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Commercial Pop-Up

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A trend of a commercial blurb in the form of a "pop-up" style graphic (audio optional) during a show. Commonly called "snipes" by broadcasters, these ads are typically not for products, but for the network's programming. They are not to be confused with logos used to identify a channel — which are usually called "bugs". However, snipes are often designed to interact with bugs (often triggering animations or other effects to it when a snipe appears).

Often, they advertise what show is on next or later that day on the same channel. Sometimes, it can be a commercial popup indicating what show you are watching and what network you are watching it on. Occasionally the broadcaster will even go so far as to put a logo or text near the bug or in a different corner of the screen, to remind people that it is in fact a NEW EPISODE!! and not some ancient old one, or put up an #EngineeredHashtag telling people that they can talk about the show on social media with it. The stations justify this because some people DVR and record shows—this is also how the networks can remind people who are watching a pirated program where the program originated from, and ensure pirates at least buy the DVD to pirate from.

A similar trend is to start airing commercials during the credits of a show or movie by smashing the credits to one side of the screen and showing promos on the other. The credits are usually sped up and muted in favor of the shocking revelation coming on later tonight. You can bet that if you see or hear "stay tuned for scenes from next week's show" at the end of the episode before the commercial it'll be this.

Beyond just reclaiming some of the valuable advertising time they had previously wasted on actual show, these popups serve several other purposes linked to the rise of digital video recorders:

  • They can not be easily skipped like normal commercials (their first appearances were around 2001-2002, coinciding with the rise of the DVR)
  • They make DVD releases more desirable than off-air recordings. (However, there are many DVD releases that show a persistent studio logo in the bottom corner of the screen.)
  • They "brand" the video feed, making bootleg/YouTube'd copies easier to identify.

If the pop-up is a countdown to something the network considers high priority, then it's a New Content Countdown Clock. Compare to Breaking News Interruption, when a program gets interrupted for breaking news.


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  • Cartoon Network did this with the Pokémon: The Series episode "Crossing Paths", where Jessie releases Dustox. What ruined the moment? A bumper for the new episode of Ben 10: Alien Force.
  • Numerous times during Cartoon Network airings of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, a promo would appear on the lower part of the screen, sometimes obscuring the Life Points total.
  • Similar to the above example, the Cartoon Network screenbug would often obscure scores during Bakugan Battle Brawlers. In later airings, the bug moved to the top right corner of the screen.
  • When Disney XD aired Doraemon, the channel bug would obscure the names of Doraemon's inventions.
  • On airings of Pretty Cure on TV Asahi, if the episode runs longer than usual, the sponsors will be displayed in the lower-right corner during the beginning of the episode itself, and again during the On the Next segment.

     Films — Animated 

     Films — Live-Action 

  • A rare Literature example is the German publisher Heyne, which included a soup advert in the middle of the text of Terry Pratchett's Pyramids (see here for details). As that article says, this was apparently routine for them at the time; in addition to the Iain M. Banks incident mentioned by Sir Terry, Diane Duane also experienced it, and was one of the people who alerted Terry.
  • In-Universe example happens in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, one year during the holidays, Rowley's parents recorded a Christmas special, and at the time it was recorded, there was a snowstorm warning at the bottom of the screen. Whenever Rowley watches the special, he calls Greg to tell him that a storm's coming—Greg claims that he used to fall for it, but when Rowley happened to watch the special during summer vacation, Greg stopped listening to him whenever he called to tell him that a blizzard's coming.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Ads for the TBS original comedy The Bill Engvall Show have stumbled upon a way to intrude even more: Bill Engvall himself pops up and pauses the show you're watching to talk about his show. This is an especially egregious example because it defeats the entire purpose of using pop-ups as opposed to actual commercials, as it basically creates an incredibly short commercial break at a random moment of the show. Even more hilariously, the commercial begins with Engvall telling you how cool it is that he can pause the show you are watching.
  • The Australian sketch comedy show Comedy Inc. parodied this with a sketch featuring a CSI: Miami parody where increasingly bigger fake pop-ups for the channel kept covering crucial items (first a seemingly critical piece of evidence, then a stripping character's nudity), at one point covering half the screen. At this point Horatio gets on his cell phone and tells someone to arrest someone at Channel 9 for the number of ads.
  • The BBC do these with small bars at the bottom or the top of the screen for the next show. Normally doesn't happen on BBC One, but once did during the climax of a Doctor Who episode, for the following Lloyd-Webber/Graham Norton reality star search and included an animated version of Norton. This led to official complaints from over five and a half thousand viewers (including Charlie Brooker and Simon Pegg), so much so that "Doctor Who" and "Graham Norton" actually became trending topics on Twitter because of it. As seen in the page quote, Norton did indulge in some Self-Deprecation over the incident on his show, culminating in another animated version of him popping up and being promptly exterminated by a Dalek.
  • The show Flavor of Love: Charm School had an ad for Celebrity Fit Club pop up. It takes up the entire screen, save for the TV rating bug.
  • When Law & Order: Criminal Intent moved to USA Network, a gag ad was created where Goren wanted to know what the hell the USA bug in the corner of the screen was. He then tried unsuccessfully to interact with it before declaring it "weird".
  • When LazyTown aired on CBeebies, an ad usually popped up that had a yellow blob "thinking" of whatever show was coming up next, covering half the screen during the Once per Episode song and staying there for about 15 seconds.
  • Lost: ABC ran a countdown clock for V during the US premiere of "The Package". The bug was annoying enough and to make matters worse it was positioned in such a way that it blocked a notepad Sun was using to communicate, so viewers couldn't see what she'd written. Lost fans complained on social media, a sentiment echoed by showrunner Damon Lindelof.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • During the Sci-Fi Channel run, a pop-up of the Sci-Fi Channel logo would appear in the bottom-right corner of the screen, often obscuring Crow T. Robot during the theater scenes. This was so annoying that viewers successfully petitioned Sci-Fi to move their logo to the other side of the screen.
    • Earlier than that, MST3K fans had the same demand with Comedy Central during its run on that channel. They also managed, while the show aired on that network to stop text crawls across the bottom of the screen, and got them to stop running voice-overs during the show's credits because gags would frequently be carried over and played on top of them.
  • During an episode hosted by Will Ferrell, Saturday Night Live did a skit where Kenan Thompson and Bill Hader played TNT's playcallers for the NBA, Charles Barkley and Marv Albert. While they're trying to talk about the game, a Commercial Pop-Up appears for a new TNT show, which they notice and start talking about. When it vanishes, they go back to talking about the game, but then it pops up again, with Barkley getting really excited by the hijinks that take place in the pop up. This repeats throughout the skit, much of Marv Albert's chagrin.
  • A VH-1 advertisement for Scream Queens (2008) manifests itself as a high-pitched scream during an otherwise quiet moment in a show.
  • An episode of Scrubs had a parody on one of these, after JD thinks of a silly sitcom about the Janitor and Ted adopting a kid, called "Legal Custodians." The next time JD brings it up, a Bug for it appears at the bottom of the screen.
    • The first episode of Season 8 has an example of this using the network logo. Scrubs had switched from NBC to ABC between seasons 7 and 8. In the opening of the episode, JD walks in, points very obviously at the ABC logo and says "That's new!" The camera then pans to the Janitor to show he has a new watch.
  • The premiere of the Sesame Street special The Cookie Thief in early 2015 pulled a similar trick. Three times during the course of the premiere, a bug of Cookie Monster would pop up followed by a text box similar to the ones described in the Odd Squad examples below, reminding viewers that, yes, they were watching The Cookie Thief. Viewers Are Morons indeed. Hilariously, it first popped up during a scene that Cookie Monster was in, which may have momentarily confused the show's young viewers.
  • Sci-Fi Channel had a bug for their "Trek 2.0" version of Star Trek: The Original Series, which included the Star Trek: The Next Generation door chime. They also play Next Generation reruns. Yes, they had a pop-up ad (for another show) which included a sound that was taken from the show that was actually playing.
    • Sci Fi loved running half-screen Ghost Hunter popups in the middle of Eureka.
    • Their Mork & Mindy marathon that ran the day after Thanksgiving of 2008 (which included episodes from the fourth season, which was unlikely to be released on DVD at the time due to music rights issues) was also plagued by Ghost Hunter pop-ups.
    • The UK arm of the station were running some kind of semi-market-research survey by telephone over about a week sometime in the 90s. This was advertised by wanging a massive picture of a head with a question mark in it over the right-hand third of the screen and a question with a phone number to dial on the other two thirds. Right in the middle. For ages.
  • Inverted on the Today show. They will run their commercials in a popup for things coming up later on the show.
  • On G4's X-Play, bugs became so common (and occasionally covered up important words or numbers, such as game ratings, at the corner or bottom of the screen), that, in one game review, they inserted a number of bugs all over the screen at random intervals that obscured it completely.
  • Invoked on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when the stars of the series Schitt's Creek were guests. Supposedly, the censors only let them mention the name of the show on-air if an ad appeared ("Schitt's Creek — Wednesdays on Pop") each time it was mentioned. Of course they proceeded to do so a lot.
  • On Clic Clac's airings of Inai Inai Baa!, the channel bug is placed in the exact area the title of the song appears in, causing the names of some of the songs to be partially obscured.
  • Okaasan to Issho: As of November 2023, a QR code pops up in the left corner during "Karada Dandan" for the viewer to watch a dance-along of the same song.

  • A non-advertising example happens sometimes on Japanese networks whenever a major earthquake note  is about to occur. First, a large pop-up showing a map of where the earthquake will happen is shown on screen along with text mentioning the affected areas, accompanied by the sound of chimes and a narrator saying "This is an early earthquake warning. Prepare for powerful tremors", which repeats twice. Sometimes, two of those graphics will pop up at once and cover the entire screen. It can be a major distraction for anyone watching whatever program is currently on. note 
    • Related to the practice above, sometimes Japanese networks announce breaking news through banners called telops. First, text saying "(Channel name) News" will pop up (which is accompanied by a chime on all channels save for TV Tokyo), which is followed by a blurb relating to some breaking news, usually relating to an earthquakenote , tsunami, volcanic eruption or typhoon. Here's an example of a kids' show airing with a telop.
      • TV Tokyo uses the telop method all the time to report breaking news rather than stopping regular programming like most networks. This is known as The Legend of TV Tokyo.
    • A rare non-news example of this trope on Japanese TV: On one episode of Chibi Maruko-chan, a text message thanking the late Sakura Momoko for her work was shown over the closing credits.
    • Japanese cable channels also have these warnings. Some of them, like Disney Channel Japan, will also show these banners in English right after the Japanese version is shown.
    • Most of the time, the news telops that appear during programming don't appear on streaming versions of the episodes. However, this wasn't the case for episode 2 of Love Live! Superstar!! on the NHK Plus service, which oddly enough kept the earthquake warning that occurred during its' original broadcast. It's likely that this was an error.
    • It wasn't just Japan that did this. NTV, a channel based in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, used to (until about 2008 or so) run news tickers during some of their early-morning programming (and possibly their primetime lineup as well). One time, they ran a Rape as Drama-related ticker during the kids' show Ricky's Room.
    • This also happens in the United States, too. Here's an example from a qubo airing of VeggieTales that involves a weekly required Emergency Alert System test. Occasionally, if the warning happens to be weather-related, maps tracking the path of a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tornado or snowstorm will be superimposed over the program, like this image from the premiere airing of the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood episode "Daniel Gets Mad" on a PBS affiliate in Illinois.
      • This was spoofed in one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Rowley's family recorded a Christmas special long ago, and the year they recorded it there was a storm warning at the bottom of the screen. Now whenever Rowley watches the video, he calls Greg to tell him there's a winter storm coming. Greg used to fall for it until one day when Rowley called him about a winter storm during summer vacation.
      • The 2011 National EAS test on Nickelodeon. Not only did the banner announcing the test block part of the programming, but it also blocked both the station bug and the "Up Next" pop-up!
    • Uncle Ray's House spoofs the "news ticker" variation of this trope, by having the news report relate to the show in question.
  • Back to TV Tokyo, they've done non-news related popups on their kid's shows as well. For example, during PriPara's 100th episode celebration in 2016, they placed references to the number 100 throughout it. If viewers were able to list all the times it appeared in the episodes, they'd be entered to win PriPara-related prizes. There was another campaign around the same time where viewers had to spot TV Tokyo's banana mascot in each of their kids' shows and tell them what scene it appeared during. The prizes varied based on the show, but PriPara's was noteworthy for giving away several pieces of merchandise that were not officially released yet at the time of the campaign.
    • At the beginning Merchandise-Driven shows aired on Japanese channels, a text ad for the interactive feature Kids Data pops up on screen. This feature allows children watching the show to answer trivia questions about it or play a game with one of the characters, as was the case with the most recent Pretty Cure series, to be entered for a chance to win merchandise from the show in question. Sometimes, this will also be used to announce news related to the show itself, like promoting theatrical releases, events and contests related to the show.
    • On the first broadcast of Star★Twinkle Pretty Cure, an ad covered the top corner of the screen during the ending theme telling viewers that they can watch this episode again on demand on TVer.
  • Some children's preschool programming blocks like Nick Jr. and Playhouse Disney kept a solid logo in the corner of the screen, obscuring what was under them. For instance, when Playhouse Disney was about to premiere JoJo's Circus, they showed a bumper that not only took up part of the screen, but also had an animation of a floating balloon accompany it.
  • 4Kids did this, and their logo was not particularly semi-transparent. This often made it difficult to see things like life points, or the attack strength of a monster (in Yu-Gi-Oh!).
  • Though technically not a pop-up, the "TV ratings" logos used on American TV appear to be getting bigger and bigger, with it now not uncommon for the icon to over as much as 1/5 or more of the screen, obscuring the scene noticeably. Fortunately, rumors at the time of their introduction that they'd be required on DVD releases as well turned out to be untruenote .
  • The cable news channels count down to presidential speeches or a state's election close, while CNBC and Fox Business will put timers on to countdown to the releases of economic reports.
  • One Animal Planet bug for a then-upcoming show about training dogs to perform various cool tricks used the "pause the actual show" trick. A frisbee would fly in, the current show freezing while a dog caught it, then the host would walk up, praise it, and lead it away before letting the show continue.
  • On Cartoon Network, sometimes a gigantic ad advertising the next show will literally cover the bottom 40% of the screen.
  • Early in The '90s, The Discovery Channel used to have an annoying pop-up promoting their website: a "bing!" sound, a pop-up and a "mouse double click" sound promoting the web links to which ever program you were watching. After a few months (and viewer complaints) this went away as the novelty of the web wore off.
  • Disney Channel Scandinavia used to have in years 2006-2007 a popup with an elevator landing from top to the bottom right corner of the screen, then it opened revealing a picture of the character from whichever show was coming up next (i.e. Tarzan, Kim Possible, Jake Long, Fillmore). It would show up two minutes before the show's episode ended.
  • E! has bugs running pretty much constantly. This makes sense during their normal shows, where a celebrity gossip newsreel would fit right in. It does not make sense, however, when this pops up during a movie screening.
  • Fox teased the premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles by randomly broadcasting a pair of red eyes on its feed during certain shows like Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Example.
  • Fox Kids used to have a popup with a little screen, a flashing yellow arrow, and picture of the Series Mascot for whichever show was coming up next (i.e. Tai, red ranger). It would show up during the third act and the tag. They used similar icons for their commercials.
  • Game Show Network used to have a huge bug for PlayMania that went two-thirds of the way across the screen and about a quarter of the way up. Just barely wide enough to obscure the password in Password and its revivals, the correct answer shown briefly to home viewers in Double Dare, etc.
  • Global Television Network in Canada used to have large pop-ups advertising Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
  • MTV in the UK feel the need to keep the name of the programme you're watching on-screen at all times. While this is often helpful during music video slots, certainly themed ones (MTV UK is actually still reasonable for this, broadly speaking) it's less relevant during regular programming.
  • On NBC Kids, the NBC logo falls off and a child's hands glue the logo back on. This happens several times each kids show, leading to some Fridge Logic that maybe the kid should try a stronger adhesive, like tape.
  • Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel LOVE to advertise when they have a new movie premiering soon. They'll put up a timer counting down to High School Musical or The Cheetah Girls or whatever they're going to show up to 24 hours beforehand.
  • PBS Kids, like most other networks, has the little box telling viewers what show is airing and when it premieres. They include a little skit with the characters from their shows in their popups, such as the ones for/during Odd Squad Saves the World. A little after the episode "Dance Like Nobody's Watching" began, the "You're Watching [show name] on PBS Kids!" box appeared. Then Oscar pops up, holding a gadget, and activating it, the box ripples in a pretty pink color. The box has its normal red color, but then proceeds to completely disappear from the screen. This whole shebang practically would distract this viewer for its duration.
    • The first airing of the episode "O Is Not For Old" had the box show up except the "You're Watching..." text was flipped upside down. Ms. O then appears, elbow-bumping the box and causing the text to readjust. She then broke the fourth wall and proceeded to give the viewers two thumbs-up for about 5 seconds before everything disappeared by moving down. Not the same disappearing act as the example above. Again, huge distraction.
    • There was also another one where Olive and Otto did a little fixing-up of the box with the same text. They actually dropped down from the top of the screen to the bottom. It then did the same disappearing act as Ms. O's box.
    • The same situation as the first example happened when Odd Squad first premiered.
    • In the early 90's, some PBS stations covered the lower quarter of the screen during pledge drives with a telephone number during kids' programming. Here's an example from an airing of Barney & Friends.
    • During actual pledge drives local PBS stations have the phone number on the screen during the duration of the pledge drive. For stations that have an annual auction, they also sometimes put the number on screen during the auction.
    • On the Amazon prints of various PBS Kids shows, the logo will be placed in the bottom-left corner. This also happens on the iTunes versions of the Season 25 episodes of Arthur.
  • SBS 6 in the Netherlands once stopped a movie in a manner that resembled a network/signal problem for a quick ad for a dance show hosted by a resident presenter.
  • TNT's NBA coverage will use a free throw to sneak one of these in (usually for one of TNT or even TBS's original productions) sometimes, along with an Enforced Plug by the announcers.
  • TNT had small pop ups that weren't very intrusive, but when it changed formats, it got bad. Spike TV had a bad habit of doing animated pop ups for their cartoons like Gary the Rat and Stripperella, often just before or after commercial breaks. They'd take up perhaps a third of the screen.
  • In the last few years of its run, Toon Disney did similar things, not only popping up advertisements, but also taking up a full third of the screen to show you a loud purple pattern giving the name of the show you are watching, for the benefit of parents who might find this more helpful in their decision-making process than just looking at the giant robots fighting on-screen.
  • USA Network had a commercial for Psych that has fun with this: one bug for the series has the two leads walk into the corner for a while. During a seemingly normal commercial for the same series, the bar pops up—and Shawn and Gus spot it.
  • USA Network used to have non-transparent bugs featuring Monk poking at the bug itself, but they've since switched to mostly transparent USA logos and sometimes messages that a new episode of whatever show will be starting at x time.
  • In March of 2001, YTV's "The Zone" block had a subplot involving "Yokomites", literal bugs that would show up at random points in the show. Here is the only surviving footage of that subplot.
  • Similar to the Rugrats example detailed on the Nickelodeon page, Family Channel in Canada had one around 2004 for a back-to-school-themed contest where a "BTS" bug would appear at a random point in the show. You could be entered for a contest if you correctly named the show and episode that it appeared in.
    • YTV did the same about a year earlier but with a different colored Froot Loop rolling by (the contest was sponsored by Kellogg's).
  • In the summer of 2015, Teletoon's "Camp Teletoon" block had a feature where something such as a frog would appear on top of the Teletoon network bug during the shows, and you could push a button on Teletoon's website to make stuff happen with the frog or whatever. The button was only available while the block aired on the Eastern feed, as the Western feed repeated what already happened.
  • During the airing of the 1968 television film Heidi on NBC, the network put up a "sports bulletin" with the final score of an Oakland Raiders/New York Jets football game ... during the scene in which Clara takes her first steps. This only escalated viewer outrage over NBC having pre-empted the rest of said game and its Miracle Rally on the east coast so they could air said film on-schedule (network staff had intended to start the film after the game after noticing how intense it had gotten, but the phone lines at network control were overwhelmed by viewers asking about if they planned to air the movie or the game).
  • ABC uses the hashtag variation, but unlike other networks that do this, it's usually placed underneath the station bug and is small and not intrusive.
  • When Primestar was about to be discontinued, a warning banner that covered half of the screen would appear during random points in the program. Here's an example from an airing of the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "May The Best Chipmunk Win" on Cartoon Network.
  • One year, CTV literally put up snipes during the Golden Globe Awards to advertise when winners were available for streaming on its parent company's subscription service.
  • When AT&T and DirecTV planned to drop 23 Viacom-owned channels in 2019, said channels put a banner at the bottom of some of the screen during shows alerting viewers to fight to keep the channels on the network. Annoyingly, not only did these banner ads stay onscreen for several minutes and repeat the message, they appeared even if the viewer didn't have AT&T/DirecTV and wasn't at risk of losing the channels.
  • In Canada, especially after the regulators mandated the implementation of "skinny basic" service bundles and a la carte purchasing of specialty channels, they will now make a big deal about when they're in a free preview period, often with obvious "Now in free preview!"/"Free preview on now" text next to their bug (either occasionally or all the time) in a similar means to a New Content Countdown Clock.
  • As of late-2018, ESPN's BottomLine ticker now has a permanent slot for cycling advertisements in the bottom-right of the screen, typically showing promos for other ESPN programs (and, on ABC broadcasts, ABC programs. Their Canadian counterpart TSN also uses this ticker, which frequently advertises programs on other Bell Media networks such as CTV and Crave; with a 2023 graphics redesign, sister network CTV News Channel now uses a very similar ticker as well]). Most other sports networks began to imitate this in the years that followed. MLB Network used to have a tall tab above the ticker in the bottom-right to promote their next game broadcast, but later streamlined it into the ticker itself, and then switched to the banner ad format.
  • In January 2021, all Discovery-owned channels began displaying a persistent, opaque ad in the top-right of the screen for the Discovery+ streaming service.
  • TBN would begin to always show the phone number for its toll-free "prayer line" on screen at all times during programming starting sometime in the mid 80's. In the late 90's and early 2000's with the advent of the Web, it would alternate with the website also being shown on screen and alternating with the number.
  • In a non-advertising example, the weekend educational shows on the five major networks are mandated to keep a bug on the screen corner that says "E/I" which indicates the show as having content that is "Educational and Informative", even though what the FCC defies as such is very loose. PBS Kids and qubo also use such a bug for all of their programming.
  • When Prince Phillip passed away on April 9, 2021, CBBC and CBeebies displayed a message during their programmes to tell the viewers to change the channel to BBC One for a major news report. This practice was averted for Queen Elizabeth II's death, however.
  • After the launch of Disney+, ABC's "Wonderful World of Disney" movie nights (which play movies owned by Disney, usually from the Disney Animated Canon, Pixar, or Marvel Cinematic Universe) would feature a pop-up advertising how if you like the movie, you could also watch it on Disney+. A similar pop-up also appears on Freeform airings of movies that are on Disney+.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • This can get pretty extreme during Professional Wrestling shows, as not only do the pop-ups take up space on the screen and distract from the match, but the commentators all of a sudden start ignoring the match and begin shilling for the show or product being advertised.

     Web Animation 
  • Parodied in a Strong Bad E-Mail where Strong Bad mentioned "Discovery Channel" specials about CGI dinosaurs. While he said this, a bug for the fictional CGI Walking With Trogdor appeared. Sadly, despite being a parody, it fit here, as it appeared exactly within the confines of the back of Strong Bad's head.
  • Bugs for the latest game in the The Escapist's promo cycle appear in many of their video features, including Zero Punctuation's.

     Web Original 
  • The website was notorious for this, sometimes showing advertising bugs seemingly every 2 minutes, and about every other bug is unhideable.
  • Neopets spoofs internet popups with their game Advert Attack—the game's entire challenge is navigating around or getting rid of fake ads that dominate the screen so you could actually get at the game's controls.
  • It's not just television that has done this, either. Japanese video site Nico Nico Douga actually started adding interstitial ads smack-dab in the middle of the video you happen to be watching, with no way to skip ahead or pause at all. When you try to watch a music video, you get hit with a two-minute ad for Penguin Musume Heart out of nowhere.
  • Pandora radio features not only ads between songs, but full-video ads between stations.
  • This archived article from a possibly now defunct Rugrats fansite has a minor complaint about network bugs covering up presenter captions on the Kids' Choice Awards.
  • Television Without Pity forums used to have one post about a forum-er who saw The Reveal of a tattoo in a 7th Heaven rerun get covered up with a pop-up.
  • A variation happens on video sharing websites such as YouTube where the pop-ups are usually for larger companies. Case in point: During a stream of an Amagami video, an ad for McDonald's coffee showed up, resulting in a hilarious juxtaposition. It basically looked like the character was peeing out of her bathing suit.
  • In April of 2019, if one were to view This Very Wiki on a mobile device, an ad covering the entire screen would appear promoting tourism to Texas. In most cases, said ad would cause the browser to crash and display the text "A problem has occurred, so the webpage was reloaded", creating headaches for those who were viewing the site on mobile.
  • In April 2020, websites like TitanTV and SoraNews24 began to use video pop-up ads that cover a good portion of the page. The most frequent ads to use this method are ones for cable provider Optimum and Disney+.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged mocked this in their "The Plan to Eradicate Christmas" movie, where the villain (Santa gone evil) accuses Goku of recklessly endangering the world countless times thanks to his lust for battle. Goku responded by asking how he could possibly endanger the whole universe — at which point a pop-up ad for Funimation's stream of the Tournament of Power appears.

     Western Animation 
  • Someone on late-night Teletoon must be an epic troll, because they've done these commercial pop-ups during American Dad! over things that require the bottom of the screen, such as Toshi's subtitles or the "Bill Publishermann" gag.
  • During the 'world premiere' of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force film on Adult Swim, the movie was displayed without sound in a tiny box in the corner of the screen, and episodes of Family Guy and Futurama aired while the movie ran (in its entirety) in the corner. During this, humongous pop-up ads for the movie with loud sound effects also appeared from time to time. But...this 'world premiere' was on April Fools' Day several days before the theatrical release, so it wasn't meant to be the 'serious' television debut by any means.
  • A gag one happens with the network logo version on Chowder. Chowder scribbles on the screen and gets yelled at. After it's cleaned up he points over at the Cartoon Network logo and asks "What about that one?" to which Gaspatcho responds, "That one doesn't come off. I've tried." The channel icon is part of the episode, making it obvious that the logo has changed since the episode's initial airing.
  • Parodied in an episode of Drawn Together: Ling-Ling (who speaks in pseudo-Japanese and can only be understood through subtitles) is trying to convince the other housemates to help him, when suddenly a bug for The Daily Show appears, obscuring everything he's saying. Another character exclaims "Ling-Ling's right! I love the Daily Show!"
  • Family Guy:
    • The episode "Movin' Out (Brian's Song)" makes a joke using this where, during a feminist speech by Lois, Marge appears in a pop-up ad for The Simpsons at the bottom of the screen and Quagmire tries to have sex with her. It then shifts into an overly long Take That! against The Simpsons.
    • In the episode "Peter's Progress", during the wedding ceremony scene, there was a running gag where Stewie would repeatedly break the fourth wall to complain about and kibitz the pop-ups. Plus, most of the promos were for fake shows named after the type of image in the pop-up, such as "Shovin' Buddies", "Slowly Rotating Black Man", and "Crossarmed Opposites".
      Stewie: You and I are like t- (A pop-up for 24 appears) Oh, I'm sorry, is my wedding interrupting your promotion? We're right in the middle of our show! Okay, right now, you have a time slot, go there! Maybe finish this candy bar before opening another one! (The ad disappears) Well, at least it wasn't one of those promos where they got the whole cast shoving each other playfully like they're all good pals. (A pop-up for Shovin' Buddies appears) Oh, oh, look! There we go! Oh, look at 'em jostling each other around! Oh, they give each other a hard time, but they're friends!
      Lois: Is that a real show?
      Stewie: No, it's just... no, it's, somebody's making a joke, forget it.
    • When the aforementioned episode first aired in Spain on laSexta, they went on with the gag by putting a banner of its flagship humour show Se lo que hicisteis. After this incident, the program did a sketch about what had happened. Here's the full video.
    • Family Guy being what it is, it's used pop-up ads for Biting-the-Hand Humor multiple times.
      Brian: Oh my God! Somebody call 911!
      [an ad for 9-1-1 appears]
      Brian: Dammit, Fox, that's not an invitation to ruin our moment to expand your media empire!
      [an ad for Empire appears]
      Brian: [sighs] Son of Zorn.
      Brian: Hah.
  • One episode of Frisky Dingo had a message on the screen for 15 seconds at the start that said "This is where the network puts that mammoth bug." Then, "Enjoy the show." Biting-the-Hand Humor doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • Comedy Central's Futurama ends with the credits being shown in a small 'tear' in the bottom of the screen while the beginning of the next episode starts. Great idea, saves time and everything, right? Well, except that it now completely blocks out the unique-per-episode punch line they have written on the bottom of the screen...unless it's one of the few early episodes that starts with a cold opening, of course. Reruns of Scrubs do this, too, though both shows go back to the regular format if it precedes something like The Daily Show.
  • The premiere airing of one episode of Justice League had a bug that featured a giant robot, including metallic stomping and explosion sounds that actually obscured several lines of dialogue. Needless to say, the fans were not pleased.
  • Disney XD has ads for Marvel's Spider-Man that have Spider-Man hanging upside-down from the top-right corner of the screen and swinging down. This once showed up in a rerun of the Gravity Falls episode "Little Dipper" during the scene where Li'l Gideon has the Pines twins shrunk, making it look like Gideon shrunk Spider-Man.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One gag had Homer eating a Joe Millionaire pop-up.
    • Similarly, another Couch Gag had the Fox logo pop up on the screen, with the entire family rushing over to stomp on it (back when logo bugs were the only commercial pop ups around).
    • The creators of The Simpsons currently have a deal with Fox, wherein they will not put up real advertisements like this on during their show.
    • Also parodied in The Simpsons Movie, where, during a scene where Homer and Bart are daring each other, a pop-up ad for Are You Smarter Than A Celebrity appears, stating "Yes, we even have these in movies now." (Actually, it's a newsbar, but still...)
    • Marge went further at the start of the 2007 Treehouse of Horror: with so many ads, she gets angry ("Can't people just watch the show they're watching?") and gets rid of the promos in various ways, such as vacuuming football players with a minivac, sticking House in a microwave and putting the rest in a meatloaf. Wherein they wriggle.
  • In the Steven Universe Fake Crossover episode with Uncle Grandpa, "Say Uncle", Uncle Grandpa says he remembers Steven trying to activate his shield in the first episode, "Gem Glow" because he was watching from a bumper advertisement for his own show. Steven doesn't remember this at all.
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "More Crap" to celebrate their Emmy win for "Make Love, Not Warcraft". Whenever a particularly crass moment took place, an "Emmy Award Winning Series" message and trophy pops up on screen. At the end of the episode, the advertisement became a trophy given to Randy for having the biggest piece of crap in the world.
  • There is the incident with the season 2 finale of Transformers: Animated. The credits included a humorous dialogue between Megatron and Starscream's head, floating about stranded in an unidentified region of space. But both of the original English-language airings (first YTV, then Cartoon Network shortly afterward) dubbed over that dialogue with interstitials, promoting mass rage within the Transformers fandom (or at least those who appreciate Animated).
  • Ads for Yin Yang Yo! had Yang pull a banner down (complete with sound effects) which obscured 80-95% of the screen. He then pulled it up after about two seconds.
  • The Phineas and Ferb special "Summer Belongs to You" parodies this. A fake pop-up appears declaring "You're watching television!", a sound effect is heard indicating Phineas has an idea, Phineas complains that the "ad" is obscuring a visual gag, and the pop-up disappears to show Ferb holding a triangle.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • On Easter weekend of 2017, there was an event called the Teen Titans Go Easter Egg Hunt on Cartoon Network, where they hid colored eggs throughout the episodes and viewers had to find them. If they named the correct episode and scene the egg appeared in, they would be eligible for a chance to win exclusive Cartoon Network merchandise.
    • Labor Day weekend of 2017 had promo cards pop up in the corner advertising the special Labor Day episode, which also include the Titans interrupting the show with a sound byte yelling "Labor Day!".
    • There was also this incident where a "Stop Bullying" bug appeared on the screen over a scene where most of the Titans were acting like bullies.
  • Prior to the premiere of Elinor Wonders Why, Elinor would pop in from different sides of the screen, from time to time during PBS Kids shows that lead up to the premiere, with Elinor waving at the audience and giving a silent laugh. During the last show before the premiere, Martha Speaks, Elinor would pop in and wave as the show's logo appears next to her, reminding viewers to tune in for the premiere.
  • DuckTales (2017) occasionally has a big screen bug (taking up almost half of the screen) on some shows with Huey, Duey, Louie, and Webby climbing up on the Disney XD logo, and they jump on Launchpad's ship coming from the left side of the screen. There was also an in-universe example during the Sitcom Homage Episode "Quack Pack!" that only Huey was able to notice.
  • Back when they had Animaniacs, Cartoon Network had a bug where the Warners would march across the screen while their theme song played for about three seconds. It can be seen here.
  • Universal Kids used a particularly annoying one to promote Where's Waldo? (2019) which covered the entire screen in Waldo's trademark red and white stripes.
  • During the premiere of the SpongeBob SquarePants "Have You Seen This Snail?" special on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network used this trope for a in-joke with a bug featuring a snail resembling Gary with an "I LOVE CN" sign appearing at the bottom of the screen during random programs. The intended joke was that Gary had "run away" from Nickelodeon to Cartoon Network, but many viewers didn't get the joke and found the bug to be rather annoying.
  • On Kids' WB!'s final airing of Skunk Fu!, part of Pig's subtitled dialogue when he attempts to speak in monkey language was obscured by the Kids' WB logo.
  • In the week leading up to the South Park season 24 premiere (a one-hour special themed around the COVID-19 Pandemic), pop-ups showed up on not just Comedy Central, but other Viacom-owned networks such as TV Land and MTV. The bug noted how many days until the special aired and showed images of the main four boys with masks on.
  • On early Cartoonito airings of Cocomelon in the United States, the screenbug would occasionally obscure part of the lyrics to the songs. Similar to the Bakugan example above, this would later be fixed with the logo being moved to the top right for that particular show only.
    • On an airing that occured after the logo was moved to the top corner, a bug for Care Bears: Unlock the Magic obscured part of the lyrics during a song about karate.
  • Also on Cartoonito, with Pocoyo taking place primarily in a White Void Room, the Cartoonito screenbug would be mostly hidden, since the logo was white. To make up for this, later airings used a black logo.


Video Example(s):


Puppet SpongeBob

In the leadup to the theatrical premiere of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius in 2001, Nickelodeon featured several pop-ups in which Jimmy used his gadgets to mess with various shows on the channel. In this one, shown during a re-run of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Hooky", Jimmy temporarily turns the show's cast into felt puppets.

How well does it match the trope?

4.96 (28 votes)

Example of:

Main / MediumShiftGag

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