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 substitute characters for American Maid and Die Fledermaus, who were absent due to licensing and rights issues, 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.
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.
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.
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").
I Am Not Weasel: Arthur's moth-themed costume is constantly confused for a rabbit.
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!
Prophetic Name: 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.
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.