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Shallow Parody

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"The objections to breadth in parody are that it is not sporting to hunt with a machine gun, that jocularity is not wit, and that the critical edge is blunted. Most of what passes for parody is actually so broad as to be mere burlesque."

Simply put, this trope is what happens when a Parody (generally a mean-spirited one) is created by people who have a certain impression about their target. This impression is at best a surface-level gut instinct, one that doesn't actually deal with the stuff in the work that is known to people who are intimately familiar with all its parts. Sometimes, it can come across as if the satirist just watched the trailer (or the commercials or just absorbed it through Popcultural Osmosis) and then wrote the parody from that. Close enough, they decide.

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Therefore, their parody will only bear a superficial resemblance to what is supposedly being parodied. Just grab an Iconic Outfit, a Catch Phrase (whether or not it's authentic), and an Iconic Item if you're lucky, and you're good to go. Expect the parody to coast on Parody Names, Stock Parodies, and Vulgar Humor. Also, all too often such a spoof will be smug and sneeringly superior as if simply being aware of the source material and not liking it properly equips one to satirize it. Among satirists, the adage is that the best and most cutting satire is done so well that even people who are offended by it ought to acknowledge that a good deal of it is accurate, taking issue with the value and character judgments at most. In the case of Shallow Parody, most would argue that it ultimately says more about the creator's judgments and tastes, than the work they are making fun of.

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More egregious cases will often ignore elements that justify the more ridiculous aspects of the work or mock the original for things it doesn't even have. Then there's the "Weird Al" Effect where the shallow parody might actually become more famous and well known than the real thing.

Remember, that Tropes Are Tools. Just because a work is a shallow parody of something doesn't mean it isn't funny, or that it's bad. Often times, satirists need a springboard to talk about a wider range of subjects, and using a common recognizable series of images and stories (familiar via Pop-Cultural Osmosis) is a pretty good starting point. A good number of the greatest satires of all times would qualify as shallow parody judged against their targets. The merit of a satire ultimately depends on whether what it's parodying or making fun of is picked on in a way that says something more, or if it's just dated topical humor, and likewise a good number of great works of serious art and subjects are parodied and lampooned but still remain popular and enjoyable in their original form. Trying to satirize something out of total hatred or dislike for a target but without trying to address an audience who may or may not know that work is not going to help anyone. It will infuriate people who are familiar with the target and will make the fence-sitting audience think, "since all they're talking about is this other work, maybe I should check that out instead of listening to this person talk over and over about how bad it is".

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This is sometimes unavoidable. For example, if you're parodying a film that hasn't come out yet, the trailer may be all you have to go on (although parodying something that has not yet branded itself into the public's consciousness would seem a little pointless). Occasionally, the parodists may make good guesses and succeed anyway. Sometimes these parodies can be understood as effective parodies of trailers, of basic premises, or as exaggerations of elements in The Theme Park Version of said subject matter. A Shallow Parody can be funnier, and more universal, than an overdone Affectionate Parody because it demands less familiarity of the target from the audience. It's notable that some of the below examples are intentional shallow parodies and derive humor from getting things wrong.

Related: Narrow Parody, in which the target is something relatively recent due to the assumption the target audience won't recognize something older even if it's riper for spoofing; and Redundant Parody, where the parody writers actually do what the piece's real creators would do, but think they are writing a clever spoof. Also related to Fountain of Expies. Has been known to overlap with Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch.

Subtrope of Outside Joke, a kind of humour that relies on the audience's unfamiliarity with the subject. See also Dead Unicorn Trope for a similar concept applied to tropes. Can also overlap with Cowboy BeBop at His Computer if the parodists are really on the ball with this. Many Stock Parody Jokes are shallow parodies.

Compare Common Knowledge, where audiences assume that something is part of a work or genre even though it isn't.

Contrast "Weird Al" Effect, when the parody is so good that it's funny even without reference to the original work, and may even eclipse the original in popularity.

Has nothing to do with song parodies of the Award-Bait Song from A Star Is Born (2018).


Examples:

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    Comedy 
  • John Mulaney's routine on Back to the Future is quite shockingly inaccurate, especially since he starts by claiming to have watched the film again just recently. He claims that Marty and Doc both go back to The '50s (only Marty does, and the Doc he hangs out with there is the contemporary version), Marty tries to have sex with his mother (he accidentally takes his father's place in the incident that caused her to fall in love with him, which he's horrified by, and spends the rest of the movie trying to fix, while avoiding her advances like the plague), the movie gives a white person credit for "Johnny B. Goode" (it's a Stable Time Loop with Marty playing the song based on his own memories of it), and the title "makes no sense" as it's about going to the past (it refers to what Marty's trying to do after getting there). About the only thing he gets right is that the movie never explains how the Odd Friendship between Marty and Doc got started (screenwriter Bob Gale did come up with an explanation, but decided the info-dump wasn't needed in the film).

    Comic Books 
  • MAD magazine (and the TV series) often fall into this. It can be justified, as the parody has to fall close to the date of the work's release, and often the writer(s) are working on early script drafts or leaked information.
    • MAD parodies used to be written after the film was released and thus published a few months later, in part to keep on top of what movies were well-known enough to warrant them. One late-1970s article had them "selling" prematurely written parodies of movies and TV shows that weren't popular (Gable and Lombard, for instance) at a discount. This lag still applies to TV shows — their parody of 8 Simple Rules was in the October 2003 issue... just in time for John Ritter's sudden death.
    • The Watchmen parody claims that "The book is still great" while making fun of many of the things that were directly lifted from the book. This is a recurring trend; MAD will often make fun of a work at the time of its release, then later unfavorably compare newer works to it, but it is rarely this inconsistent.note 
    • They also did a parody of X2: X-Men United from a draft script of the movie, as it pokes fun at subplots that aren't actually in the film (for example, Jean Grey going blind after her battle with Cyclops). It also erroneously calls the film out on a Plot Hole about Senator Kelly being alive in the sequel when he died in the original — it was explicitly stated in the first film that Mystique had impersonated him, and "Kelly's" eyes turn yellow after his meeting with Stryker in the second.
    • Similar to the Jurassic Park example, the parody comic of Star Trek: First Contact is based on the first draft screenplay, which is significantly different from the finished film. In their rush to get a parody out on time, they ended up parodying something that only barely resembles the movie itself.
    • From the animated TV show's Naruto parody you'd think they only watched the first three or four episodes. Same with their Legend of Korra parody, which gives the impression that they just watched the commercials.
    • Their parody of The Goonies makes fun of the kids for being nothing but stereotypes, claiming that Chunk is a "lying jew" and making fun of Data's stereotypical Asian accent. However, Chunk and Data were written as the stereotypical fat kid and smart kid, Data's actor really did have that accent and Chunk's actor really was Jewish (he only makes two references to it in the movie anyways and they were both improvised by the kid). The character Steph is completely absent from Mad's parody of the film.
    • The cartoon series had a sketch that crosses Randy Savage with Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. And really, it seems that they only used the Ninjashow as an excuse to have a sketch about Randy Savage. Howard calls Randy by his given name in the sketch instead of his surname, they call the city "Piper Vile" instead of "Norrisville" (although that might be due to legal issues), and the plot isn't like anything like the series. In fact, it's not really a plot; it starts off by telling us how Randy can turn into the Macho Man, gives us some footage of Savage wrestling, then switches back to their high school to make fun of the show's use of odd lingo... and that's where it ends. In general, the attitude the sketch has towards the series is that it's a Widget Series, even though it's not as weird once you actually watch it.
    • The sketch "Gaming's Next Top Princess" makes references to many video game females in the intro, but most of them aren't princesses; the only two princesses are two of the finalists, Zelda and Peach (the third finalist is Samus).
    • It isn't just movies and TV shows that suffer from this in MAD's pages. In 1978, they decided they'd do "Mad's "Punk Rock Group" Of the Year." It reads as if having read a few newsmagazine articles about The Sex Pistols was enough research for the middle-aged writers, who have their fictional "Johnny Turd and the Commodes" sing songs with lines like:
      The world is garbage, and life is full of crap!
      The United Nations has got the clap!
    • In a similar vein to the above example, during the late '80s and early '90s, the magazine had a few "parodies" of rap. A common feature in these "parodies" is that the lyrics have a lot of pauses in them, something which was mostly nonexistent in actual rap music at the time.
    • The Mad parody of Avengers: Endgame was published before the film came out, and the writers even admit that they don't have any idea what will actually happen in the film.
  • Marvel's Marville hopes irrelevant pop culture is enough to count as parody. It even explains the shallow parodies to people in the first page, like nobody would get the jokes. Even its title and first cover imply it to be a parody of Smallville, before that particular series had even aired; the closest it comes to parodying Smallville is a rather confused and generic Superman parody in the first issue.
  • Marvel's parody comic Not Brand Ecch portrays the Doom Patrol as shameless rip-offs of the more popular X-Men, when in reality the Patrol came first (though only by a few months, at a time when comic book scripts were written longer in advance than that). The creator of the Doom Patrol used to work for Marvel.
  • Cracked, when it still was a magazine along the lines of MAD, had an issue covering Batman (1989) wherein a Burt Ward-style Robin complains that not only is he absent from the film, but he's dead in the comics. Never mind that it was Jason Todd who died and Dick Grayson was Nightwing at the time. (To be fair, in the eyes of most casual Batman fans. that's nit-picking.)
    • Any Cracked magazine parody, for that matter. They do little more than re-tell the movie or TV show straight up, with parody names.
    • Cracked's parody of Star Trek: Generations had Counsellor Troi as communications officer (actually part of Worf's duties). She's the girl on the bridge, she must have Uhura's job, right?
  • The LucasArts Sam & Max strips frequently fall into this, possibly deliberately. Being produced for the LucasArts company newsletter and Sam & Max not starting out as LucasArts characters, Steve Purcell was allowed to draw them only if he parodied whatever games were coming out at the time. Because of this, he preferred to take the basic setting of the game he was parodying, dress Sam up as the main character of that game, and then just have the characters do their own thing - being more like one-off themed adventures about fighting monsters or being bikers instead of parodies of Maniac Mansion and Full Throttle. Notably, the Monkey Island parody has Sam and Max in pirate costumes going to a desert island... full of monkeys. To be fair, the strips are probably more hilarious for not being true parody.
  • In a glaring example of Tropes Are Not Bad, Rat Man's first story is a parody of Tim Burton's Batman, which the author had never seen. Despite this, it won the Lucca Comics award for best script and set the foundation for what in Italy is considered one of the funniest comics ever published.
  • Many point out that Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is often unfair to its targets:
    • Volume 3 features numerous references to the characters and locations of Harry Potter (albeit never by name), with the idea that all of Harry's adventures have been manipulated in order to drive him to destroy the world as the Anti-Christ. However, Harry himself is distantly off, being more or less just a generic "whiny asshole teenaged chav" stereotype while his actual flaws are mostly ignored in favor of making him into a caricature of an entitled young person. The Moonchild's big villainous vice is that he's a Small Name, Big Ego who moans about being given any responsibility but also sees himself as the greatest guy ever, which is pretty far off from Harry, whose character is mostly defined as a Humble Hero who believes that It Sucks to Be the Chosen One but still steps up whenever needed.
    • Volume 3 often led many to see it as a satire of the entire millennial generation since its main theme was that the 21st Century is culturally barren compared to The '60s and Victorian Britain, a judgment that many instinctively find offensive, and which isn't helped by the fact that Moore isn't particularly familiar with contemporary culture. (President Bartlett, for example, is mentioned in terms that suggest him to be an analogue to George W. Bush, whereas you don't have to watch the series for very long to realise that he's actually a lot closer to Bill Clinton). The third volume's criticism of twenty-first-century popular culture is rather undercut by the evidence suggesting that Moore doesn't actually know a lot about twenty-first-century popular culture, and the lack of public domain character from the contemporary era means that he can't make the deep cuts he did in his more celebrated first two volumes.
  • The Nagma in Asterix and the Falling Sky is supposed to be a Take That! to manga and anime culture, but it's very obvious from the character's appearance and behavior that Uderzo's knowledge of the entire art form extends to having flicked through some Super Robot thing on television back in the '70s and seeing some Beyblades in a toy shop. In his public apology for the quality of the book, he admitted that his hatred of manga stemmed from flipping through a sexually-explicit one at the library and wishing the Japanese would Think of the Children! (it's worth noting that France has legally binding age restrictions for comics).
  • The sixth issue of the Comic-Book Adaptation of Toxic Crusaders featured an unflattering parody of Captain Planet and the Planeteers called Corporal Globe and the Globiteers. Not only did the characters only superficially resemble the characters they were spoofing (for instance, Corporal Globe is depicted as a pompous and arrogant show-boater while Captain Planet was altruistic and always treated his battles seriously), but the story also exaggerated Captain Planet's notoriety for heavy-handed environmental messages by devoting an entire page to the Globiteers annoying the hell out of the citizens of Tromaville by interrupting their activities to give long-winded lectures on how they can take better care of the environment that boiled down to "Doing anything at all is harmful to the environment".
  • While some of the satire of corporate sponsorship and their control and manipulation of superhero identities for ugly and nefarious processes in The Boys is valid, a lot of it does fall flat in the takedown on specific targets.
    • Soldier Boy is a Captain Patriotic a la Steve Rogers, presented by Garth Ennis as a mockery and insult to The Real Heroes of World War II. The problem is that Captain America was a Propaganda Hero created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby before America entered World War II and was in the context a bold anti-fascist gesture. Likewise, Kirby who drew Captain America and later revived him as a soldier out of time in The Avengers, served as a soldier in the US Infantry during the war, as a draftsman for reconnaissance maps, and the comics which Ennis mocks were popular with actual American servicemen of the time (specifically Captain Marvel whose Expy he makes into a Nazi hero called Stormfront, was extremely popular among American GI). So in other words, Ennis, a World War II-buff, is merely projecting his own ideas and values on to that of an earlier generation without actually engaging with it.
    • It doesn't help that The Boys are more or less superheroes themselves with Billy Butcher being a British Punisher, and where Marshal Law didn't spare the title character from criticism, Ennis being a Punisher fanboy and fond of the Vigilante Man archetype in general, doesn't actually go as far as Mills and O'Neill did, or for that matter Alan Moore did in Watchmen, which was attack the idea of a hero, and people's need for one, or the desire to be one.
    • The other problem is that most of his takes on superheroes are more or less they are frauds and fakes, celebrity shills, and don't actually deal with threats. This doesn't quite work as a satire or Deconstruction since it doesn't accept the possibility, as even Moore did, that some of these superheroes do have good intentions and do want to do help and even can help in ways regular people can't, and there are genuine problems in society that complicates their basic altruism. Ennis' arguments is mainly that these superheroes are evil, fakes, or pathetic without any variation for 60+ issues. In a way, The Boys come closer to fitting the classic superhero archetype themselves than many of the "heroes" they fight do!
    • The attack on X-Men is more or less Professor X/Godolkin being a pedophile and the rest of the X-Men being his victims and/or brainwashed cultists without any engagement with legitimate avenues to criticize the X-Men, namely the debate on the "Mutant Metaphor" and how the X-Men actually work as a representation of minority rights advocacy. Likewise, the parody also involves Jive Turkey riffs on West Coast-East Coast hip-hop rivalries which makes the whole thing come off as tin-eared and not something that either X-Men fans or critics can really recognize.
    • The series’ main argument is that superheroes are ridiculous and not needed, when the very universes they inhabit contain all sorts of dangers and horrors neither the police, the army, or even the most determined Badass Normal vigilantes that Garth Ennis idolizes would be able to properly handle by themselves. In fact, Ennis goes out of his way to make sure that the world is specifically designed to not need the presence of superheroes. The in-universe comics for the supes are all Based on a Great Big Lie, having them off fighting time terrorists or extradimensional aliens or some nonsense, things which don't exist in the universe of The Boys. Thus, the supes pretty much have nothing to do except sit on their asses, engage in publicity stunts, or take down supes who don't agree to toe Vought's company line (and there's few enough of them, since Vought has a pretty sweet deal to offer anyone with superpowers). Since fighting actual crime is beneath them (and handled well enough by existing law enforcement) and they simply have no idea how to handle actual disasters (see the whole 9/11 debacle), there's just no need for them, other than Vought wanting to force a market for their "product". In a world where Lex Luthor isn't building giant robots to rob banks every other week, do we really need Superman? If The Boys' verse had anyone like the Skrulls, Brainiac, Thanos or Apokolips, the supes would actually have a valuable job to perform and might not be the sociopathic assholes they are. Also, even without extraterrestrial or interdimensional threats, many villains in superhero comics are superpowered humans that decide to use their powers for evil (think Magneto) and requires superheroes to be dealt with, yet another archetype that the story fits perfectly. Not to mention that a Villain with Good Publicity abusing their power while keeping a good facade and working with the government isn't exactly unheard of in superhero comics, and the series fits the archetype perfectly. As a result, Garth Ennis’ argument falls apart because he has to deliberately make the world the way it is to justify his feelings about superheroes.
    • In another degree, there's a great deal of linking between Conservative Christians and superheroes, coming up in the Believe arc and also playing a big role in the TV adaptation, where they portray superheroes as advocating Evangelicalism (while also portraying them as hypocrites using religion to manipulate people) and act as if superheroes as a whole encourage hardline Christian values, which is...weak. While Superman has some Christ parallels that are played up in some works, most superheroes' religious beliefs rarely come up, to the point superheroes who are religious end up being notable because of it, and their religions tend to vary from the strict White-Protestant faith portrayed as the norm in The Boys note .

    Comic Strips 
  • Pop Culture Shock Therapy uses Shallow Parody as mortar and brick. Every strip is just some random thing happening, only for a random character to be involved and thus... and thus... it is considered a "joke". A highway worker finds a dead cat on the road... ha ha! It's Garfield! A woman making a bed is revealed to sport a tramp-stamp... ha ha! It's Snow White! A person spontaneously combusts and burns to death... ha ha! It's Thing 1 from The Cat in the Hat! Aren't you just killing yourself laughing right now?
  • When Frank Cho was drawing Liberty Meadows, he took plenty of mean-spirited potshots at Peanuts. It's pretty clear from his parodies, though, that he never actually read the strip (at least not as an adult).
  • Thrud the Barbarian, from early issues of White Dwarf, is a crude parody of the Conan the Barbarian comics, revolving around a hulking immensely strong yet stupid bad-tempered barbarian brute who brutally mangles and kills whatever's in his way as he lumbers around in search of booze, loot and wenches. In essence, Thrud embodies the stereotypical "lazy player" barbarian character, in contrast to the flawed but good-hearted strong and intelligent Conan of the actual comics.

    Fan Works 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: Coverage of the spinoffs tends to be pretty hit-or-miss. While most of the 5Ds jokes are pretty on point, approximately 94% of GX jokes focus on Jaden being a "wannabe gangsta" - most of his dialogue in the dub, while very much Totally Radical, is more '90s surfer slang than anything. It's also pretty evident that LK has seen approximately 1/3 of one press release about ZEXAL best seen by the fact that the main joke of Abridged Yuma is an irritating catchphrase... and it's the wrong catchphrase. To this day, the best way to tell if someone who dislikes ZEXAL has actually seen it is to see if they use the words "EXTREME!"
  • Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show: Little Kuriboh admits that he's not that knowledgeable about Naruto. However, some of the jokes at Naruto the Abridged Series can come off as this too, since there's a tendency to exaggerate one-off gags (like the Mermaid Melody fandub gag) like as if it was an Overused Running Gag, or its use of low-brow toilet humor that was non-existent in NTAS (like Naruto farting the alphabet, the Overly Long Gag of Naruto pissing on Inari, or the joke about Naruto having sex with a dead pig).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Spaceballs was accused of being this by critics when first released in 1987, although most fans today say otherwise. Indeed, most would agree the film averts this; for example, Princess Vespa initially seems more like a parody of fictional princesses in general than of Leia in particular, at least until her Character Development after the hairdryer scene. Mel Brooks himself commented on this trope via this film, saying that it's too easy to make fun of bad things and you should "only mock what you love."
  • One of many, many flaws in the Seltzer and Friedberg "parody" films, such as Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and the aptly named Disaster Movie. In fact, Disaster Movie parodies films which were not released at the time the script was written (which would go on to become a theme in their next several movies). As a result, it includes parodies of films which flopped and were already forgotten by the time Disaster Movie made it to theaters.
    • Vampires Suck mostly averts this, except for a couple of throwaway gags.
    • The Starving Games continues their "trend" of focusing all the comedy on sight gags and random pop culture references based on the trailers of contemporary movies, to the point where calling it a "parody" is a bit of a stretch.
    • Superfast!, which was even released direct-to-video in North America, didn't help. Reviewers noted that the movie is kind of redundant, given the Fast and Furious franchise had long since entered Self-Parody territory.
    • Cracked notes that one "gag" from Epic Movie takes shallowness to its extreme by having a Wolverine Expy flip someone the bird with his claws, which had already been done with the real thing in X-Men. It's literally just regurgitating a better joke from a better movie.
    • Film Brain likewise points this out during his review of the movie. Along with the aforementioned Wolverine bit, he found a scene that is stolen word-for-word from Borat, with only one bit of dialogue referencing the scene's location changed. This, like many of Seltzerberg's "jokes", didn't really have a punchline and was more just a nod to something in passing. It led Buck to proclaim, "References ARE NOT JOKES!"
  • The parodies of Craig Moss are as reviled as Seltzer and Friedberg, if lesser-known (many didn't even hit theaters). Some even go the route of a Long Title cramming in as many references as possible, thinking that's a joke by itself.
  • Somewhat more excusable example: Airplane! includes a parody of a famous scene from From Here to Eternity despite none of the writers having watched that film. Mind you, that's one parody in a film which includes many more. (The majority of the film is a direct parody of Zero Hour!) According to the commentary, because the writers had never seen the film, they didn't even know they were parodying it.
  • A bizarre example in the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach movie Bikini Beach: Avalon plays a British invasion rocker/race car driver called "The Potato Bug" to send up The British Invasion — and resembles nothing so much as Terry-Thomas in a blond shag wig.
  • Murder by Death, being a parody of famous fictional detectives, has this happen with some of its parodies:
    • The way Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are parodied has completely nothing to do with these characters. Miss Marple is prone to long-winding stories about her home village and is a mild-mannered sweet old lady. Poirot is very composed and precise and, most of all, very polite to everyone he meets; he wouldn't dream of screaming at people. The characters in the film are pretty much their opposites, which would work, but none of the others are portrayed that way.
    • The film also misses the point of Nick Charles. Dick Charleston is portrayed as "enormously well-bred" and sophisticated. Nick's wife is classy, but Nick himself is a streetwise New York flatfoot, and one of the series' Running Gags is how little he tries to fit in as a socialite.
  • The scenes of Kazakhstan in Borat were all fairly generic developing nation stereotypes given a vaguely Eastern European tone and taken Up to Eleven, meaning they barely managed to represent what Kazakhstan was actually like in the first place. Consequently most of Europe was offended, Romania (where the scenes were filmed) was outraged, and the Kazakhs thought it was funny as hell.
  • The script of The Slumber Party Massacre was written by an angry feminist activist as a Deconstructive Parody / Take That! directed at slasher horror movies... but the parody was so shallow and clueless that the (female) director thought it was a straight example of the genre and filmed it as such. The script itself is functionally identical to all the slasher movies that it was ostensibly meant to mock, with most of the humor being based on subversions of tropes and conventions that were never a thing to begin with. For instance, having the female leads be horny party girls instead of virginal Purity Sues or the male characters being helpless and expendable instead of macho action heroes; anybody who's ever seen a single horror movie could tell you that's how it usually is.

    Literature 
  • The Jennifer Morgue in The Laundry attempts to parody James Bond. However, its treatment of the subject seems primarily informed by Austin Powers.
    • Equoid from the same series includes a letter supposedly written by H. P. Lovecraft, during which he describes a decidedly squicky incident he claims to have lived through, involving an underage girl developing a Vagina Dentata. The narrator adds that you should of course take that "gynophobe" Lovecraft's claims with a grain of salt. Thing is, Lovecraft never wrote any sexualised horror and is never noted to have had any aversion to women - if anything, Stross seems to have gotten him mixed up with his later imitators. It's an especial shame, because otherwise Stross' impression of Lovecraft (the weird mix of self-deprecation and self-importance, the gloomy certainty that western civilisation was doomed to be overrun by savage foreign hordes, and of course the trademark Purple Prose) is hilariously spot-on.
  • Phule's Errand by Peter J. Heck includes a long sequence which is a painfully Shallow Parody of Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels. "Perry Sodden" = Comedy gold!
  • T. S. Eliot noted that "Most parodies of one's own work strike one as very poor. In fact, one is apt to think one could parody oneself much better." This is in the context of praising an aversion; Henry Reed's "Chard Whitlow", which doesn't settle for making cheap swipes at Eliot's best-known works, but parodies what his poems are actually like.
  • Voltaire is considered by some to be the greatest satirist of all time. But even then critics and admirers have long pointed out that while Candide is a great work of literature, with deep philosophical themes, while having jokes and black comedy that is still hilarious today, it is pretty shallow when placed against its original target of Gottfried Leibniz whose philosophical idea is simplified and made into a strawman about this being "the best of all possible worlds". Leibniz's career and his contributions to science and philosophy never really recovered after Voltaire's hatchet-job.
  • Captain Underpants:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Zigzagged with Saturday Night Live. Some of their parody sketches will be dead-on with what they're parodying; others...not so much.
    • On one side of the spectrum, there are shallow parodies that are just there to serve as the backdrop for an SNL recurring character to appear note  or are intentionally made shallow to deconstruct the work (as seen in the Digital Short Party at Mr. Bernard's or The Little Mermaid sketch with Reese Witherspoon as Ariel telling Eric [played by Will Ferrell] that she's an actual half-human, half-fish creature whose father had sex with a mackerel to create her) or shoehorn a political message or warped Aesop (as seen in their other parody of The Little Mermaid (1989) — this time with Tina Fey as Ariel trying to justify Osama bin Laden's burial at sea).
    • On the other side of the spectrum, you have the SNL parodies that are actually well-researched and spot-on, such as the Harry Potter parodies (which use characters that aren't featured in the movie trailers, use the first names of the Hogwarts teachers, and mention things like butterbeer) note  and the one-off parody of There Will Be Blood from the season 33 episode hosted by Tina Fey (which is a Food Network show called "I Drink Your Milkshake," in which Daniel Plainview [Bill Hader] travels to America's malt shops and literally drinks their milkshakes). Bill Hader's Daniel Day-Lewis is pitch-perfect, and the sketch references moments in the film that aren't Memetic Mutations, such as "I'VE ABANDONED MY CHIIIIIIIIIIILD" and Plainview's opening speech.
    • Intentionally used with the sketch "What Is Burn Notice?" from the season 35 episode hosted by Ashton Kutcher. The sketch is a game show in which the contestants have to tell the host (Jason Sudeikis) what the premise of Burn Notice is because he apparently doesn't know. The joke is that even though Burn Notice was purportedly one of the most popular shows on television at the time, no one you know had seen it.
    • The "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches fall into this trope. The sketches always make it look like Jeopardy! packs its special weeks with A-list Hollywood stars, that they're too stupid to answer a single question, and that Alex Trebek spends the whole time groaning at their inane responses. Anyone who's watched the actual celebrity marathons knows that most contestants are second-tier TV stars, not royalty like Sean Connery; that the contestants do okay for someone who doesn't take the game that seriously; and that Trebek's attitude toward them is solicitous, if anything. Will Ferrell also loved playing Trebek as being borderline British (just as he did with James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio spoofs), when in fact Trebek is Canadian and can easily pass for American. Of course, the real Jeopardy has acknowledged the skit a lot of times, and at one point Trebek cameos in one of the episodes. And that said, a lot of this can be chalked up to the Rule of Funny, as a skit about C-list celebrities doing sort of alright at a game show wouldn't be very interesting.
    • SNL's Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer spoof tells us that everyone is too old by recreating parts from IV and V and adding in nonsense like using a walker/walking frame made out of lightsabers. The Force Awakens did face criticism for hitting too many of the same beats as A New Hope, but of course, the movie hadn't come out yet so there was no way the writers could have known.
    • A skit that riffs on The Walking Dead ignores the fact that the show's version of zombies are reanimated corpses to make it a metaphor for racism (the Zombie Infectee is played by Kevin Hart and supposedly "turns" after being bitten by a Walker, with the entirely white group of survivors ignoring the obvious signs that he's becoming a zombie because he's playing it off as them being racist, even after he kills one of their party). In the actual show, zombie bites are dangerous not because they turn people into Walkers (that happens to everyone who dies regardless of whether they're bitten), but because reanimated corpses are loaded with harmful bacteria... and the eating of people, of course.
  • Get Smart usually does targeted parodies pretty well, considering its entire premise is general parody. However, its parody of The Avengers (1960s) falls into this. Donald Snead and Emily Neal are British, styled correctly, and have a lot of sexual tension, but that's where the similarities end. Snead bears very little resemblance to John Steed personality-wise, and Mrs. Neal's use of a deadly lipstick is particularly glaring, much more reminiscent of April Dancer than Emma Peel. The episode is funny, but it's pretty clear the creators are unaware of just how stylistically different The Avengers is from most other spy shows.
  • Done intentionally and fully admitted to on the "Movie Trailers That Are Destroying America" segment of The Colbert Report, where Colbert thinks of ridiculous reasons to consider movies offensive based entirely on the trailers.
  • French and Saunders did a sketch about The Lord of the Rings, apparently without having read the books or seen the movies: Gandalf and Frodo repeatedly mention Frodo's quest to find the One Ring to rule them all.
    • Another example of the same flaw can be seen in Dead Ringers early LOTR parodies, in which indeed Gandalf sends Frodo on a quest to find the Ring. Later on, they were better researched.
    • Similarly, The Chaser's War on Everything had a sketch about rumours of a movie version of The Hobbit and imagining it directed by various people (Nick Giannopoulos, Woody Allen and Michael Moore). For some reason, the first one had two Hobbits with a dynamic suspiciously similar to Frodo and Sam, and not a dwarf in sight. Note, though, that this is technically a parody of The Wog Boy and not of The Hobbit. Same for the Woody Allen and Michael Moore trailers.
  • Bob Hope parodied Shogun on one of his specials. The sketch writers assumed Anjin-san (Richard Chamberlain) was the title character.
  • Que Vida Mas Triste has a Back to the Future parody where the main character is sent to the past to make sure his parents got together. Of course, anyone who has actually seen the movie will know that Marty goes to the past unintentionally while escaping from a gang of terrorists, accidentally prevents his parents from meeting, and then tries to get them together. The writers probably got it mixed up with the second movie, where Marty goes to the future to save his son. The worst part? Another Spanish show made the EXACT same mistake.
  • Many impressions seen in the Snatch Game challenge on RuPaul's Drag Race aren't necessarily "accurate" to the person being imitated, but inaccuracies and/or lack of depth are forgiven as long as Ru finds them funny. Conversely, an accurate impression doesn't necessarily mean it'll be funny, which results in middling to poor performances.
    • Averted (and discussed) by Season 4 contestant Chad Michaels. A professional Cher impersonator, he explains (in a talking head) about how he doesn't go for the usual mannerisms common in Cher impersonations that aren't accurate to Cher in reality. This is immediately followed by Ru doing a stereotypical Cher impression after Chad tells him he's doing Cher for Snatch Game.
  • Fuller House reveals that Stephanie grew up to be a DJ, but the way the Electronic Music scene is presented can be quite a source for mockery for those who actually are in the scene, as well as non-EDM listeners.
  • Invoked in Nathan for You: when Nathan has to make a parody of Starbucks, he doesn’t bother to make it a good parody, he just makes it enough of a parody that it qualifies under fair use law. The result is not only unfunny but also only tangentially related to Starbucks.
  • The episode "Malleus Maleficarum" of Supernatural is often assumed to be a Take That! to Charmed. If so, it's a very shallow one indeed, since the only similarity is that it includes a coven of three witches who are petty and self-involved (which is a criticism that could be applied to the Halliwells, though even there they went about it differently than the witches in the episode. The common fandom complaint against the Halliwells is that they frequently ignored their power and duty as witches in favour of obsessing over their mundane personal lives and careers, while the witches in "Malleus Maleficarum" have chosen to become witches solely to improve their personal lives and careers).

    Music 
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic
    • A notable aversion is "The Saga Begins," a parody of "American Pie" about Star Wars Episode I, almost entirely before the movie was released. It works because he got all the plot details from fan sites. He also spent $300 to attend an early screening of the film to make sure he had all of the details correct. In fact, he only had to change one detail after the movie came out because Episode I left it rather vague whether or not Padme and Anakin would marry. Reportedly, when Al sent the song to Lucasfilm for approval, George Lucas himself was impressed at how accurate it was (and he absolutely loved the song on top of that).
    • "Ode to a Superhero" for the most part accurately summarizes the events of Spider-Man, but implies that the line "With great power comes great responsibility" is stated repeatedly throughout the movie when in truth it's only mentioned twice.
  • Mitch Benn is a Doctor Who fanboy, so he knows that the companions rarely fit the stereotype of the Generic Companion. But his song "Doctor Who Girl" is based entirely on that stereotype, because a) it's funnier and b) it's what most of the audience will think of. (But, seriously, "keep quiet and never argue"? And the song previously establishes he was a Fourth Doctor kid, so he's talking about Sarah Jane, Leela, and the Romanas?!)
  • French-Canadian parodist François Pérusse once did a rap song about Bart Simpson...which is two minutes of jokes about Bart's spiky hair. The song also claims that the rest of his family's hair matches his, and that "family photos end up looking like a bunch of broken bottles". In case you can't tell, he had never watched a single episode of The Simpsons.
  • The 1984 Country Music song Where's The Dress by Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley, which is supposed to be a "parody" of Culture Club, is this in spades. Instead of taking shots at, say, their overblown music videos or nonsensical song lyrics, the song is just "HAHA Boy George dresses like a chick! Isn't that HILARIOUS??" for three straight minutes.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After CM Punk no-showed a CHIKARA event and behaved poorly when asked about it, the promotion attempted a Take That! with the creation of "CP Munk," a chipmunk version of the wrestler. That was the whole joke. Averted since it was actually funny and got over. At Tag World Grand Prix 2006, they introduced his tag team partner, Colt Cabunny, a rabbit parody of Colt Cabana. They were unmasked to reveal, respectively, Necro Butcher and Joker. Cabunny came back in 2011 as part of Archibald Peck's entourage. Cabana defeated Peck at High Noon on November 3, 2011, after Cabunny fought back against Peck's mistreatment. After the match Cabana accepted Cabunny.

    Radio 
  • The 2000s British radio comedy Atomic Tales parodies 1940s and 1950s American radio sci-fi drama. The only problem is that it largely does so based on the popular conception of what such shows were like, rather than what they were actually like. A major feature of the parody is unsubtle, invariably right-wing "moral lessons" at the end, despite the fact that such radio drama rarely has characters deliver political speeches (not least because they are primarily adventure stories largely intended for children and are supposed to be escapist). Another target of the parody is the notion that science is "evil", despite the fact that such shows often celebrate scientific endeavour and achievement in a way, ironically, that makes them look naive by today's standards; the "dire warnings" aspect usually comes about from "mad scientists" who twist science to evil purposes, rather than science being evil itself.
  • That Mitchell & Webb Sound, the radio predecessor to That Mitchell and Webb Look, has a few notable (and clearly deliberate) examples.
    • A series of skits in the fourth series parodying Pinocchio bear almost no resemblance to the source material, centering mainly around how Pinocchio is an annoying, wide-eyed, overeager goof who keeps getting in Gepetto's way and is oblivious to the fact that his "Papa" absolutely hates him and makes several attempts to send him away or even outright murder him. Which is almost the opposite of the original book, where the problem is that Pinocchio keeps running away from Gepetto, and is a bit of a Jerkass from the start.
    • The same series has a number of skits parodying the Stargate-verse, all of which are solely built around the premise of people getting reprimanded for throwing their rubbish into the Stargate, or using it as a supply cabinet, or a toilet, etc.
    • Most obvious (and obviously deliberate) of all are the "Lazy Writer" sketches, in which Mitchell and Webb play a pair of writers who can't be bothered to research medicine/sci-fi/spying before writing their drama series, and so get even fairly basic details wrong. (Similar sketches also appear in That Mitchell and Webb Look.)
  • Lampshaded in one episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme in which a sketch about Wolverine going to the hairdressers is followed first by an apology to listeners who have no idea who Wolverine is, and then an apology to listeners who do know who Wolverine is, since they probably quickly realised John didn't know much about the character and was only interested in his funny hairdo.
  • Most of the parody sketches from Lo Zoo Di 105 aren't very accurate to whatever they're parodying, usually being based on a simple pun on the title, but the most rampant example is Nympho Woman. The sketch is apparently about a nymphomaniac version of Wonder Woman, but the only things that remotely count as a parody are the title and the theme song, based on the one from the Lynda Carter show. The actual character is less Wonder Woman and more a female version of Batman, as she lives in a manor with a butler and owns a "Slut-mobile"note .

    Roleplay 
  • Plastic Serpent in Dino Attack RPG serves no other purpose than to make Snake look better by comparison (which he fails at doing), and provide an allegory about how Solid Snake supposedly rips off Snake Plissken. The problem was that Atton Rand had never played Metal Gear, and was making his case based on very flimsy evidence (namely a few message board conversations) that turned out to be easily disproven. (More pertinently, Solid Snake is a direct homage to Plissken, not a ripoff.)

    Theater 
  • The Drowsy Chaperone purports to be a forgotten Broadway musical from 1928, but bears very little resemblance (especially in its songs) to the musicals of The Roaring '20s it aims to parody. This may have to do with actual musicals of the period being rarely seen on stage generations later except in Adaptation Decayed revival editions. The review at TalkinBroadway.com even points out that complete cast recordings of shows weren't made back then, which means that the musical theater fans the show is meant to appeal to will realize this is shallow almost immediately. (A more accurate Affectionate Parody of these shows is The Boy Friend, which was written in the 1950s.)
  • This is Older Than Feudalism as in the case of Aristophanes.
    • His piss-take of Socrates in The Clouds has pretty much nothing to do with Socrates' actual views as a philosopher, and treats him as a combination of a pre-Socratic natural philosopher and a Sophist rhetorician. It also includes the common misconception of natural philosophers as atheists (which they weren't always). Unfortunately, the misconceptions voiced by the play were partially responsible for Socrates' execution, and unfortunately for Socrates, it's still a pretty damn funny comedy and excellent satire.
    • Aristophanes would sometimes use well-known figures as a representation of ideas or ways of life. For example, in The Frogs the playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides are respectively used as representations of the heroic old Athens during the Persian Wars and the new unpleasant Athens of demagogues, even though Aristophanes was conservative and younger then Euripides, and the latter himself was a literary and theatrical innovator who is today considered the best dramatist of the Ancient World.

    Toys 
  • Kevin Smith's short-lived "Inaction Figures" series was, according to him, based on what he saw as a trend in toy culture to not care about a figure's posability, taking the idea to its logical conclusion of a line that consisted of lumps of plastic with no movement or features whatsoever. Many collectors even at the time found this baffling, as trends in the culture were at the time heading in the opposite direction (towards increasing amounts of posability, features, and complexity), with lines that lacked those traits being mostly derided. Furthermore, the whole concept existed already in the form of collectible figurines and statues, which are generally seen as a separate thing.

    Video Games 
  • The Gex series is about a wise-cracking gecko going into shallow parodies of pop culture. Notably, some levels can't even decide what they're parodying.
  • Thelemite is a fairly good game on its own merits, but as a parody of [PROTOTYPE], it sort of kind of resembles the original game if you squint, and seems to have been written by someone who heard a summary of the game and once saw a picture of Alex Mercer. For starters, their Mercer stand-in becomes a "mutant ninja" who flies around kicking people complete with Power Glows and Kiai. The sole thing in common with the two characters is that they both kick people, which is roughly the equivalent of a parody of The The Incredible Hulk that's utterly convinced the Hulk is a physically-ten-year-old Robot Girl whose primary form of attack is an exploding Rocket Punch.
  • An advertisement for the racing game Blur acts like the Mario Kart games are kiddie games that are about "making friends" rather than competition. Only the complete opposite is true (it's a weapon-based racer, which is competitive by definition), especially in online races with other players. Wi-Fi competitions can be brutal, to the point that it's far more well-known within the gaming sphere as one of the game series that ruins friendships.
  • The movie Dragon Brain in Grand Theft Auto IV appears to be a parody of High Fantasy films in general, but most of the jokes are about merchandising and CGI, rather than about typical fantasy movie cliches.
    • The Show Within a Show Princess Robot Bubblegum ended up with a Broken Base, accused of being another retread of the same tired anime jokes (tentacles, oversexualized schoolgirls, "Look how weird Japan is", etc.).
    • In general, a lot of the franchise's attempts at "satirizing" American culture fall directly into this trope. As the games themselves never go beyond a bunch of tired one-note stereotypes (hillbillies, snobby millionaires, dim celebrities, gangsters, etc.) and worn out sexual euphemism jokes that had already been done to death by comedians.
  • One of the enemies one may encounter in one of the underwater zones Kingdom of Loathing is a malevolent sponge. While SpongeBob SquarePants references were perhaps inevitable, most of the jokes encountered in its various battle messages revolve around how SpongeBob lives in a pineapple and how dumb that is and the show's annoying Title Theme Tune, giving the impression that none of the game's writers actually watched the cartoon in question.
  • Quite a few of Parroty Interactive's parody "games", if not all of them are subject to this, including Microshaft Windblows, a Microsoft parody created during their anti-trust scandal days, which never seems to go beyond jokes revolving around nerd stereotypes, "Windows crashes a lot" and "Bill Gates is a Corrupt Corporate Executive," when it isn't getting facts about Microsoft outright wrong.
    • There's also Pyst, a parody of Myst with a promising premise (what if millions of people went to Myst before the player and left the island a vandalized wreck?) but unfortunately makes only a few token attempts at humor that actually have something to do with the game (mostly just revolving around giving everyone Punny Names) before just devolving into Toilet Humour, unrelated pop-culture references, and silly voices.
    • Star Warped presents itself as a pair of superfans' collection of rare Star Wars-related paraphernalia, which ultimately serves as an excuse to lampoon various other media properties and then-contemporary public figures with a thin Star Wars veneer. When it's not doing that, it's mostly just mocking fans of the movies as obsessive, socially maladjusted nerds... which begs the question of who exactly the game was intended for.
  • The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)'s online Adobe Flash games:
    • The parody of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 is this. It seems they just barely glanced at the first twenty minutes of the game. While the writers of this game apparently know Ghetsis is the secretly evil ruler of Team Plasma, they praise Plasma anyway and act like Ghetsis isn't indicative of Plasma's true goals, despite the fact that by the start of the game, Team Plasma has split into a legitimate animal-rights group and a terrorist group, with the terrorist half abandoning their former cover story. Take a wild guess which half Ghetsis is leading. The Final Boss is also a corrupt version of Ash Ketchum, even though he's an anime-exclusive character. The game goes out of its way to depict Ash as a Jerkass who has never cared for his Pokémon and forces Pikachu to ride in his Poké Ball, proving they didn't even get past the first fifteen minutes of the first episode of the series.
    • There's also their parody of Super Mario 3D Land, Super Tanooki Skin 2D, featuring a skinless tanuki chasing after Mario for stealing his hide to wear as a suit. Never mind that not only do tanuki themselves never actually appear in any Mario games except Super Mario Sunshinenote , which doesn't have the Tanooki Suit, but the suit is gotten from special leaves found inside blocks, while PETA's parody implies that Mario skins actual tanuki to get the Tanooki Suit. In addition, while the tanuki is an actual animal (also known as the Japanese raccoon dog), the suit is modeled after the mythical bake-danuki, which is, you know, mythical.
  • While some of the parodies in Comic Jumper can get fairly in-depth, like the racism and Values Dissonance present in the Silver Age and earlier comics, the manga stage, by its own admittance, doesn't go very far beyond your typical All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles/"Japan sure is weird" jokes (with some Tastes Like Diabetes thrown in). Smiley even spends the whole stage dressed as Cloud Strife, who's a video game character and not an anime character.
  • The old Italian videogame magazine Master Console had in each issue a comic that spoofed one of the games reviewed in the issue. Most of them were hit and miss, but the most blatant example of shallowness was the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 panel, which showed Goku running away from a flying fat girl who wants to cover him with kisses while complaining about how the characters in the Budokai Tenkaichi games become weirder and weirder in each game. Whoever made that comic probably believed that the main selling point of the series is the introduction of a slew of new characters made up for the games in each title, something that never happened in that series. In fact, the distinguishing feature of that series was that it made basically every remotely combative character in the original playable; adding Canon Foreigner fighters would have probably been less of a headache compared to the dozens of one-off characters, mooks, and Super Mode versions of other characters. The girl herself might be very loosely based on Arale, which explains the mistake, as Arale's design isn't much like most of those in Dragon Ball.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • The stock anime parody Stinkoman 20X6. Possibly an in-universe example as it was created by Strong Bad, whose knowledge on the subject is limited to having seen one of them once in The '80s, back when it was okay to call it Japanimation.
    • Another cartoon on the subject of webcomics takes a gentle (lawyer-friendly) jab at Penny Arcade. It starts with Strong Bad and Strong Sad making a cheesy pun, after which their dialogue inexplicably devolving into vague, convoluted Techno Babble, really doesn't resemble anything done by the source material.
  • The How It Should Have Ended popular web-series is guilty of this in a number of its videos. The Spider-Man parodies keep making fun of Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man because he narrates (which he does only in the opening of each movie and not throughout the film), and until "How Spider-Man: Far From Home Should Have Ended", acted as if the only legacy of the Spider-Man Trilogy is the third part, a standard it doesn't extend to Superman (who isn't remembered for turkeys like Superman III or Superman IV) or Batman (the Joel Schumacher films). Even now, the fact that the latter two refuse to let Tobey's Spidey have a seat at their table while giving one to Andrew Garfield, and later Tom Holland, is played without any Hypocrisy Nod, even if at the very least, Spider-Man 3 is considered better than their turkeys for all that it's worth.
  • The Scientifically Accurate series is guilty of this in quite a lot of videos, as the creators seem to not get that there is a reason why fiction isn't always 100% accurate to reality and the videos tend to run on the formula of "If things happened in this show as they did in real life, it would be a violent and disgusting mess". One particularly bad example, though, would be Scientifically Accurate CatDog, which portrays the title characters as an ordinary cat and dog grafted together, ignoring the fact that the title characters were born that way and in real life it would be physically impossible for two different species to be born as Conjoined Twins, therefore defeating the purpose of doing a "scientifically accurate" spoof.
  • So This is Basically... makes frequent use of this.
    Every once in a while the game takes a break from brutal dogfighting to remind you that Pokémon is about friendship. Oh. This one doesn't have the nature I was looking for. Don't worry! You can be a breeding slave!
    • In contrast, the episode on Adventure Time seems both a lot less faithful to the source material and a lot less respectful- the latter is justified by the fact that he clearly doesn't like the show, but it doesn't entirely excuse it for seeming to misunderstand some of the things it mocks (like saying gross-out is a regular thing in Adventure Time despite it being hard to find).
    • His Kingdom Hearts video is another case of this trope being used in a more mean-spirited way. In addition to going on record saying he hates the series, his main complaint is claiming the games are nothing but a button mash fest; which is really only true for Kingdom Hearts. While mashing attack will get you through most basic encounters in the main series, trying to do that in boss battles will usually result in a game over. Additionally, several gamesnote  have reworked combat systems that actively encourage using spells and other such abilities over just spamming the attack button for every encounter.
  • The animations of DarkMatter2525 mainly criticize religions (mostly Christianity and Islam) whilst promoting atheism. While he does make some good points like pointing out the problems of circular reasoning, most of the time it seems the creator's understanding of said religions is limited to common inaccurate stereotypes and their worst members.

    Webcomics 
  • This PHD strip was apparently written by someone whose entire understanding of MythBusters comes from the commercials — especially seeing how there's hardly an episode where they don't use a control in their experiments. While they openly admit that most of the science that goes into each episode is left on the cutting room floor due to time constraints, their methodology does not exactly boil down to "blow something up and call it science". This xkcd provides a nice counterpoint.
  • Lil' Formers:
    • The comic seems to think that all of the humor in Michael Bay's Transformers comes from endless repetitions of "more than meets the eye". The quotation is only used twice; once by Optimus Prime at the end, and again by Sam near the beginning, and even then he remarks on how lame his use of it was.
    • Anytime Lil' Formers parodies Transformers that aren't Generation 1, this trope comes into full effect. The films, Transformers Animated, the Unicron Trilogy... Eventually, Shortpacked! did a strip parodying Moylan's tendencies to not research his stuff at all and only mock them because they're "new" and "not G1".
  • Homestuck: As the cast of 12 trolls is introduced, they are characterized with a scattershot blast of parodic references to bits of current pop-culture (anime, hipsters, Harry Potter, Twilight-esque vampires, Juggaloes, Furries and more.) The shallowness is intentional and makes sense on a meta-level, as the trolls are a cavalcade of Parody Sues. It makes more sense on an in-character level though as the trolls are adolescent kids who are insecure in their identities and who deliberately affect "quirks" to make themselves seem more special and important. Over time, some characters are developed, and characteristics that once seemed like half-assed parody are shown to indicate Hidden Depths. For other characters, it's merely Lampshaded, and the reason their carefully-curated quirks seemed lame-brained is that they really are.
  • Problem Sleuth does it intentionally. It purports to be a Film Noir parody, but has very little in common with the genre except for using lots of black and white, taking place in a "vaguely Prohibition-era" setting, and having three fedora-wearing detectives as the main characters (who don't actually do any crime-solving until right at the very end). They don't even act like film noir characters, except for Problem Sleuth, who is occasionally Wrong Genre Savvy and dreams of solving crimes for "hysterical dames". As mentioned, this is on purpose; Problem Sleuth has just about nothing to do with any genre, save possibly an extra surreal JRPG.
  • Unwinder's Tall Comics: The Rant for this page (Archive.org mirror here) discusses this trope. Parker notes that everybody and their mother has parodied Citizen Kane at some point, but the majority seem to only reference the scenes (the bit about the sled, "Rosebud", etc) that have spread via Popcultural Osmosis. Parker deliberately set out to avoid doing that with his parody, so he imagines a Citizen Kane sequel made by a director who's obviously familiar with the original but still manages to completely miss the point. Furthermore, Parker wasn't content to simply make "the Citizen Kane parody for people who actually watched the film"—he references a subplot that was left out of the finished film, making his comic into "the Citizen Kane parody for people who read the screenplay".
  • Electric Wonderland: Peter Paltridge admits to have written this parody of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers without watching the show, instead relying on Linkara's History of Power Rangers videos about the series.
  • In-universe in Bobwhite. Cleo tries to play an ironic ukelele cover version of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way". She gets a few lines in before admitting that she's never actually listened to the song.
  • Invoked in MSF High, in-game. Lily, when asked to cosplay as her boyfriend, instead does a Shallow Parody of RPG heroes, of which her boyfriend, Drake, is a deconstruction/reconstruction.
  • The recurring spoofs of Harry Potter in Sluggy Freelance have one or two valid criticisms against stupid things in the series, with the rest of the jokes being about stupid things that are unique to the comic (e.g., the Hogwarts stand-in has "semesters" that last only for a week. Haha, what a dumb school! Except the "real" Hogwarts have normal-length semesters, so... what?).

    Web Original 
  • Something Awful:
    • "Truth Media" reviews are an intentional combination of this and Stealth Parody in regards to "leaked scripts" of movies and other "sneak-peek" reviews of popular media. A particularly noteworthy example is their Star Wars Episode II "leaked script" review, mostly because pretty much everything they predicted wound up being true.
    • Truth Media usually tries really hard to get everything wrong so they can post and mock the inevitable replies from Trolls and so-called-experts. The GTA San Andreas review is quite noticeable for getting the main character's name wrong despite knowing his initials.
  • As an April Fools' Day joke, Maddox of The Best Page in the Universe did a trailer for a fictional film, Vague Genre Movie, mocking shallow parodies such as the Seltzer and Friedberg ones mentioned above.
  • Cracked:
    • "The 7 Least-Faithful Comic Book Movies" talks about Ang Lee's Hulk movie and how it differs from the comics, saying that the The Incredible Hulk doesn't delve into psychological themes and that it spends an odd amount of time focusing on Bruce Banner's father. The thing is, though, Bruce Banner's multiple personality disorder and abusive childhood became a huge part of his mythos starting as far back as the '80s with Joe Fixit (and maybe even earlier than that) and continued during the '90s. Assuming this is still canon, then that accounts for over half of The Hulk's canon.
    • This is discussed in "4 Things People Mistakenly Think Are Automatically Hilarious", specifically in the context of reviews which refer to a movie's characters by their actor's name or one of their more famous roles. When done well, there's a point to be made, such as that the writing isn't good enough for the actor to disappear into their role (noting that describing a scene from Junior as "Arnold Schwarzenegger giving birth", though incredibly silly, is also an accurate way to describe the scene in question rather than just a forced attempt at a joke). Other writers then saw only the most immediately-obvious part of the joke, that being the funny names, and took the wrong lesson home from these sorts of reviews (giving an example of a "funny" review of Twilight where the only actual attempts at humor are referring to Edward as "Darkness McEmo" and Jacob as "Abs McGee").
  • The Editing Room is a satirical website consisting of "abridged screenplays", whereby the author takes the mickey out of a film by having its character hang lampshades all over the place and by snarking away at story points. Most are quite clever but after a while, some seem juvenile and shallow. Things get worse when you realize that a few times the writer doesn't even bother to do any research into the background of the movie, or at times doesn't appropriately represent the story. One example is their script for Green Lantern, in which they make quite a few quips about how silly the titular character's "weakness" to the color yellow is... even though such thing is never actually established in the movie, it's only part of the comics. And the reason it's not in the movie is the "powerless against yellow" thing was written out when Kyle Rayner became the new focus character circa 1994, exactly because of the goofiness of such a weakness, and it's been like that in practically everything Green Lantern-related since.
  • A review of Game of Thrones on Slate.com attempts to parody A Song of Ice and Fire... by using a prose style more reminiscent of Jim Theis than George R. R. Martin.
  • 4chan's "Fourth Wave Feminism" hoax, in which a gang of /b/tards opened fake Twitter accounts and faked images in Photoshop to try and create a social media trend of a warped form of feminism that glorifies thin, sexy bodies via the "bikini bridge" and "free bleeding", thus creating a civil war among feminists. As The Daily Dot puts it, this attempt "was fatally flawed from the very beginning because [/b/] has no grasp of the different waves of feminism." The crux of the problem is that their "challenge" to the third wave was actually just a shallower and dumber version of one of the ways the third was challenging the second.
  • Often you'll see "gun fail" images that depict someone staring down the barrel of a gun and being chastised as an idiot or being compared to Elmer Fudd. The thing is, it's very clear from the context of many of these images that the person is cleaning the gun, and looking through the barrel at a source of light after cleaning it is necessary to check for grime or obstructions. Obviously you only do this after the weapon has been unloaded, cleared, and had the bolt removed (if possible), but a mere glance at these images show the person has in fact done all three. It gets particularly funny when whoever posted the image or people in the comments accuse the person in the photo of "knowing nothing about guns" since only someone unfamiliar with guns would look at such an image and believe what these people were doing was stupid, ill-informed, or dangerous.

    Web Videos 
  • Bart Baker's YouTube parodies of famous songs sometimes fall into this; namely, situations like his parody of Ariana Grande's Focus. It focuses entirely on Ariana Grande being secretly transgender, when the actual song was a stereotypical pop tune that had absolutely nothing to do with that whatsoever.
  • Mondo Media's Like News shorts repeat one point without parodying much of the content. For example, Charlie Brown is old, or Indiana Jones is old. That's it.
  • Peter Coffin's parodies of the New Moon trailers are the Tropes Are Not Bad version of this trope. It's also justified, as the intention was to fool Twilight fangirls into thinking they were the real trailers — so he had to make them right after said trailers were first released. And it works; if the videos themselves aren't hilarious enough for you, the angry responses from fans about how they were TRICKED!!!!1111 will be.
  • CollegeHumor:
    • A video parody about bronies is pretty much just a montage of generic nerd jokes with a My Little Pony colored coat of paint on it. Coincidentally, it manages to be a Shallow Parody of Friendship Is Magic at the same time by having the pony figures talk about stereotypical Girly Girl things.
    • College Humor also did a video parodying The Hunger Games called "Hunger Games Unabridged," which is all about defying the Nobody Poops trope. A hilarious idea, to be sure, and the video itself is rather well done, but there's just one problem—the "unabridged" excerpts read in the video are written in third-person point of view, whereas the actual series is written from Katniss's first-person point of view.
    • Their Starcraft parody "The Worst Starcraft General" has one space marine suggest attacking an enemy without a direct order from the player; this nearly gets him shot for mutiny. The problem with this is, in the real game units actually ARE allowed to attack things in their line of sight without a direct order.
    • There's only the stuff Miyazaki makes on the one side and Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Pokémon and hentai on the other. And NOTHING else (pretty textbook for the prevalent Western attitude towards Japanese animation outlined under Western Animation.)
  • YouTube contributor Ben Loka posted a video titled "My Life if it were an episode of Lost" which isn't completely accurate. At the end, he apologizes to other Lost fans, admits that the video is nothing like the show, and recommends watching the actual show which he says is much better.
  • The Nostalgia Critic usually averts this, doing at least cursory research so a joke works. However, he can sometimes slip into it with stuff he doesn't know much about:
    • The review of Sharknado has a painfully shallow parody of MythBusters that seems to think the entire show is blowing things up with no regard to actual science. It's like they were trying to parody the show based on having seen a couple of commercials. This especially comes through in their portrayal of Kari Bryon, who in the video is implied to only be on the show for there to be a hot chick who makes bad puns, when she is actually just as involved in the show's physical processes as the rest of the male team.
    • His Sailor Moon review has a lot of mistakes, which caused quite a bit of fan complaints and made some think that he hadn't bothered watching any of the show before the review.
    • His jokes about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic veer into this. Doug Walker has said in commentary that he has only seen one or two episodes and doesn't think it's particularly bad, despite the fact that the Critic mocked it in many of his reviews (he does it three times in Ghost Rider!).
    • He also tends to criticize Harry Potter a lot, specifically in regards to The Chosen One plot, on the basis that having the entire Wizarding World just instantly dub somebody as their hero and savior would not be healthy for a young kid. Which, of course, is one of the main themes of the books. It rather seems like all he knows of the series comes from the films and Popcultural Osmosis. He also once called Dementors "Ring Wraith rip-offs", despite Dementors and Ring Wraiths being nothing alike besides a vague similarity in appearance.
    • Doug also borrows a Shallow Parody joke from Family Guy (see the Western Animation folder below) at least four times in his own reviews: Randy Newman is depicted as if he is nothing more than someone who writes songs about stuff he sees around him. In both shows' cases, Newman's voice is imitated as if he's some kind of mentally handicapped idiot. For the record: Newman has never remotely recorded any song that justifies these parodies, and actually writes songs about far more adult topics that one would assume on basis of these spoofs. Part of this stems from Small Reference Pools — most people only know him, if at all, for the songs he's written for animated features, which are considerably Lighter and Softer.
    • He's done this intentionally with movies based on shows before, particularly Pokémon: The First Movie and Thomas and the Magic Railroad, where he sat down and only watched the movies, being entirely unfamiliar with the shows they're based on, and attempts to make sense of just what in the hell is going on. He's taken flak from fans both times for this, but simply explained that he doesn't have time to watch the original shows, that a movie should be self-explanatory and not rely on its source material, and most importantly that it makes for funnier jokes when he doesn't know what's going on. Of course, the Pokémon review begins with about two straight minutes of extremely confused Doug:
    Okay, what's a Pokémon? Who's Giovanni? What are those things? Who are you?! Where are we? What, you mean like bring people back from the dead and stuff? What's that thing? Where am I? Is this Earth, are we in another dimension? Is this the past, the future, the present? What's going on, when does this even take place? Oh my God, I'm like one minute into this movie, already I'm totally lost!
    • The review of Deadpool 2 shows that Doug doesn't have the best understanding of Deadpool, starting with him comparing it to Rick and Morty for little justification and as this video shows, only gets worse from there.
    • His review of the film version of The Wall ends up becoming this, as Doug regularly displays a clear lack of understanding of the album and the era in which it came from. Examples include proclaiming "Goodbye Blue Sky" to be Oscar Bait when it was one of the tracks on the original album and thus wouldn't have qualified for an Oscar when it was made, or that "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2" is just pandering to rebellious high schoolers who resent being made into productive members of society and want to feel victimized by their teachers when Pink Floyd's depiction of a school where students are abused and brainwashed into uniform clones devoid of individuality is startlingly accurate of UK boarding schools of the time (in fact, the teacher in charge of the children's choir in the song had to keep the recording a secret for fear of the head teacher shutting it down.)
  • The Cinema Snob: Brad Jones bases his reviewer persona on your typical snobbish movie critic, complete with making shout-outs to pretentious film directors such a critic would like. The main inspiration is Roger Ebert, whom Brad actually respects. When you check out many of Brad's other reviews and movie discussions on his site you quickly notice that the character is mostly based around his dislike of pretentious arthouse movies and the critics who tend to praise these movies instead of the exploitation films he enjoys. Brad has admitted he's never actually seen many of the arthouse films he has his character praising. So, in a sense, he's attacking an entire movie genre that he really doesn't watch and has a preconceived dislike of, making it very unfair to act as if all these movies are all the same kind of needlessly non-understandable and pretentious, unwatchable nonsense.
  • When the trailer for Unfriended was released, Shane Dawson created a parody of it in which the main joke is that the kids are Too Dumb to Live because they won't just turn off Skype. In the actual film, a major plot point, and one of the very first things the viewer learns, is that Laura is manipulating the characters' computers so that they can't disconnect — and when they try to do so, as in the case of Ken, she kills them almost immediately for it.
  • The "What if 4Kids got X" meme is based on doing ridiculous edits on anime as a Take That! on 4Kids's practices. Instead of doing things 4Kids actually did such as censoring acts of violence and generally making things culturally neutral, however, a bunch of people think that all you need to do it is just replace the audio on the chosen anime's opening with the "Mew Mew Power" theme song or change their names to a similar sounding western name. Another part of these parodies is applying the same treatment to anime that were never intended for kids in the first place, like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni becoming Casey and Friends, rather than the Shonen and occasionally Shoujo series that they actually licensed.
  • The official Twitter account for the US Marines featured a parody video of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate set to stock footage of Marines, but their only frame of reference appears to be the "A Piercing Screech" trailer for Ridley, as all the character reveal phrases are "...Hit(s) the Big Time!" Such phrases are supposed to be unique to each character, and relevant to them in some way. For example, the reveals for Simon Belmont, Richter Belmont, and King K. Rool were accompanied with the phrases, "...Lashes Out!", "...Crosses Over!", and "...Comes Aboard!"
    • After the "Everyone is here" trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out, many spoofs featuring random characters came out. While most of them were on point (with the only flaw being that some of them used bits from the original trailer in, so that many times it happened that the wacky casts still features Mario, Snake, Pichu and Jigglypuff), out of nowhere a subbranch of the meme came out called "Everyone joins the battle!" that... looks nothing like the original trailer, and is just a slideshow of newcomer reveal phrases set to the main theme from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • JonTron:
  • Lampshaded by The Angry Video Game Nerd when reviewing the video game adaptation of Rocky and Bullwinkle when he fails to give even a synopsis and then just admits he's never seen the show. Thankfully it's also averted as the game itself gives him more than enough material to parody without even touching the source material.
    Nerd: Rocky and Bullwinkle on NES. Based on the cartoon... um... the cartoon... about a moose and a squirrel. (Beat) Do I have to see everything?
  • There was an animated parody of The Fine Brothers' React videos that mocks the several React shows they have, but it just devolves into a poor attack on The Fine Bros' business that could just as easily apply to several bigger media companies. There also wasn't even basic research about the shows themselves; there's an angry elderly character named "Richard Fine" who is portrayed as the Fine Bros' father, but the brothers' real father Yehuda Fine has appeared several times on Elders React and is much more of the mellow and Genre Savvy type.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park has been guilty of this a few times.
    • "Jakovasaurus". The Phantom Menace wasn't out when this was made, so all they had to make fun of Jar Jar was the trailer. Yet it kinda works because it shows they knew, as they stated, "This is the new Ewok! This is what's going to ruin the movie!" Still, it's often listed around the worst episodes of the series.
    • Their parody of Inception, "Insheeption", was said to have been based on CollegeHumor's parody of the film, and that that was all they had seen. In the commentary for the episode, Trey Parker and Matt Stone said that Matt had, in fact, seen the film, and the blatant similarities between the two parodies was because of a miscommunication (to wit, they only had one chance to see the movie before the episode's deadline and had to consult outside sources to fill in on some details they didn't have time to go back and rewatch).
    • Their parody of Ghost Hunters in "Dead Celebrities" seems to have heard about the "Dude, run!" meme and ran with it. First of all, the guy who said that is the only example of anyone ever panicking during the show, and he never lived it down. The two main characters (who were being parodied), do the exact opposite. They're more attracted to an area if there seems to be something unnatural going on. Likewise, it portrays them as coming to the conclusion that everything is a ghost. In the early seasons especially (when this parody was made), they spend a good chunk of an episode disproving most (if not all) of the claims (in fact, the early show is a lot more about helping normal people feel safe in their homes and not about catching ghosts). Infamously, Jason often declares, at the end of an episode, that a place is not haunted, even if they still have a pile of evidence that they can't debunk.
    • The whole concept of "Princess Kenny" seems like Matt and Trey watched exactly one episode of any arbitrary magical girl series, crammed together a few rainbow/kawaii/pink dresses jokes and called it a day. Odd, because the duo should be familiar enough with Japanese culture. After "Good Times With Weapons" and "Chinpokomon", this seems like a pretty lousy effort.
    • South Park itself is, or at least was, a victim itself. When the show was still fairly new, parodies would crank up the show's penchant for Toilet Humour and Vulgar Humor to absurd lengths. Sure, the show didn't teach as many lessons or have as much satire back in those times, but at least the plots made sense. In fact, a parody made by Cracked said outright that the show doesn't have to make sense because they just make gross jokes. This was, incidentally, the origin of the Show Within a Show Terence and Philip, which was based on what contemporary writers made South Park out to be.
  • Robot Chicken has been guilty of this a few times:
    • A sketch parodying Into the Blue lampshaded this, with creator Seth Green explaining that it was written before the movie came out and that they could only make the parody based on their guesses of what the movie would be like. He goes on to state he's sure that Into the Blue by now will be a complete success and received several Academy Award nominations. The skit runs thus:
      Paul Walker: We're going to have to go... Into the Blue!
      Jessica Alba: Into the blue?
      Paul Walker: Into the blue.
      ...
      Jessica Alba: I'm in a bikini!
      Paul Walker: I do lots of situps.
    • Goku carrying a handgun in one Christmas skit. Guns of almost any caliber are inane, insane jokes in the DB universe. Goku as a kid kicks missiles and rockets back at the people who launched them. Hell, the second thing Goku ever does in the whole series is shrug off a bullet to the head. Buu's puppy and the farmer who greets Raditz in the pilot are about it for gunfire casualties in over 300 episodes. And aside from Goku and some kind of amalgamation between Gohan and Goten, the sketch features almost no characters from the series, misuses terminology from the shownote , and comes off more like just another Christmas sketch with two Dragon Ball characters and some kai blasts.
    • One Pokémon parody isn't much better. It involves Pikachu and Squirtle babbling nonsensically at each other in Pokémon Speak for several seconds until Squirtle gets fed up and starts ranting about how stupid the show is, yelling at viewers to read a book or something. The anime never does this; on the rare occasion that conversations between Pokémon are focused on (the main characters are, in fact, humans, and the focus is on them), it's typically arranged so that it's possible to guess at what they're saying based on context, body language, and facial expressions. Subtitles are used in the early episode "Island of the Giant Pokémon", since the intended dialogue is too specific for that.
    • Another Pokémon parody focuses on what goes on inside of Pikachu's Poké Ball, despite the fact that Ash's Pikachu almost never goes inside its Poké Ball because he doesn't like it. Also, the sketch ends with Ash pitting his Pikachu against a Charizard, which causes Pikachu to sigh in resignation to defeat, thinking Ash must be an idiot to put him up against a Charizard. While Pikachu is a lower-tier Pokémon than Charizard, Charizard is part flying type and is therefore doubly vulnerable to electric attacks, so even a regular Pikachu would have a type advantage over Charizard. This, combined with the fact that Ash's Pikachu is absurdly powerful and has held his ground against a Dragonite and a Regice (among other legendaries and pseudo-legendaries)—and even, memetically, a Rhydon, a Pokémon he should be nearly useless against—makes this joke grating for anyone familiar with the series to watch.
    • An episode also features a parody of Ms. Morgendorffer... or rather, Mr. Morgendorffer. In the segment, sometime after the events of the show and being interviewed by Michael Moore in a "Where Are They Now? 90s" send-up, Daria becomes a post-op transgender man named Daryl. Daryl drolly explains the procedure to Moore, who in turn loses his lunch. This is based on the other generalized misconception (by many who haven't seen the show as well as some of the characters in the show itself) of Daria as being emotionless or "The Misery Chick". Being Robot Chicken, though, it's entirely conceivable they made the parody for the people who didn't watch Daria.
    • An episode mocking The Golden Girls features Blanche accidentally killing a man during, well, what Blanche is known for; and Rose is surprised at this being possible. In the original series, a running joke is that's how Rose's husband (and some boyfriends) died. This is to say nothing of how the entire skit is a Redundant Parody too, mashing up the show with Sex and the City as if the main characters don't openly talk about their sex lives within the original show itself.
    • One Doctor Who sketch gives this vibe. For starters, The Nerd says he's never seen the show, though he thinks he gets the gist of it through nerd osmosis. Secondly, The Doctor doesn't seem to match with any of his previous incarnations. Even people who've never seen the show typically depict their parodies/shout outs as the Fourth Doctor (Classic) or 10th Doctor (Modern). Finally, their mockings/criticisms (The Doctor goes to a boring planet that's an allegory for how people have too much stress in their lives) only superficially resemble the show. The only on-the-mark joke is that the BBC's costumes are really cheap.
    • Their Homestar Runner skit has also been accused of this. For one, Strong Bad has a thick Mexican accent and says "crap" a lot, something that was only true in the early toons, with the latter being an Abandoned Catchphrase that ticks Strong Bad off when people bring it up. Also, The King of Town has an Irish accent for some reason.
    • An episode mocking iCarly consistently pokes fun at how morbidly obese Gibby is, despite the fact that the actor had lost the weight years ago.
    • Fully parodied with one sketch, where the writers have an outlandish guess on shows that they themselves admit, do not actually watch.
  • The Simpsons:
    • There's something resembling an anime parody on the Season 12 episode "HOMR". While at an animation convention, Bart and Lisa watch a Japanese cartoon (which Bart refers to as "Japanimation", a term which hasn't seen much use since The '80s) in which a robot-wolf-like creature captures a female warrior who turns into a prawn and destroys the robo-wolf, who then turns into a pair of wind-up shoes and walks away. So the point Al Jean (the episode writer) is making is "Ha-ha-ha, anime is weird" (which Bart and Lisa lampshade). Oddly, it seems more like a parody of American science fantasy cartoons from the '80s (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), Thundarr the Barbarian etc.) than actual anime. Same thing with the "Battling Seizure Robots" parody from Season 10's "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" (though that's more of a reference to that infamous Pokémon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon", which was banned after viewers suffered seizures).
    • Of course, there is a homage counterbalance — one of the couch gags is Japan-themed and adds Ultraman (complete with his famous attacks) and Jun the Swan among other things.
    • As the title implies, Season 23's "The D'oh-cial Network" is established as a parody of a certain 2010 film. The similarities are more or less restricted to: Lisa starting a Facebook Expy networking site, use of Radiohead's "Creep" (used in the trailer, not the actual film), and a cameo by Armie Hammer. It seems like the writers watched a trailer for The Social Network before penning this one.
    • The parody of The O.C., which DOES get the title, theme song and general age ("young") of the characters right, but only featured two lines of dialogue ("-I can't believe you cheated on me! -Well, that's how it goes down in the O.C.") followed by a montage to the main theme, with some guys (one of whom is dressed in a Snoopy suit) walking cheerfully down the street, visiting an amusement park and withdrawing some money from an ATM while being held at gunpoint by the guy in the Snoopy suit. What any of this has to do with the series is a mystery.
    • In a sort of crossover with the Robot Chicken entry above, the Couch Gag for "The Cad and The Hat" uses a poor parody of South Park in the "It's funny because they're children and they swear" way of parodying the series. Said gag also includes a rather poor, and incredibly out of place, parody of the California Raisins singing about how bad they are to the tune of the Marvin Gaye hit turned jingle, "Heard it Through the Grapevine".
    • One episode has a Precious parody that consists solely of jokes about how fat the lead actress is. This may be somewhat explained seeing that the movie's subject matter is very family-unfriendly.
    • A parody of Tintin in "Husbands and Knives" references the moon rocket from "Explorers to the Moon", the isle of "The Black Island", Captain Haddock, Thompson, Thomson, Snowy and Tintin's Belgian nationality. Apart from the general tone and style, the series isn't satirized at all.
    • The Rin Tin Tin parody in "Old Yeller Belly" is equally shallow. All we see is Rin Tin Tin biting Adolf Hitler in the ass. First of all: the Rin Tin Tin movies were popular during the 1920s and early 1930s before Hitler took power. Secondly, the series never became political, so it seems that Hitler just makes a cameo appearance here because both he and Rin Tin Tin appeared in black and white movies. And because having Hitler randomly pop up and taking a shot at old-time Hollywood (Rinty is referred as filmdom's first "gay dog") always make good material for a cheap laugh, right?
    • One episode featured an Itchy and Scratchy episode that parodied House. During the brief short, the writers demonstrate knowledge of the following things about House: it's a show about a doctor, and the theme song is "Teardrop" (the latter being demonstrated by having the opening chords play constantly throughout the short). The most significant notes about House, his Deadpan Snarker Doctor Jerk nature, ends up completely absent.
    • There's a Treehouse of Horror episode that parodies Twilight. Despite Twilight being probably one of the most widely-parodied subjects of the era, the only Twilight elements are the fact that it's a romance about vampires featuring a character who looks like Edward Cullen, a few scenes that seem to have been taken from the first film's trailer, and a gag about Milhouse being a were-poodle. The biggest thing to note is that the most infamous element of the franchise—that Twilight vampires sparkle in sunlight—isn't acknowledged at all, nor are any of the other things about Twilight (creepy relationship dynamics, oddly-sanitized takes on vampire lore, Bella's lack of personality) that made it such a punching bag back in the early '10s. Tellingly, at one point in the episode, Dracula shows up: in most other parodies of the era, this would mark some kind of comparison between classical vampires and Twilight-style ones, possibly resulting in a fight between Dracula and not-Edward. Instead, the differences are never acknowledged; in fact, Dracula is Edward's dad, and there's no sign of animosity between them. Basically, for this one, they hadn't even seen other parodies of Twilight.
    • The parody of Dinosaurs in the episode "Black Widower" accuses the show of plagiarizing ''The Simpsons'' and singles out the character of Robbie in particular as being a copy of Bart. The parody only vaguely resembles the real show, because Dinosaurs and The Simpsons have very little in common besides being broad satires of Sitcom tropes, and Robbie and Bart are absolutely nothing alike.
    • Another Treehouse of Horror has a parody of Dexter. All it takes from said series is a song similar to its theme tune and that it's about a guy who doubles as a killer.
    • As with many Harry Potter parodies, the one on "Treehouse of Horror" seems to know little about the series except that it involves a Wizarding School; aside from that, they got the villain's name ("Voldemort" → "Montymort") and the fact that he has a pet snake. Interestingly, later "normal" episodes have a Book Series Within A Show that parodies it a bit better, with their own versions of Dumbledore and Snape. (And yes, the latter kills the former.)
    • Their "Bartman Begins" parody is just as bad. They don't even try to spoof Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Instead they present a general recapitulation of the character type, promiscuously drawing from various Batman media. The campy villains and bizarre decision to set the story in 1933 (six years before Batman even existed!) are bad enough, but worst of all is their making Ba(r)tman a Sociopathic Hero. He avenges his parents' murders by killing all criminals, even nonviolent ones - and, in some cases, people who simply look like criminals! He shoves them into exposed electrical wiring purely out of spite, and they die instantly; this is something that Batman, even at his angriest and most antisocial, has NEVER done. Oddly enough, it actually functions far better as a spoof of the DC Extended Universe Batman, which didn't yet exist. (Of course, it's Bartman, not Batman...)
    • One episode that pits Bart using Karate against an Israeli girl who uses Krav Maga makes it very clear, going by the over-the-top showey movements and yelling of the girl, that they don't have even the slightest clue what Krav Maga actually is or what it looks like.
    • Another episode had a parody of Fibber McGee and Molly consisting only on lame puns and jokes about alcoholism, none of which were featured in the actual show.
  • For a dizzying combination of the anime traits described above, there's the recurring Pokémon parody Tinymon in Johnny Test, whose hero looks like Gary Oak, acts more like a Bruce Lee parody and, naturally, talks like Speed Racer. In fact, his travelling companion looks more like Ash Ketchum. The "Tinymon" also have more complex and unnatural appearances making them look more like Digimon than Pokémon. Subverted on the gaming front, however: Besides getting a legitimate parody of the gaming console, they also feature obscure references like "evolution through happiness", legendary Pokémon that may not even exist and Magikarp Power. Even small things like unlockable options from league battles and stealing Pokémon. They may not have paid attention to the anime but they have definitely played the games.
  • While The Fairly OddParents episode "Channel Chasers" visits two animesque shows, the one with poor lipsync and bizarre enunciation is specifically a parody of Speed Racer, so it's somewhat better than most other examples.
  • Dexter's Laboratory did an anime parody three times, once specifically of Speed Racer, once as a parody of the Humongous Mecha genre, particularly Voltron, and later in the series of common anime villains traits (like being Bishōnen and wearing Scary Impractical Armor). The only problem is that the villain from the latter was a Card-Carrying Villain while the majority of villains he was parodying at least try to justify their crimes. And he has a speech pattern like he ran away from Speed Racer.
  • There's an episode of Droopy, Master Detective that was a satire of Romeo and Juliet, and apparently, whoever wrote that episode was under the impression that Juliet was a princess who got captured and that Romeo rescued her.
  • Drawn Together:
  • The Futurama episode that does the show in different styles (classic animation, video games, and anime). Most anime fans agree that the anime skit is bad for this reason. Although this is more a case of said fans missing the point, as the three skits are of specific eras of their given mediums (1920s black and white animation, 1980s 8-bit era games, and early limited animation anime). The anime parody isn't meant to involve all anime, the anime fans simply judge the skit as if it was supposed to.
    • "When Aliens Attack" featured a Show Within The Show called Single Female Lawyer which features a protagonist who's a Strong Independent Woman (TM) who Really Gets Around and is heroically defiant in the face of the patriarchy. It's apparently meant to be a parody of Ally McBeal, down to the protagonist having almost the same name (and the famously short skirts). The problem is, Ally was never portrayed as any kind of feminist icon and certainly not as being the least bit strong or independent - in fact, most of the show consisted of her angsting about how pathetic and incomplete she felt without a husband and children, and she never faced much in the way of discrimination. Nor was she any more or less sexually active than other women on television at the time.
  • Family Guy has a tendency to fall victim to this whenever they feel like inserting a mean-spirited Take That! at a show/person that the writers don't like, and many of the things it tries to pass off as "parodies" feel more like cheap, half-hearted plagiarism.
    • The episode "Blue Harvest" parodying Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope features a joke about the Cantina band, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, simply playing only one song over and over again. It's a joke that isn't even unique to Family Guy and is just plain nonsense if you ever watched the movie in question. Not only can you very clearly hear a change in music from the uproarious Benny Goodman-like "Mad About Me" to a mellower BGM, the friggin' soundtrack has both Cantina songs!
    • Also, in spite of the joke about how they'll have to continue the movie with Danny Elfman after John Williams kicks it, Elfman doesn't conduct his scores.
    • The infamous "Randy Newman sings about whatever he sees in his vicinity" joke from "Da Boom". The writers only seem to have chosen him because his is an easy voice to imitate — Newman is actually an accomplished protest writer and satirist who writes about very adult topics, though due to Small Reference Pools most people only know him for the Lighter and Softer fare he's written for animated features. The joke makes slightly more sense in context: it's After the End and most of the world's a barren wasteland, and one must pass the time somehow...
    • Another bad example is showing an episode of All in the Family that depicts Archie Bunker joining the Klan and burning a cross. This is in spite of the fact that a focal point of the series was that Archie's prejudice is not malicious in the least but rather he was a product of his time and upbringing and he was a noble good man at heart: his treatment of Lionel Jefferson was ignorant and insensitive, but well-intentioned and the two shared a genuine mutual friendship in spite of it, and one of the most famous episodes had Archie denounce the Klan and prevent a cross burning.
    • The 1950s are another common Butt-Monkey on Family Guy (and American Dad! as well), and the jokes range from unfair to just plain bizarre. In one episode, they are apparently content to sum up the entire decade with a loud, rude, fast-talking man in a suit and fedora (more of a 1930s or '40s stereotype in any case) in a diner demanding a sandwich with cigarette butts in it (because food back then was unhealthy and disgusting, get it?).
    • One episode features a Game of Thrones parody in which Brian muses about how opening a bed and breakfast "couldn't be worse than joining the Night's Watch." Ignoring the flimsy pretext for the reference, the gag itself involves Brian minding his own business before being wacked against the wall by WunWun the giant before being stabbed to death by several Night's Watch members for no reason. The giant had nothing to do with Jon Snow's assasination, and the lack of any context for the stabbing, even within a short cutaway gag, makes this a completely jokeless sketch, leaving the viewer unclear what the purpose of the "parody" even was.
    • The show parodied Disney's run of Sequelitis in the early 2000s in "Lois Kills Stewie" and "Foreign Affairs" with a fourth Aladdin film about Jafar going to an eye doctor and a fifth about him taking a census. Jafar was Killed Off for Real in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar.
    • The Quentin Tarantino portion of "Three Directors" doesn't really have much to say or offer other than "Tarantino movies are violent as shit!". As a result, the whole segment is very off-putting thanks to it being the most pointlessly violent and graphic the show has been since Season 13note . The segment also paints Tarantino movies as more pointlessly violent than they actually are, with a hero that murders random civilians for trivial reasons. Tarantino's movies are incredibly violent, but characters that murder innocent people willy-nilly are usually the villains. For example, the Kill Bill parody has Peter wake up from a coma and blind his doctor for no reason (“unnecessary but cool!”), whereas in the film, The Bride wakes up and kills two people for a good reason – an orderly was selling access to her comatose body, and a “customer” was about to rape her - and never kills anyone for no reason, even giving some of her enemies the opportunity to walk away and be spared from her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Family Guy's "parody" of Bojack Horseman consists, in its entirety, of Peter-as-Bojack declaring "Normal words, but a horse guy!" while standing in front of the Hollywood sign (as opposed to Hollywoo)note . It reads as if the episode's writer never actually watched Bojack Horseman, only hearing a vague description from somebody else once or twice, thinking it sounded dumb based on that, and never bothering to look any further into it.
    • A scene from "In Harmony's Way" has the Griffins watch an episode of Muppet Babies where Kermit and Miss Piggy are looking over their son Kermie, Jr., a grotesque pig/frog hybrid begging to be put out of his misery. This disregards that Muppet Babies was about the Muppets as children rather than the Muppets' own children.
    • Done intentionally in "You Can't Handle the Booth! / New Phone, Who Dis?" with the sequence where Peter sings "Halfway Down the Stairs" from The Muppet Show, with the gag being that the entire song was played completely straight. According to the characters' commentary, the song was only included out of protest from Peter hismelf. Lois of course critizes this scene, telling him that a reference on its own does not count as a joke.
  • Played with in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Wizard of Odd". It's inspired by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — Candace is explicitly shown to be reading the book before the dream sequence occurs, but she's interrupted after a few seconds. Because she barely read any of the book, the dream she has afterwards continually takes its cues from the MGM film, from the appearance of the characters, to a joke about the film-exclusive hourglass scene, to using the film version of the arrival in Oz as the basis of its equivalent segment — said scene is different in nearly every detail between the two versions.
  • 2DTV spoofs politicians and media celebrities by having them appear as caricatures on the show, but is one colossal Shallow Parody from beginning to end. Most of the time it seems as if the makers are a bunch of children who didn't know anything about politics, actual events, or adult topics. They just focus on the physical features or supposed lack of intelligence of the public persona of these famous people, without actually referring to real-life situations. For instance, George W. Bush is depicted as a Manchild doing stupid stuff that could have easily been done by Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin, and you wouldn't have known the difference.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
  • Most fans agree that The Real Ghostbusters were suffering from Seasonal Rot during their last seasons. Season six, for example, has "parodies" of other popular shows at the time, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons, but other than the similar look and color of the characters they're parodying, nothing else is similar, especially not the personalities. For example, in the Simpsons parody, the Bart expy is presented as the smart scientifically-oriented kid and the Lisa expy as the snarky brat. In the TMNT episode, other than the preference for pizza, the reptilian ghosts have nothing more in common.
  • Gravity Falls features a parody of Dungeons & Dragons called "Dungeons, Dungeons, & More Dungeons". The primary joke of the episode is that the game is loaded with math, including statistical anomalies, prime numbers, difficult equations, and a heavy focus on probability. Pretty much no version of D&D has any of those things; the most complicated math in D&D is basic multiplication and division, and all the rules are written in place, with the most complex editions going so far as to have you check a chart or two to see the result of your action. The game also had players making up spells on the fly based solely on imagination and the dice coming up right - a far cry from the game that codified Vancian Magic, which is based on tightly restricted spells with well-defined effects that work as the player wills.Note 
    • Not too surprising if you know what inspired this episode:
    Alex Hirsch: But one time back in my Flapjack days Pen Ward (creator of Adventure Time) and Pat McHale (creator of Over the Garden Wall) asked if I wanted to play D&D after work. I asked what the rules were, and they said, “It’s a game of imagination! There are no rules!” and then proceeded to argue about the rules for an hour and a half. I haven’t played since.
  • Turtles Forever, a crossover between the 1987 and 2003 incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was ultimately a shallow parody of the 1987 version, depicting those turtles as wimps and dumbasses, seemingly to make the 2003 version look good. The 2003 turtles found their 1987 counterparts unbearable to be around, expressing incredulity over their catchphrases and ridiculous habits, none of which actually existed in the original cartoon. The ’87 turtles fared far better when they crossed over with the 2012 cartoon; they were mocked, but reasonably, and for traits that actually existed in their original continuity.
  • This is a major flaw with the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures episode "Don't Touch That Dial", which takes potshots at The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, and The Real Ghostbusters through widely inaccurate parodies, made all the worse by the episode ending with the message that this show is awesome and all the other cartoons (and to a lesser extent, television in general) are trash that isn't worth watching.
    • The Flintstones and The Jetsons are amalgamated into The Jetstones, with the bulk of the satire being on the show having an annoying theme song rather than any valid criticisms on either of the cartoons' actual content.
    • The Scooby-Doo spoof portrays the stand-ins for Mystery, Inc. as being different ethnicities with the Fred Jones analogue having a British accent and an afro when the characters in the source material were all American and Caucasian.
    • The Real Ghostbusters are lampooned as The Real Gagbusters, four Animesque men with wild, multi-colored hair who wore identical jumpsuits and all talked like Bill Murray, which completely disregards that the art style of The Real Ghostbusters wasn't severely influenced by anime and that the show actually made an effort to make Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore, Ray Stantz, and Peter Venkman more diverse and easier to distinguish than their depictions in Ghostbusters (1984). For example, Egon was the only Ghostbuster shown to have a bizarre hairstyle due to his pompadour and rattail combo, and the four all wore differently-colored uniforms in addition to having distinct voices and personalities.
    • The only exception is the Rocky and Bullwinkle parody, and even then that's only because the Bullwinkle parody is a diminutive super-intelligent moose while the Rocky parody is Rocky Balboa.
  • Done on purpose with the clones of Clone High where the cast are a bunch of laughably immature buffoons who are at best ignorant caricatures of the actual historical figures, effectively making them parodies of shallow parodies. It's a driving plot point that they are not the originals but merely clones who share their DNA and who haven't lived through or done anything the originals did, with many of them knowing what they know about their "clone fathers" purely from Pop-Cultural Osmosis rather than fact, and characters like Abe and Gandhi having been effectively crushed by the thought of living up to their originals and having become a submissive anxious Every Man and a party animal maniac loser, respectively. It's best summed up by JFK when his foster parents explain to him what the actual JFK was really like:
    JFK: I thought he was a macho womanizing stud who conquered the moon!
  • The Rick and Morty episode "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender" has been criticized as an ineffective critique of superhero media. What makes satirical deconstructive superhero fiction like Watchmen and The Boys so effective is that they explain how and why superheroes are incompatible with the complexities of the real world.note  In contrast, Rick and Morty shows the Vindicators as one-dimensional assholes without explaining how their superheroic mentalities turn them into scumbags. Furthermore, the negative impact of the Vindicators on ordinary civilians is never shown and instead is quickly glossed over, thereby defeating the whole point of the deconstruction (which is to show the dire consequences). The superhero parody is a Red Herring in any case; the episode abandons it and makes a sudden swerve into tearing down Rick himself about ten minutes in.
  • It's generally agreed that this is what killed Kappa Mikey, considering that the entire premise of the series is "western animation character in animeland", but the actual series wound up being a fairly standard Western gag cartoon. When the show does parody, it's more based on vague approximations of Japanese cultural stereotypes than anything to do with anime.
  • This trailer for a canceled animated movie called Blue Planet begins with a rather shallow parody of Toy Story and A Bug's Life where ersatz versions of Buzz Lightyear and Flick gush about their strong friendship and get stepped on and killed by who is presumably the film's protagonist. The actual Pixar films weren't quite as sappy and actually had their share of dark themes (such as the ants in A Bug's Life being blackmailed into providing food by a bunch of confrontational grasshoppers and Toy Story being particularly notorious for the Nightmare Fuel provided by Sid's toys), making it rather irksome that the trailer would attack them for being seen as cutesy and saccharine.

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