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Reboot Snark

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"Just relax and take the flak
If people want it, bring it back!"
Animaniacs (2020), "Reboot It!"

The Remake, the Revival, the Continuity Reboot, and other types of Derivative Works have been hallmarks of cinema and television since the media were invented. They can bring old classics to a new generation, or they regurgitate beloved properties in the hopes of profiting from nostalgia. These works lean more towards the latter, portraying remakes/reboots of works (Show Within a Show or otherwise) as unnecessary or weird ideas at best or creatively bankrupt and profit-driven at worst.

Works that use this trope will have the movie-making industry come a-knockin' at the original stars' doors, only for the actual product to be subpar, if not totally ridiculous — They Changed It, Now It Sucks! (for derivative works that stray wildly from the source) and It's the Same, Now It Sucks! (for ones that stick too close to the source) might be reactions. A White-Dwarf Starlet or someone who hasn't been able to break out of the original role might be delighted to get the call and regain their former fame, however.

Other times, a remake/reboot/revival might make a self-aware joke about its redundancy, possibly using Biting-the-Hand Humor or Company Cross References to call out the parent company that greenlit it in the first place.

Compare Sequel Snark, which makes fun of the Hollywood tendency to make sequels, but focuses more on the number of installments involved compared to the rehashing and nostalgia aspect that Reboot Snark involves. May involve Meta Fiction. See also Money, Dear Boy, Sequelitis, Franchise Zombie, Executive Meddling, and Pandering to the Base for other Trivia/YMMV that might be invoked in the process.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gintama: While explaining invokedOvertook the Manga, Gintoki mentions that sometimes the manga and anime adaptation deviate wildly with no chance of the anime continuing to adapt the manga properly. He then says the industry will shamelessly use this as an excuse to reboot the anime more faithfully.
  • Each season of Osomatsu-san starts with the series getting rebooted, with the cast coming up with so many ideas for how to run it the resulting show is unrecognizable. Eventually, they give up and the show proceeds as normal.
    • Season 1 focuses on the Osomatsu-kun cast as they appear in the 1966 adaptation trying their hand at rebooting it, worried their humor will come off as dated. They cram in as many early 2010s anime trends as they can think of, but the pressure of maintaining it all causes the scenario to fall apart.
    • Season 2 has the '66 sextuplets become so disgusted at their reboot selves that they study different media and genres to do a "proper" revival. When they meet up again, the brothers, now stylized to fit their chosen medium, clash over which direction to take the series.
    • Season 3 has the sextuplets go through different reboots to see what the audience would find the least controversial.
  • Pop Team Epic:
    • In the anime, King Records (here depicted as an evil empire) wants to reboot the series into a Lighter and Softer version that turns Popuko and Pipimi into cutsier, more pseudo-romantic versions of themselves. The girls fire back with their usual foul-mouthed referential style.
    • Season 3 of the manga starts with Takeshobo replacing the mangaka with a well-known BL artist, explicitly stated to drum up interest in the manga after hype from the anime died down.
  • Shinya! Tensai Bakabon parodies Osomatsu-san's revival by only having Papa try to change things for the reboot, with the rest of the family saying the show's fine the way it is. To drive the point home, the only thing that Papa keeps changing throughout the episode is himself.

    Films — Live Action 
  • 21 Jump Street: As Schmidt and Jenko are being briefed on the revived undercover cop program from the '80s they've been put into, Dep. Hardy complains that the guys at the top have run out of ideas and thus are "recycling shit from the past" and hoping that the younger generation doesn't catch on.
  • In the Cold Open to Charlie's Angels (2000) (a film based on a TV show), a villain is seen on an airplane watching a fictitious T.J. Hooker movie and complaining, "Not another movie based on an old TV show!"
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) parodies the frequency of Hollywood reboots/revivals in the 2010s, and the Disney Live-Action Remakes especially. Dale, one of the Animated Actors stars of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, yearns for his glory days and is angling for a revival, pointing out that it has done wonders for his friend Baloo. His former co-star Chip finds it unnecessary and self-aggrandizing.
  • Coming 2 America: Lavelle and Mirembe have a conversation about American cinema and Lavelle complains that all Hollywood makes these days is "superhero shit, remakes, and sequels to old movies nobody asked for." As a sequel to Coming to America made about thirty years later, this film, of course, falls into the third category.
  • Home Sweet Home Alone, a redo/Distant Sequel of Home Alone for the 2020s, makes one such self-aware joke. In the original film, Kevin is a big fan of the fake movie Angels With Filthy Souls; in the remake, Angels With Filthy Souls got a sci-fi remake, prompting this comment:
    Hunter: I don't know why they bother trying to remake these classics, they are never as good as the originals.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Reboot throws out a lot of reboot jokes, as the in-universe franchise of Bluntman and Chronic is being rebooted. Bob and Jay have lost the rights to their identities, and it features an "Iron Bob" suit, in a Take That! of superhero movies of the 2010s. (The film itself is not a reboot but a similar sequel).
  • The Matrix Resurrections: The Distant Sequel to the original trilogy sees Neo reindoctrinated into the Matrix and believing the first three films were successful video games he developed years ago. He's annoyed that their "beloved parent company Warner Bros." wants a Trilogy Creep, but signs on because they were going to do it with or without him. He has to sit through a painful focus group that attempts to distill the films — er, games — to what audiences liked: "effing with [your] head", "guns", "crypto-fascism and capitalist exploitation", and of course, Bullet Time. Neo spaces out by the time people start talking about most remakes being regurgitations. A stinger at the end of the film reveals that the secret ingredient for success needs to include... cat videos.
    Warner Bros. Marketer: Inside, you'll find the breakdown including keyword association with the brand. The top two being "originality" and "fresh," which I think are great things to keep in mind as you begin working on Matrix 4. And who knows how many more?
  • Scream:
    • Scream 4 parodies the 2010s trend for remakes, as Sidney returns home to find her cousin and Suspiciously Similar Substitute Jill (played by then-Disney star Emma Roberts) facing down another Ghostface massacre. There's a lot of snark about remakes versus originals, and finally it turns out that Charlie, a Loony Fan of the in-universe movie franchise Stab and Randy's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, plotted the massacre with Jill herself. Jill's plan is to kill Charlie and Sidney, and inherit her fame as the Sole Survivor. However, unlike Sidney (who's a writer), Jill intends to become an influencer, "since nobody actually reads anymore." Dewey, Gale, and Sidney band together against Jill and succeed in killing her, as Sidney remarks that Jill "forgot the first rule of remakes: don't fuck with the original."
    • Similar to the Sequel Snark in the movies that preceded it, Scream (2022) uses the concept of "requels" (sequels Revisiting the Roots so closely that the result feels like a Soft Reboot or remake) as its main theme. The killers are called out for how closely they're mimicking the crime spree that started it all, and are such Loony Fans of the Stab series that ruining Sid's life again is part of their plan to bring the franchise back to its Based on a True Story heyday.
  • Vacation: When Rusty Grizwold tells his family that he's going to take them to Wally World by car, he attempts to recreate the vacation his father, Clark Grizwold, took him on during the first movie of the franchise. But Rusty's wife Debbie has a conversation with him about the vacation (and the movie by extension) being unnecessary and redundant.
    Debbie: So you're redoing your vacation? Don't you think it's kind of a stretch?
    Rusty: Who cares? The new one will stand on its own.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Castle:
    • "Need to Know" centers around the murder of Charlie Reynolds, the star of a Saved by the Bell-like show who was shooting a reunion movie with his former co-stars. The detectives laugh at the contrived plotline of the characters coming back as teachers, and their use of old sitcom catchphrases like "Hubba-hubba". It gets even sillier when they witness the Russian cast and crew trying to recreate the American sitcom vibe. The hackneyed nostalgic setup turns out to be entirely justified, since the film was backed by the Russian mafia and Charlie had been hired as a spy for the CIA because his sitcom character was beloved in RussiaCharlie used his nostalgic icon status to get an in. The murderer, one of the former co-stars, was unaware of the ruse and became angry when Charlie was going to pull out of the film, ruining his big comeback.
    • Both Played for Laughs and Played for Drama in "The Final Frontier". A body is found inside a sci-fi convention interactive fan experience for Cult Classic show Nebula 9, which featured one of the show's original stars getting to relive his glory days, playing the trope straight. However, Played for Drama since the murder victim was harassed after buying the rights for cheap and making her own Nebula 9 web series reboot with her friends, and the murderer was another original star who had achieved mainstream success and wanted to distance herself from the show by any means necessary.
      The Killer: The fan experience was bad enough, but she was gonna sell the rights, and it was gonna start all over again — the movies, the product lines, Lieutenant Chloe bobbleheads! Do you know how hard I worked to make something of myself, to become a real actress?
  • Girls5eva: When Dawn and the others discuss getting their original 1990s One-Hit Wonder Girl Group back together for a 2020s Career Resurrectioninvoked, their ex-manager Larry scoffs at the idea, saying they only got a little bit of airtime "because [people] have a boner for nostalgia."
    Larry: They reunited Saved by the Bell, Kenan & Kel, everyone from Iran-Contra.
  • Insecure: The In-Universe '90s sitcom Kev'yn gets awkwardly rebooted for the 2010s, with forced references to Colin Kaepernick's protests and the #MeToo movement.
  • Inside No. 9: In "Wise Owl", Wilf scoffs that there was talk of rebooting "Wise Owl" (a 1970s public information film) with CGI, but that "it would have been crap." This is a Take That! at the similar reboots happening with 1970s children's media.
  • Only Murders in the Building: Charles Haden-Savage is a washed-up actor whose biggest claim to fame was being the star of a long-running Show Within a Show about a detective, Brazzos. After his podcast blows up, he gains newfound notoriety and is offered to star in a Brazzos reboot. Though he is initially overjoyed to receive the call, his excitement dims when he learns it's a Spin-Offspring revival and he'll be playing the mentor "Uncle Brazzos" role to a new, younger Brazzos.
  • Psych: "Remake AKA Cloudy... With A Chance of Improvement" is a straight remake of an earlier episode, except with Shawn and Gus roasting the remake of The Dukes of Hazzard (doubling as Actor Allusion, as the two specifically single out James Roday Rodriguez (Shawn)'s role in that film).
    Shawn: The whole point of a remake is to choose something that showed serious promise but failed to live up to expectations. I mean, that's the magic of movies.
  • From the Red Dwarf episode "Better Than Life":
    Lister: They've remade Casablanca! Philistines! How can you remake Casablanca? The one starring Myra Dinglebat and Peter Beardsley was definitive!
    Holly: I saw that one. Knockout. "Of all the space bars, on all the worlds, you had to rematerialise in mine."
  • Saturday Night Live

    Web Animation 


    Web Videos 
  • Screen Rant Pitch Meetings: Pitch meetings for any of Disney's live-action reboots of classic animated films accent how much of a blatant cash-grab such films are, beyond the normal level for the pitch meetings.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs (2020) (a revival of Animaniacs): The "Reboot It!" number from the first episode sees the Warners make fun of several television properties that had recently gotten reboots/revivals at the time of airing (including The X-Files, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Gilmore Girls, and DuckTales (1987)), calling them devoid of creativity...before accepting a huge sell-out check from Hulu to revive their show.
    Wakko: When we sell out, we know we're selling out, so it's cool.
  • BoJack Horseman: BoJack made his money off being the main character of '90's sitcom Horsin' Around, playing a horse who adopts three kids. Several years later, Ethan, the only child actor that didn't keep acting, suddenly wants to develop a revival around him titled Ethan Around (confirmed by the creators to be a reference to Fuller House and Girl Meets World, revivals which both had one of the former child actors parent their own kid/s). BoJack is initially interested but his agent tells him not to do it because a dumb TV show revival won't make him a movie star. After BoJack and Ethan's Horsin' costar Sarah Lynn dies, BoJack does the show anyway but walks off the set. It never gets made.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • In "Quack Pack!", the cast is transported into a sitcom version of their lives thanks to Donald accidentally wishing on a genie's lamp. When Mrs. Beakley asks how long they'll be stuck like this, Gene guesses "probably at least three seasons, plus spin-offs, and I assume they'll reboot the show eventually".
    • Downplayed in "The Duck Knight Returns", centered around a Darker and Edgier reboot film of Launchpad's favorite TV show, Darkwing Duck (a reference to the real-world Darkwing Duck animated series). Launchpad is first excited but gets upset that the trailer doesn't fit the tone of the original, the original star is insulted that he was never involved, while the new star acknowledges that the reboot isn't perfect. However, the new star is also a huge fan of the original series and points out that his version of Darkwing may inspire some kid the way the original series inspired him. The aesop ends up that reboots aren't automatically evil cash grabs, as long as they remember what made the show special in the first place.
      Launchpad: A big-budget reboot of a thing I loved as a kid! Those are always good!
  • Family Guy: "Disney's the Reboot" features multiple attempts to reboot the show in the wake of the Disney-Fox merger, all of which deviate wildly from the premise and devolve into ridiculousness:
    • The first, Lois!, features Lois as a career woman.
    • The second, Q, is a gritty supernatural Teen Drama that takes place in the wake of a murder (think Riverdale).
    • The third is a Spin-Off comedy focusing on Chris, featuring none of the other original characters.
    • Eventually Peter turns on the test audiences trying to decide the reboot's direction (who are portrayed as an invokedUnpleasable Fanbase) before the execs call it off. Family Guy will remain as is, but with Joe getting more screentime.
  • Futurama: The first episode of the Hulu revival, "The Impossible Stream," is full of meta jokes referencing how often Futurama has been cancelled and revived, using All My Circuits as a stand-in as Leela and Bender revive it (and its dead star Calculon) for the streaming service Fulu, which will apparently revive anything. Fry concludes at the end of the episode that any TV show that truly cares about its viewers must be revived at least three times.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): In "There's No Ivy in Team", Batman is aghast to hear about the In-Universe Thomas Wayne biopic, complaining there are too many movies about that "poor rich" family (and implicitly his own origin). The episode was released a few months after DC put out another movie about the Waynesnote .
    Batman: Every few years, there's another film depicting the Waynes' murder. We get it. Crime alley. The pearls, those pearls, their beautiful child watches them fall, as life is extinguished from his mother's eyes, so too is his innocence. It's one thing for Bruce Wayne to talk about his trauma, but for others to do it over and over again...
  • Inside Job (2021):
    • "The Brettfast Club" makes thorough fun of Nostalgia Goggles for 1980s media, including their tendency to get rebooted later. When Reagan binge-watches a ton of 80s movies to understand Brett better, a song plays mocking how all those movies will get remade over and over again because the algorithm only understands what people previously like.
    • At the start of "Buzzkill," Reagan watches a cringey updated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon with shoehorned 2020s slang.
  • Wacky Races (2017) has this trope pop up all the time, especially in season 2. Much of the humor comes from the show mocking the oversaturation of reboots, doubling as Self-Deprecation since this show is a reboot of Wacky Races, to the point where several episodes are about the Racers being forced to participate in hypothetical reboots of the reboot.
  • Robot Chicken: A sketch from "May Cause the Exact Thing You're Taking This to Avoid" has a Disney executive in the year 2063 announcing that the live-action remake of A Goofy Movie was a success, meaning they've officially run out of animated movies to remake. The board is then approached by Walt Disney's frozen head, who says there's one more animated film of his that hasn't been remade yet: The Story of Menstruation.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling, a 2019 sequel movie for the 1990s show Rocko's Modern Life, revolves around Rocko trying to revive his favorite series from the 90's, The Fatheads. Since the original creator has quit the business, the studio takes over the project, cutting as many corners possible to save money and making a very crappy-looking CGI version of the show, mocking the tendency of studios to use computer technology in animated revivals (note that Static Cling is mostly animated in 2D just like the original series). Luckily the creator returns and makes a well-received revival short.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "Beyond Blunderdome" centers around a fictional remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Mel Gibson, whom Homer convinces to reshoot a preposterous ending where Mr. Smith massacres the US Senate, blows up the Capitol, and decapitates the President.
  • Sonic Boom: In "Mech Suits Me", when Sticks finds something in a cave, later revealed to be a mech suit created by the Ancients, Amy refuses to fall for it, saying it's the oldest trick in The Jungle Predator Book. Sonic then tells Amy "I've been meaning to read that book. How is it?", to which Amy tells him "Not as bad as the movie. Studios should stop recycling the same tired old properties and make something original for once!" Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles all stare at her upon hearing this. This episode was broadcast in 2017, a year after Disney had released a live-action remake of The Jungle Book.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In "In Dreams", Steven and Peridot watch the first episode of a Camp Pining Hearts reboot, which they find extremely disappointing. When Steven discovers that he can broadcast his thoughts and dreams on his TV, they get the idea to "reboot the reboot" by having Steven dream up his own version of the show.
    Peridot: What is with this Rodrigo guy? He has no charisma!
    Steven: And can we talk about this cinematography?
    Peridot: (growls) They changed all the characters, and I don't care about any of them!
  • In a pre-release teaser for Velma, Velma is shown writing a Strongly Worded Letter to Warner Bros. about a fictional reboot of The Jetsons focusing on Judy. She complains of the numerous proposed changes to Judy's character, and tops it off by expressing relief they haven't changed her race — all this while showing off the changes made to Velma's character for the series in the process (a Race Lift being one of them).


Video Example(s):


Reboot it, Renew it.

The Warner Bros (and sister) sing a song about the concepts of Continuity reboots and Revivals

How well does it match the trope?

4.84 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / Revival

Media sources: