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Shaggy Dog Story / Western Animation

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"Shaggy Dog" Stories in Western Animation.

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  • The Aaahh!!! Real Monsters episode "Quest for the Holy Pail" sees Ickis chosen during a solar eclipse as the "Golden Monster", and sent by the Gromble on the Quest for the Holy Pail, along with a collection of what at first appear to be useless items. After a series of difficult (mis)adventures he finally arrives at his destination, only to be told by the guardian of the Holy Pail that there isn't one, and sent back empty-handed (except for a useful toothpick). On returning in ostensible failure, Ickis is informed by Gromble that there there never was a Holy Pail, but that It's the Journey That Counts.
  • In the Action League NOW! episode, "Where Pigeons Dare", Helena XXII, the Pigeon Queen dies, and The Chief assigns the Action League to protect her four eggs. Thanks in part to the League's idiocy, three of the four eggs break. Near the end of the episode, it is revealed that the eggs the League were guarding didn't belong to Helena XXII at all, as The Chief himself was guarding the real eggs, and the last egg hatches into a snake, which eats Meltman.
  • In the second to last episode of Adventure Time, Gumbald recruits various villains from previous episodes (some just one shots) to fight Princess Bubblegum's army. In the final episode, he's individually defeated and the villains simply flee upon seeing Golb.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • Alvin once won a sweepstakes where he could choose between one hundred thousand dollars or a mystery prize. The mystery prize can be anything from a free lunch to one million dollars. Using Simon's latest invention, which can display a potential future, Alvin discovers that the money will make him a success while the mystery prize, the free lunch, will drive him into poverty. When the deadline for the sweepstakes arrives, Alvin calls them up and asks for the money. He then discovers he's not old enough to have entered.
    • Simon once shot a documentary on his family which showed them in a less than flattering light. After it's announced that a local television station has purchased the documentary and plans to air it, Alvin, Theodore, and Dave break into the television station (individually) to steal the documentary. They all get caught, but are released without the station pressing charges. They get home and discover Simon watching his televised documentary three in the morning ..."When absolutely no one will be up to watch it."
    • When the Sevilles took a trip to England, Alvin discovered a museum display dedicated to Lord Henry Seville. He then sets out on a quest (with Simon and Theodore of course) to see if he was related to them. After a harrowing adventure, they find out they are indeed related to Lord Seville. But when they bring this information to the authorities, it's learned that the family fortune has been squandered down to only a few pounds and Lord Seville wasn't actually a nobleman. "Lord" and "Henry" were his first and middle names.
    • Another time, Alvin got Simon and Theodore to accompany him into a dead gangster's old house because he has a strong feeling that his fortune is hidden within. After searching the house for a while, they find a safe they are unable to open and manage to drag it outside. There, it opens and reveals it contains...just a picture of the gangster as a baby. Needless to say, Simon and Theodore are furious.
  • ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks:
    • "Don Juan Theodoro" has Alvin help Theodore talk to a girl he likes, thinking he has a crush on her and wants to confess his feelings. He was really going to ask her to be his baking partner.
    • "Saving Simon" has Alvin worry that Simon is going away to a boarding school and recruit the others to sabotoge his interview; turns out, he was only going there for the summer.
  • An episode of The Amazing World of Gumball titled "The Plan" featured the Watterson kids finding a love letter for their mom from someone named Daniel Lennard. They then act out a plan where they call their mom to leave the house, then they e-mail Daniel Lennard to meet them in the park, where Gumball, dressed as their mom, will scare him away. They imagine every single detail of their plan to make sure nothing goes wrong. In the end, they find out that Daniel Lennard is a brand of cosmetics—the "love letter" was actually just an advert for their products.
  • Happens quite a bit on American Dad!:
    • The subplot for "Gorillas in the Mist" of Roger's journey to get the country life experience so he could write a genuine country song. He married the first white trash redneck he met, found out she had three kids, a trailer car and no macchiato, so he left immediately. Then she tracked him down and forced him to come back with a shotgun. After a while of living a life of fear, he pretended to be abused, sent his wife to jail, and found out that her kids would all be sent to a foster home, where they would likely never see each other again, if they even found new foster parents. Also, their dog got run over by a police car. Then he sees a really ugly woman, and just wrote his country song about how ugly she was.
    • The song itself manages to be a shaggy dog story in its own right:
      I saw the ugliest woman I ever did saw,
      Face like a turnip and an under-bit jaw.
      Inbred from inbred then inbred again,
      If ugly was pretty then she'd be a ten.
      She was so damn ugly,
      So I got drunk and fucked her in my truck.
      Goodnight, everybody!
    • "Spelling Bee My Baby" has Steve once again trying to hook up with Akiko. He succeeds... Only for the aforementioned to disappear from the show with no explanation after this episode and have Steve being single once again.
    • If deleted scenes can be counted, then the above example isn't the first time something like this has happened to Steve. Debbie breaks up with him for the umpteenth time in "Bar Mitzvah Hustle" and their on/off relationship throughout the past few seasons permanently ends there. However, a deleted scene on the Volume 5 DVD set shows Debbie returning at the end to reconcile with Steve which if the scene had been left intact would've resulted in this trope as Debbie disappeared from the show after this episode (aside from her brief cameos in the milestone 100th & 200th episodes) and Steve went back to being single.
    • Let's keep this simple... anytime Steve wants a girl it becomes this kind of story!
  • The "Wakko's America" song in Animaniacs was framed by a quiz given by the Warners' tutor turning into a parody of Jeopardy!. Wakko hits the Daily Double, is asked to name the capital of every state in the USA, and does so in the form of the song... but this didn't count as a right answer because it wasn't in the form of a question.
  • In the Arthur episode "The Case of the Girl with the Long Face" Buster notices Fern looking depressed and decides to investigate to find out why she's upset. In the end, it turns out she just feels down some days for no particular reason.
  • The Beatles episode "Money" has John sewing the boys' concert take in Ringo's pocket for safety while they visit Coney Island. When Ringo gets separated from the others, a mysterious stranger chases him around the park under the presumption that he's after the money. During an out-of-control carousel ride, the money flies out and the stranger is unmasked to be George. John tells Ringo that it was stage money in his pocket and that John himself had the real money. But when John takes out the wad from his pocket, it's shown as the stage money.
    Ringo: (tossing the stage money in the air) Very droll.
  • Ben 10
    • There's the episode where Ben breaks Gwen's computer and enters a wrestling competition to get the money to replace it. At the end, he discovers that the computer was never broken. Gwen had put a security system on the computer so it only looked like the computer was completely dead. Result? An utterly wasted episode.
    • Also, the episode where Grandpa Max sets out to find the Sword of Ekchuah in a Mayan temple. They fight off Enoch and his forces constantly through the episode and even a Mayan guardian alien-type thing. At the end, however, the sword turns to dust as soon as Enoch touches it. What a waste of time. That part is lampshaded by Max who jokes that "that's what happens when your weapon is 5,000 years old".
  • Big City Greens: "Coffee Quest". The episode ends with Cricket and Gloria successfully delivering the coffee beans to Big Coffee and Cricket out of debt, but he cannot bring himself to leave Gloria so she causes more destruction and blames him for it, thus he stays. However, he loses his job anyway in "Chipwrecked" along with Gloria, thanks to Chip Whistler getting past him and taking over the cafe.
  • In an episode of Black Dynamite, the title character goes to the moon in order to get the kids at the Whorephanage the moon rocks they want for Christmas. He gets them and returns to Earth only to flush the rocks down the toilet when the orphans do not express enough gratitude to meet his satisfaction.
  • In Bob's Burgers:
    • Season 8 "Sleeping with the Frenemy", Linda would always collect Gene's loose baby teeth, but when Gene physically loses his last one, Bob and Gene work together to get a replacement. They go to Dr. Yap to buy an adult rotten tooth and have Teddy grind and paint the tooth to look small and white. But when Gene puts the new tooth in his mouth and pretends to lose it in front of Linda, he accidentally swallows it. To add insult to injuries, Linda reveals she lost some of his other baby teeth anyway.
      Bob: Oh, my God, we spent so much time on this.
    • Subverted in Season 10's "Now We're Not Cooking With Gas". After spending the entire episode going crazy trying to roast a gourmet turkey with an illegal fire in an alley and driving his family crazy trying to get things to burn, the turkey falls on the fire and is burnt to a crisp, while the firemen, who had already warned him about it, come to force him to put out the fire. However, things turn out well at the very end; the firemen decide not to fine him, and when he is about to throw the turkey away, he realizes that beneath a layer of burnt skin, the turkey meat underneath is perfectly cooked and they manage to eat.
  • Bojack Horseman
    • One subplot in the first two seasons involves two paparazzi photographers trying to blackmail BoJack with photos of him having sex with Sarah Lynn. The two finally make it all the way to BoJack's temporary agent, Vanessa Gecko, and demand money from her. However, Gecko reminds them that taking photos on private property without the owner's consent, as well as the act of blackmail itself, are both illegal. She forces the two photographers to hand over the photos and walk away with nothing to avoid going to jail.
    • In the episode "Fish Out of Water" Bojack is underwater with an air helmet and nobody can hear him speak. After an episode-long adventure that started after he was trying to figure out the perfect thing to say to ex-friend and colleague Kelsey Jannings, Bojack finds out there's a button on his helmet that would have allowed other people to hear him.
    • In the episode "Free Churro", BoJack gives a long speech about his Big, Screwed-Up Family, particularly his mother. Since it takes place at his mother's funeral, BoJack tries to pay Due to the Dead, but can't even do that because of how horrid of a mother Beatrice was. Eventually, through his speech, he comes to an understanding of his mom, even if he can't forgive her. However, the final few moments reveal that he went to the wrong funeral, rendering his entire speech moot.
      • In the same episode, it's indicated the novel that BoJack's father, Butterscotch, worked on for most of his adult life and hyped up as an inevitable classic, once he finished it, no stores would carry it and the only newspaper that that gave it a review bashed it. BoJack himself refused to read it because he didn't want to vindicate his horrible father.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • In the episode "Operation ARCTIC", Sector V set out to stop Professor XXXL from unleashing an invention that will get rid of snow days. As it turns out he was actually trying to invent the perfect snow cone (the same goal he has in his later appearances) and getting rid of snow days was a neighboring Mad Scientist's idea.
    • "Operation ROBBERS" sees Numbuh 5 rounding up a bunch of kids who are robbing them of their homework, but then Numbuh 4 (fighting another robber) crashes into the bus they're on making her heroics meaningless as the robbers escape. Although, at the end of the episode, the Delightful Children (who hired the robbers) turn in everyone else's homework in an attempt to get on the teacher's good side. (Since everyone else didn't even turn any in, but they turned in 20 something copies.) The teacher reads one paper, NUMBUH 4'S and the worst in the class, and goes ballistic, telling them she'd rather they turned in nothing at all. So in the end, the villains lose, even though the heroes' actions had nothing to do with it. At least not directly.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog
    • The legendary scene in the episode "Little Muriel" where Courage makes the now 3-year-old Muriel macaroni and cheese. Every time he gives it to her, she complains that there's either too much or not enough macaroni or cheese, so he has to make a new batch. Muriel declares the seventh attempt to be perfect, only to swat it into Courage's face because she doesn't even like macaroni and cheese.
    • In the episode "Nowhere TV", Eustace wins the Nowhere lottery when it turns out the winning numbers were exactly 12345. However, Le Quack had previously hypnotized him and Muriel as part of a plot to steal the lottery money from the station. Courage and Le Quack's fight over the money winds up destroying most of it, leaving just 17¢. Eustace unplugs the TV and kicks it out the door in a huff.
  • In the Danger Mouse episode "The Odd Ball Runaround", DM and Penfold spend the episode working to get a rugby ball containing top secret plans back from Baron Greenback. It then turns out the plans they retrieved were a decoy meant to distract Greenback, and poor Penfold breaks down crying while Danger Mouse consoles him.
  • Daria:
    • In "Art Burn", Jane and Trent each in their own way betray everything they stand for in order to fix a gazebo they broke that their brother Wind told them had huge emotional significance to the family as the "naming gazebo". In the end they get it fixed in time for their parents to get home and announce they've finally decided to tear down the gazebo since they made up the naming gazebo story to stop Wind from changing his name.
    • Jake and Trent's story in "Daria!" culminates in the song "Manly" where they decide to go out in the hurricane themselves and find Daria and Jane. Jake crashes the car into a tree and the storm comes to a natural end with Daria and Jane somehow getting themselves off the roof and meeting them there.
  • This happens a few times in Dave the Barbarian. One in particular is where a pair of nomads put a curse on the hero's town where it will get hotter and hotter, all because the eponymous hero asked an innocent question about their merchandise. Dave is then forced by his older sister to go on a journey to find the artifact that can break the curse. After a perilous quest where the heroes are captured by a gang of dragons and their own pet temporarily turns against them, they return with the artifact only to find that the sister who made them go on the quest in the first place has managed to convince the nomads to remove the curse. To make matters worse, Dave, upset that he went through all that hell for nothing, accidentally smashes the nomads again with a door and they angrily cast another curse which causes the episode to end.
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • The episode "Morning Stretch" has Dexter wake up too late to get ready for school, and use a helmet that slows down time to give himself a chance to catch the bus. However, things don't go according to plan (because he forgot the difficulties caused by slowing down time), and despite all his efforts, he just barely runs out of time when Deedee, who hasn't changed out of her pyjamas, intentionally bars him from leaving. When he asks why, she replies that it's a snow day.
    • The episode "Photo Finish" has Dee Dee take pictures of Dexter's lab and send them to be developed. Dexter goes on an adventure similar to a James Bond film to try to intercept them before they can be developed and shown to their parents. He fails, but it turns out Dee Dee had her hand over the lens the whole time.
  • In the Donald Duck short, "Truant Officer Donald", Donald tries to catch Huey, Dewey, and Louie so he can take them to school. He finally succeeds at the end of the short, but when he gets to school, he finds out that it's closed for the summer holidays.
  • Doug
    • In one episode, Patti invites Doug to a dinner party she'll be hosting that weekend, with liver and onions on the menu. Doug is horrified, but doesn't dare back out for fear of offending her, so he spends the entire week trying and failing to make himself eat liver and onions so he'll at least know what he's in for. When he finally forces himself to try it at a restaurant on the night before the party, he realizes that it isn't anywhere near as bad as he thought it'd be. The next evening, he arrives at Patti's house, ready to chow down, only for her to tell him that she was joking about the liver and onions; everyone's eating hot dogs instead.
    • Another episode has Doug and Skeeter playing with a Frisbee Expy that belonged to Patti (they continued playing after she leaves for practice), and lose it over a fence with a big nasty bulldog behind it. After going through much trouble to rescue the Frisbee, they finally end up just going in for it and getting attacked by the dog. Later, they return the now-beat-up Frisbee to Patti and apologized for its poor condition... only for her to reveal that she has a whole box of them because her dad gets them free from work.
    • In "Doug's Secret Song", Doug writes a secret and quirky love song about Patti, and films a music video about it at a new store in the mall that allows its customers to do so. After a mix-up in the store (and being beset by a severe case of hiccups while filming the video), Doug gets a videotape of Patti's music video by mistake, leading him to believe that Patti has his tape, and is now taking it to a Slumber Party at Beebe's house, so he has Porkchop sneak in and switch the tapes. At the end of the episode, Doug, Skeeter, and Porkchop find out that Patti actually had a videotape of Mr. Bone yodeling, and come to the conclusion that Mr. Bone had Doug's tape the entire time.
    • One of the Disney season episodes has Doug borrow a prop hat from his sister Judy for a school report, on the condition he return it within a week once done, otherwise he'll be forced to be an extra in all of her plays (which doesn't sound like a bad punishment until you remember that Judy is a Mad Artist, and Doug cringes at the last time he was forced to do so which had him act as a sandwich in a show about digestion). After gaining his A as intended, he ends up losing the hat only for Roger to find it and refuse to give it back. When stating he'll do anything to reclaim it, Roger forces Doug to help him steal a plastic cow that Roger wanted to buy earlier but the owner kept refusing his offers (Roger does leave the money on the ground, so it's more paying without consent). However Doug's conscience gets the better of him, he returns the cow and gives Roger back the money. Though, of course, Roger refuses to return the hat now. Doug ultimately just tells Judy what happened who promptly takes the hat back by force. This does free Doug of performing in Judy's shows due to a loophole in their agreement (Doug did find it again and informing Judy meant he did technically return the hat even if it was an unorthodox method). But, feeling guilty after everything that transpired, Doug willingly winds up performing in one of her shows anyway.
  • Taken to insanity in an episode of Drawn Together. Xandir tells the housemates he needs to come out to his parents. They role play and simply mock him by saying “Duuuuhh”. So, they then decided to take it seriously. Toot appears as Xandir’s mom and Captain Hero appears as Xandir’s dad. Then Wooldoor comes as a priest who later molests a kid and they do roleplaying within roleplaying where Toot as Xandir's mom roleplays as Xandir's dad and Captain Hero does vice versa. Then they kick him out of the house where Xandir becomes a prostitute under Spanky Ham and Ling-Ling solicits his prostitution service as Mr. Nagasaki and works with Foxxy Love as a fellow prostitute. Meanwhile, Toot as Xandir's mom as Xandir's dad has sex with Princess Clara as Xandir's old girlfriend, whom Captain Hero as Xandir's dad as Xandir's mom kills. This means that every single character has had a gay encounter, which already makes the entire thing pointless. Then Xandir accidentally kills Ling-Ling as Mr. Nagasaki, Spanky Ham as the pimp kills Foxxy Love as the fellow prostitute, Spanky Ham as the pimp kills Toot as Xandir's mom as Xandir's dad, and Spanky as the pimp is shot by police. Xandir then says the role-playing is done (even though it can't be as the roleplaying with Toot as Xandir's mom and Captain Hero as Xandir's dad still hasn't finished). He then comes out to his parents who reply, "Duuuuhh" Dear God!
  • The Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop episode "Bungle in the Jungle" has Dr. Zitbag go on a quest to replace the Transylvanian tiger tooth that was used to make the Exorsisters' family heirloom can opener after accidentally breaking it. He successfully replaces the tiger tooth, but ends up breaking it again, much to the sisters' anger.
  • Dudley Do-Right has an episode where a top-secret project is being constructed on a mountain overlooking the RCMP camp. Inspector Fenwick tasks Dudley with making sure Snidely Whiplash does not interfere with the project. Dudley follows Snidely around town, going to increasingly extreme lengths to keep him away from the project and eventually ensnares the villain in saltwater taffy. In the end, Dudley successfully stops Snidely from interfering with the project, but the project is unveiled to be Snidely's head carved into the mountain.
  • DuckTales (1987) has an episode where Scrooge gets a telephone call from a "doctor", that makes him believe that he's dying. When he becomes afraid of what might happen to his money after he dies, Fenton buys a computer, which will guard it for him. But a glitch causes the money to disappear, so Scrooge and Fenton ask Gyro Gearloose to shrink them, so they can go into the computer and get it back. To make a long story short, this becomes a really dangerous adventure, where Fenton is almost eaten by the glitch. But in the end, they get themselves and the money out safely from the computer. Only to find out that Scrooge never was dying in the first place, as the phone call was from a "clock doctor", who had been unable to fix a clock, that the nephews had accidentally destroyed...
  • In one episode of DuckTales (2017), Louie is brought to tail Scrooge at his workplace to weed out his laziness, only to sneak out during a meeting to get a can of soda. Not having enough for the vending machine, he steals Scrooge's dime placed on a pedestal to make the change with intentions of replacing it, only to overhear Scrooge tell his board the personal significance that dime has to him. Louie spends the remainder of the episode trying to get the coin back, dealing with a power-mad AI in the process. Louie manages to retrieve the dime and place it back on the pedestal without Scrooge ever finding out, only to learn that it was a decoy and that Scrooge keeps the real Number One Dime on his person. However, Scrooge decides to give the decoy dime to Louie as a sign of his hard work... only for Louie to end up using the coin to buy another can of soda by accident.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • In "Who, What, Where, Ed!", the Eds attempt to acquire a chicken egg so that they can hatch and raise it. After an arduous Chain of Deals, Ed breaks the egg open as soon as they get it, thinking he had to free the chicken inside.
      Ed: I think the chicken's gone bad, Eddy.
      Eddy: (weary) Like my luck...
    • In "Cool Hand Ed", the Eds attempt to skip school with an ad-hoc biplane. At the end of the episode, the plane is destroyed, and by the time it was ready to take off, it was already the end of the school day anyway.
  • The Fairly OddParents!, "Odd, Odd West": Timmy steals a deed to a ghost town named Dimmsdale Flats from "Vicky the Kid" in order to save the town (a childhood memory of his dad's) from bulldozing, and gives it to his dad. The town still gets torn down anyway after Mr. Turner then sells it to Doug Dimmadome for $8, and Dad tells Timmy that he's realized that his childhood actually sucked (after spending a day in the local jail). He does get a merit badge for making his dad $8 richer, though.
  • Family Guy
    • In the episode "The Juice is Loose", Peter meets OJ Simpson, and, at first, attempts to prove that he murdered his wife and Ron Brown. But then, when he finds out, he despairs that he is innocent and can never get away from the accusations. So Peter lets him stay at his house, but the family is suspicious of him. The entire episode is set up as a twist on the normal narrative about OJ, with him actually being innocent. At the end, the town comes in an angry mob to kick him out, but then O.J. makes an emotional speech about how nobody is perfect, and we shouldn't judge people for making a few mistakes. It works, and the whole town is on his side. But then, he stabs and kills three people for absolutely no reason, and runs off. After which, Peter just nonchalantly says "Oh, I guess he did do it.", and the episode just ends.
    • In "Love Thy Trophy", Meg gets a job as a waitress in a diner so she can make eleven hundred dollars to buy a designer Prada bag. She brings her baby brother Stewie to work with her, and a customer mistakes him for her son, and Meg herself for a single teen mother, and gives her a huge tip out of pity. Meg then goes along with the "single teen mother" act to get more sympathy tips, even adding to the story that Stewie is addicted to crack. It works, but unbeknownst to Meg, one customer is with the Department of Child Disservices, who believes the story and takes Stewie away from the Griffins. Very shortly after buying her Prada bag with her sympathy money, she is forced to trade it to Stewie's foster family in exchange for reuniting him with the family.
    • The "Stewie Kills Lois"/"Lois Kills Stewie" two-parter, which turns out to just be a simulation Stewie was operating to find out what would happen if he killed Lois and took over the world, lampshades it.
      Brian: So what you're saying is that what you experienced in the simulation didn't really happen, or even matter?
      Stewie: Yes, that's correct.
      Brian: So it was sorta like a dream?
      Stewie: No, it was a simulation.
      Brian: Yes, but theoretically, if someone watched the events of that simulation from start to finish, only to find out that none of it really happened... I mean, you don't think that would be just like a giant middle finger to them?
      Stewie: Well, hopefully, they would've enjoyed the ride.
      Brian: I don't know, man. I think you'd piss a lot of people off that way. *leaves*
      Stewie: Oh, at least it didn't end like The Sopranos, where it just cut to black in mid-sen-
    • "Partial Terms of Endearment" was about Lois becoming a surrogate mother for her college girlfriend and her husband, but after becoming pregnant, said girlfriend and husband end up dying, leaving her and Peter with the conflict over having an abortion. The final scene of the episode is made as though it's about to introduce a "new member of the Griffin family", only for Peter to break the fourth wall and say, "We had the abortion," and the episode ends on that abrupt note.
    • The episode "Road to India" had Brian and Stewie travel to India so Brian could meet a tech support worker he fell in love with over the phone. 22 minutes and one $8,000 plane ticket later, she decides that she doesn't want to be with him anymore after watching him fail at a game show.
    • In "Finders Keepers", the treasure that Peter got the whole town to search for was just a coupon that had already expired seven years ago.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
    • When a bust of Madame Foster is broken in "Busted", the main characters spend most of the episode hiding it from Herriman out of fear he'd punish them. When Herriman finds out, he simply picks another bust from a closet full of them. Apparently, the bust has been broken so many times, it doesn't surprise Herriman whenever he has to replace it again.
    • "Foster's Goes to Europe" manages to end both its A-plot and its B-plot with one: throughout the entire episode, the cast is trying to get prepared for a trip to Europe, and once everyone's ready Madame Foster hugs Mac in a ploy to pickpocket his plane tickets for her and her friends. Meanwhile, Eurotrish keeps getting and losing opportunities to tag along with them and see her creator's family again; once she manages to ride with Madame Foster to Europe, she finds that her creator sent her to Foster's because her constant singing was annoying.
    • In the short, "Driving Miss Crazy", Frankie and Madame Foster have twenty minutes to pick up the Foster's bus from the mechanic before the garage closes. Mac and the imaginary friends tag along, much to Frankie's ire, and Bloo makes Frankie and Madame Foster get them a meal from a fast-food restaurant. When Frankie and Madame Foster arrive at the garage, it's closed, but Frankie finds out from the mechanic that the Foster's bus isn't ready to be picked up yet; the carburetor is filled with cheese fries.
  • Futurama
    • The third movie had this when the entire place shifts into a fantasy world. In the end it's back to normal with NOTHING coming out of it. One might argue that the Professor gained the important knowledge of who his son actually was, something he learned in the fantasy world rather than the real world, although this was never really made perfectly explicit.
    • Also, Bender's plotline in "The Prisoner of Benda". He attempts to steal Robo-Hungarian Emperor Nikolai's jewels while in possession of his body, and once everything is resolved...
      Nikolai: So long, filthy commoners.
      Bender: ¡Adios! And I'm left with the real jewels safely inside... (Looks inside his chest cabinet) His compartment! All right, I'll need accomplices.
  • The Garfield Show episode "High Scale" has Garfield having to lose two pounds by the end of the week thanks to a talking scale making quips about how obese he is. Garfield doesn't take the dieting seriously, but is eventually motivated to make the effort to lose weight after having a nightmare of going to a dieting camp with deplorable conditions. Once he's finished losing the required weight, Garfield learns from Jon that the scale was apparently on the wrong setting ("Pint-Sized Parakeet" rather than "Portful Pussycat") all along and that he went to the trouble of losing two pounds for nothing. To say that Garfield wasn't pleased by this revelation would be quite the understatement.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero:
    • The episode "The Viper is Coming" featured the Joes discovering several Cobra bases and plots around the world based on cryptic phone calls from someone calling himself "The Viper". Characters on both sides try to discover who the Viper is as he seems to predict Cobra's every move. Finally, the Viper's latest call warns them that: "This is the Viper. I be there at noon today. Be ready." The Joes call in reinforcements and barricade the house where the calls were being received. Right at 12 PM, an old immigrant in overalls shows up carrying a squeegee and bucket. In a heavily accented voice, he declares: "I'm the Viper. I've come to vipe your vindows." (Of course, accident or not, he did benefit the Joes a great deal in that episode, foiling no less than three of Cobra's schemes and apprehending several of their most powerful leaders, including Zartan, Destro, Major Bludd, and the Crimson Guard Twins. Even if unintentionally, it could have been seen as a victory for the heroes' side.)
    • An episode of Animaniacs which spoofs the Three Musketeers uses the same Vindow Viper gag.
    • In the episode "The Spy Who Rooked Me", a team of Joes plus a secret agent try to deliver a vial of deadly nerve gas to a waste disposal plant while fending off Cobra forces trying to steal it. In the end, the vial breaks, but there's nothing in it but soda. The agent explains that they were a Decoy Getaway to distract the bad guys so the real vial could be delivered. While their mission was important, it certainly felt like a shaggy dog story to the Joes, who had not been told about this plan and were very angry about having to go through all that trouble.
  • Goof Troop has multiple, with either Pete (his fault) or PJ (not his fault) as the butt:
    • Pete is given money to pay a contractor to renovate a lakeside house his wife Peg was selling. Pete spends it on a harpoon gun for his boat instead, kicks out the contractor and tries to fix the house himself with help from Goofy. Naturally, the house gets destroyed, and Pete has to buy an identical house from across the lake - which belongs to the contractor, who asks for Pete's boat in return. After going to all the trouble of replacing the house before Peg arrives with the buyers, the sale is made, only for the new owners to demolish it immediately afterwards because they were only interested in the land. Cue Pete having a nervous breakdown.
    • Yet another episode involves Pete stealing Goofy's mortgage money. When Peg lets Goofy stay at their house as a result, Pete tries to give back the money only to find it lost. He spends the rest of the episode trying to pay Goofy back with his money with Goofy refusing out of decency. When he finally gets Goofy to take the money, PJ and Pistol earn that exact same amount in their work program Pete established. Pete pays them the money, and they give it to Goofy. Then Goofy finds his actual mortgage money in a device that's been around the whole time. Cue Pete having another nervous breakdown.
    • Pete tells PJ he has to pass his math test or else he'll be Grounded Forever. Despite spending all night studying, PJ is convinced he failed anyway. Then Max convinces him to play sick so he can get one last day of freedom in. Because Pete is so strict, Max has to make him look very sick, which alarms Pete to such an extent he takes PJ to the hospital. After he escapes, he and Max run around town as quickly as possible doing all the things on his list. Then Peg opens his report card and reveals he got an A. PJ collapses.
    • Max tells PJ, even more reluctant than usual, to tell his dad to take them fishing. He is talked into it and does, in order to find the treasure of the lake. The treasure of the lake turns out to be entirely worthless, so PJ just went through the torture he considers worse than eating glass for no reason. And to top it all off, Goofy had already found the quarter Max needed, though the audience knew this, which was why he wanted to find the lake treasure in the first place. PJ, again, collapses.
    • PJ, less reluctant this time, is convinced by Max to ditch his ping-pong ball based science project in favor of a science fiction video. Pete says no, but Max finds a loophole. He plugs into the machine and accidentally plugs into a satellite dish instead of the videotape, convincing everyone in town of an alien invasion of aliens who look like Goofy in his mime costume. After Max and PJ manage to free Goofy and fix the alien problem, PJ just decides he's going to start his first project over.
  • Gravity Falls
    • In "Boss Mabel", Mabel takes over the Mystery Shack as a bet with Stan to see who makes more money. In Mabel's case, they manage to make loads of cash, but have to pay for the damages caused by the Gremloblin, leaving them with one dollar. On Stan's end, he manages to win a humongous pool of cash on Cash Wheel, only to lose it all because he couldn't answer the bonus word (Please); thus, Mabel wins.
    • "Northwest Mansion Mystery" features Pacifica getting help from Dipper to save her manor from a ghost. They succeed, but in the last episode she loses it anyway when her family goes broke.
    • "The Last Mabelcorn" focuses on Mabel trying to get hair from a unicorn, thought to be the Last of Her Kind who refuses because she claims she isn't "pure of heart". However, it is revealed near the end that a) there are other unicorns besides this one, b) unicorns cannot see into people's hearts, and c) the "pure of heart" thing is just a lie the unicorns use to get humans to leave them alone. Mabel is so livid at this she decides to pick a fight to get the hair.
  • The Hailey's On It! episode "Dance Like no Mom is Watching" has Hailey getting upset with Beta for making her do tough tasks for her list, deciding to do a fun one instead and get the high score on a DanceDanceRevolution Expy. She's never been able to get past the break-dancing part, until she learns her mother was once a famous breakdancer in her youth. After some training from her mom, Hailey makes the high score...only for Beta (who spent most of the episode getting an upgrade) to reveal that she already was the high score! Turns out, some years ago, she beat the game while hyped up on a sugary drink and completely forgot about it, and didn't realize cause she'd used a different name.
  • The Hey Arnold! episode "The Sewer King" has Arnold accidentally dropping his grandpa's favorite pocket watch down the sewer where it is stolen by a crazy man called "the Sewer King". After a battle of chess and a long chase sequence through the sewer, Arnold finally returns home, exhausted and filthy, with his Grandpa's pocket watch. Grandpa then accidentally drops the watch into the kitchen sink and it falls down the drain—where it ends up back in the Sewer King's possession. He then just grabs another pocket watch... from a drawer full of identical pocket watches. Cue Arnold taking a long depressing walk outside, as well as fetching a quart of milk for Grandpa.
  • House of Mouse:
    • The short "Mickey's Big Break" has Mickey and Donald accidentally breaking a framed photo of Minnie and Daisy. They end up dressing in drag to replace the picture so that Minnie and Daisy won't find out, but as it turns out Minnie and Daisy always hated that picture.
    • The short "Hickory Dickory Mickey" as Goofy asking Mickey to drive him to the airport at 6AM. Mickey tries to get out of it by claiming that his digital clock is broken, but Goofy lets him borrow his alarm clock. Said alarm clock's constant tick-tocking drives Mickey insane for the entire night. And in the end, when Mickey gets up at 6AM to drive Goofy to the airport, he asks Goofy which airport he's going to, to which Goofy says, "Oh, the new one, straight ahead!" And by "straight ahead", he means that the airport is RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO HIS HOUSE. Mickey is pretty ticked off about it and promptly throws Goofy out of his car.
    • "Mickey Tries to Cook" has Minnie becoming tired of Mickey always making the same thing - ham, tomato and cheese sandwiches with cheese. The next day, Mickey spots Minnie at the grocery store talking to José Carioca and thinks that she's going to leave him for José, so he tries to learn how to cook something else. Of course, Minnie's not leaving him for José - as it turns out, José just offered to cook Mickey and Minnie a romantic meal. And what does he make for them? Ham, tomato and cheese sandwiches with cheese. Mickey's okay with that.
  • In an episode of I Am Weasel, Weasel and I.R. are astronauts terraforming a planet to prepare it for colonization. Their robot goes on strike, so they spend the next four years terraforming the place and building a huge futuristic colony. When the colonists arrive... they are revealed to be a termite colony who immediately proceed to trash the place. Weasel then breaks down crying.
  • Invader Zim
    • The episode "Door to Door" is Zim trying to beat Dib in a fundraiser with a mystery prize given out to who sells the most candy. Zim sells 1.2 million bars, only to be told there is no mystery prize at all and they just made it up to get kids to work harder. As a consolation, Ms. Bitters gives him a can of tuna.
    • The episode "Zim Eats Waffles" is all about Dib trying to catch Zim working on his Evil Plan using a hidden spy camera... But he has no recording capability and whenever anyone else looks at the camera image, Zim is busy eating waffles and doesn't do anything that would expose him. In the end, Dib fixes the recording drives only in time for the camera to get ruined and his computer lab wrecked by an army of cyborg zombies Zim unwittingly released earlier in the episode (during a time nobody else was watching, of course).
    • In-Universe in the episode "Germs", where Zim asks the "burgerlord" why McMeatie's food is completely germ-free. The clerk gives a lengthy explanation about the government engineering "Space Meat" to feed astronauts on long voyages. Not having access to that technology, McMeatie's food is made of napkins.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Season 2's "The Chan Who Knew Too Much" features a rare villainous example; while Jackie and Jade are in England, they stumble on an Ancient Conspiracy group of magic users named Magisters, who have stolen Stonehenge. They believe Stonehenge to be an ancient, magic superweapon, which they want to use to revert England back to the dark ages. Since in this show usually All Myths Are True, this doesn’t seem implausible and Jackie thus threat it as a serious threat. Despite the protagonists best efforts, they fail to stop the Magisters from activating Stonehenge….and nothing happens! Turns out Stonehenge wasn’t a magic superweapon after all. With their plan thwarted, the Magisters are quickly arrested.

  • The Jimmy Two-Shoes episode "Cerbee in Love" has Jimmy trying to set Cerbee up with Jez's dog. At the very end, he finally gets them together. They each lick each other once before losing interest.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Episode 94 revolves around Kaeloo trying to teach Stumpy and Quack Quack how difficult a parent's life is by role-playing for an entire day with them as her kids and her as their mom. She then spends the entire day going through all sorts of horrible things, like getting her car towed and getting yelled at by her Mean Boss. At the end of the day, Stumpy and Quack Quack have learned practically nothing because Kaeloo dropped them off at school in the morning instead of taking them to work with her, so they have no idea how her day was.
    • In Episode 83, Mr. Cat tries to ruin Kaeloo's Valentine's Day party as part of an elaborate scheme to get her to be his date. He successfully ruins the party by messing things up for all the other characters, but at this point Kaeloo is so mad by how things went down that she punches him instead of kissing him. So not only did Mr. Cat get his heart broken, everyone else went through a lot of suffering for nothing.
    • A minor example in the beginning of the episode "Let's Play Red Light, Green Light". Kaeloo tries to help Quack Quack open a container of yogurt. After she tries various methods to open it, she finally whacks it on the bottom, and the yogurt flies out and splatters all over a nearby rock.
    • In Episode 106, Kaeloo, Stumpy, and Quack Quack have a Garage Sale where they sell all their old stuff to Mr. Cat. Mr. Cat runs out of space to store the items he bought, so he holds a garage sale and Kaeloo, Stumpy, and Quack Quack buy the exact same stuff they sold back from him.
    • In "Let's Play House", Mr. Cat pulls off a Batman Gambit to make the others leave the living room so he can watch a sports game on TV, but by the time he's driven them away, the game is over.
  • Kim Possible seems to love these.
    • One episode features Kim, Monique, and Ron on a mission to recover some top secret clothing designs. When they finally return the designs, at the end of the episode, the designer says he changed his mind.
    • Another episode features Ron going on a global trek to find an overdue library book he borrowed from Kim. In the process, he trounces the plans (and hideouts) of several of Kim's major enemies...only to eventually discover the book was in his backpack the whole damn time.
    • Yet another episode involves Drakken attempting to take over the world with the stolen "Energy Ray X". Unfortunately, Kim has a severe cold, so she can't stop Drakken. So Ron sets out to stop Drakken. But then Drakken comes down with a cold. So he sends Shego...who also catches a cold. So Drakken recruits Duff Killigan to fill in...and I think you know where this is going. Eventually, Kim decides to take some cold medicine and drag herself out of bed to try and bring back the stolen Ray X. In the resulting fight with Shego (who tried to shoot Kim with Ray X out of desperation), Ray X is destroyed. Kim and Ron return to the scientists who had originally built Ray X, asking what it actually did, and why it was so important to get it back. The scientists immediately reply, "The ray was a cure for the common cold." Ron then lampshades the entire episode.
      Ron: I hate irony.
    • Yet another episode revolved around trying to find a software designer that Senior Senior Jr. had "kidnapped". After some globe-trotting and SSJ narrowly escaping each time, and some conflict with Bonnie Rockwiler who was forced to come along on the mission, it turns out that SSJ had not kidnapped the software designer, and was, in fact, paying him to design a software to find the perfect girlfriend for him, making the whole adventure completely pointless. SSJ just gets together with Bonnie at the end, making even the hiring of the software designer completely pointless.
  • In LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, Rowan borrows the StarScavenger to go to the city of Alistan Nor. When Kordi and Zander see that both of them are gone, they attempt to build an ad-hoc Y-wing to find Rowan, but by the time they're finished he's already back and destroys their ship when he crashes the StarScavenger into it.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012) gets bonus points for this actually being a dog (though not particularly shaggy) story in "Gailbreak!". As Blythe and Zoe walk by Largest Ever Pet Shop, Zoe notices her sister Gail stuck in the large shop's day camp, when she was supposed to be dropped off at Littlest. They gather the rest of the pets and attempt a heist of sorts to break Gail out of the shop, which, despite some of the pets getting captured by the robot security guard of LEPS, succeeds. The problem? The Gail they "rescued" turned out to be a male dog named Tootsie, who looked nearly identical to the real Gail, who actually was dropped off at Littlest Pet Shop (according to Zoe's sister, Zoe has mistaken another dog for her more than once). So the entire mission was based on a silly mistake and was pretty much all for naught.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "Dog Collared" has Porky Pig being "hounded" by a stray dog throughout the picture. When he finally gets home, he sees a news report asking for the return of the dog and offering a big reward. Porky gets the dog (who reversed himself from jumping over a bridge) and head over to the mansion where the owner lives. The dog replaces himself with a toy dog while Porky isn't watching, and Porky is told that the dog is not the owner's, additionally saying that the missing dog was a talking dog. As Porky ponders over this revelation, he muses that if the dog could talk, he'd keep him himself. The lost dog, who up to this moment hadn't uttered a word, lifts up Porky with his arms and says, "Well buddy, you've got yourself a dog!"
    • 8 Ball Bunny has Bugs Bunny going through hell and high water to get a baby penguin to Antarctica, only to finally realize what the baby penguin had been trying to tell him earlier: he was raised in captivity as part of a performing troupe from Hoboken, NJ ("Hoboken?! Ooh, I'm dyin' again!"). Poor Bugs cracks and promptly foists the penguin onto Humphrey Bogart, who had been following the pair, before running off screaming.
    • "The Bee-Devilled Bruin" Has Pa and Junyer try to get honey from a beehive when they run out of honey. After many unsuccessful attempts to get the honey and some Amusing Injuries to Pa, Pa decides to have bacon and eggs with ketchup for breakfast. Ma gets him the ketchup from the cupboard, revealing it to have many honey jars inside it. When Pa becomes furious upon seeing this, Ma tells him that she tried to tell him they had plenty of honey all along.
    • In "Bear Feat", the Three Bears train for a Trick Bear act for the Mingling Bros. Circus when Pa finds a want ad in the newspaper. After many Amusing Injuries to Pa, Pa decides the family is ready to perform, only to find out that the newspaper with the want ad is 21 years out of datenote . Ma tells Pa that she tried to tell him the newspaper was out of date, but he kept interrupting her.
    • In "Bedtime for Sniffles", Sniffles attempts to stay up until midnight on Christmas Eve so he can meet Santa. To pass the time, he reads a magazine, drinks coffee and listens to the radio which plays "Beautiful Dreamer" of all songs. The temptation to get some shuteye becomes too much, and he falls asleep. Seconds later, Santa flies by in his sleigh.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: "We're in Big Truffle" uses this trope for both its A-plot and B-plot;
    • The A-plot has Daffy and Porky setting out to find a truffle in the woods after learning about how valuable they are. After the two get chased by a bear (who was really just Gossamer after Lola accidentally transformed him) and almost get washed away by a river, they make off with the truffle, order an expensive meal at Pizzariba, and try to pay using the truffle. Speedy tells them that not only is it not a truffle (instead, it's an old, moldy potato), but that they cannot find a truffle anywhere in the area because they only appear in Italy and France.
    • In the B-plot, Bugs and Lola are tasked with babysitting Gossamer, and when Lola tries to read Gossamer a bedtime story, she accidentally reads from Witch Lezah's spellbook, turning Gossamer into a frog and his alarm clock into a bear. They chase after the frog, and by the time they recover it and reverse the spell, it turns out the frog wasn't Gossamer, but rather the alarm clock, which gets them to realize that they should have been chasing the bear all along.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "Left in the Dark", Lincoln and the sisters survive the blackout and Lincoln makes it to the TV first to watch the ARRGH! season finale, only to find out he missed the whole thing.
    • In "Get the Message", Lincoln regrets sending an offending message to Lori after she replaces his broken VR goggles and struggles to delete the message from her, and when it seems she's about to hear the rant...she immediately deletes it.
    • In "Stall Monitor" when Mrs. Johnson organizes a parent-teacher conference with Lynn Sr. and Rita, Lincoln is worried she could say something bad about him and tries to delay the conference repeatedly. As it turns out, she was really going to tell them the opposite of that — that he's a very resourceful student, not a bad one, but because he tried to delay the conference, he gets grounded for a week along with a week of detention.
    • This happens twice in "Home of the Fave." Lynn Sr. notices that Lola is upset after coming back from the grocery store with him and Luan, which makes him believe that she's mad at him for spending so much time with Luan cracking jokes. Lynn Sr. quickly makes it up to Lola by spending the day with her, only to see Lynn looking upset, which makes him believe that she's jealous that he was spending time with Lola when he was supposed to be working out with her. In the end, though, Lynn Sr. discovers that Lola and Lynn were upset for totally different reasons. Lola wasn't upset because her dad was spending so much time with Luan at the store, even though she did think their jokes were annoying, she was upset because the lady at the check-out wouldn't give her a free balloon, saying that she didn't deserve one. And Lynn wasn't upset about her dad spending time with Lola when he was supposed to be working out with her, she was upset because she just found out that her favorite quarterback was going be out for the whole season due to a broken collar bone.
  • The Mighty B!: In "Apoxalypse Now", Bessie is annoyed she doesn't have the Chickenpox Badge like the other Honeybees, so she tries to deliberately contract the disease from Gwen but is somehow unaffected, but Ben contracts it instead. In the end, Hillary reveals Bessie already had the chickenpox as a baby and is rendered immune, and it's Ben who never had it, thus she's forced to cater to him.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: In "We're Going to the Zoo", Milo, Zack and Sara go to the zoo to retrieve Mrs. Murphy's vintage band T-shirts that Milo unwittingly donated to a clothing drive, but it turns out she was going to give them to Milo to donate anyway.
  • An episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey had Adam and Jake joining the hall monitors. It turns out that the force is TOTALLY corrupt, useless and tries to get rid of Adam when he tries to stop the corruption. So Adam goes and tries to get rid of their Dirtnuts by bribing the truck driver not to get rid of them to stop them from being corrupt. However, the force has Dirtarts and then Adam is blamed for the corruption, since the bribe was caught on video so the force gets away scot free.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: In "Party Machine" while Mrs. Wakeman is away at an inventor's convention, Jenny and Brad try to secretly throw a wild party. Tuck blackmails them into letting him come to their secret party by threatening to spill the beans by calling Wakeman on the phone, so Jenny and Brad reluctantly give in. Then as the three friends manage to clean up the whole house just as Mrs. Wakeman arrives home...
    Mrs. Wakeman: Alright, X-J9! This house better not be a mess...Wow! XJ-9! I can't believe you made this house so completely spotless! You have no idea how proud I am of you, young lady. To show my appreciation, I think I'll allow you to throw that party you've been wanting to have!
    Jenny & Brad:...Ahh... (both faint)
    Tuck: I'll set up Pin-the-Tail on the Donkey!
    (Donkey braying sound effect as the episode ends)
  • My Little Pony (G3): The special "Positively Pink" focuses on the ponies planning a surprise birthday party for Pinkie Pie, and Puzzlemint has to keep her busy long enough so the party can come together. But once Pinkie arrives at the party in the end, she reveals her birthday wasn't until tomorrow, and Minty got the date on her calendar wrong. It seems like the whole party was a total waste until the ponies decide to celebrate two days in a row.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "The Ticket Master", similar to the tickets episode of The Weekenders, Twilight Sparkle is given two tickets to a major event. Naturally, her friends fight over who will get the second ticket, giving justifiable reasons to attend (and resorting to bribery). After enduring an entire day of her friends' bribery attempts, being chased by others who wanted the tickets as well and not having anything to eat, Twilight's friends apologize for their actions and she learns the lesson of sharing of wealth amongst friends while not having enough to share. She returns the tickets to her mentor. Said mentor immediately sends her enough tickets afterwards for all her friends, stating that she could have asked.
    • Later in "It's About Time", Twilight is visited by her future self, who warns her something terrible would happen in the next week, but doesn't get a chance to say ''what'' before disappearing. After a week of panic, injury, and destruction, Twilight finally decides to seek a Time Travel spell from the royal library and warn herself a week in the past not to panic. It doesn't work.
    • In "Just for Sidekicks", Spike eats all the gems he was hoping to use in a cake, then seeks to earn more gems by offering to petsit for the mane six. He initially neglects the pets, then tries to pass them off on someone else, and winds up getting put through the wringer and losing or giving away the gems he was paid with. By the end of the episode, he only has one gem left, and Spike has learned his lesson about not half-assing important jobs... then, in a moment of forgetfulness, he eats his last gem, leaving him right where he was at the start of the episode.
    • In "Pinkie Apple Pie", the Apple family and Pinkie Pie go on a disastrous road trip to a relative who keeps records in hopes of confirming if Pinkie is related to them. When they finally make it, the records are smudged, thus the mystery is left unsolved. Turns into a heartwarming moment when they decide it doesn't matter, and that Pinkie is a member of their family in every way that matters.
    • In "Three's A Crowd", Twilight and Cadance search for a plant needed to cure Discord's "blue flu", but in the end, he admits to faking the illness, and the giant worm they unwittingly released when picking the plant sneezes on him and sickens him for real.
    • In "Party Pooped", Pinkie journeys all across Equestria to the far, far northern lands of Yakyakistan, in the hopes of returning with something valuable and authentic to please the yaks visiting Ponyville. After a long and arduous journey, she finally reaches the gates of Yakyakistan...only for the ledge she's standing on to promptly break off and catapult her all the way back to Ponyville.
    • In "The Mean 6", Queen Chrysalis creates evil copies of the main six ponies, hoping to use them to retrieve the Elements of Harmony. Mean Twilight quickly surmises that they're disposable to Chrysalis; they'll be destroyed whether they succeed or fail. Thus she plans to backstab Chrysalis by taking the Elements and using them against her. The Tree of Harmony, activated by the evil copies trying to break the Elements out, strangles them until their magic is drained, killing them.
  • Like in the German comic strip, most cases for Nick Knatterton turn out to be such, often by the culprit and the intended victim forming an alliance, marrying or similar. For example, an attempted robbery in Cannes ends up being converted into a movie production about the very robbery attempt prevented by Nick - with the original criminals as actors, producer and playwright.
  • The Owl House is a huge fan of this trope.
    • Its very first episode, "A Lying Witch and a Warden", involves Eda recruiting Luz to help her retrieve King's crown, so he can get his powers back and return to being the almighty King of Demons. After breaking into the Conformatorium, it turns out that King's crown is actually a paper Burger Queen crown that he plays pretend with. Eda reassures Luz that the reason she went in to get the crown because it makes King happy, and "if it's important to him, it's important to me." Then Warden Wrath catches them and destroys the crown anyway.
    • The second episode, "Witches Before Wizards", involves Luz trying to find someone to give her her Hero's Quest so she can live out her fantasy stories. She finds it in Adeghast, a wizard who gives her a map to the Celestial Staff, even though Eda is skeptical and warns Luz that it's probably a scam. Luz goes on the quest anyway, meets a whole cast of colorful characters, and finally reaches the staff... Only for it to melt away in her hands. Adeghast turns out to be an octopus-like creature who uses Luz as bait for Eda, since her potions business draws the customers away from his own. After defeating Adeghast, Eda flies Luz home, while telling her that if everyone waited for a prophecy to make them special, they'd die waiting, and that Luz needs to choose her path herself.
    • "Escape of the Palisman" starts with Luz, Willow and Gus borrowing Owlbert to travel to Glandus High to watch a Grudgby match after missing the bus. However, Luz accidentally injures Owlbert on the way there, causing him to become afraid of her and run off to the Bat Queen. By the time Luz convinces Owlbert and the Bat Queen to let her take him home, the Grudgby match has long since ended, though Gus and Willow don't seem too upset about having missed it.
    • The B-plot of "Sense and Insensitivity" has Eda and Lilith racing to find a flower that supposedly grants immortality. When they arrive there however, they find that the flower was never real, and the demon that sold them the map was a scammer who baited them into the woods to try to eat their souls. Neither Lilith nor Eda are particularly surprised by this, and proceed to beat the absolute tar out of the scammer before going home.
      Lilith: (deadpan) He scammed us. Can you believe he scammed us?
      Eda: (casually) I thought there was a 50/50 chance going in. Hard not to admire the tenacity though.
    • "Wing It Like Witches" has Luz, Willow and Gus training all day for a Grudgby match with Boscha, and with the surprise addition of Amity to their team, it actually looks like they're going to win... only for Boscha's team to suddenly get 999 points, because while they were busy scoring, Boscha caught the Rusty Smidge. Boscha's teammates do make a point of thanking Willow for the fun match and offering to play with her again since she was kind to them during the match.
    • In "Agony of a Witch", Luz tries to sneak into the Emperor's castle to find the Healing Hat, thinking it will heal Eda's curse. This gets her captured by Lilith, who shreds the hat since it doesn't work, and uses Luz as bait to draw Eda to the castle for a fight.
    • "Keeping Up A-fearances" reveals that this has been Gwendolyn's life for the past 20 years. In her attempts to heal her daughter Eda, she ended up in the claws of scam artist after scam artist, and the bogus cures she keeps shoving on Eda has strained their relationship so much that Eda has even stopped calling her "Mom". Her other daughter Lilith was pushed to the wayside because she was seen as the self-sufficient one, when Lilith actually needed her support more than Eda did. When Gwen finds out that Wartlop, her latest mentor, is also a scammer, she finally begins listening to what her daughters actually need, and starts working to repair her relationship with them.
    • "Eclipse Lake" has Hunter, Kikimora's squadron, and Amity, Eda and King all racing into the caves of the Knee to find Eclipse Lake, a massive lake of Titan's Blood. Hunter gets there first, only to see that his info was centuries out of date, and Eclipse Lake has completely dried up by now. Amity, who gets there second, finds him Laughing Mad in the empty lake bed while digging his own grave, since he now has to go back to Belos empty-handed again.
    • "Elsewhere and Elsewhen" has Luz and Lilith travelling back in time to find Philip Wittebane, in order to help him find a person only known as the Collector, thinking they can help Luz make a new portal door. Philip turns out to be a Manipulative Bastard who uses them as bait for the Stonesleeper guarding the Collector's prison, and when Luz and Lilith confront him later, he tells them that he actually needs the Collector for something completley different, leaving them to go home empty-handed. This gets even worse when it turns out that Philip would later become Emperor Belos, and that the Collector gave him the Draining Spell he'd need to wipe out all life in the Demon Realm.
    • "Edge of the World" opens with King finally finding his birth family, a group of islanders on the other side of the world called Titan Trappers, whose life's mission is to hunt and kill Titans. It turns out that King is not only not a Titan Trapper, he is actually a Titan, resulting in him almost getting ritualistically sacrificed by the people he thought were his family.
  • In the PAW Patrol episode "Pups Save a Surprise", the pups try to get Mr. Porter out of a stump to avoid being sprayed by a Smelly Skunk. However, once he's out, he gets sprayed anyway.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar, "Crown Fools": Skipper accidentally bumps King Julien's crown into a sewer and has to go in after it. After having to fight a giant rat for it, Skipper finally returns the crown to Julien, who discards it for being smudged and then asks for his spare crown. Marlene, who had spent all that time trying to find a replacement crown, was not amused and ended up chasing Julien with a crowbar she borrowed from Rico.
    • Private learns of a joke in a document that he's not authorized to read, so he goes through a whole mess of trouble to get himself promoted. When he finally gets to read the joke, his reaction is "I don't get it."
  • In one episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates, some mermaids steal Wendy's laughter, and Peter Pan and the Lost Boys must get it back since without it, she would die. During the adventure, the bubble containing Wendy's laughter is popped, rendering it lost. However, when it seems all hope is lost, Tinkerbell reveals that she knew of an alternate method of restoring Wendy's laughter the whole time. When Peter expresses frustration at discovering that Tinkerbell knew how to heal Wendy the whole time, Tinkerbell points out that she did try to tell them, but they all rushed off to the adventure to retrieve Wendy's laughter before she could get the chance to explain.
  • One episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) features the heroines trying to solve riddles quickly, lest the one known as HIM make the Professor pay! At the end of the episode, they finally reach the location of the last answer, a Greasy Spoon style restaurant. Oh no! They're in the wrong restaurant, they want the one across the street! By the time they get there they are seconds too late, and the Professor MUST PAY... full price on the breakfast cooked by HIM because they bet the Professor could eat for free if the girls solved the riddles on time. The Professor agrees to pay, but says he'll never come back because the food was lousy anyway, and HIM chases after him, trying to win back his patronage. At the end, the girls are left blinking in confusion and the narrator cannot even say his catchphrase, and ends with a "so, um... yeah."
    • Another episode did this with actual dogs. Mojo Jojo replicates a plan he used in a previous episode where he turned everyone into dogs with a jackal head. In the first episode, he turned the Powerpuff Girls into dogs and Buttercup bit him on the butt causing him to drop the jackal head and turn into a dog himself. Now, he says he won't turn them into dogs and has a metal plate protecting his butt just in case. So the girls just beat him up.
  • Quest: A sandman wakes up in a desert, and goes hunting for the water he needs to stay alive. Eventually he is crushed to powder in a trash compactor within sight of a body of water. He falls out as a stream of sand grains through a drain into the water. The water, it seems safe to presume, finds its way into a bottle, which is eventually poured out onto the beach. After all that, the sandman finds himself right back where he was, on the beach, looking for water.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! "Project Pluto", Mindy wants to make a model of Pluto for show-and-tell at school, but then the other kids tell her that Pluto is no longer a planet. Then, the older kids go to the DSA and have a debate with the scientists on whether Pluto should be considered a planet or not. Then, the kids are forced to go home and tell Mindy that Pluto truly is no longer a planet, (which could have lead to an emotional ending with An Aesop) but then discover that Mindy has already accepted the fact that Pluto is no longer a planet and has made a model of Saturn instead.
  • Recess
    • The first episode, "The Break In". After getting busted by Miss Finster as he's trying to get the cafeteria's "good food", T.J. has to spend his entire recess in detention. So for the entire episode, the rest of the Recess Gang try asking the other kids for help, to no results. After a talk with King Bob, they finally rally up all the kids of the playground to free T.J...however, all the time they spent trying to find ways to free him, he used to free himself. Taken even further as once he finally gets out, recess ends in the next minute.
    • The very next episode "The New Kid" has King Bob finding out Gus is new, and declares he shall now be known as "The New Kid" and nothing else. Gus then spends the rest of the episode being ostracized by everyone, even teachers and his family. Gus eventually stands up to King Bob and demands he get his name back... and Bob basically just says OK as indifferently as possible. Morris P. Hingle, the previous new kid, complains that he had be the new kid for 3 years before Gus; Bob responds, "Hey, you should've said something."
    • In "Officer Mikey", the gang tries to help Mikey fulfill his dream of becoming a safety ranger. After spending the entire episode doing a long Chain of Deals, they finally manage to convince the safety rangers' captain to let him to join... only for Mikey to quit less than a day later because the job was more difficult than what he thought it'd be. Understandably, they all bail when Mikey announces he has a new dream of becoming a jet pilot.
  • Happens in many episodes of Regular Show:
    • In "Slam Dunk", Mordecai and Rigby wage an escalating basketball war with Muscle Man and High-Five Ghost for the rights to use the computer so that Mordecai can make a website for Margaret. After a climactic duel for control of the basketball in space leading to a from-orbit slam dunk for the final point, Mordecai approaches Margaret... and finds out Margaret already had it made, since she asked two months ago.
      Basketball coach: Time goes faster in space.
    • In "A Bunch of Baby Ducks", Mordecai and Rigby have to find someone to whom they can give a bunch of baby ducks that have been following them around so that they can clean the park fountain. In the end, they fight a climactic battle with a duck poacher to help reclaim the ducklings with the help of their rightful mother. As they reported to Benson, the good news was they got rid of the baby ducks, but the bad news was that the fountain was destroyed, although the ducks made frequent appearances afterwards, so it wasn't all for nothing.
    • In "Limousine Lunchtime", Mordecai and Rigby accidentally get the interior of Mr. Maellard's prized limousine smeared with marinara sauce and spend the episode trying to get a new limo in a demolition derby to replace it. When Maellard arrives, he spills coleslaw on the seat and is indifferent toward it because he's so rich he can just buy another one.
    • In "Rigby in the Sky With Burrito", Mordecai and Rigby receive an invitation to their high school reunion, only for Rigby to realize that he's done nothing with his life since he dropped out. He decides to get a picture of himself skydiving while eating a burrito, and succeeds, but nearly dies in the process after crashing through the school roof. They then find out that the invitation was for Pops, and it was mailed to them by mistake.
    • In "Guitar of Rock", Benson accidentally destroys Mr. Maellard's signed electric guitar, and he, Mordecai, and Rigby go to the underworld to have the guitarist who signed the original sign a replacement after he dies during a live performance. In a repeat of "Limousine Lunchtime" above, Maellard destroys the guitar himself and remarks "Ah, it's good to be rich."
    • If Mr. Maellard or Margaret are the plot point of the episode, the chances of the episode being this are pretty high.
    • In "The Last LaserDisc Player", the guys discover the director's cut of a movie they like, but need a LaserDisc player to view it. In the show's typical fashion, their search leads them to getting them involved with a secret society that worships VHS and is dedicated to destroying every LaserDisc player in existence, but in the end, they manage to defeat them and get the last LaserDisc player. The episode concludes with them finally watching the movie..... which turns out to be an overly long, boring mess that none of them like.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • In "Mortynight Run", Morty disobeys Rick to save the life of a gaseous creature targeted for assassination. In the process, he endangers himself and Rick, and causes the injury or deaths of dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent bystanders. Just before the creature makes it home, however, it reveals that it's going to return with reinforcements to purge all organic life like a disease, and Morty has no choice but to kill it himself, making all the damage they did and the deaths they caused all for nothing.
    • In "The Ricks Must Be Crazy", Rick claims at the beginning of the episode that the parallel universe they're in has "the best ice cream in the multiverse", but when the family finally gets to the ice cream shop at the end of the episode, all ice cream has been declared to be for all beings, including telepathic spiders, meaning that it has flies in it now.
    • In "Look Who's Purging Now", Rick and Arthricia kill all of the rich to stop the purge, but it's implied it will happen again, regardless of their influence.
  • In the Rocket & Groot mini-series, the duo successfully get the credits needed to buy a new ship to replace their beat-up old one, only to immediately want to return it when they find that it has a very annoying onboard AI.
  • A few episodes of Rocko's Modern Life turned out to be this trope:
    • One episode had Rocko and Heffer going to a baseball game just to get a replacement foul ball after Mr. Bighead destroyed it. Jumping through hoops, humiliation and very bad seats, Rocko's able to obtain one, but is stopped by a kid who wants the baseball instead. He's convinced to give it up and ends up with a frickin' huge wad of tobacco instead. As Rocko imagines that the kid with the foul ball is gonna cherish it... we find out that the little brat ripped it to pieces.
    • Another episode is similar to the MLP episode above: Rocko gets two tickets to go to a wrestling match and he can't decide between Heffer or Filbert. He tries to think it over, but the two are so obsessed with wanting to go, Rocko decides he's going by himself. They still won't take no for an answer and decide to handcuff themselves to Rocko and drag him to the stadium. Dazed, weary and fed up, Rocko pulls out the tickets and shreds them. And if that wasn't bad enough, when Heffer and Filbert try to free themselves from their cuffs (they lost the keys), they found out the radio station where Rocko got the tickets from is holding a contest for the first person handcuffed to their friend and they both proceed to drag Rocko there.
    • The very first episode is one. Rocko needs to go grocery shopping, but only has $1.99 left. He finds out that a grocery store is holding a 99% Off Grand Opening sale and Rocko races off to stock up. Rocko is put through hell trying to stock up, including lack of parking places, being stuck with a three-wheel shopping cart, being brutalized by a very large female hippo and having his dog, Spunky, being shrink wrapped for sale. He gets to the line and the cashier, Filbert, is moving impossibly slow. And when he finally gets his stuff through, the register rings up the full total and not the 99% off, causing him to flip out and demand it returned or he'd do something "not nice". Rocko gets his groceries and drives off into the sunset... where he hits a speedbump and causes his groceries to spill out across the road.
    • Heffer's dad Mr. Wolffe buys a new car and forbids anyone else from driving it. Mrs. Wolffe, who had been taking driving lessons from Rocko, borrows it and ends up in a demolition derby, which Mr. Wolffe happens to be attending. Not only does she win the derby, she does so without getting so much as a scratch on the car. A relieved Mr. Wolffe puts the car back in the garage and closes the door... wherein all the shelves give way and dump everything on top of the car.
    • In "Bye Bye Birdie", Filburt tasks Rocko and Heffer with looking after his pet bird, Turdy, while he goes to the hospital. Turdy dies while in Rocko and Heffer's care, and Rocko worries about how he's going to break the news to Filburt. When Filburt returns, he takes it very well, explaining that Turdy was a rare subspecies of bird with a short lifespan who actually lasted a long time, and even though he'll miss his pet, life goes on. Subverted when Heffer tells Filburt the reason why Turdy died.
      Heffer: Did you tell him I sat on him?
  • Rugrats (1991):
    • In "Angelica Breaks a Leg", Stu and Didi find it increasingly stressful to tend to the injurednote  Angelica, and one late night, she asks Stu to make chocolate pudding for her. When Stu explains that they're out of pudding mix, Angelica insists that he make him some anyway. Stu then goes out to a late night grocery store to buy pudding mix, and as he mixes pudding at 4 AM, he rambles to Didi — who unsurprisingly questions why he's making chocolate pudding at such an odd time of night — about how he's "lost control of [his] life." Finally, Stu hands Angelica the pudding she wants...only for her to tell him that she's not hungry anymore. Cue an ear-splitting scream from Stu.
    • In "The Gold Rush", Chuckie finds a nickel after Angelica dumps a bucket of sand on his head. Angelica becomes obsessed with finding more in the sandbox at the park and convinces the others to dig for some with her with the intent to keep any they find all to herself. To try and stir distrust in the group she tries to make everyone think they're going to keep the nickels for themselves as well, as gold fever sets in for everyone except Chuckie, who just wants to give up and go back to playing. In an attempt to hide the nickel from everyone, she buries it under an X, until the babies get suspicious of Angelica's intentions and demand the nickel back, only to find that the wind had blown away the X Angelica made, meaning they spent all that time looking for nickels and now don't even have the one they started with. Chuckie even lampshades this.
    • In "Pre-School Daze", Angelica and Susie go to the trouble to fix their preschool teacher's mug from an ex, which they shattered by mistake. After accidentally breaking it further and settling on stealing an identical mug, the preschool teacher decides that she needs to move on and throws the replacement mug in the trash. Angelica wasn't too happy that their efforts turned out to be a waste of time.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • In "Jack and the Gangster", Jack allies himself with a group of gangsters that know where Aku is, faces three powerful spirits to recover a jewel coveted by Aku so they'd have a reason to go to him, fights and defeats Aku, and when he's about to finish the monster once and for all the gangsters knock him out to save him from Aku's wrath, and by the time he recovers, Aku has moved his castle.
    • This was done spectacularly in an episode focusing on a group of bounty hunters that gather and discuss their plans and reasons for going after Jack. When the moment of truth arrives, Jack defeats them all in the time it takes for a drop of melting ice to fall.
    • Used beautifully in the "Winter" part of the episode "Four Seasons of Death". A tribe of yeti-like humanoids harvest a giant crystal from a cave and forge it into an Infinity +1 Sword. They do battle with each other for the right to wield it, the most powerful of their tribe coming out on top. He stands on a mountain pass, bearing the mighty sword, and awaits Jack's arrival. Jack arrives... and defeats the yeti-man with one hit, shattering the sword. He walks on, oblivious to the effort the tribe had expended in trying to stop him.
    • "The Tale of X-9", where the entire episode is seen through the eyes of X-9, a retired robot assassin with an emotion chip that led it to question the morality of its actions on Aku's behalf. One day after a job X-9 found a stray dog, adopted it, and stopped working for Aku. That is, until the day when X-9's creator told Aku about the dog and the chip. Aku promptly kidnapped the dog, saying that X-9 would get it back if he managed to kill Jack. Jack wins. X-9's last words are asking Jack to take care of Lulu (the dog). The episode ends there.
    • Any episode where Jack finds a way to travel through time will inevitably be this, as it would end the TV series. The most painful time is when he meets the guardian of the gate (who looks like a blue-skinned Morpheus) and laments that salvation is so close but someone always insists on fighting him. What's worse is that this time, Jack loses and the Guardian has him sent away. The episode does end on a bittersweet note, as the guardian notes that Jack will one day be allowed to use the gate and then gazes into a vision of a future Jack, aged and wizened. Later retconned in Season 5 when it's revealed that Aku killed the Guardian offscreen, but Jack does make it back to the past in the Grand Finale. However...
    • Unfortunately the Grand Finale wound up confirming the fans' worst suspicions about the many times Jack sacrificed a chance to return to the past in order to save someone in the future. By showing Ashi and implicitly the entire Bad Future suffering a Ret-Gone, the series confirms that these people would retroactively never have been in danger in the first place (if they'd even exist at all) had Jack just gone through with getting back to his own time, making Jack's fifty year odyssey in universe and every episode after "Jack and the Scientists" out of universe totally pointless.
  • The Sealab 2021 episode "7211" is an old Sealab 2020 episode redubbed exactly like before, with the crew helping repair the nuclear submarine Aquarius, captained by a man who held a grudge against Murphy. Sounds odd for an [adult swim] comedy, huh? Well, until the end, where the only joke of the episode has Aquarius ram into Sealab, blowing it up, and making all the work the crew did pointless... as well as stranding them at the bottom of the sea.
  • Shimmer and Shine: The subplot of "Sleep-Over Party" features Zac trying to stay awake so he can watch a meteor shower. In the next morning, when his best friend asks him about it, he says it was the wrong night.
  • The Simpsons
    • "The Day the Violence Died", in which the original creator of Itchy sues the animation studio that stole the character from him. Bart discovers the key piece of evidence that wins the trial and bankrupts the studio, which - the kids realize too late - means the end of Itchy and Scratchy cartoons. Bart and Lisa desperately try to solve this new problem, and after nearly giving up (and starting on trying to get Apu out of jail for public nudity), Lisa finally discovers something in a legal textbook, and the kids rush to the studio only to find everyone celebrating the return of Itchy and Scratchy, the release of Apu, and Krusty's reunion with his estranged wife (which Bart never even heard about), all thanks to Lester and Eliza, two kids who strongly resemble Tracey Ullman Show-era Bart and Lisa.
      Marge: You kids must be so happy, your cute little cartoon friends are back on the air!
      Lisa: Yes, well, technically everything worked out alright, but...
      Marge: But?
      Bart: Well, I wasn't the one who solved the problem, and neither was Lisa. There's something unsettling about that.
    • Another episode parodied the phrase: Moe comments on how tired he is of hearing the barflies' shaggy dog stories, which prompts an offended Barney to leave the bar - a literal shaggy dog in tow.
    • Another episode, "Missionary: Impossible", starts with Homer attempting to make a bogus $10,000 pledge to PBS anonymously, being found out, being chased by an angry mob when he can't pay, begging Reverend Lovejoy for sanctuary, and getting sent to a remote island mission for his trouble. The rest of the episode focuses on his ham-brained attempts to bring religion, and later gambling, to the natives (with a minor subplot involving Bart taking over as man of the house). It ends with Homer accidentally triggering a natural disaster, and just as he's about to plunge into lava... the episode cuts to a donation request, ending with Bart (out of character) pledging $10,000 and saving the network. In short, the whole zany misadventure was nothing more than an elaborate Take That! at (take your pick) PBS/Fox's programming/Rupert Murdoch/, yes, friggin' again/anyone who takes this show too seriously.
    • This is the current mode of practice of the strike-busters from "Last Exit to Springfield":
      Grampa: We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...
    • Season 12, Episode 7, "The Great Money Caper". Bart gets into performing magic tricks. Homer tries to exploit his talents for money on the streets, but Bart fails to bring in any money, so Homer leaves him stranded in town. After Bart makes a killing in pity donations for cab fare, the two realize they could make even more money with similar cons. The two of them slowly work up to bigger and bigger grifts before they catch the attention of Grandpa, who convinces them to try to bilk Grandpa's retirement home with a fake Publisher's Clearing House scam. However, in the middle of the con, an FBI agent arrests Homer and Bart for fraud while Grandpa escapes. Homer convinces the FBI agent to let them turn themselves in. Homer tries to con the FBI agent into thinking they've gone to jail by asking Chief Wiggum to show Bart the inside of a jail cell to scare him straight. It turns out, however, that the FBI agent is himself a con artist, and steals Homer's car. Homer tricks Marge into thinking he was carjacked by inventing a fake description of his assailant, but this backfires when Groundskeeper Willie is arrested the next day and put on trial. Willie is convicted and about to be sent to jail when he steals Chief Wiggum's gun and shoots Principal Skinner. Finally Homer tells the truth about his deception and it's revealed the whole trial was a setup: Wiggum's gun had blanks, Grandpa played the trial judge wearing a mask, and the con artist that stole Homer's car was a hired character actor. Lisa starts to explain the moral lesson they were trying to teach Homer. Suddenly, Otto bursts in, yells "Hey everybody! Surf's up!" and the scene cuts to a cast surfing montage. Roll credits.
    • Another episode has Homer, Lenny, Carl, and Moe win the lottery only for Carl to claim the winnings for himself and return to his native Iceland. The others go after him and discover he's planning to use the money to prove his family was innocent of a massive betrayal in a war from long ago. A rift occurs between Carl and the others which ends with the others stealing the information on the war. They watch it and discover that Carl's family actually was guilty of the betrayal they were accused of. After this, Homer, Lenny, and Moe publicly forgive Carl and ask the people of Iceland to judge him on his own merits instead of those of his ancestors.
  • South Park
    • The episode "Stanley's Cup" involved Stan coaching a pee-wee hockey team. One of the kids has cancer, and requires a victory for the team to recover. At the end, after grueling training, during which they believe they will be put against another pee-wee team, the team is instead pitted against the Detroit Red Wings and beaten horribly, the kid with cancer dies, and the episode ends with their opponents celebrating as if the episode had been about them, with one of them (for example) being congratulated by his hard-ass father.
    • In "Douche vs. Turd", Stan doesn't believe his vote between a Turd Sandwich and a Giant Douche for school mascot is important, and in the course of being shown the importance of voting he is exiled from the town, hunted down by P. Diddy and his posse (Vote or Die and all that), and tries to live with PETA until Diddy and his boys shoot them all. When he goes back and finally casts his vote, it turns out the result would've been the same if he had voted or not. He proclaims his vote didn't matter, and gets a speech about how it still was important. The news of PETA's death then reaches town and the old mascot is brought back instead, with the punchline "Ok, now your vote doesn't matter." Made brilliant by the fact that it was actually Stan's refusal to vote that really mattered. Might count as a Broken Aesop. Even more metaphorical, as in the end it's the actions of a single person (Stan or P. Diddy, depending on how you look at it) that renders the votes of everyone else null and void.
    • "Free Willzyx" a parody of "Free Willy" in which the boys set out to free Willzyx, a captive killer whale, from an amusement park and send it back "home" - believing Willzyx to be an intelligent life form from the moon. They are completely unaware that this was just a prank being pulled by two park employees. The boys subsequently spend the entire episode going through extraordinary lengths to free Willzyx and launch him to the moon. Naturally of course, Willzyx ends up suffocating and dying on the moon. The boys go home happy, never learning that - far from rescuing the killer whale - they've ended up killing it instead.
    • The episodes "You're Getting Old" and "Ass Burgers" were about Stan trying to cope with the depression of his parents' divorce, and being ostracized by his friends over his cynicism. Cartman and Kyle become better friends, and Stan becomes a drunk and starts seeing the good in the world again. Stan eventually becomes excited about change and new adventures, but then his parents then randomly appear and say that they worked out their differences and everything goes back to normal. Stan then takes one last swig of whiskey and goes to the movies with the others.
    • In "The Hobbit", Wendy gets pissed at Butters for turning down Lisa Berger because she's fat and he likes women like Kim Kardashian. Wendy compares Kim Kardashian to a hobbit and tells Butters that she just looks attractive because of Photoshop, and used Photoshop to make Lisa look attractive to prove a point. Butters then believes that the picture is how she actually looks, and sends it to all the boys who then believe as well (even though Lisa was right in front of them). (Meanwhile, Kanye West keeps trying to prove that his fiancée isn't a hobbit, but repeatedly fails.) Soon all the girls at school use Photoshop to make themselves look impossibly attractive, and Wendy is ostracized and called jealous when she tries to point out the ridiculousness of it all. Wendy then tries to ban Photoshop, but nobody listens and call her jealous once again. Kanye West then breaks into Wendy's room in the middle of the night and explains that Kim is a hobbit, but she just wanted to be beautiful. Were you expecting Wendy to give An Aesop in school the next day changing everybody's minds? Nope. She Photoshops a picture of herself (while in tears) and sends it to everyone to fit in, knowing she can't win as the credits roll.
    • In "Succubus", Chef's parents tell the boys several stories which unexpectedly end in a character asking for "about tree fiddy" ($3.50) and revealing himself to be a disguised Loch Ness monster. Via Memetic Mutation, this has been adopted as a trolling technique on sites like Reddit and 4chan.
  • Most Squidbillies episodes end up like this.
    • As do a lot of Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes.
      • One of them in particular, "Super Birthday Snake", plays it straight while also inverting it. Meatwad gets a giant snake as a birthday present from Shake. Meatwad wanted a bunny, so Shake tells him to staple some ears on to it. This understandably pisses off the snake, who then eats Meatwad. Shake laughs it off, then gets promptly eaten by the snake as well. Frylock tries to rescue them by blowing up the snake with his laser eyes, which kills the snake along with Shake and Meatwad. This causes him to spiral into a life of debauchery and murder, killing their neighbor Carl in the process. Fed up with himself, Frylock begins to burn his house down around him, only to be interrupted by the zombies of Shake, Meatwad, and Carl. The scene then pulls out to show Meatwad in a virtual reality simulation Frylock had designed to show him that he wasn't ready to have a pet bunny.
        Meatwad: Frylock is that what you think?
        Frylock: Well, it's what the computer and I both know.
        Meatwad: Well then know this! (cocks shotgun and blows Frylock's brains out)
      • Meatwad then eats Frylock's brains until the scene pulls out to reveal that Frylock is in a virtual reality simulation designed by Meatwad to prove that Frylock "Doesn't know what I like, and what I don't like, and you better get me that bunny or I'm gonna eat your brain!
  • The Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "The Bounce Lounge" revolves around Star and Pony Head attempting to prevent the titular establishment from going out of business. They succeed in luring in customers and getting enough money to pay the mortgage, but the owner still has the place closed because she's been partying for 5,000 years and is really tired.
  • The Storm Hawks episode "Thunder Run" has the gang rush to save their friend after he pissed off a mob boss. The mob boss asks for "Rosen Yoga" and gives the team until sundown to retrieve it. They do, and "Rosen Yoga" turned out to be frozen yogurt (the mob boss has an incredibly bad lisp that makes him mispronounce things). What really makes this a shaggy story is that the mob boss later got impressed with Junko's eating habits, and filled up on food after an eating contest before the Storm Hawks got back, not to mention giving his respects to his newfound friend. Piper was understandably pissed after learning all of this.
  • Super Mario World: In the episode "Gopher Bash", Luigi teaches the Dome City cave people how to grow their own vegetables. Their harvest is stolen by Cheatsy Koopa and his Monty Moles who intend to sell them back at a pretty penny. Mario and Yoshi help Luigi track down Cheatsy, and together they reclaim the crops. Luigi proudly announces that they've brought the food back, only to discover that Yoshi ate them all during the return trip.
    Luigi: Yoshi! Oh no! We have to plant everything all over again!
  • The TaleSpin episode "A Spy in the Ointment" invokes this trope twice in the same story. Baloo and Becky meet Jack Case, a fellow who claims to be a spy, and who has to get to Thembria (a fictional Soviet Union analogue country) as soon as possible. Baloo isn't convinced Case is telling the truth, but Becky insists he's a spy because "look at his trench coat! That's a SPY'S trench coat!" After risking their lives to get him to Thembria, our heroes discover Case is not a spy, but a mailman, assigned to deliver a package to the Chairman. But it turns out said package had been switched by mistake; instead of a gift of rare expensive fishing worms, the Chairman is going to get a frilly jewelry box. Fearing an international incident, Baloo and Becky reluctantly risk their lives again to try and switch the boxes, only to fail in the end. But it turns out the Chairman mistook the jewelry box for an antique tackle box, so no harm was done in the end; and as Baloo points out, even less harm would have been done if they had never gotten involved in the first place.
  • Taz-Mania: In "Gone to Pieces", Taz accidentally breaks Jean's Priceless Ming Vase when he plays tiddlywinks with his bottle cap collection, and is worried that Jean will be upset with him when she finds out. After spending the entire episode trying to put the vase back together, with each attempt breaking the vase even more, Taz eventually sells his bottle cap collection to raise the money to buy a new vase. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Jean was planning to sell the vase at her next garage sale for five dollars. Taz gets upset and destroys the replacement vase when he realizes that all of his efforts ere for nothing.
  • Lots of the protagonist's zany schemes in Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales turn out to be this. In one episode, he and Chumley find a map that supposedly leads to a treasure hidden by a pirate named Jack the Joker, but they can't understand the numerical coordinates. After Stanley yells at them for inadvertently getting everyone in the zoo to start digging up the place, they consult their friend Mr. Whoopie, construct a homemade compass, and use the map to find the buried chest, only to be caught by Stanley again (seeing as they were digging up his own front lawn this time) who decides to punish them by having them locked up for a week. Still they manage to keep the chest, but when they open it, a jack-in-the-box pops out with a note that says, "Ha-ha! - Jack the Joker".
    • Even worse was one story that almost became a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story. After the two of them unknowingly paid a paperboy with Stanley's priceless rare coin, he threatened to punish them by making them work on the rock pile unless they got it back. So they ran after him only to find he paid the ice cream man with it, then followed the ice cream man to a bakery. After questioning the baker, he claimed he had dropped the coin in some cookie dough, which he had used to make cookies that Chumley had eaten while they were talking to him. After a lot of unsuccessful attempts to extract it, they consulted Mr. Whoopie again, who x-rayed Chumley, only to find no coin. Which meant they were screwed. Later, after several hours of backbreaking labor on the rock pile after Stanley made good his threat, Chumley discovered a cookie under his hat that he had been saving - with the coin inside it. Cue Unstoppable Rage from Tennessee who started chasing Chumley and throwing rocks at him.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons:
    • In "Deputy Droopy", Droopy is casted as a deputy for a sheriff who's looking after a safe full of gold. The rather intimidating sheriff tells Droopy to keep an eye on the front room while he's in his office, and to just make any kind of noise if he's in trouble, and he'll come out shooting. Two rather Stupid Crooks overhear this, and they sneak in trying not to make any noise... Only to step on some nails. To avoid alerting the sheriff, they both run clear out of town and up a hill before crying out in pain. Then the cartoon becomes one Overly-Long Gag; the two crooks manage to silence Droopy, but in their efforts to get the gold, they repeatedly have to avoid making noise, and run up to the hill and back again and again, and again, hurting themselves in the process more often than not. Finally, they decide it's not worth it, and turn themselves in to the sheriff, confessing... Only to find out he never would have heard them anyway, because the batteries in his hearing aid have been dead for weeks.
    • In another Old West style Droopy cartoon, Droopy is tasked with bringing a chest to the bank. The Wolf overhears, and figures that if he's taking the chest to the bank, it likely has money inside it. The wolf spends the whole cartoon trying to steal it, only to be foiled again and again, and finally arrested when Droopy does get to the bank, where the wolf finds out that the contents of the chest were actually just "Wanted" posters of him. (Making not only the wolf's attempt to steal it pointless, but Droopy's delivery of the goods now unnecessary.)
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • In "It's A Jungle Out There" (part of "Wake-up Call of the Wild"), Concord Condor leaves the ACME Zoo when he finds out that real condors live in the wild. Arnold the Pit Bull, who is working as a zookeeper, tries unsuccessfully to find him and bring him back to the zoo, only to suffer a series of Amusing Injuries. Near the end of the short, Concord willingly goes back to the zoo on his own when he is hungry.
    • In "Hollywood Plucky", Plucky plans to sell the script for The Plucky Duck Story, a movie based on his life story, to director Cooper DeVille. To ensure his success, he tricks Buster and Babs, who are planning to sell a script based on their life stories, The Buster and Babs Story into meeting him at an abandoned bus stop in the desert. By the time Plucky finally meets Mr. DeVille and tries to sell his script to him, it turns out that Mr. DeVille already made The Buster and Babs Story, since he met the two rabbits at the abandoned bus stop in the desert.
    • In "Plucky's Dastardly Deed" (part of "Son of Looniversity Daze"), Plucky forgets to study for a test and decides to switch his test with that of Egghead Jr., the smartest kid in class. He later feels guilty about it and decides that he should confess what he did to Foghorn Leghorn. Before he can, however, Foghorn reveals that he accidentally dropped the test papers in a mud puddle, and because this happened before he could look at any of them, he makes his students retake the test. Inverted somewhat as while the other students were dismayed at having to retake the test, Plucky is elated as he gets a second chance to take the test honestly.
    • Throughout "Milk It Makes a Body Spout" (part of "Here's Hamton"), Buster and Plucky try to prove which one of them's funnier by making Hamton laugh so hard, milk squirts out his nose. No matter what they try, Hamton doesn't laugh, and in the end, it is revealed that the reason for it is because he was too busy thinking about a math problem to pay attention to any of their attempts.
    • Plucky Duck's entire sub-plot in Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation is this - he joins Hamton's family to go to Happy World Land, has his mint first issue of Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs ruined by Hamton's carsickness, gets blown out of the car by a wish, and is threatened by an Ax-Crazy hitchhiker. When they finally get there, they hit the monorail and... head back to the car. Hamton's family didn't want to spoil it the first go-round.
  • The Toonsylvania episode "WereGranny" had Igor and Phil panic after thinking that they've accidentally turned Dr. Vic's grandmother into a werewolf. After spending the episode desperately trying to find a cure and prevent Dr. Vic from finding out, Dr. Vic eventually reveals at the end of the episode that his grandmother was always a werewolf, rendering Igor and Phil's efforts meaningless.
  • One that happens to be both serious and comedic is Total Drama World Tour. This third season ends with Heather (more or less the good guy in this scenario) defeating Alejandro and winning the prize of $1 Million. Good so far, but then the volcano where the final challenge ended begins to erupt, Ezekiel (now a feral shell of his old self) tackles Heather and grabs the briefcase with the prize money as he and it both fall and sink into the volcano. The ultimate outcome? Everyone has to swim out of Hawaii, Heather loses the million, Ezekiel shoots down like a comet from the volcano (sinking Chris and Chef's boat in the process), and Alejandro, who got caught in the ensuing lava flow, has to be put in a protective suit in an homage to Darth Vader. Well, see you again next season!
    • Fast forward to The Ridonculous Race. In "Bjorken Telephone", Laurie and Miles end up eating the feast after losing their fossil to Dwayne. In the end, the Vegans end up in last place. To Laurie's shock, it was a non-elimination round. This means that Laruie and Miles could have gotten another fossil and still come in last.
    • In the Total DramaRama episode "Tiger Fail", whoever remained quiet the longest gets to pick the ice cream flavor. Gwen was the only one from the class who wanted tiger tail ice cream. After 78 years of game play, Gwen gets the ice cream. It gets pointless when she prefers Chocolate, the flavor everyone else wanted, instead. Courtney even lampshades this by claiming that "they wasted 78 years for nothing".
  • A recurring motif in the children's series Towser, with each episode building up to a blunt final line voiced by Roy Kinnear, delivered totally deadpan and highlighting a strange pointlessness about everything that had just happened. Most obvious is when Towser attempts to give his friend Sadie the moon for her birthday, but resorts to fooling with a white balloon. Thinking himself terribly clever, he leaves, the episode ends with Sadie explaining to a friend, 'It's a balloon. Towser seems to think it's the moon...'.
  • Transformers: Animated episode "Decepticon Air" focuses on the Elite Guard returning to Cybertron with the Decepticon Prisoners. Sentinel Prime orders Jazz to fly at full speed through an ion storm in order to get there faster. What results is Swindle, who was previously Mode Locked, becoming free, who frees the other Decepticons, who take over the ship. This leads to Optimus Prime, answering Sentinel's distress signal, transwarping onto the ship as the Autobots and Decepticons fight which leads Lugnut being knocked away and Swindle escaping with parts to the Elite Guard's ship. The episode ends with Optimus being dropped off back on Earth (Implying that it took them even longer to get back), and Sentinel's coronation as Magnus on Cybertron. What makes this a Shaggy Dog Story is that not only did taking the shortcut to get back to Cyberton become meaningless, but they're now missing two Decepticons.
  • 2 Stupid Dogs loves this. One episode has them cross the Grand Canyon to find someone who called them jerks (actually it was just their echo). The episode ends with them finally reaching the other side, only to hear the echo coming from their previous location, prompting them to go back. Another episode has Little Dog travel around the world, looking for his lucky bone, even though it's painfully obvious it's on his head. When he finally finds it by accident, he puts it somewhere he'll be sure to remember: back on his head (something he would allegedly never do, because it's so stupid). Then there was an episode where he wants change for a public phone, just because the voice in the phone says so. After a long Chain of Deals, that even involves Big Dog getting arrested for attempted bank robbery, he finally acquires a quarter, inserts it in the phone, and uses it to call his partner, who is now in the prison. Also possibly worth noting is that Big Dog is, in fact, quite shaggy.
  • The Venture Bros. has a lot of these, usually disguised as actual plots. For example, in one first-season episode, Rusty and Brock are kidnapped, and Hank and Dean seek out their dead grandfather's Retired Badass team to rescue them. In the end, despite all the cool things they do, they get beaten up by Brock as he's breaking himself out. In this case, it's simply to highlight the Crapsack World.
  • Wakfu's first season revolves around a certain troubled time mage trying to turn time back to prevent the whole arc from happening. He succeeds, though only managing to turn time back 20 minutes out of the about 200 years.
  • Wander over Yonder:
    • "The Box": The epynomous box is revealed to have nothing inside it, as it was just a Secret Test of Character sent by the Lords of Illumination to see if Wander can resist himself from opening it. But Wander still won't stop guessing what's inside, so Sylvia forces the lords to put things in it so he stops complaining.
    • "The Matchmaker": Turns out, Wander was only going to put the love letter to Dominator in the mail, not deliver it directly to her. Lampshaded by the title saying "The Wacky Misunderstanding".
    • "The Epic Quest of Unfathomable Difficulty!!!" has three in a row:
      • First, after a long ridiculous quest to the Intergalactic Guru, Wander only asks, "Is this your sock?"
      • Then it was revealed the sock's address is printed along the inner rimming, so the journey is just a waste.
      • Thirdly, it is revealed to be Destructor's Companion Cube and the only thing that made him nice; when returned to him, he resumed his happiness almost instantly.
  • The We Bare Bears episode "Planet Bears" is a fake documentary following the bears as they realize their fridge is empty and go to the supermarket. The episode then splits into three sub-plots consisting of Grizz having a Potty Emergency and trying to open a passcode-locked bathroom door, Panda embarrassing himself while flirting with a clerk, and Ice Bear waiting in an overly long line to buy fish. While Panda succeeds somewhat in getting the clerk's attention, Grizz has a Potty Failure after trying to force the door open with a forklift, all the fish sells out before Ice Bear can get any, and the bears all forgot their wallets at home, so they can't even buy any food.
  • The Weekenders
    • "Tickets": Tino spends the entire story agonizing on who (out of the other three) to take to a concert after winning two tickets for it. After he makes his choice, the two find out that the two slips they're holding... can be redeemed for 4 tickets, and thus all four get to enjoy it. Moral of the day: Always read the fine print! (BTW, Carver got picked.)
    • In "Party Planning": The gang prepares for a party by taking dance lessons. "Lateral gravity" takes effect at the actual party, meaning that the boys and girls stay on opposite sides of the room the whole night and those lessons were a waste of time. At the end Tino notes how they walked away from this party with no humiliation.
  • In the Young Justice (2010) episode "Failsafe", the Team find themselves the last line of defense in an alien invasion when the Justice League are killed. During the process, each one of them is killed by the invaders until Robin and Kid Flash blow up the mothership at the cost of their own lives, leaving Miss Martian and Martian Manhunter as the last survivors, and not long after another mothership arrives. However, Manhunter then pieces his fist through Miss Martian, causing her to wake up back to the cave alongside her still alive teammates. It turns out the entire episode took place in a Unwinnable Training Simulation created by Manhunter's psychic powers, with the team all aware that they would fail in the end. However, Artemis's "death" shocked Miss Martain, which overcharged her powers and caused everyone to forget they were in a scenario and that Artemis was dead. Not only were their sacrifices all for nothing, but the events left them so traumatized they needed therapy in the following episode.