Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man is an Animated Series starring Jason Alexander as Duckman—the cheapest, sleaziest, most incompetent private investigator in the world; he's also a lousy father, a small-time crook...and a duck. He and his family are all walking, talking, tax-paying ducks, and Duckman's hyper-efficient (and humorless) assistant Cornfed is a pig, despite the fact that this is not a DuckTales (1987)-type animal world. While Duckman himself walks around naked in the tradition of Daffy Duck, everyone else wears clothes.
Very crude (right down to the deliberately ugly character designs), very cynical and very, very surreal—sort of like if Luis Buñuel had made Beavis and Butthead—it freely mixed low-brow riffs with the abstract and the intellectual. The show has an ardent cult following, and a lot of its fans are still stewing over the final episode's Cliff Hanger.
- The Ace: Cornfed, if it's possible to be one in a deadpan low-key sort of way.
- The Ahnold: In the episode "In the Nam of the Father", Cornfed takes off his shirt to reveal bulging muscles. Before he goes off to shoot the place up Rambo-style, he says "Thank you, Nordic Track."
- In "Dammit Hollywood", one of the celebrities that wants Duckman killed is an obvious Schwarzenegger caricature.
- Alan Smithee: In "The One With Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role", a director slate reads Raymie Muzquiz (the actual director of the episode), with the name crossed out and "Alan Smithee" underneath it.
- Alliterative List: Subverted in "Ride the High School": Duckman is proud Ajax is going to a university, because he can get back to the three "R's": "Reading, running, and uh, the other thing."
- Ambiguous Gender: Fluffy and Uranus.
- In one episode, it's implied Ajax is intersex.
- Anachronism Stew: During "Pig Amok", Cornfed shows a documentary explaining the inherited gene that requires him to lose his virginity or die. During the documentary, one of those Civil War letters by Ulysses S. Grant is read, only it's revealed that it wasn't an actual letter, but an e-mail.
- And I Must Scream: King Chicken initially decides to let Duckman go at the start of "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial". When Duckman suspicious asks why he would let him go, Chicken replies with:
King Chicken: So that one day, when you least expect it, I will trap you in an elaborately-woven web of diabolical deceit, craven cruelty, and evil so terrible, that it will turn your life into an unending tortorous Hell on Earth, where you'll be too frightened to die, and too damned to scream!
- Animated Actors: In "The One With Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role", Duckman, Cornfed, and Bernice are sitting on the couch after the second commercial break. They're casually chatting about various subjects until they're told by the off-screen director to get into places. When he says "Action", they get into character and continue the plot of trying to find the missing Ajax.
- Animated Adaptation: Based on an underground comic book by Everett Peck, who also helped develop the show.
- Anti Role Model: Duckman. Explicitly lampshaded on at least one occasion.
Duckman: "Role model"? Hey, I'm a water fowl! I'm not a TV show! Even if I were, any halfway intelligent audience would know I'm not somebody to imitate. Who'd aspire to imitate someone who's gotten the stuffing kicked out of him so many times, the only reason he gets up in the morning is because either he's really stupid, or somewhere, deep down inside, beats the heart of a disappointed, yet still hopeful, idealist. A yellow, YES YELLOW!, teller of truth, who's a spokesperson for the silent masses who'd love to tell it like it is, who's an idol to be emulated, nay, a GOD, to be bowed down to!... But, heh, I'm... I'm not a role model.
- Art Shift: In "I, Duckman", Duckman watches various home movies to hopefully get a clue about his past. All the home movies have a different art style: Steamboat Willie for his childhood years, Popeye for another time, Yogi Bear for high school years, and The Simpsons for adult years when he and Beatrice were still married.
- Astronomic Zoom: Demonstrated at the beginning of "Days of Whining and Neurosis".
- Beat: In "Das Sub", there's a really long one after one of the arrested students ask if Duckman will take the rap for the crime, and Cornfed just stares blankly.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Cornfed.
- Big Bad: King Chicken, although he and Duckman had a truce near the end.
- Bigger Bad: Parodied in "The Mallardian Candidate", where the episode ends with Duckman and Cornfed solving the case and being observed by a group of villains, who are also watched over by an endless chain of other criminal masterminds.
- Bill, Bill, Junk, Bill:
Bernice: Let's see: Junk, junk, junk, summons...
- Biting the Hand Humor: USA was a frequent target of the series.
Bernice: USA? Are they on at night?
Duckman: Dozens of people watch USA every night!
- Blatant Lies: Cornfed resorts to using one on Duckman to get him to go on his own son's field trip.
- Brain Bleach: In "Ride the High School", Duckman opens Bernice's door to say good night, and Bernice screams. Duckman quickly shuts her door, shudders, and says, "Yech! It'll be a long time before I eat broccoli again!"
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In "Ajax and Ajaxer", Duckman eggs on any potential children in the audience to steal soda to "stick it to the man".
- "Clip Job" in its entirety does this.
- Call Back: In "The Gripes of Wrath", a radio announcer talks about "midget throwing". In "Ride the High School", Duckman and Ajax participate in the "midget toss" event.
- In "Research and Destroy", Duckman accidentally destroys a supercomputer that gathers focus group data. Duckman remarks: "Me and supercomputers, huh?", which is a callback to "The Gripes of Wrath".
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Iggy Catalpa
- Casanova Wannabe: If you were electing a president of this trope, it would be Duckman.
- Catapult Nightmare: Seen in "Noir Gang" after Cornfed has a dream that ends with Duckman with dynamite saying "You're my best friend!"
- Catch Phrase: "DWAH!", "What the hell are you starin' at!?", "Hommina hommina howah!" and others.
- Character Filibuster: Duckman used a rant as a filibuster in "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial" to irritate King Chicken into revealing his plot to the court.
- Chew Toy: Fluffy and Uranus.
- Chirping Crickets: Heard at the end of "Gland of Opportunity" when Charles, Mambo, and Ajax have an extended awkward silence after Duckman says his kids are still proud of him even though he didn't perform the death-defying stunt.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Duckman is implied to have been this while married to Beatrice. He also behaves this way while dating Angela and later Honey.
- Cliff Hanger: The last episode of the fourth season ended with one that was never resolved. Making that episode a cliffhanger was intentional. Never resolving it was not.
- Clip Show: Both played straight and parodied in "Clip Job", complete with a concluding Take That Us at the producers' own expense.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Ajax. Also, Cornfed in "Ajax and Ajaxer".
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: Unfortunately, the DVD releases had to remove a few of the licensed songs; in one instance, an entire scene was spliced out because of this. On the plus side, none of the removed songs were the ones by Frank Zappa.
- Cold Opening:
- "Bev Takes a Holiday".
- "Clip Job" as well.
- Comically Missing the Point: Demonstrated in "They Craved Duckman's Brain!", when bystanders overhear that Duckman has a cure for cancer in his brain. Once they start to riot when trying to grab Duckman, the doctor from the episode appeals to the crowd with An Aesop:
Doctor: It's like the story of the goose that laid the golden egg: When the cottager cut it open to get all the eggs at once, it killed the goose!
Man 1: Hey, did you hear that? He lays golden eggs, too!
Man 2: Let's crack him open and get all the eggs at once! (crowd riots again)
- Commercial Break Cliffhanger:
- Lampshaded in "Hamlet 2: This Time, It's Personal".
- Also lampshaded in "Clip Job" when Harry Medfly tells Duckman he's going to die and laughs diabolically. Right before it cuts to black, he says to the camera: "Doncha hate it when they do that right before a commercial?"
- Confession Cam: Used in "American Dicks" when various characters tell the camera what they think about Duckman.
- Content Warnings: Parodied in "American Dicks": The text states that the show has been edited for content, but for the sake of ratings, they've let a few titillating lines slide.
- Conveniently Empty Building: See the Even Evil Has Standards example below.
- Courtroom Antic: Performed by Duckman in "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial", as well as "Das Sub".
- Crapsack World
- Crazy Prepared: King Chicken sometimes starts plots against Duckman in the middle of another plot.
- Creepy Monotone:
- Crossdresser: During the musical number in "The Road to Dendron", Cornfed and Duckman sing that if they want to get to syndication, one of them is gonna end up in drag.
- "Not So Easy Riders" has Duckman and Cornfed trying to evade the IRS in Las Vegas by donning showgirl outfits.
- Crossover: The end of "Haunted Society Plumbers" reveals a supposed ghost to be Homer Simpson under a sheet.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: In "Days of Whining and Neurosis", Cornfed asks Duckman to do something. Duckman bitterly replies, "When pigs can fly!" Immediately after, Cornfed flaps his arms, lifting himself off the ground.
- Curse Cut Short: In both "Apocalypse Not" and "Dammit Hollywood", a character is cut off before they can fully say "shit".
- Cut Short: The final episode of the 4th Season was not planned to be the final episode.
- The Danza: Ben Stein had a recurring role as a psychiatrist named...Ben Stein.
- A Date with Rosie Palms:
- From "Psyche":
Therapist: Are you sexually active?
Duckman: I'm very sexually active!
Therapist: I mean, with another person.
Duckman: Oh, uh, no.
- Of all people, Beverly is alluded to do this as well. In "Love! Anger! Kvetching!", Beverly says it would be hypocritical to throw out Duckman's porno mags, because then she'd have to throw out her's. Then she goes to the bedroom.
- Deep South: "Inherit the Judgment-The Dope's Trial". Also "You've Come a Wrong Way, Baby".
- Deliberately Monochrome: "Noir Gang".
- Deserted Island: Duckman is placed on one by Cornfed in "The Amazing Colossal Duckman" so Duckman is able to keep his temper under control. His temper causes him to grow in size, so being isolated on an island means nothing or nobody can piss him off.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In "The Road to Dendron", Dr. Ben Stein threatens to rip out Duckman's heart and feed it to his dingo if he doesn't quit making noise on the bus.
- Distant Prologue: "Ride the High School" begins in "Africa, A Long Time Ago", where a father is teaching his son how to kill animals for food. It then cuts to "Austria, A Little Later", where a father is teaching his son how to play the harpsichord. It then cuts to "Virginia, A Little Later Still", where George Washington cut down the cherry tree. Finally, it cuts to the present: "Duckman's House, Tuesday", where Duckman is watching static on TV in the vain hopes that the Bouncing Naked Flesh Channel will be temporarily unscrambled.
- Also utilized in "Joking the Chicken", for a 2001 parody that starts in prehistoric times and then cuts to the present.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Duckman, Once Per Episode, if not more.
- Don't Explain the Joke: In "Joking the Chicken":
Iggy Catalpa: My name is... (checks wallet) Iggy Catalpa. I was checking my wallet, like I forgot. (silence from the crowd)
- Jokes often have to be explained to Ajax due to his stupidity. One time, Bernice began to explain a joke about Duckman, but gave up and said, "Oh just laugh; we're belittling your father!" At which point, Ajax guffawed.
- Double Entendre: Duckman often uses euphemisms for sexual acts. Examples:
Duckman: You know, like those really ugly broads who are always yellin' about equal rights when all they really need is a little... (clicks) honey in their hives.
Duckman: Hey nurse, I've got a thermometer that'll make you bed-ridden for a week!
- Downer Ending: "About Face", which ends with Duckman deciding to not go on a date with Angela because he feels that he's holding her back.
- In the same vein, the ending to "Bonfire of the Panties": Courtney Thorne-Smith dumps Duckman for the simple reason that as a celebrity, she makes dumb decisions and so because it would be a good decision to stay with someone she enjoys, she has to break up with him.
- Drives Like Crazy: Duckman in "Aged Heat", where he inadvertently destroys an entire city block with his reckless driving. Though in his defense, he was under great mental stress at the time, due to Agnes threatening him to go about his normal daily routine, even though Agnes had his whole family held hostage.
- Dysfunctional Family
- The Eighties: The episode "America the Beautiful" had Duckman and Cornfed venturing to different cities, all of which are a different stereotype of a certain period of time. Their fourth stop is to a businessman's office, who represents the stereotypes of The Eighties: Obsessed with making money on Wall Street, heartless, and only concerned with material goods and trophy wives.
Man: Pedigreed, is good.
- Embarrassing First Name: Willibald Fievel Cornfed.
- It was revealed Duckman has one too(to him anyways). Eric Duckman.
- Episode Title Card: Done traditionally in "The Road to Dendron", complete with theme music. Every other episode merely had the episode title superimposed over the action, though.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In "Dammit Hollywood", the Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis caricatures try to kill Duckman from their plane. In the process, they inadvertently destroy several buildings, but make sure to remind the audience that they radioed ahead for everyone to evacuate the buildings so no innocent bystanders would be harmed.
Bruno: We may destroy, but it doesn't mean we don't care.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: The ending to "The Longest Weekend", where Duckman is the last one standing in his warring neighborhood. A narrator explains:
Narrator: The following story could have happened. Only by treating everyone with dignity and respect can we hope to maintain that element of surprise on that inevitable day when we wipe our enemies from the face of the earth.
- Evil Laugh: The scientist from "Ajax and Ajaxer" was more than a little happy when Duckman and Cornfed took on his "case". Duckman and Cornfed eventually joined in his laughter.
- Harry Medfly from "Clip Job". See Commercial Break Cliffhanger above.
- Evil Twin: Wanted criminal Agnes Delrooney is almost an exact duplicate of Grandma-ma, except that Agnes isn't comatose and has a gravely voice.
- Excited Episode Title: True to parodying B-movie titles: "They Craved Duckman's Brain!"
- Expansion Pack Past: Cornfed has seen it all, done it all. Although, come to think of it, almost every character gets one of these at one point. Even Duckman's list of acquired sex fetishes gets longer and longer.
- In the first episode, "I, Duckman", Duckman delivers a bit of exposition about how Beatrice died and Bernice moved in to help care for the boys when he's irritated that the family is ignoring him.
- Lampshaded brilliantly in "The Color of Naught" when Charles and Mambo tell Duckman that Angela has returned, and proceed to explain (in great detail) their relationship from season 1's "About Face". Duckman snaps: "Don't you think I know that?!" The twins reply that they were spouting exposition for the benefit of the many non-regular viewers who stumbled upon this while trying to find softcore porn.
- In "Short, Plush and Deadly", Bernice reminds everyone why they're going camping, stating that she's not repeating it to deliver clunky exposition, but because it feels so good.
- King Chicken always felt the need to explain his vendetta against Duckman was because of being made fun of when they were kids. After his first appearance, though, this tended to be done more for parody - with other characters clearly bored/irritated by repeat utterances. The crowning example was "The Color of Naught," in which a news reporter claims Tim Curry has gone into hiding because he doesn't want to be forced to say those lines anymore.
- Eye Glasses: Somehow, Duckman's eyes are his glasses. He will pull them off his face to clean them, leaving his face unnervingly lacking features.
- Fake-Out Opening: Occurs all the time; much in the tradition of Rugrats (another Klasky-Csupo show), many episodes open with something puzzling, only for the camera to zoom out and reveal what it actually is. Alternatively, the episode will open on a show or movie that one of the characters is watching. Example from "America the Beautiful": A bunch of beauty contestants fighting (with one eventually pulling out a machine gun and wasting everyone). It turns out it's just a video game Ajax is playing.
- The Fifties: The episode "America the Beautiful" had Duckman and Cornfed venturing to different cities, all of which are a different stereotype of a certain period of time. Their first stop is in a suburban neighborhood literally in black and white and which is mentally stuck in the 1950's, right down to one of the people accusing Duckman and Cornfed of being communists.
- Flashback Cut: Seen in numerous episodes.
- Foregone Conclusion: Character voiced by Tim Curry? It's King Chicken in disguise. One exception to this rule: "Vuuck, as in Duck".
- After the credits in that episode, the audio clip over the Reno & Osborn logo is Tim Curry's voice saying "I didn't get to peel off my head," so it can be reasonably assumed it was King Chicken.
- Foreshadowing: Lampshaded in "The Gripes of Wrath" when half of a background sign's letters blank out, leaving only the letters spelling "Foreshadowing" lit. This is due to Charles and Mambo debating with Duckman about whether computers are better or worse for the world, which is the whole theme of the episode.
- Freudian Excuse: Duckman has a lot of baggage - most notably a dead father (who was not unlike himself) and a widowed mother who ignored him while looking for a replacement husband.
- Freudian Slip: In "Psyche", when two big-breasted women enter his office, Duckman says "Come in, come in, I'm Duckman, and this is Hooters! I mean, Cornfed.
- The Fun in Funeral: In "The Girls of Route Canal", Duckman unknowingly knocks over a tombstone, which rolls down the hill, hits Richard's casket, sending the corpse flying through the air and getting his leg caught in a tree, causing him to hang upside down.
- Furry Confusion: Real, non-talking birds have been in the same scene with Duckman.
- Future Me Scares Me: The premise of "The Once and Future Duck": Multiple future versions of Duckman keep popping up in the present to warn Duckman that if he does something, he'll end up like them. Duckman eventually becomes so paranoid that anything he does will have negative consequences that he remains perfectly still in a chair.
- Gag Boobs: Seen in many episodes, but perhaps most pronounced in "All About Elliott" when Elliott's final ingredient to make Duckman overload on pleasure is a stripper with boobs that are practically as long as she is tall. And that's not all; she's one of identical sextuplets!
- Gilligan Cut: Seen in "Psyche" when Duckman says he and Cornfed aren't going on the date with the two women... and the next scene is the two on a date with the women.
- Godly Sidestep: Finding himself in Heaven, Duckman gets an Etch-A-Sketch from God. He asks why and God tells him that it has the Meaning of Life written on it, but by then it has been erased from Duckman moving it around.
- Grande Dame: There's one in "Haunted Society Plumbers".
- Green-Eyed Monster: The premise of "A Civil War": Duckman being jealous of Cornfed's limitless abilities in virtually every category.
- Hand Wave:
- Utilized in "The Road to Dendron" when the villain explains why he performed his evil plan. The instant he begins to explain, a cow walks in front of the camera and munches so loudly you can't hear him. A few seconds later, the cow walks away, only to hear the villain concluding, "And that's why I did it!"
- In "Westward No!", Big Jack McBastard comes back at the end of the episode, alive and well. When Duckman and Cornfed are baffled how he could've survived being trampled and eaten by vultures, McBastard simply says, "Long story."
- Hanging Judge: In "Das Sub", after the judge carries out Duckman's community service sentence:
Judge: Bailiff! If he's not gone in fifteen seconds, kill him!
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Tammy from "Cock Tales For Four" is never seen or heard; we only have a vague idea of what she and Ajax are doing on their date by what Ajax comes downstairs to get.
- Hidden Depths: Deep beneath the surface, Duckman is someone that really does care for his family, friends and even Bernice. He can also solve cases if motivated to actually try.
- In "Bonfire of the Panties", Duckman's friends and family give him an aphrodisiac that would allow one woman to become infatuated with him, and warn him that he is not to throw it away on some easy trick. Duckman manages to reverse engineer it and make all the aphrodisiac he wants. His Shoulder Angel admonishes him by pointing out his potential and how he is wasting his talents. His Shoulder Devil counters with how it doesn't matter because he's going to get all the tail he wants. His Shoulder Angel reluctantly agrees.
- "The One With Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role" reveals that Ajax is saving money to go to college. (Not that he can spell "college," given the six Qs, but still...) However, his savings are all IOUs... to himself. Turns out he has been secretly slipping money into his father's wallet to help him out.
- It's hinted at in the show, and strongly hinted in the comics, that Duckman and Bernice are actually attracted to each other, because, well, Bernice looks exactly like Duckman's dead wife, and Bernice actually sees what her sister saw in him. This causes them to lash out even more than they normally would.
- Hilarious Outtakes: The end credits to "Haunted Society Plumbers" parody this, with audio of Homer's inept efforts to say Duckman's catch phrase correctly.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: A mainstay of Cornfed's characterisation.
- Hypocrisy Nod: Played with at the end of "Apocalypse Not"; Cornfed stops the town from killing Duckman by saying he and the rest of the town (who had spent all day in the sewer practicing a drill) acted no better than Duckman did on the surface. But throughout his speech, Cornfed keeps admitting that what Duckman did was indeed probably worse. Finally, Cornfed admits that he can't even convince himself that he was no better than Duckman, and rallied the town to chase after Duckman.
- Hypocritical Humor: Used all the time, often demonstrated by Duckman.
- I, Noun: "I, Duckman".
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Parodied in "Where No Duckman Has Gone Before".
- Image Song: "The Funky Duckman"
- I'm Not a Doctor But I Play One on TV: Parodied in "A Civil War":
Actor: Hi, I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV.
- In-Joke: One episode has Confed explaining in great detail how a murder was carried out by a group of celebrities in detox. One step involves klasky soup.
- Inkblot Test:
- Administered to Duckman in "A Room With a Bellevue". His answer disturbs the psychiatrists. Cornfed later "correctly" identifies the image in the inkblot test.
- In "A Civil War", Duckman accidentally spills ink on his chest. Numerous people guess what the image on his chest is.
- Insanity Defense: In "A Room With a Bellevue", Duckman is arrested for ranting in public without a starched collar. During Duckman's trial, his lawyer advises him to plead insanity. Duckman does so, but is instantly sentenced to a mental institution. The lawyer remarks, "Guess I should've seen that coming..."
- Instrumental Theme Tune
- Iron Butt Monkey: Fluffy and Uranus, who always get eviscerated in some terrible way but are fine a few scenes later, though the effects sometimes last longer than others, for instance the episode where they get eaten.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: This one from "Clip Job":
Medfly: You stupid clumsy idiotic brain-dead yellow imbecile!
Duckman: Hey, wait, hold on there buddy! (beat) You really think I'm yellow? I've always seen myself as more a sallow ochre. Here, check the butt feathers.
- I Uh You Too: In "Cellar Beware", Duckman and the family are seemingly about to be killed by their own security system, so Duckman takes the last few moments to say he loves the whole family, even... B... B... Buh, BURRR!!! (Bernice smiles and sheds a tear)
- I Want Them Alive: When Agnes and Duckman escape the chain gang in "You've Come a Wrong Way, Baby", Walt Evergreen initially orders his minions to bring them back alive. But then he changes his mind:
Walt Evergreen: Aw heck, this is the Deep South. Let's bring 'em back dead!
- Jerkass: Yes, it's Duckman. It's a core driver of the show's plots and comedy.
- Jerkass Has a Point: During most of his rants, Duckman is actually capable of making some pretty valid points about other characters or society in general.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Deep beneath his Jerkass exterior, Duckman genuinely loves his family.
- Jittercam: Done in "American Dicks" to simulate the COPS feel.
- Joker Jury: In "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial", King Chicken requests that instead of going through the usual jury selection process, to just use whoever is currently (and unknowingly) sitting in the jury box. The motion is granted.
- Juggling Loaded Guns:
Duckman: Did I ever tell you my Dad's last words to me?
Cornfed: "Careful, son, I don't think the safety is on."
Duckman: Before that!
- Just Between You and Me: "They never just kill ya. There's always a lecture."
- Kangaroo Court: "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial".
King Chicken: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Think of an innocent child pickin' a daisy on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Now, imagine Duckman roaring out of nowhere, driving a large truck! He hits her, and kills her, then he backs up and he runs over her again and again and again, a sadistic beast, with a deranged, savage lust for blood!
Cornfed: Objection! What's this fantasy got to do with the case before the court?
Judge: Sustained! The jury will disregard the fact that the defendant wantonly, brutally, and carelessly killed a little girl.
Duckman: Ha! Won that one!
- Additionally, the judge is King Chicken's father, there was no jury selection process and the townspeople aren't too bright anyhow.
- Karma Houdini: Subverted in "I, Duckman." Wolfgang Cracker was a horrible cannibal that Duckman inadvertently caught some time earlier. Cracker considers it the best thing to ever happen to him, as (thanks to an agent) he went on to become a rich celebrity. He even mocks Duckman for it - saying revenge against a nobody would be a waste of time. Then he gets a package that turns out to be from the Mad Bomber...
- Lampshade Hanging: Done quite frequently.
- In "The Road to Dendron", Cornfed asks why he's asking so unlike himself. A voice from off-screen says: "The password is: Bad writing."
- In "Clip Job", Duckman asks what kind of people would lower themselves to create a lazily written and morally bankrupt clip show, at which point he looks at the camera when the "Executive Producer" credits appear.
- In "TV or Not To Be", God says, "I hate message shows" after Duckman delivers some social commentary.
- Last Kiss: In "Inherit the Judgment: A Dope's Trial", King Chicken asks Bernice for one last kiss before he's hung. Duckman, in turn, winces.
- Last-Name Basis: Duckman, Cornfed, and King Chicken, although eventually their full names are revealed. Duckman is ashamed of his, and Duckman makes fun of Cornfed's name the first time it comes up.
- Leitmotif: King Chicken has one, as does Agnes Delrooney. Beatrice has one as well.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Duckman can do this, rarely, when it comes to saving his or his family's ass. Even more rarely, he can do it when it comes to social situations. In certain circumstances, he can actually successfully charm women.
- Logo Joke: In "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial," after Duckman is acquitted he mentions he had faith in a higher power, looks up towards the sky... the camera follows his gaze as it goes through the clouds... and stops on a mountain surrounded by stars with the word "Paramount" above the peak. Three guesses as to which company made this.
- Long List: In "You've Come a Wrong Way, Baby", there's a parody of the scene from The Fugitive when a long list of places to search for the getaway is given.
Walt Evergreen: OK people, listen up. I want a hard target search of every outhouse, beach house, warehouse, boat house, smoke house, clubhouse, ice house, hot house, White House, crack house, bath house, dog house, cat house, reptile house, halfway house, slaughter house, haunted house, gingerbread house, and Joe Eszterhas in the tri-swamp area.
- In "Papa Oom M.O.W. M.O.W.", Cornfed rattled off the merchandise created when Duckman had his fifteen minutes of fame.
- In "The Mallardian Candidate", Cornfed listed all the so-called "necessary" items Duckman purchased for the surveillance job.
- In "Clip Job":
Duckman: Maybe I am a little rough around the edges. Maybe I could be a little more tactful when it comes to dealing with women, co-workers, service route handlers, census takers, the sheet metal workers union, people who bought Kathie Lee CD of Christmas songs, small, high-strung, butt-ugly dogs, kids with really funny birthmarks on their faces, peppers, Trekkers, boomers, buppies, slackers...
- Long-Lost Relative: Beverly, as introduced in "Bev Takes a Holiday". Also Cornfed's "son" in "In the Nam of the Father" (though he's eventually revealed to be an imposter trying to scam Cornfed out of money).
- Duckman's real biological father is revealed in "Kidney, Popsicle, and Nuts", thereby meaning that the man seen in flashbacks from previous episodes wasn't his real father.
- Mama Bear: Bernice.
- Manatee Gag: Arguably more common in the first season than the other three. Examples:
- In "Ride the High School", Bernice wonders how the public schools could've gone downhill so horribly. Cut to Duckman protesting in front of the White House, shouting "No new taxes!"
- In "Cellar Beware", the two criminals who robbed Duckman's house get their comeuppance by testing Charles and Mambo's invention, which causes the nearby cars on the freeway to fly onto theirs like magnets. In the same episode, we see a cutaway to Duke Tetsloff at a Congressional hearing on unsafe products, defending that the security system he sold Duckman is only dangerous to someone irresponsible enough to try to open the console and fix it themselves.
- Mandatory Line: In "Sperms of Endearment" Cornfed suddenly appears at Duckman's door. Duckman says it's a bad time right now but Cornfed states that he's required to appear in every episode for at least 10 seconds.
- Medium Blending: The episode "My Feral Lady" features a sequence where Duckman and his wife-to-be appear on the live action daytime talk show "Leeza".
- Men Can't Keep House: Demonstrated by Duckman in "Married Alive" when Bernice is away for the weekend. The house becomes a dump in short order.
- Missing Mom: Duckman's wife, Beatrice, is thought to be dead the whole series... that is, until we're thrown a curve ball in "Four Weddings Inconceivable".
- Moral Guardians: One of them kidnaps Duckman in "Clip Job".
- Motor Mouth: Duckman himself, though more in the first half of the series.
- The Movie: Parodied in "Papa Oom M.O.W. M.O.W." when a live action made-for-TV movie is made about Duckman. Cornfed is portrayed as an incompetent drunk (by his voice actor Gregg Berger at that).
- Multiple Head Case: Charles and Mambo
- Musical Episode: Subverted: "The Road to Dendron" started out looking like a musical episode, with a catchy song to explain the plot. But there is no more singing for the rest of the episode, until the finale, which is muted anyway because the show used up its budget on the opening song.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Duckman and his son Mandingo.. Simba.. Charles' brother.. Mambo.
- Negative Continuity: Although sometimes events did carry over to later episodes. One of the bigger examples is how Duckman and Cornfed first met. In "Civil War," the two are shown as meeting as adults when Cornfed worked as a baker. ("The Girls of Route Canal" showed the two actually meeting well-before "Civil War," but Duckman was typically pre-occupied with himself and crass, so he would obviously not remember.) But in "From Brad to Worse," the two are shown as old high school pals - played straight and not as a joke as in "The Girls of Route Canal."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Dammit Hollywood" features parodies of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- No Ending: The series' 4th season final episode ended with a Cliff Hanger involving Duckman's wife Beatrice, whose death aggravated most of Duckman's self-destructive tendencies, being revealed to be alive. Naturally, the first time the show's creators were confident of the show being picked up for another season, they weren't.
- Noir Episode: Specifically, "Noir Gang", which is rendered entirely in black and white except for the final few seconds when the sun comes out. There are Noir motifs right through the series, and in Duckman's own mind he's a pulp detective hero.
- Nonhumans Lack Attributes: Duckman makes an aside to Cornfed in "Papa Oom M.O.W. M.O.W." when some hot babes enter his office: "It's times like this, I wish I had a penis.", lampshading that he wears no clothes and yet has no visible genitalia.
- Noodle Incident: Numerous examples, usually involving Duckman doing something horrific.
- No Fourth Wall: Frequent asides to the audience, digs at the USA Network, and so forth.
- Notable Commercial Campaigns: In-between the third and fourth seasons, USA ran a series of commercials asking, "Where is Duckman?", and showing Duckman at various locations like at a political rally and on the moon.
- Not So Different: In "Cock Tales For Four", King Chicken blames Duckman for his life being a failure, due to Duckman ridiculing him to the other children when they were kids. However, after King Chicken says that Duckman couldn't possibly know what it's like to be an outcast, Duckman snaps: "I know exactly what that's like! (long pause) After you ran home, they made fun of me, too." This revelation causes the two to realize they have a lot in common, and temporarily become friends... until King Chicken's wife comes onto Duckman and King Chicken blames Duckman for it, thereby reinstating the long-standing feud between the two.
- Off on a Technicality: In "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial," Cornfed looks over every possible technicality to save Duckman from going to trial over saying "egg" in the town. Nothing pans out and at the trial, Duckman is about to be pronounced guilty and sentenced to death. Fortunately, Charles and Mambo come up with the most unlikely technicality of all - Duckman didn't know what he did was against the law.
King Chicken: Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Cornfed: (reading the boys' paper) Actually, this is the one town where ignorance is a legal excuse.
Judge: I didn't know that.
- Once an Episode: Duckman doing something horrible to his living plush-animal office assistants Fluffy and Uranus.
- The One With...: A third season episode is titled "The One With Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role".
- Opening Narration: The episode "Das Sub" opens with a Law&Order parody:
Narrator: In the criminal justice system, there are two separate but equally important groups: The police and prosecutors, who apprehend and try the offenders, and the idiotic defendants who take up the court's time with their self-serving blather. These are their stories.
- Or So I Heard: Demonstrated in "The Germ Turns" by Cornfed, of all people.
- The Other Darrin: Dana Hill (Duckman's son Charles) was replaced by Pat Musick following the former's death.
- Other Stock Phrases: In "Gripes of Wrath", after Bernice shows affection for Duckman, he replies: "Who ARE you, and what have you done with Bernice?!"
- Out-of-Character Moment: Parodied in "The Road to Dendron." After Duckman is taken away by the guards (presumably to his death), Cornfed just dances around in a circle, repeatedly gloating, "The princess loves me!" When he finally exhausts himself and falls over:
Cornfed: Why would I act so out-of-character?
Narrator: The password is: Bad Writing.
- Outrun the Fireball: Parodied in "The Mallardian Candidate".
- Overly Long Gag: The "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-1 Plumbing" scene.
- Papa Wolf: The one way to light a fire under Duckman's ass is to mess with his family. Even Bernice.
- Parallel Porn Titles: In "Gripes of Wrath", some of the porno movies Bernice gives Duckman are:
- Parent with New Paramour: Duckman somehow had girlfriends occasionally.
- Parental Neglect: Duckman, who learned all too well from his own mother.
- Parody Episode: "The Road to Dendron" is a parody of all those Bing Crosby/Bob Hope "Road To" movies.
- "The Mallardian Candidate" is a parody of The Manchurian Candidate.
- "Where No Duckman Has Gone Before"... like you need to ask.
- "My Feral Lady" is a parody of My Fair Lady, obviously.
- "The Girls of Route Canal" parodies The Bridges of Madison County.
- "Ebony, Baby" parodies Blaxploitation films in general.
- The Perfectionist: Cornfed. One example from "A Civil War" is when Cornfed performed a complicated basketball slam dunk (complete with stopping in mid-air to paint a signature), and afterwards made the basket from the other end of the court using only a mirror as a guide. After the second shot, he complained that he caught some rim.
- Pet the Dog: Deliberately avoided.
- Phone Trace Race: Utilized in "Not So Easy Riders" when some IRS agents are tracing Duckman's phone call: Bernice keeps Duckman on the line by asking him if he's read any good books lately.
Bernice: What's that one about? (listens) ...With her own sisters? Oh my God.
- Playing Against Type: Not a specific actor, but studio; so this cartoon was brought by... the creators of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberries and As Told by Ginger?!
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Parodied in "Joking the Chicken".
- In "It's the Thing of the Principal", Duckman and Cornfed try to get into the vice principal's office of Ajax's school, all to no avail. But the second Duckman mentions God in passing, a school cop confronts Duckman and says he won't stand for prayer in public school, and that he has to go to the vice principal's office.
- In "Forbidden Fruit", an episode about sexism, Hebrew will now be known as "We-brew" and a sewer worker was charged with sexual misconduct for referring to his "manhole".
- Poor Man's Porn: Duckman has used these many times, which is odd because he has countless porno mags and videos.
- Pop Goes the Human: A grotesque murder (by lactose intolerance) in "Days of Wine and Neuroses".
- Precision F-Strike: In "Research and Destroy", Bernice lets loose on a snooty bouncer who keeps she and the family waiting in line for Ajax's performance, despite being family: After the bouncer makes a remark about fog, Bernice keeps saying "fogging" while yelling at the bouncer. So while not the actual "f" word, "fogging" sounds close enough. This could also be considered a Getting Crap Past the Radar moment, really.
- In "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial", Cornfed asks Duckman: "Are you out of your (beep)ing mind?!"
- In "American Dicks", the cameraman's first introduction to Duckman is him swearing repeatedly, with each instance bleeped out. Even though bleeped, it's pretty obvious what words he's saying, given the context.
- Demonstrated many times when Fluffy and Uranus snap at Duckman in "Forbidden Fruit".
- Punny Name: The third suspect's name in "America the Beautiful" is Saul... Saul Monella.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "Role With It," during a group therapy session involving role playing, Duckman winds up taking a lot of abuse from everyone else in the cast. When he gets his nerve back, though, he very calmly gives it back - doing a little role playing of his own and pointing out all of their faults.
- Red Shirt: The waiter in "Apocalypse Not", who even protests that he's not going to perform a dangerous task instead of the main characters, because he's a one-shot and nobody will care if he dies. Bernice says that's nonsense, and after the waiter predictably dies, she half-heartedly mourns his loss, but screws it when she can't remember the waiter's name.
- And in "Where No Duckman Has Gone Before", Fluffy and Uranus appropriately play the "red shirt" characters from Star Trek.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- Reinventing the Telephone: A smoke signal--Lampshaded when they use a telephone after it doesn't work.)
- Risky Business Dance: In "Apocalypse Not".
- Running Gag:
- Duckman screwing up Mambo's name.
- From "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial", the sunglasses-wearing cop.
Cop: "You folks lost?"
- Screwed by the Network: While USA treated the first three seasons fairly well (even though it did air on Saturday evenings), most of season 4 aired in the wee hours of the morning. Is it any surprise it was canceled after that?
- The Seventies: The episode "America the Beautiful" had Duckman and Cornfed venturing to different cities, all of which are a different stereotype of a certain period of time. Their third stop was a disco club.
- Shameless Self Promoter: In "Days of Whining and Neurosis", Cornfed plugs Murder, She Wrote reruns on USA.
- Shout-Out: Duckman's middle name, Tiberius, is a reference to the middle name of Captain James Kirk.
- In "The Road to Dendron", Duckman is forced into a metal cage and lowered towards lava. This is definitely a reference to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
- In "Das Sub," a parody of 1995's Nixon sees Duckman re-enact the part where Nixon looks at a picture of JFK. As Duckman is filling the Nixon role, Dr. Katz is in the picture.
"They look at you and see what they wanna watch. They look at me and know it's the wrong channel."
- Single-Minded Twins: Sharing a body, Charles and Mambo displayed this sometimes, although they were also known to argue with each other. They've been known to headbutt each other!
- The Sixties: The episode "America the Beautiful" had Duckman and Cornfed venturing to different cities, all of which are a different stereotype of a certain period of time. Their second trip was to a college campus in a 60s-ish town. Everyone who's not a cop is a hippie.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: King Chicken.
- Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Parodied in "Four Weddings Inconceivable".
- Slipping a Mickey: In "The Road to Dendron", Duckman is rescued by Princess Fallopia, but doesn't want to sleep with her because she looks virtually identical to Ajax and it would be weird. So he asks an aide to sleep Fallopia a mickey every night, and the next morning he tells her a tall tale about how good he was in bed with her.
- Slow Clap: Played straight at first in "Das Sub", but devolves into parody when the clapping group follows Duckman home, still clapping.
Duckman: Would you shut the hell up and go home? I've called the cops! Freakin' hoodlums.
- Smoking Is Cool: Demonstrated by Duckman in "Gland of Opportunity" when he becomes famous. Interestingly, though, the show mostly averts this trope; Duckman is reluctantly trying to quit smoking right at the start of the series and we're shown the negative side effects of his former addiction.
- Sound Effect Bleep: Duckman is bleeped a number of times in succession at the start of "American Dicks".
- Sting: In "The Mallardian Candidate", every time "a consiracy!" is said, a three note, dramatic sting is played. Eventually, Duckman gets irritated at it, especially when the sting interrupts his sentences and, in one instance, plays upon showing him merely walking into a building.
- The Stinger: Later episodes began to feature audio clips played over the Reno & Osborn logo. Sometimes they were a repeat from the episode a la MST3K, other times they were all new.
- Suspiciously Similar Song:
- "Joking the Chicken" featured a take-off of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" which played, appropriately enough, during a 2001: A Space Odyssey parody.
- "The Gripes of Wrath" has a musical parody of the song "Holiday for Strings", aka the theme to "The Red Skeleton Show".
- During a couple episodes of season 4, Bernice was accompanied by a brief Leitmotif which sounded very similar to the Wicked Witch of the West's theme from The Wizard of Oz.
- And, of course, the Friends theme was parodied in "With Friends Like These".
- Take That: In "Clip Job", Ajax basically equates Walker, Texas Ranger with sewage.
- King Chicken's full name is George Herbert Walker Chicken.
- Take That, Critics!: "And to think, Entertainment Weekly panned us."
- Taking the Bullet: A flashback in "A Civil War" showed that Cornfed protected Duckman from bullets shot by a gunman. Twice.
- Tastes Like Diabetes: This is essentially Fluffy and Uranus' entire schtick. Duckman hates it.
- Ted Baxter: Duckman, of course.
- Tempting Fate: Fluffy and Uranus tell house-crasher Duckman about some of their prized possessions in "Forbidden Fruit". The next morning, said items are ruined by Duckman.
- That's All Folks: The end of "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial" featured a Looney Tunes parody, with Cornfed taking Porky's place:
Cornfed: Abadeaabadeaabadea, that's everything we've got, people.
- Theme Park Landscape: The underground cavern in "The Road to Dendron" features a water passage which Duckman, Cornfed, and Ajax use to escape, though in a subversion, the Fakir laments: "Why did I put in that water slide?! After them!"
- They Killed Kenny: Fluffy and Uranus die in just about every episode. Usually due to Tastes Like Diabetes.
- This Is My Side: Done to an extreme in "Exile in Guyville", when an argument between Bernice and Duckman eventually causes a separation between the males and females of society, separated by a tall wall.
- This Is Sparta: On two occasions, Cornfed said in his typical monotone: "Oh. My. God."
- Toilet Humor: In "In the Nam of the Father", Charles says that he's thirsty, and Mambo adds that he has to pee. Duckman says that both of their problems are solved.
- In "Inherit the Judgment: The Dope's Trial", after the family drinks a bunch of water, Duckman says, "No time for bathrooms; we'll sweat it out in the car."
- In "Where No Duckman Has Gone Before", Duckman says he has to go to the bathroom to give new meaning to the term "Captain's Log".
- Took a Level in Badass: Fluffy and Uranus of all people, when they're finally fed up with how Duckman is treating them in their own home and demands his respect by screwing over their usual PC-obsessive schtick and actually cussing him out. Duckman's sole response is to walk out in silent shock and awe.
- Toothy Bird: Just look at the page image.
- Undying Loyalty: For some reason, Cornfed, Fluffy and Uranus are consistently loyal to Duckman.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
- Unwanted Rescue: In "Papa Oom M.O.W. M.O.W.", Duckman inadvertently saves the president from a terrorist. However, instead of being hailed as a hero, he's ridiculed by the press for getting in the way of a bigger story, that is, a presidential assassination.
- Unit Confusion: In "Das Sub", after Duckman gets a sentence of 5,000 of community service:
Duckman: 5,000 hours? That's 45 minutes!
Cornfed: Actually, it's about six months.
Duckman: What? Damn metric system.
- Utopia: The city briefly became one in "The Gripes of Wrath" when Duckman made an off-hand complaint about short-lasting deodorant and a supercomputer used his criticism to change society for the better. Something happened between acts two and three to cause a complete reversal of this scenario, though.
- The Voiceless: Grandma-ma, who can't speak due to her coma. She makes up for it by farting instead, and using morse code on one occasion.
- In a couple episodes, though, we do hear her speak: In
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Art De Salvo vomits into a paper bag in "Papa Oom M.O.W. M.O.W.", but we never see the vomit itself.
- Wedding Day: In the final ep, "Four Weddings Inconceivable", which ended with a Cliff Hanger that was never resolved.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Cornfed, from the episode "Clear and Presidente Danger", 'For a complete list, please send $12 to Journal Graphics, Washington, DC, 20300.'
- Whole-Episode Flashback:
- "The Girls of Route Canal", which is about Duckman telling Charles and Mambo how he and Beatrice met.
- "Crime, Punishment, War, Peace, and the Idiot", about Grandma-ma's early days.
- "Exile in Guyville", which uses the wraparounds of a future society where a mother tells her son bedtime stories of Duckman.
- Whole-Plot Reference: "Hamlet 2: This Time, It's Personal".
- Wraparound Background: Used during the Yogi Bear parody in "I, Duckman".
- Yandere: Tami from "The Tami Show".
- Well, Duckman never pays his taxes, but you get the idea.