Chekhov's Gag

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Most times, jokes come and go; they get their set up, make you laugh, and then they're done and you move on to the next joke. But sometimes, jokes aren't done with you. Sometimes, you find yourself not only going back to the joke, but having it bring a whole new twist - the first joke wasn't just a gag, but also set up for something else that blindsides you later on.

This can happen in any span of time, in a single episode (usually very beginning to the very end), in several episodes, or even whole seasons.

The first gag is always a set-up for whatever will happen later, though ideally it doesn't seem that way at first. If it isn't, then it's a regular Running Gag. If the setup isn't funny, then it's a Brick Joke, but if not, the joke may turn out not to be so innocuous. A type of Call Back. Sometimes, the connection is given a form of Fridge Brilliance.

Examples of Chekhov's Gag include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In episode 24 of Inazuma Eleven, as Endou is preparing for an overnight training camp, a brief comic relief scene occurs where his mom hands him a pair of boxers with his name written in marker ("En" on the left butt cheek and "dou" on the right in really big handwriting, no less) to make sure he doesn't get his laundry mixed up with any of his teammates. Seven episodes later, Touko barges in on the boys changing, and gets an eyeful of Endou in his underwear - and he's actually wearing that very same pair of boxers.
  • In One Piece, Sanji’s dream to meet ’the pearl of the seas’, mermaids, turns into a nightmare when he finally meets one – Kokoro, who isn’t exactly a young or pretty mermaid. Later on, the crew meets another mermaid, Camie, and this meeting is ridiculously funny because of their earlier meeting with Kokoro.
    • To clarify, his meeting with Camie (who is rather attractive) retroactively erases all memories he ever had of Kokoro (who is not).
    • Luffy spends a lot of the earlier episodes asserting that their next crew member needs to be a musician, over things like a doctor or a cook. Sure enough, 300+ episodes later, the 9th Straw Hat pirate is Brook, an undead musician.
    • During the Water 7 arc:

Luffy: Hey Zoro, why were you running away from the storm?
Zoro: Oh, it's nothing. Forget it.
Chopper: He was stuck inside a chimney.
Zoro: Why you, Chopper!

      • Later, during the ride to Enies Lobby aboard the sea train Rocketman:

Zoro: Hey, I don't see Luffy. Where did he go?
Chopper: Maybe he got stuck in the chimney of the Rocketman.
Zoro: Chopper, shut up!

  • In Sonic the Hedgehog The Movie, near the beginning of Sonic's final battle with Metal Sonic, Robotnik fires a pair of missiles, one shaped like a hare that goes really fast, and another shaped like a turtle that goes really slow. After the battle, the turtle-missle interrupts Robotnik boasting about how he's still got the back-up data for Metal Sonic on a disc by grabbing the disc and detonating.
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys : In an early skit High School Boys and Scary Stories (2), Hidenori mentioned Karasawa was "experienced in scary tales," and Tadakuni made up a story on how he saw what was under Karasawa's cap, remarking that it was hilarious. It's nowhere near funny at all, as his backstory unfolded: he was covered with scars--including an ugly scar on his forehead that he wears a cap to cover. These scars were courtesy of Habara, the girl who lives next to him and, eight years ago, was an Enfant Terrible-level bully.


Fan Fic[edit | hide]

  • At one point in Calvin and Hobbes The Series, Calvin uses the MTM to contain some lightning in an attempt to stop a storm from doing any further damage. He later uses it for revenge on Socrates.
    • Also, the lady with the clipboard recording anything related to Dr. Brainstorm in "Robot's Day Out".
  • Surprisingly Played for Drama in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfiction Its a Dangerous Business Going Out Your Door. At the beginning of the journey, Pinkie makes some off-hoof jokes at the kind of monsters that Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash might run into. When they finally reach the end of their quest, the World Serpent is their final challenge. After a description that makes said creature about as big as an island nation, Pinkie is given lip service in one of the biggest Oh Crap jokes ever.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The ending of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is this. We get a gag of a knight on horseback killing the Famous Historian, and then at the end the police investigating the historian's murder show up and arrest King Arthur.
    • The investigation is shown between scenes several times during the movie. It's why Lancelot isn't in the end scene.
    • Also, the bit with King Arthur getting to cross the Bridge of Death by responding to the question about the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow with a question of his own, directly from the first scene of the film.
      • In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, Bedivere ties a coconut to a swallow and releases it in his first scene. It puts a new light on his comment after Arthur's Bridge of Death questions.
    • And don't forget that upon meeting the French, they say they already have a Holy Grail, then at the end they are in the castle with the Grail in it.
    • At the end of the Bring Out Your Dead bit, someone comments that Arthur must be a king because he hasn't got shit all over him. The French at the end dump shit on him. Twice.
  • In Home Alone, it's established that Kevin's cousin Fuller is a notorious bed-wetter, and thus, no one wants to share a bed with him. Toward the end of Home Alone 2, Kevin and most of the other McCallisters (besides Kevin's parents, who have a separate room) are seen sleeping squashed together everywhere other than the bed. Guess who's got that huge bed all to himself (with Coke cans all over it, no less)?
  • In Kung Fu Panda, a joke is made about Po being so fat and fuzzy, that he cannot properly be given acupuncture. This turns into a sort of unlearned Chekhov's Skill later on, when Po ends up facing the most dangerous martial artist in the land... who relies on pressure-point attacks, and thus, cannot hurt him!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. During the last fight scene, Robotnik fires two missiles at Tails' plane. One of the missiles is shaped like a rabbit, and very fast; the other is shaped like a turtle, and ridiculously slow. Robotnik laments that the latter is "another design failure". After the fight is completely over, there's a brief shot of the turtle continuing, slowly and steadily, across the field of battle. Then, as Robotnik gloats to the heroes that he still has the data to build another, stronger Metal Sonic, the turtle missile very slowly flies up to Robotnik, grabs the data disc from his hand, and explodes.
  • In Bruges has this dialogue in the middle of the film:

Ray:"This is exactly my point! People going around calling you a midget when you want to be called a dwarf. Of course you're going to blow your head off."

    • Guess whose head is blown off by the end of the film? Jimmy, the midget actor, of course.
  • Shaun of the Dead is chock full of them. Lines that were funny earlier on become rather morose and depressing later. For instance, the quote "You've got red on you" was said to Shaun very early in the movie as a result of him having a red pen in his pocket that had leaked onto the rest of his shirt. Later, it was said about the blood that had been splattered all over him.
    • Made into a form of art in Hot Fuzz, another comedy by the same people. Everything that wasn't a joke comes back as a joke. Every joke comes back as a funnier joke.
  • The one funny moment in the new Bewitched movie: An actor attributes his last film's failure to the costume department. This is presented as a spoiled actor making excuses and then forgotten about until an hour later, when he's watching TV and the film comes on, showing him in a snowstorm wearing an enormous fur hat and yelling, "TURN BAAACK!". It was worth seeing the rest of the movie for that.
  • Toy Story includes the claw-game worshiping Little Green Men, who hold "the claaaaaaaw" in high regard because it will choose and deliver them to a better place. Fast forward to Toy Story 3, near the end when the entire group is holding hands as they await their inevitable death in an incinerator- only to look up as see a gigantic crane claw scoop them up.
  • Up: "Squirrel!"
  • For a series with a lot of Continuity Nods and Brick Jokes, Back to The Future does not have a lot of Call Backs that are necessarily this. However, they do have an example in the first movie with the joke about Uncle Joey not making parole in 1985. Then we see him as a baby in 1955 and his mother says that he cries whenever they take him out of his crib.

Marty: "Better get used to those bars, kid."

  • Rock and Roll High School loves this trope. While the heroine skips school for three days to stand in line for Ramones tickets, her best friend delivers fake notes to the principal to excuse her absence. The first says the heroine's father died, the second says her mother died, and third says her goldfish died. Later, the principal calls the heroine in with proof that the notes were fake; the goldfish, alive and well! Later we see the principal's two idiot assistants eat the goldfish.
    • In another example from the same movie, the principal subjects a mouse to rock music of increasing intensity. When she subjects it to the music of The Ramones the mouse explodes. Later, at a Ramones concert, a mouse tries to get in. The bouncer refuses, saying it might explode, until the mouse shows it brought a headset to protect itself.
  • In the climax of the recent Seltzer and Friedberg movie Vampires Suck, Bella... er... Becca rushes to stop Edward from ending it all, fighting through a crowd of Edward and Jacob fangirls along the way. At the end, after Becca becomes a vampire, one of the Jacob fangirls kills Edward. This results in a Karmic Death, as Becca feasts on the fangirl's blood.
  • In Galaxy Quest the whole "By Grabthar's Hammer..." speech is played as such a horribly tired cliche that "Alexander Dane" boils over every time it's said to him. Then it's turned around into one of the most moving moments of the whole film. Ditto for the "Chant of Strength" which appears to help in another scene.
  • The Running Gag in Almost Heroes where Hunt (Chris Farley) kept getting attacked by an eagle. It happens again in the climax but he hangs onto the eagle until it carries him to the Pacific ocean, beating Lewis & Clark in the process.
  • "Someone stole that man's face" in Mystery Team"
  • In Spice World the girls joke about Emma's smile helping her get away with anything, complete with Imagine Spot of her using the smile to get away with murder. Then when the girls are confronted by the police for their wild bus ride across London, all Emma does is apologise and smile sweetly and the girls are free to go inside the concert hall.
  • In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sherlock's urban camouflage turns out to be this when he is revealed to be disguised as a chair behind Watson, who is writing the events of the film.
  • In The Muppets, Fozzie suggests that since Miss Piggy's office in France is too far to drive to, they instead travel by map. Later, when Mary and Gary provide backstage help during The Muppet Telethon, the Muppets ask where they came from, so Mary replies, "We travelled by map. We thought it'd be quicker."

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Book #6 of the Captain Underpants series has George and Harold introducing a new joke called Squishies, which consists of putting ketchup packets under toilet seats so that they squirt onto the legs of whoever sits on the toilet. The next book has Captain Underpants use this with crates of oranges and a giant novelty toilet as a method of defeating the Villains of the Book.
  • Discworld. Witches Abroad. "Glod".
  • Happens fairly often in the Harry Potter books, understandable considering the sheer size of its Chekhov's Armory. Four plot devices in particular are first introduced as gags; the Vanishing Cabinet gets this treatment twice, first trashed by Nearly Headless Nick to get Harry out of trouble with Filch in Chamber of Secrets, then used as a joke by Fred and George in Order of the Phoenix when they shove Montague into it; the latter incident is mentioned directly when the Cabinet becomes a serious plot device in Half-Blood Prince. Hermione signing up for every class in Chamber Of Secrets is also treated as a character joke, until it's revealed in Prisoner of Azkaban that Hermione's had to use a Time-Turner to get to all her classes, which is then used to save Sirius and Buckbeak. Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes are introduced in a humorous way in Goblet of Fire, but many of them play a larger role than expected in later books, particularly those used by the trio in their attempt to infiltrate the corrupted Ministry of Magic. Finally, The Room of Requirement is indirectly mentioned in an offhand humorous way by Dumbledore in Goblet Of Fire; in the final three books, it becomes the most important room in all of Hogwarts.
  • The first book in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series opens with a monologue describing all the troubles and widespread unhappiness on Earth, and how one London woman suddenly had an epiphany about how all of that could be solved that was tragically cut short by the destruction of Earth. It then goes on to note "This is not her story" and rambles a bit about the titular Hitchhiker's Guide. So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish opens with a word-for-word repeat of that exact same monologue, but instead ends with the line "This is her story."
  • In the first chapter of Good Omens, it's mentioned that Crowley made changes to the plans for the M25 to make it a demonic sigil. This sets up his character (he likes to do large amounts of low-grade evil), and once the apocalypse comes it turns into a rather nasty barrier.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Friends had a number of these. Telling each others' secrets to hurt one another, coffees or drinks that contain cinnamon/other stuff that the character didn't want, so the person serving removes it with his hand or drinks it, and many more.
  • Power Rangers RPM has two shining examples:
    • An early episode has Dillon try to ditch training, while Dr. K tells him he has to learn to be ready for anything. To drive the point home, when he opens the fridge to get a drink, she has a ludicrously over-sized laser cannon emerge. Later on, a comedic All Your Base Are Belong to Us fight has broken out, and to deliver the finishing blow Dillon pops open the fridge...
    • Another episode includes a flurry of Lampshade Hanging, including questioning why the Transformation Sequence is punctuated by explosions. Flynn's morpher then develops a glitch, and he has an idea of how to fix it, but there's the risk of a side effect - namely, an even bigger explosion. Which he helpfully aims at The Dragon and her Mooks.
  • In Angel one episode mentions Fred laughing at something a Shrub said. Later in the last season when she becomes Illyria one of her powers is talking to plants
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had a great Chekhov's Gag in the episode "The Waitress is Getting Married." Charlie got knocked a hornets' nest down in the bar. He put it in a box so that he could kill them with smoke and get whatever hornets make (hornets make nothing at all). He drew an "H" on the box and set it aside for later. When he learned that his obsession, the waitress at a coffee shop, was getting married, he went to give him a congratulatory gift. After Charlie learned that the guy was just marrying the waitress so he could dump her and get revenge for being treated badly in high school, Charlie lets him have the gift anyway and walks off. In the shot, we can see an "H" drawn on the front of the box.
  • One episode of Father Ted ("Hell") starts with the village idiot entrusted with an anticulated tanker to deliver "Craggy Island's largest ever consignment of raw sewage" for processing. "This button opens the door, this one releases the sewage." This is not mentioned again until the very end of the episode, where he stops to pick up Ted and Dougal. Guess what happens.
  • The Young Ones was fond of this. In the episode "Bambi," a Manatee Gag visits the old idea that we are all microbes being observed by a giant scientist. Later, after the chaos begins to erupt, the episode ends with a giant-sized eclair falling on the main characters, after the giant scientist left his snack a bit too close to his research.
  • Arrested Development is pretty much the king of this.
  • In the episode "Everybody Hates the Buddy System." of Everybody Hates Chris, Julius gives Drew a Wayne "Gritzky" jersey.Then in the episode "Everybody Hates Gretzky," a couple of white guys try to steal Drew's jersey, but back off when they realize it's misspelled.
  • Frequently occurs on Jonathan Creek, where a seemingly completed comic scenario returns following the solution of the episode's mystery to deal the final (hilarious) blow. For example in one episode, Carla is doing a book signing and there is a comic scenario involving a fan's (fully grown) nephew crushing her lap whilst posing for a photo. This is pretty funny in it's own right, but much later on Jonathan discovers that the fan and nephew had really tricked Carla into signing a consent form for her likeness to be used on a range of sex merchandise.
  • How I Met Your Mother does this from time to time such as in Life Among the Gorillas where Marshall's coworkers repeatedly come up with bizarre celebrity comparisons and ask "what do you do?" Its reframed in the last moment of the episode when Robin calls Ted to invite him over and Narrator Ted asks "what do you do?"
  • Home Improvement was rather fond of these:
    • In the episode "Quest for Fire", the Cold Open shows Tim Taylor trying to use rocket fuel to light a barbecue grill. This results in Tim launching the grill into low orbit, in a gag that's seemingly unrelated to the rest of the episode. Later, the Taylors are on vacation at a lake, and at the end of the episode, right before the ending credits, Tim and Jill are walking away from the lake when the barbecue grill splashes down.
    • "'Twas the Flight Before Christmas" has several jokes early on about Tim using Absurdly Bright Lights to decorate his house for Christmas, including Al saying "You could light up an airport runway with that much wattage!" Towards the end, Tim's trying to make it back home in time for Christmas, but his flight has to be diverted because visibility is too low in Detroit to land any planes. Tim comments that his kids are probably lighting up the decorations as he speaks...then suddenly a beam of light coming from his house lights everything up and makes it possible to land the plane.
  • In one episode of Boy Meets World, Shawn stops Cory from giving Topanga flowers by snatching them from him and handing them to a jock who happens to walk by in the school hallway. It's a brief gag that isn't given much attention. Then, several scenes later, Cory and Shawn are alone in a classroom doing Comic Role Play that involves Cory saying "I love you" to Shawn. They look up and see that same jock standing in the doorway holding the flowers and watching them, who then throws the flowers on the floor and walks away in anger.
  • A third season episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun had Dick and Mary engaging in an ever-escalating prank war, where Dick has Mary's desk removed, sends her a fake letter from then-president Bill Clinton, and gets a garage to add massive speakers and flame decals to her Volvo. In response, Mary gets Dick's hands (and face) stuck to his desk with thermal bond epoxy. While Dick is slowly, and painfully, removed, they finally come to a truce. Mere seconds afterward, they hear a loud, booming noise from outside.

Judith: Mary, it appears your Volvo is back from the shop.

  • In one episode of Canadian teen sitcom Mr. Young, Tater says he asked someone if they'd seen a Fryers chicken head, then pulls out a poultry chart and says he thought he meant a medium-sized frier chicken, as opposed to the slightly larger grosser and the slightly smaller boiler. in a later episode, Adam says his mom's "giant man eating chicken" scam doesn't seem very believable, since "chickens are not carnivores, and according to this poultry chart, even a grosser doesn't weigh more than 7 pounds". It turns out to actually be a giant man eating chicken.
    • In the same episode with the "giant man eating chicken", Adam tries to knock over a stack of milk cans, but he's not strong enough, even though he keeps hitting them. Later, Adam goes on a slingshot, and when he lands he hits the milk cans with his head, yet he still fails to knock them over.
    • In the pilot, Adam says Slabb looks like Bigfoot. Later, when he goes into disguise as a cranky old man, he refers to Slabb as Sasquatch.
  • In The Legend of Dick and Dom episode "Hairwolf", a lunatic goes on a random tirade about things you shouldn't do, like playing the bassoon in the bathtub. At the end of the episode, he jumps in front of the camera and says to the audience, "DON'T have a cheesy ending-noone would believe it".
  • In the Married... with Children episode "The Stepford Peg", while Al and the kids discuss the schedule Al planned out for Peg, Kelly brings up the upstairs bathroom that Peg had cleaned, claiming that there's a window above the sink and she saw a girl who looks exactly like her. This seems like a typical a Dumb Blonde joke, but then The Tag shows up, in which Kelly walks up to Bud and introduces him to the girl next door. Cue a second Kelly walking in. Bud is speechless.
  • An episode of The Big Bang Theory where a space toilet malfunctions involves a meatloaf being shot into an Object Ceiling Cling. They guys continue fixing the toilet, action moves on, and then, as all the characters have a takeaway in the closing moments, the meatloaf falls off the ceiling, causing Penny to wonder what it was doing up there in the first place. Howard tells her that's "Classified".


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • At 3:10 in this Dissidia Final Fantasy video, it's mentioned that Jecht can accidentally kill himself during the 'hop back' part of Triumphant Grasp. At 4:17, he does this with Sephiroth's Meteor.
  • Early on in Fallout 3, local bully Butch is incensed when his G.O.A.T. exam results tell him he's best suited to work as a hairdresser. Later in the game, you find out he's resigned himself to being Vault 101's hairdresser, though he insists on being called a barber.
  • In the first level of Earthworm Jim, Jim must launch a cow into the air in order to make progress. After beating the final boss, Jim meets Princess What's-Her-Name and witnesses the cow come crashing down upon her.


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • Red vs. Blue is littered with Chekhov's Gags, though discerning which gags were intentional setups and which were just called back to is difficult. Of particular note here is the scene where Wash and the Red and Blue teams (whom Wash regards as complete idiots by this point in the story) are arguing about the pronunciation of "EMP," with the others saying it as "ehmp." During the climax in the next episode when Wash activates the EMP, the computer itself uses "ehmp."


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • As noted on Brick Joke, Abridged Series in general and Dragonball Z Abridged in particular love this.
  • Chekhov's Dog Dookie.
  • This. Specifically, the cactus wearing a hat is mentioned in the beginning, then shown at the end.
  • When Raocow played An Untitled Story and happened upon a heart container, he let his inner Large Ham com out and yell "I FOUND A HEART!!!" Several games later, in Bunny Must Die, he came across another heart container and,... well,....
    • His reactions to previous hearts in BMD were very subdued and didn't use the metal-voice at all. The way-over-the-top version in the link was probably in response to people in the comments complaining about this.
  • From the Whateley Universe: In "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl", known practical joker Jericho is along on the trip. He's blind, but notorious for wearing clothing so horrid that people get nauseous or faint. He dresses nicely for the trip, but everyone teases him about it. Jokes ensue, including him claiming that while his clothes are nice, he's wearing an undershirt of DOOM underneath. Later on, the party is attacked. He takes out two mercenaries in power armor by showing them his undershirt and making them puke in their armor.
    • Chekhov's Gag with emphasis on the gag?
  • In one Global Guardians story, heroic shape shifter Pseudo is hired as a consultant to a production company making a superhero movie. At one point he uses his powers to duplicate the appearance of Viggo Mortensen (the leading man) as a joke and is immediately mistaken for the actor by his co-stars. The story is shared among Pseudo's teammates and they all have a good laugh. A year later, Pseudo is hired again by the same company as a consultant for the sequel. When Pseudo's teammates visit the set, they immediately step up to Viggo Mortensen and start chatting away, thinking he's Pseudo. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Create.swf Adventures: Shenanigans in a Magical Forest, respecting the original joke from MS Paint Adventures, almost every character must "retrieve their arms" almost immediately after they are introduced, usually as the first command they recieved. This may seem as if it doesn't qualify, but when you can go almost a 100 slides (which would be over several weeks and broken into small updates) without mention of arms, and then suddenly get hit by one out of the blue, it's safe to say that prior to the revival of the joke, most had forgotten about it.
    • There's also Masha's seemingly useless bit of paper. It's only mentioned briefly after her "birth"... and doesn't show up again until the ending. She throws it at Cirno to calm her down.
  • Often done by Aaron Karo of Ruminations fame. He'll often bring up random subjects he thinks about in each issue, then come the last rumination, he ends it off with a clever callback to the previous ones before signing off with "Fuck me".


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In a Season 6 episode of The Simpsons, "Itchy & Scratchy Land", the family, heading to the titular theme park, makes a brief stop at "Five Corners", in which five different states intersect. 15 seasons later, Sideshow Bob takes Bart to the same area in "The Bob Next Door" to exploit extraterritorial jurisdiction, setting the stage for the episode's climax.
  • Family Guy loves these. One memorable example is when Peter, at the beginning of the episode, notes that he saw a Discovery Channel documentary on Fire Trucks, which then segues into a short and nonsensical fake documentary of Fire Trucks, which has them hunting gazelle in the savanna. It's funny, it's over, and out of mind... until, in the final scene, a Fire Truck suddenly attacks Peter on his lawn.
    • Another gag had Spider-Man saving random characters ("Everybody gets one."), that had whole seasons in between the gags.
    • What about Hitler-on-a-Unicycle?

Peter: See? We had a plan for that one all along!

    • Peter is trying to get a promotion at the beginning of the episode. So to impress his boss, he tells her he planted explosives on the competition's bill-board. He directs her to the window, where the bill-board is on a building beside a children's hospital. When he pulls the trigger, the hospital blows up, and he makes a point about how he screwed up. Near the end of the episode, after a series of wild antics, he ends up in the boss' office again, and asks if he ever ended up getting the promotion. She makes a big point about how he blew up a hospital, and the episode ends with him in court.
    • In the first Star Wars Parody Episode, the scene where Chris Griffin Luke Skywalker watches the sunset has a Sorry I Left the BGM On joke with John Williams and the London Philharmonic. They are later seen as some of the casualties of the Empire's attack on Luke's farm.
    • A joke about Cookie Monster is made in the form of one of their infamous non-sequitur cutaway gags, equating him to a crack or heroin addict, here replacing drugs with cookies. Later in the episode, Cookie Monster himself shows up in a bathroom stall, desperately heating raw cookie dough on a spoon.
  • Road Runner cartoons used this occasionally. One notable example had a steel wall not release properly from a slot in the ground, but when Wile E. Coyote went to check it, it didn't spring up on him right away. Instead, it waited till the end of the cartoon to pop up and stop Wile E. while he was chasing Road Runner.
    • There was one where they set up one of his traps, and it goes off on him several times wrong before he gives up. So he goes for something else, in which the original trap went off him, then the combination of his next scheme and the attack was his downfall, then he'd almost get the roadrunner, and the trap would get him again.
    • And there's another where he rigged up a "Free Glass of Water" with a match attached to the glass on top of a box containing TNT. Pulling the glass up would cause the match to light the fuse. The Road Runner ignores it and holds up a sign stating that Road Runners can't read and don't drink. Later on, Wile E. is crawling on the ground exhausted after another failed attempt and grabs the rigged glass, only realizing his mistake right before the TNT goes off.
  • In the animated special, Tales From The Far Side I, there is a 15-second "Meanwhile... back in Egypt" segment that consists of a desert marketplace full of locals who eventually stop and wave at the viewer before going about their business. Unlike the rest of the special, there's no weirdness whatsoever. But in the sequel, there's a segment with amoebas at a party that's abruptly interrupted when their "world" goes sideways. The camera cuts to a man putting down a mostly-empty water glass... then pulls back to him and his family exiting the same exact Egypt scene (sans waving) from the first special.
  • The Celebrity Is Overrated episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Heloise using an inflatable Jimmy doll to distract the press. Several episodes later, we discover that she has several of these dolls in her Stalker Shrine.
    • In another episode, Heloise asks Jimmy if he swallowed her Bad Luck Accelerometer and he replies "When have I ever done something like that?" followed by a montage of scenes where he accidentally swallows various things, including an elephant. Later, he tries to spit out the Accelerometer and instead spits out the elephant.
      • In the same episode, when Heloise first makes the Accelerometer she shows Lucius a tape in which it is used as a whale magnet. At the end of the episode, Jimmy spits out the Accelerometer and throws it at someone who is promptly crushed by a whale.
  • There's sort of a cross between this and Chekhov's Boomerang in the first two episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender: After Aang comes out of the iceberg and collapses, Sokka pokes him in the head a few times with the hilt end of his spear. Later, when Zuko attacks the Southern Water Tribe's village, Sokka tries to fight him, but Zuko breaks the spear and pokes him in the head with its hilt. In the following episode, Sokka returns the favor with Aang's staff.
    • Then, in the third season, Sokka pokes Zuko to get him angry.
  • Animaniacs could really play this trope for all it was worth. 'The Monkey Song' stands out in particular for being a four-minute-long series of Chekhov's Gags, from Squit's flute, to Mindy and Buttons flying around on balloons, Pinky and the Brain running away with the mousetrap, even Slappy vs. the Mime.
  • South Park has two in the "Biggest Douche in the Universe" episode. Early on, in a fit of frustration with John Edward, Stan calls him a douche and goes on to say that he nominates him for the Biggest Douche in the universe award. At the end of the episode, some aliens show up to reveal that Stan's nomination apparently got through. Not only that, John Edward wins, much to his dismay. The episode's other example are the series of spoof trailers based on movies starring Rob Schneider. Another one at the very end of the episode reveals that Rob Schneider accidentally got possessed by Kenny.
  • In the pilot episode of Drawn Together, Captain Hero wishes for a 12-year-old girl and a donkey, and it appears to be a joke about Captain Hero being a pervert. In the second season, it's revealed that he meant Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. This is a rare example of a Chekhov's Gag spanning seasons.
    • An actual 12-year-old girl riding a donkey also appears to him in a dream once.
  • In part 1 of the Bonkers pilot, Bonkers slips on a banana peel, pointing out to Lucky that no Toon can resist doing that. In part 2, this is used to expose the Collector as a human.
  • The episode of Futurama where Fry has his head attached to Amy's body for a while has an example of this. Near the start of the episode, there's a scene where Bender goes in for a checkup, and is warned that his ass might explode at any time. He rejects the option of getting shock absorbers for it and the matter is apparently forgotten as the episode's main plots of Amy and Fry's relationship (and aftermath) and Bender's attempt at being a paid matchmaker take over. Then at the very end of the episode Fry accidentally kicks Bender's ass, which promptly explodes.
  • The 1979 Nelvana short Intergalactic Thanksgiving featured one amusing gag. On the planet Laugh-A-Lot, where humor was the norm, King Gucci was attempting to perform the planet's biggest Pie in the Face gag on a waiting courtier. The ceiling opened to reveal the huge pie, but it wouldn't drop. Fast forward about halfway through the short, when his oracle basically tells him his humor (and thus his throne) was being upstaged by a family of boring space farmers, he pulls the cord one more time in frustration. You start to hear the sound of something falling. The King then runs into the courtier...still standing there waiting for the punchline. Gucci looks up... Cue giant SPLAT!

Oracle: Now thaaaat's FUNNY!

  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Doof Side of the Moon", Doofenshmirtz accidentally reveals a jelly-bean taped to a cork instead of his big new invention, and claims in embarrassment "Don't judge it, it's a layered idea!" Later in the cartoon, Perry is unable to stop the Lunar Rotate-inator from being activated when he trips over the jelly-bean and cork. Doofenshmirtz proceeds to brag "I told you it was a layered idea!"
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents, Crocker makes fun of Timmy for believing 2+2=5, but Stephen Hawking bursts in and shows an equation in which Timmy's belief is correct. The episode ends with Crocker chasing Stephen Hawking, shouting "I checked your math, and you're wrong! 2+2 isn't 5, it's 6! 6!"


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Very very common in long stand-up comedy routines.
    • Michael MacIntyre is particularly notorious for referencing topics he covered earlier in new situations.
    • Eddie Izzard does this frequently.
    • Baddiel & Skinner Unplanned often incorporated this trope, when earlier topics of discussion would be incorporated impromptu into the current topic, almost certainly as a big punchline.