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Rule of Funny

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Eddie: You mean to tell me that you could have taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?!
Roger: No, not at any time. Only when it was funny.

The limit of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to its funniness.

Any violation of continuity, logic, physics, or common sense is permissible if the result gets enough of a laugh.

This is the comedy equivalent of the Rule of Cool, and is accordingly weighted more in comedy shows. Especially easy to invoke in humor-based American animation and Webcomics, where people expect the lack of realism in the art to translate to other areas.

Rule of Funny is not a superpower. One of the characteristics of the rule of funny is that it can give some abilities to a character to the sole purpose of a gag, which means the character just CAN'T do that when it's not funny. For instance, Wile E. Coyote frequently walks on thin air because he hasn't noticed that he's at the edge of a cliff, and he falls when he notices it. It is Rule of Funny: Wile E. can't walk on thin air as a previewed part of a scheme.

Compare Rule of Fun.

Tropes existing purely due to the Rule of Funny:


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A running sight gag in Azumanga Daioh is Sakaki, after winning a race, running with the ribbon held up by her (for a Japanese teenager) extremely large breasts. Of course, this means that the ribbon was chest-level on the tallest girl, putting it high enough that some of the contestants would have run right under it... but it's still funny.
    • Sakaki generally bends down a little and kind of "scoops" the ribbon when she runs through.
    • Lucky Star deliberately invoked this trope as well, as noted by Genre Savvy Konata.
  • One Piece uses this for a number of things (some of which later get a Cerebus Retcon), but one to note is Franky building a nice-looking wooden bridge out of scraps and rubble in less than a minute. It would be a Deus ex Machina if Franky's insistence on the level of detail and craftsmanship didn't make it hilarious.
    • For those who haven't seen the above scene, the bridge has carved, ornate handrails and was varnished.
    • Luffy eating a cage he was trapped in certainly qualifies, especially because he's captured again before he achieves anything. The whole scene serves no purpose but Rule of Funny.
    • One Piece has some pretty outlandish character designs, but some manage to go the extra mile (like Wanze and Jango's telescopic and heart-shaped eyes) just for the sake of a gag.
    • Enforced by Eiichiro Oda when Luffy unlocks Gear 5: As he felt the series had gotten uncomfortably close to hitting Cerebus Syndrome, with both the plot and Luffy's power-ups getting more and more serious as the series went on, he did the ultimate swerve by having Luffy's final power-up be to go from Rubber Man to Rubberhose Man, drawing inspiration from cartoons like Tom and Jerry to make the most ridiculous yet most powerful power-up ever seen in the series.
  • This is the only thing that keeps the shower scene with Baron Ashura in episode 5 of Mazinkaiser from being Nightmare Fuel.
  • Code Geass has a lot of jokes and slapstick during its comedic episodes which would already be enough to qualify, but it is also a curious case where the staff has explicitly acknowledged that sometimes they made the characters do something crazy, absurd or plainly hilarious for no good reason other than the Rule of Funny, regardless of the context appearing to be more serious on the surface.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid. The only thing that the show ever plays seriously is the relationship between San and Nagasumi, and even then, tongue is lodged firmly in cheek.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann plays have equal shares of this and Rule of Cool as the laws of the universe, instead of the regular, boring laws of physics.
  • In Doctor Slump how strong Arale is at a given time seems to depend only on what would be the funniest (or more rarely the more dramatic). Sometimes she is strong enough to defeat anything in one hit, destroy the moon by throwing a little rock at it, or travel around the world in a matter of seconds. But other times she takes a few chapters running a race through the village (because obviously there would be no race otherwise), or have trouble against an opponent that she should be able to destroy easily.
  • Dragon Ball will occasionally chuck all sense of power scaling out the window for the sake of Slapstick - notable examples include Mr. Satan surviving getting slapped head-first into a mountain by Cell, Krillin throwing a rock at Super Saiyan Goku and causing him serious pain, Monaka tanking a full-force punch from Goku, and Goku accidentally throwing Chi-Chi through a wall, tree, and having her hit her head against a rock only to be totally fine afterward.
  • In one scene in Hoshin Engi, Taikobo and Supushan are struck by a lightning bolt, Taikobo's hair ends up in a carbonized Funny Afro, Supushan's ends up with perfectly styled Regal Ringlets, for no reason.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a Gag Series where the primary source of comedy comes from the hilarious miscommunication and misunderstandings between characters who almost always immediately jumps to the weirdest conclusions that no reasonable people would even consider when they are presented with a unusual situation.
  • Full Metal Panic! has a similar case to Dragon Ball, where the series is a combination of deadly serious Humongous Mecha action and zany Rom Com with the realism level zig-zagging as the plot demands. Comedy episodes use Amusing Injuries even for things like explosives, but serious episodes feature realistic life-or-death battles between soldiers and terrorists. For example, the protagonist Sosuke gets hit in the head by second base in a gag episode and is just knocked out for a few minutes, but in a more serious battle later on in the story he gets shot in the gut, losing a portion of his liver and almost bleeding to death.
  • While many rules are changed in Yu-Gi-Oh! for dramatic or story/advantage purposes, sometimes, they're there for comedic purposes. A notable example is in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light when a man attacks Joey with Fairy Lily Injection on the first turn. Normally, attacking on the first turn is illegal, but then we wouldn't get to see Fairy Lily stabbing Joey in the butt.

  • Laser Kiwi flag: Why would anyone put a laser-shooting Kiwi on New Zealand's flag? Because it's so nonsensical on something that ought to be Serious Business that ends up being funny.

    Comic Books 
  • Larry Elmore used this in his classic SnarfQuest, citing that his manner of plotting the episodes was to figure out the ending goal of the characters then throw out the plan and write/draw the stupidest possible way they could get there.
  • Don Rosa uses this trope from time to time as a justification for breaking realism in his otherwise painfully serious comics. He even mentions it (though not by name) in one of the comment pages for The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, when he had retroactively added the Eisner comic award he won for the series in its last chapter, hanging on Scrooge's wall. Donald Duck even remarks that it has to be fake, since they're living in the 50s and the award reads "1995" with big letters. Rosa compares his relationship with the rule to the below-mentioned joke in Roger Rabbit.
  • Justice League International is well-known for humorously Flanderizing a number of characters or having them Take A Level In Dumbass for the sake of comedy. This led to the period in League history being considered an Audience-Alienating Era and Old Shame in-universe (in real life the series is beloved by fans), largely because the team had become a group of ineffectual jokesters.
  • Squirrel Girl breathes this trope. How else can you explain how a girl with a tail who has the power to talk to squirrels, can defeat super villains like Thanos (Magnificent Bastard), Doctor Doom (Crazy-Prepared Personified) and Deadpool (Deadpool)?
  • Me, the Merc with the Mouth, would have to say that I'm, myself, pretty much the incarnation of this trope. I mean, I never stop talking even when I'm getting beaten to a pulp, and most of the stuff I say goes straight into the Funny Moments section... Also, mention that percent sign, skull, colon, ampersand, swirly thingy, dollar sign, semicolon Squirrel Girl again, and I'll make rabbit leg roti, wrapped in dragonnade with cherry and carrot puree out of you! Either that or curry with rice.
  • The Joker, of all people, points this out in Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?.
    "Kid. I'm the Joker. I don't just randomly kill people. I kill people when it's funny. What would conceivably be funny about killing you?"
  • Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. runs on this. It starts with the team fighting a giant green dragon in underpants and proceeds to get unashamedly weirder without so much as stopping for breath — except to huff more laughing gas. To wit, Dirk Anger, director of H.A.T.E., (a Nick Fury expy) spends the entire series a) trying to kill Nextwave by, say, throwing Drop Bears at them from his flying submarine base, and b) concocting more elaborate suicide attempts due to the breakdown the Nextwave squad are giving him.
  • This is the only reason for anything that happens in The Awesome Slapstick, including the Monster Clowns from Dimension X, the five-year-old toddler and his giant robotic teddy bear, and the highly explosive Neutron Bum.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Brother Juniper strip Juniper is carrying a pipe organ in his cupped hands while a fellow monk on the floor above him yells "Put it here!"
  • The Far Side lived and breathed off this trope. For instance, the strip frequently depicted cavemen and dinosaurs living together, which creator Gary Larson acknowledged as being horribly inaccurate but necessary for the sake of making the jokes work. Nonetheless, the strip is popular with scientists, and paleontologists even named the tail spikes of a Stegosaurus "thagomizers" in reference to a Far Side cartoon featuring cavemen and dinosaurs together.

    Fan Works 
  • Abridged Series, generally speaking, live and breathe this trope. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, the first of this particular genre, is a defining example; if there is something that can be made funny, it will happen regardless of how completely nonsensical or out-of-character it may be.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Pinkie's evolved Fullbring weaponizes this. Whenever she strikes something with the hammer, it reacts in a hilarious way, like forming a springboard under someone's feet or absorbing an energy blast with a loud belching sound. It pretty much lets her warp reality on a limited scale as long as the result can be considered a gag...such as forcing the fight between her and Cheese Sandwich to literally function by 2D fighting game mechanics. Cheese notes that it's only half of her power and sure enough with time she begins combining Funny with Horror...
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Hammerspace was Played for Laughs and Parodied several times. From clothes to books to Death Notes to flowers, the characters' backs can store them all.

    "It's alright Italia-kun. I always bring spare cosplays with me." He reached into some sort of secret compartment behind his back, pulling out an identical outfit to the one the brunet was currently wearing. Seriously, how do anime characters have such an ability?

    Japan disappeared into a bathroom for a short amount of time before reappearing, now clad in a sharp black suit and tie with a white dress shirt and black pants, taking hexagonal glasses from his pocket—or wherever anime characters store all their stuff—before putting them on.

    "Humph." The larger scoffed back. He then reached into the magical space all anime characters have, whipping out a book conveniently titled 'How to Catch a Runaway Italian'.

    Both reached into the magical space all anime characters have, extracting black notebooks—Japan's having unidentifiable symbols on its cover as Italy's had 'Death Note' clearly printed on it in gothic letters—before taking out pens and colored pencils as well, opening the pages before scrawling in them.

    —>Giggling, the auburn reached into the magical space all anime characters have, an exquisite bouquet of utmost grandeur popping out from behind his back. "Tada!"
  • Oversaturated World: Oversaturation: Pinkie Pie's unique magic only works when it's funny, literally:
    Pinkie shook her head as she put down her toy sword. "Yeah, I'm not gonna be able to help."
    "Why not? This is important!"
    "That's why I'm not going to be able to help. My tricks only work when it's funny." Pinkie spread her arms. "We're in a literal laboratory setting trying to figure it out to stave off the end of the world!
  • The Touhou M-1 Grand Prix is a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine competition staring characters from an Elegant Gothic Lolita World of Badass Shoot 'Em Up. It runs on Rule of Funny. There's even an instance of with a finalist crying all-alone, running into a Hope Spot / Jump Scare that's Played for Laughs.
  • In The Story to End All Stories, the Doctor only mentions there's food in the TARDIS after numerous attempts to find food elsewhere are thwarted.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Disney animation The Emperor's New Groove repeatedly emphasizes its own ludicrous plot holes with lines such as "Now, what are the odds that trap door would lead me out here?"
    Kuzco: No... It can't be! How did you get here before us?
    Yzma: Ah— uh, how did we, Kronk?
    Kronk: Well, you got me. [pulls out a map, showing the two parties' paths] By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire a chalk map that rubs off on Milo's shirt is not reversed, as the gag of Milo having to stand in that position would have been voided. The directors were amused that test audiences complained more about that detail and its plausibility than in the following scene where a photograph whirs into life in a 1920's movie style.
    • Granted, the photo coming to life isn't diagetic and is obviously a stylistic representation of his memory (motion pictures did exist in 1912, when the movie takes place).
  • Ice Age has characters that might act goofy or out of character if the writers think the joke is funny. For example, Diego is a mostly serious character, yet will start acting silly or goofy if the joke depends on it (like him trying to hide that Sid's family abandoned him again by saying they were destroyed by an asteroid).
  • In Turning Red, when Mei pulls her friends into her room to shush them, their spines seem to bend 180 degrees backwards in order to fit through the window.
  • Up: Carl and Muntz's ages are rarely taken into account except when it would somehow be humorous.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
    • Roger declares this to be an actual law of cartoon physics. This being the most frequently referenced instance of the rule, it's interesting to note that Roger's phrasing makes it hard to tell whether or not he's just pulling Eddie's chain, but his apologetic tone suggests that he's being sincere about slipping the cuffs and not any happier about it than Eddie is.
      Eddie: You mean you could have taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?!
      Roger: No, not at any time. Only when it was funny.
    • A consequence of this Rule: Judge Doom plus Rule Of Funny equals Fridge Horror and Nightmare Fuel.
    • Another consequence of this Rule can be Nausea Fuel. This instance is referenced when Roger is flushed down a toilet while trying to sneak into the Acme factory. In this instance instead of being flushed down a clean prop toilet on a cartoon set (like he is used to) Roger is forced to endure the nastiness of a Disgusting Public Toilet as if it were the same.
  • In The Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon malfunctions but Han Solo restarts the engines by punching the instrument panel. Which happens three times. (Two for Han, and once for Lando.)
  • Every Monty Python movie, especially Holy Grail. The opening titles even contain faux Swedish subtitles that ramble off on tangents, leading the people in charge of the titles to be fired, mid title sequence.
  • The scene in Transformers (2007) where the Autobots hide in Sam's backyard doesn't make that much sense (why wouldn't Sam's parents hear them speaking?), but it's so damn funny it barely matters.
  • Certain comedy films can't go one minute without violating all sanity for a joke. Consider Top Secret!, featuring a very young Val Kilmer as a rock & roll star protagonist in a Commie Land spy plot: this movie includes a motel called Gey Shluffen, a high speed action chase to change a radio station, and an underwater Bar Brawl. Or watch Airplane! for the sheer number of visual pun gags.
    • Woody Allen's early films were very much of this order. Consider Take the Money and Run where Woody is imprisoned and punished by being locked in confinement with an insurance salesman, and briefly becomes an Orthodox rabbi as a side effect of medical experimentation. Or Love and Death where a battle scene is intercut with scenes of Woody as a cheerleader.
  • Pavi Largo's accent in Repo! The Genetic Opera. He's the only one of his siblings with an Italian accent. It appears only to be there to make him hilarious. (It works.) note 
    • "All of-a eet? OHHHH NOOOOOO!"
  • Every Marx Brothers film revolves around this, to a varying degree. Many of their best routines have absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
    • Duck Soup really takes the cake in that regard: the plot makes absolutely no sense if you think about it for more than a minute, but you'll probably be laughing too hard to care. How is one rich heiress powerful enough to decide the leader of an entire country by herself? How does a fast-talking huckster with no political experience get appointed the leader of a country? Why is said country identical to 1930s America? How did a frizzy-haired mute and a guy with an incomprehensible Italian accent get jobs as spies? Just go with it.
    • Ditto The Three Stooges.
  • The final scene of Casino Royale (1967) is so completely nonsensical that it's impossible to describe. Allegedly, the scene is the heroes trying to get out of the casino before it explodes. So why the cowboys, Indians, flying roulette table, bubbles, kinescope police dispatchment, gun-turret banister, etc.? It's funny... at least if you're high enough to write a scene like that.
  • The climactic battle of Blazing Saddles, which features the characters leaving their soundstage and breaking up a dance number on another set, getting into a pie fight in the studio commissary, then (eventually) getting to the end of the movie by sneaking into a theater playing Blazing Saddles and watching it with us.
  • James Moriarty, formerly a Professor of Mathematics, being unable to perform long division, with decimals in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother.
  • Pocket Ninjas attempts to use the Rule a lot but fails. It's full of things that can only be there because they're supposed to be funny but turn out mind-bogglingly, embarrassingly stupid, even for a children's movie. Examples: The Final Battle. In a videogame. The Big Good fighting the Bigger Bad. With balloons and horrible carnival music. And pat-a-cake and... seriously, what the hell are they doing??
  • Combined with Stylistic Suck for the Swedish action-comedy Kopps. A policeman is given ridiculous superpowers, that begin with him arriving at the scene of a robbery seconds after the alarm is activated, flipping his car in the air and landing perfectly on all four wheels, and then...all of this happens.
  • In the final scene of A Fish Called Wanda, Otto is seen hanging on to the window of an airplane taking off, having apparently survived being run over by a steamroller and smushed into wet cement. On the DVD, John Cleese argues that this joke wouldn't have worked at any point in the film other than the very end.
  • Most of the amusing injuries Tony gets when testing the suit in Iron Man.
  • Tranquilizers take several minutes to take effect; however, in Thor it happens almost immediately, causing one of the funniest parts in the film. In the hospital when Thor is fighting the doctors, this happens: (gets pinned against the wall) "You are no match for the mighty—" (gets a tranquilizer shot in his ass-cheek).
  • This is the main reason why anything happens in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and its sequels. The number of Contrived Coincidences and random events the protagonists go through would be absurdly improbable in Real Life, but the films' inability to take anything seriously allows the audience to accept the absurdity.
  • The Imaginary Friend version of Hitler as seen in Jojo Rabbit runs on this trope. He’s goofy, always offers Jojo cigarettes and forgets that he’s is ten and can’t smoke, helps him with girls, and runs around the woods with him like a kid. Justified in that he’s not literally Hitler, he’s what a kid who’s had his brain pumped full of Nazi propaganda thinks Hitler is. Director Taika Waititi said that with the tone of the film, a more serious Hitler would be out of place and thinks that Hitler was such an “evil fucking cunt” that he doesn’t deserve the dignity of getting a serious portrayal. That being said, he does become more menacing as the film progresses and Jojo grows more disillusioned with him. Especially after he finds out that real Hitler was a coward who killed himself rather than face trial for what he’d done.
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, it isn't likely that Loki would be on Sakaar for weeks close to The Grandmaster without having any clue as to who the famous gladiatorial champion is, especially with all of his fans and merchandise with his likeness. It also isn't likely that Thor's reaction to the champion's identity would have been nearly as humorous if he had learned it any earlier than he did.

    Game Shows 
  • This drives a lot of the "rules" of Taskmaster. The tasks are always meant to evoke the funniest performances from the contestants, and often Greg will bend or outright break his own rules for a contestant with a funny enough performance or statement during the on-stage segment. Unless it would be funnier to enforce the rules, of course. A notable example is when constestants in the Series 12 finale were tasked with making noises for two full seconds, where Greg had to guess who was who: Alan just yelling "WOW" at the absolute top of his lungs, and Guz purring in an almost sensual way, as their "monster noises" was so funny it sent Greg, Alex, the other four comedians, and the audience into absolute hysterics. It's so funny Greg and Alex either didn't notice, or deliberately let it slide, that neither of them didn't meet the "make the sound for 2 full seconds" criteria.

  • Russian Humour has a bunch of invocations of this. One of the more significant, however, is the portrayal of Josef Stalin in line with Russian (and, to be frank, pan-Soviet) stereotypes of Georgians, down to a thick Georgian accent when speaking Russian and a love of red wine and brandy in addition to vodka. It helps that Stalin really did have a noticeable Georgian accent in Russian and really did love Georgian wine and brandy (though he loved vodka more, which is probably what killed him).

  • In the Discworld universe, this is an actual rule, akin to a law of physics. Terry Pratchett, author of the series, has cited this rule in interviews. The Discworld Roleplaying Game elaborates that it is a corollary of the Theory of Narrative Causality, known as the Rule of Universal Humour. That term appears once in the novels themselves, mentioned as the reason someone still had his hat on after being turned into a pumpkin.
  • Tom Holt and Robert Rankin have based their entire careers on this. With Holt, you know the book you're reading is based on the same plot as the last five books of his you read — and you don't care; with Rankin... well... the closest description anyone's ever found to his books is The Goon Show on crack, and this is pretty much the only rule it abides by.
  • Craig Shaw Gardner's Cineverse Cycle, as a parody of B movies in general, pretty much lives and breathes this trope, whether it's the subtitles that appear underneath the inhabitants of the "foreign film" universe whenever they speak, or the mad scientist who turns into a Gargamel Expy whenever he's around this bunch of fluffy bunnies in the "cartoon" universe, or the slime monster in the "horror" universe which turns out to be the formerly-missing chimp companion of the Tarzan Expy in the "adventure" universe, clad in a monster suit.
  • The steampower on which the works of P. G. Wodehouse run. Bizarre coincidences are commonplace, the Smart Ball and the Idiot Ball get juggled around by just about everyone, and the same things happen ten million times. By general consensus, he is the funniest writer in the English language.
  • Deconstructed in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Sky Pirates, which is set in a Pocket Dimension based on jokes, but makes it clear that it's not funny if it actually happens to you.
  • Magic in the Harry Potter universe is half this, half whatever the plot needs. Also McGonagall’s name came from an infamously terrible Scottish poet William McGonagall. J. K. Rowling thought it was funny for such a talented witch to be related to such a talentless person.
  • As Beatrice from The Divine Comedy explains, there were many preachers and homilists in around the 1300's who worried more about making the laity laugh at the the expense of the truth of the scriptures. Suspending holy reality like this allows the greedy and devilish preachers of the world to gain popularity through their comedy while being as wicked without scriptural criticism.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Any "plot" elements in Mystery Science Theater 3000. See the mantra. For example, Season 7 ended with Dr. Forrester being reborn and then killed by Pearl, who then freezes herself. A later episode shows her and the cast go back to the present, so the second Dr. Forrester would still be around, if it had to make sense.
    • While Tom Servo's arms are stated in-universe to be non-functional, he will nonetheless hold on to anything he needs so long as it leads to a funny gag.
  • On the show Merlin during the episode "A Servant of Two Masters", Merlin continuously (and humorously) fails to kill Arthur by using weapons and chemicals. It is because of this trope the Merlin doesn't use magic to try and kill Arthur.
  • Penny's intelligence and Sheldon's social skills in The Big Bang Theory both tend to vary wildly based on this trope.
  • The title character of Angel could go from dead serious to goofball surprisingly fast. In fact, the entire point of "Smile Time" seems to be this trope. There is a mysterious bad guy, it could do anything. Why would it turn Angel into a puppet? Because it's hilarious, that's why.
  • Pretty much what Red Dwarf is made of. The premise, every episode, almost every scene, and a whole lot of the individual lines are all just completely ridiculous (the characters giving out one-liners that are completely inappropriate to the situation is practically a staple of the show), that it's probably used about half of the sub-pages listed above at one point or another. And needless to say, all of this is forgiven by the fans, as it's probably one of the funniest (and most underappreciated) TV shows ever made, because as long as it's funny, it works.
    • One of the show's creator's strategies apparently seems to be finding Refuge in Audacity. The sheer amount the show uses is perfectly exemplified in a condensed four minutes in the famous return of Ace Rimmer, where he escapes from ropes by dislocating both of his shoulders (yet retains full use of his arms for the remainder of the scene), shrugs off bullets with mild annoyance at his clothes being ruined, and flies a motorcycle. And then some, ending with a Variable Terminal Velocity Brick Joke. Really, it's easier if you just watch it. What a guy! (The fact that he's actually a solid hologram either explains it or makes all ten times better/worse.)
    • They briefly Flanderized Holly's senility for a joke multiple times, with the extreme being "White Hole" (in which (s)he was counting by banging her head on the screen). However, (s)he is shown to be much more lucid (if not necessarily brilliant) in other episodes, notably in "Queeg" with a well-planned hoax based on the idiot-perception and in "Back to Earth" when (s)he saves the entire crew. Also, "White Hole" itself establishes that the ship's power generation requires her input, making you wonder why something hasn't exploded yet.
    • One of the perceived flaws of the often-disliked Series VIII is that whole scenes seem to have been tacked on mainly for laughs. The most glaring are the tap dancing shuttle craft scene and the Tyrannosaurus Rex, (of course) eating a giant curry. Pretty base stuff by the series previous standards and not helped by some not-very-convincing CGI.
      • There's a glorious piece in the script book, where Naylor describes, step by painstaking step, just how complex the dancing Blue Midget scene was to do, then going on the messageboards and learning "the fans hate it, they think it's filler".
  • Many of the "challenges" in Top Gear. Why turn a truck into an amphibious vehicle? Why launch a car on a rocket only to see it hit the ground and then explode? Why make James May try to drive fast? (Or why let him get lost—actually lost—on a race track? Because it's funny, durn it!)
  • On The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, George made it clear in his occasional asides to the audience that he would go along with anything as long as it was getting laughs.
  • Pretty much one of the main reasons Adam as well as the Chuckleheads (Kari, Grant, and Tori) are around in MythBusters is because they all fulfill the Rule of Funny. Jamie and Adam admit they really aren't that fond of each other in real life - if it weren't for the Rule of Funny, you can bet your bottom it'd just be two Jamie type people.
  • The reason X-Play was very fond of finding a quote they thought was amusing, then repeating it. Again. And again. And AGAIN!
  • This is practically Hyde's excuse for his antics—"Because, it's funnier this way."
  • As an unrestrained parody of Cowboy Cops, Sledge Hammer! runs entirely on Rule of Funny.
  • Police Squad! is nothing but this trope. Not surprising, as it was developed by the folks behind Airplane!
  • Rule number one on the Colgate Comedy Hour.
  • Frasier: There is no "Daphne Lane" in Seattle where Niles could find a street sign to steal (nor Maple Street, the intersection where he tries), but obviously you'd lose this plot if it were realistic.
  • It'd be easier to list the parts of Arrested Development that didn't rely on this. Tobias's "I'm afraid I just blue myself" is a classic example; the line is arguably funnier for the fact that there's no reason whatsoever for him to not turn "blue" into a past-tense verb. Note that Lindsay and Tobias both separately Call-Back the line in Season 4, but her grammar is more correct ("Oh my God, he blued himself") while his isn't, reinforcing the idea that this is a Tobias problem.
    Michael: There's got to be a better way to say that.
  • The songs in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, with the possible exceptions of "A Diagnosis" and 25% of "Nothing is Ever Anyone's Fault", are built around this, both in the lyrics and the visuals. A great example of this is "You Go First", an 80s power ballad parody where Rebecca and Paul's hair keeps getting bigger with every shot.

  • Ghostface Killah's Fishscale album includes the skit "Heart Street Directions", where a woman asks Ghostface directions to the title street and gets a rather explicit anatomy lesson instead (e.g. "you get on Bush Highway, you go past Vagina Street, you're gonna get off at Dick..."). Logically, someone in this situation would cut him off or just turn and walk away, but she lets him go on listing clearly fake, body-part-themed street names for nearly a full minute before finally calling him a "fucking pervert!". The listener wouldn't get to hear the whole monologue otherwise, and it's arguably funnier to picture her just patiently waiting for him to finish first.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • Why does Bluebottle in The Goon Show keep getting deaded by explosions even when he's in the middle of a desert on a different continent to the pile of dynamite he's fleeing, then come Back from the Dead to complain about being killed? Because it's funny. The same applies to...well...pretty much everything else related to the Goons.
    • Bluebottle's resurrections are justified in later series by his inhabiting a separate but overlapping (and equally real) reality to the other characters, in which they are all children playing games, and his frequent and often contrived "deading" is the others not playing fair.
  • This trope was invoked behind the scenes once on The Jack Benny Program. Ronald Coleman, a dramatic actor, was a recurring guest star of Benny's, playing Jack's beleaguered next door neighbor. In one early rehearsal, Coleman, still in the mindset of an actor, asked the writer about one of his lines, wanting to know his motivation for saying the line. The writer replied "to get the biggest friggin' laugh possible". Still perplexed, he turned to his wife, Benita Hume, also guesting on the show, and asked her the same question. She replied "to get the biggest friggin' laugh possible."
    • In fact, Benny's philosophy on how the show should be written was this. He didn't care who got a laugh, so long as the line got a laugh.

  • Destroy the Godmodder runs on this. An attack almost always needs to be at least somewhat funny to have a shot at damaging the Godmodder. Even if the Godmodder isn't the target, adding humor to an attack usually boosts the damage that it deals.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pretty much everything the Orks do in Warhammer 40,000. In this grimdark universe where there's only unceasing total war between every faction in the universe (who are all based on historical Badass Armies), you're likely to die being Eaten Alive by Tyranids and the very god of hope is an utterly insane demonic entity which is empowered by your emotions, da Orks are a laughable bunch of green-skinned, hyper-deformed and barbaric Football Hooligans who roam around fighting everyone (including each other if they lack anything else) in massive migrations/crusades/pub crawls, all speak in silly accents and build ramshackle technology which runs on Insane Troll Logic because they have subtle psychic powers which make it work like that. One famous Ork story had a Boss lead his Boyz into a Warpstorm which led him back in time to before he left, where he promptly decided to kill his past self so he could have a duplicate of his favourite gun. In the ensuing confusion, his Boyz all decided to call it off and go home.
  • Explicitly made into a game mechanic in the obscure superhero parody Stuperpowers: if a player tries to do something the GM considers uproariously funny, it's an automatic critical success.

  • The election night newsreel in Of Thee I Sing relies heavily on the Rule of Funny. In particular, the actual opposition candidate is never identified, so all the election returns show Wintergreen vying with various celebrities, horses, intoxicating liquors, etc.
  • Philocomasium's Zany Scheme in Miles Gloriosus depends very heavily on this, as she's masquerading as her free twin, while the man whose concubine she is has a guard for her.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom of Loathing: A relentless Hurricane of Puns and a bizarre array of Everything Trying To Beat You Up make up only a fraction of the silliness.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day. To explain, antics such as producing toilet paper from Hammerspace when fighting a giant singing poo, and drinking from a conveniently placed keg in order to defeat fire imps with "yellow rain". Or as the game puts it, the "Context Sensitive Area".
  • Atelier Series games are lighthearted in general, but the Mana Khemia and DS games (Liese, Annie, and Lina) are practically made of this trope.
  • Mass Effect 2's infamous "probing Uranus" joke requires a deviation from format to execute. Normally, when the player deploys a probe, the ship AI will say something like "Probe away" or "Deploying Probe." It never, never says "Probing [Planet Name]"... except when you launch a probe at Uranus, at which point you hear "probing Uranus."
    • Bonus points to this one because EDI first asks: "Really, Commander?" One can practically hear the facepalm.
  • Superhero League of Hoboken pretty much runs on this trope, with enemies like giant hamburgers and chests of drawers and superpowers like "eating spicy foods without distress" or "folding roadmaps correctly".
  • The Dating Sim Always Remember Me has a few bonus silly endings where the protagonist declares her love for her high school sweetheart's father and the New Old Flame—as chibi versions of themselves.
  • Bayonetta uses this a lot. To name a few instances:
    • In one chapter, Bayonetta hijacks a motorcycle and starts it using her middle finger.
    • If Bayonetta is crushed by large, ball-shaped objects, she gets flattened like a cartoon character, which looks very out-of-place in this game. It could either be this, the fact that the Umbran Witches may have the ability to flatten themselves, or both.
    • In a scene where Luka and Cereza are making a daring escape, the camera zooms in on their faces as a sparkle comes from their eyes, accompanied by an Audible Gleam...and then Cereza's doll, Cheshire, even does it too, and meows as it does so.
  • Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist: Do NOT attempt to follow any of the medical advice listed in the pharmacist's guide/manual. It is a parody of the more primitive state of medicine in the 19th Century and is only meant to be used as a source of humor and copy protection information.
  • The entire basis for Goat Simulator, pretty much. Why are you playing a goat? Why are the in-game physics so terrible? Because it's funny.
  • 90% of everything that occurs in the Henry Stickmin Series runs on this trope. The games will merrily flip back and forth between surprisingly realistic physics and Toon Physics depending on which one would create the funniest death for Henry.
  • Satan from Puyo Puyo. He likes Hawaiian Shirts and loves his pet rabbit that shoots beams out of its forehead, Carbuncle! His sidekick is a female martial artist with a severe jealous streak and blue hair named Rulue who owns a pet minotaur and there's dancing fish and cleanliness-obsessed maids and dragon girls forming fanclubs within Satan's... house...
  • Monster Party: One of the bosses in the first level (based on a Bandai monster toy called Torigaran) is already dead when you enter the room. He apologizes for already being dead and not being able to fight you. What's the point of this and how can he apologize when he's dead? Just for the sake of comedy.
  • Trombone Champ's developers have said that their philosophy during development was "if it's funny, do it." This includes stuff like putting baboons everywhere, telling ridiculous Blatant Lies during loading screens and in trading card descriptions, or just making it hard to actually play on tune.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Destroy the Godmodder functions off of this, even as a game. It doesn't matter how good your attack is, if it isn't funny, it will almost never work. On the flip side, something that is inherently a baby of this has a far greater chance to succeed. One of the earliest examples was the summoning of Magikarp, who proceeds (through screwy mechanics) to flail at the godmodder, and then summon a tsunami. Guess which one connects.
  • The "Just for Fun" tropes on this site. Now, if only some people would realize that and stop putting them on the Cut List...
  • Obleeq from NatOne Productions runs almost exclusively on this.
  • L-Block wins GameFAQs Character Battle VI.
  • Burnie Burns, writer of Red vs. Blue, explicitly stated in an interview that he would sacrifice continuity for the sake of a good joke even in the post-Cerebus Syndrome episodes of the series.
  • Skippy's List has the line "I’m funny, so they let me live" to explain why he got away with being a goofball in the US Army.
  • YouTube Poop takes this Serial Escalation with every second making absolutely no sense in the least, but still being extremely popular with a massive fanbase.
  • In Midnight Screenings, Brad tends to chew out the Fridge Logic of bad comedies, but says he would have excused them if the films were actually funny.
  • In Brad Jones' Demo Reel, it turns out a VHS copy of Dawn Of The Dead can operate a camcorder.
  • Happy Tree Friends pretty much runs on this trope. It's the reason why the characters are killed or injured so absurdly easily, how they keep coming back from the dead, how Cro-Marmot moves, how Handy does things that require hands offscreen, and how Lumpy and the Mole keep getting put into positions of responsibility despite their obvious incompetence, among other things.
  • The nature of the main characters in Mr. Deity makes no sense unless you assume that they just run on this trope.
  • The whole premise of Epic Rap Battles of History is based on this trope. Don't try and figure out how dead people and fictional characters can randomly come to life for a rap battle, how they all became so skilled at rapping, or how they know all about things that didn't exist in their lifetime.
  • TFS at the Table: Grammy the sea hag is a strange, unnatural creature, which basically means she can do whatever is funny for her to be doing at any time. Her biology is such that she can have part of her spine pulled out and fix it by applying metal shavings to the wound, and she freely utilises Offscreen Teleportation so that she can appear to be leering out of a window anywhere. In Chapter 3, Episode 7, she ends the Lockwood Talent Show with a stunning rendition of Free Bird, despite living in a universe where neither Lynyrd Skynyrd or electric guitars even exist.
  • Kitboga is a scambaiter popular on Twitch and YouTube. A common practice in scamming is for the scammer to pretend to have transferred money to the intended victim and then ask them to go buy gift cards to replace the "excess money" that was transferred. To this end, Kit has set up a fake Google Play store on his virtual machine, which he then uses to pretend to redeem the gift cards, having his characters claim to believe that by doing this they are giving the scammer the money. Kit has admitted that especially when it comes to some of his characters who surely aren't as feeble-minded as Granny Edna, the fake gift card redeem becomes less believable because there's no clear reason why his character shoud reasonably think that redeeming the gift cards on their own account is how the scammer could possibly get money. He still does it anyway because, of course, it's hilarious and it also infuriates the scammers in a way nothing else quite can.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park is probably the ultimate litmus test for it. If they can't make it funny, no one can.
    "You know what this means? AIDS is finally funny!"
  • The Afterlife was never discussed in Season 1 of The Boondocks. However, in Episode 201, Stinkmeaner comes Back from the Dead. This is officially the funniest episode.
  • The Cutaway Gag moments in Family Guy often show bizarre things. Their prevalence amped greatly following the series' return, which attracted criticism from various other cartoonists and comedians and was parodied in the "Cartoon Wars" episodes of South Park. MacFarlane's response was:
    What should I know about the vast territory that lies beyond the confines of my little subculture of textbooks, Ramen noodles, coin-operated laundry and TV shows that seem to think they can skate by with random jokes about giant chickens that have absolutely nothing to do with the overall narrative? The boys at South Park are absolutely correct: Those cutaways and flashbacks have nothing to do with the story! They're just there to be... funny. And that is a shallow indulgence that South Park is quite above, and for that I salute them.
    Seth MacFarlane, in character as Stewie Griffin, Harvard Class Day 2006
  • SpongeBob SquarePants takes this trope to physics. For some reason, the characters can light fire, have snow, and running water, while the series takes place underwater. Naturally, this leads to Lampshade Hanging:
    Patrick: Hey, if we're underwater, how can there be a fi—(fire goes out)
    • Another one is when a building is on fire. Disregarding the fact that they're underwater, the audience can accept this one. But then SpongeBob grabs a bucket, sweeps it through the "air" and collects a bucket of water to put out the fire. Hmmm...
    • In "Doing Time", SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff drive over an unfinished bridge with the Mayor at the opening cutting the ribbon, because apparently in Bikini Bottom, it's acceptable to open something that's half-built.
    • In "Snowball Effect", Patrick attempts to make a simple snowball. Instead, he manages to make a snow cube, a snow pyramid, and a snow double-helix.
    • In "Patty Hype", the people who ate SpongeBob's Pretty Patties come to Mr. Krabs, now the owner of the stand selling them, demanding refunds after the patties change their colors. One guy got a glow in the dark tongue, and despite being outside he pulls a lamp chain hanging next to him, turning everything dark as if he turned off the light on a ceiling fan indoors.
    • In "Boat Smarts", when SpongeBob crashes into Squidward's boat, he sends Squidward's seat flying out. For no reason other than to screw him over, Squidward then gets launched toward a vehicle with some kind of rock grinder affixed to the front.
    • The two times Squidward gets sent flying off his bike and off a cliff in "Jellyfishing" and "My Pretty Seahorse", he suddenly explodes for no reason other than this trope.
    • In "SpongeGuard on Duty", SpongeBob attempts to save Patrick from drowning by drinking all of the water in Goo Lagoon. Despite SpongeBob using a straw, he somehow sucks Patrick up as well.
    • In "Frankendoodle", the plot is caused by an artist losing his pencil while he was drawing on a boat in the middle of the sea, in a place where there's not much to inspire you to draw.
    • "Pickles" has Squidward taking over as fry cook at the Krusty Krab when SpongeBob is unable to work, and being very bad at it; somehow, he burns a customer's milkshake.
    • In "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", when the Strangler is being arrested, the police not only cuff his hands but also his legs, thumbs, eyes, and hair.
    • In "Tutor Sauce", Mr. Krabs tries to teach SpongeBob how to drive using a video game simulator. Like with SpongeBob's other boats, the simulator ends up crashing into the Krusty Krab.
  • In the Geronimo Stilton cartoon, Geronimo's cousin Trap is asked to provide a diversion, while the rest of the mains sneak somewhere undetected by pe... other mice. What does Trap do? Pretend on being a space alien (complete with a toy helmet with antennas). Geronimo thinks this is stupid. However, the whole city, even the mayor, fall for it!
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Serpent's Pass" Toph is rescued from drowning by Suki and (thinking she is Sokka) gives her a big kiss. Even though Toph is blind, there was nothing to stop her from noticing the makeup during the kiss, but the resulting scene is funny because of Toph's deadpan delivery after she figures out it's Suki, not Sokka.
    Toph: Oh...well... [Chuckles. Embarrassed.] you can go ahead and let me drown now.
  • An instance similar to the SpongeBob example occurs in the Futurama episode "The Deep South", when Zoidberg's house burns to the ground... underwater. Zoidberg wails "How could this have happened?" and Hermes notes, "That's a very good question." Implicitly claiming responsibility, Bender picks his still-lit cigar out of the ruins and puffs on it — eliciting a cry of, "That just raises further questions!"
    • What makes that really funny is that they explain everything that happens in that episode with pseudo-science (in fact, most of the episode is things being explained away.) But for that one last thing, there's absolutely no scientific reasoning.
    • Futurama is fond of both this rule and lampshading it. In "When Aliens Attack", aliens are threatening to invade Earth and the planet sends Zapp Branigan to destroy the mothership. After an epic battle with a massive, well-guarded space installation, Earth succeeds in destroying the thing. Zapp celebrates the victory, before a substantially larger ship pops into view. This, it turns out, is the mothership. When Zapp asks what they just destroyed, Kiff looks at a computer screen, groans and says, "The Hubble telescope." Series producer David X. Cohen said in the episode's commentary track that he knew the joke made absolutely no sense, but loved it so much he had to keep it in.
    • Lampshaded again by Amy in "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?", where the plot gets kicked off by the crew deciding to sign up for the gym. Leela and Amy walk into the Planet Express lounge, where a noticeably-chubby Fry and Bender are watching TV.
      Leela: Look at you guys. No offense, Fry, but you've become a fat sack of crap.
      Fry: Sack?
      Amy: And Bender; your beer belly's so big your door won't even close. And that doesn't even make sense.
  • Most classic theatrical cartoons, particularly Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes and much of the oeuvre of Tex Avery. Don't question where the anvils are coming from, just laugh at it because it's silly.
    • Why, they come from ACME, Inc. of course.
    • Looney Tunes is one of the kings of this trope. There is very rarely anything close to continuity and most stories are simply sketches where characters can be almost impossibly stupid just to be tricked in funny ways and both their lines and the gags depend on puns.
  • In perhaps one of the most bizarre applications of the rule ever, the size of the character Endive in Chowder is governed by Rule of Funny. She can vary from about the same size as everyone else, if rather... large, to a towering giant, depending on what's needed for the joke at hand.
  • Transformers: Animated has a scene where Starscream, revived and granted immortality by a fragment of the Allspark, repeatedly tries, and fails, to kill Megatron. You'd probably spend the whole time wondering why the other Decepticons didn't try to get rid of him in any other way, were it not so amusing to see him getting blasted to crap and tossed into a river repeatedly.
    • The Starscream death montage has been called one of the greatest moments in all of Transformers.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • In the episode "Kid Stuff" the kidified Justice Leaguers face off against a baby version of the demon Etrigan. There is absolutely no reason at all for why Etrigan should be a baby or why Etrigan should be in this episode at all. One would think that Mordred would have banished Etrigan along with all the other adults, seeing as they've been mortal enemies literally for centuries. But damn if Baby Etrigan isn't the funniest thing you ever did see.
    • The writers have also admitted that this is why "The Great Brain Robbery" wasn't scrapped.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has a case of Rule of Funny backfiring: Father eating ice cream in Operation: Z.E.R.O.... instead of having an epic battle with Grandfather.
  • Winx Club: This is probably the reason why Stella makes Kiko impersonate Flora in season 3 episodes 5 and 6 when there were enough pixies present to impersonate the other girls.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • Normal girls defeating Mojo Jojo with pillows at a slumber party.
    • In a late-series episode, the Amoeba Boys discover that they can multiply and use this ability to steal all the oranges in Townsville. Everyone gets scurvy as a result.
  • Any Robot Chicken sketch. One that immediately comes to mind is Robin adding Beavis and Butt-Head to his team.
    • This was discussed by the writers during the commentary for their Star Wars miniseries. During the concept phase they were torn over the voice of Boba Fett, whether they should impersonate Jason Wingreen (the original) or Temuera Morrison (from the prequel trilogy), and they ultimately decided that it would be funniest to just make him "sound as sexy as possible".
  • The Simpsons has a few examples. After the first few seasons, the premise that it was simply an "animated sitcom" began to be interpreted a lot more loosely, with much more stereotypically "cartoon logic."
    • "Cape Feare" invokes this trope to a significant extent. It was the last hurrah for a number of the show's original writers who were leaving. They threw every wacky or random gag into the episode with the mentality of "What are they going to do? Fire us?" This resulted in one of the most highly regarded episodes of the show ever. Among other things, the episode features an elephant stepping on Bob's face and Bob putting on a full Gilbert and Sullivan opera (complete with costumes and a playbill) after being asked to do so on the spot.
    • The Simpsons is a Long Runner which slips a running gag past the Moral Guardians. Bumbling Dad and Jerkass Homer repeatedly strangles his son, Bart. This is always Played for Laughs and excused on the Rule of Funny.
      • Which makes it even funnier when they do treat it as child abuse. One episode had Homer take fathering lessons. He tells the class a story where Bart, the little dickens, calls him fat. He then casually say 'so then I was strangling him when...' causing the whole group to drop their jaws and question what kind of man he is. Completely played for laughs how they react, and even has Homer reveal that's how he was raised, not that Abe strangled him when he did bad, but that Homer strangled his father every time he tried to punish him. One of the funniest scenes ever.
    • In several episodes, Ned's biblical references are complete nonsense, and simply sound like weird things from the Old Testament. In the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily", for instance, he expresses shock that Bart and Lisa are unfamiliar with the story of the "the Bridal Feast of Beth Chedruharazzeb."
    • Every other episode has Magic Realism in some way, with supernatural beings appearing for no reason other than this. Lampshaded in one episode where Lisa says that cartoons don't have to be 100% realistic, to which Homer appears in two places at once.
  • On the 80's G.I. Joe, Barbecue receives several cryptic phone calls from someone calling himself 'The Viper'. Each call gives information that ends up leading to victories over Cobra, and both sides desperately want to know who he is; Cobra to stop the leak, the Joes who fear an eventual set-up. Finally, the Viper reveals himself: he is an older Eastern European man with a thick accent, 'The Wiper' there to 'Vipe Your Vindows'. Now, there are any number of ways both Joe and Cobra could have found this out long before the ba-rump-bump ending, such as hearing the joke before. None of them would have been as funny.
  • Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic regularly pulls off hilariously impossible feats like being in multiple places at the same time, outrunning the faster flier in Equestria while only moving at a casual skipping pace, or suddenly appearing in places she couldn't possibly fit into. By 'couldn't possibly fit into' we mean Pinkie at one point simply manifests in a mirror. This may or may not have something to do with her connection to the Element of Laughter. She is practically this trope personified (or ponified, in her case).
    • One common mistake in fanfics is to have her doing unusual things because the author thinks they're inherently funny, when within the show her powers only manifest if they can deliver a comic payoff to an established setup. Think more Looney Tunes less Family Guy.
    • It’s implied Scootaloo’s inability to fly is because her wings are too small...however, the wings of Bulk Biceps are the same size, and he can fly. If wings that size can get a body made of pure muscle off the ground, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t work on a filly.
    • The episode "Sleepless in Ponyville" has Sweetie Belle obnoxiously singing "99 Buckets of Oats on the Wall," even though an earlier episode established that she's actually a good singer. Of course, no one really cares that this is Out of Character of her, since it's funny.
    • "The Crystalling: Part 1" has Starlight Glimmer accidentally walking in on a towel-clad Spike in the bathroom. She looks away embarrassed, despite the fact that she lives in a world of talking Funny Animals who are naked all the time anyway and they have no features to cover, but its forgotten in this instance because its funny.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Prankless", when East Pines Park is at a deadly prank war with the main characters' park, Muscle Man defeats the East Pines manager Gene by scaring him with the illusion of him headed toward the sun. After Gene submits, Muscle Man explains that he created the illusion with giant mirrors around the East Pines watchtower.
  • There was an episode of the Disney show The Buzz on Maggie in which Maggie got electrocuted by her older brother's hand buzzer, resulting in X-Ray Sparks. It should be noted that this show is a high school comedy involving insects, and insects do not have inner skeletons.
    • Considering that's a slice of life cartoon in which most characters are played by insects, it makes sense for cartoonists to make them appear humanoid whenever and however they can. Part of us viewers are entomophobic to some level, after all.
  • In the early Johnny Bravo episode "The Perfect Gift", Johnny is looking for a job and one of his choices is working at a battery factory where his job is to electrocute himself with the batteries to see which ones work and which ones don't. He accidentally puts a dud in the accepted pile and one of the workers uses it to replace the battery in one of the smoke detectors, but for no particular reason the factory has a cow next to an oil lamp who kicks it over and causes a fire note , and thanks to the smoke detector not working the sprinklers don't go off.
  • American Dad!:
    • When Stan asks why Jeff can't live with his own family in the episode "Joint Custody", Hayley tells him that Jeff hasn't spoken to his father in years and his mother ran away before he was born. Stan is understandably confused, since that would only make sense if it was the other way around.
    • In "A Ward Show", when Steve no longer has Principal Lewis' protection he gets beat up by three teachers whom he antagonized earlier because Lewis let him do what he wanted in the teachers' lounge. In response Roger plants bombs in their cars, but after the first two cars explode and the last teacher tries to make a break for it he explodes instead, leaving only his legs.
    • In "Blagsnarst, A Love Story", Roger tries to make a weapon by combining some sticks, a rock and some gum. When the camera zooms out, he now has a functioning assault rifle.
    • In "Permanent Record Wrecker", when a boy in a child cart gets sent flying over a produce bin and crashes into several jars of Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce, the sauce suddenly lights on fire, and when it reaches the overturned cart it explodes.
  • In the Archer episode "Skytanic", Archer and Lana are on a blimp and discover a bomb. They put Ray, the (then) bomb expert, on video call as they try to read the bomb's serial code under interference. There's no explanation for why they can't just point the camera at the serial code, but the result is one of the funniest scenes on the show.
  • Phineas and Ferb practically ran on this:
    • In "It's About Time!", when Phineas, Ferb, and Candace are lost in prehistoric times, they recreate their time machine's blueprint on a slab in the museum so the Fireside Girls can recreate it in the present. Phineas leaves off the "m" in "time", so the girls end up building a tie machine instead.
    • "Raging Bully" reveals that Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Hilariously Abusive Childhood began with neither of his parents showing up on the day he was born.
    • In "Unfair Science Fair", another flashback shows that Doofenshmirtz lost two consecutive science fairs to a baking soda volcano. The same happens when he competes against another baking soda volcano in a poetry competition.
    • In "Out to Launch", all of Phineas and Ferb's attempts at simulating a rocket launch end in catastrophic failure until Ferb points out that their equation includes them dividing by the square root of a Cartoon Bomb. They're successful when Phineas replaces the bomb with a smiley face.
    • In "Ain't No Kiddie Ride", the boys modify a set of kiddie rides to turn them into rocket-propelled vehicles. When Baljeet's machine powers down and he has no quarter to restart it, he tries to put a dollar in and the machine won't accept it. At the end of the episode, Baljeet irons the dollar and the machine accepts it, but the ironing board takes off instead, and when he kicks the machine, it takes off as well.
    • In "The Lemonade Stand", Doofenshmirtz's latest get rich quick scheme is to use paper airplanes to give people paper cuts so he can sell them bandages. The paper is somehow strong enough to cut the thumb on Phineas and Ferb's lemonade-making robot, which shuts down when it gets lemon juice in the wound.
    • During the "Way of the Platypus" musical montage in "Doof Dynasty", Baljeet tries to karate chop a board in half. Instead, the cinder blocks the board is on disintegrate and the board itself remains in mid-air.
    • In "Skiddley Whiffers", when Doofenshmirtz explains to Perry why he's trying to protect Vanessa on her camping trip, we're treated to another flashback from his Hilariously Abusive Childhood where he gets attacked by bees, which leads to him falling off a cliff, through a patch of thorn bushes, and through a field of fire hydrants. He then shows Perry that he has a hydrant stuck inside his leg (he can't have it removed because it's too close to an artery), which appears out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly.
  • A grim example (shared by Comic Books above) comes from Batman: The Animated Series in the form of the Joker. He only commits crimes if they're funny—unfortunately for everyone in Gotham, he has a really sick sense of humor.
    • This is lampshaded in "The Laughing Fish," when the Joker uses an altered version of his Joker venom to mutate every fish in Gotham to resemble him; he then attempts to copyright the fish so he can fund his criminal empire. When Mr. Francis, the bureaucrat who runs the Gotham Patent Office explains that natural resources like fish can't be copyrighted, the Joker threatens him. Later that evening, Francis wonders aloud why on earth the Clown Prince of Crime is interested in a meager civil servant like him; Batman responds that "in [the Joker's] sick mind, that's the joke."
    • In "Mad Love," Harley Quinn devises a plan to kidnap and kill Batman based on one of the Joker's old schemes—put the Caped Crusader in a straitjacket and throw him in a tank full of piranhas. The Joker discarded this plan because piranhas can't smile; Harley finds a way around this by hanging Batman upside-down, which will make the fishes' frowns turn to grins from his perspective. When Joker discovers what Harley is up to, he flies into an absolutely terrifying rage and starts beating her. She protests, explaining how she altered the plan, which prompts the following response as he throws her out a three-story window to the streets below:
      The Joker: Except you had to EXPLAIN IT TO ME! If you have to explain a joke, THERE IS NO JOKE!
    • In "Joker's Favor," everyman Charlie Collins has a terrible day and cusses out a motorist who cuts him off in traffic; the motorist turns out to be the Joker. Charlie begs for his life, and the Joker agrees to spare him if he promises to do "a little favor" someday. He then holds this over Charlie's head for two years, eventually calls him up to play an extremely inconsequential role in a scheme (Charlie has to hold a door open for Harley), and tries to kill him anyway. The audience is left to assume that the Caliph of Clowns did this because he thought it'd be funny.
  • Overlaps with Rule of Three in The Fairly OddParents! episode "The Grass is Greener": the things that randomly explode in Timmy's Dad's face include his lawnmower, his barbecue grill, and a completely normal-looking burger.
  • On Wallykazam, even though Norville talks more in later installments, he mostly just uses short declaratives or repeats what Wally says. Nevertheless, in the teaser segment of "The Bathmobile," he and Wally chat on telephones Wally created with his magic stick like a couple of school-pals, apparently simply because of Rule of Funny.
  • Word of God said nothing in Drawn Together is ever meant to make any sense other than that it's funny. You'll go nuts trying to comprehend it. Specifically, characters die and come back in the same episode with no explanation even though there are cameras watching what they do.
    Real Life 
  • This was successfully used as a legal argument to get an Australian man his job back in May 2020. About a year and a half earlier, he made a Hitler Rants video while his union was going through contract negotiations where the company was Hitler. He posted it to a closed Facebook group but his manager saw it and fired him. The judge in the case ruled that since he was clearly joking and not literally calling them Nazis, the video was protected speech and therefore his termination was unlawful. He was also awarded a cash settlement for damages.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Rule Of Comedy


"Only When It Was Funny"

While trying to cut him and Roger out of a pair of handcuffs, Eddie discovers that the Toon was perfectly capable of slipping it off...but only in the moment of a gag.

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / FirstStepFixation

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