Callbacks And Running Gags In TV Shows

I’ve watched “Frasier” like a dozen times and am only just noticing this.

There’s nothing like a good callback or long-running gag in a TV show.

I especially like the ones that are subtle or unexpected. (I had personally never noticed that Hopper’s daughter’s blue hair tie had appeared in every season.)

It got me thinking about some other TV callbacks and running gags that took seasons to pay off, including:


The Beetlejuice joke in Community


The random child who appears in both the superstore series premiere and final


The Schrute family’s wedding tradition in The Office


Saul Goodman’s cross-series career goals


And this Nathan Fillion one in Castle


George and Jerry’s identical conversation in Seinfeld


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


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


Penny’s shirt in The Big Bang Theory


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


The libraries of Parks and Recreation


The familiar mover in Frasier


Xander Harris’ betrayal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer


The Slap Bet in How I Met Your Mother

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In the “Slap Bet” episode of Season 2 of How I Met Your Mother, Barney loses a “slap bet” with Marshall, meaning the latter can slap the former across the face as hard as he can. By the end of the episode, this has become five slaps total, at any time of Marshall’s choosing.

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

The final slap is administered during one of the last episodes of the series, right before Barney’s about to get married to Robin.


The Tom Hanks news in Veep

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

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