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Running Gag
aka: Running Gags

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"That's not a running gag! That's a pun!" "It's a running gag now."

Kermit the Frog: No, Fozzie! Do not answer that telephone!
Fozzie Bear: But, Kermit, all these terrific, funny things happen when I do answer it!
Kermit: I'm aware of that! I'm aware of that, Fozzie! Is there no end to this running gag?!
[Animal runs in and rips the phone off the wall before carrying it away]
Fozzie: Well, I guess that puts an end to this running gag.
Kermit: Yeah, and also to all the incoming calls.

A joke whose humor derives from repetition, ideally becoming funnier each time it is repeated. Must be repeated at least three times, otherwise it's a Brick Joke or Chekhov's Gag. Common variants are a joke that occurs Once an Episode and a joke that goes on for long enough that it becomes an Overly-Long Gag (but not so long that it loses its humor).

The ultimate fear for the use of any running gag is that doing it too often threatens to turn it into an Overused Running Gag, or worse, it was never funny in the first place and didn't improve through repetition. Nothing is worse than starting a one hour show with a joke that bombs the first time and reappears twenty more times over the next hour.

A Running Gag can be limited to a particular episode or recur throughout an entire series. If it recurs throughout an entire series, then it will often develop variations and/or be accompanied by Lampshade Hanging. If a character breaks the fourth wall to mention it, it's Didn't We Use This Joke Already?. When the story goes on to kill off the gag for good (either with a final payoff or just by referencing that it's become too overused and it's ending right then), that is Running Gagged.

A comedy Catchphrase is a type of Running Gag. Can become potential for Memetic Mutation if the gag itself is widely applicable. Compare Arc Words, which are a recurring phrase that isn't a gag. See subtropes Once per Episode and Every Episode Ending.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Alternate Reality Games 

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: Adu Du often throws a mug at Probe (and sometimes other subordinates, but usually Probe), when he says or does something that angers him.
  • Happy Heroes has a few.
    • Often, people will throw up at the sight of Big M.'s ugly face.
    • Whenever Professor Limen gets angry or pumped up, he spontaneously grows more muscular, causing his shirt to rip off.
    • In episode 48, Big M. keeps finding Careless S.'s microbombs, when then proceed to explode on him. When the heroes fight the communication machine monster, Big M. gives Careless S. one of the microbombs to use on it.

    Eastern European Animation 
  • Mézga család:
    • First series:
      • Every time MZ/X sends something from the future, it breaks the window of Aladár's room.
      • Paula lamenting that she married Géza instead of Pisti Huffnágel.
    • Second series:
      • Paula and Géza wondering what is wrong with Aladár, then deciding there can be no reason as he is in his room like a grounded kid is supposed to be. But Aladár is actually going out to outer space with his inflatable spaceship.

  • Gloryhammer: Every time the Hootsman is first introduced in a new album,note  the lyrics make sure to mention that his armor is made from wolf (whatever that means).

  • Farndale Avenue series:
    • In many of the shows, the ladies have added or changed details to make them more domestic or familiar, resulting in characters swapping recipes or makeup advice in completely inappropriate circumstances. In The Haunted Through-Lounge and Recessed Dining Nook at Farndale Castle, the title of which is itself an example, there's a dramatic scene in which a lawyer tells the heroine about her family's dark past alternating with a series of tips about effective moisturising.
    • The Haunted Through-Lounge and Recessed Dining Nook at Farndale Castle also has a running gag in which the line "I am June and this is my fiancée Marty", which comes up every time June and Marty meet a new character, is always spoken by the actor playing Marty.
    • The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery has a series of characters arriving at the manor house for a family reunion, each carrying what is clearly the same pair of prop suitcases.
    • In The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of Macbeth, the Third Witch keeps coming on stage at the beginning of scenes and proclaiming, "Thrice the brindled cat hath mewed", before being rushed off because it's not time for that scene yet. When the play does get to the right scene, she misses her cue, leaving the other two witches stranded on stage waiting for her to arrive and start the scene.
  • The Minutes, which is set during a small town council meeting:
    • The pronunciation of council member Mr. Assalone's name as "ASS-alone" by clerk Ms. Johnson every time she reads roll-call and records council votes, and his increasingly frustrated attempts to correct her:
      Mr. Assalone: It's asa-LONE-ay!
    • Ms. Johnson accidentally reading the missing Mr. Carp's name aloud during roll-call and council votes, followed by a very awkward silence while her fellow council members glare at her or look away.
    • Mr. Blake's repeated insistence that the town fair should offer an attraction where visitors can pay to participate in a cage match with a wrestler dressed like Abraham Lincoln. He interrupts other proposals to plug the Lincoln Smackdown and offers to vote with councilors on outside issues if they support his proposal.
  • Oslo is a rather serious drama about the 1993 peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, but it's also brimming with repeated comedic beats:
    • The jokes about everyone in Norway's Diplomatic Service and Foreign Ministry knowing/ working for/ having dated/ being married to everyone else in their field. "It's a small country."
      Mona: To clarify: Johan Jørgen is married to Marianne, who works for Terje, who is married to me, who, as of tomorrow, works for Johan Jørgen.
    • The repeated misuse of common English phrases (by Norwegian, Palestinian, and Israeli characters who all speak English as a second language), followed by a deadpan "I don't think that's how you use that."
    • American diplomats mispronouncing Terje's name as tur-JEY.
  • Some Like It Hot:
    • People keep saying "Josephine" looks like an older woman, to Joe's offense.
    • Minnie repeatedly tells Sue about something in the latter's apartment, only for Sue to tell her that she doesn't have that thing, and Minnie to realize that she had broken into Sue's neighbors' apartments.

    Multiple Media 

Waldorf: Why do you suppose they call it a "running gag", anyhow?
Statler: Because it either makes me start running or gag!
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!

Alternative Title(s): Running Joke, Running Gags, Recurring Joke Joke


"Nooo Dogs Allowed!"

Snoopy is constantly tormented by "No Dogs Allowed" signs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / NoAnimalsAllowed

Media sources: