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Couch Gag

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A trope throughout a series by which a part of the opening or ending credits is interchangeably switched, and the content can be different every show. Some of the same shows also have couch gags at the end as a Credits Gag. Alternatively, this gag may occur at the end of The Teaser, just before the credits start.

Named for one of its best-known incarnations, the family scrambling to gather on the couch during the opening sequence of The Simpsons.

Note that it need not be a "gag"; TV dramas such as Mission: Impossible and Justice League Unlimited will sometimes have clips from later in the episode.

Compare to Different in Every Episode. Not to be confused with the other type of couch and gag.

Randomized Title Screen is a Video Game only Sub-Trope, applying only to the Start Screen and chosen by the Random Number God.

Example subpages


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    Comic Strips 
  • In many newspaper comics, the title panel of Sunday strips are often different in some way. Some strips, such as Foxtrot, simply have the logo a different color. Others, such as Garfield, have an entirely different piece of artwork for each strip. It is often mandatory to waste the first panel on a couch gag for syndication, so that newspapers can cut them for space.

    Fan Works 
  • Most fan fiction starts with a standard disclaimer about not owning the source material. Humorous fan fiction loves to play with this disclaimer.
  • The Simpsons: Team L.A.S.H.: Imitating its source material, each chapter of this fic has two of them: the "to-do list gag" (basically the equivalent of the source material's "chalkboard gag"; Simon writes something down on his to-do list as he and his dad head off to school), and the "desk gag" (basically the equivalent of the source material's trope-naming "couch gag"; the four of them rush to their desks in Mrs. Gunderson's class, and Mrs. Gunderson turns on the projector).

  • After the recap of his origins and before the plot starts, every Captain Underpants book starts with George and Harold rearranging the letters on a different sign to say something silly.
  • Starting around 2001, the Star Trek novels began to include a planet (often one involved in the story) in the list of Simon & Schuster offices on the title page.

  • The late Wesley Willis, an extremely prolific (and diagnosed schizophrenic) singer-songwriter, ended virtually every song he ever recorded by first saying "Rock over London, rock on Chicago..." after which he would then spout a random commercial jingle or product slogan, which generally had nothing to do with the subject matter of the song.
  • In a Couch Gag that encompassed the entire work, the band Yes shot 17 versions of their video for 1983's "Leave It". The first featured the five band members standing side by side, singing the song, in black suits. The other 16 each incorporated some variation on this setup, often quite subtle (e.g. one band member wearing a different-colored tie), as a visual Running Gag.

  • Doctor Who Target Book Club Podcast uses a different adjective in each opening narration to describe just how BIG their project of reading the Target novelizations in story order actually is: "massive" and "YUGE!" have already made appearances. As of March 2017, the YouTube videos of the podcast also feature a Morphoton brain from Keys of Marinus with a different caption directed to the readers.
  • I Was There Too employs this trope by replacing the final bars of the theme song with music from the scores of famous movies.
  • Kingdom Smarts: As part of their Signing-Off Catchphrase, each episode ends with Shannon saying "we still haven't ____ yet", with the blank spot foreshadowing what they'll get to next week.
    "We still haven't gotten to the part where a villain legit calls you a 'chicken-wuss'."
  • In Less is Morgue, the intro music is always poorly edited in so it cuts off one of the characters mid-sentence.
  • Random Assault: Different secret sounds at the end of each episode, also done on the landing pages with silly plugs and credits for that episode's hosts.
  • The Red vs. Blue podcast RvB Rewind always starts with the series' famed "Do you ever wonder why we're here?" followed by a snappy response related to the discussed episode.
  • The Scathing Atheist opens their podcast on slightly different variations each week.
    • Every show begins with Lucinda giving a different content warning that the following hour will be absolutely fucking obscene.
    • Heath will then give a different fake sponsorship for the episode, usually in the form of a play on words of a religious phrase or product.
    • There will then be a member of the atheist/secular community to quote Dr. Farnsworth's "we did in fact evolve from filthy monkey men." or some variation.
  • Welcome to Night Vale: Cecil says a creepy non-sequiter before the pre-intro music Title Drop.

  • The print edition of David Langford's fanzine Ansible is "Available for SAE, whim, or [obscure sf concept]."
  • Doctor Who Magazine always includes a joke or odd statement buried in the print indicia. This is a tradition that has come and gone over the years depending on editorial whim. (On one occasion, after it had lain fallow for some time, it suddenly said "I don't know why you're looking down here, we haven't had a joke here for ages".)
  • For a while, the Australian printing of White Dwarf (Games Workshop's magazine) would finish the list of contributors on the first page with something odd, like "Sean Bean" or "that guy on SOF 2 who did not believe me". Sadly, this appears to have fallen by the wayside.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • When pro wrestler Bryan Danielson was Ring Of Honor World Heavyweight Champion, he had a Couch Gag of coercing the ring announcer to give him a different flattering title before every match, usually some sort of Cheap Heat relating to his opponent or where he was wrestling. Said titles included "the best wrestler in the entire world, with an emphasis on entire world," "the best wrestler to ever step foot in the ECW Arena," "even better than The Beatles," "the best champion in ROH history," and "really too good to wrestle in front of all these pricks."
  • Similar to the Bryan Danielson example above, starting in the latter months of 2020, Kenny Omega began having AEW's ring announcer Justin Roberts rattling off a Long List of Omega-related trivia, which always included something that would relate to "NOOORTH CAROLIIINAAA!" (emphasis important) before concluding his introduction.
  • This was done to an even greater extent earlier on in Ring of Honor, during Steve Corino's run in 2003. Prior to every match he would have personal ring announcer Bobby Cruise announce a ridiculously, painfully long list of something that usually served as a means of mocking his opponents. For example, when facing the notoriously straight-edge CM Punk, Corino's list consisted of famous wrestlers with histories with drugs and alcohol that Corino aspired to be like.
  • In TNA, the Rock and Rave Infection's entrance to the ring was composed of the following three steps:

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sometimes, before leaving, a child on Barney & Friends will double back and thank the big purple guy for his help, or just share their love with him. They may find that he has reverted already.
  • Igloo-Gloo ends with Snowball Sleepwalking while holding his bunny to someplace not too far away during bedtime, with Snowflake always having to bring him back to bed, followed by the Moon with the item that was dropped from the sky at the beginning if the episode.
  • The Muppet Show has three of these:
    • What Statler and Waldorf say during the opening sequence. The third season had this intersped with a joke taking place backstage.
    • Gonzo blowing a bugle at the end of the opening, with something funny happening, like smoke blowing from it or weird music resulting. The first season had Gonzo striking the "O" in the show's logo like a gong with humorous results. The gong bit is an homage to the animated opening sequence for The Mickey Mouse Club, which ended with Donald Duck striking a gong with humorous results.
    • What Statler and Waldorf say after the end credits.
    • The first season had a fourth one. During the opening, Fozzie would tell a different joke each time, and usually get cut off.
  • Teletubbies begins and ends with the Teletubbies emerging and reentering their dome in a random order, respectively.

  • Car Talk has the credits that make fun of the various people that work on the show, occasionally changing when a new in-joke or gag presents itself, such as Doug the "Subway Fugitive" Berman. The one credit that changed every week was for John "Bugsy" Lawlor, their "Technical, Spiritual, and Menu Advisor", who they would always claim was just back from some made-up, rhyming event involving food (for instance, the "Seneca Lake Rump Steak Spongecake Milkshake Bran Flake Shake 'n' Bake".)
  • Each episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978) has a different short, humorous quip stuck onto the end of the credits, occasionally tangentially related to the episode that had just played.
  • A Prairie Home Companion has the line "I smell the _____, I look around for you" in its theme song; the blank is filled by an object related to the city they're currently in, such as "cheesesteaks" for Philadelphia.
  • This American Life ends every episode with Ira Glass stating that "Management oversight is provided by our boss, Mr. Torey Malatia, who..." with the elipses filled in by a statement introducing a sound bite from that week's episode taken out of context.
  • Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me has Carl Kasell giving a line from the "Who's Carl This Time" game, which sounds completely odd out of context.

  • In the versions of Microsoft Office from 97 to 2003, the Microsoft Assistant would give a "Tip of the Day" every time one of the programs opened. Of course, the tip is for the program in question.
  • There is a program by Microsoft called Bing Desktop. Similar to Bing itself, one of the features changes the user's desktop wallpaper everyday (granted that the user has internet access).

    Web Original 
  • The search engine "Bing" has a different background image on its homepage everyday. Its desktop app, Bing Desktop, has an option to change the user's wallpaper to this image, provided the user has internet access.
  • Often, the Google logo will be changed (officially known as a "Google Doodle"). There are two reasons for the logo to be changed; either for a holiday or if the date celebrates a milestone of something. As of 2011, clicking on a Doodle will bring up a search for what its celebrating.
    • For example, on May 21, 2010, the logo was replaced by a javascript Pac-Man game in the shape of the Google logo for the rest of the week. It was so popular that it even got its own permanent URL.
    • If the user is signed in to their Google account and it's their birthday, a special Doodle replaces the logo.
  • Nobody Here's home page will feature one of eight randomly-chosen animations of Jogchem at his computer. They are: typing normally, typing in a very enthusiastic manner, leaning back on his chair, leaning forward towards the screen, typing with his fists, typing with just one finger, standing on his chair, and falling asleep on the keyboard.
  • TV Tropes:
    • The link back to the unabridged version on the Laconic pages of This Very Wiki.
    • Many work pages have a pun in the heading for the trope list.
  • The wiki signs: Wikipedia has signs that tell users a page needs information, lacks it, is not objective, etc. Other wikis take advantage and use their themes in their pages. For example: in the Harry Potter wiki, they have "'Homenum Revelio!' [S]poilers will be present within the article. Please take care when reading this article if you do not wish to be spoiled." for spoiler alert.


Video Example(s):


Pepper Ann's Desk

In the end of the opening sequence, Pepper Ann always finds something interesting under her desk which varies in some episodes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CouchGag

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