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Black Comedy can show up in the most unexpected places. A series might be the most generic and inoffensive Dom Com around; the darkest subject matter it normally handles might be teens drinking alcohol or married people being tempted by another man/woman. And even then, the subject matter is likely to be treated seriously rather than played for laughs; it might even be the subject of a Very Special Episode.

But then along comes a moment when the series brings in a topic it would normally never touch with a ten meter pole (abortion, suicide, rape, Nazis, what-have-you) and treats it with just as much casual, lighthearted humor as it does recipes gone wrong or a Two-Timer Date. For that one moment, that one joke, the series becomes a Black Comedy, maybe even a Dead Baby Comedy ... then it goes right back to being nice and innocuous again.

Note that, if a series already is a Black Comedy, it's still possible to fit this trope, but the burst of black comedy has to be really extreme. For example, Seinfeld usually didn't shy away from dealing with plenty of dark subject matter, but it's usually just the characters discussing it. If they had done an episode where the Main Characters actually raped or killed someone, and they still played it as much for laughs as ever, then it would still qualify as a Black Comedy Burst.

Related to Genre Shift and Mood Whiplash.

Examples of Black Comedy Burst include:

Live Action TV

  • On a Boy Meets World Halloween Episode, everything's going along like a typical episode for the first act, nothing that might be objectionable for family viewing. Then a guy named Kenny is suddenly murdered. In the past, this series has treated sex, alcoholism, juvenile delinquency, and religious cults with deady seriousness in Very Special Episodes. When another human being is killed, however, the only response it gets is, "Oh my god! They killed Kenny!" After that, the episode kills off a lot more people, including most of the Main Characters, and it's mostly played for laughs. Of course, it's All Just a Dream, but there was no way the audience could have known that before the first murder occurred.
  • On How I Met Your Mother one episode has Ted trying to get a job designing a guy's house. As Ted talks to the guy, though, it becomes clear he's a Serial Killer who wants Ted to build him a sound-proof "murder house." While the all the characters are appropriately freaked out by this, Ted's run in with a serial killer is never played for anything but laughs. And it's usually such a sweet Romantic Comedy.
    • Oh, and there's also the time when Barney, the resident Licensed Sexist, casually mentions that, on one occasion, he's pretty sure he sold a woman.

 Barney: I didn't speak the language, but I shook a guy's hand, he gave me the keys to a Mercedes, and I left her there.

  • Not that Mad Men was ever known for being light, but a guy randomly getting his foot sawed off by a lawn mower certainly qualifies, especially with the lashings of Bloody Hilarious and all the dark jokes that came in the incident's wake.

 Harry: He's going to lose the foot.

Roger: Right when he got it in the door.

  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia may be one of the darkest sitcoms on television, but Frank blowing up a guy's head with a musket shot was a bit above par.
  • The Victorious episode "Beggin' on Your Knees" features Cat accidentally getting phone calls from people who just had car accidents. One of these people dies on the line. Everyone seems a bit shocked and bewildered by this but don't really say too much about it.
    • "Ice Cream for Ke$ha" features Tori trying to drown her sister Trina.
    • "Tori Gets Stuck" has a vial of blood explode on Tori and Robbie.
    • A relatively tame one compared to the three above it, but "Sleepover at Sikowitz's" features a sub-plot where Tori's parents are celebrating their anniversary by watching Terms of Endearment, and after the students at Sikowitz's break character and get banished, they come to visit their house, and find the movie hilarious for unknown reasons.
  • There are a few moments on ICarly that don't really fit with the rest of the shows humour. One being an elderly clown at a party having a heart attack and dying, with it being treated casually by the cast.
  • Glee isn't as light-hearted as it initially appears anyway, but when it veers into really dark comedy it can be startling.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show had the classic episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust" in which the staff of WJM-TV has humorous reactions to the absurd death of Chuckles the Clown.
  • The King of Queens had an episode with an uncharacteristically dark parody of Duel where Doug buys an ice cream truck and is later stalked and suffers repeated murder attempts by an unseen driver in another truck.

Western Animation


 Jake: (Valley Girl tone) Drama bomb!




 Dr. Brainstorm: Now if you'll excuse me, I have an idiot to kill!

Jack: You're committing suicide?