Subtitles are most commonly used to provide an accurate translation of foreign speech, or to assist viewers with hearing difficulties. That is not their only use, however. In a silly enough work, they may well be used for jokes, parodying the content, or various other silliness. These jokes can even extend so far as to Break The Fourth Wall.
- Dairy Queen gives us a variation in a literal sense:
"And these aren't just subtitles, these are subtitles I like to ride on." (rolls away, well, riding the subtitles)
- A Kronenbourg 1664 beer commercial has people speaking in French, but "blah blah blah" for subtitles. (July 2013)
- An accidentally funny use of subtitles occurs frequently during the commercial breaks. If you watch TV with the "888" function enabled so that subtitles come up on the screen, most TV shows screened in Britain now have them. But advertising is lagging behind - so that some adverts have subtitles and some do not. When the advert break moves from an advert with subtitling to one without, on Freeview the last subtitled phrase from the previous advert remains on screen throughout the next advert. Thus the last line of a medication advert aimed at parents of children might be For all infestations of headlice and nits. If this stays on screen over an advert for expensive sophisticated shampoo and conditioner of the Laboratoires Garnier or L'Oreal type, there is room for a certain mirth...
- Another example saw the last line from an advert for a diarrhoea medication superimposed over the following advert - which was for McDonald's. An advert emphasising how tasty and fulfilling a Big Mac burger is to eat was accompanied by a persistent line of subtitling saying "For all cases of stubborn and persistent diorrhea".
- This can happen in the US as well. Our closed captioning must be using the same tech.
- Crayon Shin-chan's gag dub is already hilarious, but one episode features a character working as a detective in a parody of Lupin III, and at one point he must hop on platforms floating on lava. (Or some red, hot, liquid material) The steam from the lava is everywhere, and subtitles below says, "Okay, this was WAY too much of a bitch to translate. Use your imagination. Seriously, look at all that steam. We're not dealing with that. This would spell 'E-Q-U-A' if we cared. If you squint your eyes, it kind of looks like English." A later episode did the same thing with the label for a bag in a windstorm, even calling back to the previous example at the same time.
- The second episode of Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has a particularly convoluted subtitle gag. The characters are just speaking gibberish and the subtitles (in Japanese) are nonsense about the Dragon Balls. One fansubbing group who were stuck in the unenviable position of translating all that both translated the subtitles and added "supertitles" to show the actual lines from the manga chapter on which the episode is based, which is about Commodore Perry. Sorta.
- These screenshots of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit make the subtitles seem full of innuendo.
- Excel Saga has a multi-layered subtitle gag that plays around with both the English dub and Japanese original track in one episode.
Watanabe: "I can't read all that at once!!"
- How to best explain it... The episode starts with the flying words in space, ala Star Wars. The words are in English, but it's a Japanese series so they provide a Japanese translation at the side, and the narrator also speaks out the Japanese translation. If you watch it in the original Japanese or the English dub, that's it. But watch it with English subs, and you'll get not only the original English text, but also a translation of the Japanese translation written on the side of the screen, and a translation of the narrator's reading of the translation. All of this results in the screen being full of text, with three different English versions, each with subtle differences.
- And there's Sumiyoshi, who only speaks in subtitles that everyone can read. At one point his subtitle is a whole paragraph long, but only on screen for 2 seconds.
- Often, in the US DVD release, jokes will be put in the subtitles of the Japanese with English subs, but put the punchline in the English dub, AND vice versa, acting as a sort of Genius Bonus for fans who take the time to watch the series in both sub and dub formats, which is actually a likely choice for most viewers anyway because of how wacky the Gratuitous English is in the spoken dialog of the Japanese audio already!
- In the first Urusei Yatsura movie, Lum's mother's speech has two sets of subtitles. One, in English and with parentheses, explains that Lum's mom is speaking not Japanese but an alien language which no human understands. The other set reads "Ιφ ψου χαν ρεαδ τηισ⊃" followed by "⊃ψου∍ρε α σεριουσ Οτακυ." In case you're wondering, that is the result of writing "If you can read this " / " you're a serious Otaku" in the Symbol typeface from classic Mac OS (using the Mac OS Roman character set).
- Funimation's Gag Dub of Sgt. Frog has matching Gag Subs; some of the sign subtitles even go as far as to argue with the narrator.
- The fansub group Commie Subs has a habit of doing this, as seen here with Nisekoi. Highlights include multiple instances of subtitles following characters, having Japanese subtitles when Chitoge speaks in Gratuitous English, and having the subtitles fill with red when blood spurts from Raku's mouth when he realizes Seishirou is a girl.
- One fansub of the second season of Darker Than Black replaces Hei's request for the meteor fragment with "I'll let you go if you blow me."
- In the Pokémon anime's XY season, one character was such a Motor Mouth that the subtitles had to shrink down to minuscule writing to translate everything that he said in a single frame.
- Code Geass has several (in)famous examples:
- This◊ screenshot depicts a short subtitle which just says "Checkmate"... And a Wall of Text above it consisting of translation notes, possibly from four different people, which fill the screen with details about the characterization implied by an illegal move. This got enough Memetic Mutation that a fansub of a Kämpfer episode in which the line "Checkmate" is used in a different context almost uses the same wall of text, only to interrupt themselves upon realizing that it doesn't apply to the anime shown.
- Another fansub has subtitles running Pizza Hut ads when there is no dialogue.
- One of the Haruhi Suzumiya ASOS Brigade promos for the season 1 DVD release messed with the subtitles to turn them into Leet Speak.
- An episode of Lost Universe involved a political figure from some foreign country and a rebel leader (in a chicken costume) arguing in complete gibberish. One fansubber decided to subtitle their conversation anyway, having them arguing over the ethics of releasing fansubs.
- Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer features an in-universe movie that dramatizes Celestial Being's battle against the A-LAWS...as an utterly ridiculous Super Robot show. Some fansubbers had a field day with this sequence, foregoing their usual high-quality work and using deliberately terrible subs in a parody of a few infamously bad sub groups. This includes subs written with awkward and hard-to-read Fonts, karaoke subs at one point, several terms left untranslated (and even a few terms and proper names that were already in English were "de-translated" into bad Japanese), and the use of gratuitous, screen-filling translator's notes.
- One Piece has lots of subs in different languages where whenever someone calls out their attacks, the words are usually given in a different font and sometimes minor animations that would match up the user's personality or style. (An example is Luffy's, which is usually given in a bold font that changes colors depending on situations, such as when he had a golden ball grafted to his arm, the subs would be colored yellow to match the usage of "golden/ougon".)
- Due to U.S. Broadcasting requirements, a lot of dubbed DVDs sold in the States end up with two subtitle tracks: traditional subtitles based on a more-or-less literal translation of the original language track, and closed captioning for the hearing impaired, which is a word-for-word transcription of the English dub. So one can create their own fun with subtitles by playing with the subtitle and audio settings, or see how much effort was spent on localization.
- On Spirited Away North American home video releases, the subtitles boast intentionally botched spelling when Sen and Yubaba greet an extremely filthy spirit, as if its stench somehow disgusts them to the extent that they can't speak clearly.
- In the second episode of Humanity Has Declined, the protagonist uses subtitle glasses to understand a villain. However, the quality is poor, and she spends several minutes adjusting the focus. This causes the subtitles to change, becoming blurry, then sharper, then blurry again, and so on. Once she has achieved her desired level of quality, she then asked the villain to repeat the world domination speech she missed.
- In an unintentional example, when episode 30 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo was simulcasted on Crunchyroll, it was accidentally put up with the subtitle track for episode 7 of Fruits Basket, which had debuted during the same week. It stayed like that for a whole day before it was fixed.
- The Vietnamese fan subtitles for Yuri!!! on Stage had fun at Victor's expense. ("Passacaille in Barcelona" plays so that Victor can Wangst about this.)
- Adam Hills frequently performs with a sign-language interpreter and will often say things or get the audience to react in a certain way for the express purpose of getting the interpreter to sign a word or expression that is visually humorous/embarrassing.
- He even lampshaded it during one of his routines: He explained how a flight attendant managed to subtly insult her passengers by adapting a very rude Auslan sentence she'd picked up from his show into her pre-flight safety demonstration (as part of showing where the emergency exits were).
- Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham pulled a similar gag when he and Peanut noticed that a signer was in attendance to interpret for a group of deaf people. Cue to Peanut spouting gibberish, then moving his mouth without saying anything at all, in order to see the reactions of the bewildered group as their interpreter responded accordingly.
- In the Reduced Shakespeare Company's version of Hamlet, Ophelia comes on stage running around and screaming wordlessly, while an interpreter waves her arms. When Ophelia notices the interpreter, she stops and experimentally waves her arms; the interpreter screams.
- Played with, like everything else, in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
- In Episode 9, we're hearing the Latin American version of the episode, only to read "All of your Puzzle are belong to me!"
- Episode 10 uses part of "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" instead of the normal opening, subtitling the lyrics by taking the original lyrics and making them more about card games. For example, the final line, "Young boy, become a legend", is replaced with "Young boy, play some card games".
- The abridged 2nd movie had this for the Title Sequence, giving the mondegreen treatment to the opening and ending.
- Nearly everything Pikachu says in this specific Pokémon Abridged Series is given a meaning it could not have had in the original anime. Metapod evolving into Butterfree elicits a subtitle of "Yay the drugs are gonna come out".
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan animation Smile HD (warning: NSFW), Pinkie Pie at one point uses the subtitles to bludgeon one her friends. They keep on going, and she keeps up the beating...
- Sword Art Online Abridged likes to sneak extra jokes into its subtitles.
Kirito: I mean, aside from the fact that our daughter died in front of us thinking she was alone and unloved.Subtitles: #parentsoftheyear
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged does this occasionally, most prominently in the abridging of Dragon Ball Z: Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan. For example, Paragus mistakenly calls Trunks a princess due to his long hair and Vegeta runs with it because he's a Jerkass; after this scene the subtitles refer to him as "Princess Trunks" several times. In addition, when Piccolo lets out a Skyward Scream Big "NO!" upon learning Gohan didn't get into the school he wanted, the subtitles read "Gohan's Dad." Nowadays it's even standarized: In Youtube captioning, the serious captions go under "English", while "English (Canada)" is the one packed full of subtitle gags.
- In The Boss Baby, the Elvis impersonators all use Elvis-sounding phrases or song titles when speaking; their meaning is presented in subtitles at the bottom of the screen.
- Near the end of The Simpsons Movie, Santa's Little Helper, the family dog, barks his explanation of how he lived while the town was under the dome.
Bart: Boy, you survived! How?Santa's Little Helper: (subtitled) I did things no dog should do. They will haunt me forever.Bart: I love you, too.
- In The Croods: A New Age, the Punch Monkeys have developed a primitive Conlang which is spoken by growling at and punching each other. When Grug and Phil fight while in their custody, random gibberish is displayed in the subtitles.
Grug: (punching Phil in the face) Rock rock rock rock rock...
- The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie did this briefly, translating Princess Mindy's seahorses' whinnying to "Mermaid magic?"
- Ken Loach's 1991 film Riff Raff had regional British accents so thick that the American release gave it English subtitles.
- Following the tradition of the comic book Scott Pilgrim vs. The World plays with subtitles all over the movie, including introducing characters, giving backstory,and even Painting the Medium.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which inspired the writing of this trope: the opening credits are in English, with subtitles in a faux-Scandinavian language. Eventually the subtitles transform from fairly decent As Long as It Sounds Foreign to a weird ramble about Sweden and a moose biting someone's sister—clearly in English, but with a few spelling eccentricities to retain the Scandinavian edge.
- In Johnny Dangerously, subtitles appear on screen to state the year the movie takes place. Then a car drives over them, as they are actually plaster props standing in the street.
- Austin Powers in Goldmember has a scene in which Austin converses with a Japanese CEO. The subtitles are in white, and happen to be obscured by objects that are also white. Eventually the CEO decides to just speak in English, because Austin himself was following the conversation by reading the subtitles and was getting confused.
"Please eat some shitake mushrooms""Your assignment is an unhappy one""I have a huge rodent problem"
"I do have a huge rod...I wish"
- ... Even though "shiitake" is actually spelt with two i's...
- A bit later Austin says this:
- The Bowdlerised TV edit has the Japanese executive offer Austin some dungeness crab.
- There was another scene where Austin has a conversation with his dad in "English English" so that the two American girls in the room would not understand. It is subtitled for the viewer, though eventually the subtitles start getting confused (replacing long stretches of the conversation with "??????"), only catching up to the final phrase: "...and shat on a turtle!".
- Or with "tea kettle".
- Snatch. had Mickey the Pikey, who spoke English with a very thick accent. An extra on the DVD has Mikey subtitled; the subtitles once read "?????????".
- In the parody movie Fatal Instinct, a woman is plotting in the middle of a park with her lover to kill her husband, and the two of them speak subtitled Yiddish. At one point, the man sitting in the bench answers a question the lover asked her. When she asked if he understood Yiddish, he replied that he was simply reading the subtitles, at which point, the two of them look down at the words, as if just noticing them.
- The Man with Two Brains jokes goes like this: The character is arrested, and the policeman addresses him in subtitled German. When he is answered in English, he exclaims "Oh, you speak English!" before telling his associate to drop the subtitles.
- Mostly-silent movie The Artist begins with a man being tortured with noise from headphones. The intertile card reads "I won't talk! You can't get me to say a single word!", which is the first of several "silent" jokes in the movie.
- George of the Jungle:
- When George is speaking "gorilla" to his ape friends. Normally George has about as basic a vocabulary and grammar rules as anybody, but apparently he speaks gorilla like a Shakespearean scholar, complete with a calligraphy-style typeface for the subtitles.
- In addition to the above, they also keep the subtitles for the German(ic) mercenaries: "Thank you, sir!" and "Oh, see the monkey." Predictably, they're speaking perfect English....
- Taken up to 11 in the sequel. The animals are translated into English, but the subtitles are animal sounds.
- In Wayne's World, there are subtitles when Wayne speaks Cantonese. However, at one point he stops talking, and the subtitles keep coming. The implication is that the four word Cantonese phrase Wayne uses is worth a couple of paragraphs in English, taking considerably more time to get all the text on the screen than it is to say. This is a play on foreign films where long streams of speech are accompanied by ridiculously minute, concise subtitles. It's also a reference to the Looney Tunes cartoon Wackiki Wabbit, cited below.
- In the sequel, when he inadvertently insults his girlfriend's father, provoking an imminent fight, Wayne asks if they can switch from subtitles to dubbing (since it's going to be a martial arts fight scene).
- Very well. If that is your custom, prepare to die.
- In the sequel, when he inadvertently insults his girlfriend's father, provoking an imminent fight, Wayne asks if they can switch from subtitles to dubbing (since it's going to be a martial arts fight scene).
- A nightclub scene in Trainspotting has two simultaneous conversations subtitled, because the music is too loud to understand what the characters are saying otherwise. The joke was reported lost in the US, where the entire film had Glaswegian/English subtitles.
- The Imposters has a scene where one of the heroes overhears a terrorist plot... while hiding under the bed & reading the terrorist's subtitles.
- A very rare non-comedic example: in Man on Fire, the subtitles start out behaving normally, appearing at the bottom of the screen whenever character speaks in a non-English language. As the film goes on, however, they get...weird. They start popping up one word at a time. They turn up when a character is speaking English anyway. They appear in unorthodox parts of the screen. Finally they've all but taken over the film, with such instances as a large grainy word appearing right out of a character's mouth and floating creepily across the screen before dissolving becoming not uncommon.
- Which follows Creasy's increasing descent into madness quite well. Only when he finds that Pita is still alive do the subtitles go back to normal, more or less.
- Barfly Jack in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels recounts a story involving one of the film's antagonists in an almost impenetrable block of Cockney rhyming slang, with English subtitles.
He then proceeds to order an Aristotle of the most ping-pong tiddly in the Nuclear sub.
- In Airplane!, the two black guys speak "Jive" to everybody. While they're speaking to each other, their conversation is subtitled, but later on the subtitles end, and an elderly lady who happens to "speak jive" volunteers to translate.
- And the translator was June Cleaver, no less.
- The Bilingual (French/English) movie Bon Cop, Bad Cop the two main characters switch back and forth between French and English. In the "English" version, only when they're speaking French do subtitles appear, translating the dialog into English (and the reverse happens in the so-called French version of the movie). It is also possible to display the entire movie with English or French subtitles, or to have each language subtitled only in itself. David, the Quebecois cop, assuming that his Ontario counterpart, Martin, only understands English, makes snarky remarks about him in French.
David (after the 'squarehead' suddenly addresses him in fluent français): "You speak French?"Martin: Non, je ne parle pas français. Je me suis fait installer un petit gadget au cerveau and I see subtitles under people when they speak. (No, I don't speak French. I had a little gadget installed in my brain et je vois des sous-titres sous les gens quand ils parlent.)
- Not Another Teen Movie features a character who speaks in a series of light foreign accents but receives subtitles despite being perfectly intelligible. Also, she spends the entire movie naked and, when necessary, there large spaces are left in the subtitles to keep her nipples visible.
- Woody Allen's film Annie Hall has a scene where the two leads, newly met and mutually attracted, are awkwardly conversing with each other. Subtitles start appearing which reveal what each of them is actually thinking as they talk.
- In Major League III, when Gus Cantrell speaks with Tanaka to coax him to play for the Buzz, Tanaka's very heavily accented English words are subtitled in English, while Cantrell's English is subtitled in Japanese.
- Later on, a nigh-incomprehensible shout is subtitled as:
- The closed captioning in at least one VHS edition of Disney's Pete's Dragon slightly colorized some of the lyrics to the song "Every Little Piece" — the word "gold" appeared in yellow text, and some other references to money, cash, etc. were in dark green. It was an older tape, at that.
- It didn't stop there — everything Elliot uttered was captioned in bright green.
- Crank: two men having a conversation where one was subtitled. When the camera cut to the other's perspective, the subtitles could be seen floating in the air back to front. Hard to explain. Just watch it.
- The character in question, Chev Chelios, has been taking drugs all day and committing innumerable acts of violence in an effort to keep his adrenaline up. Near the end of the movie, he's in an elevator with a Chinese businessman, when he begins hallucinating that the man is talking to him in various people's voices (his mother's, his enemy's, and others). Then Chev begins to hallucinate that the man is speaking to him in Chinese, and he sees subtitles in the air. Throughout the movie there are other instances of subtitles being used in creative ways.
- In The Master of Disguise, after a lengthy plotting session in Italian, someone sneezes; the subtitles translate "Gesundheit" to "God bless you" and "God bless you" to "Gesundheit".
- The Three Stooges in Orbit. The Martian invaders talk in their own gibberish language, with subtitles to let the audience know what they're saying. When the Stooges encounter them for the first time, they just read the subtitles on the screen below them to work out what they're saying. There's also a gag in which a long string of words turns out to be the Martian equivalent of "Idiot!" At the end of the movie the Martians speak in English ("If you can't beat them, join them!") with the subtitles in their own language, which then rearrange into THE END.
- The titular monsters in the horror movie Critters speak a high-speed alien gibberish, which comes with humorous subtitles: "They have weapons." "So what?" BLAM "Fuck!" Then, at the very end when the Critters belatedly realize a bomb has been planted on their spaceship, they clearly say "Uh oh.." Subtitle: Uh oh. BOOM.
- In the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard, the prisoner Turley (played by Dalip "The Great Khali" Singh, who has gigantism) speaks English, but his words come out garbled enough that subtitles are given for everything he says, even if you can understand him. "I'm glad you're back. Now I don't have to stab you."
- In Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino sometimes subtitles well-known foreign words (like "merci") as themselves, rather than as their English translations, when translation subtitles are shown. Most likely, the decision was because he presumed that everyone, whether or not they knew the languages being translated, would know these small words.
- There's a German truck driver in EuroTrip who won't go near Berlin anytime soon. According to the subtitles, he sexually assaulted a horse there. He actually says that he will be arrested should he even come close to Berlin (for killing a woman, that is. No horse).
- A Japanese character in Another Gay Movie speaks English, but her lines are subtitled in Japanese.
- One of the major appeals of the subtitled version of Night Watch is the use of subtitles. The subtitles for a vampire's psychic lure turn red and dissipate like blood in water, text read off a computer is typed out (complete with cursor), a woman's shout takes up a good bottom sixth of the screen.
- Subtitle tracks for Disney Animated Canon on DVD usually wind up on one of three levels:
1: Both speaking and singing subtitles match what is heard. Usually preserved for the "[language] for the hearing impaired" tracks.2: Singing, but not speaking, subtitles match the audio. By far the most common.3: Neither singing nor speaking subtitles match the audio. Rare, but it happens.
- The Swedish subtitle track for Hercules, on the other hand, took the third to a new level. The speaking parts have incorrect subtitling, as do the singing parts, but the thing is, the subtitles during the singing part is "correct" in that it fits the beat of the music. You can sing along to the music using the "incorrect" subtitles. This implies that whoever wrote the Swedish subtitles either a) didn't get to listen to the audio track he/she was subtitling and had to subtitle the English track, complete with translating songs in a way that made sense, or b) was working from an old translation that got replaced before it reached the voice actors, or c) just said "Fuck it" and wrote a completely original subtitle track, complete with translating songs in a way that made sense.
- In Death Race, the character 14K speaks the majority of his lines in Mandarin Chinese, with English subtitles to translate. The one line he says in English is given an appropriate subtitle in Mandarin.
- The line is "Fuck me!".
- The raccoons from The Great Outdoors every time they show up their chattering produces subtitles about how they will find ways to outsmart John Candy's character to get at his garbage.
- Older Than Television: From the 1927 silent film Sunrise, The Woman From The City suggests that the Man drown his wife. The intertitle text melts and runs down to the bottom of the screen.
- In Fat Head, there's a clip of the lawyer from Super Size Me explaining why McDonald's has to be the one making everybody fat. Subtitles appear replacing his tenuous logic with It's All About Me (in particular, "hundreds of years" becomes "they don't have much money").
- Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol includes another of the rare non-comedic examples of this trope. The movie is set in Russia, and at one point, Agent Hunt gets caught in the middle of an explosion. As he regains consciousness, he overhears a TV broadcast... and, momentarily, the subtitles displayed to the viewer are in Russian. As Hunt becomes less disoriented and begins to remember the language, the subtitles begin to seamlessly fade from Russian into English.
- Emilio Estevez trips over them in the spoof film Loaded Weapon 1, first damaging them as he cracks his shin, then obliterating them (and his toe) as he kicks the remnants in frustration.
- Occasionally Pain and Gain will pause, and a written message will flash on screen, including a list of cocaine side-effects and a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer.
- The Monuments Men: Granger's attempts at speaking French are translated literally in the subtitles.
- On the DVD for The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, there's some choice subtitles, including 1337 $p33k, Swedish Chef, and binary (which takes up the entire screen). Also "d20," which references all the combat techniques and skill checks used in the game.
- In Volunteers, Lawrence and At Toon have trouble understanding Lucille, so they examine her subtitles to understand what she is saying.
- At one point in Hardcore Henry, Jimmy gets in an argument with two women, all speaking in Russian. As the argument gets more and more heated, the subtitles start layering on top of one another until the entire conversation is unreadable.
- In the Hindi thriller Kahaani, a secondary villain, after discovering the heroes have managed to make off with some important data, dramatically yells "OH SHIT" at the sky, in English. Should you be watching with the English subtitles on, this will also be subtitled...as "Oh no!"
- In Transformers, Cybertronian speech is first subtitled in Cybertronian script before being overlaid with English. This was previously done in Wing Commander.
- Between Two Ferns: The Movie: The captions introducing the talk show guests are rife with misspellings and Actor Allusions — for example, Matthew McConaughey is credited as "Dazed and Confused (also an actor)", while Hailee Steinfeld is "H. Lee Seinfeld", since Zach can't get her name right.
- In Mean Girls girls in an American high school are supposed stand up to reveal what mean things other girls have done to them. Two girls argue about stealing one's boyfriend- in Vietnamese. The audience gets subtitles, but the principal and teacher are baffled.
- Late Night with Conan O'Brien has a sketch about Letters from Iwo Jima, which replaced the real subtitles with fake ones that basically had the actors having a conversation that since Clint Eastwood doesn't speak Japanese, they can say pretty much whatever they want.
- Lampshaded in Green Acres "The Vulgar Ring":
Lastvogel [subtitled Hungarian]: Hello dere... Who was you?
Cornelius: Well, how do you do? Where did you come from? [Honan yötél te?]
Lastvogel [subtitled Hungarian]: From over there.
Cornelius: What did you say? [Mit mondtál?]
Lastvogel: Over there in the woods.
Cornelius: Oh, you understand English.
Lastvogel: No, I was reading your Hungarian subtitles.
- Sherlock has a lot of Fun With Subtitles.
- The show relies heavily on email, IM, and texting conversations depicted with subtitles next to the character reading them, eliminating the need for many shots of computer and smartphone screens.
- The main character's trademark Sherlock Scan is depicted with floating subtitles that point out his observations and the conclusions he draws from them. The subtitles appear, fade, and transmute as Sherlock's focus shifts and he revises his conclusions.
- Subtitles are also treated as a part of the environment: reflecting in mirrors, floating in and out of windows, sliding away along with the objects they are connected to, and so forth. Sherlock will sometimes physically interact with subtitles representing his thought processes, especially in "mind palace" sequences.
- The third season Big Bad also uses "mind palace" memory techniques, in his case to manage vast files of blackmail information. This is visually represented with subtitles. Specifically, a dossier for each person he looks at displayed in Google Glass-like screen text.
- This is even more, fitting the trope, as those texts make the spectator think, that he got all the information through his glasses. And Sherlock thinks the same, until he checks the glasses himself.
- Gags with subtitles were also common in the Monty Python TV shows; The best example is probably from the Book at Bedtime/Kamikaze Scotsmen sketch, which features a highly confused conversation between two Russians, one of whom is speaking in Russian subtitled in English, and the other in English subtitled in Russian... and then French... and then German... and then Japanese...
- The Australian comedy series The D-Generation had a skit showing a look-a-sound-alike Australian Crawl band performing, with the lyrics of the lead singer (notoriously hard to decipher) subtitled. Eventually the subtitles end up showing "????" and "something about hairspray?"
- In The Middleman episode "The Sino-Mexican Revelation," when Wendy Watson switches from Spanish to English, the subtitles switch from English to Spanish. This gag would have been repeated, though with different players, in the never-filmed final episode.
- The episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that featured Godzilla VS Megalon featured a rather hilariously poorly-subtitled version of the Jet Jaguar song
- He jock it made of steel. Eat sushi from a pail. Jet Jaguar? Jet Jaguar. He mother never really love him.
- A sketch on Saturday Night Live with Elle MacPherson had the subtitle guy saying things like, "Man this chick is HOT!" and "I'm going to have a better look." and several seconds later a random guy with a headset walks behind her checking her out. All the while MacPherson is delivering a generic monologue.
- The old SNL sketch with Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat advertising his music album. Because of his ... idiosyncratic pronunciation, every song is pretty much unintelligible. But when he starts singing "Bette Davis Eyes," the subtitles which have up to that point been giving the names of the songs default to "??????????"
- DVDs of The IT Crowd have an extra subtitle track in 1337 or ROT13 depending on the episode.
- In the UK series two DVD each episode's extra subtitle track contained a file in Base64; each file was a clue to a competition where the first winner got a laptop. Unfortunately by the deadline, no one had figured it out yet. This was so impressive that the series three DVD had a mini documentary about it.
- The Look Around You DVD subtitles are designed to look like classic Ceefax ones. In the extras, one of the special features has deliberately corrupted subtitles, similar to what you would see if your TV reception was poor.
- A Bull Island sketch had an Irish guy land in Afghanistan. The Arabic dialogue was subtitled in English, but all the English dialogue got the same line of Arabic for the subtitle.
- CNX once did an ad for some sort of contest in which what the narrator said was subtitled, with one exception — when the narrator said "brave contestants", the subtitles read 'crazy fools'.
- Burn Notice announces each character as they first appear with their name and relationship to Michael — for example "Nate — The Brother" or "Random Schlub — The Client". The writers are not above using the subtitles to make jokes — in one episode, Michael met a guy who, after being called a mercenary, insisted that he was a "military contractor". The subtitles immediately shot back with "Ryder Stahl — Mercenary".
- Another episode has a Miami's 2nd biggest heroin dealer have the subtitle saying "Carmelo — Heroin Dealer" the second part is swiftly replaced by "(Second Biggest)".
- And in yet another episode, Michael greets a Czech assassin with a DIY knuckle-duster to the face (a bent butter knife) and "[something in Czech], comrade," which the subtitles translate as "Welcome to Miami, ass*** ." (Asterisks.)
- In another episode, the villain is a car thief who's trying to kill a teenager for roughing him up, after the thief attempted to rape his underage sister. The client says he should never have messed with a "stone-cold gangster", and the subtitle pops up "Felix Cole—Gangster". Fiona, who had been enraged by hearing about the thief's actions, claims that he doesn't deserve to be called a gangster and that he's a pervert. The subtitles pop back up, this time reading "Felix Cole—Pervert".
- There is at least one instance of someone being introduced as "Random Schlub — Random thing". Once Michael agrees to take him on as a client, the subtitles come back with "Random Schlub — Client".
- And the memorable one in another episode: "Probably Not An Alien..."
- A character asks Michael if there is a Russian word for "Hardass" upon seeing the episode's Big Bad. Said Big Bad's subtitles display the appropriate Russian word with "(Hardass)" next to it.
- At one point in the Season 3 mid-finale "Long Way Back", Fiona angrily snaps at Michael "I am NOT one of your damn clients!" The subtitle immediately shoots back "Fiona — Client".
- Don't forget "Cantenna — Cute Little Improvised Hacking Device".
- Two FBI agents go to Michael's mother's house, telling her they are Michael's friends. The subtitles show them with "Lane and Harris — Not Michael's Friends". In another episode Michael states that there are a lot of people who'd like to see him arrested. Cut to Lane and Harris with subtitles "Lane and Harris — Guys who'd love to see Michael arrested."
- Being so used to the cute, funny, friendly subtitles also makes them suitable for creepier effect- for instance, the one that said nothing but "Management", indicating that we knew almost nothing about this guy and what we did know was not suitable for snark.
- And Simon's first appearance simply gave him the subtitle "?".
- In Tyler Brennan's first appearance, he's introduced with "Brennan — Black Market Trader". When Michael's ex-fiancee (long story) calls him an "evil son of a bitch"...
- In his second appearance, he extorts Mike into helping him steal some Applied Phlebotinum from a lab, and tells Mike to think of him as "your new boss". The subtitles promptly supplied "Brennan — Michael's New Boss".
- In one episode, the the client is introduced normally as "Client". Later on, she turns out to be an assassin and the man she claimed had hidden her son from her was totally innocent. Her title is reintroduced as "Assassin" while the man gains the title of "New Client."
- Once, Michael Weston and another character go into a bar full of South American gangsters. "That's the boss I forgot how to say it in Spanish. A second later subtitles appear calling the boss "El Jefe".
- Then, there's this comedy clip involving why you don't subtitle insurgents... (originally from the Australian sketch comedy show Skithouse).
Insurgent #1: We are not afraid to ...are they subtitles? They are, aren't they? What do I need subtitles for? Can't you understand me? I studied English at the bloody American University in Cairo. ...Hey!! How come he doesn't need subtitles?
- Arrested Development had Lupe refer to Buster as the "retardo". The subtitle reads Buster.
- In the last season of Boston Legal, from a group of Chinese lawyers and their translator:
Lawyers: [untranslated Chinese]
Subtitle: [untranslated Chinese]
- Frequently on Viva La Bam, Don Vito's near-unintelligible speech is subtitled exactly how it's pronounced, which possibly makes how he talks even more confusing.
- Used in a MADtv sketch parodying K-Dramas (Korean soap opera); at one point, Cathy Shim simply says "Sarang" (Love) and the subtitles fill the screen entirely.
- On 30 Rock, when Liz is forced to do a major negotiation with German businessmen using only her half-remembered high school language training, the viewers only see the bits she remembers.
German Businessman: Return Germany... tell the... time... hubcap (?)
- Heroes: A minor example. The subtitles are placed near the character's mouths to represent word bubbles in a comic book. This makes them much easier to read.
- A sketch in Alexei Sayle's Stuff mocking Japanese car companies involved a Japanese businessman being subtitled during an interview. When the subtitles translate his words as "Basically, this is because my colleagues and I are complete and utter bastards", he begins shouting angrily, then runs up to the camera and peels off the subtitles, which are stuck to the 'inside' of the TV screen.
- MythBusters, during the Compact Compact revisit. The narrator claimed that Jamie wasn't going to cuss Adam out for making a miscalculation... externally. Cue his next few lines being subtitled to make it look as if he is, indeed, cussing Adam out.
- In the "Bullet vs. RPG" episode, Grant asks if he can be the one to fire the RPG. John replies "We'll see". The subtitle below says "NO!"
- Top Gear had this when the presenters made their electric car a hybrid by bolting in an extremely noisy diesel generator.
- A neat example from Finnish television: an episode of Frasier featured a character who spoke with a very thick French accent. To get this across in Finnish, instead of writing her dialogue in mangled Finnish they just added accents in certain places. Mínd yôu, ít máde rèading hér dialógûe a bît mòré díffícùlt, but not markedly so.
- In the Wizards of Waverly Place TV movie, Alex ends up lost in a Latin American jungle and, not being fluent in Spanish, uses a subtitling spell to let her (and, of course, the audience) understand what the women she meets are saying about her. It's mostly insults.
- Leverage has an example similar to Burn Notice's in the pilot episode. The subtitles describe Parker as "Security Circum—" then are deleted and replaced with "Infiltration and Alter—" which is also deleted and replaced with "Thief."
- The season three opener, "The Jailhouse Job," subtitles the apartment above McRory's as "Nate's Apartment" but quickly deletes it and replaces it with "Leverage HQ."
- The Dutch comedy duo Kees Van Kooten and Wim the Bie once made a short music clip called "I Wanna Fuck You" performed by a very obvious parody of the Queen's (back then Heir Apparent's) brother-in-law. The subtitles were provided in Dutch, translating "I wanna fuck you" as "I like you" and the remainder of the translation was equally innocent... the text, not so much. The clip can be found here. Needless to say, it's NSFW.
- I Love Lucy. Twice.
- Lucy ends another argument with Ricky using her usual screwball logic. He goes into one of his Spanish tirades, and the subtitles read simply, "She's nuts."
- When the Ricardos and the Mertzes are in Italy, Lucy tries her hardest to get a part in an Italian movie, and of course fails miserably. Ethel gets the part instead, and Lucy mutters something which the subtitles translate as "CENSORED".
- In the NCIS episode Frame-up, while Ducky is making a mold of Tony's teeth to compare against teeth marks found on a leg, Tony asks him if he couldn't have used his dental records instead, but it is more or less unintelligible. The subtitles say "Cooon't yooo haaa uuuued my een-al ray-corss?"
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? has a game called Foreign Film Dub in which two of the actors fake a foreign language conversation and the other two actors off screen 'translate' their lines after each person speaks, Hilarity Ensues.
- The all-time greatest playing of this game, guest-starring comedy legend Sid Caesar, featured Caesar switching languages during every exchange, and in many cases, he didn't even need to fake the language! Mind you, this was on his 79th birthday, and they brought out a surprise birthday cake during the show.
- On Parks and Recreation, a Native American convinces the superstitious townspeople that a curse will happen due to them having the Harvest Festival on Indian Burial Ground. Leslie finally convinces him to undo it by performing a lifting-the-curse ceremony for the cameras. As he performs the "sacred ceremony", the subtitles read, "I am not saying anything. No one can understand me anyway. Doobee, doobee, do."
- One episode of the short-lived Misfits of Science series had a Cold Open set in East Berlin. The characters spoke English, but German and Russian subtitles appeared at the bottom of the screen.
- In Survivor, they had fun with Phillip where he said he was a former federal agent, but nobody really believed him. For the entire season, his occupation was "Former Federal Agent?"
- Similarly, Debbie from season 32 had a long resume that she liked to bring up (waitress, chemist, part time model, air patrol captain...). Each time she mentioned a new job, the occupation in her subtitle would change to it in her next confessional.
- In Big Brother, they had a couple fun with these:
- When Ivette told everyone she was gay, they cut to her in the diary room and instead of her usual occupation, they simply put "She's Gay" in the subtitle.
- When Britney was tethered to Brendon, they were both sitting in the diary room while Brendon described another punishment he took, wherein he was taking a bath in chum. Britney looks at the camera and mouths the words, "Help me" and they subtitled her.
- In one episode of Home Improvement, Tim and another man have an entire conversation using nothing but grunts and incoherent muttering. The subtitles translate what they're saying, including one quick grunt as a very long line of dialog.
- In Fargo, Mr. Wrench is deaf, so he usually talks in sign language as his partner, Mr. Numbers, translates. But in "Eating The Blame",note they talk to each other with nobody else around. So instead, subtitles appear next to their faces as they "talk."
- Fansubbers TV-Nihon, known mainly for working on Toku, are infamous for using typesetting to insert graphical effects into subtitles; for example, whenever a Kamen Rider or Ranger transforms, the subtitles will mimic the on-screen transformation, usually incorporating the character's emblem. This has the side effect of making TV-N's subs take an extra day or two to come out and has resulted in some fans dumping them in favor of groups like Over-Time, who get their releases out the day after an episode airs because they don't bother with such things.
- The Wrong Mans exploits this during the fourth episode, when some Chinese characters are speaking in their native tongue, subtitled in English. One of them then drops the F-bomb in English, which gets subtitled in Chinese and censored accordingly.
- Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? uses the English subtitles for The World Band Radio clue segment if the announcer on the doesn't speak English.
- One of the Get Smart remakes had the unreliable Cone of Silence be replaced by a room that converted spoken words into subtitles, so they couldn't be overheard. Unfortunately Max is such a Motor Mouth he quickly fills up the room, with people accidentally swallowing words when they try to speak and no-one able to make out any complete sentences.
- An episode of Gordon Ramsay's Hotel Hell, shown at ten-thirty in the morning, quite understandably had the frequent swear-words bleeped out. But Channel Four hadn't told whoever wrote the subtitles that Gordon's language wasn't appropriate for morning broadcast. Switch on subtitling, and every bleeped "fuck" and "shit" was faithfully reproduced in print.
- The Great British Bake Off: A lot of dialogue is subtitled in the professional spin-off Bake off: Creme de la Creme, on account of off-mic mumbling being practically the preferred method of communication. This is then subverted in the second series when one chef, who was convinced her team had done badly, finds out that they're actually only half a point behind the leaders, and expresses her delight in such robust fashion that she is subjected to a Sound-Effect Bleep:
Chef: BLEEP! BLEEEEEEP! BLEEP!
- Garth Marenghis Darkplace:
- Turn the subtitles on during the intro music and they'll display "CHEESY 80'S SYNTHESIZER MUSIC".
- The Scottish characters always have subtitles as if they're speaking a different language, despite the fact that they're perfectly understandable.
- California Dreams. On the episode "Dancing Isn't Everything," Maria tells Sly, "Ah, yo no te besaria ni con los labios de mi perro.", with subtitles reading "I wouldn't kiss you with my dog's lips," although she tells him it means, "We'll kiss after we win. It'll be sweeter in victory." Later on the episode, Sly asks her about the sentence, with the subtitles coming up again, and she says, "I meant every word of it," and points to the subtitles, with Sly reading them and saying, "'I wouldn't kiss you with my...' Oh man."
- Disasterpiece Theatre, an early 1980s show on San Diego TV station XETV (then independent, now Hispanic), was a precursor to Mystery Science Theater 3000 in that it made fun of bad movies. In this case, key scenes of the running movie were mocked through the use of snarky subtitles planted on the bottom of the screen.
- King of the Nerds: A conversation in Mandarin between Jack and Kelsey is subtitled as "Something in Chinese. I don't know, I'm just the editor".
- The Nine O'Clock News has a skit where a reporter is supposed to be interviewing an Arab terrorist, who breaks off to complain they're using subtitles.
I graduated the American University in Cairo- why are you using subtitles?!?
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's video for "Smells Like Nirvana" features subtitles on a stanza regarding Kurt Cobain's singing. "It's unintelligible/ I just can't get it through my skull/ It's hard to bargle nawdle zouss (???)/ With all these marbles in my mouth." This is a subversion, since those are the actual lyrics.
- This video features footage from Woodstock "captioned for the clear-headed". Though clearly not the lyrics to the song being sung, the audio sounds a lot closer to what's in the captions than it does to the real lyrics.
- Benny Lava is an Indian music video with English subtitles, which don't actually translate the Indian lyrics, but read what they sound like instead.
- The lyrics to the GWAR song Morality Squad render a character's roar as "(inarticulate bellowing)."
- Even The Muppets had a go, with the captions to their version of Popcorn (or "Pöpcørn", since it featured the Swedish Chef)...
- At the end of the music video for Ninja Sex Party's "Ultimate Sandwich," Danny is addressing the audience to check out their other videos in Spanish, while Richard the subtitler messes with his dialogue up until Ninja Brian kills him.
- In the music video for Shibboleth by Sir Reginald Pikedvant, Esquire, turning on the subtitles will show IPA pronunciations for whatever word is displayed on the sign Sir Reginald is holding—which makes sense, since it's a song showing the difference between the spelling of the word and the pronunciation.
- Vance Joy's video for "Riptide" uses them for a visual pun. The chorus ends with the line "you're gonna sing the words wrong", the video shows a person singing and gives the lyrics as "you gone and sank the worlds wolf."
- The captions for Bhad Bhabie's These Haux convey things that aren't part of the music or lyrics, but part of the video. For example, when Bhad Bhabie is walking, the subtitles point out how she's stomping in a "quieter than normal fashion," explains that she's "ANGER-LY" getting out of a vehicle, and claims that a gun-toting man making a video is an ISIS recruiter.
- Radio Tapok's cover of Sabaton's "Night Witches". The subtitles are normal during the actual lyrics of the song. But during the guitar solo, they start doing things like Saying Sound Effects Out Loud and making fun of the singer.
- Jay Park works mostly in the Korean music industry, but has a large international fanbase, as he was born in the United States. As a result, many of his music videos have English captions. The Korean is usually translated just fine, but they get a little lazy with the English. One prime example is Drive where guest artist Gray's verse is subtitled as "Gray Sexy English Time" and the last chorus is "Same hook as 1, 2, 3, It's late I'm going to sleep".
- "Can I Friend You On Bassbook? Lol" is a song by Camellia and Nanahira. The video was taken down once, but has since been brought back. It is well known for its "dancing" note subtitles. Spanish, English, and Italian subtitles all have fun with this through many means, but the Korean subtitles really take the "dancing subtitle" idea Up to Eleven. It has to be seen to be believed.
- I Don't Know How But They Found Me has this in several of their lyric videos. For example, during the saxophone solo in "Lights Go Down", the subtitles read, "(We were told not to have a sax solo here) (We did it anyway) (Eff the rules)".
- The second VCR Clue game, Clue II: Murder in Disguise, began the first scene of the Blue Chapter (based in Paris) with M. Brunette and Miss Peach entering a hotel lobby, where this dialog takes place:
Brunette: Well, here we are!
Peach: And just where is here?
(Brunette just points at the still up subtitle: "A Hotel Lobby Somewhere in Paris")
Peach: Paris? What are we doing in Paris, honey?
- When Fay poses as a sultry Frenchwoman in Anyone Can Whistle, she and love interest Hapgood carry on an extended conversation in French, with English surtitles for the audience in the style of French erotic films. At one point, Hapgood asks Fay a question and she has to consult the surtitle before answering.
- In one production, the translations were on large cue cards held by two extras, and continued into the ensuing song "Come Play Wiz Me," which mixes French and English. When Fay sang the English phrase "imperturbable perspicacity" (which means, in essence, "rock-solid insight"), the cue cards read "?????"
- It's common for productions of operas to feature projected surtitles translating the libretto into the local language. Baz Luhrmann played with this in his production of La Bohème, projecting the titles in various places on the set and in different typefaces, depending on which character was singing.
- In Thoroughly Modern Millie, the evil bad guys speak Cantonese (and sing in Mandarin) the entire show, which is subtitled via a projector on screen. In one song, however, they begin singing in English, and the subtitles change to Mandarin for the verse. The final time they sing it in English, the subtitles read: "You know the word."
- The Metropolitan Opera, rather than projected surtitles, has individual translation screens for each seat so that patrons can read the libretto in the language of their choice. When they staged Rigoletto in 2013, they changed the setting to 1960s Las Vegas. For the English subtitles, rather than a straight translation, they reinterpreted the text into Rat Pack-style song lyrics.
- In Night in the Woods, after Mae has gotten completely wasted (on just three cups of beer), her dialogue choices are all presented as eloquent and flowing, but her actual speech is slurred and wobbly, with the letters in her speech bouncing around everywhere.
Mae, dialogue choice: This was a terrible lapse of memory, Bea. I'm so sorry.
Mae, actual dialogue: Awe bee, I am acting lika jerk. Are you madat me?
- In Quest for Glory IV there is a group of inn patrons whose voice actors improv much of their dialogue, despite what the text reads. At one point, the written dialogue says "No one goes out at night", and the voiceover adds "except my girlfriend, but she's working."
- Or on Elephants, one of the men claimed that his wife was one of the elephants that ran away
- The character Suzie from killer7 interjects smileys into her speech. Also, in the Japanese version of the game, all instances of words relating to death or murder are highlighted in red and shaking very quickly, to give them a greater emphasis.
- In the sequel of Pokémon Ranger, several Team Dim Sun Grunts lament how the subtitles don't even give them individual names.
- Following the tradition of the comic books, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has information on every boss fought. And they have fun with it, the farther you go in the game.
Matthew Patel: Ramona's FIRST ex-boyfriend! Powers: Mystical
Lucas Lee: Ramona's SECOND ex-boyfriend! Powers: Just look him up online...
Todd Ingram: Ramona's THIRD ex-boyfriend! Currently Dating: Envy Adams! Cheating on her too!
Roxanne "Roxie" Richter: Ramona's FOURTH ex-boyfriend?! Gender: Female!
ROBOT-01: Invented by the Twins! Size: Small
Super Fighting Robot: Invented by the Twins! Size: Maximum!!!
Kyle K. and Ken K.: Ramona's FIFTH and SIXTH ex-boyfriends! Powers: Being Japanese...
Negascott: Scott Pilgrim's EVIL TWIN! Rating: Negative Awesome!
Super Gideon Graves: Ramona's SEVENTH ex-boyfriend! Powers: Just LOOK at him!
Gigagideon Graves: Ramona dated this guy?! Powers: Undefeatable!
Gideon Gordon Graves: Is this the real Gideon?! Powers: Unknown...
- Not from the game itself, but in the French track in the Silent Hill 2 Making of DVD, Akira Yamaoka, the composer, is being interviewed. After a while, he keeps speaking but no new subtitles appear. When they return, it's to display a message along those lines: "at this point, Akira is just finishing his sentence, but it takes a heck of a lot more time in Japanese, so we're trying to entertain you any way we can. We apologize for the inconvenience."
- In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Jaq's lines are subtitled into perfect English, which amusingly results in lines like "Gotta flurry, Ven-ven!" becoming "We have to hurry, Ven!"
- The Al Bhed in Final Fantasy X, like the rest of the dialogue, subtitled...in Al Bhed. However, as Tidus collects primers, gradually more and more of it will be shown in English, the apparent justification being that Tidus himself doesn't understand what's being said. Why this persists after Rikku joins, though, ventures into Fridge Logic.
- In The Stanley Parable, there's an Easter Egg where you can annoy the narrator by going in a broom closet and staying there. If you spend enough time in there, the narrator asks if you're holding out for another ending, and says there isn't one. He then snarks that you're probably stupid enough to think waiting in the closet is the ending, and you'll go on the internet afterwards to brag about it. His line is subtitled as, "OH, DID U GET THE BROOM CLOSET ENDING? THEB ROOM CLOSET ENDING WAS MY FAVRITE!1 XD", but the narrator says it without the intentional misspellings and emoticon.
- Jazzpunk doesn't so much have captions as large-print, all-caps text that floats in front of characters with cut-down versions of what they actually said. But occasionally they're intentionally miscaptioned, like an annoyed theater-goer shouting "Jackass!" and being subtitled "JACKALOPE". In a few cases, the line is so cut down as to remove the joke, making it technically an inversion:
- Red vs. Blue:
- One of the trailers uses this to hilarious effect. What starts out as a seemingly normal promotional trailer degrades into an argument between the voice over guy and the subtitler. And here is the aforementioned trailer.
- Possessed!Lopez's subtitles somehow translate "Madre de dios"note into "Son of a bitch." You can't get much farther from the truth than that.
- The YouTube versions indulge in it at times. One fight earns the caption "Blunt force trauma", while more often than not lines that can be considered innuendo are followed with "Bow Chicka Bow Wow".
- One episode of Banana-nana-Ninja! uses blinking subtitles for an intercom announcement. In an animated comic featuring Deadpool as a guest judge in a cooking contest, he complains about his subtitles and gets word balloons instead.
- In Sonic Shorts Volume 8, one short makes fun of the first battle scene between Sonic and Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2 by having Sonic make Shadow literally eat his words. Note that it's the only short with subtitles, so a savvy viewer might see the gag coming.
- Played for Laughs in Senpai Club:
- At the start of the first episode, Tsumiki bumps into a senpai and starts repeating "Baka!" but the subtitles act as if she's actually speaking coherent sentences.
- There is a lot of gratuitous swearing that doesn't get translated into the subtitles (parodying English subs that clean things up for younger audiences).
- In the Dick Figures episode "Steakosaurus", Red and Blue speak Caveman after spending an hour in Prehistoric times. At one point Red runs back to the time machine, Blue asks "Where are you going?" in Caveman, which the subtitles translate to English, Red replies "The Future" which the subtitles traslate to "Bru greh blah!", and Blue responds "Alright" in English, the subtitles say "Alright" in English.
- In the Youtube editions of RWBY Chibi, many actions are usually fitted in with little comments here and there. The subtitles were eventually phased out due to creating confusion with viewers who need subtitles.
- The fandom actually found a pretty creative solution allowing both real and funny subtitles to be kept. Youtube has a distinction between English(UK) and English(US) in the subtitle drop down. What the fandom has done is make one have just the normal subs and the other have the funny captions added to it.
- Eddsworld has the actual closed captions work like this. An example: When characters scream, the captions read "ARGHHHH"!
- Smile has Pinkie Pie using the song's subtitle as a weapon.
- The creator of Animator vs. Animation let the fans submit their own (non canon) subtitles. This is the result.
Blue: YUMEH CAIK
- Notably, the cast is entirely voiceless with no spoken dialogue, so the fans have given the characters dialogue. Some of the dialogue is fairly normal, but other dialogue is, well...
- Team Fabulous 2: During the Kart race scene, a RED Heavy gets run off the road by a BLU Heavy. Just before this happens, they have a brief exchange of dialogue:
BLU Heavy: Doo yooh rhemnmmembhur vodka? TranslationRED Heavy: (Beat) Sandwich. Translation
- While most of the time the Closed Captions for Hades' Misguidance are auto-generated, the subtitles for Episode 5's Couch Gag (a recreation of the faker scene from Sonic Adventure 2) has custom subtitles ending in this line:
- Bruva Alfabusa has loads of fun with subtitles in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device. For example, an Imperial Guardsman gibbering in fear is given the Un Sound Effect [escalating terror], the Emperor sighing in exasperated horror at the Imperial Book of Law is subtitled [Agitated Skeleton Shreik], the list is extremely long.
- In tWHYlight, Edward says, "I'm dangerous, stay away," three times. On the third time, the subtitles read, "I AM NOT WRITING HIS CATCHPHRASE AGAIN."
- MegaTokyo does this with L33t D00d whenever he shows up. He speaks in nearly incomprehensible l33tsp34k, with the subtitles being extra-formal and even occasionally poetic:
L33t D00d: 5\/\/33t. Pl4ya 2 <|-|ixor m4|<3 u w45t3 r|<3tz b4i bo|_||\|5i|n Bo|\/|z at j00.Direct translation: Sweet. Player 2 chick make you waste rockets by bouncing bombs at you.Actual subtitle: Like a butterfly blowing kisses of death, isn't she?
- More recent strips involved Ping the Robot Girl being equipped by Largo with a "TR4NZL33T" live translation module, which renders English as Japanese subtitles in Ping's eyes. Only problem is, the translation engine was loaded with text from Japanese porn sites...
- It also does it with the zombies. They speak in typical zombie grunts and groans, which are handily translated for our convenience:
Zombie 1: Rwwrwr. Rawr ura rawru.Subtitles: Commander, we have a situation.Zombie 2: Rehr rwuck.Subtitles: t3h suck. Just when everything was going so well.
- Real Life Comics occasionally has fun with this too.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja did this through incredibly overzealous subtitles for Spanish dialogue, for example by translating the word policia. Four times. On the same page. All in the same Panel.
- Concession showed this once; Artie's cousin worked in the closed-caption department at CNN and had handed in her notice, so she took the time to mess with the subtitles. She'd just had an unhappy affair with one of the newsreaders, so that person's speech got subtitled as "I'm a lying whore who likes to beat up the homeless".
- One Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stripnote has fun with Gnomish. In one panel an entire paragraph of dialogue is translated by one word, while another inverts the gag.
- Grrl Power does this a lot, expressly when it comes to Sydney.
- PLEASE MAKE THIS GIRL STOP CURSING - I feel like I'm playing Diablo with the censor button
- The entire joke of Downfall parodies is doing this to Hitler and others in the bunker.
- There's this video of Dschinghis Khan singing "Moskau" in German at the 1979 Eurovision contest. This video gives obviously nonsensical subtitles... But thanks to cognitive dissonance, and the similarity to the sounds of what they're saying, it's all too easy to believe that's what they really are singing!
- Deadpool from the I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC videos uses yellow subtitles in lieu of his yellow yellow caption boxes from the comics. He then uses the subtitles to mock the video's primitive animation and tries to use them as a weapon against the Green Lantern.
- This BIONICLE video with Translation Trainwreck subtitles.
- The Swedish Chef makes popcorn shrimp. (Click the CC button if you don't see subtitles.)
- During the joint Spoony / Linkara reviews of the Warrior comics, the Ultimate Warrior's semi-unintelligible rantings are "subtitled" with much more lucid sayings.
- The Nostalgia Chick as Arwen in Suburban Knights. She first shows up spouting Elvish words, which no one else could understand, and she had to angrily tell them to read the subtitles.
- The Subtitles are their own (very, very snarky) character in the toy reviews of Internet Personality Vangelus. At one point, they even jumped to another reviewer's videos (and nearly caused him to take his own life).
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog contains an optional "Wiccan" subtitling. It's not really a Wiccan track, but a clue for one of the Easter eggs, and it stops a minute in. It's also in a different typeface from the rest (Helvetica, not Arial).
- BlogeSalming's Jacques Martin Press Conference, as a part of a 2010 Montreal Canadiens season eulogy, which documents Martin's French press conference with subtitles that are a little...off. The problem is even lampshaded:
- JonTron adds subtitles with similar sounding words when spoken dialog appears slurred or not enunciated.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic imageboard Derpibooru has an entire category for hilariously miscaptioned screencaps generated by Youtube's imprecise captioning function. This became enough of a sensation that one early example, featuring the flamboyant sea serpent from season 1 episode 2 and the caption "Steven Magnet", ended up becoming his official name by season 5, and even on the toy line.
- The Mysterious Mr. Enter's review of Mars Needs Moms adds subtitles for the alien Starfish Language.
- LesBeardly utilizes this in "Translations for PewDiePie fans", where he calmly plays Mass Effect 3 with subtitles that mock PewDiePie's style of videos.
- Smashtasm has two characters, 1337Fox and Greg, who speak in 1337. One episode has them confront each other and go into a hardcore dialect of 1337 that uses absolutely no actual letters. This is voice acted, so it has them say each individual text character that make up the letters, and the sentences are pretty long. Thankfully, there are subtitles that tell us what they're saying as they say it, so we don't have to write down the characters to see what letters they look like. After the conversation, Super64 (who speaks normally) butts in, and gets subtitles rendered in 1337.
- The Cinema Snob employs this whenever he gets a foreign movie undubbed and without subtitles.
- SF Debris:
- The review of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home subtitles the humpback whales Will and Gracie communicating with the whale probe with them telling it to, quote, "fuck off".
- The video series Astromech Spy adds subtitles to most of R2-D2's lines in the original Star Wars film trilogy, turning The Unintelligible into a Deadpan Snarker.
- This YouTube Poop, titled "SpingeBill and Skodwarde get Robophobia", plays with subtitles at around the 4:33 mark. WARNING! Clicking this explains the joke!
- YouTube Poop artist Numberer1 uses this a lot.
- Star Wars Uncut: A Fan Film recreation of Star Wars: A New Hope. In the original when Greedo talks to Han Greedo speaks in Rodian and it is subtitled in English. In the recreation, the person playing Greedo speaks English, but it is subtitled in Rodian.
- This seems to be the style of Bruva Alphabusa, of Alfa Legion and If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device fame. Any sort of non-verbal noise including laughter tends to get its own hilarious subtitles, from simple memetic references to insulting descriptions to the subtitler being terrified by the noise in question.
- The Fictosophy sketch, "Translating Minnesota Nice" puts the subtitles anywhere but the "sub" area. It also plays around with the characters' meaning.
- In Epic Rap Battles of History, "Wright Brothers vs. Mario Brothers," in time with a Sound-Effect Bleep (which isn't a bleep but rather the "coin get" sound effect), a string of coins appear in the subtitles.
- In reference to a Blizzard-made Overwatch lore video in which the character Winston (an uplifted gorilla) says "I'm not a monkey. I'm a scientist!", some Overwatch streamers (such as BazzaGazza) will replace 'monkey' with 'scientist' in subtitles.
- Used extensively in Soviet Womble videos, as discussed by Project Kino here. Common gags include having subtitles follow bullet tracers, Even the Subtitler Is Stumped, lampshading Blatant Lies, and filling the screen when someone (or everyone) has No Indoor Voice.
- The Lazer Collection 5 has an opening music number with subtitles, but once the lyrics start getting nonsensical and the singer starts interjecting random noises into the song it the subtitler reacts with confusion and eventually gives up.
- Videos on YouTube channel Primitive Technology have fan-supplied subtitles, with popular videos having over forty different languages. The presenter never speaks.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged has subtitles in various different languages, however, if the "English: Canadian" subtitles are selected, the subtitles will often comment on the episode.
- Sabaton's tour vlog has a bit where Tommy addresses Italian fans in broken Italian before a show in Milan. This is then subtitled into My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels territory:
Tommy: (subtitles) Ciao Milano today status is remote aurora. Lesson tea to showtime, no when aurora. (points at Joakim) Accident Joakim.
Tommy: (subtitles) Multiple balls. The cheese is good.
Joakim: (glances back and forth between Tommy and the camera) I'm worried. I'm deeply worried.
- In the last scene of ''The Case of the Gilded Lily,'', the subtitles took a moment to compliment the score:
*upbeat music plays**Honestly, it's some of Dylan Glatthorn's best work**More utterly delightful and catchy music*
- The English subtitles for GameGamer's longplay of Jönssonligan: Jakten på Mjölner usually stick to translating the game's audio and text, but occasionally poke fun at certain issues with the game that become apparent in the video. For example, subtitles appear saying things like "You're supposed to get the window sill above him to break before getting the item, the heck happened here??" and claiming the snippets of Gratuitous German in the game are "god-awful [and] probably machine-translated", then translating some of that into "A road, bus[sic] which speaks bongo".
- The Animesque scene in the Scott The Woz episode "Anime Games" has Gratuitous Japanese subtitles; as in, they're Google Translated gibberish which has nothing to do with the dialogue that plays along with them. An excerpt (translated back to English):
Do you think you can enter this into the translation website?
This is a kanji
I just typed something like this, so I could have copied the lines word by word.
But who actually reads it?
- The video "Steamed Hams but its a 90's Anime Fansub" parodies the low quality of fansubs, including leaving words untranslatednote , unnecessary swearingnote and replacing the subtitled lyrics to "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" with lyrics about steamed hams (and at one point just using the lyrics from the "Skinner and the Superintendent" song). The Japanese dialogue is actually from the official dub of that Simpsons episode, though.
- Ling-Ling in Drawn Together is a Pokémon parody who speaks in incomprehensible "Japorean," gibberish that is supposed to be Japanese and Engrish. His subtitles also often contain Engrish as well. Once, when a Comedy Central banner for The Daily Show blocked his subtitles, Captain Hero started talking about Jon Stewart, implying they only understood him through his subtitles.
- It became a running gag in one episode where numerous banners would block his subtitles. This made everyone he talked to, including Ling-Ling's own father, stare at the bottom of the screen in utter confusion since they could no longer understand what he was talking about.
- In a non-banner-related gag, Ling-Ling said something that ended with "something something are." The subtitle said "who we really L".
- The Season 3 finale did an inversion of Translation: "Yes". Ling-Ling responded to a question with "Yes. Yes I am.", but his subtitles were incredibly long and flowery.
- One episode of Family Guy had Peter finding his real father is Irish. At one point, they get involved in a drinking contest, and they end up incoherently slurring, with subtitles telling what they are talking about. At one point, the subtitles read "?????????".
- Another episode has two Brazilian men jumping out of a crashing plane and cursing at each other as they parachute to the ground. The subtitles are in Korean. Accurate Korean, mind you. The men were discussing how they were going to die and whether or not they had closed their garage door that morning.
- When Quagmire first sees Joan (Peter's maid-for-a-week), he has a quick fantasy of himself and Joan in a The Lord of the Rings forest setting, including the use of Elvish. Quagmire's really long line translates simply to "Giggity."
- In "It's a Trap!", the Family Guy parody of Return of the Jedi, Jabba's command to throw Luke into the Sarlacc pit has the subtitle "Put him in" when he says "Meelar Kooniss". Mila Kunis is the voice of Meg Griffin, who was playing the part of the Sarlacc. Later, he says "Giuchie, Giuchie, ya ya dada! Mocha Choca lata ya ya!", which is subtitled "Somebody help me! I'm being choked to death!"
- In "Trump Guy", Lois mentions that "People hate a liar, just like closed-captioning stenographers hated the Sleepy Hollow guy for some reason." The scene then cuts away to a scene from the show's pilot, with Tom Mison's dialogue being translated into lines like "I steal Poops and put theM in my butt."
- In the Looney Tunes short "Wackiki Wabbit", Bugs Bunny greets two castaways with a long line of faux-Polynesian gibberish, which the subtitles translate as "What's up, Doc?" He follows that with a short phrase, with the subtitles reading "Now is the time for every good man to come to the aid of his party." When one of the castaways says, "Gee, thanks", faux-Polynesian subtitles appear beneath, causing his friend to comment, "Did you say that?"
- Disneyland: the First 50 Years, a short film showing at the titular theme park and starring Steven Martin and Donald Duck, at one point uses subtitles to translate the latter's barely-intelligible speech. Donald notices the subtitles and begins arguing with them and the accompanying narrator voice-over. Finally, he grabs a giant mallet, stalks off-screen, and thrashes the interloper, with randomly flying letters and punctuation indicating the severity of the beating.
- Animaniacs did this a couple times. They seem to be able to interact with and alter them as well; one sketch has them altering "These are typical Earth creatures." to "Are these typical Earth creatures?" and immediately making bizarre faces. The same short has them change "No" to "No Problem".
- They once sat around and MSTed their own end credits.
- Used in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy during a conversation with a beatboxing Eldritch Abomination in "The Prank Call of Cthulhu".
Mandy: Ugh, this isn't working.
Grim: He said, 'If you're talking about the new interns, you can find them in the cafeteria.'
Mandy: You understood him?
Grim: No, but I'm pretty good at reading subtitles backwards.
- In an episode of Chowder, the titular character speaks Spanish-sounding gibberish, which is subtitled as: Spanish-sounding gibberish.
- The Invader Zim DVDs come with Irken subtitles.
- At the beginning of the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Banjo", Zorak and Moltar have a Seinfeldian Conversation concerning Moltar's soap and Zorak's book, while the subtitles project blatant Ho Yay on the characters. The only time the subtitles really match up to the dialogue is Zorak's lone "What?"
- In The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball asks Darwin if he knows Chinese. Darwin responds with a long sentence in Chinese, which is subtitled "No".
- A Japanese fansub of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (the fifth episode, to be exact) messes with the subtitles at two points: when Spike has the hiccups, his subtitles shake around a bit, and Gilda's subtitles are written in a different, more graceful typeface when she's making fun of Fluttershy.
- The Simpsons:
- In "Home Away from Homer", the family goes to see an Albanian film. After some dramatic dialogue, a goat is seen bleating, subtitled "I AM OLDER THAN TIME ITSELF." Lisa complains that the subtitles were added to make the film commercial.
- Inverted in "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays", Bart and Lisa have a conversation in pig latin, which is subtitled for the viewers. Marge reveals that she knows that they're talking about, and they say, "Ap-cray." This line isn't subtitled.
- In "Girls Just Wanna Have Sums", Springfield Elementary is segregated between genders. Bart is glad that he can walk around with "Bart Jr. hanging out". He then pulls out a frog named Bart Jr., which croaks, subtitled to explain the joke.
- At the end of "Trilogy of Error", Mr. Teeny's panicked noises are subtitled as "This plot made no sense! Tell the people!"
- Another joke with Mr. Teeny comes from "Children of a Lesser Clod." Krusty complains about his scripts. Mr. Teeny, sitting at a typewriter, is upset, as subtitles read "I think it's impressive I wrote anything at all."
- A common, universal running gag is to say something incredibly long only to have the subtitles be a single word or vice-versa.
- BBC News tends to add subtitles to thickly-accented or dialectic English speakers, even if they are otherwise intelligible.
- Chinese TV stations tend to do the same to speakers of non-local dialects or those who have a really heavy accent.
- Quite often it is done on films made using concealed cameras to make sure people understand what is being said.
- This was used as a gag in a comedy skit where a female British reporter was interviewing a terrorist who stopped mid-interview when he saw subtitles and became angry that he was being subtitled. It gets funnier when his partner talks with just as much accent, doesn't get subtitles and he storms off... still being subtitled.
- Common on Dutch and Flemish TV, where broadcasts from the other side of the border, most often TV series, tend to be subtitled despite being perfectly intelligible. As elsewhere, people speaking with a thick regional accent get are often subtitled, which, as this parody shows, is usually justified.note
- Tends to happen whenever an Australian speaks with a natural accent (not Crocodile Dundee) on American TV.
- YouTube's "Transcribe Audio" feature, based on a Google translator, can produce some hilariously inaccurate subtitles, whether because they don't recognise which language is being spoken, or they manage to get the language right and still get things wrong:
- NBA Player Nik Stauskas has gained the nickname "Sauce Castillo" this way.
- On a similar note, an initially unnamed My Little Pony bit character got the fan nickname "Steven Magnet" because the auto-generated subtitles showed this phrase when he was on screen (despite the spoken line not being anywhere near it). The name stuck with Hasbro and was eventually made Ascended Fanon.
- This video depicting Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonations facing off has an odd case where they get most of the words right... Except they will then suddenly not transcribe several seconds at a time. They also don't divide lines by speaker, leading to strange run-on sentences.
- This video of the Spanish dub of the "Rubber Duckie" song from Sesame Street has autogenerated captions in Russian. At one point, translating said subtitles to English gave such phrases as "in the second half to see if it is time, and Laura Ling and / Yong Lee and ice cream" and "how to evaluate their own / seventh-grader reactor core". Since then it's been switched to more generic autogenerated caption nonsense, however.
- Once on morning news show The Daily Buzz, anchor Mitch English and celebrity guest Pauly Shore decide to mess with the show's captioner, Marjorie. She does this throughout the segment. And keep in mind, this is happening during a live broadcast.
Captioner: This is not nice, Mitch!
- Some accidental examples:
- When Mumfie's White Christmas was on Netflix, some of the subtitles accidentally cut off the last few letters of a line, making some of the lines sound even funnier.
- On the Amazon Prime version of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the subtitles are not only delayed by two entire minutes, but for some reason the first two minutes of the film have subtitles from, of all things, the "Rubber Duckie" song mentioned above. See this Tumblr post for proof.◊
- The OP of this post was watching Young Frankenstein on Netflix, but the account glitched up and instead of the movie's subtitles, it offered the subtitles for Lilo & Stitch.
- Later on, Netflix tweeted that the issue had been resolved... by captioning Lilo and Stitch◊ with the text from Young Frankenstein.
- While the Swedish subtitles for Dinosaur Train seem to be fairly straight-forward, an imgur user decided to invoke this by playing said subtitles over a political debate, with unpredictable and amusing results. One of the results carried over to the description, which reads (in part): "I made a boo boo, Jan Björklund is FORMER minister of education. Not anymore, now he is Sand Castle Minister".
- Fun with Captions: The Far Side had a case of the captions being switched with Dennis the Menace (US), which Larson claimed greatly improved both strips. The Far Side has a family of snakes eating dinner (one of them looking angry), while Dennis and a friend were eating something while his mother was on the phone, an the captions were "It's a good thing I learned to make sandwiches or we'd have starved to death by now" and "Ugh, hamsters again?!".