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File:Sam and Max Photo 9211.jpg

Sam & Max were quite popular at Lucasarts, and after getting cameos and Shout Outs in several Lucasarts adventure games, the two got their own game in 1993: Sam & Max Hit the Road, which had the two traveling a pastiche of roadside America tracking down a Bigfoot that had escaped from a carnival sideshow with a giraffe-necked girl. It was done in the SCUMM engine, the same as other Lucas Arts classics such as Monkey Island.

A long-awaited sequel to Sam & Max Hit the Road was announced by Lucasarts in 2002, but in March of 2004 the project was unceremoniously canceled. Fans were incensed, as were several members of the Lucasarts team, who left to found their own game company: Telltale Games. In 2005, Telltale announced they would be working with Steve Purcell to produce an episodic Sam & Max adventure game, and in late 2006, the first episode of Sam & Max: Season One was released.

Over the course of six episodes (the final one released in May of 2007), our heroes matched wits with former child stars, a bossy talk show host, the Toy Mafia, the U.S. government, the Internet, and a cult leader in order to foil a series of mass-hypnosis plots. Sam and Max: Season 2 (running from November 2007 to April 2008) had the Freelance Police facing demonic possession in Santa's workshop, the Bermuda Triangle, a Goth vampire and his army of club-hopping zombies, a sinister cabal known only as T-H-E-M, and the forces of Hell. The complete Season 1 for Wii was released in 2008. In 2009, Telltale announced that Seasons 1 and 2 would be on Xbox Live Arcade, under different names (Sam and Max Save the World and Sam and Max Beyond Time and Space, respectively). Most other places that sell the games online, like Steam and Telltale's official site, have switched to those names, as well. The third season, The Devil's Playhouse, ran from April to August 2010, and saw the Freelance Police embroiled in a plot to collect "Toys of Power" that grant those with the ability to wield them (including Max, conveniently enough) awesome psychic powers. Said plot involves evil gorillas from space, eldritch horrors, and mole-men.

Sam and Max Hit the Road

  • Bald of Evil: Conroy Bumpus wears a wig. Max riffs at him for it, but this just gets him sent on an island in the middle of a gator-infested pond.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: Hardly a trope goes unlampshaded by our heroes.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The plot revolves around a runaway Bigfoot, and there is even a Bigfoot convention! (As a side note, the terms "sasquatch" and "yeti" are used interchangeably with Bigfoot in the game).
  • Brick Joke: In Shuv-Oohl's room, if you look the newspaper clippings, one of the headlines is Severed Head Explodes, Destroys Bus!
    • Also a brick joke from another game. in Day of the Tentacle, you find a picture of Max on the wall. If you examine it, your character says something about it being a portrait of a president. Guess what Max eventually becomes in the Telltale seasons? Also counts as Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Clark Kenting: Parodied. To sneak to the Bigfoot convention, you have to whip up a less-than-convincing Bigfoot costume. The guard recognizes you and Lampshades the trope, but will still let you in if you do him a favor.
  • Crossover: Images of Sam and Max appear in most classic Lucas Arts adventures, including the Monkey Island series.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Enter Solution Here
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Mercilessly parodied.
  • Evil Brit: Conroy Bumpus.
  • Furry Confusion: The are non-anthropomorphic, non-speaking and seemingly non-sapient rats, cats, pigeons, and... alligators.
  • Green Aesop: Spoofed in the ending.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: On more than one occasion, Sam uses Max as a weapon or tool. Just threatening to use him is often good enough to scare people into confessing something.
    • Max can actually be seen and selected in Sam's inventory box like a regular object.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal
  • Ho Yay: In the dress-up Mini Game, possible costumes for the guys include wedding clothes (Sam as the groom and Max as the bride).
    • If you attempt to ride the Tunnel of Love while Max is trapped in the tank, Sam will refuse, saying it 'wouldn't be romantic without Max'.
  • Human Popsicle: Bruno the Bigfoot, before his escape, was held as an exhibit in a block of ice. Conroy and his goon in the ending.
  • I Can't Use These Things Together: The Trope Namer.
  • I Think You Broke Him: The eventual result if you keep insisting that Sam pick up an object that's stuck, resulting in him breaking into tears and Max berating you through the Fourth Wall for breaking his spirit.
  • Just Friends: The opening sequence has our heroes saving a Mad Scientist's date from being zapped because she'd rather just be friends.
  • Magical Native American: Parodied with the Bigfoots.
  • Napoleon Complex: Conroy Bumpus
  • No Fourth Wall: Sam and Max are very well aware that they're inside an adventure game.
  • Symbol Swearing: Lampshaded:

 Sam: Percent sign, ampersand, dollar sign.

Max: And colon, semicolon, too!

Spoon bender: What are you <bleep>ing doing?

Sam: Swearing in longhand, asterisk-mouth.

 Max: Sam, either termites are burrowing through my skull or one of us is ticking.

Sam: Ooops. Oh yeah. (Pulls out head/bomb of the robot mad scientist they just dispatched in the intro). Max, where should I put this so that it doesn't hurt anyone we know or care about?

Max: Out the window, Sam! There's nothing but strangers out there.

The Telltale Seasons

 Bosco: Look, all I know is, I keep making up the most ridiculous price I can think of, and you keep payin' it! So tell me again, who's the foo'?

  • A Day in the Limelight: "They Stole Max's Brain!" is something like this. The first part of the game is Sam having a solo Noir-ish Rampage as he tries to get Max's brain back. The second half has Max as Only Sane Man trying to things back to normal after Sammun-Mak takes over his body and rewrites reality so that he rules the world.
  • Adventure Duo: In the episode "Abe Lincoln Must Die!", a relationship quiz the two take says the person they are most compatible with... are each other. (Of course, the quiz was given by Sybil, and Sam and Max seem to be the only people she knows... and she doesn't exactly try to hide the fact that she's neither using a computer nor making an effort.)
    • And then there's Max's reaction in "Reality 2.0" when Sybil describes him and Sam as "luddites"...

 Max: We're just very good friends!

  • Afterlife Express: In What's New, Beelzebub?
  • Always Night: Season 3, the Zombie Apocalypse episode and the humongous rampaging Cthulhu episode. Lampshaded when Sam admires how the city looks at night.
  • Affably Evil: Hugh Bliss
    • The Devil, too. He's kind of a boring guy...too focused on running his company to be evil.
    • And Yog-Soggoth/Dr. Norrington from 304. Age has mellowed him; all he wants is to find a way to get home without too much fuss.
    • General Skun-ka'pe is surprisingly polite and friendly in casual conversation. Not so much when angered, but Max comments early on in "The Penal Zone" that it really is hard to stay mad at the guy.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: Evoked for laughs as Max, President Evil of the United States, uses his Peacemaker (gun) to ensure successful Peace Summits. In the end, when Hell literally freezes over, Max is awarded the Nobel Prize For Peace!
  • Ambiguously Gay: Jurgen ("I never knew vampires were so... fruity.")
    • Hugh Bliss turns into a rainbow and has a calendar with "Gaypril" as a month (although it might just be in the sense of the superlative like all of the calendar's other months).
  • Antimatter: In Episode 301, an antimatter bomb destroyed the titular Penal Zone.
    • In Episode 305, Flint Paper straps an antimatter bomb to one of the Samulacra to destroy the entire cloning facility in one swoop. Except Sam had astrally projected into that particular body at the time, and would get blown up along with it if he didn't get it off.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:

 Agent Superball: Statistical analysis stated that Max becoming a gargantuan hell-beast was the second most likely outcome.

Sam: What was the most likely outcome?

Agent Superball: Imagine a scenario that involves the worst aspects of the Norse Legends of Ragnarok, The Book of Revelation, and Weekend at Bernies.

  • As You Know: Admirably few blatant examples of this in the Telltale games, considering how much continuity piles up. Lampshaded in "The Penal Zone", when Grandpa Stinky complains about Sam doing this.

 Sam: Max is all short term memory; I occasionally have to bring him back up to speed.


  • Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: The Maimtron 9000. Giant statue Abraham Lincoln. And in Episode 305, Giant Eldritch Max!
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Max is elected President of the United States in Season 1, and maintains that office throughout the series (so far). "Max Impeachment Weekly" is apparently a bestselling periodical, however.
    • Spoofed in "Moai Better Blues" when Max becomes priest of the Sea Chimps: Sam crowns Max with a Sock Crown.
  • Badass Grandma: Out of all people, Nefertiti, the mole girl who fell in love with Jurgen in "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak", becomes one in "They Stole Max's Brain!", even using Ninja Acrobatics.
  • Badass Decay: In-universe example: Yog-Soggoth once ruled the Earth and feasted on the terror of mortals; the Molemen, immune to their powers, rose up against him and his kind and banished them all to the Dark Dimensions. Nowadays, Yog-Soggoth is little more than a talking tumor grafted to Mr. Papierwaite - a surprisingly affable one, at that - and the Molemen are mostly a bunch of kooky subterranean cultists.
  • Bad Santa: In "Ice Station Santa". Although to be fair, he was presumably possessed at the time.
    • Played with in "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak": The stereotypical Corrupt Capitalist businessman, who made a fortune in the Toy Business, is called Nicholas St. Kringle, and he employs (elf) immigrants from the ethnic neighborhood known as Little North Pole. Plus he looks exactly like Santa from "Ice Station Santa".
  • Bait and Switch: A few times in "The Penal Zone". For example, on one occasion Sam and Max open a deep manhole and set a banana peel in front of it, presumably to set up the familiar gag for one of Skunkape's minions. The small snippets of future Max's Future Vision picks up supports this conclusion. What actually transpires is that instead of slipping, the minion picks up the banana peel and lectures Sam for littering... only for Max to slip up behind the minion and clobber him with a pair of garbage can lids, causing him to fall down the manhole anyways. It may have been a case of Xanatos Speed Chess, but all the same...
    • Earlier, Max has a vision of Flint receiving a hatchet to the back of his head, so Sam persuades him to wear a miner's hardhat to enjoy his spaghetti. The helmet's headlight reveals peanuts in the spaghetti sauce, so Flint turns to angrily accuse Girl Stinky as a hatchet flies over his shoulder into the seat across from him.
  • Bat Deduction: In the final episode of Season 1, after discovering the alias of the Big Bad, Sam tries to figure out who it could be. Sam comes to the correct conclusion that it's Hugh Bliss, albeit going by an overly complicated deduction that has nothing to do with the alias.
  • Becoming the Mask: Harry Moleman, the former Toy Mafia mole.
  • Berserk Button: Sam has several (including a hidden one when trying to fix the past): Try to harm Max, call him Fat or try to give him pink bellies, for example. You usually are pretty much screwed. Then, in Episode 204 (Chariot of the Dogs), in the 80's, when Sam and Max find their young versions playing the Bluster Blaster, Sam tries to convince either young Sam or young Max to leave the videogame and go play outside. He shows signs of repugnance when looking at them, and is able to comment to Max about "how we were nerdier in the 80's".
    • In "The Penal Zone", you learn why you should never call make fun of Max's height.
    • In Episode 303, we find out just exactly how Sam would be if he lost Max; he turns into an extremely rough-edged Cowboy Cop, willing to resort the the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique to receive information, even gaining Perma Stubble while going without his jacket and hat.
  • Big No: Sam in the Season 1 finale, after the Big Bad does something unspeakably appalling to Max.
    • In the same episode, by Wrathful Max when his hand gets lopped off.
    • In "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak", Sameth does this when Nefertiti casts the Holstein Hex on Maximus in Reel 2. Afterwards, he doesn't seem to care as much, since Nefertiti is inexperienced, and her hex wears off inside of one minute.
    • Sam does this at the beginning of "They Stole Max's Brain!"
      • ...and at the end of "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls" as some sort of Red Herring. Sadly, what happened next was worse.
  • Big "What?": Sam's reaction to know Brady Culture is happy in hell but first paraphrasing about how that reaction is totally out of character but he has no better in character reaction for that.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
  • Bittersweet Ending: Episode 304 ends with the Devils Toybox destroyed, but... Max ate Junior, thus turning into an Eldritch Abomination that might destroy the city.
  • Blatant Lies: Girl Stinky's understanding of history. Which makes it slightly odd that she's aware how nonsensical it is for Abraham Lincoln to be trying to pay his tab in Confederate money.
  • Book Ends: In Season 3, the very first thing we see Max use his psychic powers for is to teleport to Girl Stinky's cell phone to escape a prison cell. This is also the very last thing we see him use them for, but in the latter case it's for a very different reason.
    • Season 1 ends with the whole world behaving like Max due to mass hypnosis. As the credits begin to roll, Sybil quotes the very first line from the first episode of season 1.
  • Born Lucky: Sam and Max.
  • Bound and Gagged: Leonard Steakcharmer must have set some kind of record for this. Sam and Max first tie him up in the third episode of season 1 to interrogate him, then gag him and leave him in their closet as a souvenir of the adventure. He remains there until sometime in season 2, just over a year later in-universe, until he dies and goes to the Sam and Max wing of Hell, where he's damned to more of the same. Sam does get the hint after this and frees Leonard after restoring him to life.
  • Brain Bleach: In "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls" Flint Paper declares he need to kill some neurons after seeing Sam being French kissed by Girl Stinky
  • Brain In a Jar: in Episode 301, "The Penal Zone".
    • Naturally, this also happens to Max in "They Stole Max's Brain!"
      • And later, in "The City That Dares Not Sleep," we learn that after Max got away, Skunkape took the next best thing and made Sammun-Mak his new brain slave.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After playing the trial version of the XBLA release of Save the World, Sam and Max go over all the features of the game, including the awards it got. If you let it sit there, they wait for you to unlock the full game.

 Sam: So, you think they're going for their wallet or did they just pass out from the excitement?

Max: Who says they have to be mutually exclusive?

Sam: They're still just sitting there, Max. Think they want to buy?

(Max stares right at the camera.)

Max: We're detectives, Sam, not mind-readers!

  • Brick Joke: Played brilliantly at the end of Season 2 where, first, our heroes find themselves in a very familiar burning hellscape and are immediately saved by their own past selves in a repeat of a scene from a puzzle from 4 episodes before. Then, after the final credits, the Bermuda triangle that collected the volcanic eruption in "Moai Better Blues", 3 episodes before, suddenly appears and destroys the *censored* Poppers, interrupting their We Will Meet Again speech.
    • The best one is the ink ribbon that you find in Jurgen's castle in Episode 203. The player tries desperately to fit it to one of the puzzles of the episode, only to find out in the next one that it's just garbage that's Sam threw through a temporal portal.
      • It's actually a double brick joke, as a line of dialogue in Episode 202 refers to something being as useful as a typewriter ribbon in a haunted castle.
    • Inverted in Episode 301, "The Penal Zone". The game starts with you defeating the villain after breaking free from his prison. Then the game goes back to the actual beginning of the episode. When you get captured, the original plan fails because he got the Toy of Power that lets him see the future. Time for plan B!
    • Remember when you told Harry Moleman where his Uncle Morty's stamp collection was hidden in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls"? Dawdle a moment during the finale, up top. You'll hear a familiar voice...
  • Bring Him to Me: In Episode 303, when Max is talking to Skunkape, he asks him to please not kill Sam. Skunkape then reassures him that his minions have strict orders not to kill him, but to instead drag Sam beaten and bloodied to his feet so that he can witness his triumph when he finally conquers the entire galaxy. Max doesn't care, as long as Sam can still act as his designated driver.
  • The Bus Came Back: Buster Blaster comes back from his trip to Las Vegas in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls".
  • But Thou Must!: FINISH HIM! And the player normally will comply, gladly. See the Crowning Moment of Awesome page for the series.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: A memorable one opens the game "Night of the Raving Dead", when we see the duo trapped inside a deadly contraption, its maw closing in:

 Sam: Well, looks like this is it, little buddy. My whole life is flashing before my eyes. ...I wondered where I'd left my wallet.

Max: I can't even remember how we got here!

Sam: Come on, Max. Remember, we were back in the office, just back from Easter Island...

Max: Wait wait, do the whole thing with the music and all that!

  • Came Back Wrong: The DeSoto after its return from Hell.
    • Yog-Soggoth, though it is pretty funny.
  • Cargo Ship: A strange case where the cargo is sentient. Sybil ends up marrying the disembodied head of the Lincoln memorial.
    • Then we have the Love Triangle of Curt, Chippy, and Carol in The Devil's Playhouse...and all three are cargo.
      • At least Curt and Chippy are sentient, in a way. Carol hasn't said (Or bleeped) anything. YET.
      • And then Carol winds up running off with Bluster Blaster, another sentient-but-inanimate object.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Sorta, in "Chariots of the Dogs". The Mariachis and Bosco's paranoia are both explained, although the revelation itself is pretty funny.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: In Season 3, the episodes get progressively darker and grittier, until you finally reach the strangely emotional finale.

 Jurgen: Sam, what happened to you to make you so cynical?[1]

  • Chair Reveal: Used to reveal that the Big Bad of Season 2 were the Soda Poppers; spoofed in the Season 2 DVD extras, with other characters; up to and including Homestar Runner.
    • "And so ends our deadly game of cat and mouse! ... and dog... and rabbit... thingy."
  • Character Development: Sam and Max start out as immature, selfish man children who can only be bothered to care about each other, with their careers as freelance police essentially a game they play as an excuse to do what they want. In Season 3, though, they mature considerably in comparison to the previous games in the franchise.
    • Max in particular. He goes from being an id-driven maniac to showing genuine signs of loyalty and heroism towards his friends.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Almost every game in Seasons 1 & 2 introduces a variety of items that will become important in a later episode. There are also references to the story arc of Season 2 towards the end of Season 1.
    • Never mind that generally things that are even merely said offhand in earlier episodes often come true in later ones, even if it was a complete fabrication of the characters at the time...
      • For example, Bosco claims in the very first episode that EVERYONE is after him, like the mob and the government and aliens... and he's right on every single count.
    • Inverted in the last episode of Season 1, when Sam finally asks Bosco for things that would have solved every previous puzzle. He had all of them all along!
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Not as egregious as with the Monkey Island series, but, Telltale being Telltale, certain puzzle solutions do boomerang on occasion. For example, the knowledge that Bermuda Triangles freeze in place when fed a red octagon is needed again for the very last puzzle of "Moai Better Blues".
  • Chekhov MIA: Sal, the unseen cook of Stinky's Diner in Season 2, appears in The Devil's Playhouse — specifically, "They Stole Max's Brain!"
    • It's also revealed as of "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls" that Girl Stinky is dating him, and doesn't think her grandfather would approve because he's a giant cockroach.
    • While he doesn't appear in "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak" Sammun-Mak himself become the Big Bad of the following episode, "They Stole Max's Brain!"
  • Chekhov's Skill: Many might not realize it for awhile, but something you commonly do throughout all 3 seasons comes in handy at the tail-end of 304. Sam's skill for knocking Max into the air when he gets in your way allows Max to reach the corrupted tablet of the Statue o' Liberty, to climb up and attempt to rescue Sam.
  • Christmas Episode/Yet Another Christmas Carol: Season 2 opener "Ice Station Santa", as well as the Machinima version of it produced by Telltale, Sam and Max Nearly Save Christmas. Played with in that the Christmas Past they have to save was in fact initially destroyed by that very attempt to save it.
  • The Chosen Ones: "We appear in so many prophecies that we should start charging royalties!"
    • Subverted in "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak": Sameth tries to pull this one, saying his pal Maximus is "The One", to the Guardians of the Tomb. For once, there's no prophecy.
  • Church of Happyology: The Church of Prismatology in Season 1. Emetics parodies Dianetics, for instance. It gets most obvious in episode 106, where Prismatology is the focus of the episode. An exclusive club for the highest members of Prismatology, a parody of the E-meter, a connection to outer space... it's all there.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Philo Pennyworth in "Situation: Comedy", a Shakespearean actor playing a sitcom landlord. Unlike most instances of this trope, he doesn't complain that the work is beneath him, having apparently decided that professionalism means doing one's best in the role whatever the role happens to be, but he does complain about the inferiority of his co-stars at the drop of a hat.
  • Cluster Bleep Bomb: Timmy Two-Teeth has "terminal Tourette's Syndrome", which results in most of his dialogue being bleeped out. But it turns out This Trope Is Bleep and the Scunthorpe Problem are in effect with the censorship--all of his bleeped dialogue is an inch deep in the kiddy pool section of profanity at worst.
  • Colon Cancer: Sam and Max: Season One: Save the World: Episode Two: Situation: Comedy. They were actually trying for this before the season got named Save the World.
  • Colony Drop: Bosco's "Earthquake Generator" in "Bright Side of the Moon".
  • Comically Small Bribe

 Sam: Maybe a few...Washingtons will help change your mind?

Max: Or maybe a few...Lincolns?

  • Conspiracy Theorist: Bosco.
    • Properly Paranoid: After Bosco builds a Missile Defense System, it turns out his shop really is being targeted by government ICBMs.
    • The Toy Mafia are also after him, and an alien cult leader set up shop outside his store. It's looking more and more like Bosco isn't as crazy as he appears. Though he isn't that bright.
    • And let's not forget T.H.E.M.
      • And his mother. In fact, she was, inadvertently, the one who caused Bosco to fall under surveillance in the first place.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: A lot in the newer games. It seems no one can undergo normal torment when they could instead be interrogated with "yo momma" jokes, subjected to (literally) soul-crushingly boring stories, or put through several magic-trick themed torture devices.
    • In "The City That Dares Not Sleep," Sam's dancing is so horrible that the threat of it causes one of Skunkape's minions to sing like a canary.
  • Couch Gag: Telltale continues the tradition of bogus "based on" jokes in Seasons 2 and 3:

  Based on the heretical apocrypha, "Sam & Max Meet a Guy Who Sucks" ("Night of the Raving Dead")

  • Crapsack World: assuming all the little bits we hear about Max's reign as President are accurate, the country cannot be in a good state. Dakota is at WAR with itself, due to a feud about Mount Rushmore, a war that President Max provoked. His response to the crisis: Provide giant battle robots to all sides and whoever wins, claim the US backed them all along.
    • The world got even crapsackier in Season 3, or at least looks more that way because the graphics engine got upgraded and most of the damage to the block from Seasons 1 and 2 still persists.
  • Crossover: Sam's revolver and a combo of Max's Luger and supposed head severed at the upper jaw (used as the obligatory hat of the set) were given as gifts to players of Team Fortress 2 who bought The Devil's Playhouse season the first 2 weeks, or pre-ordered. In exchange, a Blue Engineer Dispenser appears in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls" and the RED Heavy Weapons Guy is one of the opponents in Poker Night At the Inventory (which features Max).
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: How about a song and dance on how war is Good For You?
  • Crying Indian: Parodied in "Chariots of the Dogs":

 Mariachi: You can't just throw litter through the time vortex!

Max: Yes Sam! Somewhere a time traveling Native Indian is crying!

  • Cue Card: You need to do mudslinging in the election, and the easiest way to do it is to switch which cue card he reads from when you ask him questions.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: Sam and Max literally freeze Hell over in the Season 2 finale; the rest stems from there.
    • The results include Sam letting Max answer the phone, Max winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and Sybil inviting Max to not only attend her wedding, but officiate it.
  • Cue the Sun: Bitterly subverted at the end of two episodes of Always Night, after the terrors have finally left the city. The sun rises to light Sam's defeated and weary trudge along streets still infested with violent crime.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Arguably, Skun-ka'pe near the end of "The Penal Zone". Basically, when you return to the scene from the very first part in the game, the items you used then are no longer there. After using one of the toys of power, Skun-ka'pe single-handedly removed every aspect that would have made him go into the Penal Zone, and then uses the beacon against them, and destroys the Penal Zone itself to make sure they don't survive. Of course, he didn't take into account that Max can teleport.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 3. Way less cartoony (there are actually textures), rats and roaches everywhere, skeletons, dissected brains, another clue that Sam and Max will die. Kinda goes towards where the print comic went. Also, Sam and Max do actual detective work!
    • Lampshaded by the saying this is the result of the new Mayor of New York's "This is a City, not a Day Care Center" campaign, and importing New Jersey's surplus supplies of grime.
    • This is especially prevalent in "They Stole Max's Brain!", at least during the first half, in which Sam channels the typical Cowboy Cop, roughing up and intimidating suspects, although he does still become spontaneously cheerful and polite when the player chooses a response that makes no sense in context and the person he's interrogating says so. Sam does revert back to normal after finding Max's brain, Sammun-Mak still hijacks Max's body and manages to brainwash everybody but Max and the molemen.
  • Dead for Real: Word from Telltale indicates that all of the on-screen deaths in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls" were real. The problem is, no one's exactly sure what constitutes as an on-screen death.
    • Here's the current body count. Sal (but only as of Episode 305; he survived the long fall in the preceding episode), Sammun-Mak, Skun-ka'pe, Girl Stinky, Sam Jr. (if you don't save him first) and Max.
  • Deal with the Devil: In a dangerously Genre Blind move, Sam, to get Satan to relinquish ownership of some souls, signs a contract about three seconds after Satan whips it out.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: Even though a number of characters does die for real over the course of the series, a lot of casualties get better somehow. It helps that Sam and Max live right above the gates of hell and Momma Bosco has an advanced cloning machine.
    • The list of deaths that didn't count: Animatronic Abe Lincoln (his head survived), Santa Claus and one of his elves, Grandpa Stinky, the DeSoTo, Bosco, Timmy Two-Teeth, Sam (all brought back from hell), Momma Bosco (lived on as a ghost, later cloned a new body for herself) and Max (replaced by himself from an alternate timeline.) In addition, Brady Culture, Hugh Bliss and Jürgen have found steady employment in hell and seem happy enough.
  • Demonic Dummy: Charlie Ho-Tep. Lampshaded, of course.

 Sam: "Wow, a crazy evil ventriloquist dummy. Way to perpetuate the stereotype, Charlie.

    • Also, when Charlie's discussing his plan to destroy the world by bringing about a time of eternal darkness and torment through resurrecting Junior.

 Sam: "But wait. How is this different from any other ventriloquist act?"

Max: "Hey-yo!"

  Beelzebub: You keep asking me to help you, Sam. I don't believe you understand: I'm kind of a bad guy.

  • The Devil Is a Loser: In the Season 2 finale, the Devil is seen desperately trying to increase workplace productivity until ultimately being fired by former child stars and living out of a box of possessions (such as his grocery list) out on the street.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: The ending for "The City That Dares Not Sleep." The Big Bad for the season is unveiled and thwarted and Sam now has the means to finally save his little buddy and get everything back to normal. But they take just a wee bit too long, and Max is killed.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: When Bosco is turned into a cow due to screwing with the timestream, Sam and Max mention that there's something different about him, and ask if he got a new haircut.

 Bosco: Are you fools done?

Max: Yeah, that's all we got.

  • Discontinuity Nod: Several, inserted as TakeThats to Lucas Arts.
    • In Season 1, there is a box labeled "3/3 2004", the date on which Sam & Max: Freelance Police was canceled, in Sam and Max's office. When examined, Sam only mentions that it was "a particularly gruesome case."
    • Max mentions, when playing a tape made in Episode 2 later in Season 1 that he hates the sound of his voice on tape and that it "never sounds like [him]". Out of all the characters, Max's voice was the one that shifted around the most in the early episodes (even switching voice actors between Episodes 1 and 2), and it was most gratingly over the edge in William Kasten's first performance (which happened to be when said tape was filmed).
  • Do Androids Dream?: When Curt restarts, he asks, "Will I dream?"
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: No, not Sam, but the culprit behind the army of Sams in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls" turns out to be the ventriloquist dummy Max has been reluctantly toting around.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: This is one of the many things Peepers does in Sam's personal hell where Peepers is his partner instead of Max.
  • Duck Season! Rabbit Season!: The very last puzzle in "Culture Shock" revolves around completing a gambit like this. "Worship me!" "No, me! ME! Worship me!" "Attack me!" "No, attack ME! Att-- wait..."
    • Sam pulls a similar trick in "The City That Dares Not Sleep". He even pays homage to the Trope Namer by using "rabbit season" as his line.
      • To elaborate; Sammun-Mak is now piloting Skunkape's ship as a Brain In a Jar, but is having difficulty controlling his thoughts enough to stay focused on steering. Sam is trying to get into the mole processing chamber, and distracts him by repeating "mole men" again and again, then suddenly declaring "rabbit season." Confused, Sammun-Mak asks why he didn't say "mole men", and inadvertently opens the door to the chamber.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Yog Soggoth, his grand-child, Junior, and Max, when his Psychic Powers finally awaken.
  • Eenie Meenie Miny Moai: "Moai Better Blues", naturally.
  • Emotion Eater: At the end of "Bright Side of the Moon", this turns out to be the dark secret behind the Church of Prismatology: Hugh Bliss wants everybody to be happy so that he can feed on their happiness.
    • The Spores from "The City That Dares Not Sleep" feed off of the psychic energy produced by nightmares. It tastes like Pepsi (among other things).
  • Enemy Mine: Skun-ka'pe and Papierwaite team up to take out Sam in "They Stole Max's Brain!".
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Leonard Stakecharmer in "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball".
  • Evil Albino: Hugh Bliss, if being the founder of a Church of Happyology counts as evil. In this particular case, it does.
  • Evil Laugh: Lampshaded, both with Brady Culture and Jurgen, the latter when Sam loses a bet with Max in which he bet Jurgen would not make it. If you keep him going long enough, the Season 1 Big Bad will run out of evil laughter and switch to saying "Evil Laugh", "Evil Chuckle", ...
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Bermuda Triangle and the Sea Monkeys Chimps.
    • Double Subverted with the Zombie Factory of "Night of the Raving Dead". We expected an actual factory of zombies, only to find a rave disco inside a castle named The Zombie Factory. Jurgen still makes zombies inside, so it's still a Zombie Factory in the literal sense at the same time.
    • "They Stole Max's Brain" is about - spoiler alert! - someone stealing Max's brain.
  • Expospeak Gag: Everything is described in Techno Babble or These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Even when it's made clearer that It Runs on Nonsensoleum, it still goes over Sam and Max's head.

 Sam: I wonder if we'll ever find out what Momma Bosco's "Dimensional Destabilizer" does.

Agent Superball: It's a device used to coerce a transient resonant integration of the subquantum harmonic vibrational frequencies between this and adjoining dimensional membranes.

Sam and Max stare, bewildered.

Sam: I wonder if we'll ever find out what Momma Bosco's "Dimensional Destabilizer" does.

Max: I hope it makes pie!

  • Fan Nickname: After his Dirty Harry style makeover, Sam became Noir Sam. It's starting to verge on Memetic Mutation.
    • With a bit of Subversion: the nickname comes from the name of the file of the design when was first presented in the Private Forum by Telltale: sam_noir2 copy.jpg
    • Maxthulu or Stitch Max for Max's Transformation into an Eldritch Abomination at the end of Episode 304.
  • Fan Disservice: Yay, Sybil's Cleavage....and her pregnant midsection, ohhhh.
    • Turns out the stripper at her husband's bachelor party is Jurgen's Monster.
  • Feelies: The case files, available on the Telltale website, containing several nice little items from or inspired by each episode.
  • Fetish Fuel: Although the series doesn't really have any actual examples, according to Max in "The Penal Zone," we wouldn't believe how many fetishes there are that involve him and Sam.
  • Fission Mailed: In "Night of the Raving Dead", right after the deathtrap Sam and Max were in at the beginning of the adventure finishes its dirty work. The screen dissolves to the words "You Are Dead" in a creepy font... .. then dissolves again to outside the castle, as the duo come back as zombies to continue their quest.
    • In "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak", any time Sam and Max's ancestors, Sameth and Maximus, die before the end of the game the film reel merely backs up to right before they died, allowing you to try the puzzle again correctly.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: All of the descriptions that didn't change between Episodes 101 and 102 had to be re-recorded with William Kasten as the voice of Max.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The most horrible and feared of the elder gods, whose birthing wails shattered the great continent of Pangaea. His Junior.
    • Max can't get over the name.
      • "JUNIOR?!"
  • Forgetful Jones: Sammun-Mak has a short-term memory even more pathetic than Max, and is fickle as hell to boot. One puzzle requires you to exploit this by making him hate something (prompting him to demand it and everything like it be destroyed), then make him love it again so you can exploit it's rarity value.
  • For Your Own Good: For Max's good in 305, Sam hijacks his body, takes control of his arms and legs, and forces him to electrocute himself in Battery Park in the hopes that the shock will disable his psychic powers. He sort of half-succeeds... but the electrocution also damages Max's brain so that he loses most of his memory.
  • Fountain of Youth: Featured and taken to its logical conclusion in "Moai Better Blues"; all the island's inhabitants are babies because they were so addicted to the fountain water.
  • Fragile Speedster: Auntie Biotic plays this role during the turn-based battle in "Reality 2.0". Her dexterity score is over 400, but when Sam bonks her once with a blade just one attack point over her defense, that puts an end to her game.
  • Freeware Game: The episode "Abe Lincoln Must Die!", regarded by many as the best episode in Season 1.
  • Fridge Brilliance: In the very first episode, we learn Max is naturally immune to hypnosis and brainwashing. The following episode, after Sam gets hypnotized himself (see Hypnotic Head), he gets himself some kind of hypnosis-proof hat. The former would explain perfectly well why in "They Stole Max's Brain!", after Sammun-Mak rewrites history and makes himself ruler of all creation, Max is able to recall what actually happened and recognize that history was rewritten. Why not Sam? The first thing Sam does upon discovering Max's brain was stolen and going on his noirish Roaring Rampage of Revenge is ditch his trenchcoat and hat. Nice job screwing yourself there, Sam.
    • The same trick is pulled in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls." One of the Samulacra/Dogglegangers steals Sam's hat early on, leaving him without it for the majority of the episode and leaving him vulnerable to Charlie Ho-Tep's mind control.
    • During the text adventure in "Reality 2.0," you go down to discover the Shambling Corporate Presence. Since they went down, they would presumably be entering the underground sewers. It's not until the next season that you learn that the Shambling Corporate Presence is a demon, and the gateway to hell is directly under their building, in... wait for it... the sewers. So it's not actually that improbable that an entity like the SCP would be there. Not that they'd know that; since the graphics weren't working, they wouldn't be able to tell where they were at the time, which is why they didn't notice the gateway-to-hell thing earlier.
    • The Devil doesn't factor in to "The Devil's Playhouse" at all, except as an extra in the finale. The title is later explained to have come from the saying "Idle hands are the devil's playthings." If this is true, then an idle mind would be the devil's playhouse. The name of the toychest itself, The Devil's Toybox, most likely refers to the fact that the Toys of Power are being used for meaningless purposes by the aforementioned idle minds. As Max's neglected Superego, The Narrator explains that this is why he referred to it as his playhouse in the beginning - he's an entity of Max's mind, but Max only uses his incredible powers for the most pointless things.
    • In "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak," the player has to try and get Charlie Ho-Tep from Nefertiti; but she's unwilling to give him up, because she claims to be in love with him. Then, two episodes later, we learn that Charlie's actually sentient, making the concept of a romance between them a hell of a lot less creepy and pathetic, though still kind of improbable.
    • In the finale of 305, we learn that the Max that appears in the time elevator is alone because Sam turned into a giant monster after developing electromagnetic powers in an alternate timeline and he left to presumably find Sam at some other point in time. How did this occur? Remember the Time-Traveling Mariachis from 204? On-board their ship, you meet a past version of Sam & Max from 102, where you get their recording contract, which they need to get on Myra's show, instead giving them the screwdriver. Thus, you presumably forced them to use THAT instead of what they originally needed, causing a time paradox that altered their timeline, thus causing the events that lead to Max being the one to survive, rather than Sam.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Computer Obsolescence Prevention Society who are introduced in "Reality 2.0".
    • Also there's THEM, the Temporal Headquarters of Enlightened Mariachis.
  • Futureshadowing: Plenty of it in Season 3.
  • Generation Xerox: The Main Characters of "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak" are Sameth and Maximus, the Great-Grandparents of Sam and Max. As you expect, apparently their only difference is they aren't Freelance Police, they don't have a car [2] and they don't have guns. Also, Sameth has a moustache and Maximus has clothes.
    • Most of the rest of the cast in that episode is the same way. Justified in some cases in that it may actually be the same person (Jurgen, for example).
  • Genki Girl: Baby Amelia Earhart, also a Motor Mouth and Little Miss Badass.
  • Genius Bonus/ Viewers Are Geniuses: The opening for episode 305 is an obvious homage to "Space 1999." Well, if you've seen it before...and the majority of the Sam & Max target audience probably hasn't.
    • Right before she attempts to assassinate Sammun-Mak, Nefertiti cries "Sic semper tyrannis, junior!" "Sic semper tyrannis" is Latin, and can be translated to "Thus always to tyrants." It's a phrase typically attributed to Marcus Junius Brutus, the most prominent figure in the assassination of Julius Caesar.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Mr Featherly, actually (in-universe). Anything endorsed on Midtown Cowboys instantly becomes a top seller in Germany. This proves to be Jurgen's downfall.
    • The boys start a trend all on their own - they toss a brain up into a gargoyle's bowl to distract some zombies. Later, when they can understand them, one of the zombies thanks them for the brain and says getting it was so much fun, now they'll only eat brains American style - somewhere high up where you have to climb to get it.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: At a certain point in "Culture Shock", you interpret Sam's dreams...

  Sybil: Hm. A weenie in a rat hole. Nothing symbolic there.

    • In Episode 106, Sam flashes his unicorn to everyone

 Sam: Wanna rub my unicorn?

Harry Moleman: I'm not so desperate yet.

    • In Episode 301, various characters have fun with the term "Penal zone". Eventually Max lampshades it:

 Skun-ka'pe: ...Not only did I defeat Sam and Max, but I took care of the Penal Zone in one stroke!

Max: Unfortunate word choice.

    • There's a trophy in the PlayStation 3 version of "The Penal Zone" called "Don't ask your Parents".
    • "The City That Dares Not Sleep: Based on the 80's adult film Totally Into Max"
    • "So this is where Max keeps his junk." "No, that's further down."
  • Giggling Villain: The Big Bad of Season 1, Hugh Bliss. There's something both hilarious and disturbing about a person who giggles while saying "I'll just torture him mercilessly until he begs me to shoot him with his own gun!"
    • According to Jared Emerson-Johnson and Julian Kwasneski, the recording sessions for this character were down right creepy: David Boyll is a very physical actor, and he ACTS EVERYTHING AT THE SAME TIME THEY RECORD HIS VOICE.
  • Go Mad From the Revelation: Defied, as Yog-Soggoth is rather surprised that Sam and Max didn't go mad from just looking at him. But then again, this is Sam and Max we're talking about here.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Sal.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: Timmy Two-Teeth, once the bleeps are removed.
    • Also played for laughs rather than censorship once in the comics-when a grocery store grunt dings their fender, Max tells Sam that he feels the rage building, and Sam counsels letting it out. Max declares, "Hey man! I think you're not good! I'll never be your best friend!" Sam opines that Max is a scary bunny.
  • Goth: Jurgen the vampire from "Night of the Raving Dead"
  • The Great Whodini: Sam starts referring to himself as "the Great Samini" after he masters the pull-a-rodent-out-of-a-hat trick in "The Bright Side of the Moon".
  • G-Rated Drug: Played straight with Whizzer and his soda addiction, but averted when Bosco's truth serum turns out to be vodka.
  • Gut Feeling: Sam and Max have never openly disliked a character that hasn't later turned out to be truly evil. This includes Hugh Bliss, The Soda Poppers, Skunkape, and Charlie Ho-Tep, and Girl Stinky. Even if a character is intended to be a villain, if Sam and Max seem comfortable or friendly with them, then there's a good chance they'll pull a Heel Face Turn later on. Oh, let's see if we can drum up a few examples... Satan, Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, Papierwaite -- twice over, as Sameth and Maximus seem fine with him, then Sam and Max don't seem to consider him much worse than wimpy and annoying -- the Mariachis... Sam seems to be a bit better judge of character, though, since Max was such a Psycho Supporter of Hugh Bliss.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Most frequently use of Sam's gun is dismissed offhand, though in some episodes it gains some unorthodox Mundane Utility. Those rare times Sam and Max gleefully open fire with violent intent result in not much more than noise and their satisfaction or frustration; the plot and puzzles remain bulletproof.
    • The justifications as to why a problem can't be solved with a gun occasionally border on lampshading. At one point, you're confronted by some guards blocking a doorway. What happens if you try to use your gun on them? "Hey, I'll give you this cool gun if you let me in!"
  • Handguns: Santa Claus, in "Ice Station Santa", wields a Red Ridder semi-automatic. Sam's and Max's trademark guns actually get used in this adaptation, compared to Hit the Road and the cartoon.
  • Have a Nice Death: Unusually for a Telltale game, "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak" features numerous ways to die (Indeed, the PS3 version has a trophy if you see them all). However, the game is being told as a cinematic flashback to Sam and Max's ancestors, who aren't supposed to die until the very end of the game. Thus, every time you perish, you're sent back to just before you screwed up and got killed, so you can try again without any hassle.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Noir Sam is basically a parody of this: He's imitating resident Badass Flint Paper, but he also has the option to go into random "Noir" Speeches, which is basically Angst.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ohhhhh boy.... Gordon the Alien Brain, Sal, Max's Superego, and the lovable lagomorph himself.
    • Also don't forget Sal the giant cockroach, who knew the room was filled with deadly radiation but went in anyway; in fact, cockroaches aren't immune to radiation, they just have a higher resistance than humans.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Probably it's no surprise to hear Tales of Monkey Island voice actors in the Telltale Games Series and vice-versa, but, Majus, the voice of Guybrush in the I wonder what will happen in Tales of Monkey Island series of Flash Videos, animated by himself, voices an in game character in "They Stole Max's Brain!", who happens to be an European Tourist.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Jurgen seems to have severe Hoistee's Syndrome in Episode 302. He's quite freaked out about his recently acquired vampire curse; to wit, his room is stocked with ridiculous measures of garlic, crosses, and wolfsbane. However, when (falsely) informed of where the curse's remedy can be found, he leaves the safety of his room-- providing the perfect opportunity for a vampiric elf to catch him. To add insult to injury, he is then kept out of his room by his own vampire deterrents, leaving him powerless to prevent Sam and Max from searching his steamer trunk. He even laments at the irony.
    • Not to mention that in the final puzzle of "Night of the Raving Dead", the only way to kill Jurgen is to possess the monster he created and use the stakes that he keeps in his lab as trophies of the vampire hunters he's killed.
    • You know those psychic powers that were SO useful throughout Season 3? In the finale, not so much - in fact, they're actually used against you.
    • In "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls", Charlie Ho-Tep gets a double dose of petard-hoisting. He is ultimately destroyed when Max tricks him into destroying the Devil's Toybox. He was only able to destroy it because he transformed into the Cthonic Destroyer to fight Max. In addition, he was tricked into attacking the Toybox by way of Max using the Psychic Ventriloquism power. That happens to be Charlie Ho-Tep's own power.
  • How We Got Here: The first half of "Night of the Raving Dead". Subverted in "The Penal Zone"
  • Ho Yay: According to Sybil's (rather flawed) dating computer analysis, Sam and Max are the perfect match for each other.
    • In "Moai Better Blues," you see the following conversation when you examine the punching bag.

 Sam: I got this punching bag so that Max would stop hitting me. So far, it hasn't worked.

Max: But violence is how I show affection!

Sam: Then could you stop loving me before 6AM?

Max: No way! I could never stop loving you, Sam!

    • See the Show Some Leg example below.
    • The Bachelor party in What's New Beelzebub? For once the duo's reaction mirrored the player's exactly.
    • Also, from What's New Beelzebub?, Sam's comment about Sexy Demon Peepers:

 Sam: I hate to admit it, but Peepers is kinda sexy.

Max: If you're into small guys with annoying voices, I guess.

    • A Crowning Moment of Ho Yay: Harry Moleman frisking Sam in "Bright Side of the Moon".
    • In "The Penal Zone", if Max is with you when you pick up the ring, he will confuse the situation for a proposal.

 Max: Sam, this is all so sudden. I don't know what to say.

    • If you use the Ring with Max outside Mamma Bosco's Lab, you get a whole cutscene, parodying DeBeers Commercials, in which Sam thinks about actually giving the ring to Max, but eventually discards this with a 'nah'.
      • The mere fact that Sam actually seems to seriously consider it says it all.
    • Max apparently has a habit of coming up with creepy disaster scenarios that end with him eating Sam to survive. Sam is annoyed by this, so Max tells him to just "stop looking so damn tasty."
    • Also a Crowning Moment of Funny, "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls" has a potential future for Sam as a reenactment of the death scene from Romeo and Juliet. Max is Juliet.

 Sam: And thus, with a kiss, I die! (dies)

Max: Hey, guess what! I wasn't really dead! (sees Sam's body) Ooh...awkward...

    • The Spores all represent a fragment of Max's personality. One of them really seems to have No Sense of Personal Space.
      • "Do you find the heat...alarming, Sam?"
    • As for other characters, there's the way Skun-ka'pe and Papierwaite's relationship is discussed. While their brief cooperation itself doesn't merit raising of eyebrows, everyone involved refers to the end of said cooperation as "dumping", and the two even disagree on which one of them did the dumping.
  • Human Outside Inhuman Inside: Inverted, Dr. Norrington said that The Great Old Ones are identical to humans, and by extension animal life on the inside. "We save the weird stuff for the outside".
  • Hypnotic Head: When Sam is hypnotized in "Culture Shock".
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Max has constantly given Sam a hard time, mocking him even back when they were children, but he won't stand for anyone else doing the same. It's apparent that he only teases him because he thinks he's too shy and wants him to come out of his shell, though, and wants to get a reaction from the usually reserved Sam.
  • I Am Not Spock: In-universe example with Philo Pennyworth, who Sam and Max refer to by "Mr. Featherly", the character he plays on TV. Subverted in Season 2, where he eventually gives up and legally changes his name to Mr. Featherly just so that he doesn't have to correct them anymore.
    • And to make license contracts with Germany easier.
  • I Am the Noun: In a strange twist on this trope, The Narrator declares that "I am Max's Brain!" If you think about it, though, it's a legitimate trope example because he's really only the superego.
  • I Can't Use These Things Together: Lampshaded and used as a Continuity Nod but not normally said in the game (one might suspect this is because the engine in the Telltale games doesn't actually let you use two items in your inventory together):
    • In "Chariots of the Dogs", it's one of the mumblings that senile future Sam says. Also, when you meet Past Sam, he wanders around looking at items talking to himself saying things like "I can't shoot Future Me!", "That doesn't need to be made radioactive," and "It's the Time Elevator" as if he was under control of a player.
    • In "The Penal Zone", using Max's Future Vision power on Sam will occasionally show him in an alley saying, "I can't use these two things together", causing Max to lament on how he wished his partner had a more exciting future.
    • Jurgen uses this in the rap-off if you fail twice.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Almost all the episode titles in the second and third seasons are a variation on the title of a movie. Of a B-Movie, if we may be frank.
  • Idiot Ball: General Skun'ka-pe in "The Penal Zone" is essentially defeated by an Idiot Ball -- by reaching out for a piece of toy that Max claims to be magical, but Skun'ka-pe already knows isn't.
  • I Know Your True Name: Girl Stinky / The Cake of the Damned and Peepers / Dick Peacock are both defeated in this way in Episode 205.
  • Insistent Terminology: Dogglegangers!
    • Max finds terms like "bunny" personally offensive, and will always correct them by reminding them that the proper term is lagomorph. Look it up.
  • The Insomniac: The entire city of New York falls into this during Episode 305, desperate not to succumb to sleep and allow the spores to feed on their dreams, making Monster Max even stronger. The government even starts giving out chocolate-covered espresso beans. Sam manages to go eight days before passing out.
  • Interface with a Familiar Face: In "Reality 2.0", Sam and Max encounter computer programs with interfaces modeled on Myra and Hugh Bliss. The avatar used for the Internet itself resembles the unnamed Director from WARP.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: In 304's finale, the songs being played are actually being sung to the melodies of various children's songs, like "Pop Goes the Weasel" and "You are My Sunshine." Knowing that doesn't really help, though; the chanting is still creepy as hell. It makes sense, though, since it was part of Charlie Ho-Tep's effort to resurrect Junior, who's the youngest of the elder gods.
  • It's All About Me: Brady Culture, which causes his downfall.
    • Max, always. Until the end of Season 3, that is.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Skun-ka'pe's preferred pronunciation of his name, which everyone blind to his villainy uses. No one seems to notice Sam and Max's pronunciation of "Skunkape" except for Sal, which strikes him as witty.
  • Jack Bauer Flint Paper Interrogation Technique: Employed by Noir Sam.
  • The Jailbait Wait

 Girl Stinky: That Sammun-Mak... rowr.

Max: Isn't he, like, ten?

  • I Was Quite a Looker: Momma Bosco. And now she's back to being a looker. That is, if the lack of real hair doesn't bother you.
  • Kick the Dog: During "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls", Sam and Max witness one of the Sam clones finding a small, plush rabbit and hugging it affectionately. This same clone reappears at the Statue of Liberty and is the first victim of Max's rampage after he absorbs a portion of Junior's essence.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Abe Lincoln Must Die!", Max kind of bumps into the fourth wall without breaking it, when Bosco is telling them about how the government watches everybody:

 Max: So that's why I always feel an overbearing presence just outside my field of vision watching and judging my every move. [happens to be looking directly at the Fourth Wall]

Sam: That's me, Max.

    • And again in "Night of the Raving Dead". "New Location Unlocked" indeed.
    • In "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls", Charlie Ho-Tep tells Sam that he is the perfect Straight Man to his act/plan, because he is pretty easy to control and has spend much of his life taking orders without thinking any stray thoughts.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Ted E. Bear's Mafia-Free Playland And Casino.

 Theme song: "No mafia here (What mafia? Please!) We're mafia free (No mafia here) (No mafia mugs) Just doin' business legitimately!"

    • You'll have to shoot better than that to get in the Toy Mafia...not that there's any Toy Mafia here.
    • N-O-M-A-F-I-A OH BABY!
  • Leitmotif: "The Office". Admittedly it's for a location rather than a character, but otherwise it fits the bill perfectly. It even has low-bittage, space-age, and even Ancient Egyptian remixes, heard in Episodes 105, 204 and 303 respectively.
    • You hear it exactly three times in the game - two instrumental versions during the finales of Season 1 and 2, and once during Season 1's credits - but "World of Max" applies specifically to Max.
    • Then there's the smooth remix from Poker Night At the Inventory.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Max levitates in this pose in The Devil's Playhouse Episode 4 after discovering his Magic Feather, which is even more difficult to do with rabbit feet.
  • Licked by the Dog: Stinky is a lazy, scathing, and probably murderous individual, and yet Sal her browbeaten, long suffering, but all around nice guy chef likes her enough to start a relationship with her, so she can't be ALL that bad.
    • Except in 304 and 305 we learn that Stinky is just using Sal to try and kill Grandpa Stinky, and when Sal becomes indisposed she moves onto Skun-Ka'pe. So she really is that bad.
  • Little Stowaway: Amelia Earhart in the episode "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak".
  • Lonely Piano Piece: The ending credits for Episode 305. Didn't think a Sam and Max game could make you cry? Just listen to this.
  • Loose Canon: While the complete canon of the series could qualify, more specifically, Sam and Max Secret Origins: Skun-ka'pe is canon In a way that will never be referenced again.
  • Lovecraft Lite: "The Devil's Playhouse."
  • Love Triangle: Curt, Chippy, and Carol.
    • There's also a really bizarre one implied between Sam, Max, and Momma Bosco. Momma Bosco fell for Max and accused Sam of being jealous, but she lost interest as soon as Max showed any; and now Max is lusting after her, even though she doesn't seem to care anymore, and actually seems to be interested in Sam. Hopefully nothing comes of this, and it really is just implied.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: The episode "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak" is basically one of these.
  • Magic Feather: For once, played completely straight; in 304's finale, Max bemoans how useless he is. Then Yog-Soggoth/Dr. Norrington tells him that since he has the Gift, the power he yearns for will always be inside him, with or without the toys. For once, this is uttered without a hint of sarcasm, and gets by without any Lampshading or snark from any of the characters. Cue Max's personal Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Mass Hypnosis: The whole premise of Season 1.
  • Meaningful Name: You first find the psychic ventriloquist dummy in an ancient Egyptian tomb, so his name doesn't really look out of place. Later in episode 304, you'll realize that Charlie Ho-Tep sounds suspiciously similar to a certain other elder god with connections to Egypt... namely, Nyarlathotep.
  • Mercy Kill: Played with in "Night of the Raving Dead", after Sam and Max turn into zombies. You run into Flint Paper, who tries to pull this trope off, though Sam and Max aren't exactly grateful (unfortunately, zombies can't talk to the living):

 Flint: I hate to do this, but Sam and Max always said they'd rather be dead than one of those... things.

Sam: I don't remember saying that. Did you?

Max: No, I'm pretty sure Flint's making that part up.

    • Also, in "What's New Beelzebub?" Jurgen's monster begs to be killed and Sam complies.
  • Metaphorgoten: Sam manages to jumble a couple of common phrases int eh first minute of Culture Shock

  Sam: Patience is a sharp razor to swallow.

  • Mirror World: The cyber version of Straight and Narrow in "Reality 2.0".
  • The Mole: Literally.
  • Mole in Charge: The mole in the Toy Mafia has become this.
  • Mood Whiplash: "They Stole Max's Brain!" is definitely this. It starts with a gritty noir theme with a mild hint of Ace Attorney in its gameplay, then goes to a part more befitting of the point-and-click gameplay we know. Then the REAL twist comes when a pharaoh who happens to be inhabiting Max's body (It Makes Sense in Context) uses the power of the Toy Chest to planeshift the entire world into an alternate reality where he is ruler of everything, and only Max and the molemen are aware that anything is wrong.
    • And let's not forget The Reveal and conclusion of Beyond the Alley of the Dolls.
  • Moral Event Horizon: From Season 2's finale:

 Max: Well if that doesn't get us into hell, nothing will.

    • Since it's about destroying a building with several people in it, including a dying child (whom Sam and Max will make sure gets to Hell), in order to raise a killer robot... That also counts as Crossing the Line Twice.
    • At first, it was pretty hard to take Hugh Bliss seriously as a villain... at least until he separated Max's bliss by severing his hand, tearing out his stomach, and ripping off his tail.
      • Particularly when he finally really snaps and screams "DIE, BUNNY" before attacking Max, who'd been one of his biggest fans until right then. This is one of the only times in the games where Sam doesn't hesitate to shoot a villain.
    • Damning Santa Claus's soul to Hell, although they did bring him back.
      • The episode where they bring him back actually reveals that there's a whole wing of Hell devoted to people who Sam & Max have, either directly or indirectly, had a hand in the death of; even relatively blameless victims get sent here, so Sam & Max's involvement is the only relevant factor.
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: The staff at Ted E. Bear's Mafia-Free Playland And Casino would like to remind you that the establishment is not owned by the mafia, nor does the mafia occupy the area.
  • Multiple Endings: "The City That Dares Not Sleep" has two slightly different endings, depending on whether Sam's fondest memories of his life with Max (as chosen by you, the player) are of adventuring or crimefighting.
    • If the player picks adventuring as the fondest memory, Sam and Past Max decide to go back in time to do some adventuring in the past.
    • If the player picks crimefighting as the fondest memory, Sam and Past Max will go back into the city to bust the next major threat to the city.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: A running gag is how Girl Stinky never addresses Sam and Max by their names, but picks a random moniker every time. She remembers their names just fine; it is her way of saying she just doesn't care.

 Max: Barnaby and Jug-Jug?!'re not even trying with the names anymore, are you?

    • If you use psychic ventriloquism on her in Episode 304, Max tries to imitate her, but acknowledges that it's harder to come up with those names than it looks.
  • Mythology Gag: Using Mind Reading with the Newspaper Rack? in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls". According to Mike Stemmle, he wanted to do this gag since he read a review of Hit the Road in when the Reviewer was comparing the game humor with watching Penn & Teller, as a some sort of Backhanded Insult. Which was weird, because they love Penn and Teller. The joke is the standard Penn and Teller "3 of Clubs" trick and he wanted to put it in a game for nearly two decades. And he did. In a Sam and Max game.
    • In the Season 1 blooper real, Max/William Kasten accidentally says "subsumed" instead of "consumed." When he catches his mistake, he adds "sub...subsumed, that's a nice word!" Then, in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls," Charlie Ho-Tep gleefully declares that our pathetic reality is on the verge of being subsumed by the glories of the Dark Dimension.
    • If you use Charlie Ho-Tep at the Stinky's jukebox in "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls", Max will sing the first line to Conroy Bumpus's song from Sam and Max Hit the Road.
    • If Sam pockets the sunlamp lightbulb, Max asks if they got deja vu. This is because players need a sunlamp lightbulb to complete a puzzle in Hit the Road.
    • Also in Season 1, some of the items Sam can ask Bosco for include "vegetables shaped like famous naturalists,", and "souvenir snowglobes from the Mystery Vortex," which are two of the four items needed to solve Hit the Road's final puzzle. Another item that can be asked is "tufts of sasquatch hair" which was needed for another puzzle.
    • In "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls", looking out on the clone-infested streets in one area will cause Sam to note that they probably won't be hitting the road any time soon.
  • Nakama: Sam and Max form one just between the two of them. They will do anything for each other; they live and work together, they're utterly inseparable, and they will always protect each other.
  • Never Say That Again: BANAAAAAAAANNNNNNG!
  • Nice Guy: Sal, to the point that Max can't actually bring himself to make fun of the giant cockroach.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sammun-Mak was capable to return to power thanks to be in Max's Body. Now, who put him there in first place? Exactly.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Sybil and Abe, the latter of which said that the former should get plastic surgery so she would look like a giant Moai head.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Episodes 303 through 305 feature Sal, the 6-foot cockroach, whose laid-back speech mimics of Patrick Warburton, as well as Dr. Norrington, who sounds suspiciously similar to Tony Jay.
  • No Indoor Voice: Bluster Blaster. DEFINITELY.
  • No Name Given: The WARP Director.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Devil's Toybox has absolutely nothing to do with the Devil, who shows up in the final episode of Season 3 to clear up this misunderstanding and boost his public image. In fact, it belongs to something much worse. That's right, in this universe, the Devil is not the most evil thing around.
  • Non Sequitur Thud: Happens to the Soda Poppers in "Culture Shock". Also, in "The Penal Zone", as the Alien Brain begins to let himself die, his memories fade and more comedically, his telepathic speech begins to become more incoherent. "Donut button, Sam and Max! Donut button until we meet again in the plaid!"
    • This is actually a reference to the fact that one of the voice actors for a previous episode refused to curse, and so for some lines that were bleeped out, the actor was saying "donut button" rather than anything offensive
      • To elaborate: The * Bleeps* are in the script, so the voice actors have to improvise what's going to be bleeped out. Some Actors have fun with the Bleeps and create extremely foul streams of words, while others just say something that maybe sound offensive if those are bleeped out. The most memorable is one when the voice actor was saying "Donut" and "Donut Button" instead of actual curse words.
  • Not Me This Time: In the last episode of the third season, The Devil himself shows up to refute any claims that the Devil's Toybox is in any way related to him. In fact, the Toybox predates the Devil by an order of magnitude and the object was named this way by mistake.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Another Trope Namer, this one from "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball". Sybil is worried that the Toy Mafia are planning to assassinate her, and she knows Sam and Max are the only two she can trust... problem is, they're the ones the Mafia sent to off her. Max then states how Sybil should go into 'guilt-slinging' as a career.
  • Obviously Evil: Skunkape. And Stinky, once you talk to her.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Spoofed when you first meet Flint Paper in Season 2 and ask him where he was during Season 1; he describes a case that exactly mirrors Sam and Max's adventures in Season One, and they still complain about missing it.
    • And the "epic battle" with Jurgen in "Night of the Raving Dead".
    • Implied by an intertitle in Episode 302; supposedly, after arriving in Egypt, Sameth and Maximus had a series of unlikely grand adventures with Baby Amelia Earhart in tow before abandoning her and heading for the tomb of Sammun-Mak. We don't see them, of course.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The director in "Situation: Comedy" who's already in every studio Sam and Max enter, even if they've just come through the only door from the last place they saw her.
  • Oh Crap: Sam and Papierwaite's absolutely horrified downward look at Sybil's water breaking.

 Yog-Soggoth: ...Pennies?!

    • At the end of "The City That Dares Not Sleep," when Stinky's phone starts to ring.

 Skunkape: Didn't I tell you to get rid of that cellphone?

Girl Stinky: Who could possibly be calling me?

Skunkape: (Eyes widen in horror)

  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Parodied in The Tomb of Sammun-Mak with The Pig Latin "omecay onninway the aterways inefay" Spelled differently in subtitles making it just that much more confusing.
  • One-Winged Angel - Subverted in "What's New Beelzebub." The Soda Poppers' demon forms is nothing more than changing to black clothes.
  • Only Sane Man - Max, ironically enough, during the second half of "They Stole Max's Brain!" He seems to be the only one, save the molemen, who hasn't been affected by the reality rewrite, and consequently is the only one who seems to recognize that he hasn't always been a disembodied brain in a jar, and that Sammun-Mak hasn't always been absolute ruler of the world.
  • The Other Darrin: Andrew Chaikin plays Max in Episode 101, but (apparently due to health reasons) was replaced by William Kasten. As of Season 3, Chaikin is back, but instead of playing Max, he plays The Narrator.
    • Which is kind of playing Max anyway - the Narrator is actually Max's long-dormant superego.
  • Overused Running Gag: Spelled out visually in this gag.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: "Hey, guys! It's me, Bosco!"--who was disguised as someone from France, England, Russia, a half-elf and EVEN HIS OWN MOTHER in the 1st season alone.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: In "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball", "swordfish" is Sam's first guess at the Toy Mafia's password (for once, though, it isn't).
  • Perpetual Poverty: Strangely enough, Sam and Max have absolutely no problem at all getting as much money as they need; but for some reason, they prefer to live in obvious poverty, despite Max actually being the President. This might not be a huge issue for them, though, as they never bother to pay bills or rent.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Max, explicitly called the most violent force in the universe by Season 1's Big Bad.
    • He and Sam have an entire wing of Hell devoted to them and the people they've been involved in the deaths of, even those they didn't even know they were responsible for such as Grandpa Stinky.
    • And the fact that with his psychic powers, he can become one with infinity and destroy the universe in Season 3.
  • Pet the Dog: Stinky trying to save Sal from a humongous monster.
  • Poirot Speak: Hubert Q. Turis, the European Tourist from "They Stole Max's Brain!", has a tendency to drop really long faux-German words into his sentences. What makes this even funnier is that he is voiced by an actual German.

 Hubert: I was about to give [Frankie The Rat] a tip for the help, when all of a sudden a weltraumliebwachetzaubreikrieg erupted in the middle of one of your asphault fjords!

    • To elaborate, a weltraumliebwachetzaubreikrieg is Hubert's people's word for a stunning battle between a strangely-garbed man and an alien space gorilla carrying a brain in a jar! Maybe it's a common occurrence in Europe.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Bosco's paranoia ultimately stems from his mother's grudge against a mysterious store-vandal -- who happens to be Bosco himself that used the time traveling elevator belonging to T.H.E.M and traveled to that time. This silly misunderstanding costs the son his sanity and the mother her life.
  • Porting Disaster: The frame-rates of the Season 1 and Season 2 ports to the Wii will suddenly drop down to the teens, or single digits, on the drop of a hat. Certain sequences are almost literal slide-shows. Additionally, the controls where not adjusted to compensate for the fact that you're using a Wiimote, not a mouse. Mix in poor Wiimote detection, the frame-rate and you've got yourself a point-and-click adventure which is both difficult and a literal pain to play.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: "It's Mole Men! General Skun-ka'pe is sweating Mole Men!
  • The Power of Friendship: Sam's personal hell is a world without Max (and where Peepers is his sidekick).

 Sam: Sorry Satan. Your demon impostor was no match for the true power of friendship and cooperation.

Max: Plus, I ripped out his kidneys.

  • Power Glows: When Max unlocks his full psychic potential, his body radiates white light. It almost looks holy.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation
  • President Evil: Max, if not outright evil, is at best a sociopathic Chief Executive completely unconcerned with human life, his term marked by giant robot uprisings and a three-way civil war in the Dakotas. Following his inauguration, Max Impeachment Weekly becomes a regular publication (which Max looks forward to each week). In The Penal Zone, it's implied that Max got himself re-elected by causing an outbreak of Bubonic Plague.
    • Though the fact that Hell literally froze over probably helped as well.
  • Product Placement: Parodied hilariously in "Night of the Raving Dead" with an episode of Midtown Cowboys that's not much more than a glorified commercial.
  • Production Throwback: Leonard Steakcharmer previously appeared, sans moustache, in Telltale Texas Hold'Em under the name "Boris Krinkle", in which one possible line of dialogue has the character of Grandma telling him that he looks more like a 'Leonard Steakcharmer'."
    • Naturally, when you first meet Leonard in "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball", you get the option to say he looks more like a Boris Krinkle. The poor guy can't win.
      • In "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls," one of the Samulacra finds a bunny plush and gives it an affectionate hug. The rabbit was Gromit's from previous Telltale project, "Wallace and Gromit: The Grand Adventures."
  • Puff of Logic: In "The Penal Zone", Sam notes from the readings on a bank of monitors in Bosco-Tech Labs that it's scientifically impossible for him and Max to exist, and they promptly fade out of existence. They then fade back in when Sam realizes he'd misread the data.
  • Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat: In "The Bright Side of the Moon", only it's not a rabbit. (It's not Max, either.)
  • Punch Clock Villain: The mariachis.
    • Satan, as well.
  • Put on a Bus: In "The Penal Zone", Bosco and Bluster Blaster are in Vegas spending all of the money from Season 1, while Sybil and Abe are still on their honeymoon. Jimmy Two-Teeth and The Bug are also missing, but they aren't properly explained. One could assume that they're one of the many vermin now infesting the city.
    • It's heavily implied that Jimmy and his family are living it up on money Max secretly paid them to spread Bubonic Plague over the country to get himself re-elected.
    • In Episode 304, Bluster Blaster returns, and in 305, Sybil and Abe do, as well.
  • Psycho Supporter: Max is one for Hugh Bliss in Season 1 while the rest of the cast becomes supporters of Sammun-Mak after he rewrites reality in the third act of "They Stole Max's Brain!" Only Max, the Molemen, and the mysterious Dr. Norrington remain to oppose him.
  • Quip to Black: Curt gets these by the boatload in Episode 305. The bleeps that follow from Chippy must be his way of going YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!
  • Rainbow Motif: Prismatology in general, but Hugh Bliss especially.
  • Red Herring: It's practically Girl Stinky's reason for existing.
    • The president's (evidently rather lewd) letter in Chariots of the Dogs is involved in two Red Herrings: One, it's addressed to a "Maxine". By talking to Little Sam, you learn that girls like to dress Little Max up in their dolls' clothes, which sounds like useful information in the context. You also have access to time travel during the episode. Unless they're saving it for Season 4, nothing ever comes of this obvious setup. Two, you use it to finally make Superball spit so you can collect his DNA sample, only to find out it wasn't his DNA you needed.
    • Momma Bosco became a Red Herring in Beyond the Alley of the Dolls, as she was the only one capable of engineering a Night of the Living Sams, and was revealed to have at least one motive for doing so. Or two.
    • In The City That Dares Not Sleep, the Narrator throws everyone up in the air as Red Herrings. It's because when he says 'one of these people will betray Sam and Max' while showing pictures of all characters seen in the game so far, HE'S also in the collection of people too.
    • In Situation: Comedy, you can bake something using a range of disgusting ingredients, but none of them matter, as all that's important is you make a cake, cover it with ketchup with Bosco's condiment dispenser, then feed it to Whizzer.
  • Replacement Goldfish: The ending of The Devil's Playhouse. Max is dead, but Sam immediately meets up with the Past Max from "Chariots of the Dogs." According to Past Max, he comes from a world that almost exactly mirrored the events of The Devil's Playhouse, but which culminated in Sam dying, instead. He then set out with the time machine he and Past Sam had stolen to try and find his friend again. Since Sam and Past Max have both lost their partners, they decide to team up so that they won't be alone.
    • At least one interaction with Mr. Spatula's water cooler refers to him as being literally this trope.
  • Retirony: Parodied during Max's "death scene" in "The Mole, the Mob and the Meatball"
  • Rewriting Reality: Done in 303. It's NOT good.
  • Rule of Three: All over the place, most notably when it is lampshaded in "Moai Better Blues".
  • Running Gag:
    • The fake "based on" references in the title cards carried over from the comics.
    • To Bosco: "Do you have any...* insert random, nonsensical item here* ?"
      • "Nope."
    • "We killed your dog! =D"
    • "Superball!" *Whinny*
  • Sassy Black Woman: Momma Bosco
  • Saw a Woman In Half: In "The Bright Side of the Moon"; it's the "this is no trick" version.
  • The Scrappy: The Soda Poppers. Recognized in canon as the Scrappies when they turn out to be not only a central part of Sam's personal hell, but the very final bosses who, it turns out, had been controlling Satan and been the secret rulers of hell all along.
  • Scenery Porn: The final scene for the crimefighting ending in "The City That Dares Not Sleep" - specifically, the music fading away on a triumphant note as the camera pans upwards, settling on an absolutely breathtaking shot of a sunrise over New York as our two heroes return to the city, the Sam and Max logo appearing onscreen. Visually stunning.
  • Script Swap: With game show questions in Episode 102, cue cards in 104, and a list of swear words (replaced with a grocery list written on the same stationery) in 205.
  • Scry vs. Scry: In "The Penal Zone", you get a toy that allows you to see into the future, starting with the end of the episode, which the episode's Big Bad changes when he gets a hold of said toy.
  • Selective Memory: Inverted in "Chariot of the Dogs". Sam and Max shouldn't be able to know about Superball erasing short-term memory in response to bringing up time travel, but it's the only way to make past Sam forget why he needs the Embarrassing Idol contract.
  • Self-Deprecation: When offered with the suggestion to make a point-and-click adventure game for Christmas by Sameth and Maximus in The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, the elves respond with a long, silent pause followed by a comment that they have to be kidding.

 Sameth:"Point and click adventure games!" (music stops)

Elf (shocked): *Beat* "You've gotta be kidding me!"

  • Sequel Hook: Some pretty darn shameless ones, especially in Season 3. Each episode ends with a potentially Nightmare Fuel cliffhanger, including Sam and Max finding their own skeletons, Sam walking in on his truly brain-dead partner, a hoard of Sam clones attacking the museum, and Max transforming into a horrific Eldritch Abomination.
    • Not to mention the alternate ending to "The City That Dares Not Sleep". ...only the fourth season will confirm it, though.
    • If you're paying attention at the ending, watch how/when Stinky's phone rings and remember the telepathic powers used throughout the season. A sneakier hook, perhaps?
  • Shapeshifting Squick: In The Tomb of Sammun-Mak Max is transformed into a cow and Sam milks him.
  • Shoot Your Mate: Played more or less straight in "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball", when Sam is ordered to shoot Max to test whether or not he's been hypnotized. In "Situation: Comedy", Max is supposed to pretend to shoot Sam as part of a television audition, but being Max he just pulls out a real gun and fires (luckily, Sam's hat has been made bulletproof).
  • Shout-Out: Literally too many to list here. For just one example, Episode 104 begins with Sam and Max standing in an open field west of the White House. (And if you examine the nearest object, Sam remarks "There is a small mailbox here.")

 Sam: I think it's the tinge of green that makes this coffee especially appealing.

Max: I take my coffee green. Like my men!

    • Skun'ka'pe claims the brain in his ship is named "Gordon", in an outright lie. Though it comes back after Sam and Max bring it back to life.

 Skun'ka'pe: Gordon's alive?!

    • In Episode 304, when Max uses the Cthonic Destroyer to destroy some eldritch tentacles, he yells "Unholy THIS!". When Sam questions the strange choice of one-liner, Max claims that he "saw it in a video game".
      • Also in 304, when you explore the cloning facility, you find a mysterious Dispenser, containing "health, ammo, cupcakes, clues, and enlightenment" (except it's empty). If you examine it twice, Sam will pull a wrench from no-where and whack it. If you examine it repeatedly until Sam has whacked it eight times[3], it opens and dispenses a bottle of Banang. Max unplugs the thing to keep the Banang from Sam.
      • In addition, when you examine the tunnel next to the Dispenser, Sam notes that there are cart tracks in the tunnel. Max speculates that there might be gold at the end of it.
    • In 305, you encounter another one of Skun-Ka'Pe's minions, named Gra-Pea'Pe. If you remove all the Punctuation Shaker elements, (the same method Sam uses to turn the name Skun-Ka'Pe into "Skunkape" or "Skunk Ape"), you get "Grapeape", or "Grape Ape".
  • Show Some Leg: Horrifyingly enough, done by Max as a distraction in the Season 2 finale:

 Sam: Max, distract Hugh Bliss for me!

Max: Oh dear, I seem to be completely naked. I hope I don't have to bend over provocatively and--

Sam: That's enough, Max.

  • Shown Their Work: In 305, Agent Superball briefly mentions the 28th Amendment. There are currently only 27 amendments to the Constitution.
  • The Smurfette Principle -- Sybil Pandemik in Season 1, new C.O.P.S. recruit Carol in The Devil's Playhouse (at least, according to the other members).
  • So Long, Suckers!: Done twice in "The Penal Zone". Gets its due lampshade the second time:

 Max: "We've been hearing that a lot lately.

 You see, it's funny because no one cuts the cucumber lengthwise, so... so... you Americans have no sense of humor.

  • Spoiled Brat: The reason of why the Toys of Power were created in first place was for stop the tantrums of Junior, Yog-Soggoth's grand-child. I repeat, Yog-Soggoth's grand-child.

  Norrington: Unfortunately, the Toy Box got lost in the move. And he just will not stop whining about it!

  • Spy Speak: Parodied in "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball", where Sam is given a sign and countersign by which to recognise the mole, and the countersign is such an obvious response to the sign that one might expect him to get that response whether he's talking to the mole or not.
    • Does the carpet match the drapes? Interestingly, you can say this to every character in the game, and every single one takes it literally (except the actual mole), so none of them give the countersign.
    • Actually one other member of the Toy Mafia seems to interpret it as some sort of euphemism for carrying out a hit.
  • Stable Time Loop: Two of those in the Season 2: One is Jimmy Two-Teeth's boxing glove and wife in Episode 201 and the second is Mr.Featherly's egg in Episodes 204 and 205.
  • Start of Darkness: "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak" reveals exactly how and when Jurgen became a vampire. Not surprisingly, Sam and Max's great-grandparents were the ones ultimately responsible.
    • The whole story of the episode is an Origin Story, in fact.
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted in the Telltale games... every crazy thing that happens has lasting consequences, particularly anything involving Max's presidency and unilateral "giant battle robot-based" legislation.
    • Still, despite being Max the president he continues to live in their same building; this is Handwaved when he mentions that he had the Oval Office moved from the White House to Sam & Max's office.
  • Stealth Pun: In Moai Better Blues, Lincoln's head, who is dating Sybil, is attracted to one of the Moai head once he crossed the Bermuda triangle. Love Triangle?
    • In the same episode, basalt sandwiches have euphoric effects; those who eat them get... stoned.
    • In Chariots of the Dogs, the aliens are revealed to be illegal aliens.
    • In the same episode, the incredibly gloomy Moai heads are used for their soul-crushing effect.
    • In "What's New, Beelzebub?", it's revealed that the DeSoto has a soul, and is forced to drive slowly for the rest of eternity. The only comments made are based around how the punishment is so torturous. A ghost resides in this here machine.
    • When you put Sam and Max (or rather, their great-grandpas) inside a can, you get a Can O'Nuts.
    • Lampshaded (if it's possible to lampshade a Stealth Pun) by Max when Sybil explains that she's still getting checks from being Queen of Canada.

 Max: Oh, ROYALTIES. I get it.

  • The Straight Man: This is the main reason Charlie Ho-Tep creates an army of Sam's Clones; because, as a Dummy, he needed a straight man and Sam is perfect for that job.
  • Straw Feminist: Bosco's mother. She is not very obnoxious though, and merely wants to make babies without a man, preferring the baby to be an angelic little she.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: When trying to crack the code on Bosco's laser grid keypad, Max suggests that Sam should make the display read "BOOBIES" for a lark. It turns out that the code actually is 5318008, much to Sam's chagrin.
  • The Stinger: Episode 305 has at least two of them that can be triggered after the credits roll, both covering how Max is still there when the next season comes out.
  • Stripped to the Bone: The great-grandpas of Sam and Max are skeletonized by moleman magic at the end of Episode 302.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: Ted E. Bear's Mafia-Free Playland and Casino
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Characters are frequently killed off, even if they were introduced in much earlier episodes.
  • Summoning Ritual: The "boss fight" in Episode 302 is to thwart a summoning ritual of Yog-Soggoth
    • And in 304, The "boss fight" is to thwart a summoning ritual for Yog-Soggoth's grandson, Junior.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Lampshaded and then hand-waved in "Moai Better Blues"; apparently Sam, learning from a near-death experience (probably the Cleansing Bath from the Season 1 finale), has modified his tie into an aqualung, while Max is amphibious.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Frankie the Rat in season 3. Pretty much the only reason they didn't just re-use Jimmy Two-Teeth is because his voice actor was gone.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Ted E. Bear's Mafia-Free Playland and Casino. A sample verse from their theme song:

 Ted E. Bear's is oodles of fun

Slots and sandwiches and tokens and guns

And look, no mobsters, nary a one

Just you and me and Ted E. Bear!

No mafia, no (No mafia mugs!)

We're mafia free (No mafia here!)

What mafia? Please!

No shady leaves upon the family tree!

    • In 304, you can read Sam's mind in Bosco-tech, and he's thinking something along the lines of: "Some people might be afraid to be tied to an id-driven psychopath with psychic powers, but not me. And I'm not just thinking this because Max is reading my mind right now."
    • In the same episode, while talking to Charlie Ho-Tep during the finale, Sam accuses him of being evil and crazy. He angrily retorts that he's not evil or crazy, OR illiterate.
    • In the Featureless Warehouse District is the Not-Clone-Related Industries Building, on the corner of Dopple and Gang.
    • Also from The Penal Zone:

 General Skunkape: I bring all the molemen on a wonderful off-world vacation they're never forget! (I don't kill them).

  • Symbol Swearing: And don't forget the writing lessons of Timmy Two-Teeth in "What's New, Beelzebub?"
  • Take That: In 'Reality 2.0', while examining a ballet poster:

 Sam: Ferret Lake.

Max: Ooh, sequels are always more beloved than the originals!

Sam: *with emphasis* Yes. Yes they are.

    • In "The Penal Zone":

 Sam: I wonder what would happen if I open this wardrobe...

Max: Don't do it, Sam! It'll probably lead to a land of whimsical characters and thinly-disguised religious allegories!

Sam: Good point. We already had that kind of trouble when we went into that tollbooth.

  • Take That Me: Max had no idea vampires were so fruity. Now, three guesses who voiced Jurgen.
    • Toy Tycoon Kringle's underlings ask Sam and Max's great grandpas about new ideas for toys.

 Sameth: Point-and-click adventure games! (Maximus looks at Sameth, embarrassed; even the music stops!)

Elf: ...You've got to be kidding.

  • Taking You with Me: Max goes out with a bang, but he doesn't do it alone.
  • Tear Jerker: The ending for 305. Max dies, and doesn't get better.
    • When Papierwaite tells Sam that Max's tumor became infected with dark matter and they won't be able to operate normally, instead of stepping back from the problem and trying to think of a solution like he normally would, he weakly, almost childishly, asks if Papierwaite can "make it better." This being Sam and Max, he obviously immediately follows with another hilarious quip; but he sounds so defeated when he says this, it cranks Sam's woobie factor Up to Eleven.
  • Temporal Paradox: One of these is used to explain how Max will still be there when another season arrives. The problem is, Past Max also talks about having to go through on Sam what present Sam had to go through on Max, making you wonder, how exactly is Sam alive in Season 3 if what past Max says is true?
    • It seems that, in the Sam and Max universe, time travel works off a divergent timeline kind of a deal. However, this is contradicted by the whole thing with Bosco.
    • Look it works like this: Remember in The Chariots Of The Dogs when Sam and Max from the First Season stole the time machine of the Second Season Sam and Max? And then when the alien ship started to blow up, Season One Sam and Max stole it again, leaving Season Two Sam and Max on the ship? Season One Sam and Max became Sam X and Max X when they made those choices. Sam X got the powers instead, and Max X had to blow him up. From there, he somehow got the time machine to go to the canon Sam's timeline. The End.
      • In addition, Past Max doesn't say that Past Sam had psychic powers. He had electromagnetic powers. Something crazy presumably went down, leading to Past Sam getting those electromagnetic powers. This didn't happen in Current Sam's timeline, so he didn't become a monster. Presumably, Past Max also has The Gift, but didn't encounter any Toys of Power.
  • The Three Trials: Happens often enough in the Telltale Games adventures that the duo catch on and start Lampshading it.
    • Averted in The Penal Zone. Since the episodes aren't isolated incidents, it follows more of a narrative sense, usually only having one trial at a time. Maybe two.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Some fans' reactions to the announcement that the upcoming Season 3 will replace the Point-and-Click interface with a controller-friendly one, similar to Wallace and Gromit. Never mind that this is for the console games only.
    • Also, the complaint that Max's Future Vision makes the puzzles too easy.
      • Not to mention the complaints about Bill Farmer and Nick Jameson not voicing Sam and Max. (Telltale tried to get them to voice said characters, but they couldn't)
  • This Trope Is Bleep: When Myra is interviewing the Soda Poppers in "Situation: Comedy", their answers have many words arbitrarily bleeped out, resulting in moments like Specs admitting that he regrets not having *bleep*ed his brother.
    • In "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak:

 Maximus: Sameth, why can't more people get along?

Sameth: Because most people are * bleep * ed , Maximus.

    • In "What's New, Beelzebub?", Hugh Bliss works as a *bleep*er. Specifically, he applies Sound Effects Bleeps to any and all profanity. Even innocuous stuff like "doo-doo", "freakin'", "peacock", and the name "Dick". Eventually, his list of swears gets replaced with Satan's grocery list, causing him to start bleeping words like "vanilla" and "soda". And yes, this does cause the Soda Poppers to be referred to as the "*bleep* Poppers" for the rest of the game.
  • Time Travel: "Chariots of the Dogs" in spades.
    • "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak" plays with this. On the surface, Sam and Max are just changing the reels on the projector to skip to different parts of the movie. But the way Sammeth and Maximus use clues from later reels to solve puzzles in earlier reels - for example, their toy idea - definitely draws a parallel to straighter uses of time travel. Maximus's menu of psychic powers does refer to the movie reel as "Astral Projection", so there's definitely something going on...
  • Title Drop: The earliest is Episode 4 of the first season:

 Max: What do we do now, Sam?

Sam: Isn't it obvious, Max? Abe Lincoln must die!

    • Done in EVERY episode in Season 3. Lampshaded in The City that Dares Not Sleep.

 The Narrator: Idle hands are the devil's playthings, but an idle mind is the devil's playhouse... Didn't think I could work in the title, did you?

    • Done by Max in What's New, Beelzebub?
  • Trouser Space: During a brief body swap in "Night of the Raving Dead", Sam's first comment (in Max's body) was "So that's where you keep your gun!", which implies Max has the gun somewhere on his person, raising this as a possibility.
    • This is an actual location in The Devil's Playhouse.
  • T-Word Euphemism: From "The Penal Zone":

 Sam: Spider-webs and spooky houses go together like well-dressed dogs and naked bunnies.

Max: How many times have I told you not to use the "b-word", Sam?

  • Ugly Cute: Sam Jr. in 305.
  • Un Cancelled: Season 1 is effectively this to the cancelled Lucas Arts sequel, which also would have been the series' jump to 3D.
  • Undercover As Lovers: In "Beyond the Alley of the Dolls." When Flint Paper demands to know who Girl Stinky's mysterious Mr. S is, she claims that it's Sam and that they've been carrying on a torrid love affair for years, all before Sam can come up with a different story. Since he's trying to figure out what Stinky's actually up to, he has to go along with it. Cue what may qualify for the Crowning Moment of Funny of that episode.

 Flint Paper: I don't know what kinda game you're playing here, Sam, but now that I've seen you and Stinky smooching, all I really wanna do is climb into a bottle and wipe out a few brain cells.

Max: Y'know, Sam, that whole Stinky-kissing thing kinda made me wish for he sweet release of death, too.

Sam: I know, little buddy, but it'll be worth it if we can track Stinky to the REAL Mr. S who's controlling all these Sam clones.

  Jurgen: You clearly know nothing about the teenage girls! She thinks I'm even more tragically sexy than before!

  • Vampires Own Nightclubs: Jurgen's Zombie Factory.
  • Very Special Episode: Sam and Max are supposed to film one of those for Midtown Cowboys in "Night of the Raving Dead", but it turns out to be an excuse for Product Placement.
  • Video Game Geography: The Disorient Express in Episode 302 runs between New York and Egypt. Don't ask how it got over the Atlantic Ocean. Lampshaded if Sameth talks to Maximus and chooses to talk about the journey; Maximus asks when they're going to arrive, and Sameth's answers all have the train passing over a body of water (the Denmark Straits, the North Sea, etc.).
    • It's referenced in a throwaway line that it's the first ever train to go under the Atlantic Ocean, but it's easy to miss.
  • Villain Decay: Skunkape. Good lord, Skunkape. For most of Episode 301, he's a force to be reckoned with, especially after using Future Vision to see how he would be defeated and working things accordingly. And then he's tricked back into the Penal Zone by a toy he knows is fake. In every appearance thereafter, he just gets more and more pathetic. Specifically, his team up with Papierwaite falls apart, he is defeated by Sam and a bunch of Mole Men, is dragged off by a zombie-esque army of Sam clones, and gives up the last Toy of Power for an obviously fake Devil's Toybox.
  • Villain Song: The Time Mariachi's song in "Chariots of the Dogs". It's actually subverted, because they're actually pretty nice guys, and they're only sending souls of the dead because it's their job.
  • Visual Pun: Several. One of the better ones is the slot machine in the casino that is a literal one-armed bandit. And that's not just decorative; it outright steals your money!
  • Voices Are Mental: Averted in 305 with Grandpa Stinky and one of Skunkape's minions.
    • Played straight in 203 and 303, though.
  • The War Room: In Episode 104.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Often invoked by Max, such as this example from Sam and Max Hit the Road, after the "Cone of Tragedy" ride has given Sam a cardiac arrest but in reality all of his stuff has been thrown off the ride.:

 Max: Ooh, I feel tragically empty.

Sam: Me too. It's as though an integral part of my essence has been ripped from my being.

Max: Let's do it again!

  • Weaponized Landmark: The Lincoln Memorial -- and the Intercontinental Ballistic Washington Monument -- from "Abe Lincoln Must Die!"
  • Welcome to Corneria: Though it usually takes a couple of clicks on someone for this to happen. It is totally worth it to hear what the people say.
    • Cuddly Bear from The Mole, the Mob and the Meatball parodies this trope as his only response to just about any dialogue tree choice is "Wanna play cards?"
  • We Sell Everything: Bosco's store throughout the Telltale series.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: Sam's response to Max's getting his bliss separated.

 Max: We can plant a tree! Or teach a child to read! Or teach a tree to read! Yaaaaaaay!

Max: Can we read to the blind, Sam? Can we?

Max: I don't need my earthly stomach any more, Sam. I'm on Hugh Bliss's cleansing fast of water, lemon, and sunshine!

 Max: I know you're the source of all evil, but wasting office supply for personal use... That's just wrong!

    • Max apparently loves this trope, in "The Penal Zone":

 Max: "OK that's it! Destroying the world, conquering the Galaxy, whatever; but driving a gas-guzzler is where I draw the line!"

    • Apparently, the most uncivilized act that can be committed in mole-man culture, particularly those of Egyptian heritage, is cutting a cucumber lengthwise.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: By the C.O.P.S. to Sam at the end of the first part of "They Stole Max's Brain!"

  Sam: Worst. Arms dealer. Ever.

 Sam: I didn't think Max had a superego.

The Narrator: Yes. Well, you're fat. It would seem that neither of us get the respect or attention we deserve.

Sam: You don't have to be a jerk about it.

    • You break Leonard's will in Episode 103 with a barrage of "yo mama" jokes.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: Justified in that Sam has done more innocent things than guessing Bosco's keycode and has gotten a concussion for it.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: With a bunch of Sam's Clones, just for a change.
    • And played straight with zombies in Episode 203.


  1. Then again, the term does derive from the Greek word for dog....
  2. Though Sameth has a pony that Maximus is itching to get his hands on -- same new story this generation.
  3. the minimum number of wrench-hits required to upgrade a Dispenser in Team Fortress 2
  4. Does Not Exist, and yes, the Duke Nukem franchise features plenty of crates in every entry
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