Some of television’s most iconic shows over the years have dedicated scenes and even entire episodes to the sport of running—often poking fun at us runners or the characters’ complete lack of fitness when it comes to running. Either way, it’s good for some laughs.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Bart Simpson caused controversy at the Springfield Marathon in a 2001 episode when he jumped into the race in the last few yards to win (the prize was a walking tour of Springfield). When he’s caught, Sideshow Mel screamed “I demand a re-race!” to the groans of all the runners.
The extremely popular '90s sitcom had fun with the New York City Marathon on a few occasions. The most well-known was in a 1995 episode about the agonizing case of elite runner Jean-Paul Jean-Paul, who missed the Olympics when he overslept (“It was the volume. There was a separate knob for the radio alarm,” he groaned.) He had similar bad luck in New York, when Kramer’s hot tub heat pump blew out the electricity in the whole building overnight and Jean Paul’s alarm clock failed him again.
Parks and Recreation
In a 2012 episode of the popular comedy, Andy is trying to get in shape for the police entrance exam. One of the tests is being able to run 2 miles in 25 minutes (“that’s a typo right? That’s not humanly possible.”) After his first failed attempt, Andy groans in pain, takes off all his clothes and lays on the track, screaming “running is impossible!”
How I Met Your Mother
In a 2007 episode, Marshall breaks his toe and is unable to run the New York City Marathon. He bemoans that all his training is going to waste, to which Barney bets him $50 that he could take his bib and finish the next day’s marathon without any training. He wins the bet and finishes the race, but while on the subway later in the day hitting on women (by flashing his medal and saying “Finisher. You know what I mean”), his legs lock up and he’s stuck on the subway for several hours unable to move.
After hitting one of his employees with his car in a 2007 episode, Michael decides to do a “run for rabies” in her honor. After carbo-loading excessively and refusing to drink water, he calls the 5K the hardest thing he’s ever done. “I ate more fettuccine alfredo and drank less water than I have in my entire life.”
One of the storylines of a 1999 episode involved Rachel not wanting to run with Phoebe because her running form was so bizarre (Rachel says “she looks like a cross between Kermit the Frog and the Six Million Dollar Man.”) Eventually Rachel adopts the form herself after Phoebe insists that it’s much more fun, prompting Phoebe to say “And you don’t care if people are staring, it’s just for a second cuz then you’re gone!”
Saturday Night Live
In a November 1990 episode of Saturday Night Live, the famous “Weekend Update” sketch did a live shot from Central Park of the last runner to finish the New York City Marathon (six days after it started). It was Chris Farley, who said he took so long because he went to a bar and a rib joint in Brooklyn mid-race and got a little drunk. “Anyone can run a marathon! It doesn’t matter if you’re out of shape or if you don’t have any stamina,” Farley says in an inspirational speech to the camera.