Follow TV Tropes



Go To
Satire is a form of humor, and is considered the cruelest form of comedy. Satire points out the folly of people, organizations, institutions, and ideas.

Often, satire will use fictional counterparts of real people as characters, as a parody of Real Life. However, a satirical work can also use original characters to explore the foibles or ramifications of an organization or course of action.

Satire often relies on current events, which raises a danger that it won't be appreciated in another era. The poetry of Pope and Dryden satirized English politics of the 18th century, but few would appreciate the humor now. The best satire can still be appreciated on its own merits even after the thing it's criticizing fades from consciousness. Occasionally, a piece of satire regains relevance in similar circumstances; for example, satire aimed at George Bush I (or, perhaps more justifiably, Richard Nixon) can often be easily applied to Bill Clinton; 1990s "look at the old guy!" barbs at Bob Dole were recycled in 2008 to target John McCain.


The Roman poets Ennius and Lucilius are considered the progenitors of the genre, though almost all of their work has been lost. Latin satire was generally delivered in verse, like most literature of the time. It was considered the sole branch of literature native to Rome and there was no Greek equivalent, though some Greek comedy, such as Aristophanes, had elements that we would consider satiric. Horace, Persius, and Juvenal are perhaps the three most famous Roman satirists, ranging from good-natured (Horace disposing of a dreadful bore) to savage (Juvenal's condemnation of sodomites pretending to be philosophers). They are for the most part preoccupied with urban life, morality, and how other people suck.

Literary convention divides satire into the Horatian (good-natured, almost affectionate, light-hearted, and more likely to view the target as foolish rather than evil) and the Juvenalian (contemptuous, abrasive, scornful, and outraged, relentlessly mocking a target often regarded as outright evil).


See also Parody, Pastiche, Farce, Meta Trope Intro. Compare Deconstruction, as a lot of satire incorporates elements of it, as well as Black Comedy and Take That!. See also The Comically Serious, which is often a key component of satire.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei makes dark commentary on general shallowness, escapism, otaku and society in general.
  • Kino's Journey basically does this Once an Episode as Kino travels from one city to another. Notably one episode has a democracy where only a single citizen is still alive, all the others having died because of their absolute belief in majority rules.
  • Oh! Edo Rocket is a farcical meta-satire of its own genre, managing to (hilariously) savage just about every cliche and character type in the world of anime and manga.
  • Depending on if you consider it a parody or not Black Lagoon is this towards the over-the-top violence that was '90s anime.

  • Superflat is a Post-Modern art movement that was started by Takashi Murakami who was inspired by Hideaki Anno. It sometimes satirizes many aspects of Japan (particularly things sparked by Anime) such as consumerism, the prevalence of Kawaisa, Lolicon, and Fanservice along with the Otaku subculture that is the driving force behind all of them. However, since certain artists associated with Superflat are lolicon otaku themselves, it could also be seen as a form of Self-Parody. Furthermore, it should be noted that not all Superflat works are satirical in nature — Superflat Monogram, by Murakami and Mamoru Hosoda, for instance, is merely a Louis Vuitton commercial.
  • Dada was a Post-Modern movement that was a satire of modern art and post-WWI malaise.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Lily And The Art Of Being Sisyphus is a hilarious and exceptionally well-made satirical mockery of popular conventions in Harry Potter Fan Fiction, the Harry Potter fandom, and the universe of Harry Potter in general. Of special note is the relationship between the Mundane and Wizarding worlds — which is sharply delineated in the source material and most fanfiction. In the protagonist's eyes there is no divide, and a significant element of the humor stems from everyone around her being unable to parse this.

    Films — Animation 
  • Several of Ralph Bakshi's animated feature films are heavy on satire, particularly Coonskin.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a satire of censorship.
  • Sausage Party is a satire of religion.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, the direct-to-video animated film of the series, jabs its toes further into Summertime Activities, such as water fights, boating, including a car trip to a satirical Disneyland Park, Johnny Depp in the form of a skunk cartoon, and even the late 1980s horror films Friday the 13th and The Hitcher.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head Do America mockingly puts it feet down further at The U.S. Federal Governments incompetence, inadequacy and inefficiency, especially when dealing with dangerous criminals and terrorists, predating the 9/11 tragedy of 2001. It also shows us about life on the lam, through the eyes of two idiotic teenage boys.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live-Action TV 
  • The Daily Show satirizes modern US and global news events, as does the Spin-Off, The Colbert Report. Whether their satire is Juvenalian or Horatian depends on the subject: Fox News Channel? Juvenalian (particularly when it comes to Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity). Barack Obama? Horatian. George W. Bush? Are we talking 2001-2006 or 2006-2009?note  The rest of the media? What are they saying now? Etc., etc., etc.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Hosted by Daily Show graduate John Oliver, it can do the Horatian, but is usually fiercely, fiercely Juvenalian. Oliver has a habit of selecting a single target and pointing out how unbelievably horrible it is for 20 minutes at a time and unabashedly insulting people and institutions he regards as idiots or evil.
  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Hosted by another Daily Show graduate, Samantha Bee. Furiously Juvenalian, freely mocking everyone Bee regards as awful (and Bee regards a lot of people as awful). Carries on the Daily Show tradition of sending "correspondents" to conduct man-on-the-street interviews in which interviewees' responses to questions are made the subject of ridicule.
  • When Stephen Colbert took over The Late Show in 2015, he took with him his satiric roots. He did change his approach, becoming rather more Horatian, as he shed his "Stephen Colbert-the-right-wing-pundit" character and simply appears as someone more or like his actual self (a rather mild-mannered liberal and suburban dad of deep but unostentatious Catholic faith).
  • Yes, Minister satirized 1980s UK Governmental policy and decision-making. Generally Horatian with occasional dips into Juvenalian territory.
  • ...and its Spiritual Successor The Thick of It now satirises UK politics in the 21st century. Purely Juvenalian.
  • Veep, Transatlantic Equivalent of The Thick of It, is, despite coming from the same crew, surprisingly far less Juvenalian and even moves into Horatian territory, with the politicians and staffers mostly being overworked or likeably incompetent rather than scheming sons-of-bitches. It helps that there is no clear equivalent to Malcolm; the Invisible President's messenger to the VP's office is possibly the saddest schmuck in the District (and the District is full of schmucks). This is partly because Armando Iannucci was struck (while researching for In the Loop) about how young everyone in the American government seemed to be. (Today, "the Veep explanation" (or similar) of a political phenomenon is a common Beltway shorthand descriptor for "the explanation that assumes that the phenomenon is the result of overworked and/or incompetent staffers trying to make sense of their equally-overworked and/or incompetent bosses' pronouncements without any of it being part of a plot for anything more nefarious than temporary political advantage this news cycle.")
  • Brass Eye satirized the reporting methods of 90s UK news media as well as wider social and political issues. Out-Juvenals Juvenal himself.
  • Frontline satirized Australian current affairs programmes in the 1990s.
  • Have I Got News for You. Fittingly for the editor of Juvenalian satirical magazine Private Eye, Ian Hislop's contributions are toward the Juvenalian end of the scale, while Paul Merton tends more toward the Horatian end when he isn't making plays on words or indulging in surrealism and flights of fancy.
  • MADtv: This took Mad Magazine, and put it on our television screens in the form of a sketch comedy show.
  • Mock the Week
  • Ugly Betty satirizes the fashion industry. Horatian.
  • Bewitched continually satirizes American conformity, consumerism, and racism. More or less Horatian, per the standards of the day.
  • Royal Canadian Air Farce satirized Canadian politics and current events and just about every other aspect of of Canadian life in its long run. It was something of a forerunner for Canadian television and influenced the CBC in particular for a number of years.
  • Another Canadian series, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, was a satirical presentation of current events and was shown in a news format. It was known for having strictly Newfoundland performers and a particularly eastern perspective on things.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • Spitting Image: satirizing politicians and other celebrities of the day. Its more enduring portrayals are typically more Juvenalian (e.g. "I've Never Met a Nice South African", which calls all Afrikaners racist, ignorant, talentless, humourless, murderous, smelly loudmouths who exiled their one and only decent countryman).
  • That Was the Week That Was kickstarted the British television satire boom of the 1960s. Juvenalian.
  • The "Really!?! with Seth (and Amy)" skit on Saturday Night Live. Constantly points out the absurdity of celebrities or politicians by comparing their actions with how the same actions would affect ordinary people. Typically Juvenalian, although Tina Fey's "Really!?!" to Greece on her first guest appearance in 2008 was more disappointed than nasty.
  • Van Kooten En De Bie: Dutch comedic duo satirizing Dutch society from 1964 until 1998.
  • Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs is entirely a satire of society that condemns environmental pollution, political correctness, corporate greed, government controlling citizens' private lives, propaganda on television and religion.
  • Black Mirror takes a dark commentary on how people and society abuse technology, showing the negative aspects that it will bring about.
  • Corporate is an extremely Juvenalian satire on the modern corporate workplace and its denizens.


    Print Media 
  • MAD
  • Punch, a British magazine launched in 1841, was a groundbreaking satirical periodical, including satire of then contemporary society and politics. (It closed, a shadow of its former self, in 2002, having been fighting a losing battle against Private Eye — for which see below — for at least 30 years).
  • Punch was an express attempt at replicating a French satirical magazine of the day, Le Charivari, a Paris magazine that lampooned July Monarchy-era French politics and mores — as evidenced by the British publication's full title, Punch, or the London Charivari. The actual Charivari of Paris stopped doing satire shortly after Punch started, turning into a lifestyle magazine, after falling afoul of Louis-Philippe's censors.
  • Punch also inspired an American publication named Puck (which ran 1871-1903).
  • The pornographic magazine Hustler uses satire to express Larry Flynt's beliefs and opinions. Almost always Juvenalian.
  • The articles in Private Eye are mostly Juvenalian satire... when they aren't hard-hitting straight-up exposés of real wrongdoing. Sometimes articles do dip into the Horatian (particularly the Prime Minister parodies, which are usually too ridiculous to be truly stinging). Incidentally, the founders of Private Eye in The '60s specifically cited (again) Punch in its heyday as their inspiration — rather than as it existed in their time, which they found rather insipid (and which eventually was reduced to writing nasty articles at the Eye's expense).

  • On his radio show, Howard Stern will satirize any number or things he doesn't care for, most notably the hypocrisies of Media WatchDogs.
  • Absolute Power, a BBC radio series was a satire on spin-doctoring in modern politics, and media manipulation. The Sound-to-Screen Adaptation shifted its focus: still satirizing media manipulation, but more in the context of the nature of celebrity.
  • Brian Gulliver's Travels is a six-part Setting Update of Gulliver's Travels on BBC Radio 4. It updates the satire to be about 21st century Britain, giving us, for example, Sham, the land of alternative therapies.

  • Chicago is a satire of media sensationalism and the American justice system, depicting the circumstances of a murder trial as if it were a theatrical production. Roxie's press conference is portrayed as a ventriloquist performance with her lawyer Billy puppeting her, the media is treated like a "three-ring circus," and Billy's fraudulent arguments in the trial are likened to a skillful tap dance.

    Video Games 
  • Harvester makes a bloody and cruel joke of suburban American life during the 1950s.
  • Bad Day L.A. makes fun of how dysfunctional modern society is.
  • The Ratchet & Clank series, particularly its earlier installments, contained very tongue-in-cheek satire of consumerism.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Strong Bad Email often deals in horatian satire, largely due to Strong Bad thinking of himself as being more juvenalian.
  • Ministry Of Harmony satirizes news stories from China in a Juvenalian style.
  • TJ Omega has his Plastic Addict series which does this of the bad toys he reviews during them. He's repeatedly pointed out that they're not to be taken seriously and are meant to be entertaining.
  • Kakos Industries satirizes the concept of Evil itself, it being seen as something that is never solidly defined but is treated as though it can be bought, sold, measured, and enhanced among the Evil, Inc. the show takes place in. Bare in mind that the podcast functions as a news style Work Com while having this as the central plot.
  • The extremely short Young Adult one-shot manages to satirize recurring tropes in young adult book series, mainly in the popular Twilight, Harry Potter and Divergent series.
  • The Cinema Snob started out as one of film critics that use bias and stupid arguments against exploitation\genre films (inspired by Roger Ebert's review of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning). Eventually it also became one of The Movie Buff who is equally pretentious.
  • DarkMatter2525: Many if not most of the videos involve this, running with common apologetics claims to show what they entail in Real Life. For instance "How To Be Like God", which displays how defenses like respect for free will, being simply "mysterious" etc. would seem if a person did them (i.e. a huge sadistic jerk who lets you die rather than give help he could easily provide).

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Bros. satirizes adventure shows like Jonny Quest by showcasing just how psychologically scarring being a boy adventurer can become.
  • The Simpsons is one huge satire of late 20th and early 21st century Western society.
  • Family Guy, often in the most controversial sort of manner.
  • The more recent seasons of South Park usually use satire as their primary source of humor.
  • Futurama frequently satirizes aspects of modern life, from our waste and consumerism, technological evolution to our short-sightedness to relentless and irritating evangelists.
  • MAD is a spiritual and satirical successor to MADtv, in the form of an animated sketch series; it even had the nerve to ridicule James Cameron's Avatar in the very first episode.
  • Invader Zim done an excellent job with poking fun at Human Life; even the aspects of daily life in the far-future have devolved into a tortured mockery of itself in a most Juvenalian manner.
  • Yin Yang Yo! often satirizes feminism by bringing up the hypocrisy done or said by radical feminist Saranoia, and to a lesser extent Yin. The episode "A Walk in the Woods" satirizes childhood obesity where Yin and Yang stayed indoors surfing the Internet all day and eating junk food.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures mocks and laughs at American Retro Pop culture alongside old fashioned media censorship policies as well.
  • Animaniacs uses this kind of humor four years later.
  • Pinky and the Brain
  • Daria
  • Recess
  • Rocko's Modern Life has the upcoming one-hour special Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling satirizes, what else, modern life: the O-Phone upgrades constantly and people charge into the store for a new one and Rocko's old job is gone, replaced with a 3D printer that makes the comic book for you.
  • Looney Tunes pokes its cartoonish fingers at early 20th Century pop-culture, both American and foreign.
  • Beetlejuice
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: This element wasn't as prevalent after John Kricfalusi left the show, though certain episodes, such as "Stimpy's Cartoon Show" and "Reverend Jack", satirized what working under John K.'s tenure was like.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head
  • The Amazing World of Gumball often does this; for example, "The Upgrade" takes a huge swipe at the concept of Planned Obsolescence.


Video Example(s):


"Modern-Day Political Satire"

Don't call yourself a satirist unless you satirize satire.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / Satire

Media sources:

Main / Satire