Robot Chicken

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A stop-motion series on Adult Swim, from Williams Street Productions. Created by Seth Green (the voice of Chris on Family Guy, not to mention Oz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Evil's son from Austin Powers) and Matt Senreich (editor of Toyfare, a magazine for action figure collectors), the show features a rapid-fire series of stop-motion shorts (inspired by Toyfare's Twisted ToyFare Theatre comics), ranging in length from a few seconds to several minutes long. The comedy in these shorts tends to vary wildly between Dead Baby Comedy, pop-culture parody and satire, out-and-out surrealism, or some combination of the three.

Most sketches involve "mashups", a collision of two pop-cultural items (one innocent, and the other "mature") degenerating into chaos, like Mario and Luigi travelling to Vice City, Beavis and Butthead joining the Teen Titans, the team from Scooby Doo encountering Jason Voorhees, or The Smurfs doing their version of the movie Se7en.

Tropes used in Robot Chicken include:

Calvin: Mars is amaaaaazzzing!

  • Anal Probing: Inverted. A group of flannel-wearing, toothless rednecks in a pickup truck abduct an alien from his home planet. Then later, in a simultaneous parody of this trope and Deliverance, the hicks gleefully surround the alien, bent over and tied to a tree stump, and bluntly announce how they're going to perform "scientific experiments" in his backside.
  • And I Must Scream: The actual state of the Robot Chicken character.
  • Animesque
  • Ascended Meme: "Mo-Larr, Eternian Dentist" was so popular that Mattel created a figure of him as a convention exclusive. It includes, amongst other things, his drill and a Skeletor figure with a missing tooth."
  • Balls of Steel: In a short titled "Ode to the Nut-shot", we see two instances of this, one straight and one played with; in one case, a lumberjack repeatedly punches himself in the nuts to no effect, and in another, one robot kicks another in the groin, at which the victim simply stands there and shrugs.
  • Breast Expansion: In the No Need For Glomer sketch (based on the animated version of Punky Brewster), where Punky asked an abused Glomer to make her boobs bigger...except Glomer kept going to the point where it was absolute Body Horror.
  • Black Comedy: the series is LOADED with it!
  • Body Surf: Quantum Leap is parodied when Sam leaps into the body of a woman doing a sex tape. "Ziggy says you have to work the shaft!"
  • Brick Joke: The Season 3 Christmas Episode was The Robot Chicken Half-Assed Christmas Special. The Season 4 Christmas Special is The Robot Chicken Full-Assed Christmas Special.
  • Call Back: To the skit featured under Too Soon: The stormtroopers before executing the Lars deliver a message from Darth Vader that NOW Owen can laugh about the Little Orphan Annie joke.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: Qualifies as this from the Star Wars specials alone. Also the primary reason why Seth Green halted production on his other animated series, Titan Maximum.
  • Casting Gag: Many, many voices are brought on just for the gag. For example, Cree Summer voicing Penny in an Inspector Gadget parody, Soleil Moon-Frye voicing Punky Brewster in No Need for Glomer, Dana Snyder portrays Master Shake as a critic of the Robot Chicken show, and the late Robert Culp reviving his character Bill Maxwell for a The Greatest American Hero parody.

Master Shake: "People watch this. On TV!"

Dick Cheney: "Go fuck yourself! Go fuck yourself! Go fuck yourself! Go fuck yourself!" * continues ad nauseum*

  • Contest Winner Cameo: In his cameo on the show, he got stabbed by Seth Green.
  • Couch Gag Vanity Plate: The Stoopid Monkey at the end of every episode until Season 5.
  • Creator's Pet: Parodied in-universe. One sketch featured the producers of Star Trek: The Next Generation figuring out how to get people to like Wesley Crusher, after the fans paid for a billboard threatening to ass rape Wil Wheaton if they didn't kill Wesley. The producers decide to add in an annoying alien character, ala Great Gazoo, called "Snirkles", so Wesley would look better in comparison (although one writer suggested they try to make Wesley a better character). The episode airs, and all Snirkles does is play a "space banjo song". The fans change the billboard to read "Kill Wesley. Keep Snirkles".
    • Wil Wheaton, after seeing the skit, said he would've loved to voice Wesley if they'd asked him.
  • Credits Gag: The most common end credits gag is on the fourth-to-last screen, which always includes something flattering or positive written next to "Sarah Gellar" and "Mila Kunis" and something humorous written next to another crew member. This is an example from the episode "Maurice Was Caught":

Amazing: Sarah Gellar
Great: Mila Kunis
Ew...: Andrew Racho

    • Many of them are similarly silly:

Buffy Summers: Sarah Gellar
Meg Griffin: Mila Kunis
Matt Peake: Matt Peake

    • One of the crueler variations from "The Ramblings of Maurice":

Girl: Sarah Gellar
Girl: Mila Kunis
Cup: Andrew Racho

Officer 1: "Uhh, couldn't we have just pulled him over and given him a ticket?"
Officer 2: "Heheh, we could have, but we didn't."

    • "Fumbles" the sniper quits The Joes, joins Cobra, and kills every one of his former squadmates because they gave him an embarrassing nickname.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him: A producer for one of Justin Bieber's music videos exclaimed how big a hit this singer will be. She's a teenage lesbian who's open about it in her music and videos! There's nothing the public won't like about this! Then a stage hand tells him the truth.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Often. That is all.
  • Easily Forgiven: Brought up during the "Smurfatar" sketch, by one irate Smurf towards Gargamel.

Smurf: People! He beat Clumsy to death with a pipe!

  • Nobody Here but Us Chickens: One sketch was a version of "Law & Order"... with chickens.
  • Explosive Decompression: Little Orphan Annie is given Mars for her sweet sixteen party, and upon visiting it, trips and loses her space suit helmet. Guess what happens next?
  • Eye Poke: In one Star Trek spoof, Spock tries to knock out Scotty with a Vulcan nerve pinch. When that doesn't work, he goes for the eye poke.
  • The Faceless: Master Chief ends up screwing up one of his missions because he's too obsessed with the fact that his face is hidden behind his helmet. Even though nobody even cares what he looks like, he keeps bringing up the issue that his face is too important to show anyone.
  • Fake Crossover
  • Five Stages of Grief: One of the more famous sketches, where a giraffe is trapped in quicksand and goes through all five stages until reaching acceptance...when he hits the bottom of the quicksand. With his neck still above ground.
  • Foe Yay: In-Universe, One of the Star Wars sketches has some very unambiguous such from Boba Fett for Han Solo.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Most depictions throughout the show look like this. According to a Season 5 sketch it's possible for people in heaven to die and go to super heaven, which is Fluffy Cloud Heaven with more rainbows, fireworks, and motorcycles.
  • Forced to Watch: The chicken in the opening.
  • From a Certain Point of View: In the second Star Wars special, the dialogue that named this trope becomes the refrain of a musical number for Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda as they explain themselves to Luke.
  • Gag Series
  • George Lucas Throwback: Surprisingly yes. Introducing Dr. Ball, M.D., perfectly in the style of typical 1970's television show openings. Disco music, funky text graphics and everything. Co-Starring Larry Elsworth as Sam.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Possibly the most gratuitous example is one sketch that says vulgar words that would not be allowed on the form of a catchy song about homonyms.
  • Groin Attack: Or "Nut Shot" as they like to call it. There's a song about it. This includes a literal one in which a squirrel knocks over a bunch of acorns.
  • Gross-Out Show: If it's not being offensive or bloody, it's usually being this. Major examples being the "Cat and Booger" and the "Captain Jack Fantasy" sketch.
    • "Nice wang!" * squeek squeek squeek* "Nice poodle!" * squeek squeek squeek* Nice pretzel!"
  • Hands Go Down: This sketch involving Saved by the Bell and Saw: the cast can escape if they press a button that will torture Screech. They refuse to do so, until they are told they will receive free Corvettes. When Belding explains that it was just a trust exercise, the cast beats up Screech and end up in detention.

Slater: So we really don't get Corvettes?
Belding: No. Are there any other questions?
(hands go up)
Belding: Are there any other questions not pertaining to Corvettes?
(hands go down)

Help me. I'm trapped in a DVD factory. They took my thumbs. Two weeks without food. Tell my mom I love her, but not in that way. Love, Maurice PS: Yes, in that way.

    • And the titles of the second half form the DVD factory's response:

Dear Consumer: We are a humble factory. Maurice was caught unionizing our labor. President Hu forbids it. Due to constraints of time and budget, the ramblings of Maurice cannot be erased, so sorry. Please do not notify our contractors, especially the animal Keith Crawford.

  • Inconvenient Summons: One skit had Beetlejuice's wife accuse him of liking Lydia more than her since he had to appear when she said his name three times.
    • Pikachu when summoned from his pokeball.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Directly addressed in-universe in a Season Four sketch. Apparently, the prototype jetpacks would keep catastrophically malfunctioning, so the world's scientists gave up on jetpacks and moved on to making iPods smaller.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version
    • Called out specifically in a sketch about Libertarians from an episode in Season Four.
    • Earlier on, it was used TWICE...and for the SAME REASON both times--and it was even mentioned in the commentary. Used for a Season 1 sketch about Voltron getting served, where the aired version used The Jimmy Hart Version of the DMX song "Get It On The Floor" (which the crew even made lyrics for) for the dance-off, which was apparently so similar to the actual song that it THEN had to be dubbed over with a generic production song (that they recorded MORE new lyrics for) for the DVD. One of the behind-the-scenes extras even shows a couple of seconds of Seth and another crew member recording "WHAT? WHOA!" for the original version of the dance-off theme.
    • Also, "Playing With A Car" ("Playing With The Boys") from Season One (and the Season 2 DVD menu) when the valets joyride KITT instead of parking it.
    • "Let's Have a Party" ("Let's Get It Started") from Season Four (and the DVD menu) during Castle Greyskull's dance party where Faker goes in place of real He-Man.
    • In a crossover of Super Mario Bros. and Grand Theft Auto Vice City, they used takeoffs of not just the original game music, but MIDI covers of the game music, most likely specifically ripped from VG Music.
  • Joker Immunity: Subverted with the Trope Namer. In a sketch the Joker lampshades the trope and then Batman testifies against him in court, and the Joker gets the death penalty. During execution by electric chair his head explodes.
  • Kick the Dog: Dora does this to Swiper when he's freezing to death and she gives him an unloaded pistol.

Swiper: You bitch.

"I don't know what you're censoring. Smurfs don't have nipples... Not arousing."

  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: Made into a Running Gag in the Star Wars specials.
  • Off the Chart: There's a quick take of a boardroom with a chart like this, going off the bottom, and a guy with a pointer panicking: "What did I tell you? This is bad!!!"
  • Older Than They Look: Twilight's Edward tells Bella that's he's really 109 years old, despite how young he looks. Bella soon finds out that he acts like a typical old person, including driving 30 miles under the speed limit with your right blinker on, and being completely behind the times when it comes to knowing how modern society works.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: In a short parodying Final Fantasy VII, the main characters run a fast food restaurant. When Sephiroth enters the room, his theme is parodied with the chanting being "Hamburger! Hamburger!"
  • Overly Long Gag: Once the second season started, the show switched from "machine-gun comedy" to "drag the jokes out as long as humanly possible".
  • Parody Magic Spell: Frequent in this Harry Potter parody. When Snape tries to seduce Hermione in his "magical jacuzzi", he calls it forth with the spell, "Barry Whiteus, candlelightus, girl-exciteus!" She dispels his lecherous advance with the counterspell, "Pedophilius repelus!"
  • Perpetual Smiler: The scientist never stops smiling, even when about to be killed by falling televisions.
  • Place Worse Than Death: When the Care Bears ethnically cleanse Care-A-Lot of the Carebear Cousins, the great Goundskeeper in the Sky turns the place into New Jersey. New Jersey's governor is rather proud of his state's history.
  • Quarter Hour Short
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: No sketch in the show (originally) lasted longer than two or three minutes, and many of them were just a few seconds long.

Benjamin: "HA! HIYAH! For America!"

  • Reality Ensues: A woman wants her husband to ravish her like Captain Jack Sparrow...and he proceeds to (in his smarmiest Jack Sparrow voice) explain the actual hazards of being a seafaring pirate in the time of the Black Pearl. Needless to say, the wife finds herself extremely turned off soon after.
  • Reality Warper: When the crew of the show is trying to find a way to get their show Uncancelled, they find that Seth MacFarlane is capable of changing reality by way of Family Guy style Flashback Twists. As an example:

Seth: Robot Chicken? I haven't heard about that show since it got renewed.
Executive: Robot Chicken's renewed. *stamp*

Mmm, that's good rainbow.

    • "My Little Pony, Apocalypse Pony! Punish mankind for their sins!"
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In one of the episodes, Charlie Brown defeats The Great Pumpkin by siccing The Kite-Eating Tree on it.
  • Syncro-Vox: One of the Star Wars episodes spoof's Conan O'Brien's use of this.
  • Take That: What the show more or less revolves around.
    • There's a pretty epic one against the comedian Gallagher. He gets his niece a Teddy Ruxpin doll, and goes to put a tape of his comedy performance into it. The doll comes to life, tries to fight him off, and eventually commits suicide rather than do it. Gallagher then comments that they'll just have to listen to the performance on the family's stereo, at which point his 5 year old niece tries to commit suicide too! And it's one of the highest rated videos on Robot Chicken's site.
  • Talking to Himself: In Bad Boy Meets Damaged Chick With Daddy Issues, Seth Green voices Daniel and Daniel's mother while Breckin Meyer provides the voices of Dina/Ali/Lindsay Lohan and Munson, with Munson getting Lindsay pregnant.
  • Tempting Fate: In the second Star Wars special, referred to by name. Emperor Palpatine has arrived on the Death Star and is having a crappy day. He turns to a nearby Red Guard and says, "Wanna see me tempt fate? Could this day get any worse?" No points for guessing what happens later.
  • The Red Stapler: Adult Swim released a 5 pound pink gummy bear in honor of the infamous sketch.
  • The Reveal: The audience in front of the blond, Stepford Smiler Bloopers host? There's not a single person in the seats; just monstrous disembodied voices, laughing and taunting him.
  • Thirty Minutes or It's Free
  • This Is Sparta: "This. Isn't. FUNNY!!", regarding Two and A Half Men. The episode also featured Leonidas shouting at people in this manner, usually kicking them afterward for no reason.
    • The kick was averted when he shouted "This... is... SCRUMPTIOUS!" when having dinner with his family.
  • Those Two Guys: Tom Root and Doug Goldstein, who appear in a few sketches once in a while.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: After Batman beats The Joker literally to within one punch of his life, Joker mentions that if Batman doesn't kill him, he'll just break out of jail and keep on killing. Batman contemplates this conundrum and persuades the Gotham legal system to give him the death penalty instead. Commissioner Gordon chooses to not use the sponge during his electrocution.
  • Throw the Pin: Seen from the outside; two G.I.s sitting in a foxhole with a bunker in the background. One is hit on the helmet with a pin, looks at it quizzically, and a shout in Gratuitous German then the bunker explodes.
  • Time Compression Montage: Played with in a sketch that featured a Jamaican superhero named Montage, whose power was to dilate time by invoking montages.
    • His arch enemy is End Credits Man.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The creator of Girls Gone Wild had become so desensitized that the only way to excite him anymore was to summon Pinhead to help him out.
  • Too Soon: In-universe example: Owen makes a joke about "little orphan Annie" while Anakin Skywalker is holding his dead mother's body. Ouch.

Owen: Comedy... It's just tragedy plus time, man.
Ani: NO TIME HAS PASSED! I'm holding her dead body in my arms!

  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Boba Fett and the other guy he was with both got spit out of the Sarlacc beast because it just couldn't take their annoying activities anymore.

Sarlaac: "Umm, hey guys, I don't mean to be a prick, but... you guys gotta get the fuck out." *belches them out.*

  • Toyota Tripwire: A businessman does this on a passing motorcyclist. Why should the cyclist be able to move between the cars while he's stuck in traffic?
  • Trust-Building Blunder
  • Uncancelled: A running joke. Every season finale they get canceled, and the next season they get "uncancelled". One wonders when this trick is going to backfire.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Played With. The Doctor is standing on the first base of a baseball diamond. After a few seconds, he just asks "Do you get it?!"
  • Villains Out Shopping: Loves this trope. Famous examples are the obvious "Villains in Traffic" and "Darth Vader Calls" skits, both of which are frequently considered a Crowning Moment of Funny by many people.
  • The Voiceless: The Mad Scientist never talks.
  • Vorpal Pillow: In a skit parodying Toy Story 3, Woody has to smother Buzz to death with a pillow after Andy used Buzz as a bong, burning out the insides of his head.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: After a flood wipes out the Smurf's village, Gargamel finally achieves his goal of eating them. As it turns out, they taste really bad. He throws the food out, and orders Chinese.
  • Weapon of Choice: Seth Green's is the Bat'leth.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Aquaman from Superfriends awkwardly makes his way to a board meeting at the BP oil company (even after nearly spraining his ankle when the secretary tripped him) in order to send the CEO to jail for all the sea life they killed with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The CEO tells him that he can't go to jail because the court case was already settled and BP paid a fine. He asked if Aquaman was going to kick his ass, to which Aquaman responded that he wasn't really planning that. The CEO tried to sincerely but sarcastically insisted they were sorry, and Aquaman returned home. The sea life didn't take the news that well, so they beat him up and killed him.
  • Whip It Good: In the Castlevania sketch, two werewolf servants and Dracula mock Simon Belmont's weapon of choice. They proceed to get the piss whipped out of them.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: It's "Fumbles"... it was always "Fumbles"...
  • The Wiki Rule: The Robot Chicken Wiki trades expository descriptions for Adult Swim Video clips of the actual sketchs! It still could use some help, though.
  • Wrestler in All of Us / Professional Wrestling: In a Season 1 episode (guest-starring Conan O'Brien), there was a wrestling sketch (the Historical Wrestling Federation), featuring Benjamin Franklin and Gandhi in a tag team match against the Wright Brothers. Noted for using ACTUAL Jakks Pacific WWE figures (instead of the standard figures) for the 4 wrestlers (though their original heads were indeed replaced); the 2 commentators (voiced by Seth, doing his cheesiest impersonation of a color commentator and Conan as the driest play-by-play historian you could imagine) were regular figures.
    • A Season 2 episode guest-starring Hulk Hogan featured the sketch Hogan's Heroes, where the gang was replaced by (more Jakks Pacific figures, this time from the "WWE Legends" line) Hulk Hogan and his fellow pro wrestlers "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (voiced by Piper himself), "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart, The Iron Sheik, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
    • Also, since every standard Robot Chicken action figure is animated in stop-motion, and any aerial shots are on wires, many of the close-range combat stunts you see are usually a wrestling-type maneuver.
  • Your Mom: Robot Chicken isn't above doing these every now and then. One notable example is a pull-and-say children's toy.

The cow says "MOOOOOOOO".
Your mom says "Wabglwgaw" because my cock's in her mouth.

Stoopid Monkey.
  1. See Fridge Horror for more details.