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Three knobs? No cable box? And that tiny picture! This television is practically from the stone age!
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Ah, the old boob tube. The cornerstone of the living room. That magical box with a window into entertainment. And it's only natural that the entertainment seen on TV would have some tropes about television and its broadcasts from an in-universe perspective. So just sit on the couch, find that remote, and tune into some literal TV Tropes.

See also These Tropes Are Available On Video And DVD and Fictional Media. Not to be confused with the website you're currently on. For out-of-universe tropes about the medium itself, see Live-Action TV Tropes.


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Tropes about the television and associated equipment:

  • Antenna Adjusting: The TV is on the fritz, better adjust the antenna. Wait, the show's back on! Stay in that awkward position while I get popcorn.
  • Appliance Defenestration: Throwing a gadget out the window. While not exclusive to televisions, they are a common victim.
  • Caught on the Jumbotron: A spectator at a sporting event is caught doing something embarrassing or incriminating, and everyone saw it on the arena's personal broadcast on a gigantic screen.
  • The Couch: It's rather likely there's a TV between the couch and the fourth wall.
  • Crystal Clear Picture: The picture on the TV screen is much too pristine to be from a real TV.
  • Dead TV Remote Gag: Horror of horrors! The TV remote has run out of batteries, so the only way to control the TV is with the manual controls, if there are any!
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  • Frank's 2000 Inch TV: I've heard of big screen TVs, but this is ridiculous!
  • Lost the TV Remote: Okay, the remote now has batteries, but it's missing! Better turn the room upside-down to find it.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Multiple televisions used for horror. Often symbolic of an oppressive regime.
  • Ominous Television: A television used for horror. Just one. Often supernatural in nature.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Pounding on a malfunctioning electronic device, commonly a TV, to fix it.
  • Raster Vision: Analog scan lines. Can be simulated to make something look like it's on an older TV.
  • Screens Are Cameras: Your television is watching you.
  • Screen Tap: A form of fourth wall-breaking where a character taps your TV screen. And possibly breaks it, but don't worry about it.
  • Shoot the Television: In a pinch, a gun can act as a substitute TV remote, for when you want to turn the TV permanently off.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Television static as a sign that something has gone horribly wrong.
  • Storefront Television Display: Electronic stores that have multiple televisions displayed on the front window, usually as a way for a character to watch a movie or the news on-the-go.
  • Technology Marches On: TVs have changed a lot through the years, from bulky greyscale CRTs with six channels, to 4K OLED flatscreens with thousands of channels and a dozen streaming services.
  • Television Portal: This is not a 3D movie, something really is coming out of a TV.
  • TV Head Robot: Neato! This robot has a TV for a noggin! Hey, does it get the wrestling channel?
  • Two Gamers on a Couch: It's practically certain there's a TV between the couch and the fourth wall. A TV hooked up to a game console.
  • Video Phone: The retro-futuristic precursor to the likes of Skype and Zoom. It's a phone, a TV, and a broadcasting camera, all in one!

Tropes about the broadcast and TV shows in general:

Tropes about a specific show or specific genre of TV show:

Keep in mind, this index is for the in-universe portrayals of TV shows. See the floatbox to the right for indexes that cover some of these genres more broadly, and include tropes that are done more in reality than in fiction. Also, for brevity's sake, tropes for in-universe commercials won't be covered here, because that would require copying half of the advertising tropes index.
  • Addictive Foreign Soap Opera: A character is a huge fan of a soap opera that is from a foreign culture. Might not have subtitles.
  • Alphabet News Network: News shows are typically referred to by their acronym. Most likely ends with "NN", short for "News Network", copying CNN.
  • Boring Broadcaster: A show or channel that the common man would consider boring. Often lampooning the likes of PBS.
  • Candid Camera Prank: Surprise! You're on a prank show!
  • Chekhov's News: A news report that seemed irrelevant to the plot early on turned out to be rather important later.
  • Confused Bystander Interview: A news report gets some man-on-the-street interviews with witnesses of the plot, who don't have all the details right.
  • Crawl: A row of headlines near the bottom of the screen of a news show. Has great potential for silliness.
  • Daytime Drama Queen: A character is a huge fan of a soap opera, despite not being the genre's typical demographic.
  • Deadline News: The news reporter is in danger, live!
  • Delusions of Local Grandeur: A newscaster has developed an overinflated ego due to how many people watch their show and know their name.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: The host of a TV show for kids is a rather unpleasant person, especially towards kids when the cameras aren't rolling.
  • Endangering News Broadcast: Information obtained from a news report is used to put someone in danger.
  • Excited Kids' Show Host: The host of a TV show for kids is a rather excitable person, if not bouncing-off-the-walls zany.
  • Explaining the Soap: A character tells another about the plot of a Soap Within a Show.
  • Film at 11: A stock phrase alluding to a news story to be covered later that night.
  • Game Show Appearance: A character appears on a game show, and it just might be a real one and not just a parody!
  • Game Show Goofballs: A character appears on a game show, but is too stupid or eccentric to have any hope of winning.
  • Greedy Televangelist: A religious leader with their own TV show or network, using this avenue to gain personal wealth.
  • Human-Interest Story: A heartwarming news story about the human endeavor. Sometimes treated as the least seriously-taken form of news reporting.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Something important is on TV that is relevant to a character's immediate future, but they're not paying attention.
  • Immoral Reality Show: A reality show that forces its contestants to do painful or humiliating things, with the potential of being deadly.
  • Jeopardy! Intelligence Test: A trivia game show is used as proof of a character's knowledge or lack thereof.
  • Kent Brockman News: In-universe news show that acts as a parody of real news shows out-of-universe, and can act as exposition in-universe.
  • Kids' Show Mascot Parody: A mascot for a show for very young children. Overly sweet, friendly, simple, cloying, and a big annoyance for nearly everyone outside the target demographic. Almost universally a parody of Barney the Dinosaur.
  • Leno Device: Portrayals of late-night talk shows to talk about a story event, with the actual hosts playing themselves or a parody of themselves.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Fictional newscasters played by real ones, or real newscasters delivering a fictional world's news.
  • News Monopoly: Every single TV channel is talking about the same news story.
  • Practical Voice-Over: A news report, or possibly even a documentary, provides exposition on something the in-universe audience likely already knows, but the out-of-universe audience doesn't.
  • Sadistic Game Show: A game show that also forces its contestants to do painful or humiliating things, with the potential of being deadly.
  • Smarmy Host: A game show host or sports commentator that is a complete and utter jackass.
  • Soap Within a Show: Fictional soap operas, also as seen on real TV!
  • Strawman News Media: A news show with an obvious political bias.
  • Status Quo Game Show: The prize money earned from a TV show would shake up the status quo, so the character will inevitably lose or get a non-monetary prize.
  • Talk Show Appearance: A character appears on a talk show.
  • This Just In!: A news report interrupts itself due to an important new news story.
  • "Truman Show" Plot: A character's life has unknowingly become one big reality TV show, and it might've been that way since birth.
  • Weather Report: A news report segment reporting meteorologists' predictions for the weather. It will turn out wrong.
  • We Interrupt This Program: Something was on TV, but has been interrupted for some reason, often by a news report that is relevant to a character's situation.
  • Yet Another Baby Panda: A cute, warm, fuzzy news report featuring animals, often used as filler and to be set up for or interrupted by something more serious and plot-relevant.

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