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We Interrupt This Program

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"We take you now to Kermit the Frog with another fast-breaking news story!"

"We interrupt our programming; this is a national emergency. Important instructions will follow."

Our hero is plonked in front of their favourite show when the show is suddenly interrupted, whether by inside or outside forces, to deliver a (usually) shocking and/or plot-relevant announcement.

Whether the protagonist actually pays attention or not is, of course, another matter.

See also This Just In!, where it's a news program that interrupts itself for this purpose. When the villain hacks into TV programming to deliver an evil message, it's Do Not Adjust Your Set. See Emergency Broadcast and Breaking News Interruption for common ways that this happens in Real Life.


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    Asian Animation 
  • In episode 42 of Happy Heroes, the Supermen and Doctor H. are watching a TV show and about to find out who the perpetrator of a crime is when Mr. Lightbulb interrupts it with a commercial for the carnival and its fruit juice rain (the episode mostly takes place at this carnival). The ad runs for long enough that we never see who the villain in the show is, which doesn't sit well with Sweet S. at all.
    Sweet S.: (banging on the TV) TELL ME, WHO WAS THE BAD GUY?! TELL ME!!!

    Fan Works 
  • In A Good Compromise, the Federation News Network breaks into a broadcast of a soccer match between Earth and the Denobulans to report on the Fek'Ihri attack on Moab III, which involves their affiliate there being eaten.
  • Parodied in the Miraculous Ladybug fic Porte-Boner: not only is the program being interrupted a DVD, but the reporter in question somehow knows that it's a bootleg porn movie.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Apollo 13 this happens, but Ken Mattingly just misses it— he turns the TV off to go to bed and only finds out when NASA sends someone to his house (he'd also taken his phone off the hook).
  • Happens in The Day The Earth Stood Still as reports are being broadcast about the spaceship landing.
  • This trope dates at least as far back as 1934 and Death on the Diamond, when a radio announcer takes the microphone away from the singer and says "Pardon me folks for interrupting this newscast" before reporting on the Serial Killer's latest murder.
  • In I Saw What You Did, Kit and her father are listening to a ballgame on the car radio when the broadcast is interrupted by a report about the body of a murdered woman being in the woods near to where they are.
  • Happens in-universe in Shredder Orpheus as Orpheus's second chance to save Eurydice preempts the usual EBN programming, with the announcer going live to the show.
  • Two Soldiers: "We interrupt this broadcast" as a radio bulletin reports the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • In Without Warning (1994), this is pulled on the viewer: The beginning is a murder mystery, itself titled Without Warning, which turns out to be a Fake-Out Opening and is quickly interrupted by a special report (the main plot presented as a Phony Newscast).

  • In Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman this happens midway through the book. As George & Harold are about to hypnotize Ms. Ribble, the chapter is interrupted by a news report which says that the Hypno rings have just been recalled because they cause a hypnotized woman to do the opposite of what she has been hypnotized to do.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Before The Cape was released, radio ads for it were released which started with music and interrupted it with a fake news broadcast in this fashion.
  • In Cory in the House, one character had her disastrousnote  16th birthday party filmed for a TV show, and knew if it were to air, she'd be the laughing stock of her country. Just as the episode was beginning, the President of the United States interrupts it for a 60 minute special on cheese, having accepted Cory's request to protect his friend's dignity. But there's still the matter of reruns and the amount of controversy the POTUS will get for interrupting a popular show for no apparent reason.
  • The Eric Andre Show often pauses the show just before something crazy happens, an example being a man on a dirt bike is riding towards the desk and just as it gets into frame the show pauses on that frame with the text "we'll be right back" on the top right and a short little transition song plays.
  • Happens in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while Phil and his law partners are watching a football game a new program interrupts. Helps Phil find out that Will and Carlton were arbitrarily arrested and jailed.
  • In Mission: Impossible episode "Ultimatum," this trope was invoked by the IMF in conjunction with Coincidental Broadcast. The target of the sting didn't question the coincidence that his music program would be repeatedly interrupted with information directly relevant to his own situation.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus did this as a gag in one episode where a regular program is interrupted with "We interrupt this programme to annoy you and make things generally irritating for you." and later with "Good evening. We interrupt this programme again, A, to irritate you, and B, to provide work for one of our announcers." which then is followed by a a very nervous new announcer doing his job, get a pep talk from his colleagues and having a congratulatory cocktail afterward.
  • Nick Studio 10 interrupts episodes of other Nickelodeon shows to bring you "important announcements" that are actually just random gags.
  • The Sketch Comedy show No Soap, Radio regularly used this as a way to inject a skit into the Pelican Hotel Excuse Plot. One was an announcement that Mr. Potato Head was kidnapped, with the President asking families to show their support by putting a french fry in their windows.
  • The Rat Patrol episode "The Last Chance Raid" plays with this trope. The Rats have to send an emergency warning to the British, but their radio is damaged. What can they do? Break into the studio of the local Tokyo Rose — British traitor "Colonel Windsor", whose pro-Nazi broadcasts are monitored by The BBC — and commandeer his show, that's what! It turns out the Rats' nemesis Captain Dietrich has anticipated this move and captures them before Windsor goes on the air. However, our heroes escape, then take over Windsor's show while it's in progress and successfully send their message, to the astonishment of the BBC monitors.
  • Not an external interruption, but a match on Robot Wars was once halted in the middle of the fight for external radio interference. It turned out that an audience member had brought their own robot with them and was messing with it during the fight.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • A few episodes in early 1983 had these covering the shooting of Buckwheat (Played by Eddie Murphy). These skits are among those featured in the Best of Eddie Murphy VHS.
    • Used in skits where their version of the founder of Wikileaks statics out someone else's broadcast to send his message.
    • A 2014 skit featured Mike Myers reprising his role as Dr. Evil, in which he hijacks a Christmas special in the cold open to call out Sony and North Korea over the controversy surrounding The Interview.
  • Svengoolie's show starts with an announcement: "Calling all stations! Clear the airlanes, clear all airlanes for the big broadcast!"
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? uses the line for the "News Flash" and "Greatest Hits" games.
  • The Young Ones:
    • In "Boring", the four housemates' favourite TV programme, The Bastard Squad, is interrupted for live coverage of a siege in north London. They are so annoyed they don't notice the siege is taking place in their own house.
    • In "Time", a BBC radio broadcast gets interrupted to deliver the guys some vitally important news: Helen, the girl with whom Rick (wrongly) thinks he spent the previous night and whom Mike is now trying to seduce, is a dangerous murderer. Naturally, they don't notice.

  • Doctor Steel's song, "Greedy", starts out with a news bulletin about three escaped prisoners of an insane asylum (one of them, we gather, is Dr. Steel).
  • Weird Al's "Why Does This Always Happen to Me?" begins with a news report of a devastating earthquake which interrupts the episode of The Simpsons our narrator is watching. He sighs about the cruelty of fate — because he was recording it and everything.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the '70s and '80s, Sesame Street had their "News Flash" segments featuring reporter Kermit the Frog interrupting the series for a "fast-breaking news story," usually involving a fairy tale or nursery rhyme spoof (that doesn't go as planned, in most cases.) They were a regular part of the series until the late '90s, when they began appearing less and less, before disappearing from the show completely after 2001.

  • Arguably the Trope Codifier: Orson Welles' 1938 The War of the Worlds broadcast begins with a weather report, then a music show featuring "Ramon Raquello and His Orchestra", and transitioned in this fashion to the news bulletins that started the main story.

    Recorded Comedy 
  • The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, from The Firesign Theatre's How Can You Be in Two Places at Once, When You're Not Anywhere at All?, is interrupted by FDR himself announcing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (and the subsequent, unconditional surrender by the U.S.) just as the eponymous detective is about to solve the case.
  • On Monty Python's Flying Circus' Matching Tie and Handkerchief album, the programme "Wasp Club" is interrupted with great urgency as Thomas Hardy had completed the first sentence of his new novel "The Return Of The Native" which he started earlier on the record on the "Novel Writing" cut.


    Theme Parks 
  • The Monsters, Inc. ride at certain Disney Theme Parks has a small screen showing tourist information of Monstropolis which is interrupted by news that a child has been found in the city.
  • At Universal Studios:
    • In The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, the Sinister Syndicate cuts off all the TV signals in the city to broadcast their demands for New York to surrender, with Hobgoblin even saying, "We interrupt this program to give you a special report!..."
    • During Hollywood's Studio Tour, in the segment leading up to the Fast & Furious: Supercharged scene, Agent Novak is in the middle of sending a message to all of the guests on the tram, when suddenly Hobbs hacks into the broadcast's signal and uses it to send his own message to the guests.

    Video Games 
  • In Liberal Crime Squad, you can liberally sneak into the conservative AM Radio Station or Cable News Studio, and liberally discuss a randomly chosen conservative issue, liberally helping it getting more liberal. You can also do the same by liberally gunning your way through the conservative security.
  • The first episode of They Hunger had the radio station interrupt to inform about "unknown atmospheric phenomena". As the player learns, it turns out to be lightning that creates (some) of the zombies of the game, when it strikes the graveyard at the nearby church.
  • Right before the Champion battle against Leon in Pok√©mon Sword and Shield, Chairman Rose appears on the jumbotron to tell everyone he's triggered the Darkest Day, Galar's version of the apocalypse.
  • RoboCop: Rogue City starts with a gang taking over the news station so that their leader can shoot a promo advertising his services for a mysterious new crime lord called "The New Guy", with Robocop himself sent to save the hostages.

  • In El Goonish Shive, this is used to fill panel space in lieu of showing discussion of a topic Dan is uncomfortable about.
  • The Sanity Circus: When Attley and Fletch attend the eponymous circus show, the curtain goes up to reveal that the person on the tightrope wire is actually Sammy Talbot - one of the Scarecrows.
    Sammy: Oh, my apologies for this disturbance. I promise I won't be long. I'm simply looking... for a Miss Attley Grimshaw.

    Web Original 
  • The short film Batman: Dead End starts with this sort of a news broadcast about the escaped Joker.
  • The Strong Bad Email "senior prom" from Homestar Runner begins with this. "Let the King have some!"
    • "The King of Town's Very Own, Quite Popular Cartoon Show" eventually became an actual episode. "For reals this time!"
  • The popular PowerThirst skit had, "We interrupt this advertisement to BLOW YOUR MIND." Bonus points in that it was interrupting itself.
  • This has set off the plot in two different The Shark Puppet videos:

    Western Animation 
  • In the Animaniacs episode "Broadcast Nuisance", Dot interrupts Newstime Live to ask her brother Yakko, impersonating William F. Buckley, for his opinions on the news anchor they are trying to annoy.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: Early in Mickey's Parrot, Mickey and Pluto are listening to a radio program at home when it's interrupted by a report of an escaped killer on the loose. This leads to the main plot of the two hearing a wayward parrot in the basement and thinking that said criminal is in their house.
    Voice #1: And then, little Johnny Chipmunk ran after the pretty butterfly so fast, he slipped and fell right down on his fat little—
    Voice #2: News flash! Machine-Gun Butch just shot his way out of jail! He may be in your neighborhood! Be careful! He is armed and dangerous! Lock your doors! Remember, he's a killer!
  • In Courage the Cowardly Dog, the intro starts as one of these.
  • In Freakazoid!, during the scene in "The Chip" where Dexter presses the Delete key and inadvertently starts the process that turns him into Freakazoid, right when the music ramps up, right before his finger touches the key... "We interrupt this program to increase dramatic tension. (Beat) Now, back to our program!"
  • Looney Tunes:
    • The Porky Pig cartoon Kitty Kornered has Porky's four cats planning to scare him out of the house by dressing up as aliens and staging a fake radio report about an invasion from Mars.
    • The Bugs Bunny cartoon Hare Tonic has Bugs going behind Elmer's radio to provide a fake news announcement about an outbreak of "rabbititis".
  • MAD has this as a Couch Gag.
  • Three Mighty Mouse instances:
    • In "Goons from the Moon," an astronomer telegraphs the urgent message that Terrytown is under attack from a spheroid housing alien cats. It is broadcast throughout by a mouse avatar of Walter Winchell.
    • "The Mysterious Package" has a radio program Mighty Mouse is listening to while bathing interrupted telling him to report to the police. (The story involves children disappearing after receiving a space helmet.)
    • "Cat Alarm" has a staged interruption by sinister cats that the Cheeseville Dam has burst in order to get Mighty Mouse to lure all the mice out of the city.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Secret of Success", Doofenshmirtz tries to invoke this with his Preempt-inator. Then later in the episode the preempted program is preempted again by an actual breaking news.
    Newscaster: We preempt this current preemption to bring you another preemption.
  • Rocko's Modern Life did this quite a bit. Usually it would interrupt the exercise show "Bunmaster," often as part of a plot point. It's even lampshaded in the episode "Put to Pasture"...
  • The Secret Show begins by interrupting The Fluffy Bunny Show and taking its timeslot.
  • Even Kent Brockman of The Simpsons will do this on occasion. A Simpsons comic spoofed it, when Kent introduced his special report with "We interrupt this program, quite frankly... because we can!"
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has done this quite a few times.
    • Occurs twice in the episode "Nasty Patty". The first time, while SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs are trying to impress a health inspector with the entire Krusty Krab's menu.
      "We interrupt this cancan to bring you this newsflash. Be on the lookout for a man that's been passing himself off as a health inspector in order to obtain free food. That is all."
    • A little later, after SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs try to serve the presumed phony a disgusting meal and believe they've killed him.
      "We interrupt your laughter at other peoples' expense to bring you this update. The fake inspector has been captured; here is his picture. If a health inspector comes to your restaurant and he's not this guy, he's real. That is all."
    • In the episode "Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy V":
      "We interrupt your bleak and meaningless lives to bring you this newsflash."
  • Frequently done on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) to allow April O'Neil to deliver plot-relevant information to the Turtles. On one occasion, a commercial was interrupted, and the characters mentioned that it must be really serious if they were interrupting commercials.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures had a short where Buster's video game was interrupted for a announcement.
  • The Woody Woodpecker cartoon "Termites from Mars" has the Hawaiian TV show Woody is watching interrupted by a reporter announcing the titular menace.
  • WordGirl: In one episode, Becky "WordGirl" Botsford drops one of these as a message to all villains in Fair City to not commit crimes for the next few hours because her favorite show is on, since the last time she tried to relax watching it she missed most of the episode because they all kept interrupting her. She goes so far as to make an Implied Death Threat during it.
    WordGirl: Uh, hi everyone! It's me, WordGirl! [little chuckle] Sorry for the abrupt message, but I'm taking some recreation time for the next couple of hours, so just in case any of you villains were thinking of committing a crime... [picks up a metal girder and bends it into scrap with a serious and annoyed expression before tossing it behind her] So, again, if you were thinking of committing a crime in the next couple of hours, DON'T. [gestures towards the screen with an "I'm watching you" expression] Thank you for your time!
  • The Yogi's Treasure Hunt episode "The Attack of Dr. Mars" opens with a family watching a news report on TV. The little girl believes it to be real, but her parents remind her that it's just a TV movie. And then...
    Top Cat: We interrupt this TV movie to tell you that this is no TV movie! The Martians really are attacking Earth!


Video Example(s):


The Secret Show

At the start of each episode, the Fluffy Bunny Show plays before The Secret Show does, and every episode has U.Z.Z take over the timeslot to air The Secret Show.

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Example of:

Main / WeInterruptThisProgram

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