Podcast: Thrilling Adventure Hour
The Thrilling Adventure Hour (originally "The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour") is a live audio theater production in the style of old time radio. The show has run monthly since 2005, with past segments distributed as a podcast starting in 2011.Regular segments include:
- "Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars": Earthman Sparks Nevada (Marc Evan Jackson) protects the Red Planet from robot outlaws, alien invaders, and other galactic threats. Typically the first segment of the show, and inspired it in the first place (it started out as a film script that the writers wanted to workshop).
- "Beyond Belief": Frank and Sadie Doyle (Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster) keep having to deal with the supernatural, though they'd rather just drink martinis all day. Typically the last segment of the show.
- "The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam": Aided by his Adventurekateers, Captain Laserbeam (John DiMaggio) defends Apex City from a Rogues Gallery of villains. He has been joined by Phillip Fathom, Deep Sea Detective (Hal Lublin).
- "Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer": Earhart (Autumn Reeser) travels through time to stop the Nazis from screwing up history.
- "Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier": Having time-traveled from the 25th century to the 30th, Cactoid Jim (Nathan Fillion) helps deal with threats on Mars. Crosses over with Sparks Nevada, who's annoyed at how cool and humble the guy is.
- "The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock": The gentlemanly Colonel (Craig Cackowski) is the bulwark of Her Majesty's Royal Chrono-Patrol.
- "Down in Moonshine Holler": A Depression-era millionaire (Craig Cackowski) falls in Love at First Sight with the Hobo Princess, dressing as a vagrant and searching for her with his mentor Gummy (Hal Lublin).
- "Jumbo the Elephant": A Cuban elephant (Mark Gagliardi) plays in an all-animal jazz combo and saves holidays.
- "Jefferson Reid, Ace American": A super-soldier (Nathan Fillion) and his friends fight the Nazis.
- "Desdemona Hughes, Diva Detective": A former Silent Movie star in the 1930s Hollywood solves murder mysteries using her terrific disguises to find the truth.
- "Tales of the United Solar System Alliance": A spaceship commander (James Urbaniak) and his crew, some of whom are literally family.
- "Tales from the Black Lagoon": Hollywood, 1954. The actor who played the Creature from the Black Lagoon is framed for murder.
- "A War of Two Worlds": Earth is invaded by aliens. A largely improvised collaboration with the podcast Superego.
- Absentee Actor: Frank Doyle does not appear in "She Blinded Me with Seance" or "Rosemary's Baby Shower". He locks himself in the (walk-in) liquor cabinet in a fit of jealousy in the former, and does not appear at all in the latter as Sadie is visiting a friend in Detroit.
- The Ace: Cactoid Jim.
- Broken Ace: The evil version from the alternate future where Jim became President of Earth and became Drunk with Power.
- All Troubleshooters. Lampshaded in the Sparks Nevada episode The Night We Never MetGinny West: Active Troubleshooters are ineligible for bounty hunts. We do our jobs right all the time; rubs people the wrong way who want things to go wrong.
- Affably Evil: Despite Jib Janeen's goal of destroying the cultures of the people he infiltrates, he's incredibly friendly and seems to genuinely enjoy the company of Sparks Nevada and company.Jib Janeen: Oh my God, you guys. Felton. How much do you love him? He is a superstar. Okay, gotta jet! It has been real neat being part of your lives. Spaceship guys, I don't as well. Croach: you're really nice.
Croach: (flattered) Thank you.
- Then there's NiceMan Dan. Even though he is a criminal, he is genuinely polite and pleasant and cares for his son.
- Chicky Sullivan, after he goes Drunk with Power, is as friendly as ever to Sparks Nevada and his friends and is genuinely fond of all of them.Red Plains Rider: I do have to say, evil aside, he is really nice.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: At one point, Sparks Nevada tried to use a hologram program to act out fantasies where Croach the Tracker and The Red Plains Rider behave how he wanted them to. After a buggy patch update, the simulations decide to kill Nevada and make out.
- Later there were the Saloon Bar Doors, the AI of which the Barkeep upgraded, giving it the personality of a bratty teenage girl with a big crush on Croach.
- The Alcoholic: Frank and Sadie Doyle, to the point where they immediately get suspicious if one of them doesn't want a drink at all times.
- Croach hit the sauce pretty hard for a while between "The Piano Has Been Thinking" and his death in "Red Alert".
- All-Powerful Bystander: Croach becomes this after being empowered by the Force Galactic, insisting that his role is just to observe and never to intervene, even though he often gets other people to do things on his instructions, which most characters argue qualifies as intervention.
- The Barkeep attempts to be this after getting the Force Galactic, mostly to ensure there's no trouble in his place.
- Alternate Reality Episode: "Beyond Belief" has had two of these so far.
- The first is "Art Imitates Life", where Sadie is engaged, not married, to a man named Basil Valentine. They are still well-known socialites, but are also skilled art thieves. Also, Sadie hasn't touched liquor in years. In that case, the change was caused by one of Sadie's old suitors, who found a genie in a bottle and had him erase Frank from history so he could be with Sadie. Unfortunately, he failed to wish for that last part, so Sadie met Basil instead.
- The other is "Werewolf of Wall Street", where Frank and Sadie's apartment is inhabited by Wade Crespo, really the Doyles' usual liquor delivery man, and his wife Audrey. Together, they also drink lots of booze, hunt the paranormal, banter and have catchphrases of their own. Except they have neither the Doyles' knowledge of the paranormal nor their wit. Meanwhile, Frank works as their liquor delivery man and Sadie works as his supervisor. In that case, the change was caused by Crespo, who stole a book containing the story "The Monkey's Paw", which he used to wish for the Doyles' life and for Audrey, who is really a waitress at a café he often goes to, to be his wife.
- Ambiguously Gay: Carter Caldwell, a "confirmed bachelor" and friend of the Doyles.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Croach the Tracker. No, really. The coming-of-age ceremony for Native Martians is called a bar mitzvah and their sacred winter festival is Hanukkah. Actually, "hanukkah" is just their name for the first Sunday of any month- Croach just missed the point of all the Christmas stories that Sparks and Red were telling him.
- Artistic License – History: Both Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer and The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock, oh so very intentionally so.
- Ax-Crazy: Pemily Stalwark, in her early appearances, is still traumatized by her experiences in the Punishment Soccer and extremely prone to deadly violence. She mellows considerably as the series progresses, even if she never quite gets all her marbles back.
- Badass Crew: While Sparks Nevada and Croach began as a duo similar to Lone Ranger and Tonto, they gained several allies as the segment progressed, including Cactoid Jim, the Red Plains Rider, Pemily Stalwark and the Barkeep, eventually forming a formidable force.
- Beard of Evil: The only physical difference between the normal Cactoid Jim and the evil version from the future is that the evil version has a pencil-thin mustache."Well, what else am I gonna twirl when I'm winning?"
- Inverted in the case of Chesh Glutterfein in the "Crisis on Infinite Marses" story. The benevolent version of him from an alternate universe says his mustache shows that he's the good version.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: "Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer" has Amelia Earhart teaming up with numerous historical figures to fight Nazi time-travelers.
- Bi the Way: Sadie only has eyes for her husband, but she's been tempted by female succubi several times over the course of the show.
- Brand X: Patriot Brand Cigarettes, the primary sponsor for the Thrilling Adventure Hour and primary source of Deliberate Values Dissonance.
- Later accompanied by WorkJuice Coffee.
- Briar Patching: In Frank and Sadie's first encounter with Nightmares the Clown, Sadie's inability to take him seriously prompts him to turn into a giant spider form out of frustration. Sadie claims she's only scared of small spiders, so Nightmare does so to frighten her and gets promptly stomped on by Frank.
- Brilliant but Lazy: The Doyles are very effective occult investigators and monster hunters... if they get interested enough to counter their usual utter lack of concern about anything that is NOT (a) each other or (b) booze. The fact that they are continually drunk helps.
- Bounty Hunter: Sparks Nevada's ex-girlfriend Mercy Laredo.
- Casual Kink: The Doyles seem to have a pretty steamy sex life together (strictly off-camera).
- During a parody of The Exorcist, Frank and Sadie tie the girl to their bed to keep her demon from hurting anyone:Basil: Ropes on the bed! Do you do a lot of exorcisms?
*audience loses it*
Sadie: *ahem* Uh—
- In the episode "Gory Gory Hallelujah", they talk about the first time they went to an auction:Frank: We barely knew how to hold our paddles.
Sadie: (suggestively) I knew how to hold a paddle.
- During a parody of The Exorcist, Frank and Sadie tie the girl to their bed to keep her demon from hurting anyone:
- Catch Phrase:Sparks Nevada: I'm ... from Earth.
Barkeep: I don't want no trouble in my place!
Frank Doyle: Who cares what evil lurks in the hearts of man?
Sadie Doyle: Unless evil is carrying the martini tray, darling! *clink*
(*clink* is often an actual catchphrase itself. As in Paget Brewster makes the sound effect herself.)
Gummy: Apple pie!
- Every episode of Captain Laserbeam has far too much repeated dialogue to list here (see Once an Episode, below).
- Character Celebrity Endorsement: The Thrilling Adventure Hour is (very often) brought to you by Patriot Brand Cigarettes, usually by one of the characters in the show.
- Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of one episode, Frank Doyle buys an actual gun that belonged to Anton Chekhov, Werewolf Hunter. Becomes an Averted Trope when it is packed away in Sigmund Freud's Cigar Box, and a literal razor that belonged to Occam is actually used to defeat the Monster of the Week (which also turn out not to be werewolves.)
- Christmas Episode: "Christmas on Mars".
- Church Militant: Frank Doyle used to work with them, and they drag him off to attempt to prevent the apocalypse in one episode.
- The Comically Serious: Phillip Fathom, Deep Sea Detective. He's a parody of the Nolanverse Batman, but since the world is otherwise decidedly Silver Age, his intensity is Played for Laughs."MY PARENTS DIED AT SEA!"
- Pemily Stalwark in the Sparks Nevada universe has a lot of moments like this when she reminisces about her time in the Punishment Soccer.
- Corpsing: Sparks Nevada can barely get through his own theme song without laughing in "The Thing From This Same Planet," thanks to constant interjections from the campy Jovian shapeshifter pretending to be him/Croach.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Considering they're constantly sloshed, it's easy to forget that Frank and Sadie Doyle have fought off dozens of monsters and have unparalleled expertise on supernatural subjects.
- Dating Catwoman: In an episode of "Captain Laserbeam", he mentions that Phillip Fathom has been "teaming up" with a female villain named the Fishwife. Pretty clever, when you consider the fact that Fathom is based on Batman.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Thrilling Adventure Hour doesn't only bring back the style of popular radio shows from the 40s and 50s, it also brings back several tropes that would no longer be acceptable to modern audiences. The most egregious example of this is the sponsorship of Patriot Brand Cigarettes, whose constant advertisements would not go over well in a show with large child audiences.
- Another good example is Frank and Sadie Doyle's alcoholism- you can be certain that their constant drinking would not be Played for Laughs in a show with more modern sensibilities.
- Also, the constant use of the word "kraut" in "Jefferson Reid, Ace American" and "Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flyer"- though relatively tame, it's still an anti-German ethnic slur.
- An example that goes in a different direction is an episode of "Desdemona Hughes" when an actor is revealed to have been effectively outed after being seen at a social club for "bachelors" by a gossip wrangler. Not only are the other characters apparently completely fine with it ("You'd think something like that wouldn't matter; after all, it's the 40's!"), but the reveal actually pushed his career towards more roles as Roman emperors and doting fathers, which he is more comfortable with. Needless to say, being outed as gay would probably not have been as well-received during the real-life 1940s.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Any plot involving the MurderMen Race has this. They can't help but repeatedly talk about murder. They can "MurderMan" people by biting them, turning them into MurderMen. Or they can "ManMurder" people. As in, murder them. They are in a Man-MurderMan war. And finally, their passwords are painfully obvious.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Whenever Sadie is around Nightmares the Clown, she can't stop herself from joking about him being a clown. One time she even honks his nose (which really does honk).Howie Schroeder: Frank, your wife's mocking the devil!
Frank Doyle: She loves a clown.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:Captain Laserbeam: You're teaming up with her now?
- Made even more obvious when Dream Girl and Lady Justice talk about "teaming up in college".
- Embarrassing First Name: Dumpling Red Plains Rider
- Emotion Eater: The Doyles have had a few run-ins with succubi and incubi, and there's Nightmares the Clown, who feeds on fear.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Barkeep in the Sparks Nevada universe. Even after his bar becomes robotic and walks away and he becomes an innkeeper instead, everyone continues calling him that by habit. After he reveals his real name, Mordecai Benmont Jiminy, everyone still addresses him as "barkeep" (or "innkeep").
- Phillip Fathom is largely an underwater version of Batman (with a voice straight out of The Dark Knight Saga).
- Frank and Sadie Doyle are expies of Nick and Nora from The Thin Man.
- From the Sparks Nevada universe comes Pemily Stallwark, Champion of Punishment Soccer, a walking parody of The Hunger Games.
- Jefferson Reid, together with his Kid Sidekick Brownie Finn, bear a remarkable similarity to Golden Age Captain America and Bucky Barnes, not just as patriotic figures, but also with regard to their plot. Just like Barnes fought with the Captain until his supposed death during a mission, Finn is killed saving Jefferson fighting Nazis and buried. But later (spoilers for parts of the comic lore and MCU follow), he is resurrected by the Nazis and brainwashed into working for them, similar to how Bucky became the Winter Soldier in both the comics and the second Captain America movie.
- The Algonquin Four (Dorothy Parker, Harry Houdini, Woodrow Wilson and Robert Benchley) are an obvious parody of The Fantastic Four, having similar superpowers. Dorothy Parker doubles as a parody of both The Thing and The Incredible Hulk.
- Fallen Hero: Tinker Taylor, in the Captain Laserbeam episode "Tinker Taylor and Tyler Too". He is a former Adventurekateer (the first one, in fact) but left them and became a villain when his ego got the better of him.
- Fantastic Racism: Sparks Nevada is completely dismissive of Native Martian culture, and must constantly remind everyone that he's... from Earth.
- Rebecca Rushmore despises Martians and claims that just hearing them talk gives her the shivers. Even when Croach saves her life by jumping in front of a blast that could have killed her, she wants to take a bath because Croach was too close.
- Croach clearly does not think highly of humans either, taking many opportunities to point out how physically and mentally inferior humans are to Martians, and how shameful it would be for his behavior to be seen as resembling that of humans.
- Mercy Laredo of the "Sparks Nevada" universe has a spectacular hatred of robots to the point of not being able to stop herself from shooting them on sight.
- Even the bounty hunters' guild, for which she works, has an official policy which allows up to three civilian casualties in the field, but are fine with that number being exceeded if they are non-humans. They are even fine with robots being used for target practice.
- In the "Sparks Nevada" universe, Chicky Sullivan, Cactoid Jim's PR agent, claims to be the subject of prejudice on account of being a cyborg.
- In the "Sparks Nevada" universe, everyone except Jupiterans (people from Jupiter) seem to be pretty bigoted against Jupiterans, who are pretty well known for their cunning ability to replace others. The writers and performers also admit that they feel that their writing has a real life anti-Jupiteran feel.
- Jib shows this goes both ways when he claims that it would be a disgrace for his people if they let "mongrel genes" into the race.
- An episode of "Sparks Nevada" revealed that Felton considers clones to be sub-human.
- Forgot to Feed the Monster: Frank and Sadie once visited a deathtrap-filled haunted pyramid where most of the deathtraps no longer worked because when you leave it for several thousand years, a hallway full of venomous snakes stops being a hallway full of venomous snakes and starts being a hallway full of snake corpses.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Sparks Nevada and Croach have their minds flipped by a "science gun" in one episode. Sparks has to contend with Croach's gross Martian physiology while Croach uses his new-found human emotions to try and get back with the Red Plains Rider.
- Fur Against Fang: Comes up a bit in Beyond Belief.
- Future Me Disappoints Me: When Cactoid Jim met his evil alternate future self.
- Genius Loci: In the Sparks Nevada episode "Moonfaker", Chicky Sullivan has had his consciousness installed into Earth's moon.
- Happily Married: Frank and Sadie Doyle. According to Ben Acker, their love is so strong that Sadie would still love Frank even if he never existed and would simply remain single her entire life.
- Harmless Villain: Captain Laserbeam has a lot of enemies whose quirks get in the way of their own plans, but of all of the ones who have been revealed, Shape Ape stands out as particularly incompetent. Apart from his using death traps on Captain Laserbeam, the only crimes he ever commits seem to be geometry-themed acts of vandalism, such as changing the shape of a town square. In "Three Sides to Every Story", he steals Phillip Fathom's hideout, but only because he wanted the triangular body of water under it. As a result, his usual rent-a-henchman Tyler is usually the driving force of his operations.
- Hollywood Jehovah's Witness: The Righteous Brothers from the "Captain Laserbeam" episode "Circle Gets The Square". After assisting Captain Laserbeam in a fight, they even try to convert him. He quickly pretends the distress call only he can hear is going off and leaves.
- Hugh Mann: The shape-shifting alien from Jupiter who impersonates both Sparks Nevada and Croach in recurring episodes.
- Hybrid Monster: A couple of Beyond Belief plots are centered on the Hendersons, a vampire/werewolf couple, and their baby girl who people keep prophesying is The Antichrist and will cause the apocalypse.
- I Do Not Drink Wine: Luckily for the vampires who "do not drink... drinks," Sadie keeps a bottle of blood as a drink mixer.
- I'll Take Two Beers Too: The Doyles, on a fairly regular basis.
- Immortality Hurts: Despite practically impossible to kill thanks to his nanotech, Croach is no less inclined to avoid unnecessary pain than anyone else.Red Plains Rider: (to Pemily) It takes a lot for him to die, sweetheart.
Croach: I still feel pain!
- Insistent Terminology:Croach: I am from G'loot Praktaw.
Sparks: Which is Mars.
Croach: I designate it G'loot Praktaw.
Sparks: Everyone I know calls it— you know what, never mind.
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: A bizarre case in the Sparks Nevada universe. Croach always corrects humans who try to pronounce his monosyllabic name, claiming they don't have the required set of vocal organs needed. The exception is Cactoid Jim, who somehow got it right on his first go.
- Turned on him in the crossover with Welcome to Night Vale, when he goes to Night Vale and everyone corrects his way of pronouncing the town's name.
- Jackass Genie: Subverted- when a djinn tries to pull this on Frank and Sadie by giving them "more liquor than they could ever drink," they simply take it as a challenge.
- In fact, his inability to properly invoke this trope earns him a genie version of Alec Baldwin's speech from Glengarry Glen Ross.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Sparks Nevada, whose sarcasm masks his genuine devotion to truth and justice.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Just about everyone, except for Sparks Nevada, are fans of Rebecca Rose Rushmore and get all giddy around her. Some, even the normally stiff Croach, enter full Fan Boy mode about a series she wrote.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Sparks Nevada and Croach are in rare agreement that they will never speak of the Sparks having to stimulate Croach's egg sacs to show his feet to the Space Crazy Preacher.
- Little Miss Badass: Pemily Stalwark is only a teenager, but an incredibly skilled fighter, thanks to her past in the Punishment Soccer.
- Long List: Used twice in the "Captain Laserbeam" series:
- First time is in "Tinker Taylor and Tyler Too", when Tinker Taylor brings up an incident where Captain Laserbeam sat out of a field trip with the Adventurekateers to a museum to fight a miniature supervillain and lists a whole bunch of other, equally miniature superheroes who could have done it:"So many people could have done that: Mighty Mite, Guy Small the Small Guy, Little Hercules, Tiny Timothy, Short Attack, Willy Wee Warrior, the Homunculus, Space Midget, Scale Model, Robo-Small, the Itty-Bitty Hitting Committee, shall I go on?!"
- Later, in "Three Sides to Every Story", Phillip Fathom lists a number of aquatic villains who could have stolen his headquarters:
- First time is in "Tinker Taylor and Tyler Too", when Tinker Taylor brings up an incident where Captain Laserbeam sat out of a field trip with the Adventurekateers to a museum to fight a miniature supervillain and lists a whole bunch of other, equally miniature superheroes who could have done it:
- Magical Native American: Croach the Tracker is a parody of this trope, being a Native Martian with access to advanced nanotechnology.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: In the Thrilling Adventure Hour / Night Vale crossover, two robots use time travel to make Pemily Stalwark lose the Punishment Soccer, erasing her from existence and allowing Chicky Sullivan to conquer the universe, and make Cecil (of Night Vale) forget how to bowl.
- Meaningful Name: Captain Laserbeam's Secret Identity is Joshua Valor.
- Never mind what happens when one of the Adventurekateers' Aunt Flo comes to town.
- And Banjo Bindlestuff is most certainly not Jasper Manorlodge.
- Monster Clown: Nightmares the Clown, a recurring character in the Beyond Belief segments, and a reference to Pennywise the Clown from It.
- Subverted in Sadie's case; she finds all clowns to be cute and funny, much to Nightmares' frustration.
- Mood Dissonance: In the Musical Episode "The Piano Has Been Thinking" there is the song "I'm Gonna Kill You Someday", sung by Sparks Nevada and the robot outlaw Techs. Despite being sung as a love ballad between two people, the lyrics consists entirely of them vowing to kill the other. All played completely intentionally, of course.
- Mr Seahorse: In the episode "Into Darkness", Croach reveals that he is "fertilized" with Sparks Nevada's offspring.
- Also Felton, though the mechanics of that one's a bit harder to explain...
- Mundane Solution: Cactoid Jim is fated to become an evil dictator and destroy the universe if he becomes president. Sparks Nevada finally works up the nerve to assassinate him when:Chicky: Hang on, hang on, hang on. I'm just spitballing, but what if Jim just dropped out of the race?
- Musical Episode: "The Piano Has Been Thinking" in "Sparks Nevada".
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the 2012 Christmas special, Frank and Sadie are visited by Christmas ghosts who have the wrong address. Through their actions, the Doyles manage to not only ruin the intended Scrooge's chance at redemption but cause his bitterness and hatred for Christmas in the first place.
- When the Scrooge in question returns, the Doyles make it worse by introducing him to the wonders of alcohol as foreshadowed by Christmas Future's reveal that Scrooge's bartender is the only one who shows up to his funeral. Technically, though, it's the fault of the three ghosts for getting distracted by their romantic relationships instead of helping Scrooge at all.
- No More for Me: In an alternate timeline, this is part of Sadie's backstory: she swore off drinking after she saw a ghost.
- Noodle Incident: Frank and Sadie sometimes refer to "that time a bee got in here" as one of their more harrowing adventures.
- Nun Too Holy: Frank questions how "holy" demon-smiting nuns Sister Mary and Sister Kate are when they, say, torture people. They assure him that, since they confess their sins to each other and smite all those demons, they've racked up plenty of holiness credit to offset that.
- Once an Episode: Captain Laserbeam has a bunch:
- "The Adventurekateers are sounding an alarm on a frequency only I can hear! Thanks, laser hearing!"note
- Guessing which villain is causing trouble this time:Captain Laserbeam: Is King Mammal playing monkeyshines at the Apex City Zoo?
- Reassuring them of his safety:Adventurekateers: What would we do without you?
Captain Laserbeam: That's something you'll never have to worry about, as long as I'm around!
- And when he leaves them back at the base for their own protection:Captain Laserbeam: But you'll be with me in spirit, and spirit is more powerful than one hundred lasers! Also, I'll have my one hundred lasers.
- Calling on said spirit to escape a Death Trap:
- The episode "Circle Gets the Square" invoked and then subverted almost all of the above. When Captain Laserbeam guesses what villain is at large, he gets it right on the third guess. When one of the Adventurekateers worries for him, the other says Apex City and the Adventurekateers would "get by". So when Captain Laserbeam gets trapped and has flashbacks, they do nothing to give him strength.
- Our Monsters Are Different: Well-known monsters regularly show up on "Beyond Belief." Some of them have a few more unexpected twists than others.
- Werewolves, for example, still infect others by biting and only change at the full moon, leaving them normal the rest of the time. Unlike normal werewolves, however, it takes more than a silver bullet to kill them. In fact, it takes a silver bullet, a gold bullet, a platinum bullet and a diamond bullet, fired in that order. Since it costs plenty and werewolves are normal most of the time, most people just don't bother.
- Out-of-Character Alert: A shapeshifting Jupiter spy does this blatantly, though the other characters take it all at face value while grasping at straws to accuse each other instead."Croach": I'm from Mars!
Sparks: Which we call— *beat* Yeah, all right.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Zigzagged with Jib Janeen, the shapeshifting Jupiter spy in "Sparks Nevada". Even though his ability to change his physical appearance is apparently impeccable, he always behaves hilariously out of character for those he impersonates (not that anyone ever notices).
- In the episode "Sheriff on Mars", Croach shows up at a quickdraw contest posing as "Charles the Human" wearing a huge 10-gallon hat with his antenna sticking out of it, a bandana to mask his face and a big burlap poncho to disguise himself. It convinces no-one, but they play along for the hell of it.
- Plague Zombie: MurderMen can MurderMan people. They only have a few seconds to a few minutes before they are MurderManned, and become, well, MurderMen.
- Poke the Poodle: Captain Laserbeam rushes to confront the Diebrarian to find that his sinister plot was to... purchase remaindered books and donate them to libraries so that children could read them! Rather than tell Diebrarian that his "evil" plan was actually noble, Captain Laserbeam just let himself be defeated and left.
- Power Fist: Sparks Nevada's robot fists.
- The Power of Love: The Doyles are so in love that it once caused a succubus to explode.
- Punch Clock Hero: The Troubleshooter is always happy to save the day when some technological software goes haywire and threatens Sparks Nevada, but never bothers helping out in other life-threatening situations and even leaves Nevada and his friends stranded on one occasion."Gotta get this saloon back to her default address and go where requisition forms take me. But if you survive, I hope you take a survey of my performance."
- Croach has some shades of this, since he only aids Sparks Nevada (or whoever else he feels he owes one) in his quests to alleviate his or his tribe's onus to him. Once he considers it paid, he usually wants to leave. In the Thrilling Adventure Hour - Welcome to Night Vale crossover, however, it's suggested that he wants to be under onus to Nevada so they can stay together.
- Punch Clock Villain: Tyler, a recurring henchman to villains in the Captain Laserbeam universe. It's made clear that he only works for criminals to make a living and not because he shares their visions and he is civil, almost friendly, even, to Captain Laserbeam when they talk.
- Punny Name: Sparks Nevada.
- Put on a Bus: In "That Once and Future Thing", Cactoid Jim uses a portal to go back in time to be with his wife and son from that age.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sparks Nevada (red) and Croach (blue, just like his skin).
- Riches to Rags: Jasper Manorlodge renounces his wealth and becomes Banjo Bindlestuff to seek the hand of his Hobo Princess.
- Rogues Gallery: Captain Laserbeam's enemies. This poster features nearly three dozen of 'em.
- Running Gag: Just about every time Amelia Earhart travels to the past and introduces herself as a woman pilot, she tells them not to make a big deal of the fact that she's a woman pilot - never remembering that in the time she has gone to, nobody has ever even conceived of airplanes, much less a woman piloting one.
- Sadly Mythtaken: Freya shows up in a "Beyond Belief" segment, where she's described as the Norse goddess of death. She is in fact the Norse goddess of love and beauty.
- Actually, she is associated with war and death.
- San Dimas Time: In "The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock", when Queen Victoria repeatedly requires Colonel Tick-Tock to immediately leave to travel back in time to fix a problem. Lamp-shaded in one appearance where his wife Constance replies "Couldn't he leave at any time?" The Colonel explains "Quite the opposite. Were I to finish this biscuit, I would be far too late!"
- Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Frank and Sadie (the latter in particular) are particularly prone to this."Door opening noise!"
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Defied. Banjo Bindlestuff (aka the incredibly wealthy Jasper Moneylodge) has more than enough money and influence to solve every problem that comes his way, but actually using his money and connections would sabotage his chances at locating his love, the Hobo Princess. Thus, each episode revolves around him trying to solve problems "the hobo way," using ingenuity to avoid this trope as much as possible.
- Secret Identity: Captain Laserbeam has offered more than one Suspiciously Specific Denial when asked about his.
- One of his Adventurekateers admits that she's up-and-coming superhero Attagirl, but Captain Laserbeam wasn't paying attention. Even though that confession was one of his non-sequitur flashbacks later in the episode.
- Banjo Bindlestuff, the suspiciously erudite hobo, is secretly a (thinly) disguised Jasper Moneylodge, a multimillionaire seeking the Hobo Princess.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Colonel Tick-Tock and Amelia Earhart do this on a regular basis, though Earhart usually goes after Nazis who have messed with the past while Colonel Tick-Tock usually deals with "temporal anomalies".
- Smitten Teenage Girl: The Saloon Bar Doors in the Sparks Nevada universe take on this persona when the Barkeep upgrades their artificial intelligence and they get a huge crush on Croach, though he's completely unaware of this.
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Martian native Croach the Tracker criticizes Sparks Nevada at every turn, even as he works off his onus to Sparks for saving his tribe. This further plays into Sparks' resentment of Cactoid Jim, whom Croach praises up and down:Croach: Cactoid Jim pronounced my name correctly on his first attempt!
- Sommelier Speak: Occurs in "A Beyond Belief Valentines Day" after the Doyles discover wine.
- Sound Defect: All over the place in the first "Beyond Belief" podcast, leading to such gems as "Dear, did you eventually hear a door opening?" and originating the running gag of Sadie occasionally providing the "clink!" sound effect herself.
- Space Western: "Sparks Nevada".
- SpaceX: Several things on Sparks Nevada are named like this, such as astro-spurs and rocket horses.
- The Spock: Croach insists on analyzing his emotions to figure out what they are, to the point of driving off his Love Interest.
- Stealth Pun: In "Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang You're Dead", the spirit of the mechanic named Herbert possesses a Volkswagon.
- Steam Punk: "The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock".
- Strictly Formula: "The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam" and "Down in Moonshine Holler."
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The Nazis in the universe of Jefferson Reid and Amelia Earhart are capable of brainwashing Americans, turning humans into giant half-gorilla super-soldiers, travelling in time to further their goals and bringing the dead back to life.
- Suddenly Always Knew That: The Doyles' sudden hobby of attending auctions is repeatedly lampshaded as one.Sadie: Oh, how we adore auctions!
Frank: Oh, how frequently we attend them! [...] Well, I was reading the auction magazine or brochure or program or whatever you call them at auctions, which we are constantly attending, it has been established.
- Sufficiently Advanced Technology: Croach the Tracker talks about the "na'notek" of his people in mystical terms, but it's really just advanced nanotechnology that gives him extraordinary regenerative properties.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Banjo Bindlestuff is certainly not a millionaire! Banjo and his mentor Gummy will be quick to point this out! Even before anyone asks!
- Take That: In the Beyond Belief Valentine's Day Special, Sadie (voiced by Paget Brewster) finds police procedures boring and says she wouldn't watch a show about them. This was released a little less than a year after Brewster left Criminal Minds.
- Took a Level in Badass: The Barkeep does this in "Good Jim." It helps that he was infused with phenomenal cosmic power.
- Time Travel: Colonel Tick-Tock and Amelia Earhart (Once an Episode). Cactoid Jim (twice). The Red Plains Rider.
- Tom the Dark Lord: In "Cosmic Sans," Mars is threatened by a nigh-omnipotent world-eating entity, known only as "Keith Gonzalez."
- Unsound Effect: Occasionally subverted if the Foley Artist misses a mark for an actual sound effect, and the performers either point out the silence or fill in the sound effect themselves by just saying the word. The Doyles do it the most.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Teaming up" for Captain Laserbeam seems to involve a lot more than just working together with other superheroes, particularly when it comes to Wonder Girl.
- Wafer Thin Mint: Used by the Doyles against a soul-eating leprechaun. It was so full from eating a pterodactyl soul that pushing someone they didn't like at it caused it to reflexively eat their soul too and explode.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Earth's forces were able to defeat the Martians by exploiting their lethal nut allergy.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The episode "Sheriff on Mars" introduced "automatons", basically robots, except without anything that can be considered sentience. Doesn't stop the Barkeep from greeting one like he would a person.Colton Wynant: No need to address him, he's got no sentience.
Barkeep: I know, but there is such a thing as polite.
Wynant: You "howdy" your toaster oven, Mr. Mayor?
Barkeep: Every day.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Tinker Taylor calls Captain Laserbeam out for the neglectful way superheroes of that universe tend to treat their young assistants.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The Doyles have Nerves of Steel in the face of ghosts, demons and other supernatural whatnot (probably in part because they're usually completely sloshed), but they are both rendered completely and utterly terrified if there are bees involved. They often speak in horror of "that time a bee got in".
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: The 2012 Christmas episode's "Beyond Belief" segment has a Christmas Carol pastiche in which the ghosts get the address wrong and spend the whole night bothering Frank and Sadie.
- The ghosts return to try and fix their mistake later... only for Christmas Present to discover it's January and Christmas Past derailing the entire plot to confront Present and Future about their relationship.
- Zeerust: Sparks Nevada.