The Cleveland Show

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"My name is Cleveland Brown, and I am proud to be
Right back in my hometown, with my new family
There’s old friends and new friends, and even a bear
Through good times and bad times, it’s true love we share
And so I found a place, where everyone will know

My happy mustached face, this is the Cleveland show!" *giggle*
The Cleveland Show Theme Song

The Cleveland Show is a Family Guy Spin-Off starring bit character Cleveland Brown. The show follows Cleveland's new life in his hometown in Virginia as he remarries his old flame Donna and settles down to raise his own child, Cleveland Jr., now a morbidly obese, shy boy, and his two stepchildren, teenager Roberta and toddler Rallo.

It still takes place in the same universe as Family Guy and the characters have even crossed paths in his show on occasion. But like American Dad, the series is gradually stepping out of the shadow of its predecessors to find its own brand of humor, developing the title character as far more sympathetic than the other leads and using a more subtle comic style throughout. It has fewer cutaways, but they are still there.

The series was launched in September, 2009. Notable for being renewed for a second season before the first episode had even aired, supposedly due to positive reaction to a deliberately leaked pilot. A third season has been ordered.


Tropes used in The Cleveland Show include:
  • Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Averted and played straight at once. One episode involves Cleveland trying to find a girlfriend for Holt. He succeeds, but it's not long before he and his friends discover that she's been physically abusive to him. When they go to confront her about this, she responds by beating the crap out of each of them (even Tim the bear). None of them fight back because they Wouldn't Hit a Girl. Predictably, this is to set up a Designated Girl Fight with Donna near the end of the episode.
  • Acrofatic: Cleveland Junior can move pretty fast for a boy his size when he wants to.
  • Actor Allusion: In one episode, Cleveland tells Gus the bartender "Shut up, Eraserhead!". Gus is voiced by David Lynch.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Cleveland's parents Cookie and "Freight Train". Even Donna shows this to some degree; in some episodes she seems to express some amount of dissatisfaction with Cleveland and pines for her neglectful ex-husband Robert.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Arguably the case with Tim. He's indicated at least a couple of times that he has a crush on Donna.
  • Author Filibuster: Subverted. Cleveland takes time out of the episode to complain about what's wrong with America today. This looks like it would be an Author Filibuster. However it turns out that it's just a set up for another gag, and that Cleveland was merely reciting lines from a play.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Cleveland's father.

Holt: Cool nickname. Why do they call you Freight Train?
Freight Train: 'cause I destroyed your mama on the train tracks.
Holt: (o.o)'...

Mr. Waterman: Where's my beard?
Mrs. Waterman: Right here, dear. (Beat) (lifts the beard for his Santa suit into view)

"All You Can Eat my furry ass!"

    • Also Cleveland Jr. and Kendra, Lester's morbidly obese wife.
  • Big Damn Movie: Parodied. See it high, or else you won't enjoy it.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Arianna.
  • Black and Nerdy: Cleveland Junior, who is even nerdy by white standards.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Roberta dates Federline, a white man. Rollo (during a black supremacist phase) asks his sister why she's going out with a white guy, she answers with "Do I look like a white girl? Or an Asian girl, or a..."
  • Blatant Lies: "I fought off six Al Qaedas."
  • Brick Joke: The show has pretty good writers, and these do crop up. There's a couple in the pilot, including this gem.

"I've never seen a black man cry before."
"I thought they just got more pissed off!"

Comic Book Guy: Worst. Cameo. Ever.

  • Character Development Cleveland.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Combined with a Brick Joke. At the beginning of one episode, Cleveland Jr. slowly rolls into the scene, explaining that he's practicing what he would do if he were on fire. This looks like usual Cleveland Jr. weirdness until a house he is in catches fire at the end.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Cleveland Jr.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Lester Crinklesac doesn't realize the historical significance of the Confederate Flag, instead thinking it to be a tribute to the Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Continuity Nod: Meg makes a cameo and continues to be the Butt Monkey during the opening credits for the first Christmas Special.
  • Cringe Comedy: Believe it or not, even though the humor is more subdued, Mike Henry runs a show that is considerably more messed up and cringe-worthy than Seth McFarlanes work. While Family Guy is Crossing the Line Twice and takes Refuge in Audacity, The Cleveland Show is completely comfortable with everyone else getting uncomfortable.
  • Crossover: The first third of the pilot is a crossover with originating show Family Guy (in fact, it's exactly like a regular Family Guy episode), where it's explained why Cleveland's leaving Quahog (his divorce with Loretta was finalized and she got the house, and he was tired of always being the Butt Monkey in Peter's jokes/schemes/insanity). Then his theme song plays after all those minutes, and the frame ratio switches to widescreen!

Cleveland: I've got to stop taking baths during Peter's shenanigans!

  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Cleveland Jr., the badass part showing more and more often as of late.
  • Crowd Song: "Small Ass Town (Big Ass Hearts)" from the episode, "The Blue, The Gray, and The Brown".
  • The Danza: Arianna Huffington as Arianna the Bear.
  • Dead Baby Comedy
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cleveland's mother Cookie, to anyone who isn't her son or grandchildren. Especially Donna.
  • Deep South: The show takes place in the fictional town of Stoolbend, Virginia, and one of Cleveland's neighbors seems to be an out-and-out racist.
    • Stoolbend is based heavily on Richmond, Virginia, where Mike Henry (the voice actor for Cleveland and co-creator of the show) grew up. During the opening theme, especially, many of the scenes are literally cartoon versions of parts of Richmond.
    • This parallels the way Family Guy's Quahog, Rhode Island, is based on Providence, where Seth McFarland went to college.
    • American Dad also takes place in Virginia, but in the eastern part of the state which is much more affluent and "northern" due to its proximity to Washington DC. So we get two related shows portraying the same state in very different ways.
  • Demoted to Extra: Roberta was demoted to this a little into the first season, having very little screen time and even less dialog. She is also currently the only member of Cleavland's new family that hasn't met the Griffins. However this was mainly due to her voice actress on maternity leave.
    • Donna meets the Griffins when she and Cleveland have extended cameos in a Family Guy episode in 2011.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Whenever any characters find themselves heading toward an Inevitable Waterfall, the scene will cut off and then cut back to them thanking the magical talking walrus Mr. Flippers for somehow saving them.
  • Devoted to You: Cleveland to Donna. Once even lampshaded by Donna. Even Cleveland's comic dream was for her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Donny in "Nightmare On Grace Street". Because Cleveland mocked his bee costume and his puns, he tries to kill Cleveland and his family!
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Lester, Holt and Tim by Roberta in a skimpy bikini in the season two episode 'Fat And Wet.'
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The scene where Kendra falls on top of Rallo and he escapes from under her by talking about food, which causes her to sweat so that he can slide out.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Cleveland.
  • Double Entendre Cleveland unintentionally does one when he tries to get someone to play with Cleveland Jr. Hilarity ensues.
    • For a nonsexual example, in "My Gang" Cleveland gets the task of changing some troublemakers from Stoolbend High to good kids. He wants to do this by making them sell a product, and pitches that they sell cookies - though the way he describes the business strategy sounds suspiciously like selling drugs which the kids notice and do. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him: Cleveland's father being told that Auntie Momma is a man. He didn't take it so well.
  • Enhance Button: Done on Junior's laptop with a YouTube video no less.
  • The Everyman: This was pretty much Cleveland's role on Family Guy as well, considering how disturbing Peter, Quagmire and even Joe acted at times.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Averted for once with Tim (see the Expy section below).
  • Expy: A bit here and there, but actually averted to some degree.
    • While (for example) Rallo fills much the same role as Stewie, their actual personalities have so far proven to be vastly different.
      • Probably lampshading the baseless Expy labeling, Cleveland's father refers to Rallo as "Black Stewie" in the most recent episode.
        • This suggests that Cleveland's parents already knew the Griffins, the Swansons, Quagmire, the Goldmans, and most of the characters in Quahog.
    • Roberta, the resident Meg stand-in, seems to be fairly popular and well-liked.
      • However, she seems to be following Meg's footsteps in terms of screentime. See Out of Focus below.
    • Brian has some similarities to Tim, both tending to be the voices of reason in their respective shows, both being talking animals(a dog and a bear respectively), and both voiced by MacFarlane. However Tim has so far proven to have very little in common with Brian. The most obvious difference being that Tim is devoutly religious. On one occasion when he believed he was the cause of Cleveland's misfortune, was shown to be genuinely distressed.
  • Fan Disservice: Donna without her make-up, padding, wig or false teeth. And no, it's not just a one-time gag. It's canon.
  • Fan Service: If you had a liking for Terry, then you'll love the episode "Brotherly Love".
    • Roberta's no slouch in this department either, and sometimes she even does it intentionally. Two good example are the episodes Fat And Wet & To Live And Die In VA which have Roberta in a bikini in the former and dressed as Slave Leia in the latter.
  • Fiery Redhead: Arianna
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: Cleveland Jr. has a crush on "Tyra", who is actually Roberta in a fat-suit.
  • Five-Man Band: The Tubbs-Brown family
  • Forgot I Could Fly: Tim remembers he's a bear and nonchalantly threatens to tear Donna to bits if she doesn't stop faking having broken legs and using it to exploit Cleveland around the house.
  • Funny Afro: Rallo.
  • Furry Confusion: Tim (An anthropomorphic bear) had apparently been donating to money to "Fight bear aids", for it to go to a cutaway gag of a badly mauled scientist coming out of his lab and another asking if he got the condom on a (Probably) normal bear.
  • Gasshole: Auntie Momma, who is outrageous. Cleveland also temporarily becomes this after Donna puts him on a high-fiber diet.
  • Genius Ditz: In one episode Cleveland Jr. is able to create a suit of power armor complete with a shoulder mounted gatling gun out of nothing but pots and pans.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Cleveland's last wish before leaving is to watch Lois and Bonnie make out.
  • Golden Snitch: In coolympics last round determined everything. Subverted because Cleveland (who was losing) lost it too and lost the whole game.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Cleveland's angel/devil are played by Hall and Oats.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Tim the bear wears no pants which was lampshaded in the episode "Once Upon a Tyne in NYC"

Cleveland: Cartoon bears NEVER wear pants!

    • Also used in two jokes where Tim is sitting a strip club. He mentions that being in one is (pause) awkward since he wears no pants when Cleveland asks him why he's sitting all alone. Of course, this ties into the follow up joke where Tim gets up to give Cleveland a hug.
  • Hair of Gold: Kendra.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The escort who helped cash Junior and Rallo's Vegas winnings. She could have easily stolen the money, but she didn't.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The show is riddled with this style of comedy.
  • Idiot Savant: Junior.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Rallo, after an episode of trying to supplant Cleveland out of the matrimonial bed.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Kendra
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Cleveland suggests that he and Donna work through an argument through roll-playing. With dinner rolls.

Cleveland: I'm Cleveland Roll!... I'm Donna Roll!... and I'm Esther Roll! Oh JJ, you'd better not join a gaaang!

  • Ink Suit Actor: David Lynch as Gus, the bartender.
  • Jerkass: Cleveland's father. He tried to stab his son and frequently verbally abuses his wife.
    • Some may argue, that Cleveland himself has become somewhat of a Jerkass since leaving Family Guy, though nowhere near the level of Peter Griffin and (to a lesser extent) Stan Smith.
      • This behavior is usually (not always, but usually) provoked out of him by somebody else being a jerkass. Namely Rallo.
    • Donna has also started playing the role of this trope midway through the first season, from beating Cleveland up to shooting him in the foot.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rallo.
    • Despite his more abrasive and egotistical habits than before, Cleveland is still rather well intentioned and benevolent.
  • Kevin Michael Richardson: voices Cleveland Jr., Lester and various other characters black and white.
  • Kidanova: Rallo.
  • Killed Off for Real: Loretta
  • Lampshade Hanging: Quite common. For example, in the episode where Roberta disguises herself as Tyra in a fat suit to learn a lesson about getting by on other qualities than your looks, Cleveland, upon discovering this, remarks "What the hell kind of comedy high school do you go to anyway?"
    • Of course, then a Teen Wolf walks right past the two of them.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Man Running the booth in "Ain't Nothin' but Mutton Bustin'" Has lawyer friendly duplicates of characters for doll prizes. "SPIDER BUDDY!" "BRAT SIMPSON!" and "Family Dude's "STEVIE!" Not to mention Gengar (Pokémon) Dolls in the other booth.Click to see a picture.
    • They didn't even need to evoke this trope in Family Guy's case (same franchise), and arguably, The Simpsons as well, since that show does air on Fox and a Family Guy episode has shown Homer's famous "D'oh!" without consequence.
  • Live Episode: Obviously not really live, but a parody of one where everything goes spectacularly wrong.
  • Low Speed Chase: In an episode set in New York, Cleveland orders a taxi driver to chase after another taxi driver. However, being New York, there's so much traffic that Cleveland could have caught up to the driver by walking.
  • Manatee Gag: Just like Family Guy, the show does use this. Though it holds back on it much more. Usually there's only one cutaway gag at most per episode.
  • Medium Awareness: Right from the pilot, when Stewie complained that Cleveland was getting a spinoff.

"What the hell? He's getting his own show?!"

Donna: "Cleveland, we're not Jewish."
Cleveland: (looks at camera) "No, but my writers are."

    • The third season premiere has a couple examples. When Cleveland visits the Griffin house, Stewie asks if his show had been cancelled. In the end, after stopping the rednecks, Peter pointed out that they would've showed the rape on his show and then did a song about it. Cleveland adds that in that case he would've "just been the black guy."
    • In one episode Cleveland goes into the basement and finds the writers and animators working on that very show. In a nod to the Daffy Duck cartoon "Duck Amuck", one animator briefly gives Cleveland a tail.
  • Missing Mom: Donna's mother, Dee Dee Tubbs. she was a singer in a 60s girl group who gave birth to Donna at 19. Wanting to maintain her singing career, she gave Donna to her brother Kevin, aka Auntie Momma.
  • Mysterious Past: Kendra, apparently. She has started a few flashbacks about her past life, which looks quite glamorous (at one point she was married to a nobleman), but before she can elaborate someone always tells her to shut up.
  • Mythology Gag: Jr. Has a Cleveland R2-D2 toy in his room.
  • Negative Continuity: In "Brown History Month" it was implied Lester and Kendra are related, but in "To Live and Die in VA" the very next season, it was revealed Kendra was a guidance counselor in Lester's school and she made him drop out so they could be together.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: When Jr. swore to remain a virgin until marriage, Cleveland tried to scare him straight by taking him to a sci-fi convention. It backfired when Cleveland bough a ton of Worf merchandise.
    • According to a DVD Commentary, that episode was actually shown at a comic-con, and when Cleveland talked about where virginity would lead, and it cut to the convention hall, the audience was laughing so hard, they couldn't hear the rest of the scene.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Federline Jones, Roberta's boyfriend, is quite similar to Kevin Federline. There is also Uncle Kevin/Auntie Momma, who is quite obviously an expy for Tyler Perry / Madea.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted with Roberta which Rallo finds this out the hard way. It then leads to a Mistaken for Dying plot until Donna explains to Rollo that women are supposed to do that.
  • N-Word Privileges: When rescuing Lester from an angry mob of black people in Harlem, who were using him as a pinata because he referred to one of them as "that word you [Cleveland] call Rallo all the time", Cleveland says that white guys with at least one black friend get one free use of the N-word (which was a bluff, but it did save Lester's neck).
    • When Rallo fell down the stairs, he accuses Cleveland of calling him "the N-word," with Cleveland saying, "What? I'm allowed to say it. Right?"
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Cookie to Donna.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: One of the show's recurring gags is Cleveland trying to figure out if Junior is doing this.
  • Older Than They Look: Kendra. During one of her flashbacks she talks about being a twenty-something in 1962. When Cleveland questions how old she is, she smugly says "Fat don't crack!"
  • Old Shame: In universe example; "Hot Cocoa Bang-Bang" is apparently this to Donna.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Cleveland attempts to pay a young boy to play with Cleveland Jr. in the car. He gets arrested for attempting to solicit sex from a minor.
  • Out of Character: When Terry is revealed to be gay. He's not sure himself, but Paul claims he is. Terry is the polar opposite of his former self -- caring, not a sexual deviant... You can see his relations with those women as him showing off, but the sudden change is jarring as hell.
  • Out of Focus: Roberta, who seems to be following in the footsteps of Meg and Hayley in terms of screen time. Lampshaded on the "Cleveland Show Live" episode in which a drunken Roberta crashes the performance several times after her debate team B-story was cut.
    • Still in full force by the end of season 2. You could make the argument that Meg or Hayley have more screentime in half a season than Roberta has had throughout the entire series so far.
    • Lampshaded again at the end of "Ain't Nothin' But Mutton Bustin". After the plot, which revolved mainly around Rallo and Junior going missing, is resolved, and Cleveland remarks how glad he is that all of his kids are home, Roberta walks in for her first appearance all episode.

Cleveland: Oh yeah, I have three kids...

  • Painting the Fourth Wall: The first act of the pilot takes place in Quahog, where everything is fullscreen. The rest of the Cleveland show takes place in Stoolbend, where everything is widescreen.
    • In Our Gang, Cleveland is told by the leader of the Stoolbloods that if he doesn't get the cocaine, he'll kill Cleveland Jr. in ten minutes. Guess how much running time is left.
      • A commercial break later, everyone took two off-screen minutes to go to the bathroom.
  • Parody Episode: The episode "Die Semi-Hard" is a parody of the first Die Hard movie with Cleveland in the John McClane role and the regular and supporting cast of the show filling out the rest.
  • Ping-Pong Naivete: Similar to Stewie, Rallo frequently switches back and forth between toddler intelligence and adult intelligence depending on the joke.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: In the season three opener before Peter and the Evil Monkey rescue Cleveland and friends from the rednecks: "Leggo my negro."
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Gabriel Friedman, AKA Federline Jones.
  • Pretty in Mink: A few furs, including Donna having worn one for a Blaxploitation film she did years before, and then we Rallo sees her getup, complains that he got in trouble for wearing a mink coat and underwear for a school photo.
  • Recycled in Space: The promo for the show features Cleveland saying his show is "Family Guy with an afro".
  • Reference Overdosed
  • Refuge in Vulgarity: Rallo's second rap in "Your Show of Shows". It really says something when more than half of the song is bleeped out.
  • Religious Stereotype: Surprisingly averted in a MacFarlane work. Tim is a devout Christian and not a single joke has been a Take That against the Church.
    • Might be a subtle play on God-less Killing Machines
    • Played somewhat straighter with Tim's wife, Arianna, who makes a comment that Rallo cursing Santa and Christmas at a pageant is what happens "when you put a Jew in charge of a Christmas pageant."
      • Arianna criticizes Donna for being a single mother (something that she despises), even though her husband walked out on HER. Ironically and hypocritically, she cheated on Tim on "Cleveland Show Lived" and Donna criticizes her.
  • Running Gag: Usually whenever Quagmire makes a brief appearance, he's always complaining about how he never got a spin off.

Quagmire: Wow. They really made it through the whole season. Hey Peter, can I have my own series, now?
Peter: Quagmire, you're a rapist.

  • Sassy Black Woman: Roberta, though thankfully without the stereotypical "Mmmm-hmmm!" MOST of the time anyway. She *has* dropped one or two in the course of the show.
    • Donna may not SAY "Mmm-hmm!" but she reads a magazine with that title!
  • Serial Escalation: The show was renewed for a second season before the first episode even aired, as mentioned above. Also mentioned above, the show was renewed for a third season... less than three weeks after the first season ended.
  • Shallow Love Interest: Donna has received some criticism for being nothing more than a stereotypical sassy black woman. Possibly lampshaded in "Your Show of Shows". At the end of the episode Donna asks for her own show, when asked what she can do, she pulls out a recorder and plays a very basic tune.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Larry Box, Stoolbend's Casually Profane Mayor.
  • Slasher Movie: Rallo and his friends watch one in "Beer Walk!", and it inspires Rallo to start scaring people while dressed as Jason, Chucky, Leatherface and Freddy.
  • Soul Brotha: Rallo's purpose in life.
  • Spicy Latina: Junior's wife's Cecilia's aunt, played by Real Life Spicy Latina, Rosie Perez.
  • Spoof Aesop: Cleveland uses Holt to cheat his way to a baseball championship, but upon seeing that he's teaching Cleveland Jr. that it's okay to cheat, he calls it off and the team loses. Cleveland congratulates himself for doing the right thing, but Donna points out that he still cheated in several games, prevented more deserving teams from a chance at the championship and only backed off at the very last moment.
  • Spinoff Sendoff: The pilot episode starts in Quahog as Cleveland tells his friends about his troubles and he decides to move away.
  • Skunk Stripe: Roberta's unusual hairstyle.
  • Stylistic Suck: the "Live" episode.
  • Talking Animal: Cleveland's neighbor, Tim the Bear.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: The focus of a first-season episode. Most of the "special guest stars" mentioned at the beginning do not in fact appear, but "Auntie Momma" more than makes up for that.
    • A second season episode has Donna's sister and her two kids with the same name visit. She dumps them to run off to Las Vegas with Holt.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Cleveland himself, since he got his own show.
  • Too Much Information: Cleveland's parents have no problems with describing their sex lives in Cleveland's company..... graphically much to his disgust.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Cleveland Jr. and Cecilia
  • Unexplained Recovery: Ernie's pet possum, Princess.
    • Also done with Kenny West, who was used sunglasses to cover his free-roaming eye in his first appearance, but miraculously cured in his next.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Likely the reason that between this promo and the actual show the last line of the theme song went from "My happy black guy face" to "My happy mustached face"
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Hoo boy, the writers really seem to dig this one.
    • Possibly even lampshaded in one episode, with a TV promo for a new FOX sitcom called "The Barf Family".
  • Walking Tubetop Scene: Roberta
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Cleveland has shades of this, but equal emphasis is placed on Cleveland having to let go of the old-fashioned "manly" rules he most likely grew up with. Also with Cleveland with his at-best strained relationship with his father LeVar "Freight Train" Brown.
  • Wham! Line: from the hurricane ep, I don't believe in Jesus from Cleveland Jr.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Cleveland doesn't understand how Junior can get a hot girl like Cecilia as his girlfriend.
    • Though after Cleveland saw Cecilia's father's (who looked very similar to Junior), this seemed to explain a lot.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Cleveland. But Donna would smack the white out of a bitch.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Rallo pulls one in "From Bed to Worse", breaking his leg on purpose to keep his mother and Cleveland apart. Leads to a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he realizes his behavior's hurting his mother, too.
  • Your Favorite: For Cleveland Slop Poppers (a Hot Pockets Bland-Name Product)