- Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Dan's Skyward Scream in the opening of each episode counts despite not containing one consistent word — just its delivery.
- The Mafia: Dan's plan to get revenge on Elise's parents involves convincing the police that her father is part of it, which leads to real Mafiosi trying to kill him. It's a lie, of course, but it turns out Elise's mother is secretly working for a rival Family.
- Male Gaze: In "Technology", once Elise is put under mind control and gets into that chrome skin-tight suit, the camera doesn't hesitate to get as many shots of her from the rear as possible.
- Married to the Job: Jeff the Burgerphile manager, to the point where he would rather lie about getting Dan's order wrong than admit to the mistake and blemish his otherwise perfect service record.
- McNinja: Ninja Dave. (Not just because he now runs a cookie restaurant.)
- Meaningful Background Event: In "The Family Cruise", as the guide asks which of the group are parents, Elise looks downward sadly. It has been implied a few times she wants children.
- The Dentobots.
- The androids. They may look human, but they're hard as a rock and surprisingly brittle.
- Mind-Control Device: Barry Ditmer's plan in episode "Technology" is to create a long-range wireless mind control device to force people to buy his products. He also has a smaller short-range headband device that he uses to turn Elise into his minion.
- Missing Steps Plan:
Chris: So, do we have a plan?
Dan: Of course. We go to Canada and make them pay for what they did to me.
Chris: That's not really a plan, so much as a goal.
Fine! You wanna plan? Here we go:
Step 1: We go to Canada.
Step 2: We make them pay for what they did to me!
Chris: Now, it's a checklist.
- Mistaken for Gay: In "The Bank" a clerk asks Dan and Chris if they want to open a joint account.
- Mistaken Identity: A cop mistakes Dan for a homeless guy in the Shakespeare episode. Hilarious that the trope page says that this trope was a favorite of Shakespeare's.
- Morality Chain: Subverted. Chris tries to be this for Dan, but Dan just refuses to listen.
- Morality Pet: Mr. Mumbles. Dan flies into a vengeful rage when someone scratches his car up, but isn't even slightly irked when the cat scratches him up on bath day.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Jerkface, Dan's supervillan identity.
- Motionless Chin: On everybody.
- Mouth Cam
- Mugging the Monster: Every episode begins with someone messing around with Dan's life, thinking that he's just some crazy, misanthropic jerk. Dan quickly shows them that he's a determined, obsessive, occasionally intelligent, crazy, misanthropic jerk.
- Mundane Fantastic
- Mushroom Samba: Chris starts hallucinating after a ninja shoots him with a "poisonous" dart.
- Mystery Meat: According to Elise, Burgerphile's "chicken" nuggets are actually made from soybeans and recycled newspaper.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: "Good news friends ... and Elise."
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Agzegoth the Devourer from "The Monster Under The Bed" even lampshaded by Chris.
- The Napoleon: Dan
- Negative Continuity
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Crunchy, as well as all the hippies from "The Beach".
- Nice Mean And In Between: Dan is Mean, Chris is nice, and Elise is usually somewhere between them
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Magnifico from "The Magician" is an obvious parody of Criss Angel. And Barry Ditmer from "Technology" is based on Steve Jobs. (Which makes the crazy guy they meet in the woods Steve Wozniak.)
- No Indoor Voice: Dan
- Noir Episode: "The Catburglar", complete with Private Eye Monologue narration by Dan, a Femme Fatale named Honey O'Houlihan, and a sepia tone filter over most of the scenes.
- Nonstandard Character Design: In his first appearance, Imposter Dan looked like a really badly drawn Dan, making him really stand out. For his later appearance, minor tweaks were made to his design so he didn't look so out of place.
- Noodle Implements: Dan's plan for destroying Chris "involves two Bengal tigers, an albino child, and five... no, six gallons of hummus." He hasn't worked out the details yet.
- Noodle Incident: Dan's grandmother died at some point (offscreen). Since then, Dan has expressed his dislike of her and made mention of some unspecified unpleasantness which he does not regret.
- No Kill Like Overkill: Dan got angry at a squirrel for an unspecified reason and was unable to find afterwards, so he decides to hijack some nuclear missiles and destroy all life on Earth to make sure that he kills the right squirrel. Elise stops him from going through with it though.
- No Seat Belts:
- No Theme Tune: The beginning of the episodes tend to have something terrible happen to Dan, and then Dan screaming skyward about the episode's subject. There actually is an ending theme, but it's not heard on TV since, like nearly all networks, the Hub runs promos over the end credits.
- Not Good with People: Dan is... a mild example of this. Not to say that he only somewhat hates humans, of course, but he appears to have a soft spot in his heart for cute fuzzy animals, such as Mr. Mumbles and the monkey in 'Common Cold'.
- Not So Different:
- Dan and Elise on occasion, since Elise also has a pretty vindictive side.
- In "The Dinosaur", Dan bonds with the dinosaur when he sees her enjoying television, eating burgers, and yelling angrily at people. Just like Dan. He can't bring himself to kill her after that and settles for sending her his car repair bill. She responds with a Skyward Scream. Just like Dan.
- Imposter Dan may be nicer than the real Dan but "The Telemarketer" reveals that he's just as vengeful as Dan is.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Well, Not So Imaginary Enemy, but Chris and Elise are pretty sure Dan has lost his mind in "Dan".
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The governor and his work release employee in "Stupidity". The governor is a British villain pretending to be an uneducated hick in order to bring down the education system in America while the employee is a government agent working undercover to stop him.
- Odd Couple: Chris and Dan.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: Dan drags along an unconscious Chris to help him exact his revenge in "The Animal Shelter."
- Offscreen Teleportation: Dan's boss in "Dan vs. The Boss".
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Elise.
- Once Killed a Man with a Noodle Implement: In "The Salvation Armed Forces", Dan tells his friend Chris that the bell ringer knows twelve ways to kill a man with a bell. Chris thinks about it, but can only come up with one.
- Once per Episode: Dan is wronged (or perceives that he has been wronged) and yells the name of the perpetrator. Cue title card.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In an argument with a pitcher, Dan can be heard ranting about how he didn't learn how to tie his shoes until he was twelve.
- Only Friend: Chris is Dan's only friend. Ted is occasionally mentioned, but has yet to actually appear on the show, probably because Dan is usually mad at him.
- Only One Name: Dan, although given that Chris' last name is Pearson, and named after one of the show's writers, it's quite probable that Dan's last name is Mandel, after his own namesake.
- Only Sane Man: So far, Chris is the most normal of the cast aside from the fact that he's apparently a werebear or something. Dan really should rethink his habit of sticking his fingers in Chris's mouth.
- Origins Episode: "Summer Camp", where Dan recounts to Elise how he and Chris met and how he embarked on his first revenge mission ever against the corrupt camp director, Mr. Tedesco.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: The Wolfman in the eponymous episode doesn't seem to know about being a werewolf, as evidenced by wondering aloud who shot him in the butt with a silver arrow. The Wolfman itself is a general troublemaker, but isn't seen doing anything worse than damaging cars.
- Our Zombies Are Different: They're dance-fighting monsters.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Happens a few times, with "The Dentist" being one of the more jarring examples.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Dressing Chris while he's lying unconscious in a hospital bed is "the third most uncomfortable thing I've had to do all week."
- Pac Man Fever: Chris is shown playing a video game by holding an Xbox controller upside-down◊. The quickness with which Dan beats the ... level? Stage? ... when he takes over (also holding the controller upside-down) might also count, depending on what kind of game it's supposed to be.
- Palette Swap: Often done as a cheap way to make background characters. For instance, the guy who gets hit by the bus in "New Mexico" is clearly seen with new hair and shirt colors in "Baseball" as one of the members of the seating feud.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Used by Dan and Chris on several occasions, but probably most hilariously in "Elise's Parents", when a very-obviously male undercover cop poses as Dan's girlfriend and Elise's parents don't seem to notice.
- Predatory Business: Gigundo-Mart.
- People Puppets: Dan does this to an unconscious Chris in "Dan vs. the Animal Shelter" in order to use his credit card to buy explosives.
- Personality Swap: Dan and Chris toward the end of "Anger Management".
- Pet the Dog: In "The Animal Shelter", Dan "adopts" a kitten and released all the animals before blowing up the shelter.
- Pink Boy, Blue Girl: Chris and Elise.
- Poisonous Friend: Dan to Chris (literally in "The Animal Shelter").
- Police Are Useless: In "Burgerphile", when Jeff tries to have Dan arrested, the cops try asking Dan nicely to unchain himself from the cash register, and when he refuses, they immediately give up and leave.
- Justified, as this takes place in America, and Dan was exercising his 1st Amendment right of a non-violent protest. He wasn't doing anything illegal, so they couldn't arrest him.
- Neatly subverted in "The Wolfman"—Dan and Chris are chasing after a child, and pass right by a Donut Eating Cop. He ignores it but then does a Double Take, proclaiming "Oh, right, I'm a cop." Smash Cut to Chris and Dan in a jail cell.
- Police Brutality:
- Those Canadian security guards are friendly, but violent.
- In "The Wolf Man," a police officer does taze Dan, but only after Dan made a scene at the station and took his hat after being warned not to.
- Potty Emergency: Why Dan is so harried at the beginning of "Traffic".
- Potty Failure: What sets Dan off against traffic.
- Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Dan thinks in "The Animal Shelter".
"I didn't ask you to build an animal jail across the street. Shut your prisoners up, warden!"
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Played with and Inverted. While the scripts are occasionally favorable to him, it's made very clear that Dan is nearly always in the wrong... and is sometimes blamed for doing things that aren't his fault. Dan is berated by Elise for sending an innocent man to prison for his crimes... when that "innocent man" stole Dan's identity. In "Family Cruise," Elise's Mom notes how it's Dan's fault the ship is sinking... when she and Elise broke the navigation system.
- Purple Eyes: Elise and the androids, brainwashed Elise has a different shade of purple in "Technology" have these.
- Recognition Failure: In "Dan Vs. the High School Reunion", NO ONE remembers Chris.
- Recurring Character: Several, the most prominent being Crunchy.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- Roswell That Ends Well: The end of "New Mexico".
- Running Gag: Several.
- The Skyward Scream at the beginning of every episode.
- Dan taking out his revenge list and adding something new to it in the middle of revenge missions.
- Dan knocking a glass off the table and breaking it at Chris and Elise's house whenever Chris contradicts him.
- Dan unsuccesfully working on inventing a jet pack.
- Chris eating things laced with poisons, toxins, intoxicants, etc.
- Dan leaving messages for Chris which always contain a rebuttal to something Dan succesfully predicted Elise would say.
- The subject of the episode somehow damaging or messing with Dan's car. Especially if it's a location, abstract concept, long-dead historical figure, or something else that shouldn't be physically capable of it.
- Sadist Show
- Samus is a Girl: As revealed in "Art," Mr. Mumbles is female. However, even after learning this, Dan does not change her name.
- Satan: Chris' boss.
- Scenery Censor: Done with Elise's head on a naked Chris painting.
- Scream Discretion Shot: Hilarious in that nothing actually happens to Dan, but he screams anyway, while ordering Chris to hot glue his tooth back in or just sitting in the dentist's chair.
- Used in the same episode at the dentist's office. When Chris comes in to check what's going on, they say they haven't done anything yet.
- Scarecrow Solution: Used by Chris in "The Monster Under The Bed" to scare Dan away long enough for him and Elise to enjoy their weekend.
- Security Cling: Dan and Chris have a tendency to do this.
- Serious Business: Chris takes cocoa preparation very seriously, and he does not appreciate being woken up at three in the morning to make it only to have it wasted. He actually manages to intimidate Dan into sitting down and drinking it.
- To be fair, if you were woken up in the middle of the night and asked to do something, and the person tried to leave before you could finish doing it (like make them a sandwich), Wouldn't you be a little angry too?
- Shaggy Dog Story: "The Wolfman", as Dan and Chris go thorough a month of preparation just so Dan could key his car back.
- Shark Pool: One in "Baseball". With squeaky rubber sharks! Dan is not amused. Then there's one with a real shark in "The Beach", which Dan and Chris attempt to "borrow" from the aquarium.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The entirety of "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre."
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: In "The Wolf-Man".
Chris: What kind of sandwich?
- Silver Arrowhead.
- Skewed Priorities:
- In "Burgerphile", Jeff is so focused on having a perfect customer satisfaction record that he'll completely piss off a customer in order to claim that his record is still spotless. Jeremiah Burger calls him out on this at the end of the episode.
- The vegans and vegetarians in "Vegetables". It's not stated whether they're on that diet for health or moral reasons, but either way they completely missed the point. The ones in it for health reasons never considered that starving themselves was far worse for their health than eating a steak. And the ones in it for moral reasons had no qualms about eating a broccoli monster, even though it was an intelligent, speaking creature.
- Skyward Scream: Dan does one just before each episode title is shown. Occasionally his enemies will do the same after Dan's retribution.
- Almost does it a second time in Gigundomart, but realizes halfway through that he already did that.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Dan.
- Smarter Than You Look: Dan is well versed in Shakespeare's works, even naming his teddy bear Brutus. In Dan vs. George Washington it is pointed out that Dan's knowledge can be very intricate, but random. For example when asked who carved Mount Rushmore, he gave the correct name immediately without even thinking about it, as well as the fact that his son had to complete it. However, when asked which U.S. state Mount Rushmore was in, Dan threw out a random guess, Ecuador.
- The Smurfette Principle: All but one of the chefs that Dan rescues in "Fancy Restaurant" are men. Justified as this is Truth in Television, ever see Ratatouille?
- Something Person: Terriffi-Guy.
- Soul-Sucking Retail Job: "Gigundo-Mart".
- Spoiled Brat: Timmy.
- Stab the Salad: In "Ski Trip" the Pleasant family does this three times. It later turns out they really are psychotic.
- Stealth Pun: In "The Bank," we learn that Dan's Pin Number is 5375. This spells "JERK" on a numberpad.
- Stepford Smiler: The family Chris meets in "The Ski Trip" are mental patients that escaped and planned on eating Chris.
- Sticky Situation: Dan gets covered in maple syrup in "Canada", and with lemonade in "The Lemonade Stand Gang".
Elise: Oh, that Dan. Always covered in something.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Elise's Parents," when Dan presents a very poorly edited recording of a conversation with Don as evidence that he's a mob boss, he tries to pass off the phrase "cupcake him" as slang for murder. Later, an actual mob boss uses the same phrase.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Elise's ex, Colby, from "The Family Camping Trip", elicits this reaction in Dan, if Dan's comments are anything to go by.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Of I want to see the governer, of all things.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Dan gives one at the end of "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre" with an impromptu victory poem, having spoken most of his dialogue in this episode in iambic pentameter.
It lies in ruin, plain for all to see!
... That should teach you not to mess with - DAN!
- Superheroes Wear Capes: Dan-Man has a cape, despite Dan's inability to fly. He trips over the cape in action.
- Super Villain: Turns out dentists are evil and want to take over the world. (At least one, anyway.)
- Dan takes the identity of Dr. Jerkface in order to gain revenge on Terrifi-Guy in "The Superhero".
- Sword Fight: Probably the most inactive sword fight ever animated is in "Ye Olde Shakespearean Dinner Theatre".
- Take That:
- "The Monster Under the Bed" has Chris tell Dan that he should be lucky he's not being visited by Uggragoth of the DeviantArt.
- And if that does not convince you of this trope, then Dan's disturbed reaction to the images surely will.
- In "The Magician", the antagonist was modeled after Chris Angel.
- In "Stupidity", one of the leading causes of Dan's crusade against the subject matter is a parody of Transformers, complete with the tagline "give up on story, more explosions."
- Another, smaller, instance in "Stupidity": "TV shows just quote older TV shows," a possible Take That to Family Guy.
- In "Reality TV", Dan dates a woman who he mentions is "the only female wrestling fan he knows that's graduated high school."
- A few are directed towards places in southern California.
Chris: City of Industry? What's in City of Industry?
Dan: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In "The Fancy Restaurant", Dan writes a message on the cheesecake Chris and Elise ordered for dessert, telling Chris to meet him in the men's room. Elise comments, "This is weird," and the waiter immediately appears with another cheesecake reading, "It's not weird. Don't listen to Elise."
- There Was a Door: After infiltrating the Salvation Armed Forces store to get the file on his accidentally-donated car, Dan breaks the window to get back out, only to remember he'd left the file inside and casually go back in and out through the unlocked door. Revealing not only the broken window but the infiltration plan itself (he had hidden in a chair Chris donated) as pointless.
- They Killed Kenny Again: In several episodes Dan's car is destroyed, vandalized, etc and it re-appears to its original semi-destroyed and vandalized state by the next episode. However unlike the other examples of this trope the damage to the car often times jump starts the plot for that episode.
- This Is Reality: Played with in "The Wolfman".
- Those Two Guys: The two paramedics.
- Title-Only Opening / No Theme Tune'
- Too Dumb to Live: In "Stupidity", the antagonist's goal is to lower educational and entertainment standards so that all Americans are too dumb to live. Chris and Dan's near terminal stupidity at the end of the episode (Chris managed to set himself on fire and Dan tried to remove fire ants by beating himself with a two-by-four) convinces him that his job is done and he moves the operation to China.
- To The Bat Noun
Dan: To the Danmobile!
- Toon Physics: Used sometimes, like when Dan hid an entire car behind a scrawny tree.
- Trash of the Titans: Dan's apartment.
"How can a human being live like this? It's like a giant petri dish."
- Tuckerization: Dan and Chris are named after the show's creators, Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson.
- The Unfavorite: In "The Family Camping Trip," Don states that Elise's ex Colby is the closest thing he has to a son. Elise Sr. then asks him about their actual son.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: Featured in the episode "The Dinosaur", of course.
Dan: "A mid-sized tyrannosaurid theropod, probably female."
- Ungrateful Bastard:
- Dan himself, like 95% of the time.
- Even though Chris saved everyone from a serial killer and proved himself a man, Elise's father STILL hates him and swears to get back at him. He's probably angry that Chris one-upped Colby, who's more of a son too, but Colby was ready to let everyone but Elise die.
- Unreliable Illustrator: In Elise's flashback in "New Mexico" her parents look no younger than they do in the present.
- Unstoppable Rage: Impressively, Dan, in a state of berserker rage, hits a pane of bulletproof glass with his head hard enough to crack it in "Vs. The Bank".
- Unwilling Suspension: Dan does this to a costumed kid in "The Wolf-Man" and to the commissioner of baseball in "Baseball".
- Vanity License Plate: Chris's car has a license plate that reads, "PUSHOVR".
- Versus Title
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Dan the Jerkass is best friends with Nice Guy Chris.
- Vocal Dissonance: In flashbacks to Elise's childhood she still has the same voice.
- As do Dan and Chris in the flashback to their childhood in "Summer Camp".
- Weaksauce Weakness: Terrifi-Guy's is hot sauce.
- Weirdness Magnet: Dan. In at least three episodes random beings (including a dinosaur of all things) mess with his car for no reason whatsoever, prompting him to hunt them down, and in another episode he has to deal with a giant tentacled Monster hiding under his bed (this one was actually averted since it was only Chris pulling a prank).
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Subverted in "Dan". When Dan seems to have given up on busting the fake Dan and takes the pleasant personality of Biff, Chris is excited and wants it to stay that way. Elise is skeptical, and it seems as if she's going to play the trope straight, but all she really does is remark that "she knew he hadn't changed" when the cops take the Fake Dan away.
- Then played straight in "Anger Management". Chris is horrified that Dan (having taken the lessons in Anger Management to heart and found inner peace) won't get payback against Amber for extorting him. When Dan invites him over for herbal tea, Chris says that he doesn't even know who Dan is anymore. Of course, when Dan does go back to normal at the end of the episode, Chris seems more resigned than happy.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Specifically, at the end of "Dance", what happened to Mr. Mumbles? Mr. Mumbles was left alone at Dan's place long enough that, by Chris' account, she was emaciated and not moving. Before a week-long Time Skip. Chris asks what happened to her at the end of the episode, but Dan only turns on TV to show the dance hall getting blown. And she's not seen until two episodes later.
- Made explicitly clear what happened to Mr. Mumbles by Chris' remark of "I thought we got rid of all the explosives," and Dan turning on the TV right after Chris asked what happened to Mr. Mumbles. In case you didn't figure it out, Mr. Mumbles went and put them back, continuing the trend of Dan's personality rubbing off on her. And considering Mr. Mumbles is seen again alive and well...
- "Elise's Parents" ends up establishing that Elise Sr. is actually a Crime Lord. Even though there are other times it would have been relevant, this doesn't come up again until the next-to-last episode of the third season, "Family Cruise."
- What Is This Feeling?: Whenever someone shows Dan kindness, he is often left dumbfounded and not sure how to react.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In "Dance", Chris expresses shock that Elise stuffed Dan in a box and mailed him to a ghost town populated by fight-dancing madmen to keep Dan from endangering her chances of winning a dance contest. Doesn't really go anywhere since Elise pacifies him with a shoulder rub.
- What Would X Do?: Dan asks himself "What would Mr. Mumbles do?" when trapped on a roof. He then displays cat-like agility by scaling a drainage pipe, landing on the stairway railing, then jumping the remaining distance to the sidewalk. He is amazed it actually worked.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted; Chris's ID in "The Animal Shelter" places the setting in Van Nuys, Los Angeles.
- Wholesome Crossdresser:
- Ty, from "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre."
- Vinnie, from "Elise's Parents", wears a dress even when no longer undercover though since he's actually part of the mob, he may also qualify as a Creepy Crossdresser.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Crunchy.
- Chris, to a lesser extent.
- William Shatner: is on Dan's enemies list.
- Women Are Wiser: Elise. Not always, however...
- Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: "Baseball":
Chris: Okay, I'll go.
Dan: I don't want to hear your excuses, you miserable— wait, did you say "okay?"
- Writing Around Trademarks: In "Dan", there's clearly a poster of The Ramones in Dan's living room, but a torn corner and other things cover parts of all the words.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: One of the actors at Ye Olde Shakespearean Dinner Theatre keeps misusing archaic grammar. This really pisses Dan off.
Actor: Have at thou!
Dan: Have at thee, you beslubbering canker-blossom!
- Yes Virginia: "The Mall Santa" has elements of this, though only so far as Dan admitting his genuine belief in Santa Claus.
"Of course I do! Read your Bible!"
- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Don't mess with Dan. Ever. If you're lucky, he'll only burn your house down.
- Elise is a super-spy with deadly combat training and expertise in all sorts of powerful sci-fi technology. She's not as quick to anger as Dan is, but she can hold as well as he can — and her plans usually work. Messing with her doofy, oblivious, average-looking husband is not a good idea.