Accidentally or deliberately self-referential shows

On the last episode of Kids in the Hall, the final skit features the office girls of A. T. & Love. The company is being bought and and the office is closing, which they learn in a video message from the boss. At the end of the video, the boss tells the girls to turn in this and that before they leave, ending with “and your wigs.” The actors then take off the wigs and wave their final goodbyes to the audience.

On an episode of Frasier, Fraisier’s ex-wife, a children’s entertainer, complains “do you know what it’s like playing the same role for twenty years” After 8 years of Cheers, and 11 years of his own show, yes he does.

Dave and Maddy in moonlighting were perfectly aware that they were characters in a TV show. They made frequent references about the writers, and seasons, etc.

Actually, they were referencing Fox’s bizarre decision to decide that episode (Barting Over) was number 300. Barting Over wasn’t the 300th episode produced OR the 300th to hit the airwaves; it was the 302nd just like Marge said. I guess someone at Fox just decided that episode would be the easiest to promote.

Mine are mostly animated programs, since I can’t think of any live-action ones

A early Ren & Stimpy short entitled “Marooned” features the duo lost in space. At one point, Ren realizes that there’s no way back and that they are marooned. To which Stimpy replies, “Just like the title of this cartoon!”

In one episode of SpongeBob Squarepants, Squidward wonders to himself why every 11 minutes of his life have to be filled with misery and torment. The average SpongeBob short is 11 minutes long.

Walt Disney Television produced an enjoyable goofy series called Brandy and Mr. Whiskers, about the “odd couple” relationship of a rabbit and dog stranded in the Amazon rainforest with a catchy theme song by Lou Bega- “Who’s a little like water and oil? Brandy and Mr. Whiskers…” In one episode, Brandy (as usual) gets mad at Mr. Whiskers and tells him that they can’t get along- “We’re like water and oil!” Says Mr. Whiskers: “I know. I heard the theme song.”

On The O.C., The characters watch a show called *The Valley * that closely mimics their own lives. And when The O.C.'s ratings went down in its second season, characters started talking about how the previous year had been kind of magical and trying to regain that magic. It wasn’t entirely self-conscious, but watching the characters moan about how much better “last year” had been–right along with me and the rest of the audience–was pretty funny.

Also, the writers sometimes throw in little jokes about stuff that fans didn’t like. In one episode, a much-despised character who’d been gone for over a year got a mention. The main characters were in a bad situation, and upon hearing a knock at the door, one said “the way things are going, that’s probably Oliver!”

Sadly, the show never did find its magic again, but I enjoy the subtle cleverness of the show and the constant referring back to itself.

Don’t know if you were conscious of this when you came up with this example, but IIRC there was a famous example on “I Love Lucy” where Lucy is sitting on the couch reading “Look” Magazine (or something like that) and the cover of the magazine is about…“I Love Lucy.”

On “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” at one point Uncle Phil accuses Will of lying, saying that whatever Will just said is as ridiculous as claiming that Will was a famous rap star whose record just went platinum.

For the last several years of Jack Benny’s radio program, virtually every show took place during the week, with the characters talking about what they were going to do on Sunday’s big show.

Although this one is referring to the main star rather than the show itself, this reminded me of a gag from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s short-lived Saturday-morning kids show: Al is in a competition with a rival host for the best’s kids show host award. Al tunes in to see his rival dressed up as him and making fun of him. Al angrily shouts, “How dare he stoop so low as to parody another person!”

The same thing was done years later by Garry Shandling on “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.”

Late in the run of “Cheers” (it might’ve even been during it’s last season), Woody, Frasier, Norm, and Cliff all go to a drive-in to see a Godzilla movie marathon. At one point, Woody notices the lead actress in the later Godzilla movies is different from the one in the first films and asks Frasier why the first actress would want to leave such a successful series. Frasier sighs and (I think) says, “I don’t know why, Woody. I just don’t know.”

In the last scene in the last episode of MST3K, Mike and the bots, now free from being forced to watch bad movies on the Satellite of Love, are spending their time watching the beginning to The Crawling Eye–the movie featured in the series’ first episode–when Tom Servo comments that something seems oddly familiar.

The ultimate self-referential theme song:

Rocky and Bullwinkle often had the characters aware of being in a TV show; they would interact with the narrator all the time. And then there was this:

As did Agnes. DiPesto is the only character, in fact, whom I am sure DIDN’T know.

And by diPesto, of course, I meant her boyfriend. Somebody Viola. Curtis Armstrong.

At least once the

actors turned to the camera and made an appeal about how untenable the episode was.

Bert, or was it Burt.

What makes you think he didn’t know? There was one episode where the music breaks down, so Burt sings the theme song.

On Seinfeld, Jerry and George pitch and write the show Seinfeld (essentially).

Herbert Quentin Viola
And I’d really like those few brain cells back, if you don’t mind. There’s no reason I need to remember that. I’ll give up the lyrics to “Mickey”, as well, if I can just remember the order of taxonomic categorization instead.

THE CRITIC, after being cancelled by ABC & picked up by Fox, refers to the fine people at Fox Network, then looks down to the right-hand corner of the screen, salutes & says “God bless you, little logo!” I’m sure that’s not the only one in THE CRITIC.

On the Honeymooners there was an episode where Ralph and Ed argued about whether Gleason or Carney was the funniest member of The Jackie Gleason show. They found a bystander to ask his opinion, who said “I wouldn’t know, I watch Perry Como.” Ed also had a crack about how fat Jackie Gleason was, prompting Ralph to reply “that Art Carney’s put on a few pounds, too.”

The Cylon strolling past a puzzled Dirk Benedict on the credits of The A-team was a nice hats off to his work on Battlestar Galactica.

Lithgow’s actual line was “The same thing happened to meeeeeeee,” the last delivered in his unique high pitched voice.

There’s the famous answer that Letoy Jethro Gibbs gave to the question of what Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard looked like when he was young: Ilya Kurakin.

Bart called a FOX pledge drive and pledged a bunch of money to Rupert Murdoch, who said “You’ve saved my network.” Bart replied “It wouldn’t be the first time.”