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Animated version of Scott Adams' cult comic that ran for two seasons, starring the voice of Daniel Stern as Dilbert, an engineer working for a soulless and bureaucratic corporation, underneath an incredibly thick-witted, Pointy-Haired Boss (Larry Miller). The opposite of him in almost every way is his dog, Dogbert (Chris Elliott), a morally gray genius who constantly exploits Dilbert, Dilbert's company and everyone else with consummate ease.
Adams developed the series with Seinfeld writer Larry Charles, which explains guest voice roles from Jason Alexander (Catbert) and Jerry Seinfeld (Comp-U-Comp).
Can be watched on Hulu here, but only from within the U.S.
Aside from the tropes carried over from the comic, this show provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: While the series lost its focus on office humor early on, it also reverted to the strip's original format to establish Dilbert as a proper protagonist.
- Animated Adaptation
- Ascended Extra: Loud Howard, a one-shot joke character in the comic, became a regular part of the cast in the series.
- Probably as a need to fill in the spot of Ted The Generic Guy with someone... less generic.
- Asshole Victim: Dick from Procurement, the Pierreponts, and the PHB's fellow manager Alan.
- Babies Make Everything Better: Alice thinks so...until the realities of taking care of one drive her to the breaking point.:
- Big Damn Heroes Dogbert in "The Off-Site Meeting".
- Bittersweet Ending: Tower of Babel. Dilbert fulfilling his lifelong dream of getting his own office. He then learns he'll only get to keep it for another few minutes due to the company moving back to its original building. He's understandably sad, but takes those few minutes to live out his other dream; closing the door and dancing around his desk in his boxers.
- Body Horror: An epidemic of these in "Tower of Babel" results in the company building a new building. Everyone is pretty nonchalant about it.
- Bound and Gagged: In one episode: though many people are tied up and can't move or speak through the gags, only Loud Howard still speaks/yells through his gag:
Loud Howard: WHY DO YOU ALWAYS SAY THINGS YOU KNOW WILL HURT ME?!
- Brain Drain: Attempted in the episode with the merger with the company that does just that to their acquisitions.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: An inverted example from the 'Prototype' episode: "Decapitate Dilbert, steal idea, 2 quarts milk, box of muesli..."
- Butt Monkey: Asok the intern. Wally is one too, and Dilbert gets this by being the Only Sane Employee.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Catbert has a sign on his door that indicates his job title is "Evil Director of Human Resources". Also, there's the episode with a character named Bob Bastard:
Dilbert: But he's the embodiment of all that is evil and loathsome in the world!
Alice: Just because it's written on a bathroom wall doesn't make it true.
Dilbert: He wrote it!
- Comically Missing the Point: Often by the Pointy-Haired Boss and marketing people in general. One example is during a proposal for an underwater barbeque:
Marketing Guy: I was thinking, does it have to be underwater, and does it have to be a barbeque?
- Conspicuous CGI: In the intro sequence, when there is a flythrough of the office. The characters are traditionally-animated, but the whole office and everything else is CGI.
- Crapsack World: Very much so.
- Crazy Prepared: Wally, amazingly enough. As it turned out, he helped install the company's mainframe, and secretly documented the programming in it to point out all of the code that would need to be altered to make it Y 2 K compliant. And he did all this long before anyone else had even considered the Y 2 K problem's existence.
- Character Exaggeration: The Pointy-Haired Boss is more of a Cloudcuckoolander than a Jerkass.
- Deus Exit Machina: Dogbert in "The Off-Site Meeting."
Ratbert: He left early this morning. Something about installing a puppet government?
Dilbert: He's always installing a puppet government when I need him!
- The Ditz: The Pointy-Haired Boss is very much this. It's not uncommon for other minor occurring characters to be this as well, particularly anyone in marketing.
- His intelligence does jump when it would be funny though, like when he suddenly stepped in and successfully looted the assets of a company Dilbert accidentally destroyed.
- Dope Slap: Alice does this (and much, much worse) to Wally a LOT. At one point, she even punches a hole through a table, reaches up through it to grab his tie, and yanks him down to hit the table face-first.
- Everything's Worse with Bears: Dogbert's TV financial round-table. With 3 financial specialists and a drunken bear..
- Fantastic Comedy: Hearkens back to the older comic strips in this regard.
- Faux Symbolism: Todd might be related to God, or just a Hurricane of Puns.
- Flanderization: Dogbert’s tendency to con the Pointy-Haired Boss in the first season was Flanderization into him being able to do on everyone, and even getting a high position in government.
- Catbert initially started as a Faux Affably Evil Obstructive Bureaucrat, but his constant Enemy Mines with the other characters, as most of his appearances happened when the company was in a crisis, resulted in him becoming an amiable bureaucrat who’s evil became an Informed Attribute in the form of being a Card-Carrying Villain. In his final appearance, it was reversed by flanderising him again into a being of pure evil with no comedic traits.
- Wally started off as Brilliant but Lazy and occasionally charismatic. After the first few episodes, he became just lazy and minorly Lethally Stupid.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Watching some of them it is amazing they were on primetime broadcast TV once.
- Gone Horribly Right: The blue duck.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: As shown in "Y2K", Wally had hair when he was a young engineer.
- Half-Hour Comedy
- Hypocritical Humor: When Dilbert says people should know better than to listen to anecdotal evidence and rely on real scientific evidence, Dogbert points out he never actually reads scientific studies himself; he relies entirely on the same mass media that is pushing the health scare he's railing against.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Dry-Erase Markers
- I'm Taking Her Home with Me: Alice, upon seeing an Elbonian baby.
Dilbert: I didn't know you wanted kids, Alice.
Alice: I didn't (turns to gaze lovingly at the baby she's holding) until right this moment. (Baby vomits on Alice)
- Insane Troll Logic: The Dilbert world pretty much runs on this.
- Invented Individual: Todd
- Inventional Wisdom: Lena's version of the Depruner has a decapitate setting. It does make some sense considering Lena's backstory, but it doesn't turn out so well when she ends up in it.
- Lampshaded: "I knew I shouldn't have added that option."
- Kafka Komedy: The Premise on which the entire franchise- nay, genre - rests.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: The Pointy-Haired Boss at the end of "the Fact" gets his back twisted 180 degrees and Alice gets this in "The Gift" and "Elbonian Trip".
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Loud Howard's voice is known to hurl people backward several feet, shatter glass, and make ceilings and walls crumble. His sneezes can rip the flesh off a person's body until it's reduced to a skeleton.
- Master Computer: Comp-U-Comp is one of these.
- Meaningful Name: Dick from "Holiday". When you make even the cast of Dilbert look like a perfectly nice group of folks by comparison, that name fits you.
- Bob Bastard. Though he was apparently a decent guy for most of his life.
- In a couple episodes, Dilbert's company had the name "Path-E-Tech Management".
- Mind Screw: The show's opening sequence (why does he turn into a printed image and back?), and several of the episodes, but especially in the two-part episode "Pregnancy" and "The Delivery". Dilbert gets pregnant with several different types of animal, human, and alien sperm, and has a baby.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Marketing people can never get the names of anything right.
- Mythology Gag: Bob the Dinosaur's cameo occurs right after Dogbert suggests that all the species that ever existed still exist and are simply in hiding; This is Bob's backstory exactly.
- Negative Continuity: During the second season.
- Paintball Episode: One episode had Alice use paintball as an icebreaker party game. INSIDE Dilbert's house! It gets worse from there.
- Parental Abandonment: Dilbert has issues with the mall because his father left him alone when he went to the "All You Can Eat" buffet at the Red Oyster.
"'All you can eat'... Well, we'll see about that."
- Parody of Evolution: the intro
- Playing Against Type: Catbert gives Jason Alexander an opportunity to play a character who isn't neurotic, hysterical or stupid. Evil, on the other hand...
- Putting on the Reich: Team Lena in Episode 3 is a combination of this and a thinly veiled parody of The Church of Happyology.
- Shout-Out: To The Wizard of Oz in two different episodes.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Very strongly on the cynicism side.
- Interestingly enough, Dilbert is shown to be on the idealistic side of the scale.
Dilbert: People are basically good.
- Sudden Anatomy: Done to Dilbert and any other character who typically had No Mouth.
- The added mouths usually disappear when closed.
- Take That: To a lot of things, obviously, but most prominently to marketing people. They are invariably portrayed as imbecilic Jerk Jocks who make a business out of Comically Missing the Point and stealing credit wherever possible. At one point, adding a marketing department to an idealistic company directly caused it to fall apart (literally, as in the building itself physically fell apart and burst into flames.)
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Dilbert's mother predicts Dilbert's every response to her taped message.
Dilbert: Am I so predictable you can record your half of the conversation in advance?
DilMom on tape: Yes, you are so predictable I can record my half of the conversation in advance.
- Torches and Pitchforks
- Undead Author: The story of Lena killing opposing Field Hockey players ends with "None of the witnesses ever talked." When Dilbert asks how they all knew the story then, it was revealed to have come off her website.
- Ungrateful Bastard: In "the Little People" some literally downsized office workers who had gotten addicted to dry eras markers face extermination, and Dilbert is the only one to try and help them. They mock, injure, and even get Dilbert in trouble with Catbert. When Dilbert takes them in, they proceed to do the same thing. Unfourtanetly Dilbert gets a case of The Dog Bites Back and let's Dogbert sell them as toys.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Dilbert gets these a lot, even though the problems he's being called out for are caused more by the stupidity around him rather than his own ideas. A great example would be the Nirvana Company, who blamed Dilbert for destroying their company by suggesting that a Marketing Department be started, even though he was constantly trying to tell them that he wasn't suggesting it. Of course, this made him a well-known industry figure and benefited him in the long run...
- The details of what Nirvana Company tried to claim are unclear (as we only get Dilbert's disjointed reading from an article about the collapse of the company) but they appear to have tried to blame it on Dilbert's spur-of-the-moment idea for an underwater barbeque instead of the ill-advised marketing department.
- Oddly enough, one of the few times where Dilbert did genuinely screw up (in the episode "The Knack", where Dilbert accidentally knocks most of the communication satellites around Earth out of alignment), he is actually praised for it.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Dilbert's Upperclass Twit neighbors seem to think they star in a sitcom ,their pet elephant is an adorable Team Pet, and Dilbert is a grumpy Jerkass. In reality they have a case of It's All About Me, the elephant is a dangerous animal, and Dilbert is a rightfully annoyed neighbor that just wants to have a good nights sleep and a company picnic. They get a Bolivian Army Ending thanks to Dogbert and a dendrophile.