#3. Hidden Messages in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Different shows have different reasons for hiding shit -- where some are foreshadowing events or rewarding repeat viewers, others appear to just have creators that like to amuse themselves, to no real purpose whatsoever.
Take It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is kind of like what Friends would have been if all the characters were dangerous sociopaths.
Then add Danny DeVito.
Each episode features a title card at the end, followed by the sound of garbled voices.
Sadly, neither Satanic messages nor wild speculations on the status of the Beatles' members are to be heard.
The card itself isn't confusing -- "RCG" just stands for the three main cast members/producers, Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Glenn Howerton (who play Mac, Charlie, and Dennis). So what's the deal with the garbled voices?
Well, someone from Reddit noticed these were hidden messages played backward. They recorded them and played them forwards and, in the first one, were instantly rewarded with the message "You're stupid for playing this forward."
To further drive this point home, subsequent messages are bizarre, seemingly nonsense phrases, each containing the word "brown," such as "Next stop: brown town." No one really knows why, although Guyism pointed out that it could be something to do with the phrase "browning out," which is not quite as severe as blacking out. Or, just as likely, we're affording too high a level of analysis to the show that gave us "kitten mittens."
#2. Psych Runs a "Spot the Pineapple" Competition
USA's Psych sets itself apart from the crowded genre of detective shows by having a main character who's a gifted yet distant detective using psychological skills to solve murders by pretending to be psychic. It's a unique, original twist on the genre that's quite frankly a breath of fresh air. Hollywood rewarded this originality by immediately creating a much more successful duplicate on a much larger network (CBS's The Mentalist).
Anyway, if you're a fan of the show you may have noticed an odd recurring character. One who shows up in every episode without fail. An annoying, prickly thing no one really likes but that always manages to somehow stay popular.
And also a pineapple.
Yup, every episode of Psych has a hidden pineapple. Sometimes it's an actual pineapple, other times its an image on a shirt, or juice box, or mural.
It doesn't mean anything, it's not foreshadowing, it usually doesn't impact the plot at all. They just thought it was funny. The show actually has a website where you can compete and win prizes for spotting them all. So, you can completely ignore the plot and try to spot the top of a pineapple barely peeking out of a background character's shopping bag ...
... or barely visible behind a wall in another room ...
... or on a tiny keychain, in a door, in a grainy bit of black and white security camera footage:
"Audition: Actor wanted to hold a pointless gag prop. Experience supporting tropical fruit preferred, but not required."
Come on, are you going to see fruit hidden this subtly in The Mentalist? No chance.
#1. Arrested Development
Where a show like Community throws in the occasional inside joke to amuse loyal fans, the low-rated Arrested Development became legend because it was almost entirely inside jokes. For example, we recently pointed out that they spent more than a year foreshadowing a single joke/plot twist, most of which you (again) would probably miss even on repeat viewings. But in Season 2, Arrested Development executed what has to be the single most absurd sequence of foreshadowing and plot twist in the history of television.
Besides the one where we discover Maeby's boyfriend had sex with George Michael's alter ego.
In the 11th episode that season, Buster Bluth has his hand bitten off by a loose seal, while trying to escape his mother Lucille. Buster's replacement hook-hand would be an ongoing running joke from that point on. But if you then went back and rewatched the entire season, you'd see a series of clues that only a diseased mind would have put together:
First, we repeatedly see Michael Bluth starring in a stage play called "The Trial of Captain Hook" (in flashback):
Then Buster refers to a party as "off the hook":
In Episode 3, Buster sees his old hand-shaped chair in his maid's house and says, "Wow, I never thought I'd miss a hand so much!"
In Episode 11, George Sr. finds out about Buster's joining the army and says, "What If I never get a chance to reach out and touch that hand of his again?"
Wait, there's more. Later, we see Gob release the same seal into the ocean that eventually bites off Buster's hand, at which point he tells the seal it's "not going to be hand fed anymore":
Then Buster is seen sitting on a bench with an ad for the Army on it -- notice how he's obscured all the words except for "ARM OFF."
And then Buster's later seen playing on a claw machine from which he wins a stuffed seal:
You don't have to be insane to write a show like that, but ... actually, never mind. We're pretty sure you do.
Related Reading: We've got more easter eggs where those came from: did you know the characters on the Departed were all marked for death? And did you know Pixar hides a clue for their next movie in any new release? Check it out. More a fan of video games? We've got those Easter eggs too.
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