The Tick (animation)

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Yes, evil comes in many forms, whether it be a man-eating cow or Joseph Stalin, but you can't let the package hide the pudding! Evil is just plain bad! You don't cotton to it. You gotta smack it in the nose with the rolled-up newspaper of goodness! Bad dog! Bad dog!

1994 Animated Series, a casual but incisive send-up of Superhero shows (based on an independent comic by Ben Edlund written in the early 90s), featuring as its title character a super-strong, "Nigh Invulnerable" (or so he says), and probably insane moron with a hypertrophied sense of justice and Melodrama, given to bold, thoughtless action and near-incomprehensible Aesop-like pronouncements. Assisting the Tick in his daily struggle against the forces of Evil is Arthur, a former accountant, now moth-themed Sidekick. Frequently joining their adventures are Die Fledermaus and American Maid, two fellow crimefighters who bear a funhouse-mirror resemblance to a pair of well-known characters from The DCU.

The Tick's adventures are evenly split between well-intentioned cluelessness and actual battles against supervillains. These villains -- such as Chairface Chippendale, El Seed, Brainchild, and the Terror -- are frequently just as bizarre as the Tick and his allies. Some, like the Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight ("One of these days, baby! Milkshake! Boom!"), have even developed their own fan followings.

In every episode, this program gleefully skewers the tropes and cliches of the Superhero genre, distorting and twisting them like Silly Putty until they can stretch no more and snap back to hit you in the face. The resulting lunacy has spawned a cult following that continues to this day.

In 2001, FOX attempted to revive the series in a live action format with Patrick "Puddy" Warburton in the title role. The short-lived series was surprisingly good, but did not last even an entire season.

Recently, the comic has returned as a bi-monthly, ongoing title, written by Benito Cereno and drawn by Les McClane.

The Tick (animation) is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in The Tick (animation) include:
  • Achilles in His Tent - Handy might well have named this trope.
  • Adaptation Distillation - Most fans agree that the cartoon version was a great step for the franchise.
  • Alien Among Us: Tick and Arthur get new neighbors in one episode: Thrakkorzog, some normal guy, and Thrakkorzog's brain-eating tongue.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian - In one episode, The Tick goes to see a psychiatrist. His "therapy" consists of being forced to wrestle the psychiatrist's assisstant Shaft Taft in various disguises.

Taft: Come on man, I'm your mother!
Tick: No, you're not! You're Taft!

Tick: (clears throat) All right…uh…this is quite a pickle. But no reason to panic, Arthur.
Arthur: (long, anguished scream)
Tick: (spots a Phone Booth) Ah…come along, Arthur! We'll call for assistance!
Arthur: (screams again)

  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Authur is pretty competent in a variety of things, once you look past he's in a giant moth suit all the time.
    • Averted in Arthur's backstory in multiple adaptations - he attempted to wear his moth suit all the time at his accounting position, and this bothered the higher-ups enough that he was "encouraged" to take a leave of absence and get psychiatric help.
    • The Tick himself qualifies, as well. When compared to most of the other "heroes" in The City, at least The Tick has the drive and focus to get the job done.
  • Captain Ersatz: All over the place. The live action series had them for the major characters.
    • In Transformers Animated, of all places, The Tick gets one. Sentinel Prime is voiced by Townsend Coleman, resembles the Tick (he's large, blue and has a lantern jaw and antennae) and even speaks like the Tick at times. The biggest difference being that Sentinel is a Jerkass instead of a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Captain Geographic: American Maid.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Many of the antagonists, particularly Chairface Chippendale and The Terror.
  • Catapult to Glory: the Human Cannonball.
  • Chainsaw Good: Wielded by the aptly-named Chainsaw Vigilante.
  • Characterization Marches On: The first episode has Die Fledermaus springing into action, among other superheroes, to stop the Idea Men. He was distracted by American Maid.
  • Chef of Iron / Evil Chef: The Breadmaster
  • The City, called, oddly enough, "The City". It's said to have been poorly Anglicized from the French "Les Citrons" (The Lemons). Apparently early French explorers found a large quantity of some kind of fruit in the area.
  • Closer to Earth: American Maid, compared to Die Fliedermaus and most of the rest of the cast.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Tick, turned to 11.
    • 11? The Tick's dial goes all the way to "Justice"!
  • Combat Stilettos: American Maid wears them and actually uses them in combat as throwing weapons.
  • Continuity Nod: Countless examples, in addition to the Deface of the Moon example below. In one case, Handy loses one of his eyes at the end of "The Tick vs. Arthur's Bank Account" and when Handy returns in "Grandpa Wore Tights", he's wearing an eye patch.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Tick versus the Infinity Orb.
  • Dating Catwoman: Die Fledermaus meets his own personal Catwoman when he encounters The Ottoman, a stylish woman who knows everything about furniture.
  • Dead Little Sister: Little Wooden Boy
  • Deconstructor Fleet
  • Deface of the Moon: An aborted attempt by Chairface Chippendale to write his name. The letters "CHA" appear on the moon as a Continuity Nod.
  • The Ditz: The Tick.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength
  • Doppleganger Spin: Multiple Santa, who duplicates whenever touched by an electrical spark.
  • Dumb Muscle: The Tick himself.
  • Egopolis: Pineapple Pokopo and Pokoponesia.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: In The Tick vs. Brainchild.
  • Enfante Terrible: Charles/Brainchild, who was also a Mad Scientist.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Thrakkorzog, Tun-La Not Of This Earth.
  • Eureka Moment: Given the less than stellar intellects of many cast members, these tend to be gems such as "...Water. People swim... in water!"
  • Expy: Since the live action version couldn't get all the rights to characters from the animated version, Die Fledermaus became Bat-Manuel and American Maid became Captain Liberty.
    • For added hilarity, Batman Die Fledermaus and Wonder Woman American Maid were already Expies in their own right. Also, Shaft Taft.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: The Man-Eating Cow, possibly-heroic scourge of the criminal underworld and star of her own spin-off comic.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Yank.
  • Evil Plan: Parodied in the pilot episode, when the heroes catch one of the Idea Men and demand he tells them his scheme:

Idea Man: Well, we thought we’d steal a lot of money, and then we’d be rich, and we wouldn’t have to work anymore!
Tick: You cads!

  • Esperanto, the Universal Language: "Actually, Tick, I've taught myself to speak all your Earth languages. Except Esperanto. * chuckles* You could see that one was going nowhere."
  • Evil Old Folks: The Terror, a crazy old has-been supervillain who used to be buddies with Stalin. Back in the day he used to be a credible threat; these days, not so much, but he still gives Arthur and The Tick a good go of it.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight.
  • Expospeak Gag: Google "acetylsalicylic acid".
  • Eye Lights Out
  • Fantastic Voyage Plot: Without as much shrinking though. The just needed to get into Dinosaur Neal's body to remove the dinosaur DNA.
  • Feghoot: the episode The Tick Loves Santa. Dear GOD, the episode The Tick Loves Santa
  • Five-Man Band: Of Sorts.
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: in the episode "The Tick versus Pineapple Pokopo."
  • Foot Focus: Find a fighting scene with American Maid
  • For Science!: The primary motivation of most of the shows various mad scientists, most notably Dr Chrome Dome.
  • Genius Ditz: The Tick may be very, very ditzy in just about everything, but he has shown a certain level of philosophical thought in some cases.
  • Good Guy Bar: The Comet Club
  • Gratuitous Latin: Milo from the supervillain team Venus and Milo spouts Latin phrases constantly.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: "Arthur, my body is a weapon. Use it!"
  • Hand Puppet: Handy, the Human Ton's good pal. Read a book!
  • Hannibal Lecture: Parodied with Destroyo in the live action series. Trying it on Captain Liberty just made her not able to shut up about insecure she was.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Parodied to the point of ludicrousness (just take a look at the picture on the trope page).
    • The Flying Squirrel superhero student in "The Tick vs Education" proved to be pretty effective with her squirrels.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Tick, especially in his more scenery-chewing moments.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Arthur's moth costume is confused for a rabbit rabbit.
  • Ice Cream Koan: Many quotes by The Tick and The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight.

Gravity is a harsh mistress!
I hate broccoli, and yet, in a certain sense, I am broccoli.
You know, when a tomato grows out of your forehead, it gets you thinking.
I'm about to write you a reality check. Or would you prefer the cold, hard cash of truth?
EMBWBAM: AN OBJECT AT REST, CANNOT BE STOPPED!
SURF'S UP, SPACE PONIES! I'M MAKING GRAVY WITHOUT THE LUMPS!

Tick: Guns and superheroes don't mix. Seek professional help.

The Mayor: "You heroes keep sending us these things and they just don't work. Every time we flash the Die Fledermaus signal he unplugs his phone and skips town for a week."

American Maid: Oh well, I suppose I could do a lot worse.
Tick: Neat!

  • She's Got Legs: American Maid
  • Shout-Out: To many sources, including Dick Tracy and The DCU.
  • Smurfing: The Whats mistake Arthur for a Hey and he still manages to get through an interrogation.
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Evil giant ants plan to deliver Karmic Deaths to all of humanity via one gigantic magnifying glass.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Baron Violent's costume.
  • Spoof Aesop: "You know, though today was the worst day of my life, I learned many things. First, the world looks a lot different when you're six inches tall and covered with feathers. Second, two heads are definitely not better than one. And finally, you can lay eggs and still feel like a man."
  • Super Breeding Program: El Seed had an ultimate goal of creating an army of super-strong animated plants.
  • Superhero
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Parodied with Big Shot.
  • The Talk
  • This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman: Sewer Urchin, normally somewhat useless and meek, becomes a Badass in the episode where they have to battle his sewer-based archnemesis. Here, he is largely unflappable with just the right tools for the job and a pretty cool base of operations.

Arthur: (sotto voce) "Who knew Sewer Urchin of all people would be this cool?"
Sewer Urchin: (revealing that he heard Arthur just fine) "Down here I'm the apotheosis of cool."