TV Sitcoms Question

I was wondering if anyone knows what show/network started the trend of having an extra 2-3 minutes of show at the end while the credits roll?

For example, Seinfeld would have something along the lines of 12 minutes of show/ commercial break / 12 more minutes of show/ commercial break / 2-3 minutes of show while credits roll.

I hope someone knows what I’m talking about. I don’t think this technique was used before the 90’s, and I’m having an argument with a friend that sitcoms didn’t always do this.

WAGs: Roseanne? Cosby? You’re correct, sit-coms did not always do this. As I recall, it started roughly just after America’s love affair with bloopers waned.

What about teh local stations putting the credits up in a little box in the corner so no one can read them? I’m surprised the Actors’ Guild (union) hasn’t yelled about that one!

Actually, the denoument (not sure of spelling) is a pretty old device. I’m fairly certain it was used by The Honeymooners, Lucy, My Three Sons, and other 50s shows.

It’s the neat-n-tidy restoration to the staus quo that is pretty much the norm in situation comedies (if you alter the situation too much you can destroy the show).

Character-driven comedies like Cheers were the kinds of shows that started going with abrupt endings, because there really was no situation that had to be maintained.


Oh, well. We can always make more killbots.

No, I think what is being referred to here is a bit that happens after the episode is essentially complete (i.e. after the denouement, if any). While the credits are rolling off to the side of the screen, there is sometimes a last joke or two that they throw in.

It seems to me the typical joke like this

  1. Is mostly visual
  2. Makes reference to something that happened in the episode, but wasn’t part of the main plot.
  3. Doesn’t affect the outcome of the episode

I have no idea when it started though.

The side of the screen bit with the credits is what I think is new. No idea how the unions for actors, writers, others let that through, but it used to be that the credits were untouched–no "next on CBS’ or weather updates, or any of that crap.

Other old examples–Brady Bunch and Bob Newhart shows both used to often end with Bob and wife in bed, making some quick reference to what went on, but with no real developments. Of course, in Newhart’s case it was funny…


Oh, well. We can always make more killbots.

The only appropriate way to end a sitcom is to do a freeze-frame in the middle of the reaction to the final joke.

Any fans of POLICE SQUAD! out there?


Back in the 70s, both Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart had those little final tags while the credits were rolling. I think what happened for everything else was “credit creep.”

Look at a movie from the 30s or 40s or a TV show from the 50s. There are relatidely few credits. Compare that with a current TV show or movie. The credits have gotten so long, that a TV show has to keep your attention so you’ll stay in the room long enough to get to the commercial.

The best one was when they were frozen and another cop walked in… saw that everyone else was frozen… and hastily struck a pose and froze himself.

Classic show. Much better than the Naked Gun movie versions.

  • Rick

Re: Police Squad.

I liked the one where all the cops froze, but the criminal didn’t. He tried to make an escape, but one cop was blocking the doorway. It ended with him clawing at the inside of the viewer’s TV screen, trying to escape.

Judges 14:9 - So [Samson] scraped the honey into his hands and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey out of the body of the lion.

The little post-ending clip is great when the show is in its original run. But for one reason or another, the end clip gets cut off in syndication, at least on some shows.

Case in point: “Mad About You”. The end clips were almost universally funny (even in the rare cases where the episode wasn’t). But it’s a 50-50 toss-up at best whether the end clip will show when one watches MAY in reruns. I don’t think this is intentional on the part of the television station, at least in my experience: the end clip will appear in one episode and disappear from the next on the same channel. I think some engineers know it’s there but others don’t and don’t bother to keep the tape rolling.

Frasier does it best. The credits are rolling on the right side of the screen, Kelsey Grammer is warbling the title song and some silly thing is going on in the left side of the screen in pantomime.

As for who started this practice, I haven’t a clue.


I am not very sure about this, but I think it was started by Seinfeld. This is a really WAG, and I have nothing to back this up, just a gut feeling y’know?
And this is a big gut, believe me. Anyway, the first time I remember seeing this happen was an early episode of Seinfeld.
So, I don’t really know, just a hunch. Noonch.

“And on the eighth day, God Created beer
to prevent the Irish from taking over
the Earth.”

Also, playing a little ending while the credits roll keeps you watching; if they can get you to sit through until the commercial, you might stay through the next half hour segment.

Seinfeld? I recall that Seinfeld originally ran the credits over a snippet of Jerry doing standup, then later switched to the theme song playing over stills from the episode, then switched to credits running on top of a final skit/closure segment. I don’t remember them ever running things off to the side.

The first NETWORK I can recall doing the credits-on-the-side thing is Fox. They began doing it after just about every show and movie so that they could sneak in promos for other Fox shows. Later, regular programs began to use the time for a final gag or two, and it spread among the other networks like wildfire. I can’t tell you which program began the trend, but it began within the last three years or so.

As for problem cutaways/cutbacks: my local NBC affiliate always has a 5 to 10-second news promo at the end of commercial breaks. This means that, half the time, they cut back to the sitcom just in time to hear the laugh track responding to the first gag, which I never get to hear. Grrrr…

Many videos I have rented have a bloopers scene after or during the credits. They are funny. As for sitcoms, they are probably trying to fit in stuff that was cut out, except Seinfeld.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus did this all the time. In fact, even the opening credits of that show weren’t sacred…

The practice at least goes back to Laugh-In (1968) where jokes were told at the joke wall during the ending credits.