Moral Orel

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"How long does it actually take for love to fade?"

In the town of Moralton, Statesota lives the Puppington Family. Eleven-year-old Orel Puppington, a devout Protestant Christian, thinks of Jesus a his biggest role model. He always pays rapt attention in church, taking the advice of the local preacher's sermons to heart, but due to his age, he doesn't always understand some of the topics, which leads to Orel acting on them in his own special way. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues!

…or maybe not.

Originally conceived as a satire of sitcoms from The Fifties and The Sixties, and designed to resemble an Affectionate Parody of Leave It to Beaver (not Davey and Goliath, despite the art style), Moral Orel ultimately evolved into one of the darkest pieces of western animation in years.

Every member of Orel's family shows some form of dysfunction: father Clay abuses alcohol, abuses Orel (emotionally), and fails to hide his closet bisexuality; mother Bloberta cheats on Clay, often finds herself depressed, and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder; and both parents spoil Orel's rambunctious little brother Shapey rotten. The population of Moralton (a town placed precisely in the middle of the United States) fare little better; most of Moralton's adults lead lives as dysfunctional as Orel's family -- if not moreso -- while putting on a show of being Good Christians and Good Neighbors.

Moral Orel is less a critique of Christianity itself than a Deconstruction of religious fundamentalism. The show aims its real critique towards authority figures who pay lipservice to their inferiors' religious beliefs as a way of preserving their authority -- especially when such people make horrible authority figures and role models.

The show served as an affectionate (and adult-oriented) quasi-parody of Leave It to Beaver until series creator Dino Stamatopoulos (aka Starburns) began to move the focus away from Orel midway through Season One. Dino began to explore the dark underbelly of the seemingly happy-go-lucky townspeople of Moralton, which culminated in the two-part Season Two finale "Nature": after getting drunk during a hunting trip with Orel, Clay shoots his own son in the leg, shattering Orel's innocence for good in the process.

The network higher-ups loved the two-parter, and bigwig Mike Lazzo asked Dino to make the show's third season as dark as humanly possible. Stamatopoulos complied, but Lazzo and Adult Swim instantly regretted getting exactly what they asked for: after a screening of the darkest episode of the show's run -- "Alone" -- Adult Swim cancelled the series and cut Season Three down to thirteen episodes, which forced several key arcs to be abandoned. (Dino did provide a sliver of hope admist the despair, however, with a happy ending for Orel.)

While the show was cut short, fans kept hope alive for a revival. After 2007, Adult Swim only played reruns of the show sporadically, but in late 2011, the network began rerunning the show in chronological order on weeknights. When Dino learned of this, he said "[if] enough people watch, there may be hope for a special or two" on a Facebook post. A month into the reruns, Dino made another comment: "Got a great call from the Head of Adult Swim yesterday raving about the ratings that the Moral Orel reruns have been getting. Great job, everyone! Keep watching and the Moral Orel special will be imminent." Dino followed up on this on Halloween with a surprise appearance from Orel in the last bump of a Mary Shelley's Frankenhole mini-marathon, where Orel said a new Moral Orel special would come "sometime in the near future". At its May 2012 upfront, Adult Swim confirmed Orel's return with the announcement of Beforel Orel, a special that [as] promises will explain "the origin of Orel's religious nature and the birth of his brother, Shapey".


Tropes used in Moral Orel include:
  • Abusive Parents: Played depressingly straight.
  • Aborted Arc: Clay's father, introduced in a flashback episode in Season Three, was supposed to join the cast in the second half of the season; when the show was cancelled, the arc was deepsixed. Also deepsixed was the Miss Censordoll's scheming to take control over the town via seducing Clay (revealed to be the Mayor of the town in the second-to-last episode of the series, as well as the implications that Censordoll may or may not have manipulated Clay's shooting of Orel.
  • Adult Child: Doughy's parents are this in a very eerie way. They're still mentally in high school, and it shows clearly as they treat him more like a younger sibling than a son.
  • Adults Are Useless: Just about every adult except Stephanie and maybe Nurse Bendy at least as far as Joe is concerned, though Reverend Putty and Coach Stopframe do manage to start proving themselves later on.
  • Advice Backfire: Constantly.
    • The third-season episode "Innocence" plays into this, as the town agrees to stop giving Orel advice in an attempt to avoid the trope's occurrence.
      • Ironically Putty's advice backfired so spectacularly as well that many of the people tried to pass off Orel to the next unfortunate shmuck, as well as trying to plea with god on a technicality that Orel was just "eaves dropping on them talking to themselves" so they dont end up in hell.
  • The All-American Boy: Orel is a Deconstruction.
  • Anachronic Order: Most of Season Three takes place before or during the events of the Season Two finale, "Nature"; episodes take place as either flashbacks or as events during / before the fateful hunting trip.
  • Animal Motifs: The blue bird in "Nature" - likely meant to symbolize Orel's innocence, the bird appears in key scenes throughout the first part before flying off at the end of the episode when Orel finally fires off his dad's pistol. It stays missing until the end credits of the second part.
    • Likewise with the flies that appeared in the same episode, symbolizing Clay's desolation. They appear in the end credits with Orel's bird, symbolizing that his innocence has been stained.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the end of his big tirade in the episode "Sacrifice", Clay remarks (well, rather scowls) that it's people like Putty, Dr. Potterswheel and Papermouth that are the reason his son is sensitive.
  • Auto Erotica: There's a couple of shaking cars parked out at Inspiration Point when Orel goes to visit Christina.
  • Bad Future: At some point in the future, Moralton will encompass all of the United States and will be the only landmass on the planet. Damn. Which is exactly how the fundies want it.
  • Bad Humor Truck: Mr. Creepler, the local Ice Cream man is a serial rapist and a pedophile. By the third season however, he's been put in the electric chair.
  • Bi Conservative: Clay sleeps with a number of women (except his wife), but he seems to only be in love with the male Coach Stopframe.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: A textbook example, really.
  • Black Comedy: Really, really black comedy - especially in Season Three. The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. On fire.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Orel raping women with a pastry bag, in order to be able to masturbate in season one.
  • Blipvert: The last episode, "Honor" opens with the very end of the first episode "The Best Christmas Ever" with Orel believing deeply that God will fix everything, and he still has hope, followed by a rapid fire montage of scenes from the series during the one year between both episodes. The montage ends with Orel getting his cast off his leg after being shot in "Nature." showing the extreme contrast of the once innocently faithful Orel one year prior, to the more depressed Orel who's endured innocence shattering events by the end of the series.
  • Blood Bath: The episode "Innocence" sees Orel learn about blood's powers to show one's innocence to God and remain young forever in separate conversations with the Christeins and Coach Stopframe, as well as seeing him recruit Doughy, Billy, Tommy, and Maryenetta to provide blood for Orel to bathe in. The episode "Grounded" begins with Clay finding Orel in the tub and covered in blood with the other kids around him, bleeding from their wrists. The show itself, however, presents all this in Anachronic Order with the conclusion to these events in "Grounded" being aired first and the set-up in "Innocence" being shown later.
  • Book Ends: The Christmas special was aired as the pilot due to a scheduling mix-up; the series' finale is also a Christmas episode (and has a few callbacks to the former, such as the carol "If the Lord Were Alive Today"). Also, the show's opening credits all end with Orel waving up at God/the viewer. The final shot of the series includes Orel's baby daughter waving up as the camera pans out. D'awwwwwwwww.
  • Brainless Beauty: Nurse Bendy. Hidden Depths reveal that being this has also crippled her psychologically. Sadly, she's (dimly) aware of this.
  • Break the Cutie: Orel. So very, very much. It ultimately fails.
    • Arguably Clay's intent, as a means of justifying his own shittiness by trying to show that Orel's own purity is built on a foundation of sand. It isn't.
  • Brick Joke: There's a few. Orel bathing in blood and, earlier, declaring he'll "never do THAT with THOSE, in THERE, for that LONG ever again!", and the Lost Commandments.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Orel to Clay in "Nature." Joe and his father (much more violently) in "Dumb", though this is more due to Joe being furious that his elderly alzheimer-stricken father wants nothing to do with him. Or rather is unable to be the kind of father Joe wants because of his age and his illness with the added revelation that he lied to Joe about his mother and kept the two apart.
  • Catch Phrase: Before every Spoof Aesop spouted by Clay, he would find Orel and say a sentence that ends with "In my study." Cue gulping.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Subverted. What appears to be a reaction to this is later revealed to be to something much more dangerous.
    • Also, not a Cerebus Retcon. Given this series, it was indeed a plot hook, not a case of going back to make what was funny darker.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Everything from the second half of the second season on. Basically, the show dropped any pretense of being a comedy in the third season, after which it's just religious hypocrites torturing each other socially, physically, and mentally.
  • Cheerful Child: Orel pretty much defines this trope, at least until "Nature."
    • To a certain extent, so do Shapey and Block.
  • Chess Motifs: Miss Censordoll has a miniature model of Moralton and its inhabitants so she can evoke this trope. Also to play God.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted, and possibly inverted with all the Moralton townsfolk mocking and occasionally reviling Catholicism. In fundamentalism, only protestants are true Christians, while Catholics might as well be godless pagans.
    • Notably to the point where speaking the profane tongues of the Necronomicon is still better than speaking in Latin like a Catholic.
  • Christmas Special: Perhaps the most depressing one ever made.
  • Claymation: The show itself, and Orel's hobby.
    • During the ending credits of one episode, we see Orel, a claymation figure, making a claymation video of himself making a claymation video. A show inside a show inside a show.
      • Becomes a Brick Joke when Orel shows off his show to friends and family, summarizing previous episodes and inadvertently showing their hypocrisies.
  • Couch Gag: The way Orel waves to God at the end of the opening varies.
  • Crapsack World: Especially by the final season.
    • It was always crapsack, really. Orel (and the viewer) has just become more aware of it as its mask slipped.
  • Crap Saccharine World: How things start out, before the facades start to fall.
  • Creator Breakdown/Real Life Writes the Plot: Dino Stamatopoulos went through a rough divorce towards the end of the second season. The toll this took on him is evident throughout Season 3, particularly Clay's rant in "Sacrifice".
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: Orel Puppington is voiced by Carolyn Lawrence.
  • Crowning Moment Of Funny: See the page
  • Companion Cube: Nurse Bendy's use of teddy bears as a stand-in for family units, since she believes that they won't take advantage of her sexually. When one of them falls upon her rear while she's bending over, she goes into a complete breakdown, believing her trust has been shattered. A shot in "Dumb" reveals she tied the offending bear up in its chair. She got better after reuniting with her actual son.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 3 turned it Up to Eleven by turning the show (which was already dark in its own right) into quite possibly the darkest piece of western animation ever made, prompting the show's cancellation out of Mike Lazzo's buyer's remorse.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Stephanie. Despite her "punk chick" look, she's generally one of the warmest (and easily one of the most sane) citizens of Moralton.
    • Invoked in the episode "Holy Visage", in which the sheltering nature of darkness is mentioned. Unfortunately, the person stating this is a stupid, ignorant teacher reffering to the Dark Ages in Europe.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Reverend Putty. To his eternal, bitter ire, it's the only sex he gets.
    • Well, except for that time Orel sent him some "sinners".
  • Deconstruction: This could be considered Adult Swim's Neon Genesis Evangelion for comedy. When you can rival and sometimes even beat Evangelion for how dark a show can become, and how much you can rip apart every little thing about the "perfection" of the show you're watching, you're falling into this category.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Coach Daniel (pronounced "Danielle") Stopframe, though he does get to Pet the Dog and get over Clay at the finale.
    • Clay himself, secretly.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Joe. Though, since he's still a child, it's more of a Jerkass In Plain Sight. He lacks the power to do real damage... for now.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Orel was pretty chipper considering a plot point in season 3 had him standing in a bathtub full of blood let from a bunch of his friends.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Christina, to Orel.
  • Distant Finale: The last scene of the final episode skips to Orel as an adult, who was able to raise a fully functional family with Christina.
    • Especially noteworthy is the picture on the wall of Orel's parents. As horrific as Clay was to Orel, Orel's above exiling the old man from his life.
    • Also, there are two other pictures of a fireman and policeman, presumably the adult versions of Shapey and Block.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything??: Christina has invited Orel to Make-Out Point after their parents have forbidden them from seeing each other. They meet up, are ecstatic to see each other, then slowly lower out of camera view while lovingly saying each other's names... then he camera pans down and you see they're praying.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Played for Laughs Once an Episode (the actual threat is never made-- we just see Orel pulling up his pants back up). In "Nature", it's Played for Drama.
    • Of course, this "humor" becomes less and less funny as the series progresses, even though the "joke" remains the same.
  • Downer Ending: There are so many, but the ends of "Nature," "Sundays," "Alone," and the Christmas Special are especially bleak.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Clay, "burdened" with a loveless marriage and a "stinking dead-end job", does this constantly.

* drink* Still hate her. * drink* Still hate her. * drink* Toler-hate her. * drink* ...tolerate her!

  • Dysfunctional Family: An excellent example! Clay is emotionally distant and abusive, his wife is a cleanliness-obsessed basket case who married him for all the wrong reasons, Shapey is seven but developmentally is three, and Orel is the Only Sane Man. For a given value of "sane", anyway.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A poster for "The Crucibles" shows up well before the episode featuring them does.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The finale. And boy, is it a case of "earning" it.
  • Everytown, America: Played straight and lampshaded; notice the obvious generic-ness of "Moralton, Statesota?"
  • Evil Matriarch: Miss Censordoll aspires to be one for the entire town (she actually runs for mayor as "Town Mayor-triarch")
  • Evil Twin: Moralton itself has an "evil" twin in the form of Sinville, which is only a bus ride away and is filled with prostitutes and - to a visiting Orel's horror - Catholics.
  • Fake Crossover: With Frankenhole' as seen here.
  • Fan Disservice: The womb motifs and sexual situations involving Ms Censordoll in "Nesting".
  • Fat and Skinny: Florence and Dottie
  • Feuding Families: The Puppingtons and the Posabules hate each others' guts because they use slightly different versions of the Lord's Prayer.
  • Flash Back: Most of the episodes in season three are flashbacks, or parts of earlier episodes told from the point of view of people that aren't a Puppington.
  • For the Evulz: Orel in the Halloween episode. He decided that the only thing that can scare him is God - so he methodically breaks all of the Ten Commandments in one day. ALL. Including that one.
  • Freudian Excuse: Clay's an asshole because his insanely religious mother raised him like a spoiled prince (because all of her ten previous pregnancies never made it to term because of her constant drinking and smoking which she stopped when pregnant with Clay because she was too preoccupied with praying to God that he would make it) and his father (who was never able to create a good bond between his son due to his wife's constant spoiling and protective nature and never forgave Clay for the prank that led to his wife's fatal heart attack) emotionally shunned his child, to the point of telling him that he wasn't even worth the effort of punishing him physically, which led to Clay becoming a hellion if only to get slapped by his father, which for Clay was the only emotional response he could ever get out of his father. Bloberta, meanwhile, is the unwanted middle child of an emotionally abusive mother who treated her second daughter like an unwanted pet; she became an obsessive-compulsive neat freak to replace her addiction to booze, after introducing Clay to alcohol and watching him become a massive jerk with his first drink.
    • While it does explain much, it's not much of an excuse. Orel's childhood isn't far off from this.
    • Arguably, that was the point: despite all the bad things that happened to Orel, he still got his life back together.
      • And arguably, that was the point of the other point: Clay's abuse of Orel is to try to bring the boy down to his father's level, so that Clay can convince himself that he's not responsible for what he's become, which is why Orel's continuing intent to goodness makes Clay even more miserable and hateful.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Orel in the first part of "Nature". Not so much in part two.
  • Frozen in Time: Subverted. The show is (possibly) set in the modern day, yet virtually everything in Moralton looks like it's either the 1950's or (way) early 60's. Especially since we don't see any modern tech (not even television!) I guess that's the way to show people what Christian dogma feels about modern society.
  • A God Am I/Drunk with Power: Orel, upon hearing that God is in him (as well as everyone and everything else), starts acting this way, going so far as to pull the plug on a dying woman; granted the woman was asking for it, but still...it's one of the few times Orel actually outright acts like a jerk.
    • This is how Censordoll acts naturally.
  • Growing Up Sucks: In "Maturity", Clay tells Orel that adulthood means doing things that one hates doing. These things would be "dealing with people who make you unhappy, being stressed about things you have no control over and working soul numbing jobs".
    • Joe develops a fear of growing up due to his very old father.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Bloberta is truly outrageous.
  • High School Sweethearts: Mr. and Mrs. Latchkey, Doughey's parents. Not only are they high school sweethearts, they still act like they're in high school, wearing the same jock jacket and cheerleader clothes they did twelve years ago.
  • Hilarity Ensues: The usual result of Orel misinterpreting the sermons. (This is pretty much nonexistent after the middle of Season Two, though.)
  • Holier Than Thou

Miss Censordoll: "No, mother, I am not 'holier-than-thou'. But I AM holier than YOU."

Mark Posubule: Forgive your debtors!
Clay Puppington: Forgive your tresspassers!
Mark Posubule: You owe me a bottle of wine!
Clay Puppington: Get off my property!

  • I Did What I Had to Do: Often a downright lie. It's usually "I Did What Was More Convenient" or "I Did What Would Get Me What I Wanted", but using this trope as a thin veneer.
  • I Drank What: Orel sells his urine as an energy drink to the school's sports teams.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Orel once had an epiphany - but was spanked into forgetting it - when he disagreed with church doctrine about Fluffy Cloud Heaven; perhaps more importantly, Clay has one about his behavior and apologizes for shooting Orel, only to take it back shortly afterward.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Bloberta masturbates with a jackhammer in "Numb". It ends up doing as much damage to her body as you'd expect.
  • In Vino Veritas: Clay. Lampshaded and a source of discussion in the "Nature" and subsequent episodes.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Provides the page quote with:

Rev. Putty: You are pure pureness in its purest form!

Orel: I hate you.
Clay: Hate away, sister. Hate away...

  • Insane Troll Logic: Any advice given to Orel will inevitably be twisted by his bizarre thought process and end up either as Gone Horribly Right or Gone Horribly Wrong. But horribly is the one component you can bet on, to the point where Reverend Putty warns the entire town to stop giving Orel advice under penalty of being sent to Hell. It goes about as well as you imagine it would.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Orel certainly thinks so.
  • Jerkass: Clay is pretty much the embodiment of this. Censordoll is a big one, too.
    • Actually, this probably describes everyone in Moralton except for Orel and Stephanie.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Adult Swim has refused to release the remaining two-thirds of season two or season three on DVD after the first volume set didn't sell well. This is bad since these uncollected episodes consist of the show's high point.
    • In a bit of subversion though when the show was canceled and Adult Swim did a massive month long marathon/dumping of the third season, Dino was allowed to do a series of promos for the third season where he implored fans to watch and record, as far as telling them that Adult Swim will probably NEVER, EVER reair the series. But the critical praise and high ratings that the last season got has managed to secure future reairings of the series for fans...
  • Kick the Dog: The townsfolk of Moralton do this quite a lot. Of particular note is putting Orel's dog down because it was causing him to sin - because he loved the dog more than Jesus. They also left a man's wound untreated and infected because it resembled Jesus, and destroying holy symbols is a sin.
    • The dog thing is all the more problematic due to the fact that the dog was almost definitely the second coming of Jesus. [1]
    • Clay shooting his son Orel in the leg while drunk, then blaming the incident on him.
    • Clay grounding Orel in "Grounded", forbidding him from going to church. Not to mention the unapologetic rubbing it in he did to his son, right in Orel's face.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At least once for all the running jokes. The most blatant was probably having a throwaway character called Mr. Stopmotionanimationname.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Miss Censordoll and Joe's half-sister are both voiced by men. In the case of Joe's half-sister, it's very obvious... when she stops holding her nose.
  • Light Is Not Good: Most of the citizens of Moralton. By the end of the show, there are definitely, and possibly only, three who could be considered "good": Reverend Putty, Stephanie, and Nurse Bendy.
    • Considering that even Reverend Putty and Daniel Kick the Dog several times, he somewhat invokes this trope mildly.
  • Loud Gulp: Happens in every episode just before Orel's father beats him as punishment for whatever he did wrong that day.
    • In fact, it's a sign of Character Development when Clay's threats evoke a deadpan response and not a Loud Gulp from Orel, due to him losing all respect for Clay.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Stephanie is Reverend Putty's daughter, and Joe is Nurse Bendy's son.
  • Make-Out Point: Inspiration Point, the place Christina invites Orel when their parents won't let them see each other. Subverted when, instead of going there to make out, they start praying.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted with Reverend Putty, whose trash can saw more action than he himself ever did.
  • Meaningful Name: A LOT of the characters' names refer to how the show is created (stop-motion claymation), though some of them refer to an important facet of the character.
    • Examples: Coach Stopframe, Mr. Figurelli, Clay Puppington, Bloberta, Shapey, Block, Miss Sculptham, Nurse Bendy, Reverend Putty, Officer Papermouth (that's how they get them to talk)... These are so blatantly obvious that I don't know whether or not to call them Narm.
    • Also: Doughy Latchkey and Ms. Frances Clara Censordoll (FCC). These aren't so obvious, but they're just as good.
      • Also: Censordoll. And "Censored-All"
    • As revealed in "Dumb", Nurse Bendy's first name is Nursula. There are possibly two puns in there: the obvious(Nursula) and another more stealthy and significant(Nursula, which besides being a real name, related to ursa=bear, in reference to her teddy bear family).
  • Mood Whiplash: Third season, and how!
    • In Grounded, Orel's intense and heavily symbolic near death experience sequences are intercut with some of the show's blackest comedy ("It's not healthy to be dead that long").
  • Moral Dissonance: All of Orel's lessons essentially boil down to "do as I say and not as I do", and even then, the morals he learns are horribly skewed.
  • Moral Guardians: Miss Censordoll's cadre of protesters.
  • Moral Myopia: If you are not going to Reverend Putty's church on Sunday, you aren't even subhuman.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Even moreso as zombies!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "Wow, everybody sure hates Jesus! ...oh."
    • Also a young Clay's prank on his abusive father, which indirectly ends up killing his mother, setting the stage for the adult Clay's abuse of his son.
    • Or when Bloberta introduces Clay on alcoholism leads to their miserable marriage.
  • Not So Above It All : Miss Censordoll, after Orel gets her favorite food (eggs) banned from the town, as far as Censordoll going to the Moralton black market to get her eggs like the rest of the townspeople. Also Reverend Putty in "Closeface", who bonds with his daughter after finding out that they both have a snarky sense of humor.
  • Not So Different: Season 3 makes it increasingly clear that Clay was a lot like Orel when he was a kid and young man, and both were victims of abuse. In the end, Orel manages to become a much better father and husband than Clay.
  • N-Word Privileges: Subverted. When the town learns about the Italian-American Figurelli family, the entire town starts to segregate exclusively against the 4-member family. The always optimistic Figurellis thank the town for it, oblivious to the reason why they did it to begin with. Everyone else in the town just starts to refer to them as Figgurs.
  • Oedipus Complex: It turns out that Clay has one, something Miss Censordoll picks up on quickly to manipulate him.
  • Official Couple: Orel and Christina are the most heartwarming couple you'll ever see on television.
  • Older Than They Look: Shapey, Orel's little brother, is seven but he looks and acts no older than three.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The opening of the 7th season 3 episode, Help, shows the typical images of a wedding. The ending zooms out on them to show how screwed up and unhappy Bloberta and Clay's marriage has been from the beginning.
  • Only Sane Man: Reverend Rod Putty, who is ironically less blinded by so-called faith compared to everyone else as time goes on.
    • His daughter also counts.
  • Out of Order: The Christmas episode was meant to be the first season finale but was aired as a pilot.
  • Overly Long Gag: the last minute of "Turn The Other Cheek", hilariously justified.
    • Orel's father taking a long time and multiple sips before confirming that Orel's special energy drink is urine.
  • Passion Play: Where Orel sings a song as Judas about how he hates Jesus.
  • Parental Neglect: How the Puppingtons and Posabules (minus Orel and Christina) miss for months that Shapey and Block switched places.
  • Political Stereotype: a town full of them
  • Quarter Hour Short
  • Rape Is Love: Used very darkly in "Alone." So darkly, in fact, that it got the series cancelled.
  • Recap Episode: When Orel shows his movies to his friends and family, they are basically the first three episodes. Subverted in no old footage being reused.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Raising the dead with the Necronomicon after stripping them naked because the dirty clothes make the corpses "smell like death". Because Orel heard that "rejecting life is against God's will", and he doesn't wish the dead to sin. That's the comedic version. "Nature" is the much, much darker version.
  • Religion Rant Song: "I Hate You, Jesus!"
  • Room Full of Crazy: When Orel is grounded from church in "Grounded", he makes up for it by drawing a crayon church on his wall decorated with various Bible verses, then builds a cardboard church and wears it like a Halloween costume.
  • Running Gag: Miss Censordoll's protesting and censorship, the "Lost Commandments," the fact Shapey is not weaned off breast milk yet, Clay standing up after beating Orel, which causes his pants to fall because he forgot to put his belt back on.
    • The second and third seasons have Shapey switched with the son of their short term neighbors. Bloberta (who eventually figures it out) and Clay never seem to realize that Block is not Shapey even as Orel tries pointing it out time and time again.

Orel: Dad, that's not...

  • Sanctuary of Solitude: Used several times.
  • Scary Librarian: Miss Censordoll. Especially how she looks like an old lady, but she's only 40.
  • Sexless Marriage: Clay and Bloberta
  • Shock Value Relationship: "Closeface." In a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, Reverend Putty reveals he was upset because the other girl Stephanie was kissing didn't care for her the way Stephanie wanted.
  • Shoot the Dog: Quite literally in "Nature"; Clay shoots some other hunter's hunting dog, then proceeds to mount its head and eat it like a deer. Granted, he was drunk at the time, but still...
    • Also, having Orel's dog Jesus Bartholomew put down, because the dog was making Orel love him more than Jesus. And annoying the adults.
  • Shout-Out: Among the weapons in Clay's weapon room are two golden guns.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Coach Stopframe for Clay. He gets better.
  • Single Tear: Orel cries one at the end of Rev. Putty's sermons for most of Season 1.
  • Sleeping Single: Deconstructed; not only do Clay and Bloberta sleep in separate beds, there's a privacy screen between them.
    • Based on appearances, Doughy's parents have separate rooms, though this is more because they're still at the mentality of high schoolers-Kim's bedroom is decorated like a high school girls. And it has no effect on their sex lives whatsoever.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism - At the beginning, Orel is practically in the wrong show, given how naive he is about the world. The world is deeply cynical, and Orel gradually shifts to a more cynical viewpoint as well, especially after "Nature."
    • However, "cynical" for Orel is... admitting to himself that he doesn't respect and revere his father as he feels he ought, and thinking that perhaps, everything isn't as perfect as it ought to be. It's still a deep contrast, though not as extreme.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: During season three, the show uses "No Children" by the Mountain Goats to highlight the fucked up marriage of Bloberta and Clay Puppington.
  • Son of a Whore: Joe
  • Spoiled Brat: Shapey. His parents always order Orel to let him do what he wants, in case he screams and the neighbors hear. He's constantly screaming anyway, so we can see how well that is working out.
    • And Clay, as a child, prior to one of his tantrums leading to his mother's death and the subsequent abuse at the hands of his father.
    • And, of course, Block, who's pretty much an exact clone of Shapey.
  • Spoof Aesop: The usual result of Clay's talks with Orel in his study take the form of a ridiculous and/or entirely irrelevant lesson. For example, in the first episode, Orel is chastised not for digging up dead people and zombifying them, but for stripping them naked (he thought they smelled like death because their clothes were dirty). Similarly, his crack habit earned him a scolding because of all the slang it caused him to learn.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: Stephanie's mother, leading directly to Stephanie's conception.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Orel and his Distaff Counterpart. It works out in the end.
  • Stepford Smiler: Much of Moralton qualifies, but Bloberta stands out in particular. She cleans the underside of floor tiles!
  • Stepford Suburbia: Moralton, Moralton, Moralton. Everyone works hard to convince everyone else that things are perfect. "I think you're slipping..."
  • Subverted Kids Show: understatement.
  • Suspiciously Specific Sermon: Reverend Putty sure does like to keep things topical.
  • Take That: After his movies aren't very well appreciated, Orel concludes that sometimes things are misinterpreted. When asked for an example, he scratches his head with The Bible trying to come up with an answer. Really, the whole series.
    • Miss Censordoll's full name is Francine Clara Censordoll (FCC).
  • Theme Naming: Many of the characters have names related to the process of stop-motion animation.
  • The Moral Substitute: Imagine if all media was Christian fundamentalist propaganda? Yeah, this trope is subject to a brutal Deconstruction, showing just how dysfunctional, and disturbing such a world would be.
  • There Are No Therapists
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Well over half of the episode Sacrifice is just Clay giving these to Potterswheel, Papermouth, Putty, religion, love, and the world in general. He was trying to provoke a violent reaction, because the only way he could make his father acknowledge him as a child was by insulting him until he beat him.
    • Joe's narration of the latter half of Orel's movie.
  • Toilet Humor: "Waste" is a rare example of this trope without Refuge in Vulgarity.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Less of a single unifying secret, and more the dark secrets most adults seem to have, and covered up by putting on a show of being a White Anglo Saxon Protestant.
  • Transparent Closet: Clay Puppington and Daniel Stopframe (though Stopframe is openly bisexual).
  • Truth in Television: Unfortunately, as odd as it seems to most people.
  • Villain Song: "I Hate You Jesus" was by far the most memorable song of the school pageant.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Season 3 is one long breakdown for Clay ending with him being rejected by Coach Stopframe, the only person at that time who still cared about him.
  • Villain Protagonist: Clay is arguably the main character of Season 3.
  • Wakeup Makeup: Deconstructed. Bloberta wakes up earlier than her husband, grooms herself impeccably, then pretends to go back to sleep. In this show, chances are better than even it's to make him feel inferior to her in one of the few ways she can.
  • Wasted Song: "Nesting" has its own dark orchestral cover of the opening theme... which is played over some of the lowest-quality visuals the show has ever had. On top of that, the song gets cut off before it's finished by Ms Censordoll slamming a window.
    • Those "lowest-quality visuals" portion was due to Stylistic Suck. For those that don't remember, the opening was made up of the little diorama Ms Censordoll was tinkering with in "Alone".
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Blatantly obvious when Orel agrees to give up his dog. He's to be taken to the Cavalry Hill Hospital to be put down. On the way, he's thrown a stick which looks suspiciously cross-like, which he carries all the way there.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The aforementioned Bad Future and the story about Censordoll wasn't really explained.
    • Executive Meddling. Season 3 was originally going to be 20 episodes, and scripts and animatics had been prepared for all of the episodes--then Adult Swim slashed the order to 13 episodes. This was done after the higher-ups saw rough cuts of the the first couple of episodes, most notably "Alone"--which featured the reveal that not only had one of the female characters purposely allow herself to get sexually assaulted by a rapist in order to have sex, but showed the character in the aftermath of performing a coat-hanger abortion upon herself to kill the child conceived by the rape, as well as her obtaining an orgasm after mentally reliving being raped. According to Dino Stamatopoulos, "Alone" basically got the series cancelled even though its tone was Dino simply following orders to create darker episodes following the success of "Nature". The episode count getting reduced meant that the entire second half of the season had to be aborted (no pun intended), leaving the show with two episodes to deal with the fallout of "Nature", which resulted in a slapdash finale and most of the Miss Censordoll/Clay storyline getting cut.
      • Word of God in online commentary expands on Miss Censordoll's story. In "Alone", it was hinted that Censordoll's mother had her reproductive organs removed as an infant, in a form of female castration. This is what causes her obsession with eggs--and is probably why she aged so badly. As Reverend Putty's sermon in that episode says, we need other people in our lives to remind us we're not the center of the universe (which is what Censordoll believes). In "Nesting", Censordoll withdraws from the election when she realizes she can manipulate Clay's Oedipus Complex for his mother to get the town's egg ban lifted.
      • Dino posted one of the lost episode's scripts online. It can be found here.
  • Wham! Episode: "Nature".
  • Writer on Board should be pretty obvious.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: In a cartoon where everyone has normal hair colors, it's a bit odd that Florence has pink hair.
  • Younger Than They Look: Miss Censordoll, who's only forty, but easily looks like she's in her seventies or eighties.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Parodied in the first episode.
    • When the first episode features a Zombie Apocalypse and the show just gets darker from there...that's the definition of a Crapsack World.