Stylistic Suck

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"The world is full of bad books written by amateurs. But why settle for the merely regrettable? Atlanta Nights is a bad book written by experts."
T. Nielsen Hayden

A Show Within a Show or other Meta Fiction by a character inside another story is often presented in an inferior writing style (for obvious reasons, it's a bit difficult to do it the other way around—if the writer could do better, then he would presumably use that as his baseline, unless it's using the first person). The most conspicuous aspect of this is in terms of dialog, in which one can expect the characters to speak in a stilted, mechanical tone for no apparent reason at all. The main character often is a obvious stand-in for the fictional author.

This can serve to distinguish the nested story from the main one, or to demonstrate the limited skills or intellect of the character who writes it. Alternatively, a really inferior writing style, presented right, can provide So Bad It's Good comic effect.

There's No B in Movie is related, though in that case the focus is on the audience of the Show Within a Show rather than on its writer. If the material is not horrible, merely so-so, but is supposed to be awesome, it's an Informed Ability. See also Rule of Funny.

A Super-Trope to:


It's been suggested by various movie critics that this is done solely because it would be irritating to the viewer and humiliating to the writer if the story within was a lot more interesting than the story around it (though an enterprising author could release it as a spin-off, not unlike the real-life Radioactive Man comics), so they do what they can to kill it while retaining its purpose.

May overlap with The Power of Acting.

Contrast with Framing Device.

Basically So Bad It's Good Played for Laughs.

Not a Sex Trope.

Examples of Stylistic Suck include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The first (in airing order) episode of Haruhi Suzumiya, "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina", is a gloriously bad student film made by the main characters, with a plotline that makes no sense, random scene changes, flat characters, appalling acting, shoddy directing (the conversation where both characters are facing right springs to mind) and really badly animated special effects (with one exception - that happens to nearly take out the cameraman). And Kyon commenting on all this.
    • This episode is all Kyon's. Without his commentary, the film would honestly be bad, with it included, it's So Bad It's Absolutely HILARIOUS!
    • Episode 00 is in 4:3 aspect ratio while the rest of the series is widescreen. The first screen format-related Stylistic Suck?
      • An early fansub added to this by applying subtitles and karaoke that were reminiscent of those you'd find on old fansubs, complete with Comic Sans and a static karaoke with notes.
  • The unnamed alien soap opera watched by the whole household in the original Tenchi Muyo OVAs is poorly written and badly acted, and yet enthralls everyone who watches.
  • Genshiken's Show Within a Show, Kujibiki Unbalance, was intended to be like this, a Cliché Storm that contained every absurdity ever to appear in anime. Then they actually made a few episodes of the show as an Omake, and real viewers loved it so much it became a real, full length series.
    • Sadly, the full length series diverges quite a bit from the one within Genshiken, both in art style as in plot.
  • Nadesico had the Show Within a Show Gekiganger 3, which has become somewhat legendary among fans.
  • In the Ichigo Mashimaro manga, Miu tries her hand at making a Shoujo manga herself. Her style is not that much inferior to the original, which is actually pretty good for a twelve-year old. Her storytelling leaves something to be desired, though.
  • The Uraon DVD specials from K-On!. The art style borders in So Bad It's Horrible.
  • An episode of the Kirby anime features this hilariously Show Within a Show where Dedede tries to make an anime, recruiting more or less the entire cast to do the work. Between Executive Meddling, a ridiculously tight schedule and low budget, and most of the staff having no idea what they're doing (especially Kirby), it starts out as a parody of the show itself and gets very steadily worse. And funnier.
  • The entire premise of the Excel Saga anime is based on this. Each episode, there's a scene of the director forcing the writer to put his 'stamp of approval' on that episode's script, which is invariably a haphazard attempt to shoehorn his characters into a variety of inappropriate genres.
  • Rozen Maiden features a puppet crime show with anthropomorphic animals and plots vaguely inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novels, Detective Kun-Kun, which is quite unexceptional and bland (complete with exaggerated acting, stiff, low-budget puppets, weak twists), yet all the dolls living in Jun's house are enthralled by it, screaming to warn the character of traps or betrayal, and genuinely shivering when a "scary" scene is happening, to the point of having Shinku in love with the title character, a pipe-smoking dog dressed as Sherlock Holmes (Jun even uses it to win an argument); yet this might also be to show that despite their age and occasional wisdom they all are little girls, and react as such, to tone down the many creepy and downer moments of the series.
    • Well, it IS pretty hardcore for a puppet show.
    • The Detective Kun-Kun OVA presents an episode of the television show from the point of view of the Rozen Maiden dolls watching it: as a theatrical masterpiece complete with red curtain.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler Nagi's greatest dream in life is to become a famous Mangaka. Too bad the only people capable of understanding the completely nonsensical plot of her manga are herself and her friend Isumi.
  • The parts in the Futatsu no Spica anime in which Asumi talks about her childhood dreams or shares astronomical knowledge (usually in the beginning) are drawn in a very primitive, childish style.
  • Sensei and Ninomiya-kun, a soap opera in Minami-ke. It's an utter Cliché Storm with horrible acting, and yet the protagonists seem to like it.
  • Sergeant Frog has the Five-Man Band attempt to create an anime movie. The characters were little better than doodles, nothing moves and the voice acting has nothing to sync to. Only the (pirated) backgrounds looks good.
  • Pretty much the entire "169th Friends Concert" in 20th Century Boys. Lampshaded by the protagonist.
    • Made even more obvious in the live-action movie adaptations, where you actually have to hear "Ai Rock Yuu" in all its horrific sucky glory.
  • Gintama's latest opening. There's a reason why it's done that way, but who cares about that? The vid itself.
    • There's also an episode where Gin and a prison inmate (from a previous arc) attempt to create a shounen manga but basically end up with a mix of super saiyan style shoulder pads, a Chage Note and blatant harem cliches. Plus rough children's illustrations. It doesn't even make sense in context.
  • Despite the fact that he's supposedly a best-selling and award-winning novelist, the extracts from Usagi's Boys Love novels in Junjou Romantica are full of Purple Prose and cliched dialogue; the Junai Romantica novels, which are supposedly the novels that he wrote, are similarly prone to Cliché Storm and weepy uke syndrome, but are hilarious to read because of the mismatch between Usagi's fictionalized versions of the characters and how they really are.
  • Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga uses this both for innate humor and to parody the stereotypical art styles of every major genre of manga.
  • The opening of Gundam 00 a Wakening of The Trailblazer depicts a Movie Within A Movie that recreates the events of the Mobile Suit Gundam 00 TV series...as a hammy, Super Robot-esque affair that bears almost no resemblance to the actual show. Getting in on the gag, at least one fansub group gave the movie cheesy subtitles with different colored text for each character and several words left in Japanese with translation notes explaining what they mean and then saying there's no good English translation (a Take That against a certain fansub group that does this unironically).
  • Whenever Rukia uses her hand-made drawings to explain the spirit world and Hollows to Ichigo, they look as if they were done by a six year old. Ichigo never fails to point out how much her art style sucks. And usually gets hit because of it.Apparently Byakuya has a very similar art style, which is strange, considering he's captain of the calligraphy club, and a good sculpter.
  • On the rare occasions that comics are portrayed in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, it will be in a very crude and deformed style that makes it clear the reader is looking at a comic-within-a-comic.
  • Perfect Blue has "Double Bind", detective drama that has many plot elements directly lifted from popular works of the genre. It's implied that the writer has no plan whatsoever and throws things like rape in because they are his Author Appeal.
  • Baby Beel's drawings in Beelzebub are given criticism as if they were true works of art, when he's actually a toddler who can do little more than scribble.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Zoot Sputnik was a comic-within-the-comic written by one of the characters in 'Mazing Man. The art was by Fred Hembeck.
  • Whenever the Fish And Bicycle Theatre group pop up in Y the Last Man, their productions are like this: a play about a man surviving the Gendercide (and later dying because the world doesn't need him any more), an action movie, a comic book called X: The Last Woman. All Anvilicious and pretentious.
  • V for Vendetta contains many references to the fictional show Storm Saxon - a misogynistic, racist and homophobic action/adventure series, as well as the opinion news show "Voice of Fate" (which was eerily prescient of Bill O'Reilly).
    • The filmmakers appear to agree with that last point, since he's a clear parody of Bill in the film.
  • X-Men Noir features a series of backups prose stories parodying old pulp sf stories. ("The Sentinels" by Bolivar Trask) Thomas Halloway reads them, and even uses them to interrogate Professor Xavier. Considering the style and subject this is almost certainly a reference to the Iron Dream mentioned above. (Although, ironically, Trask comes across as rather liberal by 1930s standards, in his story the "perfect race" is formed by combining racial characteristics, and the mutant underclass turns out to be misunderstood. This is also ironic when you consider that in the main Marvel universe, Bolivar Trask was the bigoted scientist behind the mutant-hunting Sentinel robots.)
    • And the Noir books in general can arguably be considered to be mild examples of this, deliberately playing into the style of old pulp novels themselves. Daredevil and Wolverine Noir are probably the most guilty of this; neither leaves a single cliche untouched.
  • Jhonen Vasquez's comic Johnny the Homicidal Maniac has the comic-within-a-comic Happy Noodle Boy. Interesting in that they don't suck too bad at first, but get progressively worse as Johnny slowly loses his sanity.
  • Any time a superhero comic appears in a superhero comic, it's done like this.
  • In the Essex County trilogy, the comic-within-a-comic drawn by a young child in the story is actually a real comic made by author Jeff Lemire when he was a child.


Dance[edit | hide]

  • Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, which features all-male swans (among other innovations), features a ballet-within-a-ballet that parodies the conventions of Romantic ballet in general and the original Swan Lake in particular.
  • The famous nihonbuyou number Fujimusume ("Wisteria Nymph") features a scene where the spirit dances for her Love Interest in order to try and make him interested. Later, the spirit has drunken some sake and performs the exact same dance, only "a bit wonky". The scene is both very amusing for the audience, and very demanding for the dancer, who must appear wobbly and out-of-rhythm while actually staying in rhythm and keeping the dance recognisable.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Prinz von Sommerhoffnung has the character Ywiu, who speaks mainly in Singlish. It looks like genuinely bad writing at first, until one point where she code-switches to standard English and shows that the "bad English" is used deliberately. (At least if you somehow miss the fact that most of the others speak standard English.)
  • Used in Troll Fics by authors such as Peter Chimaera and Squirrel King.
  • The Light of Courage is a series of fan animations based on The Legend of Zelda done in a deliberately blocky and polygonal style to imitate the low quality of the fan script they are based on.
  • The Fantendo fic Sunny and the Mushroom: THE END OF THE WORLD in which a guy explodes and blood goes EVERYWHERE and EVERYBODY DIES.
  • The entire SHPDMBGWL 4 series. Although, the third one is actually somewhat decent.
  • Hunter Truf: Ace Attorney and later Justices Memoirs on Ace Attorney Online feature an Easter egg in which Martin Summers (hotel dusk)'s real "talent" is revealed.
  • This Sonic parody fanfiction by a guy named Kimarnic accomplishes this pretty perfectly.
  • The stories that make up the RWBY fanfic cycle Emergence include several In-Universe fanfics written by a character for whom Rouge Angles of Satin are a way of life.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The samples we get of the 'acting' in the adult entertainment movies in Boogie Nights are of course hilariously bad.
  • The Dueling Cavaliers, the first "talkie" movie made by silent stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont in the classic musical Singin in The Rain, is awful thanks to an unfortunate conjunction of many many small (and not-so-small) problems, not the least of which are Don throwing out lines he doesn't like, and Lina having a voice like fingernails on a blackboard.
  • America's Sweethearts opens with segments from the title characters' previous movies together. They are scenes that are just so completely generic, they would have no appeal whatsoever in the real world.
  • Ironically, the second remake of King Kong used dialog from the original film to fit this trope.
  • One scene of the movie the cast and crew are making in Living in Oblivion is completed, (a pseudo-Twin Peaks-esque Dream Sequence) and looks absurd.
  • All the clips of the Show Within a Show "Crime Scene" from Forgetting Sarah Marshall fall under this. So does Aldous Snow's song "We Gotta Do Something" and its music video, in which Russell Brand does things like glower accusingly at the camera while holding up signs that say, "HOW CAN YOU READ/WHEN YOU ARE BLIND," then simulate sex with a passing nun.
  • In A Dog's Breakfast, the space opera Starcrossed is intentionally melodramatic, over-acted and revoltingly soppy. Arguably, this is one for the So Bad It's Good category.
  • Done on purpose and out of (in-story) necessity in Be Kind Rewind. Arguably part of the film's humor.
  • Pretty much anything the characters on Tropic Thunder are shown being part of. A good deal of it is based on actual bad movies. The dialogue in the film they're currently making is filled with cliches. One of Ben Stiller's character's previous movie Simple Jack is repeatedly mocked in-story.
  • The writing of the title character of Barton Fink isn't so much sucky as completely nonsensical. The "wrestling movie" Barton watches fits the trope well, though.

Wrestler: (repeatedly) I WILL DESTROY YOU!

  • In the movie House (no connection to the similarly-named show), the main character's wife is an actress on a cheesy soap opera called Resort, filled with melodramatic and nonsensical lines like "My sister was an only child, and you abused that!"
  • One of the extras on the DVD of The Incredibles is "Mr. Incredible and Pals", an in-universe cartoon starring Mr. Incredible, Frozone... and a rabbit-thing named Mr. Skipperdoo. The animation is not animated (a la Clutch Cargo), Frozone is portrayed as a tan-skinned beatnik, and the plot was clearly written for an audience of morons. There's also a commentary track, in which Mr. Incredible and Frozone—watching the cartoon fifteen years later—decide that it's a good thing the cartoon never aired.
  • In the Ronstadt/Kline film production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, the climactic battle interrupts a stilted, badly-played and sung version of G.&S.'s H.M.S. Pinafore; their way of saying, "Yes, there are many, many things wrong with this production, most of them Linda Ronstadt, but see how much worse it could have been in an old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy sort of way."
  • Yet another climactic battle, in Blazing Saddles, interrupts what looks to be an intensely stupid Busby Berkeley-style musical number.

"Throw out your hands, stick out your tush/hands on your hips, give 'em a push!/Don't be surprised, you're doing the French Mistake, VOILA!

  • The Band Wagon, a musical about the making of a musical, showcases the rehearsal of a overblown, pretentious dance number that contributes to the show's total failure on opening night.
  • "It Must Be June" from 42nd Street is an example of intentionally bad songwriting.
  • In and Out features a double Stylistic Suck: the film opens with extracts from a "serious" drama about gay men in the army, parodying every gay movie trope known to mankind. These extracts are being shown at a parody of the Academy Awards broadcast, which includes such nominations as "Steven Seagal for Snowball in Hell".
  • Bowfinger concerns the production of a really stupid Alien Invasion movie called Chubby Rain. Its success leads to the making of Fake Purse Ninjas, which appears to be just as ridiculous.
  • The entirety of Fourth Wall obliterating Amazon Women on the Moon consists of unstated Framing Device of someone in the audience randomly switching channels from one Stylistic Suck parody to another, while nominally watching the titular movie. There isn't a single second of the film that isn't this trope.
  • Speed Racer, in an attempt to bring old-school anime style to live action, used a layering effect to 'flatten' everything into layers, like the layers of cels, and even going as far as having an obvious Wraparound Background during one scene.
  • Love Actually gives us Christmas Is All Around. This is an odd example because the original song wasn't original to the film; it was a Troggs song, famously covered by Wet Wet Wet. The obnoxiousness of the Christmas version is in the blatant commercialism: "I couldn't think of a funnier way to start the film than by actually making [the British public] listen to the same song again."
  • Mortal Kombat has a brief scene where Johnny Cage fights off some bad guys in a cheap fighting movie. Of course, Mortal Kombat itself isn't much better.
  • According the DVD commentary of Austin Powers 2, they actually went out of their way to make their scenes shot in Southern California look like they were shot from Southern California when they were supposed to be in England, so Austin's joke about England looking nothing like Southern California would be funny.
    • In the same scene, the characters pass a sign that just says "English Countryside".
  • Early in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, studio executives watch scenes from Jane's films, and note that she's an awful actress. However, those were real scenes from the early movies of Bette Davis (who plays Jane).
  • The movie adaptation of Ghost World has a lot of this, most notably Roberta Allsworth's incomprehensible art film Mirror Father Mirror and abysmal blues-rock band Blueshammer.
  • The songs "African Child" and "I Am Jesus" from Get Him to The Greek are almost certainly Stylistic Suck; the rest range from Affectionate Parody to simple Pastiche.
  • In Meet the Feebles the corrupt producer will never - under any circumstances - allow a certain musical number that the camp gay director thinks of as his magnum opus. When it finally does get performed... well, let's just say the subject matter isn't appropriate for a family variety show.

Director, singing: Sodomy! You must think it really odd o' me / that I'm really into sodomy...

  • The short film "US vs. HK" by the ZeroGravity stunt team is the same fight scene twice. The overwrought American version falls wonderfully into this trope. (The Hong Kong one gets more over towards So Cool Its Awesome.)
  • The 2009 independent film After Last Season features some of the most shockingly boring, awfully rendered CGI visuals you've ever seen in your life...but it's okay, because the CGI sequences are supposed to represent a machine that converts thoughts into images, and the thoughts are unclear at first, so it's supposed to look like crap!
  • Despicable Me has Gru being forced to read a bedtime story called "Sleepy Kittens" to put his adoptive daughters to sleep. It's as saccharine as kid's books get, complete with finger puppets for the three little kittens, with Gru getting increasingly annoyed at the story as he reads on. Also, its now available for purchase on Amazon.
  • Wayne's World has the main characters start the titular show by thrashing madly on electric guitars and singing (badly) "Wayne's World! Wayne's World! Party Time! Excellent!". When an actual professional intro is added it's just... wrong (and the main characters are stunned).
    • The entirety of the show falls under this, as it's basically the duo goofing around with no script, which is apparently what their fanbase likes.
  • Early in Synechdoche, New York we find Caden presenting an unconvincing version of Death of a Salesman using a very young cast. Result? Caden is awarded a Macarthur Fellowship "genius grant."
  • An early scene in The President's Analyst (that's been absent since early tv broadcasts) has James Coburn's character watching an art movie that's disgusting the audience (one shot dwells on an overfilled garbage can), which is walking out in a steady stream. As he points out funny details to a similarly disgusted girl, they end up the only viewers left, having a great time - the movie's auteur then angrily tells them they were supposed to hate it.
  • Spice World is itself not a very good movie, but there's one intentional example of this trope; the scene where the screenwriter describes the frantic journey the Spice Girls are making through London as they're doing it. At one point, they're about to jump the rising platform of Tower Bridge in a double decker bus. The executive this is being described to comments that this would be pretty expensive. Cue the scene being rendered using a scale toy bus bumping over a rather shoddy replica of Tower Bridge. "Not necessarily."
  • In Mr. Bean's Holiday, Carson Clay makes an absurdly ham fisted "personal statement" for Cannes Film Festival. The film shown to the festival goers uses footage filmed by Bean paired with Clay's navel-gazing dialog. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Gentlemen Broncos - the main character Benjamin's SF novella Yeast Lords is spectacularly awful from a Real Life perspective; in-universe, it's treated as a work of staggering genius.
  • In Wag the Dog, the President's re-election ads are absolutely atrocious. In the end, the film producer who helped put on the fake war is unable to remain silent if it means that the people who made the ads get to take credit for the President's re-election, and so he is Killed to Uphold the Masquerade.
  • In Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman's (fictional) twin brother Donald writes a script for a film called "The Three", which is a murder-mystery in which the murderer, detective and victim are all the same person. Charlie proceeds to point out the Plot Holes and Fridge Logic that would result from all of this, but everyone else loves it.
  • At the start of Josie and The Pussycats, Boy Band DuJour are selling an absurdly bad song called "Backdoor Lover" which is basically a list of increasingly filthy Double Entendres about anal sex disguised as a Silly Love Song about a lover who uses the back door of his girlfriend's house.

You know that I won't hurt you so open up and let me in
We love each other way too much for it to be a sin
Some people use the front door but that's never been my way
Just 'cause I slip in backwards, well, that doesn't make me - hey.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Print: Geoffrey Chaucer had his Author Avatar in The Canterbury Tales tell the bizarre story of Sir Thopas, a hyperactive Belgian child who spurs his horse until it's a bloody mess. The host cuts off the parody in the middle to complain that it sucks.
  • Daniel Keyes's novel Flowers for Algernon is written in the form of Charlie Gordon's journal. The early (before his intelligence was enhanced) and late (after the effect wears off) entries are written in a barely-literate style indicative of Charlie's mental deficiency.
  • In Treasure Island, the character Dr. Livesey takes over narration while Jim is ill, doing so in a very tedious style.
  • In Henry Fielding's novel Jonathan Wild the various crooks and prostitutes usually speak in a gentle style, but it's essentially implied that Fielding is "translating" their speech for ironic effect, and in one instance, a love note written by Wild is produced which has attrocyous spelng errerz.
  • In the Stephen King story The End of the Whole Mess, the writer's skill deteriorates as his mental capacity does.
    • Stephen King also did a version of this in his novel Misery. The main character, Paul Sheldon, spends most of the book writing a new book in his popular Misery series, and the writing style, while not really worse, is somewhat different. The format of the book within the book also changes as the character's typewriter decays—it begins in regular type, then a few letters become handwritten, until by the end the entire manuscript is written by hand.
    • The 'novel within a novel' is actually something of an inversion of this trope as, while the format does disintegrate, the actual story is actually a well-written, gripping narrative which the main character comes to prefer to his supposedly 'serious' writing.
      • Misery also has a completely straight version of this trope when Paul is writing his first draft of the new book. Paul utterly despises the Misery series but is trying to provide his "number one fan" with everything he thinks she loved about the series, including over-the-top, melodramatic dialogue and one-dimensional characters.
    • And he did it again in The Dark Half, where the main character's dead pseudonym comes to life and goes on a killing rampage until the main character agrees to help him write one last novel. That novel begins all right, but by the second chapter, every other word is "sparrow" (sparrows being an ongoing theme in the overall novel.)
    • And again in the short story Survivor Type, in which the main character is surviving through unusual means on a barren rock island. He uses heroin to anesthetize himself, and it shows in the journal he is keeping.
  • Mario Vargas Llosa's semi-autobiographical novel La tia Julia y el escribidor (Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter) has a structure where intercalates a chapter telling the protagonist story with another being the argument of one of the radial Soap Operas written by the titular scriptwriter Pedro Camacho. While the protagonist story is told in a very consistent style, the "Soap" chapters are written in a more grandiloquent style, although not actually truly bad written. These alternate chapters detail the events going on in the various radio soap operas written by the scriptwriter, who are already very convoluted and filled with a lot of Author Appeal and Author Avatar meddlings, but become increasingly bizarre as the plots of the separate soap operas start to merge, all thanks to the increasingly unstable mental state of Camacho due to burnout.
  • Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief features portions of the novel the protagonist is writing, entitled Glove Pond. It's written in a somewhat stilted style, with a bizarre plot and characters and themes clearly based on the author's own life and issues. It's sort of hilarious and pathetic at the same time.
  • A recurring character in Kurt Vonnegut's books is Kilgore Trout, a failing sci-fi writer. The readers are treated with short depictions of his books.
  • Inverted in Tad Williams's short story Writer's Child in that the main narrative is purportedly written by a seven-year-old girl using exactly the kind of style you might expect while the excerpts of her father's writing are on another level entirely. Also, the story is not comedy but horror.
  • Caversham Heights, the unpublished novel where Thursday Next takes refuge in The Well Of Lost Plots is described as being "of dubious merit" and the scenes we see being made bear this out. The novel's main character Jack Spratt worries the whole thing will be deleted.
    • A delicious bit of metafiction, as in all of Fforde's work. At the end of Well of Lost Plots, Spratt's novel is entirely changed by taking on characters from nursery rhymes. The book itself was later published in real life as The Big Over Easy. This is inspired, because The Big Over Easy was in fact the first novel Fforde wrote. After getting it rejected by many editors, he instead wrote The Eyre Affair, first of the Thursday Next books, and it was the success of this that got his original novel published as well. Not content to just publish it, though, he actually wrote it into the main series! And the real novel itself is far from bad, being widely praised, so this ends up a sort of circular subversion.
  • Adrian Mole at some point wrote a book called "Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland". In which the protagonist writes another novel, entitled "Sparg from Kronk" (in which the protagonist... writes "a book without language", meaning Adrian Mole creator Sue Townsend ended up writing a book about someone writing a book about someone writing a book about someone writing a book). Somehow, both books manage to be even worse than they sound.
  • Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 is full of this, most notably in the forms of a cheesy family film called Cashiered (with an ending that surely caused nightmares to the fictional audience), a bad rock band who wish they were The Beatles, and an "ill, ill Jacobean revenge play" called The Courier's Tragedy, which is basically period Gorn.
  • The Sound and the Fury. The first section is written from the perspective of a retarded man, and moves in and out of flashbacks with no warning. It also gives no Expospeak of any kind, making it ridiculously difficult to figure out the setting or the character relationships. The second section of the book is written by a lunatic who is apparently opposed to the sentence. Then it gets comprehensible.
  • Roger Solmes' writing style in Clarissa. He can't spell.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!) novels take the form of Cain's unofficial personal memoirs, which are pretty good. Unfortunately, because of Cain's very narrow focus (he never discusses anything which doesn't DIRECTLY affect him) the editor of these memoirs regularly finds it necessary to include extracts from other sources to fill in the context. Many of these are very poor, especially the extracts from the memoirs of Jenit Sulla, a retired general who served under Cain in her youth. The editor considers Sulla's writing to be so bad that she apologizes every time she is forced to refer to it, and regularly encourages readers to skip the extracts if they feel like it.
    • It should be noted that almost all extracts of certain events, written by military personal, are in similar purple pose writing style (the editor even comments once about how good it is that a certain admiral hasn't written his memoirs yet). This could hint that most officers think that they have to write in that style and that Cain's "I don't care if someone ever reads this" feeling about writing these memoirs are the actual reason why they are so well written. Also, in Sulla's case, you can almost guess that she really thought the way she wrote.
      • The Imperium heavily edits the memoirs of imperial commanders in order to make them more in line with the fiction they spout about how humanity is infallible, peerless in every way, and the most cultured species in the universe so it could be more like Cains memoirs where the parts written by the author are somewhere on the cutting room floor or inquisitorial libraries. Its also stated that Cains memoirs that were released to the public are also in the same style maybe the imperial editors are just bad at writing?
    • In the first book, information on the history of Gravalax is conveyed through a book called Purge The Unclean!, which claims to be an "unbiased" view of things. The writing is almost a parody of the typical Imperial line as expressed elsewhere in the 40K universe, and the author has a fanatical hatred of rogue traders; Vail frequently cuts off the excerpts when he starts blaming them for what's gone wrong.
  • This is the central conceit of The Iron Dream; Hitler is writing the novel within a novel, Lord of the Swastika, as his brain is rotting away from syphilis.
  • The short story "Witness for the Prosecution" by Q. Patrick is narrated by a scary, possibly slow 11-year-old whose writing is characterized by minimal punctuation and a consistent pattern of misspellings.
  • Isaac Asimov's story Cal features the titular robot's quest to become a writer, aided by having various modules installed. At first his stories are textbook examples of this trope, but the last story he writes avoids this (and pisses off his master enough that his master tries to have all the upgrades removed).
    • As a bonus, the story is about a demon called Azazel... That's right: Cal finally became a good enough writer to copy Asimov.
  • In the Captain Underpants series, George and Harold write and draw (well, George writes and Harold draws) their own comics, with each book having at least one comic for a chapter. The art and spelling is, to put it simply, sub-par. Their Mirror Universe counterparts, however, draw comics which have superior art and spelling. The normal-universe George and Harold, however, think it's awful.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe has the horrendously trite story "The Mad Trist".
  • Both Atlanta Nights and Crack of Death were written submitted to Publish America, to test their claim that they were a traditional publisher instead of Vanity Publishing. They were both written by a group of authors writing as badly as they could from a minimal outline. Both were accepted, but after the hoax was revealed, Publish America suddenly backed out.
    • Naked Came the Stranger was written for a similar, but more ambitious purpose—to see how well a "bad" book would sell if it had a lot of gratuitous sex. Pretty well, as it turns out.
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy uses this trope with regard to the three worst examples of poetry in the universe. Subverted in the radio, print, and film versions; which give no examples of the absolute worst (that of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, or Paul Neil Milne Johnston, depending on the version, of Earth) or of the second worst (that of the Azgoths of Kria). The third worst, that of the Vogons, is actually included; but in a form which makes sense in-universe while being complete gibberish to the reader. Played straight in the television series, which includes intelligible examples of the first and second worst as screen text during one of the animated Guide sequences.
  • The World According To Garp features several of T.S. Garp's works. On the whole... not so good.
  • While stories aren't usually told in this fashion in the Discworld books, the semi-medieval fantasy setting is played realistically in that the vast majority of people are illiterate or semi-literate, and things like spelling, grammar and punctuation haven't really been standardised yet. Thus, any in-story written document is either in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe or written like a kindergartner.
  • The Black Company novels are supposedly the annals of the titular mercenary company, and each Annalist puts his own spin on recording events. When one Annalist was sick, the Company's wizard had to fill in for a few chapters, and his writing was terrible.
  • Jennings's attempt to write a detective story:

Bang! Bang! Bang! Three shots rang out. Two policemen fell dead and the third whistled through his hat.

  • Noel's poetry in "The Story of the Treasure Seeker's" by E Nesbit, even though the other children think he's a gifted poet.
  • The last two chapters of the novel "Aliss", a macabre retelling of Alice in Wonderland, degenerate into a succession of laconic sentences always ending with an ellipsis. Since the book is written in first person, it's understandable that the style of writing would change after Aliss has been beaten. And shot. And raped.
  • Some of the material in House of Leaves might fall into this category.
  • Near the end of The Terror by Dan Simmons the main doctor's journal entries become increasingly incoherent as he goes insane and finally dies.
  • In the Smoke and Shadows trilogy, the main cast is constantly beset by all manner of supernatural shenanigans, from evil wizards to demons, and the main character, Tony, has an even longer history including everything that might possibly go bump in the night. But no threat of death or insanity is worse than when their reality gets as vapid and cliched as the horrid Vampire Detective Show they all work for.
  • In The Pale King, part of Chapter 24 is taken from the packet of IRS orientation materials for new hires, which Wallace states is the reason for the dead, bureaucratic flavor of the narration.
  • Lenskiy's romantic poem in Alexander Pushkin's Eugene Onegin is a Cliché Storm.
  • In the Time Scout series, most things in the past were handmade, and most people paid attention to things like clothes and weapons. Therefor, a scout's, guide's, or tourist's gear has to mimic the imperfections of handmade equipment.
  • Mark Twain loved this trope. Consider the writings of Emmeline Grangerford in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (Averted in a notable scene in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer—after we're treated to the hilariously dreadful essays and poetry of the girls at Tom's school, Twain admits that he got them all from an actual book.)
  • The romance novels of Rosie M. Banks in PG Wodehouse's books.
  • Push by Sapphire, later adapted into the film Precious. The spelling is phonetic and the grammar is similar to speech patterns found in African American Vernacular English [1] instead of conventional written English. Her spelling, grammar and overall writing improves as she is placed in a class catering to people with difficulties in reading and writing.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The beginning of every episode of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace features Marenghi reading a quote from one of his books that (possibly along with the whole show) could qualify as this.
    • The whole show probably would qualify as this, except the intentionally-awful Show Within a Show is the main focus of the series while the "reality" surrounding it is just background. Plus, they don't make the fake show any more terrible than the supporting material (the outlandish "cast" interviews, the excerpts from Garth's dreadful books, the nonsensical political tirades etc). Does it count as Stylistic Suck when the fiction and the meta-fiction suck equally, and on purpose?
  • Wormhole X-Treme!, a Show Within a Show from the Stargate SG-1 episode of the same name. It can be considered either a self-parody or an Anvilicious Take That against the campier predecessors of Stargate; either way, it's full of Take Thats directed at earlier SG-1 episodes.
  • Two and A Half Men does this with the jingles Charlie writes. Granted jingles are rarely good in the first place, but one glaring example is when The Rival is set to win his eighth award in a row, which Charlie was only nominated for. The rival goes on stage to perform his song, and it of course is cheesy and hammy. Yet the rival wins again.
    • Also happens when Alan decides to write a book.
      • And his screenplay. "Suddenly a meteor comes out of the sky..."
  • iCarly: Subverted. The episodes present the webshow segments in Freddie's perspective being the one behind the video camera (with a battery charge indicator, frames, etc.) The "uploaded" videos on the actual iCarly website look quite similar to what is seen on YouTube (with a small rectangle video frame, with comments and the rest of the site around it). Of course, going "full screen" doesn't seem to ruin the quality, though.
  • Friends does this a lot with Joey's acting career.
    • Days of Our Lives doesn't escape, despite being a real life soap. In fact, in one memorable scene, Joey's stalker refuses to believe he is an actor and not really Dr. Drake Ramoray - but is convinced to leave by a badly acted, badly improvised skit concocted by Ross.
      • This reached its height of superb nonsense when Joey's character received a brain transplant so that a woman could live on in Drake's body - but then the body rejected the woman's brain, as explained in a scene where Joey is acting as though he has the brain of Drake, even though Drake's brain was meant to have been damaged beyond repair.
    • And who can forget some of the dross he's been seen in on stage. Freud! The Musical springs to mind.
      • Especially since we got reminded of it in every Clip Show ever. Why couldn't they let us forget it?
    • As Chandler said of a Buddy Cop Show that paired Joey with a robot, "I think it was the worst thing ever. And I don't just mean on TV."
    • Don't forget about "Why Don't You Like Me," a one-woman monologue featuring an angry lady shouting her life story at her audience. Chandler, unintentionally left to watch it by himself, gives it a rave review, saying it's deepened his understanding of what women go through. Of course, it was painfully bad - by tricking the friends into seeing it, Chandler gets his revenge.
    • Phoebe's songs don't exactly hit high notes in the music world either. However, unlike Joey's career, this is recognised by everybody but herself.
      • Ross's "wordless sound poems" are just as bad, if not worse.
  • The show-within-a-show in Extras, "When The Whistle Blows". Subverted in that Andy Millman, the main actor and creator of the show, actually wanted to make a television show that sounded very similar to Extras creator Ricky Gervais's previous series, The Office, but it was the BBC that turned it into a catchphrase-spewing, wig-and-glasses-wearing, badly-written, lowest-common-denominator sitcom that turns off critics everywhere, but makes Millman a minor star with the aforementioned lowest-common-denominator.
  • House enjoys watching a hospital-based soap opera called Prescription Passion while he's supposed to be working. In one episode where he kidnaps the star to treat a condition he's diagnosed by watching the show, it turns out even the male lead thinks the show is terrible.
    • Word of God has it that they originally intended to use clips from General Hospital but were denied, so instead made up their own version of the show that was as ridiculous as possible (see a Christmas-themed episode where all the doctors are wearing Santa Claus hats in the OR). However, in one episode, House tells his 'ducklings' that his file is under the codename "Luke and Laura."
    • An in-universe example is the season 4 episode "Games". A former punk rocker named Jimmy Quidd (possibly based on Johnny Rotten) creates an album of pure, unrelieved, discordant noise, for the sole purpose of messing with people.

House: "Remind me of your influences here. I'm gonna say, Thelonius Monk and the sound a trash compactor makes when you crawl inside it."

  • Spaced character Brian Topp is an artist whose work embodies all the cliches of a tortured, pretentious, self-absorbed, angst-fueled performance-artist stereotype, pushed to their limits.
    • Though the writers created it as if seriously trying to come up with a piece of performance art, according to the commentary, knowing that it would be funnier than if they tried to parody the style.
  • How I Met Your Mother features two comparatively rare music video examples from Robin's days as a Canadian pop star. The first one, at least, is So Bad It's Good.
    • Also, there's the pretentious experimental play Lily is in (Ted describes it as being below "homeless people screaming at you in the park" as a theatrical experience) and the one-man play Barney does just to get even with Lily for having to sit through it.
      • Although Barney was trying to make a play that sucked, so it's more of an in-universe example of Stylistic Suck.
      • Barney's play was legendary. To the extent that the rest of the group actually stayed to watch it until the end, because it was so bad it was actually better than Lily's play.
    • Not to mention Doctor X, Ted's persona from his college radio days. (Although this definitely counts as So Bad It's Good.)
    • And the movie The Wedding Bride, which was every Chick Flick cliche turned Up to Eleven.
  • An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had the crew trapped in a 1920's style gangster story that repeated itself over and over and kept them from leaving. Upon examining the hotel that was the setting, they discover the skeletal remains of an astronaut. Reading his diary reveals that his ship encountered aliens which accidentally killed his crew. Out of remorse, they placed the lone survivor in a replication of what they thought he would be happy with. Unfortunately, the only referrence they had to what life was like on Earth was a copy of a trashy novel he had brought along with him. The astronaut laments that, while he believes the aliens meant well, the characters are so shallow and the plot is so derivative, that it has become a living hell and he eagerly looks forward to the sweet release of death.
  • The "Captain Proton!" holonovels from Star Trek: Voyager. A deliberate send-up of the old sci-fi film serials that, to today's jaded viewers, really did suck.
    • The Holodoc ticks off the crew by incorporating them into one of his own holonovels, which are already bad. Tom Paris takes revenge by rewriting the novel, meaning that It Gets Worse. Much worse.
      • The best (or worst, depending on your point of view) part of the joke was that once he sees things from the crew's perspective in Tom's rewrite, he finishes it (presumably in a form they're okay with), and publishes it, and it's implied that it may well start a rebellion of some kind among Holodocs being used as miners in a capacity not unlike slaves.
  • McGee's novel from NCIS, a parody of the trashy bestseller. People like his books, but they're not good. The extra joke being how seriously he takes his writing.
  • This is the entire premise behind Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques, wobbly scenery and all.
  • The propaganda film at the start of the Doctor Who serial "The Armageddon Factor" is a classic example... although, as Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide notes, it would have worked better if the rest of the story had been more of an improvement.
    • Harrison Chase's "music" in The Seeds of Doom.
    • The trailer for the Dalek movie at the beginning of the audio drama Jubilee is ridiculously over the top and involves a lot of very large explosions, as a send-up of Hollywood movies.
  • Lost's Nikki was a guest star on a show called Exposé, which is about strippers who fight crime. The show features melodramatic music, bad acting, and the odious Catch Phrase "Razzle dazzle!" yelled by the strippers as they fight. Notable for having Billy Dee Williams as the Big Good except he's secretly the Cobra, the Big Bad!
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Terminator Cromartie imitates an actor. After some of Cromartie's crimes become public, a few clips from one of his movies are shown. They're about a barbarian and include a lovely blond wig, poorly spliced-in footage of a tiger, and utterly legendary acting.
  • In a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, the movie Scott of the Antarctic is renamed Scott of the Sahara so Scott can get to fight a lion. The fight scene starts with the charge of a Stock Footage lion which reaches Scott as a lifeless dummy lion. Halfway through the fight, the dummy is replaced with an actor in a lion suit who punches Scott and hits him over the head with a chair. At the end, as promised, "the blood goes psssh in slow motion," but with all the drama of water from a drinking fountain.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip tried to do this with the never seen "Peripheral Vision Man" sketches, which are continually derided as awful. This ended up misfiring, as all of the "brilliant" sketches that are shown are completely terrible, one wonders how bad Peripheral Vision Man could possibly be, especially considering that it's the only sketch premise that might actually appear on a real sketch comedy show.
  • Australian comedian Shaun Micallef uses this very frequently, both in playing himself as a terrible television host and interviewer in The Micallef Program, and more notably through the persona of David McGhan, who has been a completely idiotic reporter, hosted a nigh-incomprehensible documentary series, and produced and starred his own spy series (Roger Explosion), western (Villain in a Cowboy Hat), courtroom drama (District Attorney Ferguson) and medical drama (Dr. Miracle), all of which were (deliberately) terrible beyond description - or So Bad It's Good.
    • Also Sotto Vocce, the Spaghetti Western with the inaudible hero, who was carried through to Micaleff's Newstopia series and given classy big budget production values, but still kept the same bad acting and relevant cliches.
  • Leverage has con artist Sophie Devereaux, who is a terrible actress... unless she's conning someone, in which case she's incredible. The show's so far included a hamtastic rendition of Lady Macbeth, an audition for a soap commercial where she "view[s] the dirt as a metaphor for sin," and an unseen performance of Death of a Salesman where she played Willy Loman.
    • The episode "The Stork Job" also has the team hijack the production of a film shot in Serbia called Howl Force, which features "NATO forces fighting werewolves." Sophie actually turns in a moving performance as a nun who gets shot to death by enemy soldiers... but no one gets in on tape.
    • The episode The Three Days of the Hunter Job also had a non-artistic version of this, otherwise much the same, featuring Parker:

Sophie: "You're not supposed to take it, you're supposed to get caught with it.
Parker: "I don't know how to get caught!" *
Sophie: "Yeah, I know it's difficult to steal badly, just... try."
Sophie riffles through a stack of papers loudly, then slams a desk drawer.

My heart expands,
'tis grown a bulge in it
inspired by your beauty... effulgent.

    • The first time we hear that poem was before he was a vampire, and one listener said that he'd rather have a railroad spike driven into his head than hear it. The second time is a hundred plus years later in a rough biker-type bar. This time the patrons loved it, because everyone in the bar (including Spike) were completely drunk.
    • Giles drawing. Just look at Hush, or his conversations with the Chinese Slayerette. Especially bad in comparison to Angel's incredibly lifelike sketches... vampire should have been an artist.
  • In a Seinfeld episode where we hear George sing an answering machine message to the tune of the Greatest American Hero theme song, Broadway star Jason Alexander had to tone down his singing talent to sound more like George would sing.
  • Twin Peaks and its in-series soap opera Invitation to Love.
  • On Supernatural, the character Becky writes fan fiction that applies Rule 34 to the in-universe series of novels describing the lives of the protagonists. The excerpt of her work that actually appears on the show is full of Narm and Fetish Retardant.
    • There is also a far superior and more accurate, an very popular, series that also chronicles their lives, written by a prophet called Chuck who knows what will happen to them shortly before they do. Its quality is justified, seeing that Chuck is actually God.
  • Almost everything Charlie writes in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is either completely illegible or completely insane. The best example of this would be his song The Nightman - Charlie claims it is about the nightman filling him up and he becomes the spirit of the nightman, but the lyrics sound like they are more about a man breaking into his house and raping him. Later when Mac hands Dennis Charlie's lyrics, Dennis asks if it is a page from a colouring book.
    • To say nothing of his musical "The Nightman Cometh."
  • Christopher Multisanti seems to be a magnet for this trope in The Sopranos. Season 1 introduces the godawful band Defiler Visiting Day, which he is forced to help promote with his girlfriend Adriana. Later seasons introduce his screenplay and later film, which is basically a poorly-spelled Cliché Storm of bad mafia movie and horror film tropes.
  • Father Ted opens one episode with a clip from a show called "Father Ben", displaying exactly the same title sequence as its parent show, and hilariously similar yet exaggerated characters.
  • In Skins Series 3, Freddie's sister takes part in a TV talent competition to join girl group "Da Sexxbombz". The show is like an even more crass, sleazy version of The X Factor or American Idol.
  • A recurring sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look features two scriptwriters who Did Not Do the Research. Any reserch. Their sports drama is filled with Gretzky Has the Ball; their hospital show was written without knowing any medical terms, and so on. Faced with their Bad Bad Scripts, it's apparent that everyone else involved ceases to care, so we get Bad Bad Acting as well.
  • The Muppet Show pretty much runs on this trope. Fozzie Bear's terrible comedy act is the most obvious example; but it's also a good description of many other major and minor characters, particularly Miss Piggy, and the hapless duo Wayne and Wanda.
  • Flight of the Concords has some of this when we see the band actually play a gig. They also appear to only know 2 songs (Robots and Rock the Party). The music videos in the show that presumably take place in the characters' minds are very good in comparison.
  • FlashForward has a recurring kids cartoon called "Tim Tim and Squirrelio" which looks more like a bad flash cartoon than an actual animated show.
  • Saturday Night Live had its running series in the 1970s episodes hosted by Leonard Pinth-Garnell (Dan Aykroyd) featuring "Bad Theater", "Bad Cinema", "Bad Musicals", "Bad Children's Cabaret", etc.
    • Also worth noting is the recurring "Digital Short" "Laser Cats". Each "Laser Cats" begins with Andy Samberg and Bill Hader pitching their idea to showrunner Lorne Michaels. In the future, cats develop the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths. The shorts feature them as Admiral Spaceship and Nitro, Space Police who fight evil with laser cats. The shorts are all shot with handheld cameras in locations that are obviously just back halls of the SNL studio, featuring terrible special effects, Bad Bad Acting, poor costumes, and "cats" that switch between real cats and stuffed ones without warning. Each time, Hader and Samberg think "Laser Cats" is brilliant; Michaels just tells them to get the hell out of his office (though the recent one with Steven Spielberg backing it up did make Lorne Michaels reconsider, even if he had to lie about how good it was).
  • Rachel's Run Joey Run video in Glee. And let's not forget "My Headband" and "My Cup," two awful attempts at songwriting.
  • Although we never actually see her dance, Diane Chambers from Cheers is said to be very, very bad at ballet.
  • In Blackadder Goes Forth, Baldrick recites several poems:
    • The German Guns

Baldrick: Boom, boom, boom, boom,
Baldrick: Boom, boom, boom,
Baldrick: Boom, boom, boom, boom...
Blackadder: Boom, boom, boom?
Baldrick: How did you guess?

    • War

Baldrick: Hear the words I sing,
Baldrick: War's a horrid thing.
Baldrick: But still I sing, sing, sing
Baldrick: Ding a ling a ling.

    • The third series of Blackadder featured a play "The Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and His Enormous-Bosomed Wife" of which its writers, Mossop and Keen were inordinately proud. The extracts we here make it sound like the most ponderous examples of restoration drama possible.
      • To give just one example, one of the lines is "To torture him I lust! Let's singe his hair, and up his nostrils hot bananas thrust!"
  • An episode of Red Dwarf features a B-Movie, Attack of the Giant Savage Completely Invisible Aliens, the trailer of which is little more than people pointing at things that aren't there and a flying saucer on a fishing line.
    • There's also the Neighbours parody Androids, which features (literally) robotic acting and deliberate 'mistakes'.
  • An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina attempting to write a romance short story as an assignment: "Claire looked at Robert, and Robert looked at Claire. Claire and Robert were looking at each other. Claire didn't want to fall in love but nothing in her crazy life made sense and she lost all feeling in her thumbs!" Needless to say, the episode was about how she was failing that class. The one she ultimately submitted was a cliched` spy novel that, while better, was still pretty cheesy with a fair amount of Fridge Logic, even as it was magically brought to life, plus originally had a fairly depressing The Bad Guy Wins outcome since Sabrina was too lazy to think of a better ending.
  • Thirty Rock is all over this trope. The in-show sketches of TGS (such as Robot vs Bear and Fart Doctor) are portrayed as mindless dreck that only appeals to the lowest common denominator. Most of the rest of NBC's lineup (including reality shows such as Milf Island) are shown as no better. Then there's the distinguished careers of TGS's stars, Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney. Tracy is best known for dim-witted comedies such as Who Dat Ninja and Samurai I-Am-Awry. And Jenna's greatest achievements are a Broadway adaptation of Mystic Pizza and a biopic of Janis Joplin that, due to legal issues, ended up being about "Jackie Jormp-Jomp" performing at "Wordstock".
  • Threat Level Midnight, Michael's action movie from The Office. Looks like what one expects a movie written by a regional manager and filmed in his free time over eleven years would look like.
  • Roundhouse, with its cardboard props and practically non-existent sets, seems to fit this rather well. (And Word of God has stated it's designed to look like kids doing a show with practically nothing.)
  • A Taxi episode had Bobby get a role on a soap opera, with many jokes about how the show's star is constantly crying. Alex even reads part of the script, which specifies the exact way she should be crying with every line.
  • MythBusters sometimes has the crew members reenact movie scenes (or do their own) that illustrate a myth that they're testing. Often, they don't really make an effort to make the acting (or, in some cases, special effects) believable. Generally, the "worse" ones will be lampshaded by revealing how they were shot—the Chroma Key fades to green, the camera pulls back enough to show some details of the set, etc. Most noticeable for the bus jump from Speed, and the Point Break "trilogy" of myths based off the plane jump.
  • The X-Files has the movie featured in Hollywood AD, about one of Mulder and Scully's cases. It's a cheap looking action movie, with the pair of them do traditional Hollywood quips. Both Mulder and Scully express disgust.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Harry Nilsson's marvellously irreverent album Son of Schmilsson includes the song "Joy", a country-music parody built around an Incredibly Lame Pun, awkward pauses, repetitive lyrics, and more obvious rhymes than you could shake your ... thyme ... at. Yeah.
  • The Human League's (Keep Feeling) Fascination is intentionally like this, being a parody of the new wave genre. This is why the synth sound is out of tune, and the happy mood of the song is in huge contrast with most of their music. Presumably because most people didn't get the joke, they left it off their album Hysteria (although it was included on a Fascination! EP of non album material)
  • Much of Frank Zappa's work, particularly his early material. The most obvious example of this is America Drinks where the song is generally played as if the band are a very bad bar band.
  • Microdisney's B Sides towards the end of their career were like this because the band were growing tired of recording new material for them. Little Town In Ireland and I Can't Say No are both intentionally bad parodies of the Celtic Folk and Country genres respectively.
  • Camille Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals has a movement titled "Pianists", in which the two pianists tediously perform five-fingered exercises and scales... as if they were beginners.
  • The entire discography of Anal Cunt is this trope turned up to twelve and beyond.
  • The Punk Rock movement invoked this trope by bashing out simple songs turned Up to Eleven.
  • "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas was supposed to be this, a parody of overtly sexualized songs sung by female artists flaunting their figures. It didn't work. Then Alanis Morissette covered it and it worked spectacularly well.
  • David Bowie wanted a 'garage band' feel to 'Boys Keep Swinging' but felt his band were playing too proficiently....so he got them to swap instruments.
  • Country music parodist Cledus T. Judd used to sing in a whiny, nasal, slightly off-key voice. He ditched the voice in the mid 2000s and now sings in a surprisingly smooth baritone.
  • The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's "Jazz, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold", which made fun of the band's roots in trad jazz. Has to be heard to be properly appreciated.
    • Not to mention the hilariously awful guitar solo on "Canyons of your Mind".
  • On the Swirling Eddies Cover Album Sacred Cows, all the songs are either deliberately bad (like DeGarmo & Key's "God Good, Devil Bad" performed as if they were recovering from head injuries) or wildly out-of-genre (like a lounge jazz version of DC Talk's "I Luv Rap Music").
  • The Puppini Sisters made a well-arranged cover of "Spooky," but the video is loaded with homages to old, poorly-made horror films, complete with bad effects and silly screaming expressions.
  • Lil Wang is made of this trope. He parodies other rappers, he just does it... terribly. That's really all there is to say on the matter.
  • A large part of the appeal of The Moldy Peaches and similar 'anti-folk' bands and artists.
  • Music historians are still debating whether Mozart's A Musical Joke is an example of this or an excuse for Mozart to experiment.
  • The Statler Brothers' comic alter ego, Lester "Roadhog" Moran and The Cadillac Cowboys, which began as a sketch on one of their albums and later spun off into a full-length album of their own. A small-time country band with minimal musical proficiency and off-key vocals, who also has a tendency to forget songs right in the middle of playing them.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Snoopy's alter ego as a novelist is filled with melodramatic dialogue, cliched characters, and ridiculous plotlines. The stories often begin with It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.
  • In FoxTrot, Roger once wrote a spy novel with a Marty Stu self-insert as the lead character. One week of strips consists of hiliariously-bad quotes and over-the-top scenes, plus his wife's reaction to the same (for instance, a Big No when the character is faced with a Wire Dilemma involving 173 wires and cuts the right one). It's even funnier when one realizes that his wife is (ostensibly) a professional writer.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • At the beginning of the nWo angle, WCW produced a series of deliberately cheap commercials with the disclaimer, "the following announcement has been paid for by the nWo." They were all in black and white and often featured recordings of Hogan yelling taunts, selective editing of the bad guys wiping out heroes, and sometimes action figures being destroyed.
    • Likewise, the first Souled Out, billed as a PPV financed and organized by nWo, was also deliberately cheap.
  • WWE's revival of ECW began with a few One Night Stand pay per views that was in a tiny ballroom and extremely lacking in the special effects that WWE was known for. When a later One Night Stand had more production and even entrance pyro, even Joey Styles remarked on camera that it seemed inappropriate.
  • Mick Foley as Dude Love. To drive home how different this persona was from Mankind and Cactus Jack, Foley would make his performances as Dude Love as boring as he could. One way included repeatedly putting his opponent into headlock after headlock after headlock.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • "Don Juan Triumphant", the opera that the The Phantom of the Opera writes and extorts into production in the Andrew Lloyd-Webber production, is hideously overwrought and cliched even by the standards of opera.
    • All three of the "operas" within the show (the other two being the Meyerbeer-esque "Hannibal" and the opera buffa pastiche "Il Muto") would count here.
  • Three words - Springtime for Hitler. A Double Subversion variation in that it's meant to suck, but of course turns into So Bad It's Good.
  • "The Midas Touch" from the musical Bells Are Ringing is a rather bad nightclub song written by dentist Joe Kitchell. (This character was fictional, but the notion of a dentist moonlighting as a songwriter was not. A week after Bells Are Ringing opened on Broadway in 1956, the Ethel Merman vehicle Happy Hunting opened; its widely-panned score was composed by a Real Life dentist named Harold Karr.)
  • "Robbin' Hood" in the musical Curtains!
  • "Over the Moon," Maureen's absurdly pretentious (even for performance art) one-woman show/protest in Rent.
    • About half the audience of Rent thinks that the fact that most of the works of art we're shown (Marc's movie, Maureen's Performance Art, Roger's "In Your Eyes", Colin's "fighting the power" consisting mainly of breaking into ATMs and putting a virus on a college's computers) kind of suck is intentional, and that the play is making a point about fighting for even low quality art. The other half thinks that this was unintentional. It's best not to think about this too much.
  • The 1929 play June Moon parodied the sort of bad songwriters who thought they were the first to notice that "June" and "moon" rhyme.
  • Shakespeare included bits of a play within a play in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet. In each case, the prose of the nested play is stiff and awkward (and, in the former case, outright silly) compared to the play proper.
    • The former gets an additional nod for hilarity because it also was a Take That against Macekre-style editing in order "Not to offend/frighten anyone".
      • Not to mention Pyramus and Thisbe was the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet (which Shakespeare is believed to have written concurrently with Midsummer), and its interpretation in the play can be viewed as a parody of Shakespeare's own tragic version of the story.
      • The Shakespearean stage directions also work with the stylistic suck of Pyramus and Thisbe; in Shakespeare's time, stage directions were woven into the dialogue (since, for example, they did not have the technology to raise and lower lights and change scenery for different times and places), and the scene setting in Pyramus and Thisbe all occurs long after it is meant to have happened, meaning the actors have to run around and generally look stupid to make up for it.
    • Orlando's love poetry in As You Like It also qualifies; Touchstone mocks it openly with his own Stylistic Suck parody.
  • Richard Wagner's Siegfried has a scene in which Siegfried tries to imitate a significant bird call by plucking a reed and playing on it. The sound heard is that of an out-of-tune English horn.
  • The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard is about two critics watching an incredibly poorly written sub-Agatha Christie thriller (clearly, to anyone familiar with the original, parodying The Mousetrap).
    • Continuing with Tom Stoppard - his play 'The Real Thing' features a playwright asked to rewrite a play by a young political agitator. The brief dialogue we hear from the play is utterly awful.
  • The titular Show Within a Show from The Drowsy Chaperone goes into this territory frequently, most obviously in the song "Bride's Lament" in which the heroine compares her wayward groom to a monkey on a pedestal. It Makes Sense in Context...actually, it really doesn't; that's what makes it so funny.
  • Both of Conrad Birdie's big performance numbers in Bye Bye Birdie, "Honestly Sincere" and "One Last Kiss," as well as "The Telephone Hour," are such obnoxiously (and brilliantly) simplistic and repetitive parodies of 1950's teenybopper pop ("Goin' steady! Goin' steady!") that people frequently forget how sophisticated and melodic the rest of the show is, lumping it in with pure camp shows like Grease.
    • But "Honestly Sincere" isn't that bad of a song, and in The Movie it actually proves to be Crowning Music of Awesome (causing every person in the square except Hugo Peabody to faint).
  • In Wonderful Town, Ruth, in an effort to prove herself as a talented and sophisticated writer, leaves a pile of story manuscripts on a magazine editor's desk. Her stories, depicted in vignettes, include bad knock-offs of Hemingway ("For Whom the Lion Roars") and Dorothy Parker ("Exit Laughing"). (Comden and Green, who wrote The Band Wagon and Bells Are Ringing, were also responsible for these vignettes, despite their lack of book credit.)
  • "Gliding Through My Memoree" in Flower Drum Song, with the transparently terrible attempt to pass off Chinese-American Chorus Girls as exotic beauties from Ireland, Sweden, etc.
  • Archibald Grosvenor and Reginald Bunthorne's poems in Patience are delightfully abysmal parodies of aesthetic poetry.
    • Bunthorne's poem high-flown, grandiloquent poem "Oh, Hollow! Hollow! Hollow!" refers to "amaranthine asphodel", "calomel" and "the amorous colocynth" that "yearns for the aloe". These are all laxatives.
  • Baby June/Dainty June's vaudeville numbers in Gypsy are intentionally written to be cloying, cliche-ridden and insipid, to show that while Mama Rose might be persistent and determined to succeed (through her daughters), she clearly lacks talent. It also underscores how hopeless her attempts are to force her daughters to succeed in a dying art form.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: Ragueneau's theme for a poem is a recipe in verse. All of his audience are poets who obviously are praising him only to eat free, but Ragueneau is taking his poem with all seriousness.

Ragueneau (who has put himself ready for reciting, cleared his throat, settled his cap, struck an attitude): A recipe in verse!. . .
Second Poet (to first, nudging him): You are breakfasting?
FIRST POET (to second): And you dining, methinks.
Ragueneau How almond tartlets are made.
Beat your eggs up, light and quick;
Froth them thick;
Mingle with them while you beat
Juice of lemon, essence fine;
Then combine
The burst milk of almonds sweet.
Circle with a custard paste
The slim waist
Of your tartlet-molds; the top
With a skillful finger print,
Nick and dint,
Round their edge, then, drop by drop,
In its little dainty bed
Your cream shed:
In the oven place each mold:
Reappearing, softly browned,
The renowned
Almond tartlets you behold!
The poets (with mouths crammed full): Exquisite! Delicious!
A Poet (choking): Homph!


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Often, a Game Within a Game will have noticeably more angular or pixelly graphics in comparison to the main game, either due to being an actual old game embedded within the code, a Retraux mini-game, or simply to make the GWIAG look unlike the main game.
    • Or, perhaps Reality Is Unrealistic; in a videogame with relatively good graphics, another game with equally good graphics will be confusing (it is just as 'real'). Since the graphics are already as good as the system can get (hopefully), the only option is to make them worse.
  • Max Payne 2. The various TV shows the player can catch snippets of during the game (which often have plot elements reminiscent of Max's own experiences) have scripts ranging from Cliché Storm to pure Mind Screw, the dialogue is overacted, and the visuals consist of a small selection of still images.
    • Especially funny is one scene in Lords and Ladies (a cheesy, Austenesque soap opera), where a villain is stabbed with a sword, but the actor is visibly tucking the blade under his arm; the arm facing the camera, no less.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, the infamous date scene involves Cloud and whoever his date happens to be viewing a ridiculously bad play involving a king and a dragon, one in which they're thrust into the main roles, with various levels of reluctance depending on the date.
    • Of course, since you can do whatever you like in the play and the "actors" have to react to your choices, you can make it typical boring droll, or the most bizarre thirty-second play ever.
  • LOVELESS, from Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
    • For
      • Genesis will not stop quoting from LOVELESS, which (we are told), is an epic poem of such complexity, beauty, perfect writing, narrative depth, and popularity that it has been adapted as a play, and the play is so popular that the avenue hosting the theater that produces it has been renamed to LOVELESS avenue... it's practically at Dethklok levels of popularity. The poem we hear—every time Genesis opens his mouth—is a bunch of emotionally overwrought dreck.
      • Oddly enough Cid mentions going to see it in the original game, and he too thought it was overwrought drek.
      • Sephiroth also identifies a quote of Genesis' as coming from LOVELESS, but states that the only reason he knows it is because Genesis has "beaten it into [his] head".
      • Hojo doesn't seem to have a high opinion of it, either. That's mainly because it can't benefit his research, but he still hit the nail on the head when he called it "pure drivel."
    • Against
      • All right, let's be fair here. The poem isn't exactly a grand epic, but it's not bad by free form poetry standards, and it tells a decent story. True, that's a far cry from what most of the characters will swear by, but considering Genesis's actions are essentially a re-enacment of his interpretation, and that some fans have claimed Crisis Core was better than the original, you can fairly make the claim that it's much better when fleshed out.
      • In much the way that popular quotes from William Shakespeare's have lost their meaning from being referenced and quoted by everyone ("Now is the winter of our discontent..."), perhaps we hear that one passage of LOVELESS too many times.
  • Though we don't see all of it, in Final Fantasy IX the play "I Want To Be Your Canary" seems to be an overdramatic mishmash of several of Shakespeare's plays (it's even been penned by a "Lord Avon" and has characters named Cordelia, Leo, and Marcus). Oddly enough, there are flashes of quite good dialogue and some interesting story; it's just the onscreen acting that's melodramatic.
  • Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom (or anything Encounter Critical)
  • The Elder Scrolls contain a lot of in-game books; most either contain background info about the gameworld, some advance the plot, and some are there for amusement, many of the latter group falling into this trope. Most infamous is the one written by the perverted Hlaalu councilman in Morrowind called "The Lusty Argonian Maid".
  • The mini-game "Hero Klungo Saves Teh World" in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, developed entirely by Klungo. All you do is jump your way to the end as the game auto-scrolls and the only obstacles in your path are Bottomless Pits, badly drawn critters, and walls that will squash you against the screen. The graphics make the NES look like a next-gen console, the music consists of crappy chiptunes, the text is filled with Klungo's Sssssnaketalk everywhere, the boss is the Holy Grail of all Anticlimax Bosses, the Excuse Plot consists of Klungo literally saving the world by carrying the Earth in his hands the game screen is framed by a contrasting Animesque border and best of all, it randomly crashes (after which Klungo will reset the game for you while noting that he was sure that he fixed the crashes)!
  • The bulk of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is made up of extremely unsubtle repeats and allusions to the previous game, making it seem like a complete carbon copy with little redone but cosmetic dressing. Until you get to the Mind Screw ending, and it's revealed that it was intentionally done that way in order to give the new protagonist the same experience as the protagonist from the previous game. Which makes perfect sense until you found out that that person who was manipulating everyone, was being manipulated, although it's still possible that it was done that way as a part of manipulating him. The point is, MGS2 is confusing. In theory.
    • Don't forget the tanker episode's quirky "MGX" computer program "SPRITE v2.21" with its vintage 2d animation.
  • Used straight for Captain Qwark's "video-comic" games-within-a-game in Ratchet and Clank.
    • Also, his attack plans are drawn using crayons and childish doodles on lined paper.
  • The entire point of House of the Dead: Overkill is this, presenting itself in a way that makes the series' infamously Narmy dialogue and voice acting intentionally hilarious by doing it like a Grindhouse film.
  • Among the things a World of Warcraft rogue can pickpocket off NPCs are a couple of "Steamy Romance Novels." Opening them allows the player to view a couple pages of melodramatic Purple Prose laced with several game-related and groan-worthy double entendres. (It's doubly amusing to find one of these on, say, an enormous hammer-wielding ogre.)
    • The romance novels -there are like 5 of them- are Blizzards joke items regarding ERP.
  • Baldur's Gate 2 has a play performed by troupe that lacks its leading actor and replacement Biff the Understudy is hilariously bad at filling his shoes, turning the play into one of these (naturally, Minsc thinks it's a masterpiece). A bard CHARNAME can inherit the theater after completing the associated quest line and put on a play: Depending on how much money, time and effort you put into it, the play can end up as one of these or become genuinely good.
  • Guild Wars Nightfall has Prince Bokka the Magnificent's theatre. The plays he puts on are all comically bad (sadly, we don't actually get to see Springtime for Varesh Summertime for Bokka). One instance of this, a retelling of events from the Prophecies campaign, is actually Justified Trope: the "actors" are in fact Kournan soldiers who staged the play to lure your party into a trap.
  • Upgrade Complete. The graphics start out low quality and its up to you to upgrade them. Overall, the game takes unlock systems to the extreme (you spend money on things like better graphics, better sound effects and music, a proper character portrait, straightening the crooked menu, getting rid of that annoying hum, spelling the title properly, getting the store owner to stop insulting you...)
  • Ultima VII also had a play about the previous exploits of the protagonist, who indeed runs around at random spouting monosyllables like "name, job, bye". You get to apply for the role, but you won't get it since you don't look enough like, er, yourself.
    • Also, the Anvilicious "Passion Play" put up by the Fellowship, which even your companions will complain was a terrible waste of their time to watch.
  • The entire point of adventure game META, although of course some reviewers missed it.
  • Brutal Legend's intro features Kabbage Boy, a Nu-metal band that comes off as a Lighter and Softer Linkin Park.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's stick-figure aesthetic.
  • Just about any game from indie developer Jazzuo, up to and including his website itself. But especially Sexy Hiking. To quote the instructions:

use the humer as if u were really climbing something and ull see

  • The real-time strategy game Stalin versus Martians was obviously aimed towards So Bad It's Good territory, but ended up in the other end of the badness spectrum. It is a perfect example that attempting this does not nessecarily give the appropriate result.
  • Every so often on the public radio stations in Grand Theft Auto Vice City are episodes from two very very very bad 1940s radio dramas, one of which revolves around a violently misogynistic private detective who spends more time hitting his girlfriend and shooting innocent people for being 'commies' than investigating the mystery, and another about a guy who time travels every time he goes on A Date with Rosie Palms. They're so bad that even the announcers admit they're terrible, but they have to broadcast them as part of their public service remit.
  • The Waligie Bros series, made as a parody of bad game maker games. Graphics that consist almost entirely of pictures taken from google, midi files and unfitting and overly loud sound effects everywhere, awkward physics, and enough bad spelling to kill a grammar nazi. And yet we wouldn't have it any other way.
  • If you get an E rank on a mission in Sonic Unleashed, the usual level completion theme will be played very, very badly. And it is hilarious.
  • Alien Hominid's minigame "Super Soviet Missile Mastar" see it for yourself!
  • Sam and Max Freelance Police: The Devil's Playhouse is incredibly well-written, even the things that are Stylistic Suck are hilarious. The game has a puzzle in which Sam listens to audiobooks of Max's godawful and borderline plagiaristic (but nonetheless hilarious) 'ideas for novels', including some of his Self Insert Fanfic. Justified, though, in that while Max might have the intelligence depending on how you view him, there's absolutely no way he has the emotional insight or the attention span to be a remotely good writer.
  • In Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective, the entire game is a hyper-clichéd and amateurish action movie that Strong Bad has written and directed. Everything about it is terrible, but most subtle is the bad camera work, which includes things that are hard to render in a video game. This includes bad handheld-camera zoom, ignoring of the 180 degree rule, and a split-screen camera which doesn't join up in the middle.
  • Mondo Medicals: low-res, blurry pixelated borderline MS Paint graphics, with Engrish Good Bad Translation. Of course, it just serves to increase the creepy.
  • Kane and Lynch: Dog Days has blurry pixelization effects used to make everything seem as if it was being recorded from somebody's cell phone. Unfortunately illusion becomes reality: the game is unstable and having to render those sketchy blotches often causes real lag.
  • The infamously narmful laughing scene from Final Fantasy X. Common complaints are about how forced and horrible the laughing is. That's rather the point; their laughter is forced, and it's supposed to ring hollow. When you know the context, and what they're trying to cheer themselves up about, it's actually pretty sad. All the characters react accordingly to the horrible laughing.("You probably shouldn't laugh anymore.")
  • Wheatley's first test chamber in Portal 2 is deliberately designed poorly because the developers wanted to give it the feel of being designed by a first-time level editor, complete with the corny idea of signing huge words into the scenery. This is done to exemplify Wheatley's severely limited intelligence in comparison to GLaDOS.
  • C. Evil Ryu is Arpa/Chainsawdentist's Take That against the MvC: EOH project. He has sloppy hit boxes, can throw in mid-air, unfitting moves, annoying voices from Yasunori Masutani and CVS hit sparks even though it is ostensibly based on Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
  • The voices in Team Fortress 2 are supposed to be this, ranging from incorrect accents (Scout, who has a Brooklyn accent despite being from Boston), to incorrect grammar on foreign words the characters are supposed to be fluent in (Medic- it should be schweinhunde and dummköpfe), to tons of Poirot Speak. Apparently Valve Corporation wanted the feeling of a 1960's pulp novel written by Americans who Did Not Do the Research. The voice acting is a blast to listen to, though, and you can tell the voice actors are having a lot of fun.
  • The Obs Cure series revels in this, as part of its homage/throwback to late '90s teen horror movies. The first game's theme song is by Sum 41, for example, while the teenaged characters all speak in badly-researched/made-up slang.
  • In the last level of the First Year in Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4, Ron tries to put Fluffy back to sleep by whipping out a trumpet and playing Harry Potter's theme...terribly off key.


Let's play[edit | hide]

  • This Mega Man 4 let's play featuring off-sync, offensive commentary, bad video and sound quality, unskilled gameplay and bad screen capturing.
  • "Crumbling Centurion", a Troll/parody who initially pretended to be a Deceased Crab hater, with his "LETS PLAY MININGCRAFT". Deliberately horrible recording quality (using a camera to record the video off the computer screen), misinformation and lag...

minecraft is a game where you take blocks and then make other blocks and then make a mine or a house out of blocks it is very fun


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • The "Powered by The Cheat" and "Dangeresque" segments in Homestar Runner.
    • Teen Girl Squad was also meant to be this, but became unexpectedly popular on its own merits and became a regular feature of the site.
    • They also created a website for imaginary game company Videlectrix. Almost all their games are based on the most repetitive or unplayably dull gaming styles of the 1980s. Despite this, some of them are legitimately fun.
  • Almost the entire premise of Disaster Lab's Arfenhouse series of RPGs and cartoons.
  • The Baman Piderman animations are made of this.
  • In Weebl and Bob, the animations by Bob.
  • All of Girlchan in Paradise is meant to imitate a low quality anime series that is poorly dubbed, with frequent Lip Lock and Off-Model animation.
  • Jerry Jackson is a thirteen year old boy who posts peurile, badly made flash animations on Newgrounds. Except that he's actually Salad Fingers creator David Firth trolling the internet by being terrible on purpose.
  • Octocat Adventure prior to the Animation Bump.
  • The Demented Cartoon Movie isn't high quality animation and lampshades it, but one part that stands out as lame even in context is the dancing figure, which looks and sounds like something an amateur might have developed on an early-model Apple Macintosh.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • At the start of the second volume Order of the Stick, No Cure For The Paladin Blues the plot to date is summarized by Elan, using finger-puppets.
  • A Punch an Pie subplot includes three pages out of a So Bad It's Good novel by one of the characters. It's written to be received as So Bad It's Good by the readers in the real world. The general public (or at least the critics) in the webcomic world actually think it's a good novel. Justin (the author) and Angela think it's crap.
  • When the Author Avatar of Brawl in the Family decides to take the day off and lets Dedede draw a comic, it has has loads and loads of this .
    • WALUIGI TIME!
  • The authors of Erfworld created a site for Parson's "Hamstard" webcomic. Suffice it to say that "Nobody reads my webcomic" is one of his laments about his real-world life prior to his summoning.
  • The works of Tycho's archnemesis L.H. Franzibald in Penny Arcade, whose undeserved success is a great source of jealousy for Tycho. Gabe, of course, is immediately hooked.

"I am Grimm Shado," said Grimm Shado, his triple wand claws extending. "And I am here to take it to the limit."

    • And Franzibald himself is an offshoot of the "Elemenstor Saga," an "epic" fantasy series about wizards and talking furniture supposedly written by the Tycho character. In an inspired bit of meta-metafiction, Gabe and Tycho created a wiki where readers can create their own continuity for the fictional works.
  • Sluggy Freelance: My name is Gunman Stan McKurt, and I shoot Evil In The Face
  • The theatre and TV shows the characters put on in Something*Positive (such as Nailed!, a musical version of the Crucifixion), all appear to be terrible, especially Aubrey's TV series My Neighbor Cthulhu which was so bad the State of Massachusetts served her with a restraining order keeping her away from TV production equipment.
    • Also Davan and Jason's Catgirl comic strip Neko Neko Holy-Chan, which Davan holds in such contempt the idea of meeting the people who like it fills him with horror.
  • Shortpacked!'s Amber has written at least two blatant Mary Sue stories. Her superheroine, Amazing Girl, was impervious to criticism and had no father issues. Her online romantic novel, in addition to being a hilarious Twilight parody, is an extended metaphor for her ideal romantic life.
  • The various stage performances seen in Girl Genius are as overblown and corny as possible, featuring all sorts of hackneyed mad science and adventure cliches, grandiose romances, and even more grandiose dialogue. An opera called The Storm King is a particularly "impressive" example.
    • Of course, it is set in a quasi-Victorian milieu. Remember where melodrama originated.
  • Most of the main characters in Achewood keep blogs, and the some of the more dysfunctional characters have atrocious blogs. And the dangerously psychotic Nice Pete has made two forays into the world of novel-writing, both of which manage to be talentless and extremely creepy at the same itme.
    • "When I want your opinion I will cut out your brain and eat it and crap your opinion back into your skull"
  • Peanut of Housepets writes his own comic featuring Spot (the Superdog), drawn in a crayon-and-lined-paper style, and written in an exaggeratedly amateurish style, with a Boring Invincible Hero, who is also an Author Avatar and delves into the realms of bad Fanfic at times.

Spot loves orfans and then we shoot him!

Puppy on top of other animal: "Where did this unicorn's horn go?! Is the magic gone forever???"

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Return to Dormalcy was pretty bad, as the characters of Dorm Life can attest. Josh's earlier play, Come (Out) Today, was also pretty bad but the characters all loved it.
  • ChipCheezum and General Ironicus' LP of No More Heroes had one video like this, specifically for a Crossover with Retsupurae. It Makes Sense in Context... no, it doesn't.
  • Doom House, an amazing video from the geniuses at Something Awful.
  • Pretty much the entire Show Within a Show in Echo Chamber sucks pretty bad. But the opening titles for the fourth episode were clearly made to be as obnoxious, discordant, and unwatchable as possible.
  • The aborted student film Marble Hornets looked to be... less than great. But then, there's the events surrounding it...
    • The series 2 DVD includes a trailer for the student movie. It is horrific.
    • Elsewhere in the The Slender Man Mythos, we have the Everyman HYBRID crew attempting a health/workout routine and an in-universe parody of the mythos, and Damien's attempt at his own Slender Man-blog in Dreams in Darkness. Both, unsurprisingly, are gatecrashed by the genuine article.
  • In the Whateley Universe, the television show "Tales of the MCO" is deliberately done to be stilted, with bad special effects and poor storylines (and anti-mutant), so that the mutants who are watching it at Whateley Academy are actually spending all their time MSTing it.
  • Subverted in Axe Cop. The entire series is written by a 6 year old (literally), but the good artwork by the writer's older brother brings it up to So Cool Its Awesome.
  • Red vs. Blue had one in-universe example, the Lopez love song. The Blues performed and broadcasted it to force the Reds to shut of their Radios. According to Sarge "It sounds like the feral cry of a retarded Mexican sasquatch!"
  • The Spoony Experiment/Atop the Fourth Wall crossover that covers the first issue of the Ultimate Warrior comic book features several parallel universes. In one of these both Spoony and Linkara are portrayed as horrible actors who blatantly read from the script in monotone. In the commentary, Linkara jokes that some fans are sure to not notice much of a difference from normal.
  • In Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show, Iruka makes an abridgement of One Piece that features horrific image quality (blatantly being filmed off YouTube videos with a mobile phone), no attempt at voice acting, and a script that primarily relies on repetition, Memetic Mutation and gay jokes.
  • Have you tried James Bruxton's wine yet?
  • The Game Fucking Fuck Fuck Fucker Fucking Fuck Fucker, a parody of Caustic Critics, lives and breathes this trope.
  • The RedLetterMedia show Half In The Bag is a shining example of this trope, as a parody of both cheesy Sitcoms from The Eighties and other Video Review Shows. Whenever the stars of this review roundtable are called upon to "act", this is the inevitable result. (We know it's Stylistic Suck because these are the same people behind Mr. Plinkett).
  • Quite a few sites offer up parodies of webpages written poorly usually older html, with garish colors, bad formatting, broken jpegs and links and pointess looped gifs, often the page is purely of the "Hey look. I can write a web page. Wanna see a picture of my pet?" that was more common before sites like Facebook came along to handle the design needs for these people.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series had an episode in which Tristan watches Naruto the Abridged Series, that has nothing but Naruto telling Sasuke he is an emo over and over again. This was actually a cooperative effort between creator of both shows, as a Take That against people who thinks that calling somebody emo makes a good joke.
  • Henry's Kitchen is a Youtube comedy series with the concept of a guy's self-made cookery program. Except the guy can't cook. Or edit videos. It's hilarious.
  • 80's Dan is this to sitcoms of The Eighties.
  • Dolan comics use this as their bread and butter.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Pack from the eponymous episode of Gargoyles. All shots from the show consisted entirely of action scenes, with no plot other than "the Pack fights evil ninjas".
    • Granted that, we never saw the actual show, only the end with a trailer for a live show. The live show is where we get the Narmy "evil ninjas" line. But it doesn't seem to be much better than that anyway, not more than a high action version of Power Rangers (take that as you will).
    • The Pack's appearance was heavily based off of early Image Comics the likes of Youngblood which often had issues not entirely unlike what we see of the show.
  • Done in The Venture Brothers with the Rusty Venture cartoon, which seems to be even more a spoof of Jonny Quest than the show it inhabits.
  • The Soap Within a Show "All My Circuits" from Futurama is another over-the-top soap-opera-within-a-show ("Let me get this straight. Is there anyone here who doesn't have amnesia?" "I don't remember.") There's also Fry's holophoner opera, which the Robot Devil critiques for having the actors describe how they feel instead of showing it.
    • Note that even at his own wedding, Calculon so believes (most likely programmed to) in his soap opera ways that he is tricked by the main cast in a convoluted way to rescue Bender, all by badly acting out different soap opera cliches, including amnesia, fake-dead, lost sibling and quite a few more in just a few minutes.
    • The same show has a total subversion as well with "Everyone loves Hypnotoad", the best show in the history of television.
    • There's also the incident in which the Earth is attacked by giant brains, and Fry eventually stops them by trapping their leader in a book he wrote, "a crummy world full of plot holes and spelling errors!"

Head Brain (rimshot): The Big Brain am winning again! I am the greetest! I'm now leaving Earth for no raeson! [sic]

    • To save the Earth from Aliens Steal Cable, the crew writes and acts the ending of Single Female Lawyer. And by the ending, I mean what Fry made up in an hour (which was only about four minutes of material) and from having only a vague memory of part of one episode.

Lrrr: Overall I'd give it a C+ - okay, not great. As a result we will not destroy your planet, but neither will we share with you our recipe for immortality.
Fry: Way to overact, Zoidberg.

    • More recently, there's the badly-drawn motion comic that Fry did in "Lrrreconciliable Nd-Ndifferences", for which he also did all the voices and sound effects.

Leela: Good ending. Not great.

    • The Transcredible Exploits of Zapp Brannigan certainly qualify, presented in the style of a low budget 1950's sci-fi serial.
  • South Park
    • This was part of the original appeal of the show, portraying absurd and foul situations in extremely crude animation. The original short and the series's first episode were animated with construction paper. The show has gradually improved the art style over the years, and occasionally includes bits of impressive CGI for contrast.
    • "The Terrance and Phillip Show" was a parody of what critics accused South Park to be: a crudely-animated cartoon all about farts. Eventually the show discarded the parody by making Terrence and Phillip a live-action show. Canada is always drawn crudely to match, as are the Danes, the "Canadians of Europe."
    • In the two-part episode "Cartoon Wars," terrorists strike back at Family Guy by creating a badly animated cartoon showing barely animated cutouts of western figures like George Bush and Jesus crudely pooping on each other while shouting about how much they enjoy "crapping on each other" in broken English.
  • One episode of Celebrity Deathmatch features the finding of a time capsule with a cheaply done Totally Radical faux-version of the show from the 80s where Boy George fights Don Johnson (with Ronald Reagan as the guest referee). It's possibly the show's finest moment.
  • The Simpsons,
    • In early episodes, the children sometimes watch a cartoon called The Happy Little Elves, but the writers stopped putting it in because lots of people didn't understand that the suck was stylistic rather than just plain suck.
    • In other episodes, the characters go to see various musicals. While usually pretty well-sung, they often use hilariously poor source material for a musical, such as Planet of the Apes and A Streetcar Named Desire.
    • Itchy and Scratchy's Poochie, which is hated by everyone in-universe. The show itself is an inversion; its a total, ultraviolent send up of Tom and Jerry, but its very popular both in-universe and amongst actual Simpsons fans, and is a staple of the show.
    • In "Krusty Gets Kancelled", a rival kids' show gets the exclusive broadcasting rights for Itchy and Scratchy, and a desperate Krusty shows a short from its Eastern European counterpart, Worker and Parasite. It consists entirely of a stiff, sketchily-drawn cat and mouse bouncing around a scribbled background speaking vaguely Slavic gibberish, followed by a title card reading ENDUT! HOCH HECH! Krusty's (and our) reaction: "What the hell was that?!"
    • Principal Skinner's favourite seasonal movie is The Christmas That Almost Wasn't But Then Was, featuring cardboard animals, a "Christmas hobgoblin" singing a duet with Little Bo Peep for several hours, a stage hand wandering into the background of a scene, and "Santa's big sing off".
  • Home Movies feature this trope almost every episode, given that the central premise of the show is that three kids make their own movies. Although many times they're movies are also parodies in disguise. They're actually really impressive considering they're 8-year olds. Sort of.
    • Subverted in a couple of episodes where the kids do very bad productions (Bye Bye Greasy, Renaissance Fair) that the audience absolutely loves. How could you not? Although they do bomb pretty comprehensibly in the Camp episode.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: When the Cutie Mark Crusaders enter a talent show in an attempt to earn their cutie marks, they each cover roles more suited to one of the other fillies. The result is, well...this.
    • They end up winning "best comedy act" as it had the audience laughing so hard, and pretended it was all part of the act.
  • The Rocko's Modern Life episode "Wacky Delly", where Ralph Bighead has Rocko and his friends produce the Show Within a Show of the same name in an attempt to get fired. It backfires really hard because of how awfully hilarious the end product is.

Cheese: I am the cheese. I am the best character on the show. I am better than the salami and the bologna combined.

  • An episode of Justice League featured a (presumably animated) series based on The Flash. Not only was it apparently drawn by Rob Liefeld, but the "joke" an entire scene builds up to it Flash saying "Take that, you cur!" after punching an enemy.
  • All the reenactments in Re Boot all have very obvious production errors, with the Megabyte binome obviously bouncing into frame after falling off stage in one episode, and the Mainframe Strolling Players Modern Major General parody having everyone who was hoisted to the ceiling fall back onto stage and when the background scrolls across there is text on one saying "don't scroll past this point".

Bob Impersonator:"I'M A GARDENER! I KNOW EVERYTHING!"
Director: "...Psst. It's Guardian. GUARDIAN."

  • An episode of Batman Beyond opened with a Batman musical. Though the writing and singing weren't half bad with all things considered, it was the tone that was ridiculous. Bruce was not pleased.
    • A case of Truth in Television if the "success" of the recent real life Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark musical is anything to go by.
  • In Pinky and The Brain, this tends to happen whenever Brain's plan involves entering the art world or the entertainment industry. For example, the episode "Broadway Malady," in which the Brain decides to finance his latest scheme by producing Angst: The Musical.
    • Of course, a lot of post-1960s musical theatre really is like that. One of the playwrights casually referenced by Brain in that episode is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and - let's be honest here - some of Sir Andrew's stuff is so pretentious and melodramatic that it can easily qualify as sucky unless you're a diehard fan.
  • Looney Tunes: "Porky's Preview": Porky, then in the "kid" stage of his career, drew the cartoon himself, with stick figures, one scene scribbled out and restarted, and the music slightly off-key.
    • "Duck Amuck" has a scene where the unseen animator who's screwing with Daffy draws a crude, black and white, stick figure background for him.
      • In it's sequel "Rabbit Rampage", Bugs Bunny is drawn as a stick figure at one point, causing him to warn the animator, "Continue to draw me like this, buddy, and we'll both be out of woik."
  • Does the slogan "What would happen if kids could draw their own cartoon?" sound familiar? If so, guess what show centers around that concept. We dare you.
  • KaBlam!: Depending on who you ask, Henry and June come off sometimes as this. However, the fans wouldn't have it any other way.
  • From The Ren and Stimpy Show, Stimpy's cartoon "I Like Pink" is a bizarre, nonsensical, poorly drawn and animated cartoon with very little plot.
  • The 'Dramatic Reenactments' done on Mysterious Mysteries of Strange Mystery in Invader Zim, which include things like bad costumes (which fall apart), the crew visible in the background, and the actor playing Dib accidentally setting part of the set on fire. And it is hilarious!
  • During the Rashomon Style episode of Aaahh Real Monsters Krumm's recollection is animated in a childish scrawl.
    • Subverted in that Krumm's childlike account of the events are implied to be the most accurate.
  • On Family Guy Peter has made his own Chick Flick, "Steel Vaginas", and cartoon series, "Handiquacks".
    • The Christmas movie Peter watches on TV, Kiss Save Santa Claus.
    • Peterotica
  • The poetry Jimmy writes under the effects of a love sweater on Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • One episode of Phineas and Ferb had Doof'n'Puss, show about Doof and Perry with ridiculous premise, outright insane plot and gigantic amouts of camp. Doof pitched it too a tv producer (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), who actually bought that.
  • Rejected by Don Hertzfeldt is this from start to finish. The cartoons shown start off being poorly drawn, nonsensical, and completely inappropriate, and get much much worse, fast.
  • The art style of Adventure Time is intentionally simplistic and effortless (with many people having the same face)... and it still manages to look pretty dang good.
  • In Charlie and Lola, the characters characters are depicted as childish drawings and the backgrounds are paper collages.
  • "Mama Don't Allow" was an Animated Adaptation of a story about a possum who plays the saxophone so badly that his mother kicks him out of the house until he learns to play it. (Notably, as scriptwriter Mark Evanier recalls, they hired professional saxophonist Tom Scott to play the part—who was so good, he actually had a very hard time playing badly enough. Read it here.)


Other[edit | hide]

  • Kent Pietsch's airshow comedy act is an example of aeronautical stylistic suck. He throws his 1942 Interstate Cadet aircraft around the sky in ways that would make any pilot cringe, creating the illusion that a terrible pilot is clowning around at the controls. His aircraft loses vital parts like ailerons in flight. He even drags the wingtip against the ground at one point.
  • This commercial for Lotso-Huggin' Bear. Which is actually a Viral Marketing campaign created by Pixar.
  • Instagram and Hipstamatic are iOS apps that apply filters to the pictures they shoot to replicate wonky optics, aged film, and other characteristics of old film cameras to produce pictures that look like old Polaroids and the like; they in turn were inspired by the current popularity of Retraux cameras, particularly cheap film cameras like Russia's Lomo or China's Holga, whose notoriously crappy build quality and quirky optics create uniquely random effects in the finished pictures. On top of that, many camera companies (particularly Canon and Sony) have included "toy camera" modes that attempt to duplicate the same effects to complete with the phone apps.
  1. AAVE is also referred to as Ebonics