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Overused Running Gag

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"It's a running gag... well, it's limping a bit by now."
Paul Merton, Have I Got News for You

When the writers openly acknowledge that a Running Gag has run its due course, even as they are hauling it out again— gain— gain— gain— *WHACK*

There we go. Anyhow, the use of a Running Gag is generally constrained over the course of one episode. But there are some jokes that the writers thought are just so funny that they should be used in another episode, and another, and another and another. Even if it isn't Once per Episode, it's still squeezed into the series wherever they see fit— fit— fit— fit— fit— *THUMP*

Okay. After a while, though, the writers will come to realize that the bit has started to peter out. Then one can be sure to start seeing plenty of Lampshade Hanging and heavy subversion in the effort to keep the joke fresh, or tolerated. Once that wears thin, one can expect the bit to be dropped like a Christmas ham— ham— ham— ham— ham— *SMACK*

Okay, that joke's really wearing thin. Before we continue, let's get that audio equipment fixed.

One hour later....

There, fixed. Anyhow, for this to be a trope, examples should not be subjective. They should be based on whether the writers have reacted to its overuse (lampshaded or used it less), rather than just a feeling that the gag has been used too much.

The inevitable fate of many a comedy catchphrase. Commonly confused with Overly-Long Gag, which is when a single gag is stretched out for an irritatingly long time. That said, for any joke, good or bad, enough repetition can make people decide it's an Overused Running Gag.

The next step after this is Running Gagged, where the joke is terminated with extreme prejudice, once and for all. Or until they bring it back.

Compare Didn't We Use This Joke Already?, when it's not a running gag, but still the writers are apologising for redoing the same joke. Also compare Discredited Meme, which this often leads to— to— to— to— to— *WHUMP*

Okay, if it does that again, that audio equipment is gonna get a dose of C-4.

Note: This is for In-Universe Examples Only. Do not use this trope to Complain About Running Gags You Don't Like.

Examples of Acknowledged Overused Running Gags

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In a meta example, Bakuman。 featured the main characters working on a light-hearted comedy manga, but only a bit more than 10 chapters in, they're already making entire chapters based on the running gag of the main character saying "I dunno about that." This serves as one of the signs that this isn't the right sort of series for them.
  • In CLANNAD, Okazaki attempts to make Kotomi more social by bringing her to new people and telling her to introduce herself, at which point she always turns around and introduces herself to Okazaki. The third time this occurs, Okazaki remarks that that particular gag is getting old.
  • In Case Closed, Conan has to usually sedate someone then impersonate them using his voice changer to give his deduction at the end of almost every case. Kogoro (his most frequent target) almost catches on, that at one point when Conan speaks in his voice before Kogoro gets tranqed, the latter frantically feels himself around his face since he remarks that that should be around the time he feels a prick (the tranquilizer dart) in or around his neck; Conan shot him in the forehead instead. And Kogoro still comments on it before falling asleep, since he was also hit there before.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi there was a running gag throughout the Mahorafest arc of Takane always getting stripped, four times in total, largely because she used magical clothing that stopped working if she was knocked unconscious. When she reappears in the Magic World arc she forces several girls to wear it as well because it increases defense, so when attacking the Cosmo Entelechia stronghold you can see the only one who knows about that and has to wear it herself nearly in tears. Contrary to all expectations, not one of them gets stripped this time.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Brock flirting with any older female he sees, before being hauled away by Misty/Max (by the ear), Bonsly (using Double-Edge) and Croagunk (getting Poison Jabbed in the ass). It's acknowledged in-universe by his companions (and even antagonists Team Rocket) occasionally getting annoyed at his antics. It was funny the first three times, then it just became old. For Croagunk's bit, it's a minor Running Gag in of itself for Dawn to get caught completely surprised whenever Brock makes an instant recovery.
    • Making fun of Meowth's tendency for the bizarre Imagine Spots, mostly from the other members of Team Rocket.
    • Mispronouncing Bill and, Team Rocket's Butch and Best Wishes' Stephan's names. Both characters frequently mention that they're going to change their names after several characters get them wrong.
    • Nurse Joy, Officer Jenny, and Don George, of whom there's a seemingly infinite number of them in every town found, all going by the same name and all looking alike; frequently it was pointed out by the protagonists who found this just straight up bizarre in each of their earliest encounters, with Brock being the only one to spot any sort of difference among all the Joys or Jennys in his womanizing ways.
    • For a gag that's been on for far much longer than Brock's flirting, the Team Rocket motto. To date it has been lampshaded, parodied, plagiarized, exploited, and made fun of not just by the Rockets' eternal prey the "twerps", but even some of the one-shot characters!
    • Clemont and his inventions which, as his little sister Bonnie points out many times, have dumb names and tend to explode for no good reason.
    • And then Bonnie pulls a gag similar to Brock's by asking older girls to "take care of" (i.e. marry) Clemont, leading him to scold her and drag her away.
  • In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, during an episode explaining many of the series' jokes to newer audiences, the audience member asks about the background running gags. "It's like something we do Once per Episode." "What's funny about that?"

    Films — Animation 
  • In the first two The Swan Princess movies, Puffin says, "No Fear!", so many times, Jean-Bob finally grabs Puffin's beak shut and threatens to tear it off if he says it again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • By the third movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, the running gag of several witnesses likening a flying object to a naughty body part was called out by Ozzy Osbourne, watching it on TV with his family.

  • Dave Barry often has Overused Running Gags in books which aren't merely recycled columns:
    • "No! Sorry! That's it for the Hawley-Smoot tariff, you have our word." (Dave Barry Slept Here, which nevertheless references it in three subsequent chapters).
    • "Do you think we've had enough Winston Churchill jokes? Explain." (also Dave Barry Slept Here)
    • "Do you think the author will eventually grow tired of the Buffalo Bob joke? Why not?" (Dave Barry Turns 50)
    • "If you think we're getting tired of the zucchini joke, you had best think again." (Dave Barry Hits Below The Beltway)
  • Robert Rankin often makes jokes about this, such as characters observing that something isn't going to become a running gag, or that it's not a particularly good one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show: It had a running gag that Mary threw the worst parties. Every time she had a party something always happened to ruin it. Near the end of the series, they put together a flashback episode, the first and only time they used that gimmick, about Mary’s parties. The guests reminisced about past parties while waiting for guest of honor Johnny Carson to arrive. Mary’s building had a blackout. Johnny showed up. We heard him but never saw him, to great comedic effect.
  • The Man Show had a "Museum of Annoying Guys", and one of them was the Real Life version of this trope. "It's the beat a catchphrase to death guy."
  • The Rita Moreno episode (#5 of season 1) of The Muppet Show features an old-style phone backstage. When it rings, Fozzie answers it, and something comes out of the receiver related to who's calling. At the fifth call, Kermit gets fed up and asks, "Is there no end to this Running Gag?"; then Animal comes in and puts an end to it (as well as to incoming calls, unless someone thinks to call the number for the phone on the desk).
  • In the 2000 The Invisible Man TV series, Darien Fawkes would greet each worsening situation with "Oh, Crap!" in a resigned manner. Eventually, the characters find it annoying. By the second season, there are lampshades; for instance, it's the only thing he remembers about himself when he gets Laser-Guided Amnesia, forcing him to use it to tell who his friends are.
  • Parodied in The State. Under pressure to create more catchphrase-driven characters like Saturday Night Live, the writers created "Louie, the guy who says his catchphrase over and over again." The character would repeatedly ask for volunteers to present him with a substance and then loudly announce, "I wanna dip my balls in it!" while holding up two golf balls. The Only Sane Man in the sketch can't understand why the gag never gets old to any of the other characters. Ironically, the character proved popular and was brought back a few times.
  • Hannah Montana's tendency towards zany schemes is noted, repeatedly, by Lilly, who eventually gets fed up at never being asked to just sit down and have breakfast but constantly being roped into Miley's schemes. On Wizards of Waverly Place, Harper tends to think similarly about Alex Russo. Same for The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Zack roping Cody into schemes.
    • Raven's schemes in That's So Raven almost always involve costumes. In one episode, she learns Chelsea is doing something at school and plans to dress up as a janitor "with a mustache" to snoop around and find out why. Eddie points out that she can just ask Chelsea, and Raven gets offended that he doesn't understand her at all. Raven eventually decides to snoop around without the janitor disguise, but she still winds up wearing a mustache.
  • iCarly: T-Bo's food on stick gag (capsicums, chicken, doughnuts, etc) is put up with a couple of times, and now every time it's brought up he is forcefully rejected by the other characters.
    • Everything Spencer touches catching on fire, no matter how hard he tries to avoid it. When it happens in the Grand Finale, Spencer just looks at the item with a bemused "Of course you burst into flames." expression on his face.
  • Friends had Ross's running joke "We were on a break!" Despite being called out on it, this saw usage right up until the very last episode. Additionally, Joey's catchphrase "How you doin'?" saw a few lampshades.
  • The IT Crowd has Roy answer the phone almost every time with the line, "Hello IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?" However, early in the second season he interrupts his signature line with, "I'm sick of saying that. What do you want?" From that point on he never again utters that catchphrase until he brings it back in the fourth.
    • One episode has Jen bet him he cannot go an entire day without saying it. He loses.
    • And in another episode, his phone is hooked up to a tape machine that plays a recording of him saying the catchphrase when someone calls.
    • Of course, this is a joke about how this is often some of the first advice you'll be given if you're having trouble with your computer.
  • In the film Escape 2000, there is a scene at the beginning where the phrase "leave the Bronx" is repeated constantly. Mike and the Bots naturally turn this into a Running Gag, with Servo even singing the phrase repeatedly along to the music at the end credits. But when the movie is over and Mike tries to make the joke again, Crow tells him that it's not funny any more.
  • Stargate SG-1 had a habit of making Who's on First? jokes using the Goa'uld System Lord Yu. When Elizabeth Weir tried to get in on it, she was stopped by Daniel.
    Daniel: Don't. Every joke, every pun, done to death.
  • My Wife and Kids introduced Michael's catchphrase "Eh... No." in the second season, which he used to troll the kids by giving them hope he would say yes to them before ultimately rejecting them. It was used so often in the second season alone that he began finding increasingly idiotic ways to drag out the "Eh..." part of the catchphrase, such as running up & down the hallway several times whilst saying it before jumping back into the room & saying no, that it made no sense that his kids continued to get their hopes up that he'd say yes years later.
  • Community: The show had paintball episodes in the first & second seasons. The third season had the characters commenting on how played out paintball was at that point, and everyone agreed they shouldn't have another paintball game... Only for the fourth season to end on another paintball game. Abed even says that they "finally found a way to make paintball cool again."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus did this on a number of occasions
    • One of their running gags was to cut from a sketch to stock footage of the Women's Institute applauding. In one sketch at the end of the second series, a judge in a sketch threatening to clear the court room if the stock footage was shown again.
    • Another running gag was to end a sketch by having a policeman come in to arrest someone. In the third series a policeman came on and arrested the entire show for overusing this gag — and then he was arrested by another policeman for the same reason.
  • Movie buff Cisco from The Flash (2014) has time and again compared the odd things that he and the rest of Team Flash tackles to the movies he saw, making at least one Shout-Out per episode. Joe, usually the Only Sane Man of the team and just as versed in movies as Cisco was, eventually tires of it at one point.
    "You and your movies."
  • On Star Trek: The Original Series, Dr. McCoy has expressed annoyance with Spock's catchphrase "Fascinating".
    McCoy: Please, Spock, do me a favor and don't say it's "fascinating".
    Spock: No, but it is...interesting.
    (McCoy rolls his eyes)

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Paul F. Tompkins' album Impersonal contains a short routine ("Cherry Picking") that quickly turns from the concept of a "migrant farm worker fantasy camp" into a meta exercise in seeing how long the gag can play out.
    Randy: Thanks a lot, Mr. Guerrero. Hey, uh, quick question — what's up with your accent?
    Jesus Guerrero: Ho! It is not very good, is it? Not at all believable.
    Randy: No, it's kind of... kinda just sounds like you're a vampire or something.
    Jesus Guerrero: Oh, I know it sounds that way, but I am not! Please, Randy, do not worry that I'm going to feast on your blood to sustain my undead existence. I assure you, that is not going to happen. I am just a poorly drawn stereotype.
    Randy: You really are; you should probably stop.
    Jesus Guerrero: Oh, I know I should! And yet, I continue on, do I not? This should have ended a few minutes ago if you ask me, but I don't know — I just keep going until all the goodwill is exhausted by the crowd.
    Randy: I think we're probably there.
    Jesus Guerrero: Oh, I know, and yet here comes a few more minutes of this! Ho ho, boy! Believe me, Randy, no one is more aware than I that this has outworn its welcome.
    Randy: Why don't you just knock it off?
    Jesus Guerrero: Would that it were that easy, my friend. From your lips to God's ears, you know what I'm saying? Oh, Randy, the stories I could tell you of how long I have done this poor, borderline-offensive accent.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, King Trode's ability to pop up from nowhere is usually followed by Yangus jumping to the side with a yelp of "COR BLIMEY!!" However, by the time the party visits Tyran Gully late in the game, Yangus has gotten sick of the routine.
    "COR BLI-"
    "Nah. I'm fed up wiv sayin' that old line now."
    • Though it gets a call-back in the (normal) ending.
  • Mass Effect 3 took Garrus's memetic stock line about being busy calibrating and turned it into a running joke. At the end of the last DLC mission, "Citadel", he offers to stop saying it - "but only if Liara stops saying "By the goddess!""
  • The changelog for Minecraft 1.9.3 (and 1.9.4) interrupts the traditional "Removed Herobrine" entry to acknowledge that "This is getting old."


    Web Original 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has taken to mocking its own reliance on running gags.
  • The Nostalgia Critic has M. Bison's "Of course!" that pops up every time someone wants to Take Over the World. When the Nostalgia Critic got sick of it, it showed up on its own and crushed him.
    • Saying the word "Elephant" summons the Burger King who silences the characters in the movie who won't shut up. It didn't work on Twister. After the Top 11 Nostalgic Mindfucks, he recalls that it didn't come when he talked about the Pink Elephants from Dumbo; after some experimentation, the Burger King logo brained him out of irritation.
    Nostalgia Critic: I had my fun.
    • On his commentary for the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog review Doug spent some time discussing the need to alter running gags frequently and drop them before the audience gets sick of them. He also mentioned that people have asked to drop every running gag except "OF COURSE!".
    • In conventions, at least one person will bring up a "Bat Credit Card". Eventually he went on record saying he's really tired of that (mostly because the raging does a number on his voice) but he still does it because it makes the people laugh.
    • In Christmas With The Kranks, he declares most of his old memes as overused, saving the most venom for "bat credit card".
    • Like Critic's Sonic episode, Phelous's "Dawn of the Living Dead" episode has him declaring he'll never end his "I'VE GOT A SHOTGUN!" gag and that he's sick of it after using it again seconds later.
    • In her "Top Eleven Animated Villainesses", The Nostalgia Chick had to be stared at by sad puppies for a while until she was forced to break out of deadpan mode and do her running gag:
    Chick: Oh, fine... PUPPIES!"
    Children: Yaaay!
  • The MS Paint Adventures series Problem Sleuth featured Demonhead Mobster Kingpin, a Marathon Boss who kept revealing new One-Winged Angel modes and regenerating lost health. The contributors were getting sick of the guy, and Andrew Hussie knew it.
    • The series is riddled with running gags, some of which are overused for comedic effect. Most notoriously, the "Retrieve arms from x" command has been done about 12 times in Problem Sleuth and Homestuck.
    • Subverted in Act 5. When the first new character of this act is introduced, it seems that, as usual, all the typical running gags will play out before he's introduced for real... but the narrator and the character are having none of it.
  • "And that was the X time I died" used by Unskippable when some catastrophe seemingly killed the main character was eventually acknowledged with the words: "No, wait, I take it back. Semenoske got nuked, this guy's going to be fine."
  • Richard of Looking for Group doesn't seem willing to acknowledge the "Fork of Truth" has had its day and needs to be retired. In the Fork's most recent appearance, the other cast members completely ignored his rant about it, except for Sooba.
  • Newsgroup rec.humor was flooded with the two-strings-in-a-bar/frayed-knot jokes. This is to the point where some jokes began pointing out that the joke was killed.
  • The Citation Needed podcast begins with a rundown of improbably named podcasts that supposedly failed to last as long as Citation Needed. By episode 8, these podcasts include "Running Gags To Start Your Podcast With That Are Becoming Increasingly Hard To Think Of".
  • WrestleCrap's induction of a wrestler named Man Mountain Rock featured a picture of said wrestler shrugging with the caption "Yeah, I don't know either dude." After using this picture in 6 straight updates, writer RD Reynolds threatened to end its use. Fan demand brought him into an additional 6 updates and possibly counting.
  • After passing 400 pages and four splits, the Steam for/against thread on the X: Rebirth forum is mutating into one of these, with posters starting to make jokes about how the thread became a Broken Record months ago. One poster's contribution.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Strong Bad apparently got tired of people sending him Strong Bad Emails signed "Crapfully yours", "With Crap" and the like as early as the e-mail "spring cleaning". Starting with "vacation", he would usually react with a weary sigh whenever he answered an e-mail signed in this fashion, and in "do over" he reads the signature "Crapfully yours" as "Totally not gettin' old." He hinted at his disdain for email closings that contained the word "crap" a few emails earlier, in "3 Wishes", which was signed "Much crap":
      Strong Bad: It's not required that you send that you sign your email, "Crapfully yours," or, "With a bunch of crap," or, "Crap in the times," or, "Crap is so great," "Everything is crap," "My middle name is Crapperson." You know, you could just put, "Sincerely"... or, "Yours truly," is another good one. Come on, guys. I'll still read 'em.
    • There was a brief string of SBEmails during the Lappy era that featured a random reference to "DNA evidence", starting with Marzipan saying "the DNA evidence had been tampered with" in "strong badathalon", then continuing with Strong Bad claiming to have tampered with the DNA evidence in "unnatural", and so on. The last of these emails, "rough copy", had an Easter egg with Homestar sitting by himself in Marzipan's living room and wearily saying the phrase "DNA evidence", to show the gag had worn out its welcome. Thought the Brothers Chaps eventually released a cartoon about Strong Sad trying to track down the supposed "DNA evidence" and find out what happened to it.
  • Reddit tends to get tired of jokes within the course of a few days, causing responses of "every time" and the likes whenever a joke the Hive Mind has gotten bored of is used. In a grander scale, the subreddits /r/f7u12 and /r/adviceanimals, for rage comics and image macros, respectively, were removed from the default subreddits around 2013 because they were getting old, and most of Reddit was sick of them.
  • Billy Coore began most of his videos on Packard Bell computers by showing off the intro to Packard Bell Navigator, which mentioned a lesson on using the mouse. Billy would make some kind of joke about the 90's being an interesting time to live in. Eventually he ran out of jokes, and even said "Will this joke just DIE already?" once.
    • Similarly, a running joke involves him putting a Kermit the Frog doll on one of his computers, noticing something wrong, and fixing some minor thing wrong with the computer, knocking the doll down in the process. One video, uploaded right before April Fools' Day, began with him starting the joke, but then he says, "Okay, I've had enough of this. It's Kermit the Frog, people!" and continues talking about how stupid the joke was. Subverted in that afterwards the video cut to a Relax-o-Vision screen, and he actually did the whole joke in the next take.
  • In season 14 of Red vs. Blue, Vic admits that "You ever wonder why we're here?" has been pretty much run into the ground.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged had the Krillin Owned Counter, which "dinged" every time resident Butt-Monkey Krillin got owned, whether it be physically, verbally, or whatever. After a while fans felt that the joke had run its course, and a few complained that it felt mean-spirited at times (for example counting Krillin's desperate but futile attempt to protect Android 18 from Cell, which wasn't a funny moment at all). The gag was put to rest for good at the end of Season 3, where Krillin's marathon love-making session with 18 "un-dings" the Counter with each orgasm and finally destroys it outright when it hits zero.note 
    • To a lesser extent there's Krillin insisting upon calling himself, Gohan, and Vegeta "Team Three Star" (a play on the show's creators, Team Four Star) in spite of the fact that everyone else considers it an Atrocious Alias. The gag is eventually killed when Gohan tells Krillin that it's just not a very good name and he admits that he hated it from the start too. Additionally, the one and only time Krillin uses the joke in DBZ Abridged Kai 2 (a super-condensed version of the season), Vegeta immediately snaps at him "That's not funny! It's never been funny! It's never gonna be funny!"
  • Jobby the Hong tends to say "swivel here" with great emphasis during segments showing the articulation of figures, and it has become one of the channel's memes and his catchphrase. Overtime, he has started to mock how overused the phrase is on both his channel and other parts of the internet while usually also saying that he will continue to use it anyway.
  • It's not uncommon in many of cs188's YouTube Poop videos for his videos to have Self-Deprecation regarding his continued use of certain running gags, particularly "the JoJ"/"HoH SiS" (from "No one needs foundation repair"). This has sometimes happened for gags specific to a single video, such as an edit of LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" that repeatedly spliced in a vocal sample from "Shots".

    Western Animation 
  • South Park's "Oh My God, They Killed Kenny!" It gets old, gets lampshaded, subverted and eventually cut down severely in the later seasons.
  • Drawn Together is yet another example of the "regurgitate the same jokes over and over, then acknowledge how they've stopped being funny and continue using the jokes over and over again" tactic.
  • Find a Running Gag not lampshaded, inverted, or subverted on Phineas and Ferb.
  • Family Guy
    • The two vaudeville players Vern and Johnny, who appeared so often to fill the time before commercial breaks that Stewie killed them to assure the audience that they would never appear again. (They still came back... as ghosts).
    • Cleveland picked up a gag where Peter would destroy half his house while Cleveland was taking a bath, causing his tub to slide out of his (second-floor) bathroom and dump him in the yard. When Cleveland's first wife gets killed this way in The Cleveland Show, Cleveland feels survivor's guilt because, in his own words, he'd fallen out of that same house "way more times than could possibly still be funny."
    • "Believe it or Not, Joe's Walking on Air" pokes fun at itself for its constant use of a Cutaway Gag by having Cleveland complain about how he hates it when a show cuts away to some other bullcrap. Cue a Cutaway Gag showing Hitler riding a unicycle as he juggles fish. Later on, as the guys discover that Joe's new legs have turned him into a jerk and discuss "re-crippling" him, Peter says that "it's the right thing to do, like punching out Hitler." The show cuts back to the same gag as before, but Peter rushes in and punches out Hitler, saying "See? We had a plan for that all along."
    • In a cutaway gag where Quagmire thinks he's the one getting the spinoff, he mentions the two of the show's more infamous running gags.
      Quagmire: See ya later, bitches! Have fun with your stupid goddamn giant chicken jokes and your Conway Twitty — Hey, why's there a moving truck outside Cleveland's house?
    • In a later episode Peter meets God who gives him a message from Conway Twitty himself telling them to stop.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The clip where Homer falls down the Springfield Gorge (from the episode "Bart the Daredevil") was referenced several times. In the episode "The Blunder Years", when Homer flashes back to it, Lisa interrupts him, saying "Everyone's sick of that memory." It also gets referenced in the episode "Behind the Laughter" when it's called a comedy classic, and then deconstructed when we see Homer in rehab with several broken bones. Apparently, having to undergo each and every painful slapstick gag forced Homer to take painkillers, which he became addicted to.
    • "The Great Louse Detective" has this to say about Sideshow Bob's umpteenth return:
      Bart: This man has tried to kill me so much it's not funny anymore!
  • Xiaolin Showdown: Omi and his butchering of idioms. At one point Raimundo (usually the one who "translates") eventually asked Omi if he's been doing them on purpose. It got to the point that the myriad reactions of other characters (especially the villains) towards them has become a Running Gag itself.
    Wuya (Arc Villain of Season 1): Can somebody PLEASE translate?!
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: The Once an Episode gag of Jackie telling Jade to not get involved with his missions, only for Jade to get involved anyway and Jackie to say something along the lines of "I told you to stay put!" Jade asked him on one occasion if he gets tired of saying that and Jackie himself sometimes questions why he even bothers.
  • The Smurfs (1981):
    • For most fans, the running gag where Brainy Smurf gets tossed out of the village for ruining a Smurf's day or simply speaking his mind is considered this. Season 9 made it clear the running gag was getting old and didn't make as much sense, with the Smurfs jumping to various time periods.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In-Universe, in "Ripped Pants," when everyone finds it hilarious that SpongeBob ripped his pants, he starts finding creative ways to rip his pants and make people laugh. After the first three times, however, people start to get tired of it, the final straw being when SpongeBob pretends to drown as a lead-in to yet another variation of it.
    • The show now has its own version with Fred, the fish who says "My leg!" after an injury. He got A Day in the Limelight where whenever the words "My leg!", "Fred's leg!", or "Your leg" appear in conversation, they're screamed in the some way as the original gag; this happens no less than 40 times. A few episodes later, in "ChefBob", Fred shouts "My leg!" and Krabs just tells him to shut up. In "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout", Plankton forces Fred to say the line, which he does in a deadpan tone. Despite these lampshades, the joke is still used unironically in later episodes, even making it onto The Patrick Star Show.
  • Throughout the Ben 10 franchise, Ben Tennyson often suffers from Power Incontinence, where the Omnitrix would transform him into a different alien than the one he wanted. Sometimes there would be entire episodes where Ben would be given the wrong alien, and it happened enough for Ben to comment his annoyance at the watch seemingly never getting it right, at one point even saying "it's not even funny anymore". Though this was justified early on due to the Omnitrix malfunctioning or somehow being broken, by the time of Ben 10: Omniverse the Omnitrix has been perfected and Ben only has himself to blame for getting the wrong alien.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Episodes focusing on Catman after season 5 have Timmy actively dreading seeing him again. "9 Lives!" has him try to put a stop to Catman's superhero antics by convincing him he only has one of his nine lives left, and episodes like "Cat N Mouse" have Timmy reacting with fear or exasperation whenever Catman shows up, just wanting him to go away.

The end— end— end— end— end— *BOOM*

Alternative Title(s): Overlong Running Gag