Chickens — small flight-inhibited birds with a tendency to break out in screeching panics over the smallest things — are inherently funny, like penguins and monkeys, maybe because they're being Comically Serious. Unlike penguins and monkeys, they're also regularly eaten (they taste like chicken). And that's pretty much it. This isn't really a family of tropes that has a whole heck of a lot of logic behind them.
Some useful notes on chickens. The domesticated chicken is known scientifically as Gallus gallus domesticus. They are the most common bird on the planet, some 24 billion strong - in other words, they outnumber human beings more than three to one.
Recently, palaeontologists extracted fragmentary DNA from preserved T. rex collagen. The surprising result? T. rex shared more than ninety percent of its DNA with the common farm fowl.
Repeat: THE CLOSEST LIVING RELATIVE OF THE TYRANNOSAURUS REX IS THE CHICKEN.
Chickens deserve more respect due to this.
Not to be confused with What's a Henway? See also Tastes Like Chicken.
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Anime and Manga
Ayanoi Gakuen in GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class apparently has chickens in their courtyard worth tens of millions of yen each and everyone calls them the very respectful name of "oniwatori-sama," or Lord Chickens.
In the dark fantasy manga D.Gray-man, Jasdevi's hunt for General Cross ends at one point with the General leaving his hat (and a bill for $20,000) on a chicken for them to find. They don't take it well.
Slayers features a chicken demon who first appears to be ridiculous, fat rooster, then transforms into a scary giant-chicken-thingy.
Kasugano-sensei from Sketchbook has a pet chicken, which she endearingly calls "P-chan". She also takes that bird everywhere—including to school.
One episode of Lost Universe involves the cast taking a flight that is hijacked by religious fanatics in chicken suits. They were apparently trying to force a dignitary in first class to publicly state that chickens were more inherently holy than cows (Don't ask).
The Magic: The Gathering joke set Unglued had a chicken subtheme, with cards such as Poultrygeist, Free-Range Chicken, and, of course, Chicken Ã la King. There's also an aura called Fowl Play, that turns creatures into chickens.
In the "Transfer of Power" arc of The Authority after a year of hell at the hands of the G7 nations and some of the richest people in the world, as well as having "The Twenty Billion Dollar Bastard" Seth beating everyone on the team, including virtually killing the Midnighter (only a combination of the Doctor's magics and Engineer's surgical skills saved him), Swift (a nominal pacifist) has the Doctor turn Seth into a coop of chickens and dumps them on the doorstep of his own hillbilly family. His future was short.
Filipino comic book artist Gerry Alanguilan (who inked Superman: Birthright) has a self-published work called Elmer, about what happens when chickens achieve sentience and fight for their rights.
Chickens are Serious Business in the world of Chew, because of their tasty-but-illegal-due-to-bird-flu-meat. That or their superior cock-fighting skills in the case of Poyo!
Several chickens can be seen running around the background of Labyrinth. They've become a meme within the fan community, spawning chicken-centric fics, art, and more. All hail Rosalinda, dread chicken of destiny. Viva la revolution!
"We have a 10-80 out here, a truck on fire, we have a man on the lift, we are unable to find the switch to turn the lift off, we can't stop the dancing chickens."
Borat carried a chicken with him (in a suitcase) for a large portion of the film.
In OSS 117 Cairo Nest Of Spies, Agent 117 goes undercover as the owner of a poultry business. At some point he fights a bad guy by hurling chickens at each other.
At the beginning of U.S. Marshals, we see Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard staking out the suspected residence of a fugitive disguised as a the mascot of a chicken-based food chain giving away free samples. Making Tommy Lee Jones possibly the only person in film history capable of looking badass in a chicken suit. Ironically, originally the scene was supposed to have Gerard disguised as a priest.
Juli, the lead female character in Flipped, oversees the birth of five baby chickens for a science project and raises them on her own after they hatch. The chickens end up playing a role in one of the film's subplots.
At the very beginning of Mulan, the title heroine ties a bag of chicken feed to her dog Little Brother to feed the chickens. Little Brother then leads the chickens all around the Fa Family residence and into the Ancestors' shrine.
In the novel The Last Continent, a carnivorous dinosaur spontaneously "evolves" into a chicken, in an effort to make itself useful enough for the Unseen University faculty not to blast it with fireballs. They end up roasting and eating it instead of just roasting it.
Moving Pictures in its parodies of movie tropes included a wheelchair crashing into a barn and emerging surrounded by clucking chickens... much to the farmers' surprise, since the last time they looked it was full of cabbages.
In Wintersmith, a mishap with a cornucopia leads to Nanny Ogg's house being filled with hundreds of live chickens. Werk... Not a bad thing, as Rincewind in The Science Of Discworld II has accurately observed that the chicken is Lancre's standard unit of currency.
Methodia Rascal, the Mad Artist appearing in flashbacks in Thud!! thought he was being stalked by a giant chicken. And that he was the giant chicken himself. He was found dead, mouth full of chicken feathers, with the paint of his greatest work, "Battle Of Koom Valley" still wet.
Quetzovercoatl, the Feathered Boa, is, or rather was, a demon worshiped by the Tezumen, described by Rincewind as half man, half chicken, half jaguar, half serpent, half scorpion and half mad.
The Weasleys create fake wands that turn into other objects when you try to use them. Among the alternatives: rubber chickens.
The Weasleys have chickens in their garden. It's a pretty funny coexistence with their gnomes.
In the grim darkness of A Song of Ice and Fire, there is not only war. They can appreciate a good joke, such as those told by trained Fools. One of them is named Butterbumps, an enormously fat man who tends to wear a chicken suit.
The Chicken That Was Not A Chicken in the Sword of Truth series. Supposed to be scary, ended up as Nightmare Retardant. "This was no chicken... This was evil manifest!" Worst ultimate incarnation of evil ever. It's more an example of failure to get across the unnerving nature of a humble domestic animal behaving strangely. People who have never dealt with animals, especially farm animals, have no idea how nightmarishly creepy it can be. And city folk especially tend to overrate their own competence in a situation like that. People who have never experienced the rural lifestyle get scared absolutely spitless by cows, sheep, squirrels. Plus, it's easy to laugh at the protagonist being scared by a chicken, till you consider that, comedy tropes about flightless fowl to the contrary, it was still a large, angry bird with sharp claws, a beak, and that was possessed by a demon a few feet from her face. The problem was that Goodkind presents it as a rational fear, while from a rational point of view, it's a chicken.
A chicken plays an important role in Gordon Korman's The Chicken Doesn't Skate.
In the first Hank the Cowdog book, chickens are described as being so dumb that they only have six words in their own language, three of which are just different cries for help. J.T. Cluck, the head rooster, is shown speaking fluently on other occasions, so he may be smarter than your average hen. Of course, it's Hank describing the Chickens, an Unreliable Narrator who affects a jaundiced viewpoint.
In Ozma of Oz, Dorothy is accompanied by a talking yellow hen called Billina.
In John Moore's Bad Prince Charlie, one running gag is a discussion of how a wizard tried to banish all the snakes from the kingdom, but botched the spell and banished all the chickens instead (And since he never figured out why the spell went wrong, he couldn't reverse it). As a result, it is impossible to get any kind of food that involves chicken or eggs, except on an annual festival where they import the meat and eggs from a neighboring country.
In one chapter of I'll Mature When I'm Dead, Dave Barry tells that when he and his friend Gene Weingarten felt they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write something really original, and so came up with the concept of evil mutant superhuman chickens wreaking havoc on Iowa during the caucuses. One of the notes they wrote down was "METHANE—chickenshit raining down on Wolf Blitzer in Des Moines," though Dave Barry couldn't recall why; "maybe we were just responding to the universal human longing to see Wolf Blitzer inundated by chickenshit." Eventually they realized that their movie would actually be better without chickens, so they wrote them out.
Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost: When the Otis family tricks and out-wits the Ghost, he swears a terrible oath that shall start his revenge when a rooster crows twice: "When Chanticleer had sounded twice his merry horn, deeds of blood would be wrought, and murder walk abroad with silent feet." One crow comes immediately, but the cock, for some strange reason, did not make a sound again. The Ghost later found that on every other occasion when this oath had been used, a rooster had always crowed a second time. The Ghost's response? "Perdition seize the naughty fowl!"
Live Action TV
When the characters meddle with a DNA-altering machine in Red Dwarf, they briefly turn Lister into a chicken.
Cat: What was it like, being a hamster? Lister: Better than being a chicken. You've seen an egg. You've seen the size of a chicken's bum. I was trying to say, in chicken, "For god's sakes give me an epidural!"
The iCarly episode iHatch Chicks; and in iPsycho and its sequel iStill Psycho the antagonist Nora had a pet chicken named Maurice.
Orkans are implied to have evolved from some sort of space chicken. This explains the constant egg motif, but not the fact that they sit on their face, or drink with their fingers, or anything else about them.
Earl Hickey inadvertently developed a bad and costly gambling habit trying to "man up" his gay pal Kenny that he ended up in a dirty back room spending his last dollar on chicken bingo—which apparently involves putting a live chicken on a giant gameboard and betting on which number the bird will take a dook on.
Often if someone would tell an especially lame joke, someone else on the cast (or offstage) would hit them with a rubber chicken.
There was also a regular animated segment on the show, with a chicken mistaking anything and everything for an egg. The chicken would sit on items, such as a ringside bell, a man's bald head, a billiard ball, a football, a golf ball, and even a bomb, with various disastrous results.
The DVD commentary for the Firefly episode Serenity features Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion going into an entertainingly irrelevant digression about the chickens pecking around the marketplace on Persephone.
When a French royalist soldier aboard the Indefatigable tries to take an officers' chicken and cook it for himself, our lower-deck seamen get violently protective. Oldroyd offers his most sincere advice in English tinged with French accent: "No steal-ie, savvy! You steal-ie, get chop! plenty!! damn!! vite!!!" Horatio settles the issue, and Styles then inconspicuously attempts to take the chicken for themselves, and Horatio must reprimand him. Cuts from this scene appear in Fan Vids and Styles' love for chickens gets mentioned in Fan Fic.
Marquis Moncoutant is a French Royalist, attempting to restore the monarchy in France. When he returns to his château, he's horrified to find out that peasants have been living there, using his paintings as fuel and raising their animals in his rooms. When a frightened chicken, poor thing, runs through the room, jumps on the table and clucks aloud, he does not find it funny. Some viewers do.
Friends: Chandler and Joey kept a chick and a duck as their pets for some time. They got the chick when s/he was a cute yellow ball of fluff, but the little Yasmine grew up into a nice and loud rooster. Hilarity Ensued, many times. One guy who dated Rachel had a serious bird phobia, though, and he did not find them cute, funny or mildly disgusting. He was genuinely scared of them.
House: One episode features Drs. House and Wilson's bet that whoever manages to keep a chicken in the hospital longer without getting caught wins. It is a thing to behold: chickens in the office of the head of oncology department. Check this video.
100 Ways to Die in Skyrim, Part 1 starts with the execution scene in Solitude, only the condemned has been modded out in favor of a rather confused-looking chicken. Also, somewhere around Way to Die #45 is "trampled by giant chicken".
The solo guitarist Buckethead has named many song related to chickens, such as "Chicken for Lunch", "Chicken" and "I can only carry 50 chickens at a time". He also wears a KFC bucket on his head.
Many a child of the 90's could tell you about that era's favorite embarrassing dance, the Chicken Dance.
Ray Stevens has done plenty of chicken songs, including "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens" and renditions of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and "In the Mood" entirely in chicken clucks.
Gary Larson's The Far Side comics sometimes involved chickens, usually portraying them as farm animals with an attitude. One collection, titled The Chickens Are Restless, has a cover of a chicken mob wielding Torches and Pitchforks and throwing eggs at a cow.
A chicken is how Popeye comes to be. In a Thimble Theater arc, Castor Oyl comes upon a breed of poultry called a Whffle Hen, which, on top of being unkillable (Something he learns over the course of several strips), can also bring good luck to those who rub its three hairs. Deciding to get rich by taking advantage of this, Castor decides to sail to Dice Island, location of a deluxe casino. After buying a boat, he hires a crew of one...
Castor: Hey, you there! Are you a sailor?
Who Do You Think?: Ja think I'm a cowboy?!
One of the recurring characters in the comic Pluggers is a hen named Henrietta Beak.
A staple of "comedy" is the rubber chicken.
As in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Two and A Half Dead", where one is found stuffed inside a corpse and the assistant coroner wants Grissom to use "I suspect fowl play" or "This is poultry evidence" as a Quip to Black. He goes for "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard".
While training to face "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Shane McMahon urged his father Vince McMahon to chase a chicken around a pen. Exactly what this was supposed to accomplish, neither seemed to know, but it resulted in wrestling fans everywhere getting to watch the 50-year-old CEO of the company hunched over, running through snow and mud after an uncooperative chicken.
The Great Gonzo (who may himself be some sort of bird, although probably not a chicken) is in love with Camilla the Chicken, and has chased other chickens romantically (namely out of confusion). Don't think about it too hard.
While Gonzo is a Whatever (or an alien, if you take Muppets From Space as canon), his interest in chickens actually comes from an improvised joke. Originally they were trying to use dancing chickens, but none of the so-called "trained chickens" could dance, so it just showed Gonzo auditioning them. The line that established his chicken fetish was "Nice legs, though."
Statler: How come chickens are so big on this show?
Waldorf: Well, chickens thrive on corn!
This trope is taken to its natural extreme when, during one episode, EVERYBODY turns into a chicken, so that all the skits and acts have to be done as chickens.
Well, Jim Henson thought chickens were the funniest animals in the world, so naturally, an episode devoted to chickens makes sense.
There was a rather excellent modification that gave you a chicken launcher (complete with feathers, clucks and screams). Nothing quite like rounding a corner and eating a high-velocity chicken.
There was also a somewhat less excellent, but still very funny, mod for the original Doom that turned the rocket launcher into a chook launcher.
Space Quest III featured an arcade minigame called "Astro Chicken," the purpose of which was to land a chicken on a trampoline. The soundtrack was the aforementioned "Chicken Reel." The sequel game, "Ms. Astro Chicken," appeared in Space Quest IV.
Live chickens form the base of your dungeon's food chain in Dungeon Keeper. You can also just swat or possess them for fun, though there's generally not much point to it.
The Platform GameFlood featured an awesomely destructive flamethrower, but after drawing it a few times, your character Quiffy would pull out a rubber chicken instead, which clucked loudly to Quiffy's shock. (Then you pull out the flamethrower again.)
It gets better then that! One quest has you infiltrate the chickens lair to which you are greeted by Black Dragons some of the most feared creatures in the game.
There was also a chicken sword given out for an event at some point.
Typing "idkfa" as a cheat code in Heretic, instead of giving all weapons, full ammo, and max armor, turns the player into a chicken. There also exists an item called the Morph Ovum that does this to all monsters but the bosses.
The MMORPG Warhammer Online solves the problem of ganking in an innovative way: if a player tries to enter a PvP zone that he or she is too high a level for, a powerful debuff hits them that, among other things, turns them into a chicken.
The South Park video game allows you to use a chicken as a sniper rifle. (It fires eggs with deadly accuracy.)
For some reason a bunch of turkeys were led by one murderous cock.
The cross-platform computer game Tribal Trouble pits Vikings against natives, with three tiers of raw material for building increasingly powerful weapons: wood, iron, and... chickens.
In Final Fantasy Tactics, if your persistent Brave stat (measured on a scale of 0-100) drops too low during a battle, you literally chicken out and become a fowl. The AI takes over your character and makes him or her run to a corner of the battlefield to escape the conflict, and about 1/4 of all changes to Brave remain after the battle. (Click here for an explanation of the mechanics.) There is a spell, "Chicken," designed to make someone's Brave score plummet. It's on your side, and it's awesome.
The otherwise-forgotten Fighting GameMace The Dark Age gave us the fire-breathing chicken Pojo. In his ending, he acquires the titular artifact, grows gigantic, and is said to inspire the legends of dragons. In Gauntlet Legends and its Updated RereleaseDark Legacy, grabbing an Egg power-up briefly turns you into Pojo.
Entering "EGG" as your initials in Gauntlet Legends makes you Pojo for the entire duration of the game.
The Final Fantasy franchise gives us Chocobos, giant adorable (mostly) flightless birds used as mounts.
There is an easter egg to acquire a chicken pet. It involves the /chicken taunt.
Engineers can make a Gnomish Battle Chicken. It usually hits for pitiful amounts of damage but occasionally enrages. It may also buff its owner with extra attack power. A non-combat version is also available from a series of quests
Engineers can also build a Gnomish Poultryfier, which will temporarily turn the target into a chicken, making it unable to attack. It has a chance to malfunction and turn the user into a chicken or turn the target into a giant chicken, increasing it's attack power.
A warlock quest chain involves a gnome trying to summon a mighty demon... but the result is a giant chicken aptly named El Pollo Grande.
The campaign "Valley of the Mad" in Rise of Legends features Chicken Hallucinations - which are dwarfs in gas masks riding armored chickens and carrying spears. Giacomo, your mind is a dark and scary place...
In Baldur's Gate, there's a shop that's overrun with deranged, violent chickens, and you can summon the swarm with a cheat code. (The code? "thegreatgonzo".)
Further, in one area of the game you can come across a talking chicken, who claims to be a mage who tried out a new spell that went awry. If you bring him back to his master (as the mage is a mere apprentice), there's a chance he can be turned back via a spell called "antichickenator". The PC can be a Jerkass and make several unkind puns about the situation.
Protagonist: This bird is possessed! This chicken is FOWL!
Also, if you click many times a chicken, its joke quote reads "Nobody here but us chickens."
The Morph-O-Ray in the first Ratchet & Clank game turned enemies into chickens. In the second game, someone apparently got the idea to turn all the resulting chickens into killer robots.
You know what would've improved Crysis a lot? If it had been more like this.
The Fable series embraces this trope. In each game, there are plenty of chickens in rural areas that you can violently punt to relieve boredom/laugh at the pain of helpless animals. There are achievements for chicken-kicking, and there is one Demon Door that can be opened by kicking a chicken into it. Each game also has at least one sidequest involving chickens, and each game has some kind of wearable chicken suit. A chicken is also featured as the protagonist of Fable III's opening FMV.
WANT ... MEAT!
The Bard's Tale has chickens running around the first town, which can be killed for meat. If you kill too many, though, you get to fight a rather peeved boss chicken.
The Torchic family of Pokémon. Although they are based on the badass blood-sport chickens from Thailand, rather than the silly aspects of chickens.
Total Overdose has many, many chickens running around, which of course can be shot. The nice twist is ammo is rare so you have to balance blasting bad guys to destroying fowl.
Everything is not better with General Tsao in Sly Cooper, despite being a chicken. Instead he's an armored warlord who abducts women and kicked a puppy. Twice.
There's a level in the first game where you have to kill a large number of chickens in a fixed time period in order to get one of the treasure keys to the third boss. The roosters carried explosives.
In Redneck Rampage, an old FPS, first you would find dynamite, a standard grenade type weapon. Then, you find a crossbow, and tie the dynamite to its ammunition. Redneck Rocketlauncher, a la Dukes Of Hazzard. Then... you find a chicken. You tie the chicken to the arrow and jam a stick of dynamite into the then-obvious place. Guided Redneck Rocketlauncher.
Darkstone has chickens in the player character's hometown, from which a Thief character has the option of stealing eggs. One of the dungeons includes a room populated by nothing but chickens which prove to be inexplicably hostile. Possibly a Shout Out to The Legend Of Zelda and its deadly cuccos, but this is unconfirmed.
Drakan: The Ancients' Gates had, as a semi-hidden mini-Bonus Boss, a ten-foot tall man-eating chicken with glowing red eyes. It was actually a bit nightmarish, as its cave was littered with blood and dead bodies, and it was perfectly possible to run into it in the beginning of the game without knowing about it.
In the first Police Quest game, a prankster known as "The Gremlin" leaves a live chicken on Sgt. Dooley's desk while he's gone. It flaps around and shits all over the place. This does not make Dooley happy.
Donkey Kong Country Returns has a boss called 'Feather Fiend', which is a chicken controlling some kind of giant mecha, which also happens to shoot enemy robot chickens. As you can see in this IGN video, the sheer concept looks absolutely hilarious.
Some of the enemies found in Level 2 of Stinkoman 20 X 6 are robotic chickens known as Terrells (the ones that resemble bouncing, disembodied chicken heads), Grundies (the ones that run back and forth), and Stobats (the ones that spit bones at you). The level's boss is even a giant chicken robot called Brody, who actually tries to stomp Stinkoman with his feet!
The multiplayer map "Old Town" has chickens wandering around aimlessly. You can shoot them, kick them, and even grenade tag them to make them explode in a puff of red mist.
The single-player campaign has a chicken on the first level that, if you shoot it, will transform into a giant golden chicken that chases you around the level and breathes fire. If you manage to kill it, it explodes into confetti. Later, in Act IV, if you're playing on the highest difficulty there's storeroom containing a chicken wearing a pirate hat. This one skips the fire-breathing golden chicken phase and goes straight to confetti.
A bug in early versions of The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim caused chickens to report crimes if they happened to be in the area when it was committed. Though it's since been removed, amused players resolved to mod it back in once the game is released.
Super Mario Galaxy featured chicken-like enemies found in various desert levels that threw bombs at the player instead of eggs.
Monday Night Combat introduced an arena-specific boss: a big mechanical chicken named Chickey Cantor (a play on the announcer's name Mickey). While a pretty serious thing gamewise, the whole presentation plays the Rule of Funny.
Beyond the Canopy. The Chez Cluck-Off employs chicken chefs. Said chickens turn out to also be full partners in Greliz's confidence schemes. This leads to sight gags with chickens in aprons and chef hats, or ties and fedoras.
Girls Next Door has... well... RBCs (Random Black Chickens) running around. They are evil and actively plotting to take over the magical land of the resident fae, who developed chicken phobia because of them and really doesn't appreciate the humor the other cast members finding in it.
Dragon Cave includes, amongst well, dragons, the occasional chicken egg at the front of the cave, which always grows into a hen. There are, similarly, chubby and cartoonish dinosaurs that are just as comically out of place. The source of both is unknown, but one wonders what fate has befallen the chickens' parents, living so close to a cave full of dragons and all...
Ed from Ed Edd N Eddy loves chickens more than anything else in the world (with the possible exception of buttered toast and gravy), and given that one of his neighbours is Funny Foreigner and suburban farmer Rolf, chickens appear in many episodes.
Eddy, on the other hand, is terrified of them.
Chicken Boo from Animaniacs, who wears a Paper-Thin Disguise to look like human guys, but he's not a man he's a Chicken I tell you! A giant Chicken!
One episode had a bit analyzing the humor content of certain words. "Chicken" came up as "extremely funny."
There's also Roy, a chicken who featured prominently in the US Acres segments. Booker was also a young chicken, as presumably was Sheldon (though he never fully hatches).
The Real Ghostbusters had at least two episodes based on this trope: one where Egon becomes a "werechicken," and one where an eccentric man makes a magical wish that causes all the chickens in the world to disappear.
There was also one skit which featured anthropomorphic chickens acting out a Law & Order episode. The humor comes from the fact that all dialogue is "buk buk bagok!" and the story can only be told through the title cards and context.
In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer accuses a chicken of hustling him at checkers. Also, in one of the Halloween episodes, Homer becomes part-chicken. In yet another episode, Cletus faces the classic Fox-Chicken-Grain Puzzle.
In "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", a chicken replaced Homer at the power plant.
In an episode of King of the Hill, Peggy entered a Boggle tournament and performed miserably. Still, she did better than "Boggle-Playing Chicken."
Sue Lowden made headlines by suggesting that, instead of progressive health care reform, America should revert to the good old days when people paid for health care by bartering with chickens, although it could be argued that this is in fact a subversion of the Trope.
Cockfighting. A very brutal sport where two roosters fight to the death. Two enter a pit or arena where they precede to kick, scratch and peck each other. In communities where cockfighting is a pastime, spurs are attached. This allows for quick kills instead of long drawn out disfigurement. Abhorrent to the modern person but a very quick source of entertainment in parts where cows outnumber people.
How numerous are chickens? When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, over a million chickens were lost as a result of damage to chicken farms in that part of the country. How much effect did this have on the cost of chicken in grocery stores due to this loss of supply? None whatsoever, as a million chickens wasn't even a statistic, as far as supply and demand went.