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The Merch

Go To
Yes, even this.

"Moichandising, moichandising! Where da real money from da movie is made! Spaceballs: da T-shirt, Spaceballs: da Coloring Book, Spaceballs: da Lunchbox, Spaceballs: da Breakfast Cereal! Spaceballs: da Flame Throwah!!" note 
Yogurt, Spaceballs

Doing something creative costs money. If you're in a band, you're paying for gas to get to and from practice and gigs, studio time, and all the bits and pieces of tech you need to sound good. If you're an artist, you're paying for your materials and maybe studio space. Even if you're doing a simple webcomic, blog, or fansite you're paying for bandwidth.

And, unfortunately, creative work doesn't pay very well until you're famous. And sometimes it doesn't pay very well even then. So what do you do to help support your habit/creative endeavors?

It turns out just about everybody loves owning cute little tchotchkes. Ones that are branded with some obscure, indie-cred logo, image or phrase they like is even better.

So, you start to sell stuff. T-shirts, pins, prints, posters, CDs, and cards are the obvious choices, but mouse pads, coffee mugs, baseball caps, plushies, babies' onesies, messenger bags, and refrigerator magnets all have their fans. Furniture, jewelry, costumes, food, hygiene products, and sporting gear are for those wanting to go overboard. In fact, anything that you can figure out how to stick a logo, character or catchphrase onto will do. That's "The Merch". The merchandise. The moneymaker. The stuff that pays the bills.

And if this is for girls, the Pink Product Ploy increasingly is used.

Sometimes The Merch becomes more important than the work it was intended to support. A big sign of a Cash-Cow Franchise. See also Prop.

A Super-Trope to:

Compare Tie-In Novel, The Film of the Book, The Anime of the Game, Defictionalization (when something from the work, merch or otherwise, debuted in the work and was then made real).

See also Crack is Cheaper, when characters can't stop buying merchandise.

Not to be confused with Murch. Or with Miracle Grohe's baby.


    open/close all folders 

  • UFO Kamen Yakisoban was so popular among kids in Japan that tons of merchandise and tie-in products were made, including toys, tents, keychains, costumes, sleeping bags, stickers, a video game, a direct-to-VHS movie, a single on CD, a tie-in manga, and a themed attraction at Japan's Yomiuriland.
  • Where's the Beef? underwent Memetic Mutation and had an astronomical amount of products made in its short lifespan, including bumper stickers, frisbees, clothing patches, t-shirts, a Milton Bradley game, jewelry, and a record.

    Anime And Manga 
  • Gundam certainly qualifies, and may even outdo Evangelion in this regard. It was once estimated in the early 90's that Bandai had sold so many Gundam toys and models that on average, every single man, woman, and child in Japan owned at least one. And that doesn't count other merchandise like keychains, posters, shirts, and so on.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has a very strange and bipolar relationship with its marketing, even aside from the tone of the story. Allegedly, a fan once proudly told Hideaki Anno that he had sold all his university textbooks to buy more Eva merchandise. Anno called him an idiot and told him to study harder.
  • Fairy Musketeers gets a special mention as it literally started its life as a bonus OVA for a collectible figure. Following the unexpected success, the resultant TV show is chock full of blatant plot changes to accommodate merchandising.
  • Black★Rock Shooter was a similarly backwards merch-ifiying incident. At first, it was just a music video and vague character design with no further plans, but that quickly spawned an out-of-control merchandising and promoting spree, which eventually led to a game, OVA, and anime being created to keep the figures, plushies, shirts, posters, and who-knows-what-else selling. The merch still charges ahead of everything else; a figurine bundle with the anime DVD was announced before the anime was even halfway through airing.
  • Sailor Moon became such a franchise that branded merchandise still sells quite well with now-adult childhood viewers of both sexes, from Hot Topic man-sized Sailor Moon t-shirts to expensive 20th anniversary revival makeup sets, bras and panties.
  • Because Naruto is one of the most popular anime and manga series out there, it has tons of merchandise for fans of all ages, including action figures, plush toys, trading cards, clothing, etc. Heck, the series even had collabs with big name companies like Nike and Adidas, and it even has it's own themed smartphone.
  • Generally speaking, Anime are made to promote their Merch - BD sales won't cover their production costs, except for excessively popular anime which are few and far between. This phenomenon is lampshaded in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, which pokes fun at its own DVD bonuses.
    • Special mention must be made for character-driven Bishoujo Series, doubly so if Moe: one of the more popular Merch is dakimakura, or pillows with character image on it, which is usually rather risque. And it's not even limited to bishoujo; there exists dakimakura of Baki the Grappler and Golgo13.
  • A lot of Nyanpire merchandise can be found all over Japan, especially during the Halloween season. Helps that the manga is ongoing. There is even Nyanpire Christmas merchandise that can be sold around the Christmas season.
  • Being a manga about mangakas, Bakuman。 occasionaly discuss it in-universe. For example, a figurine of the main character of Hiramaru's manga Rakko 11 is made. Of course, the manga and anime have received a lot of merchandising in real life. And finally, there are real life figures of the characters of the fictional mangas written by the characters: Rakko. Detective Trap. Tanto-kun. and Black Crow.
  • Many Magical Girl series have merchandise made of the characters and the items they use in-show to transform and cast magic.
  • In-Universe in Great Teacher Onizuka. Onizuka gives Tomoko her start in show business by entering her in a beauty pageant, and when her popularity exploded because The Runner-Up Takes It All, he was waiting right outside with pre-made Tomoko merch to make a quick buck.
  • Pretty Cure sells a variety of dolls, plushies, and toys based on the weapons/trinkets seen in the show. The dolls have been made since the original series, while the plushes started production in around 2008 (meaning only the Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star girls don't have them).

    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Bears has gotten a pretty large amount of merchandise, with the products ranging from toys to furniture to food.
  • Bread Barbershop has plastic figurines of the characters as well as a playset of Bread Barbershop itself.
  • Happy Heroes has had all sorts of action figures and plushes, among other toys, made for it. One of the non-action figure/plush toy series is very much like the LEGO sets where the Supermen's Car Knights are built with similar parts and the Supermen themselves come as minifigures.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf has over 1,000 different products aimed at different demographics, including fashion products, home goods, skin products, school items, and different toys and electronic items.

    Comic Books 

    Eastern Animation 
  • Being a icon of Georgian's children media, I'll Return as the Rain has numerous kinds of merchandise. Among other things, there are plush toys of Guda-Guda, several picture books based on the short, and brand crayons.

    Fan Works 

  • Hero Chat: In-universe. The fic goes into some of the legal issues of making merch of heroes with secret identities, as well as villains who are innocent victims subject to Brainwashed and Crazy. The heroes chastise the city for the fact that only a couple people asked permission before making merch of them, and Chloe (in her civilian identity) starts to handle merchandising rights. The heroes of course donate all their royalties to charity, but akumatized victims get royalties from their merch too. The heroes joke that technically Hawkmoth has shared creator rights to the villains, and they might be able to trick him into revealing his identity by offering him royalties.

    Films — Animated 
  • Cars has generated this for Disney and Pixar. Within a few years of existence, it became the sixth best-selling toy brand on the market, making $2 billion per year in merchandise.
  • Much of the Disney Animated Canon films saw a fair amount of tie in products since the very beginning, with varying degrees of success.
    • While the first half of the Renaissance era films saw plenty of sales for their merchandise, the latter half was more hit and miss, with The Hunchback of Notre Dame merch quickly filling clearance racks after the film became a box office disappointment.
    • The Princess and the Frog and Tangled sold merch moderately well, and Disney had similar expectations for Frozen. When that film became a surprise smash, the toys were selling out, and Disney took months to catch up with the demand. Elsa was the Breakout Character, so her toys and costumes were the most sought out (getting massive markups on secondary markets).
  • In the late 1990s, Disney's new head of marketing saw a Disney on Ice and noticed so many girls were cosplaying as the princesses, but not through any official clothing. This got him the idea to make the Disney Princess line, which has been a multi-billion per-year idea since.
  • In Turning Red, Mei and her friends sell merch In-Universe in order to raise money for concert tickets.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars is a Cash-Cow Franchise, and it comes with a lot of associated merchandise. But the way it got there was kind of interesting. Ordinarily, the film studio would be the one to profit from it, but in the case of Star Wars, George Lucas negotated with 20th Century Fox to keep all the rights, including merchandise sales, in exchange for dropping his director's fee. Lucas wanted to maintain creative control and was only interested in the merchandising so that he could promote the film himself if the studio decided not to. The studio thought they were getting the better end of the deal; they were badly burned by the notorious flop Doctor Dolittle a decade earlier and figured Lucas's Space Opera was not going to be successful. They chose... poorly. Adjusted for inflation, A New Hope is the third-highest-grossing movie of all time in the US, with $2.8 billion in total ticket sales. Star Wars merchandise makes that much money every year. What's more, the movie's success was completely unexpected, and the demand for merchandise in the wake of A New Hope was unprecedentednote  — before then, merchandising was posters, tie-in books, maybe T-shirts. Star Wars is the reason you can get promotional everything, from shoes to toothbrushes.
  • Spaceballs, being a spoof of the film that started the super-merchandising trend, spoofed the phenomenon as much as it could. Apparently, when Mel Brooks asked George Lucas for permission to make a Star Wars parody, Lucas would only say yes if there was no merchandising associated with the movie. Brooks thought it was an odd thing to insist on and decided to tweak Lucas about it by having the film shill a series of nonexistent and increasingly bizarre tie-in products ("Spaceballs: the toilet paper! Spaceballs: the flamethrower!"). It also started shilling for the home video release of the movie before it was finished (the villains use it to find the heroes by watching ahead in the movie) and made a point to show Dark Helmet playing with his action figures.
  • The 1989 Batman movie is remembered for its deluge of merchandise, which arguably set the stage for the way subsequent superhero movies were marketed. It was estimated in 1992 that the movie had brought in around $500 million in merchandise sales.
  • The Lord of the Rings movies expanded their merch into replica weapons, shields, helmets, costumes, flags, pipes, and jewelry worn by the characters, along with the more prosaic buttons, pins, books, posters, mousepads, and t-shirts.
  • Tremors franchise offers In-Universe example. Let's say your hometown was attacked by giant subterranean monsters, who kill half of its inhabitants before being defeated by the other half. What do you do? Make money on it, of course! Over the course of subsequent movies and the TV series the main characters have become famous science and pop-culture personas, being featured in magazines and TV shows, starring in commercials and documentaries, opening theme parks, having the exclusive license and producing video games, comics, action figures and other merchandise based on the monsters. All while continuing to fight said monsters first occasionally (Tremors 2-3) and then on a weekly basis.
  • At one point, Jurassic Park uses the film's actual merchandise to portray the in-universe merchandise for the fictional theme park (which is also sort of an example of Off-the-Shelf FX).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • There was a flood of Planet of the Apes Merch released in the mid-Seventies, intended to promote the TV series and theatrical re-release of the films. The show didn't last, but the merchandise proved vastly more profitable.
  • In Date with an Angel, Jim's buddies try to merchandise a real angel. Their ideas an embarassingly lame.
  • Kenner, McFarlane Toys, and NECA all did figures based on Alien, Predator, and Alien vs. Predator. In Kenner's case, there was Misaimed Marketing going on as their figures are aimed at kids, including a figure shortly after the release of the original Alien; a series based Aliens, Predator, and AVP around the time of Alien≥ (as part of a cartoon series that never got off the ground); and a tie-in for Alien: Resurrection.
  • Save Yourselves!: Various merchandise produced for the movie includes T-shirts, masks, plush pouffes, postcards, go-bags, and even Hawaiian shirts and dresses that contain pouffes and cell phones on them.
  • Privilege has an in-universe example, with pop star Steve drinking from a mug shaped like his head.
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop is not merch-heavy, but the title references the way that museums and galleries promote their own merchandise.

  • Even food has had merchandise made out of it. A major example of this is Cup Noodle, which has spin-off products ranging from blankets to makeup made in its' image. Most of it comes from North America, where the brand is popular.

  • There's an old joke reused for every famous badass, from John Wayne to Chuck Norris:
    Did you hear they removed [Action Star]'s new toilet paper brand from the market? There were complaints that it was rough and tough and didn't take shit off anybody.

  • In-Universe in Beware of Chicken, the master of ceremonies for the Dueling Peaks Tournament has a flourishing side business selling dolls of the top competitors and dramaticised accounts of the events. Since there's no intellectual property laws, including model rights, it's easy money for him. He runs into a spot of bother, however, when he tries to sell dolls of Tigu, and the powerful Azure Jade Trading Company warns him to put that on hold until they have Jin's permission, since Jin is believed to be Tigu's father and is a very valued client of their company.

    Live-Action TV 

By Genre:

  • Tokusatsu series, especially the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider franchises, exist to sell merchandise. From the transformation devices and trinkets, to expensive and highly articulated figures, to just about everything else you can imagine, the success of the series is less about the ratings it pulls in, and more about the profit its toys make.

By Network:

  • Notably the Trope Codifier for the format of all the following Disney Channel shows post-1999 (Hannah Montana, etc.), Lizzie McGuire also started the merchandising craze those shows had. Fortune magazine estimated in 2003 that Lizzie McGuire merchandise had earned the Walt Disney Co. nearly $100 million! That's from Radio Disney's big CD promotion, books based on the episodes being sold, mystery books starring Lizzie (much in the same vein as the Mary Kate And Ashley Olson mystery books), Tokyo POP manga adaptations, bed sheets, Barbie dolls, board games, and The Movie.

By Series:

  • The Ur-Example on British TV would be the 1955 adventure series The Adventures of Robin Hood, which saw probably the first tie-in toy merch: the Airfix model company created figure sets both of Robin Hood and his men, with the Sheriff of Nottingham's forces produced as oppostion. Airfix also marketed the Sheriff's Castle as a setting for battles to be fought using the soldiers. Airfix went on to produce tie-in merch figures for Daktari, the Tarzan TV shows, for The High Chaparall and other American imports, and, in more recent times, had a lucrative, though not exclusive, agreement to market tie-in models to Doctor Who.
  • Doctor Who has had some fairly serious Executive Meddling over the years to peddle more merch, as due to the ways The BBC is funded the best way to make huge amounts of money is through selling toys, both to the technical target audience of children and the more lucrative target audience of adult collectors. More transparent examples of this have occasionally caused controversy and dips in the show's quality:
    • From 1964 to about 1966 or so, "Dalekmania" (a Dalek craze created by how iconic and menacing the Daleks were) hit, and British stores were filled with toys, games, kids' clothing, cakes, Easter eggs, plates, Official Cosplay Gear, ice lollies, anything you can think of, all bearing the image of the Daleks. This unfortunately led to a period of the show's writers being forced by executive mandate to create monsters and worlds designed to be "memorable". This resulted in a slew of forgettable monsters such as the Voord and the Mechanoids and spectacularly rubbish-looking monsters such as the Krotons, Zarbi and Menoptera-Optera, most of which would copy the Dalek formula with some combination of 1) a rather garish design, 2) a distinctive speech quirk such as Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable, Robo Speak, Sssssnake Talk, etcetera that children were intended to imitate in the playground, and 3) very long serials introducing them and going into a lot of depth about their planet and culture (to create spinoff children's book opportunities). None of these forced attempts to create mascots were ever as effective as the Daleks, or the Cybermen (who were not designed to be anything other than terrifying), although it's worth noting that the Zarbi in particular were very popular at the time.
    • Part of the reason the show was ReTooled into a Tuxedo and Martini-influenced spy series in the early 1970s was so that they could sell model kits and tin toys based on the Doctor's obligatory Cool Cars.
    • One of the reasons Robot Dog K-9 was added to the cast was because, as a Kid-Appeal Character, it was easy to sell toys of him. Tom Baker has claimed in interviews that he strongly disliked that about the character, as he felt the Doctor role had something of a messianic feel to it and it served as a constant reminder that he was just making commercial, money-hungry television.
    • John Nathan-Turner's conviction was that all the Doctors needed Iconic Outfits that they could sell as Official Cosplay Gear and that Executive Meddling, extreme Camp, Limited Wardrobe and Forced Meme were the ways to go about doing it. This resulted in a lot of What The Hell, Costuming Department? for a lot of viewers. This blog post on a Who cosplay community has some information about the costume designer's attempts to deal with this when designing the Season 18 Fourth Doctor costume (generally considered the least awful of the JNT-era outfits).
    • There is supposedly a mandate in the new series that every episode has to feature a Monster of the Week which could potentially create toy opportunities. If that's the case, this does some damage to the straightfoward drama "Father's Day", which is just about Rose trying to change her own past; the Clock Roaches are quite obviously forced in and only appear in that one episode despite many later stories involving paradoxes that the Reapers should be summoned by. It also hurts "The Woman Who Lived"; the quiet story of the Doctor and Ashildr/Lady Me crossing paths again centuries after the former immortalized the latter to save her life is plenty compelling and could have been even more so if it hadn't brought in Obviously Evil lion man Leandro to provide an alien invasion plot and action climax.
    • The biggest recent controversy over this was the allegation that the very unpopular "New Paradigm" redesign of the Daleks in "Victory of the Daleks" was done purely to create a new toy range (collect all the colours!), although the official explanation was that the 2005 Dalek design was created to be at "eye"-level with Billie Piper, and was too small in comparison to the very tall Doctor-Companion duo of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. They even got a Product-Promotion Parade sequence when they first appeared, showing off their appearances and explaining their special power.
    • Averted with the sonic sunglasses of Series 9, which took the place of the sonic screwdriver that season as the Doctor's Iconic Item/all-purpose gadget but never became Official Cosplay Gear. Both Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi liked the idea of a gadget any kid could pretend to have with no more than a pair of shades ó but a significant portion of the fanbase was cheesed off and demanded the reinstatement of the screwdriver. Turned out that he got a new model screwdriver at the end of the Season Finale in a manner that provided Book Ends to him tossing away his previous model to young Davros in the opening scene of the season premiere, suggesting that the glasses were never meant to be a permanent replacement for it (he then used both items).
  • The 2011 series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! features hosts Ant and Dec plotting to make a bit of cash on the side by flogging Merch featuring the contestants... like Anthony Cotton buds and the Little Willienote  mug ("Oh. That's... that's not the picture we were thinking of." "We can't show that!")
  • In The Mandalorian the First-Episode Spoiler was that the title bounty hunter would find and protect an infant of Yoda's species, called "The Child" (until his actual name is revealed as Grogu) but with a dominant Fan Nickname of "Baby Yoda." The production was so desperate to maintain this secrecy they avoided ANY merchandise of the character to be made in advance. The sheer popularity of the character made industry experts suggest they lost tens of millions of dollars from that alone due to not having any t-shirts or plush toys for months afterward.
  • While it's fairly uncommon for PBS Kids shows to have merchandise (apart from big-name programs like Sesame Street), Odd Squad stands out as one of the few outliers that does have official merchandise, being sold by numerous companies as well as by PBS Kids themselves. In addition, Sinking Ship Entertainment, one of the show's production companies, signed licensing deals with numerous companies to produce games, puzzles, and costumes as additional merch, but only one deal (with the online retailer Fun, to sell female Director costumes and Scientist costumes) has gone through to date.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse. Uniquely, Paul Reubens himself had to approve every merchandise deal, and he held off on most of them until about two or three seasons in. He stipulated that any toy bearing his seal had to be simple enough for any child to play with.
  • Street Hawk, a.k.a. Knight Rider on two wheels, was introduced late in India, and became a huge hit with viewers. Cashing in on this fan following, Funskool, who retailed G.I. Joe toys in India, released a retooled, black painted Rapid Action Motorcycle and Snake Eyes combo as an unlicensed Street Hawk toy.

  • KISS is probably the only rock band with their own line of caskets. The late Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrel Abbot was famously buried in one, at his own request, though this one was provided free of charge by Gene Simmons himself out of respect for the man and his work.
  • Psychopathic Records is known for their "Hatchet Gear" line.
  • Parodies by MC Frontalot and MC Lars in Captains of Industry.
    Frontalot is in the tee shirt business.
    MC Lars is in the tee shirt business.
    Both of us, weíre in the tee shirt business.
    I thought we were musicians ó what is this?
  • The Beatles had two separate waves of The Merch while the band was still active: the first and biggest happened in the "Beatlemania" days; the second, smaller wave happened when Yellow Submarine came out. These days, there's still a lot of merchandise in the form of higher-end collectibles and McFarlane Toys' Yellow Submarine and Beatles Cartoon Show lines.
  • Most bands will have some sort of mecrhandise, but who other than Abney Park have (official) 28mm gaming minis of themselves?
  • Daniel Amos mocked the proliferation of Christian-themed trinkets on "Little Crosses" (from Doppelgšnger) and "Home Permanent" (from Vox Humana).
    These little crosses
    I see on my T.V.
    Take my money
    and give me some of these
    Little crosses
    with lots of color and sound
    I'm in heaven
    with all these treasures around
  • Jimmy Buffett has restaurants called "Margaritaville" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise" that are named after two of his greatest hits. The former has more restaurants than the latter. Also, "Margaritaville" has frozen food, beer, furniture, clothing, casinos, and barware under the name. The song has been considered to be the most valuable song, making more money off of related products rather than sales of the track.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE tag-team D-Generation X, during their "reunion" years, was the subject of a Running Gag in which they would find ways to plug their merchandise, whether it be their action figures, T-shirts, DVDs, or even their new book (now available at!) in the most blatant, forced, and incongruous way possible, with Cheshire Cat Grins on their faces the whole time. Pretty much every wrestler has Merch, mind, and will plug it in more subtle ways (like wearing their latest T-shirt as they come down to the ring), but D-Generation X raised parodying the practice to an art form.
  • The New World Order would often have short segments that were basically commercials, shot with a grainy black and white effect and almost coming off like an underground propaganda film (which was the intention). Some, like this one, were just advertisements for nWo merch, while others had Kevin Nash yelling stuff like "BUY THE SHIRT!" as the segment finished.
  • ECW's constant money problems led to this in spades. Rather hilariously most of the merchandise was designed by wrestler Taznote , with other wrestlers like Dreamer and Richards involved in sales.
  • WWE often doesn't even promote the weirdest of their merchandise. BBQ bibs, ponchos, rings in the shape of title belts, earrings, sippy bottles, onesies, a John Cena chore chart, Kosher, edible images to cook onto your pizza, DX branded menorahs, and even garden gnomes. And there are a whole host of products that you can't by directly from their merchandise website or are no longer sold. WWE branded Kerplunk and Uno, digital cameras, RC vehicles, boom boxes, condoms, thongs. Anything and everything.

  • Cats was to live theater what Star Wars was to movies when it came to exploring the potential of merchandising: not just programs and soundtracks, but T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
  • The Phantom of the Opera has such licensed merchandise as music boxes, jewelry, figurines, and snowglobes on top of mugs and tees. Available soundtracks include ones for the original London cast, original Canadian cast, and the movie — and then there are the foreign-language recordings. The sequel Love Never Dies pushed jewelry, key rings, magnets, etc.
  • Any Disney live show, be it the latest Disney on Ice tour or a legit musical like The Lion King, will have tons of merch.
  • Most Cirque du Soleil shows have a soundtrack album, DVD (either the actual show or a making-of documentary), T-shirts, program, ornaments, keychains, masks, hats, drinkware, etc. Then there's the merchandise representing the overall company, which includes all of the above items plus stationery, coffee table books, toys, salt and pepper shakers, jewelry, lip balm, etc., etc. (That merchandise is now brought out in new "collections" every few months via the online boutique.) The non-touring "resident" shows all have dedicated gift shops, and the big top tours feature a large entrance tent that includes the souvenir stands.
  • Merchandizing is apparently Older Than Steam: There's a Yuan Dynasty (14th-century Chinese) wine jar in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (catalog number 37.292a-b) which depicts a scene from The Three Visits of Prince Liu Bei to the Hermit-Scholar Zhuge Liang, a play popular at the time. Art historian Wu Tung described it as "apparently created for commercial purposes — to capitalize on the popularity of the play."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Of late, there have been many attempts by Games Workshop to expand their supplementary material eg. books, computer games etc. to an actual line of merch. Small badges and practically everything you could use for tactical miniature gaming with their label on it, thus doubling the price, not withstanding; there are now mystery pack collectible figures (toylike cheap crap that cannot be used in the game) and POP vinyl figures available.
  • In the Phase World setting, there is a whole sector of the citadel held by Naruni Enterprises, which is not just occupied by ranges, training courses, hangars, sales offices and many a weapon store; there is a hell of a lot of merch available in-universe. Model tanks and robots, all manner of toy weapons, clothing, non-combat items, adventuring gear, and all manner of media including holographic movies and virtual video games, all so people remember their name, eg. they like the weapons in the video game so they go shopping with Naruni first when they decide to go become a galactic mercenary, they remember having a toy weapon or collection of diecast starfighters as a kid...
  • Similar with Church recruiting drives in Necropolis 2350, where they give away lots of magazines, books, stationery, and sometimes model tanks, in the hope that the kids will grow up aspiring to join up and become a Knight. Similar to real-life military open days.

  • All sorts of merchandise based on the Tamagotchi toys has been made, with candies, cards, bath bombs, playsets featuring figurines of the characters, plush toys, and keychains being just some of the pieces of merch they've put out. The TV show has also had merchandise relating to it.

    Video Games 
  • LBX: Little Battlers eXperience has the LBX model kits released by Bandai (of Gundam fame). They are all in 1:1 scale (thanks to being tiny robots to begin with), complete with fully interchangeable parts for customization, weapon expansion packs and the cardboard arena diorama seen in both the game and the anime. There's also the Riding Saucer, a remote-controlled LBX support unit compatible with the model kits.
  • Minecraft has whole stacks of merchandise. The T-shirts are just the tip of the iceberg made of stuff like stickers, posters, plushies, foam replicas of in-game items, handbooks, novels, figurines and even LEGO construction sets.
  • Roco Kingdom has had multiple toys made for it, among them LEGO-like minifigures, a series of trading cards, and a 3D marble puzzle that's very much a knockoff of the Perplexus line.
  • There are tons of Sonic the Hedgehog merchandise, ranging from T-shirts, furniture, plush, and figurines to fast food, hygiene, and even expensive statues. There's a fansite dedicated to Sonic merch.
  • Due to it being the most popular video game series of all time, the Super Mario series has had a huge range of merch that can be found around the world. Of course, there's the usual stuff like action figures, plushies, clothing, household goods, food, bedding and school supplies, to the weird stuff like tote bags, toothpaste, baby walkers and even branded gummy vitamins.
  • Kirby has a huge range of merchandise ranging from the expected plushes and T-shirts, to towels, blankets, stationery, bento boxes, garden planters, and even make-up kits. Kirby has also done collaborations with various companies for things like special plushes, tote bags, sweets and coffee. Unfortunately, most of these are only in Japan.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner sells T-Shirts, posters, action figures, DVDs, an album and other merchandise. It has become so successful, that the store is basically the creators' jobs.
  • Space Tree had a throwaway line in a parody commercial about a Space Tree action figure:
    Space Tree action figure: Mamma mia, buy a shirt!
    • However, later episodes featured links at the end that, when hovered over, displayed this line and led to a place to purchase a Space Tree shirt.
  • Most of Inanimate Insanity's merch constitutes of t-shirts, though a few other things are also sold, such as footwear and mugs.
  • The Mystery Skulls Animated crew occasionally makes t-shirts available in the Mystery Skulls online store.

  • Brian Clevenger of 8-Bit Theater has a question on his site FAQ that essentially asks "Why did you sell out?", he claims (humorously) that there's no legal way to make money on nothing but his good looks.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has spawned such a thriving T-shirt business for creator Chris Hastings that, in a recent interview, he mentioned that he sells his merch (at Topatoco) under the name "Raptor Bandit Industries" so he can draw in customers who don't read his comic.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del offers t-shirts, printed comic collections, refrigerator magnets, posters, maquettes, plushies and more based on the comic.
  • The title bar of Diesel Sweeties asserts that its full name is "diesel sweeties: indie rock robot romance webcomic and geeky t-shirt blogporium"
  • Airship Entertainment/Studio Foglio had a lot of stuff for Girl Genius — such as insignia appearing In-Universe, or generic Gaslamp Fantasy/Steampunk stuff such as pen looking like a mini-wrench.
  • MegaTokyo is sometimes (jokingly!) accused of being nothing more than a front for the sale of novelty T-shirts and fashion accessories.
    • There's been somewhat more truth to this in recent years, as the comic has suffered severe Schedule Slip, but new merch continues to come out on a regular basis and the store is, apparently, still decently successful.
  • Penny Arcade mercilessly savaged Merchandise-Driven properties in the character of "The Merch". Of course, they have no small line of merchandise themselves, which ironically includes the character The Merch in its lineup.
    • Although, given that the Merch has evolved into an unofficial store mascot, they seem to be quite aware of this.
    • When the first few strips involving the character of The Merch were compiled into a book, Tycho lamented that the concept was handled in such an obvious and heavy handed manner. Accordingly, over the last few years The Merch has only appeared in the background on shirts and the like, rather than being an active joke in the comic.
  • Wicked Powered is a Merchandise-Driven webcomic, created for the purpose of selling "Wicked Lasers" laser pointers.
  • This comic from Stickman and Cube parodies Merch, by giving the Stick-Figure Comic not only a T-shirt, but also action figures and its own breakfast cereal. Fortunately, the author was joking.
  • Questionable Content: webcomic or front for a t-shirt business? You decide. One of the few self-sufficient Webcomics, as the author makes his living by selling said t-shirts, many of them Defictionalizations of shirts worn in-comic (Marten's TEH shirt comes to mind). Luckily, he doesn't throw it in anyone's face, but back in the day, you'd see a new t-shirt pop up on a character, then Jeph would talk about it in a newspost, then he'd have it available- nearly every other month.
  • Scary Go Round is also a self-sufficient Webcomic, due to The Merch. The earliest T-shirts were worn by characters in the strip (Shelley's "Eggbert" T-shirt was revived for Christmas 2008). These days the characters still wear quirky T-shirts from time to time, but the shirts available to the public tend to have a tenuous connection to the strip. They're pretty cool, though.
  • Loserz (when it was still running) sold pictures with the characters from the comic as computer wallpaper. The erotic ones were more expensive than the others.
  • The Order of the Stick sells trade paperbacks of the comic, with additional bonus content available only in print. Two of the paperbacks out so far are prequels, the content of which has never been published on the web. And, of course, T-shirts.
  • Attempted subversion in Sam and Fuzzy with the in-universe creation of Skull Panda, a character that "will appeal to alienated youths and wannabe social outcasts" by being simultaneously edgy and cute. The subversion failed because the character was legitimately appealing; Skull Panda currently has two t-shirts for sale.
  • Aside from various typical merch fare (T-shirts, prints, anthologies, etc.) pop by Mookie's booth at a convention and you can even pick up a Dominic Deegan scarf. Those are typically the first thing to sell out of.
  • Sluggy Freelance was one of the first webcomics and one of the first to become a full-time source of income for its creators. It is currently supported through merchandise, book sales, and subscriptions to exclusive content.
  • An early Planet Karen strip suggested a possibility for The Dark Tower merch.
  • MSF High: While not directly merchandise driven, Trading cards check, table top RPG rule books check, commission's and reward points check.
  • Topatoco is a company that makes and distributes the merch for webcomicers, founded and run by a webcomicer. Almost all of their merch is reproduced hipster tee shirts worn by webcomics characters, but almost none of their merch has any webcomic logos, characters, or dialog on it. It's like they're ashamed of it.
  • VG Cats is getting to the point where Scott Ramsoomair is putting out more t-shirts than new comics a year.
  • Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki only updates once every 2 months at best. But watch every other week to see updates on the author's newest merchandise, and what newest conventions she will be selling said merchandise at!
  • Shadowgirls has the Shadowchild figure and most recently the Merv Hat.
  • Homestuck has evolved into something of a small-scale merchandising empire, to the point that it spans three online stores - Topatoco, WeLoveFine, and its own, WhatPumpkin. In addition to the standard webcomic shirts and jumpers (of which there are plenty, including a full set of twelve troll shirts and twelve God Tier shirts/hoodies, there is a sizable array of jewelry, prints from the art team, plush toys, an art calendar that's been released yearly since 2011, and the series' utterly enormous discography of music albums. And that's just Homestuck alone - add in Problem Sleuth and you've got several more shirts and prints, plus two books.
    "I seem to have this knack for falling totally ass backwards into highly marketable ideas, like the troll zodiac symbols. [...] Iíve never actually put anything in the story to sell anything. But throughout the entire ride, every time I turn around, Iím saying, ďOh, whoops. Guess I gotta sell that now.Ē" — Andrew Hussie, in this interview
    • Speaking of MS Paint Adventures, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, an intentionally terrible webcomic filled with grammar errors, JPEG artifacts and general absurdity also has an impressive array of merchandise. There are the obligatory T-shirts, some of which glow in the dark and all of which are hilariously terrible. Then there's the magnetic "poetry," a set of fridge magnets featuring snippets from the comic that you can assemble at whim to make something remotely approaching coherency. And now there's a hardcover $44 book that also comes with a coin of one of the characters, a 3-foot long bookmark ribbon, a "pocket edition" that's a glorified poster of every single comic, a garishly oversized "plantsic paperclip," a lenticular bookmark, and a scratch and sniff sticker that ostensibly smells like pizza. This lavish book's bar code scans as a bag of Doritos, and the front cover has a coffee ring laminated onto its surface. And not only that, but for $50 you can get it signed by the character in Homestuck who writes the comic.
  • In The Bird Feeder #216, "Shameful Self-Promotion," Darryl breaks the fourth wall to try to help "his cartoonist" to sell some product.
  • Cobweb and Stripes: A weekly Fan Webcomic that has its own merch department in the artist's RedBubble store, where readers can purchase images from the strip on various items.
  • There is a fair amount of Merch available for Grey is..., including cups and bookmarks with chibi Black and White on them
  • An in-universe example for Heartcore: The Paladin Syranon Glaed, famous demon hunter and good-looking Beastman, has merchandise based on him in New Ayers due to his popularity with the people.
    • In real life, the author also offers donation incentives in the form of pins, stickers, fridge magnets, and bookmarks.
  • PvP has hardcover and softcover books of collected strips, desktop vinyl figures, a DVD, posters and T-shirts.
  • Schlock Mercenary mostly sells book collections of the strips but also sells other things including T-Shirts, bags, magnets and miniatures. On occasion the comic has a merch-related strip, like for example with challenge coins.
  • Tiger, Tiger: There's a plush of "Sausage".
  • Unsounded: The shop usually has a few magnets in addition to the print volumes of the comic.
  • xkcd has its own shop, where t-shirts, posters and a variety of other things, mostly with images from the comics, are sold.
  • Appropriately enough, Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery sells Yehuda's cycling cap.
  • Zebra Girl has "Joe Does Something!" — for every $500 in donations that Joe racks up, he posts a funny little animation involving his Author Avatar... err... doing something.

    Web Original 
  • Fark, despite being already self-sufficient thanks to its traffic generating scads of clickthroughs, has recently started offering T-shirts with the joke headlines and tags for stories featured on the site.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series sells shirts with their more popular memes on them.
  • Until Television Without Pity affiliated itself with Yahoo several years ago (before it was sold to Bravo), much of the costs of the site were provided by Merch. Available Merch included Tubey (the site mascot) in close to fifty designs (each evocative of a particular show that was recapped) on virtually anything CafePress would imprint, as well as open stock and limited edition t-shirts.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn, also has merch, specifically T-Shirts. LOTS of T-shirts. Some of the other Channel Awesome contributors have it as well, but Linkara's the most notable example, being that, as he noted recently during a video to call attention to people not watching ads, AT4W is his day job, and given the rise of ad blockers, people watching the videos without watching the ads means he has less money to pay the bills with.
  • The Runaway Guys sell T-shirts with cartoonly-designed faces of the trio on them. The artist, Tom Fawkes, got endorsement from the Guys to draw these.
  • Similarly to the TRG example, the Game Grumps have T-shirts with their 'Grump Heads' displayed on them.
  • Jacksfilms sells various articles of clothing, which show up in his videos a lot.
  • The British beauty YouTuber Zoella attracted a huge backlash in late 2017 through this; although she'd already had numerous lines of merch and other branded products out, for Christmas 2017 she released, in association with the beauty/chemist's chain Boots, an advent calendarnote . An advent calendar which had only 12 doors on it when the entire point of one involves it having at least 24. An advent calendar which contained small, cheap worthless items like a tiny notepad, a pen, a keyring, a scented candle, a tiny bottle of room spray and (most egregiously) a small cookie cutter. For £50note . She quickly garnered negative press, and didn't help herself when she claimed to have had no input on the contents of the calendar despite previously claiming to have full oversight and control of her licensed projects; in the process, also burning her bridges with Britain's biggest beauty chain by placing all the blame for it squarely on them. Watch JaackMaate's viciously scathing review of the contents of the calendar here.
  • Selling DVDs, T-shirts, posters, and premium subscriptions was essentially how Rooster Teeth kept themselves afloat for many years until their acquisition by Fullscreen Media in 2014. Afterwards, while merch sales still accounts for roughly 20-30% of their revenue, their merch has widely diversified to include drinkware, toys, more types of apparel like underwear, scarves, and socks, and even backpacks and coolers.
  • Parodied In-Universe in The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles - all of the merchandise mentioned is for films that either had terrible critical reception or arenít Merchandise-Driven.

    Western Animation 
  • Shortly after The Simpsons debuted, Bart Simpson was on virtually every product conceivable, to the extent that many people assumed the name of the show was "Bart Simpson". The show mocked this on several occasions, for example when Bart said to Krusty "I'd never put my face on an inferior product".
    • Krusty is king of this in-universe. A couple of in-universe ads for Krusty-branded items have featured a voiceover that's painfully obviously a stock clip of a bored-sounding Krusty drawling out in monotone "I heartily endorse this event or product.". He endorses so much stuff that by one point he's told that there is nothing left that he doesn't already endorse.
    • One particular Couch Gag showed all the merchandise being made for the show in an underground mine sweat shop, with malnourished workers, toxic chemicals being used and a unicorn horn used to punch out the center holes in DVD's.
  • A tragic subversion occurred with Sym-Bionic Titan- the show had all the potential of a successful, marketable toyline, having Super Robot Genre elements, but failed to strike a deal with toy companies. Guess what? The high-quality cartoon is royally Screwed by the Network in response to this.
    • Well, specifically, action cartoons are expensive to produce and rely on merchandise sales to recoup their budget. One of the most common causes of cancellation for action shows is the lack of merchandising revenue needed to produce new episodes.
  • Word of God is that this is what killed Static Shock. The show had tremendous ratings and was even beating Pokťmon, but ended after four seasons due to a lack of merchandise. Dwayne McDuffie says that a fifth season was ordered by Kids' WB!, but that there was simply no money left to produce it.
  • More recently, Bruce Timm confirmed that Young Justice (2010) and Green Lantern: The Animated Series were cancelled due to this as well. Young Justice had a toy line, but it didn't sell well, while Green Lantern never even had one due to the surplus of unsold toys from the flopped live-action movie.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is naturally Merchandise-Driven, as the original My Little Pony franchise was created to sell toys to little girls. That's where Hasbro's involvement in The Merch ends though; everything else with ponies on it, from bicycles to board games to underwear, is made by other companies. Some of these are officially licensed, but many are not. WeLoveFine is notable for being one of the few businesses that sell My Little Pony clothing sized for adults, so their products are sometimes mistaken as being officially licensed, despite the fact that every page of their website has "for fans, by fans" in the header, and that every product page has a mini-bio of the fan/artist who designed the product.
  • Peter Rabbit has a number of plush toy releases, as well as model figures, playsets and a plate/silverware set. Additionally, Peter Rabbit has long been featured on a line of fruit/vegetable snack pouches known as Peter Rabbit Organics. When this series began airing, the packaging on these was changed to feature Peter's look from the television series, as opposed to the original Beatrix Potter book-style illustrations. Due to the show originating from Britain, many of these items, though nowhere near all, are No Export for You.
  • Despite online exclusives like Creative Galaxy still being somewhat niche, it has managed a couple, unsurprisingly sold through Amazon. There are two different t-shirts, one targeted towards boys and the other towards girls. The other is an artist's belt that looks like the won worn by the show's star Arty and includes various art supplies such as a coloring pad, doodle pad, water pads, sticker books, crayons and paintbrushes.
  • Even before its announcement for Animated Adaptation on Netflix, Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama series had plush toys of the title character as well as his best friend, Nelly Gnu. With the animated release, plush toys for all the major characters on the show have been announced, as well as other merchandise.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In-universe. After Marco convinces the princesses at the Boarding School of Horrors to rise up, merchandise of his princess persona starts being sold. He gets a rather hefty weekly royalty check.

  • PBS has been doing this for decades, during their fund-raisers - even back when they were NET rather than PBS. Coffee cups and tote-bags go all the way back, but now they've branched out to include special-edition DVDs and CDs of "the program you just watched", companion books, and sometimes t-shirts.
  • CNN lets you buy t-shirts with a tasteful (and sometimes not-so-tasteful) selection of their headlines on them.
  • Museums also went The Merch route long ago, with gift shops in the museum itself, and mail-order catalogs containing reproductions of paintings, statues, and jewelry, as well as stationery, scarves, and toys "inspired by" works they hold. Tote bags, coffee cups, t-shirts, and magnets with the museum logo are also old standards.
    • This is exploited in a strip of Calvin and Hobbes, where they visit the museum and Calvin wants his mother to buy him things from the museum's gift shop.
    Mom: I don't think you need any more dinosaur stuff, Calvin.
    Calvin: But Mom, it's all educational! You want me to learn, don't you??
    (next panel) Hobbes: Boy, she fell for that one.
    Calvin (arms full of stuff and wearing a triceratops hat): I'll say! I wonder if we could get any Batman junk this way.
    • Same deal for zoos, with the addition of lots of soft toy or model animals, coffee-table books of wildlife photos, and those penny-press souvenir-makers operated with a crank.
  • BBC Worldwide exists to sell merchandise for BBC programming. It has been rumored that the new Dalek designs in Season 5 were done to provide new merchandise to sell for Doctor Who.note  There is definitely a new sonic screwdriver available for sale in the US and UK.
  • This very wiki has joined in peddling The Merch, with its new merchandise store.
  • for The Transformers has a page entitled To Sell Toys. Because everything in Transformers revolves around it, including the cartoon series.
    • Can't stress enough that Transformers fans usually expect this. Some even cry foul when a toy from a particular line is not incorporated into that line's promotional media. Beast Wars may be the biggest example as, due to the then new CGI budget, it was far easier to make toys then to make TV characters, so a core cast was developed because a large cast was just not feasible. Years later, the rest of the toyline got a comic series.
  • A group of fans got together to sell an unofficial Attack on Titan artbook and give the proceeds to charity.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Merchandise, Merch, Merchandising


Spaceballs - Merchandising

Where the real money from the movie is made.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (46 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheMerch

Media sources: