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Once per Episode

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"Ohh yeah, right. I remember now, it's like from... every other episode..."
Kronk (reacting to a Running Gag), The Emperor's New School

A relative of the Running Gag. This is an event that, instead of happening several times in one episode, happens one time in just about every episode of a show.

There is an entire genre of jokes that exists to take advantage of this trope: "Remember that one episode of _____ where...". A common example: Remember that one episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost escape from the island, but Gilligan screws it up? (Though that one is a clear case of Cowboy BeBop at His Computer, as the vast majority of episodes do not feature a potential chance to get off the island.)


Compare Signature Style. If it happens at the end of an episode, it's Every Episode Ending. If everything is like this, it is Strictly Formula.

Also compare Once a Season, where a certain plotline or character story gets a yearly invite. May also overlap with Different in Every Episode if the series follows a specific formula for its references and plots.


    open/close all folders 

  • In most commercials for Big Red chewing gum, in addition to all of the couples kissing regardless of what's going on around them, there is a scene where at least one of them usually has the guy tearing themselves away from their significant other in order to catch a train, or a bus, or have to rejoin a parade, etc.note 
  • Until the 2000s or so, each commercial Post's Pebbles has Barney Rubble trying to use a different Paper-Thin Disguise in order to trick Fred out of his Fruity / Cocoa Pebbles cereal, all with the same result:
    "BARNEY, my pebbles!"
  • It isn't consistent, but many commercials for Kool-Aid have the Kool-Aid Man smashing though a wall, and then saying his catchphrase:
    "Oh YEAH!"note 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kanon: Ayu runs into Yuuichi, literally or not, in every episode except for the ends of the other girls' arcs.
  • Trigun features a cat skittering across the screen every episode, some times more obviously than others. Said cat is named Kuroneko-sama ("Lady Black Cat"), and was actually the first character designed for the series.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: Magical Girls have to transform once an episode, but in Tokyo Mew Mew, it got bad enough to be an in-joke with fans — hey, there aren't even monsters around! What's Mew Ichigo doing exactly?
  • Nishizawa of Hayate the Combat Butler eats something while (after her introduction in episode 12) thinking wistfully of Hayate. (She still appears doing it even before her official introduction.)
  • The Mazinger saga:
    • Mazinger Z: Every episode Kouji shouted "Pilder On!" and "Mazin Go!" to dock in its Humongous Mecha and activate it. In some episodes he shouted it even more times if he had to sortie often.
    • Great Mazinger: In the same way and with the same purpose, Tetsuya shouted "Brain Condor!" and "Mazin Go". And Jun shouted "Queen Star On! Venus Go!" every episode after the third one.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: Every episode Daisuke jumped from a hatch and shouted "DUKE FLEED!" -his real name- to morph his clothes into his Latex Space Suit, and "Dizer Go!" to start Grendizer.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: Team Touden encounters a monster, Laios squees over it, they kill it, Senshi cooks it into Food Porn, Marcille freaks out over eating it.
  • The Robot Romance Trilogy:
    • Combattler V: To combine their vehicles -needless to say, it happened every episode-, the team yelled "Let's combine", and if they were ready to combine correctly, Ropetto authorized the combination repeating: "Combine OK". And then you have the Finishing Move ("Choudenji Tatsumaki" and "Choudenji Spin") that were used every episode.
    • Voltes V: Again, the Five-Man Band every episode yelled "Let's Volt In!" to combine in Voltes-V. And every episode they killed the Monster of the Week with the V-Slash.
    • Daimos: Every episode, to transform and activate Daimos, Kazuya yelled "Daimos, Battle Turn!", -pretty uselessly- as performing a kata with his arms.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: Once every episode either Ken the Eagle, one of the other team members, or even all of the team members would scream "Bird Go!", "Transmute!", "G-Force Transform!", or "Eagle Mode now!" depending on the version (or, if you watch the Spanish dubbing, "Mutación", although this is not an accurate translation -mutación=mutation- but sounds even cooler)" to change their civilian clothes into their super-hero costumes.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: The opening Aspect Montage. Showing Lain on the street outside her house where the shadows aren't quite right.
  • CLANNAD: After Fuko's arc of concludes, she makes random appearances in accordance with this trope.
  • There's a Running Gag in .hack//Legend of the Twilight about Shugo getting bashed in the face and losing a tooth every episode. Fortunately for his dentistry the damage isn't permanent or cumulative, since he is in virtual form when it happens. The gag is dropped in the last few episodes which take a more serious turn.
  • In every episode of most Cutey Honey incarnations (except the recent The Live TV series) someone would ask Honey who she is, to which she would laugh, list her different costumes for the episode (usually three) and finish by "but the truth is... Honey Flash!" (cue transformation sequence) "Cutey Honey! The Warrior of Love!"
  • Every single episode of the Medabots dub found an excuse for Ikki to shout "Metabee!". Also: "Medafighters Ready? Medabots... Robattle!"
  • Kamichama Karin: "Mr. Glasses Man!" "I am not 'Mr. Glasses Man'!"
  • Excel Saga:
    • Someone (usually Pedro) gives a Big "NO!" each episode.
    • Nabeshin appears in every episode, even if it's just for a second.
    • Excel getting dropped through a trapdoor by Il Palazzo. One time the rope he pulls to spring the trap has a sign saying "obligatory" hung on it.
  • Mnemosyne has Rin asking Mimi for water every morning, only to get vodka (which, in Russian, is the diminutive of the word for "water") instead.
    • Not to mention Rin getting mutilated and/or killed, which on average, actually happens closer to thrice an episode.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei:
    • Itoshiki-sensei says "I'm in despair!" (or "Zetsuboushita!" in Japanese) at least once after a short clip of him looking surprised/afraid/overly-dramatic in different directions. Usually, he'll give the full line: "I'm in despair! ''X'' has left me in despair!"
    • Lampshaded several times in the anime when other, usually minor, characters declare "I'm in despair!" and Itoshiki promptly replies along the lines of "Thats MY line."
    • Kaere also gets a panty shot every episode, and there are smaller things like a stork showing up in the background. These are all lampshaded when Itoshiki-sensei tries to explain all the once-per-episode elements to new viewers. He can't come up with a good reason why they're all there.
  • Code Geass R2 has, amazingly, turned the Wham Episode concept into a Once an Episode occurrence. Seriously, literally, once an episode; R2 is made up of nothing but Wham Episodes.
  • Pokémon:
    • "Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off again!" Averages once an episode. There are episodes where they don't blast off at all (like the first-season episode where Ash got the Thunderbadge, for example), but on the other hand, there are also episodes where they blast off twice, so it all evens out. In addition, Wobbuffet had been seen, or its cry was heard, in every episode since his introduction save two of them. At least, that is, until he was left behind with the other Pokemon at the beginning of Best Wishes. He's with them again in Kalos and the gag is back too.
    • Not to mention Team Rocket's motto upon revealing themselves, although a few episodes did not feature it with them instead opting to sing a song.
    • Brock meets a cute girl, immediately proposes to her, and is then dragged off by Misty/Max/Croagunk/whoever. On rare occasions, however, this would turn the other way - the odd episode had Misty gushing over a Water Pokémon (or something related to a water-type) and Brock would drag her away, and one occasion had the cute girl of the week proposing to Brock, leaving him completely dumbfounded. Both are now gone as of Best Wishes, as Brock was finally Put on a Bus, and Team Rocket Took a Level in Badass and now only blast off of their own will....on jetpacks... At least until the Kalos series started up, where they're back to their usual incompetent selves.
    • Now we have Cilan going into one of his long-winded explanations/speeches each ep, usually accompanied by Iris looking bored and making a "there he goes again" type remark.
    • Iris herself has one in the original Japanese, telling Ash he's such a child at least once.
    • Clemont's invention of the week seems to end up Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • In Zatch Bell!, before Ponygon was introduced as a character, he would often be shown walking across the screen for no explicable reason once an episode.
  • On The Noozles, Osgood the lizard pops up out of nowhere at least once an episode to comment on what is going on.
  • Once per Story Arc variation in Lyrical Nanoha: The major battle near the end of an incident will be capped off with Starlight Breaker. As StrikerS Sound Stage X showed when Teana did it, this rule is followed even if Nanoha is absent.
  • In Maicchingu Machiko Sensei, Machiko's panties are shown without fail throughout all 95 episodes, not to mention that she will be disrobed at least partially.
  • In Ranma ½, Ranma's transformation initially is this, but is increasingly averted or implied to happen offscreen. At the very beginning, the threat of it being revealed was once an episode. They didn't so much waste a perfectly good plot, more one of their best gags, not to mention plenty of perfectly good Fanservice opportunities.
  • In Ghost Stories, the main characters read a book for sealing spirits whenever they encounter the Monster of the Week.
  • Rizelmine: main male character making her cry her explosive tears, although that was backed off a bit in the second season when things got a little more serious. But the dog was still there in every episode.
  • One Piece (the manga) always contains an appearance by Pandaman in almost every arc (or, in one place Pandawoman); sometimes it's obvious but most of the time it's not.
  • Sailor Moon: Usagi's transforms into Sailor Moon in almost every episode, and in almost all of the other episodes she is already transformed when the episode starts. Also, Sailor Moon defeats the Monster of the Week with whatever that season's attack is, if it's not a final battle that involves some more serious moon juju or one of the rare episodes where one of the other Senshi defeats the monster without her.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: The pre-duel sequences. Sure, duelling for the Rose Bride is the point of the show, but to recycle a lengthy animation sequence and some remix of "Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku" every single time? Yes, she has to climb stairs to the duel arena (except in the last 13 episodes, when she takes a "gondola"/elevator). We get it already. Stock footage is used quite a lot in the show, partly because of the low budget and partly for emphasis.
    • Additionally, the Shadowplay Girls show up in nearly every episode and comment on every duel.
  • Natsu no Arashi!: At least once per episode, sometimes more, there's an anonymous chap in the back calmly asking for salt. A few episodes he comes close, to salt and happiness, only to have it whisked away not unlike Charlie Brown's football.
  • In the first half of Final Fantasy: Unlimited, Kaze pulls out his Magun summon weapon, and saves the day. In the second half of the series, he pulls out the Magun and it malfunctions.
  • In every episode of Nerima Daikon Brothers, someone in the band needs to take out a loan, and the band goes to the Rental Shop to get a Plot Coupon from the director.
  • Pinoko in Black Jack presses her cheeks together and yelling, "Acchonburike" (which has no actual meaning except for being translated it as "Ohmigewdness") once per episode whenever something surprising happens.
    • In Black Jack 21, a game was made to try to find the image of Sharaku in each episode. Some being more obvious than others.
  • In the Hidamari Sketch anime, someone, usually Yuno, soaks in bath salts... even if she and the others have already been to a sentō that day. This may or may not end the episode, but it's always at least close. It took a few episodes to get it to its most common form (underwater shot of bath bombs; colored water swishing down the floor drain; the bather in the tub), but the main aspect is once an episode.
  • In Star Driver, various members of the Glittering Crux Brigade yell "Open the cybercasket!" once an episode in order to summon their Cybodies. Also, there's a Transformation Sequence each episode when Takuto becomes the Galactic Pretty Boy.
  • In each episode of Black Butler:
    • Ciel says, "This is an order!"
    • Sebastian will say, "A Phantomhive butler who can't [insert X task - usually an improbable one - here] isn't worth his salt." and "I am simply one hell of a butler.".
  • In the series Infinite Ryvius, one will spot Kibure Kikki, a strange female student in a dinosaur costume at the first episode. Each episode after that one can usually find her in a blink and you miss it scene of her trying to find the parts of said costume throughout the ship. Many fans have even made into a Where's Waldo? type game to try to find her in each ep.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - The shot of the front of the 765Pro Office.
  • Early on in Bloody Cross, Tsukimiya gets groped in almost every chapter. It starts happening less often later.
  • Most episodes of Hell Girl climax with somebody getting sent to Hell.
  • In the Yuri Genre series Sakura Trick, Haruka and Yuu kiss at least once in every manga chapter. The anime adapts two chapters per episode, so there's a bare minimum of two kisses per episode.
  • Lupin III (Green Jacket) has someone catching fire every episode, even if only for a short gag.
  • Following episodes 3 and 4 of Ange Vierge, every episode seems to follow this trend:
    • The episode starts off with a protagonist's flashback involving Amane before going on to the opening sequence.
    • There may or may not be a bath scene.
    • A comedic skit involving Ageha and Mayuka, which has its own Stinger.
    • The team member faces off against the Brainwashed and Crazy villain. One battle ends with the villain escaping, the other ends with her defeat. For the latter, it ends with the other Brainwashed and Crazy antagonists lamenting the current villain's defeat and the end of the episode.
  • In My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, there is a shot of the club room sign with a new sticker added each episode. The only exceptions are the episodes set at a summer camp.
  • Kimi ni Todoke typically starts each chapter with Sawako coming up behind a pair of her classmates to greet them, only for them to freak out from her scary appearance.
  • Tamagotchi! Yume Kira Dream has Yumemitchi and Kiraritchi undergo transformations not unlike what you'd see in typical Magical Girl fare in every episode.
  • All episodes of the Animated Adaptation of Wasteful Days of High School Girls has Tanaka stops Ota and Robo in the beginning of each episode—in one case, pulling off Ota's earphones—to talk about something she thinks as "Amazing", which is usually pretty lame.

    Comic Books 
  • During Mark Waid's run on The Flash, every issue started with the lines "I'm Wally West — the fastest man alive," or some variation thereof. On rare occasion, especially when Wally or a member of his family needs to deliver a speech with emotional punch, other writers still riff on this.
  • Every issue of Spider-Girl opens with "Your name is May 'Mayday' Parker, and you are the daughter of Spider-Man," or some variation of it.
  • Matt Fraction's Hawkeye always starts with Clint thinking "Okay, this looks bad" or some variation of it.
  • Diabolik tends to have The Big Damn Kiss at/near the end of every story, usually a Smooch of Victory between the titular Villain Protagonist and his lover Eva.
  • Groo the Wanderer has featured many once-an-issue gags in its time, from the fairly subtle 'hidden message' in each issue (usually something helpful such as 'This Is The Hidden Message'), through the ever-changing job titles given to co-writer Mark Evanier (What, Exactly, Is His Job?), to the Everyone Chasing Groo ending, complete with Spoof Aesop.
  • Marvel Comics' Mr. Immortal dies in all of his appearances.

    Comic Strips 
  • Krazy Kat: Ignatz Mouse attempts (with varying degrees of success) to acquire a brick and hurl it at Krazy Kat. (Okay, this only happens in maybe 75% of the strips, so maybe it should go under Running Gag.)

    Fan Works 
  • Ranma ½: The Abridged Chronicles has several once-per-episode gags, as stated by the creators. This list includes a scene with Genma as a panda with flashing yellow text exclaiming something about the panda, a boot to the head, a musical interlude (usually to draw out fight scenes), someone exclaiming "Son of a bitch," and of course, Ranma getting turned into a girl, usually without a top on. While not all of these happen each episode, they occur enough to qualify.
    Ranma: Stupid one-topless-scene-per-episode contract!

     Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars has many, due to the formulaic nature of the films.
    • Every film has the phrase, "I've got a bad feeling about this." Much Expanded Universe material homages this practice, with a video game going as far as suggesting the player should save their game every time it gets uttered.
    • Every film also has the phrase "May the Force be with you" or a slight variation.
    • Every movie through The Force Awakens includes the Wilhelm Scream, a stock sound effect famous enough to have its own trope page. But then, every action movie features the Wilhelm Scream — a lot of them as a shout out to Star Wars. Lucasfilm changed to a different stock scream in 2016 (starting with Rogue One).
    • Every single film contains a Big "NO!", some bigger than others.
    • All Episodic films begin with the opening narration scrolling against a starry sky. When the narration ends, the camera pans to a ship flying through space.
    • Every film introduces a new Force power:
      • A New Hope: Mind trick, Force choke, Force sense, oneness with the Force
      • The Empire Strikes Back: Telekinesis, Force jump, Force vision, Force ghosts, precognition
      • Return of the Jedi: Force lightning, mind reading, and (unintentionally) Force Kick
      • The Phantom Menace: Force speed, Force push (offensive variant of telekinesis), Force-induced pregnancy (Anakin's parentage)
      • Attack of the Clones: Force avalanche / Force reflect/absorb (when Yoda turns Dooku's lightning back on him, and later absorbs a second one)
      • Revenge of the Sith: Force reflect (Yoda first blocks Palpatine's lightning at close range, when the two of them come to contact a deflagration ensues)
      • The Force Awakens: Force stasis, a more invasive form of Force mind reading, and a more immersive version of the Force vision
      • Rogue One: Force stasis reflect (when Vader freezes a rebel's blaster bolt, and then throws it back at him.)
      • The Last Jedi: Force bond, Force bubble (to survive briefly in the vacuum of space) and astral projection.
    • All films have an ending sequence with music and no dialogue.
    • And finally, count on at least one lightsaber battle between Force-users to go down in a Skywalker Saga film, usually towards the end:
      • A New Hope: Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader
      • The Empire Strikes Back: Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader
      • Return of the Jedi: Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader
      • The Phantom Menace: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn vs. Darth Maul
      • Attack of the Clones: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Yoda vs. Count Dooku
      • Revenge of the Sith: Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Anakin Skywalker, Yoda vs. Palpatine
      • The Force Awakens: Rey vs. Kylo Ren
      • The Last Jedi: Luke Skywalker vs. Kylo Ren (Subverted, as Luke is revealed to actually be a projection and lightsabers never clash).
      • Solo also subverts this as there are no lightsabers present in the film.
    • These Lightsaber fights almost always end in someone losing a hand as well:
      • A New Hope: Ponda Baba losing his arm to Obi-Wan in the Cantina
      • The Empire Strikes Back: Luke to Vader on Cloud City
      • Return of the Jedi: Vader to Luke on the second Death Star
      • The Phantom Menace: Several droids get their arms chopped off by lightsabers, and Maul gets his legs (well, really his whole lower half).
      • Attack of the Clones: Anakin to Dooku at the end
      • Revenge of the Sith: Dooku to Anakin during the beginning (and then some, since the poor guy lost both hands). Mace Windu also loses his hand before getting flung out a window by Palpatine. And finally, Obi-Wan cuts both Anakin's left arm and legs.
      • The Force Awakens: The rare exception. Kylo Ren takes a lot of injuries including one that causes him to drop his saber during the battle, but this time it seems that he doesn't actually lose a hand, or at least it isn't cut off. Moreover, no lens flare can be accused of hiding it, when the camera focuses on Ren lying in the snow. He does, however, take a pretty nasty slash across the face. Unkar Plutt, does get his arm ripped out of its socket in a deleted scene, by Chewbacca, of course.
      • The Last Jedi: Snoke's Praetorian guards lose limbs to Kylo Ren and Rey. Not to mention Snoke himself who, while having a hand cut off, was also cut in half by Ren. Luke would have been cut in half by Ren as well, but his presence on Crait was astral projected.
    • Every film with the Millennium Falcon, save Return of the Jedi, has a character disparage the ship at some point, comparing it to garbage or similar:
      • A New Hope: Luke calls it a "piece of junk", Leia, upon seeing it for the first time says, "You came in that thing?"
      • The Empire Strikes Back: Leia refers to it as a “bucket of bolts”
      • Return of the Jedi: The only exception, though Han refers to the stolen Imperial shuttle as a "piece of junk" so at least a ship gets disparaged
      • The Force Awakens: Rey calls it "garbage"
      • The Last Jedi: Kylo Ren calls it junk.
    • In the modern, Disney era of the films, every subsequent film has pulled off an increasingly insane stunt with a spaceship's hyperdrive.
      • The Force Awakens: Han jumps the Falcon to lightspeed from inside a starship hangar, and later, exiting hyperspace within a planet's atmosphere.
      • Rogue One: K-2SO does almost the exact opposite of Han's stunt in TFA, jumping the Rebel U-Wing to lightspeed from within a planet's surface, while said surface is cracking to fiery pieces.
      • The Last Jedi: Admiral Holdo jumps the Raddus to lightspeed directly through Snoke's flagship.
    • Every Disney era film to date has also included a surprise cameo by a legacy character:
      • The Force Awakens: Luke Skywalker
      • Rogue One: R2D2, C3PO, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia
      • The Last Jedi: Yoda
      • Solo: Darth Maul
      • The Rise of Skywalker: Palpatinenote 
  • Most (but not all) James Bond films have him say "Bond. James Bond." Which is a problem if you are playing the drinking game. He also usually gets involved with two or three women per movie, and in many of the films at least one of them gets killed off (this, however, is a stereotype as many Bond films do avoid killing off the characters). Also, the Bond Gun Barrel and the animated credits are always there, even if altered a bit sometimes (at least in the EON Films series). (see also the series' entry on Strictly Formula)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • 11 of the 12 Marx Brothers films had Chico play the piano and Harpo play the harp.
  • The Swedish comedy movies Jönssonligan always had Sickan say "Jag har en plan" ("I've got a plan").
    • The Danish comedy movies Olsen-Banden, of which Jönsonsligan is a Swedish remake, had Egon Olsen in jail at the beginning of a story, and he'd come out of jail with a plan wrapped in brown paper, and he'd say "Jeg har en plan". And the wonderfully brilliant plan would somehow misfire and Egon would be arrested, usually in the place of the real crook.
  • All Terminator films have someone shouting "Get Out!" as they take over a vehicle. Two other phrases almost qualify: "I'll be back!" (all but T3, which instead features "She'll be back" and "I'm back!"), and "Come with Me If You Want to Live" (T3 features "Do you wanna live?! Come on!!").
  • The Back to the Future trilogy:
    • All three movie feature a wide overhead shot of Marty walking into the town square, looking astonished as he sees his hometown in a different time period, along with a clear shot of the town clock's current state in that particular era.
    • All three movies include a confrontation between Marty and a Tannen (Biff/Griff/Buford—all played by Thomas F. Wilson) in a diner/saloon, followed by a major Chase Scene.
    • In all three movies, Marty gets knocked out, initially wakes up assuming his recent time travel was All Just a Dream, but realizes it’s not when his mother/great-great-grandmother (both played by Lea Thompson, even though the two characters aren’t related) assures him he’s back in 1955/Biff’s casino/on the McFly farm.
    • The first two movies also had Biff being covered in manure (not the same instance) while the third movie has his ancestor be covered in manure, and telling how they hate manure.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • Every film will include Indy fighting a big strong henchman (in the first three, played by the same actor) who'll end up being killed in an extraordinarily violent fashion.
    • Every movie involves the Big Bad trying to harness a powerful magical (or seemingly magical) artifact, only to have it backfire on him/her in the end due to hubris.
  • American Pie: The three main movies feature Stifler coming into unwanted contact with one kind of human excreta or other, Jim getting caught masturbating in a ridiculous way, and Finch having sex with Stifler's Mom. Averted somewhat in the fourth movie, American Reunion: while Jim still gets caught masturbating, Stifler makes someone else come into unwanted contact with his feces, and he has sex with Finch's mom.
  • Almost every official Marvel Comics movie has a Creator Cameo by Stan Lee up until his death in 2018.
    • X-Men: Hot dog vendor on the beach when the now-mutated senator escapes Magneto.
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: Man watering his lawn in Jean Gray flashback. Bonus points for including Chris Claremont in the same scene, as Stan's neighbor.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Man in neighborhood with sunglasses on watching the nukes fly up into space. The shot zooms in on his sunglasses showing the nukes in the lenses. Bonus points for the woman with him being his real life wife.
    • Spider-Man: Old man shielding little girl from falling debris during the Goblin's parade attack.
    • Spider-Man 2: Old man pulling woman away from debris during the battle on the clock tower.
    • Spider-Man 3: Talks to Peter while both are reading a news bulletin about Spider-Man.
    • Hulk: Security guard; bonus points for being alongside Lou Ferigno.
    • Daredevil: Old man almost hit by bus.
    • Fantastic Four (2005): Mailman Willie Lumpkin (the first time he played one of his own characters).
    • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: Denied access to the wedding, despite claiming to be Stan Lee.
    • Iron Man: Mistaken for Hugh Hefner at the casino.
    • The Incredible Hulk: Accidentally drinks soda laced with Banner blood.
    • Iron Man 2: Mistaken for Larry King at Stark Expo.
    • Thor: Truck driver who unsuccessfully tries to tow Thor's hammer from a crater.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: General at the award ceremony.
    • The Avengers: Interviewed about the heroes in the ending (and, ironically, the only random citizen to claim the idea of "superheroes in new York" is "ridiculous").
    • The Amazing Spider-Man: Working in the school library while listening to music on headphones, which renders him oblivious to Spidey and the Lizard tearing the place apart.
    • Iron Man 3: As a beauty pageant judge.
    • Thor: The Dark World: A patient in the psych ward Selvig is attending.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The security guard in the Smithsonian at the Cap exhibit.
    • The Amazing Spider Man 2: Graduation guest.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: "Xandarian Ladies' Man."
    • Big Hero 6: In a portrait at Fred's house and in a post credit sequence where Fred finds his secret room.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Attends a party with the Avengers and gets drunk on Thor's mead alongside his WWII veteran buddies.
    • Ant-Man: A bartender in one of Luis' stories.
    • Deadpool: A DJ at a strip club.
    • Captain America: Civil War: a delivery man at the Avengers base.
    • Doctor Strange (2016): a passenger in a bus that Mordo and Doctor Strange land on top/on the side of. He doesn't notice, given that the two are in the Mirror Dimension.
    • Noticeably absent in Logan. Justified in that it really, really wouldn't have fit the tone of the movie. He does appear in the online version of the Deadpool 2 teaser that aired before Logan (although not in the version of the teaser that actually aired before Logan): when Deadpool finally comes out of the phone booth, Lee remarks that Deadpool has a nice suit. Deadpool tells him to can it.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Having a conversation with The Watchers about his previous incarnations.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: The old barber that cut's Thor's hair on Sakaar.
    • Black Panther: A Thirsty Gambler (per the credits) in the Korean casino.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Peter's school bus driver (who is unfazed at the idea of spaceships invading New York City).
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Old man whose car is shrunk by an errant disk fired by the Wasp.
    • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: The owner of a comics shop who sells Miles his first Spider-Man costume.
    • Captain Marvel (2019): As himself riding the LA Metro, reading the script for Mallrats. As the franchise's first movie after his death, the Logo Joke is also redone in his image, with his past cameos and promotional appearances taking the place of the heroes.
    • Avengers: Endgame: A hippie in 1970s New Jersey.
  • Another once-per-episode gag in every movie to feature Captain America: Steve Rogers makes a snarky comment to a female colleague then leaps out of a plane (parachute optional).
  • Every Phase 2 Marvel Cinematic Universe movie or series involves someone losing or having lost a hand, as a Shout-Out to The Empire Strikes Back.
  • In the MCU, every Captain America movie has Bucky using Steve's Captain America shield in some capacity.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: Bucky picks it up after Steve drops it and uses it as a regular shield while shooting his pistol.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: As the Winter Soldier, Bucky manages to get it off of Steve, and wields it much more efficiently, using it to beat Steve, while also throwing it a few times.
    • Captain America: Civil War: When Steve and Bucky fight Iron Man in the film's climax, the two share use of the shield, and Bucky is skilled enough that he can now throw the shield in the same way Steve does, bouncing it at deliberate angles to attack Tony and pass it to Steve.
  • Thor and Loki in the MCU also find themselves in the same situation in most films:
  • Every single Avengers movie ends in a huge battle between the Avengers & their allies against a villain and his armies.
    • The Avengers (2012): The original six Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) vs. Loki and his Chitauri fleet.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: The above six plus War Machine, The Vision, Scarlett Witch, Quicksilver, and Nick Fury's helicarrier against Ultron and his army of drones.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Captain America, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Bucky Barnes, War Machine, The Falcon, Thor, Rocket Raccoon, Black Panther and the Wakandan army vs Thanos, the Black Order, and the Outriders.
    • Avengers: Endgame: Hoo boy. The original six Avengers (minus Black Widow), Nebula, War Machine, everyone who was dusted in Infinity War, Ant-Man, the Masters of the Mystic Arts, the armies of Wakanda, Nebula, Pepper Potts, Captain Marvel, Valkyrie and the Asgardian army, Korg and Miek, Kraglin and the Ravagers, and Howard the Duck vs Thanos from the past, the Black Order, the Outriders, and the Chitauri.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Every movie includes a cameo by Bruce Campbell, as well as an in-movie performance of the 1960's TV show's theme.
    • Honest Trailers noted that every film, perhaps unintentionally, involves Spider-Man struggling with his powers, breaking up with Mary Jane and battling a villain who eventually kills themself.
    • CinemaSins also commented that each film has a shot of Peter attempting to call MJ and having to leave an awkward voicemail while MJ stands next to the phone at the other end listening to him record it with her arms folded.
  • The Transformers films capping off with a Linkin Park song. At least for the first three films, anyway.
  • Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. "The Scarecrow", is the only villain to appear in every single film of The Dark Knight Trilogy.
  • Almost every Troma film since Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. has used the same shot of a car flipping over and exploding.
  • Lampshaded in Pulp Fiction when Mia says that her character would have told one joke every episode, if her Pilot actually worked out.
  • All three Daimajin films have similar premises: evil feudal lord oppresses Japanese peasants, the eponymous god takes a physical form, evil feudal lord's castle gets destroyed and the god turns back to a statue. The climactic destruction also features some poor bastard getting stepped on.
  • Jurassic Park:
  • Every installment in the Dirty Harry series has Harry running into someone committing a robbery and stopping them.
  • Mission: Impossible:
    • Just like the series, every movie has a mission briefing that ends with the device giving them their orders self-destructing. Jokingly played with in the fourth, where one device fails to detonate and Ethan has to slam it to get it to work.
      • Also foreshadowing since from that point on, pretty much anything than can go wrong with the mission, does.
    • Every movie has somebody (usually Ethan) doing a "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop. While the first movie has a reason for the sprawled position (making sure not to touch the weight sensitive floor) the other films don't have any such justification except as an internal homage. Played with in Ghost Protocol: Brandt is seen in the signature pose, but no cables are involved; instead he is actually being pushed up by a large magnet below him and a magnetic suit he's wearing.
    • All of the movies feature spies who turned rogue as villains, except the fourth which bucks the trend. Usually the spies in question are former IMF Agents.
    • All of the movies also feature someone revealing themselves as an IMF agent in disguise by removing a mask. Sometimes the villain of the movie does this too.
    • Every Mission Impossible movie since III has featured an action sequence of Tom Cruise running full out for minutes at a time to either escape or catch someone.
  • The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy has many:

  • Discworld: Death has at least one cameo in every book. Except for The Wee Free Men (the one book that is actually all about bereavement, strangely) and Snuff.
  • Animorphs: There will be a meeting in Cassie's barn.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories, particularly the early ones, Bertie and Jeeves disagree about something about Bertie's attire, and Bertie puts his foot down. Then, after Jeeves has saved the day, Bertie relents.
  • There are several bits you can always count on being in every single Encyclopedia Brown book:
    • The opening chapter has Chief Brown bringing a case home to dinner which his son is able to solve.
    • The second chapter has Encyclopedia helping a kid out with Bugs Meaney.
    • The next chapter has Bugs trying to set up Encyclopedia and Sally for a crime. This will usually involve a retelling of how Sally punched Bugs' lights out years before and thus he wants revenge.
    • Wilford Wiggins will call a big rally for his latest get rich quick scam that Encyclopedia busts.
  • Stephanie Plum gets a car destroyed.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden has an alarming tendency to end up underdressed and beat to crap every book. Lampshaded by Bob in the tabletop RPG rulebook.
  • Save for the last one, every Harry Potter book has the following elements:
    • The Dursleys having an unfortunate encounter with magic at the start of the book
    • Harry leaving the Dursleys, though each time using a different method of travelling (car, flying car, knight bus, floo network, broom, apparating and finally a flying motorcycle).
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, once per series (usually), the girls travel to Jack Frost's Ice Castle to retrieve an especially guarded item.
  • A Mage's Power: A bird will poop on Nolien in every chapter he appears in.
  • Each book in the Uglies series begins with party crashing.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, every novel begins with a prologue chapter from a new or minor character's point-of-view who dies at the end of the chapter, or shortly thereafter.
  • Every main series book in Wings of Fire except for The Dark Secret features the protagonist running into some scavengers and deciding to spare their lives due to noticing they're more intelligent than they seem and/or they're very cute.
  • All the Wayside School books (except for the arithmetic ones as they are not structured like the other books) ended with the last sentence being, "Everyone (Word That Rhymes With Ooed)".

  • Old Crow Medicine Show seems contractually obliged to record at least one song about drugs per album.
  • Metallica, DragonForce and quite a few other Metal artists seem to have a "one ballad per album" rule.
  • Almost every Pink Floyd album of the Roger Waters era had at least one song Fading into the Next Song and nearly each album was a Concept Album.
  • Type O Negative had at least one Cover Version per album on every album apart from Slow Deep And Hard and Dead Again. (the rerelease of Slow Deep And Hard features their cover of Hey Joe (Called Hey Pete) as a bonus track, however).
  • Iron Maiden had one or two Epic Rocking tracks per album until they decided to make every song on the album an epic from A Matter Of Life And Death onwards. They would also make sure to have at least one historical song named after a war film.
  • Fun Lovin' Criminals admit they have to include at least one 'stoner jam' on each album (the song they were referring to was Rewind from Classic Fantastic)
  • Crowded House claimed to have included a reference to a kitchen on every album. It was true until they regrouped in 2007.
  • All of The Beatles albums have a track where George Harrison sings lead (mostly the ones he wrote) and all but two have one track allowing Ringo Starr to Step Up to the Microphone.
  • All the Garbage albums end with a depressing ballad.
  • Brad Paisley usually has an instrumental (as he is a virtuoso lead guitarist as well as a singer-songwriter), a gospel song, and, at least from the second album, a track featuring old-time country singers or comedians he is a fan/friend on most to all of his albums. Usually, they're all located towards the end.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • His new look (as of 1998) brought about a new trend of featuring one 'epic' track on every album, including "Albuquerque" (Running With Scissors), "Genius In France" (Poodle Hat), "Trapped In The Drive Thru" (Straight Outta Lynwood), "Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me" (Alpocalypse), and "Jackson Park Express" (Mandatory Fun). Before this, epic tracks were fairly scattered - "Nature Trail To Hell" (In 3D) and, several albums later, "UHF" and "The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota" (both UHF).
    • With the exception of his self-titled debut album and Even Worse, each album has a "polka medley", which consists of many popular songs performed to a polka tune.
  • Every In This Moment album has the lyric "in this moment" in at least one of the songs.
  • Every studio album by The B-52s apart from (the EP) Mesopotamia and (the reunion album) Funplex includes a song about animals - Rock Lobster, Quiche Lorraine, Big Bird, Juicy Jungle, Junebug and The World's Green Laughter. This is because all of its members are animal lovers.
  • Zac Brown Band always includes a beachy up-tempo song on every album: "Toes" on The Foundation, "Knee Deep" on You Get What You Give, "Jump Right In" on Uncaged, and "Castaway" on Jekyll + Hyde. As a bonus, all four were released as singles in the summertime.

  • Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap:
    • The opening, typically consisting of a disclaimer that the show is not for children, a recounting of the animals in the kitchen ("This podcast is recorded in front of a live kitchen beagle..."), and Ursula greeting the audience with "Hello out there in Internet land!"
    • Sponsor segues, generally terribly off topic, almost always starting with "You know what won't [insert random comment here]...?" Apparently this has become so prevalent in their household at this point that they respond to any question with that opening with "Sofa Wolf Press!" There is an extensive list here.
  • How Did This Get Made? has Second Opinions, where Paul Scheer read 5-star reviews for the movie that the hosts have spent the last hour or so tearing into.
  • Every episode of Sugar, We're Goin' Down Podcasting! has Jo and Caitlyn consult the website Genius to glean some understanding of Fall Out Boy lyrics, with them asking the site to sponsor them for their continued shoutouts.
  • Mystery Show:
    • Each episode begins with Starlee meeting with her client to get a run-down of the case.
    • Each episode contains creative commercials for the show's sponsors, Kind Snacks and Square Space.
    • Each episode ends with Starlee giving a cryptic clue about the next episode, except for the last one, where she gave an explanation for the previous one.
  • Who Back When:
    • The BISCOW (Bite Size Chunk of Who), which gives a quick rundown of the current Doctor Who episode being reviewed before beginning the synopsis proper.
    • The hosts' reviews, followed by their reading any reviews for that episode sent by listeners, conclude each episode.
  • Welcome to Night Vale:
    • Every episode opens with an ominous Non Sequitur, followed by a Title Drop.
    • "And now, the weather", followed by a song from a special musical guest.
    • Every episode closes with Cecil telling the audience "good night".
    • "And now, a word from our sponsors", usually followed by a cryptic and ominous monologue, ending with an unrelated corporate slogan.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Blue's Room: Every episode begins with Blue spinning the playdate spinner to determine the theme of the playdate for the episode.
  • The Sesame Street UK Spin-Off The Furchester Hotel has three:
    • A monster banging a gong, at which monsters appear out of the rooms, shout "Tea time!" and collide with everyone in reception in their hurry to get to the dining room.
    • Either the song "A Furchester Never Gives Up" or "A Furchester Catastrophe". (Season 2 adds "We Can Solve Any Problem".)
    • The characters coming up with a solution to the problem of the week by "putting our furry heads together".
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: Most episodes had Betty the Kitchen Fairy appear to deliver an aesop and call out the characters on jerkish behavior. If there's a problem like a monster chasing the characters, though, she won't intervene to save them. Most episodes also have a song in them.
  • The Big Garage: The taxis would always sing a song related to what's going on in the episode at some point (for example, Mimi sang a song about her going to the Big Garage for the first time in the episode "Welcome to the Big Garage"), and they would give the song a reprise near the end of the episode.

  • Sometime close to the bottom of the hour on NPR's Weekend Edition, usually just after the sport segment, host Scott Simon shoehorns a connection between the next story and the fact that B. J. Liederman wrote their theme music.
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue featured many, including the game Mornington Crescent (usually preceded by reading a fan letter from Mrs Trellis) and the introduction of the pianist Colin Sell:
    Humph: When music experts hear Colin's compositions, they say he could have been another Berlin, Porter, or anybody else employed by the German State Railway.
  • In Old Harry's Game the majority of episodes will have the Professor and Satan making a bet, most commonly about morality and something bad would happen to Thomas.
  • Every episode of Marcus Brigstocke's The Brig Society opens with Marcus explaining that he was at his local library and Maureen from Volunteer Services inspired the theme of the show. (In series 1 the themes were actually allocated to him as voluntary positions, in series 2 Maureen's influence is less direct.)

  • In Destroy the Godmodder, every game an Eldritch Abomination called "The Glitch" starts breaking down reality itself and threatens to destroy wherever the players are. In addition, there's usually an early-game Ravine bridging event, a usually early-game event wherein the Battlefield is divided by a massive Ravine with unusually powerful gravitiational forces to prevent attacks from affecting other factions. This crevasse must always be bridged to complete the challenge and resume attacking the Godmodder.

  • In the US, at least, most major sporting events begin with the playing of the national anthem.
  • At every Notre Dame football home game, without fail, the 1812 Overture will play at the end of the third quarter, after which an Indiana state trooper will dispense safety advice that concludes with an incredibly lame pun.

  • In the Farndale Avenue plays, each presented as a production by the disaster-prone Farndale Avenue Dramatic Society:
    • Mrs Reece walks on stage, realizes she's left a prop behind, and gestures into the wings for a stagehand to pass it out to her. The stagehand gives her an accordion.
    • At the end of the interval, Mrs Reece leads a competition with audience interaction.
    • Mrs Reece remarks that she noticed audience members leaving hurriedly/muttering that they can't take any more, without realising that they're reacting to how bad the production is.

    Video Games 
  • Ever since The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link is usually asleep (or otherwise unconscious) when the game starts and needs to be woken up.
  • Halo:
    • In the first two games, a character says something along the lines of "I've got a bad feeling about this" and then a character says "you've always got a bad feeling", right before the first appearance of the Flood in that game (itself a reference to Star Wars).
    • The "Siege of Madrigal" Easter Egg appears in all the Bungie-made games.
  • Each game in the Ace Attorney series has a stepladder that can be examined. If it is examined, both the main character and his assistant will have an argument on whether it should be called a "ladder" or a "step-ladder".
    Maya: Look, a ladder!
    Phoenix: That's a 'step'-ladder.
    Maya: So? What's the difference? You need to stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions, Nick!
    Phoenix: R-right... sorry. (This girl is out there!)
    • On a more serious note, the final case of each game in the series, except for Apollo Justice, will have a different prosecutor preside over the case than the main prosecutor of the game.
      • On a related note, the first trial of every game is against a different prosecutor as well, typically a member of the Payne family.
    • Every game in the series, sans Dual Destinies, has you speak with a victim before their demise.
    • Maya is accused of murder and must be defended in every game she appears in, even in the crossover with Professor Layton, and only once was she not the immediate suspect.
  • In the Danganronpa series, the third case is always a double murder, and the killer will have the least sympathetic motive in the game. (Not including that of the Big Bad)
  • The Dark Cloud series is made of Once Per Episode formula.
  • In every installment of Dark Souls, there is a fight where you have to kill an old hero who has lost his mind, with sad and lowkey music playing.
    • In the first installment, it is the final battle against Gwyn, who has lost his mind after burning for thousands of years to prolong the Age of Fire.
    • In the second installment, it is Vendrick, the old king of Lothric who contracted the Undead Curse and eventually succumbed to it after being betrayed by his wife.
    • In the third installment, it is the battle against the Soul of Cinder. At first the music is rather dramatic, but as it enters phase 2, it becomes a reprise of the music that played in the fight against Gwyn in the first game, as the boss is an amalgamation of every person who has linked the Fire to continue the Age of Fire, starting with Gwyn.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Metal Gear:
    • Starting with Metal Gear Solid, the protagonist will ask about Metal Gear in an exasperated fashion, usually as Parrot Exposition after another character mentions it: (Metal Gear?)
      • Snake says the line when talking to Donald Anderson in MGS.
      • When seeing RAY during the Tanker chapter of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Snake says the line. Raiden does the same later on in the game when he sees RAY for himself.
      • Naked Snake says the line when Granin tells him about his new idea for a weapon: "A kind of... Metal Gear, if you will."
      • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Big Boss says the line as an Easter Egg, when he opens the back of a truck to find a box of literal metal gears.
      • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, calling Boris during the fight against Metal Gear Excelsus will prompt Raiden to repeat the line after Boris says it.
      • Appears with a pre-mission cassette tape in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, with Snake repeating the line after Kaz mentions it.
    • The protagonist will be tortured at some point.
    • There's also Snake's pose after landing on the tanker at the start of Metal Gear Solid 2, which two different characters end up copying at some point in every other main-series game afterwards.
    • Revolver Ocelot mentioning in some sort of fair detail why he believes his weapon of choice is by far the greatest creation in all of human history.
    • Someone Otacon cares about always dies.
    • A character - usually Johnny Sasaki - has a potty failure in every numbered Solid game.
    • Some variation of the line "It's not over yet!" gets spoken by an antagonist.
    • Huey Emmerich gets pushed down a flight of stairs in both games he appears in.
  • Final Fantasy has several. Some are absent in early installments, but once they are introduced, they always appear in each game afterward.
  • BioShock has a dead cat in every level. The sequel has continued the tradition.
  • Monkey Island: Guybrush Threepwood always seems to come across The Voodoo Lady right when he needs her, and Stan right when he doesn't.
  • The God of War series has A) Kratos getting sent to Hades, B) a Hot Coffee Minigame, C) Kratos screaming someone's name (usually his enemy's) at the top of his lungs, and D) Kratos saying, "What treachery is this?!"
  • Pokémon:
    • One fisherman who fights you with 6 low leveled Magikarp is present in every game. It's Played with in Pokémon Black and White, where that one fisherman's Magikarp are level 60, which is LONG after they should have evolved into Gyarados. Sometimes they deliberately trick you and have the guy with six Magikarp, plus someone with something like five Magikarp and a Gyarados as his last one.
    • Every game has a different Youngster who likes shorts, because they're comfy and easy to wear. Except for Black 2 & White 2, which instead had a girl who really likes skirts.
    • Every game has a fat man in the first town who remarks that "The power of science is staggering!"
    • Every game will always have you fighting the Elite Four plus the Champion or a similar Final Boss. Or both, in one case. Subverted in Pokémon Sun and Moon where there is no Elite Four or Pokemon League initially, but they are instated near the end of the game.
    • Every game has a villainous team trying to destroy/change/take over the world using the Cover's Legendary, though the last part only began to take form after Generation II.
    • There is always a Youngster Joey. ALWAYS.
    • Since breeding was introduced in Generation II, the player character will always receive a Pokemon egg from an NPC.
    • The only evolutionary lines available in every single generation before the Elite Four (without trading etc) are Zubat, Magnemite, Psyduck and Rhyhorn, as of Generation VI (Pikachu was not available before the Elite Four in any version of Unova).
    • The following Pokemon lines appeared in all of the first four generations' regional Pokedexes: Pikachu and Raichu; Zubat and Golbat; Psyduck and Golduck; Abra, Kadabra, and Alakazam; Machop, Machoke, and Machamp; Tentacool and Tentacruel; Geodude, Graveler, and Golem; Goldeen and Seaking; and Magikarp and Gyarados. The Magnemite and Rhyhorn lines appeared if the Platinum Pokedex is taken into consideration.
    • Every game has a long area, usually consisting mostly of caverns, called Victory Road between the final gym and the Elite Four.
    • Every game has a place that essentially acts as a Pokemon graveyard.
    • Every game has at least one rival, and a Pokemon Professor named after a tree or type of plant that gives you a starter of your choice from either Water, Fire or Grass types.
    • Every game has a place where you can talk to members of Game Freak staff and get a reward from the Director for completing the National Pokedex.
    • Ever since Looker's debut in Generation IV, each generation has had at least one game in which he makes an appearance.
    • Every generation has at least one card in the Trading Card Game simply named "Switch," with each generation having its own illustration. From Generation III and onwards, it's also done by a different illustrator (Keiji Kinebuchi illustrated both the Generation I and Generation II switches).
    • Every game will always have a rival who always picks a starter Pokemon with a type advantage over yours. Inverted in Pokémon Sun and Moon where your rival picks a starter whose type is weak against yours.
    • The player character will always be a Heroic Mime with dialogue response options. This is a defining character trait for Red's cameo appearances in a few games since he was the player character in the first generation.
    • Each game, from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and onward (with the exception of HeartGold and SoulSilver, has a stone structure surrounded by moss and another one surrounded by ice. Justified as these locations will allow Eevee to evolve into Leafeon or Glaceon, respectively, and there are no in-game methods to obtain them otherwise. Similarly, there always exists an area with a strong magnetic field, which induces evolution on various Pokémon.
  • Every game in the Pokémon Ranger series has an appearance by the Go-Rock Quads. They're only evil in the first game, however.
    • Every game has an underwater section, accessed either by submarine or aqualung.
  • Every stage in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, except the first and last, has a rambling drunk person in it somewhere.
  • Ever since the third Guitar Hero game, there has been a Muse song in the setlist of every main game in the series.
  • Every Call of Duty game set during World War 2 has at least one mission where you get to control a tank.
    • Every Call of Duty game developed by Infinity Ward includes a Captain Price. The Anachronic Order present by virtue of having multiple games set during World War 2 means they can do this even though Price died in the first game.
  • Each of the Saints Row games features the leader of the Saints delivering a Rousing Speech to the assembled gang, ending with the phrase, "It's our time now! Let's get this shit started!" In the fourth game, the fact that this has become a tradition gets a Lampshade Hanging.
    • Every game also has at least one named ally die over the course of the game, with the player having the ability to bring them back as a zombie later on, though 4 does abandon part of this trend. No chance of bringing back any of your allies that died when the Earth got destroyed, sadly
  • Every Mass Effect game has a Point of No Return event disguised as a seemingly unimportant or easily accomplished request given to you.
    • And Shepard being interviewed (and then given the option of punching) by Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani.
  • Every Sonic the Hedgehog game:
  • Nearly every game in the Kingdom Hearts series features a "Dive to the Heart", that takes place in a featureless black void, save for one or more pillars with symbolic stained glass floors.
    • In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Sora gets knocked out in every single world he visits except The Grid; the cases of Traverse Town and The World That Never Was are because he was forced to sleep, while he gets knocked out by a Dream Eater or a Disney villain in the other worlds.
    • Every game will feature at least one world where the BGM is an arrangement of a song from the source material instead of a new composition.
  • In the Dragon Age franchise, the PC and their party are repeatedly sucked into the Fade (despite in-game lore declaring this to be impossible), where they must battle a demon or series of demons for the soul of one or more innocent bystanders while the PC is given an opportunity to pick up free attribute points. This happens in main plot quests in Origins, Awakening, and Inquisition, and in an optional sidequest in Dragon Age II.
  • Almost every Mega Man (Classic) game has the final section of the game end in Dr. Wily's fortress and said fortress will always have a Boss Rush in the second to last level. Every time Dr. Wily loses to Mega Man, he begs the blue bomber to forgive him. Mega Man 9 pokes fun at this where after Mega Man defeats Dr. Wily yet again, the hero uses a slide projector to show Dr. Wily his previous 8 defeats, each one ending with the doctor begging for mercy.
  • Expect a game show at some point in any Paper Mario. The second game has two of them. Sticker Star took it to the extreme with Snifit or Whiffit.
    • Every game makes some reference to Parakarry, a major character in the original Paper Mario. He makes a cameo in the second game, is a Catch Card in the third, and leaves a note in the fourth.
    • Also, except for the fourth game someone will start telling Mario a long-winded story that they insist is extremely important for him to know about, which he falls asleep halfway through and wakes up at the end when they shout at him.
    • Every Paper Mario game also has at least one stage with a large haunted building and at least one structure floating in the sky.
    • There is an extra named Johnson in every Paper Mario game. More often than not, this Johnson has done something incompetent or witnessed an incompetent act and gets blamed for it.
    • Every Paper Mario game with a distinct chapter-based progression will have a traveler of some sort tag along with Mario in its fifth chapter. This character always serves as comic relief and frequently gets in trouble that Mario has to solve: Professor Kolorado in Paper Mario, Flavio in Thousand-Year Door, documentarian Flint Cragley and his TV crew in Super Paper Mario, and the Sunset Express train's engineer in Color Splash.
    • Starting with Thousand-Year Door, Mario travels from his house to a central location via a small boat at the beginning of each Paper Mario game.
    • The final boss of every Paper Mario game has a phase where he or she becomes invincible, with Mario needing outside help to weaken the boss to where Mario can fight him or her on more even terms.
    • At least one location in every Paper Mario game has music that begins like the Super Mario Bros. overworld theme but drifts off into its own thing a few measures in. This location is always found at or near the beginning of the game.
  • Ao Oni: In every version of the game released so far, there's always someone who has a Heroic BSoD and hides in a cupboard (usually Takeshi), and there's always a character who refuses to move from the room they're hiding in until the end, a requirement has been met, or they die (always Mika/Megumi). Also, the jail cell and rope ladder cutscenes.
    • Every version starts the same way: the gang hear a loud noise and the main character (usually Hiroshi, but this applies to Takuro in the Korean fan remake of 2.0) goes off alone to investigate it. He enters the kitchen to find a recently-broken plate and returns to an empty main hall.
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos: In every campaign save Undead a protagonist will encounter an extraordinarily powerful enemy and nearby a convenient power source of very shady (or outright sinister) nature, ignore the warnings, use the power source and beat the enemy but become corrupted in the process. Undead are exempt because there's nothing to corrupt there any more.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Beelzebub is always a Bonus Boss, and is always one of the most (if not THE most) difficult.
  • In most of the Devil May Cry installments (except 2), Dante will get impaled by his own sword. It even happens in the animated spin-off. In the first game, he is also impaled by the Alastor sword before he stands again, grabs it, does a sword show with it and makes it his.
  • Every game in the Batman: Arkham Series features Batman hallucinating something.
  • Wild Dog blowing himself up (although it was accidental in the first game) after being defeated in each Time Crisis game. In fact, it is played with in 5 the first time it looks like he's going to do it (with the protagonists taking cover), only for the button to instead activate a jetpack.
  • Each Mario Kart game will have the same cup names - Mushroom, Flower, Star and Special for new courses, and Shell, Banana, Leaf and Lightning for old courses. The last tracks in the Special Cup are always Bowser's Castle and Rainbow Road, in that order, with the exception of Mario Kart 64. There is also always a track called Mario Circuit, usually in the Flower Cup.
  • Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents:
    • One emotional level with an emotive song, more personal storyline and the normal beat sounds replaced by soft chimes.
    • A giant monster attack stage.
  • A minor example, but in every main series Fallout game (IE, excluding Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel), you can get a dog companion, usually named Dogmeat (in the first two games, it's implied to be the same Dogmeat, despite the fact that it's been 80 years since the first game). The third Dogmeat is seemingly unrelated to the first two, but in Fallout 4, Mama Murphy says that Dogmeat has a knack for finding important people and leading them to greatness, implying that the Dogmeats are somehow linked (there's 120 years and 2,500 miles between the first and fifth game, making it unlikely that it's the same dog). In Fallout: New Vegas, Dogmeat is replaced by a Robo-Dog named Rex owned by a gang leader and Elvis Impersonator.
    • Also, each game (including Tactics, but not BoS) begins with a narrator explaining the setting of the game, the Great War, and saying the Arc Words "War. War never changes". The narrator is usually played by Ron Perlman, except for Fallout 4, where it's Nate, one of the two choices for main character. However, Perlman does play the newscaster on TV who reports that the bombs have fallen, and there is cut dialogue after he says "My God" and the feed cuts, where he says "They were right. War. War never changes."
    • Also in each game is the organization the Brotherhood of Steel; however, their portrayal in each game is vastly different. In Fallout, they were xenophobic, isolationist technology hoarders. By Fallout 2, their numbers have fallen drastically and were beaten down by the Enclave. In Fallout 3, the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel is introduced, and are generally much more honorable, generous, and charitable than their West Coast counterparts. New Vegas returned to the West Coast Brotherhood, which has been limited to a single bunker under the Mojave, and are even more xenophobic, to the point of nearly dying out. Fallout 4 returns to the East Coast Brotherhood, which in the 10 years between 3 and 4 has acquired an airship and become an autocratic cult of personality centered around their leader, Arthur Maxson, and are not nearly as charitable as they were 10 years prior.
  • Every Operation in Medal of Honor: Vanguard starts with a parachute jump except Neptune as the glider crashes.
  • Resident Evil has a few recurring elements:
    • The Final Boss is killed with a rocket launcher, which is given to you by another character. If Ada Wong is in a game, she'll usually be the one to give the rocket launcher to you.
    • Every appearance by Ada always has her in the role of a Double Agent.
    • Every game typically starts with something going horribly wrong that leads to the zombie/monster outbreak, followed by the player characters getting thrown into the mess when they try to investigate and then having to take matters into their own hands.
    • The endings will usually have the main characters escape in a helicopter or some other escape vehicle.
    • A laboratory or similar location will always be rigged to self destruct.
    • There will usually be a Superpowered Mook that will stalk the player character and attack them at each appearance.
    • Most games have at least one helicopter being destroyed.
  • Every normal WarioWare game contains, counting D.I.Y. and D.I.Y. Showcase as parts of the same game:
    • A nose-picking microgame:
      • "Gold Digger", which debuted in the original game and reappeared in Touched!, D.I.Y. and Game & Wario.
      • "Nose Dive", Kat & Ana's boss microgame in Twisted!, is a Shoot 'em Up adventure against a nose army.
      • "You Can Pick Your Friends..." in Smooth Moves is similar to "Gold Digger", but 3D.
      • An unnamed Jimmy Coaster microgame in Snapped!.
      • "Picket Ship", Dribble & Spitz boss microgame in D.I.Y. Showcase, revolves around a nose-shaped alien ship and missile fingers.
      • "Gold Digger" and "Nose Dive" return in Gold.
    • One or more stages with microgames borrowed entirely from previous Nintendo games. 9-Volt is usually, but not always, its host.
    • A stage whose microgames' music is overridden with a continuously-playing song.
    • At least one song with vocals.
    • A short tutorial stage with Wario as its host, followed by a stage hosted by Mona or Jimmy T.
    • A final stage hosted by an alternate form of Wario. In this stage, Wario appears in all of the microgames.
  • Every Xenoblade Chronicles game features one party member who says "I'm really feeling it!" Shulk in the first, some Player Character voices in X, Zeke in the second. Both the first game and the sequel also feature a Laughably Evil Nopon villain named Bana. Going further, every Xeno game has a character named Vandham.
  • The Sly Cooper games have a few.
  • In the episodic adventure game The Darkside Detective, there are a few things that happen each episode:
    • Some kind of puzzle minigame.
    • McQueen and Dooley arriving at the entrance to somewhere dark and probably dangerous, and Dooley making some excuse to wait outside while McQueen goes on alone.
  • Ever since the DJ YOSHITAKA song "FLOWER" debuted in jubeat and Reflec Beat and then crossed over to every active BEMANI game, it's become tradition to add the song to every new BEMANI game that's released. Even if the song doesn't get added to the game upon release, it's bound to be introduced in a later event for the game.
  • Metroid will usually have Samus suffer a Bag of Spilling at the start of each new adventure (sometimes it is explained and other times the games just don't bother). It became so ingrained amongst fans that by Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the developers stated they got sick of the "Samus wanders in and something happens that disables/breaks her gear" gimmick and opted to strip Samus bare again while letting her keep a few items without needing to explain why she lost her gear from the last game.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Rean Schwarzer at some point will be a boss fight, no matter how absurd the situation is. And there are at least four games in the series with him being a boss fight.

    Web Animation 
  • Dr. Havoc's Diary: "Dear Diary..."
  • Parodied in Homestar Runner, where Strong Bad specifically says that once an episode of Sweet Cuppin' Cakes, Eh! Steve! shows up to deliver his Catchphrase.
    Eh! Steve!: "Eh! Steve!"
  • DSBT InsaniT:
    • (Evil) Balloon dieing.
    • Killdra suddenly appearing from behind Koden.
    • Andy saying "You're gonna give me X without the Y if you keep doing that." to Martha after she slaps him.
    • Alex complaining about the place they chose to go to at the start of the episode.
  • Launchpad getting kicked into the air by someone in the Ducktalez series.
  • Animation Domination Hi-Def's recurring "Scientifically Accurate" series: The very first episode was "Scientifically Accurate Spider-Man", which repeatedly mentioned the fact that male spiders detach their penises in order to mate, and ever since then, every episode has gone out of its way to include some strange scientific fact about characters' genitalia, or at the very least shoehorn the word "dick" into the parody lyrics.

    Web Comics 
  • A failed version of this is in Concerned. According to the notes of the artist, he was planning to "have a bunch [of barrels] around in every comic after Frohman mistakenly ordered them." Unfortunately, he stopped doing so three comics later.
  • Moru from God Mode used to wear a different video games related hat every page... until Adis ruined it...
  • In every story arc of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, something very big will crash into Bob's roof, producing vertical block letters spelling "BOOM!"
  • Question Duck will ask a totally off-the-wall question every single strip. (With the rarest of exceptions, all of which are variations, such as the duck asking "What can we do?" after a disaster, or a human asking the question.)
  • The punchline in every single strip of Webcomic Name is "oh no".

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Jade does a Stealth Hi/Bye to Jackie almost every episode.
  • Bugs Bunny has his "Eh, what's up, Doc?" line, occasionally varied depending on who he's addressing (e.g., "What's up MacDoc?" to a Scotsman, "What's up croc?" to a crocodile, "What's up duck?" to Daffy Duck).
  • South Park:
    • The death of Kenny in early seasons.
    • Cartman's "Screw you guys - I'm going home."
    • The semi-faux-moralising summation from one of the kids, starting with: "You know, I think I've learned something today..."
    • Also, an on-air episode rarely goes by without at least one Sound-Effect Bleep.
    • Every episode features a cameo by a Visitor in some way. Even the creators themselves aren't sure how many cameos they have and even held a contest to see who could find the most of them.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Nearly every episode of SpongeBob contains at least one of the following: SpongeBob working at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob (and sometimes Patrick) annoying Squidward, SpongeBob and Patrick going jellyfishing, Plankton trying to steal the secret formula, and (in earlier seasons) SpongeBob playing karate with Sandy.
  • Pinky and the Brain:
    • Every episode has a Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering? exchange, and ended with "What are we gonna do tomorrow night, Brain?" "Same thing we do every night, Pinky... try to take over the world!"

      They hung a lampshade on both of these several times. In one instance, Pinky asks Brain if he has ever been pondering what Brain is pondering, and decides that no, he never has (Which, in fact, was exaactly what Brain was thinking), and in several instances, Brain's plan was to "Find a better hiding place", "Take over Chia-World", and "Take over the"
    • Pinky and the Brain lampshades the escape attempts on Gilligan's Island.
    Pinky: I've seen every episode of Gilligan's Island!
    Brain: Oh really? Did you see the one where Gilligan screws it up for everyone?
    Pinky: ...No, I don't think I've seen that one...
    • The ending pattern was averted only once. When Pinky was rendered intelligent via one of Brain's inventions, Brain realized that one of them needed to be stupid to maintain the proper dynamic. Seeing that Pinky was better at being smart than he was, Brain made himself stupid. Unfortunately, Pinky felt bad about upstaging Brain and had already made himself stupid again. Both of them were stuck being idiots because neither of them had the intelligence to operate the machine again. The episode ended with "What are we gonna do tomorrow night, Brain?" "...I have no idea."
    • There's the one where Pinky's stupidity screws up the plan. Played with, in that Pinky doesn't always screw up the plan directly, but if he doesn't, Brain will screw it up by getting too annoyed with Pinky's stupidity to think straight and doing something similarly stupid.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Link's Catchphrase "Well, Excuse Me, Princess!" in the cartoon. In this case, it's at least twice per episode, three times if you count the opening.
    • Link's dogged attempts to get a kiss, which Zelda always found a different excuse to reject. (Anyone else wonder why she couldn't just say "No?" Judging from the way she treated him the rest of the time, she certainly wasn't worried about hurting his feelings.)

      She actually did accept when she DID realize Link was a ghost, causing him to go right through her.
      • Then when she truly accepted during a picnic trip, they were interrupted by a monster attack.
  • Blaze and the Monster Machines:
    • The various STEM concepts, with each episode focusing on one which becomes its main theme.
    • The problems and obstacles Blaze and AJ encounter. Usually there are three major ones encountered per episode, each requiring three attempts to solve.
    • Blaze transforming into different things to solve a specific problem.
    • Crusher hindering Blaze with an obstacle on the track or one of his inventions.
    • The hilarious subplots featuring Crusher and Pickle with their own situations which have no relation to the main story but follow a similar theme.
    • The musical numbers, which usually occur twice each episode, with the first happening when Blaze and AJ set off, and the second focusing on the STEM concept as they try it out.
    • And finally there's Blaze's Blazing Speed, which he uses to finish something or get to his destination on time.
  • Transformers: Beast Wars: Waspinator being beaten and battered, usually in a slapstick manner. In multi-part episodes such as "The Agenda", this would happen in each part.
  • The Transformers, in the majority of episodes that Starscream appears in, he attempts to overthrow Megatron, and fails.
    • "You've failed me yet again Starscream."
    • "My time will come Megatron!"
  • In Jem, they are least two Jem songs for one Misfits in a normal episode.
  • Regular Show: something supernatural or just plain weird happen almost every episode.
  • Birdman's catchphrase on the show of the same name: "Biiirdman!", worked in two or three times per seven-minute episode. To add "Birdman is captured by the villain and saved by Avenger" and "Birdman is caught in the dark and deprived of his powers" to the list would be only mild exaggerations.
    • And in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, "I'll take the case!" was uttered in every episode.
      • Did you get that thing I sent you?
      • I couldn't hear that! I only have the one eye!
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for You Meddling Kids."
    • "Scooby-Dooby-Doooooooooo!"
    • Also, musical chase scenes
    • Also, scooby snacks
    • Also, "Let's Split Up, Gang!"
    • Was "Jinkies!" "Velma said 'Jinkies!' It must be a clue!" only in the spinoff A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, or what?
    • Also, one that was Freddy having to accuse Red Herring of being the villain. Ironically, during the one episode when Freddy promised to not accuse Red of anything, Red really was the one behind the crime. Pretty bad timing, wasn't it...
    • Nearly every episode goes like this: they're all riding the Mystery Machine, Scooby steals Shaggy's sandwich, the gang stops somewhere and are warned of a ghost, all but Scooby and Shaggy are convinced that it is a silly superstition, Fred suggests they investigate and split up so he and Daphne can go off-camera, the ghost terrorizes Scooby and Shaggy when they ditch Velma to obtain food, no one believes them, the ghost terrorizes Scooby and Shaggy again and Velma is there but she cannot see anything due to her glasses being knocked off, eventually she finds her glasses and the ghost terrorizes everybody, they are scattered in a silly montage, they regroup and Fred comes up with a trap of some sort, the trap requires Scooby and Shaggy to be used as bait with a bribe of Scooby Snacks, the ghost is caught and revealed to be a person chasing people away for financial gain of some sort.
      • And they always screwed up the trap somehow. Luckily, the screwup always caused the villain to get caught, just not in the way everybody was hoping for.
      • The Scooby Snack bit is lampshaded in one of the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episodes where Shaggy admits that there's nothing he and Scooby wouldn't do for a Scooby Snack. Another episode also lampshaded the splitting-up - Fred merely suggests they do so, Scooby and Shaggy immediately begin to walk off, and when Fred points out he didn't say how they'd split.
  • Road Rovers had Hunter's "I would not have predicted this!" in response to some new development.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Almost every episode starts with a skyline shot and the narrator saying "The city of Townsville!", and ends with "So once again the day is saved, thanks to the Powerpuff Girls!" Some episodes have characters delivering a different opening line such as the Mayor saying "The city of Townsville... is entirely mine!" and the Professor introducing "the town of Citiesville".
  • The Secret Show has three of these.
    • Every episode starts off with half a minute from "The Fluffy Bunny Show", hosted by Sweet Little Granny. Unfortunately, Granny never gets to finish her theme song, as Agent Ray interrupts and removes her and her bunnies from the set
      Ray: Sorry, Sweet Little Granny, but this timeslot is needed urgently!
    • The director of Uzz, who is jokingly referred to as Changed Daily — "As You Know, for reasons of security, my name is changed daily. Today you may call me— " He checks his communicator and sighs sadly, before announcing that his name is "Fluffy-fuddlesticks" or "Bopybot" or something equally ridiculous.
    • Professor Professor calling to check in on Victor, always resulting in the following exchange:
      Professor: Victor! Are you still alive?
      Victor: Yes I'm still alive!
      • Usually happens while Victor is trying to quietly sneak around some bad guys, hanging from a ledge above a long drop, or surrounded by monsters. And, more often then not, immediately after falling from said ledge or being pummeled by monsters.
  • Phineas and Ferb, a Disney cartoon about two step-brothers and their summer exploits, has like a dozen of these. Part of the humor is seeing how they subvert and invert each of them in new episodes, whether said by different characters or in different phrasings. Some include:
    • Phineas telling Ferb "I know what we're gonna do today!"
    • Isabella showing up to say "Hey Phineas. Whatcha doooin'?"
    • Phineas saying "Hey, where's Perry?" And at the end of the episode, "Oh, there you are, Perry!"
    • Someone asking Phineas and Ferb "Aren't you a little young to be filling-in-the-blank?" Phineas usually responds with "Yes, yes we are,", though he answered "No, I don't think so," in "Flop Starz". Phineas and Ferb: subverting its running gags since episode 3.
      • Played with again when the question is posed by a delivery-man in "Spa Day", and answered with quite more irritation than Phineas ever exhibits by another delivery-man, who then apologizes to Phineas and explains that the first guy is new on the job.
    • Candace threatening to tell mom about Phineas and Ferb's latest crazy project.
    • Dr. Doofenshmirtz shouting "Curse you, Perry the Platypus!" after being thwarted.
      • Which was inverted in "Hail Doofania!", just like every other occurrence.
        Perry sneezes.
        Phineas: Bless you, Perry the Platypus!
      • Also inverted by Vanessa in "Dude, We're Getting the Band Back Together!" after Perry helps arrange her sweet sixteen party. As Perry blast off, she calls, "Thank you, Perry the Platypus!"
      • In "Just Passing Through" the self-destruct button Doof's latest invention gets hit by his homemade bobblehead of Perry, causing him to yell "Curse you, Perry the Bobblehead!"
    • Each episode has at least one original song, the only exceptions being "Rollercoaster", "Lights, Candace, Action!", "The Lizard Whisperer", and "Mommy Can You Hear Me?"
    • Ferb says at least one but no more than three lines per episode, a la Silent Bob. He managed to get an impressive inspirational monologue in "The Lizard Whisperer", though.
      • Except for "Ready for the Bettys," where he has six lines, all of which are interrupted except for the last. (In other words, he gets to be Isabella for a day.)
    • Doofenshmirtz makes a new evil device every episode.
      • ...the name of which ends in -inator, sometimes taken to ridiculous extremes (like the "Gloominator 3000-inator" from "Leave the Busting to Us"). There are exceptions: in "Mom's Birthday" Doofenshmirtz created the Shrinkspheria ("I was going to call it a Shrinkinator, but I've done the whole 'inator thing before"), and some of his inventions don't have the suffix at all, like his mind-controlling termite helmet in "The Magnificent Few" or the BO-AT from "Interview With a Platypus".
    • ... that gets destroyed/disabled/stolen by Perry, often using a self-destruct or reversal dial included on the device.
    • ... but not before somehow removing the latest Phineas and Ferb contraption with it, seconds before Candace can show the evidence to their mother, regardless of size.
      • This doesn't occur each episode, usually because the boys already made it disappear on their own by giving it away (such as a monster truck arena) or it disappeared on its own (such as a giant soap bubble bursting.) Regardless, it is gone before Candace can show it to her mother. In the movie, Candace deliberately invokes this—she defeats a robot invasion by going to tell their mom about it, confident the robots will be gone by the time mom steps outside to look.
    • After receiving his summons, Perry will exit the stage using a different secret entrance every episode.
    • The "Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated!" jingle always plays over a shot of Doofenshmirtz's lair.
      • Sometimes varied, when the scene is one of DEI's subsidiaries.
    • Perry is always caught within seconds of arriving on the scene of Doofenshmirtz' latest plan.
    • Doofenshmirtz will always explain the reasoning behind his latest device soon after, which usually involves some petty grievance, frequently from his youth.
  • You can bet on two things in any Eek! The Cat episode. 1) Eek will always say "It never hurts to help." 2) It will always hurt to help.
    • Also in the sub-cartoon "The Terrible Thunderlizards", Bill will say "When does the hurting stop?"
    • Also in the Thunder-Lizards, one of the Lizards themselves, if not someone else, will make a reference to the Bad Things Category. Most memorable example, in a flashback to their school years: "Yes, Cutter. I'd say having our little friend's head ripped off by the Principal would definitely fall into the Bad Things Category."
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: Rocky fails to recognize Boris in his newest disguise. "That voice. Where have I heard that voice?" (To be fair, this isn't once per episode, but it happens multiple times in a typical saga.)
    • And the companion line: "Allow me to introduce myself!" followed by Boris handing Rocky a pre-printed business card with his nom de guerre on it.
      • Although this happens once per ending, the episode titles as presented by the narrator should not be forgotten.
    William Conrad: Be with us next time for Fill-In-The-Blanks or Mad Lib!
  • In Inspector Gadget, Chief Quimby somehow gets blown up by his own exploding message to matter where he is.
  • At least once per episode sometime bad will happen to Eustace at the end of each episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog; he will either get killed, locked up, or severely injured.
  • Jonesy acquires, and is fired from, a new job in just about every episode of 6teen.
  • Kim Possible:
  • Woody Woodpecker: Woody's laugh. Subverted in that occasionally someone else performs it, usually to mock Woody (cf. "Well Oiled", "The Coo-Coo Bird"). If Woody loses he will sometimes do a pathetic whining variant (as in "The Clip Joint").
  • After The Mighty Hercules saves the day, he flies away shouting "Olympi - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ! ! !"
  • In every episode of ThunderCats, several things can be counted on to happen:
    • "Ancient Spirits of Evil... transform this decayed form... to Mumm-Ra! THE EVER-LIVING!" (At least in every episode featuring Mumm-Ra as an antagonist, which was most of them.)
    • "Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight!"
    • "Thunder... Thunder!... Thunder!... ThunderCats, HO!" Even in the "Freaky Friday" Flip episode, they manage to get the ThunderCats cry in.
  • In Earthworm Jim, at the end of each episode, a cow falls on something (a great many variations on this one).
    • Example "nothing can ruin the tenderness of this moment. Nothing. Hello? [impatient] I said nothing, not even a giant cow falling on me..."
    • The show also had a once-per-episode (or very close) gag of Peter Puppy eating haggis and reminding viewers that it is "the heart and lungs of a sheep boiled in its own stomach."
  • Just about every episode of Duckman has the titular character commit some horrible atrocity on his office assistants Fluffy and Uranus. Since they are living plush toys, they automatically recover.
  • Animated cartoons made by Jumbo Pictures/Cartoon Pizza typically have a song that is featured in each story. In PB&J Otter it was the "Noodle Dance," in Stanley it was "The Great Big Book of Everything" and in Pinky Dinky Doo it's "Story Box."
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids: Elvis somehow finding his way into the briefing room and triggering Mr Socrates' Sneeze of Doom.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • In just about every episode the television ends up destroyed.
    • Early episodes usually had a least one scene with the Aqua Teens in Carl's pool, though this trend was eventually dropped.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series. The fat bald guy never quite gets to enjoy his mint chocolate chip ice cream.
  • KaBlam!! had tons of these. One includes Henry and June dancing during the opening number (except one episode due to a longer commercial break) and then jumping up to the top comic panel, while Henry or June says, "Howdy KaBlamoids!" or "Welcome back cartoon crammers!" and then the duo would introduce themselves.
    • Another one would be June pulling some sort of prank on Henry. From mimicking him, randomly bleeping out what he's trying to say, etc.
    • Another would be in Life with Loopy where Larry would say, "Hi, I'm Larry. This is my sister Loopy, and this is (insert main idea of episode)". Starting season two, he'll say, "Hi, I'm Larry. (Insert main idea of episode)".
    • Also, in Prometheus and Bob, Prometheus will try to teach Bob something, but the monkey will always mess him up.
    • Action League Now had a bunch of these, too (not surprising as it's a KaBlam! spin-off. One would be Meltman always getting hurt.
      • Or The Chief saying, "Blast it!" and sometimes "Blasted!".
      • And Bill the Lab Guy saying "There's nothing I can do." or "Oh, no. I was afraid of this!".
      • Stinky Diver saying "Blimey!".
      • The Flesh saying "Ouchies!".
  • Family Guy:
    • At least once in every episode one character says "What the hell?" (or in Stewie's case, "What the deuce?") to another. There will also be at least one scene or gag dedicated to taking potshots at Meg.
    • In post-cancellation seasons, there is usually at least one instance of blood being depicted, often rather brutally and at least one bleeped-out swear word in each episode.
  • In every episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Jimmy screws something up that is threatening to the entire town and thinks of a way to fix it. In. Every. Episode.
  • Daria: A promo for a show-within-a-show you hardly ever actually see? The once-an-episode gag was an avert for "Next on Sick, Sad World!"
  • At least once per short the "Gotta Zip" song pops up in Jungle Junction.
  • SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron had Enforcer Commander Feral saying "This is Feral: Bring me chopper backup!"
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The plot for every episode since mid-season 2/season 3 to season 6, with a few exceptions, can be summed up by one plan:
    • Step One: Timmy sees a recurring problem in his life.
    • Step Two: Timmy goes to Cosmo and Wanda and does a mini-rant, comes up with a "solution" that has to be done with magic or would take too long and or he'd be too lazy to do, so then he makes the wish.
    • Step Three: Timmy, Cosmo and Wanda see how great the wish turns out for him or everybody (sometimes Wanda or Cosmo questions this, only to be shrugged off by the other two),
    • Step Four: The wish backfires. Timmy "has got to find Cosmo and Wanda to unwish that wish", but for some reason they are either doing something of equal importance, or they can't undo it for some reason. Can't unwish it,
    • Step Five: Timmy goes on a quest to unwish the wish. The wish gets undone,
    • Step Six: Timmy learns his lesson and makes a little speech about it.
  • In each episode of The Problem Solverz, the team will consult Tux Dog for advice on their case, and Roba will stamp someone with the "Problem Solved" stamp.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The show initially had Twilight Sparkle write a letter to Princess Celestia telling her what she's learned about friendship that week. The third episode of the second season actually invokes this, with Twilight going progressively more insane as she realizes that she hasn't learned any friendship lesson yet, believing that a failure to send in a report will get her kicked back to Magic Kindergarten. From that point on, the reports are infrequently written by various characters before being completely phased out by the fourth season.
      • Season 2 Episode 15 subverts this with Applejack writing a report... to brag to Celestia that she didn't learn a darn thing, because she was right the whole time and everyone else needed teaching.
    • In the second season, Derpy Hooves has a Where's Waldo? type cameo in every episode.
    • Not quite every episode, but every episode in which Rarity has an appearance, the writers strive to ruin her perfect coiffure at least once.
  • Name one Good Vibes episode that doesn't include an instance of peeing and/or pooping.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: STOP THAT PIGEON!!
  • Every episode of Toxic Crusaders features a bit where Killemoff describes his Evil Plan of the week, prompting his mook Psycho to always respond with "But what if [describes what happens in the rest of the episode]?" "Ridiculous! That could never happen!"
  • Every episode of The Magic School Bus has Arnold saying he should have stayed home, Phoebe saying what would never happen at her old school, Dorothy Ann doing her research, and Carlos making a bad joke and earning a Collective Groan of "Carlos!". There's also Miss Frizzle's "It's time to take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" and "Bus, do your stuff!"
  • Every episode of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero has the Wilhelm Scream.
  • The snail in Adventure Time appears in the background every episode (complete list of appearances here). Despite his small appearances, he actually has an important role: He gets possessed by The Lich in "Mortal Folly", the first half of the season 2 finale.
    • The only episode where the Snail doesn't appear is "Food Chain". This was done by a guest animator who was apparently unaware of the joke!
  • Trina's Diary Mode in Grojband when she's overcome with an emotion, she writes recent events in her diary then when she powers down Corey gets it and uses it for the lyrics of the episode's song.
  • Dan Vs.:
    • Dan does a Skyward Scream, swearing revenge against whatever's wronged him in this episode.
    • Dan makes an utterly ridiculous claim regarding who/whatever he's sworn vengeance on which turns out to be 100% correct. This was dropped after the first four episodes or so.
  • Remember that episode of Xavier: Renegade Angel with a Gainax Ending?
  • The Koala Brothers has this little gimmick: Every time Frank and Buster take off in the plane, the mailbox falls over. As an added bonus, there are some episodes where they are seen fixing said mailbox.
  • In the original series of the Biker Mice from Mars, the title characters or someone else would demolish Limburger Plaza at the end of pretty much every episode. Got some variants, such as the episodes where Limburger is running his scheme from somewhere else (and that gets demolished instead), the episode where Limburger Plaza got demolished at the start of the episode (that consisted of Limburger rebuilding it only to have it demolished again at the end), and "Once Upon a Time on Mars", in which they decide to end the series with a bang and demolish the palace of Lord Stilton (Limburger's boss when he was on Mars) in the flashback part and, in the present sequence, Limburger Plaza, Stilton's rebuilt palace on Mars and Lord Camembert (the supreme leader of the Plutarkians) with the same attack (and they didn't even do it on purpose).
  • In Miraculous Ladybug: Numerous, and sometimes more than once. Opening shot of Eiffel Tower, bad guy's butterfly scene, Marinette's transformation, Chat Noir's transformation (occasionally skipped), Ladybug confused by magic item, magical reset, next time Gadget, next time!
  • In Julius Jr., the It's Inventing Time and Hall of Doors segments. Also, a song at the end of each story.
  • Clue Club: Teen Genius Dotty was told by her fellow club members to stay at the clubhouse. She would show up for The Reveal anyway, often sporting "a perfectly good reason" why she was there.
  • On Future-Worm!, both the series proper and the original shorts, Danny would always try to solve the problem by summoning Robocarp, who would then fail spectacularly and cause Danny to admonish him by yelling "Weak!" The exception is the short where Danny meets himself from the future, where Future Danny's newer Robocarp is hit by A.I. Is a Crapshoot and the original Robocarp actually does solve the problem.
  • Atomic Puppet: Joey and AP will say "Victory Pose!" and make one at the end of every episode.
  • PJ Masks has quite a few due to its formulaic nature.
    • The kids in the daytime are going about their daily tasks. Minor personal issue shown regarding one or more of the kids. Something is revealed to be missing or otherwise messed up. One of them (usually Conner) declares they need to get to the bottom of it and...
      The one declaring: PJ Masks we're on our way!
      All: Into the night to save the day!
    • Followed by Stock Footage of the sun setting, moon rising, and the kids seeing the moon while the narrator exposits how they're a band of heroes who stop villians in the night, and explains which kid becomes which hero.
    • It is revealed one or more of the three villians of the show is behind the random happenstance for some reason, and PJ Masks go about trying to stop them but are hindered by the minor personal issue eaffecting their ability to work together in some way.
    • The hero who is at fault then realizes their mistake and quickly turns things around in the PJ Masks' favor, saving the day, leading to the last one with...
      The one who was at fault: PJ Masks all shout hooray!
      All: Cause in the night we saved the day!
  • Kaeloo:
  • Bad Dog: Every episode had the titular scene of Berkeley being called a Bad Dog for all the chaos he caused throughout the episode (or, in some cases, because he heard those words and thought they were directed at him), and becoming so upset that he flips onto his back and goes completely catatonic until someone calls him a good dog.
  • The Red Guy appearing with a different job or persona in Cow and Chicken.
  • Nearly every episode of The Simpsons past Season 10 features Magic Realism in some way.
  • Every episode of Drawn Together has at least one Lawyer-Friendly Cameo.
  • In every episode of The Beginner's Bible, there's a song.

Alternative Title(s): Once An Episode, Once Per Movie


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