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Characters are involved in the production

  • In the Betty Boop short "She Wronged Him Right", Betty plays the heroine in a stage melodrama opposite the Dastardly Whiplash villain Heeza Rat.
  • BoJack Horseman:
    • The show is about BoJack Horseman, an actor who was the star of a popular sitcom in The '90s called Horsin' Around. Horsin' Around was about an unnamed horse adopting three human children and trying to raise them as a single father, with it being extremely derivative of programs like Full House. BoJack's fellow actor Mr. Peanutbutter starred in a similar show called Mr. Peanutbutter's House, which was a Follow the Leader of Horsin' Around. At the end of season 3, there's a brief attempt at reviving the series by making a Sequel Series called Ethan Around.
    • Bojack also had a second, very short-lived series called The BoJack Horseman Show in 2007 that characters remark was truly awful, in part due to over-correcting Bojack's typecasting by having him take a dump on a DVD of Horsin 'Around. The show was originally a beloved script for a serious drama series by the company.
    • Season 2 and 3 surround Bojack as the lead actor in Secretariat, a biopic about the horse's life, which derailed into a bizarre feel good cliché montage. The Oscar ceremony in season 3 shows various other movies made in the show's universe, though most of them seem to be parodies of Oscar Bait movies, including biopics, WWII movies, etc.
    • Season 5 has the entire cast note  work on a gritty, mind-bending detective show called Philbert, which serves as a meta-commentary for Bojack Horseman itself, including a debate on how a character in a show can't be used by its toxic fans to justify their behavior.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch pretty much is this Trope. (And for some strange reason, the violent Deadly Game broadcast by Nick and Johnny is considered a "family show" in whatever reality it takes place in.)
  • Coming Attractions in The Critic, hosted by the eponymous critic himself, Jay Sherman. It also appeared in the crossover episode of The Simpsons, cleverly leading to a Leaning on the Fourth Wall moment at the end of the episode:
    Jay: And if you ever want to visit my show —
    Bart: Nah, we're not going to be doing that.
  • In Sitting Ducks, the episode Daredevil Ducks has Ed, Oly, and Waddle getting involved within one of the same-named-show’s weekly challenges which involved rubbing an alligator’s belly to get them to sleep. In turn, these events lead to the camera-duck getting eaten.
  • Daffy Duck in Hollywood is centered around a pompous film director attempting to rush his latest movie through the pipeline, only for Daffy Duck to come around and constantly sabotage his work. Daffy ends up making and secretly screening his own off the cuff movie, "Gold Is Where You Find It", near the end of the cartoon.
  • The Family Guy episode "PTV" featured Peter creating the titular pirate TV station to combat the FCC's rampant censorship policies. A number of homemade shows include Midnight Q starring Glenn Quagmire and Peter Griffin's own The Sideboob Hour. Lois eventually called the FCC to shut it down.
  • The Binky the Clown Show in Garfield and Friends: Binky was a relatively minor character and Garfield would occasionally end up on the set of the show. Binky would occasionally show up to torment Garfield ("HEEEEEEEY CAT!"), as well as the show coming up in Garfield's channel surfing. There was also the "Screaming With Binky" quickie segments which Garfield narrated or hosted. Both the Garfield and U.S. Acres segments also feature the Buddy Bears, a children's show that emphasizes being a team player to the point of mindless conformity.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Coolskin, a fictional in-universe superhero, has an animated adaptation that is often watched on TV by Stumpy.
  • The Van Beuren Studios cartoon "Makin' Em Move" is set in a cartoon studio run by cartoon animals, who watch the cartoon they made during the end.
  • The main cast of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic put on a play about the founding of Equestria for "Hearth's Warming Eve".
  • One episode of Phineas and Ferb has "Ferb TV", a episode with references to other in canon story lines and other characters (namely Buford and Baljeet) with in it.
    • Earlier on, P&F built an animation studio in order to produce Team Improbable, a cartoon featuring superhero versions of P&F, Buford, Baljeet, and Isabella taking on a supervillain version of Candace.
    • In another episode, pitches Doof 'n Puss, a ridiculous take on buddy cop shows, which was to star Doof and Perry the Platypus. The show eventually makes to air as The Platypus and His Girlfriend, without Doofenshmirtz.
    • The Mission Marvel crossover episode also has "Horse in a bookcase".
    Linkara: Ugh, that show jumped the shark after the horse moved into a china cabinet. Just wasn't the same after it.
  • On Rugrats, Susie Carmichael's dad is a writer on The Dummy Bears, a cutesy Care Bears pastiche that showed up in a few episodes.
  • The Simpsons: The last act of "I Love Lisa" had the students of Springfield Elementary putting on a pageant for Presidents' Day, including a musical number devoted to "mediocre presidents", Bart playing John Wilkes Booth as The Terminator in a reenactment of Lincoln's assassination, and Ralph Wiggum's surprisingly stirring portrayal of George Washington.
  • Total Drama Island, Total Drama Action, Total Drama World Tour, Total Drama Revenge of the Island, Total Drama All-Stars, and Total Drama Pahkitew Island are all reality shows within the Total Drama universe.
    • The Action special also featured a TMZ-equse show called Celebrity Manhunt, which tracked down the contestants once Action ended. That show's co-host Blaineley apparently once hosted a reality show called The Puppy Bachelorette.
    • The Ridonculous Race is another reality show set within the Total Drama universe, albeit starring a different host. In that series, Owen and Noah mention having starred on a few other reality shows since Total Drama like Meltdown Kitchen and Scare Factor.
  • Rusty Venture had his own cartoon in The Venture Bros.. As a result, many people finish his own anecdotes for him - and he's left wondering what were his actual experiences and what were just cartoon episodes.
  • We Bare Bears: "Family Troubles" shows that when he was a cub, Grizzly used to star on a cliché-ridden Canadian sitcom called Family Troubles. Grizz wound up dropping out when they threatened to replace him with a hip new character named Cousin Lorenzo, and the episodes from after he was introduced to the show were stricken from the airwaves.
  • The Wild Thornberrys centers around a family that travels the world making wildlife documentaries.
  • On World of Winx, in order to seek out who is abducting young talented people, the Winx must pose as talent scouts for Ace's Reality Talent Show called "WOW!"
  • The Secret Show contains an oddball example in that it disrupts a show’s production as a Couch Gag. Each episode opens on “The Fluffy Bunny Show” hosted by Sweet Little Granny, who never quite manages to finish her theme song before a team of agents arrives to clear the set and commandeer her time slot.

Characters are fans

  • Sheen Estevez from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius is a huge fan of Ultralord.
  • The Misadventures of Mighty Plumber in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • Adventure Time: Finn and Jake occasionally watch movies from before the Mushroom War, including Heat Signature, which appears to be a series of thrillers about a haunted submarine.
  • Amphibia has numerous shows that Anne has downloaded on her phone, which she shares with the Plantars. "Suspicion Island" seems like a blend of Lost and Survivor, "Love Choice" is a teen romance about a girl having to chose between sensitive guy Alastair and manly man Hunter (causing the town to descend into a literal shipping war), and "Ab-snatchers" seems to be a crime drama about someone literally stealing people's abs. Later in Season 3, while living in LA, the Plantars become fans of a Downton Abbey-esque Victorian-era soap opera called “Printhistle Manor”.
  • Adventures of Bionic Bunny and Mary Moo Cow in the Arthur cartoon.
  • The Ben 10 series has "Sumo Slammers," something that Ben is a big fan of. It's apparently an in-universe mega franchise made up of video games, cereal, trading cards, action figures and movies.
  • Best Ed: Ed is a fan of "The Mighty Measel Moles", which is a parody of Star Trek.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • "Spaghetti Western and Meatballs" has Bob and Gene bonding over Banjo, a series of spaghetti Westerns about a Musical Assassin gunslinger.
    • Season 5, episode 20, "Hawk & Chick", involves Bob and Louise meeting the titular actors of their favorite series of B-movie samurai flicks. The movies themselves are clearly inspired by Lone Wolf and Cub.
  • On Butterbean's Cafe, Cricket likes to watch Stella Sprinkles on Butterbean's tablet. Later, she invites Stella to the cafe for a cupcake decorating party.
  • In Clarence, there is the Merchandise-Driven Sci-Fi procedural Supreme Court Squad Extreme, which Jeff is an avid viewer of.
  • Hospital of Horrors, described a few times by the cast of Code Lyoko. Though never shown on-screen, it sounds like a mix of Medical Drama and cheesy horror B-movies.
  • In Craig of the Creek there are several franchises enjoyed by the main characters. Among the most prominently featured are "Ythrith of Scriggth," a fantasy book series Kelsey is a fan of, "Slide the Ferret" a shout-out to Sonic the Hedgehog that Craig is a fan of, and "Power Punchers," a fighting game Craig plays with his dad.
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood has Tigey the Adventure Tiger. Daniel's plush toy, or "stuffy", Tigey, is apparently a merchandise plush toy version of the character. Tigey often features in Daniel's Imagine Spot sequences and both he and Jodi Platypus are fans of the Tigey the Adventure Tiger books.
  • Population Control Johnny in Dan Vs. is a television and comic book series that Dan is a fan of.
  • Sick Sad World within Daria.
  • Pelican's Island in Darkwing Duck.
    • Darkwing Duck itself is one in DuckTales (2017). Launchpad is a fan, to the point that he keeps a Darkwing Duck bobblehead (which spouts his Catchphrase, "Let's Get Dangerous!") on the dashboard of the limo. A later episode deals with a film reboot of the Darkwing Duck franchise, which ends with DD's original actor going insane and becoming Negaduck while the reboot actor (who turns out to be this universe's Drake Mallard) is encouraged to be a superhero for real by Launchpad.
  • Puppet Pals within Dexter's Laboratory and The Justice Friends. It also turned up on The Powerpuff Girls. The Justice Friends also had their own segment on Dexter's Laboratory, and in a couple of cases made appearances in Dexter's stories. A few of them also guest starred on one episode of The Powerpuff Girls.
  • Ask Mr. Lizard ("We're going to need another Timmy!") and Totally Hidden Predator within Dinosaurs.
  • DuckTales (2017) has Ottoman Empire, a show about the brothers Johnny and Randy building ottomans. There is apparently some behind the scenes drama involved. Randy at some point quits the show to work on his own carrier, while Johnny stays behind to host it alone, becoming bitter.
  • The Fairly Oddparents has The Crimson Chin and Crash Nebula. The second was considered for a Spin-Off, with a Poorly-Disguised Pilot airing, but no such luck. In the pilot, there was a magazine with an ad for Danny Phantom. It also has, in the In-Universe "real world", "The Bad Parents Hunter", "C.C. Cruiser and the Hot Rod Squad" and many parodies of real world shows, as "Are You Brighter Than a 6th Grader?", "Poke Eye", "Sleazy and Cheezy", "Dr. Bill" and others, not counting the parodies from "Chanel Chasers", like "Adolescent Genetically Modified Karate Cows", "The Futurellis" and "Maho Mushi". In the Fairy Wolrd they have "All My Biceps", "This is Your Wish", "Dancing With The Elves".
  • The Quahog local news on Family Guy.
  • The Brown Hornet cartoon on Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, also an arcade game.
  • Futurama.
    • All My Circuits. This becomes something of the reverse of the above case when show star Calculon intermittently becomes involved in the main protagonists' lives. Futurama also had the Twilight-Zone-style The Scary Door (directly spoofing The Twilight Zone (1959)), and Everybody Loves Hypnotoad, a full episode of which was included as a DVD featALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD.
    • In an unusual extension of this trope, both The Simpsons and Futurama have been shown to be fictional shows in each other's universe, even though they had a crossover, which makes them fictionally defictionalized?
  • One episode of Garfield and Friends featured Garfield watching the game show "Hit The Buzzer, Win A Cookie", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Mysterious Mysteries of Strange Mystery from Invader Zim.
    • GIR is a huge fan of the Scary Monkey Show, which consists of nothing but a freakishly looking monkey staring blankly into the camera.
  • "Agony County", a One Tree Hill-style teen soap referenced on Kim Possible falls in both categories 2 and 4; Kim and Ron are both fans of the show, and the teasing of the lead couple was paralleled by Kim and Ron (the original Grand Finale, "So the Drama", ended with Kim and Ron becoming a couple):
    Ron: Oh please, are they still teasing that Charity and Danny will get together?
    Kim: Like that's ever going to happen. Besides, it would end the series.
  • The hilariously over-the-top Los Dias y Las Noches de Monsignor Martinez on King of the Hill.
  • Let's Go Luna!:
    • Andy's favorite comic book series, Amazing Man, is the subject of one of the episodes, where Andy struggles to figure out a hieroglyph-based riddle in the latest issue.
    • Lizardzilla, a kaiju movie shown in the episode "Lizardzilla!".
  • Though we never actually see the show in question, Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series had a recurring gag involving the fictional Bernie the Bear, and arguments as to whether a character who drove a car and wore a watch could be considered a bear. Arguments being made by a pair of anthropomorphic ducks.
  • Milo Murphy's Law has a Doctor Who parody (among other things) called The Doctor Zone Files, with Sara as a huge fan.
  • Molly of Denali: Walter is a fan of Mac McFadden's show MacVentures. Also, Wild Kratts is apparently a TV show that Molly watches according to "Cry Wolf."
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: In "Read It and Weep", Rainbow Dash becomes a fan of the Daring Do novels.
  • The Owl House:
    • Luz is a huge fan of a book series called The Good Witch Azura, which she often tries to imitate during the first season, but unfortunately the Boiling Isles is nothing like those stories. Amity Blight is later revealed to also be a fan of the series; Luz loaning her the latest entry ends up being a big step in them developing from rivals to friends and eventually girlfriends.
    • In Season 3, Gus and Hunter become obsessed with Cosmic Frontier, an Affectionate Parody of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, after finding the full book series and a bunch of cosplay items in the basement. Both boys dress up as characters from the books for Halloween, and Hunter even tries to wear his character costume out in public, though Amity swiftly puts a stop to that. The books turn out to belong to Camila, though it takes some time before she's comfortable expressing her love for the series as well.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, Lawrence Fletcher is fond of watching reruns of his favorite childhood TV show "Pinhead Pierre". There's also an episode dedicated to a Fandom Rivalry between fans of the sci-fi movie franchise Space Adventure and fans of the fantasy movie franchise Stumbleberry Finkbat. Candace is a big fan of children's cartoon character Ducky Momo.
  • Wondrous World of Wonderful Whimsical Willy, and Puppet Pals (in a few episodes) on The Powerpuff Girls.
  • Ready Jet Go! has Commander Cressida, a multi-platform franchise consisting of comic-books, a television series, and a lot of merchandise. All the kids are huge fans of it, especially Sydney, who knows the theme song by heart, freaks out if she misses an episode, and is always coming up with Commander Cressida fanfics. There's also the Bortronian hit show Bortron Chef, as shown in "What's a Satellite?"
  • In Rick and Morty, the main character watch a lot of these in the episodes "Rixty Minutes" and "Interdimensional Cable 2". They range from the mildly absurd to Squick to absolute Mind Screw. Rick and Morty seem to particularly like one named Ball Fondlers, an action series resembling The A-Team.
  • Rugrats featured several. Reptar (an expy of Godzilla) was the most prominent. There was also Mega Hyper Heroes, a superhero show and partial parody of Captain Planet and the Planeteers and, more originally, Oodles the Talking Poodle, about a talking poodle named Oodles.
  • The Simpsons
    • The Itchy & Scratchy Show, which is a segment of the Krusty the Klown show, making it a show within a show within a show (And at a time, a show within a show within a show within The Tracey Ullman Show...) Also, Homer gets involved for the episode in which he voices Poochie, a temporary costar to Itchy and Scratchy.
    • Besides the trope-naming news reports, The Simpsons has several other recurring fictional shows, including The Happy Little Elves, Eye On Springfield, I Can't Believe They Invented It!, and Smartline. There was also a slapstick sketch show of some sort starring Mexican comedian Bumblebee Man.
    • The Arnold Schwarzenegger-like film star Rainier Wolfcastle plays the character McBain in a few films within the show's universe, along with several other action/adventure films and once played the role of in-universe comic book character Radioactive Man. (Not all his projects are successes however. His attempts at comedy were viewed as someone what lame, and he hosted a rather politically incorrect show called Up Late with McBain that even Bart thought was horrible.)
    • There were also several shorts that stared has-been B-movie actor Troy McClure. (When voice actor Phil Hartman was murdered by his wife, Troy was Put on a Bus permanently, along with Lionel Hutz, the other character voiced by Hartman. Matt Groening later told Empire magazine that Hartman had been interested in starring in a live action movie about Troy McClure, but while the idea "never got further than enthusiasm" that "it would have been really fun."
    • There is also the Space Mutants movies, a science-fiction/horror franchise, which Bart and his friends occasionally go to see, which at last count consisted of the original movie and eleven sequels, not all of them named.
  • South Park
    • Terrance and Phillip, a show involing two Canadian friends farting on each other and everyone they meet, which the boys are huge fans of, along with a similar series called The Queef Sisters, a show involing two Canadian sisters queefing on each other and everyone they meet, which the girls are huge fans of.
    • Also Russell Crowe's Fightin' Round the World, though it was just for one episode of Season 6, and the boys were only watching it for the Terrance and Phillip movie trailer that came at the end.
    • Season 23 revolved around this, with the first 6 episodes featuring Tegridy Farms, the 7th episode featuring PC Babies from Season 22, the 8th episode featuring One for the Ladies, and the 9th episode featuring The Scott Malkinson Show (along with a teaser of another show featuring Token's family living next to the Whites, appropriately titled The Whites and the Blacks). It went back to the regular intro at the 10th and final episode of the season, however.
  • Steven Universe
    • Steven is is fond of a strange cartoon show called "Crying Breakfast Friends", as well as the medical drama parody Under the Knife.
    • Also, Amethyst and Greg are fans of the fake 80s sitcom Lil' Butler and get hooked on binge watching it in one episode, though it's not quite a plot point as the main point was the way the two of them get caught up in their past, unwilling to make any efforts to move on.
    • In "Log Date 7 15 2", Peridot watches an episode of a cheesy summer-camp drama called Camp Pining Hearts. She repeatedly watches that one episode for over three days straight, over-analyzing the character dynamics and even shipping two characters from the show. Later episodes reveal Peridot has discovered the rest of the series and is still a hard-core fan, even getting Lapis into it.
    • The Dogcopter movie series, is Connie's favorite movie franchise, and is based on a book series.
    • The Spirit Morph Saga, is one of Connie's favorite book series, which she shared with Steven. It appears to be more or less His Dark Materials, with a bit of The Hunger Games's derailing romantic subplot tossed in, along with a name that mimics Animorphs.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! has an interesting example with the Sun Riders, Chiro having been a fan of their show at one point (and who's to say he still isn't?). The show doesn't become relevant to the series, but the characters sure do!
  • In one episode of Sushi Pack, the Pack members get to go backstage and meet the contestants of their favorite reality show, The World's Mightiest Heroes. Too bad the heroes are all Smug Supers...
  • The recurring radio show Danger Woman in TaleSpin.
  • Gun Robot in Trollhunters.
  • Teen Canyon within The Weekenders.
  • Work It Out Wombats!:
    • In "The Mighty Zeke," Malik is shown reading a comic book about "Wonder Wombat." This comic is also where Zeke gets the idea to become a superhero.
    • In "Brother Day," Malik shows a comic book called Kaylee Koala.
    • "The Sleepover": Zeke's favorite bedtime story is Wombat Snooze Blues. Also, Zadie recalls that she and JunJun once stayed up watching Wonderbird.
    • "Secret Tunnels": The wombats want to read Winnie the Wizard books with the crabs.
    • In "Summerweenie Halloweenie," Mr. E is watching what appears to be a cooking show called The Bakey Bakey Show, in which it is Pie Week and they're about to do the big "strudel reveal."
  • Hello, Megan from Young Justice (2010) is Miss Martian's favorite show. It wasn't popular in-universe, however, and only lasted one season.

Examples where the show is a plot point

  • Used a couple of times in Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "The Gray Ghost", the villain's MO is patterned after that of a villain in the show The Gray Ghost; Bats also ends up teaming up with the show's hero, who's played by Adam West of all people.
    • In "Baby Doll", there is a rash of kidnappings, and all the victims are the stars of a particular old sitcom — Bats and Robin end up watching parts of and researching the show for clues as to who would have held a grudge against them.
    • In "Christmas With The Joker", the Joker hijacks the TV channels to present his version of a jolly Christmas special, in which he gives Batman and Robin cues designed to send them racing against time to stop him from killing people or to lead them into traps.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In "The Deepening", Mr. Fischoeder buys the mechanical shark used in The Deepening 3, an old B-movie that was shot in town, to use as an attraction at Wonder Wharf.
    • "The Equestranauts" revolves around Tina's love for the eponymous cartoon horse adventure show, and the trouble caused when an older male fan cheats her out of a rare toy.
    • In "Hawk and Chick", Bob and Louise's love for a series of samurai movies inspires them to help the actor who starred in the movies reunite with his estranged daughter.
    • In "Zero LARP Thirty", Bob and Linda go to spend a weekend indulging in a live-action roleplay based around Linda's favorite period drama, Winthorpe Manor. Unfortunately for Linda, she and Bob get stuck playing servants and are mercilessly bossed around by the folks playing the rich people.
  • The Rocko's Modern Life episode "I Have No Son" created Rocko and Filburt's favorite Ren and Stimpy-esque grossout nonsense show, The Fatheads. Then, in a variety-one example, in the fan-beloved sequel episode "Wacky Delly", the creator of The Fatheads cancels the show and lets the main characters ghost-write the eponymous and unintentionally Dadaist cartoon so it can be cancelled and they can retire. It doesn't work.
  • Hard Times for Haggis from The Ren & Stimpy Show is a truly mind-bending example. The protagonist is the stereotypically Scottish Haggis McHaggis, whose variety-one show-within-a-show "The Scotsman" is cancelled and replaced by... the "The Ren and Stimpy Show". Irate, Haggis gets revenge on Ren and Stimpy by hijacking their show with a crude sock-puppet simulacrum performed by his hired thugs. Haggis' plan backfires when the sock-puppets become an instant smash-hit and him, Ren and Stimpy being thrown out on the street. Also, Stimpy's favorite show, the Muddy Mudskipper Show, fits into this trope.
  • The Red Badger of Courage and Flash the Wonder Dog in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, both of which Dale enjoys. Each of these shows only appears in one episode, but the Rangers manage to save the latter and clear the main actor from false criminal evidence.
  • The Replacements features The Majestic Horse, Monkey Cop, Rainbow Jumper, and Splatter Train, among others. The Majestic Horse could be seen as an example in the first episode in which it appears (although it's more that the events after the movie is shown parody the movie or subvert its premise), and at least one episode involves the Darings in the production of a movie.
  • Teen Titans (2003) has an episode in which our heroes are Trapped in TV Land and must navigate the troperiffic parodyscape of gameshows, soap operas, sports programming, ominous swamps, the black-and-white fifties and Star Destroyers.
  • In The Venture Bros. episode O.R.B. featured the Rusty Venture Show DVDs in which a critical clue to the orb mystery was hidden in a single frame of a sniper rifle shot. It was a URL for a google map of the Venture compound.
  • Dora the Explorer itself is technically a Show Within a Show. The intro for early seasons explicitly show that the characters reside in a 1990s computer game, hence the Fake Interactivity and other features. Later seasons downplay this, but visual elements imply that the "game" setting is still in effect, with the series now being a tablet game instead.
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? is set in a 1990s computer game, just like the source. The characters even know this, speaking to the game's player frequently. Carmen always ends the episode with teasing the Player.
  • In The Fairly OddParents! season 5 finale, after being fooled by Norm, the Genie, Cosmo and Wanda quit being Timmy's Godparents, and a singing contest named "Fairy Idol" is held in Fairy World to determine who gets to replace Timmy's godparents.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Rappin' Drakken", Dr. Drakken tries to sell his brainwashing shampoo by singing a rap song about it on "American Starmaker".
    • In "And the Mole Rat Will Be CGI", a producer plans to make a movie about Team Possible, which results in a confrontation with the Seniors when Señor Senior Junior tries to force his way into the starring role.
  • In the Dennis the Menace (UK) TV series, the episode "The Day TV Was Banned" involves Dennis attempting to watch his favourite TV show, Nick Kelly. What's also notable about this is that Nick Kelly was a character from The Topper, a comic from the publishers [DC Thomson] who also publish The Beano, in which Dennis the Menace UK appears. This makes Nick Kelly one of the few DC Thomson strips to have an Animated Adaptation, alongside Bananaman, Marvo the Wonder Chicken (from The Dandy) and the aforementioned Dennis the Menace UK.
  • DuckTales (1987), "Where No Duck Has Gone Before": Courage of the Cosmos is a sci-fi show that the nephews and Doofus are wild over. The boys go on the show and are blind to the fact that their hero is just a vain, egotistical actor.
  • In The Little Rascals series finale, "The Zero Hero", Darla is selected for a date with her favorite TV superhero, Captain Muscles (apparently a spoof of George Reeves' portrayal of Superman).
  • Dipper and Mabel of Gravity Falls have been seen watching such shows as Tiger Fist and Duck-Tective. In "The Inconveniencing", Grunkle Stan gets stuck watching the "Black and White Period Piece Old Lady Boring Movie Channel" when he can't find the TV remote, and winds up really getting into a movie called The Duchess Approves.
  • Regular Show:
    • In "'Ello Guv'nor", Rigby gets nightmares from the eponymous horror movie, which is about a haunted British taxi that stalks people and runs them down.
    • "Brain Eraser" features an anime called "Planet Chasers: Starlight Excellent", which has hypnotic properties, causing people who watch it to enter a world of their memories. Mordecai and the other main characters have to use the show to erase his memory of naked Pops.
    • There's also a season 5 episode titled "Expert or Liar" which is the title of the show within a show itself. In there, a host named Bert Coleman disguises as just an average everyday living person, and whenever he hears there's an expert on the topic for which he's doing an episode, he yells: "We've got an expert!" and pulls his disguise off. After that, he explains the purpose of the show. Rigby gets humiliated in that show by claiming he's an expert on flowers and already getting the first out of 10 questions wrong, therefore becoming a complete liar. And his friends watched the footage, laughing at him in the end. Rigby then decides to redeem himself in order to get rid of the shame of humiliation on TV, and so he does after all, because he's a total video games expert. Not sandwiches.
    • Season 4 episode "Fool Me Twice" features a Japanese game show called "Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, I Punch Your Face!" of which Mordecai and Rigby are fans and answer a contestant call along with Benson. Things go well enough until the host reveals that he despises the show's contestants and delights in the fact that in reality, he has killed most of them.
  • The TV world of Phineas and Ferb has a reality TV show Bust 'Em, made to bust little brothers who break things, harass their elder siblings and get away with it because no one ever catches them at it. Of course, the show fails when Candace tries to enlist its help and gets cancelled.
  • Steven Universe:
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "Rarity Takes Manehattan", Rarity tries to get her friends tickets to a musical called Hinny of the Hills while they're in Manehattan for Fashion Week. While they miss the first performance due to having to work to help Rarity out of a pinch, she manages to get them a private performance by doing a favor for the costume designer.
    • In "Power Ponies", Spike and the Mane Six are accidentally pulled into a magic comic book, and forced into the roles of a band of superheroes known as the Power Ponies.
  • Inversion in Danger Mouse: "Demons Aren't Dull" had DM running onto a TV stage where he is the guest subject on a "This Is Your Life"-type testimonial show. But the show goes on to humiliate DM by pointing out his shortcomings to the point where DM tries to resign. (Turns out the show was never transmitted. It was all a Baron Greenback set-up.)
  • The Animaniacs episode "Potty Emergency" had the movie Brain Eaters From Outer Space. In the episode, Wakko has to go pee while watching the movie, but after a long search for a bathroom, he runs back to the theater, jumps into the movie and uses the toilet in his Wacky Sack in a closet that's in the movie.
  • Both "Anthology of Interest" episodes I and II of Futurama feature the "What-If" machine, invented by Professor Farnsworth. Whenever this television-like device (complete with push buttons and delicate fine-tuning) is presented with a theoretical what-if scenario, its screen shows a video of what it predicts would happen in such a scenario. In a Plot Twist at the end of "Anthology of Interest I", we discover that the entire episode was actually Farnsworth watching a hypothetical scenario on the What-If machine.
  • The Gargoyles episode The Thrill of the Hunt introduces a TV show called "The Pack," the stars of which are actually warriors assembled by Xanatos both to star in the show and to fight the Gargoyles (outside the show).
  • On Doc McStuffins, Doc's toy Hallie originates as a character from a television show called The Hallie Hippo Happy Hour. She's very popular, so a lot of children dress up as her for Halloween. This becomes problematic in "Hallie Halloween" when Hallie gets excited about a child dressed as Hallie and runs off after her, getting separated from the group.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has a lot of these:
    • Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, obviously.
    • The premise of The Patrick Star Show is Patrick hosting his own show.
    • One of Patrick's favorite shows is Sir Urchin and Snail Fail. There is even an entire episode dedicated to that show, where the titular characters split up after a fight.
    • In the episode "Your Shoe's Untied", Spongebob was secretely watching a dancing amenone and when Gary arrived, he quickly switched the channel to the sports channel.
    • The episode "House Fancy" features the show of the same name. In that episode, Squidward decides to make his house fancier than Squilliam's to participate in the show.
      • In "Tentacle-Vision", Fab and Fancy replaces that show.
      • After Fab and Fancy got cancelled, Zeus the Guitar Lord takes it's place.
      • Because of the cancellation of Fab and Fancy, Squidward hosts his own show, Squidward Chat.
  • In "The Bad Dream" from the 2003 animated The Berenstain Bears, the entire Bear family sits down for Space Grizzlies, though Brother and Sister both decide to stop watching it after they start having nightmares about the show's villain character, Sleezo, Mastermind of Space.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes episode "Fear Factory" opens with the team seeing a bunch of horror films, inclduing a Fictional Counterpart to Alien. Sure enough, the titular Fear Factory puts Bouncing Boy in a recreation of said films.
  • Transformers: Cyberverse has the episode "Alien Hunt! With Meteorfire And Cosmos" which centers on Bumblebee pulling the lead host, Meteorfire, out retirement for a mission to Cybertron's forbidden moon. To Bee's frustration Meteorfire starts filming an episode right in the middle of the adventure and at the end it's revealed that this is the first episode of a series revival watched by his friends at the Local Hangout.
  • Bluey goes to see the "Chunky Chimp" movie with her father and sister in "Movies". The movie has the standard "face your fears" plot common in children's series, and Bluey herself initially finds the movie a bit too intense. "Chunky Chimp" is an in-universe children's franchise mentioned in previous episodes.

Plot Parallel

  • The Ember Island Players in Avatar: The Last Airbender parody the contents of the show up to that point, including exaggerated versions of the main cast. They also do other productions, like Love Amongst the Dragons.
  • The eleventh and last series of Aqua Teen Hunger Force has the cast watching a SWAS with the similar plot, only with a female basketball, a baseball glove and a bowling pin as/like the main characters called Soul Quest Overdrive.
    • The finale has the characters watching themselves reciting their lines on the television.
  • Weird World in The Secret Saturdays is, arguably, a mix of all four types. 1.) The Big Bad, Argost, is the host of Weird World; 2.) Zak, the Kid Hero, is a huge fan of the show, with 3.) Zak's knowledge of Argost's house coming from the show and helping the family survive their rescue mission inside, and 4.) both shows heavily feature cryptids and follow their respective main characters' search for the Kur Stone.
  • As the Kitchen Sinks in The Transformers is a soap opera show that the Autobots are seen watching on Teletraan-1. Humorously enough, when Optimus was called to fight, he actually groaned when this happened. That's right, the most badass robot there is wanted to see what happened next.
  • In Sitting Ducks, the TV show Running Duck has major plot relevance and even foreshadows an event in the first episode. In the show, an unnamed duck runs away from an alligator that is chasing him. When Bill leaves the Decoy Cafe, he comes across his friend-to-be, Aldo, who chases him into an alley.
  • The Puppet Pals, which is a slapstick puppet show both in Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls. Both shows were made by the same creators. In one episode the trope is inverted with the actual show being All Just a Dream of one of the Puppet Pals. *BONK!*
    • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) had the season five episode "Neighbor Hood," which had Bubbles as a loyal viewer of a children's TV show that enticed kids to send "magic paper" from their parents' wallets to the show to keep it alive (a reference to a stunt Soupy Sales pulled on his show in the 1960s). This was intened to be a season one episode, but the staff was afraid of a lawsuit from Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers' Neighborhood) so the storyline was given to DC Comics to make as the story "Remote Controlled" (issue #7).
  • Invader Zim boasts two — Mysterious Mysteries of Strange Mystery, and Probing the Membrane of Science With Professor Membrane.
  • The Gravity Falls episode Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons uses the TV show Ducktective as a Self-Parody, with Soos as the Straw Fan in reference to the show's own I Knew It! situation:
    Mabel: (about the season finale) He had a twin brother all along? That's the big twist we've been waiting for!?
    Grenda: What a rip-off!
    Soos: I predicted that like a year ago.
  • Futurama featured the head of Matt Groening presenting his new show Futurella at the 3010 Comicon. It got cancelled 3 seconds into the opening sequence.
  • The Arthur episode "The Contest" (the one with the South Park and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist parodies) had the kids watching Andy and Friends, which starred a crudely drawn rat Expy of Arthur.
    Muffy: (regarding Andy) Why does he always call for his mother? It's like she's his slave.
    Brain: If they're animals, does their cafeteria serve bugs and garbage for lunch?
    Francine: Why does a mouse have a pet dog? Wouldn't it eat him?
    Arthur: Andy's not a mouse, he's... I'm not sure.
  • In South Park, the Terrance and Phillip show revolves around vulgar potty humor — something for which South Park's detractors often fault it.
  • Young Justice (2010) has "Hello Megan", an '80s sitcom from which Miss Martian took her human name and physical appearance. It's revealed that she suggested Superboy's civilian identity of "Conner Kent" because Megan's love interest on the show was named Conner. Superboy is understandably weirded out when he learns this.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) Kraang is occasionally seen watching a soap opera called "John and Marsha" which seems to be nothing but the two leads saying each other's names over and over again.
  • In each season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), the turtles discover a new cheesy 1980s cartoon and become fans of it. These cartoons are parodies of real-life 1980s cartoons, and the episodes shown usually end up reflecting whatever's happening to the turtles at the time. In order, the parodies are Space Heroes, Super Robo Mecha Force Five, Crognard The Barbarian, and Chris Bradford's 2 Ruff Krew.
  • In Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jupiter Jim is a popular series the turtles are big fans of, staring a larger than life hero who goes on epic space adventures. They aso love watching movies starring an action star known as Lou Jitsu, who turns out to be very important later on.
  • Johnny Test has "Dawg and Bone", a show starring two expies of Johnny and Dukey, featuring male versions of Susan and Mary, and a female version of Gil Nexdor (albeit offscreen). Dukey keeps stating that the show's premise seems familiar, but Johnny is too stupid to notice.
  • "The X-Treme Adventures of Brandon and Mallory". Try imagining The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy as a Totally Radical anime (with a monkey to boot) and you should get the idea.
    Mandy: "The X-Treme Adventures of Brandon and Mallory"...Who could relate to this junk?
    Billy: Ooooh! Brandon and Mallory are so COOL! I wish we could go on extreme adventures like them all the time!
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Bam Ui Pati!", Pony Head becomes hooked on the eponymous K-drama, about a pop star who has a crush on a vampire, after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Miss Heinous. After Pony Head spends the whole episode avoiding her sisters and Star, she catches the end of the episode and realizes, much like the star of the show, she can't hide away and mope because of her failures and her problems.
  • Fangbone! has the "Musculor" film series, a Masters of the Universe parody that Bill is also a huge fan of.
  • The Adventures of the Road Runner was a 25-minute pilot for a Road Runner TV series in 1962 (which came about four years later). Within the pilot, two boys (Ralph Phillips' and an unnamed lad) are watching the pilot on TV. The Coyote stops his pursuit long enough to answer Ralph's question about why he wants the Road Runner in the first place.