Always look on the bright side of death,
Black comedy, also known as black humor or dark comedy, is a sub-genre of comedy and satire where topics and events that are usually treated seriously (death, mass murder, regular amounts of murder, suicide, domestic violence, disease, insanity, fear, child abuse, drug abuse, rape, war, terrorism, line-cutting) are treated in a satirical manner while still being portrayed as the tragedies they are.
It is not Toilet Humor, which is just gross. It is not Refuge in Vulgarity, which is just shocking. It usually does not actually crack jokes — a Bond One-Liner, while it is a joke about death, is not black comedy. Movies that alternate between comedy and tragedy, like Full Metal Jacket, are not black comedy, since by definition Black Comedy draws humor from the tragic parts. The trick is not to shock or disgust, but to use irony and fatalism like a scalpel, portraying the tragic in an absurd, dryly humorous light.
A joke might revolve around, for example, a homeless man committing a string of murders so that he will get sentenced to death, a state that, properly tied up in appeals, is better than his former life expectancy and quality. Delivered correctly, it can be very funny, and more than a little disturbing. If done wrong, however, the audience may cry "Dude, Not Funny".
Black Comedy doesn't necessarily have to involve death—anything tragic can be fodder for Black Comedy. A Kafka Komedy is a subtrope of Black Comedy in which the object of humor is abject failure.
Related to, and often confused with, Dude, Not Funny. Crosses the Line Twice may apply. Often set in a Crapsack World. Subtropes include Gallows Humour (which affects the joke maker personally) and Kafka Komedy (in which anything the protagonist does is guaranteed to fail). As the perfect storm of fatalism and dry humor, it often overlaps with British Humour and Russian humour. This can be Refuge in Audacity.
If Black Comedy shows up in a series that doesn't ordinarily deal with grim subject matter so cavalierly, it's a Black Comedy Burst.
More than likely, Black Comedy is as old as comedy itself.
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- This hidden camera mailbox prank seems innocent enough, right?
- This billboard, which is a reference to the Jonestown Massacre.
- "No Pressure" featured, among other things, kids being blown up for not signing on to 10:10's carbon emissions reduction program as a Crosses the Line Twice joke. If you don't feel like watching, it's not some kind of cute, funny explosion effect; it's very bloody and identifiable bits of human tissue can be seen coating the bystanders in this ad.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei. Approximately less than half a minute from the beginning, somebody is hanging from a tree by the neck. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, both due to the bizarreness of the setting; the main characters ship corpses around for a living in return for being allowed to loot the corpse's material possessions (and the occasional karmic payoff) by the souls of the deceased, but also from the way they deal with said job.
- Stink Bomb, from the Memories trilogy, plays the death of tens of thousands of people and the destruction of Tokyo by a biological weapon for laughs.
- Welcome to The NHK certainly was advertised as this and generally works well like this, although it works better as a comedy to some than to others.
- The Durarara!! manga features "manga torture" conducted by otaku torture technicians. It involves having the victim selecting a manga, and then they get tortured by a means taken from that work. What truly makes it Black Comedy is how the torturers declare that, really, the content of the manga has absolutely nothing to do with it. They're just sick, sick people who, if they weren't otaku, would have had other interests—interests that they would be equally good at turning into demented tortures.
- Appears occasionally in Paranoia Agent—most noticeably the episode titled "Happy Family Planning", about a group of people trying to kill themselves after making an internet suicide pact. Believe it or not, it's the Crowning Episode Of Funny of the series.
- A few of the games the gang plays in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni counts as this. Once they talked about what they would use if they were to kill someone and how. Another time Mion sent everyone to look for body pieces at the dump. Knowing the series, this is usually foreshadowing or a plot point.
- For the most part, Angel Beats! invokes Immortal Life Is Cheap. This means that a lot of presumed deaths, particularly the Dwindling Party scenes in episodes 2 and 8, are played for laughs.
- Oruchuban Ebichu was outright designed to push the envelope as to what could be aired in the Japanese late night slot. As said in its entry, Ebichu has a long tendency of interrupting the protagonists in flagrante delicto...
- Crayon Shin-chan
- Rhe FUNimation dub hints at this in the episode "Brotherhood of the Grovelling Allowance":
(After listening to depressing music)Shin: Will you buy me a shotgun, dad?
- In another episode, Mitzi warns a misbehaving Hina, "You're lucky we're not in China, or you'd be in a dumpster right now!"
- The references to Penny's sister Caitlin, who "lives in the lake" now
- Another example, the episode Penny's Mom Abhors Shin.
- Detroit Metal City at its best/worst.
- Hokuto no Ken has this. Made even funnier when you apply Fridge Logic and realize it's not Epic Fail on the mook's part but Kenshiro's own brand of Dark Comedy at work.
- Idées Noires is the embodiment of this trope. It is very dark but still quite funny.
- Watchmen. Laurie Jupiter and Dan Dreiberg can't help laughing over how Rorschach dropped a sado-masochist posing as a supervillain down an elevator shaft.
- A core element of Judge Dredd.
- Anything by Jhonen Vasquez, from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac to Invader Zim. The main point of the former, particularly the early comics, is to show horribly brutal deaths and tortures. As things progress and Johnny gets more and more talky the violence begins to tone down, but that over the top violence remains at the core of most of the comedy in the strip.
- Squee!, by the same author, follows a Johnny's child neighbor through a series of considerably disturbing adventures, such as his grandpa trying to eat him and a rather strange trip to a public bathroom.
- Fillerbunny is all about seeing something cute in inordinate amounts of pain.
- And then there's the Bad Art Collection... and Jelly Fist...
- Oddly, I Feel Sick, despite being another spin off of Johnny, tones this down considerably, favoring a stranger brand of humor. "Cat had acid for blood..."
- Most of Garth Ennis' works, especially The Punisher and The Boys, Preacher (Comic Book) and Hitman. Preacher (Comic Book)'s best-known example would have to be Arseface, a character who manages to render himself hideous in a failed suicide attempt and pursues Jesse Custer to avenge the death of his father - caused by Custer using his Voice of God power to order him to "Go fuck himself." Which he did. And then committed suicide.
- One Hundred Bullets makes liberal use of it.
- A staple of the humor in Secret Six.
- From their appearance in Birds of Prey:
Deadshot: Self-defense. He obviously had a gun.
- This is The Joker's whole shtick.
- Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl.
- In a comic that parodies Jack Chick's Lisa, a man who sexually abuses his daughter is suddenly overcome with guilt over what he has done to his child, and decides that only God can forgive him for his crimes. After having confessed to a priest, who bestows forgiveness on him, the man heads home, feeling like a new, happier person, ready to start completely over... with abusing his daughter again.
- The Witch Girls comics are big on this. One of the reasons the Tabletop Game Witch Girls Adventures is really, really creepy to people who don't get those elements are supposed to be Played for Laughs, or don't find it funny.
- Both the comic and film versions of Kick-Ass get a lot of mileage out of this trope, showing just just how violent and psychotic a person would have to be to actually pull it off as a superhero.
- Many stories by Wilhelm Busch, like Max Und Moritz.
- Clarissa, also know as Family Portrait, is a comic about a young girl who is the victim of Parental Incest and whose family are a classic case of 50s Stepford Smilers. It's not as amusing as other examples but can still be sickeningly funny.
- Belgian comic Violine definitely qualifies. Ten-year-old Violine has the ability to read people's minds by looking into their eyes. Her adventures include rescuing mice from being dissected (she even sees one cut open, and vomits), being thought of as a witch and chased by people who want her dead, hopping into a car with a pedophile (and seeing an image of herself bound and gagged and looking terrified when reading his mind), being thrown off a ship that she got caught stowing away on by a crew that assumes she's dead, witnessing the dead bodies of many birds caught in an oil spill, being chased by men with guns who then get eaten by alligators, and many more. All of this is played for very dark humor. Or you could possibly interpret it as a serious story that just has dark jokes scattered throughout, but either way, the sources of humor are pretty morbid.
- Evan Dorkin's "Milk and Cheese" series were about two hyperviolent dairy products who spend every strip they were ever in beat the ever loving shit out of everything they hate. And they hate everything except for liquor, TV, and each other. It's actually hard to describe the level of brutality involved. To put it in context, at one point, a guy from the Guinness Book of World Records shows as they're beating a hippy pot dealer to a bloody mess and crowns them as "World Class Abuse Kings".
- Icelandic playwright/cartoonist Hugleikur Dagsson's crudely-drawn cartoons include such savory topics as incest, coprophagia, bestiality, suicide, and adults intentionally putting children in harms way. Check it out if you dare .
- In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth Joker starts a joke "How many brittle bone babies does it take-" only for Batman to cut across him. Admittedly not dead babies but clearly the same pitch black comedy.
- Twisted Toyfare Theater
- The original The Mask comics often bordered on this.
- "Hubba Hubba," a two-page comic by Arthur Suydam that appeared in Heavy Metal. One of Suydam's trademark weirdos-with-snouts sees a beautiful naked woman and, hoping to impress her with a gift, kills and cooks what he thinks is a small animal. This turns out to have been the woman's baby, and we're meant to see her horror and his ignorance as to its cause as humorous.
- Sin City can get this way with its over-the-top violence. Jack Rafferty's death, for instance, goes on for many pages as he's slowly chopped up by Miho, making empty threats in the process while the the typically violent Sin City heroes gradually become more squeamish. At one point, Jack seems aware of how stupid he must look and shouts "Nobody laugh! This isn't funny!," as he crawls around with Miho's manji shuriken sticking out of his butt.
- The Swedish comic Hälge when it isn't using Irony or plain jerkassry, it's using this trope.
- The Italian comic Sturmtruppen uses it rather often, the cake being taken by a series of strips on a soldier who got the head opened by a shrapnel and an earlier one on a SS Execution Squad and their failed attempts at executing a very stoic Jewish prisoner.
- The narration in Aeon Entelechy Evangelion sometimes leads to this, mostly as a result of combination of Lemony Narrator, Sophisticated As Hell and Understatement.
- The Day of the Barney Trilogy is a very notable Hate Fic of Barney and Friends that has Barney commit Corruption of a Minor on a large scale, personally maim and kill people, rape teenage girls after taking them under his wing as his Special Friends and impregnating them with mutant offspring that they die giving birth to, cause every catastrophe in world history, and it's still darkly humorous.
- The Team Fortress 2 fanfic Surrogate contains a scene which, whether or not you can bring yourself to laugh, is clearly structured like a comedy. There's a literal dead baby involved, and Medic thinks he wants to know where it's gotten to. Heavy doesn't want him to know, but, unfortunately for them both, is a Bad Liar.
- When The Coen Brothers do comedy, this is usually the sort they do: lMiller's Crossing, Fargo, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man
- Don Hertzfeldt, when his films aren't out-and-out surreal.
- Anything made by Todd Solondz.
- Paul Verhoeven likes doing this, especially in his big budget action movies: RoboCop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Hollow Man.
- Arsenic and Old Lace is a madcap comedy about a newlywed theater critic who discovers that his elderly Maiden Aunts are Serial Killers who regularly poison their gentlemen callers. Add a violently psychotic older brother to the mix, stir with some utterly oblivious police, and season with copious amounts of Lampshade Hanging.
- Being There (and its source novella) starts with the death of an old businessman and the expulsion of his mentally challenged gardener into an outside world he's never seen beyond its presentation on TV. The story that ensues has him rise to considerable power solely because most of the people he encounters don't realize he's an idiot and interpret his comments about gardening as metaphors. And there's more death to come as he becomes the confidante of a dying billionaire... Distressing on the surface, extremely funny and touching in its execution.
- Terry Gilliam's Brazil lives this trope, unless you're watching the "Love Conquers All" edit.
- Burke and Hare, a comedy that is very loosely based on the real-life murderers.
- Dr. Strangelove (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). Also a touch of Gallows Humor on the director's part, since it was made at a time when nuclear war was a very real possibility. The filmmakers originally started to it a serious film about an accidental nuclear war, but they didn't want to make it seem like they were copying Failsafe and decided to change it to a comedy. Notably, they didn't tell Slim Pickins, so his performance was completely straight.
- Drop Dead Gorgeous (not that Drop-Dead Gorgeous)
- There's a bit of this in Duck Soup, with things like a loud and cheerful "We're going to war!" musical number.
- Nobody is actually killed, though, so it's more along the lines of Crosses the Line Twice.
- Fight Club is completely built on this, to the point that a lot of people don't even realize it's intended as a comedy. Most notable is the line "I haven't been fucked like that since grade school" (the film version of the below book line).
- The Irish film A Film with Me in It is about a failed actor who has to deal with the bodies of people who keep dying in accidents in his flat.
- Four Lions, a comedy involving Jihadist suicide bombers.
- Grosse Pointe Blank: So, when you go back to your high school reunion and everyone asks what you do now, do you tell them you're a hitman or not?
- Heathers: A film about getting your own back on highschool bullies by engineering their murders and making them look like suicides.
- Paddy Chayevski's 1970 film The Hospital has doctors dying from unusual causes, while at the same time the Chief of Surgery (George C. Scott) is so despondent over the meaninglessness of life, as well as being impotent, he's trying to kill himself, until he rapes the daughter of a patient at which point he realizes he does have a reason to live!
- The House of Yes could be called a Dead President Comedy the way it plays with the JFK assassination. The character in question is an Ax Crazy Nightmare Fetishist with a sever fixation on her blue-blood brother. This can be viewed as Anvilicious Black Comedy, or outright Fetish Fuel, but it's a definite case of Crosses the Line Twice.
- In Bruges In a film about two hitmen on the run after one of them botched a hit by shooting an innocent child, who spends his time drinking and contemplating suicide the only humour you'd expect to find is the black kind.
- Inglourious Basterds: Mostly the parts with the Basterds and the scenes with Hitler, though the film as a whole is more of a dramedy.
- Killing Bono
- Kind Hearts and Coronets, which somehow makes the cold-blooded murder of seven people hilarious.
"I shot an arrow in the air..."
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
- Ealing Studio's 1955 film The Lady Killers. Which is The Caper till it all goes pear-shaped.
- The Last Circus
- Life of Brian As per the page quote, this is a film which laughs at death. The cheery ditty quoted is sung by a group of Jews whilst they're being crucified.
- Little Miss Sunshine
- Lord of War switches genres halfway through but the first half is filled with this.
- Man Bites Dog. How black? Like goth panthers in a coal mine.
- Mary and Max
- M*A*S*H is essentially Catch-22 lite.
- At least in the movie and early seasons. The TV show eventually became a Dramedy and in some episodes just a straight drama.
- "We have the finalists in the shrapnel catching contest."
- Monsieur Verdoux, Charlie Chaplin's classic daring comedy about a Serial Killer.
- The film Mystery Team is a mild version of this. The film is essentially a murder mystery, but the humor comes not so much from the murder, but the character's reactions to it. (For example, one character explains to an orphaned girl that life isn't fair by pointing out he didn't get a bike for his birthday). The film also has jokes about cancer, pedophilia and drug use, which are treated less seriously.
- Network presents Howard Beale's descent into insanity and assassination at the order of his boss as a long joke with a killer punchline.
- Pretty Persuasion
- Pulp Fiction at several points. Mrs Marcellus-Wallace's cocaine overdose is a particularly long and manic dark joke.
- Red Roses and Petrol
- Scotland, PA takes the plot of Macbeth, transfers it to 1970's rural Pennsylvania, and plays the whole thing for laughs.
- Shallow Grave, the breakout film for a young Ewan McGregor, is a British black comedy about three roommates who put out a classified ad for a fourth person to fill in an empty spot in their flat. They heckle most of the applicants, until finding someone they all agree would make a fine roommate. Or so they think... Turns out he's a drug runner for the mafia and, shortly after he moves in, the three find him dead in his room of a drug overdose, with a large briefcase full of money lying next to him. They make the decision to not report the crime, dismember the body, and keep the money for themselves. Hilarity (and psychopathy) ensue.
- Shut Up And Shoot Me
- The two Tales from the Crypt theatrical movies Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood are full of this.
- Temptation Island
- The Room according to Word of God, but not according to anyone else. After it became clear that what was clearly intended to be a moving romantic drama was in fact reducing audiences to tears of laughter at the So Bad It's Good factor, Tommy Wiseau has since taken to describing his masterwork as a "black comedy", apparently as some kind of face-saving exercise.
- The aptly titled Very Bad Things, in which the emotional toll of the protagonist's preparations for his impending wedding to a Bridezilla is compounded by the accidental death of a hooker at his bachelor party and the resulting ever-worsening train wreck of bad decisions and bad luck which, by the end of the movie, has ruined the lives of everyone it hasn't killed.
- The War of the Roses
- Weekend at Bernie's
- Welcome to The Dollhouse
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a family fantasy comedy about...murder, adultery, and racism. And corrupt businesses such as the destruction of the LA Red Car.
- The Tom Green-directed film Freddy Got Fingered, which actually features the star/writer/director chomping on a baby's umbilical cord, among other weird and gross things. Roger Ebert famously said of this movie:
"The day may come when Freddy Got Fingered is seen as a milestone of neo-surrealism. The day will never come when it is seen as funny."
- The intro segment to the movie Postal (based on the game of the same name, which is a bad sign, and directed by Uwe Boll, which is a worse one) goes like this, to quote The Other Wiki:
September 11, 2001. Terrorists are about to fly a plane into the World Trade Center when they realize that there can't possibly be enough virgins left in the afterlife, given the recent rash of suicide bombings. After a quick phone call to their leader confirms that they may only get twenty, they decide to call off the attack and fly to The Bahamas. Just then, the cockpit door is kicked open and the passengers struggle to take control of the plane. Veering out of control, it smashes into the Twin Towers - the fiery explosion revealing the film's title card.
- According to the few reviewers who managed to see the movie, this is the least offensive part.
- Sadly, it's also probably the funniest. The rest of the movie is feeble action sequences and stale jokes. The only possible exception are a few choice one liners. In a job interview Q&A: "What is the difference between a duck . . ."
- Meet the Feebles has the puppet form of Black Comedy.
- Another Peter Jackson film, Braindead, has some when the nurse zombie and the priest zombie have themselves some zombie sex and spawn a precocious little zombie scamp in a ridiculously short amount of time. Lionel decides to take it to the park for some reason. Hilarity ensues.
- Team America: World Police from the creators of South Park.
- The Mr. Creosote sketch from the Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
- The Luis Buñuel 1930 classic "L' Âge d'or", The Golden Age has got lots of these jokes (and it's the most hilarious film ever), one of the main character's is a man working for a good will mission organisation, and is on a mission to spread happiness in the world. He randomly attack people, he kicks a blind man and Kick the Dog more than once. One scene also includes a man that shoot an annoying kid with a rifle.
- This is far Older Than They Think in film—some of the very earliest silent comedies feature prop babies getting trampled, thrown out windows and hit by trains (carried over from vaudeville, where everybody got hurt).
- Norm MacDonald's film Dirty Work, especially the last line when our hero explains that everything worked out and he got the girl "...and Dr. Farthing got the money to his bookies. But the bookies killed him anyway. So he's dead. Well, that's the end."
- Seltzer and Friedberg did a "dead baby" humour with a Juno Expy in Disaster Movie.
- Chris manages this in Tomorrow When the War Began. He describes in horrific detail how he found his neighbours shot dead in their car along with their baby daughter by the invading soldiers, but his stoned dialogue is hilarious enough that it Crosses the Line Twice.
- The Feast trilogy is this whenever it's not occupied with Gorn (and sometimes when it is).
- Vampires Suck Death by bowling ball.
- Airplane! features a number of scenes that Cross The Line Twice in this fashion, including implied extreme violence against a hysterical woman, blatant racial stereotyping Played for Laughs, and passengers and crew cheerfully oblivious to the dying struggles of a Littlest Cancer Patient.
- The Thailand action/comedy film SARS Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis features a few rather tasteless jokes, like a zombie fetus clawing its way out of its mother's stomach to attack the heroes, only to be foiled by the umbilical cord still being attached (and too short).
- The movie version of A Scanner Darkly takes the few comedic moments from the novel, and makes them an almost equal balance to the main plot, which is about an undercover narcotics cop becoming addicted to a deadly drug, and suffering permenent brain damage that destroys his sense of identity. But hey, funny hallucinations and crazy junkie antics for all!
- Bobcat Goldthwait's directorial efforts (Shakes the Clown (Film), Sleeping Dogs Lie, World's Greatest Dad and God Bless America) specialize in this.
- Kevin Smith has been known to dabble in this, particularly in Clerks when it turns out Caitlin accidentally had sex with a corpse.
- The TV movie Sunset Limousine is generally family-friendly, but there are a few instances of black humour, the blackest of them all coming when John Ritter fights a casket as it is being drawn into an oven (specifically, he tries and fails—humorously—to pull it out as it goes in). Easily the most scarily funny moment of Ritter's three-decade career.
- Shadow Of A Vampire: is a darkly humourous film re-imagining Murnau's horror classic Nosferatu as being shot starring a real vampire. At the end the vampire kills most of the cast and Murnau keeps the camera rolling.
- Happiness (1998) is this through and through. Particularly with it's portrayal of pedophilia and what a Dysfunction Junction it all is.
- The Alfred Hitchcock comedy The Trouble with Harry.
- The White Tiger is pretty famous for this.
- Catch-22 is one of the best examples, and the Trope Namer from a review of it that coined the term.
- Almost anything by Kurt Vonnegut.
- Candide, by Voltaire.
- In John Gardner's book Grendel, the title character's philosophical musings as he tears Danes to shreds just for the lulz are about as black as black comedy gets.
- Warren Adler's The War of the Roses, which is about Jonathan (Oliver in the film) and Barbara Rose engaging in an increasingly vicious divorce battle.
- Lampshaded (kind of?) in one of the shadowy conversations that open a chapter in Ender's Game:
"I think you underestimate Ender."
- Tik-Tok by John Sladek (not the one from the Land of Oz).
- Characters in Darkness Visible are unsurprisingly willing to joke in the face of imminent death, the end of the world, and ruined suits.
Lewis: (facing the end of the world on his birthday) - 'This is the worst birthday present I have ever had.'
- If anything in one of Chuck Palahniuk's books makes you laugh, it's Black Comedy.
- "I want to have your abortion." spoken by Marla to Tyler in Fight Club.
- The self-described "Bad Catholic" humorist John Zmirak has been known to quip "If you can't joke about terrorism and cancer, what can you joke about?"
- Any of Derek Robinson's novels. The war novels are more black than comedy, but the spy novels are more comedy than black (but still pretty black).
- There is saying mentioned in one of stories from Žamboch: Hope dies penultimate. What remains till the end is dark humour.
- William Faulkner excels at this. Anyone ever read "As I Lay Dying"? The mother is dying as the book opens, her corpse gets holes drilled in its face and dropped in the river, the eldest son has his leg broken and casted up with cement(he loses the leg and cannot continue his carpentry profession), the only "sane" one is put in a mental institute, the daughter is given fake abortion pills, and the youngest son confuses his mother with a fish.
- Everything Bret Easton Ellis writes falls under this trope.
- The Late Hector Kipling by David Thewlis. Throughout all the tragedy that the main character has to deal with, he finds himself unable to respond "properly" to it, to be sad and grieve like any other person would, which leads to bizarre situations and conversations. A large chunk of the book is actually about his hope that someone close to him would die already.
- Frequent in the stories of Flannery O'Connor. For example, in Wise Blood, none of the major characters are good people or even particularly sympathetic, while the plot involves absurdities like a stole gorilla costume, an anti-church being corrupted into a money-making scheme, and the attempted seduction of a girl who turns out to be a Fille Fatale.
- Ephraim Kishon has died and sometimes even gone to hell at the end of several of his short stories. It didn't exactly last.
- Harry Potter occasionally dabbles in this. Good examples come, unsurprisingly, from Ron.
- An Elegy for the Still-living Robin Goodfellows jokes are strictly black comedy.
“So this man walks into a bar. He sits down at the stool, says hey, bartender, bring me a bloody Mary. The bartender steps into the backroom. The man hears someone scream from behind the door, and then three loud thumps. A minute later, the bartender comes back out carrying your wife, bleeding from the head, and lays her on the table. Ha!”
- World War Z, when two soldiers pick up human infant skulls and put on a small show for their troop. Would be going into Dude, Not Funny territory if the real subject wasn't about the Gallows Humor used for coping with... you know... a Zombie Apocalypse.
- Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone: Filled with the darkest of humor, as can be expected from Clive Barker. There's a scene where the demon villain protagonist bathes in a tub full of blood from dead babies. The townspeople are hot on his trail, since there was a hole in his baby bag, and he left a trail of children, like bread crumbs, on his way back to his hovel. He complains how difficult it was to keep them alive so the bath would be warm when he emptied their blood into the tub.
- Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a dead baby, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright. I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband.? Jane Austen, letter to Cassandra, October 27, 1798.
- "It was born, though, that very evening, took one look, according to the Radletts, at its father, and quickly died again" Nancy Mitford, Love in a Cold Climate
- A favorite of William S. Burroughs in Naked Lunch. Deranged surgeons, ridiculous murder porn, general mayhem.
- A Modest Proposal.
- Hells Children, by Andrew Boland.
- There's a book called The Bunny Suicides and a sequal Return of the Bunny Suicides. It's exactly what it seems, usually having Shout-Out to other things (Terminator, Aliens, etc.). And good lord is it hilarious.
- In the Dark Tower series, Eddie actually manages to defeat the depressed, super intelligent AI in the train that's trying to kill itself and them with a dead baby joke.
Why did the dead baby cross the road? Cause it was stapled to the chicken.
- The story Daedalus and Icarus from Ovid's The Metamorphoses, although the humor has been Lost in Translation.
- In Lawrence Block's novel Ariel, Ariel's friend Erskine has a proclivity for this.
- Hillaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children is in part just that: a book of poems where bad things happen to children who do bad things—no matter how trivial. Really, though, Belloc makes their punishments absurd to make for better comedy.
- Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are filled with grim jokes about injury and death. For example, this passage from the first chapter of the first book:
"Well!" thought Alice to herself. "After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down-stairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!" (Which was very likely true.)
- iCarly uses this on occasion:
- iQuit iCarly: T-Bo talks about his best friend Eddie Robinson who was hit by a bus and now became "Dead-die Robinson".
- iMove Out: Spencer jokes that their aunt died falling out of a "winder". He quickly amends that the cause of death is a heart attack.
- iPsycho: The old clown in Nora's birthday party suffered an aneurysm and was transported via a gurney, implied he can't make it through.
- iBeat the Heat: "When the temperature gets too high, the elderly will start to DIE!"
- A significant portion of the comedy in Supernatural, especially in the episode Mystery Spot which has a hilarious Death Montage. See Groundhog Day Loop for more.
- Any time the Trickster shows up. Even after his death, he's still the funniest guy on the show.
- One Foot in the Grave. Sometimes there's also straight tragic moments.
- Anything by Chris Morris.
- The Thick of It
- There are countless examples from British comedy in general.
- Titus was about domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism and mental illness, and was one of the funniest things on TV during its run.
- Blackadder Goes Forth is full of this, being a spoof of the First World War.
- For example, (quoted from memory)
George: "What should we do if we step on a mine?"
- Blackadder in general is full of this.
- Waiting for God. Considering its name is (presumably) an allusion to the famous play by Samuel Beckett, and that it's set in an old people's home...
- Thank God You're Here will usually start with this premise.
- Breaking Bad to the bone
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fills its episodes with taboo comedy, riffing on such topics as dumpster babies, statutory rape, crack addiction, and cannibalism.
- Pushing Daisies seemed like the writers were competing to make the most gruesome death imaginable while still counting as slapstick.
- Thirty Rock has a continuing story arc where Jack's wife Avery is kidnapped in North Korea and forced to marry Kim Jong Il's son. It is suggested that she is being brainwashed and raped while in captivity.
- Dead Like Me did this as well. The first guy reaped (besides George) comes in at the tail end of a bank holdup in which no less than two guns are being waved around and the entire top floor explodes. The victim dies slipping on a banana peel.
- The X-Files episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," is surprisingly funny considering its all about the terrible Nightmare Fuel that results from being able to see the future accurately and the inevitability of death. Very, very grim. But also very, very funny.
- The Quiz Broadcast sketches in That Mitchell and Webb Look, focusing on a Game Show taking place in a post-apocalyptic world. The host is desperate to treat everything with the joviality of a typical quiz show, even though humanity is obviously doomed.
Host: Pre-Event sources talk of hope. What was "hope"?
- The "Elderly Sherlock Holmes" sketch is initially played for Black Comedy laughs as Dr. Watson desperately tries to pretend that Holmes, who has succumbed to dementia, is still the razor-sharp mind he always was. It's then immediately subverted when Holmes, in a moment of clarity, reveals to John that he knows what's happening to him.
- The Sopranos
- Due to the subject matter (historical Edutainment), Horrible Histories indulges in this at almost all times. Frequent topics include dead/abused children, murder, torture, dismemberment, people getting beaten to death, suicide, war crimes, decapitation and incest. In a show at least nominally aimed at eight-year-olds. There's even a recurring feature called "Stupid Deaths" in which a kooky Death character laughs at historical figures for dying in ways that usually involve toilets. It's possible the real nastiness of it flies over the heads of its target audience, while doing lots to attract a Periphery Demographic.
- Laid, a 2011 Australian series about a woman who discovers that her former lovers have started dying in various strange and unexpected circumstances.
- Tales from the Crypt
- The Night Shift doesn't deal specifically with death, but it's like The Office off its meds and stars a Dysfunction Junction. The viewpoint character is clinically depressed, The Ditz is too incompetent to ever live a normal life and tragically waiting for a dream that can never come true, and the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist Jaded Washout is a "psycho" whose issues with his Abusive Parents are examined seriously and deconstructed in The Movie.
- In Britain, Chris Morris's show Jam depended almost entirely on this, even featuring a dead baby. Another of his shows, Brass Eye, infamously went too far with its "Paedophilia special" and received numerous complaints. Many of these, strangely enough, happened to be from the kind of people and newspapers who the show was satirising in the first place - the News of the World and the Daily Mail acted far more bent out of shape than the Times and the Guardian. Getting celebrities to discuss the implications of a "roboplegic wrongcock" (a paralysed paedophile with cybernetic implants that let him chase children) on television is inherently funny, though.
- The Adam and Joe Show featured a Jam parody with a send-up of the dead baby sketch. Adam played a TV repairman who finds a dead baby behind the set and says he will have to rape the corpse in order to repair the television. A horrified Joe refuses to film any more, and storms off the set while Adam complains that "you don't understand my genius"
- To its credit, the paedophilia special did result in one of the best examples of press hypocrisy. Just remember, the girl on the left was 15 years old when the article was printed.
- Rik Mayall's numerous series for the BBC - The Young Ones, The New Statesman, and Bottom.
- Anything involving Doug in Scrubs. Most of his humor comes from his pure ineptitude at being a doctor so he ends up killing most of his patients.
- In season four Doug became a pathologist. Elliot discovered that he had a knack for identifying causes of death, the implication being that he'd caused them before ("Upstairs, we call that a 'Doug.'") What began as a running dark joke—incompetent doctor kills patients—was subverted when said doctor discovered his gift for determining what killed other doctors' patients.
- There's still a lot of dark humour using Doug, however. He's constantly losing corpses (in body bags, though - to date - they have never been non-adult-sized body bags) throughout the hospital, and having to recover them, usually by hoisting them over his shoulder or dragging them through the halls. In one case, he actually says
Doug: They're like children. Big, dead children.
- Recently during one of the Brain Trust Meetings:
I propose we get "Hello Kitty" toe tags. You know, for the dead children.
- Also in one episode while a character was talking (I think it was Dr. Kelso) the elevator door behind him kept freaking out, closing most of the way before rebuffing back to being open. After Kelso is done talking the camera pans down to show a full body bag lying halfway in the elevator with the doors repeatingly hitting it. Doug later comes and picks it up.
- Little Britain was criticized for its increasing attempts to shock, with characters such as an incontinent old lady and an adult man who breastfeeds from his mother. "Puking Pure-blood Lady" projectile vomits whenever she is told that someone of a different ethnic origin prepared the food she is being served.
- The Sarah Silverman Program. Sarah Silverman's stand-up, as well.
- Kids in The Hall
- TV Funhouse was a very loose Spin-Off of the animated segments of the same name from Saturday Night Live, taking the form of a Subverted Kids Show. Choice bits include the ghoulishly lifelike "Ani-Pals" puppets draining the host's spinal fluid in search of "Christmas cheer", a restaurant where various animals eat the meat of their species, and the self-explanatory "Fetal Scooby Doo".
- One SNL skit that went into serious Dude, Not Funny territory was "First He Cries", riffing on the book/tv movie "First You Cry" dealing with breast cancer - this one focuses on the stricken woman's dickish, self-centered husband (played by Bill Murray). It gets Harsher in Hindsight as the woman, who faces her situation with good cheer and resolve, is played by Gilda Radner.
- Wonder Showzen.
- Australian comedy team The Chaser had their show The Chaser's War on Everything suspended for two weeks because of a skit parodying the charity Make a Wish Foundation, showing terminally ill children in a hospital and suggesting that they be given pencil cases instead of trips to Disneyland because "they're only going to die anyway." There was an overwhelming reaction of Dude, Not Funny to the sketch, including from Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; and it was cut from both the internet download and any future reruns on TV.
- Some commentators pointed out that another comedy show, The Mansion had used exactly the same joke a year before and received no complaints, to which others responded that at least that one hadn't shown dying children (real or otherwise) in their version of the sketch, which showed a receptionist denying the kids' last requests by phone.
- The Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph also made note of a story on The Onion's News Network about a child exploiting the loophole of wishing for unlimited wishes and consequently bankrupting the Make A Wish Foundation with his ludicrously long list of demands. Interestingly, the story not only features the child in question but also not-so-subtly casts him as the villain due to his insatiable demands (to the extent of him wishing away the pro-bono legal team the Foundation was hoping to use in its defense) and features the hosts hoping for his imminent demise so that the Foundation can stop granting his wishes. Presumably Prime Minister Rudd was not told about this sketch either so that he could also comment on it sight unseen.
- The Chaser also did a similar story in The Chaser, their early newspaper. In it, a child's wish was to receive a blow job from Cameron Diaz.
- The previous series of the show had featured The Eulogy Song, which mentioned a number of dead celebrities (including the then recently deceased Steve Irwin) and stated that no matter how awful someone is while they're alive, (s)he will be lauded as a "top bloke" after death. It received a huge number of complaints and The Chaser responded that it was a tamer version of an even more offensive song featured in Chris Taylor's stage show Dead Caesar. The following week they made fun of the controversy in a parody of the "turning off the TV" national election campaign ads then running, with Chas stepping in to switch off the broadcast when The Eulogy Song came on.
- The infamous "Undertaker's Sketch" from episode 26 of Monty Python's Flying Circus suggested cannibalism as an alternative to interment or cremation. The punchline was so disgusting that Executive Meddling demanded that the studio audience end the episode by storming the set in protest.
- Have I Got News for You, while generally hovering somewhere above this level of offensiveness, did feature this joke about the Louise Woodward case:
"Louise, currently between school and university, will have to remain in America for the duration of the appeal, although she's desperate to come home, as she has to finish an essay entitled 'What I Did in My Year Off.'"
- On Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Simon Amstell made a joke about Courtney Love. Team captain Noel Fielding tells him that Courtney is pretty tough, and he should watch out or she could beat him up. Simon's reply: "Yes ... or she could kill me and make it look like suicide!"
- A graphic immediately appears at the bottom of the screen that reads "Disclaimer: Simon Amstell is definitely wrong".
- Season 7 ended with the unexpected death of George's fiance, Susan (from licking toxic glue from cheep wedding invitations he picked out). His reaction? A moment of silence, followed by going out with his friends for coffee. It Gets Worse. During the post-credits scene, he calls another woman, tells her his fiance recently died, and asks if she's free this weekend.
- Jason Alexander (who played George) himself has said he feels that Seinfeld is "a very dark show about very dark people".
- Season 7 ended with the unexpected death of George's fiance, Susan (from licking toxic glue from cheep wedding invitations he picked out). His reaction? A moment of silence, followed by going out with his friends for coffee. It Gets Worse. During the post-credits scene, he calls another woman, tells her his fiance recently died, and asks if she's free this weekend.
Did a dingo eat your baby?
- Oz's band in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is called Dingoes Ate My Baby, a reference to the real life tragedy made famous by the movie A Cry In The Dark.
- Strangers with Candy
- The Colbert Report has an instance of dead puppy humor. They claim the older dog in the world is 23... well they've found an instance of a 24 year-old dog!... Never mind. (The dog shows up alive later on.)
- Justified on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The title character sacrifices her life to save Dawn (and the world, only for her friends to rip her from heaven. Buffy reacts to this noble yet traumatizing act by; among other things, using Dead Baby Comedy as a coping mechanism. Buffy's friends catch on, making this Played for Drama.
- 1000 Ways To Die, especially in its later episodes. As one tagline put it: "We glorify stupidity and put a smiley face on Death".
- As the title might suggest, One Foot in the Grave was a Britcom about Reluctant Retiree Victor Meldrew looking for ways to occupy his time and featured an uncommonly large amount of material, humour and otherwise, touching on old age, death, loneliness and having to put up with everyone else.
- Bo Burnham employs this now and again in his songs—some of his most popular songs are about the KKK and pedophilia.
- "Benny the Bouncer" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, which is about a bouncer named Benny who is cut into pieces and brutally killed by Savage Sid. In contrast, the piece is sung by Lake in a ridiculous, heavy accent, while accompanied by Emerson on a honky-tonk piano, giving an impression of being upbeat and silly. Often considered as a filler track.
- Tom Lehrer. More than half of his songs fits. Irish Ballad andWe Will All Go Together When We Go are particular standouts. I Got It From Agnes is an unintentional example, since started out as one of his more lighthearted songs (similar to "The Elements" and such) on an enigmatic subject, since, as Lehrer has stated, it was written long before anyone had heard of AIDs. STDs were thought about far less commonly at the time, although the dark interpretation—inescapable today—just happens to conveniently fit among Lehrer's usual themes, so nowadays he's just gone with that interpretation.
- "I Hold Your Hand in Mine" might sound innocent but hearing it makes you realise it's a representative of this trope. The same is true "My Home Town".
- The World War 3 Song deserves a honorary mention as a mild Ear Worm.
- A lot of Mitch Benn's stuff. "Rock And Roll Hall of Death", for instance, parodies the fascination people have with pop stars' deaths... by imagining a museum devoted to them:
See the pills that Karen Carpenter took to stay skinny,
- Insane Clown Posse
- Eminem's entire celebrity/artistic persona?
- Mainly the songs where his "Slim Shady" alter-ego takes over.
- The Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl" is a jaunty number about a woman who enlists a friend's help to kill and dispose of an abusive husband. And it's played entirely for laughs.
- "Pray for You" by Jaron and the Long Road to Love. Told by a preacher that he should pray for even those whom he hates, the narrator asks the following on his ex-wife: "I pray your brakes go out running down a hill / I pray a flowerpot falls from a windowsill / And knocks you in the head like I'd like to..."
- Brian Eno's song "Baby's On Fire" is a cheerful uptempo rocker about... well, take a guess.
- Ween's 'Spinal Meningitis' complete with a squeakily sung impression of a terminally ill child would seem to be in the worst possible taste, although the chorus, sung in an adult voice; "Shine on mighty Jesus, spinal meningitis got me down" indicates a touch of religious satire. Maybe...
- Schaffer the Dark Lord's "Clone-(expletive deleted)," tells of a post-apocalyptic future where robots are at war with mankind, and humans send clones of themselves as soldiers to fight in their place. One cloner decides to take advantage of the situation... It would be an understatement to say that it doesn't end well.
- Stephen Lynch's "Baby", which is about realising how ugly his newborn daughter is. Contains the line "I always wanted kids / Is it wrong to hope for SIDS?"
- The best example might be "For The Ladies", where he contemplates the best way to cause a miscarriage in his pregnant wife.
- Devo songs often contain underlying dark humour, but a select few sound almost like they're not joking.
- Particularly songs from their early demo period: "I Need A Chick", "Baby Talkin' Bitches", "Bamboo Bimbo", "I've Been Refused", and "The Rope Song" may offend some.
- "Mongoloid" and "Jocko Homo" might seem controversial for their titles alone, although they aren't particularly offensive songs themselves. The latter has nothing to do with homosexuality, but is based on a religious anti-evolution pamphlet titled: "Jocko Homo, Heaven Bound King of the Apes."
- "Triumph Of The Will": 'It is the thing females ask for/When they convey the opposite' (The whole song can be interpreted as being about a rapist or a player who knows girls want him but are afraid to show their sexual side).
- "I Desire" contains love lyrics written by would-be-assassin John Hinckley Jr. The joke may have been on Warner Bros. Records, who had to pay royalties to an inmate.
- Sometimes Devo were controversial for their music videos - i.e. a talk show host refused to feature them after seeing the video for "Whip It" which she thought was offensive to women. In one case, the Hendrix estate forbade them from including their video for "Are You Experienced" on a DVD because there's a shot of a Jimi Hendrix look-a-like coming out of a coffin to play guitar, which they assumed was making fun of him.
- Gerry Casale's alter ego, Jihad Jerry. Also, in a very early Devo performance, Jerry donned those "Chinese" toy glasses as a character called Chinaman (you can see a brief shot of him in their "Secret Agent Man" video).
- Australian band 'The Self-Righteous Brothers' have a whole string of songs which fit this trope, often sung in a pleasantly melodious fashion. A couple of examples—from 'Now You're Gone':
Now your family want to take me to court
- They are also responsible for such gems as 'Daddy Drinks Because You Cry' and '(Too Much) Sperm In Your Eyes'.
- Seanan McGuire's lullaby "You Would Fit In the Microwave".
- The Frogs' infamous It's Only Right And Natural, where every song is written from the point of view of over-the-top sex-obsessed gay men - possibly the song that really Crosses the Line Twice is "Baby Greaser George", in which the narrator puts his "thing" in the mouth of a 3-month old in a stroller dressed as a leather man, and gets a testicle bitten off. Dark comedy isn't all they do, but it's what they're most well-known for due to song titles like "Grandma Sitting In The Corner With A Penis In Her Hand Going 'No No No'".
- The original cover art of The Beatles' Yesterday and Today album.
- And then there's the Bloodhound Gang's song "Lift Your Head Up High (and Blow Your Brains Out)"
- And the classic "A Lap Dance Is So Much Better When The Stripper Is Crying."
- This little ditty from Amanda Palmer.
- Amanda Palmer really enjoys this sort of thing- for example, Mandy Goes to Medschool, a very groovy sort of cabaret song about back-alley abortions, and Lonesome Organist Rapes Page-Turner, which is a fantastic and really rather amusing song that is about Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- A drinking song popular in some Australian universities at the moment. It starts at "My name is Jack/And I'm a necrophiliac/I get so hard/When I see a graveyard" and gets significantly worse from there. (No, You Do NOT Want to Know. Seriously.)
- Queen's song "I'm Going Slightly Mad" (from Innuendo) makes fun of dementia, specifically AIDS-related dementia. Which may be a Dude, Not Funny moment to some people, because Freddie Mercury was fighting AIDS by then.
- Like the rest of their music library, the song "I Lit Your Baby on Fire" by the politically incorrect grindcore band Anal Cunt is a thrashing, incomprehensible ode to doing Exactly What It Says on the Tin, complete with wonderfully heartwarming lyrics such as, "It screamed a little louder/And then it shut up."
- What can be expected from a band named Anal Cunt?
- This most certainly applies to the Doug Anthony All Stars, an Australian musical comedy trio whose repertoire included songs about necrophilia ("Necro-romancer"), bestiality ("I Fuck Dogs"), their desire to murder Oprah Winfrey ("Oprah"), the Twelve Apostles' drug habit ("Catholic Girls on LSD"), their wish to crawl back inside their mothers' wombs ("Mummy Dearest"), and snogging grandma ("World's Best Kisser"). And that's just for starters.
- Creature Feature's song A Gorey Demise features this, along with general Gallows Humor. It's a song with a basic concept of reciting the year's obituaries, in an ABC format. "'G' is for Greg who died in the Womb."
- Noah And The Whale's "Jocasta". Unsurprising to anyone who knows the story of Jocasta, it involves actual baby death.
When the baby's born
- Big Black addresses issues such as murder, rape, necrophilia, suicide, racism, and the works. "Jordan, Minnesota" is a song about a parent-child molestation ring in the town that the song is named for. Their first LP, Atomizer, includes songs about the aforementioned molestation ring, a black man who's light-skinned enough to pass off as a white guy, a corrupt police officer, a guy bored with arson and easy sex (the only two things teens in rural America do for fun) and decides to combine them, a man who goes to "houses of ill repute," a wife-beater and/or fist-fucker, a recovering alcoholic who relapses, a veteran with shellshock who becomes a hitman, and two teens who go to a slaughterhouse for entertainment.
- Their 2nd LP, Songs About Fucking, features asshole truck drivers, a Kraftwerk cover, a guy who has sex with other people's girlfriends, a young girl who slept away 15 years of her life and wanted to kill herself but couldn't, sexual humiliation as a habit, a killing method in which the throat is cut open and the tongue is pulled out through the hole, an eccentric man who parties all night, a fungus that can grow on bread and cause serious hallucinations if ingested, a mafia killing in which a parked car was rigged to explode when the target's car passed by, a guy who had sex with a woman, who refused his brother's earlier advances, and killed her with his shoe then hid her body in a pond while hosing down his truck with loud music on, people who slowly turn into what they hate most without trying, and a Cheap Trick Cover
- The lyrics for Welsh Death metal band Desecration's song 'I.A.I' are so vile it had to be abbreviated. On release of the album 'Gore and perversion' the band members were actually arrested and the original albums were destroyed due to the offensive nature of the songs which lies somewhere between this and Nightmare Fuel. The original album artwork will either disgust you beyond belief or make you laugh. Find it all here if you dare. Extremely NSFW!
- Jon Lajoie does this often in a lot of his videos. Probably the most obvious one is MC Extremely Inappropriate Rhymes in "WTF Collective 2":
I shake things up like [Michael] J. Fox when I get on the mic
- Post Rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor have a short, jaunty little acoustic guitar interlude entitled "Moya Sings Baby-O" at the beginning of "Antennas to Heaven," which is otherwise a dark, minimalist instrumental. The lyrics talk about abusing, ignoring, gouging the eyes of and feeding alcohol to a baby. It's entirely unexpected.
- Rammstein has some of this going on in some songs - not necessarily in an obvious way, but still in quite a few. A good example is ("Ich tu' dir weh"), which very explicitly describes some extreme sadomasochistic actions, but is sung in quite a catchy rhythm. Even better an example is "Liebe ist für alle da", which goes on about how 'love is for everyone', while clearly being about a rapist. This extends to their shows, where, as an allusion to a real case of (arguably voluntary fetish humanitarianism a short "play" was shown in which one of the band's members was chased around the stage with a flamethrower and then "cooked" in a giant pot.
- The song "Girlfriend in a Coma by The Smiths.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung" which should not be funny but really is.
- "Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun" by Ogden Edsel. The title is self explanatory so why is it so amusing?
- A good chunk of The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat. "The Gift", "Lady Godiva's Operation" and "Sister Ray" all have characters indulging in activities that end in somebody getting killed, all while the stories are narrated in a deadpan, if not outright playful, tone.
- Russian band "Horned Necrocannibals" ("Рогатые Трупоеды"), as Death Metal pastiche (Bitches, Sex and Ptomaine, The Kvlt and Troo and Eevil and Grimm and Nekro, etc). Most album covers are Bloody Hilarious, too. The band's good enough to make songs made of cliché and Ear Worm-y (Vengeanscythe).
Religion and Mythology
- The Classical Goddess Justicia was goddess of Justice in the universe during the Golden Age. She hasn't been seen round this neighborhood since.
- Although many stories from The Onion don't involve this, quite a lot do. Their book Our Dumb World is a landmark in the history of black comedy literature, as it succeeds in brutally mocking every nation on the planet.
- Globe Magazine is a tabloid magazine that often completely fabricates stories about celebrities. Oftentimes, it gets past the line that's accepted as satire i.e. The Onion, into making unsubstantiated and vicious rumors about celebrities. They reached a low even more vicious than usual by making their front-page article titled "Who will die first?, and publishing the deathbed photos of Gary Coleman.
- This very page has shown various Google ads that qualify as this due to the juxtaposition, ranging from a pregnancy calendar to "5 Ways to Help Baby Sleep". "Intelligent keywords" are comedy gold.
- Gary Larson's The Far Side comic strip at least skirted this trope at times. In one of his book-collections, he printed some of the ones that got rejected by his editors because.. they stopped skirting and plunged right in.
- In one case, a snake was crawling through a crib, with a huge bulge in its center. Gary Larson commented, "No, you didn't see this. Turn the page." The real joke of the picture was that the snake became so enlarged by the bulk of the freshly consumed infant that it couldn't squeeze through the bars of the crib, and was trapped.
- Another strip that newspapers refused to publish concerned some cowboys who were so hungry they could eat a horse, and did so. (A good example of Values Dissonance: in several European countries horse meat is openly sold in every butcher's shop.)
- Pearls Before Swine takes delight in excessive Black Comedy with frequent jokes about death, and often killing off one-shot characters for the purpose of a joke. (ex. Pig convinces a mallard to talk to a quiet duck on the pond that he's attracted to, but it's actually a decoy duck that leads to the mallard getting shot and killed.)
- Don't forget Rat's "children's" stories.
- Finnish newspaper comic B. Virtanen seems to fit the trope.
- Peanuts is a death-free black comedy—Charlie Brown's life is pathetic enough to be tragic, and humorous enough to be black comedy.
- In one Achille Talon strip, the eponymous hero is demonstrating various classic gags to illustrate different types of humor. Getting to the step-on-the-rake-get-hit-in-the-face gag, he then proceeds to show Black Humor when he stomps on the rake, impaling his foot.
- Dilbert uses this trope quite often. One arc features the Pointy-Haired Boss's dead body getting stuffed by a "Libertarian Taxidermist" and being played with like a hand puppet.
- Garfield can engage in this from time to time (e.g. Garfield kicking Odie off the table, then dropping a flowerpot on his head as a "get well soon" gift).
- There's a Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin proposes a class debate on "whether cannibalism is grounds for leniency in murder, since it's less wasteful." No, really.
- Since it's a kid strip, Calvin ends up sitting in the corner, wondering why the teacher "would rather teach us stuff that any fool can look up in a book."
- Mad's strip Just Below the Surface frequently uses it, including an example in which a baby turns to dust when testing a super-absorbent diaper.
- And also 360 Degrees of Separation: "Come on sweetie! Open up for the airplane... Open up for the..."
- EVERY SINGLE STRIP of the New York Daily News-exclusive comic Between the Lines is this.
- On the 11/14/10 episode of The Funday Pawpet Show everyone was watching a reporter show footage of an angry man in a Rascal scooter ram an elevator door three times, the third time disappearing down the shaft to his real-life death. As the reporter showed the footage again, out of nowhere cast member Blitz said "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" completely catching everyone off guard.
- Mortasheen practically runs on this.
- When it was released at the height of the Cold War, the Nuclear War card game was seen as an example of this.
- Paranoia, particularly the Straight and Classic play styles (the Zap style is too busy committing more cartoonish violence).
- The orcs and goblins in Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy. These are creatures that live for killing things - goblins even commit suicide just to kill enemies. These are the most humorous in the setting. And da Orkz in its sci-fi counterpart Warhammer 40,000. These are creatures who can get anything to work by simply believing it will work, and with the Grots, the local flavour of the goblins, being the ultimate kind of Butt Monkey to the Orks in the setting - and not caring. Where any other army is based on a major civilization or a well-known historical army, the orks are based on British soccer hooligans, clearly cementing them as comic relief. The 40K setting is so dark, grim, and cynical that it is almost taken to levels of self-parody, something many fanfiction writers embrace to a strong degree, and some official book series lampshade this fact, such as Deff Skwadron and the Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) series.
- In Nomine has Kobal, Demon Prince of Dark Humor, and his servitors, who work to turn existence into black comedy.
- Planescape, full stop. The dark humor in the setting is a huge deconstruction of the typical D&D heroic fantasy.
- Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a hilarious take on the events of Hamlet as seen from the point of view of two minor characters. Who, as you may have guessed, die. And/or are dead.
- Peter Shaffer's play Black Comedy is a black comedy—the lead is a bungling lowlife of questionable morals whose life collapses hilariously over the course of the play. The title is also an Incredibly Lame Pun—almost all of the play takes place during a blackout.
- David Ives's Variations on the Death of Trotsky.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- The canon of Joe Orton; every single character he's created is an amoral monster who will either kill you or fornicate with you regardless of gender.
- And considering that in Real Life Joe Orton was killed by his gay lover, it seems his work was truer to life than he would have liked...
- Christopher Durang specializes in this kind of humor. Two of his better known plays are The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You. In the first, one of the title characters repeatedly bears stillborn children; the doctor, announcing their births, drops them on the floor. The second ends with the eponymous nun shooting two people.
- The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh tells the story of a poor, crippled orphan who tries to break into show business. Everything that could possibly go wrong for him does. It's simultaneously one of the most depressing plays you will ever read or see and one of the funniest.
- The gravedigger scene in Hamlet. Also his roundabout explanation as to where Polonius' body is could be seen to fall under this trope:
King Claudius: Now Hamlet, where's Polonius?
- The "music with her silver sound" scene in Romeo and Juliet. Juliet's entire household, including her parents, her nurse, and her would-be husband, is in mourning because they think she's dead (and, watching the show, you know that she's going to end up dead soon, anyway.) The musicians who have come to play for her wedding realize that this is kind of an awkward time to be hanging around, and they try to exit discreetly...only to run into Peter, the nurse's comic manservant, who wants them to play a song to cheer him up. They try to explain to him that it's really no time to be playing music...only to have him threaten them at knifepoint.
First Musician: What a pestilent knave is this same!
- Little Shop of Horrors has plenty of this, since Audrey II is both horrifying and hysterical.
- Avenue Q. About three across-the-line jokes per song. Assuming the line is pretty far away from "tasteful". "The Internet Is for Porn ..."
- Sarah Kane's play 'Blasted' takes this trope one step further: Ian, one of the main characters, eats a dead baby. He is also a racist, alcoholic rapist who has had his eyes eaten by a soldier who raped him with a gun.
- Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that 13's target audience is teenagers, it uses a lot of this. Archie, who has muscular dystrophy, is the subject of many terminal illness jokes.
- The classic Punch and Judy puppet show, especially in its harsher incarnations, is an Older Than Radio example.
- Every single production by Pittsburgh-based theatre company Rage of the Stage falls into this category. Their Crowning Moment of Awesome was a Wizard of Oz adaptation featuring a mentally insane and heavily medicated Dorothy, a heroin-addicted Scarecrow, and a sex-obsessed Lion.
TV Tropes Wiki
- The page image of Irony can become funny because of this. On the page it used to illustrate (the real life subpage of Tear Jerker, not so much).
- When you have no tears left there's nothing else but to laugh.
- The Real Life page has a surprising amount of this, most likely due to every single trope being applied to the real world.
- The image caption on the Driven to Suicide page:
"He got better. His life, alas, did not."
- Portal antagonist GLaDOS has a strong streak of black comedy. In fact, the entire world in which the game takes place is constructed of this. Portal 2 and its promotional material ups the ante by showing us a behind the scenes look at the insanity that is Aperture Science—along with the inevitable tragic results which are themselves Played for Laughs.
- While most of the world is in Black Comedy territory, some of it is different.
- "Mr.Johnson, I don't want this! I don't want this! No, Listen to me! Sir, I do not want this!"
- Anything Cave Johnson says.
- Valve in general seems to love this trope, albeit in a relatively subdued sense. Brain-damaged woman used in dangerous experiments? Check. Cats turned inside out by a malfunctioning teleporter? Yep. Exploding heads, live animals being sewn into patients and brutal beatings as part of a ridiculously pointless war? Naturally.
- While most of the world is in Black Comedy territory, some of it is different.
- Psychonauts is a black comedy in cartoony clothing—it looks bright and G-rated, but every now and then something incredibly dark happens, like a suicide-bombing Girl Scout
- The cartoony, comically exaggerated bloodshed of Team Fortress 2 brings it to the edge of black comedy. The Meet the Cast videos push it over.
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, when not relying on reference comedy, revels in this trope. The ending where the Big Bad discovers the contents of the MacGuffin he's been trying to get his hands on have been replaced with explosives by Smiling Jack is a particularly amusing example.
- The Fallout series depend heavily on this trope. The intro to the first game is a stellar example. Given that one of the games' major influences is Dr Strangelove, this is hardly surprising.
- In a case of the radar ops being asleep at the switch, the E-rated Banjo-Tooie is loaded with this. No less than three characters continue to inundate you with British humo(u)r despite varying stages of horrific undeath.
- The Worms computer game series.
- Monday Night Combat has armies of clones dying for entertainment. There are also references to a population-control lottery, assigned dwellings, government-mandated curfews, a section of the stands being under full coyote alert...
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn plunges into this trope wholeheartedly during the Grave Eclipse over Belinsk. We have horrible monsters invading the city and slaughtering the denizens... and then we have the ability to read the bemused thoughts of the freshly-dead (mostly along the lines of "Oh, for crying out loud..."), an old man obliviously flirting with death, and last but not least, said monsters invading an opera house and raiding the orchestra pit to play horror music for their next victims. There's a bit of dark humor in other parts of the game, but this is where it's strongest.
- Planescape: Torment revels in black comedy, much of it based around the protagonist and his immortality. You can win an argument with a man espousing the glories of the afterlife by snapping your own neck, dropping dead, then standing up minutes later and saying, "All right, now it's your turn." Or hit on a female zombie and then bicker with your Lancer about which of the pair of you she was most into.
- You can also order an NPC to crack open your skull to look if there is anything inside. You then write into your journal "there wasn't".
- Conker's Bad Fur Day
- A mountain of excrement.
- The Boss Battle of said mountain of excrement, the Great Mighty Poo. Warning, link swears.
- The recreation of the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan or the dead baby humour when you squish a baby dinosaur that thinks you are its mummy (because you helped it hatch) to sacrifice it to some crocodile god.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum has The Riddler provide a black comedy example of the riddle of the Sphinx:
Riddle: What walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the night?
- Followed by this line:
Therapist: How can you even joke about that?
- Batman: Arkham City tops it right after the final boss battle, with Joker's last words.
Batman: Want to hear something funny? Even after everything you've done, I still would've saved you.
- While the mutated fetus enemy in Dead Space isn't played for laughs, it's hard to think anything but humour was going through the heads of the animators when animating your grapple kill against them: Isaac yanks the baby from his head, and kicks it across the room. One has to wonder why they didn't go the whole hog and add a crowd cheering.
- To wit, there is an achievement/trophy for doing said grapple kill ten times. The achievement's title? Kickin' It
- Visceral games apparently has a thing for this trope; there's an achievement in Dantes Inferno for killing enough undead babies.
- Postal. Nuff said.
- Penumbra: Black Plague features Clarence - a disembodied voice in your head from a virus that runs on this trope.
- Babies in Dwarf Fortress make excellent ablative armor. In a pinch, they make decent bludgeons, too.
- This mod for The Sims 2.
- The Duke Nukem Forever level "The Hive". As Duke progresses through the level (an alien hive located underneath the Duke Dome), he comes across several cocooned women tearfully moaning and crying as Octoroid babies graphically burst from their rapidly-expanding stomachs - the next-gen elements make the visuals and their anguished cries plain disturbing. Duke attempts to make light of the situation after he comes across the Holsom Twins, who have also been impregnated. Duke replies, "Looks like you're...fucked" and soon after, their stomachs burst open (this happens after he expressed audible rage when they're kidnapped from his highrise condo) in an earlier level. Some online reviews noted that this was an attempt to push the Mature rating for all it was worth, but made Duke look like a cold, callous psychopath instead.
- HAM likes this trope, allowing you to send goblin babies into battle. The lore describes them as being so weak, their skin peels off like wet paper.
- A less harsh example: Shit Golems.
- Tropico 4. The entire game. You see, it's a Cold War. You're the dictator of a Banana Republic, and you're ultimately a pawn in a much larger game between the US and the USSR. Your people aren't exactly cooperative, nor they are very bright. You can't stay in power (for long) lest you Kick the Dog on regular basis. This culminates when you sell your island to the US to test nuclear bombs: your Announcer Chatter will say that "according to the scientists, the big shiny mushroom is harmless, and it's good for the skin tone", your history involves the worst in people (Being the only true graduate of every Harvard Grad in your class, where you have to be a pathetic banana republic dictator, your buddies go on to be POTUS).
- Eggman's PA announcements in Sonic Colors are absolutely full of this. To quote one example:
"Next stop, the Tropical Resort. Here, you will find: breath-taking views from our giant ferris wheel, amazing deals from our shopping mall, and constant risk of bodily harm."
- Tales of the Abyss towards Guy's fear of women. During a good portion of the game, whenever a girl comes very close to him (especially if they touch him) he recoils in fear and starts screaming. Hilarious, and becomes a Running Gag But then we learn why he's so afraid of contact with women... When he was young, his home, Hod, was being attacked by Duke fon Fabre's men. Guy was hidden inside a (Thankfully extinguished) fireplace by his older sister and the house maids, and then the soldiers came in. In order to protect him, Guy's sister and the maids threw themselves onto Guy as the soldiers killed them all. He passed out, but when he came to, he was smothered in a pile of dead women. Suffice to say, nobody was laughing after that.
- 8-Bit Theater revels in this.
- The sister comic, Warbot In Accounting includes an example. The eponymous warbot, in an attempt to become a father, buys a kit to build a robot, only to produce a distorted, agonized thing. Warbot proceeds to dump the malformed baby robot in the trash.
- "It's so dark, daddy. So daaaaaaark...."
- And this comes back around when it's revealed the baby robot is still in the trash some time later, pleading for help from its dad.
- Ansem Retort, which is probably inspired by 8-Bit in more ways than one, is even worse. It sets the tone for the rest of the series when the first strip plays burning an orphanage and courthouse for laughs.
- The sister comic, Warbot In Accounting includes an example. The eponymous warbot, in an attempt to become a father, buys a kit to build a robot, only to produce a distorted, agonized thing. Warbot proceeds to dump the malformed baby robot in the trash.
- Gone With the Blastwave both lampshades it's Black Comedy as well as the fact that it's morally deplorable to laugh at it... In the process making it even more hilarious.
- Nobody Scores!
- Kick The Football, Chuck Posits that Charlie Brown is not naturally bald, but bald from chemotherapy. Every common gag with peanuts is shed in this light. Particularly dark is a day at school.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Happy Mother's Day. See the first comment.
- The Troll arc of Homestuck frequently veers into this, since trolls are an inherently violent race, and their interactions in the comic descend into the worst kind of internet Troll-fuelled Flame War only held in person and in a culture where there is no murder taboo. Expect to find hilarious facial expressions on heads severed by a serial killer, witty and idiosyncratic IM conversations about the end of the world, and characters horribly maiming each other each other for hilariously trivial reasons such as LARP drama, having just watched the music video for Insane Clown Posse's "Miracles", or boredom.
- Quite possibly deconstructed in Nana's Everyday Life, which begins as a Sadist Show with instances of Gallows Humor and Black Comedy Rape. As the story goes on it almost unnoticably plays down the comedic aspects until there is only one thing left to ask: IS THIS COMEDY?
- Frequently played in No Black Plume.
- Zombie Ranch has images like a woman casually using glue to put her undead horse back together. That's not even getting into the media segments cheerfully depicting things like zombie massacre.
- Head Trip hangs a lampshade on its reputation by starting off with an abortion joke.
- Looking for Group uses black comedy for many of the jokes in the strip, particularily the strips focusing on Richard. The creators also made a short animated feature released on Youtube that is one long black comedy joke.
- Cyanide & Happiness will often go to this level and beyond.
- Sexy Losers is a classic of the genre, with comedic situations arising from disgusting and perverted sexual practices, including necrophilia and incest.
- Bigger Than Cheeses performed an ample display of this trope in response to one of Ctrl+Alts+Del's ham-fisted dramatic storylines, with a series of arguably distasteful/controversial two-panel gags.
- A Softer World which relies on this in frequent but creative ways. Like this. Lampshaded (sort of, in an incredibly disturbing way) the very next day.
- Lucid TV does this with doctors. Think House, but worse.
- VG Cats,which often veers into that territory, has two examples here and here. The later was in response to complaints about the former.
- FLEM Comics is one very long frequently-lampshaded run of every offensive trope in the book. The one strip the author thought so horrible that he put it off for years? Hank the Dancing Abortion. Complete with hangar through the head. Later converted to a running gag.
- Jerkcity, in its more coherent moments.
Spigot: YOU MIGHT SAY ALL THIS SARIN GAS IS MAKING ME VIETNUMB
- A Game of Fools can fall into this territory at times, with this being a particularly disturbing example.
- The name of the game in Tomoyo42's Room. Sometimes even involving actual dead babies: for example, Tomoyo throwing hers and Sakura's child (well, egg) into the sea, or sticking a dead baby through a fan.
- LegoRobot Comics is definitely an example, and DEFINITELY NSFW.
- Shredded Moose attempts this. The creator forgot to include the "comedy" part.
- Sex, Drugs, and June Cleaver occasionally forays into this territory. Oh, and it's a Journal Comic.
- Penny Arcade wants its readers to know that, despite all appearances, they do in fact have limits, of which this type of comedy is one. Even Evil Has Standards.
- Elftor's entire purpose seems to have been locating the line of decency and sprinting as far past it as humanly possible. Consider this strip, where the eponymous character "solves" his girlfriend's pregnancy by hitting her in the stomach with a shovel, resulting in a miscarriage, resulting in the fetus coming back to life as a zombie, who promptly gets his own girlfriend pregnant, and requests a shovel. You probably don't want to know about the special 9/11 comic (released on 9/11/01, no less).
- Edible Dirt.
- The webcomic Anomaly is hosted on a website called "hyperdeathbabies.com". The first comic stars a dead baby in a dumpster. After that.... it's easier to list the comics that are not as offensive as humanly possible.
- Doobl! falls within this trope heavily, although unfortunately listing it here rather ruins the joke. It's still worth reading for a giggle, and you can always pretend to be surprised.
- Coach Random uses the joke in the page quote, except it's a "dead puppy in clown makeup".
- Done in this Amazing Super Powers strip.
- The intentionally mis-named Perry Bible Fellowship mixes this with a cutesy art style.
- Chopping Block is a web comic about a stereorypical serial killer, mommy and sex issues included.
- The Snail Factory
- K.C. Green's works, such as Gunshow and Horribleville, function on Black Comedy as if it were fuel. The fact that Green is diagnosed with severe depression, which many of his comics deal with, doesn't help any of it.
- The YouChewPoop forums has a topic devoted to these sorts of jokes. Possibly the funniest/most offensive is this:
Manwith10toes: What did the blind, deaf, mute, crippled, retarded kid get for Christmas? Cancer.
- This episode of HAWP in which the punchline ends with "sometimes life isn't funny".
- Anything is funny with Yakety Sax!
- Teen Girl Squad fuses this with Homestar Runner's usual surreal comedy: most of the humor is derived from the bizarre and unusual ways the major (and sometimes minor) characters are killed.
- Almost the entirety of Assignment 2.
- The Most Disturbing Aristocrats Joke Ever by Doug Walker.
- The Nostalgia Chick has loved this trope ever since her "Top Ten Disturbing And Inescapable Christmas Songs" list. It contains a song which tells a story of domestic violence. While the song is played, the viewers are treated to a reenactment of a southern hick beating his wife. The clip starts as serious and somewhat realistic, but then, out of nowhere, the husband starts giving his wife the "stop hitting yourself" treatment and giving her Indian burns. The scene turns from not funny into silly and then outright hilarious.
- The Darwin Awards, an anthology of stupid deaths/sterilizations. According to the creator, the stupidity of it is what keeps it funny rather than morbid.
- The Vengeance Dad and PTSD Clarinet Boy memes.
- The horrible truth behind starter Pokemon
- The Randomverse can make almost any character into a black comic. For one, at The Joker's funeral, Harley Quinn asks new beau Green Goblin if he has any words. Double G responds with "I'm sure he knows exactly what I'm thinking..."
I'm doing your girl; I'm glad you're dead. I'm doing your girl; I'm glad you're dead. I'm doing your girl; I'm glad you're dead.
- You Suck At Photoshop is the story of a man having a slow and terrible mental breakdown while trying to make a series of Accentuate the Negative video Photoshop tutorials demonstrating advanced techniques. The combination of his forced Deadpan Snarker persona being So Unfunny It's Funny, his Toxic Friend Influence sn4tchbuckl3r constantly harassing him over Skype, and the increasingly surreal awfulness of Donny's life put it firmly in this category.
- Marble Hornets has a number of moments like this in the second season, particularly with Alex's reactions to Jay's incredibly stupid behavior. In particular, in Entry #46, Jay sneaks into Alex's house, only to be interrupted when he spots the resident Eldritch Abomination right outside and hears Alex coming in. He hides in a closet. Then we get this:
Alex: Hey, Jay. You forgot your flashlight.
- This Cracked.com article 5 Ways Meth Can Make You a New Person
- The Stalker Song plays up the stalking behaviors of a Psycho Ex-Boyfriend for laughs. Even when he kidnaps the girl's cat and threatens to harm him unless the girl gives him attention, it's still pretty funny.
- For obvious reasons, most of the humor that does pop up in Survival of the Fittest tends to be of either this nature or Crosses the Line Twice. Then again, that's the only real way you can laugh at terrorists abducting teenagers and forcing them to kill each other.
- The site dead baby joke.com which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- The Jerry series is rife with it. Particularly in this installment. When Jerry's dad hears his son committed suicide, he giggles and says, nostalgically, "Oh, man, that is just so... something he'd do."
- Subverted in The Cinema Snob's review of Las Vegas Bloodbath, where the Snob has prepared a list of jokes to go with a scene in the movie where the killer murders a pregnant woman and cuts out her unborn child... but then he decides that the jokes are all too tasteless and offensive to actually use, so he just shows a clip from another movie instead.
- Played straight in the 80's Dan Christmas special.
- An early episode of I'm a Marvel And I'm a DC has Superman dropping his baby son after Spider-Man suggests that being an illegitimate father will tarnish his image. After dropping the kid, Superman reacts with an "ooooooooops".
- 12 Uses Of Dead Babies. As a matter of fact, Newgrounds has a collection of shorts called BASTARDS with plenty of shorts that cross the line and are guaranteed to irk you...Yet, they may also be guaranteed to make you laugh as well, and if they do, CONGRATULATIONS! You're a heartless bastard!
- Played straight in Full Metal Panic!: The Abridged Series with Gauron's segment of the show. He tells 9/11 jokes in one episode, but the creator admitted that was too harsh.
- Happy Tree Friends is a webseries that combines Refuge in Audacity and this trope and takes it as far as it can.
- YouTube user Blueluigi has a satirical video involving a whiny fanboy who wants to harm himself just to bring back Fox Kids.
- Skippys List has examples:
54. "Napalm sticks to kids" is *not* a motivational phrase.
- In the American Dad episode "Tearjerker" the evil plot involves a film about a mentally retarded, alcoholic Jew in the holocaust with a cancer riddled puppy.
- It's really more of a parody of Oscar Bait. The film's name is even 'Oscar Gold'.
- Let's not forget Tearjerker's contingency movie: "Six hours of a baby chimp trying to revive its dead mother!"
- Invader Zim: Only Jhonen Vasquez could make the hostile alien takeover of our world so twistedly funny.
- Aaahh Real Monsters: Its gross humor and demonic running gags are truly a dead giveaway.
- There's an episode where Bender adopts a dozen orphans and then attempts to sell them to a restaurant as meat.
- Then there's the second movie "Beast With a Billion Backs" where in order for the Robot Devil to provide the robots with weapons he tells Bender he must give him his first born son, he brings him to Robot Hell and casually kicks him into a vat of molten lead saying "here you go".
- South Park, most infamously. In its later seasons, it's even more notorious for rapidly switching between this and being too moralistic and heavy-handed. There were even dead babies during the Christopher Reeve stem cell episode.
- Family Guy is a black hole; blackness so dense, not even light can escape. For example; "September Eleventh, Two Thousand Fun!" The show couples this brand of humor with Breathless Non Sequiturs. "Airport '07" applied the trope by featuring a sequence in which a group of "Prom Night Dumpster Babies" sing a showtune about their plight.
- The episode "The Splendid Source" spoofed this; Peter and friends find the people who write the world's dirty jokes. They have on display the first dead baby joke, a papyrus scroll with an Egyptian woman saying "My baby is dead" and a man pointing and saying "Ha".
- Comedy Central's "cartoon reality show" Drawn Together falls into this category, as they definitely go out of their way to be controversial and gross, sometimes at the expense of laughs.
- Perhaps the best example of something on the show being both dark AND hilarious is in Little Orphan Hero in which Captain Hero ends up reenacting the rape scene from "The Accused". It doesn't sound funny until you consider the fact that A: He's dressed like a woman for no good reason and no one at the frat kegger questions this B: He's powerful and crazy enough to kill all his attackers with ease C: A newspaper headline later in the show reads "Best Kegger Ever!" and D: It's a Superman Expy in a tube top being gang banged by frat boys. The sheer insanity of the situation counteracts the normal Dude, Not Funny.
- From the same episode: Captain Hero wipes out his species out of SPITE.
Captain Hero: Captain hero ONE! Billions of innocent Zebulonians...um...dead. Oh. I...uh...(Slinks off)
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: Courage & his owners Eustace, and Muriel Bagge constantly run into monsters, aliens, demons, mad scientists, zombies, and island natives that Courage must fend off to save his owners. Eustace always ends up being attacked by all the horrors in the series.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
Grim: (Baby voice) Who's gonna get reaped? Who's gonna get reaped? You are! You are!
- ...And that's just one character.
- Moral Orel, which occasionally decides to drop the "comedy" part; it left it to die in a ditch for most of the last season.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes. More subtle than the above examples, but still there.
- Dan Vs. is about a completely desensitized, immoral, rude, stubborn, selfish, heartless asshole who will put people (including his friends) in harm's way to commit (usually illegal) acts of vengeance, and yet is so hilarious.
- Surprisingly, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has a fair amount of this while still remaining a sweet, warm show. The main cast's mental breakdowns, of which there are plenty, have got increasingly darker and increasingly funnier.
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law features a fantastically hilarious joke of lawfirm boss juggling a baby with shotguns and live chainsaws. Though in all fairness, that baby was having a good time.
- Then there's the episode where Phil runs for president and goes down a line of well-wishers. "Shake hand, kiss baby. Shake hand, kiss baby. Shake hand, kiss hand. Shake baby, kiss hand. Kiss hand, shake baby..."
- Almost inevitably, Robot Chicken had one such sketch in which a crowd of visitors inside a maternity ward coo at a baby, only for a nurse to walk up and cover its face to illustrate that it's dead. Good stuff.
- Lampshaded in one episode where a sketch shows a visit from the Tooth Fairy being interrupted by the girl's mother and father arguing, and showing Multiple Endings where some combination of the parents and the Tooth Fairy die. The characters in the sketch then win an award for "Darkest Sketch Ever".
- A close contender for that title would be Hannah Montana being murdered like Lennon, and her friends from the show struggling to maintain the illusion of her being two different people with her corpse, Weekend at Bernie's-style, only for her body to become more horrifically mutilated. The sketch ends with a cut to Miley Cyrus crying hysterically in an office, as a Disney executive warns her "And THAT is how we'll end the show if you ever get knocked-up like that Zoey 101 whore!!!".
- Proving that even the creators have limits, supposedly they scrapped a potential skit in which a baby is delivered stillborn, causing the doctor to work it like a hand puppet. It was (obviously) never made.
- A few of the in-house Cartoon Network Adult Swim shows lightly qualify. "Lightly" because more often, they're just flat-out insane.
- The Venture Brothers frequently gets laughs from graphic violence and horrible things and sheer sadism toward the main characters. This is the show with an episode that gave us a Lotus Eater Machine Powered by a Forsaken Child, after all (even if Dr. Venture "didn't use the whole thing!")
- Also think about the fact that Dean and Hank are clones that are constantly being killed (at least for the first few seasons).
- The episode "Mr. Grumpypants" of Superjail! has Jailbot following Jacknife into a hospital and accidentally killing some sick kids; later on, various inmates of the prison are reverted into infants by magical means, which is a probably rare instance of seeing toddlers cutting each other to pieces. Also, the driving force of the episode is the Warden's hatred of children and desire to murder the little girl who Jailbot accidentally brought to Superjail. However, the inmates treat her with dignity, and when she finally succumbs to cancer, this is treated as a very sad moment.
- In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, awful things are always happening to the neighbour, Carl. He has 'died' many times on the show, including; his arms being ripped off, his skin being torn off (and then shot with robot lasers), being blasted with laser guided socks by robotic turkeys, and and being sucked into a turbine powered toilet (with only his head left intact) after which he was revived in various ways. His penis has also been surgically removed, he's been raped by dogs, was hypnotised and then forced to shove and entire broomstick into his body by way of his anus, and other various assaults. One of the main characters, Shake, has also attempted suicide many times (succeeding a few times, and once by accident), including; putting a hose on the exhaust pipe of Carl's car and feeding it into the interior with the windows rolled up, hanging himself (which was thwarted by Frylock, but then doing it right in Carl's pool with piranhas, sleeping pills, and another hose attached to Carl's car exhaust), cutting himself in half with a katana (the accidental one), and finally, attempting to shoot himself in the head, only to be patched up by the Marines so he could report for duty.
- Standards and Practices: Acceptable!
- In the Hulk Vs. Wolverine direct-to-DVD animated movie, after a shot showing a bunch of fetuses-in-tubes at Weapon X HQ, the following exchange takes place:
Deadpool: What do you say after the mission we kill all those floating babies?
- Monkey Dust focused on the darker side of life in Britain today, with sketches involving serial killers, terrorists, and paedo-hunting mobs; playing all kinds of bizarre, horrible or disgusting behaviour for dark and disturbing laughs. Fans of the show suspect that the real reason it was cancelled after the second series was because some of the sketches were deemed to have come Too Soon. It was revived for a third series, but the producer died soon afterwards.
- Perhaps the best of the lot was Ivan Dobsky, a man constantly committing murders so he can stay IN prison, which he finds a lot nicer than the modern world.
- Others consider the Paedofinder General skits in which a man resembling a 16th-century Witch Hunter roams Britain accusing people of being "paedophiles" and executing them for trivial reasons, to be the best.
"By the powers invested in me by a text vote on Sky News, I find you guilty of paedophilia!"
- Metalocalypse toys around with this from time to time (aside from the straight Gorn), particularly with the 'Dethkomedy' episode.
- SpongeBob SquarePants does this on occasion in the post-season 4 episodes.
Plankton: Is this a real or an artificial baby?
- The later episodes of The Simpsons occasionally use this type of comedy. A couple of examples include a pregnant Brandine smoking a cigar and chugging a jug of moonshine and proudly patting her belly saying "That stopped the kicking" and another features Chief Wiggum in a flashback playing with a baby Ralph and dropping him on his head.
- One well-known example from an earlier episode occurs in "Homer's Enemy".
- In the movie, Bart plays a game that involving blasting down babies. Maggie is not pleased... seemingly because Bart stolen her game (she is implied to be playing the game later).
- The later episodes of The Fairly Oddparents. Let's see Domestic Abuse JOKES (To the point where the main character is an abused 10 year old) Once an Episode, the setting is a Crapsack World, most parodies are shallow, Take That, ect. In the episode, "Spellelementry", Poof finds the skeleton of a dead baby. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
- Phineas and Ferb uses this in relation to Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
- When they went to the museum, there was a dog skeleton on display with a collar that says "Bucky." Phineas says that they had a dog named Bucky who got sick and went to live on kindly Old Man Simmons's farm. Their dad hurries them along to the next display, which is kindly Old Man Simmons.
- One famous animated segment on The Electric Company starts with a well-dressed woman leaving her parrot home alone; a plumber comes and knocks on the door, and the parrot says, "Who's there?" The plumber answers, "I'm the plumber, I've come to fix the sink." But the parrot says "Who's there?" causing the plumber to repeat, "I'm the plumber, I've come to fix the sink!" After several repetitions of this, with the plumber becoming more annoyed each time, he has a heart attack and collapses. The owner of the house comes back, notices him, and exclaims, "Who's this?" The parrot replies, "He's the plumber, he's come to fix the sink."
- The Onion often has brilliant examples of this sort of humor, consider More Americans Falling For 'Get Rich Slowly Over A Lifetime Of Hard Work' Schemes and the most depressing Onion article ever, or the other most depressing Onion article ever ...or this third, even MORE depressing Onion article (all three of which, IMO, Cross The Line Twice and then cross it again and head way over into actually really depressing territory).
- Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday.
- It even made a joke about the Rwandan Genocide... and it was actually funny.
- This O-SPAN clip. Political satire, meet deeply disturbing morbid humor.
- This particular gem introduces as so: At the group's annual convention Sunday, members of the National Education Association called for the formation of a nationwide coalition of parents, teachers and political leaders to address a rapidly growing problem: the alarmingly low quality of teenage suicide notes across the U.S.
Brodhagen then related the story of another tragic suicide note, discovered at the feet of a 15-year-old St. Louis boy who had hanged himself.
- Often used on Mock the Week, especially by Frankie Boyle. On the subject of pets:
"I don't know how long I could be a vet before I got bored and started shagging stuff. I'd shag an owl, because whatever position you took it from you could always get eye contact. Or shag a kitten--could you imagine having sex with something you wanted to cuddle afterwards?"
- Frankie Boyle uses this so much, one could argue he subverted it once. The subject was children, and after one comment about how sinister the picture looked, he went on to tell a really sweet story about his own daughter.
- Similarly, when he skewered the host for a relatively tame joke, everyone remarked on how it must have been odd for him to find himself in the moral high ground. He double subverted it when, a moment later, he made a joke about the Russian that Vladimir Putin had allegedly assassinated through polonium poisoning.
- That pet quote actually merited him his own separate warning before the program started.
- He even lampshades it in a deleted scene (that later appeared in a compilation episode), in which he makes a joke about the recent memorial concert for Princess Diana; after joking that they could have staged a more fitting tribute "by staging a gang-bang in a minefield", he smiles charmingly at the audience's torn-between-shock-and-amusement reaction, goes back to the start position, and innocently notes that "it'll be interesting to see if that makes it in, actually."
- Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights is generally considered by critics to be pushing so far into the realm of tasteless that it forgets to have jokes.
- The late George Carlin was well-known for this.
- In this picture by Ursula Vernon Delivery Stork meets dead babies. Enjoy.
- Q: What is the best way to get 100 dead babies out of a blender? A: With chips! http://www.dead-baby-joke.com/introduction.htm
- Q: What's worse than a pile of dead babies? A: The live one at the bottom of the pile.
- What’s wose than that? It has to eat its way out. What’s worse than that? It succeeded. What's worse than that? It went back for seconds. What’s worse than that? Justin Bieber, duh.
- Sadly some dead baby jokes require visual pantomime. On the other hand...
- Q: What's worse than a pile of dead babies? A: The live one at the bottom of the pile.
- How do you empty a garbage truck full of dead babies? With a pitchfork!
- There's another version of that one: What's the difference between a truckload of dead babies and a truckload of bowling balls? You can't unload the bowling balls with a pitchfork.
- Q: What's worse than five babies in a trashcan? A: One baby in five trashcans.
- Q: What's the difference between one hundred dead babies and a Ferrari? A: I don't own a Ferrari.
- Or, i don't have a Ferrari in my garage.
- Q: What's pink and orange and floats on the bottom of a pool? A: A baby with its floaties slashed. Q: What's pink, red, and orange and floats on the top of a pool? A: Floaties with their baby slashed.
- Q: What's the difference between a baby and a trampoline? A: You take off your boots before jumping on the trampoline.
- Q: What's the best way for Capcom to greenlight the Megaman Legends 3 project? A: Simple. Dress two aborted fetu as Roll and Megaman Volnutt.
- Most Adult Swim online games https://web.archive.org/web/20110122043129/http://games.adultswim.com/, which frequenty cross the line. Examples include:
- A certain person has made a comment about genocide as a result of his personal distaste of Anime. It did get some smiles, but still... he said that two nukes weren't enough...
- This animated gif, staring Steven Seagal.
- This site has a list of medical slangs. Most them are jokes about terminal diseases, wounds, deformities, etc.
- Feel like shaking a baby to death? There's an app for that. Or at least, there used to be, until Apple found out and pulled it from the App Store.
- Q: What is the difference between a dead baby and a rock? A: The baby can be raped!
- Q: Why did that kid fell off the swing? A: Because he has not arms!
- Q: And why did nobody help him to get up? A: Because he has no friends!
- Relatively similar and equally repellent are Helen Keller jokes: Q: How did Helen Keller burn her fingers? A: By reading the waffle iron. And countless others.
- After his drunk driving-related death, in which he crashed into a tree near his house, it was said of on-and-off Yankees manager Billy Martin that "he was the only baseball player who ever died sliding into home."
- There's a yarn that a unit of Gurkhas were being shelled. One shell hit the man who was always giving The Captain a headache. Whereupon someone said, "If the sahibs couldn't deal with him when he was in one piece, how will the gods deal with him when he is in six?"
- Military Historian Christopher Duffy introduced one book with the phrase,"This is an atrocious book." He was writing about the Soviet invasion of Germany.
- Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia in 1966-7, went on an ill-advised swimming trip at Cheviot Beach (notorious for its riptides and strong currents) and somewhat predictably drowned. The Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris decided to honour his memory by naming a municipal swimming pool after him.
- The traditional tales told about Saint Lawrence of Rome provide great examples of both this trope and Gallows Humour. According to legend, Saint Lawrence was martyred by being roasted to death on a gridiron. Supposedly, after roasting over a hot fire for a while, he said to his tormentors, "I am done on this side; you may turn me over now". That's the Gallows humour. The Black Comedy is what happened afterward - the Church decided he would make an excellent patron saint of cooks and chefs! And comedians.
- There's a streak of black comedy running through the patronage of saints. St Sebastian - martyred by being shot full of arrows - is patron of archers. Thomas More - executed for not supporting Henry VIII's divorce and subsequent split from Rome - is patron of difficult marriages. Teresa of Avila - known for her overwhelming ecstatic visions - is patron of headaches.
- CTF, or Cletus the Fetus is an obscure black comedy medical term for a baby born at 23 weeks, where the survival rate is less than 1%. There have been no cases of a baby surviving birth before 22 weeks, confirming doctors may have the blackest of all humor.
- Tim Horton, famous hockey player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and founder of the wildly famous donut and coffee store; Tim Hortons. One day he was driving through the streets of St. Catharines Ontario extremly drunk. He went under the lake St. Overpass at around 150Kmh in his car and hit a support column. He and his car were obliterated. To this day, you can still find Tim-Bits everywhere.
- Christopher Hitchens combined this with a Take That at Princess Diana:
Hitchens: The thing about mine fields is that they're very easy to lay, but they're very difficult and dangerous, and even expensive to get rid of' - the perfect description of Prince Charles's first wife.
- In turn, a joke circualted about Hitchens immediately after his death by those less than fond of him went as such:
“God is Dead.” —–Christopher Hitchens, 2007
- ...which is a repurposed Nietzsche joke.
- In the Forties Pan Am had some of the few prop planes which could make the Atlantic flight. At that it was chancy and of course they preferred to rely on airstops. One of these was Ascension Island, an otherwise obscure island in the South Atlantic that was a mere dot on a map and would be extremely hard for a plane's navigator to find. Thus a favorite ditty of Pan Am was, "If I don't hit Ascension my wife will get a pension...".
- With bonus dead babies in the hidden comic.
- Fortunately it wasn't as bad as that. A radio beacon had just been installed and thus no planes were ever lost on that run. But it does make an amusing joke even so.