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Modern technology has changed the way we eat, work and recreate. The act of watching a television show, itself, has become flush with options: We can watch shows streaming off of the internet, we can have our recording devices copy them for watching later, and we can even simply watch entire seasons of shows on DVD.
Interesting, then, that we still feel compelled to watch our favorite shows the night that they are first broadcast. "I can't talk now, Steve, I have to get home to watch Heroes."
This phenomenon is called Appointment Television.
Aversions can take place when a character purposefully misses a show that he had planned to see or normally plans on seeing (perhaps as an alibi). Inversions take place when a character watches TV all the time, and must make appointments to do anything else.
A variant of this trope is when someone is using the aforementioned alternate methods of watching a show, and has an appointment to watch the recording. In this case, they are vulnerable to Spoilers.
To avoid cluttering the page with Troper Tales, please include only examples of this when used in works of media.
- Scud the Disposable Assassin once used this to taunt Voo-Doo Ben, urging him to come out and get killed so Scud could make it home in time for Oprah.
- In PCU, Pigman inverts this trope when he must watch TV 24 hours a day in order to finish his senior thesis, which is that you can find a Michael Caine or Gene Hackman movie on television at any time, all the time. He eventually proves his thesis when A Bridge Too Far comes on, starring both Caine and Hackman. Pigman is then freed from inverted Appointment Television.
- In What's Alien You?, Dave Barry speculates that the reason so many shows are so horrifyingly bad is that aliens have "terrible taste", and are addicted to the worst Earth shows. They may threaten to blow up the planet if they don't get their schlock on time.
This is why you and all your friends think television is so awful. It isn't designed to please you: it's designed to please creatures from another galaxy. You know the Wisk commercial, the one with the ring around the collar, the one so spectacularly stupid that it makes you wonder why anybody would dream of buying the product? Well, the aliens love that commercial. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to the people who make Wisk. They have not sold a single bottle of Wisk in 14 years, but they have saved the Earth.
- It's a running joke on many shows that men who are suddenly off work will become addicted to Soap Operas. This happened to Chandler in Friends.
- Dharma and Greg took advantage of the fact that everyone in the city would be watching the Seinfeld finale to have sex in public without getting caught.
- There was a subplot of Scrubs where Dr. Cox is trying all episode to avoid being spoiled on the score of a football game, because he has it recorded to watch later. It's not hard to guess what his sadistic co-workers do.
- Frasier had a plot similar to the Scrubs one above, where Frasier had recorded an episode of a drama to watch later. IIRC, he spent the entire day avoiding spoilers (even having to run through the hallways at work because of everyone wanting to discuss the show with him), and when he finally gets home he keeps getting distracted by his family and arising obligations. Right when he finally has time to settle down and is about to watch the tape... Daphne spoils it for him.
- Averted in the 1970s BBC sitcom Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads?: Our heroes spend all day desperately avoiding all news of a soccer score so they can watch recorded highlights of the game on TV. They succeed, but find that the game was abandoned due to flooding.
- In Futurama, the royalty of a race of aliens a thousand light years from Earth became addicted to Single Female Lawyer, an Ally McBeal Expy. When they learn that the resolution of the series finale was never aired, they angrily travel to Earth with their fleet of warships...
- There is another episode using this trope, where the crew must make sure they watch the episode of All My Circuits with Calculon's wedding.
- In The Simpsons' "Who Shot Mr. Burns" two-parter, this was the reason Smithers was proven to be innocent: He couldn't have been the one to shoot Mr. Burns, since his favorite television show was on at the time of the crime, and he never misses it.
- In the Sushi Pack episode "Taming the Gaming," the villain is defeated because there's an all-day marathon of his favorite show, and he keeps going back to watch it (and uses all his security camera monitors to watch it). In his next appearance, he mentally congratulates himself for thinking to actually tape the show this time.
- In Teen Titans, there was an episode where Beast Boy inverts this trope by being so addicted to a television show that he couldn't remember the last time he went outside.
- Sportscasts typically fall into Appointment Television territory. Many believe that part of the excitement is watching something in real time with other fans, both of your own team and of the opposition. Sometimes elaborate plans involving alcohol, projection screens and bratwurst accompany the appointment to watch the game, and woe betide someone who says he'll just record the game and watch it later.
- This can still be true for poorer people who can't afford a DVR.