Nowadays, product placement is so ubiquitous that we barely even notice it anymore. For example, Man of Steel broke records with its 100-plus product tie-ins (or roughly 1 per every 50 civilian deaths accidentally caused by Superman).
But every once in a while, audiences are blessed with corporate synergy so idiotic and baffling that it threatens to derail the entire plot. Here are four product placements from 2013 that crashed through the fourth wall like a wrecking ball.
#4. Ghost in the Shell Forces Cyborgs to Use Microsoft Tablets
Ghost in the Shell is a popular Japanese manga and anime series about crime-stopping cyborgs. So to promote the latest Ghost in the Shell movie, Microsoft teamed up with animators to toss some newfangled Surface tablets into the film. Microsoft even made a short cartoon touting the Surface as the most cyberpunk doodad around.
The only problem? The movie takes place in 2027, so characters end up inexplicably using tablet computers from 2013.
Congratulations, you are the most unbelievable thing in an anime.
Remember, Ghost in the Shell stars machine people with cutting-edge techno-brains, so having the characters using Microsoft Surfaces makes about as much sense as you reading this very Cracked article in a magazine.
#3. Free Birds' Ending Is a Chuck E. Cheese's Commercial
Because most of our readership is over the age of 7, we have zero compunction spoiling the ending to Free Birds, a new animated movie about a group of turkeys attempting to go back in time to stop their species from being the annual victims of Thanksgiving genocide.
And while we're not going to scream at a children's movie about time-displaced game fowl for fucking up the facts, we will yell at Free Birds for using time-displaced Chuck E. Cheese's pizza as a deus ex machina to end hostilities between the pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. Seriously.
They then seal the friendship by working together to cheat at skeeball for tickets.
The movie doesn't say if the pilgrims subsequently established a theocracy where they worshiped a robot rat wearing a baseball cap, but all we know is that ShowBiz Pizza would never pull this sort of shit.
ShowBiz Pizza Place
Where have you gone, Billy Bob the Bear? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
#2. The Book Thief Throws an iMac into a Holocaust Movie
While we're on the topic of spoilers, let's talk about The Book Thief, a new film about a child enduring the atrocities of World War II. It's getting middling reviews, and the movie's closing scene in particular is giving critics conniptions.
After spending the majority of its plot in Nazi Germany, The Book Thief fast-forwards to modern-day America, where the film's very last shot inexplicably lingers on the now-elderly protagonist's pristine iMac.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Just be grateful we didn't make them change the title to The MacBook Thief."
"The Apple logo is HUGE, and directly in the center of the frame JUST AS THE MOVIE IS TELLING ME ALL ABOUT THE MEANING OF LIFE. I'm supposed to be crying, but instead I am laughing. And then the movie ends."
#1. The Walking Dead's Hyundai Is Zombie-Proof
The apocalypse isn't the first place you'd expect product placement, but hey, you're probably a well-rounded person who cares about integrity and logic. The same can't be said about AMC, whose deal with Hyundai has seen the poop-scented protagonists of The Walking Dead tooling around in an always-clean mint-green Tucson.
It's survived longer than any black cast member.
Characters on The Walking Dead kick the bucket constantly, but the Tucson is basically invincible. The car can't get dirty or bloody, its engine has to always work, and -- to quote Hyundai's director of advertising -- "it can't be used as a tank" or "used to roll over zombies."
"Using it as a bone zone is totally cool, though."
So if you ever find yourself trapped in an episode of The Walking Dead and surrounded by a zombie herd, hop inside a Hyundai Tucson, because there's a fair chance the goddamn thing will begin flying across the sky like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.