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"I'm a student of both horror and comedy because they're different sides of the same coin: Both are about using emotion to provoke an instinctual, physical response, and if you're lucky, spontaneous evacuation of bodily waste products."
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Extra Punctuation

When people think of Comedy, they rarely associate it with Horror and vice versa. However, both make great partners in crime together. If they aren't Crossing The Line Twice, they're bringing about a Sugar Apocalypse and escaping to Auda City. The reason they work so well together is that viewers need "breathers" between nonstop screaming or nonstop laughing, and one can easily segue into the other.

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For purposes of this trope, we'll divide Horror and Comedy hybrids into three categories, Horror dominant, Comedy dominant, and balanced.

Horror dominant works will use comedy as a mood lightener or "breather" from the tension or gore. Characters will crack wise while they're in a safe spot, and have the monster use a Barrier-Busting Blow just as they relax. The benefit of this is that just as viewers relax along with the characters, tension is restored along with the scare. Other ways to use comedy in a horror movie is to treat viewers to some funny situational irony the characters can appreciate on an intellectual level while cursing on an "I'm gonna die now" level. The benefit here is that momentum is maintained throughout the scene.

Comedy dominant works have more leeway here. They may be a straight up comedy or parody set in a typical horror setting or premise, or use Black Comedy along with splatter horror to maximum effect. Comedy dominant works often deconstruct horror tropes for laughs, other times playing them hilariously straight as an Affectionate Parody (with perhaps a Lampshade Hanging).

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A balanced work is perhaps the most subjective to qualify, because while it has equal amounts of horror and comedy, the viewer may be so sensitive to horror it seems scarier, or so desensitized to horror it seems funnier.

Of course, these works have one big problem they have to fight: avoiding jumping the shark due to Mood Whiplash. Avoiding this requires that the comedy or horror not break the feel of the established setting. Slapstick in the middle of suspenseful horror, or remorselessly and humorlessly killing a character in a comedy would do this. However, deadpan snarking and Rasputinian Death respectively would not.

See also Narm and Nightmare Retardant, where something that's supposed to be horrible turns out to be funny, and Accidental Nightmare Fuel, where something that might have been intended to be funny is instead unsettling. Both of them are results of something landing on the wrong side of the scale. See also Lightmare Fuel, where a perfect balance is actually reached between the two.

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Compare the First Law of Tragicomedies.


Some works that mix comedy and horror include:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 

    Anime and Manga 

    Art 
  • Omega Mart is a surrealist satire of a grocery store that has its fair share of both Surreal Humor and Surreal Horror elements to it since the products are more often than not weird yet benign parodies of real products, while also having enough creepy stuff both on the shelves and behind the scenes to feel like something's just off enough for normal people to notice.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animated 
  • Hotel Transylvania
  • Mickey's House of Villains leans extremely heavily on the comedy side. The shorts however are balanced.
  • Monster House is more lighthearted with its cast of three kids and climactic final showdown with the bumbling Chowder using an excavator to fight the house. That being said the children are always in extreme danger and the vengeful ghost of Constance Nebbercracker is trying to kill the main trio and anyone who gets to close to the house.
  • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Wallace & Gromit playing werewolf movie tropes for kid-friendly laughs. The filmmakers billed it as the first "vegetarian horror movie".

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Addams Family is the other definitive horror parody. It intentionally clashes horror characters with a Nuclear Family sitcom, mostly just using the occasional jump scare from the carnivorous plants as a breather from the comedy.
  • American Horror Story, most notably in the third season Coven, frequently likes to dabble in the campier side of horror, which shouldn't be a surprise given that its creator Ryan Murphy also made Glee, Nip/Tuck, and Popular. By and large, though, the more horrific elements were played terrifyingly straight.
  • Angel: Although slightly more horror-focused than Buffy, Angel still follows the Joss Whedon blend of horror and comedy.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead picks up where Army of Darkness left off by focusing on the action hijinks of Ash Williams, now thoroughly a blowhard loser who nevertheless fights horrifying monsters.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: One reason Joss Whedon wanted to do it as a series was that the movie had been more comedy-dominant than he hoped.
  • The Charmed (1998) episode 'Chick Flick' features psycho killers being released from Slasher Movies to attack the sisters. The attempts to kill them are played entirely for comedy - as the sisters can't use their powers on the killers, forcing the Action Girls to essentially behave like stereotypical Distressed Damsels. Piper also has a moment of Genre Blindness.
    "I get stalked by psycho killers and I hide in the shower?"
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is usually described as a darker and more serious take on the Sabrina the Teenage Witch franchise. It has a much deeper plot than the previous works in the franchise, and its antagonists are definitely a lot scarier than before. However, it is still very much tongue-in-cheek, and has lots of undeniably goofy moments.
  • Dead Set: Most of the laughs come from the dark absurdity of the premise and the dialogue of the cast, many of whom are Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist types or The Ditz (Justified by the reality show setting). However, the main character is mostly serious, the premise is Played for Drama and once people start dying most of the laughs are in the form of Satire, Black Comedy, and Refuge in Audacity (zombie Davina McCall!) rather than the witty dialogue and jokes.
  • Doctor Who has slid all over this spectrum as part of its general Genre Roulette nature with some individual seasons being rather unbalanced (Season 22 is heavy on the horror, Season 16 is rather heavy on the comedy) but belongs here overall - partly because of law of averages but mostly because the series is very good at being horrific and hilariously funny simultaneously when it's at its best.
  • Jam is a strange TV example of this, being a surrealist sketch horror-comedy, that leans HEAVILY to the horror side. It is designed to make you feel horribly, horribly uncomfortable.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker: Due to the idiosyncratic nature of its protagonist, who walked from the mostly comedic scenes of the newsroom and witness interviews to the mostly horror scenes of investigations and monsters without changing his style one bit.
  • The League of Gentlemen
  • Li'l Horrors, an Australian children's comedy puppetry television series about young monsters attending an All-Ghouls School.
  • Psychoville
  • Scream Queens (2015) is an extremely campy series that, while it can be suitably gory and violent to fill the needs of horror fans, has a shockingly low body count for an entry into the slasher genre, as it spends more time focusing on the snarky comebacks and utter ridiculousness of its characters rather than gore effects.
  • Shadow Chasers
  • Stan Against Evil follows much the same formula as Evil Dead; Horrid monsters and violence, with a ton of comedy.
  • Stranger Things
  • Supernatural. The entire character roster are a bunch of snarky bastards who can't resist making wise-ass comments all the time, and the humor is largely found in the absurdity of some deaths and the meta-fictional episodes. It still never manages to upstage the genuine horror and drama or eclipse it.
  • Tales from the Crypt: Mostly the TV series and its two theatrical movies, but the stories from EC Comics upon which they are based count too.
  • WandaVision pinballs between a loving, humorous sitcom homage and uneasy Psychological Horror without missing a beat.

    Music 

    Podcast 
  • The Alexandria Archives, while having a framing story that leans more to the comedic side, features a more or less self-contained horror story per episode. A few of these stories are quite lighthearted and harmless, but many of them are quite horrific and, on rare occasions, include truly disturbing elements.
  • The Last Podcast on the Left: A podcast that goes over true crime topics such as cults and serial killers and supernatural events like cryptids, hauntings, and UFOs, all the while cracking jokes and treating the horrible people involved with all of the respect they deserve: None.
  • Less Is Morgue. This show has an overall light-hearted and silly tone, despite its main characters being a flesh-eating ghoul and a peppy dead person, who regularly encounter monsters, murderous maniacs, and Eldritch Abominations.
  • The Monster Hunters is an outright parody of vintage horror. Its genuinely frightening moments are few and far between.
  • Pretending to Be People: An Actual Play podcast that draws most of its humor from the interactions of the players, while having a horror-laden plot.
  • Welcome to Night Vale: The podcast's style of absurdism alternates frequently between comedy and horror in just about every episode, and the overall podcast doesn't really show a strong preference either way.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Die Laughing leans more towards the comedic side, with its very informal tone of writing throughout the book, the frequent, joyous use of horror movie tropes, and the odd Precision F-Strike.
  • Dinosaurs Attack!
  • Sla Industries
  • They Came From Beneath The Sea!: The game itself tries to adopt a roughly balanced level between its horrifying and comedic elements, and advises the Storyteller in sidebars to adjust the emphasis on horror or comedy to suit the tastes of their players.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • Baldi's Basics in Education and Learning is a Survival Horror game taking place in an intentionally terrible edutainment game from the 90s.
  • The Binding of Isaac has its disturbing moments, but it also has plenty of puns and fart and poop jokes as well.
  • Cruelty Squad has many genuinely horrific Body Horror and Surreal Horror moments, but also derives a lot of humor from its satirical skewering of capitalism, its bizarre world and morality, and the Black Comedy comments of your employer.
  • Dead Rising. Outside of the earliest stages of the first game before Frank West levels up and gains new skills, the zombies are barely a threat despite their enormous numbers, especially once you discover or unlock the more powerful weapons that can dispatch dozens of them easily. If you're doing so while dressed as a toy robot or a ballerina, all the better. The human villains, on the other hand, are played straight. Even at their most comedic, they're often Tragic Monsters with very depressing backstories behind their outlandish behavior, and the central Myth Arc of the series is a viciously satirical one in which blame for the Zombie Apocalypse is laid directly at the feet of ravenous American consumers. Finding ways to create Mood Whiplash between the serious storyline and the ridiculous (and often optional) physical comedy is a key source of the games' humor.
  • Deltarune leans more on the comedy side than Undertale in the surface level interactions but there's a dark intrigue and themes of existential horror running throughout. This is best exemplified by the character of Spamtom G. Spamton, a literally insane crazy salesman who's rantings pinball between hilarious and deeply unsettling.
  • Plants vs. Zombies is where you fight off a Zombie Apocalypse Played for Laughs by planting anthropomorphic mutant plants on your lawn. The zombies, even when their desire is explicity to eat your brains, are far too comical to classify the game as horror.
  • Maniac Mansion
  • Between Leon being a smartass, extremely goofy villains, and generally absurd enemy encounters, Resident Evil 4 is easily the silliest game in the franchise. Still, it's got copious usage of Body Horror and Jump Scare, and there are some legitimately terrifying moments.
  • Shadow Hearts series is a sequel to a Survival Horror game Koudelka, that grows increasingly more light-hearted as the series goes on. Shadow Hearts: Covenant in particular almost perfectly balances horror and comedy, and constantly goes back and forth between dealing with the zaniest characters possible (wrestling superhero vampire, anyone?) and fighting demons and otherwordly horrors.
  • Undertale has a quirky sense of humour not unlike EarthBound, and similarly gets increasingly terrifying as you progress. While the neutral and pacifist routes balance the two, the No Mercy route is very horror dominant.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa
  • Higurashi: When They Cry starts off each chapter as a lighthearted Slice of Life comedy, until someone dies mysteriously. From there, things quickly spiral out of control, usually culminating in the gruesome murder of several major characters.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • ClickHole is mostly comedic, but sometimes has very dark articles that get pretty close to the middle, which is impressive for a satire of Buzzfeed.
  • Feet In Smoke, an essay by John Jeremiah Sullivan, about an accident featured on Rescue 911. It starts out in the Horror territory and swiftly dives into Comedy after Jeremiah and his family learn his brother will live, which is where the episode in question ends. This is Lampshaded by the Author
    "The experience went from tragedy to tragicomedy to outright farce on a sliding continuum, so it's hard to pinpoint just when one let on to another."
  • My Property Isn't Normal
  • Most works found on the SCP Foundation wiki are horror-drama stories played straight, taking themselves very seriously for the most part. However, some stories may contain surprisingly tongue-in-cheek or even goofy humor; while the Joke articles are light-hearted parodies which spoof the SCP Wiki's more serious content for absurdist Black Comedy.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Comedy Horror, Sliding Scale Of Comedy And Horror

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