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You Wanna Get Sued?

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For context: When Dungeons & Dragons rules became free for other publishers to use, some monsters remained trademarked, like the mind flayer.

Groundskeeper Willie: Boy, you read my thoughts! You've got "the shinning"!
Bart: You mean "shining."
Willie: Shh... You wanna get sued?!
The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror V," "The Shinning"

Sometimes, a rather more direct Shout-Out or name dropping is attempted, but to do so would skirt dangerously close to trademark law. While there are plenty of ways to use substitutes or write around the trademarks, another way is to go ahead with the reference, but deliberately not go through with it, just far enough for the audience to know exactly who or what you're talking about.

There are many ways to get around this visually: Censor mosaic, a black bar over the eyes, or pull back and only make a strong resemblance. But with dialogue, a common way is to have a character obliquely reference the Fourth Wall by stopping the mention before it finishes, directly warning the speaker about getting their makers in trouble. In writing, especially for comics and manga, whatever word they want to say will be said by the character, but the text of the name itself will be partially blanked out or substituted with wingdings.

Subtrope of Think of the Censors!. See also Writing Around Trademarks, Lawyer-Friendly Cameo, Captain Ersatz, Bland-Name Product, Disney Owns This Trope, Our Lawyers Advised This Trope, No Celebrities Were Harmed. Compare The Scottish Trope.


    open/close all folders 

  • Hilariously Invoked and Lampshaded by Samsung to lampoon the NFL's over-enthusiastic defense of its trademarks in their preparations for a Supe—*censored*, ahem, Big Game ad.
  • UK off-licence chain Oddbins invoked this trope in their ads in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, referencing the fact that only official licensed adverts could directly refer to them. This led to such Oddbins ads as "We're not allowed to use the name. We're not allowed to mention the location. We're not even allowed to mention the year. But celebrate them with us anyway" and "Celebrate the [CENSORED] with Oddbins" (yes, that's exactly how it was printed).
  • EU law is such that the names "Parmesan" and "Feta" can no longer be used to refer generically to cheese varieties, but only to cheeses specifically from their original production regions. Hence there's a lot of "Greek-style salad cheese" and "Italian-style cheese" around. It is probably only a matter of time before we see "Canadian West-Country Style cheese".

    Anime and Manga 
  • Precarious Woman Executive Miss Black General: One chapter has Black General suddenly very worried about the series' future when Braveman (a superhero whose costume looks like Batman's) encounters a new enemy who looks like a playing card, laughs all the time, and reveals his name is Jester. She spells out the resemblance and tells him to get away before they're sued.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: In the movie, when Italy, Germany, Japan, America, England, France, China, and Russia are discussing how to deal with the Pictonians, Italy suggests that Japan could do the job, referring to Evan*** and Gun***. Japan states that those are anime, prompting China to give his anime character: a mosaiced Goku expy, calling out "HAME-KAME-HA!!!".
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
  • Haruhi Suzumiya, in a Shout-Out to the Gundam series. (There were Gundams shooting, but heavily censored!)
    Haruhi: Bring out the *beep*dams!"
  • Lucky Star:
    • "Don't you have any special talents?" "Talents, hmm... I can name every single Po__mon!"
    • They actually took this to the point where it verged on parody in one scene: Konata and her dad were talking about Gundam... while avoiding any names, images blurred, and censor bars over their eyes.
    • Another episode censors Code Geass and Lelouch's name. Ironically, Bandai would later get the rights to license both Code Geass and Lucky Star.
    • Also, the Image Song "Yuuchou Sentai Dararenjaa" cut short a reference to Kamen Rider Faiz. Also ironically, Bandai has the license to produce Kamen Rider merchandise.
    • Thus they can make references to other properties they own. There's several references to Kamen Rider Den-O instead throughout, almost all of them being catchphrases of Momotaros. (And obviously Super Sentai as a whole with the name, and a couple veiled referencess to Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger thrown in.)
      Saishuu KIIIIIIIIKKU!
    • Also, they referenced Dragon Quest V like above. "A childhood friend? Or a rich lady? One has lots of money... And the ability to cast Boho_mi and I___zun." (Bohoimi = Midheal and Ionazun = Kaboom)
  • The Hyper Dolls manga has this when the Gratuitous English naming scheme for the Monsters Of The Week runs into an arachnid creature.
  • Variations would occasionally be lampshaded by Kawachi in Yakitate!! Japan.
  • Happens every five minutes in Hayate the Combat Butler; every single trademarked name is bleeped out, which leads to some pretty bleep-heavy sentences where otaku Nagi is involved.
    • A particularly funny example shows up when Hayate is about to use a sword technique whose name starts with "Hiten--" His opponent cuts him off, saying they can't risk that kind of reference, even with bleeps.
    • In the manga, this is even lampshaded in the one instance it was actively avoided — when the Sega game Mushiking was mentioned without editing, one character wondered aloud about whether it should be. It was pointed out that they got permission to use it, and thus needed to repeat the game's name as much as possible.
      Why don't you rich kids coax your parents to buy one!
    • The anime's second season averts all this, with barely any lack of pop culture references.
  • In Excel♡Saga there's a seiyuu joke where Excel is dressed similarly to Sailor Moon and does an In the Name of the Moon speech, and the bad guy says, "Hey, that's that anime from awhile ago, Sailor ***, right? Nah, that one's already over..."
  • The first few minutes of Student Council's Discretion contain so many blatant Shout Outs the characters themselves start warning each other over the legal trouble they might suffer. This continues throughout the series only less concentrated.
  • In Gintama, during the Bentendo Owee arc, Katsura makes a showy entrance in a costume that's obviously based on that of certain plumber, which prompts an onlooker to ask whether he's Mario, though he cuts them off before they can say the "o"...but he goes ahead and says, "It's not Mario, it's Katsu--", which gets him a kick in the face from Shinpachi. Subverted when it turns out he just was annoyed at Katsura's stupidity for appearing directly in front of Shinsengumi when they intend to arrest him (though Hijikata is stupid enough to think he's actually Mario).
  • In Rosario + Vampire: 2nd Year, when Kokoa magically shrinks into a child's body after one of Yukari's inventions backfires, the girls try to find clothes that would suit her condition. One of them is an Arale cosplay, which she at first takes in stride, but then tears the costume off while citing the trope.
  • In one chapter of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, the characters are in a space opera setting and are being attacked by mechs that are not Zakus. One of the characters warns that they're bordering on copyright infringement here, which is apparently a bigger concern than being killed.
  • In Ratman, Super Zero Fatman is given his own Thememobile — A tumblar called the Fatmobile. An aside is asked to not tell Warner Bros....
  • This is a Running Gag in the reference-happy Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!. In one of the Nyaruani shorts, Mahiro stops Nyarko from saying "Love Plus" by saying "Didn't I just recently tell you not to piss people off?", and in the OVA episode he prevents Cuuko from saying "Accel World" by bopping her upside the head.
  • In Monster Musume the monster heroines are at a hot spring resort trying to think up ways to attract customers. One suggests Yukio the Yuki-onna, who works there, star as a character who freezes things with her power. In the background is an Imagine Spot Yukio striking a pose ripped directly from a very, very, very popular piece of media about a character who does exactly that.
    Miia: I think that'd be a copyright issue!
  • Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!: During episode 7 (the summer camp episode) the boys get to take a dip in an open air hot spring. Suddenly...
    Io: There's been an incident.
    Yumoto: A murder?!
    Atsushi: Now, now. This isn't Detective *bleep*nan.
  • Nanbaka does this a lot in the episode where Upa faces Nico. Nico being an anime fan, he has lots of things he wants to say that correspond to his hobby, such as how Upa did the Kame*bleep*meha. Then again, he also wanted to do (and successfully pulled off) a R*bleep*der *bleep*ick. The other prisoners of cell 13 have to censor his references, although they let more slippery ones like "Balse!" go scot-free.
  • In the second OVA of Girls und Panzer, during a camping trip, the girls of Rabbit Team start singing about "*pam", while their leader, Azua, repeatedly screams "Shut up!" until she runs out of breath.
  • No Game No Life:
    • When Sora and Shiro see the Flugels' castle, they try to bring it down with "Ba*se", but fail.
    • Upon seeing that the video game in which they're fighting against the Warbeasts' representation looks like it's in Tokyo, Sora and Shiro are briefly thrown into a crippling Heroic BSoD, believing that it's their world, where they're NEETs unable to go outside. After snapping out of it, Sora tries to convince Shiro that it's a video game, like "Pers*na or Stein's G*te or Akiba Str*p", while characters from the games (Chie, Kurisu and Kati) appear with black strips over their eyes. More subtly, before the characters appear, there's a mostly yellow background that's highly reminiscent of the menu screens in Persona 4.
  • In one chapter of My Hero Academia, the students of Class 1-A are tasked with coming up with their superhero names. Mina, whose power is generating Hollywood Acid, wants to call herself "Heroine of Ridley: Alien Queen".note  Professional heroine Midnight, who's rating the names, points out that using the name could get Mina in trouble and has her think of another one.
    • In chapter 20 of the spin-off My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, a random villain shows up who's a giant turtle that flies by spinning. One of the bystanders starts to identify it as Gamera, but is cut off by a another yelling "Don't say it, that's a lawsuit waiting to happen!"
  • One chapter of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has Akisame sculpturing cotton-candy treats after other manga characters, like fellow Shonen Sunday star Conan Edogawa. When Kenichi calls him out on it, Akisame claims he's covered because the hairstyle is different.
  • At one point in Goblin Slayer, the party comes across what is clearly a Beholder. However, when one of the party asks what it is, another member says it's a being that cannot be named. On one hand, it implies the monster is a horrifying Eldritch Abomination that should be feared. On the other hand, it pokes fun at the fact that Wizards of the Coast, the creators of DnD, take the copyrights on their original monsters very seriously and seldomly let them be properly used in other properties.
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard (V Series): Said word for word by Kanzaki when Tonori and Nanami suggest that their new mascot should be a robot cat from the future. The drawing of said mascot comes with a Gag Censor.

    Comic Books 
  • Adam Warren ran this joke into the ground for his Genął limited series Magical Drama Queen Roxy. Usually said by the "fairy god critter" (who also apologizes for saying "bibbity boppity boo" and mentioning Whitney Houston's Cinderella). Toward the end he does the death scene from Titanic with a large sign in front of "Jack's" face, saying "not really (a series of increasingly silly misspellings of Leo's name), really!!"
  • From an old Wonder Man one-shot that featured Simon Williams ending up in the Mojo verse. Mojo's lackey points out that Marvel owns the Wonder Man copyright:
    Mojo: No problem. A quick gender flip and we market him as Wonder Wo...
    Lackey: Lawsuit city, dead ahead.
  • A similar joke was used/expanded on in a one-panel gag in Marvel's What If? #34, which asked the musical question, "What if Wonder Man was a woman, and Power Man was a girl?" The panel is partially covered up by a note from "Your Distinguished Competition" advising against printing the gag.
  • From Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, there is a comment from an employee that says she will be punished, and will end up working on Taco Bell. On a little footnote, it says Don't sue me, I'm funny!.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns teases Superman's appearance with news stories of people being saved by a red/blue blur. The news anchor keeps trying to say lines from the opening of the Fleischer Brothers cartoons, but is warned against finishing them each time due to legal concerns.
    • During the Batman: Hush storyline, both Batman and Catwoman at one point say, "Faster than a speeding... you know."
  • An issue of Justice League America pointed out that Fire resembled Marvel's Human Torch.
    Citizen #1: Look up in the sky!
    Citizen #2: It's a bird!
    Citizen #3: It's a plane!
    Citizen #4: It's the Human...
    Citizen #5: ...Don't say it!
  • This exchange from Harley Quinn & Power Girl #3:
    Groovicus: "Please help us, Power Girl. You're our only..."
    Power Girl: "Shhh, I hear lawyers waiting for you to finish that sentence."
  • Kyle Baker's run on Plastic Man includes a similar example:
    Plastic Man: Don't make me use force on you!
    Luke: That line would have been funnier if you'd turned into Darth Va—
    Plastic Man: Fine. You get sued.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) had an Owlbear appear, Luna briefly considering making it her pet before deciding that might be legally problematic. Ironically enough Luna was mistaken on that point, Hasbro own both properties and many other D&D monsters appear throughout the series.
  • Arne Anka, has an episode where the titular character, an anthropomorphic duck for the record, has been invited to a wedding but has a problem finding anything formal to wear for it. After digging through his wardrobe, all he is able to find is an old sailor suit, but after trying it on, Arne observes that he cannot not show himself in public wearing it as it makes him look highly reminiscent of a certain other anthropomorphic duck, and he would likely get sued. And indeed, Disney had previously threatened the comic with a lawsuit.
  • Deadpool Vol 7 #13:
    Nancy Nuke: And this is Tasmanian *mumbles*.
    Deadpool: You mumbled a bit. Did you say his name is—
    Captain Outback: Shhh! You can't say it!
    Gene: Copyright and trademark legal mumbo jumbo.

  • In Austin Powers in Goldmember, a chase scene set in Japan causes Austin's car to be embedded in a Godzilla-like monster float and rolling through the streets. Two Japanese bystanders then have this exchange:
    Bystander #1: RUN! It's Godzilla!
    Bystander #2: It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws it's not!
    Bystander #1: Still, we should run like it is Godzilla!
    Bystander #2: [Looking at the camera] Though it isn't.
    [Both bystanders scream and run]
    • The very next shot has what is unmistakably a Charmander float.
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the title characters have a Bongsaber Duel with the Cocknocker in their Bluntcave.
    "I think George Lucas gon' sue somebody"
  • In Kick-Ass the superhero Big Daddy is described several times as looking like Batman, almost always followed by a panicked "I never said he looked like Batman!!!"
  • In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, after one character produces a lightsaber from "the trunk", he's informed that "he can't use a lightsaber, it's not even the right system!"
    Brother Silence: I don't see a lightsaber. That would be copyright infringement. I see a psionic spirit blade. note 
  • Inverted in Blazing Saddles:
    Mel Brooks: Thank you, Hedy, thank you.
    Hedley Lamarr: It's not Hedy; it's Hedley. Hedley Lamarr.
    Mel Brooks: What the hell are you worried about? This is 1874. You'll be able to sue her! note 
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Peter has this reaction after Spider-Ham says That's All, Folks! before returning to his universe.
    Peter: Can he say that? You know, legally?


    Live-Action TV 
  • Lampshaded when Alton Brown has an episode "busting" some food myths in Good Eats. Just as he starts to say "bust some my-", the telephone rings and he demands his lawyer on why he can't finish the phrase. The reason? "'COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT'?!" He reluctantly changes it to "Myth Smashers".
  • The Colbert Report's Vancouverage (which is so not Olympic coverage).
  • Done In-Universe in iCarly. They start singing "Happy Birthday" on the webshow, only for Freddie to interrupt them and point out that it isn't public domain. They switch to "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".
  • The Glee third season Christmas Episode "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" has this. Justified in that both properties were (at the time) owned by Fox.
    Blaine: (To Finn and Puck) Say, are you dressed like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo?
    Finn: No, that's copyright infringement! Any resemblance to Star Wars characters is purely coincidental!
  • The Muppet Show:
    Scooter: The people that published the music from Camelot just called and they won't let you do it.
    Kermit: What? I was willing to give them credit! I would've given them a big build up! I would have given anything to do the jousting scene!
    Scooter: They want money.
    Kermit: Cancel the jousting scene.
    • Camelot must be a particularly good target because we get this gag in the Animaniacs episode "Sir Yaksalot":
      "In the town of Camelot
      "We love to sing all day,
      "But we can't sing the movie score
      "Or else they'll make us pay!"
  • From Mystery Science Theater 3000, we get:
    "To infinity and..."
    "Umm, Disney? Lawsuit?"
    "And, um, other places!"
    • The 10th volume of the DVD collections of the series was originally released with Godzilla vs. Megalon; unfortunately, the rights fell through, and the future releases of volume "10.2" had an extra skit on the replacement The Giant Gila Monster disk where Dr. Forrester scolds TV's Frank for not getting the rights to the "Japanese Giant Monster Movie" (or as Frank and Joel put it, "(Mumble) vs. (Unintelligible)").
  • Hilariously toyed with by James May on an episode of Top Gear where, while cooking during a camping episode, he spends about 2 minutes trying to describe a particular treat whose name can't be specifically used for legal reasons...but then finishes up with, "but of course you know they're Jaffa Cakes."
  • Celebrity Name Game cannot use the term *bleep* Bowl. But Craig manages to get around it.
    Craig: "Just imagine putting pretzels in a bowl and that it would be super."
  • Arrow. In Season 7, A.R.G.U.S. decides to bring back the Suicide Squad from earlier seasons, but calls it the Ghost Initiative instead as Warner Brothers stopped them using the word now it exists in the DCEU. Curtis starts to point out that Ghost Initiative is just a cooler name for the Suicide Squ—, but Lyla cuts him off.

  • Used in the classic MAD parody "Bat Boy and Rubin!"
    Bat Boy: Now! Onto the window sill! Faster than a speeding bullet, Kapweeng! Up... up... up and away!
    Rubin: Wait a minute, Bat Boy! That 'faster than a speeding bullet' is another character's routine!... It may be copyrighted! Want to get us sued?
    • This and many other references to the fact that these characters are not those other comic book characters are payback for legal threats from DC concerning their previous parody, "Superduperman". Ironically, MAD had predicted they would get sued for their still earlier Dragnet parody, whose opening caption said, "Only the names haven't been changed so as not to protect the writer of this story!"

  • In Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, the Indian chief sweetens his offer to sell New York to the Dutch by adding Staten Island to the package, and the real estate agents exclaims, "Is that a generous Indian? You'll have Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island too!" He then gets a phone call (presumably from Richard Rodgers's lawyer) with the message that they'll have to pay royalties if they quote any more. The Indian threatens to bring on another phone call by mentioning his wife's preference for "baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads."
  • In The Beatles' 1965 Christmas message to their fan club, John starts singing a song by The Four Tops:
    John: It's the same old song, but a different meaning since...
    George: Copyright, Johnny!
  • The Barron Knights made an entire career of parodying current pop songs. They sometimes got into trouble for this; and they once lampshaded this with one of their medleys, appropriately called "Trouble".
  • Parodist Peter Brewis actually was sued after writing a musical pastiche of several Kate Bush songs for Not the Nine O'Clock News called England - My Leotard. Performed by Pamela Stephenson, this soon drew the attention of Kate's lawyers, who promptly sued on the grounds that the parody was so like the original that their client was being improperly deprived of her intellectual property. To this day, Brewis does not receive a penny of royalty money, as this goes straight to Kate Bush.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • This is a frequent joke on Car Talk due to Tom and Ray's unabashed negative opinions of certain companies *coughGMChryslerFordcough*, though there have been several occasions when they've actually gotten in trouble.
  • Faye Jackson got a joking chastisement on Reality Check Radio when she announced Cody Rhodes would be making his ROH debut at Final Battle, being told they can't say "Rhodes".
    • Jim Ross made the same mistake when calling Cody's debut in NJPW, before grumpily correcting himself.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Louisiana Purchase begins with a lawyer warning the musical's authors that they'll get sued unless they make it clear that everything in the show, including the state of Louisiana, is fictional.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: The play's entire idea is to retell the plot of A Song of Ice and Fire with Hamilton song parodies. One of the songs gets interrupted because a certain Lord Lin-Manuel from House Miranda sends a "cease and desist" notice due to too many similarities with its Hamilton counterpart.

    Video Games 
  • Super Robot Wars W when Lowe from Gundam SEED Astray accidentally re-routes all the Red Frame's power to one of its hand plugs, and attacks an enemy with it. While this attack is known in its original series as the "Thunder Ball", Gai Daigoji is cut off before he can suggest calling it the "Shining Finger" - by a character who shares the same voice actor as Ryusei Date, in a bit of creative irony (Ryusei's own R-1 has the completely original T-Link Knuckle).
  • In the Japanese version of Mega Man 7, Mega Man will sometimes converse with Roll or Auto instead of Dr. Light after acquiring a new weapon (screenshots with translations here). One of these is likely meant as a parody of the trope since it references a property jointly-owned by Capcom:
    Mega Man: "With this Slash Claw, I can slice through anything."
    Auto: "Incredible! It's like SXrXder HiXyuu!"
    Mega Man: "Promise you won't say that again."
  • In BlazBlue, one episode of "Teach Me, Miss Litchi!" has Litchi comparing Ragna to Chipp Zanuff, prompting the former to yell "Gauntlet Hades!" to "obscure" the meaning. (In the English dub of that episode, she's just interrupted while mentioning Chipp's name by Taokaka loudly entering Litchi's clinic.)
  • Lunar: Eternal Blue, when asked about the birds pulling a wagon. "These? They're Choc... uh... Chuckaboos!"
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, after the chapter's end, you can still go hide by the birds in Twilight Town and listen to them talk. One of the birds wants to open a pay site for real estate called "Luigi's Mansion". The other bird thinks he's heard the name somewhere before and warns him against using it, lest he get sued. (They go ahead and say the name because both are by Nintendo.)
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Pit comments that the Komaytos look a lot like Metroids. Viridi is not pleased and insists that "this game universe and that game universe have nothing to do with each other!" Again, both are owned by Nintendo.
  • This exchange from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves:
    Nathan: I'll go down there and create a distraction, while you take one of those nice-looking Jee—
    Elena: 4x4s.
    Nathan: —4x4s.
  • The Interactive Fiction game Toonesia, so not set in the Looney Tunes world (and starring many familiar-looking characters). Should you examine the Tasmanian Devil:
    The Tazmanian Devil is a real animal, not a copyright of a certain large corporation with lots of legal muscle. I can therefore mention it by name in this game. Unfortunately, if I were to describe a real-life Tazmanian Devil, you'd only be disappointed—they don't look like much. So, I won't describe the slavering beast before you. And if you assume that it has a boxy body attached to short thin legs, two large maniacal eyes set above a wide, drooling, sharp-fanged mouth, and brown fur all over, then YOU'RE violating copyright, not me.
  • In Gems of War, the fact that the elven Glade Warden troop is pretty clearly Orlando Bloom's Legolas is lampshaded by the card text this way.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
    • Nezumi Castle in the amusement park on the Fourth Island is a large, mouse-themed castle. Hajime says, "There's a lot of things I could say about this building, but it's probably better if I say nothing at all", and Monokuma and Monomi reveal that they're both terrified of mice.
    • In the final trial, Monokuma threatens to reveal his true form to the remaining survivors:
      Monokuma: A transformation is customary in a final boss battle, right? You know, like that one role-playing game? You know what game I'm talking about. Final
      Kazuichi Soda: Don't say it!
  • In NEO: The World Ends with You, the Roller Skates equipment features the following flavour text:
    "There was this musical a while back - called something like "Moonlight Locomotive" - that made these babies super popular for a while. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry was wearing 'em! ...What's that? You say it was called Starlight Expre- whoa, whoa! Stop right there before we get in trouble!"


    Web Original 
  • Nearly every episode of The Allen And Craig Show involves a scheme that revolves around Allen copying a popular television show, movie, or internet meme/trend in his attempts to gain notoriety, including but not limited to House, Hell's Kitchen, and the popular Diet Coke and Mentos YouTube video.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh Cr@psule Monsters when Tristan finds a Pikachu-like mon:
    Tristan: That one looks like the mascot of a popular anime series based on the concept of catching animals. I think it's called Dinosaur King.
    • Another Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged example was, strangely enough, a retroactive instance of this trope. Tea said "It is on in a matter similar to that of Donkey Kong." Shortly after the episode was released, by complete coincidence, Nintendo filed a trademark on the real phrase, "It's on like Donkey Kong."
  • Godziban's retelling of "The Tortoise and the Hare" has a moment where Godzilla-kun (playing the hare) worries that his brothers's turtle costumes are too close to Gamera, only to be stopped before he can finish saying the name with a "Don't worry about it!" from Little Godzilla and Minilla. The story ends with the two "tortoises" starting to spin in the air while Godzilla-kun starts to freak out.
  • Hogan Vs Flair bills a number of WWE and TNA wrestlers under other names, ostensibly for just this reason. For example The Dudley Boyz/Team 3D are called "Team 3rd Dimension", with Bubba Ray billed as "Bowling Shirt" and D-Von called "Camo Pants".
  • Homestar Runner: In "Strong Bad Classics", Strong Bad couples a Garfield reference with a joke about being visited by "Jim Davis' lawyers".
  • In Arfenhouse Teh Movie Too, "LAWSUIT" stamps are displayed after segments ripping off Excel♡Saga and Boxer Man.
  • This story started with a song by Roberto Carlos until a character ordered it to stop out of fear Carlos would sue them.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz in one of his Vlogs said that he can't legally say iPhone on the show, so he called it an iDoo-hickey.
  • GradeAUnderA once made a video exposing pranksters on YouTube, but to avoid his video being taken down, he also made alternate explanations for every piece of proof that a video was staged using actors.
  • In TRULY OUTRAGEOUS: A Jem Fan Film!, Jem and the Hologram's get cut off mid-sentence when they start to sing a copyrighted Jem song with this excuse. They don't want the video to get taken down.
  • Minilife TV: In "Starsaber Duel", when Chris asks Ian if he wants to have a Starsaber duel, he tries to correct him when he asks if he means lightsabers.
  • In the 4th Touhou M-1 Grand Prix, Suwako mentions being a fan of Studio Shibli. A confused Kanako asks why "Shibli" doesn't start with G instead, at which point Suwako responds that the "G" version isn't allowed.
  • In the Mappy web series, Indy Borgnine from The Tower of Babel remarks that the episode can't be a Whole-Plot Reference to Indiana Jones or they would get sued.
    Indy Borgnine: Ahh, great. That's the last thing I need, some short, round guy (Dig Dug) interfering with my dig site. Short and round, heh. I'm gonna call you... Round Short.
    Mappy: Y'know, it'd make more sense if you just called him Short—
    Indy Borgnine: [Making gibberish noises over Mappy] Trademarked!
  • The Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers video "Stupid Mario Bros. Stupid Show", which has SMG4 put together what is a parody of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, has a scene where the intro song for the show plays, only for Mario to crash onto the stage in a kart, abruptly ending the song. SMG4 congratulates Mario for keeping the song under 30 seconds so they don't get a copyright strike.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • The Trope Namer is a line from the "Treehouse Of Horror V" segment "The Shinning", which parodies The Shining
    • In-universe in "Lisa the Beauty Queen." The school fair includes the tagline "The Happiest Place on Earth," which the blue-haired lawyer says is a Disneyland trademark and threatens to sue Skinner. However, Skinner then uses his Green Beret training to beat up the lawyer and his goons with frightening efficiency.
    • In "Four Great Women And A Manicure", Lisa tells the story of Snow White. The blue-haired lawyer guy tells her she can't because the tale belongs to Disney, but Lisa counters this by claiming the tale has been out forever and isn't owned by anyone. Plus the dwarves were her own creation.
      "Ho hi, ho hi, it's time to say goodbye. If Disney sues, we'll claim fair use, ho hi ho hi!"
    • In "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious", "Sherri Bobbins" is immediately recognized to be an obvious Expy of Mary Poppins, but she explains that she's a wholly original character, like "Ricky Rouse" or "Monald Muck".
    • Also, in the comic, everyone is about to sing Happy Birthday to You!, until the blue-haired lawyer advises them against it.
    • "Treehouse Of Horror XI" opens with the Simpson family cast as The Munsters. Lisa/Marilyn is carrying a book of copyright law.
    • The episode "Children of a Lesser Clod" has an in-universe example: Krusty is singing to open an awards ceremony — only to yell for the music to stop after the first line, saying "one more line and we have to pay for the song."
    • "The President Wore Pearls" is a spoof of Evita (with Lisa as Eva Peron), but the end credits include the statement "On the advice of our lawyers, we have never heard of any musical about the life of Eva Peron".
  • Family Guy
    • Notably averted in the Stephen King parody, which ends with this nonchalant line:note 
      Peter: Thank you, Stephen King; we'll see you in court.
    • In another episode, the characters refer a few times to McDaniels and various generic-sounding expies of McDonald's products, followed each time by a frustrated lampshade by Quagmire.
      Quagmire: So frustrating. We all KNOW what we're talking about!
    • Yet another episode has Brian and Stewie sharing candy they got for Halloween over the ending credits, but as Stewie says, they're not allowed to use real-world candy names and instead come up with various names that are almost but not quite the same. It ends with Stewie muttering, "God, I hate television."
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • In one episode the Plutonians use a device called a Fargate to cross time and space.
      Emory: I think he went through the Starg-
      Oglethorpe: IT IS A FARGATE! F! Goes far, get it? From the makers of Findependence Day! We're NOT getting sued!
    • And the not-Powerpuff Girl (honest!) with a mohawk and in a wheelchair on their T-shirt.
    • This from "2-and-a-Half-Star Wars Out Of Five".
      Master Shake: Whoa! Where in the hell did you get a lightsa...
      Frylock: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Waver, lightwaver! Very different from what you are about to say.
      • Hilariously this is the only moment in the episode that invokes this trope while for most the episode and a few moments after this scene the trope is averted.
  • On Celebrity Deathmatch, Tobey Maguire battles Jake Gyllenhaal with a box from which spring forth giant metal tentacles which are clearly not Doctor Octopus's arms from Spider-Man 2 because that, points out the announcer, would be copyright infringement.
  • In Yin Yang Yo!, there's a minor villain named The Puffin. Like The Penguin, he has an umbrella and a top hat, but as Yang points out: As long as they specify that he is a puffin, they can't be sued.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures has done this quite a few times. In "Best O' Plucky Duck Day":
    Buster: Today we're presenting three hysterical duck tales...
    Plucky: Don't use that word!
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic once made an appearance in an episode of Eek! The Cat. When Eek starts gushing about Al's music, Al shushes him with "You sing one note, and you'll be paying some goofball's publishing company from now 'til the end of forever. Do you want that? Huh? Do you?!"
  • One South Park ends with a fourth-wall lean about how the characters (i.e. creators) are free to exercise their freedom of speech regarding Scientology being a scam and are not afraid of being sued. Cue a credits roll entirely consisting of John and Jane Smiths.
  • Clerks: The Animated Series dealt with this a few times.
    • During Episode 3's spoof of Outbreak, the show stops to explain that all references to Dustin Hoffman will be replaced with Al Pacino (due to a recent lawsuit by Hoffman).
    • In Episode 4's "animated by a Korean studio" sequence, the appearance of a small mouse-like creature that shoots lightning is soon advised by the narrator as "NOT PIKACHU PLEASE DON'T SUE!"
      • Even more hilarious since the same company that distributed Clerks the movie also distributed the 4th through 7th Pokemon movies in the States. Said studio's former parent company now also owns the network the Pokemon anime has aired on since 2017.
    • In Episode 5, Randall's high school yearbook photo has his head placed over the famous photo of General Nguyen. For reasons that eluded the writers, adding a fictional character to a cartoon version of a copyrighted photo didn't legally constitute parody - until they added a caption..
  • Garfield and Friends: When a cricket volunteered himself to be Garfield's conscience, he offered a Pinocchio book and Garfield started reading it until the cricket warned him about being sued by Disney.
  • Pinky and the Brain: Brain once tries to raise money in the theater world. The producer he tries to pitch his play to says he wants something different from the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber Expy Albert Floyd Webster, but only different enough to avoid being sued.
  • The Fairly OddParents!. When The Three Musketeers were given mice-like features, Wanda said they became the three Mous... Timmy interrupted her. While "Mouseketeer" was a word used in some Tom and Jerry cartoons, a different group of Mouseketeers were a Disney property, and perhaps a bit more likely to get someone sued.
  • One of Futurama's "Tales of Interest" episodes features the cast in a The Wizard of Oz parody, and includes a group of people who "resemble but are legally distinct from the Lollipop Guild".
  • In the Walter Melon episode parodying Jurassic Park, the heroine suggests the park may have been sabotaged by a rival theme park. Not wanting to get sued, the John Hammond expy cuts her off before she can name whatever one she was thinking of.
  • A Rita and Runt cartoon on Animaniacs features songs that are parodies of the music from Beauty and the Beast. By the end of the cartoon when Rita finishes the last song, Runt comments, "That was nice. I hope we don't get sued."
    • A commercial for the show on Cartoon Network started with "The REAL reason Cartoon Network baseball cap are $18." This is followed by a montage of all the famous names and works dropped throughout the series' run, with a total of legal fees to be paid tallying up in the corner. At the end, the price of the hat has gone up to $24.
      It sure ain't the cotton.
  • In a scene in Muppet Babies (1984), Gonzo appears in the Batmobile, Scooter comments, "Hey, you're not Batman!"
    Gonzo: Batman? Are you nuts? Warner Brothers wanted two million bucks for a three second film clip.
    Fozzie: Boy, I wonder what they pay Bugs Bunny.
    Bean Bunny: So who are you then?
    Gonzo: Batboy. No charge.
    Piggy: Well, at least the price is right.
  • Static Shock: In "Frozen Out", Virgil says "This is a job for..." but Richie interrupts him out of fear Superman will sue if Virgil finishes the sentence.
  • Inside Job (2021): At the end of the Moon-Landing Hoax episode (the moon landing was real; the return to Earth was fake as the astronauts formed a sex colony on the moon), the characters confirm that the landings really happened and beg Buzz Aldrin not to sue them.


Video Example(s):


You've Got the 'Shinning'!

After Bart reads Willie's thoughts, the groundskeeper declares he's got the 'shin'. Bart tries to correct the word, but Willie warns him of the copyright danger.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouWannaGetSued

Media sources: