Follow TV Tropes

Following

Running Gag / Live-Action TV #-G

Go To

Running Gags in live-action TV shows, titles #-G.


    open/close all folders 

    # 
  • The 10th Kingdom: After entering New York and discovering what Earth culture was like, the three Troll siblings come upon a CD boom box with the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in it. Upon hearing it, they immediately become instant fans, toting it everywhere with them and singing along as loudly and annoyingly as possible until the batteries on the boom box die. They attempt to explain the music and its origin to their father, with genuinely hilarious results — although the usage of the Bee Gees' full name as the Brothers Gibb, hardly common knowledge, seems rather out of place, especially coming from such moronic characters who can't even read properly. (See: East Eighty-onest Street.) Presumably this was included in order to avoid being obvious or to make it funnier. (And it works.) They then proceed to continue singing the song for the rest of the miniseries.
Advertisement:

    A 
  • Alias: While it doesn't start out a gag or even particularly funny, Sark's talent to escape any bad situation becomes universally acknowledged by both the creators, characters and the fans. Hell, it's outright highlighted in the last few minutes of the series finale.
  • In 'Allo 'Allo!:
    • This is a series made of running gags, played with, stolen and inverted. Take them out and you'd be left with about 10 minutes an episode (and that includes the credits)
    • Rene's wife Edith finding him in a compromising situation with Yevette Carte Blanche and his zany excuses, which Edith always believes
    • Lt Gruber always finding Rene bending over
    • The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies by von Klempf
    • Michelle and her catch phrase "Listen very carefully, I shall say this only vunce"
    • Officer Crabtree had two. He always greats everyone with "Good Moaning" no matter what time of day and his spoonerisms. Some of which would make some kind of sense, but not much.
    • "It is I, LeClerc."
    • The really odd sexual perversion involving an egg whisk and some wet celery. And an aviator's helmet.
    • The names of the German higher level officers, which got weirder as the series went on.
  • All That has the Big Ear of Corn in the Green Room.
  • Angel:
    • There's Angel's liking for Barry Manilow songs. Especially "Mandy." There is also his lousy singing of the song.
    • But he won't dance to it.
    • And in a fifth season episode, Angel and Spike apparently have a 40-minute fight about whether cavemen or astronauts would win in a fight. They proceed to get everyone else in the office involved in the debate. As the episode gets much darker, this Seinfeldian Conversation gets an Ironic Echo at the end.
    • Also, Angel would like it to be known to everyone that he is not a eunuch.
    • Wolfram & Hart's security (or nonexistence thereof) is a running gag, especially in Season Five.
    • For a while, every other episode would open with some apparently grave situation, which would then turn out to be redecorating or playing board games. "Eternal" begins with this situation; Angel and Wesley are sitting in the audience and are forced to watch Cordelia's acting. Angelus makes fun of her acting later in the episode.
    • Regarding the Angel Investigation business cards, "Is that supposed to be an angel? It looks like a lobster."
    • Someone making fun of Angel's hair. When in an alternate dimension, he was able to his reflection and complained about how bad it looked and that no one told him. In Angel and Faith, one of Giles' aunts made fun of Angel's hair. There's also Cordelia's hair, which she changed frequently. No one told her outright that it looked bad, but one episode had her lose her memory of the last few years and complain about how horrible it looked.
    • Angel's "caveman brow". The leather pants he wore when he was evil. And his occasional pettiness despite his advanced age.
  • Being the comedic farce that it is, Angie Tribeca is filled with these.
    • Almost every episode features a cop who vomits at the sight of every crime scene, even when it's something tame like a missing painting.
    • Also, the opening credits have a loud scream over them, which often cuts to the same cop having injured himself in some way.
    • When they get out of their car, either Angie or Geils rants about no longer wanting to hear about a personal aspect of the other's life, with the other replying that they just asked about the time or weather.
    • Angie will begin a line with "let's just say..." and everyone around will repeat the sentence with her.
    • Dr. Elderweiss will enter the forensics lab acting as if he has a handicap (in a wheelchair or blind), but then turns out to be perfectly fine.
  • Are You Being Served?
    • Mrs. Slocombe's pussy.
    • Mr. Humphries', uh, leisure activities.
    • Captain Peacock's war record.
    • Mr. Humphries, are you free?
  • The Armstrong and Miller Show: (click) "Kill them!"
    • And a character pulling off some impressive feat, then revealing "I'm wearing my wife's underpants".
    • "It's kicking off!"
  • Arrested Development is famous for this, with jokes running over not just multiple episodes but multiple seasons. In the first episode Gob claims that magicians perform illusions. Tricks are something a whore does for money... also cocaine. This is referenced in Season 3 with Gob claiming he was pimping "Turns illusions for money".
    • "I've made a huge mistake."
    • "Going to Portugal... down ole' South America way..."
    • "Have these people ever even seen a chicken?"
    • "Her?"
    • "If Tobias is straight, I'm sober..."
    • "Where did the lighter fluid come from?"
    • Never-nudes
      • "There are dozens of us. DOZENS!"
    • George Michael is Star Wars Kid
    • The Board is incompetent.
    • "Come on!!"
    • "And say goodbye to these, because it's the last time!"
      • "Spring Break! Woo!"
    • ♪ "It's the final countdown..."
    • "Marry me!"
    • "Look at Banner, Michael!"
    • Family love Michael.
      • Michael love family.
      • Michael love Marry
    • "You're killing me, Buster."
    • "You can't do that on the balcony, buddy?"
    • "There's always money in the banana stand!"
    • "NO TOUCHING!"
    • "Hey, brother.." and other variations.
      • "Hey, Hermano..."
    • All the Bluth men's love of ice cream
    • Dramatic music playing whenever Oscar says something that reveals he might be Buster's father.
    • Variations of "Watch out for the hop-ons. You will get some hop-ons."
      • "Watch out for live-ins."
    • Gene Parmesan
      • "AAAAAHHHHHH"
    • Bob Boblaw
    • "MR. F!"
    • "For British eyes only"
    • "Annyong!"
    • Tobias' constant accidental double entendres
    • The Literal Doctor
    • "Bees?"
    • Cops tackling George Sr. or Oscar and one of them hitting him with a baton
    • The model house falling apart
    • Season 4 has ♪ "Hello darkness, my old friend..."
    • ♪ "It ain't easy bein' white..."
    • "STEVE HOLT!"
    • "Well, that was a a freebie"
    • Peanuts
    • Dead doves
    • Lindsay's "Slut" shirt
    • The Hot Cops
    • J. Walter Weatherman
    • The Cornballer
    • "I've got the worst [bleep] attorneys"
    • "Baby, you got a stew going"
  • The A-Team has several, most notably them drugging B.A. so that they could fly a plane. Most of the show's running gags actually develop, as B.A. gets harder to drug each time they need to do it, and whenever Colonel Decker has the team cornered, he gives them a certain amount of time to surrender. He always gives them less time than he did before.

    B 
  • In Bear Behaving Badly, Mr. Prank will often accidentally call Aunt Barbara "sir" rather than "ma'am".
  • In Better Call Saul, the first five episodes of season 1 see Jimmy repeatedly unable to get past Mike's parking lot booth because he doesn't have the right amount of cash or number of validation stickers.
  • The Big Bang Theory has a lot:
  • On Bones, Dr. Brennan often doesn't get pop-culture references (generally made by Agent Booth), saying "I don't know what that means". This is in part Lampshaded when she makes a reference to a movie from the early 20th century and Agent Booth doesn't get it.
    • This is self-referenced again in an episode of Season 2 when Dr Brennan is absent and the team need to think like her. Booth says to Zack, "OK, be Dr. Brennan," and Zack replies, "I don't know what that means."
    • There's also repeated references (in Season 1 only, it seems) to the time in the pilot that Bones shot an unarmed man. The inevitable response:
      Bones: He was trying to light me on fire!
    • Same vein, referenced for far longer, Booth once shot a clown.
      Booth: It wasn't a real clown!
    • Hodgins and Zack (and, following Season 3, the interns that replace him) perform ridiculous and often dangerous experiments, Mythbusters-style, to prove something about the Case of the Day. Dr. Goodman, and in later seasons, Cam, have a habit of walking in just as the explosion/impact/etc happens, splattering them with debris.
    • King of the lab.
  • Boy Meets World had Eric's "Feeney call".
  • In Breaking Bad, there are several consecutive episodes where Hank insists that he's not collecting rocks, but minerals.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Early on they seemed to be setting flashbacks to the tenure of Holt's predecessor, Captain McGintley, where he leaves his office to find the rest of the station goofing off, asks what they're doing and being given a matter-of-fact answer, before simply responding "okay" and walking back into his office. Ultimately, only a couple were shown.
    • Flashbacks to Holt's past career in the 1970s and 1980s—which provide an excellent excuse to give Andre Braugher an era-appropriate moustache, dress him up in an afro-wig and a collection of extremely tasteless suits—tend to pop up quite frequently.
    • When arresting a perp, Holt has a tendency to call them a punk, to the point that when Jake arrests a serial killer in front of him he insists Jake call the perp a punk as well.
    • Every perp Holt has ever arrested seems to have a cool Serial Killer nickname (the Disco Strangler, the Brooklyn Broiler, etc.).
    • Peralta taking things Santiago says out of context and claiming they'd be good titles for her sex tape. It has a neat progress: He call's them Santiago's sex tapes, then Amy's sex tapes, then has one Freudian Slip and calls it "title of our sex tape" when he tries to tell her he likes her for the first time, but immediately corrects himself. Then taken to its natural conclusion when Jake makes the joke while in bed with Amy.
      Amy: I hope it wasn't a mistake.
      Jake: "I Hope it Wasn't a Mistake": Title of your sex tape. [beat] Title of our sex tape!
    • Sgt. Jeffords' fondness for yogurt has been brought up on several occasions, usually with one character remarking that "Terry loves yogurt." Even Terry himself says it like this.
    • "Terry loves [X]." or "Terry hates [X]." Terry's one liners about Terry in general.
    • Terry letting out a Big "WHY?!" when confronted with his coworkers' shenanigans.
    • Nobody knows anything personal about Rosa, especially in the first and second season. Whenever something about her life is mentioned, it contradicts her badass exterior (jewelry making, trained in gymnastic, does yoga, she likes Gilmore Girls etc.)
    • Amy's tolerance and reaction to alcohol is measured on a scale. One-Drink Amy gets a little spacey. Two-Drink Amy talks loudly. Three-Drink Amy is "dancepants" Amy. Four-Drink Amy is a bit of a pervert. Five-Drink Amy is "weirdly confident". Six-Drink Amy gets depressed very easily etc.
    • Whenever the team has to put on new outfits or assume new identities, they will be introduced with a Power Walk set to blaring rap music.
    • Hitchcock will find any excuse to take his shirt off.
    • Hitchcock manages to cut himself at every opportunity, no matter how unlikely it is.
    • Hitchcock's perverted Dirty Old Man tendencies.
    • Scully nonchalantly discussing his various disgusting medical ailments, which frequently centre around his feet.
    • Peralta will latch on to any excuse to develop an overly elaborate undercover/role-play identity for his current assignment, even when it's something as simple as running a sting to catch a graffiti artist or chasing down a perp by getting the suspects to sign a document.
    • Captain Holt being found hilarious by everyone but his actual coworkers.
    • The criminals the squad deal with have a tendency to get sucked into the petty personal dramas of the detectives, to the point where they often end up nonchalantly confessing to their crimes. They also tend not to be incredibly bright and terrible liars.
    • Boyle inevitably finds the grossest, weirdest or creepiest ways of expressing his thoughts, even though the sentiment itself may be actually rather sweet.
    • Boyle's obsession with gourmet food. The weirder, the better. Foods from all over the world make an appearance. He twice connects with women over food, too: his ex-fiancee Vivian and partner Genevieve are both food obsessed as well.
    • Byole has numerous family members who all have weird habits, weirder than Boyle. Many of his male family members have traditionally feminine names, e.g. Becca, Pam or Lynn.
    • In the second season, whenever the subject turns to romance between the detectives Boyle is constantly advising that washing your partner's hair is the most romantic thing you can do.
    • Boyle ships Amy and Jake, at times rather inappropriately, e.g. him pushing them to have children asap.
    • The members of the Nine-Nine using bird-calls to 'secretly' communicate with each other while enacting their various schemes. They will usually be indoors in rather incongruous locations while doing so.
    • Any time that Jake is prompted to do a Big "NO!", a Big "WHAT?!", a Say My Name or a similar Big Word Shout (which is quite often), the episode will somehow intervene to cut him off before he finished (either by cutting to commercial, beginning the credits or ending).
    • Gina has a tendency to throw things that aren't hers into the garbage.
    • Boyle seems to find Terry's body disgusting, in contrast to literally everybody else.
    • Peralta, whenever someone discusses something he finds either confusing, weird or doesn't understand will often respond along the lines of "Mmhmm, mmhmm, [word he doesn't get] and whatnot."
    • Peralta will occasionally buy an extremely expensive cup of coffee for someone, only for them to turn it down.
    • Someone will mentioned Charles' adopted son Nikolaj, and Charles will tell them it is pronounced Nikolaj, which is no different than how it was pronounced. When Nikolaj's bio dad appears, he's not satisfied with Charles' pronunciation of the name either.
    • Whenever gay Captain Holt plays a straight character (e.g. when he's undercover), he will fixate on breasts and describe them in elaborate detail.
    • Canada, Eh? is often brought up, either as a nice place, but more likely as the butt of jokes. Nine-Nine people just can't help themselves and snark at how unspeakably nice and safe or boring and useless Canada is compared to Brooklyn.
    • Amy loves making lists, laminating, organizing (she even reads a magazine for organizers), expensive stationary, pens, binders (she loves their smell, too), old books...
    • Teddy is the most boring man in America. His only interest is drinking pilsners, making pilsners, bottling pilsners, talking about pilsners...
    • Pimento has no sense of what's appropriate and his crazy antics get crazier every time he resurfaces. He will casually bring up horrible experiences from his years spent undercover among mafia or hiding abroad and sometimes he will refer to them as fun, like getting mugged in Argentina; next minute, he will scream that they have no idea what it's like to have to eat your own toe as a loyalty test.
    • When Rosa dates Jocelyn who is at cosmetology school, she lets her go her make-up and later hair. Most noticeable in episode "The Crime Scene" where she has a different haircut for each scene, some nice and understated, but usually it's a Gag Haircut.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Cheese Man who appears throughout "Restless", the fourth season finale. Also, on a larger scale, is Anya's fear of bunnies. Some gags even crossed over into Angel, such as the parallel universe made entirely of shrimp and the supernatural-savvy characters' insistence that leprechauns don't exist
    • Anya's love of money
    • Season 8 gives us two from Dawn, her insistence that what she was turned into was not a centaur but a centaurette (girl centaur) and the VERY Genre Savvy (since she had a her-focused episode based on it) instance of "Monkey's Paw" after Buffy starts developing new powers (her point being that nothing good comes without tacked on bad).
    • One episode has Buffy looking to get drunk. She goes out drinking with Spike, hitting the whiskey hard. No matter how many times she drinks it though, (including when she grabs a bottle from a bartender's hand and takes a big swig right from it) she has a funny grossed out reaction every time. A later episode has Spike offer her a drink; her response is, "A world of no."
    • On both Buffy and Angel, Angel's tendency to disappear during a multiperson conversation without anybody noticing is often lampshaded. "Someone ought to put a little bell-and-collar on that guy!"
    • Xander the demon magnet. He becomes a literal one in "Something Blue". Lampshaded again in Season Seven
    • Andrew in Season 6, and into Season 7, when he becomes a much more prominent character. "Who?" "Tucker's brother." "Oh."
    • In her first appearance, Faith borrows Buffy's stake to dust a vamp. This becomes a running joke, with Faith constantly borrowing Buffy's weapons. Used quite effectively in the series finale, when Buffy, mortally wounded, quietly hands Faith the Scythe, a sign that all is forgiven.
      • Also inverted in the third season finale, where Buffy takes Faith's knife mid-fight.
        Faith: That's mine!
        Buffy: You're about to get it back. (she then stabs her with it)
    • In Season 4, various people just walking into Giles's house, even when he was sure he locked the door.
    • Coffee: the non-relationship drink of choice!
    • Especially in the early seasons, whenever he was present at a fight, Giles was usually knocked out and unconscious for the entire incident.
      • Lampshaded a few times, including in Season 7 when Giles says he knows he's back in America because he's been knocked out.
    • In Bedroom Follies from Season 8: "What are you doing in my room?!"
    • The eleven pounds Dracula owes Spike.
    • Spike's fondness for the Bronze's flowering onion dish. He and Andrew bond over it in Season 7.
    • Giles is often seen cleaning his glasses, which he reveals later is so he doesn't have to see what the rest of the Scoobies are up to.
    • In Season 7, Spike (and Angel)'s insistence that they are not alike despite both having souls. This continues onto Angel.

    C 
  • Brazilian group Casseta & Planeta has many. A notable one, which was constantly lampshaded and self-lampooned, involved the rubber tapper, who spends the whole day taking milk out of a stick.
  • The demons in Charmed make a point to keep destroying the grandfather clock whenever they attack the manor. Piper lampshades this a couple of times saying "we can't afford to keep fixing that thing". When they go to the 20s, past-life Piper smashes the grandfather clock to the floor.
    • Leo orbing out while he's kissing Piper. Some episodes reveal that he sometimes orbs out during more intimate moments. A funny variation on this happened when he orbed out while hugging Phoebe. Also lampshaded: "I hate when he does that!"
    • It's mentioned a few times that Piper freezes Leo "in bed for her own personal pleasure."
    • Characters referring to Piper as "Pipper" or "Peeper".
    • Demons sometimes like to point out that Piper "is just plain mean", despite the fact that she's probably the nicest character on the show.
  • On Chuck, Chuck said Sarah had a "spastic colon" to justify her absence. Afterwards, this was always used as an excuse when she couldn't make it to something. Chuck also used it in Season 3 to explain why the band member he was replacing wasn't available.
  • The Closer's Brenda Leigh Johnson fails terribly at driving in LA.
    • She and Fritz can't agree on which pronoun to use for Kitty. Continued with their new cat, Joel, but with the genders reversed.
    • In Season 6, Commander Taylor's office is non-existent/hard to find/too small/being used by the MCD. Enforced by the other characters; Flynn notes that they "haven't heard much complaining from the super-cubicle lately" and decides that that's a good reason to dump a large amount of evidence (mainly safes) in Taylor's office.
  • The Colbert Report has a number of Running Gags, from the host's fear of bears to his Mexican counterpart Esteban Colberto to his insistence that he "doesn't see race" (cannot tell which race a person is) to his frequent question of interview subjects, "George W. Bush: great President or the greatest President?"
    • One recent gag stemmed from an offhand comment Colbert made while listing off John McCain's campaign stops, insisting that the Canton he was visiting was in Ohio, not "the crappy Canton" in Georgia. When Canton, Georgia reacted with outrage, Colbert apologized a few shows later, insisting he had confused it with Canton, Kansas, which is a "shithole". He apologized for that one before showing an elaborate music video insulting Canton, South Dakota. When a real newspaper article showed that many residents of the latest Canton more or less agreed with Colbert's sentiments, he apologized for "taking the piss out of a town with no piss to take out" and went on to equate Canton, Texas with being sodomized by a monkey. The gag came full circle when Barack Obama held one of the last campaign speeches in Canton, Ohio, upon which Colbert was naturally forced to find that one shitty.
  • Community has a few:
    • The Dean's dalmatian-furry fetish is first seen about halfway into the first season ("I hope this doesn't awaken something in me"), and escalation (dalmatian mugs, posters, and rugs) every episode, to its exposure in Pascal's Triangle Revisited when two men in dog costumes show up for a school dance.
    • Pop! Pop!
    • Shut up, Leonard!
    • Pierce thinking Jeff is gay/Britta is a lesbian
    • You're the worst!
    • Ben Chang's Chang-related puns
    • Dean Pelton's Dean-related puns
    • Dean Pelton's outfits
    • In Season 2, Pierce sundowning
    • Troy's ridiculous crying
    • Annie's Boobs
    • Bueller, Bueller, Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?
    • "Micronipples"
    • Daybreak
    • Britta's name used as a verb, meaning fucking up.
  • Parks and Recreation is practically built on running gags.
    • Ron dressing like Tiger Woods after having sex.
    • Duke Silver.
    • Councilman Howser appearing in the nick of time to see Leslie's out-of-context unprofessional behaviour.
    • April's unusual love for animals (including Champion, the three-legged dog).
    • Jerry being...well, Jerry.
    • Leslie over-exaggerating Ann's role as a nurse.
    • Leslie's weird yet flattering compliments to Ann.
    • Donna's colorful yet elusive personal life.
    • Li'l Sebastian.
    • Andy's numerous amount of jobs.
    • Breakfast food being favored by everyone
    • And tons more...
  • On Conan O'Brien's TBS show, whenever he puts up a website address on screen, instead of the slash he puts up the face of Slash from the group Guns 'N' Roses.
    • Conan has been subjected to one for years now by Paul Rudd. Whenever Rudd visits one of Conan's shows, he will claim that he has a clip from the film he's promoting, only for the clip to be from the atrocious Mac and Me.
  • The Cosby Show had a few running gags.
    • Rudy's friend Peter was known to run away from the Huxtable Residence whenever any sort of trouble was getting out of hand.
    • Cliff Huxtable had a habit of always trying to sneak in some unhealthy snack.
  • In "You Kill Me", CSI did a Lampshade of an existing running gag (David's tendency to say "No signs of sexual trauma.") and a episode-specific running gag (Hodges making Bobby a suspect in his murder simulations and Bobby exclaiming his innocence). This second gag was even Lampshaded by Grissom.
    Grissom: What have you got against Bobby?
    Hodges: Nothing. Running gag.
    • That same episode also had Captain Brass turning his chair around whenever he interviewed someone.
    • Speaking of Brass, there was "Ending Happy" which featured a Rasputinian Death. Every time Brass thought he'd gotten the murderer to confess, Doc Robbins called to tell him that Happy Morales—the victim— was killed by something else. Brass's reactions got to be quite entertaining, after the second instance.

    D 
  • The Daily Show, and the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Or, as it's known, the GOP.
    • Generally Jon will mention an organization with a sizable name and then abbreviate it to "NAMBLA", often quickly and seriously enough that those not listening carefully could fail to notice it. This also evolved into other NAMBLA-esque names, such as referring to the National Rifle Association as "BLAMBLA".
      "Dean suffered another setback over the weekend with an announcement by the 1.5 million member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees or NAMBLA."
      "Organizers from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, or NAMBLA"
      "I speak of course of the AARP, or (old voice) NAMBLA."
      "The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or NAMBLOPEC..."
      "However, for the record, The Daily Show has absolutely no affiliation with the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or, as it's called, UNICEF."
    • There's also the Bush hunch'n'chortle, the Joe Lieberman Droopy voice, and the strange quacking noise for Dick Cheney, portraying Dick Cheney as the Penguin (specially Burgess Meredith's version from the 1960's Batman). Though lately he's replaced this with playing the Imperial March and showing Dick Cheney rolling past in a wheelchair almost every time he does a story involving Dick Cheney.
    • Pixellating everything Dick Cheney touches.
    • The Imperial March gag was stopped for a while after Bush left office. Vader called and complained about the comparison.
    • More recently, Baconnaise — mayonnaise with bacon flavoring — has become a running gag on the show.
    • And any time the pride of America turns up ironically in a news story, they bring out the pride of American cuisine: Jimmy Dean's Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick.[[note]]the last two gags are both examples of Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs, so naturally, he once dipped one into the other.
    • Roll 212, a gag which grew out of the show's most recent Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
    • "Meet me at Camera Three."
  • Dick & Dom in da Bungalow built up lots of these, mostly running for a season or two and then being dropped. The Butt Dance lasted longer. And then there was the Garlic Mayo Saga, which started when one of the hosts faked eating garlic mayonnaise (in an "eating something gross" competition), and the producers sent the law after him, in the person of Detective Harry Batt, possessor of the worst Geordie accent in television... and he was still trying to get his man right up until the final episode.
  • Doc Martin: The dog that follows Martin around.
  • Dragon's Den
    • Theo Paphitis breaking the inventors' prototypes.
    • On the U.S. Shark Tank, Kevin O'Leary's supposed experience in a wide variety of industries and occupations that you wouldn't expect him to know anything about. By the eighth season, when O'Leary says that he has experience in the maple syrup industry, the other Sharks Just Smile and Nod and say something like "of course, you do."
  • Due South: Fraser's autobiographical introduction, "My name is Constable Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father and, for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I have remained, attached as liaison officer with the Canadian Consulate." was a Running Gag throughout the third and fourth seasons of the show. It was often started by Fraser and finished in varying ways by other characters.
    • It was once hijacked by an FBI agent in the first season:
      FBI Agent: Who the hell is he?
      Police Lt: He's a Mountie.
      FBI Agent: What's he doing here?
      Police Lt: I'm never entirely sure.

    E 
  • Elementary:
    • Sherlock devising various ways to wake up Joan. This includes placing clucking roosters by her bedroom door, flashing a lamp on and off on her face, blaring a bugle in her ear, and plopping their shared pet tortoise, Clyde, on her bed. Joan also gets her revenge on him by slamming a heavy book onto a table to wake him up.
    • The Anonymous-Expy Everyone making Sherlock perform humiliating tasks in exchange for tracking stuff down for him.
  • There are loads of them in Everybody Loves Raymond:
    • Raymond:
      • "DEBRA!!!"
      • "Oh noooooo!!!"
      • Many times when he asks Debra for sex, he gets denied.
    • Debra:
      • "Idiot." (after Ray does or says something stupid)
      • "Your MOTHER!"
    • Robert:
      • "Is this about me?" (whenever entering a room to find the other characters having a discussion)
      • "Raymond, Raymond, Raymond..."
      • "...Everybody loves Raymond."
      • "MA!"
      • "OH MY GOD!"
      • Speeding up his speech and making sudden, crazy gestures whenever angry, nervous or frustrated.
    • Marie:
      • Her frequent criticisms of Debra, especially ones relating to cooking.
      • "I don't like that."
      • "My Robbie!"
      • "Oh, Raymooond!"
      • "FRAAAAAAANK!!!"
      • Randomly entering Ray and Debra's home uninvited.
    • Frank:
      • "Holy crap!"
      • "Jeez-a-loo!"
      • "MARIE! (food name)!"
      • Making fun of Marie's age and nagging personality.
      • Like Marie, entering Ray and Debra's home uninvited (usually to watch their television, unzipping his pants before doing so).
    • Other characters:
      • One of Frank's lodge friends saying "Hey, Ray's here! Ha-ha-ha!!!" whenever he sees him.
      • Amy's Christian parents, Hank and Pat, bringing up God or Jesus.
      • Peggy calling Ray "Ally's Dad" instead of his actual name as a sign of smug disrespect.
Advertisement:

    F 
  • In the 1970s The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin: "Super" (usually said in a deadpan or bored voice), "I'm not a X person" (for various values of X), "I didn't get where I am today by..."
  • On Farscape, whenever the crew of Moya had to rely on John or one of John's plans for anything, Aeryn would remark in a completely flat voice, "We're dead."
  • Father Ted
    • In virtually every episode Mrs. Doyle obsessively offers somebody some cake, a sandwich, a little tiny drop of sherry or, in most cases, a cup of tea. It's funniest when it's subverted; e.g. she offers Ted cake, which he turns down. She reels off the list of ingredients (including cocaine), trying to tempt him, but still he declines. Until she says it has cinnamon in it, at which he says "I love cinnamon! Go on, I'll have a small piece" — at which point she refuses to give him any as she realises she's forcing it on him.
    • There's a gag whereby Ted would ring his friend Father Larry Duff on his mobile at the most inconvenient moments (When Larry Duff was skiing, being held up at gunpoint etc.). Duff would suffer the inevitable consequence only for Ted to conclude that Duff had his mobile switched off.
    • Ted's constant insistence that 'The money was just resting in my account!"
    • Father Jack Hackett, most of the time
    • the priests from Rugged Island, who are mirror images of the Craggy Island lot
  • Firefly: In "War Stories", Jayne twice says "I'll be in my bunk" after seeing a beautiful woman that Inara is entertaining. At the end of the episode, Wash takes Zoe away, saying to the captain, "We'll be in our bunk".
    • In the pilot, every time Mal mentions dealing with Patience, someone brings up the fact that she shot him the last time they did so. Mal insists that it was a legitimate disagreement and that it's in the past, growing more and more frustrated the more times it's brought up.
      Wash: Didn't she shoot you once?
      Mal: Everybody's makin' a fuss.
  • The Flash (2014) has several.
    • Barry will always be late for a meeting. Before and even after getting Super Speed. As well as everyone taking some of Barry's Amusing Injuries for granted. There's even a Phrase Catcher for it.
      I heard you heal fast.
    • Cisco naming their superpowered enemies, to the exasperation of his friends. And for a Running Gag within a Running Gag, Cisco's disapproval of some of those criminals naming themselves. Also, as a TV buff, Cisco comparing the adventures he and his friends have to certain film and/or TV series.
    • Historical figures and celebrities on Earth-1 have their Alternate Universe counterparts with very different occupations. Beyoncé as a senator; Al-Capone becoming vice-president; Weird Al as a poet; Saint Shaquile O'Neil, etc.
    • Whenever Diggle from the (non-superpowered) older brother series Arrow shows up, he stares wide-eyed as Barry zips away.
      Diggle: He's fast.
    • Harrison "Harry" Wells of Earth-2 being a victim of Mistaken Identity, especially being compared to his Earth-1 counterpart, a.k.a. the Big Bad of Season 1. Although there are times early in Season 2 (Harry's debut appearance) that this is Played for Drama, eventually the characters made jokes out of it. When Harry finally gets fed up after another Mistaken Identity, this time of his temporary substitute from Earth-19 who pulled a Heroic Sacrifice, he replies with "I get that a lot." in a tired tone.
    • A dark version of the Running Gag is Caitlin's Once a Season Cartwright Curse. Her lover, Ronnie Raymond (one half of Firestorm I) pulls a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Season 1 on their wedding day, even; "Jay Garrick" from Season 2 is merely a time remnant of that season's Big Bad Zoom, and was killed to end the ruse; Julian Albert in Season 3 fares a little better, if by better you mean Caitlin (or rather, her Superpowered Evil Side, Killer Frost) outright rejects him. For a lighter, true example of a Running Gag for Caitlin, there's Killer Frost's (post-Hazy Feel Turn) and her very different tastes in clothing; for starters, they're the Tomboy and Girly Girl, respectively. Frost will always complain about her alter-ego's wardrobe whenever Caitlin has to transform into her.
    • The "Book of Ralph", its eponymous writer believing its a godsend for solving social problems. He has recommended it to Cisco, Sherloque, Killer Frost, Ralph's own mother...
  • In early seasons of Frasier, Eddie's staring at Frasier was very much a running gag, much to the annoyance of Frasier. Revealed to mean Eddie was staring at him in adoration, as we see him gazing at a framed photo of Frasier at the end of an episode.
    • Niles's intense crush on Daphne was also a running gag and major character arc.
    • Also, Niles's increasingly unrealistic physical descriptions of his first wife Maris, culminating in him getting an extremely thin whippet because it reminded him of her.
    • Maris' numerous trips to distant places for weird cosmetic treatments.
    • Throughout the first season, Niles perpetually forgets that he has previously met Roz, or seems to forget her name in a variation on Accidental Misnaming, even after they've met on at least a dozen separate occasions—counting the four occasions that Roz annoyedly references in the first scene they share together, which lets us know this has already been going on for a while. It's seemingly a part of the whole "Niles is completely disconnected from the reality and concerns of life for anyone not a hyper wealthy socialite" motiff (Sheltered Aristocrat lite, as Niles is somewhat Nouveau Riche) that would go on to be a staple of the character and is laid on pretty thick from the outset, allowing not-quite as pampered Frasier to appear a little more reasonable by comparison. Niles finally starts to recognize Roz on sight in the first season finale, having worked with her while filling in for Frasier in the previous episode.
      • This sets up another even longer running gag, as the two of them spend the entire remainder of the series engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat as elite DeadpanSnarkers—he generally with comments on promiscuity and lack of refinement, and her comments generally directed at his foppishness and lack of familiarity with adversity—although it's clear that in time they are actually Vitriolic Best Buds and foils, not genuine foes.
  • Friends:
    • Ross's repeated cry of "We were on a break!" whenever anyone mentions that he once cheated on Rachel.
      • This running joke faded over time but resurfaced some years after it began when, in response to Chandler discovering his girlfriend had cheated on him, Ross hesitantly commented "maybe it was okay, you know, if she thought you were on a break," provoking a rapturous response from the audience—a prime example of how a well-implemented running gag can lead to eternal love for a show from its fans.
      • This gets a crowning moment in either season 4 or 5, when Ross is about to marry Emily. Rachel's on a plane, venting her entire history with Ross to unwilling passengers when guest star Hugh Laurie snaps, takes off his earphones, and calls her shallow, topping it off with "And I think it was quite clear that you guys were on a break." Cue shocked face by Rachel.
    • After an episode in which Joey showcases his greatest chat-up line, "How you doin'?", on Phoebe proved extremely popular, it became synonymous to viewers with his terrier-like libido, and he goes on to use it repeatedly whenever he suddenly realized that he might have a chance with a woman.
    • It was also a well known fact that Joey had an ongoing love affair with sandwiches of every kind.
    • Phoebe's liking for kinky sexual practices were discussed regularly.
    • There were regular gags about Rachel's pre-surgery nose, leading eventually to a flashback episode in which a teenage Rachel appeared with an enormous arch on the bridge of her nose.
      Monica: [while discussing Rachel's pregnancy] Are you afraid she'll have your nose?
      Rachel: [piteously] I am. I really am.
    • The references to Monica's previous fatness, and, in the last few seasons, Chandler's gay "qualities".
      Chandler: Wow, we were meant to be together. We both have the soundtrack to "Annie"!
      Monica: Honey, those are both yours.
    • Ross' numerous marriages (and divorces) are brought up in conversation very often.
    • The duck and the chicken appearing at odd moments.
    • Chandler's cog-in-the-machine, corporate drone job, and the fact that no one can remember what it is. (It seems unlikely that he has people skills...)
      • And then lampshaded when years into the show, Chandler finally changes his job, and Monica suddenly rattles off the job he used to do.
        Monica: You deserve to do something you love. Not statistical analysis and data reconfiguration.
        Chandler: I quit and you learn what I do?!
    • Phoebe using the fake name "Regina Phalange".
    • Joey's increasingly absurd list of non-existant "talents" listed on his acting resume.
    • Ross and Monica's childhood fist-bumping substitute for the middle finger pops up in several episodes.
      • To the point that the other members of the group start using it, too.
    • For the few times he appeared, Mr. Heckles' appearances always ends up like this whenever he complains:
      Heckles: You're disturbing my X.
      One of the Friends: You don't have X.
      Heckles: I could have X.
    • Janice's "Oh, my God!" and annoying laugh. Also, her showing up at unexpected moments.
    • The Ugly Naked Guy living across the Street for the first 5 seasons.
  • Walter constantly getting Astrid's name wrong on Fringe.
    • Charlie's insistence that "They're not worms; they're arachnids!" in the parallel universe.
  • The old Western spoof F Troop has quite a lot.
    • Cpl Agarn inadvertently makes a suggestion; O'Rourke: "Agarn, I don't know why they say you're so dumb!" A few minutes later — long after anyone else would have caught on — Agarn shouts: "Who says I'm dumb?!"
    • The fort cannon, when lit, always fails to fire. Agarn kicks the wheel in frustration, it falls off, the cannon fires as it hits the ground, and shoots down the guard tower.
    • The war of insults between Agarn and Trooper Dobbs, which always ends with the insultee saying "I'm warning you, Dobbs/Agarn..."
    • Trooper Duffy's old war story, which always starts: "There we were at the Alamo, me and Davy Crockett, shoulder to shoulder and backs to the wall..." That's where someone else cuts him off. Presumably, they know that no Americans really survived the Alamo.
    • Agarn has numerous relatives who come through town, all of whom look like him (and are likewise played by Larry Storch).
    • Most of the troopers are background characters, but occasionally roll is called, with names like: "Dobbs, Duffy, Anderson, Henderson, Gilbert, Sullivan, Lewis, Clark, Holmes, Watson, Livingston — where is Livingston?" "Don't worry sir; Stanley will find him."

    G 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Season 4 has Davos Seaworth repeatedly explain the difference between a pirate and a smuggler to a rather unconvinced audience.
    • During the first two seasons, Cersei tears up any paper she doesn't like. Tyrion lampshades it by asking if she has perfected the art.
    • Tyrion slaps Joffrey and gets away with it many times in the first two seasons.
    • Theon being trolled by the blowing of a horn. A very effective use of Mood Whiplash.
    • WHAT did Podrick do to those whores!?
    • Cersei is the curtsy police. When Shae sketches an awkward curtsy, Cersei calls her on it and instructs her how to do it properly. When Brienne bows rather than curtsies to Joffrey, Cersei interrupts to scoff at her.
    • Wildings referring to Jon Snow as pretty.
    • Lord Tyrell is apparently a character so incredibly pathetic that he gets interrupted at least once in every single conversation he attempts to hold with anyone.
    • Tyrion has to explain that his genitals are not dwarf-sized on more than one occasion.
  • Get Smart has a lot of these.
    • That's the second biggest running gag I've ever seen!
    • The Cone of Silence.
      • "What?"
      • THE CONE OF SILENCE!
    • In later seasons, anytime Agent 99 got tapped or otherwise touched on the shoulder, she would turn around and punch them in the face, no matter who it is, then she would apologize, saying that it was a reflex.
    • Speaking of Agent 99, the fact that the viewers never learn her name, even when it looks like they will. This continues even after she gets married, where she's either Agent 99 or simply "Mrs. Smart".
  • Gilmore Girls: "Dirty!" is Lorelai Gilmore's favorite running joke. She's passed it along to Rory and Luke.
    • No love for Kirk, who occupies every job in town and still lives with his controlling mom?
      • Eventually lampshaded in an episode when it's revealed Kirk is rich. When asked how that's possible, he comments "I don't know if you've noticed, but I have about 90 different jobs."
  • Glee:
    • Sue Sylvester does not approve of Will Schuester's hairstyle.
    • Finn's complete ineptitude at dancing.
    • Blaine's love of hair gel.
    • Brittany's constant, Memetic Mutation-inducing one-liners.
    • Mercedes' Catchphrase of "hell to the no" (which even gets its own song!)
    • People overhearing others sing for the first time in the shower. Will hears Finn in the pilot; Finn hears Sam in "Audition"; Rachel hears Brody in "The New Rachel"; etc.
    • Brad, the pianist who never speaks and yet magically appears in each musical number.
    • Finn kicking over chairs.
  • The Good Place:
    • Eleanor frequently proclaims in the first season that she deserves to be in a Medium Place, until she actually finds it.
    • The clown door to Eleanor's bedroom playing cheery music at inappropriate times.
    • Janet appearing in the opposite direction of whoever's summoning her, usually startling Eleanor.
    • Jason telling stories about his dance crew in Florida, which somehow relate perfectly to the situation at hand.
    • Janet interjecting that she isn't whatever she was just described as - e.g., she is not a "girl", a "woman" or even a "person", nor is she a "robot" or a "computer". Towards the end of Season 2, she even denies being a "Janet" anymore, saying she's not sure herself what it is that she's become.
    • Whenever Chidi (who was a moral philosophy professor) spends too much time dithering over the ethics of a decision, someone else will groan and say "this is why everyone hates moral philosophy professors."
    • Every time Chidi reacts to the realization that he might be in the Bad Place by blaming some incredibly minor "vice" like using almond milk even though he knows it's not the best alternative for the environment. In truth, it's this exact obsession with minutiae, and the indecision arising from that, that led him to the Bad Place to begin with.
    • The enforced Bowdlerization of swear words in the Good Place, replacing them with words like "fork" and "shirt."
  • The fact that everybody on Gossip Girl but Blair seems to dislike her headbands.
    • The oddities of Chuck's conquests. "She can hold her breath for five minutes", "Tonight's entertainment got held up in customs", etc...
  • The Great British Bake Off:
    • Paul's obsession with "soggy bottoms" in any challenge involving pastry (which is quite a lot of them). He checks for it first chance he gets, and will call the contestants on it.
    • Beginning in series 3, Mel and Sue's bizarre accents and intonations when declaring "On your marks, get set — bake!", frequently elongating the last word. By the end of series 4, the notion of the word being pronounced normally was a long-forgotten memory.
    • Also beginning in series 3, the same duo's occasional insinuations while dismissing them for the technical challenge that Paul and Mary are leaving to carry on their steamy love affair... despite the fact that Mary is about thirty years Paul's senior.
    • At one point mid-series 5, very Northern contestant Nancy refers dismissively to "him... you know, the male judge," in an aside to Mel. Naturally, both hosts pick this up and run with it, creating a mock-feud that lasts the rest of the series. Made even funnier when Paul himself starts playing along.
      Paul: Ah, can the male judge please ask a question?
    • Candice wearing a different shade of lipstick every week in season 7, after Mel suggested it in the first episode.
    • Starting in series 8, Noel's crazy shirts.
  • The Greatest American Hero has Ralph Hinkley / "Hanley"'s superpowers not working the way he wants them to; usually when he crash lands after flying (or trying to).


Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report