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Do Not Adjust Your Set

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"Ah, ah, ah... Don't touch that remote. I know it's heartbreaking to have your favorite shows preempted, but look what you're getting instead: Me! And a whole truckload of mindless violence and wanton property damage — everything that makes TV great! So stay tuned — you won't believe your eyes..."

So you're a Diabolical Mastermind. You have your secret base, your evil orbital Death Ray, your right-hand man, your henchmen, and you're poised to Take Over the World. But how do you let the World know that you're ready? A few emails to the world leaders? A letter to the tabloid press? Postcards? Well, why bother going to all that trouble when you could simply take over every television channel and network in the world?

Yes, no matter what sort of evil scheme he has planned, or how well funded his operation is, since Everything Is Online, any Evil Genius worth his salt can just flick a switch, and his image will instantly be transmitted to every TV set in the world, so that he can tell everybody about how all their base are belong to him. No explanation is ever given for how he does this, it's just assumed to be something that every supervillain can do automatically. The device is probably given to them for free upon graduation from Evil Academy (along with a pool of sharks and a pile of kryptonite).

This completeness of his takeover of the airwaves will almost certainly be shown on screen with a shot of an electrical store with a bank of TVs in its window, all showing different channels, but then all of them winking out one by one to be replaced by the villain's smug face. A shot of the large screen overlooking Times Square in New York City is also common.

Alternatively, it could be demonstrated with a montage of different people around the world watching different channels, which are then replaced by the evil transmission. If played for laughs, most people will probably ignore the message itself and bang the top of the TV set, hoping to get their programmes back. Of course, this won't work. More blatant examples may attempt a rapid change of channel, only to constantly reveal the same picture. The astonished phrase "He's On Every Station!" will likely be uttered at this point while technicians at the TV stations are shown completely baffled at how the villain has managed to hijack the broadcast. The villain's first act of mildly-annoying evil is complete. Now it's time to tell the world what else he has planned.

The actual speech usually comes in one of three flavors:

  1. It could be a simple announcement that the villain is their new leader, and that everyone will obey him. If this is the case, then the actual plan itself will be very quick and easy, and will usually begin as soon as the transmission has put across the vital information (he wouldn't want to spoil the surprise by putting it into operation before people have been suitably shocked by his announcement) and will be complete by the time the transmission ends. The transition will be seamless, and the villain now rules the world. It will then be up to the Heroes to wrest power back from him.
  2. It could be an Ultimatum — the villain has a superweapon poised to devastate the Earth (or at least its major cities). He wants something. Maybe he doesn't have a plan to actually take over the world, and is threatening to destroy it unless it is handed to him on a plate. Maybe he wants money (although if this is the case he will usually just transmit directly to the UN). Maybe he wants a piece of technology that somebody else has. Maybe he just wants the Hero's head brought to him. Whatever he wants, he is willing to destroy Civilization unless he gets it, or unless the Heroes can stop him.
  3. He might just be giving a friendly warning — he's going to destroy the world in 12 hours. In this case, he's simply insane. He doesn't want anything; he's just destroying the world on a whim, and wants you all to know it so he can enjoy laughing at your terror. If this is the case, he will literally do it — once he mentions the term "destroy the world", everybody watching (apart from the Heroes, of course) will begin screaming, and we will be treated to a montage of various rooms with screaming people running around, and the TV set with just the villain laughing on it in the background. Fortunately, his desire to witness the world's panic gives the Heroes plenty of time to foil his evil plans.

For extra spice, comedic versions (especially in animated shows) will have the broadcast fall victim to any number of production errors and accidents, for example faulty cue-cards, fluffed lines, readings from a grocery list or microphone failures.

Really nasty villains may combine this with a Brown Note. It may also involve presenting to a Captive Audience.

In more recent examples, the message may be played on computer and cell phone screens as well. It is unclear how this works for dial-up users.

Occasionally, this trope can also apply to situations where the transmitter is simply knocked out of commission.

Hijacking an Emergency Broadcast system and using it to convey a message can easily justify this trope since the system is meant to interrupt normal programming for critical messages. This does make way for other questions like "How did he get into the Emergency Alert System?"

The Real Life term for this is broadcast signal intrusion.

See also News Monopoly, Huge Holographic Head,, We Interrupt This Program, and Laser-Guided Broadcast.

Disambiguation note: The phrase "Do Not Adjust Your Set" is derived from an on-screen technical difficulties caption. It was later used in Britain as the title of a pre-Monty Python's Flying Circus show starring Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, David Jason and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, among others.


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  • Ads for Hulu, a video-on-demand service, featured celebrities' cheerful claims that they are aliens, and are using methods to render human brains both inert and palatable.
  • An ad for Progressive auto insurance has the spokeswoman, Flo, taking over all TV and radio stations to make an announcement about car insurance.
    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Frontier:
    • Lucemon broadcasts the message "You will choose to follow me or be destroyed" on every computer, TV, cell phone, etc. screen in Tokyo upon arriving in the human world. However, being from Cyberspace, his being able to do this is (internally) plausible so long as Everything Is Online. At the end of the episode, his pummeling of the heroes is replaced by the message appearing on your own TV screen.
    • It also happens in the season 1 movie, Our War Games. The movie's villain, Diabolomon, is trying to destroy the world by screwing with every piece of technology imaginable. Whilst this is happening, every computer in the world recieves a broadcast of his hacking fest and the main character's attempts to fight him.
  • In the Read or Die OVA, once the I-Jin underwater fortress surfaces, their leader hijacks all available transmissions to give the world a long speech on just how doomed they are, right before he reveals The Mole.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Done in the original Dragon Ball by Piccolo Sr. to inform the world that he's the new king now (oh, and he's gonna annihilate one country per year. Just for laughs), although he apparently uses the (former) king's equipment for this.
    • In Dragon Ball Z, Cell takes over the main (and apparently only) TV station to announce the Cell Games. He ascends straight through the floors of several different shows before interrupting a news anchor, with the heroes changing channels to keep up.
    • Babidi, on the other hand, uses world wide telepathy to demand the handing over of the heroes. Just as efficient, plus the additional trick of communicating with and/or killing off your viewers on the spot.
  • Mazinger (trilogy):
    • Mazinger Z villains did this as soon as the SECOND episode, when Baron Ashura announced the world belonged to Dr. Hell henceforth and all who opposed to him (i. e.: Mazinger-Z and the Photonic Research Institute) would be destroyed. Since then it was often employed by Dr. Hell and Baron Ashura to threaten, make demands, blackmail the Japanese Government, spreading lies and misinformation about the heroes and -successfully- scare people away in making their biding.
    • In Great Mazinger, Great Marshall Of Hell was the only Mykene commander broadcast his demands by TV, showing Dr. Hell did not lose that custom even after dying and being brought back to life.
    • On the other hand, UFO Robo Grendizer villains barely did it.
  • Occurs in the Sonic Adventure 2 adaptation arc of Sonic X; see the Video Games section for the full rundown.
    • Eggman also does this regularly in the same show outside of that arc. Apparently his grandfather's talents rubbed off...
  • Death Note has a (somewhat) heroic use of this when L takes over the airwaves of Japan's Kanto region (but pretends to be doing a worldwide broadcast) and broadcasts his challenge to Kira. The Japanese national police, however, are responsible for actually taking over the airwaves.
    • Near uses this as well in the one-shot comic set three years later. He mocks the new Kira and tells him that he is a disgrace to the original one, and said Kira kills himself.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has two. The first one has the Beastmen broadcasting a message to all the underground villages warning the Humans about their imminent destruction. Since most of the settlements didn't actually have the requisite technology, they went to the trouble of installing giant TVs in several locations. Only problem is, they left the cameras running while Simon massively kicked their asses, thus giving hope and solidarity to the huddled masses. Later, the Anti-Spirals represented by post-Time Skip Nia take over the airwaves and announce their plans for Absolute Extermination.
  • The Order of The Black Knights from Code Geass has Diethard Reid, someone you may want to call a "media hacker". In one episode of the second season, he singlehandedly hacks into the broadcasting system of the Chinese Federation, which spans all the way from China to Pakistan, South East Asia included, and successfully relays an Engineered Public Confession from the antagonist-of-the-week. He has been doing this for so long under the Order that he is practically the chief of propaganda for the Order.
    • And while this is one of Zero's favorite tools to freak out the Britannian populace and gain public support with bold gestures, it's rather ironic that a recent episode had none other than the Emperor himself pull this on Zero's broadcast, to point out that Zero's essentially just sent the entire world into war by forming the United Federation of Nations, and to accept his implied challenge, as well as deliver a rousing "All Hail Britannia!" that sets off a Moment of Awesome as we're shown a back-and-forth screen cut of the Britannian army in Japan chanting "ALL HAIL BRITANNIA! ALL HAIL BRITANNIA! ALL HAIL BRITANNIA!" and the Black Knights on Horai Island chanting "LONG LIVE JAPAN! LONG LIVE JAPAN! LONG LIVE JAPAN!"
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
    • Quinze and White Fang did this three times, the latter two with Zechs, when he declared war on Earth and when he fired Libra's main cannon at a remote place on Earth.
    • Lady Une and Lucrezia Noin broadcasted Heero and Zechs's final duel to all TV sets on Earth and in space to show people that War Is Hell.
    • In Endless Waltz, Relena Darlian did this, encouraging the Earth citizens to stand up to the Mariemaia Army, as did Mariemaia Khushrenada earlier, when she declared war on the Earth Sphere Unified Nation.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00's Aeolia Schenberg pulled one 200 years after his death.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny does it quite interestingly. After ZAFT's abortive invasion of ORB, Cagalli sends out a message to ZAFT Supreme Chairman Durandal over his decision to invade ORB to go after Lord Djbril, especially after his revelation with Logos. This is interrupted by Meer Campbell, using her disguise as Lacus Clyne to try to rally everyone against ORB again. However, this angers the real Lacus enough that she goes over to where Cagalli was making her speech, retake their airwaves and make her first public appearance in three years to decry everyone.
    • Durandal also did it, but he apologizes for doing so.
  • Sailor Moon: Galaxia does something like this to tell people of the Earth that they all are going to die, right before the Senshi have their final battle against her. This may also be because of the fact that her base is at a TV station and her minions use the disguise of working for "Ginga TV" when they're searching for Star Seeds.
  • In Lupin III: Dead or Alive, General Headhunter first sees Pannish when he takes over the national broadcast to announce to the country that he has returned, and that Headhunter had falsely taken control of the kingdom.
    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: In the first episode, Adu Du tries to introduce himself and announce his demands by hijacking the TV signal. Comically, nobody listens because it was mistaken for a TV show, and BoBoiBoy has no problem changing the channel.
    Comic Books 
  • All-New Wolverine #8: S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill wants to tap X-23 for a mission. Laura wants nothing to do with her. So when Maria calls her, Laura refuses to answer her phone. So Hill picks up for her. Laura then warns Gabby not to say anything. So Hill puts Laura's phone on speaker.
    Laura: Can she do that?
    Hill: Yes, I can do that.
  • Superman:
    • The Death of Superman (1961): After murdering Superman, Lex Luthor hacks all radio channels in the world to gloat.
    • The Leper from Krypton: After being informed that he has gotten Superman infected successfully, Lex Luthor hacks every tv channel in the country to announce he has finally destroyed Superman. Remarkably, he does this while locked up in prison.
      Lex Luthor: "Attention! This is Luthor speaking from Metropolis Prison via an electronic thought-projector which has cut into the transmission frequency of your tv hookup! I have an important announcement! I've just achieved the ultimate triumph of my criminal career!"
  • The Joker does this in The Batman Adventures #3: hijacking Gotham City's airwaves each night to broadcast himself torturing a different member of Gotham's law enforcement community.
    The Joker: Well, now there's show for you! Joker TV! Coming to you live at midnight, every night of the week. And no need to memorize pesky channel numbers; I'm on all of 'em! Thanks to technology donated by Penguin and Catwoman, Joker TV not only replaces those boring network broadcasts but it it's signal is impossible to trace, insuring you, the viewers, top-quality entertainment free from censorious authorities.
  • Shazam!: Pre-television example. The first plot hatched by Captain Marvel's nemesis Doctor Sivana in The Golden Age of Comic Books was a scheme to take over all the world's radio stations to silence them forever.
  • Done in a horrifying manner in Final Crisis. After Darkseid finally obtains the Anti-Life Equation—a mathematical proof of the futility of living and hope—he takes over every single form of broadcasting on the entire planet, including the Internet, television, radio, and cell phones, to spread its power. Anyone who hears, sees, or is generally near the Equation, including superhumans, are immediately brainwashed by it, becoming Darkseid's mindless, hopeless slaves. How many is "anyone?" Three billion.
  • The Joker loves this trope. For all his most grandiose crimes, he loves to have an audience to strike fear into. In the days before widespread televisions, he used radio broadcasts, but even those got changed to TVs in reimaginings. In fact, he does this shtick in his very first story in the comics where he took control of a radio broadcast to deliver his death threats, which makes this Older Than They Think.
    • The retelling of the Joker and Batman's first meeting (The Man Who Laughs) has him using his Joker Venom on a reporter live on the air, give his "Hello, goodbye, you're all going to die" speech, then execute either a really patient camera man or else a camera on a tripod.
    • After all, the Joker has always been a performer! And he is something of an Attention Whore.
    • Death of the Family has Joker take over the news again, issue a threat to the mayor and execute a child, in a deliberate homage to the above examples (even ending with "the Joker has spoken", as he did in his first appearance.)
    • In Gotham Academy, Maps noted that her family's subscription to Webflix made it so that they no longer had to deal with his broadcasts.
  • Irredeemable
  • Judge Dredd: During the dark days of Necropolis when the Deadworlders ruled Mega-City One, Phobia and Nausea would give daily "news reports" to the populace to convince them that all hope is lost, the death toll in the city is mounting, and that it would be ill-advised to get shot by the Judges for breaking the curfew because there are so many more painful and interesting ways to die.
  • Marvel's Kang The Conqueror did this, broadcasting his speech on every TV, radio, and Internet-capable computer in the world ("in the local majority language") to let Earth know he was going to conquer it, so get ready and give him a good fight. The kicker? Kang won anyway. Acceptable, as he does have 40th century tech.
  • Dr. Wily does this in the first issue of Mega Man (Archie Comics), demanding that every world leader surrender to him.
  • Occurs in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), though on a much smaller scale. Queen Chrysalis hijacks Spike's fire-mail line to Princess Celestia to deliver a crystal ball to the Mane 6, which serves as a two-way video conference and a map.
  • At one point in Paranoia, the Earth Mothers display a video of King having sex with Ala on all of the monitors in Alpha Complex.
  • The first story of Scooby-Doo #24 (Gold Key run), "The Mark of the Blue Scarab", starts right off with Scooby and Shaggy being chased by a figure in a comic book superhero costume. The narration asks the reader to check the indicia at the bottom of the page to make sure they're reading the right comic book.
  • The Sinestro Corps War has a heroic example: Hal Jordan uses his Green Lantern ring to broadcast a message through every television and computer in Coast City, warning its inhabitants to evacuate before the Sinestro Corps comes and razes the city to the ground.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • The Ultimate Galactus Trilogy storyline begins with something taking over every TV screen, computer monitor, cell phone display, radio, and so on (along with some degree of psionic broadcast) in the world to display incredibly disturbing images. As a result, thousands of people commit suicide. Both the Ultimates and the X-Men track the unknown source to the Tunguska impact site. Turns out it's the damaged Vision, sent ahead to warn everyone of the coming of Gah Lak Tus, doing so in the most unfortunate way possible. The Vision doesn't know the effect her transmissions are having. Incidentally, Xavier sent the X-Men ASAP, in the middle of the night, and they were completely unaware of anything other than the psychic effects, concluding that it's a very disturbed, very powerful mutant awakening uncontrollably.
    • Ultimatum: Xavier gave a global warning with his powers, telling everyone everywhere that the flood had been caused by Magneto, and where is his secret base.
    • Ultimate Vision: Tarleton tried to deliver one, but the power supply was failing, so no TVs were actually interrupted.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The villainess Circe used some Post-Modern Magik to televise Diana's fight with Medusa worldwide, hoping that the gorgon would look at the camera at some point and turn the millions of viewers into stone.
    Comic Strips 
  • Oliver Wendell Jones of Bloom County did this twice — once in a daily strip where he interrupted a network feed with a masked hacker message in revolt to certain networks scrambling their signals to make them inaccessible to satellite dish owners without paying a monthly fee, and once in a Sunday strip to interrupt one of its board members attempting to speak out against such broadcast signal jackings. It was inspired by the "Captain Midnight" incident that occurred in 1986, mentioned in Real Life below.
    Fan Works 
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: "What if Tom was infested by a member of the Yeerk Peace Movement?" ends with the Animorphs sending a broadcast to every television in the world to reveal the existences of Yeerks and Andalites to the public.
  • Examples from The Calvinverse:
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, when the Stardroids arrive, Terra hacks every electronic device in the world to broadcast a message demanding Earth surrender.
  • Do You :REmember?: The first chapter opens with Aogiri Tree broadcasting their torture of Sasaki/Kaneki directly to the CCG.
  • In The Dark Side of the Mirror Verse, Mirror!Twilight performs this trope after going Nightmare and becoming Nightmare Spotlight to broadcast her revenge on Princess Trixie. She apparently learned how to do this trying to get them more channels, and powered it up with her new magic.
  • Atlas Shrugged: The Cobra Commander Dialogues parodies Atlas Shrugged's use of the trope. As Cobra Commander notes, he has vastly more experience than John Galt at intercepting and subverting broadcasts, and through quick, simple and effective denunciation of Galt and his followers, ensures the world all but surrenders to Cobra. Hilariously, a part of his plan involved letting Galt begin his broadcast, only to cut him at critical moments. Galt's offended he's lost his chance to rant.
  • In Yugioh EQG: Shadow Gates, Sombra makes it so all of the duels that take place in the Crystal Tower are broadcast worldwide. They appear on every channel on every television, every duel disk, and every mega screen so the world can watch the duels that will decide the fate of the planet. This ends up working in Flash's favor when Sombra brags about it, since he is able to pass instructions to his friends and the world on how to slow down the Shadow Gate from opening.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Mysterio hijacks all of the wireless devices in Musutafu to force them to broadcast his and the Enforcer's murders of Sir Nighteye's team, including the gruesome injuries and deaths of Rock Lock, Snatch, Fatgum, and Centipeder before taping the Rasputnian Death of Nighteye live for everyone to see.
  • Mastermind: Strategist for Hire: During the League of Villains' attack on the Meta Liberation Army, Himiko Toga and Twice take over several news stations to expose them and their crimes to the public.
  • Latias' Journey: Deoxys announces his horrific plans to the entire world by taking over all television and radio signals.
  • At the end of Man of Steel story Daughter of Fire and Steel, General Zod uses his starship's systems to hijack all broadcast systems in the world in order to deliver his speech.
    Dru-Zod: "Tor prepare the com to transmit on all frequencies. I want every single human on that planet to hear what I have to say."
  • In Shazam! fanfiction Here There Be Monsters, Dr. Sivana takes over every tv screen in the world to claim credit for Mister Atom and Red Crusher's hyper-destructive rampage across North America, and announce he is about to televise the execution of the Marvel Family and their allies. Following which, he will begin his conquest of Earth.
    The grinning visage of Dr. Sivana smiled out upon the television viewers of Earth, making those who were waiting for Uncle Miltie sit up in shock.
    "Greetings to the populace of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and anyone else fortunate enough to have a set," sneered the scientist. "This message is pretaped and was broadcast from the surface of Venus some hours ago, by your reckoning. My name is Sivana. Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana. Soon to be known to all as the Rightful Ruler of the Universe, and by one other name as well. But we'll get to that later."
    The image of Sivana dissolved in snow, and was replaced by that of Milton Berle in a dress and makeup. Not too many paid that much attention to the latter.
  • An 8mm homemade film from 1981, "Don't Touch That Dial" was an animated cartoon about a nebbish who tries to change the channel of his TV set only for the figure on screen to continuously thwart him.
  • Limitless Potential: In Chapter 27, Sigma hijacks every monitor and communications device in Abel City to broadcast his New Era Speech declaring how humans are no longer worthy of ruling the planet, and the age of Reploids has begun. It's implied he does this through the Telecomunications Tower (aka Boomer Kuwanger's stage in the videogame proper).
  • Kwami Magi Homura Magica has Homura Akemi hijack the Akuma alert system to make sure that Ladybug knows that she has killed Monarch and defeated Felix and Cat Noir, taking all of their Miraculouses and that she intends to use them to make not just a wish, but what the wish will be (to wipe out the Incubators from the past, present, and future), that her Kwami (Tikki) will be able to tell her why this wish is a good one, and to not resist while all but saying she's a time traveler and she'll just come back again and again until she gets the Ladybug Miraculous from her even if Ladybug can somehow stop her.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. It is somewhat undermined when he goes to dramatically switch off the feed and accidentally switches it to an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head.
  • Batman:
    • Batman (1989). The Joker does this twice.
      • He hijacks a local TV station's news program to present a faux commercial warning the city of Gotham that he's poisoned their consumer products.
      • He broadcasts a fireplace-broadcast-esque calling out to Batman, and gets the city to forget that he went on a murder spree by paying them.
    • In The Dark Knight, he constantly finds ways to get on the air, mostly by videotaping his tortures of his victims and sending them into the news.
  • Live Free or Die Hard, in which all the TV stations are taken over and made to play the villains' doomsday message, composed of clips taken from various President speeches that have been spliced together.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, The Fallen broadcasts an ultimatum over the whole world to hand over Sam Witwicky by having Megatron grab onto the antenna on top of the Empire State Building. Never mind that The Fallen was on a sinking aircraft carrier at the time. Justified via Soundwave, who hacked a satellite (and stayed there) for the entire movie.
  • Serenity: It's the heroes who use this method to broadcast their evidence that the government is directly responsible for the annihilation of Miranda and the creation of the Reavers. After the government hacked many/all TV sets to show subliminal messages to River.
  • Used at the climax of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, in which Chuck De Nomolos not only announced his evil scheme live on air, but then attempted to carry it out in front of the cameras. Of course, the heroes beat him thanks to Retroactive Preparation, and then used his takeover of the global media to perform a totally excellent concert for the whole planet.
  • James Bond villain example: Blofeld in Thunderball and its remake Never Say Never Again. However in the first film it's downplayed; Blofeld has a taped message that coldly states his demands delivered to 10 Downing Street, and the Double 0's listen to it during their Mission Briefing. The remake has the video version with Large Ham, blatant threats and even Blofeld's Right-Hand Cat!
  • Done by the good guys in The Running Man. A bit better justified than usual, since it's already been established that all TV channels are a single government-controlled network, so all the saboteurs (Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa) have to do is break in to the studio, point a gun at the technician, and say, "Don't touch that dial!"
  • In Johnny Mnemonic the pseudo-Cyberpunk heroes in Badass Longcoats bring down an Evil Corporation by broadcasting the Secret Plans stored in Johnny's head on all frequencies.
  • Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956). Of course it was a lot easier when people just listened to the radio for their news...
    "People of Earth, attention. This is a voice speaking to you from thousands of miles beyond your planet. Look to your sun for a warning."
  • Dreyfus in The Pink Panther Strikes Again hijacks every TV signal in order to announce his death warrant for Clouseau. Problem: Nobody knows what he's talking about and are more concerned that he interrupted the big football game.
    The President: Call the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon... Find out who won that game!
  • In Used Cars, the operator of a used car lot has two guys tap into the broadcast signal of President Carter, and substitute a commercial for their lot, using the cars of their competitor across the street for target practice
  • Bison does this when Guile taunts him on live TV at the beginning of Street Fighter.
  • Our Man Flint. The leaders of Galaxy broadcast a warning to the nations of the world: destroy your nuclear weapons, navy and air forces or face geological and meteorological annihilation.
  • The Lawnmower Man: Jobe plans to commemorate uploading his brain into cyberspace by calling every phone in the world at once.
  • The movie Hackers has a heroic version of this where the one hacker that didn't get arrested has other hackers get him on TV where he exposes the real scheme of the villains to clear his friends from being framed.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • In Man of Steel, General Zod broadcasts on every screen device in the whole world and in every language a message saying the Kryptonians have arrived, and that Superman must surrender himself or watch the world suffer the consequences.
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: According to the opening credits, Palpatine announced his return to galactic politics by broadcasting a message to the entire galaxy, announcing his takeover the next day. Though not heard in the film itself, players of the video game Fortnite got to hear it, when Palpatine took over an in-game event to broadcast it:
    Palpatine: At last, the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith.
  • The Haters in the Apocalypse film series are able to hack into the One Nation Earth television network feed with messages from televangelists such as T.D. Jakes and Jack Van Impe warning the people about the end times and pleading with the undecided to come to Christ.
  • At the beginning of the Get Smart film The Nude Bomb, KAOS hijacks the world's television networks to announce the creation of the titular weapon. The general reaction of the world is "They interrupted As the World Turns for this?"
  • In Pixels, the aliens communicate with people by hijacking television broadcasts.
  • In the live-action movie adaptation of Cutey Honey, Panther Claw broadcasts a similar message in both the TV and the Laptop directly aimed towards the Power Trio (Honey, Natsuko and Seiji). Probably the message is only watchable from Seiji's apartment.
  • Santa Claus: The Movie has a humorously played variant with some justification. Corrupt Corporate Executive B.Z. explains to Fish out of Water elf Patch that television is the best way to inform the public about the latter's special product, and that with enough money an ad can reach everyone he wants it to. Patch decides they will buy airtime for a one-off advertisement on Christmas Eve going out to "All the countries, all the channels!" at once. B.Z. is upset by the expense that will require, but ultimately agrees to the plan, and it works. Even the sole television at the North Pole picks up the transmission.
  • A plot point in Wonder Woman 1984. The US President has a secret satellite system designed to hijack the television broadcast system of an enemy country. Maxwell Lords gets the President to hand over control of the system so he can use his power to grant everyone's wishes on a worldwide scale.
  • The Vogon Constructor Fleet in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy does the third variation to every TV, radio, and speaker on Earth; in the book, it's explained that it's not just these, but any piece of metal that can pick up the frequency. Of course, in this instance there are no heroes. The destruction of Earth goes as planned, a few minutes later.
  • In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt takes over all radio and television stations to deliver an extremely long speech on the author's philosophy of life. It's worth noting, though, that Galt himself was interrupting what would have otherwise been another in a series of speeches filled with government propaganda.
  • Discussed in "Clubland Heroes", the protagonist is sent to investigate a murder that happened practically in the backyard of a superhero team. She notes that, for all their undoubted qualities as crimefighters, murder mysteries aren't their speed — they're more used to dealing with the kind of adversary who highjacks the airwaves and tells you exactly what they're going to do before they do it.
  • Galactic Milieu: In Julian May's novel Magnificat, as something of a subversion, the opening moves of the Metapsychic Rebellion are broadcast to the entire Galactic Milieu — not due to efforts on the behalf of the antagonist; everyone knows that this is going to be a galaxy-changing event, and tunes in with popcorn. Most operant psychics tune in telepathically. Therefore, everyone gets to witness the main antagonist murder two billion innocent sentient beings by destroying the core of their planet with a carefully controlled psychic assault.
  • One of the earliest examples is in War with the Newts - just after starting a war against humankind, the titular newts take over the radio world-wide and declare that recent earthquakes and flood are made by them, not by natural causes.
  • Happens for weird, but non-evil purposes in the sci-fi comedy novel Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede by Bradley Denton. Published in 1989, the story begins when protagonist Oliver Vale (the Unfazed Everyman) sees every TV station on Earth pre-empted for a transmission from Saturn's moon, featuring the long-thought-dead rock icon. Buddy then reads Oliver's name to the angry population of Earth, which causes him to be hunted by spies, robots, aliens and couch potatoes who blame him for the loss of their soaps.
  • Doctor Impossible declares his dominance this way in Soon I Will Be Invincible, and according both his and The Champions' stories, not nearly for the first time.
  • A short story titled, "And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor" (possibly by Robert Bloch) had a never-identified entity take over every radio or TV in the world to speak one command: "Fight." Humans being contrary by nature, many impending brawls, battles, and what could've become World War III were promptly resolved peacefully. A question remained: was the speaker, whoever he was, practicing Reverse Psychology?
  • In the Transformers: Shattered Glass prose story "Eye in the Sky", Rodimus has Blaster hack into every single television, radio, internet, cell phone, etc. frequency on Earth to broadcast his demands that the world appoint he and his Autobots as their new leaders, or he'll use the Kill Sat he just hijacked to start toasting things.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, Mr. Curtain's messages are broadcast on every television signal, every radio signal, every wireless signal in every language. Most people don't notice them, though, because they broadcast using children's thoughts so that they may hide insidiously in people's minds.
  • In the Left Behind books, Chang Wong is able to have direct access to the Global Community television network feed so that he can interrupt its programming with messages from Dr. Tsion Ben-Judah (and later Chaim Rosenzweig) that are Biblical warnings and pleas for the undecided to come to Christ. This leads to a series of deaths among the Global Community's top brass when they fail utterly to get Tsion and Chaim off the air. Even almost the entire Global Community broadcast crew gets slaughtered in their failure, making Nicolae Carpathia muse that the only person left to run the network is a janitor when the jacked signal is finally cut off.
    • A supernatural version occurs in Desecration when one of God's angels takes over the airwaves to recite Revelation 14:9-13 to those who have taken the Mark of the Beast and worshiped Carpathia's image.
  • In Knight Life, early in his campaign, Arthur (secretly the legendary King Arthur Pendragon) runs a series of ads that basically just feature him saying "Hello, I'm Arthur Penn, vote for me," and a graphic depicting him as candidate for Mayor of New York in order to get name and face recognition. Since the ads are only a few seconds long, they're dirt-cheap and therefore can be run pretty much every commercial break during the key hours on all the major stations, essentially creating this effect in advertising form. One of his opponents even calls to his campaign manager to complain about him seeing the damn ad pretty much every time he turns on the television.
  • In The Hunger Games, the government of Panem controls all television broadcasts and requires by law for citizens to watch certain broadcasts, such as those of the Hunger Games. When the rebellion gains traction, they hijack the government's messages against them to broadcast "propos" of the series's star, Katniss Everdeen.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat has no qualms about doing this to announce how a planetary dictator has faked the election results. This involves sabotaging a satellite transmitter, and then ensuring that no-one can go up there and fix what he's done.
  • In the Star Wars Legends novel The Truce at Bakura, the Scary Dogmatic Aliens known as the Ssi-ruuk hijacked every monitor and channel on the planet Bakura to have their indoctrinated human slave Dev illustrate to them the "joys" of Unwilling Roboticisation. The Bakuran Senate would later replay the broadcast for the heroes to show them exactly what they're up against.
  • Done accidentally in the Macdonald Hall novel Beware the Fish! Bruno uses the video transmitter that Elmer, his Teen Genius roommate, has created to spout rambling messages about "the Fish" (usually coded references to the principal, Mr. Sturgeon, and the various ways he frustrates Bruno's schemes). He thinks he's only making the brodcasts for his own amusement; in reality, he's actually broadcasting them on all the televisions in the surrounding town, and causing havoc for affiliates and viewers alike.
    Live-Action TV 

Award Shows:


  • In Season 4 of 24, when terrorists kidnapped Secretary of Defense Heller, they hacked the Internet so that they could broadcast his execution live to every computer with Internet access in the world.
  • An unusual use in Angel, where Jasmine cannot in fact simply take control of all airwaves, but can use her Mass Hypnosis to convince enough people that she should be on every channel that it'll happen. Also, doing this is the culmination rather than the start of her plan, because anyone who sees the broadcast will fall under her control and she needs to consume a large number of people before having enough energy to take control of the entire global viewing public.
  • Arrow
    • In "State vs. Queen", Count Vertigo (one of the more hammier villains) does a broadcast announcing that he has secretly addicted large numbers of innocent people to the drug Vertigo, of which he controls the only supply. He even concludes with an I Approved This Message!
    • In "The Secret Origin Of Felicity Smoak", Brother Eye hacks the broadcast system to announce his reign of cyberterror.
    • A heroic version occurs when Felicity Smoak hacks into the emergency broadcast system so the Green Arrow can announce his debut.
    • In "Lost in the Flood", Anarky takes advantage of HIVE's compulsory broadcast system in their Underground City.
  • Batman (1966) episode "Batman Is Riled". The Joker broadcasts from his lair to the TVs of Gotham City, saying that he will kill the captive Batman and Robin unless he is given the ocean liner S.S. Gotham.
  • The Bionic Woman episode "Doomsday is Tomorrow". A well-meaning scientist commandeers the airwaves to announce that, unless all nuclear weapons are destroyed and no atmospheric nuclear explosions occur, he will set off his own "Doomsday Device" and end all life on Earth.
  • In the first episode of Choujin Sentai Jetman Radiguet announces the coming of the Vyram this way, but goes overboard and his image his image doesn't appear just on tv and computer screens, but also into thin air towering over cities, on mirrors, and inside a coffee mug (cue Spit Take from the disgusted coffee drinker when he sees Radiguet's eye in his mug).
  • A heroic version happens regularly in Dark Angel where Eyes Only takes over everyone's set to deliver a message on whatever governmental, business or police corruption he feels people should know about. Somewhat more realistic in that he does have a lot of equipment to allow him to do this, and if he stays on for longer than 30 seconds the broadcast can be tracked back to him.
    Do not adjust your set. This is an Eyes Only streaming freedom video bulletin. It cannot be traced. It cannot be stopped. And it is the only free voice left in this city...
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Logopolis": The Master does this for the entire universe. Using a light-speed radio broadcast.
    • "The Idiot's Lantern" features an energy-based alien consciousness inhabiting televisions in 1953 London. It's a single being calling itself "The Wire", capable of existing in multiple television sets. It also feeds off of human brain energy and sucks off the faces of its victims.
    • "The Eleventh Hour": The Atraxi are not exactly evil — more incredibly callous — and broadcast on every communications device "Prisoner Zero will vacate the human residence, or the human residence will be incinerated" ad infinitum. (At first, the Doctor and Amy think "human residence" just means her house, but once he realizes it's on every communications device, he promptly figures out what they really mean - the Earth itself.)
    • "Day of the Moon": The Doctor and his crew do this again to foil the Silence's subliminal control over Earth. They use a 21st-century smartphone to hack into the broadcast of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and imbed it with a subliminal message to attack and kill all Silents on sight. In this case, though, it's less that they take over every channel, as they instead take over the one channel that everyone will be watching.
    • "The Pyramid at the End of the World": The aliens make every clock or watch on Earth, whether digital or analog, display their Doomsday Clock.
    • "Revolution of the Daleks": Upon their inevitable betrayal, the human-made Daleks gun down the Prime Minister in the middle of her inauguration broadcast, and deliver their message of domination live on BBC News (before exterminating the cameraman).
    • In The Sarah Jane Adventures story "Secrets of the Stars", Martin Trueman manages to get his show displayed on television throughout the world.
    • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, this trope is exaggerated for the creepy factor so that instead of broadcasting on all televisions, the evil aliens broadcast on all children, taking over every child on Earth to make them Speak in Unison to deliver the ultimatum.
  • In The Flash (2014) Christmas Episode "Running to Stand Still", the Trickster takes over the airwaves in Central City to issue a threat/challenge to The Flash.
  • The Goodies. In an episode spoofing Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the aliens have taken over the TV channels to show an image of Knutters Knoll (where they plan to make First Contact) via a pottery show and Patrick Moore's hairdo.
  • The ad campaign for Game Show Network's show Inquizition, was formatted as a disgruntled contestant hijacking the network signal to reveal the 'truth' behind the show.
  • Akaishi does this in Kamen Rider Revice to announce the existence of Giff to Japan, and also doubles as a New Era Speech as well.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "Target Earth", the terrorists who have stolen the space shuttle hijack a communications satellite to broadcast their demands to earth.
  • S 2 E 4 of Moonlighting begins with an introduction by Orson Welles informing the viewer that, during the broadcast of the episode, the screen would chage to black and white, but not to be alarmed because "nothing is wrong with your set."
  • An episode of My Favorite Martian has Martin with a defective part of his cranium causing him to broadcast everything he sees and hears simultaneously over every television station in the United States.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Prince Of Space. Twice, even. "Haaaaahh-heeeeaaaahh-heeeeaaahh-heeeeaaahh-heeeaaahh-heeeaahh-heeaah-heeah-heh!"
  • When the Nickelodeon Studios complex at Universal Studios Florida opened in 1990, they celebrated with a live three-hour special, which was periodically interrupted by A.W.F.F.U.L. — the Adults Who Find Fun Unbearably Loathesome, who planned to prevent the studios from opening. Mostly, however, the Nick personalities and others didn't pay them much mind, even tormenting them by muting their audio or using a DVE machine on their image...until close to the end, when they somehow managed to touch off an earthquake under the studios (and given Florida's geological instability, would've probably lead to the studios, if not the whole park, being caught in a sinkhole!). Fortunately, the Nick crew managed to reroute their slime supply line (intended to go to the Slime Geyser outside) straight to A.W.F.F.U.L. headquarters, causing it to flood with slime. A.W.F.F.U.L. vowed to destroy the studios and the network when they least expected it, though they never did.
  • The famous Opening Narration of The Outer Limits (1963) sets this up, but it has nothing to do with the actual plots.
  • Happens again in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Mio announces she's taking over as Queen of the World in this manner during the Special Act (which takes place after the main series).
  • Return of Ultraman had this as the signature ability of the monster Beacon. The creature's presence interferes with satellite and radio waves, causing televisions to broadcast whatever it sees — treating viewers to the unpleasant showing of a giant monster blowing up airplanes.
  • SCTV - during the height of the Cold War, various Soviet television programs periodically cut into the station broadcasts. This is treated as an act of aggression which leads to war.
    • A later episode features Gerry Todd's music video show, where he introduces a telecast from his Japanese counterpart Tim Ishimuni. Later on, Todd starts editorializing on the need to buy American, and Ishimuni cuts in with a rebuttal. Todd cuts in over him, the two keep bumping the other off until both their transmissions short out, leaving the empty airwaves free for...the Soviets again.
  • Sherlock series three ends with every television screen in the UK showing Moriarty, two in-universe years after he shot himself in the head.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Demons", the leader of a radical, xenophobic group called Terra Prime broadcasts a warning "on every frequency" to all the aliens living on Earth. The message even shows up conveniently on a large TV in an alien conference on Earth. And in "Exile" when Hoshi Sato was contacted by a telepathic alien, all the computer screens around her showed images of her own face. Hoshi was, needless to say, somewhat creeped out.
  • In Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, Kilokhan takes over the airwaves to challenge Servo to battle. Servo didn't go for it, so he had to finally shut down all television broadcasts to get Servo to come into Cyberspace and fight.
  • On the vintage anthology show Tales of Tomorrow, a scifi program is interrupted repeatedly by views of someone's kitchen in which a murder is being planned. The images' source isn't ever fully explained, but in between these foreboding glimpses, the TV studio's personnel are seen debating where the rogue "broadcast" might be coming from, arguing about how they might prevent the crime, and frantically trying to identify and warn the intended victim.
  • A downplayed version appears in True Blood when Big Bad Russel Edgington sends a national broadcast of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech using a nationally-broadcast news programme, by rushing into the set while live, killing the anchorman and intimidating the crew to let the camera roll while he delivers his rant.
  • In the miniseries V (1983), it is "explained" that all the world's broadcasting networks have been handed over to the alien Visitors. In the sequel miniseries, it is shown that a single (albeit large) microchip aboard the alien spaceship controls all TV signals; naturally La Résistance exploit this to do their own version of this trope.

  • Done in the opener to Lordi's album "The Arockalypse", in which a demon/monster takes over the TV broadcast to announce the coming of...well, the Arockalypse. Cue music.
  • Radio example: The Monstars' anthem from the Space Jam soundtrack opens with the line "Greetings, earthlings. We have now taken over your radio".
  • The Parliament album Mothership Connection opens with a message from the band:
    Good evening.
    Do not attempt to adjust your set.
    We have taken control as to bring you this special show.
    We will return it to you as soon as you are grooving.
  • COMMUNICATIONS, the cancelled GHOST and Pals series, had BROADCAST ILLUSION (and its fast-paced demo version, COLORBARS), which told how Kennith hijacked a local TV channel, pressured by his friend, to transmit a brainwashing program that would make everyone watching kill themselves. You can probably guess what happened to him.
    And on the screen, as clear as can be
    It’s a colorful display
    We’re screaming again
  • Rose & the Arrangement's "The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati" starts right off with a snatch of action music then the announcement "Don't touch that dial" before going into the song.
    Professional Wrestling 
  • Once while doing commentary for an early Kamala match in WWE, Vince McMahon said, "Ladies and gentlemen, do not attempt to adjust your television sets, this is KAMALA!"
    Puppet Shows 
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Actually, go ahead — the Mysterons'll take over your set anyway. It's directly stated in the first episode that they are broadcasting on all Earth radios. Averted in the CGI reboot, probably to address the Fridge Logic issue of how the Mysterons got anything accomplished when their "war of nerves" was common knowledge.
  • The Jim Henson Hour. In Sesame Street: 20 Years And Still Counting, Bill Cosby reminded viewers not to adjust their TV sets. What they heard was the multi-language version of Rubber Ducky (sung in English, Spanish, Hebrew, German, and French). And then shows viewers the international versions of Sesame Street.
  • Sketch show Son of Cliché combines this with Gratuitous Panning: this happens in the Weird Dimension sketch, where your stereo radio system is taken over by forces outside of your control. The Guardians of the weird Dimension then tell the listener that adjusting your radio is pointless, as we can take over your left hand speaker... and we can... (dead silence).
    Your right-hand speaker isn't working.
  • In Pokémon Live!, the show begins with Giovanni's broadcast interrupting a song. In-universe, it's a commercial for the Diamond Badge.
    Video Games 
  • Dr. Eggman does the second variation in Sonic Adventure 2, declaring that he will destroy the world unless its leaders give it to him. Amusingly, he simultaneously takes over movie marquees during the broadcast to display messages like "Eggman is brilliant, Eggman is handsome" etc.. Then a tape of his late grandfather Gerald Robotnik of the third variation plays in the Last Story, as the ARK falls to Earth.
    • Also, at the end of Shadow the Hedgehog, another taped message by Gerald is broadcast; this one is of an inspirational rather than evil type (being recorded before his mental breakdown), however. This transcends even human technology; flat holographic screens broadcasting the message appear inside the extraworldly Black Comet.
  • In Beyond Good & Evil, the protagonist and her group are rebel journalists, and have been spreading the truth about the Orwellian military Alpha Section for some time. Alpha Section broadcasts looping propaganda messages on screens all over the game world. In the climax, the protagonist seizes control of the propaganda broadcast tower on the planet's moon to send a final call for aid to the citizenry. Cleverly, the broadcast includes a montage of photos the player took as earlier mission goals, illustrating the Alpha Section's various crimes against humanity.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: In chapter 5, it's revealed the Mastermind had been using the security camera footage to broadcast the events of the Killing Game at Hope's Peak Academy. Chapter 6 further reveals they were using it as propaganda to demoralise the survivors of the Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Event in the History of Mankind, forcing them to watch as the students intended to be the hope for mankind's future gave into despair and turned against one another.
  • In Evil Genius, the player, as the titular Evil Genius, must do this near the end of the game. The UN laughs off your ultimatum, so you are forced to deploy your doomsday weapon.
  • Kane loves to do this in the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series: in Dawn he temporarily hijacks your EVA to say hello and give some advice about what'd he do, were he in your shoes, in Sun he did the same thing to the com systems on GDI's orbital headquarters, to taunt the supreme commander there, and in Wars he goes all-out, jamming worldwide TV signals and sending out his own broadcasts, several times, both to mock GDI and to signal his own people to attack.
  • In Galactix, the Xidus interrupt all television broadcasts to basically say "We're gonna invade you, there's nothing you can do, ha ha ha".
  • In Wild ARMs 2, Vinsfeld transmits his new world order message not only to TV screens, but to windows, mirrors, and even a pool of water, all through the power of radio waves. This tactic ends up backfiring spectacularly: the leader of ARMS uses the fear generated by this announcement to unite the nations of the world against Vinsfeld. Which is exactly what Vinsfeld and Irving wanted. Disc one was a Xanatos Gambit in which either the world was forcibly united under Vinsfeld, or peacefully united under Irving to fight Vinsfeld, either of which would create a united world ready to face the real threat in disc two.
  • In the anime opening to case 5 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Dhurke interrupts an episode of The Plumed Punisher to deliver a message about his revolution to the people of Khura'in and the Ga'ran regime.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Gold and Silver have Team Rocket take over the Goldenrod Radio Tower. Before you defeat them, every available channel on your Pokégear's Radio feature will feature them announcing their takeover and calling out to Giovanni, their former leader.
    • Pokémon X and Y has Team Flare take over the Holo-casters to announce their planned apocalypse. Justified, as their leader, Lysandre, invented the Holo Caster and runs the networks.
  • A heroic example occurs at the end of Pulseman, as the titular protagonist is presumed dead after the final fight against his Archnemesis Dad Doc. Waruyama. Pulseman ends up hijacking a TV signal to show that he's still alive.
  • Mengsk's Awesome Moment of Crowning in StarCraft.
  • Half-Life 2: "If you still find yourself within the confines of City 17..." This isn't exactly on television, but when Isaac Kleiner hijacks the Breencast system and makes his own "Kleinercast" for the benefit of the Resistance. Since Breencasts are on television, well, yes, it could qualify.
  • In Ape Escape 3, Specter does this on a global scale to enslave all of humanity through mindless TV shows.
  • In Mega Man 10, Dr. Wily does this, demanding that anyone who wants the cure to the robotic disease, roboenza, accept him as their leader.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, there is worldwide signal interference that started approximately 17 years before when the events of the game began, blocking out all television and radio signals. It is actually caused by the Sorceress Adel, who was sealed in space at that time. When you visit the TV station in Timber on Disc 1, if you examine the giant television screen carefully, you can read three messages being broadcast by Adel - "IAMALIVE (I am alive.)," "IWILLNEVERLETYOUFORGETABOUTME (I will never let you forget about me.)" and "BRINGMEBACKTHERE (Bring me back there.)"
  • Played with in Warframe. Counselor Hek was able to hijack the developer's real life Twitch stream back on March 7, 2014. In the game proper Vox Solaris, the unknown leadernote  of the heroic Solaris United will occasionally hijack display screens to transmit threats to their Corpus captors or reassurance to the Solaris as a whole.
  • Persona 5 has a heroic example where the Phantom Thieves hijack the airwaves to declare that their leader isn't dead and that they're going to steal Masayoshi Shido's heart. None of their previous Calling Cards reached that level of audacity. This is alluded to when Joker is revealed to be coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as his reveal trailer starts the exact same way. The Game Awards 2018's version of the trailer even has events play out as if he hijacked the presentation screen!
    "This is Joker. I've infiltrated the theater."
  • The Secret World features this throughout the Tokyo arc, in no small part due to the fact that the Black Signal is a massive fan of the trope. Being a disembodied Technopath, he takes great delight in seizing control of electronic devices and using them to talk to you - to the point that he regularly hijacks the game's lore system and uses it to communicate with you via pirate broadcast. In fact, his first scene actually features him interrupting Masao Tanaka's emergency address just to terrify the audience with creepy whispering and spliced-in footage of emergency forces gunning down civilians.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, Scarecrow and the Riddler regularly do this with giant tv screens on the side of buildings. The former uses it to give Batman Hannibal Lectures, the latter being his usual Attention Whore Insufferable Genius self. The various mooks eventually comment on it, with some commenting they're half hoping for a power outage so they don't have to listen to them anymore. Most prefer Riddler's since they consider that he's at least trying to be funny.
  • Galaxy Angel: In the second game, Moonlit Lovers, after the Elsior and the Angel Wing fail to defeat Nefuria and her new supercarrier, the O-Gaub, she eventually hijacks the galactic communications' network in order to deliver a Resistance Is Futile speech to the entire Transbaal Empire.
  • Some of the games based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) have this kind of scenario happen courtesy of the Foot Clan, like in the source material.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) has a cutscene after Area 2 that shows the Turtles arriving at April's apartment in ruins and Splinter gone missing. This prompts Shredder to directly deliver a message to the Turtles via the television, saying that the Foot Clan has Splinter and warns that they must be defeated to retrieve him.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time famously begins with April O'Neil's news report quickly going south, as Krang (in giant form) flies in to steal the Statue of Liberty. Then Shredder suddenly appears on the broadcast feed, to the Turtles and Splinter's consternation.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project starts with the Turtles watching April's news report on New York City's skyrocketing crime rate, until their TV screen shows static. It's restored as April is held captive by Shredder, who shows Manhattan rising out of the ground, then he issues the turtles a challenge.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge involves the Turtles and their allies watching a news column by Vernon Fenwick that gets interrupted when a package he received reveals Krang's robot head, which cuts the signal to show the Statue of Liberty get surrounded by blimps. Bebop hijacks the program to announce the Foot Clan's latest plan and warns the populace to witness it, otherwise the Foot will track them down.

    Web Original 
  • In the eighth season of Sonic for Hire, while Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are at the BurgerTime restaurant, Eggman has taken over most of the world and broadcasts his domination on TV. This gets lampshaded when Tails notices a television appearing out of nowhere when Eggman makes his announcement, and Eggman manages to predict what Sonic and Tails would be doing in the restaurant.
  • In Survival of the Fittest the game is being broadcast by the terrorists on live television by way of hijacking. The first time it happened, the government tried to cover it up by saying it was a reality TV show with an unusual theme. Then it happened again...
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series gives us the uplifting message: KILL YOUR FAMILY! KILL YOUR FAMILY! KILL YOUR FAMILY!
  • The Templin Institute is a YouTube channel devoted to analyzing and explaining the lore of alternate worlds, organizations, and figures from science fiction and fantasy. Occasionally, the fourth wall they peer through into these worlds glances right back at them.
    • In their video on the Tyranids from Warhammer 40,000, this happens to them when they start discussing the Tyrant Guard, one of the most powerful Tyranid bioforms, suspected to have been made using the DNA of fallen Imperial Space Marines — and, by extension, the God-Emperor of Mankind, since they were created using his DNA. This statement immediately triggers the wrath of the Order of His Most Holy Inquisition, who briefly hack into the broadcast to declare that whoever made it has committed the crime of heresy.
    • It happens again in their video on Ingsoc from Nineteen Eighty-Four, coupled with a dose of thematically appropriate Paranoia Fuel, especially if your name is Michael.
  • The Innocent: The polish alerts always say: NIE WYLACZAJ TELEVIZJI!translation 
    Western Animation 
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • An unusually reasonable version occurred with The Joker in the Justice League episode "Wild Cards" that provides the current page quote. We are introduced from the start to how he gained control of the channel — he bought air time on several channels under an alias, and the ensuing carnage makes all the major news channels pick it up too since he's already got all the best footage. Not only that, but Joker using the television broadcast wasn't just a passing schtick (drama for the sake of drama), but actually part of a greater plan that involves having a creepy meta-human girl with literal Mind Screw powers make anyone who watches the "Must See TV" into a drooling, incoherent nutcase. The last half of the second episode is downright disturbing. Which I guess for The Joker is his schtick.
    • Another Joker example happens in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Christmas with the Joker". It only seemed to affect Gotham, but it still allows The Joker to publicly mock Batman, threaten the death of the Gordon family and threaten Gotham with a laser. OK, so people couldn't watch It's a Wonderful Life, but are you expecting flawless villainy for an insane criminal?
    • Yet another example happens in the episode "Almost Got 'Im". Joker had taken over a late night comedy show, then captured Batman and placed him in an elaborate death trap that would electrocute him more the more people laughed. Then he gassed the studio audience with laughing gas.
    • In the episode "The Laughing Fish", The Joker stages an advert for his brand of "Joker fish", ending with him threatening the life of the patent clerk who informed him that his plan of taking out a patent didn't work like Joker thought. It also included a failed channel hop scene. Given the evidence, we can only conclude that The Joker has some sort of arrangement with the media producers to let this sort of thing happen in order to boost their ratings.
    • "Holiday Knights" has a more restrained example — The Joker interrupts "the Toilet Bowl" while dressed as a referee, implying that he's specifically targeting the broadcast of a football game.
    • In "Two-Face", Two-Face uses the phrase to announce his underworld debut, but he gets the quote wrong: "Don't bother adjusting the picture. For the next five minutes, I'M in control!"
  • Subverted in Frisky Dingo; the program opens with the title theme of Sealab 2021, another 70/30 production, which is then interrupted by Killface as he explains his evil plan to launch the planet Earth into the Sun. Once he's finished, it turns out that he's actually only rehearsing his speech, and that he hasn't yet raised enough money to interrupt the worldwide TV signals. Killface's inability to afford this (as his USC Film school grad abductees note, it would cost about 20 billion dollars) puts much of the first season's plot into motion. He ends up settling on... grammatically incorrect postcards to get his message across.
    • Killface's former Dragon Synn manages to do it for a fraction of the cost (zero dollars, it would seem) in the second season opener.
  • On Teen Titans (2003), in the Trapped in TV Land episode "Episode 257-494" (AKA "Don't Touch that Dial", appropriately enough), Control Freak does this at the beginning of the episode. It turns out this is part of his scheme, though: He's modified the signal to send waves through people's television sets that turn them into mindless zombies, so that while they're watching him battle the Teen Titans, the TV is literally rotting their brains.
    • He did this again in "For Real", It's not just to frighten the masses, but also to keep an eye on the Titans East who are "participating" in his "Ultimate Titans Challenge". The civilians all cheer on the Titans East through the entire thing.
    • Also, the episode "Revolution", where Mad Mod performs a massive brainwashing to make people think the USA were never segregated from the British Empire. Along with changing the scenery.
  • In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Brain's Song", Brain uses this... twice. First, he somehow manages to broadcast a tearjerker (broadcasting live no less) in order to make everyone in the world chronically depressed so he can easily take over. And for the most part, it works. (Apparently, no one turns off their TV when their favorite show is interrupted for a so-called "true story" about a Football player whose career is ended by career-ending stomach cramps.) Unfortunately for Brain, when he takes over the airwaves again to try and announce his leadership of the world, he finds himself suffering from uncontrollable "post-production jitters" (thanks to his own work in simulating the aforementioned stomach cramps), and thus appears so funny that he inadvertently cures the world's depression. (And creates a new catchphrase: I am the O-o-o-overlord!!!). In another episode, he hijacks television networks as part of a plan to try to replicate the (in)famous Orson Welles War of the Worlds panic. Unfortunately, the quality of his production is so low that everyone thinks that it's hilarious rather than terrifying.
  • Garfield in the Rough opens with one of these, saying it isn't necessary — the color has just really gone out of Garfield's life.
  • Used often in G.I. Joe, most notably in the episode "The Wrong Stuff", where Cobra took over every communications satellite and replaced all TV programming with the propagandistic Cobra Network Television. Also subverted multiple times such as the first story where Destro is complaining that Cobra Commander is overdoing it alone with too many public firings of their ultimate weapon and thus depleting its fuel. Another time is when Cobra goes bankrupt and Cobra Commander makes yet another threatening broadcast, only to have GI Joe quickly trace the signal, raid the studio and expose it as a pathetically fake show of strength.
    • Cobra Commander does this rather more effectively in the final episodes of Sigma Six.
    • He also did it again in G.I. Joe: Resolute. In his message, he demanded UN to surrender their countries to him. To prove the point that he's serious, he nukes Moscow.
  • Also used fairly often in Centurions.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Mr. Burns uses this trope when trying to retrieve his teddy bear (don't ask) from Homer Simpson. Though rather than interrupting the broadcast, he was just running from studio to studio as Homer changed channels.
    • "Treehouse Of Horror V" opens with Marge telling the audience that Congress woun't let them air the episode, and the show switches to a black-and-white movie. Bart and Homer then hijack the TV to air the episode anyway.
    • Sideshow Bob did the same thing, ironically to threaten Springfield with a nuclear bomb unless they got rid of television.
      Sideshow Bob: By the way, I realize the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it, so don't bother pointing that out.
  • The Joker naturally does this a couple of times in The Batman. Specifically, the episode JTV opens with him doing this, and blaming the lack of publicity his crimes get on everyone being glued to the TV.
  • Both Frugal Lucre and Adrena Lynn tried it in Kim Possible. It was at least thematically appropriate for TV star Adrena Lynn; presumably Lucre used his established computer skills.
  • Demona from Gargoyles does this to cast a spell over the airwaves.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Channel Chasers was about trying to prevent Vicky from this trope. Bizarrely, at the end, Timmy's parents are the ones to broadcast on every station, but for good, making this a double-Trope-subversion.
  • Carmen Sandiego once stole all the Broadcast towers in the world in order to show off her latest thefts.
  • Superfriends
    • The show displays some especially preposterous examples of this, including the Riddler abruptly appearing on the Justice League computer and communicating them via live feed (this happens more than once). Of course, that comes from an episode that describes the center of a black hole as similar to the calm center of a hurricane and that shows Lex Luthor watching three Superfriends fixing a satellite on a computer screen; Willing Suspension of Disbelief is all the way out the window before it even GETS to that point in the episode.
    • 1973/74 episode "The Androids". While the Super Friends are talking to Colonel Wilcox on a viewscreen, the villain Dr. Rebos breaks into the transmission and warns that he plans to sabotage the launch of the Mars rocket.
  • A more realistic example: In the episode of Hey Arnold! where Harold gets suspended, he tries to watch cartoons, but every channel is interrupted with a press conference in Kyoto.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Secret of Success", Dr. Doofenshmirtz builds a "Preempt-inator" designed to broadcast his "Telethon of Evil" on all channels across the Tri-State Area.
  • In the Donkey Kong Country episode "Bluster's Sales Ape-Stravangaza", Klump's offhand comment on how Krusha's favorite TV show, Sing-A-Long With Uncle Swampy gets millions of viewers prompts King K.Rool to launch his next scheme to steal the Crystal Coconut on live TV. Even when Cranky's Cabin is empty, K.Rool refuses to just walk in and take it, insisting to dramatically use the 'secret weapon' as he's "Not a common cat burglar, but a grand dictator!"
  • In Mega Man (Ruby-Spears), hijacking airwaves is Dr. Wily's preferred method of communication. It's like he's never heard of a telephone.
  • The Legend of Korra: On two occasions so far, Amon has proven capable of hijacking the radio airwaves to spread his propaganda and ultimatums.
    • Fridge Brilliance and Fridge Horror kick in when you think about it; Amon is very charismatic and intelligent, so it's likely that some of the radio staff are on his payroll.
  • Played with in WordGirl. Dr. Two-Brains suddenly interrupts Becky "WordGirl" Botsford's favorite television show:
    Dr. Two-Brains: Hello, WordGirl! ...And I guess anyone else watching this.
  • Ed from Ed, Edd n Eddy does this twice, once actually saying, "Do not adjust your set" (Though he was talking to Eddy, who was asking where Edd was, and whom Ed went to retrieve) and the second time actually turning to the audience and saying "Don't touch that dial, kids!"
  • The Bakshi Mighty Mouse cartoon "Don't Touch That Dial", probably CBS's finest ten minutes. The hero is constantly transposed into other cartoon shows at the whim of a diaper-clad toddler. Having enough, Mighty Mouse breaks through the screen, smashes the remote control and delivers a verbal moral smackdown.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • The Joker does this in "Revelation", appearing on the world's TV screens to announce the Injustice League's plan to hold cities hostage with Poison Ivy's plants.
    • The heroes do this in "Failsafe" and "Misplaced", apparently using Justice League equipment to do so, which also has the ability to translate their voice into multiple languages. It's likely the equivalent of an Emergency Broadcast system so it may well be entirely legit.
  • The Batman: D.A.V.E. does this in "Gotham's Ultimate Criminal Mastermind", interrupting Gotham's television broadcasts to announce that it is about to launch Gotham's ultimate crime wave.
  • In the Grand Finale of Samurai Jack, Aku makes a broadcast through TV monitors all around the world, first airing the show's intro from the first four seasons, and then announcing that he will crush the hopes of everyone by killing their hero Jack in a Public Execution. Cue the Big Damn Heroes moment from all of the inhabitants.
  • In SpacePOP, Empress Geela takes over the holonet feeds, saturating it with programs all about her.
  • In one episode of Darkwing Duck, a Puppeteer Parasite hat-alien takes over Honker, and goes on TV to announce his intended conquest of the Earth. The alien is eventually foiled, and when Honker gets back home, his father, having only seen the broadcast, sympathizes that "Honker's" plan to take over the world didn't work out.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In the middle of the "Robin Hoek/Nurse Stimpy" episode, Ren and Stimpy perform a mock-hijacking of the broadcast from their fan club's secret headquarters "thousands of miles below the Earth's crust".
  • During its original run on NBC, Underdog started off with the announcer intoning "Don't touch that dial! Here's some exciting scenes from today's Underdog show! Let's watch!" Followed by a teaser for the story.
    Real Life 
  • In 1977, a prankster hijacked the audio (but not the video) of ITV station Southern Television in the UK, claiming to be an alien called Vrillon of the Ashtar Galactic Command broadcasting a message to Earth in which he called for world peace. The full transcipt can be found here. A common theory is that the prankster wasn't a prankster, but a protester against nuclear weaponry and the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) protocol. Another theory is that the prankster was a bored Southern Television employee trolling around.
  • In September 1985, four Polish astronomers working at the University of Torun used a personal computer and privately-owned transmitter to interrupt the state-run television broadcasting with their own messages to promote the labor movement Solidarność all over the city of Torun. They were soon caught and arrested, but due to their prior contributions to the scientific community, they got away with a fine and probation.
  • On April 27, 1986, HBO's satellite transmission was interrupted by a message from "Captain Midnight", a satellite TV dealer in Florida. The interruption was carried out as a protest against anti-competitive practices of cable TV companies towards satellite viewers. It occurred during the opening credits of The Falcon and the Snowman (which Oddity Archive stated was no big loss), and the message was displayed for four and a half minutes. HBO attempted to fight back by upping the power of their own transmitter, while the protester (John R. MacDougall) raised his own power in a game of Serial Escalation, before they were forced to back down for fears of damaging their satellite, Galaxy 1. MacDougall still owns his business to this day, and has even dedicated a page of his website to the story of the incident.
  • On Sunday, September 6, 1987, Playboy TV's signal was jammed with a text only message reading "Thus sayeth the Lord thy God. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.", a paraphrasing of Exodus 20:8 and Matthew 4:17. The culprit was fingered as Thomas Haynie, an uplink engineer at the Christian Broadcasting Network who was on duty at the time of the incident. However, the trial proved that the evidence against him was circumstantial at best and attempts to recreate the jamming with CBN's equipment were not successful. Haynie was still found guilty of two of six counts and sentenced to three years of probation, a $1,000 fine, and 150 hours of community service, though Haynie still maintains his innocence.
  • In one of the most famous broadcast hijacking incidents, on November 22nd, 1987, Chicago TV stations WGN-9 and WTTW-11 were hacked by a prankster wearing a Max Headroom mask. The first hijacking on WGN came during the evening news, and involved Max bobbing his head, the audio being nothing but a loud buzzing. The second hijack on WTTW came during a showing of the first part of the Doctor Who serial "Horror of Fang Rock", and had distorted audio, in which, over the course of 90 seconds, the hijacker took shots at Chuck Swirsky of WGN, Coca-Cola's ill-fated New Coke (Headroom had become the mascot for the return of Classic Coke a few months prior), and The '50s Synchro-Vox series Clutch Cargo (humming the theme tune), and also made references to hemorrhoids, defecating, and his so-called brother wearing the glove matching the one he had on him (a possible reference to Michael Jackson and his signature single glove), ending with the hijacker dropping his pants and being spanked by a second person - a woman wearing a French maid's outfit - with a flyswatter. The perpetrator's identity remains unknown to this day, though some speculate that he was a disgruntled former WGN employee.
  • Something similar to this happened before the launch of what is now Syfy in 1992- all sorts of weird "sci-fi-ish" stuff was broadcast on the C-Band satellite feed (when that was still a thing) and on cable systems that added the channel prior to the launch. Here are some snippets- apparently, some people thought they had hallucinated this stuff and other people thought it was a Satanic message!
  • In Venezuela, Chile, Argentina and other countries there are Cadenas where the government can interrupt all the TV channels and radio stations at will. This was made for emergency reasons but has been abused for propaganda by all the governments, to say the least. At the time of writing cadena. What's the emergency? The president is graduating college students.
  • In 1996, someone was recording WKCR 89.9, the radio station of Columbia University, when it was interrupted by a disturbing broadcast involving otherworldly voices, a woman reading the obituaries of people who died in the 1980s, and funeral bells. Exactly what the broadcast was is still unknown, whether it was just a prank by some bored college kids, or a genuine message from Hell.
    • A subreddit has been dedicated to the incident, with several other theories, such as the broadcast being experimental music. Also of note is that one of the obituaries was for Frank Oppenheimer, a victim of the Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist bombing. A few users think the recording is a fake, even being part of a Creepypasta.
  • Mad Scientist Joseph Konopka, better known as Dr. Ch@os, liked to tamper with radio and television broadcasts across Wisconsin in the late '90s For the Evulz by sabotaging radio towers or simply lighting them on fire. However, on one occasion he managed to remotely hack into a local radio station and make it play whatever recording he wanted. There are no recordings of the incident available, but it was apparently so bad the station shut it down with the only thing listeners able to hear being the Emergency Broadcast signal.
  • Notably averted during the 2006 autumn protests in Hungary, when extremists attempted to take over the state television. Even after the extremists took control of the TV building's lower floors, stealing or burning everything they found, the channel still continued broadcasting its normal evening news programme, obviously with coverage of the ongoing attacks on the TV station.
  • Iranian state-run TV was hacked several times in 2022 as part of the protests against the compulsory hijab laws. With the sheer size of the cybersecurity budget that goes into preventing this sort of thing, the fact that protestors managed to do it more than once was considered a major power move, helping to put dents in the dictatorship's invincible image.
  • In Israel in late 2016, an news broadcast had its satellites hacked into, in a protest against proposed laws to limit the volumes of mosque loudspeakers delivering Muslim Adhan prayers.
  • The Emergency Alert System in the US. Once, the system in Montana was hijacked by a prankster saying that the bodies of the dead were rising from their graves and attacking. The officials naturally weren't amused.
    • In 2018, the Emergency Alert System in Hawai'i was triggered during a drill, sending a false warning of an incoming ballistic missile to televisions, radios, and cell phones throughout the main islands of the state. The alert was rapidly retracted; but not before numerous people throughout the islands had run for shelter. The false warning was issued by an Hawai'i Emergency Management Agency employee who had previously confused drills for actual alerts. He reported having not heard the "exercise, exercise, exercise" notice at the beginning of the drill. He was eventually fired and his supervisor resigned.
  • Audio outputs temporarily muted. Do not adjust the playback volume. The content being played is protected by Cinavia and is not authorized for playback on this device. Trying to play a video file which happens to have a particular stealth signal in its audio channel will cause this trope 20 minutes after playback. It is supposedly aimed against piracy, but will also hit fair use rights such as on-disk backups of legally owned Blu-Ray disks.
  • Ren and Stimpy did a promo on Dallas station KNON-FM for The Hour of Slack (made by the Church of the SubGenius) by taking control of the tubes of the listeners' radios.
    Ren: Keep leestening you eediots!
    Stimpy: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
    Ren: Else I will keel you!!
  • On May 2, 2007 in the Middletown, New Jersey area, a broadcast of Handy Manny was interrupted by pornography. Comcast was the provider responsible for the mix-up. A similar thing happened on September 7, 2012 in the Fairview, North Carolina area, when an airing of Lilo & Stitch was hijacked by porn. On the second instance, the provider was the Dish Network.


Video Example(s):


The Max Headroom Incident

On November 22, 1987, an unknown group of people hijacked a WTTW re-run of the 1977 Doctor Who serial "Horror of Fang Rock" using a pre-recorded video parodying the Channel 4 character Max Headroom. The video, which features "Max" erratically mocking various bits of pop culture before being spanked by a French maid, aired for 90 seconds before cutting back to Doctor Who. To this day, the parties responsible have never been identified. Note: this clip has been edited for conciseness.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / MockHeadroom

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