Joy: Plus, they don't let people cuss anymore on TV until a certain time at night. [checks watch] Douchebags.
When on a comedy the characters make jokes at the expense of the studio or network funding their movie or TV show. In the US, the favorite target out of the Big Four Networks seems to be FOX, although all networks are Acceptable Targets at some point or another (NBC has seemed to encourage it since about 2006, right around when it became the Butt-Monkey of the four major networks).
This trope would also fit those moments when an embittered author, or one cynical of the morality of the publishing industry, inserts into his work a thinly disguised slap to the face of the publishing house that is keeping him in work, albeit for not entirely satisfactory royalties or advance payments.
A sister trope to Take That! and Writer Revolt. Related to Take That, Audience!. Often overlaps with Self-Deprecation (unless the author is even more correct than he believes about his employers being flawed.) Remembering who wears the pants can combine this with End-of-Series Awareness.
Examples with their own subpages:
- Live-Action Film
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Web Media
- Western Animation
- Francisco de Goya's portrait of King Carlos IV and his family are an almost Grotesque Gallery where they appear as pudgy, unattractive people. The Queen is standing in the center of the painting, a subtle hint towards the general consensus at the time that she was the one holding the strings in the palace.
- In the first Great Lakes Avengers, Squirrel Girl and Grasshopper appear in an offstage prologue. Grasshopper says "The only people reading comics now are overweight thirty-year-olds living in their mother's basement." Squirrel Girl's sidekick replies in an inset: "Hey, fanboys, don't take that lying down! Write angry letters to Marvel today!"
- Avengers Academy:
- Hazmat in issue #10: "Today's gonna suck as much as all the others... but just a little bit harder. Because it's One More Day... with no end in sight."
- In another issue, a couple of the kids Lean On The Fourth Wall and complain about how the latest Crisis Crossover involving the Avengers and X-Men has been dragging on for too damn long.
- In Marvel Adventures: Avengers, Doc Samson's "Needs a wife" assessment of Spider-Man when the Avengers go in for therapy.
- The first printing of Universe X: Spidey #1 contains a Take That! hidden message on a bookshelf: "Bob Harras. Ha, Ha. He's gone! Good riddance to bad rubbish. He was a nasty S.O.B."
- When Ed Brubaker did a two-issue story on Tom Strong, he produced a Deconstructive Parody of Miracleman, by Tom Strong's creator Alan Moore, arguing that Miracleman was not so much "realistic", as pointlessly nasty and depressing for the sake of it.
- In one issue of Young Justice, Arrowette and Wonder Girl are complaining at length about Warner Bros. until one of them whispers something to the other. It's not explicit, but strongly implied that she had to be reminded not to make fun of the corporate parent of DC Comics. In another issue, in a scene also involving the two girls, Arrowette complains about how much she hates Internet service providers (ISPs) when their connection dies. Wonder Girl then nervously replies, "No you don't! You LOVE! ISPs! Especially the biggest one!" And to that end, Arrowette decides to shut up. At the time the comic was released, that "biggest one", America Online, had just completed a merger with Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Bros. and therefore DC, to form AOL Time Warner.
- New 52 Harley Quinn #8 features Dan DiDio suggesting a new DC relaunch, with all the heroes turned into antelopes and wildebeests by magic, which they'll call the Gnu 52. The DC offices promptly get hit with bags of pet poop catapulted from Harley's building.
- The first issue of the 2015 run of Howard The Duck had Howard going to Florida. Tara Tam thought they were going to Disney World, but Howard replies "Who'd want to see a bunch of pantless ducks?" Which not only is a swipe at Marvel's owner Disney, but an in joke to Howard wearing pants exactly because decades prior Marvel was threatened due to him being too similar to Donald...
- Lampshaded in issue #5 of the first She-Hulk ongoing, where She-Hulk and several neighbors get Trapped in TV Land. One of the shows they visit is a parody of Robocop The Animated Series, and the Tagalong Kid, who's seen the original movie, starts complaining about how wimpy the cartoon is, only for She-Hulk to slap a hand over his mouth.
"Careful what you say, Paul. That's a Marvel show. Knocking it could be more than my book's worth!"
- In the Uncle Scrooge story The Universal Solvent, Gyro demonstrates said solvent by showing it can eat through some of the most impervious substances in the world: lead, iron, steel - and a Disney contract. Don Rosa was not a happy camper.
- In an in-universe example, in the essay-fic, Equestria: A History Revealed, the narrator directly belittles her professor who is currently marking her work, and curses at him a couple of times in-text.
- In The Lion King, Zazu starts to sing "It's A Small World." Scar freaks out and demands him to sing anything else but that. The stage musical uses "Be Our Guest". It doubles as a Mythology Gag, since "Be Our Guest" was from the first Disney animated film that became a musical and paved the way for Lion King to come on Broadway. When Beauty and the Beast closed, it got replaced with "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." In later runs, he sings "Let It Go" instead.
- The LEGO Movie criticizes the Lego Company's themed sets several times, and the villain has minions called "micro-managers" and a device called the "think tank" (presumably both jabs at Executive Meddling).
- Well, his name is "Lord Business", after all.
- Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale: Sort of, in the overture scene. This movie was one of the first Barbie movies with modern setting and themes, and no inspiration from fairy tales anymore. Because, certainly, it was required from Mattel. Judging from Barbie's argument with the movie director, the writers were not too happy about it. Thus the obnoxious director distort the story of a fairy tale because of "fashionable" elements and refuse dialogue to the point of firing Barbie, while the latter tries in vain to calmly explain that the really cool tale is going to be lost.
- Showing that this sort of thing is Older Than They Think, many sinners depicted in Hell in The Divine Comedy were still living folks with more authority than he'd have liked over him. The Eight Circle of Hell contained three Popes who were alive during Dante's time, including the current one, and numerous other government officials and noblesnote .
- In Maskerade, Terry Pratchett manages a dig at the publishing industry and the morality of book publishers by having Nanny Ogg bilked over a publishing deal, in which her payment for a best-seller is the usual gratis author's copy of the book and nothing else. Granny Weatherwax plays catch-up on her friend's behalf and demonstrates that a publisher's worst nightmare is a cheated witch. They leave the offices with an advance payment of five thousand dollars.
- Sci-fi author Philip José Farmer, in his Riverworld series where all the Earth's population is resurrected into a wholly unexpected afterlife, has the character who is his Marty Stu in the book (legitimate, as we are all characters on the Riverworld) meet a publisher who once cheated him. Near-lethal vengeance is administered. The publisher is given the name Sharko.
- A variation occurred in Pearls Before Swine: Stephan Pastis has often credited Dilbert creator Scott Adams with getting him into the syndicated cartooning world. That didn't stop him from making a storyline where Adams is portrayed as an Elvis caricature that ends up dying of a drug overdose in a toilet off-panel.
- Pastis has mocked his syndicate several times as well.
- To say nothing of the many In-Universe examples where Pastis' own characters (particularly Rat) have insulted him and the comic itself.
- Garry Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury, has slapped at his employer several times for making him submit strips six weeks in advance, with characters saying things along the lines of "even though the election happened last week, we don't know who won because this strip was submitted six weeks ago."
- Bill Waterson did this subtly a few times during his long fight to keep his syndicate from licensing Calvin and Hobbes, something that he did not want, unlike most cartoonists. For example, in one strip, the first panel has Calvin screaming, "I stand firm in my belief of what's right! I refuse to compromise my principles!" In the second panel, his angry mother is coming after him; in the last, he's in the bathtub, and says, "I don't need to compromise my principles, because they don't have the slightest bearing on what happens to me anyway."
- Berkley Breathed, creator of Bloom County, loved this Trope:
- One arc had Milo having nightmares about being a syndicated cartoonist, where he was forced to draw cartoons in a dungeon where a sadistic editor-slash-torturer whipped and racked him for grammar mistakes and drawing cartoons that weren't funny. (As a Mythology Gag, Garry Trudeau - whose strip was on hiatus - was in the dungeon as well.)
- Also numerous highly-unflattering depictions of newspaper operators. The editor of the Bloom Picayune was offended that Milo would even consider bumping his Jack Kemp adultery rumor story to page two in order to cover an oncoming Alien Invasion.
- Breathed went so far as to introduce a character into to serve this purpose, W. A. Thornhump III, the fictional CEO of Bloom County Industries. Thornhump was a Corrupt Corporate Executive who represented not only the perceived hypocrisy of money-grubbing corporate America, but also the unreasonable demands of the cartoon syndicate bosses. One example of this hypocrisy occurs in a Sunday strip that showed the results of drug tests of employees of the cartoons and even Breathed himself, who Thornhump thinks should be executed because the drug test revealed that he ate "one marijuana brownie six years ago." Thornhump's own test reveals that he is a serious alcoholic (driven home when Opus appears with his six-martini lunch) but declares him to be "drug free." He also used whatever "gimmicks" he could put into the strip to make a quick buck or increase ratings, regardless of legal, moral, or ethical issues, even going so low as to schedule a field trip to the "Acme Stewardess Academy" during a "Nudeness Week" in the strip.
- As an opening gag to one of the Garfield strip collections, the publisher ran a "headline" proclaiming "Jim Davis a Fraud!" The exposé "revealed" that Garfield himself had been drawing the strip from the beginning and allowing Davis to take all the credit. The accompanying illustration showed Garfield sitting at a desk and drawing a cartoon of Davis in the trademark Garfield style.
- When ODB declared herself the best wrestler in the Ohio Valley and created her own OVW Women's title belt, she claimed to have won it during an event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This was a Take That! to Buddy Rogers "winning" the World Wrestling Federation heavyweight title in an imaginary tournament supposedly held in Brazil. What set this apart from every other company who mocked WWF/E for this was that WWF/E covered 30% of OVW's operating expenses and was using the company as a developmental program.
- WWE itself has spent the past two decades greenlighting stories in which Chairman Vince McMahon and various other authority figures are bitterly criticized, mocked, and made to look like fools - usually with those authority figures' full complicity. This arguably reached its peak with the "pipebomb" of the summer of 2011, when CM Punk was made to appear to have gone off-script with his live TV rant, even though he really hadn't.
- In the Gospel of John, when Philip asks Nathaniel to meet Jesus for the first time, Nathaniel cynically asks if anything good can come from Nazareth, but comes with Philip anyway. When Nathaniel arrives, Jesus says, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!"note
- An overlap with Shameless Self-Promotion and Self-Deprecation in The Simpsons Ride at Universal parks. At one point, the ride train crashes through a billboard reading "SEND MONEY TO UNIVERSAL STUDIOS."
- The team of snarkers at the Disney Theme Parks' Jungle Cruise, when not poking fun at themselves and their ride, will occasionally take shots at the rest of the park.
Off to the right of the boat, you can see what we call the Indiana Jones Adventure and the Temple of the Four-Hour Line.I wonder where this cave comes out... well, we're in Disney World, so probably a gift shop.
- Similarly, when Disneyland "updated" note Tomorrowland in the late 1990s, they also created a short tour film narrated by their new robot mascot "Tom Morrow," who mocked the old Tomorrowland for its overly whimsical predictions of the future.
- We tend to do this a lot with The Advertisement Server.
- Web Comic example: Most of the jokes in The Order of the Stick, especially in the first 200 or so comics, are at the expense of Dungeons & Dragons or its publisher, Wizards of the Coast. Rich Burlew, the author, is a freelance game designer who mostly works for Wizards on D&D-related projects. An early strip based on Wizards' slightly bizarre copyright policy is actually titled Biting the Hand That Feeds Me.
- The OOTS strip in the last three issues of Dragon magazine had the Order discover the dragon from the cover of issue 1, whose subsequent career mirrored that of the magazine itself. The second of these strips was titled Claw/Claw/Bite The Hand That Feeds Me (that being how a dragon's mundane attacks are listed in the first two or three editions of the game, for those who don't happen to know).