The Boondocks

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

I am the stone that the builder refused
I am the visual, the inspiration, that made Lady sing the blues
I'm the spark that makes your idea bright
The same spark that lights the dark so that you can know your left from your right
I am the ballot in your box, the bullet in the gun
The inner glow that lets you know to call your brother 'son'
The story that's just begun
The promise of what's to come
And I'ma remain a soldier till the war is won
Judo flip! Chop chop chop! Judo flip! Chop chop chop!

Asheru, Opening Theme

Aaron McGruder's newspaper strip, involving two African-American brothers (the politically minded Huey and wanna-be street thug Riley Freeman), who move from inner-city Chicago to live in the fictional suburb of Woodcrest, with their cranky grandfather, Robert.

The comic strip largely began as a "Fish Out of Water" theme, dealing with Huey and Riley adjusting to life in the predominantly white town of Woodcrest. Huey serves as the main character of the series, with Riley as his comedic Foil. The two characters serve as political opposites for each other: Huey Freeman is intelligent, radically political, and has a rather cynical view on life. This eventually drives him to write his own newsletter where he vents his frustrations towards the black community with help from his best (and far more moderate) friend Caesar. Riley, on the other hand, is a wannabe thug and prolific schemer. What he lacks in social consciousness, he is more than willing to make up for in threats of violence. Their caretaker is Robert "Granddad" Freeman; a hardline disciplinarian who is quick to use his belt to keep his grandchildren in line. Though the cliche of the old, out of touch grandparent, various strips show "Granddad" as being a somewhat lecherous old man who hides his own wild side for the purposes of providing his grandchildren a strong parental figure.

Other characters introduced in the comic strip include Tom Dubois, a successful, politically mainstream black lawyer who works for the district attorney's office, who serves as a foil for the cynical Huey. Much of the humor of the strip comes from the idealist Tom interacting with the cynical Huey, who views Tom as a sell-out due to his rather passive nature. Huey also has an adversarial relationship with Tom's biracial daughter Jazmine, whose overwhelming naivete makes her believe everything she is told by adults.

The comic strip was widely unknown until after the events of the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks when the strip gained national attention for writer Aaron McGruder's decision to have the series directly address the political aftermath of the attacks as far as bringing attention to the claims that ties that existed between the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and the Republican Party, of which members of the Reagan administration (later part of the Bush Administration) had helped fund and train Taliban and bin Laden in the 1980s to fight the then-invading Soviet Union. The strip itself also took a very critical stance against George W. Bush and his handling of the aftermath of September 11, something very few people in the media were willing to do. This made the series a darling of Bush's critics and made McGruder famous.

For those of you who missed the comic (which ran nationally from 1999 to 2006) you can find it here.

Spawned a successful animated version, which has caused no small amount of conflict due to its lessened emphasis on topical political references (which would have been impractical considering the extended production and turnaround time when compared to the comic). It instead focused on critiquing and satirizing long-standing controversies within both black and mainstream American society, as well as expanding or changing several of the characterizations, and adding in a few kung fu fights for kicks. For this, the animated series can be considered to be in an alternate continuity from the comic. Note that a lot of the tropes on this page apply to one or the other (and the TV show seems to be better represented).

Not to be confused with The Boondock Saints.

Tropes used in The Boondocks include:
  • Abusive Parents: Uncle Ruckus' father and grandmother. While they may be the more obvious cases of abuse shown, since it was physical, an argument can be made that his mother was just as abusive but only mentally - concocting a story that he was adopted, denying him his cultural heritage, and making up a disease.
    • Grandad Freeman falls into that gray area between "corporal punishment" and "abuse", though his ham-handed approach to it leans towards the latter but also falls under Hilariously Abusive Childhood. Nevertheless, cringe-worthy to some parts of the audience, especially abuse survivors.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Throughout the series, there are direct and indirect references to the movie Friday, which starred John Witherspoon, the voice of Robert "Granddad" Freeman.

Granddad:: That wasn't even me. That's that nigga from Friday dressed like me.

    • In "A Date with the Health Inspector", Rummy (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) demands to know if they speak English in a mysterious country known simply as "What." On the way to the real Xbox killer's apartment, Ed and Rummy stop to get a "tasty beverage." One gets the impression that Rummy is a big Pulp Fiction fan.
    • Mark Hamill plays a dealer who sells Granddad something called "Skywalker."
    • Rev. Rollo Goodlove messes up while singing "Go-Go Gadget Gospel," a song originally performed by his voice actor Cee-Lo. It becomes extra funny when you realize Cee-Lo is purposefully messing himself up when he should be able to sing it perfectly.
  • Adaptation Exaggeration: The point of the show is relatively different than the point of the comic - the comic was more political satire, while the show leans more towards social satire, in particular it lampooned and attacked ignorance in today's society. Because of this, many of the characters' ignorant traits were exaggerated to exemplify this: Riley's thuggishness and hypocrisy, Granddad's greed and self-delusion about how important he is, Tom's middle class "sheep" mindset, even the reactions and actions of regular people, etc. In contrast, Huey's more negative traits were downplayed in order to enhance his Wise Beyond His Years qualities, and make him more of a foil for the pretentiousness of the world at large.
  • Aesop Amnesia: At the end of "The Fund-Raiser" Riley is offered an opportunity back into the candy business and recalls all the crap he went through near the end of the episode. He then smiles deviously and the credits roll.
    • Lampshaded (or perhaps exaggerated) by Granddad at the end of the third season:

Granddad: Wow, Huey. You were totally right this time. Just imagine all the problems we could avoid if we just listened to you. Oh well.

  • Ascended Meme: In "Mr. Medicinal", Riley states that he's going to challange Jaden Smith to a fight if he moves to LA. This is a reference to many popular pictures comparing Riley to the new Karate Kid.
  • Affably Evil: Ed Wuncler
  • Affectionate Parody. The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the episode "Pause."
    • The whole After the End / Punk Punk / Zombie Apocalypse genre in "The Fried Chicken Flu"
    • Horror movies focused on stalker-killers-in-plain-sight in "Smoking With Cigarettes"
    • 24 in the season 3 finale.
    • Do the Right Thing in season two, with the lemonade episode. Going as far as using the same intro music
    • Juice was also parodied in Smoking With Cigarettes, mostly at the end where Lamilton showed up at Riley's school all the way up to the final fight on the school rooftop.
    • Ann Coulter is portrayed as being quite nice off camera.
  • After the End: "The Fried Chicken Flu." It appears that most of the world is dead, society is breaking down and the Freeman house may be the last safe place, all thanks to a mysterious virus caused by fried chicken. It turns out that the media blew things out of proportion. No one's actually dead and the "flu" is just salmonella. It's also shown that Ruckus and his group are the only ones dressed in that Mad Max gear, which Thugnificent points out.
  • A Hell of a Time: At least this was the case for Stinkmeaner, who declared that he was having the time of his life there and used the opportunity to train himself and generally cause havoc, so you can see why. He's also glad that he's in Hell rather than the (apparently worse) fate of jail.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • "Return of the King." The episode is a "what if?" in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, but instead of dying, he fell into a coma and woke up decades later in 2000.
    • The Cold Open of "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy," which pays homage to Twenty Eight Weeks Later.
  • All Part of the Show: Gangstalicious gets shot on-stage, with the audience thinking his cries for help are lyrics to his song. The song? "I Got Shot." No one thought to call an ambulance until 45 minutes later.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version of the show has a different opening theme.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Riley becomes ambiguously Gayngster for one episode. When these tendencies are actually pointed out to him, he tends to react with horror.
  • An Aesop:
    • Don't trust banks.
    • Use finesse in interrogations.
    • If a guy is surrounded by shirtless men, he's probably gay.
  • Animated Music Video:
  • Animation Bump: The season one animation is absolutely NOTHING compared to the season 2 or 3 animation, which makes it hard to re-watch old episodes at times...
  • Animesque: McGruder specifically had the cartoon be made with an anime-esque design, right down to hiring the Korean animation studios Moi Animation (subcontractors of the Japanese studio Madhouse) and Dong Woo Animation (Subcontractors of Studio Gallop) to produce the series.
    • Especially notable is that mouth movement is not smooth in the series, unlike most Western Animation.
  • Applied Mathematics: Nigga Moment (perpetual conflict between niggas over trivial or ignorant things) + Nigga Synthesis (perpetual bond between niggas over trivial or ignorant things) = complete disaster.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Gangstalicious.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • When Uncle Ruckus came to the Freeman household to exorcise Tom, who is possessed by the spirit of Stinkmeaner, he used the following tools: a whip, a noose, a night stick, a branding iron and a job application. According to the self-hating Ruckus, these are the things that the black man fears the most.
    • "She called me obsessed... disturbed... icky." Said by the obsessed counselor in "Smokin' with Cigarettes"
  • Art Evolution: Much like The Venture Bros, season 3 improves the animation overall.
    • The comics art style became progressively better and cleaner.
  • As Himself: Ghostface Killah. As an actual ghost.
  • Aside Glance: The most common type of gag in the comic. Something satirically odd or goofy happens, and instead of commenting the characters mug the camera and let the joke lie as is.
  • Ass Kicks You: Tom uses this to escape from the Booty Warrior.
  • As You Know: Grandad even says "Look, nobody needs to be reminded of that tragic day you gave that girl a permanent severe limp" right before telling the story.
  • Audience Surrogate: Ebony Brown, who deconstructs Uncle Ruckus's appeal, leans on the fourth wall, and expresses a desire to be a part of the main characters' wacky adventures. The fact that she's mind-bogglingly attractive and practically a saint suggests that McGruder is either playing around by making an in-universe Mary Sue fanfic in his own show, or he really, really appreciates his audience.
    • She also might be McGruder's reply to black feminists who criticized him for not having a black woman as a regular on the show. He's basically saying this is the only character black women would be happy with, but there's no way she's going to be in the cast.
  • Author Appeal: McGruder is One of Us and a self-proclaimed nerd, especially when it comes to Star Wars. As a result, but the comic and (to a somewhat lesser extent) the show are chock full of Star Wars references, and Huey himself is a fan.
    • He also enjoys anime, and (in the show) it shows to say the least.
  • Author Tract: McGruder doesn't like George W. Bush or his policies.
    • If there's one thing McGruder hates almost as much as Bush, it's... Black Entertainment Television, which he blames for dumbing down African American culture and against whom he maintains a vendetta to this day. In the strip and the show, he's never - ever - missed an opportunity to deliver a seething Take That to BET.
    • Points out the Broken Aesop of Soul Food.
  • Avenging the Villain: Subverted with the Hateocracy, as they're Blood Knights who only use Stinkmeaner's death as an excuse to attack the Freemans rather than someone random.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Your watch may be too bling can't read the time in direct sunlight.
  • Backhanded Apology: Riley to Mrs. Dubois.
  • Badass Crew: The Hateocracy
  • Badass Family: The Freemans
    • Badass Adorable / Badass Bookworm: Huey looks like a typical ten year old with an afro that may shock you with his intellect and his demeanor being Wise Beyond Their Years and all, but make no mistake. He will try to fuck you up fifty ways to Sunday if you try getting in his way, harming him or the ones he cares about, or, even worse, laughing at him. And he'll likely succeed, as he is knows kung fu at an expert level.
    • Badass Grandpa: Robert "(Mo') Bitches" Freeman. He's turned belt whipping to an art form.
    • Riley, though less effective than Huey, is a stubborn street brawler who can back up his smacktalk on occasion. And Word of God says that he is Made of Iron, even more so than his technique-oriented brother.
    • Thelma Freeman shows that this trope has been passed down the family for generations.
  • Bald of Evil:
    • Esmerelda Gripenasty
    • Stinkmeaner also count.
    • Ed Wuncler Sr
    • The Brown Skinned Bald Dude from Law and Order, as mentioned in "Pause"
  • Berserk Button:
    • Laugh at Huey. Please.
    • You can't have Tom's wife or his booty.
    • Try not to throw any chairs when a large amount of black people are present.
      • The "Nigga Moment" phenomenon as a whole occurs when two or more black people get into an altercation because one party regards a petty slight as a Berserk Button. The two individuals involved don't even need to be actual niggas[1] for a Nigga Moment to occur; two otherwise intelligent black people can start a Nigga Moment simply because one of them won't let the issue go.
    • Don't try to shorten A Pimp Named Slickback's name when you address him.

A Pimp Named Slickback: A Pimp Named Slickback! It's like A Tribe Called Quest, you say the whole thing!

Granddad: You ran into our car! Are you blind?!
Stinkmeaner: YES... I... am.

  • Book Ends: The series ends right where it begins, in Ed Wuncler's front garden.
    • A 4th season has been announced so...not so much.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Uncle Ruckus, who'd join the Klan if he wasn't black. The irony is that he has the darkest skin out of all the cast. He claims it's "re-vitiligo", the opposite of Michael Jackson.

Uncle Ruckus is an Uncle Tom. Perhaps the biggest Uncle Tom that has ever lived.

Tom: Don't you see honey? If I'm afraid to live my life then the anal rapists win. My anus is going to be fine, and I'm going to make sure those young boy's anuses are just fine too!
Sarah: Pause.

  • Broke Episode: "Bitches to Rags." A rare permanent example for poor Thugnificent Otis Jenkins.
  • Broken Aesop: The comic once had the moral that video games don't make one more violent... the show, however, states that BET makes you a retard. McGruder clearly has a distaste for what BET considers "black" entertainment.
    • It's easy to argue there's a difference between video games and BET. You can actually learn things from video games.
  • But Not Too Black: Tom describes himself as more of a caramel shade.
    • Huey points out that the typical virtuous, love interest in a Winston Jermone movie will always be lighter then the ungrateful, Jesus-hating husband.
  • Butt Monkey: Tom Dubois. He's black, his wife's white, and he desperately tries to distance himself from Ethnic Scrappy stereotypes. The rest of the cast members either don't like him or love to make fun of him. He's not a bad person, just a dope, or as much as a successful lawyer can be, anyway.
    • When it comes to problems that affect most people of any race (dating, health, drugs), Granddad is frequently the target.
    • Also Riley, considering how many times he gets beaten up.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Uncle Ruckus did this to his "adopted" father during his grandmother's funeral. Just before his father threw out his back trying to hit him, falling into an open grave and breaking his neck which kills him.
  • Carnival of Killers: Gin Rummy tells the tale of Bushido Brown fending off a group of these hired by the beef industry to take out Oprah Winfrey, including pastiches of Walker, Texas Ranger and Billy Jack.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Granddad wants young and highly attractive women, and thinks he is a player.
    • Of course he does manage to frequently catch himself some hot babes. The only problem is they are always completely insane.
  • Cassandra Truth: Played depressingly straight with Huey in the cartoon, as far as everyone hitting him, cursing him out, or fiendishly mocking him whenever he speaks the truth about the world around him. This is also lampshaded in the first episode, "The Garden Party," when Huey realises why nobody is taking his speech seriously.

Huey: Ruin the party? They love me. These people aren't worried about us. They're not worried about anything. They're rich. No matter what happens, these people just keep applauding.

    • In the "The Fundraiser", Riley actually recognizes that everything Huey says comes true. However, he just decides not to listen, because he doesn't like spoilers thinks things go wrong because Huey talks about them.
      • However, Riley makes an exception when Huey gives him a bulletproof vest, and makes the smart move of constantly wearing it. It ends up saving his life.
    • In "The Fried Chicken Flu" this becomes a major plot point, since Huey has been preparing for the end. Hell, his survival plan is even titled, "I Told You So." They have enough food, supplies, and backup power for 4 people. Unfortunately, no one but Jazmine read Huey's plan, and because Riley and Granddad refused to listen to him for their own selfish ends, nine people occupy the house, the power goes out, and food becomes scarce.
    • In the series finale, Granddad lampshades this at the very end.

Granddad: Wow, Huey. You were totally right this time. Just imagine all the problems we could avoid if we just listened to you. Oh well.

Granddad: Good food, Good foo-oo-oo-oo-ooo-ood!
Granddad: New shoes, New shoo-oo-oo-oo-ooo-oes!
Granddad: Soul Plane, Soul Pla-aa-aa-aa-aaa-ane!

    • Riley: "Nigga, you gay!" (cartoon only)
    • Uncle Ruckus: "Uncle Ruckus, no relation."
    • Ed Wuncler III: "What the fuck y'all looking at?"
    • Colonel H. Stinkmeaner: "BITCH-ASS NYUKKA!"
    • Caesar: "BROOKLYN!"
    • A Pimp Named Slickback: "A Pimp Named Slickback."
    • Thugnificent: "No homo."
  • Celebrity Paradox: Robert Freeman is voiced by John Witherspoon, yet both Friday and Soul Plane exist in the show.
    • "Grandad, you didn't live that, that's from that movie Friday."
    • The faux trailer for Soul Plane 2 states that it stars Witherspoon, as well as Gary Anthony Williams, who voices Uncle Ruckus.
    • Also, in the music video for Thugnificent's "Eff Grandad", Robert notices that "he" is played by John Witherspoon.
  • Character Development:
    • Tom. He starts out as a hypocrite and, for lack of a more poignant term, a pussy. His main fear was being anally raped in prison, and yet, as a prosecution attorney, he sent many young men to that same fate. He realizes his hypocrisy, and decides to become a defense attorney, and goes to therapy to get over his phobia. He does well, and decides to test himself by chaperoning a "scared stiff" program, where boys are shown around a prison to scare them straight. He freaks out and leaves them at the mercy of the rioting prisoners, then realizes what a horrible thing he did. While on the rescue mission, he is confronted by a naked prisoner in the shower, who attempts to rape him. Tom actually stands and fights against him, and comes out victorious.
    • Uncle Ruckus. He starts as just a self-hating, bitter, black man who works 47 jobs and claims to have "re-vitiligo," a made up disease that makes him black. It is revealed in the episode "The Color Ruckus" that he hates black people because he was actually brought up in a black family in which his father and grandmother were terrible to him, and his mother, who was very nice to him, would teach him all about how great she thought white people were. He probably was not adopted and does not have re-vitiligo, even if he still thinks so. At the end of the episode, he decides that he shouldn't hate black people, but rather, feel sorry for them. This isn't much of an improvement, but it's probably better than hating them, and it would make him a nicer person in the long run.
  • Characterization Marches On: In season one, as per the comic the show is based on, Huey was much more of a reserved black nationalist and conspiracy theorist, as his opening lines in the first episode show. But in the later seasons he becomes more sane and normal to balance out Riley and Granddad's wackiness.
    • It happens in general in the show compared to the comic - the show is more social commentary than political, and thus focuses on the ways people can be ignorant. As a result, the characters are changed to reflect that, with Huey being the Only Sane Man who exists to balance out the foolishness of the world around him.
      • Grandad, who is in the comic a wise but weary man who just wants to enjoy his golden years, becomes self-centered, greedy, and obsessed with appearances.
      • Riley is more of an exaggeration of himself - he is even more "thug-life" than he was in the comic, but in addition becomes a Small Name, Big Ego type and loses much of his "clever but willfully Book Dumb" traits.
      • Huey himself becomes less extreme, less aggressively opinionated and more wiser - basically, his Jerk with a Heart of Gold Badass Activist traits are traded for amplifying his Only Sane Man traits.
        • This, in turn, leads him to not quite need a foil to mellow him out and point out when he's being hypocritical, which resulted in Michael Caesar not needing to make an appearance.
      • Nearly every character from the comic gets some kind of alteration: Tom's foppish traits become the entire basis for his character, as well as his marriage problems. Jazmine's problems with racial identity are downplayed in favor of her extreme naivete. But nobody gets this greater than Cindy McPhearson, who is a completely different character: a racially ignorant ditz in the comic, an even crazier version of Riley in the show.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
  • The Chew Toy:
    • Tom, frequently, generally when he is a pivotal character in the episode.
    • His daughter sometimes as well.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: The end of "The Fundraiser"
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Ruckus and how he treats other black people.
    • Mr. Wuncler in how he uses illegal immigrant and/or child labor is also often played for laughs.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Played with. The Hateocracy consists of Lord Rufus Crabmiser, Lady Esmerelda Gripenasty and Mister George Pistofferson. Their designs are based on Redd Foxx, Lawanda Page and Jimmy Walker, respectively.
  • Composite Character: Inverted in Granddad and Ruckus's versions of the story of Catcher Freeman.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the comic strip, when Robert punishes Riley by forcing him to see Halle Berry's Catwoman movie, Riley doesn't take it well and tries to have Robert arrested on child abuse charges.
  • Comic Book Time: Even if you don't count the comics, Huey's been ten since the Bush administration.

Caesar: Another Presidential Election...
Huey: Yep.
Caesar: Can you believe it's been four years since the last one?
Huey: Yeah...
Caesar: Funny, seems like we haven't aged a day...
Huey: Stop that.

  • Common Nonsense Jury:
    • R. Kelly's lawyer convinced the crowd and his fans that the trial was all about racism.
    • The Black Panther intern on death row even though the real killer shouted to everyone he did it and left all the evidence at the scene.
    • The jury Uncle Ruckus served on where he convicted a black blind man of shooting 3 white women.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ruckus has a seething hatred of black people and everything about them despite not only being black, but being one of the darkest skinned characters in the series. He insists he has "that thing Michael Jackson had, but in reverse."
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Huey Freeman.
  • Continuity Nod: Its safe to say that the series is rife with these.
    • The Cold Open from "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman" contains the very first thing Huey said in the Cold Open for the Pilot, and later his plan is foiled because he can't get a ride, which is what happens in the season 1 finale.
    • When Huey and Riley hear that Granddad has a new date, the boys remember Granddad's past dating experiences and they freak out.
    • Riley has kept his graffiti habit and Huey has been humbled since that sad Season 1 finale.
    • In "Let's Nab Oprah", Huey emphasizes his reasons for being against Riley hanging out with Ed and Gin Rummy to Granddad by reminding him of their various acts in previous episodes.
    • In "Shinin'", Thugnificent makes it clear that if this rap thing doesn't work out, he and the rest of the Lethal Interjection crew will turn to crime - with Flonominal specifically mentioning crack dealing. The exception is Leonard, who thinks he'd be fine working at Wendy's. In "Bitches to Rags," the jig is up and Thugnificent is being supported by Leonard, who really did get a job at Wendy's, until Thugnificent decides to just sell crack.
  • Crazy Prepared

Granddad: Ooooh, noooo! Huey, grab my shotgun!
Huey comes back with the shotgun.
Huey: Granddad, what's going on?
Granddad: Lamilton Taeshawn escaped. Go grab my pistol with the silver bullets.
Huey: He's not a werewolf, Granddad.
Later ...
Granddad: Huey, grab the wooden stake. And my holy water!

  • Creepy Child: Lamilton
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: Regina King plays both Huey and Riley.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Between Granddad and Stinkmeaner. Both times. With opposite outcomes.
  • Cute Shotaro Boy:
    • Completely intentional in the case of the brothers, and often played for laughs in the comics. There is a whole Sunday strip where Riley practices intimidating "thug shot" expressions, but fails because he is adorable.
    • And way earlier, was a strip where Huey is declaring dramatically from a hill to his new neighborhood things like, "My knowledge of self shines boldly in the face of the beast!" A little old lady interrupts, calling him "just a big ole cutie pie."

Little Old Lady: Young man, you are so adorable I would love to just take you home with me.
Huey: I bet you would... Maybe have me sitting around your house being docile like a bad '80s sitcom, huh? Do I look like Gary Coleman or Emmanuel Lewis to you? Am I supposed to use cute little slang and be your little black stuffed doll? Well, this is one black man who will not be demasculinized. I'm nobody's pet Negro. Is that understood?
Little Old Lady: What was that, sweetie? My hearing isn't what it used to be.
Huey: Oh, never mind...

    • In the episode "The Lovely Ebony Brown", one of Grandad's past girlfriends tried to kidnap Riley because she thought he was adorable.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Luna from Attack of the Killer Kung Fu Wolf Bitch was simultaneously raised in a broken home and among wolves. When she turned 18 she started going through a series of abusive relationships that covered just about every type of abuse imaginable, which is meant to excuse her borderline psychotic behavior.
  • Darker and Edgier: The TV series has much darker humor and content than the newspaper comic strip.
  • The Danza: "And 50 Cent as Air Marshal 50 Cent!"
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Huey.

Ed Wuncler: (After showing off his impressive team of mercenaries and Dominican children) Tell me that you don't want to be part of kickball history.
Huey: (Without so much as changing the expression on his face) I don't want to be part of kickball history.

A Pimp Named Slickback: Has not hitting the bitch been working? I mean scientifically speaking, has not hitting the bitch achieved the desired result?

And later, as one of his bitches beats on Tom.

A Pimp Named Slickback: See that? Bitch has no problem hitting you. You're definitely allowed by law to hit her now, Thomas. Self Defense. Sweetest Taboo, you are in rare form.

  • Death Glare: Riley's first clue that Lamilton is crazy
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Huey in the cartoon, so that we can get more of Granddad's wacky adventures in dating and Riley's thuggery! because Huey was basically the tool McGruder used to comment on current events. Current events are much more suited to daily strips because... they're daily. If he tried to use current events in an episode that takes months to make, it wouldn't be current anymore.
    • Neither Jazmine nor Gin Rummy had any lines for the first half of the third season.
    • Inverted in the comic strip - following 9/11, this happened to everybody except Huey and Ceasar.

Jazmine: I guess you were too busy sitting here and making mean-spirited comments about the world to realize we hadn't seen each other for two years!!
Huey: By the way, did you hear that "Meth And Red" got canc-
Jazmine: AARRRGH!!

  • Department of Redundancy Department: "They call me the fundraiser 'cuz that's what I do: I raise funds."
  • Depraved Homosexual: The Booty Warrior, and how!
  • Deus Ex Machina: In the last episode of the first season we have the lightning, what solved the two hopeless plots at once.
    • In the end of "The Fund-Raiser", some random mafia guys come out of nowhere and shoot the candy cartel boss trying to take over Riley's business. And then the FBI show up and gun them down as well.
  • Dirty Old Man: Granddad chases after beautiful young women all time time.
  • Dissimile: This gem.

Riley: (Talking about Thugnificent) You're like Ray Charles or something, only without the piano skills or ability to sing or compose music.

  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Many episodes are this.
    • "A Date With the Health Inspector" is essentially covering the ambiguous reasons and justifications of the Invasion of Iraq. It even has Gin Rummy(Donald Rumsfield parody) restate the infamous "known unknowns" speech.
    • "The Block is Hot" is actually about the music industry.
      • Based on Corporations using Child Labor in third world countries and when they get caught, they suffer little to no repercussions.
    • "The Itis" is actually about the effects of drugs on neighborhoods.
      • And the unhealthy effects of the food that black culture glorifies.
    • "Lets Nab Oprah" is actually about the invasion of Iraq.
    • Huey is a parody of William Ayers in "It's A Black President, Huey Freeman", though the worst thing Huey has done was building an electric glove. He also claims to have started several underground organizations, though his level of involvement in them is unknown.
    • "The Fundraiser" is actually about drug dealing, although this one is much less subtle than the others.
      • Are you kidding me? It references Scarface heavily.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Poor Luna got a new lease on life after a tension filled standoff with the Freemans... only to kill herself just a few minutes later after being egged on by her Jerkass friend.
    • Also, the end of "... Or Die Tryin'" revealed that the trod-upon movie theater employee Huey had talked into unionizing got the whole place shut down by the management and lost their jobs.
    • "The Story of Lando Freeman" and "Lovely Ebony Brown" both have people form tight bonds with Grandpa, then proceed to leave him.
    • Hell, in the series finale Wuncler turns his usual Karma Houdini routine Up to Eleven and Huey, when encouraged by Agent Flowers that "They don't win until you give up", walks off as disillusioned as ever, echoing The White Shadow's line "You can't fight the future. Don't waste your life trying."
  • Emergency Presidential Address: Parodied in one episode, where all President Obama was talking about during the crisis is how he's perfectly safe in his underground bunker.
  • End of Series Awareness: Later episodes such as "Mr. Medicinal" and "It's Going Down", the third season finale have Grandad make thinly veiled references to the end of the series, using wordplay that could be used to describe his old age.
  • Enemy Mine: Huey and Uncle Ruckus plan to run away to Canada together when Barack Obama becomes president, Uncle Ruckus for obvious reasons and Huey because it's proof we've moved beyond racism.
  • Enfante Terrible: Lamilton, and pretty much every named child in the series, save for Jasmine.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Riley may have a eye for causing trouble but even he is disturbed by Lamilton's flatout sociopathy.
    • When taken hostage in a prison, Uncle Ruckus asks the sexually deprived inmates if they're going to rape the children. They respond "Hell no! Do we look like priests?!"
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting:
    • Most notably in "The Trial of R. Kelly", "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back", and "... Or Die Trying."
    • In addition, in the opening credits Granddad shows an awe-inspiring grasp of Belt Fu.
    • Stinkmeaner and his crew were old people who had been kicked out of a retirement home years ago.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai:
    • The Blind Nigga Samurai.
    • In Huey's play "The Adventures of Black Jesus", while we don't know anything about the plot, samurai were apparently involved as they are present at rehearsal, and one takes a bow at the end of opening night.
  • Everything Is Racist: Huey ties everything to "the white supremacist power structure", including high-fructose corn syrup. Toned down slightly in the cartoon. Slightly.
  • Executive Meddling: Two episodes of Season 2 were not allowed to air in the States due to the fact that they were massive Take Thats against BET. They played just fine in Canada and still made it onto the DVD though.
  • Expy: Bushido Brown is based on Jim Kelly. He also takes a few pages from The Dragon himself. During his fight with Stinkmeaner's crew, Bushido Brown literally curbstomps Esmerelda Gripenasty's ribs, belting out a several seconds-long Kiai and twisting his legs to further injure her, reenacting this scene from Enter the Dragon.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening changes both in its general presentation, and the clips it uses. The song remains the same, but it's remixed each time.
  • Fan Service:
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Jail, apparently.
  • Flanderization: While not fully given that much characterization when introduced, when Tom Dubois makes his debut in The Trial of R. Kelly he comes off as a regular, somewhat goody two-shoes of a lawyer, who was, among other things, left speechless in a debate with an eight year old. After that it just went downhill. He finally got some of his dignity back in "The Booty Warrior."
    • This shift kind of reflects his character in the comics as well: where he was initially a posh but intelligent middle class lawyer that Huey could have conversations with, but over time the comic exaggerated his foppishness and the "desperate democrat" aspect of his character, until finally settling on a mix of both.
  • Foil: Several, most to Huey.
    • Huey and Riley, both in the show and comic, though in different ways. In the comic, he is bright like Huey but doesn't want to care about the big picture, while in the show he exists as the character representation of the show's point of contrast between wisdom (Huey) and ignorance.
    • Huey to Caesar in the comic - Caesar being a character of Huey's brains and insight but who does not share his sense of self-righteousness (which is greater in the comic than it is in the show), leading to them playing off one another.
      • On that note, Caesar to Riley, though less so because they don't interact as much as either character does with Huey - Caesar shares many of the same interests as Riley, but does not seek to emulate some of the more "ignorant" aspects of black culture and instead as a contrast symbolizes the positive aspects.
    • Huey and Jazmine, Huey being cynically Wise Beyond His Years and Jazmine being an innocent child to the point of being naive.
    • Grandpa to Ruckus, as old-fashioned men with very different beliefs as to what old-fashioned wisdom and right is, a major reason why they are often played off each other as "friends," and the very point of one episode's subplot.
  • For the Evulz: Stinkmeaner and the Hateocracy lived this trope, according to his flashbacks. They were Jerkasses to an extreme level. His posse say that they "don't need a reason to fuck shit up."
    • This is also Lamilton Taeshawn's excuse for his sociopath-behavior, stating that "It's fun to do bad things."
  • The Fun in Funeral: Subverted in Wingmen, as Huey finds himself a pariah amongst his old friends, and Robert can't get past his grudges with his dead friend Mo.
    • Invoked by Mo, however, as he'd used his funeral as a means to give several final insults to Robert. Among them, he willed to Robert a jar of peanuts named "Deez Nuts!" Robert takes it in stride, and displays the jar in his room of memories and experiences.
  • Follow the Leader: Inverted. McGruder has stated that what drove him to take the book into a hardline left political direction was a conversation he had with Garry Trudeau over the issue of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks. Trudeau told McGruder that he was going to wait until around December before he would begin incorporating the terrorist attacks and the political fallout the attacks would have upon America. This led to McGruder deciding to immediately incorporate 9-11 and the political fall-out into the comic strip, since no one else was doing this.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "I assure you, you'll be seeing a lot more of me."
    • In "The Story of Catcher Freeman" , during Grandpa's tale, their are several mentions of Col. Lynchwater's demise. Particularly how it happens in his story.
  • Freudian Excuse : Uncle Ruckus, he was raised for seven years by an abusive father and a Mother that loved white people more than her own race.Then he was kicked out onto the street beleving it to be because of a condition that his mother made up.
    • And even his dad had an Excuse with a Mother that obviously hated him and at his job he was constantly discriminated against by the white people he worked for.
  • Full-Name Basis: Bushido Brown
  • Gag Penis: The "Health Inspector." On the DVD, it's even WORSE.
  • Gay Moment
  • Gayngster:
    • Gangstalicious, much to Riley's horror and dismay. He flat-out refuses to believe it, even with the preponderance of evidence.
    • Riley then believes that he qualifies as this, solely for being a fan of Gangstalicious.
  • Generation Xerox: In the episode "Return Of The King" one of the men guarding Dr King in the 60's is identical to the person that stops Huey and MLK from going into the VIP area.
  • Genre Savvy: A prime example is when Huey knows how Riley's fundraiser scheme will end. Riley has an idea, but tells Huey not to tell him, believing that not knowing will allow him to defy fate. Riley even accuses Huey of spoiling.
  • Girl Scouts Are Evil: When you have Cindy McPhearson working for them, it's no surprise they defend their territory like drug runners.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: All the white people do this in Huey's dream when he announces "Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government's lying about 9/11." It's later subverted when they compliment him about being so precocious for his age.
  • Gold Digger: Cristal (like the champagne), who briefly dates Robert in the episode "Guess Ho's Coming To Dinner." To drive the point home, the start of the second half of the episode had Kanye West's "Gold Digger" playing during a Shopping Montage of Robert buying Cristal a lot of expensive gifts.
  • Gonk: Uncle Ruckus. Especially in the comic.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Riley's fighting style is very much a dirty version of this trope... and yet it's cruelly inverted in every instance he uses it, as he is usually brutally beaten. Usually by Huey.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Riley dreams about being an NBA all star, but one of his stunts was slam dunking and breaking the backboard. Sure it looks cool, but breaking the backboard is a technical foul, so no coach is going to like a slam dunk that breaks the backboard.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Cindy delivers one to the chocolate industry goons in "The Fund-Raiser."
    • Jack Flowers preferred method of "enhanced interrogation." He does show some remorse for his actions.
    • Taking an example from Jack, Uncle Ruckus stomps a security guard in the nuts, while "Stomp 'Em in the Nuts" plays in the background.
  • The Gump: Grandad. Sat next to Rosa Parks, who stole his thunder.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: A perennial part of Riley's character.
  • Here We Go Again: "Smokin' With Cigarettes" and "The Fundraiser" end with these. While the former is possibly subverted, the latter heavily implies it being played straight.
  • Heroic BSOD: Riley has one of these in "The Fund-Raiser" near the end during the shootout between the candy bar cartel, the mafia, and the FBI.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy. In-universe anyway.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!:
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Good God, Uncle Ruckus. Granted it's sad in-series, but this gem says it all:

Mister Ruckus: (To young Uncle) Nigga, did I just see you wanting to be shit when you grow up!? *Smacks him in the face*

Granddad: Y'all need to start appreciating your granddaddy. I went and spent your inheritance on this beautiful house in this neighborhood and all I ask you to do is act like you got some class!
Riley: (to Huey) Hey... what's "class?"
Huey: It means, "don't act like niggas."
Granddad: S-s-s-see? That's what I'm talkin' about right there! We don't use the "n-word" in this house!
Huey: Granddad, you said the word "nigga" 46 times yesterday. I counted!
Granddad: Nigga, hush!

    • And this:

Riley: BOOOO!! Hey Tom, shut the fuck up!
Granddad: Boy, watch your mouth! Tom, shut the fuck up!

    • In "The Color Ruckus" Riley admits that Uncle Ruckus's story was sad, but said that he was not going to cry because it was "gay." Later in the episode, after Ruckus continues to tell the story, Riley is seen sobbing like a baby.
    • All the time in the comic strip, from pretty much everyone - most commonly it comes from Riley or Granddad and is lampshaded by Huey, or it comes from Huey and is lampshaded by Caesar. Occasionally, it's directed at McGruder himself or the newspaper editing process.
  • It Got Worse: The Stinkmeaner arc.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Apparently dialed Up to Eleven, as no explanation is given for how Huey learned martial arts except by watching TV and teaching himself. Which, given Huey's serious mind, and ability to apply himself, might be all the explanation we need.
    • Knowing Kung-Fu is the least striking thing about Huey, and if an explanation is needed, martial arts lessons aren't out of the question. Not when he's had enough time to become a retired infamous underground Black Militant leader before the show's even begun.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: "Yo yo, man! Watch where you point that thing!"
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Agent Jack Flower, three times over. Each time more over-the-top than the last.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
    • The most egregious example is in an Imagine Spot from the episode Granddad's Fight. Two people are standing two feet away from each other, each shooting an entire clip at each other from point blank range, and neither one gets wounded... until the cops show up and waste them both with one shot.
    • In "The Story Of Gangstalicious," three gang members, one of whom had two guns, run out of bullets without hitting one slowly walking naked and blindfolded man.
    • Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy shoot exactly one guy for all their firefights combined.
    • The police attempt to shoot Uncle Ruckus with over a hundred bullets without success and in the end resort to beating him with nightsticks.
  • Important Haircut: Thugnificent, once he loses his mansion due to bankruptcy and has to find a job.
  • I'm Taking Him Home With Me!: One of the batshit crazy women Granddad dated tried to run off with Riley.
  • Incest Subtext: Huey pretends Riley's getting slashy with him so he can get his own room.
  • Ink Suit Actor: A good portion of the characters look exactly like their actors, in costume. Gramps even wears John Witherspoon's trademark white shoes.
  • Insane Troll Logic: R. Kelly's lawyer uses this in the Courtroom Episode to not only get R. Kelly acquitted, but to convince the entire courtroom that R. Kelly is some kind of stick-it-to-the-man hero for urinating on a young girl.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • "A Pimp Named Slickback"

A Pimp Named Slickback: Like "A Tribe Called Quest," you say the whole thing!

    • "Cristal. Like the champagne."
    • Grandmaster Bushido Brown
  • Inspiration Nod: In "The Red Ball," the weapons the Chinese team attacks the Tibetan player with are the same as the ones the American team attacked Jin with in Samurai Champloo's "Baseball Blues".
  • Insufferable Genius: Huey, particularly moreso in the comic as time went on.
  • Interactive Narrator: Stinkmeaner, from the dead, steals Huey's narration on the Hateocracy's backstory.
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
    • Riley and his "niggas," Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy
    • Riley and the members of the Lethal Interjection crew
  • Ironic Name: Thugnificent's hometown of Terra Belle

Thugnificent: You know, in Latin they say "Terra Belle" means "beautiful earth." But in Georgia, "Terra Belle" means "f**ked up place to live." Terrible Terra Belle.

  • Ironic Echo Cut: Riley: "And that's when it hit me. The best idea I've ever had in my entire life."

(Cut to) Huey: "That's the worst idea you've ever had in your entire life."

  • Its Pronounced Tropay: Subverted - when Robert Freeman gets pulled over, he assumes the cop's name is pronounced "Do-shay." It's really pronounced "Douche." Freeman thinks it's hilarious. Did we mention he's completely high at the time?
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Robert
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Jack Flowers, an Expy of Jack Bauer, kicks terrorists in their testicles while interrogating them, sometimes with a steel boot and a running start!
  • Jerkass:
    • Ruckus definitely counts here. Even if you want to try to blame his personality on a Freudian Excuse, it still doesn't let him slide on the fact that he was willing to let Huey and Riley nearly get killed by being hit with a car, and then laugh about it solely because they are African American.
      • He was also willing to let Huey and Riley be violated by the prisoners in the jail that their class visited in order to protect the white children, so yeah, he definitely counts for this.
      • To be somewhat fair, he asked if they were going to violate any of the kids before he ditched Riley and Huey, and they answered with a no. But still, that doesn't excuse the fact that he left them alone with extremely violent and stupid convicts.
    • Stinkmeaner could be considered a personification for hatred.
    • A notable comic instance for Granddad would be when Huey confesses that sometimes he feels like nobody listens to him, only to have Granddad yell, "How many times do I have to tell you to shut up?! I can't hear the people singing badly on Idol!"
    • Huey's type of realism arguably makes him one of the biggest Jerk Asses in the series. At one point he basically told naive, innocent Jazmine that "Santa doesn't exist, the Easter Bunny doesn't exist, the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist, and everybody you've ever known and loved will eventually die." He is the only one who doesn't tolerate the "ignorance is bliss" motif that everybody else in the series drives themselves on.
      • In the comic Huey often shows more jerkassish traits - from self-righteousness to callousness to downright arrogance at times: in general comic Huey is very wise but also very full of himself. Due to the majority of the other characters being retooled to show more of those traits themselves in the show, Huey's negative traits became more subdued so he could foil the others more effectively.
    • Mr. Wuncler Sr. is the embodiment of Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Ruckus is an asshole, who lets Huey and Riley almost get hit by a truck. However, he has had such a traumatic past that it's hard not to feel genuinely sad for him at times.
    • His father as well, who suffered a great deal from racism.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Granddad, Huey, and Thugnificent
    • Riley and Ruckus very occasionally
  • The Jimmy Hart Version:
    • Gangstalicious' freestyle in "Thank You for Not Snitching" is this for MF DOOM's "Rap Snitch Knishes."
    • And "Homies Over Hoes" sounds a lot like D4L's "Laffy Taffy."
    • Uncle Ruckus' theme song is sourced from Jabba's theme from Star Wars.
    • Sgt. Gudda's "Crank That Artichoke" is pretty clearly meant to be a take-off of "Crank That" by Soulja Boy.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Ed Wuncler has so many connections in the government everywhere, he may just be the best example of this trope.
    • Uncle Ruckus' mother in "The Color Ruckus", who was responsible in her son's white supremacy. After her husband dies, she hooks up with a much younger bachelor.
  • Karmic Death: Uncle Ruckus's father in "The Color Ruckus".
  • Kavorka Man: While Grandad was a cute, geeky guy in his younger days, as an old man he seems to have no problem getting ridiculously attractive and younger women. Subverted since most of them turn out to be crazy or with ulterior motives.
  • Kick the Dog: While technically what LaMilton did was shoot the dog, this is the trope that describes the intended effect.
  • Kill Him Already: The therapist's logic in dealing with Lamilton.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Winston Jerome's "glistenin'" stripper bodyguards.
  • Lazy Artist: Compare and contrast these two strips.
  • Leitmotif: You'll hear a very ugly tuba (Jabba The Hutt's theme from Star Wars) play every time Uncle Ruckus makes an appearance in an episode.
  • Like a Badass Out of Hell: Stinkmeaner, who Satan himself called "the baddest motherfucker Hell had ever seen".

Satan: He was so bad, he even called me, the devil himself, a-
Stinkmeaner: BITCH-ASS NYUKKA!

  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Wunclers. As in, the Once-ler, the expansionist bigwig antagonist of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.
    • Also, Uncle Ruckus. A reference to Uncle Tom, Amos Rucker, (a slave to purportedly wanted to stay a slave after the Civil War.) and Uncle Remus
    • Tom Dubois. Uncle Tom (again) and W.E.B. Dubois, founder of NAACP.
  • Medium Awareness: The eponymous character in "Lovely Ebony Brown" spent the entire episode Leaning on the Fourth Wall, and got Granddad into it as well.
    • This from "Let's Nab Oprah":
  • Mighty Glacier: This appears to be Butch Magnus's fighting style. He only has to land a few blows to bring Riley down during his fight with him.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: Huey Freeman believes that every white man is in on the conspiracy, and that you can't bribe them with cheese.
  • Missing Episode: Many of the strips from the original comic were never collected into books.
  • Mockumentary:
    • "It's A Black President, Huey Freeman". With special parody emphasis on the narrator's ridiculous internal monologue.
    • Also, the mockumentary Rags to Bitches in "The Story of Thugnificent"
  • Moe Stare: Dubois's wife, as well as their daughter Jazmine.
  • Multitasked Conversation: This trope is nearly the entirety of Rummy's interactions with Ed III in "Thank You For Not Snitching," due to Ed III's affinity for his new Bluetooth earpiece.
  • My Beloved Smother: In "The Story of Thugnificent," Flonominal is extremely distressed when his mother calls to chastise him for his part in the "Eff Grandad" debacle.
  • Mythology Gag: Numerous
    • The episode about Lando starts and ends with the lawn needing to be mowed.
    • Huey's Tree is where the White Shadow tells Huey that you cannot fight the future, although the tree is more colorful here.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Implacable bully Butch Magnus Milosevic.
    • The Hateocracy: Colonel H. Stinkmeaner, Lord Rufus Crabmeister, Lady Esmerelda Gripenasty and Mr. George Pistofferson
    • The Booty warrior, if you're male. (Then again...)
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice job getting your homey fired from his job, Thugnificent!
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Rufus Crabmiser of the Hateocracy gives a speech to Granddad to this effect.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Ed Wuncler and his grandson are parodies of Prescott Bush and his grandson George W. Bush.
    • Wuncler III's best friend Gin "Rummy" is a parody of Donald Rumsfeld.
    • BET director Weggie Rudlin, who is an extremely unflattering parody of BET director Reginald Hudlin... who happens to have an executive producer credit on the show itself. It was an artifact of Hudlin's involvement with the series while it was being developed for FOX. He left by the time the series was on air.
    • Rollo Goodlove, who is a parody of Al Sharpton.
    • Thugnificent is obviously Ludacris, with elements of Ice T down to being from Georgia.
    • Sgt. Gutter is Soulja Boy.
      • "Thugnificent vs. Sgt. Gutter" parodies the "rivalry" between Soulja Boy and older musicians, like Ice-T, who think that Soulja Boy's appearance on the music scene is not a step in the right direction.
    • Two guesses as to who Dick O'Rushballs is a parody of.
    • Winston Jerome is Tyler Perry with elements of David Koresh and Jim Jones.
    • Riley's art teacher is based on Bob Ross, the famously laid back afro'd artist who loved to paint landscapes.
    • Lamilton Taeshawn is based on 7-year-old Latarian Milton, who appeared in the news twice for taking a joyride in his grandma's car and beating on his grandma.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: Riley's reaction when he sees his idol Gangstalicious making out with another guy.
  • No Social Skills: Luna. She really had no idea how to deal with people, at all.
  • No Such Thing as HR: To build on the Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, there was logically nothing stopping Flo from contesting his termination due to the extremely flimsy guilty by association pretense.
  • N-Word Privileges: And uses them liberally, Nigga!
    • Lampshaded during Uncle Ruckus' "Don't Trust Them New Niggas Over There" song. After he finishes singing his horribly racist song for a bunch of rich white guests, one girl comments that she thinks its okay for "them" to use the N word and then audience applauds politely.
    • Lampshaded again, apparently it is used so much in the Freeman household that Riley thought that was his name until he was three years old.
    • An entire episode (based on a real story) is spend parodying and deconstructing this trope when one of Riley's teachers calls him the N word and the media find out.
  • Odd Name Out: The Lethal Interjection crew has Flonominal, Macktastic, Thugnificent ... and Leonard. Oddly enough, he's the only one of the crew who wouldn't mind having a normal day job like flipping burgers at Wendy's.
  • Off with His Head: Bushido Brown, with awesome absurdity and to remind people of what "Complete Disaster" means.
  • Oh Crap: Frequently. One scene in particular (A Crowning Moment of Awesome) features a team of Chinese kickballers insulting Huey, only for him to respond with, in Chinese, "I don't like being laughed at." One of the players can barely get out, "Did... he just..." before he's knocked cold by Huey's pitch.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Used in "Smoking with Cigarettes", even if it's not actually Latin.
  • Once Killed a Man with A Noodle Implement: The episode "Granddad's Fight":

Uncle Ruckus: Jean-Claude Van Damme's the best martial artist in the world. He killed a man with his butt cheek power.

Huey: That's like Academy Award-winning sad.

  • Panty Shot: Winston Jerome's secretary has one from Grandad's POV as he's lying on the ground after being tackled by an obese female fan in "Pause."
  • Parental Abandonment: Huey and Riley's parents died. Robert used their inheritance to move to a nicer neighborhood.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Huey almost never smiles. He puts on a small smile for about a second in one of the team shots cheering for Riley in the last game of "Ballin'." He also smirks for a second while holding a sword against Riley's cheek during "Let's Nab Oprah" and that is it. Lando tries to get him to smile. It doesn't happen.

Lando: I know you smiling on the inside, huh. I can tell. I can tell. You can't fool your baby brother. You just as gleeful as a motherfucker.

Uncle Ruckus: What's the password?
Dan the Security Man: Eat my ass! *Gets kicked in the nuts about twenty times*

  • Pragmatic Adaptation: McGruder defends the cartoon by stating that delay times in making the show makes it impossible for the show to be topical as far as current events and cutting edge political satire.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Huey, at the climax of "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus"
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • MARTIN LUTHER KING JR, of all people.


    • All the time in the comic. Whereas in the show the characters curse all the time, in the newspaper comic they can't get away with that too often, so McGruder saved particularly strong words for particularly good punchlines, to great effect.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy:
  • Prison Rape: Tom Dubois's greatest fear. Not at all unjustified according to "A Date With the Booty Warrior."
  • Professional Slacker: In one comic plotline Riley decides to spend the entire summer literally not moving from in front of the TV. Huey responds with disgust, asking if Riley's trying to become the world's laziest Negro. Riley states that he is unwilling to go to the effort of signing the forms for that.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Riley's art teacher, who hates violence. Apparently shooting at the police doesn't count.
  • Rags to Riches: The fictional MTV documentary Rags to Bitches in "The Story of Thugnificent", which details his rise from poverty to stardom. The reverse happens in "Bitches to Rags."
  • Raised by Grandparents
  • Rashomon Style: The episode involving "Catcher Freeman" is told via conflicting historical flashbacks.
  • Reality Ensues: How is the Hateocracy stopped? By getting arrested by the police!
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The creator is from Oakland Mills High School in Howard County, known to be the most "ghetto" school in the county.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Riley and Huey, respectively.
    • Also, Caesar and Huey, respectively.
  • Refuge in Audacity: This show RUNS on audacity.
    • The entirety of "The Legend Of Jimmy Rebel"
    • The pilot of the show on the DVD shows Granddad's wang wailing away freely during a tai-bo exercise workout. Right out the gate.
  • Riches to Rags: "Bitches to Rags" is all about Thugnificent going through this.
  • Rule of Cool: The kickball episode and its Charles Atlas Superpower.
    • In one episode, Robert actually floats from smoking weed!
  • Running Gag: IT'S REVOLUTION TIME!!! in the strip.
    • There's also Huey's intermittent attempts to get out of mowing the lawn, Huey being generally horrible at video games, Grandad being out of touch with today's society (or computers), Caesar's intentionally terrible jokes (and Huey's appropriate response), Riley's yearly rages against Santa Claus, etc.
    • References to the film Friday in the TV series. Doubles as an Actor Allusion.
    • During season one, every one of Huey's schemes would have gone perfectly if he only had a ride. Though this joke stopped in the rest of the series when Huey stopped being the one going on zany schemes.
  • Rogue Agent: Agent Flowers
  • Sand in My Eyes: In "The Color Ruckus" Riley cries after hearing Uncle Ruckus's story. He claimed that he had allergies.
  • Satellite Character: Flonominal, Macktastic, and Leonard are only seen as Thugnificent's crew.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Ed the Third and Gin Rummy. Rummy claims he's a criminal mastermind while he obviously isn't. This is also Lampshaded.

Riley: Y'all are lucky Ed's granddad owns the cops.

    • Um hello, Ed Wuncler Sr. When you can get the president to call off your arrest, you know you're loaded.
  • Serious Business:
    • The episode "The Red Ball" has Ed Wuncler bet the entire town on a game of kickball. He hires mercs from Blackwater[2] and illegally immigrated a junior squad from the Dominican Republic. When the latter got taken from him "because he got his civil liberties violated", he considers taking child soldiers from Sierra Leone. The other team includes a Chinese prodigy that was trained since birth just to play kickball.
    • And before any of this even began, Wuncler earlier had Huey set up to not only injure a little girl, but then made him believe she had a permanent severe limp, just so he would quit the game and let Wuncler win again.
    • Also, school chocolate fundraising. Damn.
    • And fried chicken. People camp out in line just to taste it cooked in a new recipe. Sadly this was just barely an exaggeration of something that actually happened.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Riley's art tutor is reputed to be a Gulf War vet who had a nervous breakdown.
  • Ship Tease: Small moments between Huey and Jazmine in in "Block Is Hot," "The Wingman," "The Passion of Uncle Ruckus," "The Date With The Health Inspector" and "Fried Chicken Flu." Hell, in "The Hateocracy," Granddad dreams of Jazmine instinctively hugging Huey in distress.
  • Shoot Him! He Has a Wallet!: Played for laughs when Uncle Ruckus is shot repeatedly and beaten by police for holding an orange safety-wallet. The city offers him 14 million dollars in compensation but he refuses to accept it, and instead accepts full blame, simply demanding to be hired as a police officer so that he can do the same thing to other black men.
  • Shout-Out: Too many

(Robert leers at him)
Riley: Nevermind.

  • Shrouded in Myth: Catcher Freeman. There are several different stories of his life, and in Robert's story, field slaves claim "He's 14 feet tall, got trapezist muscles... And he can fly. Underwater." Of course Huey googles the truth in the end. But, as per the usual "ignorance is bliss" motif, Robert and Ruckus don't want to believe it.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Ruckus. Depending on the episode, it's either played straight or subverted.
  • Sorry, Ociffer...: In "Mr. Medicinal", Grandad is high on marijuana when he is pulled over by an officer, Officer Douche.
  • So What Do I Do Now?: Huey's reaction to Obama's election in the 3rd season premier has shades of this. It's unclear if he's just ambivalent about Obama or if he simply feels useless now. His juxtaposition with Ruckus suggests the latter.
  • Special Guest:
  • Spell My Name with an "A": A Pimp Named Slickback. Like "A Tribe Called Quest", you say the whole thing!
  • Spoof Aesop:
    • Flonominal and the rest of the Lethal Interjection crew teach Riley that, contrary to what he thought, the entire point of being in a crew is so you never have to handle your own problems like a man.
    • Nearly everything A Pimp Named Slickback says is a ridiculously sexist Spoof Aesop.

A Pimp Named Slickback: Scientifically speaking Tom, has not hittin' a bitch achieved the desired results?

    • "The Hateocracy" also ends with one (two depending on how you look at it).
  • Standard Evil Organization Squad: The Hateocracy
  • Status Quo Is God: Often played straight, but sometimes defied.
  • Stealth Parody: While obviously a satire of modern black culture, the TV series also takes pride in mocking things that makes America in general look stupid, such as the overreaction of the bird flu virus and the Obama hype.
  • Stone Wall: Riley, considering how many beatings he takes from Huey, Granddad, and other people.
  • Story Arc: A couple of subtle ones.
    • One revolving around Granddad and Stinkmeaner.
    • Another revolving around Riley and Gangstalicious.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Both the newspaper comic and the animated series make regular use of this trope.
  • Strawman Political: The series is loaded with these on both sides of the aisle.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: Jack Flowers' girlfriends seem to do nothing but get killed off in increasingly, deliberately cartoonish ways.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: The Kumite.
  • Sure Why Not: In the episode "Mr. Medicinal", Riley says "Imma go down there and show that Fresh Prince kid who the real karate kid is." Prior to this episode, many fans took notice of how Riley looked a lot like Jaden Smith, Will Smith's son.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Riley on Gangstalicious's homosexuality
    • Ruckus' claims to have "re-vitiligo"
  • Talking to Himself: Regina King voices both Huey and Riley.
  • Take That:
    • The most severe was probably the TV episodes lambasting the BET, which actually got banned from US broadcast.
    • Soul Plane will be fired on with impunity whenever it comes up. Hell, even Martin Luther King took shots at it.
    • The episode "Pause," a.k.a. the Winston Jerome episode, is a sucker punch to Tyler Perry's plays and films.
    • In the comic strip there was a Take That againt Vivica Fox and her fans that was extended to the point of being a type of Running Gag.
      • And there's plenty more in the comic strip. One whole storyline revolves around Huey trying to have Michael Bolton murdered. At least one hitman implied that he'd love to do it, if only Huey could pay him enough to cover the expenses (he couldn't). And don't get Huey started on Jar Jar Binks.
    • To Barack Obama's speech patterns, throughout season 3.
      • The Season 3 premier was Take That at the "Obama Hype Machine" going into the election, and especially at
  • The Talk: Defied by Robert.

Robert: Wait a minute, if someone talks to [Riley] about sex, maybe it'll straighten this whole thing out!
Uncle Ruckus: So you're gonna talk to 'im?
Robert: OH, NO, MM-MM, MM-MM. MM-MM!

  • Teach Him Anger: A Pimp Named Slickback tried to do so to Tom once. He partly succeeded, though not in the way he intended. Tom got what he wanted out of it, at any rate.
  • Tempting Fate: Uncle Ruckus: "Now, let us pray. Lord, I have spent my whole life hatin' you for makin' me black, and now I see I must hate myself, and all those like me, and cause them misery just like your servant Ronald Reagan did. And if ANY of my words don't come directly from the Almighty God himself, then may I be struck by lightning right this very instant. Halle-"
  • That Came Out Wrong: The best illustration is this dialogue from Season 3's "Pause":

Granddad: I'm gonna really let him have it. Show him my stuff. Give that man everything I've got.
Riley: Pause.
Granddad: Pause? Pause what?
Riley: You said somethin' gay, so you gotta say "no homo," or else you's a homo.
Granddad: What did I say gay?
Riley: You said you was gonna give this dude everything you got, no homo.
Granddad: That's not gay! I said I was gonna give the man everything I got!
Riley: Pause, Granddad! If it sound gay it's gay, and you gotta say "no homo!" How I know you not a homo, Granddad, if you don't say "no homo?"
Granddad: I'm not saying "no homo!"
Riley: Ok, you wanna be a homo...
Granddad: Stop calling your granddaddy a homo!
Riley: Then say "no homo!"
Granddad: I don't wanna say "no homo!" I'ma homo your ass if you don't stop saying "pause!"
Riley: Pause.

Ruckus: No, no, keep talking, keep talking dad. Let it all out of your system, that's the proper eulogy this woman deserves. Oh she did this to you, and now your doing it to us And it's getting old, it's getting real old old man! So finish what you were saying, sit down AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!

  • This Is Sparta:
    • FUCK! YOUR! COURT! NIGGA! FUCK! YOUR! COUUUUURRRRTTT!!! Also a Shout-Out to the infamous Rick James sketch.
    • "Lemonade. IS! A! DOLLAR!"
    • "YOU! CAN'T! HAVE! IT!
  • Title Drop: Caesar on December 11, 2001. In a Christmas Carol, to boot.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: What COMPLETE DISASTER seems to imply.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Tom in "A Date With the Booty Warrior", but only in terms of balls.
  • Training from Hell: Stinkmeaner goes to hell, and trains himself so hard he could actually defeat the minions of hell and insult the Devil himself. As a reward for his hard work, the Devil says he can return to Earth and have his revenge.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Lamilton Taeshawn is a eight year old sociopath who wants nothing more then to really hurt somebody.
  • Truth in Television:
  • True Companions: Lethal Interjection crew
  • Troperrific: It's safe to say this series is awesome.
  • Villain Episode: "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show", "The Story of Jimmy Rebel" and "The Color Ruckus"
  • The Villain Must Be Punished: In an early arc Riley gets an idea to spray-paint the cutesy street names with those from rappers. The adults are annoyed by this; in addition to the vandalism, it's messing up their ability to navigate around the neighborhood. In a rare moment of insight, Riley decides to lie low as the cops investigate, because he knows they'll go hard on a black kid. Then Cindy decides to ask him to rename her street, even offering that she'll do it if he lends her the art supplies. Riley realizes she can be a perfect patsy, and dials in an anonymous tip after giving her the supplies. He gets away with it because while Cindy names him as an accomplice, she's holding the proof: the spray bottles. Cindy is grounded by her parents but faces no criminal charges.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Granddad and Uncle Ruckus are type 2.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Catcher Freeman probably didn't know that his owner Master Colonel was his real father, but their relationship echoes the more typical version of this trope. When Master Colonel calls Catcher "son", his eyes light up noticeably.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?:
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: THEY RAN OUT OF FRIED CHICKEN?!?!
  • "What the Hell?" Dad: Granddad has to be this, with one grandson who is a domestic terrorist and another one who is a wannabe gangster.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Riley gives this treatment to Tom for abandoning them in "A Date With The Booty Warrior", even when Tom came back for them twice.
  • When Elders Attack: The Hateocracy.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Tom gets plenty of flack for marrying a white woman.
  • Whip It Good: Robert's belt
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Ruckus. Subverted in that it turns out that he really works at 47 jobs simultaneously in order to racially spite what he perceives as laziness in the black community.
  • Wikipedia:
    • Huey looks at it as the only credible source to find out about Stinkmeaner's crew. At first, it looks exactly like TOW's real Stinkmeaner article, even the Merge Tag.
    • This is also Thugnificent's solution when he can't decipher the lyrics of a song on how to make crack.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years:
    • Huey and Caeser.
    • Dewey thinks he's this.
  • The Worf Effect: Huey is supposed to be a master of kung fu, but he never won a kung fu fight, not counting Martial Arts Kickball. The only people he seems to be able to beat are his younger brother Riley and those few Mook guards in "... Or Die Tryin'". Justified, as the only people who have beaten him are much older masters of kung fu, who take him seriously.
    • Huey is never really shown to be a "master" so much as "well-trained for a kid", and as this trope would imply, not at the top of his game.
  • World of Badass: Senior citizens, psychotic women, and even Uncle Ruckus can match Huey, martial arts expert though he may be.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Mr. Long-dou and Ed Wuncler, Sr.
    • It's also Ming's motivation for wanting Huey in the tournament, although her fake sob-story might say otherwise.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Tom. When A Pimp Named Slickback is trying to "help" him with his marriage problems, he says Tom needs to, among other things, learn how to hit Sarah. Tom says he could never hit a woman. When the woman role-playing as Sarah starts beating him up, Tom refuses to strike her even in self-defense.
  • Wrestler in All of Us:
    • Riley. The kid dropkicks someone, gets on the couch and hits a moonsault. Then he transitions into a boston crab submission hold. Chris Jericho would have been proud.
    • Ruckus did a back suplex to Dan the security man in "It's Going Down".
  • X Meets Y: The Boondocks is what happens when Peanuts meets Bebe's Kids.
  • Yandere:
    • Luna - she tries to kill Granddad because she thinks he's cheating on her, locks up Huey and Riley so they can't help him and kidnaps Tom when he comes to help the family.
    • Arguably, Lamilton is a platonic male example for Riley, kidnapping and trying to kill him when he doesn't want to help him "do bad things" anymore.
  • Yellow Peril: The Chinese team in "The Red Ball" are a pack of cheating, lying, manipulative brutes.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Played with hilariously here.
  • Your Mom: Oh yeah.
    • This is how Riley gets under Cindy's skin during their Trash Talk duel in the middle of a basketball game.
    • Among the many insults Stinkmeaner spews during his 'exorcism' is
      • "Y'all ain't shit!! Your MOMMAS ain't shit!"
    • Sgt. Gutter actually RINGS Thugnificent's mum live on air so she can tell him off for his bad language during their rap feud.
  1. Defined by Huey (and here I paraphrase) as black people who behave in a manner that reinforces negative stereotypes. If Riley thinks it's cool, it's probably nigga behavior.
  2. a Real Life mercenary corporation who used to protect private contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq, but got into huge trouble by killing over a dozen civilians in retaliation for a previous incident