Monogatari Series

10 Best Running Gags In Anime, Ranked

Best running gags anime
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Be it an amused chuckle or a hearty full-blown laugh, everyone enjoys it when a series manages to pull off a good joke. And in the world of anime, especially within the vast and multifaceted comedy genre, there’s no shortage of uproarious gags and clever witticisms. Comedic elements exist in all kinds of anime series, useful to lighten up the mood in a heart-wrenching drama and make a grounded slice-of-life show more authentic and relatable.

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And some of the most hilarious and memorable jokes in anime stick around way past the initial punchline, reaching an iconic status within the series’ fan community. Those puns, repeated in various scenarios throughout the show’s run, become the series’ running gags. And some of them simply never get old, amusing the viewers every time an iconic joke makes a comeback.

10 No One Knows The Mysterious Origin Of Mio’s Wooden Cubes (Nichijou)

At first glance, the mysterious wooden cubes Mio Naganohara wears as hair accessories in Nichijou might seem like an impractical yet charming character design gimmick. However, according to stories fabricated by Yuuko, the cubes are actually a source of great magical power tied to the Fey Kingdom’s ancestry.

The possessor of the mystical wooden cubes might be able to unlock a legendary weapon and can even destroy the whole universe. Alternatively, the cubes are just cheap pieces of jewelry bought by Mio for 300 yen.

9 Akari Seems To Possess A Power To Turn Invisible (YuruYuri)

Despite being one of the series’ protagonists, Akari Akaza’s character gimmick is her lack of presence. Due to her harmless, peaceful, and mild personality, Akari usually stands out way less than other girls in YuruYuri. Her friends lovingly accuse her of having a secret power to turn invisible, which is a running gag within the show.

Due to Akari’s small presence, she’s often forgotten and ignored in social situations, which compromises her dream of being the center of attention. However, this never stops Akari from staying the most compassionate character in the entire show.

8 Centuries Of Simple And Earnest Life Never Improved Xie Lian’s Cooking Skills (Heaven Official’s Blessing)

The cultivation donghua Heaven Official’s Blessing centers around a society of immortal gods. The series’ main character is Xie Lian, an 800-year-old deity banished from Heavens twice during his lifetime.

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Xie Lian has spent hundreds of years wandering the world before his third and final ancestry, living alongside the common people he desperately wants to save. Yet, in all those years, the former prince didn’t manage to improve his culinary skills in the slightest, birthing the show’s running gag of Xie Lian’s terrible cooking. The only person immune to his poisonous cuisine is, unsurprisingly, his love interest Hua Cheng.

7 Hachikuji Mayoi Mispronounces Araragi’s Name All The Time (Monogatari)

Tea Monogatari series’ love for clever and creative use of wordplay is one of the show’s most inventive gimmicks, on par with the narrative’s brilliant clash of character dynamics. The series best running gag ties both of those concepts together.

Whenever Araragi Koyomi encounters the cunning ghost of Hachikuji Mayoi, the latter seems to deliberately mispronounce his name, adding another “ra” or two in the middle. According to Araragi, she does so intentionally, but Hachikuji always wears that she bit her tongue trying to say it correctly.

6 Zoro Is Expected To Get Lost At Any New Location (One Piece)

For a character with one of the most impressive and forceful skillsets in One PieceRoronoa Zoro has one surprising and ridiculous weakness — he is profoundly directionally challenged.

RELATED: One Piece: 10 Best Running Gags In The Series, Ranked

No matter how straightforward the directions may be, Zoro always finds a way to lose his path and end up nowhere to be found. His inability to navigate through surroundings even when the goal is in sight is, in all honesty, almost impressive. Unfortunately for Zoro’s crew, they usually get tasked with organizing his rescue missions.

5 Dazai’s Self-Destructive Attempts Never End With Success (Bungou Stray Dogs)

In the dark seinen series Bungou Stray Dogs, comedy gets utilized to lighten the mood and remind the audience not to take the show too seriously. Nevertheless, even gags in the series have a somewhat menacing and grim tone, the most iconic of them being Dazai’s unsuccessful but persistent attempts to end his life.

Since the eccentric ADA member never actually succeeds in finishing himself off, his tendencies get played for laughs. Yet, these jokes take on a twisted hue when the audience remembers Dazai’s former experiences with depression and loss.

Alex Louis Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist is an anime icon of manliness and physical prowess, exemplifying the peak of human performance with his chiseled muscles, superhuman strength, and impressive alchemy techniques.

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According to Alex’s legendary catchphrase, which became the series’ most famous running gag, his skills have been passed down the Armstrong family line for generations. Somehow, this ridiculous remark doesn’t make Alex’s extraordinary techniques any less impressive. On the contrary, it highlights just how many incredible skills the Armstrong family has accumulated and taught to their successors.

3 Every Gag Within The Series Leaves Zetsubou-Sensei In Despair (Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei)

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is basically a show compiled of running gags, with the funniest of them being the series itself acknowledging this fact. After all, a slice-of-life series about a clinically depressed teacher acting as the head of a class full of dysfunctional, manic, and downright psychotic schoolgirls would be too grim without an additional layer of self-aware satire.

Regardless, everything still leaves Zetsubou in despair. In fact, his constant overuse of the line “I’m in despair” in every episode became a running gag within the series.

2 Saiki Loves Coffee Jelly More Than Anything Else In The World (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.)

Despite being arguably the most powerful being in the universe, the titular protagonist of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is not a stranger to trivial pleasures, one of them being his enormous love for coffee jelly.

Saiki’s struggle to obtain his favorite desert became a running joke in the series, with the secretive psychic constantly facing awkward situations and risking the exposure of his powers to satisfy his sweet tooth. However, something as simple as coffee jelly might as well be the only thing that can overpower the strongest esper in the world.


1 Katsura Correcting Everyone On His Name Never Gets Redundant (Gintama)

Gintama has infinite iconic gags, and none of them ever get old throughout the show’s almost 400-episode run. From Hijikata’s disturbing obsession with mayonnaise to Shimpachi being a sentient pair of glasses, picking a single Gintama gag as the best is no easy task. But, by far, one of the show’s funniest running jokes is related to its most absurd and entertaining character, the eccentric rebel Katsura.

At first, his iconic phrase “It’s not Zura, it’s Katsura.” referred to a nickname given to him by his war comrades. However, as the series went on, it spread to inanimate objects, unrelated remarks, and even Katsura’s undercover pseudonyms.

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