|This page needs some cleaning up to be presentable.|
The "Specific Episodes" tropes need to be moved into recap pages for those individual episodes.
Don't freak out.
Chuck is the story of Charles Irving "Chuck" Bartowski, an all-around nice guy Hollywood Nerd who is stuck in a low-end retail job as a member of the Nerd Herd at the local Buy More. Chuck had his formerly bright future as a Stanford student derailed by his best friend and roommate, Bryce Larkin, who framed Chuck as a cheat and got him expelled -- apparently to steal his girlfriend Jill. One day, Chuck receives a strange email from Bryce. When he opens it, a vast array of nebulous government secrets, called The Intersect, gets downloaded into his unsuspecting brain, turning him into a walking Magical Database.
The various government agencies who contributed to this cache of government secrets are none too happy to have them stuck in Chuck's head, particularly since Bryce destroyed the original database, and at the same time sending the whole thing to Chuck. The agencies dispatch two agents to deal with the hapless Mr. Bartowski: the super-sexy CIA agent Sarah Walker (Bryce's former partner and erstwhile lover), and the borderline psycho NSA man, John Casey. Fortunately for Chuck, the agencies decide that Chuck may be more useful to them alive than dead, and they allow him to keep his normal life (more or less) -- with the addition of Sarah and Casey as bodyguards/handlers/minders.
Chuck suffers from frequent flashes where he spots something or someone that seems innocuous at first, but the Intersect stuffed into his head identifies the object or person as Very Important. Chuck and his minders must find a way to act on Chuck's information, all the while keeping Chuck's family and friends in the dark about his special abilities and new status as government agent/prisoner. Among these friends and family members are his loving and protective big sister Ellie and her Significant Other, Devon (jokingly nicknamed "Captain Awesome"), his best friend Morgan, and Chuck's underlings in the Nerd Herd at the Buy More.
Primarily a Spy Drama spoof, Chuck's appeal comes from a mix of sharp writing, well-realized characters with surprisingly genuine emotional lives, and a strong cast including Zachary Levi as Chuck, Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah, and the inimitable Adam Baldwin as John Casey. (And Yvonne Strahovski being good-looking. Really good looking.) Much of the comedy comes from Chuck's Fish Out of Water nature in the spy world (even the cartoon version of it presented in the show) combined with the contrast between his life as a Part-Time Hero and the normal one he tries to maintain with his sister and in his job at the Buy More.
This series has completed broadcast, having run from 2007 to 2012. There are also six Chuck tie-in comics in print.
Note that the tropes in this page are divided into an overall series section (at the top) and a specific-to-an-episode section (below, which need to be moved into Recap pages for the individual episodes). Please try to avoid duplications. Thanks.
- The Ace/Always Someone Better:
- Bryce Larkin is a suave ultra-spy who is an impossible standard for Chuck to meet in his relationship with Sarah.
- Cole Barker fits pretty much the exact same archetype. It helped Cole Barker and Roan Montgomery in their roles as The Ace/Always Someone Better that they were James Bond Expys.
- Captain Awesome provides a nice parallel version of this in Chuck's non-spy life. Ironically, when he was introduced into Chuck's spy life, he turned out to be terrible at it.
- In some ways, Chuck himself is The Ace among the Buy-More crew: the clever, respected, and responsible ostensible-peon who in fact runs the place.
- After Bryce dies in the Season 2 finale, we have Daniel Shaw. Not quite a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, but definitely replacing Bryce. Especially once he appears to be paired with Sarah.
- By Season 4, this trope has pretty much been subverted as Chuck has become a much more capable spy. He's even done well for himself in periods where the Intersect can't be relied on. Even then, though, this is played with with the introduction of the Intersected Gretas--technically more competent but unable to think outside the box the way Chuck can.
- In "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips", Intersect-less Chuck is shown to be an even match for Morgan using an Intersect in hand to hand combat. Similarly in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit", Chuck was able to hold his own against Daniel Shaw.
- Anna initially felt like this toward Ellie.
- Sarah spends most of "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady" getting overshadowed by Jill.
- Gertrude Verbanski and her company seems to be this for Carmichael Industries, the freelance spy service that Chuck and Sarah founded in Season 5.
- Action Girl: Sarah, plus many of the guest-star female spies/terrorists who pop up regularly.
- Action Girlfriend: The relationship dynamic between Chuck and Sarah.
- Until, of course, Chuck learns kung fu.
- Action Mom: Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Bartowski!
- Action Survivor: Chuck, until he learned Kung Fu at the end of Season 2!
Stephen: (to Ellie) Your brother... does have a knack for getting into trouble.
- Affably Evil:
- A number of episodes have Chuck and Sarah attending parties thrown by the villain of the episode, generally a financier of terrorism or other crime. They are almost always charming, perfect hosts.
- Ted Roark is an extreme example.
Roark: (with shotgun aimed at Chuck) A real shotgun wedding. Just think, that terrible pun is the last thing you'll ever hear.
- FULCRUM agents seem to have this as a hat. Case in point: in "Chuck Versus the Suburbs", every agent living in the neighborhood behaves like this, even once their cover is dropped.
- Alexei Volkoff, one particularly notable example being at Chuck's Thanksgiving dinner.
- The Alcoholic: Jeff.
- Almighty Janitor: Chuck is ostensibly just another member of the Nerd Herd and not any kind of manager or supervisor at the Buy More. However, due to the manager's laziness and the fact that everyone looks up to Chuck as the leader, he pretty much runs the place. Especially now that Morgan is the
assistantmanager. Even more so at the end of Season 4 when Chuck has bought the store with Volkoff's money.
- Almost Kiss: Chuck and Sarah, a lot. Even after they finally got together.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Turns out FULCRUM is just one part of The Ring's larger operations. Can you say "Nebulous Evil"?
- Tuned up to eleven at the Season 4 finale when it is hinted that everything they've done for the past four years has been manipulated by some bigger organization.
- Amazon Brigade: Sarah's old CIA team, the CAT Squad, consisting of Sarah, Carina, Amy, and Zondra.
- Anti-Villain: Vivian Volkoff, maybe...
- Arc Welding: And HOW.
- Asshole Victim: Emmett Milbarge.
- A-Team Firing: Sarah and Casey, for all their advanced combat skill, are pretty crap when they really should be mowing enemies down. Much of the time, a firefight ends with no-one killed, when a group of friendly people show up with more guns, for instance the first season episodes "Chuck Versus the Nemesis" and "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater". Later seasons attempt to fix this, but it's still hit or miss. Sometimes Casey (and it's always Casey) will gun down a team of enemy soldiers before the real action starts.
- The Awesome Captain: Is awesome, and a doctor as well.
- Badass Crew: Sarah, Casey, and of course, Chuck.
- Badass Family:
- The Bartowskis. Chuck's spy work outshines trained professionals, Ellie is rapidly becoming a Badass Normal, and Stephen was on the run from the government for ten years, while Mary has been in deep cover for twenty.
- Also, the Volkoff family, including his daughter and mother.
- Badass Unintentional: Chuck, capably demonstrated by The Morgan.
- Battle Couple: And how.
- The Beard: For the first three seasons, Chuck and Sarah pretended to be boyfriend and girlfriend, which is complicated by them being Just Friends, to each other (one of them more convincingly than the other). They have feelings that they're hiding from each other, while simultaneously faking a relationship for the outside world. Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Beard", by Morgan, which makes it particularly funny. During the third season, the pretend relationship became real, and in the fourth season, Chuck proposed and they became engaged and then married.
- Beauty, Brains, and Brawn:
- Chuck frequently carries the Idiot Ball, but he also has a government intelligence database in his head; Sarah is frickin' Yvonne Strahotski, and Casey is, well, Adam Baldwin. Of course, being TV spies, the relative Beauty/Brains/Brawn quotients of Sarah and Casey are all well above average. To be fair, Casey and Sarah also happen to be well trained spies who know a lot about technology, politics, and espionage. And since Chuck Took a Level in Badass at the end of Season Two, the whole dynamic is completely screwed to hell. Beauty, Brains, and Brawn may be the specialty of Sarah, Chuck and Casey, but they're not overspecialized to the detriment of everything else.
- Becoming the Mask: Agent X, in a name-checked example. Chuck also counts, having become more and more like his super-spy alter ego Charles Carmichael as the series has progressed.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension:
- Chuck and Sarah tend to avoid this trope, but there's a textbook example with their sparring before their first kiss in "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami".
- Casey and Gertrude.
- Berserk Button:
- After the new Intersect is installed in his head, Sarah is clearly Chuck's. It is important to note that Chuck has a bit of Power Incontinence, though: he has trouble flashing if he is under emotional duress. So, Sarah can be a bit of a Power Limiter at times as well. Of course, there are exceptions: as Shaw's fate proves, if you're about to kill Sarah, Chuck won't bother trying to flash if he's got a gun. He'll just kill you. Note that this is pretty much the only situation in which he would kill.
- The same goes for Sarah when Chuck is in mortal danger as well:
- In "Chuck Versus the First Date", when it looks as though Chuck has been dropped off a high building by Michael Clarke Duncan, Sarah goes into rage mode in attempt to avenge her lost love and manages to hold her own for a bit.
- As well, in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", when a FULCRUM agent tells her that her reluctance to kill him in cold blood (we've only seen her shoot people in combat at this point) will ensure that all of FULCRUM knows Chuck's secret, Sarah pulls the trigger with little hesitation not knowing that Chuck saw her. Chuck freaked out watching Sarah actually kill someone.
- Sarah went totally off the reservation while trying to find a kidnapped Chuck in "Chuck Versus Phase Three", even going so far as to threaten a diplomat with death by lethal injection if he didn't tell her where his employer was keeping Chuck.
- Casey has several, notably insinuating that he likes Chuck (at least at the start of Season 2).
- By the start of Season 4, Casey has grown fond enough of Chuck that when it appears that he's just been killed, he tells the man who made the order that he's "going to rip [him] limb from limb... from limb."
- Casey also gets pissed when his friends and family, especially his daughter Alex, are threatened. Look no further than in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip" for proof.
- Do not mess with the Buy More around Big Mike.
- Beta Couple: Ellie and Awesome. Morgan and Anna in Season 2, Morgan and Alex in Season 4, Casey and Verbanski in Season 5.
- Betty and Veronica:
- Played with regarding Hannah and Sarah. Sarah is ostensibly the Veronica of the pair, but she's really about as sweet and loving as Hannah... it's just that she buries it beneath a thin veneer of professionalism. She really isn't a Tsundere or Jerkass by any measure and in fact is deeply troubled by Chuck's growing (if still very minor) ruthlessness.
- Anyone shipped with Chuck (Lou, Jill, Hannah) is the Betty. Also, Anna was the Betty to Ellie's Veronica when it came to Morgan.
- Chuck and Bryce/Cole/Shaw are male examples.
- Played with regarding Hannah and Sarah. Sarah is ostensibly the Veronica of the pair, but she's really about as sweet and loving as Hannah... it's just that she buries it beneath a thin veneer of professionalism. She really isn't a Tsundere or Jerkass by any measure and in fact is deeply troubled by Chuck's growing (if still very minor) ruthlessness.
- Big Bad: None present in Season One, but sub-sequent seasons have had them:
- Season Two: Ted Roark.
- Season Three: Daniel Shaw.
- Season Four: Alexei Volkoff.
- And later, Vivian Volkoff.
- Season Five: Clyde Decker, his boss Daniel Shaw, and finally Nicholas Quinn.
- The Big Board:
- It's revealed in "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon" that Chuck has one hidden on the back of his Tron poster.
- There's also the tactical plan he and Morgan made in "Chuck Versus the Push Mix".
- Also Jeff's big board in "Chuck Versus the Kept Man".
- Big Damn Heroes: Really, just about every time Casey saves Chuck and Sarah. Which is roughly Once an Episode. More listed in the individual episodes section below.
- Bittersweet Ending: Quinn has been killed, but Chuck needs to re-upload the Intersect to disarm a bomb at the cost of potentially being able to use it to restore Sarah's memories; Team Bartowski/Carmichael Industries disbands, but Beckman leaves the door open for them to return to the CIA; Subway purchases the Buy More; Alex and Morgan move in together; Devon and Ellie take new jobs in Chicago; Jeffster! is signed by a German Record Executive, and Casey leaves to take up Verbanski's offer; Sarah still has no memories of the last 5 years, but Chuck promises to stay with her and it's implied that her memories may return in time.
- Bland-Name Product: The Buy More is an obvious stand in for Best Buy, including a price tag shaped logo and the Nerd Herd replacing the Geek Squad, complete with shirt/tie/pocket protector uniform replacing the single color polo of a normal employee.
- Orange Orange's logo's font is nearly identical to Orange Julius.
- Blessed with Suck: The Intersect really messes with Chuck's life, with little personal benefit. He and everyone around him is in constant danger (even his handlers might "disappear" him), leaving him in fear and anxiety. He's seen others get tortured, shot and/or killed by people hunting for him. He's forced to lie to and disappoint his friends and family, he has no privacy at all, and he has no shot at a real romantic relationship while he remains cursed. Spy business and Chuck's potential to carry the Curse led to betrayal or abandonment by at least his father (after his mother had already left), his girlfriend and his friend, who got him kicked out of Stanford, which is what put his life on hold in the first place. He does get a few fringe benefits from his undercover work, though, such as finally getting his degree, and getting to hang out with Sarah Walker. At the end of Season 2, the curse gets a little more awesome when the Intersect 2.0 gives him enough kung fu skills to disarm four armed combatants, some of them across the room, and who knows what other powers, but also needs to be constantly controlled or he'll lose his mind.
- Blipvert: How the audience sees Chuck using the Intersect to flash on something or someone significant.
- Bodyguard Crush: Chuck has a crush on Sarah, who
might beis also interested in him.
- Book Ends:
- The first and last times we see Bryce, he's in an Intersect room. The similar composition of the shots makes it very clear that this was intentional.
- The Grand Finale provides three: one for Chuck's spy life, one for his relationship with Sarah, and one for the show in general.
- Episode 1 has Chuck disarming a bomb with the "Irene Demova" computer virus, hidden on the website of a porn star of the same name; the same situation occurs in the final episode.
- The pilot ends with Sarah finding Chuck sat on a beach uncertain of his future, and asking him to trust her; the final episode has the exact same spot on the beach, but with Chuck and Sarah's roles reversed.
- Finally, instead of using "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" in the final episode, the title sequence is replaced with the original Chuck title card (his name sliding in from the left and out the right). The same title card gets used after the fade to black.
- Book and Switch: Inverted in an episode. Since Chuck knows that his bedroom's under video surveillance, he studies the Intersect Plans behind a "Y: The Last Man" collection.
- Brought Down to Normal: After Chuck gets hit with the suppression flash in "Chuck Versus the First Fight", he spends at least a month trying to reactivate the Intersect, including getting a trainer that forces him in extremely dangerous situations. This does not end well for him.
- Not to worry, Orion left a with a reactivation flash. Chuck knows kung fu... again.
- Done again in the Season Four finale. During his attempt to save Sarah, he makes enemies with the CIA and they remove it. This time he isn't as lucky and Morgan got it instead. Fortunately at this point, Chuck's regular spy training means he was brought down to Badass Normal instead of his old level of normal.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Chuck is turning into a spy version of this. He is geeky, overly talkative, naïve, and even a Technical Pacifist, all of which are very bad for a spy, or at least are very bizarre. Good thing he also has encyclopedic knowledge of the spy business and access to almost every trainable skill that he could ever need.
- Butt Monkey: Morgan. Before he found out Chuck was a spy, he had to be kept away from all the spy stuff, and every time the easiest way to do that just happened to result in humiliating him. His ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend is involved with the Triad? To keep the Triad from killing him, Chuck tells them he's a stalker. Chuck drugs him to keep him out of a fight? Morgan assume he fainted in fear and Chuck lets him think that. During and after he found out Chuck was a spy, he's trying to get involved and help out, which he is totally unqualified for, so if he merely gets yelled at and treated like a buffoon he's lucky. "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" had Morgan get shot down when trying to hit on someone who turned out to be an assassin, need to be pushed into a train because he's carrying too much junk, gets used for Grievous Harm with a Body by Casey, and yelled at by the general.
- Captain Obvious
- "Chuck Versus the Helicopter":
Chuck: Casey, he's got Sarah. We've got to save her.
Casey: Brilliant deduction, Nancy Drew.
- "Chuck Versus the Predator":
Chuck: Oh, oh, oh, you're- you're not dead.
- "Chuck Versus the Three Words":
Chuck: Well, we've got to get it before it falls into enemy hands.
Carina: Thanks for being on the case, Nancy Drew.
- "Don't freak out", and more frequently, some variant of "Chuck, stay in the car." The latter is also a Running Gag because he never does.
- On one occasion, he did stay in the car, and the car turned out to be the worst place he could have been.
- He lampshades this at the beginning of "Chuck Versus the First Date", when, upon being asked why he didn't stay in the car, he shouts "You know what? It's never safe in the car!"
- Hasn't been used since Season 3, now that the Intersect 2.0 has made Chuck a competent spy, but invoked when Ellie orders Chuck out of the car in "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II".
- The phrase "It's complicated" is also used frequently, especially when talking about Sarah and Chuck's relationship. Used less frequently now that their relationship is now less complicated.
- Sarah telling Chuck that "You can have everything you've always wanted."
- Also, Devon's "Awesome!" (hence the nickname).
- Casey: his grunts, "moron!" and "Bartowski" - sometimes in the same sentence
- "I know kung fu," referring to the Intersect 2.0.
- "Come on, flash!" Chuck, attempting to focus his flashing capabilities. Mostly used in Season 3, and a little in Season 4.
- "Don't freak out", and more frequently, some variant of "Chuck, stay in the car." The latter is also a Running Gag because he never does.
- Celebrity Paradox: The James Bond franchise as well as shows like The OC and Smallville all exist in the Chuck universe yet they never notice the likes of Rachel Bilson, Kristin Kreuk and Timothy Dalton walking amongst them.
- Perhaps the biggest: Chuck and Morgan are huge Star Wars fans and Casey's familiar enough with the series to torture Morgan by having him watch The Phantom Menace first and then spoiling that Vader's the father of Luke and Leia, but none of them notice that they're stealing a vase from Luke freakin' Skywalker at the start of Season 5.
- You can't learn anything about being a spy from Chevy Chase, even if he was Roark.
- Celebrity Power: Stan Lee and Bo Derek are spies.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Despite retaining the charm that makes Chuck... well, Chuck, the third season has managed to hit some very dark territory concerning the lengths Chuck has to go through in order to become a spy, and the toll that keeping the secret from his closest friends and family takes on him.
- Character Development:
- Chuck definitely becomes more competent over time and is much less cowed by Sarah and Casey than he was originally.
- Morgan is also being dragged kicking and screaming down this path, mostly at the urging of Awesome. Arguably, he's the one with the most character development. He is also slowly becoming a competent member of Team Bartowski, starting from "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners".
- Sarah becoming less emotionally repressed and being more receptive and open about her feelings regarding Chuck.
- Of course, there's Casey being less antagonistic towards Chuck and even sticking up for him and Sarah, as well as his hard-ass facade being gradually giving way at times.
- Chekhov MIA: Stephen Bartowski as well as Mary Elizabeth Bartowski.
- Chekhov's Armoury: This show averages at least one Chekhov's Gun per episode, sometimes more. Many of them first appear in the Buy More-related subplot. It also relies on season-spanning Chekhov's Guns. If one were so inclined, the list could be longer than the Shout-Out entry.
- Chekhov's Assault Squad: See Big Damn Heroes above.
- Chewing the Scenery: Pretty much requisite of the one-shot characters. Most notably, though:
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: See section Put on a Bus below, especially concerning Anna Wu.
- City of Adventure: A staggering number of terrorist plots focus on or are based in the greater Los Angeles area, or just have leaders who have vacation homes or functions to attend there. And by the end of the second season, it becomes apparent that at least some spy activity is taking place there because that's where the Intersect is.
- Cloak and Dagger: The Good Guy agencies are nominally the CIA and the NSA, though they bear little resemblance to their real-world counterparts. The Bad Guy organizations, FULCRUM, The Ring, and Volkoff Industries seem largely made up of rogue espionage agents.
- Colonel Badass: Casey as of the episode "Chuck Versus the Colonel".
- Color Coded for Your Convenience:
- Agents of FULCRUM and The Ring predominantly wear black and other dark shades. In Burbank, California. No one finds this conspicuous, despite most of the enforcers being over six feet tall and weighing in excess of 240 pounds. Subverted in that Sarah and Casey often wear black also, when doing combat/reconnaissance ops, but hardly ever when in public and needing to be undercover.
- Played straight in the "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", as Chuck is wearing a white shirt, and Shaw is wearing a black shirt.
- Similarly any electronics used by the bad guys will be in their standard colors (FULCRUM Red and The Ring Green). Even Chuck's FULCRUM intersect shows up in red.
- The Comically Serious: Casey. General Beckman can also be amusing on account of her humorlessness.
- Commuting on a Bus: Beckman in Season 5.
- Consummate Liar:
- In "Chuck Versus the Truth", under the influence of poisonous Truth Serum, Sarah claims to have no feelings for Chuck. He doesn't know she can resist truth serum, so he believes her.
- In "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler", Captain Awesome is stunned with how easily Chuck can lie to Ellie.
- Cool Big Sis: Ellie.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Chuck and the team have saved the day in ways so outrageous, they'd almost be more at home in Stargate SG-1.
- Cryptic Background Reference: References to the Bartowski parents early in the series. Until the end of the first season, all we know about them is that the mom had left while the dad was perhaps mentally ill (actually Properly Paranoid) before he too left.
- Cut Short: Averted, and this will take a while. Season 1 was initially ordered for 13 episodes, and 9 more episodes were ordered but unmade due to the Writers Strike; NBC ordered a second season (with 22 episodes off the bat), which ended on a major cliffhanger that appeared to be going unresolved until a last minute renewal spurred by the campaigns of the passionate fanbase. Seasons 3 and 4 were initially ordered as 13 episodes, but after seeing the quality of what was being filmed, NBC ordered more episodes (6 in Season 3, 11 in Season 4) after the intended finale (which had been written as a potential Grand Finale) begun production. Towards the end of each season, fan campaigns started up again and NBC announced the renewal before the season finale had aired, which ended on a cliff hanger. After the announcement of the fifth season, again lasting 13 episodes, it was quickly revealed that it was also going to be the final season, finally averting this trope.
- Deadly Delivery: Shows up at least once, when a courier picking up a package decides to also kill the guy he's getting it from.
- Death of the Hypotenuse: Daniel Shaw, in the third season. Was there really any other way that was going to play out, though?
- Department of Redundancy Department: "We will not stop, and we can not stop, and we will not... stop."
- Depraved Bisexual: Jeff has some serious leanings towards this. He's ultra-lecherous, a "world class stalker" and the stuff he says while he and Lester are following Shaw is especially creepy.
- Designated Girl Fight: A general, handy guide to how the final fight will play out in each episode:
Does the terrorist of the week have a penis? He will be defeated through some combination of Sarah, Chuck, and/or Casey.
Does the terrorist have a vagina? She will engage in, and ultimately lose, a physical fight to Sarah. Both will be in skimpy, possibly wet clothing. And do lots of flips.
- Not that this is a hard-and-fast rule; "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome" features a female agent who is simply shot dead.
- Different in Every Episode: The wall of TVs at the Buy More tend to display images relevant to the episode. For example in "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady", the TVs show What's Opera, Doc?.
- Dirty Communists:
- Premier Goya was this before he turned Costa Gravas into a democracy; Casey still refers to him as one.
- Volkoff Industries' logo is red with a fist holding a hammer. Also, the pass-phrase to Volkoff's Hydra computer network is a (fictional) quote from Joseph Stalin.
- Disappeared Dad: Stephen Bartowski, played by the awesome Scott Bakula, tried to take care of his son and daughter after his wife disappeared but ended up vanishing himself for years on end. This might also be a Shout-Out to Quantum Leap, the show for which Scott is most widely known, as the father of his character in that show was this trope, too.
- Disney Death: Daniel Shaw. He got better.
- Drive-In Theater: FULCRUM uses an old one as their base.
- Drop What You Are Doing: All the time. Chuck drops the phone when he notices Sarah for the first time, drops Morgan's grape soda when Carina shows up in a ski mask to take a diamond, drops the FedEx package with the same diamond in it when Casey suddenly slams a goon, drops his wallet when Harry Tang startles him, drops his phone again when scary Mr. Bennett surprises him, drops a bottle of champagne when he sees Sarah dancing very affectionately with Bryce, drops a bottle of beer when Jenny McCarthy's character tries to seduce him, and drops his keys when Sarah walks into the living room in lingerie. In the Pineapple Incident, shortly after Morgan drops a box on Jeff's head, Big Mike drops his Danish to make a dash to keep people from leaving the store, and in a later episode he drops his tackle box when he receives word of a security breach at the Buy More.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Emmett in "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
- Dude in Distress: Chuck, very often.
- Embarrassing Cover Up
- Chuck occasionally blames Sarah's absence on her supposed spastic colon. "A girl that beautiful with a colon that spastic."
- Also, Chuck covering for Awesome by claiming Casey had been arrested for getting drunk and publicly urinating and exposing himself.
- This manages to be a Brick Joke in later episodes.
- Enter Stage Window: Affectionately referred to as the "Morgan Door".
- Everyone Can See It: Chuck and Sarah, of course.
Jeff: Don't you get it? None of them matter. Chuck may try to replace her, but when he's with Sarah, the light in his eyes shines brightly.
- Evil Counterpart:
- Chuck has Daniel Shaw as of the end of Season 3.
- Shaw is also Sarah's EC in that they both hid their intense romantic passions behind a facade of professionalism.
- You could also argue that, while not explicitly evil, Lester is definitely a bitter, sleazy mirror to Chuck in his civilian life.
- Emmett Milbarge is a dark reflection of Chuck if he never leaves the Buy More.
- Stephen Bartowski and Ted Roark.
- Jill is the EC for both Chuck and Bryce. Like Chuck she was initially scared of being a spy. Like Bryce she betrayed Chuck for heinous reasons.
- A couple from specific episodes below.
- Chuck has Daniel Shaw as of the end of Season 3.
- Most of the more competent non-main character spies have at least some measure of Bond in them (the rest by and large trend toward MiB Shout-outs):
- Cole Barker is Daniel Craig's Bond.
- Roan Montgomery is Sean Connery's Bond.
- Bryce is Brosnan's bond.
- And even Charles Carmichael seems to be based on Roger Moore's Bond (though when he does his Bond impression, it's using Connery's accent).
- And Timothy Dalton plays a Bond Villain.
- Casey's old team is an evil version of The A-Team.
- In "Chuck Versus the Cat Squad", the all-female CAT Squad, Sarah's old team, is obviously based on Charlie's Angels.
- Most of the more competent non-main character spies have at least some measure of Bond in them (the rest by and large trend toward MiB Shout-outs):
- Face Heel Turn: Daniel Shaw.
- Fictional Counterpart:
- Buy More is a stand-in for Best Buy, and instead of a Geek Squad, they have a Nerd Herd.
- Interestingly enough, they use Large Mart as a Costco stand in, but it's mentioned in the same breath as the real Costco.
- The Wienerlicious was a stand-in for Wienerschnitzel, and its replacement (the Orange Orange) for Orange Julius. Even the logos are similar.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Casey in regards to Chuck and Sarah.
- First Episode Spoiler: It's fairly difficult to describe the series without divulging the contents of that e-mail that Bryce sends to Chuck.
- Five-Man Band: Team Bartowski, eventually.
- The Hero: Chuck (also The Smart Guy).
- The Lancer: Sarah.
- The Big Guy: Casey.
- The Medic: Devon (Captain Awesome), Ellie.
- The Chick: Morgan.
- Sixth Ranger: Bryce Larkin, Frost.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Daniel Shaw.
- Eleventh-Hour Ranger: Jeff and Lester.
- Mission Control: General Beckman, Director Graham.
- Five-Token Band: The Buy More lot. Anna Wu is a token twofer being Asian, and a bisexual, Lester also a twofer (Jewish-Indian), Big Mike, Morgan, and... Jeff. Lampshaded by Big Mike when he said he couldn't fire Morgan because he was the Buy More's token Hispanic.
- Foot Focus: Sarah in "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler" (waking up Manoosh), "Chuck Versus the Tooth" (while she and Chuck are watching TV), and "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" (while Sarah is reaching for her dropped phone), and again in "Chuck Versus Sarah" (while the two of them are in bed together; this time it's actually a plot point).
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sarah's old team, "The CAT Squad": Sarah (Melancholic), Carina (Phlegmatic), Amy (Sanguine) and Zondra (Choleric). Remember, Zondra is the "bitch" and Carina is the "mellow" one.
- Freudian Excuse: One is used to motivate Shaw's Face Heel Turn. It turns out that Sarah is the one who killed his wife while Just Following Orders.
- Freudian Trio: Chuck = ID, Sarah = Ego, Casey = Super Ego.
- Friend to All Children: Chuck is shown to be really good with kid customers at the Buy More, and the pilot has him help tape a young girl dancing ballet in front of the video wall for her mother, after her father failed to tape the actual recital.
- Volkoff claims to be one.
- Genre Savvy: Chuck and Morgan on several occasions demonstrate significant genre-fu.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The writing team includes Phil Klemmer and John Enbom, arguably the kings of this trope judging by their time on Veronica Mars. Although they have fewer opportunities to take Refuge in Audacity than they did on UPN/the CW, they get in a few good zingers:
Big Mike: Well, there hasn't been a man around in a long time, so the plumbing's gone bad. I gotta get in there and I gotta snake the drains, I gotta lay down some pipe...
Casey: Well Chuck me...
- Girlish Pigtails: Sarah for her undercover job in Season 1.
- Go-To Alias:
- Chuck introduced the idea of Charles Carmichael (the successful version of himself) in the third episode, "Chuck Versus the Tango". Over the course of Season 2 it becomes so associated with him that it ends up as one of his operating aliases. In one episode, people are congratulating him as both "Bartowski" and "Carmichael" as he walks through a crowd.
- Further down the line, Morgan decides to take up the alias "Michael Carmichael", Charles's brother.
- Green Lantern Ring: The Intersect 2.0. Abilities Chuck has used so far include: kung fu, judo, parkour, gymnastics, zip-lining with a belt, boxing, bomb defusion, flamenco guitar, dancing through laser tripwires, ballroom dancing, speaking Thai, French and Japanese, Improbable Aiming Skills with pen, tranquilizer gun and nacho platter, bullet dodging, field medicine, fencing, staff-fighting, and using nunchucks (though he never used them in combat, the Intersect did teach him how!).
- Guile Hero: Chuck, both before and after he Took a Level in Badass at the end of Season 2:
- "I'm a CIA agent, and this is my trap. I don't think you gentlemen recognize the gravity of the predicament you're in."
- "Did you know your Buy More associate can also help you with video conferencing?"
- "I can't believe you haven't figured out the solution yet."
- Happily Married: Devon and Ellie. Later, Chuck and Sarah.
- Heel Face Revolving Door:
- Casey for most of the first season, and probably the first half of the second when he was under orders to kill Chuck once the government got its new intersect working. He evolved into more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold once he stopped having to worry about having to kill him and Sarah, if she intervened.
- Mary, though it's more that our perception keeps changing.
- Hero Antagonist/Villain Protagonist: John Casey really blurs the lines on these two. He's always on America's side, but it takes a while before he's on Chuck's side. He protects Chuck while threatening him with injury. He's a patriot who will serve his country... even if that means killing Chuck.
- Heroic BSOD: Chuck suffers this after Shaw murders his father.
- This is somewhat of a literal Blue Screen of Death as it stops the Intersect from working.
- Heroic Safe Mode
- Heterosexual Life Partners:
- Chuck and Morgan with the latter often interfering in Chuck's other relationships (Morgan actually uses the phrase "life partners" in "Chuck Versus the Marlin").
- Jeff and Lester.
- Hidden Depths: Jeff, surprisingly enough. While discussing Chuck's love life with Lester and Big Mike, Jeff points out that "Chuck may try to replace her, but when he's with Sarah, the light in his eyes shines brightly", and there's also his video/photo montage of Chuck and Sarah, made for their rehearsal dinner. Played with hilariously in the final season when it's revealed that Jeff is actually highly intelligent. He acted the way that he did in earlier seasons because he's been sleeping in his van with the engine on for years.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Sarah Lancaster's real life pregnancy was hidden in Season Four. Ironically, the pregnancy was announced a day after her character, Ellie, gave birth to her first child, Clara.
- High Altitude Interrogation: Chuck is frequently a victim of this.
- Hollywood Nerd:
- Zachary Levi scrubs up far too well to make a believable nerd. However, this is Truth in Television, as he's One of Us.
- Bryce's flashback scenes with Chuck at Stanford show him to have been one in the past before he became a full-time secret agent.
- The same can also be said of Jill, Chuck's ex.
- It's kind of averted with the rest of the nerds at the Buy More: Chuck is looked up to and pretty much runs the place.
- Honor Before Reason: Subverted. John Casey has a strong sense of honor but is also willing to do less honorable things for his country including killing Chuck, an innocent civilian, early on in the show.
- Hot Amazon: Sarah. Particularly in "Chuck Versus Phase Three", where she is described as a "giant blonde shemale" rampaging across Thailand.
- Hypocritical Humor: "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" features Chuck reminding Awesome to take things seriously and focus on the mission, not to be a hero, not to touch anything in their secret base... basically, everything that Chuck himself had to be constantly told not to do.
- I Banged Your Mom: Big Mike hooks up with Morgan's mom in Season 2. Morgan does not take it well. At first. By the end of the season, Morgan's accepted their relationship. By the start of Season 4, the two have formed a father-son relationship, with Big Mike expressing pride in Morgan being made the manager of the new Buy More and Morgan giving Big Mike his blessing to propose to his mother.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Chuck spends most of the first two seasons doing this and then, after finally becoming normal again, drastically abandons it.
- I Just Want to Be Special: He occasionally considers that the next best thing to being given back his old life would be to become a Real Spy™ rather than a perpetual "asset".
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episodes are titled "Chuck Versus [X]". "X" is often a geeky shout out ("Chuck Versus the Wookiee," "Chuck Versus the Sandworm"). It's always something that's in the episode, even if it occasionally has little to do with the main plot (such as in "Chuck Versus the DeLorean") but sometimes is (such as "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer", where listening to Rush saves the world).
- Idiot Ball:
- Chuck grasps this firmly in "Chuck Versus the Beefcake" when he tries to hack a FULCRUM data chip at the Buy More front desk when Sarah and Casey are half the city away trying to nab a FULCRUM agent. Needless to say, it goes poorly.
- He clings to it really hard in "Chuck Versus the Colonel" when he goes off to try and stop the bad guy from creating an army of Intersects even though he has no plan, weapon, or backup, and even though he knows there's about to be an air strike on the site anyway.
- He wasn't going in despite the air strike; he went in in part because of it. He wouldn't have had a reason to go if his father wasn't being held there, forced to work for the bad guy, and he might have been more careful if there was more time to plan.
- General Beckman clings to a massive one in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", when she keeps Shaw and Sarah on the same team after she finds out that Sarah killed Shaw's wife for her red test. To paraphrase: Beckman: "I'm disbanding the team because Sarah assassinated your wife." Shaw: "Oh, no need for that. I'm totally cool with it. No need for a full psychological evaluation or anything. You can totally just take my word for it and have me go on a mission with Sarah by ourselves where she'll be totally at my mercy." Beckman: "Well gee, if you say so Shaw. You're such a professional, and not a psycho time-bomb waiting to go off or anything. Chuck, you should be more like Shaw. Well, have fun!"
- I'll Kill You!
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Most of the mooks are terrible shots, even at very close range with multiple pistols or sub machine guns:
- In "Chuck Versus the Marlin", The Mole manages to shoot a Red Shirt, then not hit Sarah and Chuck despite them having no cover for the best part of 10 meters, while only being about 10 meters away from them. On a helipad.
- Another example in "Chuck Versus the Masquerade": the mooks are all over the woods with their guns, and Casey is stuck behind a log protecting Sarah. Casey easily picks off the mooks one by one while he never gets hit by the mooks.
- Indy Ploy: Every episode can be described as "Mission to do X gets screwed. Plans reworked. Hilarity Ensues." In "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", Morgan alludes to this while about to take on a group of The Ring agents with only Awesome for backup...
Morgan: "No plan?" Never stopped me before.
- The Infiltration: Sarah in Season 4 pretends to turn traitor from the CIA to undertake one of these.
- Also Mary Bartowski in the backstory.
- Ingesting Knowledge: The premise of the series.
- Interservice Rivalry: Sarah (CIA) AND Casey (NSA), mainly in the early part of the series. Both of them don't think too highly of the FBI.
- Ironic Echo
- "Chuck Versus the First Fight".
Volkoff: My name is Alexei Volkoff. I believe you were looking for me.
- "Chuck Versus the Push Mix".
Chuck: Hello Alexei. I believe you were looking for me.
- It Gets Easier: Pretty much the rationale behind the "red test", which forces wannabe agents to commit cold-blooded murder under orders and, in theory, make it easier for them to kill again when needs be. As demonstrated by the many kills by Sarah and Casey during the course of the series, including one additional cold-blooded kill by Sarah in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", in which she shoots an unarmed FULCRUM agent to protect Chuck.
- In the third season, a major plot point is Sarah's ongoing fear is that, for Chuck, killing will get easier.
- It Meant Something to Me
- James Bondage
- Jerkass Facade: Casey isn't nearly as condescending and loathsome as he seems. But he works hard to maintain the pretense.
- Karma Houdini: The main cast have all committed multiple acts of treason, yet have never suffered any long-term negative consequences for it.
- Killed Off for Real: Bryce Larkin at the end of Season Two; Emmett Milbarge at the start of Season Three; Stephen Bartowski in the Season Three finale; CIA representative Clyde Decker half-way through Season Five.
- Knife Nut: Sarah's preferred weapons are throwing daggers, and will have a number of them hidden away in various places. She'll also use them to cut cheeseburgers and mute her alarm clock. This was mostly dropped by the third season, where she defaults to guns instead of knives. Perhaps to align her more with classic spies to play up what she fears Chuck will become.
- Legacy Character: Played around with through the "Greta" character, who is played by a different guest star each time "Greta" shows up.
- Let's Get Dangerous:
- The purpose of Intersect 2.0, but also in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners", Morgan turns out to have possibly the best unhoned espionage skills of the bunch.
- Ellie, Morgan, and Devon at the beginning of the Season 3 finale.
- Limit Break: Laudanol allows the Intersect to work full blast for Chuck.
- Limited Wardrobe: The main cast's day jobs pretty much guarantee that the characters will spend a good amount of the episode in their work uniforms (Green Shirts, Nerd Herder shirt and slacks, Ellie and Awesome's scrubs, and Sarah's Hausfrau dress/orange-and-grey tank top from the second season onwards). Chuck's Nerd Herd outfit even gets used on missions, as well as occasionally on his free time.
- Lipstick and Load Montage: Sarah often does this and a Lock and Load Montage simultaneously.
- Living Legend: By the third season, the Charles Carmichael persona has taken on a life of its own and gained quite a bit of notoriety in the intelligence community and criminal underworld.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Awesome stumbled on the spy stuff near the end of Season 2 and Morgan was told about it all in Season 3 but Ellie, the person closest of all to Chuck, was kept in the dark about it all at long as they could. Even after she knew there was a Secret Legacy of spy work in the family, she was led to believe that Chuck used to work for the CIA but quit because she was concerned for his safety.
- Lovable Jock: Captain Awesome. Despite being a musclebound extreme sports enthusiast who spends a lot of screen time shirtless and working out, he's a skilled doctor, fluent in Spanish, and a pretty nice guy, even to Chuck and his nerdy friends.
- Love Dodecahedron: During the first half of Season 3, Morgan wanted Hannah wanted Chuck wanted Sarah wanted Shaw at one time or another. Yeesh. Ellie and Devon are worth fitting somewhere in there too. They might be happily married, but what Devon knew about Chuck was driving Devon insane and causing friction in the marriage, and concern about Chuck led Ellie and Morgan to work together amicably for the first time ever.
- Luke, You Are My Father: Played thoroughly straight with Casey and the fiancée he left behind.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Chuck and Sarah, at least for the first two seasons.
- Meaningful Echo: Also a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in "Chuck Versus the Dream Job":
Chuck: All I can tell you is that... I'm not who you think I am.
Stephen: Don't worry, Charles. I'm not who you think I am either. *uses Orion's wrist device to disable a guard*
- Meaningful Name:
- Ring agent Hugo Panzer. The last name is, of course, the name of a tank, and considering that he's played by Steve Austin.
- Two members of Fulcrum are named Colt and Mauser, which are both manufacturers of firearms.
- Faran Tahir portrays a villain named "Farrokh Bulsara" in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer". Of course, that's also the name on Freddie Mercury's birth certificate.
- Mistaken for Badass:
- A running gag is how the incompetent Chuck is mistaken by both good guys and bad guys for a badass super-spy. This includes Colt in "Chuck Versus the First Date" and Mark and Heather in "Chuck Versus the Cougars".
- A variant occurs in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary", when it turns out that Chuck and Morgan's search for Chuck's mom has led them extremely close to Volkoff Industries, the arms dealers that Sarah and Casey have been tracking on their own. The Volkoff agent, played by Dolph Lundgren, assumes that their use of public transportation is an effective ploy to avoid being tracked, and believes them to be super-spies even better than Sarah and Casey, who he had just kidnapped with plans to torture them for information on the former two.
- Mistaken for Spies: For the first two seasons, Chuck was not a "real" spy but was constantly getting mistaken for one anyway. It's not as if Chuck went out of his way to destroy that illusion. In fact, he often pretends to be the (made-up) Bond-like Agent Charles Carmichael.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Chuck is "really soft" science fiction. The Intersect is the only significant sci-fi element and its inner workings get very little explanation.
- Morality Pet:
- Chuck to Casey, at times.
- Morgan may be well on his way to becoming Casey's new Morality Pet, now that he's gained his respect by nearly sacrificing himself when he leads a Bengal tiger into an apartment. Casey's right; the furry little elf has balls. Solid diamond balls. Check out "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", where he breaks his thumbs to get to a fire alarm to evacuate the Buy More, and "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", where he risks electrocuting himself to save Chuck, Sarah, and Casey.
- Mr. Exposition: Beckman and Graham, though Beckman's character was eventually fleshed out more.
- Mr. Fanservice:
- Captain Awesome.
Morgan: Look at you, you live in a freakish bubble of handsomeness.
Chuck: And Casey, your jaw was chiseled by Michelangelo himself.
Chuck: Yeah, if you're into the, *ahem* strong, kinda Superman-y type of a guy.
- Cole Barker.
Chuck: I get what she sees in you, you know. The fearlessness in the face of danger, the imperviousness to pain, super-cool tank-tops... stop me whenever this is getting uncomfortable.
- Ms. Fanservice: God bless you, Yvonne Strahovski. Finally lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Kept Man".
- Some of the female guest stars are quite the lookers, too.
- My Skull Runneth Over: The Intersect puts a huge long term toll on the bearer's brain unless you use a device to keep it in check, and can possibly fry your brain outright if it can't absorb the information properly. (Note that the only time this has happened in the show was with a beta Intersect developed by FULCRUM. Happens again in the final season when Morgan and Sarah receive the Intersect. Morgan becomes a douche who can't remember Star Wars or Indiana Jones, while Sarah loses all of her memories of the past 5 years and reverts to her old CIA personality.)
- Nebulous Evil Organization: FULCRUM, the shadowy organization determined to find the intersect. To one-up FULCRUM, the end of Season 2 revealed an even shadowier organization, The Ring, with dark intentions for the Intersect. Word of God promised at the time that they'd have actual goals instead of just nebulous evil.
- Necessarily Evil: While not a villain, Casey has an ethos of giving up any chance for a normal life himself in order to protect it for others, and he is frequently critical of Sarah and Chuck when they seek normalcy. Veering in the direction of villainy is that Casey is on orders to ultimately eliminate the Intersect (i.e. kill Chuck), something which increasingly troubles him as the series progresses.
- Nerd Action Hero
- Nerds Are Sexy: Kind of the whole point.
- Neural Implanting: How the Intersect is put into Chuck's brain in the first place.
- Never Mess with Granny: As of "Chuck Versus the Push Mix", Chuck and Ellie's mother, Mary Elizabeth "Frost" Bartowski, thanks to the birth of her first grandchild.
- Hartley Winterbottom's mother qualifies as well.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: The function of Intersect 2.0 in Chuck's head.
- Nice Guy: Chuck Bartowski.
- Despite being very muscular, Devon is a very gentle person.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Ted Roark is essentially Steve Jobs if Steve Jobs decided to moonlight as a murderous supervillain.
- Premier Alejandro Fulgencio Goya seems to be based on Fidel Castro (though in "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat", there is a mention of him hanging out with the real Castro). In "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte", The Ring assassin tries to kill him by poisoning one of his cigars, a shout out to one of the CIA's real life plans to kill Castro with an exploding cigar.
- No, You Go First: Happens a lot between Chuck and Sarah.
- Non-Lethal KO: The tranq gun is Chuck's Weapon of Choice.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Alexei Volkoff, though apparently a Russian, retains Timothy Dalton's English accent. Justified in "Chuck Versus Agent X": Volkoff has a British accent because he's actually Agent X, who was born in Somerset.
- Not Himself: Morgan with the Intersect. Chuck recognizes it when Morgan doesn't get an Indiana Jones reference. Even more heavily underlined for the audience in the final shot of the episode when Morgan asks who Luke Skywalker is.
- Sarah gets the Intersect and her memory wiped in the series finale. Small things like how she won't let him warm her feet with his in bed and forgetting to pack extra tranq darts are what tip Chuck off that something's not right.
- Ahem. The real cue for Chuck was not so much the absent tranq darts in themselves, but the pair of Intersect glasses that took their place.
- Sarah gets the Intersect and her memory wiped in the series finale. Small things like how she won't let him warm her feet with his in bed and forgetting to pack extra tranq darts are what tip Chuck off that something's not right.
- Not So Dire: Very common gag.
- Odd Couple: The moment Morgan Grimes hired John Casey as Lieutenant Assistant Manager at the Buy More is the moment a new, hilarious Odd Couple was born. This continues to be hilarious the moment John Casey inducts Morgan Grimes to the CIA and is assigned to train him.
Beckman: It was your idea to make him part of the team, it's your job to make him field-ready. He's a diamond in the rough... very, very rough... but I'm sure you'll make him... sparkle!
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness:
- The Ring, even more so.
- Decker's CIA division, in Season 5.
- One-Man Army:
- Casey. Several episodes feature him taking out small squads of men, and nobody seems surprised when he does so.
Shaw: (hears gunfire and screaming) I see you brought Casey.
- As of Season 4, Chuck.
Chuck: Clearly you have no idea who I am, since you only sent ten of your men to deal with me.
- Sarah, especially if Chuck is in danger. Taken Up to Eleven in "Chuck Versus the Phase Three". Even more so at the end of "Chuck Versus Bo", after she uploads the Intersect into herself.
- Only Sane Employee(s): Chuck, though Morgan seems to be evolving into this as well.
- Outrun the Fireball: Done by a pig, of all things, in "Chuck Versus the Muuurder".
- Overprotective Dad: Casey.
- Parental Abandonment: A recurring theme.
- Chuck and Ellie's mother "left them" and their father "wasn't around much". As it turns out, their father literally abandoned them when Ellie was old enough to be Chuck's guardian, but did so for their own safety while their mother walked out on the family earlier. At least, Chuck and Ellie have believed that since they were kids. It turns out that their mother got stuck for twenty years in a mission trying to take down Alexei Volkoff's network.
- Morgan's father is never seen or mentioned.
- Sarah traveled the country with her father, aiding him in his cons until he was arrested when she was a teenager; at which point she was taken in by the CIA. Her mother wasn't involved, but Sarah and her father changed identities enough that they couldn't trace Sarah back to her; Sarah placed Molly into her mother's custody shortly before the start of the series because of this, but it meant she couldn't see her mother again or both she and Molly would be compromised.
- Vivian Volkoff being abandoned by her father.
- Casey was this to Alex, who grew up thinking he'd died before she was born, although he wasn't aware her mother was pregnant at the time he disappeared.
- Part-Time Hero
- Performance Anxiety: Chuck has difficulty using his ability to "flash" while under pressure.
- Poor Communication Kills: This has often been played straight as part of the show's UST. The UST seems to be over as of "Chuck Versus the Other Guy". The episode after that, "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners", frequently seems to threaten Poor Communication Kills but ultimately, thankfully averts it. Played terrifyingly straight in terms of Ellie being kept out of the loop in terms of everyone's involvement in spy work.
- As Morgan puts it in "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat":
Morgan: You are both, without a doubt, crap communicators. No, no, no- precious looks and whimsical little make-ups after big misunderstandings... you guys are fantastic, sure. But actual, real-life day-to-day communication?
Chuck: Fine, I get it.
- Portmanteau Couple Name: Jeffster! (as a platonic version for Those Two Guys). Invoked in-universe.
- Power Incontinence: See Green Lantern Ring above. If Chuck could do all that on command, he would be a Boring Invincible Hero. Fortunately - fortunately for the plot, unfortunately for the characters - his ability to flash on a skill depends on his emotional state in some not-yet-clear way. When he's nervous in a taking-a-test or stage-fright way, he can't flash, and when he's afraid for his own well-being, he can't flash (unless the person he feels threatened by is a pro wrestler), but when he's afraid for the sake of someone he cares about, then he flashes all the time, whether it's a good idea or not.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Boy howdy, "Chuck Versus the Fake Name". A sniper rifle with a large enough caliber to make the shot half a mile away, leaves a small head wound on a guy's head. This would be possible if the back of his head was blown out, but not a speck of blood is visible around the body.
- Also, the agent shot by Sofia in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase".
- "Previously On...": "Hi, I'm Chuck. Here's a few things you might need to know or maybe just forgot..."
- Product Placement:
- Toyota. Taken a bit far at one point when Chuck extols the virtues of the Venza as a getaway car.
- When called out by Ellie for buying a minivan, Awesome actually responds with "Toyota Sienna, safest family auto in its class." Even though Awesome keeps on trying to sell Ellie on the Sienna (dropping all sorts of statistics on its safety, natch), she prefers to ride her dad's "unsafe" Mustang '68 convertible. This sets everything up for yet another Intersect upload. Provided by Orion, whose own device had earlier blocked it to begin with.
- Subway, especially in Season 3, as a result of the Sending Stuff to Save the Show campaign for Season 3. Lampshaded incredibly hard, as virtually any time a cut opens up on either a Subway or a Subway sandwich, a Cherubic Choir can be heard in the background actually singing the word "Subway." In the series finale, Subway ends up purchasing the Buy More.
- Looking for a new drinking game? Take a shot every time you see an iPhone.
- Sleep Sheep! Though, real ones don't play Jeffster! songs.
- Toyota. Taken a bit far at one point when Chuck extols the virtues of the Venza as a getaway car.
- Promotion to Opening Titles:
- Season 2 promoted Ryan McPartlin (Captain Awesome), Mark Christopher Lawrence (Big Mike), and the other major Nerd Herders to the opening titles.
- Season 4 promoted Bonita Friedericy (Beckman).
- Promotion to Parent: Ellie mothers Chuck.
- Public Secret Message: Stephen Bartowski provides Ellie with a method for contacting him through coded messages in the personal ads.
- Put on a Bus:
- Anna Wu at the start of Season Three. She did turn up once more, but only for Morgan to get over her.
- Hannah later in the same season.
- Harry Tang is sent to Hawaii in Season One.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Adam Baldwin could almost be the Trope Codifier for this. John Casey is a Comically Serious, Necessarily Evil Colonel Badass who carefully upholds a Jerkass Facade and is a veteran of basically everything since the 1980s. Very much a real man, right? He also meticulously takes care of a bonsai tree, has perfect pitch due to a childhood as a choirboy, and is apparently quite skilled at wedding planning and decorating:
Miles: *showing Casey a ream of pink fabric* How about this?
Casey: No, no, no. That clashes with the bunting.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Carina and Sarah.
- Refusal of the Call/The Call Knows Where You Live: Chuck, for pretty much the first two seasons.
- Remember the New Guy?: Season 5's final Big Bad Nicholas Quinn. He apparently was supposed to be the original candidate for the Intersect project, but got rejected. He's also apparently helped organizations like FULCRUM and The Ring behind the scenes during the past few seasons.
- Repurposed Pop Song: The Theme Tune for Chuck is an instrumental thirty-second cut of "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake.
- Reset Button: The writers seem to love hitting this in the cruelest ways possible. In the Season 2 premiere "Chuck Versus the First Date", it appears to Chuck, for a while, that he'll be able to go back to being "just a normal guy" and dating Sarah once they retrieve the Cipher and put the Intersect in someone else's head. Too bad the Cipher contained a Trojan Horse that killed all the CIA's Intersect agents. In the Season 3 premiere "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip", Chuck flunks out of spy school, loses Sarah again and goes back to work at the Buy More, while Morgan failed Benihana school after Anna ran off with a classmate, also, surprise, surprise, coming back to work at the Buy More. Of course, the writers had to accommodate for the possibility of the show being canceled, which is likely why they hit the reset button when they did manage to get a third season commissioned.
- Romantic False Lead: Bryce, Jill, Lou, Shaw, Hannah... seemingly correct choices for Sarah and Chuck who ended up disappointing them. Or, you know, doing a Face Heel Turn. Let's make it simple: anyone Chuck takes an interest in not named "Sarah" OR anyone Sarah takes an interest in not named "Chuck".
- Running Gag:
- "Chuck, stay in the car." (the joke being that he never does). Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the First Date":
Chuck: It's never safe in the car!
- In Season 1, Chuck needs to come up with an excuse to explain Sarah's absence, and he blurts out the first thing which comes to mind, which to his surprise is that "she has a spastic colon". From this point onwards, he uses this excuse whenever he needs to cover for Sarah in civilian life. In Season 3, he replaces a guitarist and when a member of the band asks what happened to the other guy, he immediately goes straight to "spastic colon" again.
- Every time a hot girl walks through the Buy More, the Buy More Wind Machine appears to be running and pointing directly at the girl in question, whose hair billows gently in its artificial breeze as she strides through the store in slow motion.
- Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Three Words", where Carina gets the treatment walking into a housewarming party. Apparently the Buy More staffers bring it with them wherever they go.
- Given an entire chucking wall of lampshades in "Chuck Versus the Tooth", in which Morgan gets it walking through the Buy More in a tux. Of course, since his hair is short and gelled into place, the only reason you know it's on is because it's violently blowing through Skip's hair (you know, the white guy with the huge blond afro) as well as a few pages off his clipboard in the background.
- The lampshade itself is given a wind machine in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase", in which you actually see Morgan holding up an industrial fan as the Buy More crew Power Walk through the store.
- Captain Awesome has a tendency to accidentally tackle the good guy (see "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" or "Chuck Versus the American Hero").
- Jeff's tolerance for drugs of all kinds has definitely become a Running Gag. He uses chloroform recreationally and shrugs off three times as many tranq darts as it takes to put Casey down.
- Also, various people alluding to the Tron poster Chuck has. It's a Chekhov's Gun.
Heather Chandler: Thanks for that, movie dork. I bet you have, like, a Tron poster in your room.
- MI 6 agents are always undercover (see "Chuck Versus the Tango", "Chuck Versus the Beefcake", and "Chuck Versus the Last Details").
- If your hands are bound behind your back and you don't have any accessible tools to unbound yourself, you'll probably have to break your thumbs. This has been referenced at least once a season since Season 2.
- Lampshaded by Tuttle in "Chuck Versus the First Fight" when he discovers a method that doesn't involve breaking his thumbs. Of course, since he's actually Alexei Volkoff and they were on his plane, he probably wasn't actually bound. Volkoff actually uses this (non-thumb-breaking) technique in "Chuck Versus the Push Mix".
- Sweeping the leg comes up quite often.
- Scary Black Man:
- Big Mike (partially subverted).
- Mr. Colt (played by Michael Clarke Duncan, so of course he is) in "Chuck Versus the First Date".
- Mitt (played by Michael Strahan) in "Chuck Versus the Breakup".
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Numerous times throughout the series, but a notable example pops up in the Season 4 finale. Wherein Chuck actually goes against (and subsequently quits) the CIA in order to save Sarah, who had been poisoned by the Big Bad.
- Sealed with a Kiss: Every Episode 13 from Season 3 on (since each of those was a Series Fauxnale--until the actual Grand Finale, anyway--we can assume they always intended the series to end on one).
- Secret Identity:
- No cowl and no cape, but Chuck's status as both an agent and the human Intersect is kept secret from his family and friends. At least, until mid-third season. Even Ellie and Devon don't know about the human Intersect, and in Season 4 believe he's retired.
- Just about every spy in this show seems to have one. Sarah Walker and John Casey are both covers:
- Sarah's real name was partly revealed, assuming she wasn't lying when she told Shaw her real first name Sam in "Chuck Versus the Fake Name", and her middle name Lisa in "Chuck Versus the Wookie".
- Casey's given name was Alexander Coburn.
- Heck, even Chuck is known in the CIA and NSA as "Charles Carmichael" rather than "Chuck Bartowski".
- Secret Keeper:
- As of the end of Season 2, Captain Awesome.
- As of the end of Season 3, Morgan Grimes and Ellie Bartowski.
Morgan: My best friend is a spy? This is the best news I've ever heard!
Ellie: Morgan Grimes--the boy that took my pillow as his date to Junior Prom--knows more about my family being spies than I do?
- By the end of the show, the only member of the main cast who ISN'T one is Big Mike.
Big Mike: So what you're saying is, Chuck Bartowski is a spy who runs a spy company beneath the store?
Lester: The exciting part of the story is that we saved the day. You didn't get that? We'll go again.
Big Mike: I got it. But do I believe it? Not a word, boys. Not a word.
- But given that the German record executive made his offer to Jeffster! in front of Big Mike, and referenced the parts of their story that he was aware of...
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Casey often mocks Chuck and his "lady feelings".
- Sexy Walk: Almost all sexy women who walk into the Buy More and Sarah when she's wearing a Stripperific outfit.
- Shipper on Deck: Pretty much everyone ships Chuck and Sarah. Even Casey. Even Beckman.
- Shoot the Dog: Twice so far in Season 3, Chuck has had to betray people he's grown close to so that he can keep them safe.
- Shout-Out: So many, we had to give it its own page.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man
- Sinister Silhouettes: The leaders of The Ring were shown as this during a You Have Failed Me... moment.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis:
- The first season had Harry Tang and similarly there is Emmett in the second season - both characters are Tyrants Taking The Helm at Buy More and are an ironic contrast to the very dangerous villains Chuck faces in his spy life.
- Then there's the Beverly Hills Buy More versus the Burbank Buy More.
- Slut Shaming: As part of her role as Ms. Fanservice and to build up more UST with Chuck, Sarah often has to seduce men. Every once in a while, Chuck's jealousy builds to the point where he attacks her for it. He usually apologizes, but there it is. Once they became a real couple, this died down.
- Spy Couple:
- Pre-show, Sarah and Bryce.
- Double subversion: James Bond Expy Cole Barker tries to woo Sarah into this only to give up when he realizes she's in love with Chuck. "Well, who'd have thought it? Cole Barker loses the girl to Chuck Bartowski."
- Sarah and Shaw become this in Season 3. Until, well, it turns out Sarah killed Shaw's wife as her Red Test, causing Shaw to go rogue and work for The Ring.
- As of "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Chuck and Sarah finally qualify.
- Casey and Verbanski, in Season 5.
- Statuesque Stunner: Two, no less: Ellie and Sarah.
- Status Quo Is God: No matter what happens at the end of each season, Chuck and Morgan will always end up back at the Buy More. At the end of Season 2, Chuck, Morgan, and Casey all quit the Buy More. Morgan even left carrying Anna as his friends applauded him. At the end of Season 3, the Buy More was burned down. But every season ends up with the same crew working at the same store.
- Stepford Smiler:
- While she is a genuinely nice person, Sarah has a disturbing ability to turn on a perky, bubbly personality at will even if it is completely at odds with her actual feelings. Chuck eventually lampshades this aspect of her personality in the second season and "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" uses this to have a Downer Ending as Chuck witnesses Sarah kill the villain, and not knowing what he saw, Sarah puts on her cheerful personality and tells him that the villain was taken into custody.
- In "Chuck Versus the Breakup", after a particularly heart-breaking speech from Chuck, they both do this at exactly the same time. Quite moving, considering both of them had been on the verge of crying only moments before. In detail: Chuck has been convinced that Sarah's feelings for him will get one or both of them killed, and so lies through his teeth, telling Sarah that he wants someone normal and that she can "never be normal". Chuck is not liking to have to be saying this, and Sarah is... well, she's just been told that Chuck, the first person she has ever loved, doesn't want to be with her because she is a spy. She's crushed. And then the two of them look at each other sadly, and then put on really sincere-looking grins as they prepare to spend the night pretending to be a couple and discussing Ellie and Devon's upcoming wedding.
- Stock Spy Cover Jobs: Actually quite an original one - as a computer techie, Chuck's got a 9-5 job that he can easily drop at a moments notice just by claiming he's "on an install". How Casey the floor-sales guy gets away with the same thing is... less clear.
- It's somewhat explained that everyone is too afraid of Casey to ask. Also considering how insane the other employees can be, someone no-nonsense like Casey would be a valuable employee no matter how absent he seems to be. The Buy-More can't be too picky considering the employee pool available to them.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Sarah.
- Take That: The show doesn't seem to hold the FBI in high regard. Chuck bluffs about having an enemy surrounded by a task force. When the villain points out that he can't see anyone, Chuck responds with "Of course you can't. Who do you think we are, the FBI?" In another episode, they have to sneak past two FBI agents and when Chuck makes a noise, Casey cautions him "It's the FBI, they're dumb not deaf."
- Talking Heads: Beckman and Graham start out as this. But in later seasons, Beckman's character becomes more fleshed out. She makes a few in-person appearances (and even going on the field with them in one episode) and her communications with Team Bartowski show her in settings other than her office, such as her home. She also becomes more a part of the show's humor rather than just a Ms. Exposition.
- Those Two Guys: Jeff and Lester.
- Time Compression Montage: Subverted in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips". Devon was surprised to find out that only an hour had passed.
- Too Kinky to Torture: Jeff. Possibly Lester.
- Took a Level in Badass: Over the course of Season 3, Chuck takes several levels in badass. In Season 2 and earlier, he was an Action Survivor or maybe Guile Hero at best. At the end of Season 2, he gains the Intersect 2.0, which gives him access to a vast library of useful skills in addition to the knowledge that came standard with the Intersect. It took him most of season three to learn to use that reliably and safely. Along the way he was given lots of field assignments that put him in harm's way and forced him to make tough choices. By the start of Season Four, he's beating up a dozen guards at a time.
- Also Morgan took a level in badass in a more quiet way. He's still not a fighter or even particularly clever, but Casey has complimented him on his bravery more than once. Morgan has lured a tiger into an apartment to trap it and, as of the end of Season 3, is the only person other than Casey to break their own thumbs to get out of a pair of handcuffs.
- Morgan gets the Intersect at the end of Season 4.
- True Companions:
- Twelve Episode Show
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Emmett Milbarge stars in this story arc.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Although Chuck's interest in Sarah is pretty much clear from the beginning, Sarah initially insists that their relationship is only part of their cover. However, when Chuck moves on and begins to date a girl named Lou, Sarah realizes her feelings for him are more than just a cover. Chuck eventually dumps Lou to be with Sarah, only to discover that her former lover Bryce is still alive. Later on, Chuck gets back together with his old girlfriend Jill and Sarah gets jealous. Then after that, Sarah becomes attracted to CIA Agent Cole and Chuck gets jealous and so on...
- Unusual Euphemism: Non-sexual example. Casey's codename for briefings is "yogurt time".
- UST: Frequently. Chuck is a Hollywood Nerd with a really hot Action Girlfriend. However, to her it's just a job, or at least she is trying to maintain her professionalism and her calm reserve, especially after how her last workplace relationship ended. Everyone has remarked on her feelings for him, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. After a brief period of trying to be a couple, mostly off-screen between Seasons two and three, they decided to be just friends. This won't last forever. Finally resolved in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy".
- Video Phone: General Beckman's interchanges with the team mostly happen through one of these, as do liaisons between Castle and various field operatives.
- Visual Pun: Chuck frequently wears Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers.
- Vitriolic Best Buds:
- Casey and Chuck are Type I for most of the first three seasons, with Casey softening on Chuck as time has gone on to the point where Chuck gets the new intersect and has some spy skills of his own, he and Casey evolve to Type II with the caveat that Casey still terrifies Chuck and can silence him with one of his trademark grunts.
- Once Morgan is in on the spy stuff, he and Casey become Type I.
- Wait Here: Chuck is always told to stay in the car during missions. He never does, until "Chuck Versus the Colonel", and EVEN THEN.
- Weapon of Choice:
- Do not mess with Sarah when she's holding... well, anything at all, really, but she does some very painful-looking things with a throwing knife, and has an ankle sheath to make sure she's never without.
- Chuck's tranq guns. And gloves.
- Weirdness Magnet: Threats to national security show up within thirty feet of Chuck all the time.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: FULCRUM is an entire organization of ultra patriots whose research into the Intersect is meant for creating better soldiers, moral qualms be damned.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- The assassin from "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte". He fails to assassinate Goya, kidnaps Awesome to set up "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome", but isn't heard from again.
- Season 2 ends with Stephen handing Chuck his wrist computer so that he can help Casey and Sarah stop The Ring from taking the new Intersect. In Season 3, Chuck no longer has it, yet we never see it with his dad either.
- The wrist computer was last seen in Orion's secret base.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Although neither seem to have any problems when it comes to killing in the heat of battle or in self-defense, both Chuck and Sarah enter this mode with regards to each other at various points: Chuck, after seeing Sarah murder the FULCROM agent to protect him in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" and Sarah enters this mode regarding Chuck when she thinks he actually went through the the red test and killed a mole in "Chuck Versus the Final Exam".
- Will They or Won't They?: Chuck and Sarah:
- Brutally lampshaded by the bad guys of all people in "Chuck Versus the Fake Name".
- Drawn out for more than twenty episodes after they demonstrated their feelings for each other, complete with numerous ResetButtons. This may be a new record.
- "Chuck Versus the Other Guy" has finally shifted the paradigm. And there was much rejoicing.
General Beckman: And off the record? It's about damn time.
- A somewhat ambiguous example in the finale where the viewer is left to wonder whether Chuck and Sarah actually do end up together when Sarah has no memory of their relationship. It's implied that she's getting her memories back and that the final kiss means they're headed back to normalcy, but not everyone saw it that way.
- X Meets Y: Get Smart meets Alias.
- You Look Familiar: The actor who played Yuri the Gobbler had also played one of La Ciudad's goons.
- AB Negative: In "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte".
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Thinking her fiance Alexander Coburn now John Casey is dead, Kathleen McHugh has found herself a new boyfriend/husband. Her daughter Alex keeps her mother and father from meeting in order to preserve her mother's happiness.
- Action Dress Rip: Sarah cleanly tears off the bottom of her bridesmaid dress to prepare for battle with Fulcrum agents in "Chuck Versus the Ring".
- Adrenaline Makeover: Done by Ellie and Devon when they accidentally become spies in "Chuck Versus the Curse", as Ellie gets rid of the pin in her hair and Devon loses his shirt to cut the power.
- Air Vent Passageway:
- The trio sneaks in via air vent in "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady".
- In "Chuck Versus the Ring", he sneaks into the room with the Intersect via the air vent.
- Played straight in "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z".
- Casey uses the vents to gain access to Castle when Shaw captures Sarah in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
- The Alleged Car: Morgan's titular car in "Chuck Versus the DeLorean".
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit" features Shaw taking over Castle and holding Casey and Sarah hostage.
- Amazon Brigade: Fatima Tazi and her entire organization consisting entirely of fairly attractive women in tank tops with machine guns in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible".
- An Asskicking Christmas: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" and "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
- Applied Phlebotinum: The emotion-suppressing Laudanol in "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac".
- Arc Words: "Chuck Versus the Beefcake" had Everyone talks.
- As Himself:
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Chuck and Sarah, and Morgan and Casey in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners".
- Back for the Finale: Two people: Linda Hamilton as Mary Elizabeth "Frost" Bartowski, and--oddly enough--Mark Pellegrino as a a previously-unnamed FULCRUM agent whose only appearance was in "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady".
- Badass Longcoat: Volkoff in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers".
- Bait and Switch: Played for all it's worth in "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" - Chuck rushes into Sarah's hospital room with the cure for the Norseman, but it's unclear if it was too late as the scene fades to white. Cue jump cut to the exterior of a church, and a sign reading "Funeral and Viewing, 3PM" only for the camera to quickly pan downwards to reveal "Bartowski Wedding, 4PM".
- Barehanded Blade Block: Chuck pulls one off in "Chuck Versus Agent X" when demonstrating that he's the Intersect to Ellie.
- Battle Discretion Shot: Played with in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary": Sarah and Casey discover (through the villain's walkie-talkie) that Chuck and Morgan are surrounded by ten enemy guards, armed with weapons. Gunfire and screaming commences, but we only hear it through the walkie-talkie as we focus on Sarah and Casey's expressions. While they believe that Chuck is dead, we then hear Chuck talking through the Walkie-Talkie, and see all ten guards strewn about all over the place.
Morgan: You were limber!
- Beach Episode:
- "Chuck Versus the Beard" finds time to put Ellie in a swimsuit at the pool. Of course, to balance this out, Awesome is shirtless.
- "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat". While they never go to the beach, Costa Gravas is home to some beaches and Sarah tries on some bikinis.
- "Chuck Versus the Kept Man" also puts the crew in Miami (and) South Beach for a good part of it, even if Sarah is, again, the only one wearing a swimsuit (despite Gertrude in a very nice dress insisting that Casey wear a banana hammock).
- Beard of Sorrow: Chuck in "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
- Belly Dancer: The compound in Morocco in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible" had these. Sometime later, Sarah wears a belly dancing outfit to try to seduce Chuck into eloping with her.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- This happens a lot with Casey, most notably:
- In "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", Ellie Bartowski's promotion to Badass Normal comes when she mounts a rescue effort with Morgan and Awesome to save the other three members of Team Bartowski.
- The way Chuck brought the cavalry to save Casey and Sarah in "Chuck Versus the First Date" comes to mind, too.
- "Chuck Versus the Ring" has two in quick succession - Bryce walking into the reception hall just as Roark is ordering his men to shoot Chuck; and shortly after that, once Fulcrum has secured Bryce, Sarah and Chuck and Roark is about to shoot Chuck (again), Casey and his special forces unit burst into the room through a skylight.
- In the Season 4 finale, "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger", Chuck pulls one off.
Casey: Russians. So many Russians.
- In "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train", Jeff and Lester (yes, Those Two Guys...) manage to pull one off to save Morgan, Alex, and Awesome.
- Big No:
- Morgan when he discovers a ring with which he thinks Chuck will propose to Sarah in "Chuck Versus the Marlin".
- Sarah has one in "Chuck Versus the First Date" when it appears Mr. Colt has dropped Chuck off a roof to his death.
- Shaw in "Chuck Versus the American Hero", after seeing the video where Sarah shot his wife.
- Bilingual Bonus: In "Chuck Versus the Last Details", Morgan pretends to attend a meeting as Ettore La Barba. "La Barba" means "The Beard," which is also a Fan Nickname given to Morgan.
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: "Lizzie" accidentally does this to Sarah in "Chuck versus the Marlin".
- Blatant Lies: The team usually only lies to friends and family out of necessity, but in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", Sarah's hamming it up to Ellie during a (civilian, fairly peaceful) hostage situation is particularly ironic.
Sarah: I'm just scared, I've never been this close to a gun before.
- Blood From the Mouth: Ring operative Sydney Prince, when she is killed in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome".
- Bodyguard Crush: Sarah herself; her feelings for Chuck were first developing during the time her primary mission was to protect him.
- Lou Ferrigno played a mook in love with his fashion model/Volkoff agent boss in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase".
- Bond One-Liner: Casey loves these.
- (After knocking out a bad guy with a microwave) "How's that for moving some merchandise?"
- (After driving his car right into restaurant full of Fulcrum agents) "Somebody order drive-through?"
- (After using the Intersect to take out a team of Fulcrum scientists while disguised as a TV repairman) "Somebody call the cable guy?"
- Bottle Episode: With the exception of Season 1, there's been one in every season.
- Season 2: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus".
- Season 3: "Chuck Versus the Beard".
- Season 4: "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z".
- Season 5: "Chuck Versus the Kept Man".
- Brief Accent Imitation: Chuck pretends to be in Tyler Martin (Dominic Monaghan)'s band in "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension".
Chuck: Yeeeeeaeah ah'm in 'is band alright, drummah, jus' layin' the beats down, like a li'l drummah boy, come they told me, pa rum pa pum pum.
Tyler Martin: [slightly disgusted look]
- Broken Pedestal: Ty Bennett, for John Casey in "Chuck Versus the Sensei".
- Bulletproof Vest: Twice in "Chuck Versus the Nemesis".
- It's fortunate that Chuck was wearing one in "Chuck Versus Sarah". He dives in front of a bullet meant for Sarah, and ends up getting shot in the back.
- Bullet Time: Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips", an episode in which guest star Carrie-Anne Moss features heavily.
- Done in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip", for about two minutes with shurikens... thrown by Chuck and Sarah, just for the heck of it.
- Cable Car Action Sequence: At the end of "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death".
- Call Back:
- In "Chuck Versus the Nemesis", it is established that "pineapple" is the one word that can initiate an evacuation of the Buy More. In "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", when Buy More management arrives in the midst of a closing down sale, Jeff suggests they instigate an evacuation of the store by uttering the word; and in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip", Big Mike is heard wailing the word whilst Jeff pushes him out of the store in a wheelbarrow, after Lester tries to poison Jeff with carbon monoxide and Big Mike gets caught in the middle.
- In "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Sarah tells Chuck that she fell for him "a long time ago, after you fixed my phone and before you started defusing bombs with computer viruses", both of which, incidentally, happened in the pilot.
- In the next episode "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners", Chuck is marveling at the fact that Sarah really doesn't have a favorite band... a conversation continued from their first date, also in the pilot.
- Chuck and Shaw fight in an empty Buy More in "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II" with the fight coming to an end with Chuck holding Shaw at gun point but opting not to kill him and Sarah knocking Shaw out by hitting him in the back of the head with a pipe; in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit", they fight in an empty Buy More again, but Shaw is the one with the gun and Ellie knocks him by hitting him in the back of the head with a pan.
- Fittingly, "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" features several to the pilot and the previous five seasons of the show.
- The Book Ends mentioned above (the "Irene Demova" virus; Chuck and Sarah on the beach).
- Team Bartowski breaking into the CIA's Intersect room features several nods to Bryce doing the same thing in the pilot.
- Jeffster! performs with orchestral accompaniment in order to buy Chuck and Sarah time to deal with Quinn, and delay the detonation of a bomb; they unknowingly did the same thing for Ted Roark, and to stall Ellie and Devon's aborted wedding in "Chuck Versus the Ring".
- Morgan tells Chuck "you once told me to listen to our hearts, because our brains only screw us up"; this is what Chuck told Morgan when he was worried about leaving to become a Benihana Chef in the Season 2 finale "Chuck Versus the Ring".
- During the mission to apprehend Quinn, Sarah and Chuck end up going to a Wienerlicious branch in Berlin, with Sarah even wearing her old staff outfit, Girlish Pigtails and all.
- Camera Sniper
- In "Chuck Versus the Balcony", as Sarah makes a drop giving a bogus chip to a minor villain, we have a POV shot of someone taking pictures. Turns out it's an operative for the CIA, who believe that Sarah has had a Face Heel Turn and is selling the real chip. Except it's really an operation to justify her going double in the Big Bad's employ in order to take him down and rescue Chuck's mother.
- In "Chuck Versus the Zoom", someone from Decker's team is taking pictures of Chuck and Sarah as they are looking at their dream home.
- Carrying the Antidote: "Chuck Versus the Truth".
- Celebrity Paradox: "Chuck Versus the Tooth" starts with Chuck and Sarah talking about "spies like these" and even mention Chevy Chase. So when they watched the movie, didn't they recognize the guy who was his dad's enemy from the events leading up to his newest Intersect upgrade?
- Chair Reveal:
- Done twice in "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte": one straight (Awesome waiting for Chuck in his room) and one subverted (Chuck reciprocating... on the patio... with a lounge chair... that he has to push by foot).
- Also done in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" to reveal General Beckman, or "Diane", as her Buy More name tag would suggest, in the manager's chair.
- Class Reunion:
SarahJenny's, including the now-gorgeous-and-successful ex-loser, and the successful ex-Nerd married to the bitter ex-Alpha Bitch. But all with a Spy Fi twist, natch.
- Code Silver: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus".
- Coincidental Broadcast: In the pilot, Chuck flashes when the TV Morgan turns on shows General Stanfield.
- Combat Stilettos
- Casey mentions he once stabbed a guy with a stiletto in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase".
- A surprised Sarah very nearly skewers Morgan in the neck with her stiletto in "Chuck Versus the First Fight".
- Also a Stealth Pun -- stilettos get their name from a very thin knife that was often used in assassinations.
- Con Man: "Jack Burton", Sarah's father (we see that he trained Sarah to do the Flopsy and he pulls off a Landmark Sale as well).
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Achmed Gambir in "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension" evades notice despite wearing a heavy trenchcoat in Burbank.
- Continuity Nod: Several, notably when Chuck relates the story of defusing a bomb using internet porn to the rest of the CAT Squad when they visit him and Sarah.
- Several of the attendees of the "Buy More house party" in "Chuck Versus the Cougars" are wearing Mighty Jocks jerseys (from the previous episode).
- Cool Boat: The Contessa from "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" has Anti-Aircraft Missiles, Sonar Stealth Technology, and an Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor! It's a Floating Fortress of Fun (purchased from Craigslist Dubai)!
- Crash-Course Landing: "Chuck Versus the Helicopter".
- Crazy Enough to Work: While this trope is used by the heroes on a near-weekly basis (see "series as a whole" above), it gets one noticeable invocation from the Buy More staff in "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II":
Big Mike: That's crazy!
Lester: *grins deviously* ...crazyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy... good?
Big Mike: There may be a brain under that mop after all.
- Crowd Hockey: "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z" has Morgan chasing after the eponymous Cubic Zirconium ring during a Buy More riot. He doesn't find it. Chuck does. On bended knee. In front of Sarah.
- Curtain Camouflage: "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible", with Chuck and Sarah trying to avoid being caught as Roan Montgomery goes... uh... deep undercover.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Gregory Tuttle threatens to rip out Chuck's throat with a plastic fork at their first meeting in "Chuck Versus the First Fight".
- A Day in the Limelight: As Zachary Levi was busy preparing "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", most of "Chuck Versus Phase Three" focused on Sarah.
- Jeff is the only character not connected to Chuck's spy life that got his own episode in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer".
- Did Sis Just Have Tea With Cthulhu?: "Chuck Versus the Leftovers".
- Diegetic Switch:
- Happens with the Jeffster! Season 2 performances:
- Morgan tries to tell Anna he loves her at the end of "Chuck Versus the Best Friend" to Jeffster!'s cover of Toto's "Africa", which transitions to the real cover when she kisses him.
- The wedding sequence in "Chuck Versus the Ring" starts with Jeffster! (and string quartet) performing "Mr. Roboto", which subsequently transitions to an in-house cover scored orchestrally, which finally transitions to the real song.
- "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater" does this with "Don't Look Back in Anger" playing on the radio while Chuck looks at photos, and switching to background music during a flashback.
- "Chuck Versus the Last Details" also features this with Chuck and Morgan humming "The Imperial March" in order to get him psyched up for a meeting. Cut to him walking to the meeting with "The Imperial March" blaring in the background.
- Happens with the Jeffster! Season 2 performances:
- Die Hard on an X: "Chuck Versus the Leftovers" features terrorists taking over the Buy More. Morgan plays John McClane.
- Disaster Dominoes: Emmett triggers one in "Chuck Versus the Predator".
- Disney Villain Death:
- Daniel Shaw; in "Chuck Versus the Tooth" it is revealed that he survived being shot and falling into a river.
- Lampshaded by Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Living Dead".
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- "Chuck Versus Phase Three". His inability to flash (in his first dream) is a metaphor for sexual inadequacy.
- Morgan being advised to 'think about baseball' in order to prevent premature zooming in "Chuck Versus the Zoom".
- Downer Ending:
- "Chuck Versus Santa Claus".
Morgan: What do you do when you see your girlfriend do something so horrific, it gets permanently burned into your brain?
Chuck: I don't know, buddy. But I know exactly what you mean.
- "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler": Chuck has his "friend" Manoosh put into a "secure underground location". The last thing Chuck says to him? "I'm not your friend. I'm a spy." Then he goes back to his apartment alone to drown his sorrows in a bottle of whiskey.
- "Chuck Versus the Gobbler": Casey is comatose after being pushed by Sarah from a high-rise, Sarah is feeling terribly guilty about it, and Chuck has no idea what's going on.
- "Chuck Versus Sarah": the bad guy's got the Intersect glasses, and Sarah decides to leave Chuck in order to go after the bad guy, after admitting that she's not quite feeling the love that they once shared.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers".
Volkoff: I didn't really need to do that. I just love the sound.
- Easy Amnesia: Played with in Season 4 and averted in Season 5, courtesy of the Intersect.
- Season 4: Stephen Bartowski's best friend, Hartley Winterbottom, uploaded the Intersect to create himself as Alexei Volkoff. However, the Intersect malfunctioned and the Volkoff personality overwrote his own for almost the next 30 years. When the Intersect was removed, Hartley could remember nothing from his time as Volkoff, but his memory prior to uploading the Intersect was restored intact. Thus, Volkoff could remember nothing of his real identity while Hartley lost all memory of his life as Volkoff.
- Season 5: Morgan and Sarah's memories are both badly damaged by malfunctioning Intersects, both unintentionally (Morgan) and induced by the villain (Sarah). Morgan was forced to relearn many things, including his love of pop culture. Sarah's memory was even more severely impaired: she forgot everything that happened to her dating back five years and was subsequently brainwashed and manipulated by Quinn. Sarah slowly began remembering small details from before her mind was damaged, however while implied Sarah would eventually recover her memory, it appears this process may take time, and it is unclear just how much she will regain.
- Elevator Action Sequence: "Chuck Versus the Other Guy".
- Engineered Public Confession: In "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", Chuck gets one out of Shaw, in front of the entire brass of every major spy organization.
Chuck: You know, your Nerd Herd associate can also help you with videoconferencing. Smile, Daniel... you're on TV.
- Episode on a Plane: "Chuck Versus First Class".
- Even the Guys Want Him: Devon. When Morgan asks him to describe a typical day, Morgan practically falls in love with him after hearing how much he does for Ellie, just because he loves her.
- Everyone Knows Morse: "Chuck Versus the American Hero". Good thing for Sarah that Casey just so happens to use Morse Code to chat with his old buddies.
- Evil Counterpart: In addition to the recurring E Cs above...
- In "Chuck Versus the Suburbs", it is revealed that FULCRUM is trying to make an evil counterpart to Chuck with their own Intersect. Inadvertently, they use Chuck as a test subject, so now he's two Intersects.
- Sarah and the Alpha Bitch from her high school Heather Chandler. Sarah's in love with a nerd while Heather married a nerd for the money and even that wasn't enough.
- It can be argued that Daniel Shaw is more appropriately seen as an Evil Counterpart to Sarah rather than Chuck. They're both extremely competent spies, and Shaw is best understood as the person Sarah might have become if she'd lost Chuck. This is actually somewhat lampshaded in "Chuck Versus The Santa Suit" when Shaw tells Sarah that he's going to do to her what she did to him -- namely, kill the most important person in her life.
- Evil Laugh: Mocked by Shaw in "Chuck Versus the Subway" and by Chuck (even if you can't really call Chuck evil) in "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II". "Muhaha."
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
- Eye Scream: "Chuck Versus the Gobbler". No blood and no direct shot (it IS a broadcast TV show!), but the squishy noises and the implication can still serve as effective Nausea Fuel.
- Fake-Out Make-Out:
- "Wow. Girl on top. Miss Walker, when Herr Wienerlicious signs your paycheck, I doubt he's factoring in make-out sessions with your boy-toy."
- "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit" brings us the greatest comic example of all time, when General Beckman plants a big wet one on Chuck to prevent CIA security from discovering that they're searching for a device in Decker's office.
- Fake Kill Scare: A variant appears in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary": Sarah and Casey have been captured, and Chuck and Morgan are surrounded as they attempt to save them. Sarah begs for them to be let go over the radio, and Marko orders his men to kill them. Gunshots and a scream are heard.... and then Chuck's voice is heard.
- Faking the Dead:
- Chuck comes up with a plan to fake Casey's death to lure his old rogue teammates out of hiding in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock".
- Morgan pretends to be dead at a meeting in "Chuck Versus the Last Details". As does one other person at that meeting.
- Falling Into the Cockpit: "Chuck Versus the Helicopter".
- False Reassurance: In "Chuck Versus the First Date", he asks what happens to him as the old Intersect once the new Intersect comes online:
Graham: Tomorrow the new computer will be online. Operation Bartowski officially comes to an end. You'll be done with us. No more briefings, no more missions, no more spies. Enjoy the rest of your life, Chuck.
- ...because it'll end as soon as the new computer comes online.
- Faux Horrific: Jeff and Lester's Aisle of Terror. Images said to induce horror in even the most fearless. Images like old people, public showers, babies in snail costumes, and otters.
- Hilariously subverted at the climax, when Chuck uses the Aisle Of Terror to terrorize the villain, who has been affected by his own Fear Toxin and finds the Aisle truly horrific.
- Fictional Counterpart: In "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler", Weap-Con stands in for IDEX.
- Find the Cure: Chuck has to do this in "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" when Vivian Volkoff poisons Sarah on the eve of their wedding.
- Five-Man Band: Team Bartowski when Ellie gets in on the action in "Chuck Versus Agent X", with Chuck as The Hero, Sarah as The Lancer, Casey as The Big Guy, Ellie as The Smart Guy and Morgan as The Chick.
- Foreshadowing: "Chuck Versus the Subway".
Stephen: "This is the last time I'm gonna walk away from you."
- Frying Pan of Doom: Ellie, in "Chuck Versus the Living Dead" and "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
- Full-Name Basis: Bo Derek in "Chuck Versus Bo" (except, oddly enough, in the title). It's hilarious.
- Gatling Good: Casey's Big Damn Heroes moment in "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
- Subverted in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers" when Volkoff's hacker disables the Buy More's gatling gun defenses.
- Girl with Psycho Weapon: The new 'Greta' CIA agent played by Summer Glau in "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death". She carries a small serrated knife she refers to as her "favorite friend".
- A God Am I: It at least appears Morgan is suffering from this with the Intersect in his head early in season five. It turns out it came from the bad guys instead of Beckman, and it's melting Morgan's brain. Luckily, it's extracted from Morgan before further damage can be done to the guy's brain.
- Gone Horribly Right: In "Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner", Chuck and Sarah get conned and don't have enough authority to find the conwoman. Chuck fakes a flash to get the general to put more people on it; fishing for a connection to make the target important enough to for the general to put more resources on her, he accidentally links her to a notorious terrorist... and the general puts ALL resources on her. Which leads directly to...
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The general no longer trusts them, and Chuck's next flash isn't believed.
- Goofy Print Underwear: Casey's lucky clover boxers in "Chuck Versus the Wookiee".
Carina: Like Prague again, eh Casey?
- Grand Finale: "Chuck Versus the Goodbye".
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Twice.
- Casey, using Chuck, tied back-to-back in chairs in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover".
- Called back to in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners". This time, it's Morgan tied to Casey.
- Gunman with Three Names: The Buy More hostage-taker of "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" introduces himself this way.
- Guns Akimbo:
- Cole Barker. "Wow - two guns. You really are a badass."
- Averted as he then gives one gun to Chuck, and keeps the other himself.
- ... though he had previously used two guns against a helicopter.
- Also when Chuck goes to save his dad in "Chuck Versus the Dream Job". Dual tranq guns.
- Chuck again in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome". Again, tranq guns.
- Also Shaw with real guns.
- Sarah in "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil".
- Cole Barker. "Wow - two guns. You really are a badass."
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Chuck narrating the fears in the "Aisle of Terror" to Dr. Wheelwright, whose responses are just as hilarious.
- IS IT A BABY? OR IS IT A -SNAIL-?
- Handicapped Badass:
- Chuck sprains his ankle in "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon", but still has to fend off Fulcrum, on one good leg. The real badass part is that he uses his casted leg as a weapon to knock out the guy.
- Casey is probably the epitome of this.
- "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat".
Torrini: Don't make me shoot a man in a wheelchair.
Casey: (stands) Better?
- In "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", he manages to escape an alpha team while under heavy sedation.
- In "Chuck Versus the Push Mix", he takes down an assassin who attempted to smother him. With a bonsai tree. After tricking him into thinking he was dead by slipping his heart monitor off his finger. All while bedridden!
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: Invoked in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary", when Mary asks Marco whether or not he told Volkoff about Chuck searching for her.
- Heroic Fire Rescue: Chuck and Casey in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips". They run into a helicopter and its surroundings on fire to rescue Morgan and Gertrude Verbanski respectively.
- Hijacked by Ganon: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" starts out as a somewhat refreshing change from the secret agent stuff, but then, about 15 minutes from the end, suddenly FULCRUM ends up behind it all, including both the guy holding up the store and the agent handling the case.
- Historical In-Joke/Noodle Incident: Gen. Beckman and Roan Montgomery's romance have changed history.
- Homage: The plot where Emmett tricks Morgan into "going against the family" and getting Big Mike demoted from Buy More manager is of course heavily referencing The Godfather.
- I Can't Dance:
- "Chuck Versus the Tango" has Chuck learning the girl's part of the Tango.
- Subsequently subverted in "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte", because the Intersect 2.0 teaches him how.
- Subverted again in "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" despite Chuck's not having the Intersect, because his wife's apparently given him a few lessons since then.
Sarah: I need to find somebody to dance with. I'm going to get close to Remy --
Chuck: Sarah! Please, you taught me how to dance.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
- Sarah gives Lou this line regarding Chuck. And then again to Jill.
- Chuck does this in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary".
- One issued to Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock":
Casey: You break her heart, I break your everything.
- I Have a Family: "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" has a rare villain example of this. When Chuck's mom, Mary, is motivated into killing the men with her and escaping, Marco tries this exact line on her. She simply replies, "So do I." and shoots him.
- I Know Mortal Kombat:
- In "Chuck Versus the Helicopter", Chuck flying the helicopter is half knowledge of an Apache chopper game and half Sarah convincing him that that's the best way to think about it.
- In "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Morgan's extensive knowledge of Sonny Chiba films helps Chuck figure out that Shaw is working for The Ring.
- Chuck is a crack shot with his tranq gun without needing to flash, thanks to Duck Hunt.
- Inverted as well, as he's now also outrageously good at Duck Hunt due to his flashing and spy training.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In "Chuck Versus Sarah", as Chuck has to convince a Brainwashed and Crazy Sarah to not kill him. However, Chuck himself doesn't actually physically fight Sarah, opting instead to verbally tell her about his love for her while getting beaten down.
- Impairment Shot: Happens to multiple people on multiple occasions.
- Inverted in the pilot the morning after Chuck is implanted with the Intersect; Morgan comes in and out of focus before becoming clear.
- After Chuck gets knocked out by Bryce in an elevator in "Chuck Versus the Nemesis", Chuck sees Sarah and then Casey from an impaired POV.
Chuck: Pretty... not pretty! Ugly!
- In "Chuck Versus the Sensei", he sees the world tilting and out of focus during the fight with Ty Bennett.
- And in "Chuck Versus the Ex", his vision gets distorted right before he passes out.
- It happens to Captain Awesome in "Chuck Versus the Broken Heart", after Agent Forrest shoots him with a tranquilizer dart.
- Casey in "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte", waking up in Castle after losing blood.
- And Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", after he had just electrocuted himself along with the bad guys.
- Inverted in "Chuck Versus The Bullet Train", when Sarah wakes up in a warehouse tied to a chair in front of the waiting Quinn.
- Inverted in "Chuck Versus Sarah", when Sarah regains consciousness in the "dream house" after Ellie intentionally crashed their car.
- Improvised Zipline: In "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip", when Chuck was training to be a "real" spy in Prague, he had to do a zipline using a power line and his belt as the pulley, but failed. In Mexico, he was forced to use a power line as a zip line with his belt as the pulley. This time he succeeded.
- Incredibly Obvious Bug: In "Chuck Versus the Ex", Chuck is assigned to plant a bug that's about half an inch wide, has a blinking red light on the top and beeps when you turn it on. All the weirder because other bugs in the show are tiny, non-obvious black disks.
- Interrupted Intimacy: "Chuck Versus the Colonel". Chuck and Sarah are on the run. There is only one bed in their motel room. Cue Casey interrupting them to arrest them.
- Irrevocable Order: In "Chuck Versus the Business Trip", an assassin known as "The Viper" is known for going dark after receiving instructions and making it impossible to retract an assassination order, meaning that Decker cannot call off the hit on Morgan.
- Just Between You and Me: In "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", Chuck does it (and lampshades it) to Shaw:
Chuck: Come on, do you honestly expect me to make the classic villain mistake of explaining my evil plan? Well I'd love to!
- Almost smells like an Idiot Ball in the making when Shaw points out the flaw in the plan. Made brilliant by the fact that Chuck spelled out the details of his plan in order for Shaw to gloat and spill his own plan over a hidden camera.
- Kick the Dog: Specifically invoked by Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Last Details" to maintain his cover as a crime lord.
Morgan: Shoot the puppy! I'm so sick of feeding him!
- Killed Mid-Sentence: In "Chuck Versus the Business Trip", Casey kills the assassin and four associates, while the assassin is Evil Gloating, in about three seconds.
- Laser Hallway:
- An inventively choreographed one appears in "Chuck Versus the Three Words": Chuck doesn't have cat-burglar dexterity and weight, after all.
- In "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" however, it turns out Morgan's yoga and girlish frame DOES give him some of this. Yoga seal!
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible", when Team Bartowski has to infiltrate a crime boss's lair... which is disguised as a Moroccan nightclub.
Chuck: Well, looks like we need a costume change.
Sarah: By the way, for the record, I will not at any point during this mission be dressing as a belly dancer.
Chuck: What if you need to do it for our country?
Sarah: I'm sure America can handle it.
- Lie Detector: Used on Jill. Too bad he ignored the last answer...
- Lock and Load Montage:
- Sarah does a fanservice-y version in the pilot.
- "Chuck Versus the Broken Heart" had an interesting variant: Casey and Forrest had such a montage....with an extremely erotic charge.
- "Chuck Versus the Three Words" includes another, extremely fanservice-y one with both Carina and Sarah.
- Madness Mantra: The agent driven mad by FULCRUM's Intersect kept saying "Salamander" in "Chuck Versus the Suburbs".
- Meaningful Background Event: The ending shot of "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" is framed so that Chuck's proposal to Sarah and her acceptance are in the background, as the camera is focused on the janitor's waxing machine in the foreground.
- Metaphorgotten: Big Mike's fatherly love with meatballs and marinara sauce in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers".
- Mind Rape: Quinn, Magnificent Bastard that he is, does this to an Intersected Sarah at the end of "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train" by forcing Sarah to flash repeatedly with a set of flash cards, no doubt causing her tremendous agony. By the time Quinn's done, Sarah has lost all her memories of the past five years or so, and allowing for Quinn to manipulate Sarah into killing Chuck.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment:
- In "Chuck Versus the Tooth", there's a scene involving former CIA agents in an insane asylum showing that they still got the stuff. Subverted as the enemy agent simply tranqs them all.
- "Chuck Versus the Subway/Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II" has Ellie, shaken from witnessing her father's murder and Chuck's abduction, getting Awesome and Morgan to help her run a Pincer movement on the van holding Team Bartowski captive and succeeding.
- "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" gives us Jeff and Lester using a group of people including Fernando and Skip to track down Sarah. Incidentally, this marks the only time Fernando has spoken on-screen, and Skip's second-ever line of dialogue.
Lester: Unleash the perverts.
- "Mission Impossible" Cable Drop: In "Chuck Versus the Mask".
- Mistaken for Gay: Awesome, by the security guard at the office building.
Julius: Look pal, if you really love this "Chuck", you have to tell your wife; you can't live a lie. Trust me, I've been there.
Devon: That's... not really what I mean.
- Mood Whiplash
- The end of "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", when Sarah shoots an unarmed man in cold blood to protect Chuck's cover to the strains of Christmas Soundtrack Dissonance. Also pretty much the entirety of the season two finale.
- The pilot episode - the character establishing moment for Chuck cuts to Bryce Larkin stealing the Intersect and getting shot by Casey.
- Mr. Fanservice: Roan Montgomery, literally, in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible".
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Subverted in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy": Chuck does everything he can to avoid killing Shaw, but shoots him to save Sarah. Not that he kills Shaw anyway.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Tango":
Chuck: Sorry about this guys, and Anna. We really need to find a non-gender-specific name. How about "team"?
Anna: Fellow Nerd Herders?
Lester: "The Lesters".
Jeff: "Chuck's Stable of Hos".
- Neck Lift:
- Colt, in "Chuck Versus the First Date".
- Also, Casey does it to Chuck in response to the name "Sugar Bear" in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover".
- Casey again and then mirrored by Chuck in "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac."
- Casey again (noticing a pattern here?) does it to Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II" upon discovering a certain someone's phone number in the possession of The Bearded One.
- Guess what happens when Morgan has to provoke Casey into a state of fury in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock"...
- Never Mess with Granny: In "Chuck Versus Agent X", we meet Agent X's mother, a sweet old English lady who serves tea, but is also ready with a shotgun and happens to have a machine gun hidden. She has Casey feed her the bullet belt while she fires at mercenaries shooting at her house. Then she rigs her own house to blow up when they break in!
Casey: You're like the mother I never had!
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The whole situation with Vivian, although it was the CIA that landed the critical blow when they denied her permission to see her father.
- In "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer", Chuck saving Jeff caused the bad guys to go after Mr. Morimoto and get him killed.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Inverted as Big Bad Alexei Volkoff dines at Ellie's house with Chuck and Sarah. Ellie and Awesome are of course completely unaware that he's the villain.
- Noodle Incident:
- Casey has many: the incident in Prague with Carina in "Chuck Versus the Wookiee", the "Buy More company picnic volleyball incident" mentioned in "Chuck Versus First Class", and the "Yves Saint-Laurent incident" mentioned in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase."
Casey: Stab one guy with a stiletto...
- "Chuck Versus the Predator" began with them coming back from a mission where they dressed up as plumbers to recover a piece of intel whose significance is never revealed.
- Chuck and Morgan also keep alluding to a certain incident they had in Tangiers in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary".
- Not a Game
- Not Quite Dead:
- Bryce, Orion, Shaw.
- As of the end of Season 3, Orion probably is actually dead.
- Not What It Looks Like: "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady":
Chuck: How did Jill know what time to walk in on us? What are the chances?
- Not with the Safety On, You Won't: Played with in the "Chuck Versus the Dream Job" where Chuck points a gun at Casey. Casey point out that it's a tranq gun. He also takes two to the chest before disarming Chuck, and one to the neck before he actually falls asleep.
- Now or Never Kiss: In "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami", Chuck and Sarah think a bomb is about to go off, so they start kissing... making things very awkward when the explosion fails to occur.
Sarah: Well, the good news is we're alive. And the bad news is that this is kind of an uncomfortable moment right now.
Chuck: This is completely comfortable on my end. (pause) Just sayin'.
- Obfuscating Stupidity:
- Stephen J. Bartowski spends most of "Chuck Versus the Dream Job" as a cranky, paranoid old man, and ends the episode as a cranky, paranoid old man. It's just that he's also Orion, and he's being whisked away by his old partner.
- "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" has Morgan addressing two foreign agents about banal touristy crap regarding the town they're in that he read in the guide book on the over, generally being completely annoying and showing just how ill-suited for the spy-life that he really is... until he reveals that it was actually a test to see how genuine the agents were, convincing Casey to draw his gun on them.
- Volkoff pretends to be an incompetent and nerdy British agent as a plan to find Orion's file storeroom.
- Amy, Sarah's old teammate in "Chuck Versus the CAT Squad". She appeared to always be The Ditz of the group but turns out to be The Mole that betrayed the CAT Squad to their Arch Enemy Augusto Gaez.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Pretty much par for the course when you have to lie to friends and family about what you're really doing.
- Obviously Evil: Riley, Volkoff's lawyer.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Julius the gay security guard in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome".
- More of a Two Scene Wonder: The Repo Man in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary".
- Steve the prison guard in "Chuck Versus the Gobbler". Happy birthday, Steve!
- The woman talking on her cell phone in "Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner".
- Pac-Man Fever: The depiction of Duck Hunt in "Chuck Versus the Beard" is a little off; the infamous sniggering dog appears despite Chuck getting a perfect score. Also, the Zapper wouldn't work with a modern TV like the one used.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Called an "Ellie Speech" here.
- Pocket Protector
- Portmanteau Couple Name: Charah for Chuck and Sarah. Invoked by Casey in "Chuck Versus the Masquerade".
- The Power of Friendship: In "Chuck Versus the Beard", when The Ring agents capture a flash-less Chuck, it seems that all is lost. But... all it takes is a heart-to-heart with his buddy Morgan to literally reboot his powers.
- Practice Kiss: Chuck and Sarah share one of these as a demonstration of his seduction skills in the aptly-named "Chuck Versus the Seduction".
- Prisoner of Zenda Exit: Daniel Shaw has a particularly stylish one in "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II", grabbing onto a large American flag as he jumps out the window and using it to spin around and re-enter the building on a lower floor, from which he escapes before anyone can arrive.
- Record Needle Scratch: When Ellie reaches her breaking point with Captain Awesome's attempts to seduce her using "tips" from Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Seduction".
- Replaced the Theme Tune: It went through several incarnations before settling on "Short Skirt Long Jacket".
- Retirony: Played with in "Chuck Versus Bo", in which they discover something that requires their immediate attention, just after coming to a major decision about their future:
Casey: Guess we're not retired after all, hmm?
Sarah: Well, it doesn't change the plan; it just means we have one last mission.
(Team Bartowski gasps and groans at Sarah in utter disbelief)
Chuck: Things never turn out well when you say "one last mission!"
Sarah: Is this just because of some stupid movie?
(Team Bartowski groans "yes")
Casey: You never say "one last mission".
- Retroactive Wish: The "Thanksgiving Miracle" in "Chuck Versus the Gravitron".
Morgan: Chuck and Sarah are gonna walk through that door, they're gonna be as happy as could be and everything's gonna be fine.
Morgan: I could have asked for anything! Swedish bikini team. Uh, DeLorean, flying DeLorean!
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Harry Tang, extremely upset over an apparent dalliance by his wife, insists that the video footage of her apparently setting up the tryst be played over and over and over.
- Ring Ring CRUNCH: In "Chuck Versus the Crown Vic", Sarah kills her alarm clock with a thrown knife, which she keeps under a pillow.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue:
- Pretty much the entirety of "Chuck Versus Phase Three". Doubles as Roaring Rampage of Revenge as the episode even invokes that Trope Namer early on.
- "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" also counts, although the "Rampage" part gets toned down halfway through the episode.
- We see the start of one at the end of "Chuck Versus Bo", and then it's already mostly over by the time "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train" begins.
- Rock Beats Laser: After Chuck beats a high-tech, dart-shooting CIA security system in "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac", a new system is installed and stops Chuck cold when he tries to break into the same hallway later. The new security system? A transparent plate of simple bulletproof glass.
- Rooting for the Empire: In-universe example in "Chuck Versus the Sandworm": Laszlo sympathizes with Max Zorin, a villain in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill, who he sees as a highly talented man who was manipulated by his government.
- Rule of Cool: Pretty much everything that happens in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer". Including the big fat Shout-Out to Futurama.
- Running Gag:
- "Chuck Versus the DeLorean" has "It's personal" (not to be confused with It's Personal) as the dismissive response whenever someone asks what they're doing.
- "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" brings us the dramatically-over-pronounced "EL ANGHEL DE LA MUERTE!"
- The Giant Blonde She-male running around in "Chuck Versus Phase Three".
- "Chuck Versus the Muuurder" gets into tons of fun with the fact that the Buy More's initials are BM, as Big Mike wears a giant sign with "BM" emblazoned on it for a promotion.
Big Mike: Other men wear college shirts all day, while I get to wear a great big BM on my chest! That's job satisfaction!
- They continue to talk about the BM (and the fact that Big Mike is the Number Two) in manners befitting the Double Entendre.
- Samus Is a Girl: La Ciudad in "Chuck Versus the Tango" and Viper in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip".
- Sarcastic Confession
- Satchel Switcheroo: In "Chuck Versus Agent X", apparently Ellie and Awesome have the same kind of luggage, and both of them use it to pack for bachelor/ette parties.
- Say My Name Trailer: The TV ads for the show run on this.
Lester: Lester! ...no, Chuck.
- Series Fauxnale: Since the show's future was to be in a state of perpetual doubt, Seasons Two, Three, and Four all have them. In fact, Seasons Three and Four each have two.
- Seventh-Episode Twist:
- Season 1: We discover that Bryce betrayed Chuck because he was trying to keep him out of the CIA life.
- Season 2: Jill is FULCRUM.
- Season 4: Volkoff reveals himself. Chuck loses the Intersect.
- Season 5: The head of Decker's CIA subcommittee is revealed to be Daniel Shaw, who decides to personally visit the Buy More to make the Bartowskis' lives a living hell.
- Sexy Santa Dress: Anna wears one for a Christmas episode.
- Shoot the Hostage:
- In "Chuck Versus the Nemesis", Bryce does this to Chuck. Bryce is nice enough to first ask Chuck (in Klingon!) if he's wearing a Bulletproof Vest before he shoots Chuck in the chest. Chuck is, but he still whines about how much getting shot while wearing one hurts.
- Played with in "Chuck Versus the Gravitron".
- In "Chuck Versus the DeLorean", Sarah shoots her father, who is being held hostage.
- Shoot Your Mate: Volkoff orders Sarah to kill Casey to prove she really is a traitor. They work together to fake his death in "Chuck Versus the Gobbler".
- "Shut Up" Kiss:
- Chuck and Lou. "He had me at pastrami."
- And as of "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Sarah to Chuck: "Shut up and kiss me." Cue the Squee from shippers everywhere.
- Twice in "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat". Both of them to Morgan. One of those by Morgan himself.
- Another in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips": Casey saves Gertrude's life. "I knew you were into me, John." "Shut up, Gertrude." And a kiss.
- Slow Clap: Big Mike starts one for Morgan, who had been tricked into deposing him by Emmett, when he decides to fall on his sword by walking out of his job and moving to Hawaii with Anna to become a Benihana chef. With his shirt off, for some reason.
- Soft Glass: In "Chuck Versus the First Date"... when Michael Clarke Duncan throws Chuck through a window, and in "Chuck Versus the Zoom", when Chuck deliberately jumps through a window to flee his pursuers.
- Soft Water:
- Casey and Chuck fall about 15 stories into the hotel pool in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover".
- Sarah jumps from a plane into the sea in "Chuck Versus the Goodbye".
- Sorry I Left the BGM On: The pilot and "Chuck Versus the Leftovers".
- Special Edition Title:
- For the Season 4 finale "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger", the usual upbeat, fun titles would have caused some serious Mood Whiplash and so were replaced by a quick title screen.
- Season 5's "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train" features a very 80s-esque title sequence for the episode.
- "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" used the titles from the pilot instead of the usual one.
- Spy Catsuit: Sarah wears one, Carina wears one; heck, all the CAT Squad members wear catsuits!
- Start of Darkness: If "Chuck Versus the Masquerade" wasn't this for Vivian Volkoff, "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil" definitely is.
- Staying Alive: Happens at the end of "Chuck Versus the Colonel", with Roark.
- Stealth Hi Bye: Lampshaded by Lester in "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death", where the current Greta repeatedly disappears into thin air. May also be an Actor Allusion, as this Greta is played by Summer Glau, whose characters are known for this trick.
- Stealth Pun: In "Chuck Versus the Beard", while trying to get himself to flash, Chuck uses a bunch of memory-training cards with images of spies on them. To the savvy viewer, these are better known as flash cards.
- Stepford Suburbia: The suburbs in "Chuck Versus the Suburbs" are a comic version and then fit the dramatic version since all of its Stepford Smiler inhabitants are Fulcrum agents.
- Stereotype Flip: In "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover", Ellie and Awesome want to buy an anniversary gift, but spend time arguing over what it should be--either a large-scale TV or a washer/dryer combo. Guess who wants what.
Ellie: Think of all the great things we can watch!
Devon: Think of all the great things we can wash!
- Stock Scream:
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Jeff and Dr. Wheelwright (played by Robert Englund) are frightened by things that scare only the most insane people: Old people, public showers, babies in snail suits, etc.
- Suddenly Always Knew That:
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: A variation when Chuck is trying to get a message to Casey in front of his family at Thanksgiving dinner. His sister asks him to say what he's thankful for.
Chuck: I'm thankful that Bryce Larkin is dead and is not in my room making out with my girlfriend.
(Casey excuses himself from the table)
Ellie: Wow, Chuck, that was... dark.
Devon: And specific.
- Sympathetic Criminal: Subverted in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus".
- Take a Number: In "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami", Chuck goes to Lou's deli to try and make up with her. When his number comes up, she tells him that if he's not ordering food he'll have to take another number and wait. Finally, his number comes up at closing time... but he manages to make up with her anyway.
- Take That
- In "Chuck Versus the A-Team", Chuck and Sarah conduct a search of Casey's apartment to find a hand print. Before they start, Sarah and Chuck put on glasses that act like a black light; after Sarah explains what they do, Chuck derisively comments that it "Sounds like a CBS show."
- In "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover", when Jeff brags that he found Tara Reid's phone number while he was supposed to be working, Chuck asks "who doesn't have her phone number?" before chastising him.
- Taught by Television:
Chuck: I knew those seven years of MacGyver would pay off!
- Terrible Interviewees Montage:
- Chuck is required to interview the Buy More employees to see which one would become assistant manager in "Chuck Versus the First Date". Jeff and Lester, of course, are two of the interviewees.
- Emmett Millbarge also has one in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer". Again, any montage where the interviewees include Jeff and Lester are going to be this.
- Chuck's search for a job in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary". Inverted in that it is the interviewers who are bad, but only because of CIA sabotage.
- That Came Out Wrong: Natural territory for a show that likes Getting Crap Past the Radar.
Captain Awesome: [after Chuck returns his great-grandmother's engagement ring] Way to go Chuck. I always knew you could handle my family jewels. So to speak.
Chuck: Charles Carmichael always comes quickly.
- There Is Only One Bed: When Chuck and Sarah go on the run in "Chuck Versus the Colonel", and Chuck offers to sleep on the motel floor. Invoked by Sarah when they get arrested and Chuck mentions he'd like to share a two-bedroom cell with her, and she points they'd only need one.
- This Is No Time for Knitting: In the pilot, the main characters are trying to defuse a bomb that is attached to a computer. When nothing else works, Chuck remembers a computer virus he was talking about earlier that is spread by porn sites. So he logs onto the computer and accesses the porn site, eliciting this type of cry.
- This Is Reality: In "Chuck Versus the Anniversary", Chuck tells Morgan that this is not the opening to a TV show.
- Three Dimensional Episode: "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension", of course.
- Thriller on the Express:
- "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners": Chuck and Sarah are on a train and see an ETA member and try for an impromptu mission using the other passengers' items as gadgets.
- A large part of "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train", for obvious reasons.
- Time Bomb: Several times. But in "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami", it's not a bomb.
- Took a Level in Badass:
tookuploaded a level in badass at the end of "Chuck Versus the Ring".
- Unbelievably, Morgan. It takes a lot of badass to break your own thumbs to save yourself, especially on nothing but Casey's orders.
- Torture Always Works: In "Chuck Versus the Beefcake", the mantra is, "Everyone talks." Subverted in that Cole actually doesn't talk.
- Tranquillizer Dart:
- Every time tranquillizers are used, unless the victim is Casey. When they have to tranquilize Jeff and Lester, Lester goes down instantly but Jeff takes multiple darts and a few minutes to lose consciousness. Jeff is a bigger guy and his past drug use made him more resistant.
- When they use tranquillizer darts on hard-partying rock star Tyler Martin in "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension", he wakes up almost immediately even though the darts should have knocked him out for several hours.
- True Love's Kiss: In "Chuck Versus the Goodbye", Morgan is convinced that this is an effective way for Chuck to get Sarah to remember the past five years after having memories of said years being wiped out. Chuck brings up Morgan's theory to Sarah and she invites it. While we're not given a definitive answer, given what comes before it, the kiss restoring Sarah's memories to normal is a distinct possibility.
- You can argue that the fact that Sarah invited the kiss in the first place is the important part, regardless of whether or not it worked.
- Truth in Television: As in the plot of "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer", many old arcade games do indeed have a "kill screen" where achieving a high enough level or score can generate bugged levels or cause other unusual effects. However, Missile Command is actually not one of them, and merely loops back to the beginning when a certain point is reached.
- This can be excused however, if one takes the designer at his word when he says that only he can access the Missile Command kill screen, and that Rush's Tom Sawyer is the "pattern of the universe". The game possibly requires following a particular pattern to access it, which only he knows (and is synced to Tom Sawyer... somehow).
- Truth Serum: "Chuck Versus the Truth", as well as the Liar Liar example above.
- Two Words: "Chuck Versus the Dream Job":
Jeff: That's one word.
Lester: Stop counting.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Emmett Milbarge at the Buy More in "Chuck Versus the First Kill".
- The Un-Reveal:
- In "Chuck Versus the Cougars", we unfortunately do not get to find out Sarah's real name.
- In "Chuck Versus the Fake Name", Sarah's real name is revealed to be Sam.
- Unwinnable Training Simulation: The opening of "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
- Vanity License Plate: DEMORGAN in "Chuck Versus the DeLorean".
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: In "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Sarah reaches into her neckline and pulls out a switchblade knife.
- Viewer Stock Phrases: If you watch Chuck, you might've said some of the following things once or twice...
- "This show is actually pretty good."
- "How does he (Chuck) manage to survive these episodes?" - Chuck sometimes gives off the aura of being Too Dumb to Live. But the Rule of Funny makes this okay.
- "Female villain. Yay!" - This series ups the Ms. Fanservice by casting a lot of cuties as villains.
- "That was freakin' cool! Made no sense, but whatever..." - Rule of Funny/Rule of Cool rules this show.
- "Get off his back already." - Chuck is The Hero and The Woobie. No word on whether this was intentional.
- Or thought something along the lines of: "Holy crap, a reference to <insert franchise here>! Nerdgasm!!!"
- You're probably saying "Please! Please! Don't cancel it!"
- After NBC performing a kind of Network to the Rescue and not canceling it in spite of its low ratings - "Squee!!!".
- Villainous Breakdown: In "Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff", Alexei Volkoff fakes one while playing a deadly chess game, then does it for real (and much more calmly) when Vivian betrays him.
- Waif Fu: Normally, this is not how Sarah fights. However, when she's going toe to toe with Michael Clarke Duncan?
- Waking Up Elsewhere:
- In "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler", Manoosh repeatedly wakes up in what he believes is Sarah's bedroom, when in fact it's actually a disguised holding cell in Castle.
- In "Chuck Versus Bo", Jeff and Lester find themselves crashed in a stolen car in the middle of nowhere, trying to figure out how they got there. Repeatedly, because they keep discovering Carmichael Industries.
- At the end of "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train", having her memories wiped out due to Quinn forcing her to flash repeatedly, Sarah wakes up sometime later in her old apartment--which is now unfamiliar to her--and is then commanded by Quinn to kill Chuck.
- Wham! Episode: One season of Chuck can cram in two or three seasons' worth of plot and twists, so there are a lot of these.
- Season One has "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami".
- Season Two may be a good example of a season laden with Wham Episodes:
- "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady".
- "Chuck Versus Santa Claus".
- "Chuck Versus the Suburbs".
- "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon".
- "Chuck Versus the Dream Job".
- "Chuck Versus the Colonel".
- "Chuck Versus the Ring".
- Season Three:
- "Chuck Versus the Beard".
- "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac".
- "Chuck Versus the American Hero".
- "Chuck Versus the Other Guy".
- The two-parter, "Chuck Versus the Subway" and "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II".
- Season Four:
- "Chuck Versus the First Fight".
- "Chuck Versus Phase Three".
- "Chuck Versus the Balcony".
- "Chuck Versus the Push Mix".
- "Chuck Versus Agent X".
- "Chuck Versus The Last Details".
- "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" and oh boy, what a cliffhanger it is!
- Season Five. Just because it's the show's final season, doesn't mean the show hasn't let up with the Wham:
- "Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit".
- "Chuck Versus the Hack Off".
- "Chuck Versus the Curse".
- "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
- "Chuck Versus Bo".
- "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train".
- The two-part series finale episodes "Chuck Versus Sarah" and "Chuck Versus the Goodbye".
- "What Do They Fear?" Episode: "Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Very minor one in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", in which the villain of the episode is playing a game of Charades. Although the correct answer is never disclosed on screen, Word of God states that the answer is Lawrence of Arabia.
- Where's the Fun In That?: "Chuck Versus First Class":
Chuck: The review's about me? Shouldn't Shaw be asking me about me?
Casey: Where's the fun in that?
- Whole-Plot Reference:
- Word of God states that "Chuck Versus the Seduction" is the Chuck take on My Favorite Year. Both plots feature rookies meeting highly-respected members of their fields who are now drunk wash-outs, the senior teaching the junior on how to seduce the girl of their dreams, a scene where the junior chews the senior on how great he once was, and a swinging-in-from-above rescue scene.
- "Chuck Versus the Ring" is pretty much ripped off, soup to nuts, from the 2003 remake of The In-Laws.
- "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover" is a tribute to Casablanca.
- In what is either intentional or a very very big co-incidence, the episode "Chuck Versus the Baby" has a startling similarity to the Miranda Lawson loyalty mission from the game Mass Effect 2. Miranda is modelled after and voiced by Yvonne Strahovski. They both involve a child taken by Sarah/Miranda at a young age, it being put into a safe place that isn't with Sarah/Miranda, operatives of the person who wants the child back attempt to take it back, and this is foiled by the character and their main partner (in Miranda's case the partner is Shepard, in Sarah's the partner is Chuck), and the child is safe. At the end, the child is introduced to Miranda/Sarah as their 'sister'. Finally, the little girl from Chuck has a pet dog named Rex, while one of the main character in Mass Effect is a huge Proud Warrior Race alien named Wrex.
- "Chuck Versus the Cougars" and Grosse Pointe Blank are both about professional assassins reluctantly attending their high school reunions after a long time out of touch, including dealing with the goons who show up without blowing their cover.
- Wire Dilemma
- Working the Same Case: "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" features two plotlines: Chuck searching for his mother, and Casey and Sarah investigating an arms dealer. They cross paths.
- Working with the Ex: In a second season arc, Chuck is forced to work with his ex-girlfriend Jill.
- Worst News Judgment Ever: "Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner". He fake-flashes on the name Artur Novokov who turned out to be a world-class terrorist. He tells Sarah that the story was bumped to page 13 because one of the Kardashians got her GED. Allegedly.
- Wrestler in All of Us:
- Subverted in "Chuck Versus First Class": Stone Cold Steve Austin plays a Ring agent, who is mentioned to be a specialist in "close quarters combat". Later in the episode, it turns out that he's an expert swordsman.
- Also lampshaded in that, when Chuck and Hannah are speculating as to what he does, "professional wrestler" is brought up.
- Xanatos Gambit: Chuck pulls one at the end of "Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II".
- Again in "Chuck Versus the Push Mix".
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Chuck is forced to play against someone who's stolen the Cipher in "Chuck Versus the First Date". After walking into a trap with both Casey and Sarah across town, Chuck bluffs the bad guys and takes it away by using nothing more than his Charles Carmichael alias, Morgan on the phone confirming their Call of Duty strategy, and finally... running like a little girl.
- You Called Me "X" - It Must Be Serious: Almost any time Chuck or Morgan call Captain Awesome by his given name, Devon, it's usually serious. In "Chuck Versus the Subway", Morgan can't get through to Awesome that Ellie may be having an affair until he invokes his real name.
- You Said You Couldn't Dance: Many times in the third season, thanks to Intersect 2.0 ("I didn't know I could!").
- The Cameo: Dr. Zarnow, La Ciudad, "The Gymnast" and the Pita Girl all make appearances in the Threatmax prison, while all of the Buy More staff appear in the main story and several back-ups, Emmett only appears in Buy More Odyssey briefly.
- Captain Ersatz: The presidential candidate Brandon Obannon.
- Completely Missing the Point: Morgan, when Chuck describes his dream at the start of the series. Morgan's upset that he's the only one of the main cast not to appear in the dream, ignoring the fact that all of them (except Jeff and Lester) are killed by a bomb planted by Jeff and Lester.
- Demoted to Extra: Ellie, Devon, and the Buy More staff all suffer this in the main story, although the Buy More staff are the most prominent non-Team Bartowski characters. Devon and Ellie appear in two panels in the main story, only speaking in one of them. Perhaps justified in that the Buy More staff get two back-up stories with Chuck, Sarah, and Casey being Demoted to Extra in those. However, three of the remaining four back-ups are Captain Awesome-centric, and Ellie appears in one panel across all three back-ups.
- Film Noir: The back-up story, Buy Noir.
- Forklift Fu: Casey pulls this on Tommy.
- Goofy Print Underwear : Casey [AGAIN!], after parachuting out of a plane
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Blaine's only revealed when fighting the real Obannon when he cuts Chuck off when he tries to tell Casey which one's the real Obannon with the remark "With the badass old school roundhouse kick to the face! That's what!"
- Mirror Match: Presidential Candidate Brandon Obannon versus FULCRUM agent Blaine who has been turned into Obannon's physical copy.
- The series starts with Chuck having a dream reminiscent of Gilligan's Island, complete with Chuck referring to Big Mike as "Skipper" and the two of them wearing the appropriate headgear to take the roles of Gilligan and Skipper respectively.
- Jeff's worries over the planet being taken over by clones, with Chuck remarking it'd only happen in a "Buy More far, far away..." and Lester asking if Jeff realizes Star Wars wasn't a documentary.
- Chuck quotes the "Suntory Time" line from Lost in Translation, before flat out explaining it's a line from the film when Sarah doesn't get it.
- Casey knocks a guy out with a fish. Chuck immediately remarks that it's used in the Jackie Chan film Project A II.
- Casey bursting through a door with an ax and saying "Heeeeeeerrre's Johnny!" Immediately lampshaded by Sarah, as she remarks about how long Casey must have been waiting to say that.
- Brandon Obannon quotes Muhammad Ali's "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" after knocking out his FULCRUM agent double.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Morgan's narration in Buy More Odyssey. The story essentially amounts to Morgan's epic quest... to get a Grape Soda.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Tommy from FULCRUM escapes from the Threatmax, and Team Bartowski chase him to Japan and Rio De Janeiro. However, after he eludes them in Japan, he doesn't appear again in the series and no mention is made of his recapture, with Team Bartowski being sidetracked into stopping a plot to replace the likely winner of the 2008 Presidential Election with a FULCRUM agent.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Many, many times.
- Or, in this case, a tainted variation...
- Though with Sarah, it's far worse, as she lost all memories of the past five years or so.
- Whilst he died when it was still a Power Trio, he fits this role to a tee.