- Abusive Parents: In "The High School Reunion", Dan recalls that his "teenage years were filled with abuse and ridicule... and when [he] got to school it was even worse".
- A lot of Dan's odder quirks imply some pretty scary things about how his parents went about raising him... assuming that they were trying to raise him at all. One of Dan's more cringe-worthy side comments mentions that he didn't learn to tie his shoes until he was twelve... not because he was reluctant to, but because there was no adult around attempting to teach him.
- Going by the events of the "Summer Camp" episode its starting to come together about Dan's upbringing but it's still hard to tell what happened with his parents. The writers drop a lot of small hints about his parents either being negligent parents or abusive parents. There are even small hints that his parents may have passed when he was young and he was raised by his Grandmother.
- Accidentally Accurate: In-Universe in the episode "Canada". The screwball misconceptions Dan has about Canadians (half-bear, obsessed with hockey, Say "eh?", pronounce "sorry" "SOH-ree" and "About" as "Aboot", etc.) and Chris' great grandfather being in love with a yeti turn out to be 100% accurate.
- In "The Dentist", Dan thinks the title "S.V." stands for supervillain. Dr. Pullem is indeed a Depraved Dentist-themed supervillain, complete with an evil lair (shaped like a giant molar with guns on), private army of killer robots, and Cool Car.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: In "Baseball", Dan mentions that he's been hit with tear gas and pepper spray so many times that he doesn't even feel their effects anymore. Unfortunately, everyone else around him still does. Shows up again in "The Bank", where he casually walks through a cloud of tear gas shot by the cops.
- Action Girl: Elise.
- Adobe Flash
- Adult Child: Dan behaves this way sometimes. Lampshaded in "Parents".
- Aesop Amnesia: At the end of "The Barber", Chris comments to Dan, "Well, at least you haven't learned anything."
- All Little Known Facts Are True
- The Alleged Car: Dan's car. An artist painted over it in "Art", assuming it was abandoned, and in "The Salvation Armed Forces":
Dan: There has been a mistake. My car was taken from outside your store today.
Salvation Armed Forces Clerk: Ah, that's impossible. We received only one donated vehicle today, and it was not in drivable condition.
Dan: That's the one!
- In "The Wedding", we get to see an Alleged Plane. Duct tape is, predictably, used to keep the plane together. For a while.
- Almost Kiss: Between Dan and Hortense at the end of "Burgerphile".
- Angry Fist-Shake: Dan does a two-fisted version along with a Skyward Scream Once an Episode.
- Twice in "The Monster Under The Bed," when it turns out that Chris and Elise orchestrated the whole thing.
- Subverted in "The Gym". Dan is so sore from his workout that it hurts to raise his fist or even scream. The result is a half-hearted cry while leaving his palms open on the floor.
- In "The Dinosaur", the dinosaur does it when Dan sends her the invoice for his car repairs.
- The Wolf Man, Dentist, and George Washington do something at least similar to this as well in their respective episodes.
- Almost does it a second time in Gigundo Mart, but realizes he did that already.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Dan attempts to gain the jumping powers of a kangaroo he radiated in "The Superhero".
- Animation Bump: Very noticable entering season 3, especially "The Mummy".
- Anti-Villain: A lot of them, but Dan and the Imposter are the most prominent.
- Amber from "Anger Management" qualifies.
- Even superhero Terrifi-Guy qualifies. He is also a Hero Antagonist.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Dan believes in werewolves, psychics and Santa (among other things), but in "The Magician", he doesn't believe in magic.
- Area 52: Elise sneaks in and steals an alien spacecraft from it.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- In "The Neighbors", Dan suspects his cheery new neighbors are hiding something. "What is it? Serial killers, fugitives, guidance counselors? What's your angle?"
- Inverted in "High School Reunion". Elise wants Chris to make some friends who call before coming over, return the things they borrow and aren't wanted by Interpol.
- Artificial Human:
- The androids in "Technology", right down to the funky eye color.
- The androids in "The Gym".
- Ascended Meme: A fsjal is seen at the bottom of Dan's hate chart in "The Lemonade Stand Gang".
- Asshole Victim: Dan. The victim part comes from the fact that someone does continually wrong him in every episode (although not necessarily before he vows revenge on them).
- Ate the Spoon: Dan's attempt at a cold remedy in "The Common Cold" eats a hole through Chris's table and floor.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Dan attempts to exploit werewolves' weakness to silver in "The Wolf-Man". Also, one of his first lines in the show is asking Chris what New Mexico's weaknesses are.
- Author Avatar: Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson used their negative qualities when creating Dan and Chris.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: It seems all Dan needs to know who has wronged him (and so far he's always deduced correctly) are a couple of random objects and a unique sense of logic.
- Ax-Crazy: Timmy, Chris' great-great-grandfather, Hiram, the chainsaw maniac,...the series has a lot of Ax Craziness going around.
- Badass Cape: Dan decides he must sport one while taking down the dinner theatre.
- Badass Grandpa: A store greeter is so old that he fought in San Juan Hill and constantly thwarts Dan's revenge attempts against Gigundo Mart.
Old Man: (Has Dan in a neck-lock) I learned this move on the (cough), on the beaches of Normandy.
Dan: Shooting out or shooting in?
- Bad Bad Acting: What causes Dan to start considering revenge on the Shakespearean Dinner Theatre. Seriously, they weren't even trying.
- Bad Impressionists: In "The Ninja", Chris dresses up as Dan to act as a decoy, and he tries to imitate his attitude by saying, "I'm Dan! I get mad at everything, then I yell a lot. And I sure don't appreciate my friend Chris!"
- Bad Santa: Dan's target in "The Mall Santa". Not that Dan's really any better when he takes over the job at the end of the episode.
- Bag of Holding: Used as a brief gag with the toolbox in "The Dentist", where Dan throws out a wide variety of objects such as several tennis rackets before reaching the crowbar.
- Bait-and-Switch Comparison: From "The Wolf-Man":
Dan: What wears shoes, but also has paws? The wolf-man!
Chris: So you're saying that the wolf-man's a jogger.
Dan: He's an evil beast with an unsavory blood lust. Of course he jogs!
- Batman Gambit: How the Lemonade Stand Gang is defeated.
- Also used by Imposter Dan, who left a cell phone to call Dan when he broke into his apartment.
Imposter Dan: I've BEEN you, remember? I know exactly how that tiny brain of your works. I know you so well I could even predict where Chris would be standing when the two of you broke into my apartment.
- Bears Are Bad News:
- Played with in "Canada".
- In "Family Camping Trip", Dan gets covered in bear hormone and a female bears mistakes him for a mate.
- Berserk Button: You do NOT ask Chris to make cocoa in the middle of the night, and then LEAVE before it's ready! SIT DOWN!
- Don't call the Lemonade Stand Gang hooligans. It won't end well.
- Pretty much everything for Dan. Also it seems Car Alarms are one for almost everybody in Anger Management.
- Best Served Cold: Or immediately, according to Dan.
- Big Bad: Dan himself. Downplayed though, since Dan, usually, goes against people just as bad or worse than him. However, he's always the one who causes the conflict.
- Big Eater: Chris. Occasionally inches close to Extreme Omnivore territory. In "Art", Chris eats an entire plastic apple pie and half a plastic sandwich that was part of a realistic looking exhibit, but once he realizes what they are, he heads to the hospital to get his stomach pumped. In "Golf" he has no problem eating Mr. Mumbles' birthday cake, which is primarily comprised of cat food and in "Dan" Elise mentions that he once ate her shoes along with half a bottle of shampoo.
Chris: Sometimes people do things in their sleep, I once ate a pair of shoes.
Elise: Expensive shoes.
Chris: For the umpteenth time: I am sorry I ate your shoes!
Elise: And you used half a bottle of my good shampoo.
Chris: For dipping!
- Acknowledged in-universe in "Stupidity", where Chris enters an eating contesting because he thinks eating is the only thing he's talented at. He wins, but lands himself in a hospital as a result.
- It's so bad that, at one point, Dan is surprised when Chris won't eat the mechanic!
- Bigger Bad: The main cause of Dan becoming what we all know him as now is either his parents, his grandma, or the Summer Camp Counsler.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Chris is 6′ 2″, as seen on his driver's license; and Dan is 5′ 6″ according to his.
- Big "NEVER!": When Elise warns Dan to tap out during their fighting-robots match, this is his response.
- Big "NO!": Barry Ditmer when his security android is destroyed.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: A yeti shows up in "Canada."
- Big, Thin, Short Trio: Chris, Elise and - of course - Dan.
- The Blacksmith: Dan secretly had the ability to expertly craft arrowheads out of silver. He'd probably use this skill to get a job, if it didn't require work.
- Bland-Name Product: Chris's Coldpoint refrigerator (for Hotpoint), Shorts Drugs (for Longs Drugs), Dada Beans (for Goya beans), and Yamamma mechanical equipment (for Yamaha, probably).
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The road sign in "The Ninja" is translated from Japanese using a subtitle reading "Hold caution for lack of safety without bridge in future ahead!"
- Bond One-Liner: After destroying the dentist's army of robots (It Makes Sense in Context ... sort of), he quips, "Rinse that out and spit!" Then after causing his tooth-shaped Supervillain Lair to self-destruct: "Now that's what I call tooth decay!"
- Brand X: "Generic Cereal" is on Dan's revenge list. Although in this case it COULD literally mean a brand called Generic Cereal.
- In "Gigundo-Mart" he does indeed state that Generic-Os are his favorite cereal.
- Brick Joke: Frequent in the show
- "The Salvation Armed Forces": the entire episode commences because Dan's toaster is broken and he couldn't get a toaster because the lady in front of him at the store bought them all. At the very last second, he steals one from said Armed Forces.
- In "The Fancy Restaurant", Dan laments his favorite sandwich shop being bought out by a trendy gourmet restaurant, since he won't be able to get his favorite turkey sandwich anymore. When the sandwich place comes back at the end of the episode, Dan and his friends order the fabled turkey sandwich, which Dan takes one bite of before flatly declaring they're not as good anymore.
- In the start of "The Beach", Dan gets a toy eyepatch from a cereal box and puts it in his pocket. It goes completely unmentioned from there on, until near the end when he hijacks a ship, puts it on and goes "Arrr".
- In "The Lemonade Stand Gang", Elise planned on sending the kids in the episode to North Korea to work in factories. During "Gigundo Mart" she mentions that they shouldn't have kids working in factories when she has to fix a prototype built by them. Not because she is against it on Moral Grounds, but because according to her their hands are to weak and small to properly make complicated electronic machinery, she was basically only complaining because a top secret weapon was malfunctioning and she was having trouble fixing it
- In "The Werewolf", Dan mentions how he hates coffee, but it is required on a stakeout. Later, in "The Gym", he laments again how he dislikes it, before Chris reveals how he got tea instead, knowing his dislike. Dan then makes a rant about how one cannot have a stakeout without coffee.
- In "The Magician", the heirloom that Chris was going to give to Elise (and was stolen by the magician) was accidentally engraved with a misspelling. The episode ends with Elise asking "Who's Elsie?"
- In "Canada" Dan Makes a glacier fall and cover the entirety of Canada In "The Monster Under The Bed" Dan goes back and Canada is still covered in snow and Dan remarks "I guess they never recovered from that glacier... Oh well"
- In "The Superhero", Dan feeds a zoo kangaroo radioactive waste in order for the kangaroo to bite him, thus gaining the high jumping powers of a kangaroo. (Chris believed that Dan would merely get very sick.) This is foiled when the Kangaroo beats him up instead. At the end of the episode, a TV newscaster reports on a gigantic kangaroo that is rampaging through Los Angeles.
- In "Jury Duty", Dan starts by telling Elise and Chris that he was abducted by aliens; naturally, they don't believe him. Cut to the security footage at the end, and you see that he was indeed abducted after destroying the burger joint.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Dan, in addition to Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. He may be unemployed and somewhat deranged, but he's apparently pretty well-read:
- In "Burgerphile" he references classical mythology and quotes Latin maxims, in "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre" he is well-versed in Shakespearean plays and in "Stupidity" he demonstrates ample knowledge on politics.
- This is Lampshaded in "George Washington" by Chis saying that Dan has a random wealth of knowledge. Using the fact that Dan knows who built Mount Rushmore and not where it's located — he thinks it might be in Ecuador, which he also thinks is a US state.
- In "Vegetables", he explains to Chris that Potatoes technically aren't a vegetable, admonishing him to "read a book without pictures once in a while." He also aware that vegetables contain beta carotene and folic acid.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S": In "The Superhero". Terrifi-Guy has a "T", which encompasses most of the front of his costume. Dan-Man's "D" is less impressive.
- The Brute: Harold of "The Lemonade Stand Gang"
- The Bully: Dan frequently acts this way toward Chris.
- Burger Fool: Hortense the Burgerphile girl, complete with the stupid hat.
- Butt Monkey: Chris. If someone's going to be hurt or humiliated, chances are it will be him, or, if not alone, he'll be the one who gets it the worst.
- Call a Human a "Meatbag": The androids in "The Gym" refer to humans as meat batteries.
- Call Back: In "The Monster Under the Bed", Dan notes that Canada hasn't recovered from the avalanche he caused in "Canada".
- Call It Karma: From the episode New Mexico:
: Hey, you date a married woman, you get hit by a bus
. Karma. Chris
: I'm not sure that's how karma works.
- Calling Your Attacks: Dan does this a lot, mostly calling the noun that he's going to attack his target with. Results are mixed on his sucess.
- The funniest example being in "Baseball" where the Commissioner of Baseball shouts his counterattack. Too bad for him Dan has an Acquired Poison Immunity to mace.
- Canada, Eh?: The entirety of "Canada."
- Cannot Spit It Out: Dan in "The Wedding" when he tries to tell Hortense he loves her.
- Captain Obvious: In "The Magician", during a trapped room:
Chris: Watch your step.
- Casual Kink: "Canada". It seems that Dan would like to be eaten off of...by Chris.
- Catch Phrase: Dan's "Aw c'maawwwwwn!" and his favorite insult "Jerkface".
- Whenever someone can easily give/replace something that Dan's trying to earn back, say, 50 cents or a free burger when his order is screwed up: "It's not about the X/X, it's about the principle!"
- And besides, shut up.
- Characterization Marches On: There's a lot more tension between Dan and Elise in the later seasons than there was in the first. In most of the early episodes Elise seemed more or less ambivalent towards Dan, and would sometimes casually tell Chris to go do whatever Dan wanted him for and in one episode admitted that it was fun to get mixed up in his schemes. Later on she began out right hating him, which Dan had done since day 1.
- Chekhov's Gun: The trap Elise's parents leave in Dan's toilet.
- The Chew Toy: Chris has it worst. However in the beginning of several episodes, Dan's car is the principal victim.
- In "Dancing", both Elise and Dan treat Chris like a object to be shared, despite repeated objections on his part.
- Christmas Episode: "The Mall Santa," where Dan's new mall job as a holiday elf brings him into conflict with a Bad Santa.
- Chronically Crashed Car: Something happening to Dan's car is usually the reason he wants revenge on the episode's subject.
- Chris frequently crashes his car. Early episodes hinted that he hit a lot of bicyclists.
- Claustrophobia: Inversion. Chris isn't afraid of small, cramped spaces... he's afraid of wide open spaces (agoraphobia), which is why he can't go near any prairies.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Chris, while under the effects of blowgun toxin in "The Ninja".
- The Cuckoo Lander Was Right: It actually was Wolf-Man, who scratched Dan's car, it was real ninja who stole his cookies, dentist was really a supervillain... and whole lot of other examples.
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Comically Inept Healing: In "Dan Vs. The Animal Shelter", two hospital orderlies mention offhand that only the patients with really good insurance get examined by a real doctor—everyone else just sees an actor dressed as a doctor. This becomes a Chekhov's Gag when, at the end, Dan gets his face badly scratched by a cat and has to go to the hospital:
Doctor: Okay, let's get those pants off.
Dan: Um, I'm here about my face being all scratched.
Doctor: [chuckles] Oh, don't worry. I'm not a doctor.
- Comically Small Bribe: In "Art," Dan attempts to get a set of records from an art school by offering the secretary a sandwich. When she doesn't go for it, he adds a bag of ruffled potato chips.
- Continuity Nod:
- In "The Wolf-Man," Chris points out to Dan that there is an animal shelter right next to his apartment. The animal shelter returns in "The Animal Shelter," where Chris remembers telling Dan about it.
- Also, we actually see Chris's tomato garden before he accuses Dan of never asking about it in a later episode.
- And in "The Salvation Armed Forces," Elise gets Chris a pink bathing thong and he can be seen wearing it later in "The Beach." Chris even mentions that she bought it for him.
Dan: Chris?! Oh no! Someone stole your pants!
Chris: It's a bathing suit, Elise bought it for me.
Dan: Well, I'm sure it looks much better on her.
- In the beginning of "The Barber," Dan meets Becky at Ninja Dave's, the restaurant from "Dan Vs. The Ninja."
- In "Burgerphile", Chris and Elise go to Cafe Puree for lunch while Dan and the crowd protests against Jeff the Burgerphile manager.
- Dan gives Chris George Washington's ax (from "Dan Vs. George Washington") to destroy a child's bike in "The Lemonade Stand Gang".
- In "Elise's Parents" Dan tells Elise that he has no dental records. A possible nod to "The Dentist" in which he stole his own records to prove that his dentist was a supervillain. This also gets called back in "Telemarketer", where Elise comments on Dan's poor dental hygiene.
- In "Monster Under the Bed" Dan returns to Madame Zelda's from "George Washington" and Canada is still suffering from the iceberg disaster from "Canada".
- In "The Dinosaur" Elise's brother mentions that their parents are house-hunting. A possible nod to "The Family Thanksgiving" in which Dan burned down their house.
- In "Chris", the destruction of Santa Fe by a UFO is a nod to the ending of "New Mexico".
- In "Vegetables", Burgerphile is pushing a new, healthier menu, with fresh veggies in place of french fries. It's likely this was in response to their owner and CEO, Jeremiah Burger, suffering a heart attack (brought on in part by his all-burger diet) at the end of "The Wedding".
- Cool Mask: Dan wears a white mask while stalking the theatre. It looks reminiscent of both Cyrano de Bergerac and The Phantom of the Opera.
- Cowboy Episode: "Wild West Town"
- Crapsack World: It's a lot more wacky and cartoonish than, say, The Simpsons, but over the course of the series it becomes clear that the setting of this show is every bit as messed up as Springfield.
- Crashing Dreams: "The Wolf-Man" begins with one of these.
- Crazy-Prepared: An odd presentation. Dan has evacuation plans and various keys (some obtained via questionable means) stashed in various places. In spite of this, his revenge plans are often ill-formed, to the point that he forgot the drill he needed to drill into a bank's vault.
- Create Your Own Villain: The plot of "The Superhero".
- Creator Cameo: Dan Mandel, one of the executive producers, is sometimes listed in the additional voices credits.
- Cross-Popping Veins
- Crossover: Fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic who discovered this show through the Hub's website occasionally joked about a "Dan vs. Ponies" episode. Months later, the Hub released these commercials.
- And then there's Dan vs. FIM, a Tumblr blog with fan comics and YouTube videos.
- Dan is frequently seen in Fluffymixer's Fluffle Puff videos.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Dan. He seems illogical, weak, and pathetic most of the time; but he can, and will, go ape on you if you mess with him or his friends enough. Example: The family camping trip when he saves Chris from a chainsaw-wielding serial killer by fighting him with only a weed-whacker.
- Chris himself can be seen as this. He is normally a big, lovable oaf, but he can easily take down someone by beating them up when he wants, or is told, to.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Literally, Dan tells the angry mob of theatre-goers attacking the defeated actor to "rise up, and stab him with your spoons".
- Curse Cut Short: In "The Wedding". when Elise is dragging Dan out of the passenger seat, he screams "Get off me you filthy wh-!"
- Cyborg: In "Technology" after being placed under Ditmer's mind control, Elise is outfitted with a cybernetic catsuit that attaches to her body.
- Dance Battler: The entire town of Pembroke practices fight-dancing. Dan learns the skill as well.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Elise is a parody of this in "New Mexico". Like Dan, she wants revenge on New Mexico. In her case, though, it's because roadrunners (the official state bird) once stole her cotton candy when she was a child, mentally scarring her.
- That damn cactus also popped her balloon...
- According to "The Ninja" she ran afoul of a ninja clan when she was fourteen.
- At her 8th birthday party, Elise volunteered for a magic act....and was tormented by Magnifico The Magnificent's swords and knives.
- Hinted at with Dan himself in "The Dentist". Having an unnecessary root canal at the age of 5, ON HIS BIRTHDAY NO LESS, couldn't have been good for his psyche.
- Hinted even more so in "Dan", where talking about his childhood makes a professional psychiatrist run screaming out of the room.
- Which in turn was brought up on the official Facebook page for Dan vs. run by Dan Mandel who stated that he had been raped by clowns. (This was subsequently retracted.)
- Death Trap: Dan tries to set one up for the commissioner of baseball by suspending him over a kiddie pool with squeaky sharks in it.
- Delayed Reaction: In "The Animal Shelter", Chris eats a meatloaf that Dan made as Dan explains his need for revenge on the animal shelter. When Dan says his plan involves a poisoned meatloaf, Chris continues to eat for several beats until he realizes he's been poisoned.
- Depower: The fate of Terrifi-Guy in "The Superhero".
- Dem Bones: In "The Wolfman".
- Department of Redundancy Department: "To the car mobile!"
- Depraved Dentist: Dr. Pullum.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Chris and Dan's boss at the temp company. The mural◊ on the wall behind her, as well as the various objects◊ decorating her office, and the general design◊ of the workplace, are all indications that she is more than a tyrannical boss.
- Diner Brawl: Well, dinner theatre brawl, but pretty much the same. Incited by Dan.
Dan: Who would've thought an angry mob would get so out of hand..?
- Dinner Theatre: "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre", obviously.
- Dirty Coward:
- Elise's ex Colby, who would let her parents die to "protect" her.
- Played With. In "The Dinosaur", there was a plan to stop the dinosaur by having them hit the dinosaur with 3 arrows, one each. Ben, Elise's brother, after seeing the dinosaur charging at Chris. Instead of saving Chris from being eaten, he decides to run away. He later realizes it was wrong of him to run away and decides to defeat the dinosaur himself.
- Dirty Old Man: In "The Wedding" Jeremiah Burger wants to marry Hortense, who is less than half his age.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Kind of the show's whole theme...
- Although averted in the "The Wolfman". Dan discovers his car's been scratched by what he believes to be the Wolfman (and he ends up being right). So what does he do for revenge? He tracks down the Wolfman, finds where he lives... and keys his car. In a common Running Gag where Dan criticizes Chris for going overboard in their schemes, Dan chastises Chris for suggesting they kill the Wolfman, something that Chris thought Dan wanted to do because the only way to kill or even injure a werewolf is by shooting or stabbing it with something made out of silver and Dan brought a silver arrow and a bow along to begin with.
- From the Thanksgiving episode: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If you can't join 'em ... BURN THEIR HOUSE TO THE GROUND."
- In "The Telemarketer", Imposter Dan spends a fortune and puts in a lot of effort trying to drive Dan insane as payback for Dan sending him to prison for six months. It's disproportionate since that only happened because Imposter Dan tried to steal Dan's life. Dan even points this out.
- The most extreme one happens in "Anger Management", where Dan gets into a US military base and almost launches a bunch of nuclear missiles that would wipe out all of humanity. Why? A family of squirrels did something that annoyed him.
- Inverted in the same episode. Dan expects to be charged for treason and attempted mass murder but he only gets mandatory anger management classes. The government doesn't want the world to know just how close it came to nuclear annihilation. They especially don't want anyone to know that one angry little moron acting alone managed to infiltrate NORAD and acquire nuclear launch codes.
- In "The Common Cold" a scientist infects Dan with a lethal virus that nearly kills him just because Dan called him a geek.
- Distaff Counterpart: The Tyrannosaurus Rex is this to Dan. He's also the one who says she's just like him and she does the same Angry Fist-Shake as Dan at the end of the episode.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Anger Management", Dan and his counselor team up for a revenge plot and later go out to eat. Dan thinks they're on a date, but she actually just wants to discuss who her next target is. Dan asks "Are we just...revenge buddies?" in the same way someone might ask "Are we just *** buddies?"
- Donut Mess with a Cop: In "The Wolf-Man" Dan and Chris chase a kid down the street and pass by a cop eating a donut, who doesn't pursue them until he realizes, "Oh, yeah, I'm a cop!"
- Downer Ending: "The Telemarketer". Dan is sent to jail for six weeks, while the Dan impostor fishes at a cabin, having had his revenge.
- "The Barber", but like "The Telemarketer", Dan isn't aware of it.
- "Chris" fits pretty well, despite the fact that Chris and Dan make up...and Dan ends up with the toy.
- Dumb Muscle: Moose and Harold of "The Lemonade Stand Gang", Chris occasionally boarders on this.
- Dysfunctional Family: Dan unsurprisingly is implied to come from one. A cherished gift from his mother was a pair of brass knuckles. Also, he shouts "No, you shut up!" to his grandmother (and she responds in kind) as if "No, I love you more" was being said instead.
- Elise's family also has issues. There's a reason Elise doesn't particularly enjoy spending time with them.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Earlier episodes had more sci-fi and supernatural elements to them, such as zombies, wolfmen, and alien technology. The second season has the scifi elements return with androids attempting to take over the world in "The Gym". A Unicorn named Eunice and Saber-Toothed Cat named Mittens show up in "The Catburglar".
- Elvis Presley: Shows up in "The Catburglar".
- Embarrassing Nickname: Elise and her mother share the same name, so her parents sometimes call her Junior.
- Enfant Terrible: Dan goes up against a group of sixth-graders in "The Lemonade Stand Gang".
- Episode Finishes the Title
- Episode Title Card: In place of a title sequence, the "Dan Vs." titles are above the episode title, creating the trope above.
- Escalating War: Dan's war against the Lemonade Stand Gang. The kids were lucky Chris stepped in to change the rules, or Elise would have shipped them to Korea.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Dan's Teddy Bear Brutus, Mr. Mumbles, and Chris betray Dan in "Dan".
Et tu, Brutus? [...] Et tu, Mr. Mumbles? [..] Et tu, Chris?
- Again in 'The Mummy', where he says this after Mr. Mumbles cuddles up to the episode's namesake.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Dan has been shown to, on occasion, be against homicide in his plans. In "The Werewolf" he was surprised at Chris when he suggested it as a logical extension to Dan's current scheme.
- Dan's also rather shocked when Chris admits that he'd kill for bacon.
- And refuses to collaborate with Elise's parents in getting back at Chris, because he doesn't trust "people who'd bump off their own son-in-law." That's not what their plan entailed; they've just indicated that they'd be willing to.
- Every Japanese Sword Is a Katana: Averted in that Elise's sword was pointed out to be a ninjato.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Parodied in "The Ninja", when Ninja Dave pulls a katana on Dan, he puts it away and says, "Just kidding," though he's the only one laughing.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: A Tyrannosaurus rex is the antagonist in "The Dinosaur".
- Everything's Even Worse With Sharks: Dan and Chris steal a shark from the aquarium in an attempt to drive beachgoing tourists away in "The Beach". It doesn't end well.
- Evil Counterpart: Amber for Dan. Once Dan gives her a taste for exacting revenge, she quickly proves to be worse than him. While Dan does take advantage of Chris by roping him into his revenge schemes, Dan does at least genuinely like Chris as a friend. Amber doesn't even like Dan and forces him to help her by threatening to fail him in their anger management classes. Her behavior is so atrocious that Chris is the one who gets angry and decides to exact revenge on her when Dan won't.
- Evil Laugh: A very nice one in "The Wolfman", complete with lampshaded lightning.
Chris: That's odd...it's not even raining.
- And then in "Traffic" he asks Chris and Elise what he thinks of the one he put at the end of his taped message. It's more of an evil giggle. Cute, but lame.
- And in "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre," Dan gives out a few more evil laughs.
- Evil Versus Evil: Dan is an amoral, vengeance-obsessed jerk, but the targets of his vengeance are often evil androids, monsters, Supervillains, criminals, Smug Supers, and others who genuinely deserve to have their lives ruined.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Dan never leaves his house without a black t-shirt with the word "Jerk" printed on it. No word suits Dan better.
- In Dan Vs. Dancing, Elise threatens Dan with her new "taser blade". Dan asks "Taser Blade?" to which she replies "It is exactly what it sounds like.
- Extreme Omnivore: In 'The Mummy', Chris and Dan pose as cavemen in a museum exhibit. Chris eats a bit of model meat that he's holding. Dan, surprised, comments on this. Chris replies that "They didn't even add mammoth flavoring,", shrugs, and takes another bite.
- Expy: Chris Pearson once referred to Dan as "Calvin as a grownup, if his life had gone horribly wrong."
- Eye Scream: Happens to one of the mooks in "The Gym" after being bashed in the head by a pipe several times. He's a robot though
- Facial Horror: In the Shakespeare episode, Chris is whipped with a fencing epée, marking him for most of the episode; when waiting in line, a girl handing out programs is repulsed and flees.
- Fake Static: Dan does this to get out of a phone call with Elise in "The Animal Shelter", and she becomes angered that he's just saying "crackle" and "buzz".
- False Friend: Elise's parents to Dan in "Family Thanksgiving".
- Fan Disservice: The Boss from "The Boss" starts out as a hot business woman in a suit, then turns into a hot demon woman in a suit, but her final form is a muscular male demon with a goatee.
- Fanservice: Kelly from "Reality TV" pulls this off without a doubt, with short skirts, serious curves, Hartman Hips, and an often baring midriff.
- How about that supermodel Dan dreams about from the pilot? Pancakes and model lips for breakfast!
Supermodel: If you kiss me, I'll make you pancakes.
- Fat Bastard: Averted with Jeremiah Burger. He's genuinely in love with Hortense and only had Dan thrown out of the wedding rehearsal because he was making a scene.
- Fat Idiot: Moose and Harold of "The Lemonade Stand Gang".
- Fate Worse Than Death / Reassigned to Antarctica: Jeff the Burgerphile manager seems to think getting sent back to HQ in Maryland for retraining is this, and goes to great lengths to avoid it.
- Femme Fatale: Elise. Honey O'Houlihan counts as this as well.
- Fictional Counterpart: The Salvation Armed Forces and Greatwill. And to a lesser extent Barry Ditmer's unnamed company, a parody of Apple.
- Five-Temperament Ensemble: Dan (choleric), Elyse Jr. (melancholic), Chris (phlegmatic), Don (sanguine), and Elyse Sr. (leukine).
- Flashback: Parodied in "The Ninja." Elise starts to say, "It's a long, long story," harp music starts to play, and the screen starts to ripple...but then she says, "I don't want to talk about it," and everything goes back to normal.
- In "Canada", Chris begins to tell the story of his Canadian ancestry.
Dan: No one wants to hear your boring story.
Chris: It was a hundred years ago...
Dan: So, when I say no one wants to hear your boring story, what do you hear?
Chris: It was a hundred years ago...
- In New Mexico, we get a flashback of why Elise hates the title state. When it cuts back to the car, Dan asks what happened, with Elise mentioning she doesn't wanna talk about it.
- Flying Brick: Terrifi-Guy.
- Dan had his first encounter with bad traffic in "The Wolf-Man." Then came "Traffic."
- Occasionally, something will rile Dan up while he's in the middle of exacting revenge on another party. This results in Dan whipping out a steno pad and writing down the offending object on his list of things to get revenge on later. (The list includes: Babies who cry at the park, babies in general, generals, dull pencils, pencils that are too sharp, and Arizona.)
- In Animal Shelter Dan adds Burger Phile after accidentally drinking Chris' milkshake there. Later in the season, a whole episode revolves around Dan's vendetta against the fast food restaurant.
- When Barry Ditmer hears that the threat recorded by Dan's computer was someone who had never owned a computer before, he jokes "Maybe some weirdo in a cabin in the woods somewhere." Guess who Dan and Chris run into and who ends up defeating Ditmer in the end?
- Forgotten Anniversary: In "The Fancy Restaurant" both Chris and Elise forget when their anniversary is.
- Forklift Fu:
Dan: Never mess with a guy with a forklift.
Old Man: ..Unless you got a bigger forklift.
- Formally Named Pet: In "The Animal Shelter", Dan takes home a kitten and names it Mr. Mumbles.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: See Five-Temperament above.
- Freak Out: Chris in "George Washington" suffers bouts of "Prairie Madness" during the road trip to Mount Vernon.
- French Cuisine Is Haughty: In "The Fancy Restaurant", Dan's favorite sandwich shop is replaced by Cafe Puree. Of course, Dan vows to take down the restaurant. Elise joins in when she feels scammed by their small, expensive portions and exceedingly slow service.
- French Jerk: Chef Puree
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Downplayed. Chef Puree was, to be fair, completely outmanned and surrounded when he surrendered, and several of the cooks rebelling against him were French as well.
- Friendly Enemy: Imposter Dan has shades of this with Dan, but is outright this with Chris and Elise. When he dumped Chris in a trap hole to keep him out of the way, he had a pie waiting for him. Justified, since he doesn't think of Chris and Elise as his enemies.
- Friend Versus Lover: Pretty much an everyday occurence for Chris, but played to a T in "Dan vs Dancing", where Dan and Elise argue over who can have Chris right in front of him. Of course, being a complete pushover, he can't put his foot down.
Dan: I've come to claim Chris. He promised me his time.
Chris: I said, "Maybe."
Elise: Well, you can't have him: I'm using him right now.
You two know I'm an independent individual, right
- Funny Background Event: In Dan Vs. Summer Camp, Chris is seen eating an apple in the present while Dan tells his story. As the episode goes on, every time it cuts back to the kitchen table, Chris is eating something else while the remnants of food pile up on his side of the table. By the time the episode is over, Chris is eating another apple and there's a bunch of various discarded food containers littering the floor around him.
- Gagging on Your Words: In "The Dentist", it takes Dan great effort (he actually starts sweating from the strain) to say "Thank you," to Elise.
- Gang Of Bullies: The Lemonade Stand Gang.
- Gender Flip: According to the show's Facebook page "The Boss" is a gender-flipped version of the film Secretary, except no one has sex and the boss is a demon.
- Generic Cuteness: Mr. Mumbles is little more than big eyes and fur.
- Genius Ditz: Hortense mistakes Latin for French, but "The Wedding" shows she's a professional businesswoman.
- Gentle Giant: Chris
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Has its own page. The most daring one is a recurring subtle element: whenever Dan awakens Chris and Elise in the middle of the night and they are shown in their pajamas, sometimes they look normal but other times their clothes are disheveled and their hair is untidy, like they'd been doing something that can't be talked about in a PG-13 show *nudge-nudge* *wink-wink*.
- The Ghost: It seems as though this mysterious ex-friend of Dan's, Ted, is shaping up to be one...who is he and what did he do to make Dan's list?
- Glove Slap: Played with.
- Dan attempts this on Store Manager Jeff in "Burgerphile." He responds by claiming assault and calling the cops.
- Chris successfully pulls it off in "Dan Vs. Chris", challenging Dan to the ritualized duel from their favorite sci-fi B-movie.
- Go Look at the Distraction: Chris calls the cooks at the dinner theatre away to look at an obvious distraction. They discuss it for a moment before deciding to go see it.
Chris: You missed it. Never mind.
- Gone Horribly Right: In "Jury Duty," Dan sympathizes with the defendant who allegedly destroyed a fast food burger shop across from Ninja Dave's because they both feel the store was stingy in how much ketchup they put on their sandwiches. The episode concludes with Dan finding video of Ninja Dave's security system showing the incident in question, and it's revealed that Dan was the one that bulldozed the store.
- Grave Robbing: In "Golf", Dan mentions that the naval outfit he's wearing used to belong to his uncle, who was buried with it. Elise is appropriately disgusted.
- Stealing a bow from an archaeological dig site in "The Wolf-Man" might count as well, once it turns out to be full of skeletons.
- Green Eyes: Dan.
- Hair Flip: Hortense in Dan Vs. The Wedding after taking off her hat.
- Happily Married: Chris and Elise
- Hartman Hips: Hortense, and Amber from Dan Vs. Anger Management.
- Headphones Equal Isolation: The hippie who runs the animal shelter is completely oblivious to Dan rigging the entire place with dynamite and then releasing all of the animals, including a baby elephant.
- Heel-Face Turn: Ninja Dave.
- Hellish Copter: The copter Dan hijacks in Dan Vs. The Traffic crashes to the ground and is destroyed.
- Help, I'm Stuck!: In "The Fancy Restaurant," Dan escapes the dungeon by crawling through the vent that leads to the men's room, only to get stuck on the way out. Fortunately, Chris was able to pull him out.
Dan: My revenge is being stalled by this narrow vent. Free me!
- Hero Antagonist: Terrifi-Guy in Dan Vs. The Superhero.
- Here We Go Again:
- The ending of Dan Vs. The Beach.
Dan, after seeing his car wrecked by hippies: HIPPIES!
- The ending of Dan Vs. Baseball is pretty much a much shorter version of the intro, but with basketball instead.
- The ending to Dan Vs. The Neighbors after Dan forces the previous ones out with a roach infestation.
- He Knows Too Much: Elise almost does something like in Dan Vs. The Bank (but Dan is an accomplice, not a Innocent Bystander) and even says it word for word.
Elise: Dan we need to go.
Dan: I'm not leaving.
Elise: His choice, let's move.
Chris: We can't leave Dan.
Chris: And he's our friend.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Dan
- Hero Insurance: Apparently a standard part of car insurance plans since Terrifi-Guy came to Los Angeles in "The Superhero". (Dan is an uninsured driver, of course.)
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Dan and Chris.
- Hidden Depths: Dan has a surprisingly thorough knowledge of history and is well-versed in Shakespearean drama.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Dan will actually do the right thing, occasionally, if it involves lives; he avoids killing people, tries to get Chris to a hospital when he's poisoned and even saves all of the animals in the shelter before blowing it up. He does have feelings in there somewhere.
- High-Pressure Emotion
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- The dentist at the end of the third episode.
- The identity thief at the end of "Dan", who gets arrested in Dan's place after Dan misses a court appearance.
- Hollywood California: The show takes place in Van Nuys.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Jeremiah Burger is prone to these due to his eating habits.
- Horrible Judge of Character: The ladies who run the Shakespeare Dinner Theatre in "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre".
After Dan runs off with an Evil Laugh
while wearing a Phantom of the Opera getup
One of the ladies: He seemed nice.
- Humble Goal: Hortense's dream of becoming Regional Manager of Burgerphile.
It's all I ever think about!
- Hypocritical Humor: "The Mall Santa":
Dan: Chris, that is not in the christmas spirit! Now come and help me annihilate Santa!
- Imposter Dan says that Dan should let things go at the end of "The Telemarketer" yet he spent the entire episode driving him insane out of revenge.
- I Ate WHAT?: The theatre-goers' reactions upon discovering they've been eating soap soup. Except Chris, he just keeps eating.
Chris: My stomach hurts...but I do feel clean inside.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
- At the end of "Burgerphile", Dan tells his new girlfriend Hortense to forget about him so she can move to Santa Monica and achieve her dream of becoming Burgerphile's Regional Manager (despite the fact that Santa Monica is only a twenty minute drive from Van Nuys — which Chris points out — but then again, we all know what bad luck Dan has with his car...)
- Subverted in "The Wedding". While Dan does eventually let Hortense go, he plans to back together with her when Jeremiah Burger dies.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Kids in the Hall alumni Kevin McDonald voices the Steve Jobs Expy in "Technology."
- Ice Hockey: The swimming version is played in "Canada".
Player: ...Hey, I'm drowning, eh?
- Impossible Hourglass Figure: Elise. Kelly from Dan Vs. Reality TV and Honey O'Houlihan from Dan Vs. The Catburglar qualify as well.
- Insistent Terminology:
Chris: So I'm expendable?
Dan: Let's just say "non-vital", it's nicer.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Cookie-stealing ninjas, at that.
- Internal Deconstruction: "Vs. The Neighbors" shows how some normal people would react to interacting with someone as violently crazy as Dan (in contrast with Chris and Elise, who've become jaded through years of experience with Dan).
- Dan's paranoia. In that episode, Dan gets paranoid after they were nice to him under the belief that they're hiding something, possibly cannibalism. Instead of the neighbors coincidentally turning out to be bad guys, they turn out to be genuinely nice people.
- It's Personal: In "Vegetables" Chris willingly goes along with Dan's plan when the vegan store owner throws a bag of burgers in the street.
- It Makes Sense in Context: A lot of the plots are this.
Dan: He knocked me unconscious, so he could dress up as my cat, and redecorate my apartment!
He's trying to make it seem like I'm losing my marbles! (Beat
) Which I'm not!
- Dan. He actually goes around wearing a shirt that says "Jerk" on it.
- Elise's parents, more so with Elise's dad.
- It's subtle, but the Bank Manager from "The Bank". While she seems nice enough, she refuses to acknowledge anyone who doesn't have a big bank account and when the police think Dan is holding a clown (Chris) hostage, she convinces them to storm the place despite the risk to "the hostage". She even refers to him as "Collateral Damage". On the plus side, she's voiced by Tara Strong, IN THE EXACT SAME VOICE TONE AS TWILIGHT SPARKLE!!!, so... she's got that going for her.
- Dan's boss in "Dan vs. The Boss". She enjoys making Dan suffer.
- Even resident superhero Terrifi-Guy qualifies — he casually and needlessly destroys property in the course of his work, and has no sympathy for people who can't afford the insurance to cover it.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Dan pointing out Jeremiah Burger's poor health and life expectancy was dickish, but he had a point.
- "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: In "New Mexico".
Elise: Okay, but we're having salad for dinner.
Chris: ...Dan said we were having burgers.
Elise: If Dan jumped off a cliff, would you?
Chris: (thinks about it)
Chris: (stammers) I mean, it depends.
Elise: Don't jump off a cliff!
Chris: Well, I wasn't planning on it.
Elise: But if Dan jumped, you would?
Chris: (thinks about it)
- Kafka Komedy
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: In "New Mexico", Dan destroys a bunch of hot air balloons. However, the balloonists were making a Human Sacrifice
- Kids Are Cruel: The Lemonade Stand Gang.
- Knight Templar:
- La Résistance:
- The French Canadians that wish to destroy Canada.
- Dan turns all the "failed" chefs imprisoned in the restaurant basement of Dan Vs. The Fancy Restaurant into this.
- Lame Comeback: In Dan Vs. Canada.
Chris: Good luck getting home.
Dan: Good luck being stupid.
Chris: Well, good luck... you're stupid!
- Lampshade Hanging: Too many instances to list.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Terrifi-Guy.
- Large Ham: Timmy
- Laser Hallway: In Dan Vs. New Mexico, Elise has to get through one in Area 52. She just flips it off with a light switch.
- Subverted in Dan Vs. The Dentist, where he looks for them in the doctor's office.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Whenever Dan wants to take something down, his determination and focus go way up, no matter how ludicrous the target is.
- Let The Past Burn: In the episode Dan Vs. The Family Thanksgiving, Elise's Parents' house gets burned down after Dan storms out of the celebration. While everyone else is upset at how the day ended, Dan is suitably happy with the house burning down, making everyone spend the night together in a hotel.
- Like a Son to Me: Elise's ex, Colby, to her dad. Though it might no longer the case, since Colby would let Elise's parents be killed by a serial killer to "protect" her.
Colby: He never hugs me like that.
- As of "Chris", they still seem as happy as ever to try to get Elise and Colby together. Seems they forgot the whole bear thing...
- Limited Animation: Characters from previous episodes are sometimes copy/pasted into the background, and the city backdrop is often two-dimensional during driving scenes. And vehicles turning is animated at roughly four frames per second.
- Limited Wardrobe: Dan's "JERK" shirt. Complete with the obligatory Lampshade Hanging gag of him owning several identical ones.