A Day at the Bizarro
"The pine grew apples for a whim / the cart-horse built a nest / the oxen flew, the flowers sang / the sun rose in the west."
—G. K. Chesterton, "A Certain Evening"
An episode where the facts and rules concerning the characters, settings, and the laws of physics can be temporarily suspended. For today, everything is bizarro, and anything goes.
Obviously, these are usually not part of the show's continuity. Sometimes the events are explained away as being All Just a Dream. Other times, like the spot-the-mistakes episodes of The Drew Carey Show or the what-if-they-never-met episode of Mad About You, the events seem to be legitimate.
A sub-type of Something Completely Different. Compare Non Sequitur Scene Episode]] and What If. Frequently seen in Mind Screw plots and Deranged Animation. See also How Unscientific, a frequent cause.
- If the series had a single serious bone in its body, any single episode of Excel Saga could count as this. But even in this context, the final episode, produced with the express intention of breaking as much of Japan's S&P broadcast code as possible, definitely lives up to its title of "Going Too Far".
- The original Tenchi Muyo! TV series made some waves at the time of its original broadcast by taking a couple of weeks off from the storyline to air a series of "alternate-universe" vignettes starring the main characters in very different settings (one of which actually spun off into its own franchise). Definitely the first time this trope had ever been used in anime, and possibly a first for Japanese television as a whole!
- The episode of Ouran High School Host Club wherein young!Haruhi suddenly steps into a pastiche of Alice in Wonderland with characters from the show in all the major roles. Of course, this is really All Just a Dream, but surprisingly, the entire episode is not only entirely in continuity but it actually is important for developing several of the characters. Especially Haruhi's mom, who doesn't appear in person in any other episode. Because she's dead.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion doesn't stray into this territory for the first half of its run, but by Episode 16, the story turns chaotic, savage, and insanely surreal, then just plain cruel. Just how bad depends on what happens in these episodes. The last two, especially, send the viewer into a conundrum of questions. But... End Of Evangelion takes all the above to the ultimate extreme.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, similar to the above, seems relatively reasonable about the laws of reality until the Time Skip hits. Then, it audaciously tosses out every single rule of reality (even ones God is supposed to govern) for the most epic and far-fetched Final Battle you can handle! It takes place in a pocket universe with two galatic-sized mechs made of near-infinite energy, the heroes forming a series of Meta Mecha with an already planetary-size mech inside theirs, with a city-sized mech inside that one, housing a normal-size Humongous Mecha that runs on fighting spirit. The battle escalates to materializing impossibly huge-scale weapons, spitting out big bangs, throwing galaxies, and telling every single law of reality to shove it up their crock!!! Then came Lagann-hen... wherein we learned tearing apart the heroes' mechas makes them split into ten equally powerful mecha, make a volcano erupt in space, and the mecha trump the battle in the anime by making said pocket universe collapse entirely from the impact of two universe-sized drills from two god-par mecha made of pure cosmic energy!! And to top it off... Simon beats the Anti-Spiral using a drill made from the iron of his own blood!!!
- Issue 34 of the first incarnation of Marvel Comics' "What If?" consisted of nothing but humorous takes on the Marvel Universe and its characters (a good number of them one-panel stories, even), culminating with "What Will Happen When Stan Lee Reads This Issue?" He fires the entire staff. 'Nuff said.
- The X-Men comics of the 1980s had the "Kitty's Fairy Tale" issues, where Shadowcat told fairy tales with thinly-disguised versions of the regular characters. In recent[when?] years, Marvel Comics tried to launch an entire comics line based on extending this premise (minus the in-continuity framing sequences) to their other characters.
- The entirety of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. The premise sounds straightforward enough - MJ uses The Power of Pop to save a little girl from drug dealers - but it... really... just... isn't. Even his biggest fans were left scratching their heads, wondering if he'd written the script by dictating the results of an acid trip. Seriously, if we tried to describe it here, you would not believe us. Just go to YouTube and search for some clips, and bear in mind, every single one of them Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
- Similar to the Mad About You example noted above, Friends had a "what if?" episode that explored the possible consequences of Joey becoming a star with Chandler as his personal assistant, Monica staying fat, Ross's Closeted Gay wife staying in the closet and keeping their marriage going, Rachel having gone through with her marriage (thus never meeting any of the friends) and Phoebe somehow becoming a stock broker.
- The X-Files did this a few times, most notably in its The Rashomon episodes "Jose Chung's from Outer Space" and "Bad Blood".
- News Radio had two special episodes that were set out of continuity: one featuring the staff of a radio station in space, and another where they run a radio station on the Titanic.
- Episode 200 of Stargate SG-1, which Word of God states is out of continuity.
- "Window of Opportunity" also counts. Golfing through the Stargate, resigning to kiss someone of a lower rank, cycling through the tunnels of the base with a bicycle bell...
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a couple of these in different incarnations: Halloween of season two, "The Wish", and "Restless" are the best examples.
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm had an episode which involved Tori being sent to a universe where the Rangers were bad and the villains were good, although it makes you wonder where the parallel universe Tori is.
- The Cosby Show had one episode written by Rudy, which featured the cast as fairy-tale characters, clothed in costumes made to look like crayon drawings.
- The Bones fourth-season finale features Booth as a nightclub owner, Brennan as his wife, Hodgins as a hard-drinking novelist, Cam as a detective, etc. Of course, it's all in Booth's head as he's actually in a coma, recovering from the removal of a brain tumor. The dream is "inspired" by a story Brennan is writing, which she is reading aloud to Booth as she sits in vigil by his bedside.
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show had an episode where each of the major male characters imagined what it would be like if they were married to Mary.
- Star Trek has the Mirror Universe episodes, where most of the characters are downright evil or entirely different than what is expected. Just to add to this, there is no Federation; instead, the Terran Empire exists in its place - up until Deep Space Nine, that is, when the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance defeats them and conquers Earth.
- Enterprise's "In a Mirror, Darkly" two-partner is an excellent example. While the other episodes crossover between the two universes, this one was set entirely in the Mirror Universe. Except for the Defiant that had somehow ended up in the Mirror Universe. That's the Defiant from TOS episode "The Tholian Web", not the one from Deep Space Nine. The Enterprise production team went balls-to-the-wall and combined this trope with a Breather Episode full of Fan Service and soft-core Continuity Porn, not to mention the entire cast in Large Ham mode and obviously having tremendous fun; it's one of the most entertaining episodes in the series.
- Also, three episodes (one in TOS, one in TNG and another in ENT) involve a Negative Space Wedgie that causes the crew to do the Mushroom Samba.
- Farscape has a few interesting examples. "The Crackers Don't Matter" had the entire crew trying to kill each other over some crackers, while "Won't Get Fooled Again" was... Well, The Dragon was wearing bright red pumps at one point. That was a tame scene.
- In Lexx the cast tries to invoke this by traveling to the center of the universe, where the laws of reality supposedly behave much differently. A more traditional example is season four's A Midsummer's Nightmare, which, while thoroughly bizarre like the rest of the show, does not at all fit into the series' cosmology, a point which is actually brought up in dialog and briefly discussed.
- UFO's episode "Mindbender" had Straker hallucinate that he was an actor in a TV series about UFOs. One memorable scene had him wandering around the actual UFO soundstage, showing the HQ and moonbase sets.
- Similarly, Charlie Drake's Britcom The Worker ended its original black and white run with an episode in which Drake is confused to discover that he's actually a comedian in a Britcom. Drake seemingly liked this ending so much he used a variation of it a few years later when the show was revived in colour. There's another episode in which Drake's character gets hit on the head by a boomerang (a deliberate aversion of Drake's song "My Boomerang Won't Come Back") and suffers some weird hallucinations, ending with a trial in which he is the judge, jury, barrister and defendant.
- Lizzie McGuire has the episode where Lizzie and Matt switch bodies.
- Roseanne had some of these, to the point where it may not even count anymore. To set out a brief list, there were a few Halloween Episodes that seemingly broke reality, a few episodes that were All Just a Dream, and toward the end of the series, plenty of them, such as episodes where Roseanne posed for Playboy, won Miss Universe, and, well actually the entire final season was this after they won the lottery.
- Wolf Lake did this in the episode "Leader of the Pack", in which an incident is presented as narrated to a team of investigators by Graham Greene's character Sherman Blackstone. To say that he's an Unreliable Narrator is an understatement; the episode is hilarious and basically told from first-looney's point of view, with Blackstone admitting to telling the investigators the kind of story he would find fun to hear. Random daydreams and Fan Service are inserted into the story, and salacious elements such as a married pair of gay bank robbers who also happen to be brothers are included. Elements that would actually be pertinent to the story are glossed over, such as brushing off murders with comments such as "drinking problem".
Interviewer: According to my notes, he swallowed two ounces of sulfuric acid, mixed into a White Russian.
- A sixth season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featuring the film Last of the Wild Horses has the first segment take place in a Mirror Universe where Frank and Dr. Forrester are the test subjects.
- A later episode had Pearl in the theater quipping with the bots while Mike hung out with Observer and Bobo on the planet below.
- The B-plot of the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Mermaid Theory", in which Future!Ted's usually impressive memory breaks down while telling his kids about a fight Lily and Barney once had, and he starts describing things that make no sense, like a motorcycle roaring through McLarens, Barney magically levitating a beer bottle, or Barney and Lily switching personalities; then going "Wait, wait, that's not right" and starting the whole story over again. This causes an unusually high degree of Medium Awareness on the parts of "Barney" and "Lily", who are shown referring to the topic of their fight in-dialogue as "something" ("I'm still mad at you because of something!") because Ted can't remember what they were upset about, and at one point they wind up suspended in limbo, casting glares at the screen and checking their watches impatiently while Future!Ted mutters "um...hang on...let me see..." to himself.
- The World Ends With You has Another Day, you can access this episode after you complete the main storyline and takes place in an alternate universe where Tin Pin Slammer is Serious Business.
- Every cutscene in Crash: Mind Over Mutant, which seems to follow a different art style every time.
- The "What If?" mode in the PS 1 Spider-Man game. It took the base plot and added tons of silly lines. "Doc Ock has trapped me...and I can't stop dancing".
- Command & Conquer Red Alert had two: the secret Giant Ant missions and one multiplayer map set on the moon which randomly reassigned all the units' weapons, so you had helicopters firing flamethrowers and V2 rockets.
- The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues has your brain, spine and heart being stolen by incompetent Mad Scientist Brains In Jars who are all drugged out of their gourds, an area exhibiting all the craziest pre-War SCIENCE! (and since this is Fallout, that's really saying something), a gun with a living dog brain as a component, a talking stealth suit that calls you her best friend and plays pranks on you, a base full of talking appliances who all hate each other, and a surreal conversation with your own brain in a tank, who sounds suspiciously like Seth McFarlane if even you're a woman.
- El Goonish Shive:
- When Pete Abrams needs a little break from drawing Sluggy Freelance, but can't wrangle up a guest artist, he will often spend a week or two drawing "Stick Figures In Space!" where the main characters are re-cast as space adventurers (drawn stick figure style, natch).
- "Mulberry's Epic Yarn"
- High Fantasy webcomic Exiern spends a month at the bizarro as part of an Overly Long April Fools Gag when it is suddenly re-tooled as a a group of trendy twenty somethings hanging out at a coffeeshop/strip club.
- The Halloween special of almost everything these days, following in the mold of The Simpsons. Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, for example, where every student at the school was some supernatural creature like a zombie, ghost, werewolf, or vampire, and Ned just continued to give tips like there was nothing weird going on.
- Teen Titans had a tradition of showing one episode like this before every Darker and Edgier Season Finale, making for prime Mood Whiplash.
- For viewers with no sense of humour who wish to avoid these, skip any episode in which the theme song is in Japanese rather than English.
- Dexter's Laboratory once had an episode that used a tape a six year old sent in of his own episode and featured "animation" in the style of crayon drawings.
- Daria. "Depth Takes a Holiday", which is, shall we say, uncharacteristically whimsical for the series.
- The Donald Duck short "Duck Pimples". Donald listens to scary stuff on the radio, causing his overactive imagination to bring a bunch of shady characters to life. First, he envisions a creepy yet silly salesman who drops a lot of horror novels on Don's sofa. As he starts reading one, more weirdos emerge from the book, such as a gruff police officer who accuses Don of stealing a dame's pearls, accompanied by the lady herself. After some Non Sequitur Scene-y gags, both are about to murder Donald because he hasn't "confessed" yet. Just before they cut his throat in half, the author himself exits the book and reveals the officer to be guilty. The cop confesses it was indeed him, but he ain't amused, and as he steps back to go back into the book's pages, he "shoots" Donald with thin air; he reacts just as if had been shot for real. Terrified, the dame and the author go back to the novel as well. Donald regains conscience and immediately shakes the book to confirm it all ended, as some offscreen voices tell him it was all imaginary. He's not convinced and the cartoon ends with him trembling in fear, slowly muttering to himself "Yeah...Ima......Gination"... Just in time for the pearls to appear on his neck before the iris out. What the hell, Disney!?
- The Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "1 + 1 = Ed" features the Eds probing the Toon Physics of their universe, playing with every Animation Tropes in the book and demolishing the Fourth Wall. Eventually, they deconstruct the universe itself, which turns in an Escheresque nightmare.
- The Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode Hypnogerms. It's much weirder that your garden-variety ATHF episode (which is saying a lot).
- In Stickin' Around, every day is at the bizarro considering that most of an episode happens in the main character's imagination.
- While Toon Physics are practically nonexistent as a rule to begin with, Duck Amuck shatters any conception of the fourth wall by having Daffy Duck arguing with and being screwed around with by the animator who turns out to be Bugs Bunny.
- Bugs later got a taste of his own medicine in Rabbit Rampage, with the animator being Elmer Fudd.
- Early Bob Clampett masterpiece Porky In Wackyland was one of these for animation itself. It almost single-handedly established that every piece of animation did not have to be a rip-off of Disney's latest short.
- The Rugrats dream episode. We see Chuckie wake from each dream, and supposedly enter the real world, only to discover slowly that he is still dreaming; with strange settings and weird stuff like Spike talking.
- Ben 10 did a couple of these.
- An episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender did this. Aang was unable to sleep due to nightmares about facing the Fire Lord in the invasion. This culminated in him having a series of weird dreams until the end, where he's finally able to sleep peacefully due to the others making him a bed and giving him moral support.
- SpongeBob SquarePants had the season three episode "I Had an Accident", AKA "Safety Freak". Though most of the episode follows.
- The Futurama episodes "Anthology of Interest I", "Anthology of Interest II", "The Futurama Holiday Spectacular" and "Reincarnation".
- The Simpsons has quite a few, most notably "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" and "Saddlesore Galatica". What's weird is that they began as ordinary episodes and quickly went into weirdness.