Follow TV Tropes


Lampshade Hanging
aka: Lampshaded

Go To
The Order of the Stick hangs a lampshade on Lampshade Hanging with a literal lampshade.

Sir Toby Belch: Is it possible?
Fabian: If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.
Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene IV

Lampshade Hanging (or, more informally, "Lampshading") is the writers' trick of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief, whether a very implausible plot development, or a particularly blatant use of a trope, by calling attention to it and simply moving on.

The reason for this counter-intuitive strategy is two-fold. First, it assures the audience that the author is aware of the implausible plot development that just happened, and that they aren't trying to slip something past the audience. Second, it assures the audience that the world of the story is like Real Life: what's implausible for you or me is just as implausible for these characters, and just as likely to provoke an incredulous response.

The creators are using the tactic of self-deprecatingly pointing out their own flaws themselves, thus depriving critics and opponents of their ammunition. The Turkey City Lexicon refers to this flavor of Lampshade Hanging as a "Signal from Freud", and reminds the author that if your characters are complaining about how stupid the latest plot development is, maybe your subconscious is trying to tell you something.


On the other hand, Lampshade Hanging done well can make for an entertaining piece of Medium Awareness or momentary lack of Genre Blindness. It can also be used to take care of Fridge Logic, without having to actually do anything. For this reason, it can either be seen as making a bad movie even worse or as adding clever writing and humour.

This practice is also known as "hanging a clock on it", "hanging a lantern on it", or "spotlighting it". In the film industry it's sometimes called "hanging a red flag" on something, after the screenwriting adage, "To hang a red flag on something takes the curse off of it," meaning that to lampshade something decreases the negative effects it might otherwise have. Teodolinda Barolini referred to this as "the Geryon Principle" in reference to how Dante narrates how unbelievable his "true" story is the more fantastical it gets. We went with our title because it's the one used in the Mutant Enemy bullpen.


Can also be combined with a Hand Wave, sometimes invoking an unreveal, to make explaining a plot inconsistency unnecessary. When breaking internal consistency is deliberate this trope can be used to show that, yes, it is deliberate instead of a plot hole. Can also be combined with an active attempt to avoid the trope, in which case the Lampshade Hanging turns into a Defied Trope.

Commonly seen in the self-aware shows that make up the Deconstructor Fleet; rarely used in the presence of a Drop-In Character. If large numbers of lampshades are hung, then the writers believe lampshades are Better Than a Bare Bulb, this trope's Logical Extreme.

Hypocrisy Nod and Inspiration Nod are specific types of this. Meta Guy is the fellow who does this all the time. Sometimes takes the form of This Is the Part Where.... Compare Discussed Trope, Postmodernism and Playing with a Trope. No Fourth Wall happens when characters not only discuss tropes, but the writers as well.

Not to be confused with Lampshade Wearing.

Once again, Lampshade Hanging is when attention is drawn to something that is so strange it threatens to break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Leaning on the Fourth Wall is for things which make sense in the story but also have a second meaning outside of the story. Try not to get these confused.


    open/close all folders 

  • The Charmin Bears are infamous for their obsession with toilet paper. However, on occasion they will acknowledge how strange their behavior can be.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Lamput episode "Martial Art" features a scene where Fat Doc's speech is accompanied by Chinese subtitles reading "We're talking gibberish". This lampshades how all the characters' speech is Speaking Simlish.

    Card Games 
  • Shows up fairly often in the joke "Unglued" and "Unhinged" sets from Magic: The Gathering. For example, Ow's flavor text is "Have you ever noticed how some flavor text has no relevance whatsoever to the card it's on?" Also shows up occasionally in the regular game. Lightning bolt was a card introduced in the early generations, and is widely regarded as being overpowered. It was never reprinted after the 4th edition... until the 11th edition, with the flavor text, "The sparkmage shrieked, calling on the rage of the storms of his youth. To his surprise, the sky responded with a fierce energy he'd never thought to see again."
  • Munchkin basically exists to hang lampshades, not only on the tropes of the genres each version is parodying, but eventually on itself. The "You start the game as a Level 1 human with no class" joke eventually morphed into "You start the game as Level 1 with no class and no style" and "You start the game as a Level 1 zombie with no Mojo (as this is a zombie movie, nobody has any class.)"

Alternative Title(s): Hangs A Lampshade, Lampshade, Lampshaded, Lampshades, Lampshading, Lampshaded Trope, Hanging A Lampshade


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: