Lampshade hanging

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Lampshade hanging, or simply 'lampshading', is a writing technique or trope used in fiction to get out of an unusual event or simply bad writing.

After something exceedingly unlikely or unusual occurs, which would otherwise put the viewer in a disbelief position, having one of the characters in the scene announce its unusualness makes it seem obvious to both viewers and characters that what has just happened is very unusual and thus it can be accepted as part of the plot.


On Futurama, writers almost take pride in using this technique.

  • When Bender reattaches both of his arms after they become disconnected, [1ACV01] Fry remarks: "I don't know how you did that."
  • Amy tells Bender that his beer belly is so big his door won't close, to which she adds "and that doesn't even make sense". [2ACV05]
  • After Zoidberg's underwater house burns down, [2ACV12] he asks how it could have possibly happened, to which Hermes responds with "That's a very good question", and, moments later, when Bender picks up his cigar from the remains of Zoidberg's house and continues smoking it, Hermes says "That just raises further questions!"
  • After Bender has been thrown back to Earth and lands before Fry and Leela, [3ACV20] in what would be a completely improbable event, Leela describes the situation as "by a wide margin the least likely thing that has ever happened".
    • This is a very literal example of deus ex machina (god from the machine), a classical (and contemporary) form of plot device to quickly, if absurdly, resolve a problem.
  • The Planet Express Crew are being attacked by robo-dinosaurs. [6ACV09] Before anything can happen to them, a freak EMP short-circuits the animals. Leela describes the occurrence as "convenient."
  • An alien mentions "It's a miracle [he] can even speak English". [6ACV15]
  • Amy thinks it "freaky that Zoidberg is singing harmony with himself". [7ACV07]

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