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Series / @Midnight

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Chris Hardwick, Once an Episode to open up the show

@midnight is a Panel Game on Comedy Central hosted by Chris Hardwick, in which three celebrities compete for the coveted title of Funniest Person on Earth... for the next 23 and a half hours.

The show primarily deals with internet pop culture and content trending on social media platforms (such as Twitter). While most of the "rounds" are topical and change nightly, there are some common rounds, such as "Rapid Refresh" (multiple-choice questions), "Hashtag Wars" (a Speed Round where the celebrities give responses that fall within a specific theme, e.g. "#RejectedTVTropes"), the "Live Challenge" (a task which is done by the contestants over the commercial break; it usually involves writing a long-form answer for a certain prompt), and then another speed round, after which the lowest scorer is eliminated.note  The game concludes with "FTW", where the final two (or sometimes, still all three), have to perform one more task (it's another "Live Challenge"); the two responses (but not who wrote them) are shown to the Studio Audience, and the contestant whose response garners the most applause wins the Internet.

The show premiered on October 21, 2013 as a lead-out for The Colbert Report; after becoming Comedy Central's Ensemble Dark Horse, it returned for a full run in January 2014. The show came to an end with its 600th and final episode on August 5, 2017.

In February 2023, it was reported that CBS was considering a revival of @midnight, executive produced by Stephen Colbert (whose previous show had served as its lead-in), as a replacement for The Late Late Show after Corden concluded his run on the show and the network considered alternative formats for the timeslot. Delayed to early-2024 due to the WGA strike, CBS officially announced the series on November 1, 2023 as After Midnight, with Colbert subsequently revealing comedian Taylor Tomlinson as its host on The Late Show that evening. The series premiered on January 16, 2024; it maintains most of the overall format of the original (including the core rounds of Rapid Refresh — here renamed "Group Chat", Hashtag Wars, and FTW).

Comedians, you have 60 seconds to name as many #tropes that fit the hashtag and go!:

  • Accidental Misnaming:
  • The Ace: An appearance by Doug Benson or Ron Funches typically turns the episodes into a second place contest for the other finalist.
  • Actually a Doombot: On the 9 November 2015 episode, when Judah Friedlander lost he claimed to be a clone, thus preserving the real Friedlander's title as World Champion.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Chris will give out points to riffs or one-liners fired off by contestants even when no question was being asked of them, as long as Chris thinks they're funny enough.
    • He also gives points when the comics make a joke at his expense, hell, he gives them more.
      • Rhysie Darby came up with a great zinger on the #badthemeparks Hastag Wars: "World War II Land: if Americans come in late they get in half price." Chris thought it was hilarious, but demanded Rhysie's green card.
  • Affectionate Parody: The February 18, 2014 episode featured "eBay Price is Right" as a round. Surprisingly, they didn't play it again when actual Price host Drew Carey was a guest.
    • "Wheel of 4chan" was also a topic one night.
      • "Wheel Of Batsh*t", after Pat Sajak went crazy on Twitter.
    • They had "@Jeopardy!" as a game once, with a full board and Chris doing an off kilter impression of Alex Trebek. The comedians had to answer in the form of a question.
    • "Family Buzz Feud", complete with the theme song, the lights going crazy, and Hardwick pulling his best Richard Dawson and "kissing" the contestants.
    • "Troll Your Luck" with authentic theme song, sound effects and graphics! Panelists had to troll a Twitter post from whatever celebrity they hit on the wheel, or one of their own Twitter posts if they hit a Whammy.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When showing a website by a chef who created a burger that tastes like human flesh, Chris takes more offense to the spelling of flavour.
  • Artifact Title: After the cancellation of The Nightly Show, @Midnight moved to 11:30 p.m., but still kept its no-longer-descriptive title. Hardwick lampshaded this several times, often by arguing that the show would end with a winner at midnight. The 2024 reboot and its 12:35 a.m. timeslot justified a rename to After Midnight.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: On the May 2, 2017 episode, Chris uses FaceApp to see what he looks like as a woman. He, the contestants, and the studio audience all agree he makes a smoking hot chick.
    Chris: You know you want some of this!
  • Audience Participation:
    • Of the social media kind; viewers are encouraged to tweet their own responses for the Hashtag Wars. Heck, every Thursday, the comedians play for one of the show's Twitter followers.
    • In a more immediate fashion, the live audience reaction is just as much a part of the show as the comedians, which is why quite a few YMMV tropes are listed here.
  • Awesome McCoolname: One segment had the panel coming up with "badass names" for roles actor Michael Rooker can play in future works.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Chris and Ron Funches (especially Chris)'s deliberately wooden reading in "Fanfic Theater"
  • Berserk Button: Young Mr. Hardwick doesn't like it very much when one fails to pronounce "GIF" correctly.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Contestants will take a few shots at canceled Comedy Central shows and some of Chris' other works. Chris is usually a good sport and awards points. Comedy Central must be, too, since they renewed the show.
    • On one episode, Marc Maron appeared as a contestant where he received bonus points (along with a bell ringing) every time he made fun of Chris or the show.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The grand prize of being "Funniest Person on Earth for the next 23 and a half hours". Or for the pilot month finale, "Funniest Person for the next 3 months." Crosses with Audience Participation as, on the last episode of the week, the winning comedian and his/her designated Twitter follower "win the internet" for the weekend.
    • Really enforced on sponsored episodes. A couple of "Tag Team Thursday" episodes had the comedians playing for a PS4 LittleBigPlanet 3 package and a Super Smash Bros. for Wii U for their Tag Team partner.
  • Broadcast Live: Alongside The Daily Show, the show broadcast a live episode on the night of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It went well enough that an entire week of live episodes was planned for the week of February 13, 2017.
  • Catchphrase: "Points!" and less commonly "Well played!" For the FTW round: "I'm gonna wipe away your scores—wipewipewipewipe (flails his hands at the podium displays)
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Always discussed when Executive Producer Tom Lennon plays, saying as EP, he could've changed the questions at any time but doesn't... He never wins.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Iron Sheik is frequently poked fun at, but the exploits of Gary Busey in the "O Say Can Busey" category are on a whole different level.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: On the September 23, 2015 episode, Chris red-lighted Sara Schaefer... then promptly reversed himself and took her to FTW, remarking on how there aren't enough women in late night.
  • Cringe Comedy: Invoked, with "Make Me Cringe" aka "Cringe Worthy", in which contestants must make Chris cringe using only three words.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Rarely, but Doug Benson did pull it off once.
    • Ron Funches dominated the early part of the game in his first appearance back since winning the 100th episode, but averted when he lost FTW in a stunning upset.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Happens on occasion when a lesser-known comedian upsets one of the fan favorites (Ron Funches, Doug Benson, etc.) or one of the special guest stars ("Weird Al" Yankovic, Drew Carey, etc.) in FTW.
    • The ultimate dark horse winner may be musician Neko Case.
  • Defictionalization: Invoked. Somebody defictionalized the "16 Squirrels That Look Like Radiohead" list that was given by Tom Lennon in a round of Buzz Speed (although not on BuzzFeed itself).
  • Dirty Coward: Chris blatantly admits to being this when instead of risking Ice Cube's wrath, he just declares him the winner during FTW
  • Double the Dollars: After the first commercial break, the minimum points value given seems to increase from 100 to 250.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked frequently. Crosses with Cringe Comedy. If gone too far, the audience starts booing/groaning and Chris will not award points.
    • One instance of "going too far" happened on the 3/26/14 show where they showed a beer commercial for the Dutch brewing company "Bavaria" which "stars" several famous dead musicians. One panelist made a joke that Kurt Cobain isn't a beer guy and is more of a "shot guy". Chris and the audience groaned loudly and the panelist was not awarded points.
    • Anytime a joke where being a nerd is the punchline. One contestant even lost points for saying he was undateable because... he "bought 4,000 dollars worth of Magic: The Gathering cards."
    • Making a joke about Schindler's List during Rosh Hashanah did not receive points for this reason.
    • One contestant made a joke about a bald attorney having chemotherapy problems. The whole audience groaned, and he didn't get the points.
    • On the February 11th, 2015 episode, which featured Lauren Cohan, Josh McDermitt and Robert Kirkman on a Walking Dead-themed panel, the category was "Walking Dead Spoilers." Kirkman- author of the comic the show is based on- responded to the question using the synopsis from an actual storyline from the comics, causing a HORRIFIED reaction from the audience to the point where many thought he wasn't kidding. Kirkman had to remind them it was a comedy show.
  • Fake Crossover: With Reno 911!. The actors were in-character as contestants to help promote the release of the Reno 911 series box set.
  • Faux Horrific: Chris spoofed the outrage that ensued about whether Hello Kitty is or is not a cat:
    Chris: Are you telling me that Sailor Moon is neither a sailor OR a moon? Does Ash Ketchum not actually want to catch 'em all?! WHERE DOES IT END?!
  • Food Slap: July 22, 2014: A clip from the Korean drama Everybody, Kimchi! is featured in Rapid Refresh, in which a character gets slapped in the face with kimchi. At the end of the episode, the winner also got kimchi thrown at them as a bonus prize. As if Tom Lennon hasn't been through enough already.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Happens quite a bit with the responses in "FTW", as they will often contain a Brick Joke or Running Gag from earlier in the episode that makes it obvious who wrote it. For instance, Kumail Nanjiani's "#butt" running gag in the very first episode.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: The "Thugs Not Hugs?" round, in which contestants must decide whether a child is about to swear or say something cute. Usually the former.
    Grace Helbig: Why are babies so angry?
  • Funny Foreigner: Invoked by rounds such as "KonichiWHAT?" (weird things from Japan) and "Europe Be Funny" (Which one of these was an actual Eurovision Song Contest act?)
  • Genre Blindness: For Rapid Refresh, if the answer to one of the questions is "all of the above", the rest of the questions will not have this answer. Tom Lennon, an Executive Producer and writer, got caught on his own trap.
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: Chris can be brought to physical pain from some of the weirder images and/or videos they show (see also the Nazi-themed cafe below)...
    Chris: (showing an image of two men holding baby apes in dresses from a page called "Barnorama") ...I don't feel so good...
    • Then during the #dongfoods Hashtag Wars round (after a Japanese chef published recipes for food prepared in condoms), one answer was "a la chode." Chris gagged/dry heaved for a few moments.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: One segment had video of a man with a beard and shaved head. Chris accused him of being Brody Stevens with a fake name. Brody Stevens then comes on stage to deny this, then tries to interview the screen. Chris then explains that Brody Stevens is their warm-up comedian and was not simply standing off-stage for no reason.
  • Loophole Abuse: Remember those bonus points from being Actually Pretty Funny? Doug Benson took full advantage of it until Chris took note of that and put and end to that.
    • One comedienne asked Chris if she can get points for being "offended". Chris gave her 100 sympathy points.
    • Matt Besser used hyphenated words to get away with what would've been four word phrases for the category "Cringeworthy". See "Cringe Comedy" above.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Which can pose a few problems for any wiki. For this wiki, you have to use AtMidnight if you want to link to this page. However, using "@midnight" to search for this page is perfectly fine.
  • Meaningful Name: The show actually was on at 12:00 a.m ET (as @ is pronounced as "at", the show literally starts "at midnight"), and the @ sign is usually used on sites like Twitter to indicate posts directed to or mentioning someone.
    • Subverted and lampshaded when the show was temporarily moved to 11:30 p.m. ET (except in Canada) to replace The Colbert Report between its series finale and the premiere of The Nightly Show. Chris remarked that they would still be declaring their winner at midnight, so the title still made sense. For two weeks in September 2015, the show aired at 11 p.m. ET as a lead-up to the premiere of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. The show returned to the 11:30 p.m. ET slot permanently after the cancellation of The Nightly Show in August 2016.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Apparently, they can show "a cross-section of a woman with a cat coming out of her vagina", but not her breast.
  • Off the Rails: Regularly. You will know if it has gotten off the rails if Chris has to pause himself after laughing too hard. Additionally, the comedians will sometimes get way off the rails in regards to the topic, usually making jokes off of each others' jokes. Chris allows it and will keep giving points regardless, as long as it's still funny.
    • One episode turned into a pretend gunfight between Chris and the panelists for a while.
  • Old Shame:
    • Invoked One of the items featured on "eBay Price is Right" was a promotional package from the 1990s... of Chris Hardwick, including headshots. Hardwick was embarrassed, and all the contestants overbid.
    • On the episode with Wil Wheaton, Aisha Tyler and Kevin Pereira, Chris apologized to the latter for killing G4.
  • Once an Episode: Rapid Refresh is always the first category. Hashtag Wars is always the second.
    • "This happened on Twitter/Deadspin/Website/YouTube/Gawker/Random Website today..." At the start of the Rapid Refresh.
    • Averted starting in summer 2015, when Rapid Refresh began to be replaced once a week by "Panderdome", a segment covering the latest happenings in the race to the 2016 presidential elections.
  • Only in Florida: The topic "Florida Headlines," in which comedians are asked to come up with "headlines" that fit the trope.
    Matt Besser: "Illegal day care found in meth lab."
  • Panel Show: The game show elements obscure this a little bit, but the rapidly-changing topics and similarly rapid answers bring to mind British shows like I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
  • Professional Wrestling: A frequent topic on the show. It helps that Chris and many of the panelists are fans. They've even had Chris Jericho as a panelist. On his first appearance back after winning the 100th episode, Ron Funches wore around a Ric Flair robe, had an "@midnight" title belt, and delivered a promo at the start of the show in the style of a pro wrestling Heel.
  • Pungeon Master: Sort of a must for anyone doing #HashtagWars.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: Well, they do get wiped for the FTW round.
    • Sometimes, the comedians gets points out of nowhere. In one episode, Chris said that fans would ask him where some of the "out of nowhere" points come from, and he admitted that they film too much to fit it into the half hour show, and some scenes where points are earned end up getting edited out.
    • In the first full season, Chris started giving out the bonus points mentioned above more often. In the pilot month, he barely gave out any.
    • On the March 5, 2014 episode, the Sklar brothers were set to compete against each other in FTW. Chris gave one of them 5000 points for a joke just before wiping the points, mentioning that it didn't matter since he was just going to wipe the points anyway.
    • There have been many occasions in which Chris has allowed all three comedians into the final round. Sometimes, all three have been playing that damn well. Other times, he just likes the third-place finisher too much to eliminate them. And a couple of those times, the third-place person who normally would have been eliminated ended up with the best "FTW" answer, winning the game.
  • Right in Front of Me: Chris Hardwick noted that Lt. Jim Dangle plays the game much better than Tom Lennon right in front of Lt. Dangle. Jim Dangle is played by Tom Lennon.
  • Running Gag:
    • Whenever the last place comedian is sent "in the red", there's usually a joke about the special powers of the red light, such as petrifying the comedian or burning the comedian.
    • In April 2014, multiple contestants (particularly, those wearing tuxedos) began claiming that they were appearing on another show called Tuxedo Guys. It's (apparently) a game show. As the gag continued running, more and more (often bizarre) details about Tuxedo Guys were added by the contestants. With Tom Lennon's victory on Tuxedo Guys, it seems to have entered full blown Show Within a Show territory.
    • Tom Lennon, an EP of the show, can not win at this game.
      • He finally did win on Tuxedo Guys. He was covered in slime and carrying an award statuette. He was very happy about it.
      • On July 22, 2014, he finally won in his sixth appearance, and went over "Weird Al" Yankovic in FTW to do it no less. He also got kimchi thrown at him.
      • November 13, 2014. He did it again, but in his Jim Dangle character.
    • Doug Benson always being stoned on the show.
    • Pierre the Pelican, mascot for the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, gets blasted a lot on the show.
    • Kumail Nanjiani and #butts.
  • Sarcasm Failure: Occasionally there will be things so out there, so bizarre, or so much of a Mind Screw that he'll introduce something with a variant of "...j-just watch."
    • Chris was visibly holding back the urge to vomit after reporting on a Nazi-themed cafe in Indonesia. "You're not going to be clapping for this one," indeed.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: Hardwick, on his comedy tours, has done a few @midnight Live shows. Which is basically the same as the show, except bigger, longer, and uncut.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Sometimes Chris forgoes eliminating a comedian in order to send all three to FTW.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Plenty of people wear nice suits — and the occasional tuxedo — but Brandon Johnson pointed out that wearing a suit was perfect for planning to drink all day; if you passed out somewhere, people would assume you were affluent and help you.
  • Sincerity Mode: When a guy was recorded losing his shit over the results of the 2014 Royal Rumble (and Chris basically said now no guy has an excuse to not have a girlfriend), he recorded another video of him losing his shit at Chris Hardwick. Chris declared that his words might have been a little hurtful, and sent the guy a replacement lamp and one of his stand-up specials on DVD (knowing that the guy very well might break them anyway).
  • Speed Round: Hashtag Wars and the last game before FTW.
  • The Stoner: Every time he's on the show, Doug Benson is very visibly high.
    • Note that Benson is just about the only person who can play the show stoned and still win. Others, like Horatio Sanz and Reggie Watts, weren't up to the task.
  • Take That!: When they take shots at someone or something, they don't stop for anything short of swinging for the cheap seats.
    • Chris blasted Sports Illustrated for putting Barbie on their cover. He also said that the Real Housewives seek this level of "perfection", but Barbie "has waaaay less plastic" on her.
    • Take That Me: When David Spade was a contestant, one of the "Photobomb: Creepy or Cute" was of a pig-man-thing standing behind Paris Hilton. Spade says it's himself.
    • "If you don't remember Limp Bizkit, good for you!"
  • Take a Third Option: When asked whether "Stoney and Bill with Sara Mornings, or AM Mayhem" was the actual title of a radio morning show, Reggie Watts answered with "Or". He got 100 points.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Inverted with the "Whitehouse.ugh" category, where Patton Oswalt, Blaine Capatch and Brian Posehn are tasked with coming up with fake petitions on the White House's website. Chris goes, "I look forward to the answers you're about to give..."
    • A straighter issue came when he warned the crowd to brace themselves; there was a Christian youth ministry group that put up a billboard that uses an "inspirational" quote from Adolf Hitler in an example of Godwin's Law.
    • Then he discussed the 45th anniversary of Scooby-Doo. He then talks about the weird DeviantArt dedicated to them...the very mention of dA immediately has the crowd groaning and moaning in response. As well as Greg Proops covering his face in fright.
      John Hodgman: Show it to me already. Show it to me.
      • And when he suggested a Forced Meme of "Hardwicking" goading people into doing what they think Hardwicking would entail. Chris points out that it would probably turn out badly for him.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: At the end of the final speed round before "FTW", Chris wipes away the contestants' scores and the winner is determined by the audience. Enforced when Chris decides to send all three comedians to "FTW."
    • On rare occasions, when all three comedians give outstanding answers in the game before the second break, he gives them all 5,000 points. On one episode, one of the comedians noted that, though the reward was generous, their standings were exactly the same as if he had not awarded points at all.
  • Title Drop: Any time the comedians try for a cheap point.
  • Toilet Humor: On the week of August 4, 2014, Comedy Central held "Shart Week", a week full of poop-related programming. As such, all of the Hashtag Wars topics were also excrement-related.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: At Elevenish
  • Translation Train Wreck: The WTFDA category, where food products' names are translated. The results are...disastrous.