running gag

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A running gag is a recurring element of comedy and humor . A joke or an allusion is repeated several times, often in a modified form.

Running gags can be figure-bound or context-bound, that is, they are carried out or spoken by the same person or they are embedded in the same or comparable situations. However, there is a risk that the repetition will become boring or lose its originality. Many gags are presented in variations, for example Richard Lugner in Wir sind Kaiser is always shown in different disguises, or the broken doorbell in the Bill Cosby show always makes a surprisingly new tone.


Well-known examples are:

  • Dinner for One , a short film that lives and is supported by several running gags.
  • In Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean , a light blue Reliant shelf is regularly tipped over or pushed off the street by Mr. Bean.
  • In almost all parts of the Police Academy film series, the protagonists end up in a gay club called “ The Blue Oyster ” and are forced to dance.
  • Asterix comics contain many running gags ( Obelix : "I'm not fat!", The sinking of the pirate ship in almost every volume).
  • The doctors in Star Trek often point out that they are doctors and not something else: "I am a doctor and not ...".
  • In all Star Wars films and series there is some variation of the sentence "I've got a bad feeling about this ..." (in the original "I've got a bad feeling about this ...").
  • Sheldon Cooper from the series The Big Bang Theory pedantically insists on "his" place on the couch in his apartment.
  • The series The Simpsons is carried by various running gags, starting with the table saying by Bart at the beginning of each episode, the fact that Mr. Burns constantly forgets Homer's name, to the standard sayings that many recurring characters have.
  • A sound effect where someone says "My leg!" shouts, SpongeBob SquarePants is often played in when someone has an accident or is injured. A separate episode was dedicated to this running gag with episode 231.
  • A sound effect where someone says "My car!" (in the original "My car!") is played in The Penguins from Madagascar when an object (usually explosives just before the explosion) is thrown out of the picture.
  • In the satirical program heute-show the AfD politician Björn Höcke is consistently referred to as "Bernd".


Web links

Wiktionary: Running Gag  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Oliver Pink : We are Kasperl. The press, November 9, 2007
  2. Every 'I have a bad feeling about this' in Star Wars (1977-2020). Retrieved August 27, 2020 .