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A stop-motion series on Adult Swim, from Williams Street Productions. Created by Seth Green (the voice of Chris on Family Guy, not to mention Oz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Evil's son from Austin Powers) and Matt Senreich (editor of Toyfare, a magazine for action figure collectors), the show features a rapid-fire series of stop-motion shorts (inspired by Toyfare's Twisted Toyfare Theatre comics), ranging in length from a few seconds to several minutes long. The comedy in these shorts tends to vary wildly between Dead Baby Comedy, pop-culture parody and satire, out-and-out surrealism, or some combination of the three.
Most sketches involve "mashups", a collision of two pop-cultural items (one innocent, and the other "mature") degenerating into chaos, like Mario and Luigi travelling to Vice City, Beavis and Butthead joining the Teen Titans, the team from Scooby Doo encountering Jason Voorhees, or The Smurfs doing their version of the movie Se7en.
This series features examples of:
- Acid Trip Dimension: A blatant parody of Yellow Submarine complete with an entire skit and an Art Shift that doesn't use dolls! It's even lampshaded by Ringo who states that he was on acid after using the hole in his pocket to stop the glove from destroying the submarine
- Adam Westing: Many of the skits poking fun at celebrities are voiced by the actual person, who apparently enjoy laughing at themselves.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Done several times in-universe, making some sketches funnier or scarier.
- Annie is a Rich Bitch after being adopted by Oliver Warbucks.
- Almost-ditto for Richie Rich, except he acts more like a wannabe gangsta/playa.
- Calvin and Hobbes has serious mental problems and Hobbes is a persistent hallucination. Of course, one could argue that he was simply a kid playing make believe and that his parents overreacted.
- Annie is a Rich Bitch after being adopted by Oliver Warbucks.
Calvin: Mars is amaaaaazzzing!
- The Justice League of America are more Jerkass like than heroic, but most especially Superman. The other members of the group have other characteristics played up.
- Palpatine in the Star Wars specials is portrayed as Laughably Evil, in addition to being a Jerkass and a huge potty-mouth. Also, in the final special, he apparently gets a Death Equals Redemption fate (that or Redemption Equals Death).
- And he was manipulated the entire time by one of his apparent Unwitting Pawns; the true Dark Lord of the Sith... Darth Jar Jar Binks!
- Santa Claus is either a drug lord or a Badass that kicks Coco-Cola executives' asses for using his likeness without his consent. He is not jolly at all. In fact, Santa Claus should be feared in the Robot Chicken universe.
- The Robot Chicken staff, of all people - Seth Green's a corporate shill, Matthew Senreich is a sociopath, Breckin Meyer is Small Name, Big Ego personified...
- Anal Probing: Inverted. A group of flannel-wearing, toothless rednecks in a pickup truck abduct an alien from his home planet. Then later, in a simultaneous parody of this trope and Deliverance, the hicks gleefully surround the alien, bent over and tied to a tree stump, and bluntly announce how they're going to perform "scientific experiments" in his backside.
- And I Must Scream: The actual state of the Robot Chicken character.
- Ascended Meme: "Mo-Larr, Eternian Dentist" was so popular that Mattel created a figure of him as a convention exclusive. It includes, amongst other things, his drill and a Skeletor figure with a missing tooth."
- Balls of Steel: In a short titled "Ode to the Nut-shot", we see two instances of this, one straight and one played with; in one case, a lumberjack repeatedly punches himself in the nuts to no effect, and in another, one robot kicks another in the groin, at which the victim simply stands there and shrugs.
- Breast Expansion: In the No Need For Glomer sketch (based on the animated version of Punky Brewster), where Punky asked an abused Glomer to make her boobs bigger...except Glomer kept going to the point where it was absolute Body Horror.
- Black Comedy: the series is LOADED with it!
- Body Surf: Quantum Leap is parodied when Sam leaps into the body of a woman doing a sex tape. "Ziggy says you have to work the shaft!"
- Brick Joke: The Season 3 Christmas Episode was The Robot Chicken Half-Assed Christmas Special. The Season 4 Christmas Special is The Robot Chicken Full-Assed Christmas Special.
- Call Back: To the skit featured under Too Soon: The stormtroopers before executing the Lars deliver a message from Darth Vader that NOW Owen can laugh about the Little Orphan Annie joke.
- Cash Cow Franchise: Qualifies as this from the Star Wars specials alone. Also the primary reason why Seth Green halted production on his other animated series, Titan Maximum.
- Casting Gag: Many, many voices are brought on just for the gag. For example, Cree Summer voicing Penny in an Inspector Gadget parody, Soleil Moon-Frye voicing Punky Brewster in No Need for Glomer, Dana Snyder portrays Master Shake as a critic of the Robot Chicken show, and the late Robert Culp reviving his character Bill Maxwell for a The Greatest American Hero parody.
Master Shake: "People watch this. On TV!"
- Cats Are Jerks
- Chunky Salsa Rule: A skit with a tabletop RPG subverts this trope. A werewolf is reduced to goo by a gatling gun and cremated. His ashes are snorted and subsequently shat out. He's still alive because it wasn't a silver bullet.
- Cluster F-Bomb: During the FUCK Rogers skit and when Dick Cheney got his hands on the prototype Iron Man armor.
Dick Cheney: "Go fuck yourself! Go fuck yourself! Go fuck yourself! Go fuck yourself!" * continues ad nauseum*
- Contest Winner Cameo: In his cameo on the show, he got stabbed by Seth Green.
- Couch Gag Vanity Plate: The Stoopid Monkey at the end of every episode until Season 5.
- Creator's Pet: Parodied in-universe. One sketch featured the producers of Star Trek: The Next Generation figuring out how to get people to like Wesley Crusher, after the fans paid for a billboard threatening to ass rape Wil Wheaton if they didn't kill Wesley. The producers decide to add in an annoying alien character, ala Great Gazoo, called "Snirkles", so Wesley would look better in comparison (although one writer suggested they try to make Wesley a better character). The episode airs, and all Snirkles does is play a "space banjo song". The fans change the billboard to read "Kill Wesley. Keep Snirkles".
- Wil Wheaton, after seeing the skit, said he would've loved to voice Wesley if they'd asked him.
- Credits Gag: The most common end credits gag is on the fourth-to-last screen, which always includes something flattering or positive written next to "Sarah Gellar" and "Mila Kunis" and something humorous written next to another crew member. This is an example from the episode "Maurice Was Caught":
Amazing: Sarah Gellar
- Many of them are similarly silly:
Buffy Summers: Sarah Gellar
- One of the crueler variations from "The Ramblings of Maurice":
Girl: Sarah Gellar
- A complete list of the "special credits" is on the Robot Chicken wiki. Additionally, the "original dialogue mixer" is always credited as Kate "Superkate" Slepicka.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Calvin imagines this happening to his therapist when Hobbes decides to (presumably) eat him.
- Curb Stomp Battle: "The World's Most One-Sided Fist Fights Caught On Film"
- Cute Is Evil: The Dragonball Z Christmas parody.
- Dead Baby Comedy: Sometimes literally.
- Deconstructor Fleet: Everything cute and cuddly gets deconstructed and/or subverted. No exceptions.
- Well, one exception.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Several.
Officer 1: "Uhh, couldn't we have just pulled him over and given him a ticket?"
Smurf: People! He beat Clumsy to death with a pipe!
Slater: So we really don't get Corvettes?
- Poor Maurice.
Help me. I'm trapped in a DVD factory. They took my thumbs. Two weeks without food. Tell my mom I love her, but not in that way. Love, Maurice PS: Yes, in that way.
Dear Consumer: We are a humble factory. Maurice was caught unionizing our labor. President Hu forbids it. Due to constraints of time and budget, the ramblings of Maurice cannot be erased, so sorry. Please do not notify our contractors, especially the animal Keith Crawford.
- e valets joyride KITT instead of parking it.
- "Let's Have a Party" ("Let's Get It Started") from Season Four (and the DVD menu) during Castle Greyskull's dance party where Faker goes in place of real He-Man.
- In a crossover of Super Mario Bros. and Grand Theft Auto Vice City, they used takeoffs of not just the original game music, but MIDI covers of the game music, most likely specifically ripped from VG Music.
- Happy Place: The second Star Wars special shows Anakin working himself through murdering the younglings by going to his "happy place" where he can dwell on so many sunflowers and falling in love on Naboo. (There's actually something like that in the movie's actual novelization, though it results in "yes, work for Palpatine" in the first place.)
- Joker Immunity: Subverted with the Trope Namer. In a sketch the Joker lampshades the trope and then Batman testifies against him in court, and the Joker gets the death penalty. During execution by electric chair his head explodes.
- Kick the Dog: Dora does this to Swiper when he's freezing to death and she gives him an unloaded pistol.
Swiper: You bitch.
- Knight Templar: The skit The Terrorists Are Winning portrays the United States government as this.
- Lampshaded the Obscure Reference: Spoofed the ending to Sleepaway Camp. The director of Sleepawy Camp quickly showed up and was amazed that anyone would decide to spoof the movie, let alone know the movie even existed.
- Let's Get Dangerous: The Bob the Builder sketch
- Low Speed Chase:
- The baby Terminator and Terminator Puppy battle one out on a toddler sized fire-truck toy.
- Snail Cop with a megaphone: "YOUUUU ARE GOIIIIIINGGGG TOOOOOO FAAAAAAAAAASST! PULLLLLLLL OVVEERRRRRR IMMMEDIATELEEEEEEEEEEEEY!"
- May the Farce Be with You
- Meaningful Name: The Mad Scientist seen in the intro is named Fritz Huhnmörder. His last name means "Chicken Killer" in German.
- Medium Blending: The 100th Episode has Yogi Bear stealing another picnic basket, but the park ranger stops him by transforming into a live action 5 man Luchadore Sentai Team. It was a proposal to bring Yogi Bear into Japan. The Japanese execs were not pleased.
- Most Writers Are Male: Go ahead and compare the amount of Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sketches to the amount of My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Brite, Barbie, Jem, and Care Bears sketches.
- Motor Mouth: Micro-Machines Man shows off the product... and tosses in some info about his life.
- Multi Boobage: In "Kramer vs. Showgirls", an Enterprise crewmember is enticed by the description of alien women with ten breasts apiece.
- Mundane Utility: When Blanka's cellphone runs out of energy in the middle of a business call, he charges it up with his own electricity.
- My Future Self and Me: A parody of Star Trek, where Old Spock meets Young Spock, and tells him of certain future events that would help him avoid certain injuries and other minor inconveniences. Other Spocks from the future show up to warn Spock about other things that are about to happen, including one Spock who had a sex change, which was addressed that Old Spock changed back because he didn't like it, but certain parts down there didn't work well anymore because of it. When Spock asks why all these Spocks are showing up, it's revealed that it's the only point in time when hey could all meet up to give Ancient Spock a surprise 2000th birthday. He nearly dies from a heart attack.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Peter Parker's spider sense ends up tingling just for the most mundane of reasons, including trying to tell him his cereal's milk was spoiled, that he was about to step into a water puddle, and he was suffering from erectile dysfunction. A doctor later revealed that it was a brain tumor that was causing it, which as it turned out couldn't be removed without killing him.
- No Endor Holocaust: Brutally (and hilariously) averted with the titular theory in the DVD of the second Star Wars special.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Popeye to Wimpy when he didn't pay him on Tuesday for his hamburger.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Lampshaded in "Smurfatar" over the distinct lack of nipples on Smurfette when Garglesmurf sees her bathing.
"I don't know what you're censoring. Smurfs don't have nipples... Not arousing."
- Oblivious Janitor Cut: Made into a Running Gag in the Star Wars specials.
- Off the Chart: There's a quick take of a boardroom with a chart like this, going off the bottom, and a guy with a pointer panicking: "What did I tell you? This is bad!!!"
- Older Than They Look: Twilight's Edward tells Bella that's he's really 109 years old, despite how young he looks. Bella soon finds out that he acts like a typical old person, including driving 30 miles under the speed limit with your right blinker on, and being completely behind the times when it comes to knowing how modern society works.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: In a short parodying Final Fantasy VII, the main characters run a fast food restaurant. When Sephiroth enters the room, his theme is parodied with the chanting being "Hamburger! Hamburger!"
- Overly Long Gag: Once the second season started, the show switched from "machine-gun comedy" to "drag the jokes out as long as humanly possible".
- Parody Magic Spell: Frequent in this Harry Potter parody. When Snape tries to seduce Hermione in his "magical jacuzzi", he calls it forth with the spell, "Barry Whiteus, candlelightus, girl-exciteus!" She dispels his lecherous advance with the counterspell, "Pedophilius repelus!"
- Perpetual Smiler: The scientist never stops smiling, even when about to be killed by falling televisions.
- Place Worse Than Death: When the Care Bears ethnically cleanse Care-A-Lot of the Carebear Cousins, the great Goundskeeper in the Sky turns the place into New Jersey. New Jersey's governor is rather proud of his state's history.
- Quarter Hour Short
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: No sketch in the show (originally) lasted longer than two or three minutes, and many of them were just a few seconds long.
- Case in point: one sketch of a kung-fu Benjamin Franklin. The entire sketch.
Benjamin: "HA! HIYAH! For America!"
- Reality Ensues: A woman wants her husband to ravish her like Captain Jack Sparrow...and he proceeds to (in his smarmiest Jack Sparrow voice) explain the actual hazards of being a seafaring pirate in the time of the Black Pearl. Needless to say, the wife finds herself extremely turned off soon after.
- This happens to several cartoon Smokers such as Fred Flintstone, who now uses an electronic larynx since the hookas poisoned him. Subverted with Popeye because the spinach he ate protected him from lung cancer.
- Reality Warper: When the crew of the show is trying to find a way to get their show Un Cancelled, they find that Seth MacFarlane is capable of changing reality by way of Family Guy style Flashback Twists. As an example:
Seth: Robot Chicken? I haven't heard about that show since it got renewed.
- They can't convince him to "Offhandedly refer to the time we all ended world hunger", though, probably because he hadn't heard a more stupid idea since "Scooby Jew."
- Reference Overdosed: Pretty much the point of the series.
- Refuge in Audacity
- Season 4 example: Night at the Holocaust Museum
- Refuge in Vulgarity: As the show's gone on, it's relied more and more on disgust.
- Road Sign Reversal: In the spoof of The Cannonball Run, Sherriff Rosco P. Coltrane does this to trick "them Duke Boys" as an homage to The Dukes of Hazzard.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: In the 100th episode, the Robot Chicken finally escapes. The Mad Scientist wasn't pleased about this, so he kidnapped the chicken's wife and forced her to start watching the show in the same manner that he did for the last 5 years. On his way up through the castle, He fights nearly every character who had ever shown up in the series (killing off most of them in the process) before finally confronting the Mad Scientist himself.
- Running Gag: Several. Mainly the Humping Robot.
- The show getting cancelled at the end of each season, and then renewed at the start of the following season.
- BACK FROM THE DEAD, ASSHOLES!
- During the end credits, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mila Kunis, and Shannon Gold get quite a few interesting roles, such as Arah-say Eller-gay, Ila-may Unis-kay, and Pig Latin Translator, respectively. It varies between episodes.
- Self-Deprecation: Doug Goldstein.
- Shout-Out: Maybe not the most affectionate ones, sure...
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Bill Clinton often serves as this towards George W. Bush.
- Smug Super: Superman. Robot Chicken takes Super Dickery to a whole new level.
- Space Opera: The page image is one of the most brilliant parodies of this.
- Spin-Off: The Stoopid Monkey videos seen here could be counted as a spin off.
- Storyboarding The Apocalypse How: If you give a mouse a cookie, the world ends in nuclear holocaust.
- Story-Breaker Team-Up: All the time and played for laughs. The Mario Brothers in Vice City, and Yoshi in Raccoon City.
- Stylistic Suck: The Mrs. McNally's Third Graders Present sketches.
- Subverted Kids Show
- Sugar Apocalypse: Among other examples, the Care Bears decide that to save their ratings, they must kill all of the Care Bear cousins in an act of genocide.
- Not even Don Cheadle offering to put all the cousins in a hotel could stop them.
- And, to punish the Care Bears for genocide, the Cloud Keeper turns Care-a-Lot into Hell on Earth.
- Not even Don Cheadle offering to put all the cousins in a hotel could stop them.
Mmm, that's good rainbow.
- "My Little Pony, Apocalypse Pony! Punish mankind for their sins!"
- Summon Bigger Fish: In one of the episodes, Charlie Brown defeats The Great Pumpkin by siccing The Kite-Eating Tree on it.
- Synchro Vox: One of the Star Wars episodes spoof's Conan O'Brien's use of this.
- Take That: What the show more or less revolves around.
- There's a pretty epic one against the comedian Gallagher. He gets his niece a Teddy Ruxpin doll, and goes to put a tape of his comedy performance into it. The doll comes to life, tries to fight him off, and eventually commits suicide rather than do it. Gallagher then comments that they'll just have to listen to the performance on the family's stereo, at which point his 5 year old niece tries to commit suicide too! And it's one of the highest rated videos on Robot Chicken's site.
- Talking to Himself: In Bad Boy Meets Damaged Chick With Daddy Issues, Seth Green voices Daniel and Daniel's mother while Breckin Meyer provides the voices of Dina/Ali/Lindsay Lohan and Munson, with Munson getting Lindsay pregnant.
- Tempting Fate: In the second Star Wars special, referred to by name. Emperor Palpatine has arrived on the Death Star and is having a crappy day. He turns to a nearby Red Guard and says, "Wanna see me tempt fate? Could this day get any worse?" No points for guessing what happens later.
- The Red Stapler: Adult Swim released a 5 pound pink gummy bear in honor of the infamous sketch.
- The Reveal: The audience in front of the blond, Stepford Smiler Bloopers host? There's not a single person in the seats; just monstrous disembodied voices, laughing and taunting him.
- Thirty Minutes or It's Free
- This Is Sparta: "This. Isn't. FUNNY!!", regarding Two and A Half Men. The episode also featured Leonidas shouting at people in this manner, usually kicking them afterward for no reason.
- The kick was averted when he shouted "This... is... SCRUMPTIOUS!" when having dinner with his family.
- Those Two Guys: Tom Root and Doug Goldstein, who appear in a few sketches once in a while.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: After Batman beats The Joker literally to within one punch of his life, Joker mentions that if Batman doesn't kill him, he'll just break out of jail and keep on killing. Batman contemplates this conundrum and persuades the Gotham legal system to give him the death penalty instead. Commissioner Gordon chooses to not use the sponge during his electrocution.
- Throw the Pin: Seen from the outside; two G.I.s sitting in a foxhole with a bunker in the background. One is hit on the helmet with a pin, looks at it quizzically, and a shout in Gratuitous German then the bunker explodes.
- Time Compression Montage: Played with in a sketch that featured a Jamaican superhero named Montage, whose power was to dilate time by invoking montages.
- His arch enemy is End Credits Man.
- Too Kinky to Torture: The creator of Girls Gone Wild had become so desensitized that the only way to excite him anymore was to summon Pinhead to help him out.
- Too Soon: In-universe example: Owen makes a joke about "little orphan Annie" while Anakin Skywalker is holding his dead mother's body. Ouch.
Owen: Comedy... It's just tragedy plus time, man.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Boba Fett and the other guy he was with both got spit out of the Sarlacc beast because it just couldn't take their annoying activities anymore.
Sarlaac: "Umm, hey guys, I don't mean to be a prick, but... you guys gotta get the fuck out." *belches them out.*
- Toyota Tripwire: A businessman does this on a passing motorcyclist. Why should the cyclist be able to move between the cars while he's stuck in traffic?
- Trust-Building Blunder
- Un Cancelled: A running joke. Every season finale they get canceled, and the next season they get "uncancelled". One wonders when this trick is going to backfire.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Played With. The Doctor is standing on the first base of a baseball diamond. After a few seconds, he just asks "Do you get it?!"
- Villains Out Shopping: Loves this trope. Famous examples are the obvious "Villains in Traffic" and "Darth Vader Calls" skits, both of which are frequently considered a Crowning Moment of Funny by many people.
- The Voiceless: The Mad Scientist never talks.
- Vorpal Pillow: In a skit parodying Toy Story 3, Woody has to smother Buzz to death with a pillow after Andy used Buzz as a bong, burning out the insides of his head.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: After a flood wipes out the Smurf's village, Gargamel finally achieves his goal of eating them. As it turns out, they taste really bad. He throws the food out, and orders Chinese.
- Weapon of Choice: Seth Green's is the Bat'leth.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Aquaman from Superfriends awkwardly makes his way to a board meeting at the BP oil company (even after nearly spraining his ankle when the secretary tripped him) in order to send the CEO to jail for all the sea life they killed with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The CEO tells him that he can't go to jail because the court case was already settled and BP paid a fine. He asked if Aquaman was going to kick his ass, to which Aquaman responded that he wasn't really planning that. The CEO tried to sincerely but sarcastically insisted they were sorry, and Aquaman returned home. The sea life didn't take the news that well, so they beat him up and killed him.
- Whip It Good: In the Castlevania sketch, two werewolf servants and Dracula mock Simon Belmont's weapon of choice. They proceed to get the piss whipped out of them.
- Who's Laughing Now?: It's "Fumbles"... it was always "Fumbles"...
- The Wiki Rule: The Robot Chicken Wiki trades expository descriptions for Adult Swim Video clips of the actual sketchs! It still could use some help, though.
- Wrestler in All of Us / Professional Wrestling: In a Season 1 episode (guest-starring Conan O'Brien), there was a wrestling sketch (the Historical Wrestling Federation), featuring Benjamin Franklin and Gandhi in a tag team match against the Wright Brothers. Noted for using ACTUAL Jakks Pacific WWE figures (instead of the standard figures) for the 4 wrestlers (though their original heads were indeed replaced); the 2 commentators (voiced by Seth, doing his cheesiest impersonation of a color commentator and Conan as the driest play-by-play historian you could imagine) were regular figures.
- A Season 2 episode guest-starring Hulk Hogan featured the sketch Hogan's Heroes, where the gang was replaced by (more Jakks Pacific figures, this time from the "WWE Legends" line) Hulk Hogan and his fellow pro wrestlers "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (voiced by Piper himself), "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart, The Iron Sheik, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
- Also, since every standard Robot Chicken action figure is animated in stop-motion, and any aerial shots are on wires, many of the close-range combat stunts you see are usually a wrestling-type maneuver.
- Your Mom: Robot Chicken isn't above doing these every now and then. One notable example is a pull-and-say children's toy.
The cow says "MOOOOOOOO".