling that the Lobe has arrived. He's promptly scolded and forced to repeat the scene. At a second instance, the title character tells him to take acting lessons. Much later, during the final showdown between the hero and the Lobe, the same man breaks up the fight to show them that the acting lessons have paid off, by performing the death of Romeo, from Shakespeare's famous play.
  • Futurama:
    • During "When Aliens Attack", when the crew has to act out an episode of Single Female Lawyer.
    • The porn film featured in "A Big Piece of Garbage" — with gusto!
    • The two educational films shown within the show: I Dated a Robot!! and Global Warming — None Like It Hot!!! (the second features the claim that the Earth is warming due to the piling-up of corpses after gang-member-like greenhouse gases beat sunbeams to death).
    • In "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" where William Shatner himself does it. It's the complete opposite of his usual unholy acting talent, and the entire Star Trek cast follows suit with their own embarrassingly monotone acting — though the fact that they're being held captive and forced to perform a fanboy's Marty Stu script goes a long way towards explaining their complete lack of effort.
      Nichelle Nichols: [flatly] My, what a handsome energy creature you are. I love you. [Melllvar is blasted by energy beams and screams in pain] Hey, you wrote it!
    • Despite being a dream of Zapp Brannigan, The Transcredible Exploits of Zapp Brannigan is loaded with this.
    • Frequent in the Show Within a Show All My Circuits, though Calculon is more of a Large Ham. Played straight when Zoidberg's uncle directs a movie, which also includes Bad "Bad Directing". Robot Devil gave Calculon UNHOLY! ACTING! TALENT! Which, of course, he'd soon live to regret.
    • In one episode Bender auditions for a role in All My Circuits. He gives a performance so bad that Calculon (who is a robot) claims it gave him cancer. When Bender gets the part anyway, it is rewritten to suit an actor of his talents... namely, his character is now in a permanent coma. Bender ends up screwing that up.
  • The Garfield Show: In "Out on a Limb", Jon, Garfield, Nermal, and Odie are stuck in a tree. Jon calls the fire department to get them down.
    Fireman: What are you doing in the top of that tree?
    Jon: I was just... uh... trying to rescue, heh, these guys and... and that's when I sprained my ankle. Ouch! Oo-hoo!
    Garfield: Well, it's no Oscar-winning performance, but maybe he'll buy it.
  • Goof Troop: PJ's attempts at acting run into this most of the time. He falls into emotionless monotone both when trying to sway Pete emotionally into taking him fishing (against his wishes) and when trying to trick Pete into thinking he's in life-threatening danger as a result of Pete's unrealistic and hypocritical expectations. The weird part is, it works both times. Averted when he was playing a baby, though that time he had other problems.
  • Huckleberry Hound is being televised prior to his hunt for screwball lion Leroy (episode "Somebody's Lion"). He is obviously reading from a teleprompter and does it in rather stilted and blasé fashion.
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy's idea of Playing Sick is to lie on a bed and yell "I'm suffering!" over and over again.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • "Rebirth": When putting on a show, Mako dove into this trope head first. Meanwhile, Bolin played the Large Ham.
    Mako: [completely monotone] I am the escaped convict and you will all reap my fire.
    Bolin: Oh, no! Who will help us?
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Daffy Duck is cast to play Foghorn Leghorn in a movie about the latter, and he.... doesn't do such a good job.
    Daffy: Oooh, boohoo, man! I'm crying so hard! I say, I say, look how hard I CRYYY!
    Foghorn: Don't say it, do it!
    Daffy: (starts laughing hysterically)
  • Martha Speaks has a habit of doing this any time there's a Show Within a Show. Take for example a Harry Potter-esque home movie directed by TD:
    Martha: (monotone) Oh, bad luck? I've been turned into a talking dog.

    Martha: (stilted) Dark Lord of... Really Dark Darkness, I will not let you stop me?
  • Mega Man (Ruby-Spears): Seen on two separate occasions when Mega and Roll try to fool Wily. (You can also tell which of Roll's voice actresses voices her by this—Robyn Ross doesn't do this, while Kathleen Barr does.)
  • Metalocalypse: In the episode where Dethklok acts in a movie, they all do this. Nathan and Murderface have the classic "slurring lines in bored monotone", while Pickles is mostly making a lot of stiff screaming, and Skwisgaar's delivery is apparently so poor and incomprehensible (due in part to his accent) that they simply dub his lines over.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The movie the class puts together in "Horrificator" has Myléne and then Marinette giving stilted performances with long pauses and glancing at the camera. Adrien seems much more natural, which probably has to do with him being a professional model (or needing to be able to lie to get around his strict father). By "Queen Banana", Myléne's acting ability has improved considerably.
  • The Bakshi Mighty Mouse episode "A Star Is Milked" has the hero going to Hollywood to appear in a movie about him (with arch villain the Cow tagging along to sabotage it). Mighty Mouse actually struggles to say his tag line "Here I come to save the day" and delivers it half-heartedly.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic likes this trope:
    • In "Hurricane Fluttershy", Fluttershy's attempts at playing sick are rather bad. She pretends to sneeze and cough in the most unconvincing way possible.
    • "Spike at Your Service":
      • Applejack's attempt at pretending to be a Damsel in Distress acting is extremely wooden, with very flat cries for help and very unconvincing acting. Weirdly, Spike says he's impressed by it.
        Applejack: Oh no. (running up to a pile of rocks and sticking her foreleg in it) I... seem to have got my hoof caught in between two rocks. I cannot run away. I am... a damsel in distress. Help me, Spike. (sticks head in fake monster's jaws)
      • Pinkie Pie and Rarity in the same episode. Pinkie runs around pretending to be scared and screaming with a huge grin on her face and Rarity, who taught Applejack how to scream for help, becomes overly dramatic, hamming up her screams.
    • Rainbow Dash has been consistently shown to be a bad actor, especially when it comes to faking injuries or illness, as demonstrated in both "Read It and Weep" and "Rainbow Falls". In general, she tends towards over-the-top, overacted moaning melodrama.
    • In "Horse Play", Princess Celestia proves to be a terrible actress, alternating between over-acting and under-acting: she starts out whispering at a barely audible level, overcompensates by going into the ear-bustlingly loud Royal Canterlot Voice, can't work through a choreography to save her life and has seemingly no ability to suspend disbelief whatsoever. She can't even play charades.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • In "Film Flam", this occurs when the girls try to act in their own movie.
    • In "Twisted Sister", when they create a fourth sister to help them in crimefighting, they faithfully act out the part of "accidentally" adding Chemical X this way.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Employed constantly; the characters would act like this every time they needed to trick a monster into falling for a trap. Lampshaded in one episode when Scooby's scolded for going off-script by showing genuine emotion.
  • In the Quack Pack episode "Pride Goeth Before the Fall Guy", Donald sets a trap for world-class thief Nigel Nightshade by having his nephews stand outside his window and talk loudly about the treasure to which Nigel supposedly now has access. However, the boys are reading off cue cards which only have a few words on each card, so although they manage to avoid speaking in monotone, the resulting inflections still sound awkward and unnatural as they can't read ahead and modify their diction accordingly. Nigel falls for it anyway.
    Huey: Oh no! I don't be-lieve it! You'd think a smart guy like Nigel would know what that key opens.
    Louie: Oh! You mean theenote  chest back on theenote  ship?
    Dewey: Yeah... the one that holds the trea-sure of... (squints) Tral-fa-ma-dor.
    Huey: Oh well, I guess Nigel's not the greatest thief, in the world, after all.
  • Ready Jet Go!: During the rehearsal of the pageant in "Holidays in Boxwood Terrace", Mindy performs her lines extremely woodenly.
  • In a good few Recess episodes, the gang sometimes have to act for a scam and deliver horrible performances. One episode has a kid forgetting what word he's supposed to say...halfway through saying it and he has to check his hand for the rest of it (said word was "automatically"). Though subverted in one episode where Gus convincingly disguises himself as a girl in order to steal a baseball bat from the Ashleys.
  • Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby win a spot on a TV series in the episode "Carter and Briggs". Mordecai's Bad "Bad Acting" goes so deep his voice even cracks during his line. Unlike other examples of the trope, this really was bad acting, as the rest of the cast spares their feelings when they ask for feedback by hastily evacuating the room.
  • In the Sealab 2021 episode "Swimming in Oblivion", which features the crew as Animated Actors, Hal, playing Capt. Murphy, sandbags his lines because he thinks they're stupid.
  • Invoked in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Flutterina distracts a group of Horde soldiers by loudly yelling out "Oh-no! You've caught me! How will I ever get away?!" in a stilted tone while posing melodramatically. Justified since Flutterina is actually Double Trouble, who is a brilliant actor trying to convince the Rebellion they're just a harmless little girl. Also doubles as Fridge Brilliance since pretending to be a terrible actor is very difficult for a good one.
    • Played straight by a group of Horde soldiers who are roped into helping break apart the Best Friend Squad by Double Trouble. They clearly have no idea what's going on and use the most over-used and cheesy villain lines of all time with long pauses, much to Double Trouble's dismay. However, the heroes still buy it.
      Horde Soldier: Drop your weapons... or the girl... gets it?
  • The Simpsons:
    • The "Mr. Plow" episode, where the family produces their own (badly-acted) TV commercial.
    • And then there is the nuclear plant's commercial to convince graduates to work there in "D'oh-in in the Wind". Homer, Lenny, and Carl's acting leaves a lot to be desired, and it's mentioned that there were script problems from day one (namely, that no-one had even read it).
    • In "Burns' Heir", Mr. Burns hires actors to play the rest of Bart's family so he can convince Bart to stay with him. After the video, Mr. Burns has to flip through the script to tell the fake Homer what his line is supposed to be because it was incorrect.
      Fake Homer: I do not miss Bart at all.
      Fake Marge: I am glad he's gone.
      Fake Lisa: As am I.
      (The Fake Homer drops his sandwich on purpose.)
      Fake Homer: B'oh!
    • A recurring feature of the "McBain" films, whose lead actor is The Ahnold par excellence and specializes in Dull Surprise. Most of his dialogue is Bond One Liners and exposition slurred out with the confidence of an extremely well-paid person who isn't entirely fluent in English.
  • In The Smurfs (1981), Smurfette's crocodile tears when she was working for Gargamel and trying to turn the Smurfs against each other. Funnily enough, whenever she cries for real it's exactly the same, except with actual tears.
  • Snagglepuss, from the Hanna-Barbera stable, is equal parts Large Ham and bad actor. He claims to know Shakespeare backward, which he does literally: "Eraepsekahs!"
  • Sofia the First: In the episode "Lord of the Rink", Prince Hugo is proven to be so bad at faking sick that it's surprising how his friends fell for his little white lie. What's more confusing is how he was able to fool his father with this trick offscreen without getting caught.
  • South Park:
    • There's a scene in the Season 16 episode "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" that is done entirely in live-action and features young adults standing in for the main characters.
    • In the Season 19 episode "Tweek x Craig", the two titular characters stage a public breakup in response to Yaoi art involving them going around. Craig definitely fits this trope, with wooden delivery and his usual monotone. Tweek, on the other hand, does not, and takes it a little too far.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "As Seen on TV", Mr. Krabs films a commercial for the Krusty Krab, where he, Squidward, and Pearl are obviously not good actors. Then again, it aired very early in the morning.
    • There's also the bit in "Nature Pants" where Sandy and Patrick are trying to convince SpongeBob to return home. It obviously doesn't work very well. Patrick is both too dense and (at the time) too teary-eyed to act worth a damn.
    • In "Karate Island", there are the "opponents" SpongeBob has to face to take the throne as "King of Karate". They all play dead when SpongeBob throws a punch, and he didn't even touch them.
  • Steven Universe: None of the Gems are especially good actors, although this trait manifests differently in each of them:
    • Garnet tends to fall into this whenever she's trying to fake something. While she tends towards natural stoicisim, it turns flat as cardboard in some situations. When she throws a fight in "Tiger Millionaire", she literally just stands ramrod straight and tips over backward after being 'knocked out' by Steven. In "Fusion Cuisine", her attempt to pose as Steven's mother consists of answering the phone with, "Yes, this is Mom Universe. The children are playing swords. Sorry, playing with swords. They're bleeding. Oh no, they are dead. Don't call again," and then hanging up.
    • Pearl isn't an excellent actor either, however, her bad acting tends to swing in the opposite direction to Garnet, and her normal drama gets turned up to eleven, well past the point of plausibility.
    • Amethyst, meanwhile, tends to use shapeshifting to her advantage when needing to impersonate someone, however she frequently forgets that she needs to mimic her subjects voice, mannerisms and attitude, as well as their appearance.
  • In one episode of Sushi Pack, Titanium Chef "acts" horrified that Wasabi has discovered his plot in a ploy to get the blob of mustard to attack, giving him the final ingredient for his plan. One of his henchmen even face-palms at how bad this acting is, but Wasabi takes the bait.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures segment "Bat's All Folks" Hamton as Decoy the Robin equivalent is told by Batduck to plant a bomb in the villain's hide, he knocks himself out by accident and two thugs find him, their acting is very wooden:
    Thug 1: (monotonous) Look it is Decoy the pig hostage, we must bring him inside.
    Thug 2: (unenthusiastically) What is this thing? (picking up the bomb)
    Thug 1: (just as unenthusiastic) Who cares, just toss it over into the all-concealing shadows.
  • Total Drama:
    • The commercial made by Team Chris Is Really Really Really Really Hot in Season 3 (Total Drama World Tour), especially:
      Noah: (flat voice) Think of the childreeeeeen.
    • Team Victory's as well:
      Bridgette: Oh honorable samurai, do you have any FOOD?
    • Duncan's "crying" in "African Lying Society". His mother actually falls for that!?
    • Sierra's attempt at a dramatic farewell to Cody in "Planes, Trains, Hot Air Mobiles" is so Narmy it's actually hilarious that she thought it sounded heartwarming.
  • The Venture Brothers: The ninth episode, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean", ends with the characters delivering a PSA. Their delivery is an awkward monotone and their eyes shift from left to right to indicate that they're reading from cue cards.
  • Wait Till Your Father Gets Home: In an episode, a TV commercial for a used car dealership shows off one of its "satisfied customers". Said "customer" is obviously reading from cue cards to the point of stumbling over the word "courtesy".
  • Lor in The Weekenders episode "Radio Drama", to the point where her character is rewritten to be under a 'zombie curse'.
  • In an episode of W.I.T.C.H. (2004), the Guardians need to leave to fight the forces of evil just before their slot in a school talent show. They leave behind copies of themselves to take their places, but it turns out that the copies don't retain any memories and therefore are not familiar with the short play they are putting on. It all goes downhill when the Taranee copy begins her narration with "Taranee speaks dramatically..."
  • In the Young Justice episode 'The Runaways,' Blue Beetle's voice sounds weirdly stilted and flat compared to previous episodes. Jaime has an accent. The Scarab doesn't. Guess who's in control?


Tropical Plumber

At one point, Rocko and Heffer use a drain cleaner known as Tropical Plumber to unclog the toilet. Heffer squeezes the bottle, and a lemon, a banana, and a pineapple start singing and dancing. They get into a canoe and are about to go down into the toilet to do their thing, when they are eaten by Spunky, screaming in horror.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnthropomorphicFood

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