Follow TV Tropes

Following

Indecisive Parody

Go To

"DeathSpank is that particular breed of parody that basically just does all the same things as the kind of thing it's parodying, but occasionally points to itself and goes: "Hey, everybody, look!" Then the Wayans brothers make a parody of that full of bodily fluids and pop culture references, and the collective IQ of the general public drops another precious notch."
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Zero Punctuation
Advertisement:

In order for a parody to work, a work of fiction needs to also take on many of the traits of its target. For example, a parody of action films will, inevitably, have to have some action sequences of its own. If it didn't, it wouldn't be so much of a parody as it would be a public mocking of the genre. A parody of Magical Girls would be required to have at least one Magical Girl character or else it would just be mocking the character type. Most of the best parodies actually stand not only as comedy, but also as the particular genre they are a creation of.

However, the line for what defines a parody can often get murky. Besides flat-out labeling something as a parody (which is rarely a good sign due to the lack of subtlety involved), the criteria for what defines a parody changes from person to person. Some works of fiction straddle the line, unsure of whether it's a parody or just a quirky, self-aware entry in the genre it's supposed to be a parody of. This can often lead to Misaimed Fandom when people take a parody dead seriously (or, perhaps due to the "Weird Al" Effect, are unaware that it even is a parody).

Advertisement:

How this happens can vary widely. Perhaps it is just too affectionate of the genre it's a parody of. Perhaps it's making jokes already made. Perhaps it's just too close to its target. Perhaps it was actually meant to be serious, but took on too many comedic traits. Perhaps the "parody" mostly consists of pointing out it's doing the stuff it's supposed to be mocking. But often, this happens because the writer(s) just couldn't decide what they wanted to do. In any case, an Indecisive Parody is when something is confusing about its intent.

See Stealth Parody for when something very intentionally evokes this to try and get responses as such.

Note that this is not just Redundant Parody—that's when something attempt to parody accidentally copies the original work thinking they were parodying. Compare Denied Parody, where a work that is seen as a parody is denied to be such through Word of God.

Advertisement:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Lagoon. it's hard to tell, at times, whether it's an over-the-top parody of the Hollywood action film genre or a straight example with a tendency to occasionally take Refuge in Audacity. The series seems to swing a bit back and forth depending on the arc in question.
  • Busou Renkin is also somewhere in between, but often seems closer to a very self-aware shounen entry, especially in the second part when the Cerebus Syndrome sneaks in.
  • Dragon Ball. People forget that it was originally a parody of earlier martial arts manga, and for good reason considering that once it became Dragon Ball Z it actually became the basis for every cliché in martial arts manga since.
  • Kill la Kill really doesn't seem sure whether it's a parody of fanservicey battle anime, a comedic version of same with no attempt to parody, or a dramatic if over-the-top story. The Mini-Mecha that exposes people's asses is obviously meant to be a joke, but then you have Ryuko striking fanservicey poses or getting stripped half-naked in fights with no obvious comedy to it, or dramatic plot beats like Ragyo's abuse or Senketsu's Heroic Sacrifice that certainly seem like you're supposed to take them seriously.
  • Love Hina starts mocking the harem genre hard, inserting audience surrogate Keitaro in a female dorm inhabited by character prototypes from diverse dating games, in an onsen (making every early episode an onsen episode). It goes so far into comedy land that one wonders if the romantic plot will ever resolve. But when it wants to get serious it gets serious.
  • Magical Project S, and intentionally so. It starts off as a clear parody of Sailor Moon...but about three-quarters of the way through the series, an extreme case of Cerebus Syndrome hits. It goes away pretty quickly, but then Magical Project S becomes a Magical Girl show played more or less straight.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico is this for Humongous Mecha shows. For every over-the-top Unwanted Harem scene or bizarre character or situation, there's also real, serious drama (often when those over-the-top characters get killed). Even the Show Within a Show Gekiganger 3 goes from a silly homage of Super Robot shows to a real problem in the show's universe. It's bad enough that the protagonist explicitly states the Aesop in the final episode just to be sure everyone's on the same page: stop taking anime so goddamn seriously.
  • Ouran High School Host Club often pokes fun at various tropes in romantic shoujo manga and anime, but has strong romantic storylines as well.
  • Believe it or not, Sailor Moon. It's more evident in the series it spun off from, Codename: Sailor V. Sailor Moon itself was initially only a little less silly than Codename Sailor V, but somewhere along the line it became more serious and codified the Magical Girl Warrior genre.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross It's said that this happened here, but that the parody elements didn't last much beyond the first few episodes, then it became a partial deconstruction and partial homage of the genre, a genre that was practically brand-new, in fact.
  • Shugo Chara! is this to Magical Girl stories and shojo romances.
  • One episode of Zettai Karen Children is essentially a parody of Yuri Genre shows, but the only parts that are actually a parody are that Kaoru and Sakaki are lampshading everything and that it's all actually an undercover mission on Naomi's part. However, just about every visual element associated with the genre is used completely straight, along with other tropes such as one-sided Bait-and-Switch Lesbians, with the teacher actually being attracted to Naomi.
  • Ah, Gintama. The series' bread and butter is a satire on the modern age through Jidai Geki tropes, and its frequent targets were the tropes in the other manga that ran alongside it in Jump, especially the formulas of their battle manga. Once the Cerebus Rollercoaster starts taking its course, the climatic battles and drama bombs pile up to the point where you can't take the series seriously when they take a little break to point at the others and laugh.
  • Uma Musume Pretty Derby almost seems to be a parody of idol gacha games and anime at first based on just how over the top it is (the idols in this case are Anthropomorphic Personifications of racehorses that run races and then perform after they win), combined with the fact that every character shown in the anime is an idol genre archetype turned Up to Eleven and the extremely self-aware nature of its first few episodes (Spe, Late for School, ends up running there with a carrot hanging out of her mouth, for example). However, the later episodes largely dispense with the silliness: Suzuka's Game-Breaking Injury and Spe's feelings of Can't Catch Up are played entirely seriously.
  • Ao Chan Cant Study pokes fun at the Ecchi genre by having Ao misinterpret innocent situations thanks to her dirty mind, but it also has its fair share of unimagined and unironic Fanservice.
  • Handa-kun mocks Character Shilling- Handa has groups of people who worship the ground he walks on and will sing his praises to anyone who listens, but he's ignorant of them and instead thinks that they hate him. Then again, he genuinely does frequently save the day, even if it's by sheer dumb luck, making it unclear whether it's supposed to be about mocking the people who blindly praise Handa without even really knowing much about him, or about Handa not realizing what an awesome person he is.
  • A Sisters All You Need: Main character Itsuki is generally laughed at and called a pervert for having an open sister fetish and expecting things to play out in his life as they do in light novels, and in addition, he's a lazy bum who causes no shortage of trouble for his publisher because he expects his life to be all fun and no work. Then again, the series is not above indulging in light novel cliches itself (specifically of the Fanservice kind), which makes it strange when Itsuki is made the butt of the joke for believing in those things.

    Comic Books 
  • Savage Dragon: The comic tends to lampoon quite a few superhero tropes, from the '90s Anti-Hero type that Image was partly responsible for popularizing, to the generally ridiculous nature of C-list supervillains (Dung and his diarrhea-cannons, for example) — but often-times it's hard to tell whether Larsen is making fun of these tropes or is more-or-less trying to tell a serious story and just has a really weird sense of humor.
  • The Sentry was originally created to be a commentary on the nature of the industry and retroactive continuity, with characters remembering events that had never happened to him. Then he went from being the main character of a brief miniseries to a regular member of the Avengers, and they started playing it straight with constant Character Shilling and not a trace of irony.
  • This trope is a recurring issue for Lobo. He's iconically considered a parody of a comic-book badass - he has no redeeming qualities, his powers are designed to be inconsistent and include a healing ability that's so powerful it makes putting him in danger almost impossible, he has a dark backstory that's entirely his fault, he constantly swears but uses fake swear words, and his "badass" accomplishments include killing Santa Claus. But a lot of people, both fans and writers, see him as less a parody and more an Up to Eleven version of such characters.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman Forever and especially Batman & Robin seemed totally indecisive as to whether to play Batman seriously or as a campy parody. It's especially egregious in the latter film, which used Mr. Freeze's tragic backstory from the DCAU, but also had Freeze spouting ice-related puns in every scene.
  • Baywatch (2017) frequently points out the absurdity of lifeguards taking their jobs way too far and fighting crime, making fun of both itself and the original show. But it stops short of ridiculing the heroes, particularly The Rock's Mitch Buchannon (who is exactly as badass as he thinks he is), which it would really need to do to be a true parody.
  • Big Trouble in Little China can easily be seen as a straight action movie, rather than the parody it's intended to be, especially if one isn't familiar with the Wuxia tropes it mocks throughout (and in the mid-'80s, not many moviegoers were). The idea that Jack Burton is an incompetent parody of an American action hero can get a bit lost when he kills the Evil Sorcerer Big Bad single-handedly with nothing but his trusty knife.
  • Cats & Dogs is honestly no sillier than the Tuxedo and Martini films it's based on, and even with the use of Talking Animals, it fits into the genre about as well as a straight example. The sequel slides out of this trope by turning the spoof Up to Eleven and taking direct potshots at James Bond.
  • Christmas with the Kranks starts off as a jab against holiday commercialism and conformity, with the titular family deciding to skip Christmas and spend the money they would've spent on it to take a cruise instead, resulting in their neighbors turning against them and trying to bully them into it. Then Tim Allen's character suddenly starts taking several levels in jerkass and the film pulls a 180 and starts painting the Kranks as the wrong ones for not conforming to their neighborhood's demands.
  • Commando can very easily be seen either as a typical Arnie action movie of the era with his trademark tongue-in-cheek humor and awesome action scenes, or a campy, over-the-top and very self-aware parody of the big-name action films that Hollywood had been pumping out at the time.
    Cindy: [trying to avoid a motel-wrecking fist fight] I can't believe this macho bullshit! These guys eat too much red meat!
  • Condorman is an extraordinarily campy Disney live-action spy flick, but it's so absurd and occasionally self-aware at times that it's hard not to see parody.
  • Death to Smoochy seemed to have trouble deciding whether it wanted to be a full-on black comedy about an embittered former kids'-show host (played by Robin Williams) seeking revenge against his replacement, an insipid pink rhinoceros named "Smoochy", or a wacky and only-kinda-dark-humored parody of kidvid shows in general. Then it veered off into a heartwarming ending where Smoochy (or the puppeteer behind him, anyway) and the embittered kidvid host reconciled their differences, and the whole thing became not just an indecisive parody, but an indecisive mess in general.
  • Enchanted has elements of both, thus this trope. While it mocks a lot of the tropes of fairy tales and shows how ridiculous they would be in real life, it also has a happy fairy-tale ending and suggests that life would be better if people did live more by fairy tale ideals of kindness and trust. The only way that a relationship between Giselle and Robert can work is for her to become less of a fairy-tale true-believer (and give up the perfect prince) and him to become more of one (allow himself to love someone again).
  • Feast , a survival horror film starts as an obvious parody of such films, wherein the characters are simply named after their archetypes. However, despite the occasional sex joke, it creates some truly frightening monsters and horrific death scenes. By the end of the movie, no-one's laughing.
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives was part self-parody, part serious slasher.
  • Get Smart attempts to parody the spy genre enough to make it funny while still maintaining a legitimate spy movie plot.
  • The Golden Child can't seem to decide if it's an Affectionate Parody of The Chosen One or a straight use. The movie originally was going to be a straight action movie staring Mel Gibson, then the part was recast as Eddie Murphy so they took out a lot of the dialogue and just let Murphy improvise stuff.
  • Seth Rogen's version of The Green Hornet seems a parody of the comic book heroes that the Green Hornet actually predates. However, parodies by their very purpose exaggerate the outlandish elements of the target. To take the Batman, one finds it outlandish that a man would dress up as a bat and even more outlandish that he would drive around in a huge car with wings on it that would look screamingly outlandish traveling to and from a crime scene. Now look at the Green Hornet who wears a rain coat with a hat (just as numerous undercover law enforcement officials do), and drives around in an ordinary looking Imperial Chrysler. Kind of odd for a parody to jettison the ridiculous elements of its source, making this an indecisive parody.
  • Gremlins: The first film seems to waffle between being a dark comedy and a genuine horror film. Many scenes are played for campy, violent comedy, while others are played for straight horror. This was because the script was written as a horror film, but director Joe Dante decided to take a Lighter and Softer approach without changing the material. The sequel is a more clear-cut case of being a spoof. The scene where Kate tells the story of how her father died encapsulates this. Debate has raged for years about whether the monologue is supposed to be a serious dramatic scene, or a sick joke. Kate's final line "and that's how I found out there wasn't a Santa Claus" is either an unfortunate case of bad writing, or a punchline.
  • The collaborations between Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg sometimes involve this trope intentionally by parodying genre conventions and then reaffirming them.
    • Shaun of the Dead gained some recognition for being a Zombie Apocalypse parody film that actually plays the drama and horror surprisingly straight at critical moments.
    • Hot Fuzz lampoons a lot of typical action cliches and then plays them out in the final act as if they were straight, but with tongue firmly held in cheek.
  • The infamous Dunkaccino ad in Jack and Jill. On paper, it's a parody of Product Placement and celebrity advertisements, only it's in a film loaded with unironic Product Placement, and the scene is not only an uninteruppted, full-length ad, but the writers didn't even make up a drink for the film; the Dunkaccino is an actual drink served in real-life at Dunkin' Donuts.
  • Kick-Ass is somewhere between this, Affectionate Parody, and Deconstructive Parody. Put another way, it starts off as a deconstruction of superhero tropes and plays them straighter as it progresses.
  • Lake Placid took a lot of heat from critics who didn't realize it was supposed to be funny. As though a Cluster F-Bomb from Betty White could be anything else.
  • Lesbian Vampire Killers At times seems to be parodying the ridiculous oversexualisation of female vampires and vampire clichés, it also has long scenes of gratuitous nudity and a massive phallic sword MacGuffin.
  • The film version of Leave It to Beaver placed the wholesome fifties family in the nineties like the film version of The Brady Bunch that came out around the same time. However, unlike the other film which was a straight up parody, Leave It To Beaver didn't go very far with it and ended up being an odd mix of parody and a plain old remake.
  • My Favorite Blonde, a satirical take on the Alfred Hitchcock version of The 39 Steps, has nonstop jokes from Bob Hope, a cute penguin waddling around—but after all, there are actual Nazi agents trying to kill the heroes.
  • Never Say Never Again The "unofficial" James Bond film can't quite seem to decide if it's a harsh satire of the Eon series or if it's a regular James Bond film. Plainly satirical scenes (such as Bond's discussion with M at the beginning) are side by side with normal Bond-style scenes.
  • Pineapple Express starts out as mushing a stoner movie into an action movie, showing how poorly this type of thing would go in real life. But then Seth Rogen's character Dale takes an offscreen level in badass, and is jumping on top of people and shooting everything.
  • Reform School Girls was intended to be a spoof of the Girls Behind Bars genre, but much of the time it appears to be playing the tropes straight.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is never really sure whether or not it's serious.
  • Scream (1996) was marketed as a Deconstruction of the Slasher genre, but for all it did to point out as many traits as it could, it just ended up being a straight entry of the genre with genre savvy characters that still fall into all the same traps.
  • Showtime, a 2002 Eddie Murphy/Robert De Niro flop begins as a clever parody of buddy cop movies, then rapidly degrades into a straight action film with dismal results.
  • Spice World can't seem to decide if it's a self-spoof, a harsh satire of the Spice Girls themselves, or just a vapid ripoff of A Hard Day's Night.
  • The Slumber Party Massacre does it unintentionally, where a script feminist parody of the slasher genre was filmed completely straight by a director who didn't realize it as such. The effect is surreal.
  • Starship Troopers: Your enjoyment of the film version may depend on whether you think it's a parody. The movie started simply as a movie about a war with alien bugs until someone pointed out vague similarities with the book, and meddlesome executives insisted they buy the rights to the name to avoid a lawsuit. The director claimed that he found the book too slow and depressing to get through, so he decided to make the whole thing a Stealth Parody of fascist propaganda, which he felt the book was leaning towards.
  • This Is Spın̈al Tap A lot of people didn't understand that the "rockumentary" film was a parody of the burgeoning heavy metal scene of the time. People thought it was a documentary of a real band. Much of this was probably because of how much Truth in Television it had (Eddie Van Halen is quoted as not finding it funny because "everything in that movie had happened to me"... Which just goes to show how serious Eddie Van Halen takes himself). Confusing things further, Spinal Tap actually toured. After opening act The Folksmen.
  • This is generally agreed to be why Sucker Punch failed in the box office. Nobody could figure out whether it was supposed to be a straight Animesque action film or a Deconstruction of that genre. The result was an Audience-Alienating Premise; nerdy audiences turned away because they felt they were being insulted while audiences who'd be interested in a deconstruction thought it was just another action movie. The misleading trailers also meant that most people didn't know what they were getting into, and in some cases, weren't happy when they found out. The film is actually about girls in a mental asylum being physically and sexually abused and trying desperately to escape from it; the Animesque action scenes are a figment of the main heroine's imagination.
  • True Lies: Either a '90s action comedy, or a parody thereof.
  • Unmasked Part 25 is at the same time a satire of the unending sagas of slasher film icons, a Shallow Parody of the Friday the 13th series and a legitimate slasher film with gruesome murders, with a hint of The Toxic Avenger added in.
  • Van Helsing couldn't decide if it was an Affectionate Parody of old fashioned horror movies, a straight parody, or a Massive Multiplayer Crossover of the genre. Although it might be considered "pulp" like The Mummy Trilogy. Interestingly, whether or not a person likes Van Helsing seems to be determined a great deal by whether they thought it was a parody or not.
  • Wild and Woolly: When a city slicker in 1917 who is obsessed with The Wild West goes on a business trip to an Arizona town, the townsfolk make it over as a Wild West Wretched Hive, basically staging The Theme Park Version of the wild west for the city slicker—Bullet Dancing, Blasting It Out of Their Hands, shootouts, a beautiful damsel, a Train Job, all faked. But then in the last act a crook decides to kidnap the damsel and use the masquerade to rob the train for real, and everything is played perfectly straight, as the city slicker rides to the rescue, catching the bad guy, rescuing the Love Interest, and even raising a Posse to capture the Indians.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 7pm Project. Is the show a news satire, a news parody which looks at amusing stories, or an ordinary news show that happens to be hosted by comedians?
  • Big Time Rush can't seem to decide whether it's a parody of musical tweencoms or a straightforward example of one. As for the band itself, the first episode pokes fun at the stereotype of boy bands only singing about girls, and has the main characters refuse to sing an example of such a song. Guess what the majority of the songs featured in the rest of the series are about? Girls.
  • Death Valley was a parody of both Reality Television and horror shows as it’s about a COPS-like reality show in a world with vampires, zombies and werewolves, but most episodes play the horror part straight.
  • Desperate Housewives: When it premiered, it straddled the line between parody & nighttime soap before landing on the side of soap (albeit with a good dose of comedy).
  • Show runner Ryan Murphy has a knack for this:
    • Glee seems to be sliding in here. Is it a quirky teen drama with dark comedy elements and Awesome Music? Or is it a dark comedy parodying teen dramas with intentional Soundtrack Dissonance? Nobody seems to really know. Indeed, one of the main criticisms of the show is that it both wants to be a goofy hyper-skewed version of high school, while at the same time wanting to "really speak to the kids" and seriously "be a voice to the voiceless", something that smacks of eating one's cake and having it too.
    • Ryan Murphy's previous high school show Popular was worse. One minute the show would be an over-the-top parody of high school shows complete with on-screen graphics and pop culture references and then the next it would be a serious drama about cancer, eating disorders, and sex. The show hypocritically tried to condemn bullying while routinely making the bitchiest girls in school (Nicole and the fabulous Miss Mary Cherry!) the funniest and most entertaining parts of the show.
    • And in a different genre entirely but still under Ryan Murphy's peculiarly indecisive umbrella of creatorship is American Horror Story, which sometimes comes across as a deliberately silly Horror Kitchen Sink anthology and sometimes seems to take itself too seriously for a series where all anyone does is have kinky sex and/or rape everyone. In the end, one could pretty safely classify all of the above shows not as parody but as self-aware examples of the genre with a dose of camp.
  • The Muppet Show always walked the line between being a full-blown parody of Variety Shows and a unique example of one itself.
  • Other than the pilot, the first few episodes of The Middleman weren't very clear on whether their intention was to parody Disney Channel-style heroes or to join them. Halfway through the first season, though, it solidified on the side of parody.
  • The Stacy Keach version of Mike Hammer, which is too serious to be a straight-up farce of Film Noir, but most of it is played incredibly tongue in cheek.
  • The Orville can't decide between being a parody of Star Trek and a serious show, since it frequently oscillates between humor and seriousness, frequently tackling on philosophical and social issues (e.g. gender reassignment, social media, religion). It seems like it started as a relatively straight parody, but the creators were a bit too fond of what they were parodying. Or saying it was a comedic parody was the only way to get it on the air, but not what they really wanted to do.
  • Power Rangers RPM In a definite case of Tropes Are Not Bad, it manages to be one of the most depressing parodies of Power Rangers ever. The show constantly varies between lampshading PR tropes ("Sometimes when I morph, a giant fireball appears behind me for no apparent reason..."), and dark storylines (Dr. K's past).
  • Nobody seemed to get that She Spies was an action-comedy series bordering on parody, mainly because to the untrained eye, it looked like just another trashy syndicated action show. Which is probably why it got retooled into a straight action show for its second (and last) season.
  • Ugly Betty could never really decide if it was an affectionate send-up of soap operas and telenovelas or if was a dramatic example of one.
  • Rumor has it that part of the reason for the limited success of Ultraman Tiga in the US was 4Kids couldn't decide whether to make the show into a Gag Dub or make it serious. This isn't too far out of the realm of imagination, given that sometimes in the dub, one second the GUTS team would be comparing deadly monsters to their mothers-in-law and then treat a situation in which Daigo could have died with the utmost seriousness.

    Music 
  • "Yer Blues" by The Beatles. Lennon wrote it as a parody of the English blues scene, but the song rocks so hard that it succeeds on its own terms as a straightforward rock tune. Beatles scholar Ian MacDonald characterized "Yer Blues" as "half-satirical, half-earnest".
  • The Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" is supposedly a parody of misogynistic mainstream rap.
  • Broken CYDE seem very indecisive about whether they're a Stealth Parody or Doing It for the Art.
  • Dethklok, the Defictionalized Death Metal band from Metalocalypse, border on this. While certainly satirical, the virtual band's music is actually quite good, with drums from the Metal veteran Gene Hoglan from The Devin Townsend Project.
    • There's plenty of metal heads that denounce Dethklok. Take a look at the metal-archives.com review page for the first Dethalbum.
      • Noting, of course, that most of the reviews vary from lukewarm to positive, with ratings of around 60-90%, and that of the few bad reviews, one is titled "I hate this and anyone who likes it is a scumbag", which betrays just the slightest twinge of bias.
    • Also, while it would be entirely possible to either interpret the over-the-top guitar solos as straight over-the-top guitar solos or parodies of over-the-top guitar solos, the lyrics are fairly unambiguously parodic.
  • Jethro Tull's 1972 effort Thick as a Brick was intended to be a parody of Progressive Rock, in response to Ian Anderson's discontent of their previous album consistently being called a Concept Album. Of course, today the album is deemed one of the essential classics of the genre. So, depending on how you look at it, they either did it right or terribly, terribly wrong. A sequel came out 40 years later in 2012.
  • Kesha's pre-Rainbow output might appear as this to some listeners. She claims it was meant as an intentional parody of modern pop music, but aside from a few notable lyrics, she didn't go as ridiculous as Spinal Tap or The Rutles, so she often just came off like any other pop starlet.
  • Is That Poppy a Mind Screw conceptual art project satirizing shallow image-obsessed pop music, or a satire of shallow Mind Screw conceptual art projects?

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Religious(?) example: The Church of the SubGenius. One Church text openly taunts the reader with this: "A joke disguised as a religion? Or an actual, secretive religion, disguised as a joke disguised as a religion? Or an incredibly complex joke, disguised as an extremely ambiguous religion, disguised as a joke disguised as a religion?"
  • Discordianism. In this case it's largely the point.
  • At least one of the above has been described such that "If you don't see the joke, you've missed the point. But if you think it's nothing at all except a joke... you've also missed the point."
  • The Church of Satan: most of the public image projected was a deliberate take on the Hollywood Satanism stereotype in order to mock the general conception of religion and superstition (LaVeyan Satanists considered themselves atheists) but other elements of the Church are straightforward religious like the belief in magic and the Church's organization.

    Pinball 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • One Warrior Nation is an indecisive parody of Ultimate Warrior. Like Gilberg to Goldberg, One Warrior Nation is less impressive than the original in every conceivable way, having neither the physique, genuine intensity and or unique promos of Ultimate Warrior. Unlike Gilberg, One Warrior Nation is not a jobber and is booked to win almost as much as the original.
  • It's hard to pin down whether Giant Baba's match against the egregious WrestleCrap inductee Raja Lion was a horribly botched but serious effort to do a Different Style Fight or a total mockery of this kind of fights, which were made popular by Baba's rival Antonio Inoki. On one hand, both Baba' and Lion's (though specially Lion's) attempts to work the match are so deeply clumsy than nobody sane would believe a booker as talented as Baba had called them to be other thing than a parody. On the other hand, Baba never did comedy wrestling or parodies of any kind. Stealth Parody by Playing Against Type?

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The creators of FATAL have variously claimed it to be a work of "historically and mythically accurate scholarship" and "controversial humour".

    Theater 
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream. Particularly the scenes with the Mechanicals, who are performing a self parody of Romeo and Juliet; it's possible those characters are parodies of some of the Lord Chamberlain's Men.
  • The Broadway version of Tanz Der Vampire, retitled Dance of the Vampires. Tanz is a serious rock musical, albeit not without humor. Dance tried to make the show into a straight-up musical comedy, since the producer thought this would go over better with an American audience. Unfortunately, due to an incredibly dysfunctional creative process, many of the songs didn't fit in with the new approach, so the show wound up swinging between Camp and seriousness, leaving no one satisfied. To quote the Variety review: "It's not an outright comedy [...] but as a serious musical — well, it's pretty damn funny."
  • The play Done to Death is an Affectionate Parody of the Mystery Fiction genre. However it combines drastically different styles and the first scene of Act 1 is extremely different from the rest of the show.

    Video Games 
  • High Voltage Software claimed that Conduit 2 is supposed to be "tongue-in-cheek". Some portions the game are clearly taking the piss (half of Ford's dialogue, for instance), but other parts of the game are done completely seriously (like the conspiracy objects), and still others are ambiguous (the ending where George Washington and Abraham Lincoln show up in an alien spaceship, which somehow is both a logical development of the game's backstory and right the hell out of nowhere).
  • Borderlands
    • The first game was a bit unsure as to whether it wanted to be a parody; on the one hand, you've got screaming midgets and bandits yelling about how you killed their friends before they got a chance to. On the other hand, the final boss is a straight-up Sealed Evil in a Can, and the Precursors sideplot is also completely straight. By the time the DLC's came out, they had made their decision—parody all the way. General Knoxx spends most of his DLC calling you up to complain about his boss, who is five, and warn you that he sent assassins after you.
      Knoxx: Oh, hey, I sent Gamma team over to kill you. No hard feelings. Love!
    • The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned and General Knoxx's Secret Armory (DLC 1 and 3 respectively) both leaned more on the parody side, while Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot (DLC 2) went mostly straight. Claptrap's New Robot Revolution (DLC 4) apparently decided once and for all that the series was meant to by parodic.
    • The second game is also a shameless parody. More midgets, more nonsensical enemy banter, and a Big Bad who calls you up to gloat about how awesome he is. Such as the time he got a pony made out of diamonds, which he named Butt Stallion.
      Handsome Jack: It's not a statue or anything, it's an actual living pony—you know, I'll just show you. Butt Stallion! Get over here! Say hello!
      [whinny]
      Handsome Jack: Butt Stallion says hello.
    • Although the sidequests and enemies stay largely hilarious throughout the game, the main quest of Borderlands 2 gets dark near the end. There's the fight against Bloodwing, the fight against Angel, the abrupt murder of Roland and kidnapping of Lilith, and a bit of torture that isn't Played for Laughs (there's lots of torture, just only a little bit that isn't funny).
  • Bulletstorm seldom seems to know whether it's sending up over-the-top macho he-man shooters like Gears of War or just turning them Up to Eleven.
  • Duke Nukem Forever attempts to parody modern shooters and hold up itself and Duke as a proper hero from the Duke Nukem 3D era. A good number of people pointed out that, for all the schoolyard insults and dated jabs, DNF's gameplay is very clearly more inspired by those modern shooters than by the original game, with its two guns, regenerating health, slower speed, turret sections, and quicktime events.
    • Early on in the game, Duke is told to look for a keycard and instead wrenches the door open. This would be a funny subversion of a common gaming cliche... but searching for keycards had already become old hat and all but entirely abandoned for years by the time Forever came out, and the way he opens the door is with a quicktime event requiring mashing a button, which had become an even bigger cliche by then.
  • Evoland starts off as a pretty clear Deconstruction and Affectionate Parody of RPG tropes... until about 3/4 of the way through when it settles down and becomes one.
  • Far Cry 3 was supposed to be a satire/deconstruction of typical video game power fantasies, but spent so much time playing them straight (and doing a very good job of it) that it's hard to actually parse out the intended satire. The lead writer, Jeffrey Yohalem, wound up on the interview circuit trying to explain to people what the story really meant.
  • Half-Minute Hero was a simple, clear-cut parody. Its sequel, however, can't decide what it is from minute to minute. Put it this way: towards the end of the game, the Time Goddess rewinds the end credits because she doesn't want the game to end before she gets petty revenge. But during the final boss fight, the characters give long speeches about how they'd rather wipe out all existence than live in a world governed by determinism, and they are dead serious.
  • It's not always immediately clear whether Iron Brigade is supposed to be Rated M for Manly or Testosterone Poisoning. Some aspects seem to be firmly mocking over-the-top manliness, while others seem to be playing it straight. The Word of God isn't very helpful either — when citing over-the-top men's magazines like Man's Life as a source, they both refer to how warped their values are, and how awesome they were.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode seems really uncertain as to whether it's a parody of Telltale's other adventure games, or just another one of Telltale's adventure games. There are parts where it makes fun of Press X to Not Die sequences, or of the silliness of making a linear story-focused adventure game out of a property with no story whose main appeal is limitless creativity (particularly in the first episode), but then it jumps into a "serious" story featuring character deaths and linear setpieces and QTE sequences, and plays them dead seriously. Considering some reports that Telltale's games were essentially mandated to follow the formula of The Walking Dead, it makes one wonder.
  • MOTHER constantly, constantly flip-flops between satirical crack-ups and creative goofiness, very legitimate heart-tugging drama, and out-of-nowhere horror.
  • No More Heroes was an unabashed parody. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, meanwhile, almost attempts to deconstruct the previous game, but still being similar enough to the previous game on its face that it ends up in here.
  • Danmaku Amanojaku ~ Impossible Spell Card is presumably attacking modern gaming nuisances like intrusive tutorials, RPG Elements, and achievement systems... but it does this by playing these things more or less straight.
  • Fate/Grand Order likes to try its hand at self-parody, only to then use the self-parody to continue doing what it was already doing. For instance, the character of Mysterious Heroine X was created to make fun of Saber's Overused Copycat Character status and the countless variants of her, being a Hunter of His Own Kind from a Bad Future where Saberfaces have taken over the world. Then two variants of MHX were created, who were also Saberfaces, meaning that the franchise parodied its overuse of the same character design in a manner that coincidentally added three more characters who shared it to the pile. Pretty much the same thing happened with Okita and Nobunaga, who were originally created as gag characters (definitively male historical figures being turned into silly catchphrase-spouting waifus, one of whom is an Identical Stranger to Saber because her artist got lazy). They ended up being so indistinguishable from non-gag efforts like Nero that they were added into the game basically unchanged, and have since participated in fairly serious storylines.

    Visual Novels 
  • The prologue of the freeware Visual Novel Ristorante Amore was meant to be a parody/deconstruction of otome (i.e. girl-oriented romance game genre) stereotypes (ex: clumsy and not-too-bright heroine, Nice Guy and bad boy love interests, Alpha Bitch who only exists as a romantic complication for the heroine, etc.) with the post-prologue part revealing that the "prologue" was only a Show Within a Show with the characters' actors having vastly different and less stereotypical personalities. However, a combination of the prologue actually being relatively well-written, the lack of overt parodic jokes causing the prologue to feel not all that different from other straight-up otome games, and several visual novel websites categorizing it as an otome game in spite of the majority of the game having a male protagonist, led many a player to not realize the prologue was intended to be a parody and become genuinely disappointed when the Halfway Plot Switch to a male protagonist occurred.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • TV Tropes: The Real Life tropes page can't seem to decide whether to pretend that reality is a TV show, an MMORPG, or a Tabletop RPG, or whether to simply list examples of tropes occurring in reality. As examples on said page can change drastically in style Depending on the Writer, there may never be a unified vision for that page.
  • Parodied in The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Last Airbender, where he includes elements from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Avatar: The Legend of Korra. The narrator even lampshades this.
  • Ben "Yahtzee" Crowshaw often discusses this trope in Zero Punctuation, as seen with the top quote. In his mind, a game that points a trope out but then proceeding play that trope completely straight doesn't count as parody; it's just pointing out that the game plays its tropes straight and it knows so.
    Yahtzee: It isn't parody if you lay down, fart in your own face and then roll eyes at the camera while saying "Look at how I'm farting in my own face!" - No, you just farted in your own face!

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy loved to mock the way disadvantaged groups were given the shaft by the media...only to then turn round and play those jokes exactly straight themselves. Cleveland was a good example; the writers often lampooned the way black people are portrayed, except their own main black protagonist was easily the least developed of Peter's group and most of the jokes centered round him and his family relied on their race.
  • Neo Yokio: It's not known if the show is meant to be a true parody of anime, given that most of the anime tropes it uses are generally played straight. According to an interview with the producers, it was originally intended to be an outright parody of anime with every episode spoofing a single series in particular. However, during production, the crew wound up unironically loving the cast of characters they made, hence why the parody elements seem rather indecisive. Perhaps it's an Affectionate Indecisive Parody?
  • This is at least a chunk of the reason that "The Principal and the Pauper" episode of The Simpsons got such a cold reception. The episode centers on the idea that the Seymour Skinner audiences had spent the better part of a decade with was actually an imposter named Armin Tamzarian, and deals with the trouble when the "real" Skinner comes back. Ken Keeler, its writer, claims it was intended as a parody of silly retconned backstories. However, while the ending (where the entire town comes together to ditch the "real" Skinner and agree to just call Armin Skinner from now on) is definitely a joke when viewed in that light, most of the rest of the episode seems to play Armin's angst, backstory, family strife, and conflicts with the real Skinner for drama. The result is that instead of coming across as a meta parody of retcons and how audiences hate change, it just ended up looking like an actual retcon and got people very annoyed, with the joke ending looking more like a hasty Deus ex Machina.
  • The Total Drama series started out as an animated parody of reality shows. The focus on shipping and other such plot tumors have essentially made it a totally pre-scripted (read: slightly more scripted than usual) reality show that happens to be animated.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report