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Cringe Comedy

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Elliot: It doesn't really bother me that much.
Tedd: Then why did you try to weasel out of the party?
Elliot: Because it sounds like one big awkward moment.

A trend in comedy where the humour mostly comes from placing characters in the most embarrassing situations possible, or having them say the most awkward or offensive thing possible at all times. Often uses documentary feel to heighten the naturalism and increase the cringe, or has actors in character interacting with an unsuspecting public. Comedy that gives you second-hand shame. Comedy you have to watch through the gaps between your fingers.

Often this is mollified by the characters being oblivious to the embarrassment they should be feeling. Sometimes though, all the characters are acutely aware of their humiliation, which can make it so much worse (which is how Digging Yourself Deeper works when the attempts to improve the situation just cause further awkwardness). Or worse yet, there's a single Audience Surrogate character who realizes how humiliated everyone should be feeling, while everyone else remains oblivious.

Some shows specialize in this sort of humor. Others include a scene of it here or there, largely avoiding it. Still others make this sort of thing a sort of Running Gag, as with taking a character who can't act and requiring them to play a part for the good of the team — repeatedly.

German, the language that brought you "Schadenfreude", has developed the term "Fremdschämen" (basically "secondhand embarrassment") to cover this phenomenon.

For a specific type of cringe related mainly to being in a small, confined space with a stranger, see Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.

Embarrassment Plot is a closely related category where the story revolves around someone experiencing an embarrassing moment. The main distinction is that such plots aren't always intended to be comical.

Compare and contrast Humiliation Conga, where it's still the goal to laugh at the expense of the character's embarrassment, but the cringe is less painful because they're an Asshole Victim getting a well-deserved comeuppance.

Raising the suffering from embarrassment to outright cruelty results in a Sadist Show.

See also Crosses the Line Twice, where the same basic material is used, but more to make people laugh than to make them uncomfortable. If the show is partially or wholly unscripted (as in Reality TV or a Talk Show), it may be a Point-and-Laugh Show. Viewers who find the cringe too embarrassing to be amusing may deliver a Dude, Not Funny! rebuke. Of course, if viewers end up saying the Eight Deadly Words, nobody cares anyway.


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  • This "Choose Your Own (Mis)Adventure" ad for Poo-pourri.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hinamatsuri:
    • After Ikaruga finally decides to take Hina back home, Hina and Nitta have a heartfelt goodbye. But after Nitta leaves Hina reveals to Ikaruga that she no longer has her travel bead; without it an esper can't survive travel through space/time. Hina runs home to tell Nitta the great news only to run into him having a solo party about no longer having Hina. The home life becomes awkward for a while.
    • When Naito, Nitta's old boss, gets out of prison Nitta's subordinates become convinced that Hina is Naito's child and set up a big reveal. Nitta tries to tell everyone it's not true and Hina is his own daughter, but no one believes him and Nitta decides it might be entertaining just to watch.
  • It's Tough Being Neeko is about a 23-year-old NEET with crippling social anxiety who lives with her parents. Much of the humor comes at the protagonist's expense.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders briefly turns into cringe comedy during Joseph and Avdol's fight against Mariah. Her Stand can turn a person's body magnetic, causing all sorts of embarrassing problems for them as the magnetism pulls up womens' skirts, opens bathroom stall doors, and gets them stuck in embarrassingly suggestive positions.
  • Chapter 79 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is this in its entirety, as Kaguya is baffled as to why love sickness caused her to faint in school and pretty much professes her love of Shirogane to her doctors (in denial, of course) while Hayasaka spends the whole time red-faced with embarassment.
    (After Kaguya insists that she's not lovesick) "I use this hospital too, but I'll never be able to show my face here again."
    (After Kaguya is hooked up to a heart scanner) "Stop it! Stop using the latest technology to expose my mistress' emotions!"
    (After Kaguya loudly protesting that her Almost Kiss with Shirogane has nothing to do with her hospitalization) "It has everything to do with it!"
    (After Kaguya insists on visiting another hospital for a second opinion) "Please, don't humiliate me anymore."
    Narrator: Today's battle result... Hayasaka loses.
  • My Dad's the Queen of All VTubers?!: The plot kicks off when Takashi finds out that the nation's #1 VTuber who he's been fawning over is actually a middle-aged man.... and his own father.
  • My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering with My School Romantic Comedy has the protagonist cursed with the "Absolute Choice" and he must abide by this and no, he cannot Take a Third Option. Most of these choices are going to end up embarrassing him so much that he became part of the "Rejected Five" because of his bizarre actions.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! often uses this trope with many fans talking about how the comedy hits a little too close to home at times.
  • In Overlord, Ainz is repeatedly put in situations where a normal person would welcome spontaneous combustion, thanks to his inability to show shame. It's entirely possible to read the series as a comedy in which a bumbling moron accidentally takes over the world, slaughtering anyone in his path largely by accident.
  • Prison School makes sure the guys' shenanigans always end up in the most humiliating situations possible for them, usually for a completely trivial goal. With a generous help from the underground student council members guarding them in their prison. This goes for the Chairman of the school, whose attempts at hiding his love of asses from his daughter Mari inevitably fails.
  • Sorry, but I'm Not into Yuri involves the main character, Itsumi Toudou, buying a shady Love Potion to get her homeroom teacher's affection. The primary comedy involves Itsumi's female classmates drinking it instead, leading to increasingly awkward situations for our main lead.
  • To Love Ru loves this, especially since Rito's an Accidental Pervert.

  • Ben Stiller; look at every role he's played dating back to his own show, both as host and in every one of his skits.
  • In the late '60s and the '70s, German comedian Loriot basically created his entire career completely on sketches about uptight middle class people who get into awkward situations and make everything worse by being completely oblivious about it. It becomes much more bearable by the fact, that usually nobody seems to be aware that the situations should be awkward and everyone continues as if everything would be fine. As a parody of how people of those decades refused to allow any loss of face to the point where it got painful, his show got massively popular. As an example, "German for Foreigners", or known to most people as "This is my briefcase", or "People on a plane".
  • Louis C.K.; Don't even try to watch any of his shows if you are even slightly sensitive to this kind of thing.
  • Maria Bamford's style of comedy is always weird, but special mention goes to The Special Special Special, which is an entire stand-up special performed in a living room, with an audience of two: Maria's parents. It's as awkward as you're thinking, if not more.

    Comic Book 
  • Rat-Man often makes use of it. The most notable example is in the "Il Grande Magazzi" story arc (a Harry Potter parody), where the key to defeating Carlo Pelagatti (AKA Valdifass) is finding and unleashing a "Philosopher's Woman"... That is, a woman whose combination of horrible personality and low IQ can drive people to suicide and gets away with it by being gorgeous. Our heroes find the exact one who once dated Carlo... And she flat-out tells him she told all her friends that he has a small penis (and that they laughed), among other things. And then she starts reading a love poem to his best friend (that got her pregnant) that humiliates Carlo so much he starts spontaneously electrocuting himself.

    Fan Works 
  • The The Loud House fanfic Caught revolves around one of Lincoln's sisters accidentally walking in on him "handling his business". It then devolves into this as the older sisters find out that the younger sisters are listening in on the impromptu meeting.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Naked Singularity. It's about Twilight writing a pornographic story involving expys of her and a few of her friends. A lot of the humor comes from the science allusions and technobabble that makes the story indecipherable. Then she reads it to a coffee shop with Celestia, Twilight's parents, a class of schoolchildren...
  • The Party Incident and Other Embarrassing Anecdotes starts with the main character crashing a party and, when asked by Sans how she knows Papyrus, tells him that she's dating his brother. It goes downhill from there.

    Films — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • In Rainbow Rocks, The Mane Five and Twilight attempting to defeat the Dazzlings with a By the Power of Grayskull! move is one of the most embarrassing moments for the main characters in either universe.
      Rainbow Dash: Uh, weren't there rainbows and lasers and stuff last time?
      Twilight Sparkle: I don't understand. We're all together again. Why isn't this working?
      Spike: You uh, really need to go ahead and do that whole "Magic of Friendship" thing now.
    • Also in the same movie, the "Bad Counter Spell" Twilight wrote is considered this.
    • In Friendship Games, Human Twilight's short speech to the other Crystal Prep students in the bus, while not on par with the "Friendship is Magic!" moment above, is still quite high on the awkwardness quotient.
      Sugarcoat: That was a really bad speech. You should consider not speaking in public.
    • In Forgotten Friendship, Twilight Sparkle tries to "smooth up" the reunion between Sunset Shimmer and Princess Celestia, and ends up making it even more awkward.
      Princess Twilight: Sooo, Princess Celestia... [nervous laugh] You'll never guess who's back! Actually, maybe you can guess, 'cause she's right here. But, um...
      Princess Celestia: [stern glare down at Sunset and Twilight]
      Princess Twilight: [whispering to Sunset] Am I helping?
  • A lot of the humor in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is of this kind.
    • Especially in the beginning, with most of Miles' interactions at his new school, which can be summed up with "How much can Morales humiliate himself in front of his schoolmates?" Starting with his father bringing him to school in a police car and forcing his son to say "I love you..." before the other students.
    • This gets worse when Miles' superpowers are starting to awaken, and he blames it at first on puberty... out loud. The cringe factor only goes up when talking to Gwen (who manages to embarrass herself in turn with a poorly chosen, obviously fake name), and Miles' Power Incontinence leads to a Sticky Situation between the two, in front of the whole school.
    • Peter B. Parker's lame attempts at trying to charm Olivia to distract her while Miles breaks into her computer, and not really noticing that she's more fascinated by him being from another dimension.
    • When Peter B. Parker spots Mary Jane, he's compelled to go and talk to her, even as the rest of the Spider-Gang realizes it's a bad idea. Mary Jane has no idea who he is, as he begins babbling like a fool while pretending to be a waiter. She asks him for more bread and he just launches into a grand apology using "bread" as an analogy for their relationship.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: The movie begins with SpongeBob exuberantly thanking Mr. Krabs in front of an enormous crowd for making him the manager of the new Krusty Krab, entirely oblivious to the fact that Mr. Krabs named "Squidward" and there's a giant poster of Squidward's face unrolling behind them.
  • Turning Red: The movie is riddled with hilarious and cringe-inducing moments that reflect the life of a pre-teen middle schooler going through puberty. One notable example (after Mei first transforms into a red panda and is hiding out in the bathroom) is Ming mistakenly thinking that Mei had her first period and awkwardly having The Talk with her. There's also the scene where Ming finds Mei's drawings of Devon, assumes that he's a child molester, and takes Mei with her to the convenience store where he works where she verbally assaults Devon and shows him (and the rest of the store) Mei's drawings. However, both of these pale in comparison to Mei's entire class seeing Ming get into a confrontation with their school's security guard...and then yelling that Mei forgot her sanitary pads.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future does this with Lorraine's crush on Marty. She doesn't know that he's her son from the future, but Marty and the audience do.
  • Being There is about a mentally handicapped gardener named Chance whose quiet, polite demeanor is mistaken for intellect by those around him, including a billionaire investor and the President of the United States. In scene after scene, it seems that the reality of Chance's true identity and nature is about to (finally) become apparent to those who respect and admire him. However, thanks to Chance's good luck and the other characters' self-deception, the big reveal never happens.
  • Bridesmaids: when the main character is getting the attention of a cop who doesn't want to acknowledge her, among numerous other examples.
  • The King of Comedy is about Rupert and Masha, two delusional and socially awkward individuals stalking a celebrity late night talk show host. They never let reality get in the way of their obsession, with unpleasant if darkly comedic results.
  • Similarly, There's Something About Mary fits the bill as well, especially the infamous zipper scene.
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall as it is a raunchy comedy produced by Judd Apatow has many moments that happen to the male lead. Like the scene where he finds out his girlfriend is breaking up with him and to makes things worse he is naked. The dialogue in the film also counts like all the things that come out of Aldous Snow"s mouth like the dinner scene.
  • Death at a Funeral. Alan Tudyk at a funeral + acid - clothing = cringe comedy gold.
  • Frances Ha is fairly low-key Cringe Comedy, but much of the film's humour nevertheless consists of this. The main character enacts her eccentricities in inappropriate situations, e.g. by trying to inaugurate someone as a new BFF by one-sidedly play-fighting with her. In general, Frances' failure to fit in with the adult world is a source of much of the film's comedy.
  • Any Sacha Baron Cohen film lives on this trope. They have the added bonus that most of the "characters" are real people who don't know they're dealing with an actor, and are therefore cringing even more than we are. First made famous by Borat, where the titular character does things like ask a car dealer whether a car is good for running over Jews, sings the lyrics to his national anthem to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner (at a rodeo!), and defecates in the river in public view.
  • Ron Burgundy in the Anchorman series. He cannot shut up to save his life, no matter how awkward the atmosphere gets while he's talking.
  • Spider-Man:
  • American Pie: effectively all episodes involving Jim Levestein. The first movie has him prematurely ejaculating in front of a hot exchange student broadcast all over the internet.
  • Office Space is a slightly more realistic example. The constant misanthropic, un-PC humor, which would be farcical in a less sober film, rings surprisingly true here.
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has a real gem: Rigg Thompson (Michael Keaton) having to walk around an entire city block in nothing but his white underpants because he got locked out of the theater's back door and his bathrobe got stuck in the doorway. And that block happens to back right up to Times Square at its busiest hour. And somebody records the Times Square part on a videophone. And posts it. And it trends immediately.
  • Much of the beginning of Step Brothers, where Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play a pair of middle-aged Man Children. Particularly the moment where they burst into their parents' bedroom and ask for permission to build a bunk bed.
  • Sunshine Cleaning features some of this, since the protagonists are sisters who clean up after murders and crime scenes. The famous scene involves one of them falling face-first onto a mattress that someone had died on.
  • Miss Congeniality has several scenes where the protagonist - the most uncouth and Tomboyish FBI agent imaginable - has to impersonate a pageant queen.
  • A Few Best Men has David invite his three best friends to Australia for his wedding. A combination of bad luck, personality traits, and drugs leads to them doing everything from delivering a racist tirade about Australia's history as a penal colony as the best man speech, sending a huge flower ball rolling through the service, crushing the guests and tables below it, luring a violent drug dealer onto the premises where he proceeds to shoot up the location, and stealing the bride's father's lucky sheep and dressing it up in lingerie.
  • Avengers: Endgame has a few examples for the audience (such as Iron Man accidentally teaching his daughter how to swear) and one that is mostly for the characters: as Captain America, Ant-Man, Iron Man and the Hulk return to the events of The Avengers, they look stupefied once they see how the "Savage Hulk" of 2012 is a stark contrast to the controlled "Smart Hulk" that time-traveled, as the Hulk violently jumps up-and-down on a car like a broken trampoline screaming like a five-year-old after using it to smash a Chitauri to death, leading the future Banner to do a humiliated Facepalm.
  • You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah: Much of the film's humor relies on the awkwardness inherent to being thirteen.

  • The Many Horrors Of Being A Tokyo Waitress is almost entirely this, from Jonas getting a job as a transvestite hostess at a gay bar, to his interactions with his girlfriend's roommate. While drunk, he tries to show a chikan how to properly molest train-passengers. Peak cringe is reached in the Ms. Hibiki scenes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brittas Empire: A fair amount of the humour of the show is watching the disastrous consequences that come from Gordon Brittas' poor social and management skills. A stand-out example comes from "Mums and Dads", which ends with Brittas playing a hilariously disastrous rendition of "Knock Three Times" that cringes out the audience watching.
  • Charlie Runkle's role on Californication. Examples include his masturbation at work habit becoming known through a viral video and was taken to a new low (or high perhaps) with his season 6 plot about pretending to be gay to sign a client.
  • Colin's Sandwich the embarrassment came partly from Colin's horrible bad luck and partly from his reactions to it which invariably made things worse.
  • Much of the humor of The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow's short-lived HBO Sitcom, is this. It's used to show Valerie as so desperate to get herself back in the spotlight that she'll do anything for fame.
  • An episode of Community when Jack Black tries to join the study group. His usual antics lend this to his scenes.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend can be like this at times, especially when Rebecca is trying to get Josh (or other people) to like her. The worst was during "I'm Going to the Beach With Josh and His Friends!" when she did an entire strip dance on a party bus.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm is all about Larry David (or rather, his Author Avatar) ending up in embarrassing situations. This is occasionally due to bad luck, but more often than not it's because of Larry's Jerkass tendencies.
  • The Ted and Ralph sketches from The Fast Show. Ralph is the socially awkward upper-class proprietor of an English estate, while Ted is an elderly Irish man who tends to the estate's gardens. Ralph is in love with Ted. Hilarity Ensues.
    "I'll get me coat."
  • Everybody Loves Raymond dabbled in this from time to time, like in the episode where Ray sat with his daughter on the school bus, and in another where Marie faxed a letter to someone interviewing Robert for a job. The crowning example though, is the episode "The Faux Pas," where Ray accidentally embarrasses a young boy, by unintentionally insulting his father's occupation. The family's attempts to fix the problem, only result in the situation only getting worse and more humiliating.
  • Extras is particularly brutal with this. When one woman on the set brings her sister (who has Cerebral Palsy) to the set, Andy makes a joke that she looks drunk and "mental", right in front of her sister. He manages to save this one, though. There are other scenes that are much, much worse.
  • Fawlty Towers: Creator John Cleese has said in interviews how he felt like a little god, looming over these characters and thinking up of new ways of making them suffer. Of course, the character who suffered the most was always his own.
  • Sometimes happened on Father Ted, most notably in Season 1.
  • Most episodes of Frasier run on this trope, often due to the Snowball Lie or Mistaken for Index exploding out of proportion, and the characters continuously digging themselves deeper. Hell, one episode even had Frasier obliviously dating a woman who looks like his mother and they milked the Oedipal humor for all it's awkwardness.
  • Freaks and Geeks has a goodly amount of this. Some of the situations the characters find themselves in include: showing up to school in a leisure suit, streaking through the school, getting egged on Halloween by your own sister, running over the shy Jesus freak's dog, getting "drunk" and emotionally wrecked on non-alcoholic beer and getting dumped by proxy by your girlfriend's mom. And nobody is spared.
  • Friends dabbled in this from time to time, usually at Ross's expense.
  • Girls has never been a series to shy away from cringe humor, but Marnie's cover of Kanye West's "Stronger" is one of the most uncomfortable points of comedy in the series. All the more so due to the fact that she's completely unaware of what a complete ass she's made of herself.
  • A episode of House had Chase making a Your Mom joke to Foreman as a witty comeback. Some fans couldn't even watch the ensuing train wreck.
  • Several episodes of How I Met Your Mother tend to fall on this kind of comedy. It usually happens to Barney due to his attempt to make his pick-up techniques work or when Ted or Robin go on a date.
  • Impractical Jokers has a lot of this. Half of the show is the guys laughing at what they've come up with, and their victim's reaction to what he has to do, which are mostly funny. When they are actually going through with it, however, awkwardness galore.
  • The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret relies on how Todd tries to bluff his way through the world when transferred to London, and his attempts to dig himself out of trouble.
  • The Inbetweeners makes you cringe very often. Even in the first episode, where Will doesn't have ID in a pub surrounded by nearly his whole school year. He goes on a rant about how everyone in the pub is under-aged, and gets them all kicked out.
  • The IT Crowd: One episode has Roy go underneath a woman's desk to plug in her computer. She comes back to sit at her desk and he ends up trapped since he couldn't possibly get out without looking like a pervert.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is all about this trope. Given how the main characters are a group of Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists who more or less ruin everything they touch, it's not hard to see why. The best examples are episodes like "The Nightman Cometh", "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties", "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops"
  • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Sosuke Esumi's speech about heroism to Machalcon in an attempt to guilt-trip him into helping the Gokaigers in #36 very neatly falls into this after it becomes obvious what it's hinging on, followed by everyone in the Gokai Galleon's crow's nest latching onto Sosuke and audibly protesting over him as Sosuke's speech only infuriates Machalcon even more.
  • The Last Man on Earth has Phil constantly thrashing around socially and failing in the most humiliating way(s) possible in his every scheme to escape Carol or have sex with Melissa/Gail/Erica.
  • Malcolm in the Middle. One famous example is Malcolm flipping out in front of a bunch of his friends and the girl he likes at his mother who was the 'chaperone' for them at a bowling alley, because he sucks at the game. He walks down the lane to the pins, throws it and still misses.
  • The Michael J. Fox Show, though possibly unintentionally. One notable example is Mike's neighbor saying that he "doesn't know what it's like to struggle" as Mike is in the background, struggling to open a jar that his 10 year old opens with ease.
  • Modern Family definitely has its cringe-inducing moments, although it's not built around that type of humor exclusively.
  • Most iterations of The Office feature this type of humor, as the show is meant to portray an otherwise-mundane office environment where the inhabitants attempt to liven things up (usually for the camera) only for it to go very poorly. Examples from the most famous versions of the series include:
  • Parks and Recreation is usually upbeat, but the moment where Leslie (along with several members of her team) walks out onto an ice skating rink, only to find her red carpet isn't long enough is this. It also involves a three legged dog that starts to pee on Ron, everyone slipping and falling, and then when she gets to the stage, it has no stairs. As this happens, the song "Get on your feet" by Gloria Estefan starts and repeats several times.
  • Peep Show is this when it's not being a Black Comedy.
  • Quite a bit of the humour of Please Like Me comes from people (usually Josh) being unintentionally insensitive or getting into embarrassing situations because of their bad choices.
  • Quantum Leap, whenever Sam jumps into the middle of an inopportune situation. Cue "oooooh boy".
  • As the series Sabrina the Teenage Witch progressed, the main source of humour of the show seems to shift to this, with Sabrina embarrassing herself for various reasons in front of everybody who isn't aware she is a witch – such as her boyfriends Josh and Aaron, roommates Roxie, Morgan and Miles, teachers and schoolmates in the college, or her co-workers at the Scorch Magazine.
  • Saturday Night Live, especially from the 1990s to now (the '70s and '80s episodes often drift in and out of cringe comedy). Some examples include: the "Canteen Boy Gets Molested" sketch, a lot of the sketches based on real world awkward situations, and, of course, this.
  • Schitt's Creek: Given that it was co-created and stars Eugene Levy, the show often relies on cringe humor as the Roses navigate life in a small, rural town. This can include when patriarch Johnny puts his foot in his mouth, when Moira performs "The Number" or when Alexis auditions for the town's community theatre. A noteworthy episode features adult David wetting the bed and the video ending up shared many times on the internet and with several townspeople, although David seemingly never learns about that part.
  • The Stargate Atlantis episode "Duet" has Rodney McKay on a dinner date. Doesn't sound so bad, except: a) Rodney is naturally awkward in social situations, especially when there is a woman involved; and b) Rodney has a female consciousness in his head at this point, giving him dating advice in a voice only he can hear.
  • Succession does this a lot, mainly when one of the Roys (particularly Connor or Roman) says something completely inappropriate to the situation apropos of nothing whatsoever.
  • Superman: For a supposedly serious show, Smallville indulges in this. For whatever reason, about half of them are Clark's painfully awkward interactions with women, and half of those are with Chloe.
  • An iron stomach is required to get through an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! without looking away in embarrassment.
  • A large part of the appeal of Taskmaster is seeing how badly the contestants screw up while trying to perform the tasks. A specifically invoked example is the prize task from the Champion of Champions special, which was to bring in the most cringeworthy/embarrassing item. The winner brought in a clip of himself giving an interview on a political talk show that he had clearly not prepared for.
  • The Tom Green Show; Blending Black Comedy and Surreal Humor, Tom would go out of his way to create the most embarrassing, and often disturbing, situations possible for his sidekick Glenn Humplik, random people on the street, audience members, and even his own parents. Examples including airbrushing two very Not Safe for Work lesbians on the hood of his dad's car, and hiding an elaborate contraption under his lab coat while claiming that he was converting grape juice to pee...on a public bench.
  • Trollied has a bit of this, most notably Julie's job interview.
  • While not necessarily a comedy, Twin Peaks sometimes dives into this during the show's more awkward moments.
  • Yellowjackets: In the Season 1 finale, adult Allie at the class reunion. She presents a photo montage of the 1996 WHS Yellowjackets soccer team and blathers on about healing and "their" trauma bond. Never mind that she was a poor player and that due to her injury, she was not on the plane with her teammates when it crashed and has no idea about the ordeal they went through.
  • Ziwe, a pseudo-"talk show" in which celebrities are confronted (sometimes more earnestly than others) about their problematic behavior, thrives on mining the insecurity and white fragility of its guests for hilariously awkward cringiness.

  • The main point of all those "Tell Your Most Embarrassing Moment" sections in every teenage girl's magazine ever.
  • Referenced in relation to Sarah Palin 's Katie Couric interview in the book Going Rogue.

  • Frootch: Most of the humor is related to Sarah's unsuccessful jokes and some of her remarks which could leave quite a Beat during a party. Other times, it's about how she gets herself in ridiculous situations.

  • The Opie & Anthony Show: Everything from stomping on a homeless man's cake to playing laugh tracks behind a caller mentioning the death of a relative. They even embraced the term "Cringe Radio" for their type of show.

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 5 Royal, while at a summer festival, Ryuji makes rather cringey comments to a news team on-camera in the hopes that they won't use the footage. Yusuke's response to Ryuji after this, where he says that his behavior was "truly cringeworthy". A later text from Mishima shows that Ryuji's plan failed.

    Visual Novels 
  • The protagonist of Daughter for Dessert wakes up from a sexual dream, late for work and sporting morning wood. Amanda is the one who wakes him up. Among the choices for what that thing sticking out of his sheets is are his car keys, a banana, and a dildo.
    Amanda: I'll choose to believe that.
  • The protagonist of Double Homework once finds Henry working enthusiastically with Dennis to create a site where the protagonist and Henry will do "boy-boy stuff" together. To make matters worse, Amy and Ms. Walsh both buy memberships.
  • In Melody, the protagonist and title character make a series of accidental double entendres at Amy's birthday dinner. It is particularly awkward if Arnold is there, not least when he storms off to the bar in a huff.
  • Shiny Days has some truly awkward comical moments from time to time, such as Makoto sleeping with Mai and then her daughter coming home early with Makoto not realizing that Mai is even old enough to have a daughter who is not only his age, but one of his friends and someone he has a crush on. Mai's frantic efforts barely keep Setsuna from noticing, but the sheer horrible possibilities of this scene are quite obvious.
  • Steins;Gate has this as its main source of humour during the first half, particularly due to the main character, Okabe Rintaro, being a massive chuuni and behaving ten years younger than you'd expect a college student his age to act.

    Web Animation 
  • The MLP fan video Elements of Cringe obviously has its moments. Like Twilight trying to blast her way out of a glass box, only for it to ricochet and knock her out.
  • hololive: Koseki Bijou makes this one of the main sources of comedy on her streams, happily doing or saying things that make her viewers or other streamers uncomfortable and revelling in it. Perhaps best exemplified by her "Gyatt for Nerizzler" song, which when played in front of the rest of Hololive caused the English-speaking ones to want to die.
    Hakos Baelz: Oh God... I'm experiencing second-hand embarrassment!

    Web Comics 
  • Asperchu becomes this once you realize that CWC becomes a rampaging self-parody when he's turned into a fictional drawing, with literally no exaggeration whatsoever.
  • El Goonish Shive, despite providing the page quote, averts this in the end. The party discussed turns out to be one big heartwarming scene in the end.
  • This story from Hyperbole and a Half becomes this trope the closer to the end you get, until it becomes full-blown embarrassing.
  • Pathetic Geek Stories runs on it, as it's based on real life embarrassing stories sent in by readers.
  • Much of the humor in Whomp! is centered around the main character Ronnie and his debilitating social awkwardness, as indicated here.

  • Cringe Channel, to be found here, aggregates unintentional cringe comedy from all corners of the internet. Even though this is a definite case of laughing at the given subject in almost all instances, certain postings and many commentators take a more aggressive and transparently mean-spirited approach towards their subjects.
  • The /r/cringe subreddit is almost identical, right down to the accusations of bullying.
  • Know Your Meme has a meme and image gallery called "Cringeworthy" that collected various instances of embarrassing and stupid things, but the addition of new images was locked after people started using it for Complaining About Shows You Don't Like (by adding images that were only the logo of things they disliked) and spamming the gallery with several parodies of other images (of note are the many, many parodies of a poor drawing of The Rake saying "Time to killed people!" and of some Sonic Original Characters called Jake and Maribelle. While the original images were cringeworthy, the parodies were not)
  • There's no shortage of horror stories in which kids, who often completely lack a filter for any of their words or deeds, embarrass the living hell out of their parents. Of course, there is now a good portion of the Internet devoted to exchanging these stories, such as this forum.

    Web Videos 
  • While Channel Awesome doesn't usually have this, The Nostalgia Chick's first "Thanks for the Feedback" — where she goes on a date with the Critic — is horrifying in awkwardness.
  • Daxflame's videos tend to evoke cringing in viewers through his recounts of awkward social interactions and his total obliviousness to his own social insensitivities.
  • Game Grumps can delve into this when talking about Dan's past, especially dating.
  • Any of Vat19's videos involving Confection Perfection are examples of this.
  • Many a YouTuber has done a "'Try Not to Cringe' Challenge" video, in which he/she tries to not react to cringe-worthy video clips that are usually sent in by their subscribers. The humor largely comes from their reactions, which usually end up with a lot of cringing or worse.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time often goes here — most notably in "Too Young", with Finn and Princess Bubblegum's more painful (literally causing physical pain) ways of pranking Lemongrab. Two of the pranks weren't pranks so much as they were humorous physical assaults. One involved punching LG in the belly and pushing him onto the floor. The other involved lacing his food with burning-hot chemicals and causing him to fall out of a window. It's hilarious.
    Peppermint Butler: He's eating the dirt! Spice it now!
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Gi", Gumball and Darwin wear their karate uniforms to school and get soundly mocked by their peers (the duo's nickname is the "Karate Weiners") when they start doing low-grade karate in front of everyone, much to their obliviousness. Nicole is the "cringe-ee" here, as she keeps trying to discourage them without outright saying they're making fools of themselves, just like what happened to Richard when he went to school wearing a superhero cape. At the end Gumball gets a hard dose of reality when he realizes what's really going on, which is a little sad (although the episode ends on a heartwarming moment right afterwards).
    • The entirety of "The Hug", in which Gumball hugs a complete stranger at school, Hot Dog Guy, just to be unpredictable. They keep meeting each other afterwards and neither of them have any idea how to react to each other. Special mention goes to the scene when Gumball tries to get away from the Hot Dog Guy during their sleepover in the tent.
    • In the aptly-named Sequel Episode, "The Awkwardness", Gumball runs into Hot Dog Guy again when both of them are on the way to the store and their memories of "The Hug" come flooding right back.
    • In "The Cringe", Gumball and Hot Dog Guy plot to get rid of their cringe around each other to only make things worse. One notable scene has them go on a parody of Britain's Got Talent; their audition is such a disaster that when they watch it, they cringe so hard that they end up in the hospital.
    • A moment of startlingly dark comedy in the episode "The Job", wherein Gumball and Darwin deliver a pizza to a married couple of sentient pizza-people, who react as though it were a brand-new baby. Then Gumball drops the "baby" cheese-down on the porch steps. Then Darwin slips on it as they flee the scene.
  • As Told by Ginger: In one infamous episode, Ginger confesses that she has a crush on her teacher, who is also her quiz team coach and the host of an upcoming school quiz competition that will be televised on public access. One of her best friends convinces her that the teacher loves her back and that she should ask him out. She agrees to do so, but has trouble finding the right moment. The temptation distracts her for the entire competition until she finally asks him out on a movie date during a question... on stage... in front of an entire audience... and on local TV. To add salt to the wound, the competing team answers the next and final question and wins the game by one point.
    Lois: You're not the first to make a fool of yourself over a teacher. You're just the first to do it on public access.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: A lot of the show's humor comes from the embarrassingly idiotic things the titular duo say and do. Of course, Beavis and Butthead themselves lack any self-awareness and are shameless perverts who will do anything in order to score.
  • Drawn Together: You can count the amount of jokes that aren't Refuge in Audacity, based on racial stereotypes, or related to bodily functions on one hand. The entire show is incredibly divisive because depending on who you ask it is either hilarious or an Animated Shock Comedy-style adult comedy that relies way too much on trying to be offensive on purpose and is disinterested in exploring its premise for anything deeper. Or you might find people who find it hilarious precisely because it doesn't try to be much more than over-the-top offensive.
  • Family Guy goes into this all the time. One of the most infamous examples is the Cutaway Gag "Horton Hears Domestic Violence In The Next Apartment And Doesn't Call 911."
  • The Flintstones does a lot of this. One incident involves Wilma being pregnant with Pebbles and Fred has to be certain he can get her to the hospital in time, so he enlists Barney to help him. She has contractions so they rush her to the hospital, more-or-less in a panic. They arrive at the hospital, Barney rushes Wilma through the revolving door so fast it spins Fred out of the building, and across the street through the revolving door of another building, which Fred does not realize isn't the hospital, but a hotel. Hilarity Ensues when Fred, wanting to know where in the hospital Wilma is, innocently says to the desk clerk, "I'm looking for my wife. She just came in here with my best friend."
  • Harley Quinn: Classic villain Clayface is portrayed in this show as described exactly in the trope description above — a character who can't act to save his life (or anyone else's) despite being able to physically become anyone, yet insists on being the team's "Master of Disguise". The show makes other frequent use of cringe comedy, including Bruce Wayne's desperately clingy relationship with Selina Kyle, and Dr. Psycho's inability to stop using a word considered beyond the pale even by the cheerfully depraved psychotic murderers of Gotham.
  • King of the Hill: Hank once told his boss Mr. Strickland that he loves him... straight to his face... in front of a crowd.
  • The Life & Times of Tim somehow succeeds in making every second fit this trope.
  • Most of Don Hertzfeldt's works are dark comedies, or surreal dramedies. One film, however, is "Lily and Jim", telling the story of a blind date from the perspective of both people. It is complete Cringe Comedy.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic occasionally delves into this:
    • "A Friend in Deed" is this to people who have had to deal with an annoying hanger-on, or realized too late that they were that hanger-on — or both. Same with "Party of One", with an added dose of social anxiety. Most Pinkie Pie episodes have at least a little of this.
    • In "Maud Pie", Pinkie's sister visits town and the cast has a horrendously difficult time attempting to get to know her better due to her extreme stoicism.
    • Perhaps the most extreme example is from "Equestria Games", where Spike interrupts a medal ceremony to insist on singing the winning team's anthem. Only after Shining Armor announces this to the crowd does Spike realize that Cloudsdale (not Ponyville) won the gold for that particular event. Spike doesn't know any of the words to Cloudsdale's anthem. As he ad-libs, the camera cuts multiple times to the audience, who are just as embarrassed as Spike is. One unicorn even yanks his top hat down to cover his entire head. Only Pinkie Pie is completely oblivious to how bad it is.
    • Episode "Make New Friends but Keep Discord" has Discord trying, and epically failing, to do stand-up comedy. Even a comment from Maud of all ponies gets a bigger laugh than him.
      Discord: [after a failed knock-knock joke] It's the most basic of jokes!
      Maud: You're the most basic of jokes.
    • "Newbie Dash" is full of this. First, Rainbow Dash makes a bad first impression on her first day as an official member of the Wonderbolts, earning her the Embarrassing Nickname "Rainbow Crash". Then she goes through increasingly awkward attempts to erase that bad first impression by impersonating her friends.
  • Regular Show: Skips' cousin Quips is a walking example of this, with his dialogue consisting primarily of horrible jokes that only he finds funny.
  • The Simpsons has the outrageously funny scene where Principal Skinner treats Superintendent Chalmers to dinner in the episode "22 Short Films About Springfield".
  • Older South Park episodes, and some newer ones rely on this heavily. Lampshaded in "Funnybot", where the title character even uses "Awkward!" as his catchphrase. The boys have to stop him from telling the "Last Joke Ever," in which he destroys the entire human race because it's the most awkward thing possible. Appropriately enough, Funnybot was designed by the gallows-humor-obsessed Germans.
  • The Venture Bros. utilizes this several times a season, mostly with the main character Rusty Venture, though other characters are also occasionally subject to this trope.

Alternative Title(s): Refuge In Awkwardity


Butt Dial

Mordecai's embarrassing voicemail being played to Margaret is played for as much awkward comedy at Modercai's expense as possible, complete with Pops cringing and the Phone Guardians dancing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / CringeComedy

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