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Callbacks and common gags in TV shows


I’ve watched “Frasier” a dozen times and just keep noticing it.

There’s nothing quite like a good encore or a long-lasting gag on a TV show.

I particularly like those that are subtle or unexpected. (I personally had never noticed Hopper’s daughter’s blue rubber band appearing every season.)

It made me think of other TV encores and running gags that have taken seasons to bear fruit, including:


Beetlejuice’s joke in Community


In the Season 1 episode “Communication Studies”, Michelle Slater pretends not to remember Britta’s name, instead calling her “bitter”, “butter”, and finally “Beetlejuice”.

Then, in the Season 2 episode “Cooperative Calligraphy”, Britta takes a look at Jeff’s underwear and points out that he’s not wearing his usual “turquoise striped Beetlejuice numbers”.

Finally, during Season 3‘s Halloween episode, “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps,” Annie at one point says that Britta only has the Beetlejuice soundtrack on her computer – at that point , someone dressed as Beetlejuice passes in the background.


The random child who appears both in the Hypermarket series premiere and finale


In both episodes, Amy is seen walking past an unsupervised child, potty-talking in one of the toy aisles. It happens to be the same child, just a few years older.


The Schrute family wedding tradition in Office


In the episode “Phyllis’ Wedding”, Dwight explains that the Schrutes marry standing in their own graves.

Later, in the series finale, Dwight and Angela do indeed marry while standing in their own graves, though it ends up being a not-so-dark affair.


Saul Goodman’s cross-series career goals


In “Granite State”, the penultimate episode of breaking BadSaul tells Walt that he is no longer his lawyer and that “if [he’s] lucky, in a month, best case scenario, [he’s] run a Cinnabon in Omaha.”

During You better call SaulThe opening scene of , which takes place after the events of breaking Badwe see Saul (aka Gene) running a Cinnabon in Omaha.


And that of Nathan Fillion in Castle

Universal Images / ABC

In CastleIn the Season 2 episode of “Vampire Weekend”, Castle’s Halloween costume is a “space cowboy” that looks a lot like his own. Firefly character, Evil. When her daughter sees her, she says, “Didn’t you wear that like five years ago?” Don’t you think you should move on?

The last time Fillion played Mal was in 2005, and the Castle episode aired about four and a half years later.


George and Jerry’s identical conversation in Seinfeld


In the series premiere and finale SeinfeldJerry and George have a conversation about how the second button on a shirt “literally makes or breaks the shirt”, and if it’s “too high”, it’s “in no man’s land”.

In the finale, George even asks Jerry, “Haven’t we had this conversation before?”


The Art (Vandelay) of a good running gag in Seinfeld


The series finale also features the final joke in a long running gag. Throughout the series, George uses the name of alter ego Art Vandelay, and it ends up being the name of the judge who tries the case in the final episode of the series.


The foreshadowing of Buster Bluth’s missing hand in Development stopped


Buster’s missing hand is alluded to several times throughout Development stopped, including in the Season 1 episode “Best Man for the Gob”, when Buster says, “This party’s gonna be off the hook”, and in the Season 2 episode “¡Amigos!” when he said, “I never thought I would miss a hand so much” after seeing his old hand-shaped chair. Later in the season, during “Out on a Limb”, he s sits on a bench in such a way that only the words “ARM OFF” are visible.Moments later, his hand is eaten by a seal.


Penny’s shirt in The Big Bang Theory


In the first and the final of The Big Bang Theory, Penny wears the same blue and purple shirt. (She also wears it in the 100th episode, “The Recombination Hypothesis.”


And, similarly, Kitty’s outfit in That 70s show


Kitty also wears the same outfit at the parties of the That 70s show first and final.


The libraries of Parks and recreation


Leslie Knope and the rest of the Parks Department’s distaste for libraries is well-documented throughout the series, which makes the dedication of a library in the series finale all the more hilarious.


The familiar mover of fraser


The delivery guy who gets Martin Crane’s chair out of Frasier’s apartment in the series finale is the same delivery guy who delivers it in the pilot. (Of course, it’s not the exact same chair, as the original one sailed onto the balcony – and was replaced by Frasier – in the Season 9 episode “Bla-Z-Boy.”)


The betrayal of Xander Harris in buffy the vampire slayer


In the season 2 finale of buffy, Willow sends Xander to tell Buffy that she’s going to try a spell to restore Angel’s soul. Xander instead says that Willow told him to tell Buffy to “kick his ass” – which Buffy does.

In the show’s final season, the moment comes during an argument between the three, at which point a confused Willow says, “Hey, I didn’t say that.”


The Slap bet in how I Met Your Mother

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In the episode “Slap Bet” of season 2 of how I Met Your Mother, Barney loses a “slap bet” with Marshall, meaning the latter can slap the former as hard as he can. By the end of the episode, this became five total slaps, anytime Marshall chooses.

During the season 7 episode “Disaster Averted”, Marshall receives three more slaps in exchange for getting Barney out of a bet that required him to wear a tie covered in cartoon ducks.

The final slap is administered during one of the show’s final episodes, just before Barney is about to marry Robin.


Tom Hanks news in Veep


In the first of the series of Veepwhen Selina and her team are under threat of a media scandal, Mike says anything can happen to distract the public’s attention – like the death of Tom Hanks.

In the series finale, when Mike is on TV covering Selina’s funeral, the report is interrupted by the news of Tom Hanks’ death.

What are some common callbacks and gags you’ve noticed on your favorite shows? Sound off in the comments!