A deliciously vicious collection of British comedies, all centering around various generations of the Blackadder family as embodied in its sole visible member, Edmund -- a cynical, snide and outright caustic British nobleman (he'd be a Deadpan Snarker if he could just stop sneering) who never seems to succeed at most of his schemes, but never quite loses either (except usually at the end, where he dies horribly or wins spectacularly). Each Edmund in each generation is aided by a Bumbling Sidekick in the shape of his corresponding Baldrick, an ignorant and filthy manservant and dogsbody of unhealthy habits and preoccupations. His typical Foil is a classic Upper Class Twit of far higher social station than his own, whom he is forced to serve hand and foot.
Season one, written by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis, featured Blackadder as a hapless loser, Baldrick as his more cunning servant, and a series of Shakespearean in-jokes. Much of the humour was reliant on the sort of rubber-faced comic buffoonery Atkinson would later use in Mr. Bean. The show had lots of expensive location footage but was not a ratings success. Nonetheless it was recommissioned for a second series, (albeit with a drastically reduced budget), which, after a change of direction, and writers, Grew the Beard and became extremely well-loved. The show was a smash hit from its second season onwards. Seasons two to four saw Ben Elton replace Atkinson on the writing team, the Blackadder character repurposed as the Deadpan Snarker, and a greater emphasis on clever dialogue, running gags, and historical subversion. The retooled show became a comedy institution, although it has resisted several attempts at revival.
One of the most impressive aspects of the show was the subtle differences between the various incarnations of Blackadder: the dashing but impulsive Lord Blackadder, the cool and ruthless E. Blackadder Esq and the weary, rather less evil Captain Blackadder all had much in common character-wise, but were recognisably different people. A similar variation can be seen in the Baldricks. (For some reason, the smarter Blackadder was, the lower his station. The opposite was true of Baldrick.)
Besides the great writing, Blackadder's success rests on the shoulders of stars Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson, whose comic instincts combine to produce some of the most delightfully snarky wit that has ever been seen on television. A similarly skilled supporting cast, including Miranda Richardson, Hugh Laurie, Tim McInnerny, Rik Mayall, and Stephen Fry just added to the pleasure and the outrage.
The original four seasons of Blackadder are:
- The Black Adder. An alternate history set during the period of the Wars of the Roses.
- Blackadder II. Elizabethan London.
- Blackadder the Third. During the Regency
- Blackadder Goes Forth. World War I, in the trenches of the Western Front.
There were also several one-shot Blackadder specials:
- Blackadder: The Cavalier Years. Set during the English Civil War
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol. Victorian era, an Affectionate Parody of A Christmas Carol
- Blackadder Back & Forth. The 21st Century Blackadder and Baldrick trip through time in a TARDIS.
All four seasons, but not the specials, are available on Netflix.
There exists an unaired pilot episode of the first season, which can with some luck be found floating around on the internet. It featured Prince Black Adder as a Deadpan Snarker and Baldrick as the idiot dogsbody the fans came to know from season two onwards; unfortunately this direction was not kept, and instead the characters were rewritten and the humour based on inane physical Slapstick. Several jokes and scenes of the unaired pilot were recycled in various first season episodes.
Came second in Britain's Best Sitcom.
Recap still under construction, help will be much appreciated.
Tropes Present Across the Series
- The Ace: Lord Flashheart
- Artistic Licence History: Many, many examples per episode, to say nothing of the show's overall track record. But hey, Rule of Funny, people! Plus, The Black Adder can explain away its inaccuracies as Henry VII doing a lousy job of rewriting history.
- Bad News in a Good Way
- Bandaged Face
- Bawdy Song: Several examples in certain episodes, from the second season onwards.
- British Brevity: Consists of four seasons of six episodes each, plus the occasional special.
- Black Comedy
- Buffy-Speak: Several times.
- Blackadder II - Edmund is trying to avoid drinking because he Can't Hold His Liquor.
Melchett: You twist and you turn like a... twisty-turny thing.
- Blackadder the Third - Edmund is attempting to bring the dim-witted Prince up to speed on the state of the nation.
Edmund: Disease and deprivation stalk our land like... two giant stalking things.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Baldrick is a well-love example of the trope (and indeed the former Trope Namer), appearing from the second and subsequent seasons.
- But You Screw One Goat!: A running gag across all four series.
- Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett, intelligent and deep. / Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett, a shame about the sheep!
- Butt Monkey: Baldrick is probably the most obvious, but Percy, George, Darling and Edmund himself all fit the bill in some way as well.
Blackadder, Blackadder – nothing goes as planned!
Blackadder, Blackadder – life deals him a bum hand!
Blackadder: It is the way of the world, Baldrick: the abused always kick downwards. I am annoyed, and so I kick the cat; the cat pounces on the mouse; and, finally, the mouse bites you on the behind.
Baldrick: And what do I do?
Blackadder: Nothing. You are last in God's great chain.
- Characterization Marches On: As already mentioned, Blackadder was far less competent in the first series whereas Baldrick was far more intelligent.
- Commedia Dell'Arte: Edmund starts out as a Capitano character, but Season 2 ReTools him as a Brighella. Baldrick is Arlecchino throughout, and Percy is a Pierrot.
- Commedia Dell Arte Troupe
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: various examples, especially in the first two series, such as the (latest) Archbishop of Canterbury dying because a soldier bowed to him, "forgetting" that his helmet had a metre-long spike on it, or Edmund's predecessor as Chief Executioner, whose death was apparently a bureaucratic error, though Queenie seems to know more about it than she's letting on. Fantasised, though not acted out, by Edmund Blackadder III, when he asks "Baldrick, does it have to be this way? Our valued friendship ending with me cutting you up into strips and telling the prince that you walked over a very sharp cattle grid in an extremely heavy hat?"
- Deadpan Snarker: Blackadder in the second and subsequent seasons; also, arguably, Melchett in the second series and Darling in the fourth.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Often. Nearly all Blackadders have unpleasant reactions to people they find somewhat irritating. Queenie has ordered executions for celebrating Christmas (and then changing her mind and ordering them for those who don't give her impressive enough gifts). The first Edmund's skeptism to witchcraft also got him accused and tried (and almost burned) for it by a corrupt "witchsmeller".
- The Ditz: Baldrick
- Everything's Better with Bob: Bob, also known as Kate (in the second series) and Bobbie (in the fourth).
- The Evil Prince: Prince Edmund. Mr. Blackadder went on to become this, also, after his opportunistically usurping Prince George at the end of series three.
- The Fighting Narcissist - Lord Flashheart.
- Flowery Insults: They get creative. For instance: "Baldrick, if a hungry cannibal were to crack open your skull, I doubt there'd be enough brains in there to cover a small water biscuit."
- Generational Saga
- The Gump: Captain Blackadder from Blackadder Goes Forth is the only incarnation who isn't a friend/relative of a government figure. However, he did save Field Marshall Haig from a mango-wielding pygmy at Mboto Gorge. The intro to Blackadder: Back & Forth lampshades this with a montage of various incarnations throughout history, including one Desert Rat giving the bird to Winston Churchill behind his back.
- High Turnover Rate: Archbishop of Canterbury in the first series, Lord High Executioner in the second. And you can probably guess who gets both those jobs, just after the High Turnover Rate is commented on in detail.
Melchett: [Unrolls scroll] List of candidates for the position of Lord High Executioner: Lord Blackadder.... [Rolls up scroll]
- Historical Beauty Update: Discussed on the trope page.
- Historical In-Joke: The entire premise of the show (particularly the first series) with many references helpfully explained on the DVD collection for those of us unfamiliar with British history. The best of these is the final episode of the third series, which explains why the moronic Prince George is remembered by history as a man of wit and character.
- Hollywood History: Mostly played for laughs - the first series had enough history-based humour to prove the producers are well informed, after all. Blackadder the Third had a lot of Anachronism Stew with respect to the order of events in the Napoleonic Wars (and every notable 18th century writer alive and writing at the same time).
- Identical Grandson: Prince Edmund, Lord Blackadder, E. Blackadder Esq, Captain E. Blackadder and King Edmund Blackadder III.
- Also true for the Baldricks.
- Possibly true for Prince George and Lieutenant George.
- Also the Melchetts, Percys, Flashhearts and Kate (aka Bob)
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Titles of season 2 episodes are one word long and pertain to the subject of the episode in question ("Bells" as in wedding bells, "Chains" referring to imprisonment); season 3 uses The Noun and the Noun (to reference Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, which are set in the same era) - for example "Dish and Dishonesty"; season 4 gives all bar one its titles military ranks with double meanings - "Private Plane," "Major Star," "General Hospital," etc- the exception being "Goodbyeee...", the last one, named after a popular World War I song and referencing the episode's famous Downer Ending.
- Just Like Robin Hood: Parodied briefly.
- Kill'Em All: Played for laughs in the finales of seasons 1 and 2, then played tragically straight in the finale of season 4.
- Large Ham: Brian Blessed in series one, Tom Baker in series 2, Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Connor in series 3 (as a pair of actors, no less), Rik Mayall and Stephen Fry elsewhere.
- Manipulative Bastard - Blackadder himself.
- Malaproper: Baldrick and George, on occasion.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles
- Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Amy Hardwood and Nurse Mary Fletcher-Brown, and possibly Queenie (all played by Miranda Richardson).
- Oddly Small Organization: In Blackadder II, the Queen appears to have only three courtiers; in Blackadder the Third, the Prince Regent has a staff of two; and in Blackadder Goes Forth, Capt. Blackadder has only two men under his command. In the latter case, the number of men under Captain Blackadder's command is revealed in the final episode, although even then it is rather small.
- The Pig Pen: Baldrick
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Doesn't usually take much of a slight. The most notable example is probably that following Edmund being stripped of his titles in the last episode of series one.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: How each series ends.
- Except Series III, which end with only Prince George dead, and King George (who is as mad as a spoon) thinking Blackadder is Prince George (and several other prominent people also thinking this, or at least willing to play along since it means not having an idiot as regent and future king).
- Running Gag: Many.
- "[Person], [something] is the most [adjective] [thing] since [humorously exaggerated comparison]."
- "I have a cunning plan..."
- Turnips are mentioned a lot, from the first season one. In season three, they become Baldrick's only ambition in life.
- Star-Making Role: For Tony Robinson in the UK.
- The Stinger: Used on occasion, probably most memorably in the Blackadder II finale.
- Surrounded by Idiots: EDMUND.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Arguably George for Percy. Interestingly, he became more of an example as time went by. In Season 3 his position as Edmund's king made the dynamic somewhat different, but season 4 made him almost identical to Percy.
- Talks Like a Simile: Edmund often uses elaborate similes.
- Time Travel: Blackadder Back & Forth
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol has no actual travel, but does show peeks into the past and future.
- Too Dumb to Live: Everyone who isn't Edmund. Edmund himself is more like Too Surrounded by Idiots to live: He is accidentally poisoned by Percy in Series 1; no-one is able to see through Ludvig's Queenie disguise in Series 2, not even the real Queenie; and in Series 4 he has his commanding officers like Field Marshall Haig and Melchett, who believe that the best strategy is to climb over the top and "walk very slowly towards the enemy". A strategy which has already failed at least fourteen times, no less.
- Took a Level In Dumbass: Baldrick between series one and two.
- Universal Adaptor Cast
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Particularly the season three Blackadder, who is a thief and a murderer several times over by the finale.
- In season two, no one - including the balladeer - cares about him much:
Blackadder, Blackadder – his life was almost done!
Blackadder, Blackadder – who gives a toss? No one!
- Upper Class Twit: Several, most notably Lord Percy Percy [second season] and Prince Regent George (the future George IV) [third season]. Not that Percy's season 1 ancestor is any better, as he appears to be quite a bonehead.
- Villain Protagonist: Played with in Edmund, although only the third really qualifies.
- With Friends Like These...: Blackadder to Percy in the first two series.
- World of Snark: The shallowness, stupidity, and downright arrogance of the world around him make Blackadder's hijinks as a Villain Protagonist particularly satisfying
- Zany Scheme: Blackadder tends to have one for every occasion. Baldrick also cooks all sorts of these up...problem is, with his intelligence, most of them border on the ridiculous (Such as in season 3's "Nob and Nobility", where he suggests to Edmund that they wait until their heads have been cut off by French revolutionaries before they make an escape, in the manner of a headless chicken). His season 1 plans were perfectly feasible and at times even worthy of Codename 47. That said though, Edmund does take him up on one plan in season 4. Percy also had his share of these in the first two seasons.
- Sometimes the situation is shown as being so desperate that Blackadder is forced to resort to one of Baldrick's plans due to the lack of any other alternatively (for example, trying to rewrite The Dictionary which take Samuel Johnson 10 years in only two nights).
Tropes Present in The Black Adder
- Abhorrent Admirer: The Spanish Infanta in "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Arranged Marriage: Edmund is arranged to marry the Infanta for diplomatic reasons. When the political situation changes, he ends up marrying an eight-year-old princess - which, oddly, was Truth in Television.
- Bragging Theme Tune: The theme is a parody of this trope. Although it does say how wonderful Blackadder is, it does seem like the truth slips out.
- Burn the Witch: "Witchsmeller Pursuivant"
- Catch Phrase: King Richard IV's "CHISWICK!! FRESH HORSES!!
- Carnival of Killers: The "six most evil men in England" in "The Black Seal".
- Downer Ending: It's not as crippling a Tear Jerker as the end of the fourth series, but the ending of the first season is still sad. Funny, but sad at the same time.
- Dramatic Unmask: Subverted in "The Black Seal", where an old and unkempt man Edmund has been travelling with transforms, apparently by magic, into a tall, striking nobleman with fine clothes and powerful-looking facial hair, asking if Edmund recognises him. Edmund does not. The man then reaches up and removes two fake-looking bushy eyebrows, revealing... two completely identical bushy eyebrows. Edmund immediately recognises him as Philip of Burgundy... The HAWK!
- The Dung Ages
- Early Installment Weirdness: To those familiar with the later series, The Black Adder may seem a little odd. This include the different characterization, the larger ensemble of characters, differences in the writing (Ben Elton replaced Rowan Atkinson as writer from Blackadder II onwards), as well as the significantly larger budget that allowed large sets, crowd scenes and location shooting. The later seasons would focus more on dialogue and characterisation.
- Evil Versus Evil: Edmund vs The Witchsmeller Pursuivant and Edmund vs Phillip "The Hawk" of Burgundy.
- Faux Yay: Blackadder attempts this in "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Funny Money: One opening sequence in the first season claimed that "the egg has been replaced by the worm as the lowest unit of currency".
- Groin Attack: Lord Yeovil in "The Foretelling": "Ah, yes, groin job!" (even though this obviously didn't actually happen).
- Historical In-Joke / Up to Eleven: In "The Archbishop", at one point Baldrick mentions a high-level exemption of sin paper is signed by "Both Popes"--which at first seems like an Up to Eleven joke, but around this point in history there really were two Popes (in Rome and in Avignon) due to the Great Schism. Then a true example of Up to Eleven appears in the epilogue, in which the abbess mentions that another document is signed by "All three Popes!" (There was a brief period in history where there were three Popes, but not at the point the series was set).
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Baldrick
- Kangaroo Court: Edmund's trial by the Witchsmeller Pursuivant is this Up to Eleven. Where to begin: Edmund's entire case is thrown out when the Witchsmeller convinces Prince Harry that they should ignore the testimony of a witch pleading for his life, Percy - who is defending Edmund - is accused of being a witch and is also ignored, and when Baldrick counters the Witchsmeller's assertion that carrots grow on trees, the Witchsmeller uses his knowledge of carrots to 'prove' Baldrick is a witch as well. He then produces a signed confession by a horse, an old woman Edmund has never met, and an obvious poodle that he claims is Edmund's son. It is almost fitting to the ridiculousness of the situation that our heroes apparently escape with hitherto unused and never mentioned again magical powers of teleportation.
- The ending implies that this was the work of the Queen, actually being a real witch.
- Large Ham: Frank Finlay as the Witchsmeller Pursuivant.
- Plus Brian Blessed, as usual.
- Legion of Doom: For the first season finale, Blackadder gathers "the six most evil men in all England!" And then they promptly betray him when they learn from Edmund just how much of a big villain The Hawk/Philip of Burgundy is.
- Literary Allusion Title: To The Black Arrow, an adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson also set in the Wars of the Roses.
- Magnificent Seven: Inverted in "The Black Seal" as Edmund gathers the six most evil men in England (plus himself) to take over the kingdom. And then they end up siding with Edmund's enemy, The Hawk/Philip of Burgundy.
- The Middle Ages: The setting of the first series. (See also The Late Middle Ages)
- My Name Is Not Durwood: The King has a habit of calling Edmund by different names (Occasionally (read: deliberately and Once an Episode) forgetting Edmund's his son at all). The King finally calls him Edmund in the last episode after he wakes from his torture-induced coma, leading to this exchange:
King Richard: Edmund!
Edmund: Father, you called me Edmund!
King Richard: Sorry, Edgar.
- Pet the Dog: Edmund reading a bedtime story to his child wife at the end of "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Retcon: What Henry VII did once he took power: erased all record of Richard IV's reign.
- Rhetorical Request Blunder: Richard IV was telling the story of Henry II accidentally ordering the murder of Thomas Becket to his wife to contrast the situation there with how happy he is with the current Archbishop, and a couple of Mooks overheard and decided to "help." The two of them sitting at opposite ends of a very long table contributed to the misunderstanding. He initially said "Never again will I have to say 'Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?'" (he had in fact had several of the previous archbishops murdered), but had to repeat the last bit.
- Robotic Torture Device
- Shout-Out: Edmund's child bride in "The Queen of Spain's Beard" is named Princess Leia, and has a rather familiar hairstyle.
- Sinister Minister: Edmund himself in "The Archbishop", and Friar Bellows in "The Black Seal".
- Smug Snake: Prince Edmund, although his smugness tends to evaporate quickly when his schemes (inevitably) go wrong.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Toward the end of "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Time Skip: In "The Black Seal", Edmund is trapped in a dungeon with an insane old man who laughs maniacally after Edmund asks if there's a way out. We are shown a cue card reading "Twelve Months Later". And the man is still laughing.
- Title Drop: Parodied in the first episode when Edmund decides to take the name of The Black...Vegetable! Fortunately Baldrick suggests a better title for the series/his Lord.
- Translator Buddy: The Spanish Infanta's translator, who provides a few cheap gags.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Prince Harry somehow completely fails to notice that the Witchsmeller Pursuivant is on fire, until the flames cover about 100% of his body and his screaming has risen to a fairly loud volume.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: You horrid little man!
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: In "The Archbishop", Baldrick shows off a range of priced curses signed by ecclesiastical figures, the cheapest of which reads "Dear Enemy, I curse you, and I hope something moderately unpleasant happens to you, like an onion falling on your head".
Tropes Present in Blackadder II
- Alcohol Hic: Pretty much everyone ends up drunk in "Beer" - including the Balladeer, who hiccups during his song at the end.
- Anything That Moves: The baby-eating bishop of Bath and Wells will "do anything to anything": animal, vegetable, even mineral.
- Audience Murmurs: Parodied in "Potato". Everyone on the ship is panicking / arguing except Tom Baker, who is clearly saying "Rhubarb!" over and over again.
- Ax Crazy: Queenie enjoys beheading everyone and anyone for the slimmest of reasons. She just has other people do the beheading for her.
- Bawdy Song: Several examples in "Beer", all of which are also Drunken Songs.
See the little goblin
See his little feet
And his little nosey-wose
Isn't the goblin sweet?
- Buffy-Speak (Notably in "Beer")
Lord Melchett (in regards to Edmund's constant leaving-and-entering): You twist and turn like a...twisty-turny thing!
- In "Money", Edmund (usually a master of similes) says: "The grave opens up before me like a... big hole in the ground."
- But You Screw One Goat! / Noodle Incident
Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett - intelligent and deep.
Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett - a shame about the sheep!
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Edmund, in "Beer"
Blackadder couldn't hold his beer;
The art of boozing he has not mastered.
- Chew Toy: Baldrick obviously, but also Percy, which is a bit of a Woobie since he is sincerely a good friend of exceptional loyalty. Everyone (especially Edmund) is this to Queenie, too.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Nursie. Queenie, too, and also Percy to a certain extent.
- Couch Gag: Three per episode: In the opening credits, the episode title is accompanied by the object to which it refers. In the closing credits, the theme song has different lyrics and the minstrel accosts Edmund in different ways, although the last one ("Chains") has Edmund finally catch the bugger and drown him.
- Curse Cut Short: In "Beer":
Lady Whiteadder: Luck! Sounds almost exactly like f-- [episode ends]
Percy: Then you are doomed. Alas. For God's sake, let us sit upon the carpet and tell sad stories.
- Dry Crusader: the Whiteadders are these--at least until the end of the episode.
- Eats Babies: The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells.
- Mr. Fanservice: Ask any fangirl and she'll tell you that either this version or Blackadder the Third's was the most attractive.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Nursie. Since her real name is Bernard, it's understandable.
- Everyone Is Satan in Hell: The Whiteadders are this trope, in its in-universe form. They may be getting better, now that Lord Whiteadder has broken his vow of silence and they've both discovered the joys of being drunk.
- Evil Versus Evil: Edmund vs Prince Ludwig the Indestructible
- Fiery Redhead: Queenie
- Freud Was Right: In-universe; she doesn't realize it, but Queenie's description of her dreams suggest that The Virgin Queen badly wants to get laid:
I have some pretty wild dreams you know. The other day I dreamt there was this big tree, and I was sitting right on top of it... and then I dreamt I was a sausage roll...
- Freudian Excuse: Prince Ludwig.
- Freudian Slippery Slope: Blackadder greeting his wealthy aunt and uncle in "Beer" (though it's likely he was doing it on purpose to less-than-subtly drop hints that he wanted to discuss his inheritance):
"Well, I hope you had a pleasant inheritance...Did I say 'inheritance'? I meant journey...If you'd just like to help yourself to a legacy...a chair."
- Fridge Logic: Prince Ludwig permanently impersonating Queen Elizabeth nicely explains the whole virgin queen thing.
- Also, Prince Ludwig is very likely an ancestor of Prince George (George IV) from Blackadder the third. George IV's great grandfather was Georg Ludwig of Germany. Which explains the uncanny resemblance (both are played by Hugh Laurie)
- Friendship Moment: Hilariously subverted in "Money": Percy loyally offers his life savings to get Blackadder out of debt, only to have Blackadder casually reveal that he has long since stolen and spent the savings in question. And even BALDRICK was in on it.
- God Save Us From the Queen: Blackadder II features Queen Elizabeth I as a petulant schoolgirl. A petulant schoolgirl with power of life and death over the whole of the Kingdom of England.
- Groin Attack: Twice in "Bells": Blackadder kicks Percy down there, and shortly afterwards, Percy shoots Baldrick with an arrow.
- Also part of the plan Blackadder and Melchett use to escape their German captors in "Chains."
Blackadder: Trust me to get the hard one!
- Hello, Sailor!: The episode "Potato" is full of jokes about gay sailors, because it revolves around explorers and sea voyages. In "Money," Baldrick winds up being pimped out to sailors down at the docks.
- Insult Backfire: In "Beer", two incidents involving Lady Whiteadder:
Lady Whiteadder: Has anyone ever told you you're a gibbering imbecile?
Lord Percy Percy: (Completely nonchalant) Oh yes.
Edmund: Oh, shove off you old trout.
Lady Whiteadder: How dare you speak to my husband like that!
- Irony as She Is Cast: Miriam Margolyes, who played the Puritanical Lady Whiteadder, is not only openly gay but Jewish.
- Lame Comeback: "Better a "lapdog to a slip of a girl" than a... git!" Ironically, the sailor is actually impressed by this.
- All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: The bank of the Black Monks of Saint Herod: "Banking with a smile and a stab."
- Murder Is the Best Solution: In "Bells", the Wise Woman's three solutions to Blackadder's problem are 1) Kill Bob, 2) Kill yourself, or 3) KILL EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WHOLE WORLD!
- Name's the Same: Mr. Ploppy and Mrs. Ploppy are not married or related in any way, and have the same name by pure coincidence.
- No Indoor Voice: Flashheart, Captain Rum and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
- Noodle Incident: In Potato it is revealed a horse was elected Pope. The details of this vibrant, dynamic, and exciting Papacy has sadly been lost to history.
- One-Note Cook: Mrs. Ploppy, in "Head".
Mrs. Ploppy: I'm the last meal cook, sir. The prisoners may ask me for what they fancy for their last meal.
Blackadder: And you cook for them what they desire.
Mrs. Ploppy: Oh, yes, sir. Provided they ask for sausages. Otherwise, they tend to get a tiny bit disappointed. Sausage is all I got.
Lord Flashheart, Lord Flashheart - I wish you were the star.
Lord Flashheart, Lord Flashheart - you're sexier by far!
- Only Sane Man: Along with Blackadder, Melchett also tends to steer towards this, obviously humouring Queenie throughout the series. He's still considerably more loopy, however, especially once we learn about a past affair involving a sheep... that wasn't quite as it seemed.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Queenie's could be remarkably OTT
- Psychopathic Womanchild: Queenie
- The Renaissance: Well, most of the time.
Lord Blackadder: "Yes...to you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to other people, wasn't it?"
- Royal Brat: Queenie
- Shaped Like Itself: When Blackadder asks the Young Crone how to find the Wise Woman in "Bells":
- Shout-Out: In "Bells", Blackadder says "Come, Kiss Me Kate!"
- Sinister Minister: The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells.
- Speech Impediment: Partial meta example - Rowan Atkinson has a stutter, especially having trouble with words that begin with hard consonants such as "Bob". This gives us his wonderful plosive pronunciation of "Bbbob", which Stephen Fry has on record described as "sexy".
- Spoof Aesop: The closing ballads occasionally fall into this category with such valuable pieces of advice as 'Don't borrow money from a homicidal omnisexual bishop' and 'Don't try and take over the throne of England'
- Spotting the Thread: When Prince Ludwig, something of a master of disguise, tries to infiltrate Queen Elizabeth's dress party disguised as Nursie dressed as a cow. He is found out because his costume is too good; Nursie has some... interesting interpretations of how a cow should look.
- To quote: "Prince Ludwig is a master of disguise... while Nursie is an insane old woman with an udder fixation!"
- Sweet Polly Oliver: "Bob"
- Sweet on Polly Oliver: Edmund towards "Bob"
- Two-Timer Date: Blackadder's attempt to hold simultaneous parties in "Beer".
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: In "Head", Blackadder has accidentally had Lord Farrow executed (or so he thinks) before his wife is supposed to meet him one last time, so is forced to impersonate him by putting a bag over his head. In a meeting with Lady Farrow beforehand, he tries to prepare her for this by saying her husband has 'changed', which she takes to mean he's been tortured:
Lady Farrow: What have you done to him?!
Blackadder: We have put... (Dramatic Pause) ...a bag over his head!
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In series 2, when Lord Farrow is believed to have been executed before he met his wife, Edmund attempts to impersonate him with... a bag on his head. It is later revealed that Baldrick has executed Ponsonby in place of Farrow, so Edmund must then impersonate Ponsonby with... a bag on his head. And a lisp. Hopping.. So, when Edmund was impersonating the actually-alive Farrow, where was he if not in his cell?
- If they thought Farrow was Ponsonby and vice versa, presumably at the time, Farrow was in Ponsonby's cell.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Flashheart, depending on your definition of 'wholesome'.
Tropes Present in Blackadder the Third
- All Part of the Show: Prince George believes that an anarchist throwing a bomb at him is part of a play. Then again, he usually thinks the events on stage are real and regularly orders actors arrested for murder.
- Anachronism Stew: The series is set in the Regency era (1811-1820) yet features William Pitt the Younger who died in 1806 (and was actually 24 when he was elected), Samuel Johnson finishing his dictionary, which happened in 1755, the French Revolution (1790s), and planning the Battle of Trafalgar, which was in 1805.
- Bawdy Song:
Harold the horny hunter
Had an enormous horn...
- Beleaguered Assistant: Blackadder
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: In "Sense and Senility".
- Bottomless Magazines: Amy's flintlock pistol never seems to need reloading in "Amy and Amiability".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: This lovely bit at the beginning of "Duel and Duality":
Blackadder: I want to be remembered when I'm dead. I want books written about me, I want songs sung about me, and then, hundreds of years from now, I want episodes from my life to be played out weekly at half past nine by some great heroic actor of the age.
Baldrick: Yeah, and I could be played by some tiny tit in a beard.
- Buffy-Speak: Blackadder: "Disease and depravation stalk our land like... two giant... stalking things." Also: "We're about as similar as two completely dis-similar things in a pod."
- Captain Morgan Pose: The actors teach The Prince Regent to do a pose while they are training him in public speaking.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The returning officer and lone voter in Dunny-on-theWold apparently died, respectively, from accidentally brutally cutting his head off while combing his hair, and accidentally brutally stabbing himself in the stomach while shaving.
- Creator Cameo: The anarchist who attempts to assassinate Prince George in "Sense and Senility" is played by series co-writer Ben Elton.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "Baldrick, believe me. Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me... and this pencil... if we cannot replace this dictionary."
- Death by Sex: Prince George in "Duel and Duality," despite Blackadder's best efforts to prevent it.
- Dream Sequence: In "Ink and Incapability"
Blackadder: Baldrick, who gave you permission to turn into an Alsatian?!
Blackadder: Baldrick, have you no idea what irony is?
Baldrick: Yes, it's like goldy and bronzy only it's made out of iron.
- Duel to the Death: "Duel and Duality"
- Election Night: "Dish and Dishonesty" features one of the definitive parodies of TV election coverage.
- Mr. Fanservice: Hugh Laurie in make-up and tights has been known to make a lot of straight women (and a few lesbians) perk up.
- Face Palm: Blackadder, when Lord Topper revealed his disguise.
- Fictional Political Party: Going hand-in-hand with the Election Night trope (above), the episode "Dish and Dishonesty" uses these, too, in its parody of British election conventions. After the constituent of rotten borough Dunny-on-the-Wold (consisting of nothing more than a tiny plot of land, many farm animals, and only one voter) suddenly died, Prince Regent and Blackadder decide to run Baldrick as their own candidate and tip Parliament in their favor. Baldrick runs on behalf of the "Adder Party," a name that becomes much more appropriate when it turns out that Blackadder was both the borough's Returning Officer and lone voter after both died in freak "accidents." Other fictitious parties on the ballot included "Keep Royalty White, Rat Catching and Safe Sewage Residents' Party" and the "Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid Party" (whose party line stands for "the compulsory serving of asparagus at breakfast, free corsets for the 'under-fives,' and the abolition of slavery" - though the last one was just put in as a joke).
- The last two are a Shout-Out to two real minor perennial candidates at British elections at the time the show was broadcast--Bill Boaks, who usually stood as something like "Democratic Monarchist Road Safety White Resident", and Screaming Lord Sutch of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
- Her Codename Was Mary Sue: Blackadder's novel Edmund: A Butler's Tale sounds like this, based on what he tells Baldrick about it.
- Identical Grandson: In addition to the previously mentioned usage, this series features Blackadder's Scottish cousin MacAdder, played by Atkinson in a curly red wig, a kilt and a deliberately bad accent and Vincent Hanna playing "his own great great great grandfather".
- Informed Attribute: Done deliberately - Blackadder and Baldrick both reference Prince George's disgusting obesity - as the historical figure indeed was - even though he's played by the lanky Hugh Laurie.
- Inter Class Romance: From the episode "Amy and Amiability":
Hardwood: Can it be possibly true? Surely love has never crossed such boundaries of class? (clutches Amy's hand)
Amy: But what about you and Mum?
Hardwood: Well, yes I grant thee when I first met her I was the farmer's son and she was just the lass who ate the dung, but that was an exception.
Amy: And Aunty Dot and Uncle Ted.
Hardwood: Yes, yes; all right, he was a pig poker and she was the Duchess of Argyle, but-
Amy: And Aunty Ruth and Uncle Isiah, she was a milkmaid and he was-
Hardwood: The Pope! Yes, yes, all right.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During the episode 'Duel And Duality'.
Blackadder: I want to be remembered when I'm dead. I want books written about me. I want songs sung about me. And then, hundreds of years from now, I want episodes of my life to be played out weekly at half past nine by some great heroic actor of the age.
Baldrick: Yeah, and I could be played by some tiny tit in a beard.
- And in 'Amy and Amiability':
Blackadder: What a way to die. Shot by a transvestite on an unrealistic grassy knoll.
- Legacy of Service: The Baldricks to the Blackadders.
- Life's Work Ruined: Double Subverted in "Ink and Incapability" in a very odd way. It turns out that Dr. Johnson's dictionary was never burned at all, despite what Blackadder and Baldrick spent most of the episode believing; the book that was burned was in fact Blackadder's novel, which both he and Johnson thought was a masterpiece. It then gets burned by Baldrick while he's making a fire.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: The Prince Regent calls Blackadder "Bladder" at the end of "Sense and Senility", even after Blackadder tells him not to.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A fatal example of this occurs in the last episode, when Prince George screws up Blackadder's plan to save his life by blabbing about the whole thing in front of the Duke of Wellington, who intended to kill him. Wellington doesn't actually believe him, but gets so pissed off at the fact that the Prince, who is disguised as Blackadder and vice-versa is acting disrespectfully to his "master" that he whips out his pistol and shoots him dead.
- No Indoor Voice: The Duke of Wellington
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Amy Hardwood
- Omnicidal Maniac: Mac Adder
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Contrafribularites, anispeptic, frasmotic, compunctuous and pericombobulation.
- And sausage.
- Oh, and aardvark.
- Phony Newscast: Vincent Hanna (a BBC election correspondent at the time of filming) appears as "his own great-great-grandfather", reporting on the Dunny-on-the-Wold by-election for The Country Gentleman's Pig Fertilizer Gazette. This is treated exactly as a TV broadcast, even though it's set in the 18th century.
- Playing Cyrano: Blackadder acts as this to Prince George in "Amy and Amiability".
- Pocket Protector: Parodied in "Duel and Duality," in which a cigarillo case stops a cannonball.
- And parodied again when shortly afterwards Prince George also gets shot, seems to die, wakes up shouting he also has one... then realizes he left his on the dresser. THEN he dies.
- Record Needle Scratch: The end of "Duel and Duality".
- Regency England
- Revenge of the Sequel: anachronistically suggested to tease Dr Johnson: Dictionary 2: Revenge of the Killer Dictionary !!?
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Lord Topper and Lord Smedley - The Scarlet Pimpernel.
- Right Behind Me: In "Sense and Senility", Blackadder has finally had enough of the Prince's stupidity and leaves (with, of course, a parting insult for Baldrick). After he walks out Baldrick mutters "Goodbye, you pasty-faced, big-nosed, rubber-necked bastard." He slowly looks up just as Blackadder re-enters the room, having been in earshot the whole time.
- Royal Brat: Prince George
- Samus Is a Girl: And the Shadow is Amy Hardwood. Combined with Larynx Dissonance as she does a very convincing deep masculine voice.
- Servile Snarker: Blackadder the Third embodies this.
- The Scottish Trope: "Sense and Senility": the two actors have to perform a silly, overly-long superstitious ritual to exorcise evil spirits whenever Blackadder says "Macbeth". Exactly how the ritual goes is a subject of hot debate in the fandom as Angrish makes the words unclear: one suggestion is "Aargh! Hot potato, orchestra scores, plucked to make amends (HONK!)"
- Stupid Boss / Too Dumb to Live: Prince George actually seems dumber than Baldrick, who considers him "a clot". Also too dumb to live are Topper and Smedley; Blackadder even lampshades the stupidity of accepting wine from someone who thinks you are about to torture or disgrace him.
- I think you misunderstood. he said "lovely". "Prince George is a lovely."
- Swapped Roles: "Duel and Duality"
George: It's just like that story, ah, "The Prince and the Porpoise".
Blackadder: "...and the Pauper", sir.
George: Oh, yes, yes. "The Prince and the Porpoise and the Pauper".
- Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking: Parodied by George.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Edmund's Scottish cousin MacAdder, in "Duel and Duality".
- Upper Class Twit: Prince George, who has more than a few similarties to Bertie Wooster. The fact that they're both played by Hugh Laurie helps. However, George is far less intelligent than Wooster, and far, far less likeable.
- Villain Protagonist: Mr. E. Blackadder likely qualifies as one, being an implied serial killer (during the election episode), as well as having two famous actors arrested and executed for treason in "Sense and Senility", sending Amy Hardwood to the noose in "Amy and Amiability" and killing Topper and Smedley in "Nob and Nobility". So he's directly responsible for killing or having killed at least seven people during the course of six episodes (although Amy had tried to kill him first, and Smedley's death was accidental).
- Correction: Smedley's death was intended--Blackadder just didn't know that he was Smedley. Or the Scarlet Pimpernel.
- You Look Familiar: Tim McInnerny, Miranda Richardson, and Stephen Fry all made guest appearances in various episodes.
Tropes Present in Blackadder: The Cavalier Years
Tropes Present in Blackadder Goes Forth
Blackadder: So, Counsel, with that summing up in mind, what are my chances, do you think?
George: Well, not good I'm afraid. As far as I can see from the evidence, you're as guilty as a puppy sitting beside a pile of poo.
Blackadder: (bitterl)* ...Charming.
- While it's not intentional, Blackadder is mighty amused when Melchett says his new girlfriend (actually George in drag) has "more spunk than most girls."
- Amoral Attorney: Blackadder wants to hire a very good one for his court-martial.
Edmund: I remember Massingbird's most famous case - the Case of the Bloody Knife. A man was found next to a murdered body. He had the knife in his hand, thirteen witnesses had seen him stab the victim and when the police picked him up he said to them, 'I'm glad I killed the bastard.' Massingbird not only got him acquitted, he got him knighted in the New Year's Honour's list and the relatives of the victim had to pay to have the blood washed out of his jacket.
- Armchair Military: Melchett, and also Darling - until the finale.
- It's notable that Darling enjoys his easy assignment and is trying to get an even easier one in the Royal Women's Auxiliary Balloon Corps.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "The blood, the noise, the endless poetry!"
- Badass Mustache: General Melchett is hardly a badass, but damn if his lip-cover isn't an impressive specimen!
- Bawdy Song: Melchett and George's version of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream!
Belts off, trousers down!
Isn't life a scream?!
Blackadder: Fabulous. University education; you can't beat it.
- You forgot the hip thrust at "Hooray!".
- Black Comedy / Gallows Humor: The firing squad could be said to be overly jovial about their job. The whole series is full of this... which is apropos, given the situation.
- Blood Knight: Flashheart
- Bolivian Army Ending
- Butt Monkey: Three butt monkeys, actually. Capt. Darling is butt monkey to Capt. Blackadder and Gen. Melchett, Blackadder is butt monkey to Melchett, and Baldrick is butt monkey to Blackadder.
- Call Back In 'Private Plane' Flashheart says that the only qualification for being a navigator is 'knowing your arse from your elbow' to which Blackadder replies 'That rules Baldrick out'. Later on Baldrick says they should join the airforce as its better than 'just sitting around here on our elbows'.
- Charge Into Combat Cut: One of the most famous examples of this trope, in which the scene cuts from Blackadder and co. charging over the trench to a field full of poppies.
- Comically Missing the Point: In the final episode, Darling begs Melchett not to send him to the front lines because he doesn't want to die; Melchett just thinks Darling is getting sentimental and saying "I'll miss you too much". Of course, considering what happens next, "comical" might not be the right word...
- Creator In-Joke: In "General Hospital", Blackadder says that he tricked Nurse Mary by naming three great universities (Oxford, Cambridge, and Hull), when in fact only two of them are great. Melchett responds "Quite - Oxford's a complete dump!" Rowan Atkinson attended Oxford, while Steven Fry attended Cambridge, the two universities having a centuries-long rivalry.
- Credits Gag: "Tyrannosaurus Rex" credited as "Dinosaur".
- Disguised in Drag: George, in "Major Star", leading to Attractive Bent Gender when Melchett falls for "Georgina".
- Drama Bomb Finale: In a rare highly successful example at the very end of season four.
- Downer Ending: Series four finale; even more remarkable is that the same basic ending was played for laughs in series one and two. Reality Subtext is to blame for the Mood Whiplash. To put it into perspective, it aired on Remembrance Sunday with no complaints whatsoever. (Well, almost none - one woman wrote to the Radio Times to ask why a comedy would want to show people the terrible things that happened, reminding her of her own husband. Another woman wrote in to Points of View thanking them for such a beautiful tribute.) Though the original ending planned, as seen here, wasn't nearly as dramatic or moving - general consensus is that it was a good thing they changed it.
- Evil Gloating: But terminated gloriously.
Baron von Richthoven: Ah, and Lord Flashheart! This is indeed an honour! Finally the two greatest gentlemen flyers in the world meet! Two men of honour, who have jousted together in the cloud-strewn glory of the skies... face to face at last! How often have I rehearsed this moment of destiny in my dreams! The valour we two encapsulate, the unspoken nobility of our comradeship, the— *Boom! Headshot!*
Flashheart: WHAT A POOF!"
- Hanging Judge: General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett becomes one in a military court. He's completely ready to have Blackadder shot for shooting his prize pigeon.
- Head Desk: Blackadder's reaction to Baldrick's, quite literally, denying everything - including that his name was Baldrick.
- Heroic BSOD: George, after he bungles Blackadder's court martial and gets him sentenced to firing squad.
- Hope Sprouts Eternal: The ending.
- I Owe You My Life: Apparently Blackadder had saved Field Marshal Haig's life at Mboto Gorge and was told to call if he ever needed a favor. Unfortunately, when he does so to try and get out of the Big Push in "Goodbyeee", the best Haig can do is to suggest he feign insanity... which Blackadder had already tried to no avail.
- It should also be pointed out that Blackadder "saved" him from a "Pygmy Woman with a sharp mango".
- I Will Fight Some More Forever
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Blackadder manages a look of unparallelled contempt while his own firing squad are providing such gems as assuring him that they aim to please.
- Inherently Funny Words: Blackadder's delivery of "Bob" added it to this category - Rowan Atkinson had to over-accentuate the the first "B" phonetic to overcome his stutter. Given that 'Bob' is clearly a girl, his pronunciation adds foot-high inverted commas and derisive sarcasm to what in theory isn't that funny. He does this on all words with b's throughout the series and his pronunciation is part of what makes the word play more hilarious than witty.
- It also should be said that Rowan Atkinson used the EXACT same tone and diction when he said "his" name in series 2.
- Also, General Melchett's speech about how "pooh-pooh" can have devastating effects on morale in which he repeats the term "pooh-pooh" an inordinate number of times.
Melchett: Is this true, Blackadder? Did Captain Darling pooh-pooh you?
Blackadder: Well, perhaps a little.
Melchett: Well, then, damn it all! What more evidence do you need? The pooh-poohing alone is a court martial offense!
Blackadder: I can assure you, sir, that the pooh-poohing was purely circumstantial.
Melchett: Well, I hope so, Blackadder. You know, if there's one thing I've learnt from being in the Army, it's never ignore a pooh-pooh. I knew a Major, who got pooh-poohed, made the mistake of ignoring the pooh-pooh. He pooh-poohed it! Fatal error! 'Cause it turned out all along that the soldier who pooh-poohed him had been pooh-poohing a lot of other officers who pooh-poohed their pooh-poohs. In the end, we had to disband the regiment. Morale totally destroyed... by pooh-pooh!
- Melchett is also a fan of 'gobeldegook' and makes a note to use it more often in conversation.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Blackadder, to a very slight extent. He's still not remotely a nice person, but he can bring himself to feel sympathy for Darling and wish the others good luck in the final episode. Also, despite being a soldier, he is the only Blackadder in the four seasons not to commit murder - unless you count Speckled Jim and Mboto Gorge, where they "massacred the peace-loving pigmies of the Upper Volta and stole all their fruit" according to Darling. He also seems genuinely horrified when he learns he's sent an innocent woman to the firing squad in "General Hospital"; hard to imagine his heartless Regency ancestor being so shaken. He is genuinely complimentary regarding George's painting ability too (though planning to use it for his own ends). Sincere compliments from a Blackadder are as rare as something very rare.
Blackadder: George! These are brilliant! Why didn't you tell us about these before?
George: Well, you know, one doesn't want to blow one's own trumpet.
Blackadder: You might at least have told us you had a trumpet!
- It's worth noting that this Blackadder, in contrast with his forebears, is uninterested in scheming his way to power or wealth. He's merely trying to save himself. Too bad Failure Is the Only Option.
- Though lest you get too fond of him, it's better to remember that he made his career in the military by killing unarmed civilians in Africa, and doesn't show a hint of remorse for being an instrument for the ugliest side of the British colonialism.
- Kangaroo Court: Blackadder's court martial in "Corporal Punishment".
- Mad Brass / General Failure: General "Insanity" Melchett.
- Also Field Marshall Haig, seen knocking toy soldiers into a trench, then sweeping them up into a dustpan and dumping them on the floor.
- Miles Gloriosus: George is very gung-ho about the war and can't wait for the "big push" and the chance to give the Huns what for...until the end of the final episode, when he realizes he doesn't want to die.
- The Mole: "General Hospital" involves the search for a German spy who's apparently leaking battle plans from a field hospital. It actually turns out that patient George is inadvertently doing this in letters to his Uncle Hermann in Munich.
- Mood Whiplash: The finale.
- Murder Arson and Jaywalking: "Went to one of the great universities, I suppose. Oxford...Cambridge...Hull." This turned out to be a test. I mean, Oxford's a complete dump!
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Flashheart keeps addressing Blackadder as "Slackbladder".
- Obfuscating Insanity: Briefly attempted by Blackadder in "Goodbyeee", until he overhears Melchett tell the others that he had to shoot an entire platoon for pulling the same stunt. Of course, as he trenchantly observes at the end, it probably wouldn't have worked anyway. "I mean, who would have noticed another madman around here?"
- Obfuscating Stupidity: George might be an example of this, as in "Private Plane" he demonstrates a distressing combination of wooden-headed stupidity and remarkably keen insight.
Melchett: Do you remember what happened to Flossie?
George: You shot him.
Melchett: That's right. It was the kindest thing to do after he'd been run over by that car.
George: Your car, sir.
Melchett: Yes, yes, my car, but that too was an act of mercy after he was savaged by that dog.
George: Your dog!
- Nurse Mary, in "General Hospital", uses a mild version of this. ("My fluffy-bunny act", as she calls it.)
- Oh Crap: Captain Darling's face when he realizes Melchett is sending him to the Front, just in time for a major offensive. Melchett, of course, only thinks that Darling is reluctant to leave him, even when Darling gets down on his knees and just about begs.
- Only Sane Men: Captain Blackadder and Captain Darling. Also, arguably, Nurse Mary.
- Operation Blank: Operation Certain Death.
- Overranked Soldier: General Melchett.
- Precision F-Strike: In the final episode.
Darling: I made a note in my diary on the way here. It simply says: "Bugger."
- Averted in the same episode with a Narrative Profanity Filter:
Edmund: (After learning that Haig was completely useless in getting him out of the trenches)....I think the phrase rhymes with "clucking bell".
- Pun-Based Title: It is, after all, the fourth series.
- As well as the episode titles, which play on various military ranks.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Hugh Laurie seems to have a particular talent for looking like a beaten-down puppy. "Permission for lip to wobble, sir."
- Reality Subtext: Stephen Fry's homosexuality is amusingly alluded to by some of General Melchett's actions.
- Recursive Crossdressing: Bob, in "Major Star".
- Retraux: The closing credits, presented as an old newsreel film.
- Second Face Smoke: Nurse Mary does this to Blackadder.
- Something That Begins With Boring: Which ends rather unusually.
George: I hear with my little ear something beginning with 'B'.
Blackadder: I can't hear a bomb.
George: Listen very carefully.
(The faint whistling of a bomb can be heard)
Blackadder: Ah, yes...
- Smoking Hot Sex: Blackadder and Nurse Mary, in "General Hospital".
Blackadder: I only smoke cigarettes after making love. So, back in England I'm a twenty-a-day man.
- Smug Snake: Captain Darling
- Soldiers At the Rear: Darling is happy to be General Melchett's aide-de-camp because that way he doesn't have to be in the trenches. In the last episode he gets sent there anyway.
- Sudden Downer Ending: Blackadder Goes Forth is set in the trenches of WWI, and the writers didn't want to be accused of making light of one of the most tragic moments in British history, so the last episode becomes steadily more serious and somber as all of the characters but General Melchett (and he's quite callous about sending Darling to his doom) are ordered over the top in what is assumed to be a suicide charge. While the cast are all shown to have died in The Black Adder and Blackadder II, this time it's not played for comedy at all.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Bob, in "Major Star".
- Take That: Blackadder tells George that he finds Charlie Chaplin's films "about as funny as getting an arrow through the neck and discovering there's a gas bill tied to it." Which is even more Hilarious in Hindsight, given the obvious debt that Rowan Atkinson's subsequent series owed to Chaplin's brand of humor.
- Given that Chaplin gets his own back at the end of the episode (by agreeing to free distribution of his films among the British Army on the proviso that Blackadder is the projectionist), this may be more an affectionate homage than anything else - every other character loves Charlie Chaplin.
- It's also a running joke throughout all the series that Blackadder hates any character considered by modern day to be a genius; Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh, Samuel Johnson etc.
- Time for Plan B: Every episode.
- Telegraph Gag STOP: In "Major Star", used as a joke by Blackadder to insult Charlie Chaplin, and in the same episode Chaplin takes revenge in the same format.
Captain Blackadder: Yes... take down a telegram, Bob. To Mr. Charlie Chaplin, Sennett Studios, Hollywood, California. Congrats STOP Have found only person in world less funny than you STOP Name Baldrick STOP Signed E. Blackadder STOP Oh, and put a P.S.: please, please, please STOP
Captain Darling: We received a telegram from Mr Chaplin himself at Sennett Studios: Twice nightly filming of my films in trenches: excellent idea STOP But must insist that E. Blackadder be projectionist STOP P.S. Don't let him ever... STOP.
- Unfortunate Names: Captain Darling. The creators said that as soon as they came up with the name for him, he went from a totally empty character to one who'd been steeped in a lifetime's worth of bitterness and resentment from being called "darling" by everyone.
- Unwanted Rescue: In "Private Plane", Blackadder and Baldrick are captured by the Germans and told they'll be spending the rest of the war teaching home economics to a bunch of German convent girls. They're looking forward to this, until George and Flashheart turn up to "save" them. Flashheart actually works out that they were trying to get away from the front and forces them both to come with him.
- Verbal Tic: General Melchett's trademark "Baa!" has been variously attributed to madness, asthma, and an ancestor's illicit relationship with Flossie the sheep. Stephen Fry has said it really originated from his imagining that Melchett had haemorrhoids and would yell out every time he sat down or got up.
- Wham! Line: At the very end:
Darling: I say, listen - our guns have stopped.
George: You don't think...
Baldrick: Maybe the war's over? Maybe it's peace.
Darling: Thank God. We lived through it. The Great War, 1914 to 1917.
- In the scene just prior:
George: Well, really, this is brave, splendid, and noble...Sir?
Blackadder: Yes, Lieutenant?
George: I'm...scared, sir.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out if Blackadder or Darling were able to prevent Nurse Mary's firing squad execution in time.
- World War I
- Worthy Opponent: The Red Baron thinks Flashheart is one. Flashheart does not agree.
- You Fail Law Forever: "Corporal Punishment" was this Turned Up to Eleven. The judge and prosecutor both have clear conflicts of interest in the trial, to the point where the judge is actually called to testify for the prosecution. Surprisingly, though, the Minister of War realizes that the whole trial was a farce, and reverses the decision.
- You Look Familiar: Miranda Richardson appears as Nurse Mary in "General Hospital".
Tropes Present in the Specials
- Almost-Dead Guy: Played deliberately as part of Edmund's plan to travel back to the present in Blackadder: Back & Forth, almost drowning Baldrick just long enough for his life to flash before his eyes (along with the memories of the original configurations of the time machine).
- Annoying Laugh: Ebenezer Blackadder's niece Millicent.
- Call Back: In Blackadder Back and Forth Baldrick references Blackadder's line "as cunning as a fox that's just been appointed professor of cunning at Oxford University" from the end of Blackadder Goes Forth.
- Decapitation Presentation: Cavalier Years: Baldrick's cunning plan to substitute a pumpkin instead of a head sort of fell apart when this moment came.
- Extreme Doormat: Actually Blackadder himself in Christmas Carol, starting off as kindy generous soul (who is naturally endlessly exploited for charity). A visit from a Christmas Spirit inadvertently reveals his legacy will be destroyed due to his meekness, leading him to become an even crueler schemer than his descendants.
- Hot Consort: Marian in Blackadder Back & Forth, to King Edmund III.
- Naked Apron: Baldrick serves dinner in Blackadder Back & Forth while wearing an apron patterned like a maid uniform. And nothing under it.
- Shakespeare in Fiction: Blackadder: Back & Forth.
- Shout-Out: In Blackadder Back & Forth the brief space battle is between two Earth Defence Directorate starfighters and a Draconian fighter.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Things finally end happily for (one descendant of) Edmund and Baldrick in Blackadder: Back & Forth as they alter time and history for fame and fortune.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: An inversion and parody. Indeed, when Ebenezer Blackadder, the only good and friendly member of the Blackadder bloodline, sees that his descendant would rule all of the universe if he became a spiteful miser like his ancestors (instead of being a slave to future Baldrick, which would happen if he were to remain kind and generous), he lampshades it gleefully:
Ebenezer: Bad guys have all the fun.