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Series: The Colbert Report

"Some people promise to read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you."

The Colbert Report (pronounced Col-bear Re-pore) was the Emmy award winning (Best Writing - Variety, 2008, 2010, and 2013; Best Variety, 2013) Spin-Off from The Daily Show, featuring the screen persona of news anchor Stephen Colbert. The show operated as a parody of news talk programs such as The O Reilly Factor. (When the show was pitched as "Stephen Colbert parodying Bill O'Reilly", it was picked up immediately without even a pilot.) It aired on Comedy Central.

The character of Colbert himself can be best described as a Strawman Political of a news pundit, a mega-conservative who embodies all the stereotypes about conservative people in one convenient shell; indeed, most of Colbert's political jokes were little more than strawman-arguments of the opposition. Much like its progenitor, it reads the real news in a humorous tone. It's also coined the words "truthiness" and "wikiality". The latter one is a portmanteau of Wikipedia and reality: basically the practice of Rewriting Reality by bringing democracy to information. "If enough people agree on it, it becomes true" — the example given being Colbert's assertion that elephant populations had tripled since 31 January 2006.

It differed from its mother show in that it was a kind of Sitcom with guest stars playing themselves and a funny premise. Whereas The Daily Show is mainly Jon Stewart reading the news and making funny observations, The Colbert Report revolved around a character and his interaction with the real world. There were recurring characters and plot points (such as Colbert's broken wrist). Indeed, during the show's first year of existence, Colbert even had a fictional Arch-Enemy in the form of fellow comedian David Cross, who played fictional liberal talking head "Russ Lieber" before the character was written out of the series.

It should probably be noted (or perhaps not) that Stephen Colbert, the fake news anchor, was, in fact, a character that Stephen Colbert, professional comedian, played. He did not believe the views he espoused on the show (for the most part), and has referred to the character as "a well-meaning, poorly informed, high-status idiot."

The Colbert Report ended on December 18, 2014, as Colbert will be replacing David Letterman as host of the Late Show in 2015. Fellow Daily Show contributor Larry Wilmore took the Colbert Report's spot with his own spinoff The Nightly Show, which premiered in January 2015.


This show contained examples of:

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    A-D 
  • Affectionate Parody: Of political news commentators, mostly Fox News.
  • Air Guitar: In the beginning of every 'Sport Report' segment Stephen rocks out on the air guitar. At one point he points out that he can play air guitar even with a broken wrist.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Stephen confirms that he works out to "prevent gay strokes."
    Stephen: I'm hitting the gym, getting pretty cut. And I'm shedding pounds by not cooking with butter. Instead I use it to grease up my body when I work out. That way, none of those stroke gays, or stro-mos as we call them at the gym, can get a handle on me.
  • All Just a Dream: The entire series is revealed to be a Daily Show segment, as Stephen passes things to Jon on TDS after signing off for the final time, prompting Jon to play the Moment of Zen.
  • Alter Ego Acting: Colbert in character and Colbert out of character are two very different people.
  • Altum Videtur: Stephen's fireplace has 'VIDERI QUAM ESSE' engraved on it. Appropriately enough, the fireplace houses a monitor that displays an image of flickering burning logs.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The CGI eagle from the opening credits got a red-white-and-blue makeover in later seasons.
  • Analogy Backfire:
  • Anal Probing: A segment about an "Alien Hunter," Derrel Simms, sees Mr. Simms recount a story about him being probed by aliens in his youth. After describing the alien probe in very phallic terms, Colbert interrupts him in a voice over just before Simms was about to say where the probe was "jammed very painfully," exclaiming, "Okay, that's enough; I think we all know where the probe goes." Simms then reveals that it went into his nasal passage.
  • Anatomically Impossible Sex: Stephen gives advice on how to make babies and he gets quite a few things wrong.
  • Animal Nemesis: Colbert loathes bears.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Stephen is defeated in a health care reform debate by a table and a desklamp. He is the only one who can hear them though.
  • Arch-Enemy: It changes from time to time:
    • Early episodes featured David Cross playing Russ Lieber, a liberal inversion of Colbert's character, who over-thinks everything and is so hesitant to offend that he can't make a single statement without backpedaling.
    • Korean pop star Rain, who became Stephen's arch-nemesis due to taking cruel pleasure in beating him at things.
    • Kanye West has held this title.
    • In one of his Daily Show/Colbert Report conversations at the end of the Daily Show, Colbert claimed that his original arch enemy from his Daily Show years, Steve Carell, continues to hold the position as well.
    • Previously and briefly held by Helen Thomas.
    • Eleanor Holmes Norton.
    • Stephen Hawking is such an A-hole.
    • James Franco is now his renaissance enemy. Or renemy.
    • MANILOW!
    • BEARS!
    • NIBIRUUUUU!
    • STEWART!
    • FALLON!
    • At one point, Stephen had a "war" with, of all things, Miracle Whip. It looks like it begun on October 15, 2009, when Stephen "attacked" the Miracle Whip commercials. In response, Miracle Whip bought ad space on every commercial break during his November 12 show and well... Hilarity Ensued. Now here's some cool people dancing. And then there's Stephen's response, which points out how Miracle Whip buying ad space on his show would give him money that he could use to buy more delicious mayo.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • "I am ... [an] Emmy winner, Grammy winner, Peabody winner, and Free Pepsi winner."
    • "Folks, there is a lot of depressing news out there. Chemical weapons in Syria, radiation in Fukushima, Breaking Bad is ending."
    • Colbert leads into his I Need a Drink segment by listing all the tough times humans have gone through — battles in Gaza, Russia shelling Ukraine, Taliban advances in Afghanistan, and no more Weird Al videos.
  • Artistic License Military: Seriously, that drill Sergeant couldn't wait to get rid of him.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Ching Chong Ding Dong, who spouts stereotypical lines like, "Ooooh, me rikey tea!" Colbert freely admits that the character is extremely racist, but he's not racist for performing the character, because Ching Chong Ding Dong is speaking through him.
  • As the Good Book Says: Taken Up to Eleven. "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth..." Stephen Colbert really is a devout Catholic (he even teaches Sunday School, presumably why he can recite the Nicene Creed from memory).
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: A Styrofoam cup which Stephen had irradiated for several days in a microwave (to demonstrate the Libertarian opposition to safety regulations) apparently grew to human-like size, developed limbs, and came back to attack him. On the show's website, the clip is marked Revenge of the Styrofoam Cups.
  • Attention Whore: Mocked. Stephen inverts the traditional interview, where the subject comes onto the set to a round of applause. Instead, the subject sits in a corner of the set and Stephen does a victory lap to get the applause for himself before beginning the interview.
  • Award Snub: invoked Stephen regularly invokes this, complaining about the show or the man himself not winning awards, some of which he wouldn't even qualify for.
  • Back for the Finale: Jon Stewart and nearly a couple of hundred guests who had appeared the Report show up for the curtain call (including Smaug, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster), along with every member of the show staff.
  • Background Halo: done deliberately; when the camera is facing Colbert's desk straight-on, stars circle his head.
  • The Backwards R: "Cold War Update", done in faux Cyrillic.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment
    Colbert: (on Ninja Assassin) "Yeah, impressive, but you know who you didn't see in that video? Me! beat) Who's the better ninja now?"

    Colbert: I am on the South Carolina Republican primary like white ... on the Republican primary.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison
    Colbert: We have a broadcast legend ... who will be interviewing Tom Brokaw.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Almost always making number one on his "Threat Down".
  • Berserk Button: During an interview with Neil Irvin Painter she refers to the Scots Irish as properly Irish. Colbert promptly corrects (2:10) her with: "There's no Irish blood in Scots-Irish People. They are Scottish Presbyterians, who were given land in Ireland. THEY TOOK OUR LAND AND DROVE MY PEOPLE ACROSS THE RIVER SHANNON, WHERE WE WERE FORCED TO FARM ROCKS BY OLIVER CROMWELL AND I WILL SEE HIM ROT IN HELL BEFORE YOU CALL SCOTS-IRISH PEOPLE IRISH! DO YOU WANNA FIGHT?!" Then they arm wrestle.
    • Do not steal his Super PAC money (Jon Stewart) or call him out on pointless spending (Nancy Pelosi)- he will chase you down and make you pay.
  • Big "NO!": Colbert is extremely fond of this trope. For example, after seeing how terrible he looks in pink.
    Stephen: I LOOK TERRIBLE IN PINK! I'M A WINTER!
    • Also, when sugar runs low, he panics and tears into a whole bag.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Not physically big, but his eyebrows are often Large Hams in their own right.
  • Bizarro Universe:
  • Black Best Friend. First used here.
  • Black Comedy: on his 6/27/2013 show, in response to Mayor Bloomburg wanting to ban sparklers from the 4th of July celebrations, Stephen got his fire marshal to wear an uncle Sam style hat and fake beard and hold a lit sparkler. It then cuts to technical difficulties, followed by Stephen comforting the fire marshal's wife, and then lighting a sparkler as a way to mourn her. Technical difficulties show up again, then we see Stephen comforting the couple's two children before giving them sparklers to play with. As they walk off, he yells "Oh, and kids, remember those need parental super-...they'll be fine."
  • The Blind Leading the Blind: Stephen lives this trope, but it is especially highlighted in the Stephen's Sound Advice segments.
  • Book Ends: The first and last segments of "Better Know a District" were with Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia, who was in his last term by 2014.
    • The first and final shows began with Stephen leaping over the word "Grippest" with his flag. The first and last shows also featured The Word.
    • The Colbert Report began as a spin-off of The Daily Show. At the end, it spun back into its parent series when Stephen said his last line and cut back to Jon on his set.
  • Brass Balls: Stephen Colbert talks about his brass balls quite often. They're the only thing that give him the guts to speak the truth.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall
    • During his appearance on the show in September 2011, Al Gore mentioned Colbert's "character." Holding back laughter, Colbert responded: "My character? What the hell are you talking about, sir? ... Well, 'Al Gore', thank you so much for joining us." Later when he signed off, Colbert said, air quotes included, "For The Colbert Report, I'm 'Stephen Colbert.' "
  • Brick Joke: Because segments of "The Word" take so long to get back to the initial Word, it sometimes takes the viewer by surprise.
    • Also a Running Gag. Michael Stipe (formerly of R.E.M.) lives on Stephen's bookshelf.
  • Bullying a Dragon: In the most literal way possible. In his interview with Smaug, Stephen decided to taunt him a bit about Bilbo getting the better of him. Smaug replied by setting the studio on fire.
    Smaug: Never laugh at a live dragon, motherf**ker!
  • But Now I Must Go: Stephen's justification for why the show ended.
  • Butt Monkey:
  • Callback
    In the May 10, 2012 episode, Stephen tells a story of a monkey who had accidentally swallowed a peanut, causing the zookeeper to lick the monkey's butt (in order for the monkey to defecate). At the end of the episode, Stephen pulls out a can of Planter's.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Aimed at idol "Papa Bear" Bill O'Reilly. Played for Laughs.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In this hilarious Cheating Death segment.
  • Canis Latinicus: The motto for his Iraq shows? "Veritasiness."
  • Cargo Ship: In-universe, Colbert is very attached to his gun, Sweetness, caressing it, whispering to it and kissing it whenever he brings it out.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • George Bush: great president or greatest president?
    • X or Y? Pick a side, we're at war.
    • Tons of variations on this:
    ...that's a fact, and nothing can convince me otherwise. [a beat] Here to convince me otherwise...
    • "Checkmate!" or "I just nailed you." when interviewing people he disagrees with. Sometimes when the audience is clapping for the guest he'll say "I haven't nailed him yet but thanks."
    • "[X], please!"
    • Whenever a guest agrees with him (usually on a very minor point) "Apology accepted"
    • At the beginning of shows: "Nation, in here, out there..."
    • "This is America."
    • "I don't see race, people tell me I'm white and I believe them because I <stereotypical white trait/hobby>"
    • "Nation, anyone who watches this show regularly knows that I love/hate <topic/person he's never mentioned before>"
    • "Tonight on 'Better Know a District,' [name of state]'s nth,' THE FIGHTIN' nTH!"
    • "Once again, my apologies to Doris Kearns Goodwin."
    • Anything on the internet: "Ron Paul 2012!"
    • "If you watch this show, and I hope you do..."
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Stephen doesn't think so. "You people are like water in the desert."
  • Character Blog: The @stephenathome twitter.
  • Chess with Death: The "Cheating Death" segments begin with a brief black and white clip (a la The Seventh Seal) of Stephen cheating Death in some game. Usually they're playing chess and Stephen uses Look, a Distraction! to switch pieces around, but every so often he's running a three-card monte game instead. In the series finale, Stephen tries to do a "Cheating Death" segment, only for Grimmy to try to kill him during the opening clip.
  • Chekhov's Gun: An unintentional one in this episode when Stephen forgot about the mousetrap that he had placed on his desk earlier in the show.
  • China Takes Over the World: Alluded to in this clip.
  • Christmas Special: "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All"
  • Clip Show: The Global Editions, though a couple include original sketches.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: His unique interpretation of current events.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: French-Canadian Stephane Colbert.
  • Chroma Key:
    • Formidable Opponent, in which Stephen debates himself, and the Green Screen Challenges.
    • The green-screen "window" during the Vancouver segments, which started out with a normal view of the city, went up into a blimp, then went into NBC's studios (Brian Williams: Will you go away?!).
    • Also when interviewing a Wisconsin Senator in Chicago 20 Million BC.
  • Church of Happyology: Colbert declared himself the New Galactic Overlord. He wears a shiny cape.
  • Clip Show: The Global Edition.
  • Cold War: The Cold War Update Segments.
  • Comically Missing the Point: His whole talk show revolves around this.
  • The Comically Serious: "German Ambassador" Hans Beinholtz.
  • Companion Cube: Sweetness, a gun which Colbert treats like a cross between Mr. Flibble and Sooty.
    • And Ham-Rove, a canned pressed ham with glasses that came about because Karl Rove looks like one.
  • Cone of Shame: Stephen wears one while recovering from a broken wrist. He attempts to pour drugs into his mouth. One wonders how he got the bottle open.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: In one segment, Colbert profiles a man named Andrew who claims that, in 1967, he was teleported to Mars in a top secret government CIA project that teleported hundreds of children. The man's roommate was apparently President Barack Obama. The next part is about a birth certificate conspiracy theorist who thinks that Obama was married to his college roommate. Colbert then combines the two to claim that Obama was in a gay marriage with Andrew.
  • Cooking Duel: Stephen's epic dance duel with Rain, which is apparently the only universally accepted way to challenge someone and how all conflicts are solved.
  • Cool Gun: Stephen's .38 caliber revolver "Sweetness", a "trigger-happy" and very talkative (at least, to Stephen) firearm who has shot quite a few audience members by accident.
    • If by "a few audience members", you mean the same audience member every time, same bullet wounds and all. Even he wonders why he keeps sitting there.
  • Cool Sword: Andril.
  • Corpsing: Stephen tends to break character and laugh over some of the more ridiculous lines, or at least grin the whole time he's saying them. There is an actual video tag on his site called "cracks up" for when he does this, as well as a 13-minute long montage of all the times he has done so. He and Jon Stewart have done this to each other quite often; if one of them loses it, the other will soon follow.
    • An extreme case: when combining the names of celebrities who are in relationships, for William H Macy and Felicity Huffman, he corpsed for a minute before finally spitting out the result: Filliam H Muffman.
  • Couch Gag:
    • The introductory text that appears next to Stephen also changes on occasion. This has ranged from words such as "Megamerican" to "Lincolnish", "Libertease", and "SCILF."
      • Even "Hail Hydra" once
    • Before the Vancouver shows "Sponsored by Verizon. They paid for this."
    • After Hurricane Sandy hit the Tri-State area, the phrase "Text 'Red Cross' to 90999."
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Comparing John Kasich's Cabinet to the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, if they were all the White Ranger. They made a big deal about him having a Long Lost Sibling on an Indian reservation and guess what color he was wearing at the time. Also, for having Green and White in the same picture.
  • Critical Research Failure: Regularly invoked and Played for Laughs — it's often obvious that Stephen has no idea what he's talking about when he covers an issue.
  • Crowd Chant: Stephen Colbert often leads his audience in chants of "U.S.A!" or "I was right!" in this rhythm. And, of course, the show usually starts with enthusiastic chants of "Ste-ven!"
  • Crowd Song: Stephen, all his writers, and almost every guest he had over the course of nine years all sing Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again" in the last episode of the show.
  • Crying Wolf: Stephen warns about crying wolf or rather crying zombie in the end of this clip about college students playing zombie tag. According to Stephen this game will leave us vulnerable when the rage virus escapes.
  • Cult: "So congratulations Apple [on your new iPad]. Speaking of cults— [Happyology]."
  • Cute Kitten: On March 5, 2009, while discussing the imploding U.S. Economy with Jim Cramer of CNBC, Colbert had videos of kittens and puppies playing behind Mr. Cramer, saying that this would make people feel better about the economy.
    • He once brought an actual kitten onto the show to help accentuate a joke that involved killing it- but, thankfully, it was Played for Laughs.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Stephen normally hates and fears bears The Godless Killing Machines, but pictures of cute little bear cubs invariably send him into hopeless Baby Talk. An attempt to de-cuteinize one cub failed when putting the cub's face on bin Laden's body just made terrorism adorable.
    • He couldn't help but admit that Rain dressed up in a hedgehog costume was adorable. Or that Rain in general is adorable.
  • Dagwood Sandwich: After seeing a burger where the buns were replaced with grilled cheese sandwiches, Colbert contemplated a grilled cheese sandwich where the bread was replaced with grilled cheese sandwiches... ad infinitum. "Prepare yourselves nation, for I have invented... The Mobius Melt", a sandwich that you theoretically cannot stop eating. He then recalls his other favorite fractal sandwich, the "Mandelbrot BLT — the more you zoom in, the more bacon there is. What will explode first, your heart, or your mind?"
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The cure for Restless Leg Syndrome is Restless Hand Syndrome
  • Deadpan Snarker: Stephen is frequently snarky, but rarely deadpan. The captions during The Word segments, however, frequently take dry sarcasm up to eleven.
  • Death by Gluttony: The Mandel-BLT, where the bacon approaches infinite density as you zoom in. What will explode first? Your heart, or your mind?
  • Death Takes a Holiday: Colbert kills the Reaper on his last episode.
  • Deface of the Moon: All part of a new way to report on the news.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow"
    • In 2008, the election special was named "The Final Endgame Go Time Alpha Action Lift-Off Decide-icidal Hungry Man's Extreme Raw Power Ultimate Voteslam Smackdown '08 No Mercy: Judgement Day '08"
    • In 2014, the election special was named "Midterms '014 - Detour to Gridlock, An Exciting Thing That I Am Totally Interested In— Wait! Don't Change The Channel! Here Is An Exciting Picture Of A Duckling Following A Cat Dressed As A Shark While Riding A Roomba '014"
  • Dtournement: Carrying neo-conservative punditry a few bridges too far.
  • Double Vision: Formidable Opponent. Bonus points that they're usually Color-Coded for Your Convenience- one wears a red tie (Conservative bias) and the other wears a blue tie (Liberal bias).
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Encounters a real one for his bit of basic training prior to "Operation Iraqi Stephen".
  • Drinking Game:
    • Inverted. The "official" Colbert Report drinking game is to take a drink every time Stephen criticizes America. "That's right; he doesn't. Stay sober and vigilant!"
    • At the RNC, he took a drink every time he saw an old white guy.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Done jokingly with Bobby the stage manager (Eric Drysdale), who was barbecued and eaten by Stephen in his farewell appearance. When Bobby's ghost came back for a guest spot like a kind of Jacob Marley, Stephen ate the ghost, too.
  • Droste Image: The portrait in the studio of Stephen is one of these, more so with each passing year. The original portrait showed Stephen standing in front and to the left of a portrait of himself. In the show's first episode, at one point Stephen came back from a commercial break standing in front and to the left of the portrait saying "What's the most important thing a TV journalist needs? Humility." Each anniversary the portrait has been replaced with a new one showing Stephen standing in front of the previous one:
    • 1st: To the left
    • 2nd: To the right, arms crossed, glowering over his lack of an Emmy
    • 3rd: To the left, holding an Emmy
    • 4th: To the right, wearing a military uniform and haircut, saluting (in honor of his visit to Iraq)
    • 5th: To the left, wearing an olive wreath on his head (in honor of the Report's sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic speedskating team), with the Grammy he won for A Colbert Christmas hung like an Olympic medal around his neck
    • 6th: To the right, holding the F.E.C. ruling allowing him to form his SuperPAC
    • 7th: To the left, holding a copy of his book America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
    • 8th: To the right, holding his two Emmys.
    • In the final episode, the final portrait was shown with Colbert removed from every level of it, leaving only empty frames.
  • Dynamic Entry: Smaug the Golden enters the studio for an interview by smashing his head through the wall.

    E-H 
  • Eagle Land: Stephen is so patriotic he fathered a baby Bald Eagle. The San Francisco Zoo named a newly hatched male bird 'Stephen Jr.' Really, all you need to know about the show is that the eagle in the opening credits is named Liberty.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The final shows. Stephen makes peace with bears, sells his studio equipment to the general public (donating the proceeds to charity), and kills Grimmy, thus granting him immortality. He then leaves with Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek to find a new role in life, ending the show thanking all his crew, audience, and friends for their help before passing things back to Jon.
  • Edit War: Colbert has publicly incited a few of these over at The Other Wiki.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: mocked, claiming to have had a band in the eighties called "Stephen and the Colberts."
  • "El Nio" Is Spanish for "The Nio": "Grow a pair of whatever the Mexican word is for cojones."
    • Another frequent one is "Mano a whatever-the-spanish-word-for-mano-is"
  • Enforced Plug: Stephen parodies this often with Doritos, once even spending an entire week on location in "Chili-delphia, the city of brotherly crunch." In a weird sort of reverse Product Placement, Doritos hadn't actually paid him when he started the gag, but apparently a deal has been reached involving the large exchange of Nacho Cheese Doritos.
  • Erotic Eating: The coffee. And The pizza.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: While in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games, a camera pan over the crowd revealed one cardboard sign bearing the words "Marry me Stephen! (It's legal here!)"
  • Everything's Louder With Bagpipes: Stephen tries unsuccessfully to play the bagpipes to show solidarity for Scotland in his segment on the Scottish independence referendum.
  • Evil Inc./Mega Corp.: Stephen often shills for The Prescott Group, a shady conglomerate with divisions such as Prescott Pharmaceuticals, Prescott Oil and Prescott Finance.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Doesn't happen, but the final "The Word" segment includes the phrase as one of its little snippets.
  • Eye Scream: Recommended as a way for republican candidates to stop talking about rape, after a slew of them made some questionable remarks about it. Specifically, he prescribed jabbing a pencil in their eye, up to their brain cavity and poking at their brain until thoughts of mentioning rape go away.
  • Facepalm:
  • The Fair Folk: Colbert suspects presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich of being an elf with Hammerspace pockets.
  • Fake Band: Stephen and the Colberts. Then got Defictionalized and now ''Charlene (I'm Right Behind You)'' is on Rock Band.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: invoked Has dubbed his viewers the Colbert Nation, and occasionally refers to them as heroes too. "And who are the Heroes? The people who watch this show."
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: It's harder to find a photo where he isn't doing this.
  • Feigning Intelligence / Obfuscating Stupidity: Coupled with I've Heard of That What Is It? Stephen frequently uses a word correctly in a sentence, then admits he has no idea what it means. It is unclear whether the character is feigning stupidity or feigning intelligence.
    Stephen: We need a new leader soon because America is standing at a precipice. Which, I think, is either a bonfire or a poisonous Australian jellyfish.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The idea behind the Nailed'Em segments is that Stephen viciously attacks someone who has got in trouble for doing something completely innocent.
  • Le Film Artistique: His parody of The Artist, Transformateurs: Noir de la lune, including Gratuitous French and The End... Or Is It?.
  • Flowery Insults: Usually "[Job description], and [flowery insult], [Person's name]"
    • "Minority leader, and septuagenarian ninja turtle, Mitch McConnell"
    • "Texas GOP congressman, and human fence post, Louie Gohmert"
    • "Pundit, and part-time weather balloon, Rush Limbaugh"
    • "Florida congresswoman, and home-perm after model, Debbie Wasserman Schultz"
    • "MSNBC host, and talking block of smoked gouda, Ed Schultz."
  • Flynning: Colbert and Elijah Wood, both of them using versions of Sting (Colbert brandishing one given to him by Peter Jackson).
  • Food Porn: One of Stephen's SuperPAC ads blasts other SuperPACs for pandering to Iowa voters with "cheap cornography" and says Iowans deserve better, and then shows slow-motion footage of corn set to porn music.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Lamp Shaded in this segment before a Richard Branson interview.
    • Colbert once said, "Eventually, this show will be cancelled" in jest a few years before deciding to end it in 2014. Overlaps with "Funny Aneurysm" Moment.
    • Toward the end of the show's run, Stephen kept invoking this trope by referencing foreshadowing while Grimmy the Grim Reaper made threatening motions towards him.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's strongly suggested that a lot of Colbert's problems stem from childhood trauma - for example, his hatred of books (a shelf fell on him). His actual fear and hate of bears stems from a recurring nightmare Stephen had as a child where bears would maul him to death for apparently no reason.
  • Freudian Slip: From the last episode in 2011:
    "It was just a simple Freudian slip. Named, of course, after Sigmund Freud. I'm sorry that's my mom. Jimmy, put up my mom. I mean, my breasts. I mean, Freud.
  • Frivolous Law Suit: Colbert being told by his lawyer brother the many words he can't say during the Vancouver Olympics shows (including "Vancouver" and "Olympics").
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • NASA's space treadmill "Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill" (C.O.L.B.E.R.T.) And now there's video of it being installed on the ISS.
    • Rushing to the defense of the persecuted rich, Colbert formed the Protecting Industry Titans and Yachtsmen Party.
    • On October 10, 2013 Colbert introduced his new news delivery method, the Big Unbelievably Large LED Super Hyper Information Technology.
  • Fun with Subtitles: Specifically, ABC's actual subtitles of Marco Rubio's rebuttal to President Obama's 2013 State of the Union. Word Salad Humor ahoy!
  • Gainax Ending: Stephen kills Grimmy in self-defense, which somehow makes him immortal. He rides off into the sky on Santa's sleigh, along with Abraham Lincoln the unicorn and Alex Trebek.
  • The Generic Guy: In the aftermath of the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, Stephen has had trouble remembering the name of... gosh-darn-it, what's his name?note 
  • Germanic Depressive: Recurring character and German ambassador to the UN, Hans Beinholtz.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: "No! Get a grip Colbert!" and various alternate phrasings.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Apparently, Stephen Colbert refers to his Australian Formula 401 cans' contents as crock juice. He himself finds it so funny that immediately afterwords, he has to pause to regain his composure and NOT laugh.
    • There is a series of segments dealing with Arctic issues called Smokin' Pole.
    • Several of his SuperPAC heroes have included: Suq Madiq, Harry Balzac, Harry Balsagna, Apoop Mapanz, and Mike Clitoris. And let's not forget the one that really made him crack up — Munchma Quchi.
    • During a segment about monkeys learning how to buy things and read sexually hypnotic billboards, Stephen somehow got away with showing a monkey vagina on live TV. Is he a censor wizard? You bet your ass he is!
    • When Fox News's Brit Hume said that Obama wasn't direct enough declaring war on ISIS, he said that the President is blowing an uncertain trumpet.
    Stephen: Yes, Obama is blowing an uncertain trumpet. Well said, Brit. Spoken like a man who knows how to blow a rusty trombone. But perhaps... (audience cheers) Oh, yes. And you will not believe the feeling when he blows it.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: One of Colbert's favorite poses.
    • Not to mention his Tip of the Hat / Wag of the Finger segment
  • Glamour Failure: The enemy within segments feature a family getting their picture taken, the picture that shows up has the family replaced with aliens.
  • A God Am I: Upon introducing Conservapedia's Conservative Bible Project to Colbert Nation, Colbert then commanded the masses to add him into it as a biblical figure - perhaps Moses, or Samson - or...
    "The point is, you don't have to make me God himself. But if that happens, hey - I get it."
  • Godwin's Law: The September 5, 2012 show opened with a group of democratic donkeys chanting Obama's name as images appear depicting Obama as Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro and Bane. The Democratic National Convention was referred to as "The People's Party Congress of Charlotte".
  • Graceful Loser: Jon Stewart shows up to tell Stephen that he bears no ill will over the Colbert Report breaking his Emmy winning streak. Subverted because, as an Executive Producer of the Colbert Report, Stephen's Emmy also belongs to him.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Tek Jansen's "hundreds of girlfriends".
  • Grand Finale: As expected, it was suitably impressive, with Colbert first shooting Grimmy during the last-ever 'Cheating Death with Stephen Colbert' segment, becoming immortal, then after a commercial break, he begins to sing Vera Lynn's WWII standard "We'll Meet Again". The camera then pans to both Jon Stewart and Randy Newman (on piano) joining him. Then, over 150 former guests begin to gradually come out on stage to join him, along with several pre-taped sequences including the show's crew, Tek Jansen, astronaut Scott Kelly on the ISS, troops in Afghanistan and others singing as well. Once the stage clears and the studio is empty, we find Colbert on the Colbert studio's roof, where he joins Abraham Lincoln, Santa Claus, and Alex Trebek in Santa's sleigh to live in eternity. Before he rides away, he breaks character briefly, to thank the guests & crew that have been on the show over the last nine years. He then throws the show back to Stewart, who wraps the show (inferring slyly it's been one big Daily Show segment) up as a 'great Report', before showing a Moment Of Zen of Stewart & Colbert breaking character during a show hand-off from 2010.
  • Gut Feeling: Colbert considers this the only valid way to make a decision.
  • Hammerspace: The unseen part of Stephen Colbert's desk contains a fax machine, a stay the course notebook, telephone, pitchfork (and presumably other Angry Mob accoutrements), a Big Red Button, Rahm Emanuel's finger, Abraham Lincoln's skull, a Starbucks, a rival Starbucks (now defunct), a Foot Locker, the Atone Phone for apologetic Jews, a suitcase with John Oliver inside, a (probably endless) supply of Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream, a washing machine, and a secret prison for terrorists until it was closed. As of April 8, 2009, the desk also yielded three Jewish slaves (whom Stephen promptly freed), and he admitted it also has a few Asians and a pyramid (incomplete.) The desk also has the Apology Box.
    August 2009 saw Stephen produce a desk lamp from under the desk - a desk lamp that is apparently very good at arguing about health care reform. Stephen also keeps an emergency supply of sugar, and of a four-ounce Mini Gulp (for when the Big Gulp is shrunk) in his desk. Other mysteries yielded by that treasure trove include a poll-sausage making machine and the Ham-Head of Karl Rove. And, of course, a Shofar. And probably the entire line of Prescott Pharmaceutical supplies - up to an including a freaking snake.
    ... And last but not least, he keeps a Peabody award under his desk, which he pulls out for his Heroic Gloating.
    • As of August 2011 he has a chicken and bars of gold stored under there, along with other potential forms of currency if the economy collapses. In February 2012 he produced two kittens, named Whiskers and Other Whiskers.
    • Any more references needed, just see the list of videos helpfully categorized under the tag "Under the Desk."
  • Hamster Wheel Power: Stephen once suggested puppies licking peanut butter off turbine blades could make them spin as a source of alternative energy.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Absolutely, he is!
  • Hevy Mtal mlaut: The Wrd.
  • Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: Tek Jansen, a Captain Space, Defender of Earth!, who has "obviously had hundreds of girlfriends".
  • The Hero Dies: Throughout the final few episodes, Grimmy keeps strongly hinting to Stephen that this is going to happen at the end. However the final episode subverts it; Stephen actually kills Grimmy.
  • Heroic BSOD: Parodied with flying colors on the episode the night after the 2012 Election.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: When does Sir Dr. Stephen T Colbert DFA plan on retiring? Half an hour after Jon Stewart.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Varies. Much more explicit in I Am America, including the margin note
    I HAD A HAPPY CHILDHOOD.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Charles Manson believes in global warming.
    • After Fox News accused the US Olympic team of being unpatriotic and "softly anti-American" by not being covered in stars and stripes from top to toe:
    Stephen: You know who else wore purple? Hitler. (Photoshop of Hitler in Gabby Douglas' leotard) You just can't tell because he's in black and white most of the time.
  • Homage: He carried and swung a golf club on stage in Iraq, explicitly stating it was in homage to Bob Hope.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Stephen of course has an Hollywood Atheist view on atheists.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Albeit a very brief one, on May 4th, 2010's show. Michael J. Fox only wanted to sell his book....
    • Done on December 8th, 2014, by Barack Obama
  • Hurricane of Puns
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: As he says on his last show, all of his accomplishments are actually the Colbert Nation's. He's just the guy who gets paid for it.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    • Rare for this show, this instance happened to be unintentional. On the topic of Texas governor Rick Perry's inarticulacy, Colbert said, "Some of our greatest presidents have been tongue-tied on occasion," backing it up with a clip from George W. Bush's "Fool Me Once" flob. "Is that intelligible? No. That sounds like the fevered ramblings of a syphilitic brain." Colbert then finished his diatribe with a flob.
    • Stephen Colbert informs Seth Meyers that making fun of the news is inappropriate.

    I-L 
  • I Call It "Vera": Sweetness.
  • I Die Free: After he concludes that the government has bought all the ammunition in America, Colbert declares that they will never get him alive and shoots himself in the head. Fortunately, the feds have already taken all his ammo.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Colbert asks John Yarmuth his opinion on "kittens in woodchippers" and Yarmuth promotes this as a method of disposing of excess kittens. Linked here for your perusal.
    • Made funnier by realising that John Yarmuth was (at the time) showing a series of political ads in a similar vein (and explicitly parodying some very negative ads at the time from the Other Team).
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: We all knew Sweetness was going to go off eventually. He later repeats the incident, accidentally shooting an audience member in the leg with his finger.
  • Important Haircut: Ordered by President Barack Obama and done by Commander Gen. Odierno no less, to show that he'd really gone through (a little) basic training. See it all here.
    • Looking back on it, he thinks his hair never grew back the same.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Stephen Colbert's "I Need A Drink," a segment he did in response to the string of international disasters that happened in the couple of weeks before July 29, 2014. He started out with a Bud Light Lime and by the end of the segment was drinking isopropyl alcohol. Which still didn't work, as either the booze was broken, or the news was just too damn sobering.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Very intentional, and very funny.
  • Insult to Rocks: In the midst of heaping abuse on Canton, Kansas, Stephen says that converting the town to a landfill would be an insult to landfills.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: Happens in one episode where he discusses a Chinese millionaire who was killed by poisoned cat stew. He says that this doesn't affect his Chinese canned cat meat stew, "Colonel Tuxedo's Happy Joy Power Cat With Eating". Its motto is "Reliable Sting of Pleasure, Trustworthy of Lunch".
  • Internet Counterattack: Invoked frequently. Notable instances include a campaign to get a bridge in Hungary named after him through internet voting, and against Wikipedia to enforce "wikiality."
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: He interviews Smaug in one of his episodes.
  • Intoxication Ensues: The "little stamps" presented to Colbert by his interns, which turn out to be LSD.
  • Irishman And A Jew: The Report's sister show is anchored by Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Leibowitz). The dynamic between the two seems to tap into this old Vaudeville trope, though probably quite unintentionally. As in most such pairings, the Jewish half is sarcastic and exasperated with a world gone mad. In contrast, Colbert (who self-identifies as Irish-American) is irrationally self-confident and totally oblivious to the world around him, in keeping with the Irish half of many such pairings. It probably helps that Colbert's patriotism would put even George M. Cohan to shame.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Stephen has had several such incidents.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: The Colbear Repore. The T in 'Report' is silent, because "it's French, bitch" and because his name also ends in a silent 't'.
    • Except when Stephen gets upset, when he'll pronounce it differently to himself.
    "Snap out of it, Col-burt!"
    • During the Writers Strike of 2007, when Colbert would go on the air without his writing staff, he would deliberately refer to the show as "The Colbert Report" as a sign of solidarity with his writers.
    • His lawyer brother uses the family's pronunciation of Colburt, when asked by Stephen on which he prefers.
    • Stephen promoted his sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch on his show when she was running for congress, pronouncing her name Colburt.
  • It's All About Me: The entire premise of the show is that it is all about the Colbert character, and the stories, the set and the introductory sequence all fuel his self-aggrandizing egomania.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stephen Colbert the character is a jerk, but he can't help but let his heart of gold shine through on occasion. Especially when he is helping various charities. Colbert the actor has said the character really does want to do the right thing and thinks he is, but is too misinformed and arrogant to realize he has no idea what he's talking about.
  • The Jester The most preominent modern example of this trade.
  • Jumping the Shark: Invoked literally, as the title sequence for the second-to-last episode has Stephen jumping over the phrase "The Shark".
  • Kayfabe: This is what makes it so hard for many people to "get" the show or the character. Is he sending a message this time, or is he just making people laugh? Is what the character Colbert says what the real Colbert thinks, or its exact opposite? Well, he keeps the line very blurred.
    • Colbert once testified to Congress, under oath. In character.
    • On the other hand, he'll talk to the audience out of character off-camera, "to humanize myself in your eyes before I say these terrible things."
  • Kick the Dog: In an effort to be declared the Worst Person in the World by Olbermann, Stephen slapped a baby with a puppy. Could have been seen here if it wasn't for the fact that there was an unfortunate technical mishap preventing anyone from seeing it happen.
  • Kill the Poor: Stephen has, on at least one occasion, equated the "War on Poverty" with the "War on Drugs" and has wondered why we haven't yet made poverty illegal.
    Like mis hermanos The Dead Kennedys say, "Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor!"
    • When offering solutions to help the poor and unemployed without having to raise taxes for the wealthy, Colbert suggested that rich people should buy the natural rights of poorer individuals and took Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal seriously, calling for poor children to be sold as food for extra cash.
    • Colbert wants the Occupy Wall Street "pity party" to end so that Wall Street can get back to their own party—snorting the ground up bones of the poor.
  • The Klan: There was an animated segment on one episode called Laser Klan, featuring a group of actionized Klansfolk working for the President (Obama) to defend the nation against an alien invasion.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Stephen portrays himself as an extremely far-right Republican/Christian Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
  • Konami Code: Stephen lays it down during his episode topics intro Couch Gags for the February 26, 2013 episode.
  • The Krampus: Stephen decides to join forces with Krampus to fight the eeeeeevil liberal secularists' War on Christmas. He offers Krampus some cookies and milk, which Krampus promptly whips with a rusty chain, then threatens to drag Stephen to Hell.
  • Kwyjibo: When it is announced that Scrabble will allow proper names to be used Stephen announces his new middle name Qxyzzy. In short, he's made up a word worth an obnoxious amount of points.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Subverted.
    Guest: Jesus said, "I am divine, and you are the branches."
    Colbert: ...Sir, God does not approve of puns.
    Colbert: ...But specifically it is a affront to the Christmas Trees' Lord and savior, Treesus
  • Lampshade Hanging: When discussing that "all things must come to an end," Stephen mentions, "Eventually, this show will be cancelled."
  • Large Ham: Oh, yes.
    • Since Karl Rove refuses to come on the show, his substitute is literally a large canned ham with glasses. The resemblance is amazing.
    • Jeff Goldblum. This is becoming something of a Running Gag. And Colbert himself at many points can turn into one of these. He starts every episode trying to get in as many dramatic poses as possible.
  • Left It In: Commonly Played for Laughs.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Said after Stephen rehires his staff after firing them to prove that he doesn't need help.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Invoked by Stephen in this segment. Stephen concludes that things keep going wrong in the cleaunup of the Mexican Gulf oil spill because someone keeps making wishes with a cursed monkey paw bought in such a shop.
  • Logical Fallacies: Colbert's own special brand of tortured logic permeates just about every explanation or piece of reasoning on the show. The lead-up to the epic Mle Trois ran on a deeply bizarre use of "the transitive property of Huckabee". Not to mention his method of deducing everything from the truth about the Illuminati to the results of the 2008 presidential election, which consists of him free-associating words at random.
  • Logic Bomb: Stephen tried to have his Pandertron 8000 interpret some doubletalk from Newt Gingrich; it shorted out and decided to remove the source of illogical paradoxes by killing all humans.
  • LOLCats: See Ascended Meme.
  • Loophole Abuse: In a segment of Formidable Opponent where Stephen debates himself one of the Stephens argue that torture is constitutional. The constitution might forbid cruel and unusual punishment but that's not a problem according to Stephen if torture is used so often it is no longer unusual.
    • Stephen's campaign to get a bridge named after himself in Hungary on the grounds that there was no rule stating the namesake of the bridge had to be Hungarian. He later found out they did have to speak the language, however (and to be dead).

    M-P 

    Q-T 
  • Quote Mine: the Edit Challenge.
    • Colbert does a similar thing when talking about people that called Paul Ryan's speech "misleading","breathtakingly dishonest", and "world record for greatest number of blatant lies" into "breathtaking", "lead", "world", and "shone" (from "dishonest).
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Any time he types anything, on anything. Typewriters, computers, phones, 10 keys, everything! Including smacking the keys with the back of his hand.
  • Real Joke Name: The crawl on the bottom of the screen showing donors to Colbert's Super PAC included a "Suq Madiq", who apparently has a father named Liqa Madiq and a mother named Munchma Quchi. Colbert proceeded to break character and laugh uncontrollably. He referred to them again in the April 4, 2012 episode, thanking Suq Madiq along with Harry Balsac and Apoop Mapanz. Munchma Quchi was mentioned yet again in the July 15, 2013 episode, where she apparently works for KTVU as the one who penned the script for the news regarding the (fake) pilots in the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 disaster (Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow).
  • Raygun Gothic: Tek Jansen is an Affectionate Parody of the genre.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In Stephen's interview with Republican Congressman candidate Jake Rush, Rush expresses some concern when Stephen shows off his gun, Sweetness, and points her barrel at his own head.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Cross-series, Colbert is the red to Jon Stewart's blue. This heavily influences their shows and how they handle the same stories, Stewart acts like he's Surrounded by Idiots who are inept and corrupt journalists and politicians, while Colbert is a Hot-Blooded idiot who snarkily agrees with the people Stewart is criticizing. Carries over to their crossovers together as well.
  • Retraux: Colbert's retrospective on the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation, complete with 1970s-style costuming, graphics and him smoking a cigarette while doing the interviews.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: When Stephen uncovered "lost footage" from an interview with Bill O'Reilly , Stephen introduced it as "a conundrum wrapped in a riddle covered with a spicy enigma sauce."
  • Robot War: Most times robots are mentioned Stephen warns about how they will turn against us and start a Robot War.
    • This segment of the threatdown contains two instances of Stephen's dire warning.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Coupled with not using spellcheck at all when Stephen sings Amercia's praises.
  • Rule of Three: "That's three. Three times makes it true."
  • Running Gag: Lots.
  • Sadistic Choice: He had an Actual Pacifist play Marry/Dump/Bomb with Iran, Pakistan, or North Korea. He bombed North Korea. Clip found here.
  • Sarcasm Mode: On a meta level, 90% of the show is this.
  • Saying Too Much: Most infamously, in response to Bill O'Reilly's claim that Colbert "blew me right away".
  • Say My Name:
    • "RICKLES!"
    • "BENNETT!"
    • "MANILOW!"
    • "RAAAAAAIIINNNN!"
      • The dance-off has him saying Rain's name about five times in a row in various different ways.
    • "BASIC HUMAN DECENCYYYY!"
    • "KANYE!"
    • "OBAMA!"
    • "GORE!"
    • "FALLON!!"
  • Scandalgate: Stephen referred to Michelle Obama shaking the hand of Indonesia's Health Minister as "Handergate."
    • Then there's the "Asparagusgate". In fact, he has covered quite a few "gates" so far.
  • Scare Chord: Used along with a sudden camera change while Stephen tells the nation something allegedly horrifying in order to promote his March to Keep Fear Alive.
  • See You in Hell: Parodied at the end of each "Cheating Death" health segment: "This is Stephen Colbert, and I'll see you in health!"
  • Self-Deprecation: About his rivalry with Rain.
    "Beating me in a dance-off on the technicality that he's a much better dancer than I am!"
  • Self-Made Man: Deconstructed. To prove that he is a self-made man, Stephen fired all of his staff, and shut own all of his equipment, except a desk lamp and his iPhone, which was now his camera, creating a major case of Stylistic Suck. At the end of the segment, he needs someone else's help to save him from choking on a dry-erase marker cap.
  • Serious Business: The idea of schools banning tater tots turns into a massive rant spurred by Stephen's childhood memories about getting heinously bullied, then drowning his sorrows with a plate of tots, then finally snapping and getting his revenge on the bully by slamming his head over and over into a locker, which finishes with him breaking down and sobbing over his childhood trauma while munching on tater tots at his desk.
    • The rivalry between Jimmy Fallon over their Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor popularities, Colbert's "Americone Dream" and Fallon's "Late Night Snack". Apparently, potato chips in your ice cream is taboo.
    • When sugar becomes scarce, Stephen breaks out a reserve supply and pours a whole bag down his mouth.
  • Sesame Street Cred: Inverted, when Cookie Monster appeared in his show.
  • Sex Bot: On reporting about the world's first Sex Bot And it wasn't the Japanese, it's us! Ain't that a kick in the head?
    "And they say America doesn't make anything anymore!"
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Stephen's segment detailing his love affair with a Jewish man named Jonathan.
    • The man who kept getting shot by Sweetness. When Stephen finally killed Death and took his immortality with Sweetness, he tossed the gun to the man, who caught it. And promptly shot himself.
  • Share the Male Pain: After Rick Santorum compares contraception laws to the French Revolution, Colbert pulls out a banana, puts a condom on the banana, then pulls out a guillotine and guillotines the banana. The entire audience screams.
  • Shout-Out: Among the people who've donated to Colbert's SuperPAC are Lord Sauron, John Galt, Jerri Blank, R Inglip, D.B. Cooper, and Jesus of Nazereth.
    • And that's not mentioning the non-shout out Double Entendre Punny Name Suq Madiq, to which Stephen aired his own segment, detailing how Suq made his parents very proud, his dad Liqa Madiq, and his mother who uses her maiden name, Munchma Quchi.
    • Another one appears in a segment about global warming where Stephen waves his arms around to mock a Republican who uses his arms to demonstrate his belief that the global climate regularly goes up and down. At 4:43 (after he appears to have finished), he finishes the "wavy arm thing" with a very quick Wave salute, which also doubles as a Take That to the Republican party in general, given the nature of the Wave.
    • Watch the end of this clip from the 8/7/14 show... IMAGINATION!
  • Significant Birth Date: The eagle named after Stephen was born on Patriots' Day. Stephen hopes that this will be a significant birthday and that Stephen, Jr., will grow up to become the first raptor president.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Parodied as part of the show's main premise.
  • Spell My Name With A PH: The segment about "Stephens With A PH". The first subject was Stephen King; Stephen Fry will also be featured (eventually).
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The December 13, 2012 episode featured Breaking Abbey, the plot of Breaking Bad with the setting and cast of Downton Abbey, complete with some of the latter series' cast members reprising their roles. This gives us gems such as:
    Thomas: Apparently, they think its the "Shizzle-nizzle".
    Lord Grathan: Soon Downton will be kicking it with mad bitches and benjamins.
  • Spit Take: Lampshaded, predicted, deliberately engineered (twice in a row!) yet still hilarious.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Colbert stalks his ex-girlfriend Charlene, despite her restraining order against him. So he formed a prog-rock band "Stephen and the Colberts" and wrote a song about it. It later became a song in Rock Band.
  • Start My Own: As a Take That to losing Time Magazine No. 1 Most Influential Person of 2007 to Rain, Colbert made a music video parodying "How To Avoid The Sun", where he not only danced but also sang in Korean.
    • Then after watching Speed Racer and realising that Rain had a leading role, Colbert wrote his own screenplay for a sequel which apparently consists of Rain getting run over by a car for two hours.
  • Stealth Parody: Believed by some to be a parody of the left-wing lens. If so, it's a rather brilliant one, as many reading this very opinion take it to mean he's thought to be sincere.
  • Stealth Pun: Stephen's attorney Gorlock is a legal alien.
    • During a segment titled "Fear for All", Stephen talks to Aaron Hicklin, editor-in-chief of 'Out' magazine:
    Stephen: Like being gay, being British is a choice.
    Hicklin: It's a fallacy that gay is a choice-
    Stephen: This is a family show, I'd rather you not use the word 'fallacy'.
  • Stock Footage: There is a short clip of a roaring bear that is shown pretty much every time Stephen mentions bears, especially during the Threatdown segements.
    • A clip of Michael Stipe sitting on Stephen's shelf shouting "HEY-OH!" gets used to keep up the Running Gag he now lives there.
  • The Straight Man: Jay the Intern. Poor guy.
  • Strawman Political: The character of Stephen Colbert is an extreme exaggeration of a conservative talking-head in the name of comedy.
    • Strawman Has a Point: Often done intentionally. And quite often (accidentally) by Colbert himself. Because Colbert is a professional comedian with his own talkshow, and quite a few of the guests he brings on are authors, or otherwise un-charismatic and poorly trained to defend their point from critics, Colbert comes out on top of quite a few arguments with people who are supposed to strike back at him but don't know how. Colbert noted in an interview that this was a problem in the early days of the show, no one in Washington would come on his show because people are naturally reluctant to be interviewed by someone who they know is willfully going to be ignorant and twist what they say.
    • Parodied in the "Worthy Opponent" segments, where instead of cherry-picking a strawman who will cave in and agree with everything the pundit says, he is both strawman and pundit.
  • Studio Audience: Obviously.
  • Stunned Silence: Stephen's response when he learns that among the victims of "News of the World" hacking scandal were the voicemails of victims of 9/11, families of British soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan and the voicemail of a missing 13 year old girl. "News of the World" even took the liberty of deleting some of the girl's messages when her voicemail started to fill up leading to her family being given false hope that she might still be alive.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: According to some liberal pundit, Mitt Romney's stay-at-home wife has "never worked a day in her life". Naturally, this was made into a techno remix by Stephen.
  • Stylistic Suck: During the July 25, 2012 episode, Stephen fired his entire staff to prove that he doesn't need help to be successful. The Word segment for that episode is filmed with a hand-camera and Stephen uses a whiteboard to show the bullet points.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: The final episode of the show ends with a giant Crowd Song with a few hundred of Stephen's past guests and the Colbert Report staff.
  • Suddenly Sexuality
    Stephen: I am still reeling from Pres. Obama's announcement yesterday that he is gay. (crowd laughs) Now I have to assume that's the reason he supports gay marriage.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: When discussing torture, Stephen summed this fallacy up nicely: "We must do whatever it takes to justify what we've already done."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Stephen's team of not-8-year-old-Malaysian-child-labours took a few days to sort through suggestions for Stephen's SuperPAC.
    • The Definitely-Not-Coordinated-With-Stephen-Colbert-SuperPAC
  • Take That: This man makes his entire career out of these.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The "Ham Rove" Running Gag; Stephen can't get Karl Rove on the show, so he finds a stand-in- a rack of deli ham wearing glasses.
    • The French-Canadian and lethally foul-mouthed Stephan Colbert.
  • Temporal Paradox: When Stephen wanted to lure his future self into the present to talk with him, he threatened to stick a fork into a toaster unless his future self came back to stop him. His future self did come back, but present Stephen went through with sticking the fork into the toaster anyway, thus killing him. When future Stephen saw that 2009 Stephen was dead, he decided to take 2009 Stephen's place so that he could still exist 500 years from now to continue hosting his show. Makes sense, doesn't it?
  • Tempting Fate:
  • The Tag: "Oh, hi! I didn't see you there."
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: When, in a parody of Breaking Bad, Stephen has Vince Gilligan imprisoned in a closet, forcing him to write more episodes, he plays this trope straight in a similar manner to Breaking Bad character Jesse Pinkman.
    "Keep typing, BITCH!"
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Stephen keeps a pitchfork in the Hammerspace under his desk and since he already refers to the Studio Audience as "the mob", it was only a matter of time.
  • Translation Train Wreck: Parodied when Colbert showed Google Translate's take on a Korean article about his rivalry with Rain.
  • Trash Talk: Stephen loves to trash talk and he is good at it.
    "Come on, what's wrong Rain? Tell me when Korea lists the non-existent embargo on BALLS!"
    "Hey Rain, nice jacket! My sister wants it back."
  • Transparent Closet: It's heavily implied outright stated that Stephen (in-character) has repressed homosexual tendencies.
  • Trash the Set: Smaug demolishes a whole section of the set just so he has enough room to appear on the show. Of course, this doesn't really happen, as it's all CGI and back to normal by the next show- or Colbert has some wicked skilled repairmen.
  • Troperiffic
  • Tsundere: "Charlene II (I'm Over You)" is absolutely dripping with how Stephen is totally, completely over Charlene... not that he's 100% against the concept of a relationship with her. You know, hypothetically.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Gulpzilla, in the January 13, 2011 episode.
  • Two Decades Behind: In the April 26, 2012 episode, Stephen talks about how he can relate to youth much better than Obama. He says things like "Turn off your Atari, Obama, because the game is over" and "They know I'm young because I always carry around a full deck of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and I love the Power Rangers."

    U-Z 
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Stephen expresses bewilderment at how Dennis Kucinich got married to his (taller, younger, redheaded) wife.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Invoked and exaggerated when, after Bill O'Reilly made remarks about all asians being hardworking, he took the idea and ran with it, causing the show to experience technical difficulties three times before going to a commercial break.
  • Unknown Rival
    Colbert: Ted Nugent has condemned your generation as lazing and apathetic. Your response?
    NYU Student: Who's Ted Nugent?
  • Up to Eleven: Stephen Colbert vs. Sen. John Kyl's 'Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement'
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: According to Stephen, Donald Trump.
    Stephen: Donald Trump is a friend. He's my best friend. Number 1, best, greatest friend of all time. We race yachts, we trade mistresses. I call him "Trump Card," he calls me "Col-beer." That said, the guy's a boob. He looks like a tangelo had sex with an old dishrag. And I can say that because I love this man.
  • Visual Pun: The occasional segment "Monkey On The Lam" opens with a graphic of a monkey riding a sheep while shooting a gun in the air.
  • Volleying Insults: Even Stevphens with Steve Carell. Many insults were thrown back and forth. A snippet:
    Stephen: Steve, I am thrilled for your success. Hell, I'm amazed by it. Nobody who knows you saw this coming, and it is a joy to see you in person. When I just see you in your movies I forget how funny and attractive you are. Frankly, I'm excited.
    Steve: Of course you are excited, Stephen. I'm not your normal guest, people have heard of me. Stephen, I am an international movie star.
    Stephen: Yes, Steve. I suppose Canada counts as international. And yes, most of my guests are people who contribute to society. So bantering with an old friend about mindless Tinseltown pablum is a welcome vacation from substance.
    Steve: Thanks, Stephen. Is a vacation for me too. I am used to having 8 million people watch me on TV. Doing the Report is like being in the Witness Relocation Program.
    • And of course with Rain (via recorded messages):
    Rain: Let's just say, don't quit your day job.
    Stephen: My day job happens to be president of the "I Hate Rain Fanclub"!
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: An occasional gag used for particularly outrageous character moments, such as the angry sulk scene at the beginning of the first show following Barack Obama's re-election.
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: The stuffed moose seen in the Vancouver shows was named "Ebersol"; when he went over to NBC Late-Night he was renamed "Colbert", and now that he's going on exhibit at NBC he'll get another name because Comedy Central and NBC are rival companies.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It seems that Stephen has some very deep approval-from-a-father-figure issues.
  • What Have I Done: Colbert about a "fake" gay relationship entered solely in order to turn a man off the idea of gay marriage forever.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: While Stephen talking about how the Pentagon was teaching robots about ethics, his robot Bleep Blorp came out from backstage and told him about how it had learned about ethics from its cousin, a coffee maker in the pentagon. They had a short discussion which ended when Bleep Blorp asked "What is this thing you humans call love?" and Stephen volunteered to show it, before simply pulling out its kill switch, deactivating it.
  • Wiki Vandal: Wikiality.
  • With Us or Against Us: Stephen is like this about everything. Divides Supermarket Into 'Cheese' and 'Not Cheese'.
    "War And Peace? Pick a side, we're at war".
  • Word Schmord: "Evolution, Schmevolution" Week.
  • Worthy Opponent: Usually, the line "You sir, are a formidable opponent" is said by Colbert to Colbert in the eponymous segment. But George Will earned the right to be called that by Stephen.
    • The genuine Colbert also admitted in interviews to gaining a lot of respect for K-Pop artist Rain after the dance-off, saying that he knew he was "in the presence of a master".
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: The show did a segment covering how a man in Athens, GA saying it was "too hot to fish" became a story in that town's newspaper, and somehow became a story in The New York Times.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: "Exclusive Vancouverage of the 2010 Quadrennial Cold-Weather Athletic Competition".
    • He relentlessly mocked the NFL's notorious jealous guarding of its trademarks by "shifting one letter." Behold coverage of the "Superb Owl"!
  • Written-In Infirmity: When Stephen broke his wrist, he milked it for humorous effect by pretending to become addicted to his painkillers and delirious from overdosing, and made sure to call attention to this "Wristrong" (Wrist Strong) bracelet at every opportunity.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: While covering the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash, Stephen made mention of an incident in which the fictitious pilot names "Sum Ting Wong", "Wi Tu Lo", "Ho Lee Fuk" and "Bang Ding Ow" were broadcast on the news.
    Colbert: I don't care who confirmed these names! It is wrong! I mean, "Wi Tu Lo"? "Bang Ding Ow"? This is a Korean airline; those are Chinese names! That's racist, ok! And if you're going to do a racist joke, at least get the ethnicity right! Like Captain "Park Ma Plen Tu-Sun" or "Ha Yu Lan Dis Tang"!
  • "YEAH!" Shot: Parodied at the end of the "I Tried to Sign Up for Obamacare" segment. Colbert celebrates not getting insurance by happily leaping into the air, and the scene freezes... and then the scene plays again and he falls painfully to the ground.
  • Yes But What Does Zataproximetacine DO: Parodied in the "Cheating Death" segments (which open with a Chess with Death sequence where Stephen distracts Death and moves the pieces), where Colbert advertises sponsor Prescott Pharmaceuticals' cure-all drug whose name is usually a variant on "Vaxadrine." Side Effects Include... "minor heart explosions", "speaking in tongues", "braintooth", "tracheal meerkat colonies", "carcassing", "ADHDEAD", "Mind of Mencia", and "involuntary Narnia adventures". Also growth of teeth.note 
  • You Can Panic Now: If there's fear to be mongered, Stephen's the one to do it. It's pretty much the point of Threat Down. Kinda Deconstructed at one point, where a failed terrorist attempt caused most of the media to call the bomb pathetic. Colbert then reminds everyone that they ARE scared out of their gourds "so the terrorist has succeeded and therefore doesn't have to prove his point by trying another attack".
  • Your Makeup Is Running: The inauguration of Barack Obama caused Stephen to cry with massive amounts of mascara running and snot hanging from his nose.


Alternative Title(s):

Colbert Report