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A form of Something Completely Different. When a show, usually a comedy, abandons its usual format and spends most of the episode as a parody of another show, book, television show, or movie. Popular, timeless, children's fantasy films are always the most targeted for this format, as they're recognizable by everybody. It is usually revealed that the whole thing was just a dream or fantasy, or a lengthly series of events will be required to set up the parody format.
Anime and Manga
- Patalliro Saiyuki is an entire series based around the concept of a parody episode, recasting the characters in a theme of Saiyuki or Journey to the West, usually to hilarious results.
- Half of all Galaxy Angel episodes. There was a Wild West episode, a Joshikousei episode, a Magical Girl episode (which was really a Sailor Moon episode, but you can't blame them for having Small Reference Pools)...
- The Excel Saga anime practically was this trope.
- Every episode of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi from episode 2 up to when we find out what's really going on was a parody, each episode skewering a different genre.
- One Piece has done a few specials in this style. The "Detective Memoirs of Chief Straw-Hat Luffy" specials are a parody of Jidai Geki dramas with Luffy as a detective in feudal Japan, and the "Chopperman" specials feature Tony Tony Chopper as a superhero. The manga includes additional side comics, featuring the pirates as high school Delinquents, mobsters, mythical monsters, and even middle-aged housewives.
- Most of the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann parallel works are these, although some have plot relevance. Not an episode perse, but they do feature new footage. The Manga version has quite a few more, and there's another, spin-off manga featuring the cast in a modern high school.
- Episode 12 might get a distinction as a parody of a stereotypical Beach Episode, considering the fact that it all goes to hell and what not.
- Ouran High School Host Club takes an episode to do a parody of Alice in Wonderland. The whole cast is desperately suppressing facepalms the whole time.
- Bleach did an Arabian parody and a Monster Mash parody, both of which were dream sequences.
- Gintama, something of a parody of shounen manga in itself, also features several parody episodes, mostly of Japanese series such as Dragon Ball Z and a bizarrely cast Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, not to mention a 2-part satire of Saw and a movie-parody episode that touched on everything from Star Wars to Millennium Actress.
- And of course the almost frame-for-frame End of Gintamangelion
- The 200th episode of Stargate SG-1, "200", not only parodies everything to do with TV and movie writing and production (ranging from the actors wanting more money to references to Jumping the Shark and a Lampshade Hanging about... Lampshade Hanging). It also parodies everything from The Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, and Farscape to Supermarionation shows (like the original Thunderbirds), zombie movies, teen dramas, and, of course, itself. To actually list all of the parodies including the self-parodying inside jokes would take up this entire page, so if you're interested in hearing all of them, see what the Stargate Wiki's page on it has listed.
- Similarly, the episode to which "200" is a sequel, "Wormhole X-Treme!" from the show's fifth season, is also a Parody Episode, a self-parody as well as parodying both the TV production process and Science Fiction in general.
Producer: You know what this show needs? A sexy female alien.
- The Stargate Atlantis episode "Vegas" starts out as a CSI parody episode, but rapidly gets serious, until it hits a Tear Jerker ending.
- The 100th episode of Scrubs, "My Way Home," is a parody of... you guessed it... The Wizard of Oz, complete with a protagonist who just wants to go home, a search for a literal heart for a transplant, "Over the Rainbow," and a painted yellow floor... among other references.
- Farscape spent the majority of one episode inside the head of Crichton, the Fish Out of Water sole human member of the cast, where everything was drawn in the style of the Looney Tunes cartoons. Great episode.
- The Just Shoot Me episode "How the Finch Stole Christmas" is, of course, a send-up of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, complete with Seuss-like narration. Furthermore, it had subplots spoofing A Charlie Brown Christmas and Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus.
- There was also the one where Maya befriends a guy who acts like Woody Allen.
- The episode "And Then There Was Shawn" of Boy Meets World is a parody of horror movies.
- Home Improvement had a parody of The X-Files, satirizing the title sequence and Mulder and Scully's thought process
Tim: (As Mulder) The Truth Is Out There!
- And Tim's name was changed to ABC Taylor, after the network "Home Improvement" was on, parodying the FOX network's Fox Mulder.
- The News Radio episode "Sinking Ship" was a parody of the 1997 film Titanic.
- Supernatural likes to play with this trope once a season (in its second half)--while the Winchester brothers are still chasing a mystery, the format and/or subject matter of the episode (and their case) takes a comedic tone and it becomes obvious that it's parodying something: in Season 1, they made fun of Ghostbusters in "Hell House;" in Season 2, they did "Hollywood Babylon," which was an Affectionate Parody of the show itself with some blink-and-you'll-miss-'em Take Thats to the WB/CW executives; Season 3 had "Ghostfacers," which was a parody of both the Ghost Hunters and The Blair Witch Project. Universal Studio's classic monster movies were awesomely and affectionately homaged in Season 4's aptly-named "Monster Movie." Season 5 brought us the instant-classic "Changing Channels" which parodies Grey's Anatomy, a typical three-camera laugh-track Sitcom, Knight Rider, and absolutely skewers CSI.
- And a commercial for a genital herpes prescription medication.
- Married... with Children and That '70s Show had episodes parodying It's a Wonderful Life.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Star Trek: Voyager homaged the early sci-fi serials like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon with the "Captain Proton" holoprogram, most notably in the episode "Bride of Chaotica!".
- Remember WENN did two -- one parodying Casablanca and one parodying Sunset Boulevard.
- The It's Garry Shandling's Show episodes "The Graduate" and "The Fugitive." Since there's No Fourth Wall, the episodes openly referenced the originals, to the point of including clips.
- The X-Files did an episode where Mulder and Scully appeared on COPS.
- Also, "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" can be seen as The X-Files parodying itself. The plot for that episode is just ridiculous, but hilarious.
- The doctors of Chicago Hope get blamed for the death of a famous actor. The episode is shown as an Entertainnment Tonight exclusive.
- The "Dual Spires" episode of Psych, with the added bonus of the original cast of the show being parodied providing copious amounts of Adam Westing.
- The second season of Sledge Hammer! consisted almost entirely of these. ("Hammeroid" was a parody of RoboCop, "Vertical" was a parody of Vertigo, etc.)
- Community loves these.
- Moesha parodied The Cosby Show in an imaginatively titled episode 'Definitely Not The Cosbys'.
- Park Bench tried to do this in Episode 16, but the professor messed it up. (The parodies attempted were of Final Fantasy, Doctor Who, and Dragon's Den.)
- Seth MacFarlanes Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy has "Mario Saves the Princess".
- The Simpsons did this several times.
- A Mary Poppins parody episode.
- "24 Minutes", a parody of 24 (including the voices of Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub).
- "The Blunder Years", primarily a parody of Stand by Me, with a title from its Spiritual Successor The Wonder Years.
- "Dangerous Curves" is an unusual example. It's basically a parody of the 1967 Audrey Hepburn/Albert Finney movie Two For The Road, but it's done so subtly that a lot of people didn't even suspect that might be a parody. Since a majority of Simpsons viewers have probably never even heard of Two For The Road, that was probably intentional.
- "Lisa the Drama Queen" is a parody of Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, minus the murder.
- "The President Wore Pearls", a parody of the musical Evita.
- Lampshaded at the end:
Subtitle: The creators, based on the advice of their lawyers, would like to state that have never heard of a musical based on the life of Eva Perón.
- "Behind The Laughter" which was a parody of VH-1 style documentaries.
- Treehouse of Horror segments were originally strictly parodies of horror stories and The Twilight Zone episodes but now encompass whatever the creators haven't parodied yet. There's also been non-Halloween stories with the same format.
- Citizen Kane Parody
- Futurama had both "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" (Star Trek) and "Fry and the Slurm Factory" (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
- It also had a The Wizard of Oz parody in "Anthology of Interest II."
- Also "Love and Rocket", which pays homage primarily to the HAL-9000 scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- And "Reincarnation", a three-parter non-canon episode parodying respectively, Max Fleischer 20's cartoons, 80's video-games and 70's anime.
- A season finale of Family Guy was a total sendup of the Back to The Future movies. They also did a half-episode parody of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. "Family Guy Presents Laugh It Up Fuzzball" for Star Wars.
- South Park has had a few of these in recent seasons, as well: "Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow", "Free Willzyx" (Free Willy) and "Tsst" (The Dog Whisperer).
- Going back a few years, you have "Free Hat" (Raiders of the Lost Ark) and "The Return of The Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers" (The Lord of the Rings).
- "Grey Dawn" is basically Red Dawn but with old people instead of Russians.
- There's also "The Snuke" (24), "Fantastic Easter Special" (The Da Vinci Code), and "Die Hippie Die" (The Core). As well as "Behind the Blow" (VH-1 documentaries). Basically, the creators of South Park are in love with this trope.
- "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery" (Scooby Doo)
- Of recent mention is the episode "Insheeption." Guess what it parodies.
- Even more recently is the episode "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining", a parody of "I Shouldn't Be Alive" and other documentary shows of its ilk. The entire final third of the episode becomes a poorly-acted, poorly-casted live-action dramatization.
- The Rugrats episode "Wash/Dry Story" was a parody of West Side Story. In a laundrette.
- And there was an earlier episode that is a parody of The Maltese Falcon
- The Kim Possible episode "Dimension Twist" parodied famous TV shows under the guise of being sucked into TV Land.
- The Fairly OddParents did this with their first movie, "Channel Chasers", but it had a lot to do with the plot/overall aesop.
- Animaniacs is 95% these, e.g. "Super Strong Warner Siblings"
- The Powerpuff Girls did one where Fuzzy Lumpkin, Mojo Jojo, Princess, & HIM form "The Beat-Alls". Dexter's Laboratory did a Die Hard parody.
- The Hey Arnold! Halloween episode was a homage to Orson Welles films.
- Kappa Mikey had one in the form of The Wizard of Oz, It's A Wonderful Life (crossed with A Christmas Carol) and surprisingly enough, The Ring.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle had a parody of children's television shows of The Mickey Mouse Club kind.
- Beavis and Butthead's Christmas Episode killed two birds with one stone: Part One is Yet Another Christmas Carol. Part Two? It's a Wonderful Plot.
- One episode of The Angry Beavers, "El Grapadura y El Castor Malo", inexplicably featured a parody of Mexican Masked Luchador action films, staring masked wrestler El Grapadura (The Stapler) and Norbert as detectives. It was also voiced entirely in Spanish, with English subtitles that were at times a rather loose translation of what was being said (for example, "Señor Daggeto" being translated as "Mr. Stupid").
- The same happened with a parody of Miami Vice in style of an actual 80s cop-show episode.
- ReBoot's episode Firewall is a parody of James Bond. That episode even got a unique title sequence similar to James Bond movies.
- Each and every episode of Walter Melon is based on this. Whenever heroes get in trouble or get sick, Melon and his assistant Bitterbug take their places temporarily. They replaced characters such as Superman, The Incredible Hulk, James Bond, Batman and Robin, Kirk and Spock, Tarzan, etc, in spoofs of their movies or TV shows.
- Johnny Bravo had "The Zone Where Normal Things Don't Happen Very Often" (not an episode title but the setting for "Little Talky Tabitha!," "The Man Who Cried Clown" and "Johnny Very Good" - respectively parodying the episodes "Living Doll," "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" and "It's A Good Life").
- The Unsinkable Johnny Bravo parodied Titanic.
- Many, many, many episodes of Codename: Kids Next Door, to the point that it was becoming the regular formula for every episode.
- Of all shows, Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island did a parody of Final Fantasy VII ... with a little bit of Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda on the side. Does the idea of a coconut dressed like Cloud Strife and an bully apple dressed like Sephiroth raise a few eyebrows?
- Pinky and The Brain parodied Chinatown.
- "Semi-Die Hard" on The Cleveland Show
Cleveland Jr.: Will you tell us the sequel next Christmas, Dad?
- Tiny Toon Adventures frequently did parodies, of Citizen Kane, Kon-Tiki and Thirtysomething, among others.
- Time Squad: White House Weirdness which parodies a Scooby Doo show in the White House haunted by suposbly ghosts.
- The Goode Family episode "Gerold's Way or The Highway" parodies Gangster films and DeNiro films.
- Scaredy Squirrel has an episode were they make fun of Halloween and called it Halloweekend.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron does quite a lot of these.
- Lights! Camera! Danger! is notable for combining parodies of The Matrix, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Chicago, and references a truckload more.
- Specific targets for a single parody episode include Jaws, Fantastic Voyage, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, of all things.
- There's one episode devoted to poking fun at various superhero movies.
- One episode is devoted to old horror monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man.
- Not even Macbeth and Star Wars were immune. In the same episode. At the same time.