We'll describe Ad Bumpers here after these messages.
Also known as plain "bumpers" or "bumps", these are the short clips (less than five seconds) that appear between television programming content and advertisements. They serve as program identification, and also as delimiters that help bring an audience into and out of Willing Suspension of Disbelief. If they are produced along with the show rather than by the network, they are known as Eyecatches. They can also be useful to a VCR or DVR user fast-forwarding the commercials to signal the user to return to normal speed playback, which is why they're more often found at the beginning of a commercial break than at the end.
In the UK, TV ad breaks tend to be in the format Programme -> Channel Trailers -> Ads -> Channel Trailers -> Programme. Often two bumpers will be seen, one programme-specific between the show and the trailers, and one more channel specific between trailers and ads. Nowadays, however, it's quite common to see short sponsor ads instead of bumpers.
When television shows are formatted for home video, the ad bumpers may occasionally remain, especially if they are entertaining of themselves. Fan Subs and localizations of anime often save these for the sake of completion.
- Cartoon Network is  well-known for its clever, humorous bumpers. The best known are:
- Several cartoon characters (or the logo itself) in front of a blue background doing Looney Tunes-type antics.
- A huge CGI-city with Cartoon Network characters as its residents going through their everyday routines.
- Then there are the other bumpers. They aren't commercials, they don't promote any of the shows, they're just there to be completely random, and confusing. Examples include clips of an animated, ridiculously over-muscled guy screaming and doing exercises, a guy walking into a brick wall with the line "walk fail" showing up, and a guy turning into a werewolf, and then into a chihuahua.
- Cartoon Network in the UK did something similar, for a bit
- Now their ad bumpers are just...surreal. They're more like shorts, but they're...very odd. There's one starring a zombie and his everyday life...one starring two fat gamer guys...and a multiple choice question...thing...They're all very surreal and have nothing to do with the network.
- They occasionally spoofed pop-culture in the Golden Age of the network, like in this collection, which was so popular it was compiled into short film form. (In case the video is deleted, the bumpers are Scooby Doo-themed parodies of The Blair Witch Project that aired during Halloween 1999.)
- Adult Swim is also famous for a particular style of bumper, white text on a black background, which the Adult Swim runners use somewhat as a forum. Common messages include random announcement, announcements about upcoming shows and schedules, or responses to fans from the actual message boards. For shows appearing later in the block, image macros are used, and towards the early days of Adult Swim they would actually use "Adult-Swim themed" bumpers (as in relating to the actual time of day reserved for "adult swim" in public swimming pools). Also back in the day, they would keep the Eyecatches for anime, so you would have a bumper after a bumper (or a bumper appearing in the middle of the show without commercial interruption).
- Bumpworthy catalogs each bump and lists the artist and song playing in that bump.
- Adult Swim is an interesting example in that the bumps are rewritten each week on Sunday; this means that for one day, the bumps actually DO have something to do with the show that's on or coming up, however they are replayed every day throughout the week, even when the schedule changes, which can lead to some confusion for those who don't watch it on Sunday. They use the bumps to praise their new favorite shows (and sometimes yell at their viewers for not watching it enough), rag on the anime crowd, throw props to other networks (especially during the Conan Tonight Show debacle), deliver Word of God straight from the show creators, answer FAQs from the forums, show fanart, and occasionally preview upcoming movies.
- The bumpers prior to the "White text, black background" days were often vaguely creepy, with bizarre images, unsettlingly mismatched music, and Japanese text, often with one phrase in English like "ADULT SWIM IS YOUR FRIEND" or "FLEE THE COMING OF THE DAWN!" You can still catch these in the 5 AM timeslot sometimes, when they are preparing to change back to Cartoon Network. Someone must have realized how much this can bother children, though, because in recent times they've switched to a Cartoon Network-style bump at the actual changeover point (6 AM).
- Family Guy parodied this by running an Adult Swim bumper in the middle of an episode's original network broadcast;
"You might think you're watching Family Guy on [adult swim], but no, it's still FOX.—"Or is it....?"
- And then when Adult Swim aired the episode for the first time on their network they used the Fox style bumper saying "You're watching Fox on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.
- Cartoon Network's "Boomerang" has a series of bumpers that use wind-up toys, toy movie-projectors, action figures...pretty much the same kind of stuff you played with as a kid. Only from the 60s and 70s.
- They have also used the Super Powers collection from the 80s at various times.
- Since the network began running Pokémon, they have featured bumpers with a Pikachu figurine with lightning bolts added in with CGI.
- The Syfy (back when it really was the Sci-Fi Channel) had its "I am Sci-fi" campaign in the 1990s, where celebrities appeared in humorous science fiction scenarios (WWF wrestler Sable in a parody of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Moby in a Close Encounters of the Third Kind pastiche, and so on).
- For quite some time after that it had bumpers of science-fictional situations. For instance, in one a man sits passively as a raven flaps around him, until it lands on his bald head. The top of his head opens up into a giant fanged mouth and swallows the raven whole, then closes again as he smiles. Sadly, more recent bumpers have been simpler, just showing something rapidly turning into something else. And now some of the bumpers are shorts of the actors of Syfy original shows in some weird location such as a collapsing building or on one of M.C. Escher's famous staircase paintings tossing a football.
- TBS had brief skits of people calling the TBS Comedy Research Institute to ask if a certain situation they were in was funny.
- Channel 4's spinoff channel E4, for its first few years, would have ad bumpers consisting of one word, with both bumpers in one ad break forming some two-word phrase, so (as an example) before the ads it would say "Hello" and after "World". Eventually sent up by both words once being "Bling".
- ITV would often use these.
- Global in Canada does these with specific characters saying memorable lines from their shows, accompanied by the Global logo, the show title, and a picture of said character. They also have a five second "did you know?" spot known as "Huh: Have U heard?" that provides interesting info on the show you are currently watching.
- Kids WB had many bumpers starring an animated version of their logo on a CGI-generated version of the Warner Bros. studio backlot. Sometimes, characters from the shows featured on the block would make appearances alongside the logo.
- The Disney Channel, back in the 1980's to early-90's, had claymation bumpers usually depicting Mickey Mouse Logos hounding Donald Duck, or simply an interesting visual that eventually turned into the Disney Channel logo. 80's kids have been known to break down into tears of nostalgia upon seeing them on Youtube for the first time since childhood.
- These days, a Disney star will appear and declare, "I'm (name) from (applicable Disney production) and you're watching Disney Channel!" Then said actor/actress would draw the logo, sometimes noticing an error in the logo and fixing it, and sometimes saying a comment after the logo is done. This actually shows up before the next program, instead of going to a break.
- Central and Eastern European television has bumpers as a matter of course, usually showing a channel ident plus the word "Reklama" (the word is basically the same, changing only according to orthography, throughout the region) to show the division between programme and adverts.
- MTV practically turned this into an art form. This was mostly due to creative director Fred Seibert's belief that these short bumpers should be "the album covers of the new generation of music fans". Plenty of cartoonists (such as Danny Antonucci and Joe Murray) got their start animating short 5-10 second MTV bumpers before they went on to create cartoons of their own.
- MTV 2 once made use of "sharts"; clips from old martial arts movies or cartoons, among other random clips, during the early days of the "two-headed dog" logo. This was intended to show that "anything goes" on the channel.
- "The Transformers will be right back after these messages." "We now return to The Transformers". These lines (read by Victor Caroli), accompanied by footage of one of the titular robots transforming and firing, were used for ad breaks in the original Transformers cartoon.
- ABC's 1980s-1990s classic Saturday Morning Cartoon lineups used humorous Claymation bumpers, with a catchy sing-song "After these messages..."
- YNN (Your News Now), a 24-hour News channel owned by Time Warner Cable that serves a vast majority of New York State have quite recently been showing some pretty cool bumpers for the channel's Capital Region affiliate that mostly consist of either shots of the sign in the office area of said affiliate's Albany studio or a control room board that is shown in some cases with someone operating buttons and levers.
- Fox Kids in its early years used a kid named Wilby Baxter (a play on "we'll be right back") in its bumpers. Several years later, they would present a question to a bizarre fact before the break, and reveal the answer upon return.
And now back to All The Tropes!
- or was, depending on the current reading time...