List of fictional television shows

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Below is a list of television shows and films that have been made up in real television shows or other media. An early example of the show within a show format was The Jack Benny Program which had been popular on radio and took the same format to the new medium of television.[1]


30 Rock[edit]

30 Rock revolves around the fictional The Girlie Show (later renamed TGS with Tracy Jordan) on which most of the characters work. The fictional show was on the real American television network NBC, and the plot frequently referenced other fictional NBC programs, such as MILF Island, Gold Case, and Homonym. In later seasons, several episodes of 30 Rock were presented as though they were actually episodes of a fictional Bravo show, Queen of Jordan.

A.N.T. Farm[edit]

The "A.N.T. program" is a special school curriculum designed for young children with Advanced Natural Talents (called "ants"), allowing preschoolers and even Middleschoolers to participate in Highschool classes if they have an extraordinary talent.

  • America Needs Talent – a parody of America's Got Talent, Chyna, Lexi and Gibson are contestants on the show
  • High-heels High – a teen drama Chyna watched on her tablet

Austin & Ally[edit]

  • The Helen Show – parody of The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  • Claws.... DUN, Dun, dun!!! – a Monster movie that is directed by Dez and starring Austin Moon
  • The Pilot and the Mermaid – a love story starring Austin as the Pilot
  • The Billy & Bobbie Show – a webcast and live musical variety act starring the brother-and-sister duo Billie (brother) and Bobby (sister)
  • America's Top Talent – a singing competition (not related to the similarly named talent show that Hannah Montana was a guest judge on). Austin and Ally are guest judges during a segment of the show called "Moon Week". Unlike the other talent show of the same name featured on Hannah Montana, this one's format is more similar to that of The Voice and The X Factor, where the judges also serve as personal voice coaches for selected contestants.

American Dreamz[edit]

  • American Dreamz – weekly talent show hosted by Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant)

American Horror Story: Roanoke[edit]

Avatar: The Last Airbender[edit]

  • The Last Airbender – is a play by playwright Pu An Tin, that chronicled the adventures of Team Avatar during the first and second seasons thanks to a resourceful cabbage salesman, the gang attends one of the shows in season 3 and are appalled by their individual portrayals and the play's ending.

Be Cool, Scooby-Doo![edit]

Ben 10[edit]

The Big Bang Theory[edit]


  • Bizaardvark – a variety webcast hosted by Frankie Wong and Paige Olvera (draws similarities to
  • Dare Me Bro – a webcast starring Dirk Mann, where he takes on "dare requests"
  • Perfect Perfection – a webcast starring Amelia Duckworth, where she gives beauty tutorials and fashion advice.

Bolt (2008 film)[edit]

  • Bolt – a hit action-adventure TV series starring the White Shepherd named Bolt and his owner Penny. The starring dog was kept under the impression that his show was real-life.

Charlie's Angels[edit]

Death Race franchise[edit]

  • Death Race – an illegal webcast that focuses on street racing done within prison walls by inmates, and there are no rules regarding safety.


  • Beyond Our Dreams – daytime drama centered around the lives of the ruthless Hedison family of Ashford Falls, New York

Densha Otoko[edit]

  • Getsumento Heiki Mina – originally a fictional anime show in Densha Otoko and later became a stand-alone anime

Dimension 404[edit]

  • Time Ryder and the Chrono Teens – a fictional 1980s-era Saturday-morning cartoon show, featured in the episode "Chronos"

Ed TV[edit]

  • Ed TV – the fictional show at the center of the movie of the same name


The Famous Jett Jackson[edit]

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids[edit]


Joey Tribbiani stars in a number of films and TV shows

Full House[edit]


  • Kujibiki Unbalance – a popular ongoing manga and anime adaptation, watched and discussed by the main characters of Genshiken

Generator Rex[edit]

  • El Amor De La Pasión El Amor – (translates as "The Love Of The Passion The Love") a Telenovela that Rex loves. He eventually finds himself on the set of the Spanish soap opera after his friend Noah got a job as an intern at the studio

Gravity Falls[edit]

  • Baby Fights
  • Believe in Yourself
  • Cash Wheel
  • Crawdads in Tiaras
  • Did Aliens Write the Constitution?
  • Duck-tective
  • Florida: The Show
  • Ghost Harassers
  • Ker-Prank'd
  • Li'l Gideon's Big House!
  • Tiger Fist
  • Why You Ackin' So Cray-Cray?
  • The Widdlest Wampire
  • World's Most Terrifying Skydiving

The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy[edit]

  • Atriocia's Late-Night Cinemonstrosities – parody of Elvira's Movie Macabre
  • Cast Iron Stomach – parody of 'Iron Chef
  • Dinobonoids
  • The Grim Show – supernatural talk show hosted by Grim; replacement for Atriocia's Late-Night Cinemonstrosities
  • Love Problems
  • The X-treme Adventures of Brandon and Mallory – anime series featuring characters who are eerily similar to Billy, Mandy, and Grim, plus a "helper monkey" named Dickie Galoot

The Grinder[edit]

  • The Grinder – a drama featuring lawyer Mitchard Livingsone Grinder[2]
  • The Grinder: New Orleans – a spin-off of The Grinder about the romantic exploits of Mitch Grinder's brother, Rake

Hannah Montana[edit]

Miley appears as Hannah on several fictional and real life talk shows and award shows, including starring in a TV show and a film series, nl:

  • MTB - a parody of MTV. The pilot episode (Lilly, Do You Want to Know a Secret?) opens with a clip from the show about a Hannah-concert.
  • Zombie High – a teen sci-fi/fantasy television series starring Jake Ryan and later Hannah (You're more than a Zombie to me)
  • Singing With The Stars – a talent show where the contestant can sing with their respective Pop Idol, Hannah was the featured artist
  • The Real Deal with Colin Lasseter – a call-in talk show
  • Wake-up With Wendy! – talk show
  • The Mack and Mickey Show – talk show
  • The United People's Relief Telethon – is a telethon for a charity drive called "The United People's Relief". Colin Lasseter was the host, while Hannah and Mikayla volunteered as phone-operators.
  • Indiana Joannie and the Curse of the Golden Cobra – a parody of the Indiana Jones film franchise, starring Hannah in the title role and Chace Crawford. Real life director Rob Reiner cameos as himself as the director of the film.
  • Barney Bitman – a televised music critic who gave a scathing review of pop star Mikayla, and later a glowing review of a Hannah Montana concert.
  • The Silver Boot Awards – a parody of the Country Music Association Awards, Hannah's song "True Friend" won for "Best Country Ballad".
  • The International Music Awards – a parody of the Grammys and the MTV Video Music Award, Hannah is presented the award for "Female Artist of The Year"
  • America's Top Talent – a parody of America's Got Talent and American Idol, Oliver is a contestant while Hannah is the guest judge. Real-life American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi cameos as herself alongside the other judges, who are parodies of Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.
  • Tasty Treats – Hannah is a guest on the cooking show
  • Teen Scene Awards – a parody of the Teen Choice Awards, Hannah and Jake were co-presenters, both also attended the awards several times
  • Gotcha'd – a parody of Punk'd, Jake and Traci set up a TV prank for Hannah by posing as a betrothed couple that's going to elope, knowing that Hannah would try to stop it.
  • Roger Buck: Intergalactic Bounty Hunter – a parody of Buck Rogers, starring Jake and Mikayla, though Miley sabotages Mikayla's job by pretending to be her in disguise.
  • Teen Court – a televised teen court reality show that dumps food on the defendants, Miley and Lily accused Matt of cheating on Lily.
  • Are You Dumber Than A Dog? – a parody of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? The show is watched, but never seen onscreen by the viewers. Jackson was busy Channel surfing.
  • Hannah Montana – The show's real-life opening theme song The Best of Both Worlds is heard while Jackson was channel surfing, but it is not specified whether this was a pun on the real TV show itself, or if it was just a televised Hannah-concert.

Fictional versions of real shows:

Harry Hill's TV Burp[edit]

High School Musical[edit]

The students participate in several school musicals, nl:

Home Improvement[edit]

The Honeymooners[edit]

How I Met Your Mother[edit]

  • Come On, Get up New York! – an early morning talk show hosted by Robin Scherbatsky
  • Metro News 1 – Robin is the news anchor.


  • – is a variety webcast hosted by Carly Shay and Sam Puckett featuring Freddie Benson as the cameraman. The show mainly focuses on nonsensical acts as comedy and frequently features real-life celebrities as guest stars.


  • Galactapus films – a big budget blockbuster action film franchise about a giant space-octopus, that is directed by Morgan Ross, starring Angelina Jolie (never seen on screen). Jessie accidentally ended up as an extra on the film set.
  • The Rosses Get Real – Jessie, Bertram and the Ross-kids are invited to participate in a reality show focusing on them.
  • Tomb Radder – a parody of the Tomb Raider films, starring Shaylee Michaels. Jessie got a gig as Shaylee's stunt-double.
  • The Nanny – a pun on the series of the same name that inspired the parent TV series, is an action series set around a crime-fighting superhero Nanny starring Jessie Prescott


  • Deep Powder – drama described as Baywatch on skis; starred Joey Tribbiani, but his character was killed off after he became too demanding on the set

Kim Possible[edit]

  • Adrena Lynn – an action Documentary series following the adventures of the supposed Extreme sports-enthusiast Adrena Lynn (her name is a pun on the word adrenaline). She is later exposed by Ron Stoppable for faking her stunts, which, along with kids increasingly copying her dangerous stunts, results in her show being cancelled.
  • Kim Possible – after crashing a film set, the director decides to do a Hollywood adaptation of Kim's crime-fighting cheerleader life. She and Ron are asked to have their film-counterparts shadow them in order to prepare for their roles.
  • The Fearless Ferret – a superhero series starring Timothy North. After Ron volunteered to help out at North's mansion, he came under the impression that North is a real superhero called "The Fearless Ferret", only to have Kim realize that he is an actor who lived under the illusion that his show was real-life. The show is a parody of Batman and Robin and Ferret-actor Timothy North is both a parody of and voiced by former Batman-actor Adam West.

Liv and Maddie[edit]

  • Sing It Loud!- is a musical dramedy that is constantly mentioned, but never seen on screen due to its recent ending, starring Liv Rooney. Liv always mentions the show by literally singing its name out loud.
  • Space Werewolves – a teen sci-fi film. Liv auditions for the film during the first season. She is eventually cast in the lead role.
  • The Funaways – a parody of the Biographical film The Runaways about the girl-band of the same name.
  • Voltage – a superhero series originally starring Liv in the lead role. Liv decided to quite the show when it was announced they are moving the set to L.A., thus resulting in the show's cancellation
  • Jax and Max - Joey's home video spin-off of the Voltage series.
  • Double Duchess – a musical about a British royal that flies to Brooklyn and wins a Double Dutch competition. Starring Liv.
  • Custodians of the Cosmos 2 – a parody of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Sing It Louder! – a sequel-series to Sing it Loud, Liv reprises her role as Stephanie Einstein.

The Larry Sanders Show[edit]

The Larry Sanders Show – the late night talk show the characters of the show (of the same name) work on

Life with Bonnie[edit]

  • Morning Chicago – local morning talk show hosted by the main character, Bonnie Malloy

Mad Buddies[edit]

  • Mufasa Mufasa, Walla Habibi – a reality show focusing on enemies Boetie (Leon Schuster) and Beast as they are forced to embark on a road trip while they unwittingly participate in the reality series.

Martian Successor Nadesico[edit]

The Mary Tyler Moore Show[edit]

  • Chuckles the Clown – locally produced children's show mentioned in several episodes. His death, when he is trampled by an elephant while wearing a "Peter Peanut" costume, was the basis for the episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust".
  • WJM-TV Evening News – Minneapolis news show on which many of the main characters worked[3]

Milo Murphy's Law[edit]

The Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight[edit]

  • Bay of Pigs Watch – parody of Baywatch
  • Bear on Patrol – cop show starring Fozzie Bear
  • EIEIO-R – parody of ER
  • Fairyland PD – a crime show with cases revolving around nursery rhymes and fairy tales
  • Gonzo and Rizzo's Amazing Discoveries
  • The Kermit the Frog Club – parody of The Mickey Mouse Club. During her guest appearance on Muppets Tonight, it is revealed that Cindy Crawford was once a "frogkateer".
  • Muppet Match-Up – parody of The Dating Game. During her guest appearance on Muppets Tonight, it is revealed that Michelle Pfeiffer "appeared as a contestant".
  • The Muppet Show – weekly variety show, overseen by Kermit the Frog, which included music, comedy sketches, and stunts[3]
  • NYPD Green – parody of NYPD Blue
  • Pigs in Space – parody of Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Pigs in Space: Deep Dish Nine, The Next Generation – parody of later Star Trek series
  • Punch Teacher (from the film The Muppets)
  • Swift Wits – game show in the mold of Pyramid and Password, on which Muppet contestants play for pets
  • Veterinary Hospital – medical drama; title parodies General Hospital

The Muppets[edit]

  • Up Late with Miss Piggy – a late-night talk show[4]

Murphy Brown[edit]

  • FYI – a news show for which the character Murphy Brown works[5]

Nancy Drew[edit]


  • Book Talk
  • Pearl's Kitchen
  • Pirate Pete's Cartoon Lagoon
  • Vermont Today


  • Hearts and Scalpels
  • Plastic Fantastic

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961 film)[edit]

  • The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt – an action-adventure starring the titular dog Thunderbolt. The titular dalmatians are seen watching the show in one scene.
  • What's My Crime? – a parody of What's My Line?, is a panel-game show where panelists have to guess the crime the "contestant" committed. Jasper and Horace were watching the show while they waited for Cruella de Vil to arrive.

Phil of the Future[edit]


  • Pleasantville – black and white 1958 sitcom in the movie of the same name

"The Prize of Peril"[edit]

  • Emergency – a game show in which an ordinary contestant struggles with a life-or-death situation, for a prize of $3,000
  • The Prize of Peril – a game show in which an ordinary contestant is hunted over the course of a week by a gang of professional killers; those who survive win $200,000
  • Spills – a game show in which untrained contestants race powerful competition cars over a twenty-mile course; the first- and second-place winners receive $1,000
  • Torero – a game show in which an untrained contestant is required to kill a black Miura bull with a sword for a $10,000 prize
  • Underwater Perils – a game show in which a team of five untrained contestants is sent to retrieve a sunken treasure hidden by the sponsor in a dangerous underwater arena; the single diver who brings in the treasure wins the prize

Republiek van Zoid Afrika[edit]

Republiek van Zoid Afrika is a music-themed talk show, produced and hosted by South African Rock-legend Karen Zoid. The show features many skits, incl:

  • Keeping Up With Marinda – a parody of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, is a mock-reality series centered around Pan flute "sensation" Marinda Senekal (Zoid) and her weird family
  • Boererate with Annemarie Ferreira – Annemarie (Zoid) gives humorous advice on a number of topics.

The Running Man[edit]

  • The Running Man – the novel and the film describe alternate versions of a game show in which convicted criminals are chased by "hunters" from the television network and can win their freedom if they evade the hunters. The novel mentions other, less elaborate, TV-shows that can result in hurting or killing the contestant.

Saturday Night Live[edit]

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island[edit]

  • Coast to Coast with Daphne Blake – talk show centering on mysteries

Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright[edit]

  • Talent Star – singing competition series


  • Jerry – a parody of the show itself; a major plot point in Season 4.[6] It features versions of all the main characters of Seinfeld, played by different actors. Jerry lasted for 1 episode.
  • Super Terrific Happy Hour – a Japanese television show that featured Jerry in the opening credits

Shake It Up[edit]

  • Really, You Call That Dancing? - a parody of So You Think You Can Dance, is mentioned but never seen on screen.
  • Shake It Up Chicago - the titular dance show that serves as the catalyst for the whole series, as several main characters regularly participate on it.

The Simpsons[edit]

Sonny With a Chance[edit]

  • So Random! – a sketch comedy show (similar to Saturday Night Live) that stars Sonny Munroe, Tawni Hart, Nico Harris, Grady Mitchell and Zora Lancaster (five of the six main characters). The show eventually evolved into an independent show outside the original series following Demi Lovato's departure.
  • Mackenzie Falls – a teen drama that stars Chad Dylan Cooper (the sixth main character), and criticizes So Random!, saying they are not real actors (a parody of popular teen dramas, though its title is suggested by Dawson's Creek).

South Park[edit]

SpongeBob SquarePants[edit]

Stargate SG-1[edit]

  • Wormhole X-Treme! – sci-fi TV program based on leaked information from the Stargate program

Step Up: All In[edit]

  • The Vortex – a webcast dancing competition, where the prize is a 3-year Vegas residency-show, presented by pop star Alexxa Brava

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip[edit]

  • The series takes place behind the scenes of a live sketch comedy show (also called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or Studio 60) on the fictional television network NBS (National Broadcasting System), whose format is similar to that of NBC's Saturday Night Live.

Stuck on You[edit]

  • Honey and the Beaze – a prime-time TV show starring Walt and the real-life Cher

The Suite Life franchise[edit]

  • Risk It All! – the Martin twins participate on a variety game show, working as a pair, one has to answer a general knowledge question correctly while the other has to perform a specified physical task in order to win a prize
  • High School Musical – the Twins' school is holding a High School Musical-musical, with several of the original film's characters being mentioned, as well as the film's plot and one of the songs being featured (Bop to the Top). Maddie Fitzpatrick auditions for the role of Sharpay Evans (both are portrayed by Ashley Tisdale) and Maddie even mentions Ashley Tisdale by name. Though the role of Sharpay goes to London instead, Maddie pretends to be London's singing voice in "Bop To The Top" (originally performed by Tisdale in the film)
  • Yay Me, starring London Tipton! – a variety Webcast hosted by London, based on her catchphrase "Yay Me!". The webcast mostly focuses on fashion and gossip and features real life celebrities as well (such as The Cheetah Girls and Chris Brown). The webcast eventually evolved into a real webcast focusing just on fashion, hosted by Brenda Song while in character as London Tipton.
  • How Suite It Is – after a stay at the Boston Tipton Hotel (The Suite Life Goes Hollywood), a pair of film makers witness Zack and Cody's antics and decide to produce a Hollywood adaptation of their lives. The series is nearly identical to the real The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (the sets are actually the same). The twins, their mom Carey, Mr Moseby, Maddie and London are invited to see the pilot in production, meanwhile Maddie and London find themselves pretending to be stunt-doubles on the set of a Western.
  • Seven Seas High News – Is the S.S. Tipton's Closed-circuit News broadcast run by the classmates of Seven Seas High (the ship's on board high school in Suite Life on Deck). Intended to be a serious news broadcast, the show evolves into a mock-news comedy show (similar to The Daily Show) with Zack and Bailey serving as co-Anchors, Cody an investigative reporter, Woody the camera man and London the weather girl.

That Mitchell and Webb Look[edit]

The Truman Show[edit]

  • The Truman Show – a reality television program at the center of the film by the same name; Truman Burbank is its unsuspecting star

Twin Peaks[edit]

  • Invitation to Love – soap opera watched by the residents of Twin Peaks; it often commented on the action of the plot


Ugly Betty[edit]

V for Vendetta[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mary Ann Watson (2008), "TV on TV", Defining visions: television and the American experience in the 20th century, Blackwell, p. 140, ISBN 978-1-4051-7053-6 
  2. ^ "Fox Announces New Primetime Series for 2015–2016 Season". Fox. May 11, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Semel, Paul (2006). "Shows Within Shows", Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  4. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (August 5, 2015). "The Muppets' Show-within-a-Show Is 'Up Late with Miss Piggy'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ Moore, Frazier (July 7, 1992). "Show-within-a-show: A product of the Make-Believe Network", Associated Press. Reprinted in Spartanburg Herald-Journal, p. C4. Convenience link.
  6. ^ a b c (February 1, 1999). "TV eating itself: small screen navel-gazing from The Simpsons to Seinfeld", The Observer, p. 2.

External links[edit]