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Soap Within a Show

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"Yugi, I think I'm pregnant—and you're the father!"
Tristan (who is male), Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series

A Sub-Trope of Show Within a Show. When a Soap Opera is depicted in works from another genre, it is nearly always done as an over-the-top parody of the genre or at least as a quick portrayal of cliched forms of its tropes, including (but by no means limited to):

  1. Love Triangle (overlaps with nearly everything here, often becoming a lot more complicated)
  2. Murder the Hypotenuse, usually stemming from the Love Triangle
  3. Comas (as per 1, Dude, She's Like in a Coma)
  4. People who are unknowingly related, including Luke, I Am Your Father and Surprise Incest
  5. And, conversely, unknown relatives showing up, including Luke, You Are My Father
  6. Twin Siblings (often evil, and characters are often involved, sometimes unknowingly, in an affair with them)
  7. Evil Matriarch
  8. As a result of 1, confusion over who a baby's parents are
  9. As a result of the above, a completely incomprehensible family tree
  10. A big twist that everyone looks forward to
  11. Back from the Dead (yet again 1)
  12. Easy Amnesia (Q: Let Me Get This Straight... is there anyone here who doesn't have amnesia? A: I forget…)
  13. Deus Angst Machina
  14. A roguish, Troubled, but Cute hunk that all of the women want (often wearing an Eyepatch of Power)
  15. In 50 or more episodes, I'll die from an incurable disease
  16. Oh, John! Oh, Marsha! (a reference to the classic Stan Freberg routine)
  17. Kids growing up within three episodes due to Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome
  18. Live Episode
  19. Split Personality
    Calculon: Son of a bit. This is my house. But that means I'm blackmailing myself.
    Monique: Oh, Calculon, I'm afraid you have a fourth personality the other three don't know about… And it and I are lovers!
  20. The theme music and various stingers will often be melodramatically organ-based (akin to radio and early television soap operas), or at least make heavy use of Playing the Heart Strings or Lonely Piano.
  21. Australian accents are common if the show itself is British (or Australian).
  22. By the same token, it's common if the show itself is American for the soap opera to be a Spanish-language telenovela. This might overlap with the subtrope Addictive Foreign Soap Opera if characters get invested in it despite not understanding the language.
  23. A few Big No's might get sprinkled in
  24. And none of the above would be complete without liberal use of Gasp!

At least one character in the main cast will be a regular viewer of the show, and likely be forced to explain it.


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  • The series of Japanese Fanta Commercials featured a series of improbable and terrible teachers that the students had to put up with. One of them was Ms. "Rose Princess," a soap-opera-esque lady teacher whose class was interrupted first by her long-lost suitor suddenly reappearing in her life, then by her mother accusing her of husband-snatching.
  • Commercials for UK detergent Daz take place in the fictional soap Cleaner Close, where many outlandish events occur.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Minami-ke has Sensei and Ninomiya-kun, a Show Within a Show in which every episode seems to feature somebody getting amnesia, wandering out into the street, and getting hit by a car.
  • In Tenchi in Tokyo Princess Ayeka in one episode gets down to watch what she claims is her favorite soap opera: "Everyone has amnesia!"
    • In the Tenchi Muyo! OAV the girls all watch a strange alien soap opera, but it doesn't get much actual screen time.
  • In an episode of Stitch!, Gantu is seen watching a soap opera that involves a woman that has been married 25 times, and most of her previous husbands are apparently in a coma.

    Comic Books 

    Eastern European Animation 
  • In Technotise Edit I Ja, terrible soap operas exist in the future too, with a twist. The woman's "a robot... my heart is made of metal!" and the man reveals... "I am in fact... an alien! I don't even have a heart!" as a shocking twist.

  • newRanma features a show by the name of "Nurse Academy" that Kasumi (and her sisters to a lesser extent) is a large fan of. Ranma-chan is a bit confused by the interwoven plots and unrealistic actor ages but becomes strangely fascinated...
  • In the Death Note fic All You Need Is Love, in order to raise funding for the Kira investigation, Matsuda begins work on a low-budget soap opera which is (very loosely) based on the lives of the Kira Taskforce:
    Matsuda: Well, Inamo it turns out had an affair with Y's Evil Twin A and that A is now back in town but Y doesn't want Hikaru to know because he's afraid that A will seduce Y because they're identical and it's really hard to tell them apart.
    Light: And let me guess Hikaru is going to sleep with both of them because he's not only gay but he's also a whore.
    Matsuda: Um, well, I don't know if I'd use that term but what if he really can't tell the difference and then… Wow Light, you have really good ideas! You should help me write sometime!
  • One As the World Turns fanfic has Luke and Reid as fans of a soap which is pretty much As The World Turns with the names changed. The two originally meet on a message board that is definitely not Soap Central and argued over their preferred pairings: Luke wants the expy Luke/Noah pairing, while Reid is an expy Luke/Reid shipper. The story pokes a lot of fun at the Ship-to-Ship Combat / Die for Our Ship and Fan Dumb seen on the ATWT message boards.
  • There's a Wicked oneshot "Blackout" in which Elphaba and Fiyero mock a (radio) soap opera that Galinda (and Boq) are obsessed with, when the power goes off during a pivotal moment of the show. They try and predict the ending, with many of the ridiculous tropes mentioned above.
  • The House, M.D. fanfiction "Woman" has House and Cameron having a bet by trying to predict the storyline of one of House's soaps that he watches.

    Film (Animated) 
  • In The Secret Life of Pets, Gidget's favourite program is what appears to be a telenovela called La pasion de la pasionnote . We don't see a lot of it, but from what we do see it appears to be 90% flouncing, lots of melodramatic wailing about loneliness, and GASPing.
  • In Turning Red, a little before the ten-minute mark into the movie, Mei and her mother Ming are seen watching a Chinese drama called Jade Palace on TV. A man and a woman are seen embracing, but Ming disapproves, as she thinks the man should have listened to his mother and married Ling-Yi. Mei agrees with her mother, believing that Siu-Jyu (the woman the man is embracing) is "so two-faced". Ming thinks Siu-Jyu is only using the man to get to the throne (since the man is apparently of royal heritage), and will probably stab the man on their wedding night.

    Film (Live-Action) 
  • The movie Soapdish was all about this.
  • The Daytime Drama that is the setting of Tootsie fills this out, so much so that the main character's real-world Reveal is assumed to just be part of the show.
  • Rene Zellweger's title character in Nurse Betty has a brain snap after watching her husband's brutal murder and thinks she's a character on her favorite soap opera and drives cross-country to work at the hospital the show is based in (or at least one in Los Angeles with a similar name). The DVD even includes episodes of the show in their entirety. They're only five minutes long and exist just to show clips during the movie, but there's a coherent plot running through them. Expectedly, all the soap cliches are shown in full, right down to that damn fuzzy camera.
  • One of the main characters in The Real Blonde acts in an insipid daytime soap opera despite being a classically trained actor. He hates it but likes the money enough to stay. He eventually leverages his character's popularity to get his ex-girlfriend's character killed.
  • 28 Days had one, called Santa Cruz, which has just about every cliche in spades. Hilariously portrayed because everyone in the cast who swore not to become addicted to it got hooked.
  • The Australian film, You and Your Stupid Mate had the protagonists trying to get their favourite soap opera, a Neighbours parody, uncancelled. In the end they fail and start watching a Home and Away parody instead.
  • Enchanted has one that shows up when Edward and Nathaniel are channel-surfing. For bonus points, it features a cameo of Paige O'Hara, who voiced Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
  • Stay-at-home dad Jack in Mr. Mom becomes so addicted to soap operas that he starts dreaming of having an affair with his neighbor Joan, with the situation played out between him, Joan, and his wife Caroline like a soap opera.
  • Earth Girls Are Easy - Valerie throws her doctor fiance out of the house when he catches him cheating on her. Next morning she sits depressed in the kitchen, watching a soap opera of a doctor fooling around with a nurse on top of his comatose fiancee.
  • Mark from Molly (1999) stars in one. The first time we see him, his character is learning that the woman he's having an affair with is actually his wife's half-sister's illegitimate daughter. Molly is shown watching the show, although she's pretty embarrassed about it.
  • Bob from I Think I Do (1997) writes for a soap opera that his boyfriend Sterling stars in. Sterling's character is constantly ending up in the hospital thanks to Bob's writing, for reasons that include his sister's fiancé sabotaging his car and causing it to go off a cliff. At first Sterling thought it was sweet that Bob was trying to strengthen his character - in fact, they started going out after the first hospitalization - but now he's starting to get sick of it.
  • In Doctor in Trouble, Basil stars in one as Dr. Dare. All the nurses love the show, but Dr. Burke finds it to be a waste of time.

  • Cobbers, another Neighbours parody in Johnny and the Dead, enjoyed by Johnny's grandad and the ghosts.
  • The novelas described in Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa are supposedly not too far removed from actual South American radio dramas of the time. Until, that is, the plots of the separate novelas start to merge into one...
  • The Northern Barstows in the Kim Newman Diogenes Club story "The Serial Murders", a parody of Coronation Street. Richard Jeperson is horrified to find he's the only member of the team who doesn't watch it. After watching a bunch of episodes as research for a case, he's even more horrified to realize he wants to know what happens next.
  • Amid the various British TV parodies in the Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel Time of Your Life is Jubilee Towers, a soap that saves its budget by being mostly set in and around a TV studio...
  • The Murderbot Diaries has Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon, which the main character is a great fan of. The only discussion we see of the actual plot is that the colony’s solicitor apparently didn’t kill the terraforming supervisor who was the secondary donor for her implanted baby.
  • The War Against the Chtorr. In A Day for Damnation there's a Running Gag involving a show called Derby, apparently an expy of Dallas.
  • Are You Alone on Purpose?: At the rehab center, Harry and his roommate Zee watch the soap 1010 Brookside. The two disagree on which of the female leads is the hottest - Harry prefers Anna, and Zee prefers Cecilia. When Anna, who is a secret agent, gets kidnapped, Harry relates to her feelings of helplessness.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Possibly the Ur-Example in live-action TV: "As the Stomach Turns", a regular series of comedy sketches on The Carol Burnett Show that skewered practically everything about the genre.note 
  • House has the episode "Living the Dream", where House, a regular viewer of the hospital soap Prescription: Passion, notices a symptom in one of the actors. He then kidnaps him in order to cure him.
  • One episode of Psych has the titular agency investigate a stabbing that was the result of a prop knife being swapped for a real one. Over the course of the episode, nearly all cast members except Shawn and Lassiter are revealed as viewers. Even better, it was a Spanish-language telenovela, themselves known for being over-the-top.
    • The end of the episode makes the whole thing hilarious, as the only two non-viewers, Shawn and Lassiter, end up on the show. Shawn runs with it, Lassiter tries. Oh, how he tries. And fails.
    • What really set it over the top was the opening theme song was done in Spanish! All of this makes a little more sense when you realize that James Roday (Shawn) is actually James Roday Rodriguez, and is of Mexican descent.
  • Red Dwarf has a Neighbours parody with androids (titled Androids).
    Kelly: I wasn't with Simone that night, Brooke. I spent the night with Garry.
    Brooke: Garry? Your ex-husband Garry? My business rival? What are you telling me Kelly?
    Kelly: It's Brooke Jr.
    Brooke: What about Brooke Jr?
    Kelly: He isn't your android.
  • The telenovela in Ugly Betty, which has the added bonus that non-Spanish speakers will have an even harder time understanding what's going on.
  • An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch had her inspired by Aunt Hilda's favourite soap Burden of Desire and so opens a "Can of Worms" to make her life more interesting. Highlights include Harvey getting amnesia, a hunky janitor with an eyepatch, Libby framing Sabrina for stealing an engagement ring, and two minor characters discovering they are long-lost brother and sister.
  • Twin Peaks had one called Invitation to Love in which the action closely mirrored the story of the show. A lot was filmed, but most was cut away in post-production.
    Harry: Morning, Lucy. What's going on?
    Lucy: Thanks to Jade, Jarrod decides not to kill himself, and he's changed his will leaving the tower to Jade instead, but Emerald found out about it and seduces Chet to give her the new will so she can destroy it. Montana is trying to kill Jarrod at midnight so the Tower will belong to Emerald and Montana, but I think she's going to doublecross him, and he doesn't know it yet. (Beat) Poor Chet.
    Harry: Lucy, what's happening here?
  • Moody's Point on The Amanda Show, though it's more of a parody of Teen Dramas. Bonus points for ending on a never-resolved Cliffhanger.
  • Friends:
    • An early episode featured the gang watching a telenovela and making their own story as they didn't know what was going on. One scene had two women fighting and ended with one of them being thrown down a flight of stairs which the gang all cheer for.
      Monica: I'm guessing that he bought her the big pipe organ, and she's really not happy about it!
    • In "The One Where the Monkey Gets Away", Rachel is watching a nameless soap opera with Marcel the monkey and explaining the gist of the plot to him.
    • Joey is a crappy actor (who gets a teensy bit better with time) and gets a role in a soap that is not strictly fictional (being Days of Our Lives) but the Show Within a Show stuff we see fits perfectly anyway... It's outlandish even for a Soap Opera (brain transplants?!)
      Rachel: (discussing how Joey may not win a soap opera award) Come on Joey. You're going up against the guy who survived his own cremation!
  • Besos y Lagrimas, a sketch parodying telenovelas on SNL.
  • Parodied like many other tropes in the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1; one concept for the rebooted Wormhole X-Treme! was a Beverly Hills, 90210-like Darker and Edgier soap with young, beautiful model-actors. (It should be noted, that was before they started Stargate Universe.)
  • 30 Rock had a lot of fun with this one. The standout here is the Season 3 episode "Generalissimo," in which Jack has to deal with the fact that his Puerto Rican girlfriend's senile abuela watches the Mexican telenovela Los Amantes Clandestinos, whose villain, the Generalissimo, looks exactly like him.
  • Done to the extreme in the That '70s Show season 2 episode "Vanstock".
  • In Arrested Development, there is the telenovela El Amor Prohibido which stars GOB's girlfriend Marta.
  • Star Trek: Voyager had an episode where the crew went back in time to Earth. Staying on board the ship, Neelix and Kes got hooked on several soap operas.
  • Conan O'Brien's The Tonight Show has Noches de Pasión con Señor O'Brien.
  • Classic Doctor Who had one of these... FROM ANOTHER PLANET!
  • Acorn Antiques from Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV was a parody of everything that was bad about UK soaps of the period. Mostly Crossroads (the episode where the antique shop is suddenly a health spa with no explanation is a reference to something very similar happening to the Crossroads Motel), but with a few digs at EastEnders (such as the tie-in single "Anyone Can Break a Vase").
  • Similar to the example from Friends, Dan And Becs had Becs land an important role on real-life Irish soap Fair City, which rapidly transformed into a soap fitting of this trope, with Eastern European sex slaves, hitherto-unknown fatal illnesses and al Qaeda terrorist bombings (in a tiny Dublin bistro).
  • In Sonny with a Chance, one of the main characters is the star of a Dawson's Creek-esque soap opera called Mackenzie Falls.
  • One of these was even a major plot point of the fifth season of Nip/Tuck. Just the name tells you everything: Hearts'n'Scalpels
  • MADtv (1995) had a parody of K-Dramas entitled Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive, or Taedo. It featured accidental Brother–Sister Incest, assassins, Fun with Subtitles, doppelgangers, Incurable Cough of Death, and Edge.
  • An episode of ALF had ALF writing for a soap opera, with a lot of the storylines taken from the Tanners' day-to-day life, but soapified. Then the family asked him to stop using them for material, and his scripts got blander ... so the executives soapified them further. Cue the family suspecting that the outrageous stuff now in the soap really happened.
    ALF: I even cut out the sex...
    Kate: What sex? Who had sex?
    ALF: I said I cut it out!
  • In the sixth season of the popular Israeli satire show Eretz Nehederet, every episode ended with a Gag Dub of some Arabic soap opera. The series was titled En Gvul laAhava (‘Love Is Boundless’), written with a font resembling Arabic script. One of the characters' daughter called her father ‘pathet’ (a word coined by Eretz Nehederet in a series of sketches joking about Israeli teens), and her father complained it’s ‘all because of television’.
  • Stephen Colbert was discussing how some soap operas are now including (obscenely obvious) product placement, and the segment rapidly devolved into this with the appearance of his evil twin.
  • SCTV's ongoing soap opera parody The Days of the Week was a surprisingly understated example of this trope.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a sketch that purports to be an Australian soap opera. It gets increasingly surreal, ending with Fry's character admitting to Laurie's that they've been having an affair ("You mean we've been sleeping together all this time... behind my back?") and then giving as an excuse that he'd just discovered that he was his own father.
  • A season 7 episode of 7th Heaven had Eric, who was off from work recovering after open-heart surgery, sitting around the house watching a soap opera about a woman named Maria with alien DNA in her stomach.
  • Spoof news programme The Day Today does occasional features on The Bureau, a spoof soap opera set in a bureau-de-change of all places, where the staff all sleep with each other, get savagely beaten up, have drug overdoses and get fired as a matter of routine. All in less than 6 minutes of clips.
  • Good Luck Charlie had three of the characters suddenly become engrossed in a soap called Tears of Tomorrow and then move on to another soap when the first got cancelled (not-so-coincidentally at a time when cancelling long-running soaps was making headlines). The Credits Gag is a reenactment of Tears of Tomorrow, which crams in a lot of the soap conventions mentioned in the main article within a space of 30 seconds.
  • Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race included a Telenovela challenge where the queens had to act out scenes from a mock Latin soap, Chewing the Scenery like there's no tomorrow.
  • The Bowmans in the Hancock's Half Hour episode of the same name, which as the title suggests, is blatantly The Archers. When Tony's character proves to be the most popular thing in it after the writers Dropped a Bridge on Him, they quickly give him a Backup Twin.
  • Seducción Salvaje in the Warehouse 13 episode of the same name, is an over-the-top telenovella, which leads inevitably to a Trapped in TV Land plot.
  • Implied in Sherlock in the episode "The Great Game", where Sherlock watches daytime tv and winds up yelling at it.
    Sherlock: No, no, NOOOOOO! OF COURSE he's not the boy's father! Look at the turn-ups on his jeans!
  • Hope & Faith features an actress who was just fired from her soap "The Sacred and the Sinful" and replaced with The Other Darrin. The season 1 finale parodies this even further, featuring a soap style plan to humiliate Faith on live TV.
  • Lorenna in The Brothers García is addicted to telenovelas as a Running Gag. One episode even has her trying to set the world record for longest time spent watching them.
  • Telenovela takes place behind the scenes of the telenovela Las Leyes de Pasión.
  • Supernatural:
    • Dean is a closet fan of the nighttime soap Dr. Sexy, MD, something revealed when Sam and Dean are thrown into the show by the trickster. Dr. Sexy, MD is a clear parody of Grey's Anatomy, which was Supernatural's time slot rival at the time.
    • Hilariously, in "The French Mistake" Sam and Dean are transported into a reality where their life is a TV show. Dean is absolutely horrified to discover that his actor starred in the soap drama Days of Our Lives (which is an actual show that Jensen Ackles starred in, and archival footage from his appearances on it is used).
    Dean: Sammy, this reality is bad. We need to get out of here.
  • An early episode of The West Wing has Bartlet, in bed with the flu, watching soap operas and commenting that the characters seem to have a lot of free time in the middle of the day, then pointing out that the woman who's supposed to be a surgeon has changed her clothes quite a few times in one afternoon.
  • Insecure has Due North, a parody of prime time soaps like Empire, about a black slave involved in a clandestine romance with her master. This one is so elaborate that the writers actually wrote 13 episodes, along with creating a set and casting Regina Hall and Scott Foley.
  • The Prisoner (2009): Enthusiastically recounted relationship by relationship and name by name. The tackiness of the soap is another element of the Stepford Suburbia nature of the Village.
  • On Schitt's Creek Moira starred in the fictional soap Sunrise Bay, which had Moira's character possessed, impregnating her own mother and thus being her own father, delivering slaps and being thrown upwards through a skylight. Moira is aware of how absurd it was, but she nevertheless worked hard at her job and takes pride in the fact that Sunrise Bay was number one in the ratings.
  • Starsky & Hutch: One of the villains of "Huggy Can't Go Home" is a fan of one of these.
    Announcer: The previous segment of The Disenchanted found Phil and Mary leaving for Montego Bay on what they hope to be a rescue mission for their splintered marriage. Shaun, meanwhile, remains in Lakefield, desperately attempting to persuade Rebecca to consider an abortion, little aware she is carrying the child of…
  • Jane the Virgin has multiple telenovelas that Rogelio stars in, each more ridiculous than the last.
  • Boris: The entire show revolves around the behind-the-scenes of a television set, where a dysfunctional troupe is shooting the awful soap opera The Eyes of the Heart, a satirical portrait of all the worst soap-opera and melodrama clichés (pretty much all the ones listed in this page and more).
  • Emergency!: While Johnny is hospitalized in "The Nuisance," he watches a show about a woman on a Freudian Couch talking about her philandering husband and inferiority complex towards her mother, while the psychologist accuses her of being hostile towards various people. Throughout the episode, the psychologist moves his chair closer and closer to her couch, and her position on it becomes more alluring. The last segment ends with the two of them about to start an affair. Johnny becomes hooked on the show despite thinking it's garbage, and after Roy and Lopez get injured, they become fans of the show.
  • The Love Boat: In "Marooned/The Search/Isaac's Holiday," the star of All My Loves takes a cruise. Julie is thrilled to see him, saying, "You're the man who murdered his wife! Ooh, I hate your guts!" Later, an old lady hits him with an umbrella because "I just know you're plotting to kill Dr. Jarrat!"
  • Frasier:
    • In one episode Frasier becomes obsessed with a popular miniseries and has to duck spoilers when he's prevented from watching the newest episode. Roz teases him for indulging in "trashy" media when he's usually so high-brow and implies he's only watching because one of the actresses is very attractive. We don't hear much about the plot but Daphne lets slip that one woman had a baby and it's unclear who the father is.
    • While recovering from heart surgery Niles gets into watching soap operas. Frasier is horrified that his brother would engage with such low-brow material but Niles claims that he finds the character interactions interesting and compares them to Commedia dell'Arte.
      Niles: Yes, uh, Esther is Punchinello, Victor is Flavio, and Nikki — well, she's just the town pump.
  • Taskmaster: The series 7 episode "A coquettish fascinator" features a task to "write and perform the most suspenseful soap opera cliff-hanger." As nothing says the soap operas in question ("Feelings" and "Cul-de-Sac") have to be good, the contestants have a grand old time cramming their scenes full of every goofy cliché they can fit into one minute, including My Secret Pregnancy, Who's Your Daddy?, Love Triangle, Maternity Crisis, Cat Fight, and Surprise Incest.
    Phil: My water's broken!
    James: My heart is broken!
    Rhod: Rub-a-dub-dub!
  • Soap opera Generations 1988 seemed like it was going to lean heavily into the usual tropes and cliches right out the gate. In the very first scene, we're introduced to a philandering husband and his amorous secretary, who worry that his wife's memory, lost when he tried to kill her, may soon return. Eventually the scene switches to a couple in bed watching TV, and that's when we learn the first scene was actually from an in-universe show called Tomorrow's Another Day. That's right, a soap within a soap! Things stayed meta for a good while afterward, as an actress on Tomorrow's Another Day was in fact one of the recurring characters on Generations, concerned that the show was going to kill her off. In retrospect, she had good reason to worry: Generations lasted less than two years before being cancelled.
  • Another soap-within-a-soap was Fraternity Row on One Life to Live, which began on the show in 1988 with several regulars getting involved with its production.
  • Technically, it's a Soap Within a Music Video, but the music video for Foo Fighters' "Long Road to Ruin" contains one of these, where the members of the band and Rashida Jones portray both the characters and the actors who play the characters. So really, it's a Soap Within a Show Within a Music Video...?
  • Eminem has an interlude aptly named "Soap" on his first album, The Slim Shady LP.
"Squire Montgomery!"
"What do you want from me, Roger?!"
"I knew it was you all along messing around with my dear Veronica..."
"Wait a minute, you hold it right there, me and that woman love each other"
"-LOVE?! What do you know of love?"
"We were destined to be together, I met her on the beach.."
"Are you out to destroy me?"
"No Roger, that's not what I want to do. I LOVE HER! And we're going to be together."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The daytime television show that Calvin watches in one strip of Calvin and Hobbes, while at home sick:
    *kissing sound effects throughout* "Oh, Mary, you look ravishing in that skimpy negligee!"
    "Mmm... darling, don't you wish we were married?"
    "But we are!... or did you mean to each other?"
    "I've got to have you! Let's murder our spouses!"
    "Murder?! You sick animal! I love it when you talk that way! Come here!"
    • Calvin then grins and comments that he learns things staying home that he would never find out about in school.

  • Medical Center of Love on Adventures in Odyssey. Just one scene includes two reveal twists and 3 characters declaring the secrets they've discovered from reading other people's diaries. By the end of the episode/virtual reality adventure in the Room of Consequences, Erica is practically pulling her hair out in frustration. "How do you soap opera people live like this day in and day out?!"
  • Ed Reardon's Week: The main character's friend is a director whose latest blockbuster films are a trilogy about a dolphin named Dermot, who is in love with his human trainer. The clips the audience hears are all melodramatic twaddle. The trainer goes blind at one point ... and then Dermot donates his corneas to her.

    Video Games 
  • Max Payne has Lords and Ladies.
  • In Ratchet & Clank, Dr. Nefarious tends to short out and channel one of these whenever he gets angry.
    • In one of the vid-comics, Qwark is watching one when he's interrupted by the arrival of his trainer, Helga. Hilariously, it seems to be the exact same one Nefarious broadcasts.
    • Tools of Destruction later named the show "Lance & Janice", and implied it to be a very popular Long Runner.
      • A Crack In Time goes even further, having Nefarious calling one of the in-game radio stations to complain about a disappointing season finale. He's tuned to it because he's a fan.
  • On the Silver Strip in Dead Rising, you can go to the cinema and see a film which is practically every cliché line by line. It is incredibly funny.
  • The intro to Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn flips through several TV channels, one featuring two people who yell at each other, slap each other in the face and then kiss to swelling music.
  • The intermission sequences in Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location have the player character eating popcorn and watching a cheesy soap opera involving vampires called The Immortal and the Restless.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner's Caleb Rentpayer has shades of this, particularly in regards to its soundtrack and time slot. The only drama shown, however, is a spoof of Dallas' "Who Shot J.R.?" episode, though the resolution is suitably absurd (it was Homestar).


    Western Animation 
  • Futurama's All My Circuits, formerly the Trope Namer—apparently a sitcom focused on a family of robots, plus one human to act as the Token Human. Whenever we see it, it's a dizzying blend of random plot twists and relationship beats with minimal context, usually resulting in an incomprehensible mess. It stars Calculon, whose character mentions having six evil identical septuplets, and no less than four split personalities. One Previously on… segment, after a particularly rapid-fire burst of Easy Amnesia, featured this exchange:
    "Let me get this straight. Does anyone not have amnesia?"
    "I don't remember."
  • The Simpsons
    • From "Bart's Dog Gets an F":
      A disheveled priest interrupts two lovers in an apartment.
      Woman: Father Mcgrath, I thought you were dead!
      Father Mcgrath: I was!
    • Bumblebee Man is a regular character in a Mexican Spanish-language soap, and his character appears to suffer divorce, infidelity, property damage with the expected melodrama.
    • The series 11 episode "Pygmoelian" revolves around a soap called It Never Ends.
    • During the teachers' strike in "The PTA Disbands", Jimbo watches a soap with his mom:
      (sobbing) I just can't believe Stark would stoop to that right in the middle of Montana and Dakota's wedding.
    • In "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", Bart watches a TV show episode of McGarnigal that bears a striking similarity to his situation.
  • The long-lost 1990 Saturday morning cartoon series Gravedale High has Trudy and the Beast, which stars wolf-man actor Billy Headstone as the eponymous Beast, who seems to be having an affair with a married woman. Cleofatra loves to watch TatB since she has a crush on Billy.
  • Totally Spies! has Beautiful People, Horrible Lives.
  • The Fairly OddParents! has All My Parents' Offspring (parody of All My Children), Kissy Kissy Goo Goo and All My Biceps (Jorgen's favorite show starring Wanda's identical but somehow hotter sister Blonda).
  • DuckTales (1987) has The Young and the Featherless.
  • The Loved and the Loveless on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, which the entire cast watches.
  • King of the Hill had one with a gun-toting Mexican priest/assassin (Los Dias y Las Noches de Monsignor Martinez). It looked awesome.
  • In American Dad!, Roger watches what's supposed to be Dynasty, but the only scene we ever see are the two main women slapping each other and calling each other "bitch" in turn. The scenery changes sometimes, but they are always doing the same thing.
  • Everyone in the Kim Possible episode "Sick Day" passes around a cold, and while recovering, they all watch the same soap opera:
    Killigan: Can you believe Belisha and Brock switched brains?
    Drakken: I know! So does that mean the wedding's off?
    • In another episode, Kim and Ron are bemusedly watching a Ship Tease scene that parallels their own pre-Official Couple situation at the time:
      Ron: Oh please, are they still teasing that Charity and Dannie are gonna get together?
      Kim: Like that's ever gonna happen. It would end the series.
  • In the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, Krang is shown to have a specific fondness for a soap opera of the "Oh John! Oh Marsha!" variety. In fact, that's pretty much all the show seems to be.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Perry the Platypus watches an unnamed soap opera on his days off. What we see of it definitely fits the trope.
    • Doofenshmirtz interrupted a Football match to keep seeing his Telenovela: El Matador de Amor. Describing it as "three simultaneous storylines that interconnect... Genius! Anyway, the last episode was a cliffhanger...s".
  • The Autobots of The Transformers were partial to As the Kitchen Sinks, which features drama such as an affair between Donna and Gordon, Sheryl's will (which Jack apparently didn't know about), and (in a deleted line), they will actually belonging to Bob, who named Katy as his successor!
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, the kids end up on a deadly game show on an alien planet, while their parents back home frantically try to rescue them (having found out via Earth's sudden reception of all nine billion galactic TV channels) and berate Jimmy's dad Hugh for watching Andromeda 90210 instead of the game show. Naturally, he ends up on the set at the very end and saves the day by answering the trivia question correctly:
    Meldar: How many evil twins were hatched from Dakota's birth sac on the popular daytime drama Andromeda 90210?
    Hugh: It's impossible to answer because Dakota's evil twin wasn't hatched, she was cloned by Dr. Meldak's jealous wife's ex-husband's former lovechild! Duh!
  • Grim of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is addicted to the show My Troubled Pony. Two Stock Parodies for the price of one!
    • Another episode had him watching "Love Problems".
      "I love you... but I have a problem."
  • In the Darkwing Duck episode, "Star Crossed Circuits", Darkwing's new supercomputer becomes convinced that "she's" a character from a Soap Opera called, "The Young and the Brainless" and that she's in love with Darkwing.
  • In an episode of The Wild Thornberrys, the only TV channel they can get shows Russian soap operas, which Debbie feels... none-too-excited about, at first. Later, when Eliza comes to ask her something:
    Debbie: Shh! Yuri just told Svetlana that he's leaving her for Olga!
    Eliza: You don't speak Russian.
    Debbie: You are so young — the language of soap opera is universal.
  • The "Customer Service" episode of The Looney Tunes Show has Speedy becoming hooked on a Spanish soap opera.
    Speedy: Dr. Jimenez has a twin brother? What will Lindsey say? She already sold her hacienda. She has enough on her plate already.
    Daffy: Is Dr. Jimenez the bad guy?
    Speedy: No, Philip is the bad guy. Dr. Jimenez is wonderful! He's a father!
  • Jetsons: The Movie: Jane, Rosie, and Astro are watching "All My Androids". All three are in tears as "Galaxina threatens to pull the plug on her romance".
  • Gravity Falls, "The Inconveniencing": Grunkle Stan becomes an unlikely fan of a soap called The Duchess Approves, which airs on the Black and White Period Piece Old Lady Boring Movie Channel.
  • Generator Rex features the telenovela El Amor De La Pasión El Amor, of which Rex is a fan and whose actors are seen in one episode to be just as overly dramatic as the characters they portray.
  • The Rugrats episode "Kid TV" has Phil and Lil act out a soap opera titled, The Teeny and the Tiny. The plot of the story shown apparently involves Lil preparing to have her brain removed, while Phil tries to talk her out of the operation. Angelica mistakes this for a different kind of opera, and plays a singing waitress dressed as a Valkyrie. The same episode has Stu briefly switching to a soap, where a girlfriend says something about her boyfriend finally regaining his memory.
  • All Grown Up! has Angelica watching a soap while in hospital with a broken nose, where a character's brain is 'melting'. She quotes the girl's Madness Mantra to make the doctors think she has brain damage.
    "The couch is on vacation. The sky is green. The pillows are hungry."
  • Steven Universe has a medical drama called Under the Knife. Connie laments that her mother, who's a doctor, doesn't let her watch the show at home because it's not scientifically accurate. Given Connie's remark that Under the Knife is supposed to be "satire", it seems to be an in-universe parody of soap operas.
    Nurse: How did his legs... get into his brain?!
    • Later on, Peridot, of all people, ends up hooked on a Canadian summer camp drama called Camp Pining Hearts. Or rather, hooked on one episode for 78 hours. At first, Steven decides not to tell her there's more than one episode. Eventually, she watches more, as she and Steven agree that season 5 was terrible, and she even gets Lapis Lazuli into it.
  • Code Lyoko has "Hospital of Horrors", which based on dialogue, appears to be horror-themed, given that in a Zombie Apocalypse episode, background character Millie states her zombified friend had eyes like a character from the show and another episode has a reference to giving someone a transfusion of poodle blood.
  • Inspector Gadget: In Inspector Gadget's Last Case, Dr. Claw is quite the fan of All My Offspring.
  • In an episode of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Pony Head watches Bam U Pati!, a Korean Drama about a relationship between a vampire and a pop star.
  • At the beginning of the second episode of Dino Squad, Roger lays into his teammates about not getting the respect he deserves.
    Fiona: Lighten up, Roger! We just got off a mission!
    Roger: I go on missions too! But afterwards, do I sit around watching soap operas?
    Fiona: What are you talking about? I don't watch soap operas!
    Caruso: As Our Days Turn. What? It's got good characters!
  • Kiff: Smoldering Cove. Kiff’s father is a fan, and Kiff herself becomes hooked when Miss Deer Teacher forgets to assign homework one night. After overhearing her teacher describe a failed date that sounds a lot like a plot line on the show, Kiff begins giving her romantic advice based on how the plotline progresses, until an episode where it turns out the heroine’s boyfriend is actually a criminal who ties up the heroine and steals her identity. Fearing for her teacher’s life, Kiff and her father rush to rescue her and find her passed out and tied up just like in the show, only to learn that her boyfriend wasn’t a criminal; he was just an accountant helping her do her taxes, she had passed out from boredom, and he had tied her to the chair to keep her from falling over and hurting herself.
  • In "Is There a Doctor in the House?" from Arthur, Arthur is distracted from housework by a soap opera featuring a guy who admits to a woman that he is not, in fact, Sheldon as he had claimed, but rather his twin, Shelby. "I should have told you sooner, Karen," he says, only for her to tell him that she's not Karen, but rather Kara. "Karen" is her undercover name and she was supposed to arrest him, but she can't, because she loves him.
  • Molly of Denali: "Herring Eggs or Bust" introduces The Butler of Finicky Manor. Not much details are given about the storyline of the show, but we do know there's a man who wants to marry a woman who loves Percy Adderfish.

  • Italian comedy program "Mai Dire Reality" ("Never Say Reality [Show]") spoofed this with the reality show-spoof "Il divano scomodo" ("The Uncomfortable Sofa"), that has its participants forced to stay on an uncomfortable sofa during the whole show when one of its participants, Bamma, a whore girl with the hobby of prostitution suddenly jumps off the couch for no other reason than switching the TV on, in order to watch an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful (since it's still inexplicably popular in Italy). Cue the Gag Dub:
    Ridge Forrester: "Brooke... I'm your grandpa."
  • The whole plot of the Donald Duck comic series by Silvia Ziche, "Il Papero Del Mistero" (Duck Mystery). Scrooge McDuck wants to renew his TV channel's program so he employs the whole Duck and friends family to star in a soap opera with an over-the-top plot based on improvisation.
  • Paperinik New Adventures has "Patemi" (Worries). It includes, among other things, cyber-ninjas. To be honest, this was after the director was, essentially, slightly mentally zombified.
  • Harold, Batman's mechanic, was once shown to be a fan of a soap, something that the prim and proper Alfred chastised him for. Later shown to be Hypocritical Humor as Alfred begins riffing on the show, with obvious knowledge of previous plot points.

We now return to "Tropes of our Lives"...
I'm sorry, Trope-tan. We can't be together.
Why not, my love? The baby belongs to Stinger-kun.
You don't understand, Trope-tan... I am Stinger-kun!

Alternative Title(s): All My Circuits



Stolas is first seeing, in the episode Ozzie's watching a soap opera starring demons.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoapWithinAShow

Media sources: