If something is played for laughs, it means it is being used with the intention to be comedic. It is often a parody of the instances where said device or trope is used seriously. Sometimes involves Lampshade Hanging on a particular trope.
Contrast Played for Drama and Played for Horror; sometimes, the only difference between one trope and another is that one is played for laughs, while the other is played for drama.
Can sometimes result in it becoming Harsher in Hindsight down the line. And of course, can result more immediately in Dude, Not Funny!. Also compare Black Comedy. Not to be confused with Parodied Trope (when that trope isn't played straight).
Important: A Complete Monster's heinous actions can never be played for laughs, since one of the requirements for the character to qualify is their crimes must be taken seriously by the narrative. Even if the character does realistically dark things, if they are still treated as jokes in the narrative, then they can't be taken seriously by the audience. A Laughably Evil villain can still be one, but their actions must be Played for Horror and taken seriously.
- Most of the middle of Ep. 4 in Umineko: When They Cry is Beatrice having fun making the story play out as much as a cheesy kids' action anime as possible. Eleventh Hour Super Power, Out-of-Character Moment, Interface Screw, you name it. After everyone stops acting it becomes obvious in hindsight.
- We have uncontrolled lechery, fathers beating their daughters, bipolar childhood friends with murderous grudges, a pyromaniac baby, a mother who wishes her son was never born, wanton property destruction, and alien invasions. This is Urusei Yatsura. All of the above is frikken hilarious.
- Try Ranma ½'s Aquatransexual with a mother who thinks he should be manly or face the sword, way too many Fiancées, rivals who practice all kinds of ridiculous martial arts, a Dirty Old Man Fair-Weather Mentor who will stop at nothing to get him into a bra, and all sorts of other random stuff happening in his neighborhood.
- Despite occasional Mood Whiplash, Hetalia: Axis Powers is this for world history.
- In Mazinger Z, Kouji's sexism and the fights between him and Sayaka nearly always are Played for Laughs.
- In general, Harem shows such as Love Hina, Infinite Stratos, and Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts utilize this trope anytime a female character is shown beating on a male character.
- Angel Beats! plays Death Is Cheap entirely for laughs. All sorts of hideous types of death elected at best a response of "See ya later." and so do many Amusing Injuries. It's also surprisingly non-sexist about it.
- Though it does keep most of the female "deaths" relatively non-violent or off-screen, compared to the males.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Germany and Japan hysterically bowing and begging for forgiveness after repeatedly tugging and yanking on Italy's curl is this.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, the entire concept of the fic is played for laughs, as a parody of the professionalism expected from a historical essay.
- Most of the Lemony Narrator's logic and pride are played for laughs. However, as the story continues, it seems as though even certain elements of Equestrian history are naturally funny as well, and as such, invoke this trope too.
- In Curse of the DualShock, most examples of Breaking the Fourth Wall are this trope.
- Hercules: The film mostly makes fun of the mythology.
- Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo: What Raven and Beast Boy are doing reflects a type of comedy that Japan has called Manzai, where there is a serious straight and an irreverent idiot (Boke and Tsukkomi Routine), only it's in an American parody and mockery of the original Japanese Manzai.
- Turning Red plays Informed Attractiveness for laughs. Devon seems incredibly ordinary, even burnt out and scruffy, but Mei's friends are obsessed with his supposed "hotness". Mei herself doesn't get what her friends see in him, until she finds herself fantasizing about him as well. Priya more or less admits that the reason they like him is because he's there, while legendary hotties like 4*Town are much harder to come by.
- Casino Royale (1967) plays its "Everybody Dies" Ending for laughs, by immediately following it with a Fluffy Cloud Heaven Ending.
- The most famous example is probably Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and how it plays The End of the World as We Know It as a farcical Black Comedy.
- Back to the Future features a teenage boy meeting his young mother through Time Travel and her rather forwardly coming on to him, which it plays mostly for laughs. Thankfully, she sees him more like a brother before things go too far.
- The Empire Strikes Back. Han and Chewie's attempts to repair the Falcon provide some comedy in an otherwise very serious movie. They may be great pilots, but they are mediocre mechanics at best. This includes an onscreen D.I.Y. Disaster where Han tells Chewie to power up a system that Han just repaired, and it proceeds to blow up in Han's face, causing him to frantically shout for Chewie to turn it off.
- Four Lions, a farcical black comedy about five Muslim suicide bombers and their ultimately successful quest to blow themselves and other people up in the most pointless ways possible.
- Pain and Gain is a film about one of the grisliest crime sprees in the history of the city of Miami. You wouldn't expect such a film to be a comedy until you realize that the main characters' incompetence at crime is what drives the film's plot.
- To Be or Not to Be features Jack Benny and Carole Lombard in her last film. It's a comedy about Hitler's invasion of Poland.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy plays a Crapsack World for laughs but mostly glosses over it.
- Discworld novels are often heavy on these in general and sometimes entirely based on this trope. Or umm, these tropes.
- Blackadder, particularly Blackadder Goes Forth, likewise (except in the finale).
- Much of the humor in Victorious comes from jokes that imply mental instability, death, parental abandonment, etc.
- Forgetful Jones from Sesame Street is played purely for comedic value (and has a trope named for him). He hasn't been seen in new episodes that much since the 90s, likely because of research about Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease (and some of those kids being taken care of by grandparents with those afflictions) coming in. His puppeteer's death in 1992 probably also factored into his disappearance.
- A Season 1 episode of How I Met Your Mother which detailed Barney's Start of Darkness. All played for laughs, ending with an Ignored Epiphany for the cherry on top.
- Angie Tribeca, as a parody of police procedurals, lives on this trope.
- Jade Empire Black Whirlwind would be utterly Ax-Crazy if he weren't so funny about it.
- HK-47 in Knights of the Old Republic is the same, especially as he's open about it.
- In Dragon Age II, Isabela's attachment issues and nymphomania are played for laughs unless Hawke pursues a romance with her.
- The relationship tester in Fire Emblem: Awakening, done by Old Hubba and available in the extras menu, comes with a warning that it is completely random, played for laughs, and should not be taken seriously, most likely to avoid massive backlash from the fanboys and fangirls when Old Hubba gives a bad fortune and sinks their favorite ship or proposes... interesting alternatives.
- Pretty much everything in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is played for laughs, starting with the absurdly blatant National Stereotypes and working down from there: the Soviet Bloc as violent-minded but easily duped brutes, the NATO nations as selfish jerks with more money and technology than sense, and the Japanese as resurgent imperialists obsessed with honor and advancement over practicality or usefulness. On paper, this can come off as rather insensitive or even offensive, until the game starts and a Power Armor-wearing Mr. Freeze knockoff gets into a Mexican Standoff with a Laser Blade-wielding Imperial Stormtrooper knockoff and a literal bear, all while Tim Curry, George Takei, and J. K. Simmons simultaneously compete to consume the most set dressing during cutscenes. Yes, It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context; this game is like that.
- Games Workshop once released a list via White Dwarf depicting the Movie Marines, or essentially allowing you to play Space Marines at fluff power levels. The fact that you could buy every Marine in the list a Stunt Double makes it pretty clear the thing was written with tongue firmly in cheek (the Movie Marines were Purposefully Overpowered, and explicitly only to be used in friendly ovo188).
- Little Shop of Horrors does this with man-eating Plant Aliens and sadistic dentists.
- The Mikado does this with all manner of bloodthirstiness, despite being a light romantic comedy, including, for example, a song ("The Criminal Cried as He Dropped Him Down") in which the chorus goes:
As the sabre trueCut cleanly throughHis cervical vertebraeHis vertebrae!
- Depending on your interpretation (not to mention the director's), Titus Andronicus might be played this way, with murder, genocide, rape, infidelity and cannibalism Played for Laughs.
- Cthulhu Slippers does this with the end of the world, horrible deaths, Black Magic and pretty much the entire Cthulhu Mythos.
- Penny Arcade plays both Tycho and Gabe's psychotic moments for laughs, even if death and destruction follows.
- Zaboo from The Guild's Stalker with a Crush behavior would be horrifically creepy in Real Life, but on the show it's over-the-top funny (to everyone except Codex, the target of his affections, but even she stops being creeped out and is instead mostly just annoyed by it).
- Likewise, Clara's extreme Parental Neglect is portrayed as an amusing part of her wacky personality.
- The blog Cut! is Slender Man Played for Laughs. At one point, Slendy himself actually bumps into a clear glass door before slinking off in embarrassment.
- The infamous "Yelling At Cats" video is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- The MurderMen of the Thrilling Adventure Hour are basically a combination of zombies and serial killers. Their attempts to MurderMan and ManMurder people are usually hysterical instead of horrifying.
- Invader Zim does this to the old chestnut of an alien coming to infiltrate society. Even the Nightmare Fueled "Dark Harvest" gets some Black Comedy out of Organ Theft by having Zim replace the other students' organs with increasingly bizarre random objects.
- In the season 1 finale of The Owl House, Luz and King get themselves purposefully arrested for stepping on "Don't step on the grass" grass.
- The infamous Lucy-pulling-the-football-away-from-Charlie-Brown gag in the Peanuts series.
- KaBlam!: Billy from "The Off-Beats", The Running Gag in the series usually involved Billy saying something that would get Tina mad, and then the Populars would throw him out of the group, causing Billy to crash into something.
- Teen Titans in the episode "Fear Itself". Beast Boy, being an aficionado of horror movies, spends most of the episode (until he's caught) telling everyone not to split up as the monster always gets his targets easier that way, and that he, the funny guy, will inevitably be taken first. He ends up being right.
- Solar Opposites plays Narrator All Along for laughs in the intro. As if it wasn't obvious by the time the intro happens Korvo is the one narrating. He even lampshades it just before the Couch Gag.
Korvo: We crashed on Earth, stranding us, on an already overpopulated planet. That's right, I've been talking this whole time! I'm the one holding the Pupa. My name's Korvo. This is-this is my show. I just dropped the Pupa. Do you see me?