Series: The Tick

The life of a superhero is a lonely one, filled with hardship and danger. The few who answer the call must leave comfort, safety, and often sanity behind. But someone's gotta stand the heat and stay in the kitchen. Someone's gotta don the oven mitts of all that's right and strangle the red-hot throat of all that's wrong. This is that someone's story.
The Tick

A 2001 live action version of surreal cartoon superhero The Tick.

Fed up of having a big blue spandex-clad lunatic weirding out his customers, a bus centre manager ships The Tick to The City. Meanwhile, mild-mannered accountant Arthur gets fired from his job for showing up to work in a winged bunny suit (OK, moth suit) and deciding he wants to fight crime. They team up with Captain Liberty and Batmanuel note , and get into all manner of high action battles with evildoers...

... which all occur offscreen due to budget trouble. Most of the shows deal with their downtime, being described as "Seinfeld in tights". Much of the animated show's style and wit was retained, along with different humor and comedic deconstrunctions. It was canceled before it could run a whole season. Where's the siege?! (Probably didn't help anything that the last Episode, The Terror was scheduled to run on 9/11/2001.) Watch it legally here.


This series provided examples of:

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing
    • The Tick, at least in name. He doesn't actually have any tick-like traits or abilities, except for his antennae.
    • Arthur's superhero identity is modeled after a moth, though his white suit and ear-like antennae lead many people to confuse him for a rabbit.
    • Batmanuel is based off of a bat, obviously.
  • Bookends: The final episode's storyline follows immediately after the first episode and wraps up a lot of its plot threads. Further, they both contain a number of similar plot elements.
    • Both episodes see someone attempting, unsuccessfully, to use a coffee vending machine and being saved by The Tick. In the first episode The Tick "saves" a citizen by bashing the out-of-order machine until it works. In the final episode the person who tries to use the machine, Batmanuel, is waylaid by The Terror before he can get his coffee and has to be rescued.
    • Both episodes include Arthur screaming like a little girl when attacked by villains.
    • Both episodes involve Metcalf, a man from Arthur's old job who became a superhero and who now needs a machine to poop. He is mentioned repeatedly in the first episode and actually appears in person during the final episode. (These two episodes are also the only times he is even so much as mentioned in the show.)
    • Both episodes include an actual, on-screen superhero vs. supervillain battle, against The Red Scare in the first episode and against The Terror in the last episode. (These are also the only two on-screen battles in the series.)
    • Both episodes feature the four main characters (Tick, Arthur, Batmanuel, and Captain Liberty) on a rooftop together. While the four spend a lot of time together and rooftops also play a large role throughout the series these two episodes are the only ones that feature all four together on a rooftop.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Arthur. He was quite a competent accountant aside from the "dressed as a moth" thing. It was almost a literal use of the trope, as his suit is often mistaken for a rabbit.
  • Captain Geographic: Captain Liberty.
  • Captain Patriotic: Captain Liberty is a spoof of this. She doesn't seem to be all that patriotic and isn't even that great of a hero, but she does work directly for the U.S. government, unlike most other heroes.
  • Clark Kenting: At various times the heroes take off the uniforms resulting in confusion when their fellow heroes don't immediately recognize them. Parodied with The Champion who, like the Trope Namer, disguises himself with nothing more than a pair of glasses - despite how flimsy the disguise is no one notices until it's pointed out at the end of the episode. The Tick himself never quite manages to figure it out, still believing that The Champion and lawyer Steve Filbert are different people, even after witnessing his "transformation" first hand.
  • Cleavage Window: Captain Liberty's outfit has a star-shaped window. Destroyo remarks on it in his Hannibal Lecture.
    Destroyo: With the stars in your eyes and your star full of breasts...
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The Tick is absolutely, unequivocally insane. He's also super strong, bulletproof, and definitely good to have on your side in a fight.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: An especially creative one, courtesy of The Terror:
    "I'll fold ya up in my wallet and spend ya on a whore!"
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Batmanuel, the "Prince of the Night."
  • Dashing Hispanic - Batmanuel is a fairly straight, if humorous, example. Beneath his cynical exterior lies the heart of a romantic. A cynical romantic.
  • The Ditz: The Tick.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The episode "Arthur, Interrupted," compares superherodom to homosexuality. Arthur is told by his fellow heroes that he should "come out" to his family, that being "closeted" is a bad thing (both are terms commonly used in regards to homosexuality). After he does he's taken away to be "cured" (attempting to "cure" homosexuality is a controversial yet common thing in America and many other parts of the world). He's sent to an insane asylum where he discovers that the creepy, effeminate psychiatrist secretly has a superhero fetish (a reference to how many anti-gay crusaders are eventually outed as having gay tendencies).
    • The episode "Couples" spends its runtime comparing the superhero/sidekick dynamic to a marriage, with sidekicks being portrayed as the wives. It comments on domineering relationships and spousal abuse in the process.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: The off-screen fifty-foot fire-lactating bovine known as Apocalypse Cow.
  • Expy: Since the live action version couldn't get all the rights to characters from the animated version, Die Fledermaus became Bat-Manuel and American Maid became Captain Liberty.
  • Genius Ditz: The Tick may be very, very ditzy in just about everything, but he has shown a certain level of philosophical thought in some cases. Especially so in the second episode, where he learns that everyone (even potatoes) can die, and after thinking about it for about a minute, gives Arthur a motivating speech that actually makes sense.
    • Notably, The Tick is also the only person in the entire show to realize that Arthur is a moth (not a bunny) without having to be told.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Parodied and played straight with Destroyo. In his first use of this he's able to (almost) talk a cop into shooting himself. When he tries it on Captain Liberty, however, she takes advantage of it for free psychotherapy. She later lists "good with dating problems" as one of Destroyo's two good traits (the other being a "way with words").
  • Hollywood Law: In "The Tick vs. Justice" a few of Destroyo's Courtroom Antics, blatantly attempting to get himself Off on a Technicality, would never fly in a real court.
    • First, Destroyo confesses to killing witnesses in front of Captain Liberty (and implies he intends to kill The Tick and Arthur too), but since he's acting as his own attorney and he was talking to himself, the confession was privileged communication and therefore could not be used against him. However, in the lawsuit Clark v. The United States it was determined that if attorney-client communication is used to commit fraud or further a crime then it is not subject to attorney-client privilege law. In other words, Captain Liberty totally could have reported it, and added even more charges to the list of Destroyo's offenses, and there would have been nothing Destroyo could do about it.
    • Second, he has all of the evidence against him ruled inadmissible on the grounds that The Tick and Arthur didn't have a warrant when they searched his car... except that they never "searched" his car. Destroyo's trunk popped open in the accident, and they happened to see ransom notes, nuclear weapons, and very strong rope in there. Seeing things that are in plain sight does not legally count as a search. Even if it did, the need for a warrant is waived in the case of clear and present danger, which was clearly present here.
    • Third, although not actually something Destroyo did, the way the group finally get him convicted, by baiting him into attacking Arthur in the middle of the courtroom, thereby showing the court his true colors. In reality that would likely have resulted in an immediate mistrial and everyone involved would have been arrested on the spot.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Arthur's moth-themed costume is constantly confused for a rabbit.
  • Idiot Hero: The Tick, big time.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Arthur: You're all a bunch of self-centered, egotistical, sexually frustrated kindergarteners. No offense intended.
    The Tick: None comprehended.
  • It's All About Me: In the episode "The Tick vs. Justice", a car accident between Batmanuel and a supervillain named Destroyo reveals the villain's trunk is full of ransom letters, nuclear weapons, and very strong rope. Despite an obvious threat to national security Batmanuel spends the entire episode worried about his insurance premiums, even turning his statement to the court into a plea for them to lower his deductible.
  • Mythology Gag: Batmanuel is referred to as "Little Fledermaus" by Destroyo in "The Tick vs Justice," a reference to the character that Batmanuel is based off of: Die Fledermaus.
  • Out with a Bang: Captain Liberty sleeps with The Immortal and somehow kills him in the process. This was a guy who once fought a man made entirely out of black holes!
  • The Perry Mason Method: Inverted in "The Tick Versus Justice." Destroyo, acting as his own attorney, asks witness Arthur a loaded question, which Arthur answers in such a way as to provoke a Villainous Breakdown in Destroyo.
  • Prophetic Names: A woman claiming to be the Tick's wife says his real name is "Ted Glick". Drop the "ed Gl" and you're left with Tick. Subverted, though, when it's revealed that's not his real name.
  • Red Scare: The name of a robot built by the Russians in the 1970s to assassinate Jimmy Carter. A group of Russians decide to get revenge on the U.S. Postal system instead by assassinating the Postmaster General, but the robot has accidentally been activated before they could reprogram it. Now the Red Scare is after Jimmy Carter, who happens to be visiting The City on the same night.
  • Second Episode Morning: Coupled with Whole Episode Flashback, while celebrating their one-year anniversary as partners, Arthur tells them about how he assumed everything that happened in the first episode was a dream until he hears the Tick in his living room.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Arthur when he gets into trouble, making The Tick think it's a Damsel in Distress.
  • Short Runner: Only six episodes aired of nine produced.
  • Stocking Filler: Captain Liberty wears fishnets.
  • Super Hero: All of the main cast
  • Take Our Word for It: While the bizarre level of superheroes and giant monsters of the Tick universe (such as a 50- foot Apocalypse Cow) apparently still occur, we never get to see anything more than the aftermath.
  • Third-Person Person: Batmanuel.
  • What Is This Feeling?: In "The Tick vs. Justice", he has his first headache, due to the frustration of Destroyo's impeding discharge despite obvious evidence of his crime.
    The Tick: What is this awful pounding in my head! If feels like my head is having a baby!
    Arthur: It's called a headache.
    The Tick: Its got a name now!?
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The Tick fights crime in a city named The City.