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Lampshade Hanging
aka: Lampshaded

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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 seems too dubious to take at face value, whether a very implausible plot development or a particularly blatant use of a trope, by calling attention to it and simply moving on.

This 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. It also assures the audience that the world of the story is like Real Life: what's implausible for you 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 be seen either 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.

At times you may even just have a Puff of Logic because of this.

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 discuss not only 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.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    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.
  • Radio commercials for Gold's Horseradish over the decades have used several different slogans punctuated by the ringing of a bell. For the last few years, the very Jewish-sounding announcer has been ending the commercials by demanding to know who is ringing the bell and why.
  • Recent Newcastle Brown Ale commercials give us a few black and white clips of miners from Newcastle, England, followed by the line "Because nothing sells beer like old footage of people who had it way worse than you do."
  • This is a feminine product commercial by Kotex that make fun of traditional advertising techniques for pads and tampons.
  • This old newscast has an expert lampshade the Narmy Engrish of "Lightforce Dr. Hill's Spirulina Snake Bladder High".

    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.)"

  • Spike Milligan must have been peddling lampshades when he wrote the latter episodes of The Goon Show.
  • The Jack Benny Program did this quite a few times with knowing winks about the commercials.
    Jack Benny: And now a word from our sponsor. Take it, Don.
    Don Wilson, the show's MC: "Jell-o." Take it, Jack.
  • Adventures in Odyssey has been around for over twenty years, and it knows it.
    • Just to name one example, the narrator, Chris, ends every episode by giving the show's address and listing the main credits for the episode. The inevitable pokes at this have gone from prefacing it with a "(Ready?)" in "Switch", to having the show's production team hijack it over her protests in "500", which was topped in "Live at the 25" when she led the entire audience in reciting it.
    • While the April Fools episode "I Slap Floor" has everyone acting comically out of character, it works in a few jokes about the show at large amid the wackiness:
      • Connie and Eugene finally give in to their latent feelings for each other and decide to get married immediately. "There's no sense in a long, drawn-out, seemingly-never-to-end engagement."
      • Whit denies any evidence that he's losing it (chiefly, giving terrible advice) thusly:
        Whit: Well, I-I'll prove it to you. Here — look at this, I came up with a new invention today. It's a flying machine, made out of a boat with oars. And big helium balloons. And a propeller! We can use it to rescue people!
        Connie: [unimpressed] Uh-huh.
        Tom: Why don't you take a nap, Whit...
        Whit: [regathering notes] Oh, yeah, well... you'll all be sorry, next time somebody falls off a clock tower!
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978): The Infinite Improbability Drive. Douglas Adams admitted that, having created a situation where anything that saved the heroes would be a Contrived Coincidence, the only possible solution was to point it out, and then have them rescued with a Nonsensoleum space-drive that created Contrived Coincidences.
  • Cabin Pressure, a BBC radio sitcom about a very small airline, featured Benedict Cumberbatch as one of the pilots, except for the first episode in Series Three when he was unavailable and the part was taken by another actor. This was lampshaded by the other characters discussing what they would do if one of the pilots was ill and deciding that they would think of something. The replacement actor entered at this point and the flight attendant complimented him on how well he was looking; only for the co-pilot to reply: "No, I think he looks exactly the same as always!"

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Used often due the characters' genre savvyness. Upon the creepy dummy's arrival: "What?! How is thing even on the field? It completely breaks the game!"
  • This is prone to happen in PeabodySam, Andrewnuva 199, and Brikman McStudz's writing in Dino Attack RPG, especially whenever a Deadpan Snarker opens his/her mouth.
  • In a Darwin's Soldiers prequel story, we get this quote:
    Shelton: This simulation is a little unrealistic, isn?t it?
    Tinner: What do you mean?
    Shelton: Some enemy army invades the base? There's no way that would ever happen.
  • This is a relatively common occurrence in Survival of the Fittest, both in and out of character, this exchange shows an example of (IC) lampshading.
    Melina Frost: [leader of a group called the "Poison Angels"] Go on then... show him why we're called the Poison Angles. [sic]
    Jeff Marontate: [a character facing the group] Poison Angles, huh? Oh, I'll give you a whole new set of angles in a minute, my darling.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Infernum is a D20 system game set in its own unique spin on Fire and Brimstone Hell, with more than a few oddities. One of the strangest is the river Cocytus, a river of "Grinding Uttercold Black Ice"... which happens to emerge from a rift beneath Malebolge, a massive and eternally unstable range of volcanoes. In the rulebooks, it's mentioned that even the demons don't know how something like this can happen, and House Zethu (the House of Mad Scientists) is stated as wanting desperately to solve that little riddle.
  • Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000:
    • For over 20 years and six editions of the game, the Snotlings have taken to the battlefield riding their pumpwagons, a complex, mechanical wagon driven by hordes of the little creatures turning cranks and gears. How this contraption works has never really been explained, nor how it can be built by creatures with only no real intelligence (sometimes described as about the level of demented puppies). The latest version of their rules notes that not even the Orcs themselves understand how the snots can make it work (although the Orc race in general make things function because they believe that it works, and so it does).
    • After the new Necrons codexes granted them the ability to teleport units across the field with some vehicles, new versions of the rule explicitly state that "a unit may never teleport more than once, no matter how clever your logic is".
    • The Tau Empire has undergone several spheres of expansion and stages of technological progress, but inhabits a tiny sliver of space in the Galactic map. Whilst they have triumphantly seen off the Imperium in the Damocles Crusade, it is openly stated that this is only because the Empire of Man has much bigger, scarier things to deal with, and chose not to waste any more resources on what essentially amounts to a somewhat overly large splinter in their little toe.

  • The Warner Brother's Animaniacs animated series, though without specific citation here, likely includes this trope in each, and every, episode. Citing welcome, though the show itself is a sea of examples from Self-Demonstrating Article page.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the first Higurashi visual novel, Onikakushi, after the main story there is an extra section where the character are talking about who they think is causing the murders. When wondering why Keichi isn't there with them, Rika explains "he doesn't have a character picture."
  • Ace Attorney
    • In the third case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, Phoenix has been told he lost a case by several characters, with what was apparently the most miserable defense any of them have ever seen. In reality, the case's true culprit showed up in court, claimed to be Phoenix, and deliberately allowed his client to be found guilty. When Phoenix meets his supposed Evil Twin, he remarks that the two of them look and act nothing alike.
    • In the first case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Apollo lets out a very loud "OBJECTION!", and promptly gets scolded by the judge and his mentor Kristoph: "Excess yelling can damage the judge's ears... and our case."
    • Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth features a point in the final case in which, just as the true Big Bad looks like he's won, some one shouts out "HOLD IT!". After some dramatic close ups of everyone's shock faces and a tense silence as you wait to see who the Big Damn Hero is, it turns out that the one who saved the day is!...Some random forensic officer who has no name, profile or any relevance to anything at all...
    • The third case of the same game has Agent Shi-Long Lang call out Miles on not being skilled enough to solve his latest case in short enough. Detective Dick Gumshoe immediately backs Edgeworth up and confronts the agent. Here's the response to that outburst...:
      Lang: The comedic relief jumps to the aide of his master... How cliché.
    • In case three of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies presenting your badge to Apollo will have him note that Phoenix told him to present his badge to every new person he meets.
      • The game likes making fun of the ability to present random evidence to people, which sometimes has funny reactions. Do it to Phoenix in Case 3 and he will tell you that it is ridiculous (to which Athena notes the irony). Apollo also has a reaction in case 3; he says it is a vital step to been a defence lawyer even though it can be annoying or embarrassing.
      • And in Case 5 you can do it to Edgeworth too who has this gem.
    Edgeworth: Please stop presenting random evidence just to see how that person will react.
    • In The Great Ace Attorney, many trials have a jury consisting of six people chosen at random from London's six million citizens. In every case, at least one juror will have a direct relation to the case, be a returning witness from a previous case, or just happen to have some crucial knowledge to share with the court. Whenever this happens, Ryunosuke will wonder if the jurors are really chosen at random.
  • Da Capo: "You call me 'oniichan' but we're in love. That kind of thing normally only happens in erotic games."
  • Near the start of the monstergirl-themed eroge Princess-X, the protagonist's father calls him on the phone (for the first time in half a year), asks him if he reads manga, then starts rambling about the love comedy manga cliche of a boring, unpopular guy coming home one day to suddenly discover he has a cute fiance, who he lives together, gets into cute hijinks with, competes against rivals with, and then eventually gets into sexual situations with, as a shorthand way of explaining to him that this is exactly what is just about to happen to him. (He neglects to mention, however, that the fiance he'd arranged for his son is a ram-horned, bat-winged, serpent-tailed demon princess who is not about to take "no" for an answer.)
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: When you go to one of the classrooms to ask Korekiyo for his alibi, he says that he was in the cafeteria eating dinner prepared by the Monokuma Kubs. Their dish was apparently called:

    Web Original 
  • The TV Tropes logo!
  • Whateley Universe is fond of these.
    "he spread his arms wide WOMP-CRACK!, and I really couldn't let you rush in and pull a Deus Ex, how lame would that be?"
    Sara glared as the boy leant against a tree, standing on a branch ten feet in the air, "This isn't some stupid story. Someone could be killed out there!"
    • Hat Trick as well, though one is a subversion... Genre Savvy for the win.
  • Common in the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes.
    "Oh, again with the alleyways! I'm getting sick of them!"
  • The Defrosters have a bunch. The fourth wall may as well not exist.
    • "This is the worst dialogue ever."
    • "Our creator knows about as much about World of Warcraft as Pixel Girl."

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


Ain't Got Rhythm

Librarian and former Love Händel drummer Swampy mentions that he lost his ability to make rhythm after he fell asleep in a metronome factory... despite making a spontaneous and incredibly catchy improvised rhythm as he starts singing a song about it. Phineas even points out how clearly untrue this is.

How well does it match the trope?

4.11 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / HypocriticalSinging

Media sources: