Rocko's Modern Life

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

One of Nickelodeon's most famous Nicktoons. It stars Rocko, a young wallaby from Australia, adjusting to life on his own in America. Most of his days were "very dangerous days" where A Simple Plan like a trip to the laundromat or just trying to keep his job was met with bad luck and other weirdness. In later episodes Rocko's friends Heffer, a gluttonous, not-too-bright, but amiable bovine, and Filburt, a timid and geeky turtle, were often dragged along for the ride.

The writers had an amazing talent for Getting Crap Past the Radar, including a few jokes that were later censored. There were no legal DVDs available from Nickelodeon owner Viacom, leaving a vacuum that's been populated for years by pirate DVDs of low-quality TV recordings... until Shout Factory came to the rescue in 2011. It got a continuation on Netflix called Static Cling in 2019.

Tropes used in Rocko's Modern Life include:
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Beverly Bighead becomes one of Rocko in Leap Frogs.
  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Played for Laughs with Widow Hutchison in "The Big Answer".
    • Played straight with Peaches in "To Heck and Back".
  • Absentee Actor: Rocko doesn't appear at all in "Frog's Best Friend" and "Magic Meatball". In addition he only makes brief cameos in "She's the Toad" (says "Good morning") and "Teed Off" (screams in a random scene near the end of the short).
  • Accidental Pervert: Everyone who has the misfortune to bump into Gladys the Hippo Lady.

Gladys: How DAAAARE you!

  • Actor Allusion: In "An Elk for Heffer," after first meeting Elkie, Heffer is so flustered that he forgets his name. While trying to think of it, he lists several others - Tom, Jeff ("Swampy" Marsh), Dan (Povenmire), and Joe (Murray).
    • Widow Hucthinson is voiced by Kevin Meaney. And one point she says "Turtles and cats together. That's not right."
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Peaches (as mentioned below) is not the overlord of Heck. His shadowy, beanie-wearing boss is.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: Due to Executive Meddling opposition to The Smurfette Principle, Dr. Hutchinson was born, with awesome results.
  • All There in the Manual: Joe Murray's original description for Rocko, reprinted in the book Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!, reveals that the character's last name is Rama, and over the course of the series, he happens to be 20 years old.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Heffer and Filburt, due to the fact that their extremely creepy obsession with Rocko often very-blatantly overshadows their interest in the actual female love interests that they have given themselves over the course of the series.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Peter Wolfe is a cheerleader and wears a ballerina tutu at one point, to the displeasure of his father. Also Heffer and Filburt, arguably. Although, in the same episode that Peter wears the tutu, Heffer briefly gets a girlfriend.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Filbert naturally, as he is a Woody Allen caricature.
  • Anachronism Stew/Four Decades Behind: The show is supposedly supposed to take place in the 1990s, but it looks considerably more like the 1950s.
  • And Then I Said: "...Rock 'em sock 'em!"
  • And You Were There: In "Short Story," Rocko dreams about what it would be like to be tall - really tall. Upon waking up in his bed, he's greeted by the others seen in his dream - except for that guy that looks like Joe Murray.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The Recurring Character, Earl. Usually a psychotic stray.
  • Animal Jingoism: Spoofed.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Rocko the wallaby seems about 3 feet or so tall, making him the only realistically sized animal on the show(along with Spunky, though as he is not humanoid this doesn't count), compared to him Heffer the steer and Dr. Hutchison the cat(presumably of the house variety) look normal human size about 5 and a half to six feet, Filburt the turtle is in-between, while the Bigheads who are cane toads are maybe 6 and a half feet tall, with their heads counting for at least half of that; their adult son Ralph who does not have a large head, but has about the same body height, is a little taller than Rocko, not counting his hair.
  • Animated Actors: The flies from "Canned".
  • Applied Mathematics: Mr. Smitty's "time is money" lecture to Rocko in "Commuted Sentence".
  • Ascended Extra: Filburt started as a random character doing odd jobs before he got promoted to Rocko's other friend.
  • Ass Shove: Implied during Rocko's checkup with "Dr." Bendova.
  • Astronomic Zoom: In "Hut Sut Raw", while Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt are trying to make their way out of the forest, Filburt proclaims, "We're lost!" The camera suddenly cuts back farther and farther until it's in space. At which point, Rocko says, "Maybe we are lost."
  • Attack of the Political Ad: One cartoon where Mr. Bighead decides to challenge Rocko in a campaign for town dog catcher, he takes out an ad suggesting that Rocko is responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire, the sinking of the Titanic, and the 1958 Edsel. An "artist rendering" of Rocko depicts him with sharp teeth, a menacing demeanor, and a speech bubble reading, "I'm mean."
  • Australian Accent: Rocko, considering he is from the aforementioned continent.
  • Badass: Heffer's grandma bullies Peaches and prefers to stay in "Heck" because it's warm. Imagine what she was like when she was alive.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Rocko is transformed into a fly for an episode as punishment for injuring a fly.
  • Beauty to Beast
  • The Bermuda Triangle: One short sees Rocko board a senior cruise ship with Heffer and his grandfather and passes through the Bermuda Triangle. After some Deranged Animation, it turns every old person on the ship young, and every young person old.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Rocko. Typically the sweetest, most humble creature imaginable -- until you push him a bit too far. He has cowed antagonists with nothing more than a ranting summation of everything he's been through and a threat to "do something NOT NICE!!"
  • Big Eater: Heffer.
  • Big "Never!": Ralph Bighead in "I Have No Son!"
  • Bilingual Bonus: More like "Three Weeks of Spanish 101 Bonus," but "Boob Tubed" has Rocko, Filburt and Heffer watching a Spanish Soap Opera and bursting into tears at the delivery of the line: "Maria, este libro esta tarde! Voy a la biblioteca." ("Maria, the book is late [overdue], I'm going to the library!")
    • Also in another episode when Rocko is thrown into the water by Gladys the Hippo - he lands on top of a crab and it yells "me pica culo!" This translates to "my ass itches".
  • Biting the Hand Humor: The episode Wacky Delly was basically one big Take That to Nickelodeon and their process involving animated shows.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall/Think of the Censors: When Heffer finds himself in Heck with Peaches.

Heffer: Heck? Don't you mean...
Peaches: Woop! Censors!

  • Buffy-Speak: Kind-Of-A-Lot O Comics.
  • Butt Monkey: As bad as it can get for Rocko, it is always worse for Ed Bighead (who, to be fair, usually deserves it).
  • Call Back: In "Wacky Delly", Ralph Bighead says, "Yeah, Rocko!" over and over, which is similar to when Rocko said "Yeah, Melba!" over and over in "Love Spanked".
  • Camp Gay: The Chameleon Brothers.
    • "I'M A WILD PIIIG!"
  • Captain Ersatz: Who else thought the head gardener guy in Teed Off reminded them of Darth Vader?
  • Caretaker Reversal: Happens in the episode "Yarn Benders", which begins with Filburt getting sick after being caught in the rain and ends with Rocko and Heffer catching the illness after mangling a few fairy tales that they're reading to Filb.
  • Carnivore Confusion: The "Chokey Chicken" fast food franchise apparently hires chickens... who are then processed for meat. Cattle are likewise sentient.
    • Heffer, a steer, eats burgers, fish, sausage, and steaks. Heffer was raised by wolves quite literally, which might account for some of his carnivorous/cannibalistic eating habits.
      • Indeed the entire Rocko society is one of carnivore confusion.
  • Catch Phrase: "[X] day... is a very dangerous day", where [X] is something innocuous like "laundry" or "garbage".
    • "I hate my life."
    • "Turn the page/Dip it in, wash your hands."
      • Another Filbert classic: "I'm nauseous. I'm nauseous."
  • Chained Heat
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Somewhat-frequently seen on Heffer's face, especially when he says "NAAAKEEED" in Camera Shy.
  • Christmas Episode: "Rocko's Modern Christmas".
  • Citizenship Marriage: In "Kiss Me, I'm Foreign," Filburt gets unusually into his female persona "Ophelia" as Rocko's wife.
  • Compressed Vice: Rocko's nail-biting in "Tooth and Nail."
  • Courtroom Antics: "Day of the Flecko".
  • Cranky Neighbor: Ed Bighead.
  • Credit Card Plot: "Who Gives a Buck?"
  • Creator Cameo: Joe Murray as Ralph Bighead.
    • Murray appears as himself at the end of "Short Story" - just to tell Rocko how off-model he was.
  • Crush Parade: Happens to Rocko's new glasses in "Eyes Capades"
    • Also happens to Filbert in "Power Trip"
  • Curse Cut Short: From "Kiss Me, I'm Foreign":

Rocko & Filburt: WHAT IN THE HELLLLLL-O....

  • Darker and Edgier: Than most other Nicktoons, due to the fact that it actually does have the utter nightmarish-ness of modern-day society as its main subject matter.
    • Also, Season 1 of the show is this when compared to Seasons 2-4, with even the show's theme song sounding considerably more depressing in Season 1 in order to reflect this.
  • A Day in the Limelight: There were several episodes dedicated to other characters (usually involving Heffer or Mr. Bighead), with little appearance of Rocko (in the case of "Magic Meatball", he doesn't appear at all)
  • Death by Irony: In "Rocko's Modern Christmas", the most magical elf of all, Mitch, was the only elf who could make it snow. But he died in a blizzard. Though it turns out he didn't die; he just went into seclusion.
  • Demon Head: Rocko in "Rocko's Happy Sack", when he threatens to do something "not nice" if he doesn't get the savings deal.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: From "Camera Shy":

Heffer: He's completely... naked!
Filburt: With no clothes on!

  • Deranged Animation: "The Fatheads"; also, the show itself (to a very-slightly lesser extent).
  • Deserted Island: The ending to "Cabin Fever".
  • Deus Ex Machina: In "Schnit-Heads", Rocko, Heffer, & Filburt are about to be hit with bowling balls by a group of sausage cultists. At the last moment though, they are saved when The Most Supreme And Mighty King Of Wieners[1] flies in, puts the cultists onto a deserted island, and take Rocko & the others home.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The entry into the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: As far as more subtextual Radar-proof Crap goes, there's "Closet Clown".
  • Drives Like Crazy: Mrs. Wolfe.
  • Dude, Where's Our Car?: "Who Gives a Buck?"
  • E=MC Hammer: On a flipchart in the episode "Commuted Sentence".
  • Egg MacGuffin: Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt have to care for Filburt and Dr. Hutchison's egg while Dr. Hutchison goes off to work.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: In High School, Rocko, Filburt and Heffer took a break from schoolwork to snack on potato chips. Heffer systematically begs for Rocko's chips and takes them all. When it doesn't work, Heffer attacks Filburt and eats them all. Filburt beats the tar out of him off camera.
  • Episode on a Plane: "Jet Scream".
  • Extreme Omnivore: Spunky.
  • Evil Debt Collector: The second half of "Who Gives a Buck?" is a big Take That against debt collectors and their thuggish ways. Not like they don't deserve it.
  • Evil Old Folks: Ed Bighead, no other & he hates his next door neighbor Rocko.
  • Eye Scream: This show has an eye fetish to rival CLAMP's, we swear.
    • Taken quite literally with the optometrist in the DMV episode - using Rocko's eyes for a hernia test had no subtext at all, surely.
  • Fantastic Racism: In "Rocko's Happy Sack", a customer mentions to Rocko how he believes the world would be a better place without sea mammals, and that they should round them all up, put them on a boat in the middle of the ocean and sink it halfway. Then the guy next to him, an ape, angrily states, "Hey, buddy, my WIFE'S a sea mammal!" His wife, a manatee, is crying her eyes out before the ape drags the guy off-screen. Cue Curb Stomp Battle.
  • Fat Bastard: Heffer, much of the time.
  • Fat Best Friend: Heffer again, some of the time.
  • Flashback Effects: Lampshaded in "Future Schlock".
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The bovine Satanic overlord of [2], who has a bizarrely terrifyingly grotesque set of udders for a skull, is named... Peaches.
    • Actually, he wasn't the overlord of "Heck". There was a shadowy figure with a beanie who was Peaches' master. He even punished Peaches with starring in his own sitcom/animated series "Peaches' Modern Life".
  • Funny Animal
  • Funny Foreigner: The cab driver in "Commuted Sentence".
  • Fun with Flushing: Rocko's pet goldfish is accidentally flushed down the toilet, and gets stuck in the drain pipe for a few years, clogging it up.
  • Furry Confusion: Dogs (like Spunky and Earl) are non-sentient pets of sentient animals.
    • To make matters worse, there ARE sentient dogs. Even Spunky's cavedog ancestor walked upright, on two legs, and had a language.
      • This comes to a head in "Frog's Best Friend", where Spunky appears in a cameo alongside an anthropomorphic dog mailman.
  • G-Rated Sex: Ed and Bev and their plates. That is all.
  • Gay Aesop: Rocko suffers this badly in the end of the episode "Closet Clown".
  • Gender Equals Breed: Filburt and Hutchinson's kids... except for one who looks like Heffer. Well, he did warm their eggs. Yes, a turtle and a cat laid hard-shelled eggs that needed to be kept warm; don't delve any further.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied, natch, in "Spitballs".
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck
  • Green Aesop: "Zanzibar". Unlike numerous other examples of this trope, the polluting company (Conglomo-O) is more negligent than malicious or evil, and voluntarily cleans up their act when Rocko and friends bring the pollution issue to their attention.

Captain Compost Heap: So remember, kids - be nice to Mother Nature... or she'll kick our butts!

  • The Grim Reaper: Make that the Grim Recycler, if you will. And he makes a short appearance in "Zanzibar" too.
  • Gross-Out Show
  • Gross Up Close-Up
  • Groupie Brigade: "We love WEDGIE BOY!"
  • Grumpy Old Man: Who else? Grandpa Wolfe.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: Demonstrated in "Cabin Fever" when Ed Bighead causes an avalanche by shouting "PINHEADS!" at the top of his lungs.
  • Halloween Episode: "Sugar Frosted Frights"/"Ed is Dead: A Thriller".
  • Happily Married: Ed and Bev Bighead quarrel, but they do genuinely love each other. When Bev got her nose in "Nothing to Sneeze At", Ed was devastated because he stank; losing the nose brought them closer.
  • Hellevator: In "Carnival Knowledge"--its sign actually labels it an "Elevator to Hell."
  • Her Codename Was Mary Sue: Filburt gets very defensive of his character The Cheese, who is the best character on the show[3] and a possible reference to Filburt's voice actor Mr. Lawrence who is the head writer and got all the funniest jokes.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Rocko as depicted in the show's intro, disturbingly enough.
  • Hook Hand: Dr. Hutchison.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Hut Sut Raw", Rocko claiming that indoor camping is "for lightweights (Rocko and Skinny Filburt), sissies (Rocko, Heffer and Filburt), fat tourists (Heffer and Fat Filburt) and couch potatoes (Rocko, Heffer and Filburt)" and that he, Heffer and Filburt "are none of those things".
  • I Am Not Weasel: In a Running Gag Rocko has trouble convincing people he's a wallaby. He's usually called a beaver.
    • To be fair, 90% of the time it's Heffer's grandfather, who is practically blind.
  • I Ate What?: Rocko, after Heffer describes what's in the dinner he made for him. And for the record, the ingredients are: Pickled banana shavings, gym socks, canned haggis, beetle bladders, real processed head cheese, saltpetre, reconstituted corn sweat, the finest barley and hops, potash sulfur, monosodium glutamate, and vegetable catalidge as a binding agent.
    • Basically, Heffer fed Rocko animal innards, potassium-based chemical compounds mostly used in fertilzers, and two of the main ingredients of beer.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!
  • I Have No Son: A season two episode where Rocko and Filburt search for The Bigheads' estranged son, who now works in Holl-O-Wood as an animation director.
  • I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Said by Heffer in "Who's For Dinner?"
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: In "Cabin Fever", Mr. Bighead does shadow puppets of a running deer and the Eiffel Tower. Much to his frustration, nobody can guess what they are.
  • Insistent Terminology: Heffer frequently corrected people who called him a cow ("Steer").
  • Interspecies Adoption: Heffer was originally going to be fattened up and eaten by the Wolfe family, but they grew to love him instead.
  • Interspecies Romance: Filburt and Dr. Hutchinson, along some minor characters.

Guy in check-out line: [with disgust, to Rocko] Sea mammals. Who needs 'em? This country would be a whole lot better without 'em. In fact, we ought to take all the sea mammals, put 'em in a big boat, send it across the ocean, and sink it halfway.
Gorilla: [angrily interjecting, with a crying manatee right next to him] Hey, buddy! My wife's a sea mammal!
[offscreen sound of guy getting his ass kicked]

  • Iris Out
  • It Came From the Fridge: "Trash-O-Madness".
  • Jerkass: Heffer, by far, and Ed Bighead. Filburt can occasionally lapse into this, too -- usually if he's forced to be around Heffer.
    • Not that Filburt needed Heffer's help. In one episode, he seems willing to let Rocko get eaten by a bald eagle in order to steal said eagle's wigs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grandpa Wolfe in "Crusin" Part 2, when he saves Rocko from drowning in the ocean. Also Heffer; while he's lazy and selfish, he's shown to really come through for Rocko in times of duress.
  • Joker Jury: A fly fakes physical injuries to file a lawsuit against Rocko. The entire jury is made up of insects.
  • Kangaroo Court: See above.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: Or wallabies in this case.
  • Left the Background Music On
  • Lighter and Softer/Denser and Wackier: Seasons 2-4 of the show (when compared to Season 1).
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded, too.
  • Lounge Lizard: Filbert aspires to be one in the style of his idols Jack Walla, Frank Salamander, Johnny Charisma, Bobby Gila, and Buddy Gecko.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: In-universe example. Ralph Bighead felt that the world's largest still life sculpture would be his masterpiece, but it turns out that it's not as popular as Wacky Delly was before he got involved in the show.
  • Mandatory Line: In "Teed Off", during the climax when Heffer's plane is hit by a piano and descends, everyone starts to scream, including Rocko, sitting in a chair with Spunky at home. He wasn't featured in the episode before that point.
  • Manly Tears: Heffer during "Who's for Dinner" and "To Heck and Back".
  • Man of a Thousand Voices:
    • In addition to voicing Heffer, Tom Kenny provided the voices for the majority of minor and one-shot characters in the show.
      • And those characters that WEREN'T voiced by him were almost always voiced by Charlie Adler.
    • Linda Wallem voiced practically every female character on this show.
  • Meaningful Name: "Dr." Bendova.
  • Meat-O-Vision: On the disastrous camping trip in "Hut Sut Raw".
  • Mega Corp: Conglom-O. Hell, their slogan is "We Own You". It's right on the front of their building. And their logo is the Earth in a martini glass like an olive.
  • Mime-and-Music-Only Cartoon: "Fatal Contraption".
  • Mrs. Robinson: Bev Bighead tries to seduce Rocko in "Leap Frogs," an episode later cut from syndication with extreme prejudice.
  • More Dakka: In Teed Off, golf balls were destroyed by pianos, yet Heffer still managed to make them go into the hole. Annoyed by constant failures, the gardeners start firing pianos by the DOZEN, in land, sea, and SPACE even, just to stop the poor toad from winning.
  • Mundane Fantastic
  • Mundane Made Awesome: To the point where the show somehow even managed to take grocery shopping and turn said activity into one of its first season's best episodes (Rocko's Happy Sack).
  • Musical Episode with a Green Aesop: "Zanzibar".
  • Mythology Gag: Rocko was originally supposed to be yellow. His mother has yellow fur in a flashback.
  • Naked People Are Funny: "Camera Shy".
  • No Dialogue Episode: The episode "Fatal Contraption", in which Rocko buys a living food processor, features no dialogue except for an announcer saying "Buy this! Food-O-Matic 2000!"
  • Oblivious Adoption: Heffer was quite literally raised by wolves, and didn't realize this until Rocko pointed it out.
  • Only Sane Man: Rocko, although even he has his moments.
    • Rocko seems to have problems dealing with frustration and anger, especially in later episodes.
  • Out of Order: In "Who's For Dinner?", the fact that Heffer's family are wolves is supposed to be a big revelation. But that episode originally aired after "Bedfellows", where they play a semi-major role.
    • Likewise in Season 1, "Canned", where Rocko was hired by Kind-of-A-Lot-O-Comics for the first time, aired after "Power Trip" where he's temporarily left in charge of it. Also, when viewed in airdate order, Filburt seems to alternate between being a nameless O-Town denzien to Rocko and Heffer's best friend; when viewed in production order, Filburt gradually transitions from the former to the latter in a semi-Arc.
    • All Season One episodes are out of order on DVD (as well as all episodes on the upcoming Season Three DVD release)... what, did Nickelodeon/Viacom lose their information and went by Wikipedia instead?
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Ed dressed as Earl in "Frog's Best Friend". Also Heffer and Filburt dressed as Ed in "She's the Toad".
  • Parallel Parking: Rocko's boss, Mr. Smitty, does a really poor job of it in "Commuted Sentence", smashing both the front and rear car while pulling in.
  • Pilot: "Trash-O-Madness", which was later expanded to 11 minutes and worked into a proper episode opposite "The Good, the Bad, and the Wallaby." It's incredibly Off-Model as a result of all the conflicting art styles.
  • Pound of Flesh Twist: Rocko and Ed run for city dog catcher, with Rocko being (justifiably) afraid that Ed will be cruel to the dogs. Thanks to a ton of mudslinging, Ed wins in a veritable landslide... but another measure passes that turns the dog catcher position into an undesirable job with no real power.
  • Punny Name: Heffer's mom, Virginia Wolfe, and his brother, Peter Wolfe.
  • Raised by Wolves: Parodied.
  • Rearrange the Song: The theme for seasons 2-4 was rearranged and sung by The B-52s.
  • Rear Window Investigation: "Ed is Dead".
  • Rear Window Witness: "Ed is Dead".
  • Refuge in Vulgarity: One of the things that the show is often falsely stereotyped as (with one of the other ones being "a Ren and Stimpy clone").
    • To be fair, however, the show actually did occasionally indulge in being this trope (mostly during Season 1, when it was considerably Darker and Edgier than its "later seasons" counterpart).
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Reveal Shot: In "Born to Spawn", the camera pans up Filburt's new look.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy/Ridiculously Cute Critter: Rocko.
  • Rite of Passage: The Wolves have a rite of passage is to bring an elk home for dinner. Heffer, being an adopted steer, misinterprets this and brings over a living, female elk home as a date.
  • Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue: In "Belch of Destiny":

Heffer: Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,

    • This also happens to Rocko in With Friends Like These. While he is simultaneously handcuffed to Filburt and Heffer (who both want to go to the wrestling match with him), they both unknowingly put him through so much violent abuse that by the time they get to the stadium to ask for the tickets, Rocko completely loses it.

Rocko: Let me see now. Where did I put those tickets? Where did I put them? Oh, here are the tickets. Here they are; I found them. I found them (starts ripping them up); here are the tickets! Here they are! (throws the shreds in Heffer's face) HERE'S A TICKET FOR YOU!!! (throws the shreds in Filburt's face) AND A TICKET FOR YOU!!!! (throws the shreds in the air) AND TICKETS FOR EVERYBODY!!! NOW WE CAN ALL GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! (short circuits)

  • Satan: Dark Lord of Heck, Peaches appears to be this, but then we see the real deal show up as a shadow to threaten demoting him.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Besides Rocko himself, the background characters include any number of these. Some of them aren't even mammalian.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Turned out he forswore violence and became a monk for a Unicorn-worshiping cult.
    • And Filbert and Heffer still beat him up anyways to "avenge" Rocko.
  • Scout Out: "Belch of Destiny" features the Weasel Scouts.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Grandpa Wolfe. Though "Cruisin'" implies there's a Freudian Excuse.
    • Grandma Wolfe is even worse, to the point of even ordering around Peaches.
  • Serious Business: Golf in "Teed Off".
  • Shout-Out: The opening sequence to the Show Within a Show The Fatheads - where the main characters are assembled in a factory - is copied from the opening sequence to the famous sketch comedy You Can't Do That on Television.
    • In the "Sucker For the Suck-o-Matic" episode, Rocko's old vacuum-cleaner is dying and it manages to choke out "Rosebud". Heffer asks what it said, and Rocko says "I think it said 'Hose-crud'"...prompting it to spew up a mountain of crud as it dies.
    • This exchange at the end of one episode:
    • Heffer takes a job as a nighttime security guard at Conglom-O. As he slowly descends into madness, he has a conversation with a ghostly bartender named Lloyd.
      • Also, in the same episode, he encounters a pair of twins in the hallway. He asks for their identity, but they simply tell him they work here. ("We've always worked here.") Then they disappear.
    • The early supermarket episode featured a butcher crying about how he'll never get married. A reference to the Ernest Borgnine movie Marty.
    • In the episode "Teed Off", Mr. Noway confers with an ominous villain who wears all black and has to wear a respirator. Noway even seems to get Force-choked at one point while the man addresses him angrily... but it turns out he just had a hairball lodged in his throat.
    • Several to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the episode "Manic Mechanic", Filburt proclaims he can take Rocko's broken car and return to it "that spark that is the breath of life itself!" In the episode "Wacky Delly", after viewing an episode of his cartoon The Fatheads, Ralph Bighead is told by his toadies "It's a credit to your genius!" "A triumph of your will!" "It's okay!"
    • There were at least three different references to Psycho.
    • A pink Enterprise makes an appearance in the episode "A Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic".
    • "Popcorn Pandemonium" directly references Robot Monster while Rocko and Heffer are checking out a monster movie on Ed's TV.
      • "Garbage Strike: The Musical" in that same episode is a Parody of Newsies. Ironically, several actors from that movie would go on to appear in fellow Nickelodeon show Roundhouse.
    • Bloaty and Squirmy are a clearly meant to be Ralph Cramden and Ed Norton, while the amoebas are Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.
    • In one episode, Filbert goes on a big speil about how he always wanted to be a chimney sweep which is a clear nod to the Lumberjack Sketch. Rocko cuts him off before he starts singing, however.
  • Shaped Like Itself: From "Dear John:"

Rocko: My living room, it's a bathroom. My closet is a bathroom. My basement is a bathroom! My ballroom is a bathroom! EVEN MY BATHROOM IS A BATHROOM! Well, I guess that's okay.

"OK, LET'S MOVE IT WITH BUTTMASTER! And a one, and a two..."


  • Sound Effect Bleep / This Trope Is Bleep: Subverted on "Dear John."
  • Sphere Eyes
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To The Ren and Stimpy Show (sort of), due to the fact that it kept said show's infamous surrealism and gross-out humor (to an extent, at least) but actually focused on the exact opposite type of humor when compared to Ren and Stimpy (most of the humor in Rocko's Modern Life came from it being a satire of society rather than it being a satire of cartoons themselves, for starters). You'd better believe that RML still got (and, of course, gets) hit very-forcefully with They Copied It, So It Sucks, however.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Ralph's second series, Wacky Delly.
    • Ironically enough, when Ralph does finally try his hardest on the show after a pep talk from Rocko, it's immediately cancelled.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The incredibly weird obsession that Heffer, Filburt and Beverly Bighead all have with Rocko.
  • Stealth Pun: Rocko going down the stairs naked is a pun on Nude Descending A Staircase. It further works because of Duchamp's love for puns, e.g. L.H.O.O.Q.
  • Stock Footage: "The Fatlands" reused the "Bloaty and Squirmy" intro from "Dirty Dog".
  • Subverted Kids Show: Sort of. While the show certainly did have more than its fair share of vulgarity at times, it wasn't necessarily inappropriate for children, who could still enjoy its funny visuals and its cartoon animals. Most of the show's humor, however, was a satire of... well, "modern" society, exaggerating such shallow concepts as materialism, capitalism, big business, dating, and things that generally only people in the early twenties or older would really understand (in fact, the show's main plot about a twenty-something guy learning to live on his own might make it the first cartoon to tackle the "quarter life crisis") and which will most likely go over kids' heads. However, much like what happened with Rugrats, the show's cult status primarily came from how much more its formerly young viewers loved it when they grew up and finally got all of its real jokes.
  • Surreal Horror/Surreal Humor
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Parodied when Filburt and his kids use a Star Trek-like teleporter platform in "Future Schlock"... and arrive ten feet to the left, where they rush down the stairs.
  • Thing-O-Matic: Several times, most obviously in "A Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic".
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Bedfellows.
  • Toilet Humor: In the show, characters like Heffer and Spunky would often fart.
  • Trash of the Titans
  • Troperrific: Go ahead; just try to count all of the cartoon/sitcom tropes that this show features.
  • Turn Your Head and Cough: In the short "Skid Marks," the doctor performing Rocko's eye exam at the DMV at one point holds Rocko's eyeballs and instructs him to cough.
    • They don't even try and hide it in another short where "Dr. Bendova" actually sticks his hand between Rocko's legs and instructs him to cough. Three times.
  • Twenty-Four-Hour Party People: Most notably at the nudist party Heffer threw at Rocko's house.
  • Unexplained Accent: According to the episode where they go to Holl-O-Wood, O-Town is located by one of the Great Lakes, more than likely in the upper Midwest, yet many characters have Bronx/East Coast accents.
    • All the main male voice actors, Tom Kenny, Carlos Alazraqui, Mr. Lawrence, and Charlie Adler are from New York, New Jersey, and Boston.
  • Unlucky Everydude: Rocko, without a doubt.
  • Victimized Bystander: Rocko almost attempted to eat a sleeping animals testicle, this is also a case of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot
  • Vomit Discretion Shot
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: The Chameleon Brothers, Chuck and Leon. Filburt and Hutchinson served as this before they got turned/retconned into main characters.
  • Widget Series: To a slightly lesser degree overall than The Ren and Stimpy Show, sure, but still monumentally so regardless, especially with episodes like "Down The Hatch" and "Tickled Pinky" existing in it.
  • With Friends Like These...: Filbert and Heffer can be like this to Rocko in their less sympathetic moments. In fact this was actually the title of one episode.
    • Mr. Dupette started out as the owner of Super-Lot-O-Comics, the comic book store Rocko worked at, before getting hired at Kind-of-a-Lot-of-Comics, and then got retconned into being the CEO of Conglom-O.
  • Wild Take: Usually very over-the-op ones at that. They'd have done Tex Avery proud.
  • The Worst Seat in the House: One cartoon saw Rocko and Heffer go to a baseball game in an effort to replace a prized foul ball that he once caught as a kid. It turns out that their seats are beach chairs on top of an extremely tall lighting rig that's even above space satellites and where Rocko would have no chance of catching a foul ball. Luckily, Heffer was able to spot two empty seats in the front row with a pair binoculars, where they're able to sit out most of the game until an usher sends them back to their original seats when the rest of the stadium is completely empty. Funny enough, a foul ball is actually hit into their original seats while Rocko and Heffer are making their climb back up to the top of the lighting rig, before falling back down toward the field of play...
    • The episode where Rocko and Heffer go to the movies revolves around them trying to find seats that AREN'T this.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: From "Commuted Sentence", after Rocko scrambles to get to work (after being warned that one more tardy arrival would mean being fired):

Rocko: Am I on time?
Mr. Smitty: Actually, you are on time. (Beat) On time... to be... FIRED!!!

  • Younger Than They Look: Filburt doesn't age well, though that was mostly because Rocko and Heffer were out of town for a while.
  1. Actually Really Really Big Man in a wiener suit.
  2. Hell
  3. Better than both the salami and the bologna combined