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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!"

Our hero is plonked in front of his or her 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 is another matter.

See also This Just In!, where it's a news program that interrupts itself for this purpose. See Emergency Broadcast for a common way this happens in Real Life.



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    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.

  • 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).
  • 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 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).
  • Two Soldiers: "We interrupt this broadcast" as a radio bulletin reports the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Recently used in Saturday Night Live in skits where their version of the founder of Wikileaks statics out someone else's broadcast to send his message.
  • 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.
  • Svengoolie's show starts with an announcement: "Calling all stations! Clear the airlanes, clear all airlanes for the big broadcast!"
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus did this as a gag in one episode where a regular program is interrupted with "We interrupt this program to annoy you and make things generally irritating for you." and later with "Good evening. We interrupt this program 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? uses the line for the "News Flash" and "Greatest Hits" games.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 show our narrator is watching. He sighs about the cruelty of fate — because he was recording it and everything.

  • 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 
  • On Monty Python's Flying Circus' album Matching Tie And Handkerchief, 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • In El Goonish Shive, this is used to fill panel space in lieu of showing discussion of a topic Dan is uncomfortable about.

    Web Original 
  • The short film Batman: Dead End starts with this sort of a news broadcast about the escaped Joker.
  • In Ender Pixel, in the bus during LOL 5 part 2, a random cat interrupts the entire episode by jumping in randomly.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • In Courage the Cowardly Dog, the intro starts as one of these.
  • MAD has this as a Couch Gag.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures had a short where Buster's video game was interrupted for a announcement.
  • 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!"
  • The Secret Show begins by interrupting The Fluffy Bunny Show and taking its timeslot.
  • 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"...
    "And now for another ridiculously plot-heavy O-Town special report!"
  • 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!"
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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".
  • In the Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey's Parrot, Mickey and Pluto are by the radio listening to an overly-sweet story that gets interrupted by a news flash about an escaped killer. The titular parrot then wanders into the basement and makes a ruckus, causing the two to believe that the killer is in their house.
  • The Woody Woodpecker cartoon "Termites From Mars" has the Hawaiian TV show Woody is watching interrupted by a reporter announcing the titular menace.
  • Two 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.)
  • In the Animaniacs episode "Broadcast Nuisance", Dot interrupts Newstime Live to ask her brother Yakko for his opinions on the news anchor they are trying to annoy.

    Real Life 
  • CBS famously interrupted As the World Turns to report on the shooting and eventual death of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
  • In series 38, episode 7 of Have I Got News for You, a crew member walked up to Ian Hislop and whispered in his ear. Ian then announced that cabinet minister James Purnell had just resigned, just as the panel were discussing the various cabinet resignations that had occurred during that week.
    • News that Ed Miliband was resigning as Leader of the Labour Party similarly interrupted another episode. A week later, discussion of Chuka Umunna, who was one of the candidates to be Miliband's replacement, was interrupted by the news that Umunna was dropping out of the race.
  • The live broadcast of Quatermass 2005 had an on-screen graphic displayed twice, advising viewers that a major news story (the death of Pope John Paul II) was being covered on BBC News 24.
  • This also happens whenever Royals die in the UK; Normal programming is either interrupted by the picture of the Union Jack and sombre music, or a message telling viewers to change to a news channel. Such events are also likely to disrupt regular programming for the rest of the day. Although it wasn't expected, a good example of both this trope and This Just In! is how British Channels responded to the death of Princess Diana.
    • Which is very annoying because after the first hour they had absolutely no new news whatsoever, and because EVERY SINGLE OTHER CHANNEL was telling you to turn to the news channels, you couldn't escape.
  • Obviously happened on September 11, 2001. You can find plenty of footage on YouTube; it's especially eerie to see how "normally" the day started. Some regular programs took days to come back on the air.
  • "Turnabout Intruder", the last episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, was pre-empted by the death of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It didn't air until two months later.
  • During a live broadcast of Monday Night Football in 1980, John Lennon's assassination was announced on-air by commentator Howard Cosell.
  • It isn't to say that a children's movie is important, but outrage ensued from angry parents on social media when NBC interrupted their airing of an American Girl film in favor of a news report on the Trayvon Martin case.
  • Cable news channels have become infamous for overusing and inverting this trope - MSNBC uses a "Breaking News" graphic for the top-stories update at :38 after the hour in prime time, Fox News once broke in on a live-on-camera interview with a U.S. Senator to show Justin Bieber being perp-walked after a routine court hearing.
    • On this or a similar occasion, Shepard Smith called out on air the ridiculousness of devoting the breaking news graphic for celebrity news.
  • In Russia, both today and during the Soviet-era, classical music being played on all official channels has become recognizable as shorthand for "something terrible has happened." When Chernobyl happened, all radio played classical music for two days until the official announcement was prepared.
    • This tends to be standard practice for totalitarian regimes. When it came time for the Nazis to announce the catastrophic defeat at Stalingrad, they replaced all regular programming with Anton Bruckner's Seventh Symphony before announcing the Sixth Army's fate.
  • The second-to-last episode of the Japanese series Ressha Sentai ToQger was interrupted by a newscast about the death of a Japanese journalist at the hands of the terrorist group ISIS. It was long enough to push the final two episodes (and thus, the premiere of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger) back, but short enough that Kamen Rider Drive and the premiere of Go! Princess Pretty Cure aired uninterrupted.
  • Rooster Teeth did this twice, using the news recap show "The Know-It-All" to reveal Monty Oum's hospitalization (and that there would be no videos from Rooster Teeth that weekend), then using "The Know" a few days later to reveal of his passing, again stating that there would be no videos because of it.
  • During the series's original run, the final episode of My Mother the Car was interrupted by a special news bulletin involving NASA. The episode did not resume afterwards, and it wouldn't be until later that the entire episode was seen.
  • Nickelodeon interrupted a re-run of the PAW Patrol episode "Pups Save A Baby Humdinger; Pups Save A Pinata" on March 14, 2018 to go off-air in support of the National Walk-Out that day. Parents were not too pleased.
  • With the exception listed above, Japanese networks often use banners called "telops" on children's programming showing the name of the station's news department, followed by text indicating a piece of breaking news note  rather than interrupting the program most of the time. The most infamous use of a news banner happened in 2016, when a news ticker about the Kazuhiro Kiyohara trial was shown during an episode of Aikatsu!, which was not only notable for not only upsetting the child viewers due to the subject matter, but the adult fanbase and even the director of the show itself.
  • The first airing of Rugrats on CBS's Nickelodeon-themed Saturday Morning Cartoon block (the episode in question was "Finsterella") was interrupted on some stations halfway through for breaking news about the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion. Some stations did air the episode as originally planned.
  • According to this page, the last few minutes of the original airing of the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! episode "Hunger Struck" was interrupted by a news report about a strong earthquake hitting Miyagi Prefecture.
  • The original airing of the Himitsu no Akko-chan episode "Ganmo's Perfect Rakugo Theater" was interrupted the minute before it could air by a news report about Emperor Hirohito's death.