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The preservation of ad libs, improvisations, and the occasional accident or mistimed what-have-you for dramatic or comic effect, sometimes at the expense of continuity.
These are often some of the most memorable scenes, for better or for worse, due to their spontaneity. Comedy in general tends to rely on the ability of performers to improvise, and thus comedy productions tend to be more tolerant of ad-libbing than other genres.
Differs slightly from attaching Hilarious Outtakes to the ends of shows. Related to No Fourth Wall and Enforced Method Acting - especially in cases of pain and surprise. See also Rule of Funny, Rule of Cool.
Not to be confused with Enforced Method Acting, when something unexpected is deliberately done to an actor in order to elicit a realistic response, or Improv, where there is very little or no script at all and the actors are making up large chunks as they go along.
See also The Show Must Go On, Studio Chatter and Good Bad Bugs.
- Actor-Inspired Element: Where character traits or story elements are developed by the actors.
- Ascended Fanon: Where Fanon becomes Canon
- Ascended Meme: Where a meme from fanon is upgraded to canon.
- Ascended Glitch: Like Thrown It In, but specific to software (usually video-game) development.
- Harpo Does Something Funny: Invoking this by leaving gaps in the script for the actors to throw stuff in.
- Left It In: When it's explicitly said on camera that an unintentional blooper will be cut from the final product... and it's not.
- Official Fan-Submitted Content: Asking fans for stuff to throw in.
- One-Take Wonder: When the very first take of a scene or song is good enough to be the keeper.
- Permanent Placeholder: When something intended to be merely a temporary stand-in ends up being what is used in the final product.
- Serendipity Writes the Plot: Where a real-life production difficulty affects a work's storyline.
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- Real Life
- Farfel the dog, the ventriloquist dummy mascot for Nestlé back in the 1950s and '60s, would end his familiar jingle (N-E-S-T-L-E-S/Nestlé's makes the very best/chaaaw-klit) with a "chomp" sound. This was because Jimmy Nelson — who performed him — was nervous during the auditions, causing his sweaty hand to slip off the mouth control. The executives liked this so much they they kept it in ever since, even when Farfel was revived (along with his extended family) in the '90s for a Christmas commercial.
- Parodied in this GEICO commercial where Foghorn Leghorn is doing narration for a book, only he is doing a very bad job at it. At one point in the shooting, he also adds in something, which he shortly thereafter admits that he added it in. Later, Henery Hawk enters the recording booth with a bat and is audibly implied to have bludgeoned Foghorn Leghorn with it, which was a Call-Back to a similar scene in the Looney Tunes cartoons.
- From a famous Wendy's commercial, Where's the Beef?. Clara Peller was not wearing her hearing aid when she said her classic line, "Where's the beef?", so it came out as a bellow. The producers thought it was funnier that way.
- "Does Exactly What It Says on the Tin" was a placeholder for a proper marketing slogan in a series of British adverts intended to show that using a woodstain is simply common sense. Eventually the advertisers decided to go ahead and try it as an anti-slogan. The rest is history.
- The Spanish version of the Slap Chop commercial features Vince Offer throwing a competitor product over his shoulder into the sink. The problem? It smashed the venetian blinds behind him. It was presumably kept in thanks to how 31 flavors of hilarious it is. This was referenced in a later commercial for the Da Vinci Pro Cutting Tool, where Vince throws a $200 food slicer out the window.
- When Tom Bodett was chosen to record advertising for Motel 6 in 1986, he ad-libbed the line "we'll leave the light on for you" at the end of the commercial. Nearly 30 years later, he still says that line in almost every ad.
- Bob Harris filmed this promo for his book Prisoner of Trebekistan. The ad makes fun game shows showering contestants with numerous parting gifts. At the 43-second mark, Harris throws bottles of V8 Splash on the pile, not realizing that one of them broke open. After he finally discovered the mess, he added notations of "Spilling V8 Splash can leave a large stain in the rug." and "Even if you have LOTS of Bon Ami cleanser." to the video.
- In this Australian Yellow Pages commercial, Deborah Kennedy ad-libbed her character's iconic phrase ("NOT...HAPPY, JAN!!!").
- Norman Rockwell created the models for his paintings by posing real people and taking their picture. One of his works depicts a young couple filling out their marriage license. Originally he intended to depict the presiding clerk in "paternal beaming" mode, but when one of the photos caught the clerk-model slumped in his chair, staring absently off into space, that was what went into the final picture◊.
- This was how William Wegman found his niche in film and photographs of Weimaraners. Previously struggling with his career as a painter, Wegman one day found his calling when his dog, Man Ray, wandered onto the set during his photo shoots. Finding it easier to incorporate his dog into the set, rather than keeping him off, he used Weimeraners as a template for his works thereafter.
- Lex Luthor was originally drawn with red hair, but was abruptly changed to bald after an artistic mistake by illustrator Leo Nowak. Not only has it stuck with Luthor's popular image ever since, but was indirectly responsible for Luthor taking the Ultra-Humanite's place as Supes' arch nemesis as DC didn't want two bald mad scientists battling Superman (and thus Ultra-Humanite gained his trademark tendency to Body Surf and was Put on a Bus for several decades).
- During one arc of Invincible, Omni-Man marries an insect-like alien, and there's a panel of him kissing her and Invincible looking disgusted. According to the sketchbook in the back, the artist made this as a joke and Robert Kirkman decided to keep it in the actual issue.
- Wolverine's iconic mask was due to this trope — when he joined the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1, he was meant to keep the same mask design that he had when he first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #181. However, the person who drew it, made the ears and eyes too wide. However, when it was shown, they thought that it made him look like Batman and was kept in.
- In the script for an issue of Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles, Peter David described the "face" of the meteor that destroyed Atlantis. He meant it metaphorically, but the artist, working from a script translated into Spanish, took him literally and drew the meteor with a skull face on it. When he saw the art, David said "Keep it," reasoning that the only thing more terrifying than a meteor heading right for you is a meteor heading right for you WITH A SKULL ON IT.
- Done in-universe in two Italian Disney Mouse and Duck Comics stories:
- In Il Papero del Mistero ("The Duck of Mystery") Scrooge sets himself and his relatives to make a soap opera, and specifically tells everyone that he won't give them any script, only character names, initial roles and a scenario and then they'll have to improvise. Cue such gems as an episode where everyone but Scrooge's character get poisoned by the others (in two occasions by accident, because Gus' character stole a slice from a previously poisoned cake and the nephews' characters made Grandma Duck's character taste their attempt at the formula of a Coca Cola Expy and Grandma Duck decided they failed), Donald faking an Alien Invasion episode when the other actors go on strike, and Jubal Pomp photobombing his way in the story with attempts on Scrooge's life (it's that kind of story).
- In Topokolossal Mickey and friends are tricked by Pete, Phantom Blot and Portis (who had made a good theft but feared Mickey would expose them) into starring in a sci-fi telefilm whose director is a sadist named Annabel Lecter, and decided to imitate Il Papero del Mistero. It starts with Mickey's character using a baguette as a sword to fight a giant inflatable rat in the castle of the Sleeping Beauty (Eega had been hired as a runner and procured those things as a test. She wanted to eat the baguette, but O'Hara got to it first), and gets progressively crazier.
- George Pérez was designing Starfire when Joe Orlando passed by, looked at the sketches and suggested that Perez make her hair longer. Perez listened.
- Perez and his career in general has been a series of these, as he was well known for adding more panels and characters than the writer initially suggested.
- Planetary #7 was supposed to have a John Constantine Expy shave his head and ditch his trenchcoat to become King Mob. Artist John Cassaday instead drew him as Spider Jerusalem. Warren Ellis was amused enough to let it slide.
- R.A. Salvatore was working on a Forgotten Realms novel starring a barbarian named Wulfgar. His editor called and told him the book needed a sidekick... now. Salvatore panicked for a moment, then says, "A drow... Yeah, a drow ranger... Drizzt Do'Urden, of D'aermon N'achezbaeron, Ninth House of Menzoberranzan." Thus began the life of the dark elf that launched a million copycats (and mispronunciations).note
- James Joyce was plagued by problems with his eyes. This led to a frequent need to employ the use of dictation when writing Finnegans Wake. During one session, someone knocked on the door and Joyce said, "Come in," which the typist accidentally added to the text. Joyce told him to keep it.
- Commander Vimes from Discworld was thrown together from clichés so Carrot would have someone to interact with after arriving in Ankh-Morpork. He ended up taking on a life of his own and becoming one of the most interesting and important characters in the series.
- James Bond:
- In the novels, Bond originally drove a Bentley, which was destroyed in Moonraker. As Ian Fleming was working on Goldfinger, he received a letter saying "I hope you have the decency to fix Bond up with a decent bit of machinery — I would suggest an Aston Martin". The Aston went on to become the iconic Bond car.
- He switched Bond's weapon from a somewhat underpowered .25ACP Beretta to the iconic Walther PPK in similar circumstances, even partially basing the initial characterization of Q on the author of the letter.
- Fleming was so impressed by Sean Connery's performance in the movies that he canonically gave Bond Scottish ancestry.
- Tolkien's Legendarium:
- Word of God confirmed the Ents were a spontaneous example of this while writing The Two Towers.
- In-Universe example in The Silmarillion. Aulë, one of the Valar sent to craft the world before the coming of the mortal races, created the Dwarfs in secret so he'd have students to teach but could not give them souls. The god of the setting, Eru Ilúvatar, adopted them and gave them souls himself even though they weren't originally part of his plan for the world. This caused some strife down the line, but since Melkor had already screwed things up beyond recognition and they were specifically built to resist his corruption it worked out okay. The Ents also weren't in the original plan, but were made at the request of Aulë's wife Yavanna as guardians of the wild places.
- Parts of Malazan Book of the Fallen were gamed in homebrewed Gurps campaigns. Most famous among them is the sequence at the start of House of Chains, where a character that was supposed to be an important NPC — and thus an important character later in the book series — gets offed unceremoniously by a frustrated player, which Steven Erikson equally unceremoniously transferred into the written story.
- Nina Tanleven: In-Universe example - Slopnuggets are cookies that rely on this trope. They're made by taking whatever the baker thinks will make a good cookie and tossing it in a bowl; the only rule is to include the basics like eggs and baking powder, and go light on things like pickles and peppers. Results vary, and while the results are a little weird sometimes, Mr. Tanleven and Nine have never made a batch they can't eat.
- Hannah Swensen: In-Universe example in Blueberry Muffin Murder, where Hannah mentions an incident in high school when she, Andrea and Janie were all at Hannah's home studying, and Hannah decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches for them. She'd already started when she found out they were out of regular cheese, so she sliced some cream cheese instead and used that in place of the regular cheese. The trio considered the resulting sandwiches to be very tasty, and Hannah's been making them ever since.
- When writing his historical novel, A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom, John Boyle had to search the ingredients for making red dye, but since he was in a hurry he copied in his manuscript the first search result that appeared which went all the way into publication. As such, the book lists Keese wing, Octorok Eyeball, red lizalfos tail, and four Hylian shrooms as red dye ingredients; He later acknowledged his mistake but found it amusing nonetheless and said that it will be kept in future editions.
- The Cat Who... Series: In-Universe example with the town of Brrr, long noted as the coldest spot in the county. It's explained in book #24 (The Cat Who Went Up the Creek) and book #28 (The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell) that the name was originally the result of a sign writer's slip-of-the-brush, misspelling "Burr" as "Brrr", but it was kept both for the aforementioned reasoning and because the townsfolk thought the mistake was funny.
- Several examples occur in Interstitial: Actual Play.
- Riley didn't initially realize that the Master Emerald was kept in a place called Angel Island, but once Hazel pointed it out he took that info and ran with it.
- In episode 12, Riley describes a stomping sound emerging from the forest. Jo asks if Diz has AT-ATs. Riley only intended to describe the Smoke Monster from Lost, but liked the idea so much they combine the two into a single Nobody that they dub "the Smo-body".
- At the end of the same episode, Riley asks the party to name literally any property. Hazel picks Twin Peaks and so Mr. C appears wearing a suit of Powered Armor made out of his car.
- The reveal that Roxanne was a Nobody of Ennora began as a joke before the players discussed it further off screen and introduced it into the game later on.
- The Daley Pho in Pretending to Be People is named this because one of the players, Luke, continued to suggest that differing institutions in Contention should be called "The Daily Fuck."
- The Muppet Show:
- In the Candice Bergen episode, Kermit ended the episode by attempting to pie Fozzie Bear in the face. However, Kermit didn't get enough cream on Fozzie's face, so he pied Fozzie again and ended up hitting part of Bergen's shirt. Fozzie said, "Look what you just did!"
- A change that became an establishing character moment for Miss Piggy: in one of her earliest appearances, the script called for her to slap Kermit over some disagreement. Frank Oz, however was having trouble trying to do a convincing-looking slap. He eventually got frustrated and had her karate-chop Kermit with a wild yell. The rest is history.
- More of a meta example, but it still fits. During pre-production for Muppets Tonight, the performers started fooling around with random characters to work out characters for the show. When Bill Baretta started singing with the Johnny Fiama puppet, no one was listening, so Brian Henson picked up a random monkey puppet and yelled at everyone to listen to Johnny. This resulted in the character of Sal.
- Sesame Street is known to do this with their "Muppet and Kid" segments, in which the Muppet asks the kid something and they reply. In the most well-known of the bunch, Kermit was supposed to sing the ABC's with a little girl. Only the child decided to have her own little joke by shouting "Cookie Monster!" at various points in the song. Jim Henson played along with it, creating one of the funniest moments in the show's history.
- A more dramatic example from Thunderbirds: while filming the climactic landing sequence of "Trapped In The Sky", the string holding one of the Elevator Cars onto the rolling road suddenly snapped, causing it to veer out of control and crash. Special effects director Derek Meddings was so impressed by the realism of the crash that he convinced the Andersons to rewrite the script to incorporate it, adding a shot of the out-of-control Elevator Car crashing into a parked aircraft.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
- The comically anguished scream presented as "this recording of a man being put into the Vortex" is actually a recording of Simon Jones reacting to a piano lid smashing his fingers.
- In an earlier episode, the Golgafrincham B Ark has "tired TV producers" aboard. This was supposed to be "Tri-D TV producers", but the scripts were misprinted and the production team thought the new line was just as good as the original.
- During the episode "TV Documentary" of The Navy Lark there's been a Running Gag about Leading Seaman Riddle being called to the Bridge but he never turns up. During the climax the messenger says that he realises where Riddle has been all this time.
"I'm Reading Seama-" [audience explodes with laughter and the actor stumbers for a short while] "I'm Leading Seaman Riddle!" [audience cheers]
- In "Bleak Expectations" Anthony Head, in the role of Gently Benevolent, is pretending to be an American named Harlan J Trashcan and suing Pip Bin over the royalties for the invention of the bin. Part way through the court scene he had trouble getting back into his (very, very obviously fake) American accent after two other characters had been speaking. In the process of attempting to get into the accent he says "sorry, can't get the accent". This was left in, along with the slightly odd sounds he made trying to get the accent back, and is not remotely out of place (nor is it at all surprising that Pip still does not immediately realise what's going on).
- One of Jack Benny's running jokes in The Jack Benny Program was that he drove an ancient Maxwell automobile that was so old it barely ran at all. The sound effects for the alleged car were originally recorded from an actual broken down car engine, but one broadcast when the sound guy missed the cue, Mel Blanc grabbed the microphone and improvised the sputtering car vocally. It went over so well Jack decided that Mel would do the sound of the Maxwell from then on.
- During the DC Nation Olympics Arc, it was completely unintentional for Hades to actually kill Arsenal. The intent by the plot-runner and Hades-mun was just to get him high, removing him from the fight. The fact the Roy player ran with it and made Hades simulate a heroin overdose completely changed the ending, prompting the Sadistic Choice the Greek Gods would force on Donna later.
- Survival of the Fittest:
- Less funny than dramatic, but Brittanny Ashworth's death in V2. The character's handler said, in an OOC note at the end of his first post with her, "Anybody after a kill feel free to take a shot at her." Of course, somebody interpreted this a bit too literally, godmoding the character's death at the hands of his villain character. After a little debate, it was left in.
- Also, an important part of V3 character's Adam Reeves' backstory revolves around him having his lip torn by a fish-hook hold in a fight. It was suggested the culprit of this injury was the older brother of Maxie Dasai. The more the handlers thought about the idea, the better it sounded, and it was simply thrown in.
- While building the original facility for the roleplay sets, A_J's player (the aptly named AJ) accidentally dug through into bedrock, exposing the endless blackness underneath the Minecraft world. She created a lab room around it, and many RPs later the Void is the most important plot point of the whole series.
- A_J's distinctive Black Eyes of Evil also came about when Pythosblaze, Frances' player, drew her first fanart of A_J and misinterpreted AJ's badly-shaded skin as having completely black eyes. AJ rolled with it, and it was explained in-RP as one of the side-effects of continuous exposure to the Void.
- Similarly, Breyos' and Dell's players both drew Vinnie with pointy ears when they were meant to be a human, and Vinnie's player Cameo decided to keep it and explain it as plastic surgery due to dramatic bullying on their home planet.
- Some elements of We Are All Pokémon Trainers were created simply because someone did something random and the rest decided it was good enough to throw in. Examples include:
- Jane's inexplicable Southern accent at the beginning of the RP being explained as a Hoennese (In particular Mossdeep) accent.
- Champloo, Dune's Lucario, decided to make a batch of super-chocolaty brownies. It was suggested that, do to the sheer endorphin-releasing goodness of that much chocolate, they should be able to reduce a Shadow Pokemon's shadow gauge. This is eventually how Vega the Drilbur purified.
- A decent part of the plot of Ruby Quest occurs because Weaver took a few of /tg/'s silly and/or unexpected suggestions seriously. When somebody asked to put a severed hand up a pneumatic mail chute, up the hand went, and it was later used to reveal that Ruby used to be murderously violent... well after it was supposed to, preventing the reveal from turning Tom and Ruby against each other. When /tg/ wanted to bash their way through puzzles, those puzzles were very quickly solved. When /tg/ directed Ruby to lick the Fleshy Prototube, they discovered it tasted bad. When the players voted to save Jay, three people escaped the Metal Glen instead of two.
- Jeff Foxworthy's debut album You Might Be a Redneck If... contains an example. Although he had opened with a few of his trademark "you might be a redneck" one-liners, an audience member can be heard shouting "Redneck!" near the end of the set. Jeff clearly stumbles for a few seconds before closing the set with more "you might be a redneck" one-liners. This may also explain why most of his subsequent albums feature the "you might be a redneck" jokes solely at the end.
- The website Bloggingheads.tv has a lot of this. Cats, children, doors, phone calls, and various other interruptions have been known to occur, and are sometimes left in.
- Cracked's 6 Iconic Movie Scenes That Happened by Accident cites Viggo Mortensen's broken toe in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, among others.