Occasionally, a network will get the brilliant idea to film an episode in 3-D, thus forcing the public to go on a search for the special 3-D glasses that work for this episode alone which are either given out by a store or inserted in a magazine. It's more of a novelty act than anything else. Definitely known for having "cheap 3-D tricks" in which all kinds of weird items (explosions, snakes, guns, anything flying through the air) will shoot out at the viewer. Also a guarantee of Incredibly Bad Writing ensuing as entire plots have to screech to a halt to indulge in the network's gimmickry.
As seen below, the 3-D episodes only take place around either sweeps weeks or event programming like after the Super Bowl.
- Chuck Versus the Third Dimension. (As part of a trailer tie in with the film Monsters vs. Aliens for the previous night's Super Bowl ad for the latter)
- Doctor Who:
- 3rd Rock from the Sun: Nightmare on Dick Street (used only for the Dream Sequences), a post-Super Bowl episode.
- ABC did a weeklong 3D promotion that included TGIF shows Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Family Matters, and even America's Funniest Home Videos (which was also structured as a Full House reunion show). It did not go well as the writers of each show had to write in the 3-D gags in haphazardly and piecemeal and all of the gags where objects were thrown at the screen were groan-inducing and are now useless when these episodes are rerun.
- FOX did this a few times back in the 90's. One week in particular was hosted by Al Bundy.
- Two of The Three Stooges shorts, "Pardon my Backfire" and "Spooks", were shot in 3-D in the 1950's, during the first big 3-D craze.
- The Drew Carey Show
- Arrested Development grudgingly participated in a network mandated 3-D night. The first 3-D scene had GOB throwing a tomato at the camera that had nothing to do with the plot and was never mentioned again. The second one, with Rocky Richter "threatening" Michael also did not have any real effect on what was going on in the episode.
- The first experimental 3D broadcast was an episode of Space Patrol in 1953 (shown on black-and-white TV sets, of course).
- Parodied in The Young Ones episode "Nasty", with a message is displayed on screen for the viewers to put on their 3D glassses.
- Svengoolie tried this in 1983 doing a massively-hyped 3D showing of Return Of The Creature. The results were apparently disappointing, and the show would remember it as an Old Shame.
- The BBC Saturday Morning Kids Show Going Live had a 3D episode in 1993, the same week as "Dimensions in Time". There's a clip on YouTube of Trevor and Simon, with Jonathan Ross, rather desperately trying to fill a minute and a half with Paddleball Shots.
Trevor: I think we've run out of things to do now, thank you.Jonathan: No, I've found another stick!
- Episodes of The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo and The Secret World of Alex Mack were involved in Nickelodeon's Noggle-Vision event; see Western Animation.
- When Kiss toured behind their reunion album, Psycho Circus, several songs featured images shown on the overhead screen in 3-D. An on-screen graphic would tell the audience when to put on and take off their 3-D glasses.
- During the height of the Compact Disc's popularity among consumers, a minor trend existed wherein artists would occasionally release albums with lenticular or holographic covers to provide a pseudo-3D effect; examples include Diamonds and Pearls (holographic cover) by Prince and 'hours...' (lenticular cover) by David Bowie.
- The Rolling Stones also had a much earlier example with Their Satanic Majesties Request, which featured a lenticular 3D image of the band against a sky backdrop; the image was meant to occupy the whole cover, but was shrunken down to save money. Most re-releases of the album omit the lenticular effect, including most CD reissues (save for a Japan-exclusive SHM-CD release).
- Far Lands Or Bust did this for the 100th episode, and true to the trope it was generally regarded as a bad decision afterwards by everyone involved.
- The whole 5th season of The Jace Hall Show, though the focus on the effect was lowered in the latter episodes of the season.
- The Cinema Snob's review of Friday the 13th Part III. Full of gratuitous Paddleball Shots.
- Nickelodeon ran a Noggle-vision event in 1997. It used the ChromaDepth method and required special glasses. Sequences from certain episodes were made in 3-D and later redone for 2-D rebroadcasts. The programs involved:
- The Dust Bunnies episode of Rugrats.
- The KaBlam! episode Won't Crack or Peel!. The episode focused on Henry and June introducing "KaBlam-o-Vision", which was supposed to have the audience interact with the show (cute little gags like having a Staring Contest with the duo (which included June plucking out her eyeballs and sticking them to the screen).
- The "Helga's Love Potion" episode of Hey Arnold!
- Nickelodeon did it again in 1999 with "Smell-O-Vision" episodes of Spongebob Squarepants and other shows (a combination of 3D effects and special scratch-and-sniff cards).
- Similar to Noggle-Vision, Cartoon Network did a week of shows in 3-D in 2007.
- Parodied in a sequence in the Futurama episode "Law and Oracle", complete with Shout Outs to Avatar and gratuitous Paddleball Shots. It ends with a caption saying "PUT ON 3-D GLASSES ONE MINUTE AGO".