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Running Gags in comic books.


Comic series with their own pages' worth of running gags:

Other series:

  • Spider-Man: Spider-Man's reaction to whenever clones are brought up.
  • The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw has the lone human character's shaving which is a completely foreign activity to the setting's anthropomorphic animal inhabitants.
  • In Bone, the insult "Stupid, stupid rat creatures!" is a Running Gag, as is one of the rat creature's fondness for quiche and the other's insistence that monsters should act a certain way.
  • Supergirl:
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    • In the miniseries Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, the titular heroine often imagines her relatives trying to get rid of her by tying her to a rocket and blasting her off into space.
      Supergirl: Why are people always launching me into space?!!
    • In Bizarrogirl, the titular Bizarro character being knocked across the city and losing one boot in the process. The second time it happens, she screams: "Not Agaaaaaiiinnnn!"
  • In Young Justice, whenever Robin would state the obvious, another character would say, "Obviously you've been trained by the world's greatest detective." Even Batman got one in once.
  • Nikolai Dante encounters a seemingly unlimited supply of the Arbatov family; each of whom announce their intention to avenge the death of the previous Arbatov at the hands of Nikolai. Invariably they are themselves promptly despatched, to be avenged by later Arbatovs.
  • Groo the Wanderer has to be one of the kings of this trope: from defining "mulch" at every opportunity (or just randomly defining it for no reason at all) for five years straight, the titular character's ridiculous exclamations ("Hah! You take me for the fool I am!" "As any fool can plainly see."/"I can plainly see that!", "Groo does what Groo does best!", "Did I err?", etc.), ships sinking the instant Groo gets anywhere near them (unless his dog is with him), the name of the Sage's dog, Groo getting chased out of the city by every single person in the city, Drumm continually wanting to know "What pirates?" (and, later, alternating that with "You never bought me a house..."), Groo's dog never quite realizing how stupid Groo actually is, Captain Ahax going insane every time he's exposed to Groo (since the latter has a habit of continually sinking the ships under the former's command), "Must be stupid."/"Must be Groo."... and that's not even touching the 25 years worth of running gags in the letter columns.
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    • Every issue also had a hidden message.
    • Also, whenever prompted to remember or not forget something, or sometimes just when he's got nothing to add to a conversation, Groo responds with "I am the Prince of Chichester!".
  • Even Watchmen gets one in: Rorschach repeatedly breaking Nite Owl II's door. Which becomes important later as it gives them more time when the police are trying to break down Dan's front door.
  • Deadpool is not an X-Man. Or a mutant.
  • Tintin:
    • Thomson's and Thompson's introduction: "Thompson, with a p, as in Philadelphia [the p is never pronounced with a p sound], Thomson, without a p, as in Venezuela";
    • Captain Haddock's obscure "obscenities";
    • Snowy's alcohol problem;
    • The fact that Prof. Calculus is hard of hearing and therefore can never hear a sentence correctly;
    • Captain Haddock's inability of keeping his monocle intact;
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    • Tintin and Haddock's inability to hide from Castafiore and her singing;
    • In The Broken Ear, San Theodoros' constant (once every 10 minutes at one point) revolutions, and a bumbling assassin's inability to kill Tintin;
    • Thompson and Thomson's tendency to dress in outlandish and completely out-of-place ethnic costumes in order to "hide undercover";
    • People trying to call someone and getting Cutts the butcher, or vice versa.
    • In a history of the making of Tintin, the author states that Snowy himself started as "a literal 'running gag.'"
    • In The Calculus Affair, Captain Haddock has a piece of sticking plaster put on his nose, and when he tosses it away, it winds up being passed around the entire plane before he finally chucks it out the hotel window. Referenced later in Flight 714 when Haddock says he had trouble with sticking plaster.
    • The Castafiore Emerald has several of these:
      • People constantly falling down the broken step.
      • "Hellooo - I can hear you!" / "Allo! J'écou-ou-oute!"
      • "MERCI! MY JEWELS!" / "CIEL! MES BIJOUX!
      • "No, this is not Cutts the Butcher." / "Non, Monsieur/Madame, ce n'est pas la Boucherie Sanzot!"
  • Asterix
    • The hapless pirates get sunk once every issue. Sometimes twice. In one book, they give up the pirate life to open a (boat-shaped) restaurant. It gets trashed.
      • And every sinking is drawn to resemble, in some way, The Raft of the Medusa, a famous painting by Théodore Géricault.
    • Caesar's tendency to refer to himself in the third person. This was a reference to Caesar's Commentaries on the Civil War and the War in Gaul, where he constantly refers to himself in the third person, to the point that the reader can lose sight of the fact that Caesar isn't writing history but self-justifying propaganda.
    • Cacofonix, about to sing an ode for the occasion, being violently silenced by Fulliautomatix, or Bound and Gagged against a tree if it's time for the big feast at the end of the adventure.
    • Obelix's constant attempt to get a taste of the magic potion.
    • Obelix' denial he's obese.
    • Vitalstatistix falling off his shield.
    • Asterix is of "undeterminate age".
  • In classic Strontium Dog, Wulf had a habit of replacing some random word in a figure of speech with the word cucumber, such as "Ve are cool as der cucumber" or "He ran as qvick as der cucumber".
  • Batman:
    • Every time someone meets him for the first time, they inevitably comment that they thought he'd be taller.
    • This even extends to other members of the Batfamily, such as Dick Grayson (who, to be fair, is a good 4 inches shorter than Bruce, so it's obvious when he's dressed as Batman that he's shorter than the original guy) and Tim Drake (it's mentioned in Young Justice).
    • Red Robin is often mistaken and compared with Dr. Midnight due to the original costume's red vest and cowl looking similar to that of the older hero. Tim gets fairly exasperated when his even his friends like Stephanie get in on it.
    • All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder: Dick Grayson (age 12) has his own running gag. Guess which part of Dick Grayson (age 12) is the gag.
    • The St Patrick's Day issue of Li'l Gotham has its own running gag: Batman has a busy day rounding up villains and hauling them off to jail in the back seat of the Batmobile, and every one of them remarks that they hadn't realised the Batmobile even had a back seat.
  • Ever since Orient Men tried unsuccessfully to fix an Eskimo's broken radiator, the Eskimo kept following him all over the world and appearing at the end of nearly every episode, asking random bystanders whether they can fix his radiator.
  • A little background for this one: In Midnight Nation, it turns out that Lazarus Came Back Wrong, and was told by Jesus to wait until Jesus would return. Lazarus mistakenly thought that Jesus would be coming right back after having a little dinner with 12 of his best friends... that didn't work out so well, and 2,000 years later Lazarus is still waiting. So, the actual gag is that whenever someone around him says "Jesus" in reaction to something, Lazarus responds by asking, "Where?"
  • Artist Leinil Yu has been known to sneak Howard the Duck into everything he draws, especially during huge spreads with lots of heroes where Howard won't be as easily noticed. Nobody knows why except Leinil.
  • The DCU's Invasion! miniseries frames several of its scenes as television newscasts. Whenever a reporter tries to interview one of the heroes, the hero invariably replies with, "Get that @%&£$€# camera out of my face!"
  • In Marvel Star Wars, comics written and set after The Empire Strikes Back but before Return of the Jedi have Luke and Leia, mutually attracted, often start to touch or talk about their relationship before they are interrupted. Usually by the plot. It happens with some regularity, and good thing, too.
  • Flax Seed and his obsession with Filthy Rich's billboard in My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #3.
    Flax Seed: I always, like, feel like he's watching me. His eyes move with me. Always watching... never sleeping...
  • The Dutch comic De Generaal is full of these, with the most frequent one being a literal running gag: The eponymous general would always flatten the local cop's motorbike (and usually the poor guy himself too) under his tank or other Doomsday Device while on his way to the fortress he was forever trying to conquer. A later comic stated that the motorbike factory was "the cork that kept the Dutch economy afloat".
  • In the classic MAD parody of G.I. Joe, any woman who expressed a desire to talk to the hero would fling herself onto his lap and say, "Hey, Joe! You got chewing gum?" This gag resurfaced in at least one later Mad feature.
  • Robin Series: Tim's girlfriend Stephanie has a poster of a flirtatiously smirking Superboy (Kon-El) hanging over her bed that annoys Tim to no end, even though he quickly gives up asking her to take it down. The thing remains even after she learns that Kon is Tim's best friend and meets and befriends him herself, it's shown every time the inside of her bedroom appears on panel.
  • Superboy (1994):
    • Kon-El's jacket gets ruined or stolen in almost every issue at first despite his attempts to keep it safe. As he further develops his TTK this stops happening so much since he is able to expand his protective field around it more consistently.
    • Kon's constant attempts to explain his tactile telekinesis while fighting gets interrupted pretty regularly, often with someone else cutting him off to give a shorter explanation, or for whomever he's fighting to tell him they already know since he's constantly talking about his powers.
  • Superlópez: Any time Juan López enters a subway station, he'll absent-mindedly start ordering breakfast instead of asking for a ticket; then he'll go into a bar and order a ticket instead of breakfast. Sometimes it's because he's lost in thought, sometimes it's just plain stress, exhaustion or sleepiness.
  • Suske en Wiske:
    • Wiske is curious about something and brings herself into trouble by doing so.
    • Suske gets attention from other women and Wiske gets jealous.
    • Tante Sidonia getting a nervous attack and stiffening in shock.
    • Jokes at the expense of Sidonia's nose, thin body and large feet, usually by Lambik, who gets her shoe thrown against his head.
    • Lambik makes a Captain Obvious conclusion or says or does something else remotedly stupid. For instance he'll be master of a situation, but tricked into leaving or giving his gun to his opponents, allowing them to run away.
    • Jerom doing a remarkable stunt, showcasing his superstrength.
    • Krimson getting a nervous attack and screaming for his pills, which are then brought by his butler.
  • Jommeke
    • Filiberke playing something and staying in character throughout the entire story.
    • Professor Gobelijn making confusing mistakes that are the exact opposite of what he meant.
    • Flip the parrot insulting others.
  • De Kiekeboes:
    • Inspecteur Sapperdeboere being more interested in eating than solving cases.
    • Balthazar screwing up a crime he was trying to commit or driving his fellow criminals crazy with his stupidity.
    • Fernand Goegebuer spitting everybody full with saliva whenever he speaks.
    • An unknown obese woman appearing in a cameo like she does every album.
    • Moemoe manipulating everybody into getting what she wants.
    • Van De Kasseien committing adultery with one of his secretaries, call girls, prostitutes or other women.
  • Urbanus:
    • Urbanus and his family waiting for Nonkel Fillemon to die and earn his fortune, only to be disappointed when he survives once again.
    • Dikke Herman beaten up or injured as a victim of Urbanus' pranks or strategies.
  • Agent 327: IJzerbroot arriving at this office at the start of each album in a disguise, then complaining What a secret agent has to do nowadays to get to his office incognito.
  • Lucky Luke:
    • Rataplan the dog making wrong interpretations of what is going around him or reacting too late.
    • Averell not understanding what's going on and being more interested in food.
    • Joe getting worked up over his hatred of Lucky Luke.
  • Johan and Peewit:
    • Peewit trying to sing and play the harp, only to have everyone run away or find an excuse not to listen to him.
  • Tom Poes:
    • Marquis de Canteclaer looking down upon Bommel and insulting him every which way he can.
    • Wal Rus mispronouncing Bommel's name.
    • Garmt Grootgrut complaining that the small proprietorship is once again the victim.
    • Bommel always boasts about his talents, achievements and aristocratic background, but nobody seems to take him seriously. Also, he is rather incompetent and whenever danger is about he chickens out.
    • Bulle Bas arresting Bommel for crimes he didn't commit.
    • Wammes Waggel not understanding what is going on.
  • Gilles de Geus:
    • Admiral Lumey's self importance and clumsiness resulting in him getting into trouble or serious temper tantrums.
    • Leo never saying more thant Hee.
  • Benoit Brisefer: Benoit doing something to help others, but not realizing his own strength actually makes things worse, so he exclaims: Oh dear, what have I done now?
  • Les Tuniques Bleues: Blutch trying to desert and his superior trying to get back at him for this.
  • Cubitus: Cubitus trying to find a way to beat Sénéchal up.
  • Gaston Lagaffe: Mr. De Mesmaeker arriving to have the contracts signed, but Gaston time and time and in various ways preventing the plan from actually being achieved.
  • Pierre Tombal: Scaring off other people by interacting with the living skeletons at his cemetery.
  • Somebody gets the drop on Kick-Ass/Dave in every issue of Kick-Ass, usually attacking from behind.
    • Turned around when Hit Girl saves Kick-Ass the first time - someone gets the drop on THEM.
    • Turned around again in Volume 2 Issue #1 when two guys get the drop on Kick-Ass and HE kicks THEIR asses.
  • The Umbrella Academy: "Televator's broken."
  • Radioactive Man:
    • Radioactive Man cannot enter or leave any building except by breaking through the wall.
    • Captain Squid longing to hold Lure Lass, but knowing she will be repulsed upon learning of his freakish squid-like tentacles. In the same panel, Lure Lass hopes Captain Squid will stop being so cold and distracted, and yearns for the touch of his freakish squid-like tentacles.
    • Miles Mando having a different secret identity in every appearance.
    • Something happens that reflects superhero comics at the time the issue was actually published. The characters scoff at the idea that such a thing will become widespread.
  • Several appear in Violine:
    • Amazonian head hunters somehow living in Africa, and people pointing this geographical error out every time it is mentioned.
    • The doctor getting slapped by the pygmy chief every time he feels greedy.
    • Kombo being called Monko.
  • Roxy from Jem and the Holograms has one involving her and food. She's often either eating or getting ready to eat something. Donuts in particular are something she is obsessed with.
  • All-New Wolverine: Bellona's solution to every situation she finds herself in is to shoot something. Laura finds the Sisters' hideout? Shoot her. Taskmaster is lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood? Shoot him. A cabinet serving as a portal to evil starts winking at her? Shoot it. Need to release an Ant-Man suit from storage? Shoot Out the Lock. It gets to the point that Laura yelling at her for shooting everything has become a running gag in of itself.
  • Doctor Who (Titan) has regular running gags about the Third and Fourth Doctors working with UNIT in either the Seventies or the Eighties, a reference to the notorious Continuity Snarl surrounding those stories' in-universe timeline.
  • Brian Michael Bendis had a running gag in series he wrote, starting with Ultimate Spider-Man, where a person would be dragged into police custody ranting about the latest silly thing going on in Marvel/DC. Bendis does this to say goodbye to Marvel by being the last victim in The Defenders (2017), proudly proclaiming to Jessica Jones and Misty Knight that a 17-year running gag is not easy to do.
  • Mélusine, a Franco-Belgian Comics about a witch going to Wizarding School, has many funny recurring jokes:
  • Robin Dubois, a parody of Robin Hood has several running gags:
    • Sheriff Fritz Alwill being robbed by his friend Robin.
    • The Sheriff using various schemes to sneak up his overbearing wife and get a drink with his buddies at the local tavern. Most of the times he fails, while sometimes he does succeed only for his wife to get revenge when he returns home. Other times, he makes it to the tavern, but he can't enter it because of some reason like annual vacation.
    • The postman having nothing to deliver to the Sheriff or delivering unwanted mail like the post office's calendar or tax filling forms.
    • The tax collector coming to collect his due and ruining someone's day, usually the Sheriff.
    • The Teutonic Knights speaking with their heavy accent and no one can understand them.
  • In Rubine, the titular character always try to take a bath or a shower, only to be interrupted by some random event either that be a telephone call, a doorbell ringing or thugs coming to kill her.
  • The Phantom has endless variations on this exchange.
    You can't bring that dog in here!
    Devil is a wolf.
    Well... you can't bring a wild animal in here.
    Devil is completely tame.


Alternative Title(s): Comics

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