Played for Laughs

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

If something is played for laughs, it means it is being used with the intention to be comedic. It is often a parody of the instances where said device or Trope is used seriously. Sometimes involves Lampshade Hanging on a particular Trope.

Contrast Played for Drama; sometimes, the only difference between one Trope and another is that one is Played for Laughs, while the other is Played for Drama.

Can sometimes result in Harsher in Hindsight or a Funny Aneurysm Moment down the line. And of course, can result more immediately in Dude, Not Funny.

Examples of Played for Laughs include:

Anime and Manga



Live-Action TV

Video Games


  • Many of the characters that fit under The Ace would be God Mode Sues if their absurd competence was not funny.


  • Little Shop of Horrors does this with man-eating Plant Aliens and sadistic dentists.
  • The Mikado does this with all manner of bloodthirstiness, despite being a light romantic comedy, including, for example, a song ("The Criminal Cried as He Dropped Him Down") in which the chorus goes:

As the sabre true
Cut cleanly through
His cervical vertebrae
His vertebrae!

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Invader Zim does this to the old chestnut of an alien coming to infiltrate society, in all but one episode- the pure Nightmare Fuel that is "Dark Harvest".
  • The infamous Lucy-pulling-the-football-away-from-Charlie-Brown gag in the Peanuts series.
  • KaBlam!: Billy from "The Off-Beats", The Running Gag in the series usually involved Billy saying something that would get Tina mad, and then the Populars would throw him out of the group, causing Billy to crash into something.
  • Teen Titans in the episode "Fear Itself". Beast Boy, being an aficionado of horror movies, spends most of the episode (until he's caught) telling everyone not to split up as the monster always gets his targets easier that way, and that he, the funny guy, will inevitably be taken first. He ends up being right.