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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
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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.


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    Advertising 
  • 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.)"

    Radio 
  • 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: 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!"

    Roleplay 
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Original 
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  • 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."
  • In Tasakeru, two characters, a Paladin Grand Mistress and her daughter, both use BFS' with Implausible Fencing Powers. It's stated that they're just that good and never mentioned again.

Alternative Title(s): Hangs A Lampshade, Lampshade, Lampshaded, Lampshades, Lampshading, Lampshaded Trope, Hanging A Lampshade, Radio, Roleplay, Tabletop Games, Visual Novels, Web Original

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