Wilfred

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You never truly know a person until you've seen where they live. And met their family.

Wilfred is an Australian dark comedy television program. What happens when you go home for the first time with a girl you really like, and meet the 'other' man in her life: her dog, Wilfred?

After their first date, Adam goes home with Sarah and meets a scruffy dog called Wilfred. Strangely, Adam sees Wilfred as an adult man, dressed in a dog costume. Wilfred dislikes Adam, and decides to test him, having endured the ups and downs of Sarah's love life. So, in addition to winning Sarah's heart, Adam must contend with Wilfred.

This is the story about a boy, a girl and a weed-smoking dog who thinks he’s human. This is Wilfred.

The show came from a short film "Wilfred", which was a finalist at Tropfest 2002. The short film can be found here.[1]

From this low-key beginning, the show was developed into a longer format, and was picked up by SBS, where it ran for two seasons.

A US adaptation (currently set for two seasons) is currently airing on FX and stars Elijah Wood as Ryan, a washed-up former lawyer who attempts suicide only to meet Wilfred, who vows to make Ryan his own man while manipulating him and giving Ryan all sorts of false leads as to how he should try to romance Wilfred's owner, Jenna.


Tropes used in Wilfred include:
  • A Boy and His Dog: The basic premise.
  • Abusive Parents: Ryan's father seems to have been one of these, pressuring Ryan into becoming a lawyer. We later learn threw Ryan's mother into an mental asylum.
    • However, Ryan's sister routinely calls him out on using using this Freudian Excuse and Ryan's mother points out that she's always been a Cloudcuckoolander and she was clearly unwell when he committed her (having climbed up the chimney to escape the pressure of hosting a dinner for her husband's boss).
  • A God I Am: Wilfred does one of the greatest of these EVER, in "Respect". On a roof, in the pouring rain:

Ryan: "You've lost your mind. It's like you've got some kind of...God complex."
Wilfred: "I'll let you in on a little secret, Ryan. I don't have a God complex. I AM GOD! THUNDER!!"
[Thunder]
Ryan: "How did you do that?!"
Wilfred: "Lucky coincidence!"

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Ryan and his family, surname Newman and populated by lawyers and doctors.
  • Amoral Attorney: Ryan was known as the Archaeologist at his old firm for his ability to dig up dirt on the opposition.
  • Author Appeal: There are a lot of "anal" related things in this show.
  • Basement Dweller: If there even is a basement.
  • Bathos
  • Berserk Button: Wilfred does not like being hit on the nose by a newspaper.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ryan, in "Identity".
  • Bi the Way: In US episode 3, Wilfred states he roots other dogs all the time to establish dominance. Later, in the same episode, he plays "fuck/marry/kill" with Ryan and says he'd "screw Toto, marry Lassie, and kill Marmaduke."
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: US episode 6:

Ryan: What's the one thing Jenna hates most about Drew?
Wilfred: Vaginal tearing from his huge cock?

  • Big No: Sneakers after failing to kill Kristen and Dr. Ramos.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Wilfred claims that Darryl puts peanut butter on his testicles to rape him; granted, it's generally taken very seriously, but Wilfred tells Ryan by seductively licking two ice-cream balls whilst crying.
  • Blatant Lies: Jenna obviously has good intentions. After Wilfred has fooled everyone into thinking Ryan has broken into all their cars, she tells Ryan that everyone is glad he came to the annual block party.
  • Bungled Suicide: Ryan attempting suicide with (unbeknownst to him) placebos opens the US series.
  • Cargo Ship: Wilfred enjoys relations with a large teddy bear and later, a stuffed giraffe.
  • Catch Phrase: Sneakers' seemed to have been "Yippity-doo!".
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: In US episode 7, Ryan walks in on Wilfred masturbating to giraffe porn.
  • Character Title
  • Chewing the Scenery: Wilfred's entire character IS this.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ryan's mother. Ryan's father actually put her into a mental hospital for it.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Wilfred's main motivation.
  • Companion Cube: Bear and Raffi.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Wilfred is terrified of veterinarians and screams out microchip plots when Ryan takes him to one in US episode 2. In US episode 9, he apparently has similar theories about the post office.
  • Continuity Nod: Ryan makes a quick reference to the car accident plot of US episode 7 in episode 8.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Wilfred uses it to his advantage.

Wilfred: I once cracked a Nazi skinhead in the face with a beer bottle, and you know what he did to me? Belly rub.

  • Dead All Along: Will be at least played with in US episode 13.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wilfred obviously, though don't be surprised to catch Ryan in on the action.

Wilfred: So chemistry, baking, and Ping-Pong. I guess my only question is how were you not blowjobbed to death by the entire cheerleading squad?

  • Deceased Fall Guy Gambit: Wilfred frames a dead homeless man for a string of thefts. Ryan wants clear his name before realizing his alternatives are to confess (and be hated) or tell the truth (which no one will believe).
  • Despair Event Horizon: The end of season 1. Ryan winds up splitting up his sister and her husband, gets Jenna to go back to Drew because the replacement urine he used for her drug test said she was pregnant, and worst of all, Wilfred gets hit by a car and forgets who Ryan is. Ryan is also forced to seriously question his sanity upon finding out the basement he was spending time with Wilfred in is actually a closet.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Ryan uses this to find out what really happened to his old dog.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Wilfred gets revenge on the kid down the street, who always faked him out by pretending to throw balls, et cetera, by framing him for breaking into all the cars on the block.
    • Wilfred poisoned Ryan with chocolate for hitting him with a newspaper.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: In US episode 3, Ryan dreams of the moment his biker neighbor comes over to kick his ass for breaking into his house and stealing his weed, which occurs a bit later in the episode. Muddling the matter, however, is the fact that the dream is also full of the sort of weird things that happen in dreams, like a clock with spinning hands and Ryan having baby feet and pulling a tooth out of his mouth. The tooth bit actually happens when Spencer punches him in the face in the waking world.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When Jenna gets fired from her TV station, Wilfred goes on a toilet water binge. This includes him dropping a shotglass of toilet water into a pint of toilet water.
  • Drunk with Power

Wilfred: I AM GOD! THUNDER!!! (Thunder roars.)
Ryan: How did you do that?!
Wilfred: LUCKY COINCIDENCE!!!

  • Fantastic Racism: Wilfred seems to consider it racist to forbid dogs at a beach.
    • Or to be given a bone as a gift.
  • Flipping the Table: Inverted; Drew flips a lawn chair after winning at ping-pong. He's just insanely competitive. Played straight, by Wilfred, who "wins" board games by flipping the board over and punching Ryan in the face.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Anger", Kristen is surprised to hear from Ryan that their family home has a basement.
  • Freudian Excuse: Sneakers's death badly traumatized Ryan.
  • Gag Penis: Wilfred uses his tail as one in "Doubt". It's 23 inches, apparently.
  • Gainax Ending: The American Season One finale, full stop.
  • Gilligan Cut: In US episode 8, Ryan is about to go off on Kristen for being a raging bitch. The next cut is Wilfred berating him for not actually going through with yelling at her.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: One episode, Wilfred hears two female dogs "experimenting".
  • Gone Horribly Right: US episode 6's Xanatos Gambit. Ryan feels pretty terrible about it afterward.
  • Harmless Villain: Wilfred attempts to poison Ryan. With chocolate. To be fair, it would've worked on Wilfred...
  • Deadly Change-of-Heart: At the end of US episode 8, Kristen reveals that it was her fault that Sneakers died and begs Ryan for forgiveness. She hopes that Wilfred will let her pet him, only for him to slap a glass of red wine at her.
  • Hidden Depths: Wilfred speaks Italian. Then again, he's a dog.
    • He can create synthetic theobromine using high school chemistry.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: The actress playing Kristen was preggers throughout the season.
  • Hypocritical Humor: from US episode 6:

Wilfred: Have you any idea what it feels like to have someone come into your house, treat you with no respect, and act like they own the place?
Ryan: Did you eat my sandwich?

    • "Community service is for drunk drivers and wife beaters, not upstanding citizens like us. Now let's go to the playground and blaze a fatty"
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The US series uses one word taken from a quote; for example, episode one is "Happiness", from the Mark Twain quote "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination."
  • I Have No Mouth: Done with Ryan's tongue, in "Isolation"
  • Informed Judaism: Spencer (Ryan's biker neighbor), who complains about his old friend Jesse banging his girlfriend on the Shabbos.
  • Insult Backfire: In "Compassion", Wilfred fails to see why "son of a bitch" and "eat shit" is insulting.
  • Invisible to Normals: No one else notices Wilfred's undoglike behaviour except Adam/Ryan.
    • US episode 11 reveals that Bruce, a mysterious man from Wilfred's past, sees him just like Ryan does. However, whether or not Bruce himself is real may be argued, as only Ryan and Wilfred ever see him.
  • It Runs in The Family: Ryan has pretty big concerns about ending up crazy like his mother. Turns out, she sees her cat Mittens as a woman in a cat suit...
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Ryan went to Stanford Law.
  • Jail Bait: Apparently, age of consent for dogs is three.
  • Jerkass/Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Wilfred seems to border on these.
    • Ryan's sister Kristen is more of a straight jerkass, however.
  • Just Friends: Jenna and her "old college chum, Bobby 'Blueballs' Davis". Wilfred warns Ryan that he is nearing the friendzone in US episode 6.
  • Kick the Dog: Drew gets examples in "Kick Them While They Are Down" below and other expressions of his competition-related rage issues.
    • Also, this is the only show on television where it's dog who kicks the dog.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Jenna's boyfriend Drew is a beer salesmen for Sheboygan Lager. He tells Ryan this anecdote in US episode 6: when Drew discovered another brewery talking to his clients, he turned around and carried the same plan to completion. A month later he encountered a salesman for the rival brewery at a bar, who had been fired thanks to Drew. Drew decides to buy him a bottle of Sheboygan Lager.
    • He later reveals he didn't even buy the guy a beer; he bought himself one and told the guy to lick his nuts
  • The Ladette: The beer-chugging, cheesesteak-gobbling Jenna, Ryan's object of affection in the US series. The problem is that Ryan spends all of episode 2 thinking that she has a dick, and all this manliness does not help matters.
  • Large Ham: Wilfred at times. Commonly accompanies an affected accent.
  • The Libbie: Jenny definitely does this to Ryan, especially in "Sacrifice".
  • Loners Are Freaks: Ryan has to deal with the rest of the neighborhood believing this in US episode 10.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Chincia.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Wilfred is a little insecure about Sarah/Jenna's affections, and plays Adam/Ryan like a violin to stay Number 1.
    • As revealed during the season 1 finale, Ryan was one too. When he returns to his old ways he screws pretty much everyone's life up
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Was Wilfred actually possessed by Ryan's old dog Sneakers in US episode 8, or was he just pretending to to ultimately get back at Kristen? Wilfred knows things that only Sneakers would, but at the end of the episode acts as if he were only trying to get Kristen to admit that she didn't hate Wilfred. All of which is a MMMM on whether or not you believe Wilfred is a sentient dog, Ryan just imagining his own inner voice, or if Wilfred knew something was wrong and pulled a Batman Gambit to try and give Ryan closure.
  • Metaphorgotten:

[When Wilfred wants to rescue a stuffed teddy bear from Darryl, an animal raping daycare owner.]
Wilfred: What Darryl does to Bear is even worse!
Ryan: It's a stuffed animal.
Wilfred: Yeah, Ryan. Stuffed with pain! ...and humiliation! ...and Darryl's cum! ...and bits of foam I think.

  • My Greatest Failure: In US episode 8, Ryan reveals that his childhood dog Sneakers drowned because Ryan left the gate to the pool open.
  • Netorare: Raffi forces Wilfred into this in US episode 7.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Usually averted at the end of each episode. Notably played straight, however, when US series 1 ends; Wilfred sacrifices himself for the greater good and forgets Ryan, Ryan may or may not be insane, Jenna thinks she's pregnant after Kristen's urine is unknowingly tested instead (causing her to settle down with a man she doesn't really like) and Kristen, who doesn't realize she's pregnant, tells her husband about her affair so Ryan can't blackmail her anymore, ending her relationship and causing her to disown Ryan and run off to India.
  • Parental Incest: Spencer has a transsexual for a father, finds his father's porn hot, and considers her to have perfect breasts.
    • Turns out Wilfred managed to trick his friend Bruce into making out with his own father. Assuming it wasn't just one of the many lies they told as part of the plan.
  • The Pollyanna/Kids Are Cruel: Ryan's childhood dog Sneakers. Golly! Let's punch Kristen's tits off!
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "Claire de Lune" is used in US episode 12.
  • Rage Quit: After getting a Clue accusation wrong in US episode 7's tag, Wilfred flips the game board and sucker punches Ryan.
  • Remake Cameo: An extension of this trope. Wilfred is played by Jason Gann in the original short, the Australian series, and the US remake.
  • Second Episode Morning: Technically occurs in the first episode, but after Ryan meets Wilfred and wakes up after a minor NyQuil coma, he sees a normal dog in his yard, causing him to write off the man-in-a-dog-suit weirdness as a dream...until he looks in another direction and sees that there's a man in a dog suit in his house.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Dog
  • Shadow Archetype: Trash Face the homeless guy is this to Ryan.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spiritual Successor: Look at Wilfred. Then look at Calvin and Hobbes. Now look back at Wilfred. Tell me you don't see a connection.
  • Sore Loser: Jenna's boyfriend Drew, to the point of throwing the Wiimote through the window after losing to Jenna's dad at Wii Golf.
  • Starts with a Suicide: The US version.
  • The Stoner: Wilfred gets high pretty often, but he doesn't fit the rest of the stereotype very well; he's too much of an asshole. Ryan is also an example, especially once he gets a medical marijuana recommendation in the US episode 2.
  • The Tag: In the US series.
  • Technicolor Science: Appears near the end of US episode 6.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Just how straight this trope is being played is debatable. Wilfred does tell Adam/Ryan things that the latter couldn't have known on occasion.
  • Toilet Humor: In US episode 3's tag, Wilfred plays with a Play-do press that excretes a little turd of dough, groaning and making fart noises all the while.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Wilfred has a torch in "Isolation": "I say string up the weirdo!" (Oh, and that's Ryan. Of course.)
  • Trickster Mentor: Wilfred definitely qualifies as this.
  • The Unfavorite: In the present, Ryan. During their childhood, it was actually Kristen.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In US episode 3, Ryan buys Wilfred a Kobe beef chewing bone. Wilfred simply complains that it's not a bong or vaporizer.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Wilfred makes a habit of bending the truth on several occasions, but it's usually to make a point or get his way rather than Did Not Do the Research (such as telling Ryan that Jenna has a penis, only to reveal he was actually just fucking with Ryan to get revenge).
    • Episode six has Wilfred giving Ryan a lethal dose of Theobromine, only for the pair to discover it's the chemical in chocolate that makes it lethal to dogs, making it one of the few Did Not Do the Research examples for Wilfred.
    • See Drew's anecdote in "Kick Them While They Are Down" up there? What actually happened was that Drew bought himself the Sheboygan Lager, spit it in the other guy's face, and yelled at him to "lick my balls".
  • The Un-Reveal: We never do find out if the day-care owner in US episode 4 actually molested Wilfred or not or whether Wilfred actually killed anyone at the hospital or not in episode 5. We also never find out if Wilfred was genuinely possessed by Ryan's old dog Sneakers, or how Bruce and Wilfred met, and how he sees him like Ryan does.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight
  • Verbal Tic: Drew and "bro".
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Ryan only became a lawyer to please his father and to keep him from throwing him into the loony bin like his mother.
  • What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Inverted, as co-creator Jason Gann has said in an interview that he and the other creators actually were on drugs when they created the show.
  • Why Do You Hate the Dog?: Twisted all to hell and gone.
  • Xanatos Gambit: In US episode 6. It was meant to be a Batman Gambit, but it worked out after the "lose condition" happened anyway. The plan was for Ryan to challenge Drew to a ping-pong game and win, hoping that Jenna would be in the vicinity to see him lose his shit. He still went pretty crazy after winning.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Wilfred cheats on Bear with a stuffed giraffe named Raffi in US episode 7 and has to deal with Bear's suspicions the next day.
    • Wilfred acts like Ryan having another dog 20 years ago is like cheating on him in US episode 8.