Colbert Bump

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The after-effects of the Bump.
Frankly, if I knew that's what you could get for hosting Have I Got News for You, I wouldn't have settled for Mock the Week.
Dara O'Briain on Boris Johnson's election as mayor of London

This occurs when relatively unknown or unpopular actors, politicians, or musicians appear on a talk or variety show and then experience an increase in popularity. This usually is because they managed to grab and impress the audience of that show, who then spreads the word via Word Of Mouth of how good they are. It's the number one reason to appear on certain shows, especially ones where the host enjoys tormenting the guests.

When public figures who mainly appeal to adults appear on children's shows, that's Sesame Street Cred. When this happens to songs, it's Revival by Commercialization. When it happens to objects or goods, it's The Red Stapler. When applied to an online article or resource, it's called "being slashdotted".

Examples of Colbert Bump include:


  • Jerry Springer let his security chief, Steve Wilkos, fill in for him often; this led to Wilkos getting his own talk show.
  • Steve Martin was a little-known standup comic who had a special on HBO before anyone knew what it was. Then he hosted Saturday Night Live in its second season and became America's hottest young comedian overnight.
  • Stacie Leah Rippy, due to her appearances on The Mentalist and True Blood.
  • The actresses playing these nurses from Holby City, with Viral Marketing playing a part; a fan of Holby City decided to spread the word via social networks. Amazingly their identities are (to the public at least) still obscure, with no names in the End Credits.
  • Taken to its literal extent with Stephen Colbert's self-proclaimed "rivalry" with Korean pop idol Rain, after his appearance in the Speed Racer movie, leading to Ninja Assassin and Rain winning an MTV Movie Award.
  • Tom Hiddleston was virtually unknown before Thor came out in May 2011. Since then he has been in films directed by both Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg. Not to mention, his following has grown very large and is now a household name.
  • Selena Gomez, The Jonas Brothers, China Anne McClain, and Sierra McCormick got their start as guest stars on Hannah Montana, while Bella Thorne, Bridgit Mendler, Adam Irigoyen from Shake It Up and Gregg Sulkin first appeared as guests on Wizards of Waverly Place.
  • In the Netherlands, there is a popular tv duo composed of Carlo Boshardt and Irene Moors. Irene was hosting the show Telekids while Carlo was only there in case they had to get a substitute, but she saw the potential in him - she regularly faked illness so they had to ask Carlo to fill in for her only to show up at the last moment and host the show together. This went on for two years until the producers caved in and made him co-host. This partnership is still going strong almost twenty years later.
  • Amusingly, the biggest moneymaking film in history, Avatar had an inverted version: when it was filmed, the two main characters were played by a relatively unknown Australian actor and an actress best known for playing a minor character hanging around Johnny Depp. By the time the film was completed and released, its two stars had a far higher name recognition thanks to their star turns in two little films called Terminatator Salvation and Star Trek which had come out in the meantime.
    • Interestingly, all three films are also remembered as having the worst tie-in toy lines in recent memory...


  • For years, Jim Rome has referred to "Jungle Karma" on The Jim Rome Show to refer to the tendency for athletes and athletic teams to have success after appearing on his show, as well as a corresponding bout of bad luck if an athlete stiffs him.
  • Sports Illustrated has a strange relationship with the people that appear on their cover—everybody wants to be on it, but there's supposedly a curse related to whoever gets the coveted cover photo.
    • Ditto the Madden and NCAA' series of video games.
    • This "curse" can be explained by a concept called "regression to the mean". On average, people tend to perform close to their average (their "mean"). Athletes that get a cover in Sports Illustrated are usually having an unusually high point in their career. Soon after, it seems like they got worse, but they really just went back to playing closer to their average.


  • Though most are not entirely unknown, any novelist or poet who wins an international award will see the purchase of their work sky rocket.
    • After Mario Vargas Llosa was announced as the 2010 Nobel Prize laureate "collectible" versions of his books went from a few dollars into and beyond the hundreds of dollars and even Amazon sold out of everything due to people rushing to read his work.
  • Though well-respected among fantasy aficionados, the Studio Ghibli adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle introduced a huge number of anime fans to the works of Diana Wynne Jones, and helped make her Wizard's Castle series, previously one of her smaller projects, into one of her best-known works.


  • The Nostalgia Critic has this effect on films/shows he reviews, on this site if nowhere else. It's very telling that Non Sequitur Scene became a page on this Wiki within an hour of the posting of the video that coined the phrase.
  • Several older Humongous Mecha series saw renewed/revived popularity upon making a debut in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover Super Robot Wars franchise, with Xabungle and Hades Project Zeorymer being the prime examples.
    • The Big O had a similar resurgence in Japan recently due to Super Robot Wars Z, in which it was ridiculously overpowered. This was notable as Big O previously got very little attention in Japan at all, only even acquiring a second season because of Cartoon Network commissioning it. This bump mainly took the shape of a new crop of merchandise Big O had previously not had, including Figma of Roger and Dorothy, as well as an expensive rendition of the titular mech in Max Gokin form.
    • Their parody non-appearances on Megas XLR have also produced mini-bumps (not that kind).
  • Arguably, this happens to anyone mocked by Retsupurae. It's not always a good type of popularity, with a lot of the time this leading to tons of negative comments on said LPer's videos, but it's turned stuff like Gaming in The Clinton Years from obscure barely watched local TV shows to extremely popular (for all the wrong reasons) Youtube series.
    • On a more positive note, several goons learned of Sir Ron Lionheart after he was mocked by retsupurae. After getting a lot of unnecessary hate, his popularity quickly skyrocketed after one goon posted his LP of Sonic the Hedgehog (The Porcupine) in the Cybershell's Sonic LP thread (which had been viewing, linking to, and making other Sonic-based playthroughs during his frequent schedule slips). He was found as a more ideal version of an Adult Child.
  • Let's Plays, especially the most popular Let's players, have a habit of causing an spike in sales of the games they're currently going over. A good example of this is Chuggaaconroy regarding Okami and Nintendo Capri Sun regarding Plants vs. Zombies.
  • Let's Players also do this to each other. Notably, when The Runaway Guys (a collaboration of Chuggaaconroy, Nintendo Capri Sun and Proton Jon, three of the most popular LPers on YouTube) featured Josh Jepson as a guest player, the latter experienced a significant surge in popularity.
  • This has happened on this very wiki! (not repeatedly, though): after TV Tropes was mentioned in Xkcd, a mob of newbies washed over the forums and wiki, trashing the servers.
  • Seems to be David Herbert's goal with his new review series Jump On [dead link] for comics.
  • In it's heyday, a positive review from Webcomic-review blog Websnark could boost a comic's site traffic higher than ever before. In a slight subversion, the writer of the blog, Eric Burns, never quite seemed all that comfortable with the influence he wrote his way into, and was frequently a reason for his sabbaticals from the blog.
  • Homestuck occasionally links to youtube videos to illustrate points, such as here. These videos tend to more than double in views and comments overnight, to the bemusement and (usually) gratefulness of whoever uploaded them.

That is Wonderful. Do thank Mr. Hussie for me, and also all of you wonderful homestuck fans who appreciate and support my continuing efforts to bring my Historic and eclectic collection of early recordings to a new generation of listeners.

    • Homestuck's end-of-act 5 video of 2011-10-25 was hosted on Newgrounds to avoid crashing the site. It slashdotted Newgrounds within minutes.
  • In 2008, bumps from VG Cats and Deceased Crab made Eversion's popularity overshadow the entire Commonplace Book competition it was made for. And it was third place in the compo!
  • Neil Gaiman gave Gunnerkrigg Court a much larger readership after praising it on his blog.
  • Through the nature of Wiki Walking, TV Tropes itself has a tendency to give support to youtube videos that illustrate a certain trope. These videos would otherwise probably fall into the yt obscurity, and thus you may see a top comment saying "Who else got here from TV Tropes?"
  • Similarly, "I got here from Cracked." comment is often featured on videos used to illustrate articles there.
  • When Mark Oshiro began reviewing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, his blog was linked to by a popular Buffy fansite which resulted in a flood of new readers that crashed his server and forced him to find a new server to prevent this from happening again.


  • Painkiller saw a massive spike in Steam downloads after Yahtzee praised the game in a Zero Punctuation review - so much so that the Steam advert for the game actually quoted Yahtzee on how great the game is.
  • Conan O'Brien, attempting to take the place of Oprah, has recommended several kitschy items, from Troll 2 to a Steven Seagal album to a calendar entitled Extraordinary Chickens. Sure enough, they've gone up in popularity, and their Amazon pages show that people who buy one will frequently buy others.
  • Minecraft sold around 1000 copies after being referenced on the Valve blog. Shortly afterward, Penny Arcade made a series of comics about it, which led to 7000 more sales and a server meltdown.
    • Likewise, Terraria was an obscure indie game until the Minecraft devs mentioned it on their blog. Sales shot up to the point that it was higher on Steam's bestseller list than Portal 2 for several days.
    • Penny Arcade causes a similar effect whenever they mention ANYTHING. This is probably why Nintendo got them to do a five-part Skyward Sword comic.
    • So a frequent a phenomenon that it has been named. When the mention of a website on Penny Arcade leads to so many hits that the website's servers go down, it is said that the website in question has been "wanged".
  • Two consecutive bumps for Spiral Knights. When the game was integrated with Steam, there was a sudden influx of players. Later that day, Team Fortress 2 updated and added a hat themed around one of the helmets of the game, which created another rush of players, some asking how to get the new hat.
  • Recently, one brand of cologne has received a rather sudden boost in sales. The cause? Both 2chan and 4chan noticed that the bottle resembled one that Kotetsu Kaburagi from Tiger and Bunny owned and decided they needed to know what Kotetsu smelled like.
  • Two Best Friends Play did two episodes on games from the Xbox Line Indie, the majority of the games were harpooned for their poor quality, until the last one on the second episode, which ended with them saying outright that everybody should buy T.E.C 3001. It went from rank 151 to 80 in under one hour of the video being released.
  • Among the LEGO fandom, Brickset is a prominent cause of a variation of this trope, usually used in description of online sales or premature uploading of information on future sets - once such a sale gets mentioned on Brickset, it's often sold out within a matter of hours. This has been dubbed the "Brickset effect".
  • After being mentioned in The Avengers, Shawarma has shown a dramatic rise in popularity.
  • This pretty much happens to anything mentioned on The Apprentice or Dragons' Den. For example, after Keynoir was mentioned in a recent episode, their Twitter account basically exploded in popularity. Not to mention how some products now actually advertise 'featured on Dragons' Den' on the packaging... Or how the Bridge Cafe went from an extremely obscure local eatery to somewhere fans of the show end up trying to visit.


  • KT Tunstall's big break happened when she performed "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later with Jools Holland after being given only 24 hours notice.
    • Seasick Steve's regular appearances on Jools Holland's Hootenanny made him popular.
  • In the early '90's The Word had a similar effect with bands like Nirvana. It also notoriously damaged Shabba Ranks's career when he spouted homophobic remarks and was called out for it by Mark Lamarr; "That is absolute crap and you know it"
  • The Beatles. The Ed Sullivan Show. That is all. Funnily enough, this one actually went both ways, with the Ed Sullivan Show seeing a ratings boost for the weeks featuring the Beatles.
  • Not many people in Britain had heard of the Sex Pistols until they were interviewed live on Thames TV and Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones said both the S and F words in the space of a few minutes. Even though it was only shown in the London area, "The Filth and the Fury" was headline news across the country the next day. A smaller but similar effect came when they played live on Manchester Granada TV, thus introducing Anarchy in the UK to the north of England.
    • In a more recent example, most Americans had never heard of Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross until "Sachsgate."
  • Can also be called The Skins Effect; a number of bands, notably Gossip and Foals, experienced huge boosts in popularity and success as a result of their music appearing in the show. Alex Hancock (the show's music supervisor) is looking into ways to make this a deliberate part of the show, by only ever including music by unsigned bands; he's up against OFCOM and cross-promotion rules, though.
  • Probably related to the phenomenon of people rediscovering vintage pop music through Quentin Tarantino's iconic uses of it.
    • The Tarantino Bump affected Battle Royale. There's been a notable surge in new fans ever since he declared it to be his favourite film made since 1992.
  • The Jellybotties won't ever exactly be tearing up the charts, but they experienced a bump in popularity when Alan Davies sang a few bars of "Peter Cushing Lives in Whitstable" on QI. It's now their most popular song by far.
    • For proof of this, type "Peter Cushing" into Google and the song's title is the sixth auto-complete option. It's the first auto-complete result when searching for "Peter Cushing" on YouTube.
  • It's generally believed that White Zombie's popularity got a big boost after Beavis and Butthead showed them and gave them good reviews. Conversely, the reputation of Winger particularly suffered.
  • Whenever a popular YouTube series (such as The Gmod Idiot Box) uses a song that can be found on YouTube, said song will get a whole lot of hits all of a sudden, and a slew of comments all of which reference the same thing.
  • After John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles namechecked him as their favorite singer in a 1968 talk show interview, Harry Nilsson's popularity took off in the early Seventies.
  • This trope can also be called "The Glee Factor", as many musicians and songs and styles who've been covered by the cast (Britney Spears, Madonna) have had Career Resurrections and renewed interest after their music was featured.
    • Some bands have also reported booming sales after being featured as DLC in Rock Band and Guitar Hero games.
  • Wikipedia reports that the sales of songs included in Brutal Legend went up 700% after the game came out. The best example is Brocas Helm, who before, was so obscure they could not be found for digital purchase anywhere, but afterward, received a massive boost in popularity, and became available due to demand.
  • Erasure had a significant boost to their popularity when one of the songs was used in the suddenly-popular webgame Robot Unicorn Attack. (They had previously had minor hits (and hit videos) in America in the late 1980s with "A Little Respect" and "Chains Of Love", and a mid-1990s cover of ABBA's "Take A Chance On Me".)
  • Inverted with Japanese musician Gackt. Part of the reason he keeps appearing in so many video games and dramas is because his appearances in such media often results in a boost in ratings, viewership, and sales in the shows he appears.
    • Also inverted to a lesser extent by the Silversun Pickups. Though not exactly in mainstream pop-culture (they're still signed to indy label Dangerbird Reccords), they were a surprise hit with their first studio albuum, and they appeared on David Letterman's late night show because they had just showed up on the radar.
  • On VH-1, Mike Score said a Flock of Seagulls' popularity was noticeably increased just by being mentioned in passing in Pulp Fiction. This is actually rather sad, if you think about it.
  • Portal gave a bump to Jonathan Coulton thanks to "Still Alive"; Portal 2 gave a bump to The National thanks to "Exile Vilify".
  • Kurt Cobain of Nirvana did this a lot by plugging his favorite indie bands in interviews. Those who benefited included but are not limited to Shonen Knife, Beat Happening, and especially the Vaselines.
  • Not entirely 'Talk Show', but a medium sized German TV show used Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's version of Over the Rainbow as a leitmotif for their Water Coservation awareness day in 2010. Cue Number 1 in the single charts for 9 weeks - 13 years after his death.
  • Lordi garnered considerable attention and interest after performing "Hard Rock Hallelujah" at the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • A reverse bump has been noted for movies featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000: Their IMDB scores tend to take quite a hit, especially in comparison to comparable works by the same directors, and regardless of whether the film in question is more goofy than bad.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic homaged Sondheim numbers twice during season 1. Lots of people had never even heard of Into the Woods and Sunday in The Park With George, until they watched the show.
  • This has proven to be quite common with some songs that users on YouTube started commenting, "Thumbs up if you found/came here from X.".
  • Chris Le Doux would sign a record deal with Capitol Records shortly after Garth Brooks mentioned him in his hit song "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old). Two years later Le Doux would have a top-10 hit with "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy" and would frequently end concerts by saying "Thanks Garth."


  • A shrine featured as a set piece in Lucky Star has gotten about five times as many visitors.
  • Foreign destinations that Michael Palin visits on his BBC show frequently experience greater tourist numbers.
  • Strangely, after Sacha Baron Cohen raked them over the coals in Borat, the nation of Kazakhstan saw a surge in tourism.
  • Anywhere visited by Rick Mercer tends to experience a tourism boost.
  • Anthony Bourdain often causes a bump in business from non-locals for a restaurant he praises.
  • The city of Forks, Washington has gotten scads of tourists due to it being featured as the main setting of Twilight.
  • Regionally, the areas of Pittsburgh PBS "scrapbook documentary" producer Rick Sebak produces popular specials about, such as Kennywood Park, the North Side, the Strip District, the Primanti Brothers sandwich shop and Oakland, PA have turned into tourist traps (or more popular tourist traps), for locals and out-of-towners. (Oakland is itself the home of WQED, the TV station where Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was taped at.)


  • The Trope Namer is Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report. Whenever politicians, especially ones running for an office, experience a bump in poll numbers after being on his show, Colbert would take credit for it by saying that they received the Colbert Bump. He also claims responsibility whenever authors' books do well or musicians' songs do well. He once claimed responsibility for making Paul McCartney popular. The trope led to a series of crossover sketches in which Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Conan O'Brien fought over whose show was responsible for Mike Huckabee's temporary rise in popularity.
  • Boris Johnson was a pretty minor journalist (not yet even a Conservative MP) when he made his first appearance on Have I Got News for You, but each hilarious appearance boosted his popularity, to the point where the hosts of the show joked he could become leader of the Conservative Party despite his buffoonish persona. His relatively huge profile compared to other politicians was apparently of great concern to Labour Party officials when he ran for the office of Mayor of London (it was said that Boris was about the only politician recognizable by his first name alone, while most were referred to on last name or Full-Name Basis), which he then won. Several years in and he is, without joking, considered as a potential future leader of his party and this PM, despite not even being an MP anymore. Still seen as an outside chance, but one that must be considered (Update: Since winning re-election at a time of otherwise dire unpopularity for Tories in the polls, there are quite serious hopes in some quarters that he will be PM, and the best Tory in the country).
    • Johnson's main opponent in the election was Ken Livingstone, whose earlier mayoral campaigns had also benefited from several appearances on Have I Got News for You. Since Ken has been chosen as Boris's chief opponent at the next election, he has appeared on the show once more.
    • HIGNFY was also unwittingly the jumping-off point for Neil and Christine Hamilton in their successful transformation from "corrupt ex-MP and his shamelessly supportive wife" to "pair of absurd media whores."
    • The Lib Dems became significantly more popular after Charles Kennedy's numerous appearances too.
  • Hillary Clinton experienced a brief surge in popularity during the 2008 presidential elections after her appearance on Saturday Night Live. Sarah Palin's appearance, meanwhile, brought the show's ratings to their highest in a long time.
  • Bill Clinton's sax-riffing appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show was credited with popularizing him with younger voters in 1992. Four years prior to that, Clinton received a bump by appearing on The Tonight Show. Up to that point, he was best known for giving an embarrassingly long speech at the Democratic National Convention that year, which was the reason for his initial appearance.
  • Richard Nixon's 1968 appearance on Laugh-In coincided with a distinct leap in his electoral poll numbers.
  • Barack Obama, when he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show before his presidential run and Oprah famously declared him "The One."
    • Oprah also brought the world Doctor Phil, who started off as a one off, then a weekly reaccurance, and now has his own spinoff.
      • The same goes for Rachael Ray.
  • The 2010 UK General Election campaign was the first one to see the leaders of the three largest national parties (the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) take part in a series of live TV debates. Before the first debate was broadcast, very few people were aware of the leader of the smaller Lib Dem party, Nick Clegg; however, his strong performance on the first TV debate compared to the other party leaders saw his approval rating soar. That is, until he eventually became Deputy Prime Minister in the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government...
    • It is worth noting that if not for the bump, the Liberal Democrats would probably have done even worse than they did, due to policies which the electorate did not exactly jump behind (joining the EU being one), so in this case the bump actually saved him.
  • Herman Cain, once the little-known CEO of a pizza company, was given his own talk show after popular response to the times he substituted for Neal Boortz. He rode his bump all the way to a high-profile presidential campaign, making him quite possibly one of the best examples of this yet.
    • Herman once remarked on his Twitter how he got the bump after Stephen Colbert declared him the winner of a Republican debate. Colbert corrected him by saying that Cain must appear on his show to receive the bump.