When a work parodies itself.
There are several ways to do this. Some involve Breaking the Fourth Wall.
If a self-parody is to be done without direct self-reference, an easy method is having a Show Within a Show be a parody of the original show. The parallels should be obvious to the alert viewer, but the characters may write them off.
All deliberate self-parodies tend toward Self-Deprecation. The sort of work most likely to have one is a series that is a Long Runner or is in an established "verse" - else there isn't enough material.
Supertrope to Adam Westing, which is when an actor self-parodies his best-known character or his own public persona.
This is hard to do well. And woe to the work that does it by accident.
- A law firm company released several ads showing people hugely distraught over minor things, such as a paper cut or power going out during an intense video game session, and the "victims" demand justice for the parties responsible. The ads usually end with the number to call to firm and a disclaimer saying "But keep in mind that you really need to be injured."
- Dragonball Z invokes this trope during the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai when there's a screening of a movie about "How Mr. Satan defeated Cell".
Goku: Well, it was ridiculous and untrue, but it kept me entertained!
- Darker than Black: The OVA (episode 26 of season 1), which chronologically occurs somewhere in the middle and comes with a convenient Reset Button that makes it not affect the rest of the series.
- Nurse Witch Komugi: a spin-off/self parody of the Soul Taker.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion had a very funny radio play called Neon Genesis Evangelion: After the End. It basically involves attempting to reboot the series—which had a very miserable end, it should be noted—in various absurd ways, including a Super Sentai show, making it a sex comedy, and even turning Asuka into a bully who talks like a Yakuza, which leads to Rei becoming a motormouth. On top of all this, it also features Hideaki Anno himself being a Large Ham.
- This trailer of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has idiocies like Henshin Hero Setsuna F. Exia, Lockon's ghost freaking out Tieria and Allelujah, Haro playing Body Snatcher with Tieria, Sergei and Marie/Soma eating bamboo as pandas and Patrick getting shot in the ass by a UFO.
- Magic: The Gathering has joke sets Unglued and Unhinged. While a lot of the cards are just silly in general, many cards take potshots at both Magic's fans and its developers. For example, one card called "Look at Me, I'm the DCI" depicts a Wizards employee making banning decisions with a dartboard.
- Some interpretations of All Star Batman and Robin suggest that it is a Self-Parody of Frank Miller's earlier work. Note that there's really nothing to indicate this other than the fact that if it's not, the series is really horribly-written.
- The Marvel Super Heroes: What The-?! series by Marvel Comics is a Stop-motion style series of parodies and jokes regarding the Marvel universe, with oddities such as M.O.D.O.K., the old shame of Tony, Civil War, and the highly regarded Old Man Logan.
- Enchanted was Disney making fun of itself.
- Diamonds Are Forever remains one of the campiest James Bond films.
- Gremlins 2 The New Batch basically made fun of the first film and audience reactions to it.
- A Cock and Bull Story thrives on this. From Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing caricatures of themselves to everyone always talking about how difficult it will be to make a Tristam Shandy adaptation, the film's willingness to play with itself is rivaled only by its willingness to play with the Fourth Wall.
- Snakes on a Plane seems to be well-aware that airline disaster movies are nearly impossible to take seriously anymore, by not even trying.
- Edgar Allan Poe's How to Write a Blackwood Article has its protagonist ask a parody of himself for writing advice. She in turn goes on to "write" Poe's A Predicament, in which she mangles a fair number of literary references and gets beheaded by a clock due to a combination of stupidity and Exact Words being used against her...and survives to lament having lost her head, her manservant and her dog all at once.
- The "Roonil Wazlib" gag in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince was obviously a product of JK Rowling poking fun at the fact that loads of Chekhov's Guns were always used in the plot of every installment of the series.
- In Children of the Lens, the protagonist at one point poses as a writer of space operas, and we're treated to a paragraph or so of his prose—which is a parody of the author's normal style.
... Fools! Did they think that the airlessness of absolute space, the heatlessness of absolute zero, the yieldlessness of absolute neutronium, could stop QUADGOP THE MERCOTAN? And the stowaway, that human wench Cynthia, cowering in helpless terror just beyond this thin and fragile wall...
- Michael Moorcock's "The Stone Thing: A Tale of Strange Parts". The story of an exiled and doomed wanderer, who has lost most of his extremities and all of his loved ones due to the vast array of cursed weaponry he's forced to carry around with him. It takes every aspect of The Elric Saga Up to Eleven and ends with a totally outrageous punchline.
- Believe it or not, but Sesame Street had a "Cookie World" episode. Starring who else?
- From House, some of House's favorite soaps. Maybe.
- "Jerry" on Seinfeld.
- "Wormhole X-Treme" and "200" from Stargate SG-1.
- In Monty Python's Flying Circus, the sketch "What the Stars Foretell" has a character starting to rattle off synonyms, then a poster drops down so the studio audience can continue reading from the Long List. Terry Jones and Michael Palin wrote this as a parody of Chapman and Cleese's thesaurus-inspired sketches; they were surprised when it was accepted for the show.
- Also written as a joke was the sketch "The Extremely Dull Life of a City Stockbroker," a parody of Jones and Palin's sketches by Chapman and Idle. This goes to show how easily a Gag Series can accommodate Self-Parody.
- Gekisou Sentai Carranger is both a full Super Sentai series and a parody of the Sentai formula. Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is its Spiritual Successor.
- And on the other side of the Pacific, Power Rangers Ninja Storm and (to a lesser extent) Power Rangers RPM. RPM was something of an interesting clash, as it was the same time a Darker and Edgier take on the source material (the Rangers are the main force protecting the only human city left after a robot apocalypse) and constantly lampshaded its own tropes at the same time ("Sometimes when I morph, I can't help but notice this gigantic explosion right behind me for no apparent reason. (...) Now, could that happen to me in the kitchen or something?").
- In Father Ted, the priests are big fans of a series called Father Ben about stupid priests who live on an island.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo" (season 3, episode 13) made fun of the cliches the show established.
- Supernatural does this at least once a season, in episodes such as "Hollywood Babylon" and "The Real Ghostbusters".
- Both of which pale into insignificance next to "The French Mistake".
- Boy Meets World: The Show Within a Show "Kid Gets Acquainted With the Universe".
- Xena: Warrior Princess had "A Day in the Life" in season 2 and "The Play's the Thing" in season 4.
- Every The X-Files that bordered on Deconstruction entered this at times (examples include "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", "X-Cops" and "Hollywood AD").
- How I Met Your Mother's "The Stinson Missile Crisis" parodied itself via the setting of Robin in court-mandated therapy after a mysterious sequence of events, telling her therapist the story of How She Wound Up Assaulting A Woman And Getting Stuck In This Court-Mandated Therapy. She then proceeds to use an unnecessary level of detail and a ridiculous number of tangents that she insists are essential in order to understand the full story while her therapist waits impatiently and is repeatedly fooled into thinking that this moment is the one where she finally Assaults The Woman—basically, doing to her therapist exactly what the show has been doing to its viewers for seven years. The episode also takes advantage of the parody format to push its specific style of using Flash Forwards, Flash Backs, Flash-Sidewayses, imagine spots, cutaway gags, Internal Monologues, Third Line, Some Waiting, and Lemony Narrator-esque commentary Up to Eleven, rather like "The Zeppo" above. Between this and "Symphony of Illumination", one might start to suspect that the entire Framing Device of the show is an idea Future!Ted got from Future!Robin.
- Not only that, but her story leads both Kevin and the viewers to believe that the woman she assaulted is Nora, when in fact it turns out to be someone completely different, possibly referencing HIMYM's pilot episode, where both Ted's kids and the viewers were falsely led to believe that The Mother was Robin.
- KMFDM has quite a few songs dedicated to lampooning itself. There's Sucks (KMFDM SUCKS! remains a popular chant to this day) and Megalomaniac and Light and Intro. Oh, and Virus, to a lesser extent.
- Orson Welles was the guest host of The Jack Benny Program for four episodes in 1943 while Jack was ill. The main humor of the episodes comes from Welles parodying his own image as a director with a huge ego and a flair for over-the-top filmmaking:
Don: Oh, by the way, Orson, what's the title of this picture you're making?
Welles: Well, I've called my story very simply "The March of Destiny", and it deals with everything that ever happened.
- The Black Dog Game Factory in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, a branch of Pentex, and the home of the Talespinner system (Storyteller) and World of Shadows setting (The World of Darkness). Not only are all their games parodies of White Wolf products (Revenant: The Ravishing; Lycanthrope: The Rapture; Warlock: The Pretention; Deviant etc. etc.), but the names and some characteristics of the staff were strangely familiar, albeit all evil and/or insane.
- The final clown segment in Cirque Du Soleil's Dralion goofily reenacts all of the show's serious acts, complete with threadbare mockeries of key costumes and props.
- An accidental example of this is "Right Brain", a song from the 1994 New York Theatre Workshop version of Jonathan Larson's Rent. Later becoming "One Song Glory", many fans who hear this old version of the inspirational song can hardly listen without feeling the need to vomit or burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
- The tribute concert to Cameron Mackintosh, Hey Mr. Producer, features a pre-taped segment in which Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber parody their songs "Send in the Clowns" and "Music of the Night", while ribbing Cameron Mackintosh at the same time. It can be called the highlight of the show.
- Although the cabaret show Forbidden Broadway is about parodying other shows, it does take the occasional potshot at itself and its playwright/lyricist Gerard Alessandrini.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Ember Island Players."
- South Park does this on occasion:
- The episode "Butt Out" is a parody of the standard South Park formula, as Kyle points out in a moment of Genre Savvy.
- Word of God confirms this in the case of Terrance and Phillip: When the Moral Guardians first started complaining about the show, they decided to make a show within their show that was even worse.
- It goes meta in 200, in which Kyle and Cartman call each other "fat-ass" and "Jew", and Stan complains that they always do the same thing. The exact same dialogue took place in an earlier episode.
- ReBoot has "The True Stories Of Mainframe."
- The Superhero Squad Show could be said to be this for Marvel.
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee had a monster filming Juniper's adventures and broadcasting them in a show named "The Battles and Brawls of Juniper Lee".
- At the end of the "Wizard of Odd" episode of Phineas and Ferb, Candace parodied her song "Busted" from a previous episode by singing about how the Tin Man was "Rusted".