"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 gangster 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 cliché 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 naiveté makes her believe everything she is told by adults.The comic strip was widely unknown until after the events of 9/11 when the strip gained national attention for 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 9/11, 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 on [adult swim], 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). The first three seasons were made with McGruder's input. The fourth was was not, and was largely regarded as mediocre.It now has a Best Episode Crowner.Not to be confused with The Boondock Saints.
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; "revitiligo", a supposed reverse version of vitiligo. The validity of his mother's claim is still in question.
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, though his actual abuse tends to be more his failings as a parental figure and role model, as his instances of physical punishments is usually well deserved.
This is reason the grandmother gave for Lamilton Taeshawn's sociopathic behavior, saying that he comes from a family where all of his relatives abuse each other, are alcoholics, and are in poverty among other things. Unlike Uncle Ruckus's situation, this all bores Huey and Granddad.
Little Ruckus: Mama, who was George Washington Carver? Bunny: He's the man responsible for more peanut allergy deaths than anyone who ever lived.
Actual Pacifist: The Freedom Riders in "Freedom or Die" are taught and pledged to be this in their efforts to show their moral superiority over the racists in the '60s. Their leader, Sturdy Harris, is more of a Martial Pacifist.
Jimmie Walker who played JJ on Good Times, plays a older angrier Expy of himself with JJ's trademark hat.
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.
Adapted Out: Michael Caesar - a popular major character introduced a few years into the strip's run, absent thus far from the animated series. As Caesar was Huey only truly close friend in the comic, his absence emphasizes his isolation in the show quite a bit.
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...
The first episode of the TV series was more or less about this, or at least heavily lampshades it, while hinting at some bad implications: Huey spends most of his time at a garden party trying to make serious political points to older white people, who just clap and find him charming.
In the episode "The Lovely Ebony Brown", one of Grandad's past girlfriends tried to kidnap Riley because she thought he was adorable.
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:
At the end of "The Story of Jimmy Rebel," Jimmy admits that he's just not as racist as he once was and wants to sing about things other than black people, like "friends, good times, beer, love, all kinds of shit." Cut to the next scene, where Ruckus and Jimmy are singing a song that's just as racist, but against Mexicans.
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 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.
"The following is a completely fictional work of satire. Any similarities with actual rappers it totally, completely coincidental. Also, I ain't dissin' nobody's city, or region, or... whatever geographic affiliation you got. I love everybody. Seriously, I don't want any of you niggas running up on me at the club. I don't have no crew, and they don't pay me enough for bodyguards. I know how ya'll niggas do. It's just jokes, man. Dictated. Not Read: The Management."
All Take and No Give / Karma Houdini: "The Invasion of the Katrinians," where Grandad takes in his cousin Jericho and his large family when they're forced to leave New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Jericho and his family spend months trashing Grandad's house, eating his food, and worse, Jericho and his 20-something son refuse to get jobs. Jericho keeps insisting that he'll pay Grandad back when his constantly-delayed FEMA check arrives. However, the end of the episode reveals that the check for $200,000 did arrive and Jericho lied about it being delayed again. Instead, he and his family move back to rebuild and he guilts Grandad into dropping the debt altogether.
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.
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"
A visual example in "The Color Ruckus", when Uncle Ruckus is telling the story of his childhood. When his father is throwing him out of the house: he steps on a rake, which hits him in the face and gives him his trademark bulging eye and broken teeth; he steps in a bear trap, giving him a limp; and he... gets wet paint from the fence on his shirt. His mother cries it'll need a presoak to get out.
The comics art style became progressively better and cleaner.
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.
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. This gag occasionally shows up in the show as well, such as when Huey shrugged at the camera when Uncle Ruckus showed off his Nunchaku skills or his "you've got to be kidding me" look when Granddad tries to justify N-Word Privileges to him.
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, the comic and (to a somewhat lesser extent) the show are chock full of Star Wars references, and Huey himself is a fan. His status of an Author Avatar for McGruder's interests was lampshaded, sometimes.
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.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Every once in awhile the Freemans will have a moment that demonstrate that deep down, they care about each other's well being. It's often one-sided and understated, but with the way characters usually act in this show it still says a lot.
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. He's 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.
Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: What few police in this show aren't being paid off by Wuncler Sr are astoundingly incompetent, probably best seen in Season 4 where they arrest Pretty Boy Flizzy for a crime he didn't commit (it having actually been staged by Flizzy with the help of a professional film crew and the consent of the "victim"), because they couldn't be bothered to watch the surveillance footage two seconds past the alleged crime.
The Bad Guy Wins: The Itis. Ed Wuncler, Sr. wants Meadowlark Park so he gives Robert his dream of a soul food restaurant. The restaurants's highly addicting food causes unemployment for many of its customers, an increase in crime rate, and lowered property values so that way it will be easier for him buy it despite being more than rich enough. Although the restaurant gets shut down because of a lawsuit, he gets what he had planned on: the deed to the nearby Meadowlark Park so he could develop it.
Before My Time: The Freemans' neighbor asks Huey whether he's named after Huey Lewis, and Huey actually responds, "Before my time." The subversion comes in the fact that Huey has just given an erudite lecture on Black Panther Huey Newton. He may just be baiting the poor guy.
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 niggasnote 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. 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!
Big Bad: Ed Wuncler Sr. is the closest the series has to one.
Big Damn Heroes: Thugnificent & his crew rescuing the Freemans in "The Fried Chicken Flu"
Big Eater: Cristal (like the champagne), who packs it away at the Red Lobster and then asks for more food when she gets back to the Freeman house.
Also lots and lots of jokes lampooning the newspaper editing and censorship process - there are countless series of gags in the strip where the papers "remove" Boondocks from syndication in favor of something ridiculously propagandist, Tastes Like Diabetes or overly "child-friendly," or just downright strange. So much so that one of these gags is accompanied by an editorial "we mean it this time."
Bittersweet Ending: "Bitches to Rags" leaves Thugnificent bankrupt and forced to sell his home. However, he sort of manages to make a comeback as a UPS delivery man, realizing the "rapper lifestyle" wasn't going to last forever and that he had to move on.
Although he is making a reality TV show based on his post rap career.
Uncle Ruckus "Say that again? I couldn't hear you over the sound of me sh***in' myself."
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.
Brutal Honesty: This is a trait of all of the Freemans, although they all do it in different ways.
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 Scrappystereotypes. 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.
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 season 3 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.
Casting Gag: Snoop Dogg as Macktastic, Busta Rhymes as Flonominal
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.
Riley. Even being a stablished main character, the first season only has three episodes focused on him. And only Rilery Wuz Here have a real conflict and development. Season two, on the other hand, has half of the first 10 episodes about him and his development as a person.
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 Ted Baxter and loses much of his "clever but willfully Book Dumb" traits.
Huey himself becomes less extreme, less aggressively opinionated and becomes wiser - basically, his Jerk with a Heart of Gold 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.
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."
Conflict Ball: "The Nigga Moment" is essentially this In-Universe. It describes a moment when ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise logical black man, causing him to act in an illogical, self-destructive manner, such as getting into a shoot-out over a guy brushing against your shoulder on the street. Its inverse is "Nigga Synthesis"; when willfully ignorant black men join together and bond over something trivial and stupid. The two are not mutually exclusive, as Applied Mathematics teaches us that a "Nigga Moment" + "Nigga Synthesis" = "Complete &$%^ing Disaster".
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.
In "Good Times" one of the people who Ed Wuncler Jr. rents the Freeman house out to threatens to have a Nigga Moment with Robert over use of the bathroom.
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!
Curb-Stomp Battle: Between Granddad and Stinkmeaner. Both times. With opposite outcomes.
The Danza: In-universe example, as 50 Cent stars in Soul Plane 2 as "Air Marshal 50 Cent!"
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.
Dark-Skinned Blonde: Uncle Ruckus's mom, Bunny Ruckus. She dyed her hair blonde. She eventually got blue eyes to match.
Darker and Edgier: The TV series has much darker humor and content than the newspaper comic strip.
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.
Huey may glares 90% of the time anyways, but those select glares he saves for those who have really pissed him off or who have done something he considers reprehensible are very, very vicious. Likewise, Granddad - the look he gives A Pimp Named Slickback when he tries to hit Cristal in his presence, for instance.
Death Seeker: According to Robert, Sturdy Harris was this, claiming he cared more about dying for the cause than for the cause itself.
Decomposite Character: This ends up being the case in Granddad and Ruckus's versions of the story of Catcher Freeman.
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'redaily. 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!!
"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 and references Scarface heavily.
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 friend(who ironically afterwards is heard saying words of encouragement).
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.
Hell, in the season 3 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."
In Good Times, Grandad's excessive debt forces him to sell the family to what is essentially slavery to Ed Wuncler II and Uncle Ruckus. Though, whether this sticks or not is debatable.
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.
Enemies Equals Greatness: Huey and Riley took a minute to discuss this trope in "Shining" where the latter is excited about receiving a chain from Thugnificent:
Riley: "I can't wait for niggas to start hatin! I can't wait!" Huey: "So you judge your success by the amount of ill-will you generate from those around you?" Riley: "Hey, if niggas ain't mad at you, then you doin' something wrong." Huey: "By that definition then, you have a very bright future."
Also, Huey and Agent Jack Flowers team up to stop a homegrown terrorist attack. Especially so, since Agent Flowers is a federal agent who previously held Huey under suspicion of planning to commit the very attack.
Enfante Terrible: Lamilton, and pretty much every named child in the series, save for Jasmine.
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.
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.
Fawlty Towers Plot: In "The Story of Jimmy Rebel", Uncle Ruckus records some racist songs for his equally racist country-singing idol Jimmy Rebel, but pretends to be his black slave instead after meeting him face-to-face.
Financial Abuse: Robert spent his grandsons' inheritance on a very large house in an upscale neighborhood, justifying it by claiming he was "owed" it for having participated in the Civil Rights Movement.
Five-Temperament Ensemble: Robert (choleric), Huey (melancholic), Tom (leuquine), Riley (sanguine), and Jazmine (phlegmatic).
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.
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 LamiltonTaeshawn's excuse for his sociopath-behavior, stating that "It's fun to do bad things."
Free-Range Children: In the comic, Huey, Riley and Caesar are able to go wherever they want and do quite a bit without supervision (though there isn't much to do in Woodcrest). This is lessened somewhat in the cartoon, as Granddad often attempts to restrain them from doing anything crazy, but as the show goes on they're able to get away with more and more anyway (at one point, for example, they're able to effortlessly sneak into a movie studio).
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.
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.
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.
They only appear briefly, but Robert's internet dates in "Attack of the Killer Kung Fu Wolf Bitch" are cartoonishly ugly.
Good Is Not Nice: Huey. He's smart and has good intentions in building a greater American society, but can be downright cynical about it.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Riley's fighting style is very much a dirty version of this trope... and yet it's inverted in every instance he uses it, as he is usually brutally beaten. Usually by Huey.
Gratuitous English: A necessary instance of this happens in the Japanese-dubbed version of the show: Since the use of the Japanese-equivalent word for nigger (and similar slurs) is not allowed in both Japanese media and translations, the translators solves this problem by using the same words untranslated from English (and sometimes, from other languages like Spanish, like the Señor Piñata insult, who was also untranslated in that dub)note Oddly enough, because Señor Piñata could be translated easily to Japanese without issues, since it's not a slur.
This is not exclusive for insults and slurs: Some names and sometimes even honorifics remains untranslated: Both A Pimp Named Slickbacknote ア・ピンプ・ネームド・スリックバック and Uncle Ruckus'snote アンクル・ラッカス are the same in English in the Japanese version.
The first season opening sequence is basically an extended reference to Samurai Champloo.
The second season's opening is much the same for Cowboy Bebop.
A fight sequence that took place in one of Huey's dreams in the episode, "Granddad's Fight" payed homage to Shinichiro Watanabe in regards to his work on Samurai Champloo. Aaron McGruder is a big fan of the series, hence the show's animation style.
The dream, as well as the film Huey shows Granddad to prepare him, are also obvious references to the Zatoichi series.
Ruckus' and Huey's fight in "...Or Die Trying" pays tribute to Fist of the North Star: The leaping kicks that the two do to each other is a reference to the Shin vs. Kenshiro fight.
Ruckus' demonstration with Huey's nunchaku is taken directly from (and might even be using the same sound effects from) Bruce Lee's iconic performance with the weapon in Enter the Dragon.
The shootout at the convenience store had a conversation that sounded almost exactly like the "Message for you, sir" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. See Shout-Out for some more Python homages.
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!
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.
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.
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 most egregious example being Date with the Health Inspector. During the shoot out between them and a group of terrorists, nobody is hit except for a cop, who somehow lives.
The police attempt to shoot Uncle Ruckus with over a hundred bullets without success and in the end resort to beating him with nightsticks.
Almost every gun fight in the series tends to end with no one harmed.
Important Haircut: Thugnificent, once he loses his mansion due to bankruptcy and has to find a job.
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.
Innocent Bigot: Common in the early days of the comic, where everyone from the Freeman's neighbors to the principal of Huey's school knew next to nothing about African Americans, and often said or did things that were humorously ignorant while trying to be polite (his teachers, for instance, thought renting a bunch of black movies was adequate preparation for dealing with a black student). Eventually, this gag was streamlined down to Cindy McPhearson, before she was phased out of the comic (to be ultimately changed into a different kind of character in the show) and the gag more or less along with her. In the show, this is more of less the default portrayal of minor white characters, at least those that aren't more apathetic than anything.
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.
Riley:[voiceover] And that's when it hit me. The best idea I've ever had in my entire life.Huey:[To Riley.] That's the worst idea you've ever had in your entire life.
Issue Drift: Somewhat noticeable in the comic's run, though it started in earnest fairly early.
Its Pronounced Tro Pay: 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?
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.
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.
A Pimp Named Slickback. Y'all better make that G4 work and stop playin'.
Last Disrespects: In Wingmen, everyone at the funeral acts as if Moe is the best at everything at first. He is being given credit for things Robert did in World War II, all the women swoon for him, etc. Robert finally breaks all the lies by announcing how much of a jerk Moe really was. Everyone else then starts agreeing and pointing out how he owed many of them money and other negative aspects about him.
Laughably Evil: Ed Wuncler the Third and Gin Rummy aren't very good at what they do. It's a wonder how they're even still alive.
In the fourth season, Ed Wuncler Jr. convinced Robert to sign himself into slavery in exchange for canceling the mortgage. Huey's solution? Kill Ed Wuncler Jr. The plan never gets off the ground, though, as Robert decides to sell the explosives that Huey made for the job as hair tonic.
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.
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.
BET's CEO, Debra L'Eevil aside from being a parody of Dr Evil, is also based on BET's real life CEO Debra L. Lee.
Rollo Goodlove, who is a parody of Al Sharpton.
Thugnificent is obviously Ludacris,with elemnets 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.
Twoguesses 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.
The Booty Warrior is a carbon copy of Fleece Johnson, a prisoner interviewed on an MSNBC documentary about prison life.
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-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Robert shows no mercy to the clone of Stinkmeaner when Ed Wuncler I arranges another fight between them to help pay off Robert's debts. It was a complete Curb-Stomp Battle, but Huey talked Granddad out to making the killing blow.
Not What It Looks Like: Double Subverted. In "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back" Robert's date walks in on him, Huey, Riley and Uncle Ruckus (who's brandishing a whip) standing around a bed with Tom tied to it, and immediately guesses that they're performing an exorcism. And then dumps Robert over it anyway.
Actually, to make it funnier, she goes out of her way to point out that she's not dumping Robert over the exorcism; she's dumping Robert over the fact that he lied about it.
In the season 1 episode "The Itis", when Ed Wuncler gives Robert Freeman (Granddad) his own soul food restaurant, every food he serves is pretty much this. His most notable creation is the "Luther Burger", which is a full pound burger patty covered in cheese with grilled onions and five stripes of bacon with two Krispy Kreme donuts as buns. The food was so tasty and addictive, it made people fat and drove them to rob others to feed their addiction. The restaurant was eventually closed down after a lawsuit.
Other terrible foods served during this episode were broccoli boiled in ham broth, and "Two pig knuckles glazed in honey; pig tongue marinated in butter for two days; chitlins'... soaked in hot sauce, drizzled in mayonnaise, and then set to harden on our back porch in three pounds of cheddar cheese."
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 spent parodying and deconstructing this trope when one of Riley's teachers calls him the N word and the media find out.
"The New Black" lampshades it too, along with a number of other taboo words, like "fag/faggot" (presumably; the word was censored) and "retarded", which both Riley and Rollo Goodlove used throughout the episode, the latter of whom points out that it's ok for him to say nigger on tv but not *beep*.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Pretty Boy Flizzy only acts like an idiotic jerk just so he can get higher up the ladder in the music industry and maintain his status among his fanbase. In actuality, he's a nicer guy and genuinely tries to help Tom in gaining Sarah's faith in him back.
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.
Orgy of Evidence: A strange case in "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus". A black man, Shabazz K Milton Berle, who was interning for the Black Panthers, was arrested for the murder of a cop, which occurred just outside. Ridiculous amounts of the evidence, including a court stenographer present at the scene taking down the murderer's explicit confession and identification of himself (which he signed and dated) points to Shabazz not being guilty, but he's arrested anyway and sentenced to death after a few minutes of deliberation by the jury.
In "The Trial of R. Kelly", there's similar mountains of evidence for R. Kelly urinating on a thirteen year old girl. He gets away with it main because his lawyer uses some truly outrageous Chewbacca Defensing and the jury are all incredibly stupid.
Oscar Bait: Ruckus' origin story as hilariously lampshaded by Huey.
Out of Order: Season 4 has an arc where Granddad tries to get out of debt. Looking at how the episodes were aired, it looks like the arc was never resolved because of the last episode, but looking at the production orders, the arc makes a bit more sense. The arc is actually resolved in the FOURTH episode where Granddad gets a girlfriend who ends up paying off his debt anyway, but the ending ultimately becomes a Status Quo Is God ending.
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.
Pet the Dog: Uncle Ruckus restores Jazmine's belief in Christmas and Santa Claus after Riley destroys it.
Uncle Ruckus: What's the password? Dan the Security Man: Eat my ass![Gets kicked in the nuts about twenty times]
The Power of Cheese: According to Robert, if you give the meanest white man a piece of cheese he'll turn into Mr Rogers. Huey disagrees.
Huey: Grandad, you cannot tame the white supremacist power structure with cheese! Robert: Yes I can!
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.
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.
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.
"Rashomon"-Style: The episode involving "Catcher Freeman" is told via conflicting historical flashbacks.
Reality Ensues: Played straight in "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy" the Titular group fought and killed Bushido Brown, an already established badass and after a failed attempt to make peace with them, The Freeman family is about to be killed, how are these monsters stopped? The Police are called and The Hateocracy surrender without a fight.
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.
Refuge in Audacity: Everywhere, but Uncle Ruckus is the standout example. An extremely over the top white supremacist. Who is black. He never misses an opportunity to extol the wonders of the white man or complain about everything that's wrong with black people.
Riches to Rags: "Bitches to Rags" is all about Thugnificent going through this.
Ripped from the Headlines: The episode "Smokin' With Cigarettes" is a parody of the Latarian Milton incident, in which a little boy robbed his grandma's car and shortly afterward, attacked her for not buying him chicken wings. In true Refuge in Audacity fashion, he is treated as the "ultimate evil" in a Shout-Out to Dr. Loomis' speech in Halloween (1978).
Likewise, the episode "The Booty Warrior" is also based in part on a true inmate.
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.
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.
Ever since the episode "Granddad's Fight" where Riley watched a video of an awards show where a huge fight broke out when someone threw a chair, Riley would throw one as well whenever he saw an opportunity for a brawl.
Granddad wanted a car that turns into a boat in one episode.
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.
Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: At the end of Martin Luther King Jr.'s infamous speech, he basically declares "Screw this, I'm moving to Canada."
Sequential Symptom Syndrome: The Fried Chicken Flu episode has Huey explaining to Jasmine the symptoms of the eponymous disease while Tom suffers the effects of salmonella poisoning, having eaten tainted Buffalo Wings.
The episode "The Red Ball" has Ed Wuncler bet the entire town on a game of kickball. He hires mercs from Blackwaternote 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 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.
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.
Side Bet: Eddie Wuncler bet his assistant Vanderbilt that he could get Robert Freeman to sign himself into slavery. He won.
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.
In a series of "80s-centric" Boondocks strips, Granddad threatens to take away Huey's Bloom County books. Bloom County, of course being a highly influential comic strip that mixed pop culture and politics that has considerably influenced The Boondocks.
This strip◊ gives a nod to Peanuts, featuring Cindy pulling a Lucy on Riley (leading Huey to comment that Riley should read more). A later strip gives a nod to Calvin and Hobbes in a conversation between Huey and Caesar.
In the TV series first season, Uncle Ruckus refers to Berke Breathed as "that genius that drew that strip with the talkin' penguin, Master Penguin Drawer", while listing great white artists.
Cristal (like the champagne) once makes a comment about how she wishes a superhero would swoop in and save her from work, "kinda like a a Captain Save-A-Me". There's a song by rapper E-40 called Captain Save-A-Hoe.
In "A Huey Freeman Christmas", Huey, who was placed in charge of the school's Christmas play, is shocked to walk into the auditorium to find all the other children dancing to music. He even asks, "Do I look like Charlie Brown? Do I look like Charlie Brown?!"
Huey describing the symptoms of the Fried Chicken Flu while Tom acts them out behind him is mostly likely a Shout-Out to a similar moment in Airplane!
A more subtle one to The Lorax is in Wuncler's name.
In the "Killer Kung-Fu Wolf Bitch" when Luna beats up Tom, an unseen announcer proclaims it a flawless victory. She also performs Kano's heartrip fatality during a flashback.
Debra L'Eevil, head of BET, is based on Dr. Evil, from her clothes to the bizarre "pinkie held to lip" gesture, to her leitmotif.
The Kumite (Wah-Tah!), shown in "Attack of the Killer Kung Fu Wolf Bitch," is a dual shout out to both Enter the Dragon and Mortal Kombat, complete with a Shang Tsung expy and "Finish Him" / "Fatality!" nods.
The beginning of the fight between a Stinkmeaner-possessed Tom and the Freemans closely resembles that of the climax of Spike Spiegel vs. Vincent Volaju from Cowboy Bebop.
When Granddad punches out Stinkmeaner, a nurse runs over to the body, checks his pulse, then signals his death with the same gesture used by the Mook who checked Oharra's body after Lee killed him in Enter the Dragon.
The scene in "Bitches to Rags" where Thugnificent, Leonard, and Ed go to the record producer's house to sell him cocaine is based on the "Sister Christian" scene in Boogie Nights.
The rioting prisoners getting bogged down in a committee meeting, a la the People's Front of Judea. And while this one guy may not have the right to white bitches, he has the right to ask for white bitches.
Every one of Thugnificent's crew is willing to die for his chain...except Leonard.
The scene with a possessed Tom swearing his ass off in court is very similar to Liar Liar.
The episode where Jazmine runs a lemonade stand has numerous shout-outs and references to Do the Right Thing, including constant references to the heat, police brutality, and a riot diverted from assaulting a human to destroying property (Huey gets permission first, though).
Good Times has Ed Wuncler Jr. and Vanderbilt wrecking people's lives over a $1 bet, just like Trading Places.
"Freedom Ride or Die" has Robert quote Hudson from Aliens ("I don't know if you've been keeping up with current events, but we just our asses kicked, pal"), and Ruckus plants a bomb on a bus that will explode if it goes over 15 miles an hour, a parody of the plot of Speed.
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.
Commercial Announcer: Women, pregnant women, and most men should not take Zortafrinex. Known side-effects include dry mouth, upset stomach, mild death, blindness, massive heart attack, difficulty breathing, and rectal fungus. Almost all men who took Zortafrinex experienced a severe loss in sexual performance. This is normal. Please stop taking Zortafrinex immediately if you feel mild discomfort on or in testicles as this can be a sign of a rare and extremely unpleasant side-effect known as Total Scrotal Implosion. If Total Scrotal Implosion should occur, call your doctor right away. If you cannot move or talk due to the debilitating pain of Total Scrotal Implosion, please have a loved one call your doctor. There is no cure for Total Scrotal Implosion. Zortafrinex: Always the right choice.
Sitcom Archnemesis: Ruckus. Depending on the episode, it's either played straight or subverted.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Definitely further on the cynical side, though there are several moments of idealism shining through. The show could be described as a minor deconstruction of cynicism and people who use it as an excuse to not better themselves.
Slow Electricity: In the animated episode "The Passion of Rev. Ruckus", after Uncle Ruckus is struck by a lightning bolt the lights of the city to go out a section at a time.
Smart Ball: In the strips where Riley impersonates Huey, Jazmine is the only one who isn't fooled.
The Sociopath: Lamilton Taeshawn, who takes pride in his actions.
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.
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.
Tall Poppy Syndrome: Huey got this from his old friends when traveling back to Chicago to attend a funeral, with Dewey mocking him for not being "down with the struggle" and moving to "Whitecrest". His other friend Cairo further insults him and Granddad, causing him to fight back.
It's actually very common in the series. A notable example is from "The Trial of R. Kelly" when a female R. Kelly supporter derided the protesters against R. Kelly (also being prominent black intellectuals and civil rights activists, Cornel West, Tony Brown and Dick Gregory) as "uppity niggas" for having the temerity for not supporting a singer accused of urinating on 14-year-old girl and stressing the importance of reading. Rather reinforces the "ignorance is bliss" motif of the show.
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.
Condoleezza Rice was a frequent target of the comic, which was at her own suggestion after Aaron called her out at the NAACP image awards. Basically, she was dismissing Aaron as he was a non threat, not being a political leader or anything.
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.
Not necessarily, since he believed that Usher was trying to take his wife away from him. She informed him that she was only there to get an autograph from him for Jazmine, and wasn't cheating on him. Tom got an ass-kicking from Usher and his bodyguards, and A Pimp Named Slickback seems to believe he slapped the wrong person and left Tom to his fate.
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-"
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 you're 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!
Granddad: Boys, Lando will be living with us for a while, because supposedly it's the right thing to do. I hope you'll take this as a lesson that life can really suck sometimes, and that you should always wear a condom. I'm wearing a condom right now!
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.
Two-Way Tapping: In early strips of The Boondocks, Huey's politically-charged phone conversations would often be interrupted by wiretapping agents asking him to repeat what he just said, as there was too much to write down in one go.
Vocal Evolution: Huey and Riley's voices are slightly higher pitched in the first season than the subsequent ones. This is most noticeable when they're yelling.
Weirdness Magnet: Crazy wolf lady, vengeful ghosts, chocolate cartels, and a psychotic phone app. Let's face it, if it's weird, the Freemans are probably going to get involved.
"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 the Hell, Dad?: Granddad has to be this, with one grandson who is a domestic terrorist and another one who is a wannabe gangster.
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.
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.
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.
Siri. After Robert buys an iPhone, Siri helps him out greatly, but after he declares his love for her, she goes completely yandere on him because nobody ever said that to her before. She does everything beyond her programming to ensure that Robert cannot leave her. She calls 911 on him when he threatens to smash the phone with a hammer, hacks his facebook page and posts explicit content that Jasmin might have seen, controls his bank account, and just all around grabs his life by the balls. She even photoshops his image into an Al Qaeda terrorist, copies his voice and threatens to nuke the U.S, and orders a drone strike on his position.
Yellow Peril: The Chinese team in "The Red Ball" are a pack of cheating, lying, manipulative brutes.
Caesar: "Well Huey, congratulations on making it to another year on planet Earth!" Huey: "Thank you, Caesar. Same to you." Caesar: "Oh, and before I forget, congratulations to your moms - I heard she got that part as the stunt monkey in the "Planet of the Apes" sequel." Huey: "Goodbye, Caesar."[Slams the door in his face.] Caesar: (shouting through the door) "I heard she ain't gonna wear a costume or nuthin'!"
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